Humorous readings about marriage often describe tension and frustration in the little castle we call home. Max Adler obviously had some knowledge of the subject.

Max Adler on Going to Sleep

Mr. Butterwick, of Roxborough, had a fit of sleeplessness one night lately, and after vainly trying to lose himself in slumber, he happened to remember that he once read in an almanac that a man could put himself to sleep by imagining that he saw a flock of sheep jumping over a fence, and by counting them as they jumped.

He determined to try the experiment, and closing his eyes, he fancied the sheep jumping, and began to count. He had reached his hundred and fortieth sheep, and was beginning to doze off, when Mrs. Butterwick suddenly said:


“Oh, what?”

“I believe that yellow hen wants to set and raise a brood.”

“Oh, don’t bother me with such nonsense as that now. Do keep quiet and go to sleep.”

Then Butterwick started his sheep again, and commenced to count again. He got up to one hundred and twenty, and was feeling as if he would drop off at any moment, and just as his hundred and twenty-first sheep was about to take that fence, one of the twins began to cry.

“Hang that child!” he shouted at Mrs. Butterwick. “Why can’t you tend to it and put it to sleep? Hush up, you little imp, or I’ll spank you!”

When Mrs. Butterwick had quieted the child, Butterwick, although a little nervous and excited, concluded to try it again. Turning on the imaginary mutton, he began.

Only sixty-four sheep had slid over the fence when Butterwick’s mother-in-law knocked at the door and asked if he was awake. When she learned that he was she said she believed he had forgotten to close the back shutters, and she thought she heard burglars in the yard.

Butterwick arose in wrath and went down to see about it. He ascertained that the shutters were closed as usual, and as he returned to bed he resolved that Mrs. Butterwick’s mother would leave the house for good in the morning, or he would.

However, he thought he might as well give the almanac plan another trial, and setting the sheep in motion he began to count. This time he reached two hundred and forty, and would probably have got to sleep before the three hundredth sheep jumped, had not Mix’s new dog in the next yard become suddenly homesick, and began to express his feelings in a series of prolonged and exasperating howls.

Butterwick was indignant. Neglecting the sheep, he leaped from bed, and began to bombard Mix’s new dog with boots, soap-cups, and every loose object he could lay his hands on. He impressed the animal at last with a plaster bust of Daniel Webster, and induced the dog to retreat to the stable and think all about home in silence.

It seemed almost ridiculous to resume those sheep again, but he determined to give the almanac man one more chance, and so as they began to jump the fence he began to count, and after seeing the eighty-second safely over, he was gliding gently into the land of dreams, when Mrs. Butterwick rolled out of bed and fell on the floor with such violence that she waked the twins and started them crying, while Butterwick’s mother-in-law came down-stairs, four steps at a time, to ask if they felt that earthquake.

The situation was too awful for words. Butterwick regarded it for a minute with speechless indignation, and then seizing a pillow he went over to the sofa in the back sitting–room and lay down on the lounge.

He fell asleep in ten minutes without the assistance of the almanac, but he dreamed all night that he was being butted around the equator by a Cotswold ram, and he awoke in the morning with a sore back and a terrible headache and a conviction that sheep are good enough for wool and chops, but not worth a cent as a narcotic.

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