But I corrected the synopsis so I didn’t have to save more than the Russian Empire and I only bumped about a dozen men. In fact, my plot was real literature.

     The conversation which really took place (Burks fixed it in his article so he said everything) was as follows:

     BURKS: I say it looks like a hat. A kubanka.

     HUBBARD: It doesn’t at all. But assuming that it does, what of it? [Picture]

     BURKS: Write a story about it.

     HUBBARD: Okay. A lot of guys are sitting around a room playing this game where you throw cards into a hat and gamble on how many you get in. But they’re using a fur wastebasket for the hat.

     BURKS: A fur wastebasket? Who ever heard of that?

     HUBBARD: You did just now. And they want to know about this fur wastebasket, so the soldier of fortune host tells them it’s a kubanka he picked up, and he can’t bear to throw it away although it’s terrible bad luck on account of maybe a dozen men getting bumped off because of it. So he tells them the story. It’s a “frame” yarn, a neat one.

     BURKS: But you’ll make me out a liar in my article.

     HUBBARD: So I’ll make you a liar in mine.

     So I started to plot the story. This hat is a very valuable thing, obviously, if it’s to be the central character in a story. And it is a central character. All focus is upon it. Next I’ll be writing a yarn in second person.

     Anyway, I was always intrigued as a kid by an illustration in a book of knowledge. Pretty red pictures of a trooper, a fight, a dead trooper.

     You’ve heard the old one: For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost, for want of a rider the message was lost, for want of a message the battle was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

     So, it’s not to be a horseshoe nail but a hat that loses a battle or perhaps a nation. I’ve always wanted to lift that nail plot and here was my chance to make real fiction out of it. A hat. A lost empire.

     Pretty far apart, aren’t they? Well, I’d sneak up on them and maybe scare them together somehow. I made the hat seem ominous enough and when I got going, perhaps light would dawn. Here we go:

     “That’s a funny looking hat,” I remarked.

     The others eyed the object and Stuart turned it around in his hands, gazing thoughtfully at it.

     “But not a very funny hat,” said Stuart, slowly. “I don’t know why I keep it around. Every time I pick it up I get a case of the jitters. But it cost too much to throw away.”

     That was odd, I thought. Stuart was a big chap with a very square face and a pocketful of money. He bought anything he happened to want and riches meant nothing to him. But here he was talking about cost.

     “Where’d you get it?” I demanded.

     Still holding the thing, still looking at it, Stuart sat down in a big chair. “I’ve had it for a long, long time but I don’t know why. It spilled more blood than a dozen such hats could hold, and you see that this could hold a lot.”

     Something mournful in his tone made us take seats about him. Stuart usually joked about such things.


Magic out of a Hat continued...

PreviousNavigation BarNext

| Previous | Glossary | L. Ron Hubbard Home Page| Contents | Next

L. Ron Hubbard Bookstore   Scientology: Anti-Drug   Church of Scientology Missions   About L. Ron Hubbard

Contact Us
© 1997-2004 Church of Scientology International. All Rights Reserved.

For Trademark Information