"Give me one, please."
So the Shaggy Man gave the Woozy a tablet from his bottle and the beast ate it in a twinkling.
"You have now had a six course dinner," declared the Shaggy Man.
"Pshaw!" said the Woozy, ungratefully, "I want to taste something. There's no fun in that sort of eating."
"One should only eat to sustain life," replied the Shaggy Man, "and that tablet is equal to a peck of other food."
"I don't care for it. I want something I can chew and taste," grumbled the Woozy.
"You are quite wrong, my poor beast," said the Shaggy Man in a tone of pity. "Think how tired your jaws would get chewing a square meal like this, if it were not condensed to the size of a small tablet--which you can swallow in a jiffy."
"Chewing isn't tiresome; it's fun, maintained the Woozy. "I always chew the honey-bees when I catch them. Give me some bread and cheese, Ojo."
"No, no! You've already eaten a big dinner!" protested the Shaggy Man.
"May be," answered the Woozy; "but I guess I'll fool myself by munching some bread and cheese. I may not be hungry, having eaten all those things you gave me, but I consider this eating business a matter of taste, and I like to realize what's going into me."
Ojo gave the beast what he wanted, but the Shaggy Man shook his shaggy head reproachfully and said there was no animal so obstinate or hard to convince as a Woozy.
At this moment a patter of footsteps was heard, and looking up they saw the live phonograph standing before them. It seemed to have passed through many adventures since Ojo and his comrades last saw the machine, for the varnish of its wooden case was all marred and dented and scratched in a way that gave it an aged and disreputable appearance.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Ojo, staring hard. "What has happened to you?"
"Nothing much," replied the phonograph in a sad and depressed voice. "I've had enough things thrown at me, since I left you, to stock a department store and furnish half a dozen bargain-counters."
"Are you so broken up that you can't play?" asked Scraps.
"No; I still am able to grind out delicious music. Just now I've a record on tap that is really superb," said the phonograph, growing more cheerful.
"That is too bad," remarked Ojo. "We've no objection to you as a machine, you know; but as a music-maker we hate you."
"Then why was I ever invented?" demanded the machine, in a tone of indignant protest.
They looked at one another inquiringly, but no one could answer such a puzzling question. Finally the Shaggy Man said:
"I'd like to hear the phonograph play."
Ojo sighed. "We've been very happy since we met you, sir," he said.
"I know. But a little misery, at times, makes one appreciate happiness more. Tell me, Phony, what is this record like, which you say you have on tap?"
"It's a popular song, sir. In all civilized lands the common people have gone wild over it."
"Makes civilized folks wild folks, eh? Then it's dangerous."
"Wild with joy, I mean," explained the phonograph. "Listen. This song will prove a rare treat to you, I know. It made the author rich--for an author. It is called 'My Lulu.'"
Then the phonograph began to play. A strain of odd, jerky sounds was followed by these words, sung by a man through his nose with great vigor of expression:
"Ah wants mah Lulu, mah coal-black Lulu; Ah wants mah loo-loo, loo-loo, loo-loo, Lu! Ah loves mah Lulu, mah coal-black Lulu, There ain't nobody else loves loo-loo, Lu!"
"Here--shut that off!" cried the Shaggy Man, springing to his feet. "What do you mean by such impertinence?"
"It's the latest popular song," declared the phonograph, speaking in a sulky tone of voice.
"A popular song?"
"Yes. One that the feeble-minded can remember the words of and those ignorant of music can whistle or sing. That makes a popular song popular, and the time is coming when it will take the place of all other songs."
"That time won't come to us, just yet," said the Shaggy Man, sternly: "I'm something of a singer myself, and I don't intend to be throttled by any Lulus like your coal-black one.