Not many people know it, but Uncle Murphy invented the game of fetch. It used to be, people simply through sticks at dragons. Though the dragons were deeply offended by this, it made good sense to the people. But, as Uncle Murphy saw the general movement away from dragons and to dogs for the role as Man’s Best Friend, Uncle Murphy thought it would be downright unfortunate to throw sticks at dogs.
Luckily, the dogs were very cooperative and did not mind chasing the sticks. Although it took some convincing initially to get them to pick up the sticks with their mouths, they eventually agreed since it was for the good of mankind and the game of fetch was born. Fortunately, the humans were much easier to train to play this new game than the dogs had been.
The dragons realized they were on the outs; they eventually decamped and, except for the dragonling Spud — who lives with Uncle Murphy not so much as a pet but more of as an accountant — emigrated far away from the humans. As they went, some of them could be heard to mutter, “We invent fire, and do they remember that? No. We tell them that gold is valuable, and do they remember that? No. We tell them the secret of eleven herbs and spices on their fried chicken, and do they remember that? NO! But you eat one virgin….”
I got my Uncle Murphy to stand still long enough for me to sketch him. He complained about it being a “confounded waste of time” through the whole thing.
“The prevailing taste of the public for anecdote has been censured and ridiculed by critics, who aspire to the character of superior wisdom: but if we consider it in a proper point of view, this taste is an incontestible proof of the good sense and profoundly philosophic temper of the present times. Of the numbers who study, or at least who read history, how few derive any advantage from their labours!”
Uncle Murphy was friends with all of the finest Citizens of the Garden. He was a Regular Member of the Ladybugs’ Home Economics Association and an Honorary Fellow of the Fraternal Order of Old Grasshoppers. He was frequently overheard discussing in detail the current events of Europe in all of the most important salons or enjoying Rosebud Tea in the trendiest cafés. He was even known to enjoy the company of the geckos and the skinks, and even the neighborhood field mice, who are known to put on airs.
Upon hearing an impressive speaker, Uncle Murphy would not hesitate to inquire of the distinguished gentleman if his degree — and, in point of fact, his vocation; nay, his avocation — lay in history or in literature, as these were the only worthwhile pursuits of the modern antiquarian; philosophy and mathematics (and least as far as is useful) could simply be presupposed; neither was a worthwhile primary pursuit. But history and literature! These were the primary pursuits of a gentleman gnome. Few things in the world are certain; one absolute: Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.