Two old friends have had a falling out over a “magic umbrella.” The owner claims that by his merely having it on his person, it prevents the rain—hence the “magic.” His friend bought an identical umbrella to get him to shut up about the whole thing, but now he suspects the friend of having swapped umbrellas, since his seems to have lost its magic. Can Griswold tell whose umbrella is whose?
Need I even ask? Of course Griwsold can, and so could I, since Asimov did casually mention one key difference between the two. The story does have an interesting portrayal of two quarrelsome old men—both Jewish, of course, despite one having what sounded to me like a rather Gentile surname. (I always find it amusing when Asimov—himself Jewish, and therefore drawing on the people he knew best in real life—casually gives minor or secondary characters such an ethnicity. I suppose if I wrote as much as he did, I’d do the same, except that Mormons are frankly a lot less interesting.)
|The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov|