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Title: Cobwebs from an Empty Skull
Author: Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cobwebs from an Empty Skull" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration]

COBWEBS

FROM

AN EMPTY SKULL.

BY

DOD GRILE.

ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS BY DALZIEL BROTHERS.

[Illustration]

_LONDON AND NEW YORK:_

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS

1874



To my friend,

SHERBURNE B. EATON.



CONTENTS

  Fables of Zambri, the Parsee.
  Brief Seasons of Intellectual Dissipation.
  Divers Tales.
         1. The Grateful Bear.
         2. The Setting Sachem.
         3. Feodora.
         4. The Legend of Immortal Truth.
         5. Converting a Prodigal.
         6. Four Jacks and a Knave.
         7. Dr. Deadwood, I Presume.
         8. Nut-Cracking
         9. The Magician's Little Joke
        10. Seafaring.
        11. Tony Rollo's Conclusion.
        12. No Charge for Attendance.
        13. Pernicketty's Fright.
        14. Juniper.
        15. Following the Sea.
        16. A Tale of Spanish Vengeance.
        17. Mrs. Dennison's Head.
        18. A Fowl Witch.
        19. The Civil Service in Florida.
        20. A Tale of the Bosphorus.
        21. John Smith.
        22. Sundered Hearts.
        23. The Early History of Bath.
        24. The Following Dorg.
        25. Snaking.
        26. Maud's Papa.
        27. Jim Beckwourth's Pond.
        28. Stringing a Bear.



PREFACE.


The matter of which this volume is composed appeared originally in the
columns of "FUN," when the wisdom of the Fables and the truth of the
Tales tended to wholesomely diminish the levity of that jocund sheet.
Their publication in a new form would seem to be a fitting occasion to
say something as to their merit.

Homer's "Iliad," it will be remembered, was but imperfectly
appreciated by Homer's contemporaries. Milton's "Paradise Lost" was so
lightly regarded when first written, that the author received but
twenty-five pounds for it. Ben Jonson was for some time blind to the
beauties of Shakespeare, and Shakespeare himself had but small esteem
for his own work.

Appearing each week in "FUN," these Fables and Tales very soon
attracted the notice of the Editor, who was frank enough to say,
afterward, that when he accepted the manuscript he did not quite
perceive the quality of it. The printers, too, into whose hands it
came, have since admitted that for some days they felt very little
interest in it, and could not even make out what it was all about.
When to these evidences I add the confession that at first I did not
myself observe anything extraordinary in my work, I think I need say
no more: the discerning public will note the parallel, and my modesty
be spared the necessity of making an ass of itself.

D.G.



FABLES OF ZAMBRI, THE PARSEE.

[Illustration]

I.


A certain Persian nobleman obtained from a cow gipsy a small oyster.
Holding him up by the beard, he addressed him thus:

"You must try to forgive me for what I am about to do; and you might
as well set about it at once, for you haven't much time. I should
never think of swallowing you if it were not so easy; but opportunity
is the strongest of all temptations. Besides, I am an orphan, and very
hungry."

"Very well," replied the oyster; "it affords me genuine pleasure to
comfort the parentless and the starving. I have already done my best
for our friend here, of whom you purchased me; but although she has an
amiable and accommodating stomach, _we couldn't agree_. For this
trifling incompatibility--would you believe it?--she was about to stew
me! Saviour, benefactor, proceed."

"I think," said the nobleman, rising and laying down the oyster, "I
ought to know something more definite about your antecedents before
succouring you. If you couldn't agree with your mistress, you are
probably no better than you should be."

People who begin doing something from a selfish motive frequently drop
it when they learn that it is a real benevolence.



II.


A rat seeing a cat approaching, and finding no avenue of escape, went
boldly up to her, and said:

"Madam, I have just swallowed a dose of powerful bane, and in
accordance with instructions upon the label, have come out of my hole
to die. Will you kindly direct me to a spot where my corpse will prove
peculiarly offensive?"

"Since you are so ill," replied the cat, "I will myself transport you
to a spot which I think will suit."

So saying, she struck her teeth through the nape of his neck and
trotted away with him. This was more than he had bargained for, and he
squeaked shrilly with the pain.

"Ah!" said the cat, "a rat who knows he has but a few minutes to live,
never makes a fuss about a little agony. I don't think, my fine
fellow, you have taken poison enough to hurt either you or me."

So she made a meal of him.

If this fable does not teach that a rat gets no profit by lying, I
should be pleased to know what it does teach.



III.


A frog who had been sitting up all night in neighbourly converse with
an echo of elegant leisure, went out in the grey of the morning to
obtain a cheap breakfast. Seeing a tadpole approach,

"Halt!" he croaked, "and show cause why I should not eat you."

The tadpole stopped and displayed a fine tail.

"Enough," said the frog: "I mistook you for one of us; and if there is
anything I like, it is frog. But no frog has a tail, as a matter of
course."

While he was speaking, however, the tail ripened and dropped off, and
its owner stood revealed in his edible character.

"Aha!" ejaculated the frog, "so that is your little game! If, instead
of adopting a disguise, you had trusted to my mercy, I should have
spared you. But I am down upon all manner of deceit."

And he had him down in a moment.

Learn from this that he would have eaten him anyhow.



IV.


An old man carrying, for no obvious reason, a sheaf of sticks, met
another donkey whose cargo consisted merely of a bundle of stones.

"Suppose we swop," said the donkey.

"Very good, sir," assented the old man; "lay your load upon my
shoulders, and take off my parcel, putting it upon your own back."

The donkey complied, so far as concerned his own encumbrance, but
neglected to remove that of the other.

"How clever!" said the merry old gentleman, "I knew you would do that.
If you had done any differently there would have been no point to the
fable."

And laying down both burdens by the roadside, he trudged away as merry
as anything.



V.


An elephant meeting a mouse, reproached him for not taking a proper
interest in growth.

"It is all very well," retorted the mouse, "for people who haven't the
capacity for anything better. Let them grow if they like; but _I_
prefer toasted cheese."

The stupid elephant, not being able to make very much sense of this
remark, essayed, after the manner of persons worsted at repartee, to
set his foot upon his clever conqueror. In point of fact, he did set
his foot upon him, and there wasn't any more mouse.

The lesson imparted by this fable is open, palpable: mice and
elephants look at things each after the manner of his kind; and when
an elephant decides to occupy the standpoint of a mouse, it is
unhealthy for the latter.



VI.


A wolf was slaking his thirst at a stream, when a lamb left the side
of his shepherd, came down the creek to the wolf, passed round him
with considerable ostentation, and began drinking below.

"I beg you to observe," said the lamb, "that water does not commonly
run uphill; and my sipping here cannot possibly defile the current
where you are, even supposing my nose were no cleaner than yours,
which it is. So you have not the flimsiest pretext for slaying me."

"I am not aware, sir," replied the wolf, "that I require a pretext
for loving chops; it never occurred to me that one was necessary."

And he dined upon that lambkin with much apparent satisfaction.

This fable ought to convince any one that of two stories very similar
one needs not necessarily be a plagiarism.



VII.

[Illustration]

An old gentleman sat down, one day, upon an acorn, and finding it a
very comfortable seat, went soundly to sleep. The warmth of his body
caused the acorn to germinate, and it grew so rapidly, that when the
sleeper awoke he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak, sixty
feet from the ground.

"Ah!" said he, "I am fond of having an extended view of any landscape
which happens to please my fancy; but this one does not seem to
possess that merit. I think I will go home."

It is easier to say go home than to go.

"Well, well!" he resumed, "if I cannot compel circumstances to my
will, I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. I decide to
remain. 'Life'--as a certain eminent philosopher in England wilt say,
whenever there shall be an England to say it in--'is the definite
combination of heterogeneous changes, both simultaneous and
successive, in correspondence with external co-existences and
sequences.' I have, fortunately, a few years of this before me yet;
and I suppose I can permit my surroundings to alter me into anything I
choose."

And he did; but what a choice!

I should say that the lesson hereby imparted is one of contentment
combined with science.



VIII.


A caterpillar had crawled painfully to the top of a hop-pole, and not
finding anything there to interest him, began to think of descending.

"Now," soliloquized he, "if I only had a pair of wings, I should be
able to manage it very nicely."

So saying, he turned himself about to go down, but the heat of his
previous exertion, and that of the sun, had by this time matured him
into a butterfly.

"Just my luck!" he growled, "I never wish for anything without getting
it. I did not expect this when I came out this morning, and have
nothing prepared. But I suppose I shall have to stand it."

So he spread his pinions and made for the first open flower he saw.
But a spider happened to be spending the summer in that vegetable, and
it was not long before Mr. Butterfly was wishing himself back atop of
that pole, a simple caterpillar.

He had at last the pleasure of being denied a desire.

_Hæc fabula docet_ that it is not a good plan to call at houses
without first ascertaining who is at home there.



IX.


It is related of a certain Tartar priest that, being about to
sacrifice a pig, he observed tears in the victim's eyes.

"Now, I'd like to know what is the matter with _you_?" he asked.

"Sir," replied the pig, "if your penetration were equal to that of the
knife you hold, you would know without inquiring; but I don't mind
telling you. I weep because I know I shall be badly roasted."

"Ah," returned the priest, meditatively, having first killed the pig,
"we are all pretty much alike: it is the bad roasting that frightens
us. Mere death has no terrors."

From this narrative learn that even priests sometimes get hold of only
half a truth.



X.


A dog being very much annoyed by bees, ran, quite accidentally, into
an empty barrel lying on the ground, and looking out at the bung-hole,
addressed his tormenters thus:

"Had you been temperate, stinging me only one at a time, you might
have got a good deal of fun out of me. As it is, you have driven me
into a secure retreat; for I can snap you up as fast as you come in
through the bung-hole. Learn from this the folly of intemperate zeal."

When he had concluded, he awaited a reply. There wasn't any reply; for
the bees had never gone near the bung-hole; they went in the same way
as he did, and made it very warm for him.

The lesson of this fable is that one cannot stick to his pure reason
while quarrelling with bees.



XI.


A fox and a duck having quarrelled about the ownership of a frog,
agreed to refer the dispute to a lion. After hearing a great deal of
argument, the lion opened his mouth to speak.

"I am very well aware," interrupted the duck, "what your decision is.
It is that by our own showing the frog belongs to neither of us, and
you will eat him yourself. But please remember that lions do not like
frogs."

"To me," exclaimed the fox, "it is perfectly clear that you will give
the frog to the duck, the duck to me, and take me yourself. Allow me
to state certain objections to--"

"I was about to remark," said the lion, "that while you were
disputing, the cause of contention had hopped away. Perhaps you can
procure another frog."

To point out the moral of this fable would be to offer a gratuitous
insult to the acuteness of the reader.



XII.


An ass meeting a pair of horses, late one evening, said to them:

"It is time all honest horses were in bed. Why are you driving out at
this time of day?"

"Ah!" returned they, "if it is so very late, why are you out riding?"

"I never in my life," retorted the ass angrily, "knew a horse to
return a direct answer to a civil question."

This tale shows that this ass did not know everything.

[The implication that horses do not answer questions seems to have
irritated the worthy fabulist.--TRANSLATOR.]



XIII.


A stone being cast by the plough against a lump of earth, hastened to
open the conversation as follows:

"Virtue, which is the opposite of vice, is best fostered by the
absence of temptation!"

The lump of earth, being taken somewhat by surprise, was not prepared
with an apophthegm, and said nothing.

Since that time it has been customary to call a stupid person a
"clod."



XIV.


A river seeing a zephyr carrying off an anchor, asked him, "What are
you going to do with it?"

"I give it up," replied the zephyr, after mature reflection.

"Blow me if _I_ would!" continued the river; "you might just as well
not have taken it at all."

"Between you and me," returned the zephyr, "I only picked it up
because it is customary for zephyrs to do such things. But if you
don't mind I will carry it up to your head and drop it in your mouth."

This fable teaches such a multitude of good things that it would be
invidious to mention any.



XV.


A peasant sitting on a pile of stones saw an ostrich approaching, and
when it had got within range he began pelting it. It is hardly
probable that the bird liked this; but it never moved until a large
number of boulders had been discharged; then it fell to and ate them.

"It was very good of you, sir," then said the fowl; "pray tell me to
what virtue I am indebted for this excellent meal."

"To piety," replied the peasant, who, believing that anything able to
devour stones must be a god, was stricken with fear. "I beg you won't
think these were merely cold victuals from my table; I had just
gathered them fresh, and was intending to have them dressed for my
dinner; but I am always hospitable to the deities, and now I suppose I
shall have to go without."

"On the contrary, my pious youth," returned the ostrich, "you shall go
within."

And the man followed the stones.

The falsehoods of the wicked never amount to much.



XVI.


Two thieves went into a farmer's granary and stole a sack of kitchen
vegetables; and, one of them slinging it across his shoulders, they
began to run away. In a moment all the domestic animals and barn-yard
fowls about the place were at their heels, in high clamour, which
threatened to bring the farmer down upon them with his dogs.

"You have no idea how the weight of this sack assists me in escaping,
by increasing my momentum," said the one who carried the plunder;
"suppose _you_ take it."

"Ah!" returned the other, who had been zealously pointing out the way
to safety, and keeping foremost therein, "it is interesting to find
how a common danger makes people confiding. You have a thousand times
said I could not be trusted with valuable booty. It is an humiliating
confession, but I am myself convinced that if I should assume that
sack, and the impetus it confers, you could not depend upon your
dividend."

[Illustration]

"A common danger," was the reply, "seems to stimulate conviction, as
well as confidence."

"Very likely," assented the other, drily; "I am quite too busy to
enter into these subtleties. You will find the subject very ably
treated in the Zend-Avesta."

But the bastinado taught them more in a minute than they would have
gleaned from that excellent work in a fortnight.

If they could only have had the privilege of reading this fable, it
would have taught them more than either.



XVII.


While a man was trying with all his might to cross a fence, a bull ran
to his assistance, and taking him upon his horns, tossed him over.
Seeing the man walking away without making any remark, the bull said:

"You are quite welcome, I am sure. I did no more than my duty."

"I take a different view of it, very naturally," replied the man, "and
you may keep your polite acknowledgments of my gratitude until you
receive it. I did not require your services."

"You don't mean to say," answered the bull, "that you did not wish to
cross that fence!"

"I mean to say," was the rejoinder, "that I wished to cross it by my
method, solely to avoid crossing it by yours."

_Fabula docet_ that while the end is everything, the means is
something.



XVIII.


An hippopotamus meeting an open alligator, said to him:

"My forked friend, you may as well collapse. You are not sufficiently
comprehensive to embrace me. I am myself no tyro at smiling, when in
the humour."

"I really had no expectation of taking you in," replied the other. "I
have a habit of extending my hospitality impartially to all, and about
seven feet wide."

"You remind me," said the hippopotamus, "of a certain zebra who was
not vicious at all; he merely kicked the breath out of everything that
passed behind him, but did not induce things to pass behind him."

"It is quite immaterial what I remind you of," was the reply.

The lesson conveyed by this fable is a very beautiful one.



XIX.


A man was plucking a living goose, when his victim addressed him thus:

"Suppose _you_ were a goose; do you think you would relish this sort
of thing?"

"Well, suppose I were," answered the man; "do you think _you_ would
like to pluck me?"

"Indeed I would!" was the emphatic, natural, but injudicious reply.

"Just so," concluded her tormentor; "that's the way _I_ feel about the
matter."



XX.


A traveller perishing of thirst in a desert, debated with his camel
whether they should continue their journey, or turn back to an oasis
they had passed some days before. The traveller favoured the latter
plan.

"I am decidedly opposed to any such waste of time," said the animal;
"I don't care for oases myself."

"I should not care for them either," retorted the man, with some
temper, "if, like you, I carried a number of assorted water-tanks
inside. But as you will not submit to go back, and I shall not consent
to go forward, we can only remain where we are."

"But," objected the camel, "that will be certain death to you!"

"Not quite," was the quiet answer, "it involves only the loss of my
camel."

So saying, he assassinated the beast, and appropriated his liquid
store.

A compromise is not always a settlement satisfactory to both parties.



XXI.


A sheep, making a long journey, found the heat of his fleece very
uncomfortable, and seeing a flock of other sheep in a fold, evidently
awaiting for some one, leaped over and joined them, in the hope of
being shorn. Perceiving the shepherd approaching, and the other sheep
huddling into a remote corner of the fold, he shouldered his way
forward, and going up to the shepherd, said:

"Did you ever see such a lot of fools? It's lucky I came along to set
them an example of docility. Seeing me operated upon, they 'll be glad
to offer themselves."

"Perhaps so," replied the shepherd, laying hold of the animal's horns;
"but I never kill more than one sheep at a time. Mutton won't keep in
hot weather."

The chops tasted excellently well with tomato sauce.

The moral of this fable isn't what you think it is. It is this: The
chops of another man's mutton are _always_ nice eating.



XXII.


Two travellers between Teheran and Bagdad met half-way up the vertical
face of a rock, on a path only a cubit in width. As both were in a
hurry, and etiquette would allow neither to set his foot upon the
other even if dignity had permitted prostration, they maintained for
some time a stationary condition. After some reflection, each decided
to jump round the other; but as etiquette did not warrant conversation
with a stranger, neither made known his intention. The consequence was
they met, with considerable emphasis, about four feet from the edge of
the path, and went through a flight of soaring eagles, a mile out of
their way![A]

[Footnote A: This is infamous! The learned Parsee appears wholly to
ignore the distinction between a fable and a simple lie.--TRANSLATOR.]



XXIII.


A stone which had lain for centuries in a hidden place complained to
Allah that remaining so long in one position was productive of cramps.

"If thou wouldst be pleased," it said, "to let me take a little
exercise now and then, my health would be the better for it."

So it was granted permission to make a short excursion, and at once
began rolling out into the open desert. It had not proceeded far
before an ostrich, who was pensively eating a keg of nails, left his
repast, dashed at the stone, and gobbled it up.

This narration teaches the folly of contentment: if the ostrich had
been content with his nails he would never have eaten the stone.



XXIV.


A man carrying a sack of corn up a high ladder propped against a wall,
had nearly reached the top, when a powerful hog passing that way leant
against the bottom to scratch its hide.

"I wish," said the man, speaking down the ladder, "you would make
that operation as brief as possible; and when I come down I will
reward you by rearing a fresh ladder especially for you."

"This one is quite good enough for a hog," was the reply; "but I am
curious to know if you will keep your promise, so I'll just amuse
myself until you come down."

And taking the bottom rung in his mouth, he moved off, away from the
wall. A moment later he had all the loose corn he could garner, but he
never got that other ladder.

MORAL.--An ace and four kings is as good a hand as one can hold in
draw-poker.



XXV.


A young cock and a hen were speaking of the size of eggs. Said the
cock:

"I once laid an egg--"

"Oh, you did!" interrupted the hen, with a derisive cackle. "Pray how
did you manage it?"

The cock felt injured in his self-esteem, and, turning his back upon
the hen, addressed himself to a brood of young chickens.

"I once laid an egg--"

The chickens chirped incredulously, and passed on. The insulted bird
reddened in the wattles with indignation, and strutting up to the
patriarch of the entire barn-yard, repeated his assertion. The
patriarch nodded gravely, as if the feat were an every-day affair, and
the other continued:

"I once laid an egg alongside a water-melon, and compared the two. The
vegetable was considerably the larger."

This fable is intended to show the absurdity of hearing all a man has
to say.



XXVI.


[Illustration]

Seeing himself getting beyond his depth, a bathing naturalist called
lustily for succour.

"Anything _I_ can do for you?" inquired the engaging octopus.

"Happy to serve you, I am sure," said the accommodating leech.

"Command _me_," added the earnest crab.

"Gentlemen of the briny deep," exclaimed the gasping _savant_, "I am
compelled to decline your friendly offices, but I tender you my
scientific gratitude; and, as a return favour, I beg, with this my
last breath, that you will accept the freedom of my aquarium, and make
it your home."

This tale proves that scientific gratitude is quite as bad as the
natural sort.



XXVII.


Two whales seizing a pike, attempted in turn to swallow him, but
without success. They finally determined to try him jointly, each
taking hold of an end, and both shutting their eyes for a grand
effort, when a shark darted silently between them, biting away the
whole body of their prey. Opening their eyes, they gazed upon one
another with much satisfaction.

"I had no idea he would go down so easily," said the one.

"Nor I," returned the other; "but how very tasteless a pike is."

The insipidity we observe in most of our acquaintances is largely due
to our imperfect knowledge of them.



XXVIII.


A wolf went into the cottage of a peasant while the family was absent
in the fields, and falling foul of some beef, was quietly enjoying it,
when he was observed by a domestic rat, who went directly to her
master, informing him of what she had seen.

"I would myself have dispatched the robber," she added, "but feared
you might wish to take him alive."

So the man secured a powerful club and went to the door of the house,
while the rat looked in at the window. After taking a survey of the
situation, the man said:

"I don't think I care to take this fellow alive. Judging from his
present performance, I should say his keeping would entail no mean
expense. You may go in and slay him if you like; I have quite changed
my mind."

"If you really intended taking him prisoner," replied the rat, "the
object of that bludgeon is to me a matter of mere conjecture. However,
it is easy enough to see you have changed your mind; and it may be
barely worth mentioning that I have changed mine."

"The interest you both take in me," said the wolf, without looking up,
"touches me deeply. As you have considerately abstained from bothering
me with the question of how I am to be disposed of, I will not
embarrass your counsels by obtruding a preference. Whatever may be
your decision, you may count on my acquiescence; my countenance alone
ought to convince you of the meek docility of my character. I never
lose my temper, and I never swear; but, by the stomach of the Prophet!
if either one of you domestic animals is in sight when I have finished
the conquest of these ribs, the question of _my_ fate may be postponed
for future debate, without detriment to any important interest."

This fable teaches that while you are considering the abatement of a
nuisance, it is important to know which nuisance is the more likely to
be abated.



XXIX.


A snake tried to shed his skin by pulling it off over his head, but,
being unable to do so, was advised by a woodman to slip out of it in
the usual way.

"But," said the serpent, "this is the way _you_ do it!"

"True," exclaimed the woodman, holding out the hem of his tunic; "but
you will observe that my skin is brief and open. If you desire one
like that, I think I can assist you."

So saying, he chopped off about a cubit of the snake's tail.



XXX.


An oyster who had got a large pebble between the valves of his shell,
and was unable to get it out, was lamenting his sad fate, when--the
tide being out--a monkey ran to him, and began making an examination.

"You appear," said the monkey, "to have got something else in here,
too. I think I'd better remove that first."

With this he inserted his paw, and scooped out the animal's essential
part.

"Now," said he, eating the portion he had removed, "I think you will
be able to manage the pebble yourself."

To apprehend the lesson of this fable one must have some experience of
the law.



XXXI.


An old fox and her two cubs were pursued by dogs, when one of the cubs
got a thorn in his foot, and could go no farther. Setting the other to
watch for the pursuers, the mother proceeded, with much tender
solicitude, to extract the thorn. Just as she had done so, the
sentinel gave the alarm.

"How near are they?" asked the mother.

"Close by, in the next field," was the answer.

"The deuce they are!" was the hasty rejoinder. "However, I presume
they will be content with a single fox."

And shoving the thorn earnestly back into the wounded foot, this
excellent parent took to her heels.

This fable proves that humanity does not happen to enjoy a monopoly of
paternal affection.



XXXII.


A man crossing the great river of Egypt, heard a voice, which seemed
to come from beneath his boat, requesting him to stop. Thinking it
must proceed from some river-deity, he laid down his paddle and said:

"Whoever you are that ask me to stop, I beg you will let me go on. I
have been asked by a friend to dine with him, and I am late."

"Should your friend pass this way," said the voice, "I will show him
the cause of your detention. Meantime you must come to dinner with
_me_."

"Willingly," replied the man, devoutly, very well pleased with so
extraordinary an honour; "pray show me the way."

"In here," said the crocodile, elevating his distending jaws above the
water and beckoning with his tongue--"this way, please."

This fable shows that being asked to dinner is not always the same
thing as being asked to dine.



XXXIII.


An old monkey, designing to teach his sons the advantage of unity,
brought them a number of sticks, and desired them to see how easily
they might be broken, one at a time. So each young monkey took a stick
and broke it.

"Now," said the father, "I will teach you a lesson."

And he began to gather the sticks into a bundle. But the young
monkeys, thinking he was about to beat them, set upon him, all
together, and disabled him.

"There!" said the aged sufferer, "behold the advantage of unity! If
you had assailed me one at a time, I would have killed every mother's
son of you!"

Moral lessons are like the merchant's goods: they are conveyed in
various ways.



XXXIV.


A wild horse meeting a domestic one, taunted him with his condition of
servitude. The tamed animal claimed that he was as free as the wind.

"If that is so," said the other, "pray tell me the office of that bit
in your mouth."

"That," was the answer, "is iron, one of the best tonics in the
_materia medica_."

"But what," said the other, "is the meaning of the rein attached to
it?"

"Keeps it from falling out of my mouth when I am too indolent to hold
it," was the reply.

"How about the saddle?"

"Fool!" was the angry retort; "its purpose is to spare me fatigue:
when I am tired, I get on and ride."



XXXV.


Some doves went to a hawk, and asked him to protect them from a kite.

"That I will," was the cheerful reply; "and when I am admitted into
the dovecote, I shall kill more of you in a day than the kite did in a
century. But of course you know this; you expect to be treated in the
regular way."

So he entered the dovecote, and began preparations for a general
slaughter. But the doves all set upon him and made exceedingly short
work of him. With his last breath he asked them why, being so
formidable, they had not killed the kite. They replied that they had
never seen any kite.



[Illustration]


XXXVI.


A defeated warrior snatched up his aged father, and, slinging him
across his shoulders, plunged into the wilderness, followed by the
weary remnant of his beaten army. The old gentleman liked it.

"See!" said he, triumphantly, to the flying legion; "did you ever hear
of so dutiful and accommodating a son? And he's as easy under the
saddle as an old family horse!"

"I rather think," replied the broken and disordered battalion, with a
grin, "that Mr. Æneas once did something of this kind. But _his_
father had thoughtfully taken an armful of lares and penates; and the
accommodating nature of _his_ son was, therefore, more conspicuous. If
I might venture to suggest that you take up my shield and scimitar--"

"Thank you," said the aged party, "I could not think of disarming the
military: but if you would just hand me up one of the heaviest of
those dead branches, I think the merits of my son would be rendered
sufficiently apparent."

The routed column passed him up the one shown in the immediate
foreground of our sketch, and it was quite enough for both steed and
rider.

_Fabula ostendit_ that History repeats itself, with variations.



XXXVII.


A pig who had engaged a cray-fish to pilot him along the beach in
search of mussels, was surprised to see his guide start off backwards.

"Your excessive politeness quite overcomes me," said the porker, "but
don't you think it rather ill bestowed upon a pig? Pray don't hesitate
to turn your back upon me."

"Sir," replied the cray-fish, "permit me to continue as I am. We now
stand to each other in the proper relation of _employé_ to employer.
The former is excessively obsequious, and the latter is, in the eyes
of the former, a hog."



XXXVIII.


The king of tortoises desiring to pay a visit of ceremony to a
neighbouring monarch, feared that in his absence his idle subjects
might get up a revolution, and that whoever might be left at the head
of the State would usurp the throne. So calling his subjects about
him, he addressed them thus:

"I am about to leave our beloved country for a long period, and desire
to leave the sceptre in the hands of him who is most truly a tortoise.
I decree that you shall set out from yonder distant tree, and pass
round it. Whoever shall get back last shall be appointed Regent."

So the population set out for the goal, and the king for his
destination. Before the race was decided, his Majesty had made the
journey and returned. But he found the throne occupied by a subject,
who at once secured by violence what he had won by guile.

Certain usurpers are too conscientious to retain kingly power unless
the rightful monarch be dead; and these are the most dangerous sort.



XXXIX.


A spaniel at the point of death requested a mastiff friend to eat him.

"It would soothe my last moments," said he, "to know that when I am no
longer of any importance to myself I may still be useful to you."

"Much obliged, I am sure," replied his friend; "I think you mean well,
but you should know that my appetite is not so depraved as to relish
dog."

Perhaps it is for a similar reason we abstain from cannibalism.



XL.


A cloud was passing across the face of the sun, when the latter
expostulated with him.

"Why," said the sun, "when you have so much space to float in, should
you be casting your cold shadow upon me?"

After a moment's reflection, the cloud made answer thus:

"I certainly had no intention of giving offence by my presence, and as
for my shadow, don't you think you have made a trifling mistake?--not
a gigantic or absurd mistake, but merely one that would disgrace an
idiot."

At this the great luminary was furious, and fell so hotly upon him
that in a few minutes there was nothing of him left.

It is very foolish to bandy words with a cloud if you happen to be the
sun.



XLI.


A rabbit travelling leisurely along the highway was seen, at some
distance, by a duck, who had just come out of the water.

"Well, I declare!" said she, "if I could not walk without limping in
that ridiculous way, I'd stay at home. Why, he's a spectacle!"

"Did you ever see such an ungainly beast as that duck!" said the
rabbit to himself. "If I waddled like that I should go out only at
night."

MORAL, BY A KANGAROO.--People who are ungraceful of gait are always
intolerant of mind.



XLII.


A fox who dwelt in the upper chamber of an abandoned watch-tower,
where he practised all manner of magic, had by means of his art
subjected all other animals to his will. One day he assembled a great
multitude of them below his window, and commanded that each should
appear in his presence, and all who could not teach him some important
truth should be thrown off the walls and dashed to pieces. Upon
hearing this they were all stricken with grief, and began to lament
their hard fate most piteously.

"How," said they, "shall we, who are unskilled in magic, unread in
philosophy, and untaught in the secrets of the stars--who have neither
wit, eloquence, nor song--how shall we essay to teach wisdom to the
wise?"

Nevertheless, they were compelled to make the attempt. After many had
failed and been dispatched, another fox arrived on the ground, and
learning the condition of affairs, scampered slyly up the steps, and
whispered something in the ear of the cat, who was about entering the
tower. So the latter stuck her head in at the door, and shrieked:

"Pullets with a southern exposure ripen earliest, and have yellow
legs."

At this the magician was so delighted that he dissolved the spell and
let them all go free.



XLIII.


One evening a jackass, passing between a village and a hill, looked
over the latter and saw the faint light of the rising moon.

"Ho-ho, Master Redface!" said he, "so you are climbing up the other
side to point out my long ears to the villagers, are you? I'll just
meet you at the top, and set my heels into your insolent old lantern."

So he scrambled painfully up to the crest, and stood outlined against
the broad disc of the unconscious luminary, more conspicuously a
jackass than ever before.



XLIV.


A bear wishing to rob a beehive, laid himself down in front of it, and
overturned it with his paw.

"Now," said he, "I will lie perfectly still and let the bees sting me
until they are exhausted and powerless; their honey may then be
obtained without opposition."

And it was so obtained, but by a fresh bear, the other being dead.

This narrative exhibits one aspect of the "Fabian policy."



XLV.


A cat seeing a mouse with a piece of cheese, said:

"I would not eat that, if I were you, for I think it is poisoned.
However, if you will allow me to examine it, I will tell you certainly
whether it is or not."

While the mouse was thinking what it was best to do, the cat had fully
made up her mind, and was kind enough to examine both the cheese and
the mouse in a manner highly satisfactory to herself, but the mouse
has never returned to give _his_ opinion.



XLVI.


An improvident man, who had quarrelled with his wife concerning
household expenses, took her and the children out on the lawn,
intending to make an example of her. Putting himself in an attitude of
aggression, and turning to his offspring, he said:

"You will observe, my darlings, that domestic offences are always
punished with a loss of blood. Make a note of this and be wise."

He had no sooner spoken than a starving mosquito settled upon his
nose, and began to assist in enforcing the lesson.

"My officious friend," said the man, "when I require illustrations
from the fowls of the air, you may command my patronage. The deep
interest you take in my affairs is, at present, a trifle annoying."

[Illustration]

"I do not find it so," the mosquito would have replied had he been at
leisure, "and am convinced that our respective points of view are so
widely dissimilar as not to afford the faintest hope of reconciling
our opinions upon collateral points. Let us be thankful that upon the
main question of bloodletting we perfectly agree."

When the bird had concluded, the man's convictions were quite
unaltered, but he was too weak to resume the discussion; and, although
blood is thicker than water, the children were constrained to confess
that the stranger had the best of it.

This fable teaches.



XLVII.


"I hate snakes who bestow their caresses with interested partiality or
fastidious discrimination," boasted a boa constrictor. "_My_
affection is unbounded; it embraces all animated nature. I am the
universal shepherd; I gather all manner of living things into my
folds. Entertainment here for man and beast!"

"I should be glad of one of your caresses," said a porcupine, meekly;
"it has been some time since I got a loving embrace."

So saying, he nestled snugly and confidingly against the large-hearted
serpent--who fled.

A comprehensive philanthropy may be devoid of prejudices, but it has
its preferences all the same.



XLVIII.


During a distressing famine in China a starving man met a fat pig,
who, seeing no chance of escape, walked confidently up to the superior
animal, and said:

"Awful famine! isn't it?"

"Quite dreadful!" replied the man, eyeing him with an evident purpose:
"almost impossible to obtain meat."

"Plenty of meat, such as it is, but no corn. Do you know, I have been
compelled to eat so many of your people, I don't believe there is an
ounce of pork in my composition."

"And I so many that I have lost all taste for pork."

"Terrible thing this cannibalism!"

"Depends upon which character you try it in; it is terrible to be
eaten."

"You are very brutal!"

"You are very fat."

"You look as if you would take my life."

"You look as if you would sustain mine."

"Let us 'pull sticks,'" said the now desperate animal, "to see which
of us shall die."

"Good!" assented the man: "I'll pull this one."

So saying, he drew a hedge-stake from the ground, and stained it with
the brain of that unhappy porker.

MORAL.--An empty stomach has no ears.



XLIX.


A snake, a mile long, having drawn himself over a roc's egg,
complained that in its present form he could get no benefit from it,
and modestly desired the roc to aid him in some way.

"Certainly," assented the bird, "I think we can arrange it."

Saying which, she snatched up one of the smaller Persian provinces,
and poising herself a few leagues above the suffering reptile, let it
drop upon him to smash the egg.

This fable exhibits the folly of asking for aid without specifying the
kind and amount of aid you require.



L.


An ox meeting a man on the highway, asked him for a pinch of snuff,
whereupon the man fled back along the road in extreme terror.

"_Don't_ be alarmed," said a horse whom he met; "the ox won't bite
you."

The man gave one stare and dashed across the meadows.

"Well," said a sheep, "I wouldn't be afraid of a horse; _he_ won't
kick."

The man shot like a comet into the forest.

"Look where you're going there, or I'll thrash the life out of you!"
screamed a bird into whose nest he had blundered.

Frantic with fear, the man leapt into the sea.

"By Jove! how you frightened me," said a small shark.

The man was dejected, and felt a sense of injury. He seated himself
moodily on the bottom, braced up his chin with his knees, and thought
for an hour. Then he beckoned to the fish who had made the last
remark.

"See here, I say," said he, "I wish you would just tell me what in
thunder this all means."

"Ever read any fables?" asked the shark.

"No--yes--well, the catechism, the marriage service, and--"

"Oh, bother!" said the fish, playfully, smiling clean back to the
pectoral fins; "get out of this and bolt your Æsop!"

The man did get out and bolted.

[This fable teaches that its worthy author was drunk as a
loon.--TRANSLATOR.]



LI.


A lion pursued by some villagers was asked by a fox why he did not
escape on horseback.

"There is a fine strong steed just beyond this rock," said the fox.
"All you have to do is to get on his back and stay there."

So the lion went up to the charger and asked him to give him a lift.

"Certainly," said the horse, "with great pleasure."

And setting one of his heels into the animal's stomach, he lifted him.
about seven feet from the ground.

"Confound you!" roared the beast as he fell back.

"So did you," quietly remarked the steed.



LII.


A Mahout who had dismounted from his elephant, and was quietly
standing on his head in the middle of the highway, was asked by the
animal why he did not revert and move on.

"You are making a spectacle of yourself," said the beast.

"If I choose to stand upside down," replied the man, "I am very well
aware that I incur the displeasure of those who adhere with slavish
tenacity to the prejudices and traditions of society; but it seems to
me that rebuke would come with a more consistent grace from one who
does not wear a tail upon his nose."

This fable teaches that four straight lines may enclose a circle, but
there will be corners to let.



LIII.


A dog meeting a strange cat, took her by the top of the back, and
shook her for a considerable period with some earnestness. Then
depositing her in a ditch, he remarked with gravity:

"There, my feline friend! I think that will teach you a wholesome
lesson; and as punishment is intended to be reformatory, you ought to
be grateful to me for deigning to administer it."

"I don't think of questioning your right to worry me," said the cat,
getting her breath, "but I should like to know where you got your
licence to preach at me. Also, if not inconsistent with the dignity of
the court, I should wish to be informed of the nature of my offence;
in order that I may the more clearly apprehend the character of the
lesson imparted by its punishment."

"Since you are so curious," replied the dog, "I worry you because you
are too feeble to worry me."

"In other words," rejoined the cat, getting herself together as well
as she could, "you bite me for that to which you owe your existence."

The reply of the dog was lost in the illimitable field of ether,
whither he was just then projected by the kick of a passing horse. The
moral of this fable cannot be given until he shall get down, and close
the conversation with the regular apophthegm.



LIV.


People who wear tight hats will do well to lay this fable well to
heart, and ponder upon the deep significance of its moral:

In passing over a river, upon a high bridge, a cow discovered a broad
loose plank in the flooring, sustained in place by a beam beneath the
centre.

"Now," said she, "I will stand at this end of the trap, and when
yonder sheep steps upon the opposite extreme there will be an upward
tendency in wool."

So when the meditative mutton advanced unwarily upon the treacherous
device, the cow sprang bodily upon the other end, and there was a fall
in beef.



LV.


Two snakes were debating about the proper method of attacking prey.

"The best way," said one, "is to slide cautiously up, endwise, and
seize it thus"--illustrating his method by laying hold of the other's
tail.

"Not at all," was the reply; "a better plan is to approach by a
circular side-sweep, thus"--turning upon his opponent and taking in
_his_ tail.

Although there was no disagreement as to the manner of disposing of
what was once seized, each began to practise his system upon the
other, and continued until both were swallowed.

The work begun by contention is frequently completed by habit.



[Illustration:]


LVI.


A man staggering wearily through the streets of Persepolis, under a
heavy burden, said to himself:

"I wish I knew what this thing is I have on my back; then I could make
some sort of conjecture as to what I design doing with it."

"Suppose," said the burden, "I were a man in a sack; what disposition
would you make of me?"

"The regular thing," replied the man, "would be to take you over to
Constantinople, and pitch you into the Bosphorus; but I should
probably content myself with laying you down and jumping on you, as
being more agreeable to my feelings, and quite as efficacious."

"But suppose," continued the burden, "I were a shoulder of
beef--which I quite as much resemble--belonging to some poor family?"

"In that case," replied the man, promptly, "I should carry you to my
larder, my good fellow."

"But if I were a sack of gold, do you think you would find me very
onerous?" said the burden.

"A great deal would depend," was the answer, "upon whom you happened
to belong to; but I may say, generally, that gold upon the shoulders
is wonderfully light, considering the weight of it."

"Behold," said the burden, "the folly of mankind: they cannot perceive
that the _quality_ of the burdens of life is a matter of no
importance. The question of pounds and ounces is the only
consideration of any real weight."



LVII.


A ghost meeting a genie, one wintry night, said to him:

"Extremely harassing weather, friend. Wish I had some teeth to
chatter!"

"You do not need them," said the other; "you can always chatter those
of other people, by merely showing yourself. For my part, I should be
content with some light employment: would erect a cheap palace,
transport a light-weight princess, threaten a small cripple--or jobs
of that kind. What are the prospects of the fool crop?"

"For the next few thousand years, very good. There is a sort of thing
called Literature coming in shortly, and it will make our fortune. But
it will be very bad for History. Curse this phantom apparel! The more
I gather it about me the colder I get."

"When Literature has made our fortune," sneered the genie, "I presume
you will purchase material clothing."

"And you," retorted the ghost, "will be able to advertise for
permanent employment at a fixed salary."

This fable shows the difference between the super natural and the
natural "super": the one appears in the narrative, the other does not.



LVIII.


"Permit me to help you on in the world, sir," said a boy to a
travelling tortoise, placing a glowing coal upon the animal's back.

"Thank you," replied the unconscious beast; "I alone am responsible
for the time of my arrival, and I alone will determine the degree of
celerity required. The gait I am going will enable me to keep all my
present appointments."

A genial warmth began about this time to pervade his upper crust, and
a moment after he was dashing away at a pace comparatively tremendous.

"How about those engagements?" sneered the grinning urchin.

"I've recollected another one," was the hasty reply.



LIX.


Having fastened his gaze upon a sparrow, a rattlesnake sprung open his
spanning jaws, and invited her to enter.

"I should be most happy," said the bird, not daring to betray her
helpless condition, but anxious by any subterfuge to get the serpent
to remove his fascinating regard, "but I am lost in contemplation of
yonder green sunset, from which I am unable to look away for more
than a minute. I shall turn to it presently."

"Do, by all means," said the serpent, with a touch of irony in his
voice. "There is nothing so improving as a good, square, green
sunset."

"Did you happen to observe that man standing behind you with a club?"
continued the sparrow. "Handsome fellow! Fifteen cubits high, with
seven heads, and very singularly attired; quite a spectacle in his
way."

"I don't seem to care much for men," said the snake. "Every way
inferior to serpents--except in malice."

"But he is accompanied by a _really interesting_ child," persisted the
bird, desperately.

The rattlesnake reflected deeply. He soliloquized as follows:

"There is a mere chance--say about one chance to ten thousand
million--that this songster is speaking the truth. One chance in ten
thousand million of seeing a really interesting child is worth the
sacrifice demanded; I'll make it."

So saying, he removed his glittering eyes from the bird (who
immediately took wing) and looked behind him. It is needless to say
there was no really interesting child there--nor anywhere else.

MORAL.--Mendacity (so called from the inventors) is a very poor sort
of dacity; but it will serve your purpose if you draw it sufficiently
strong.



LX.


A man who was very much annoyed by the incursions of a lean ass
belonging to his neighbour, resolved to compass the destruction of the
invader.

"Now," said he, "if this animal shall choose to starve himself to
death in the midst of plenty, the law will not hold _me_ guilty of his
blood. I have read of a trick which I think will 'fix' him."

So he took two bales of his best hay, and placed them in a distant
field, about forty cubits apart. By means of a little salt he then
enticed the ass in, and coaxed him between the bundles.

"There, fiend!" said he, with a diabolic grin, as he walked away
delighted with the success of his stratagem, "now hesitate which
bundle of hay to attack first, until you starve--monster!"

Some weeks afterwards he returned with a wagon to convey back the
bundles of hay. There wasn't any hay, but the wagon was useful for
returning to his owner that unfortunate ass--who was too fat to walk.

This ought to show any one the folly of relying upon the teaching of
obscure and inferior authors.[A]

[Footnote A: It is to be wished our author had not laid himself open
to the imputation of having perverted, if not actually invented, some
of his facts, for the unworthy purpose of bringing a deserving rival
into disfavour.--TRANSLATOR.]



LXI.


One day the king of the wrens held his court for the trial of a bear,
who was at large upon his own recognizance. Being summoned to appear,
the animal came with great humility into the royal presence.

"What have you to say, sir," demanded the king, "in defence of your
inexcusable conduct in pillaging the nests of our loyal subjects
wherever you can find them?"

"May it please your Majesty," replied the prisoner, with a reverential
gesture, repeated at intervals, and each time at a less distance from
the royal person, "I will not wound your Majesty's sensibilities by
pleading a love of eggs; I will humbly confess my course of crime,
warn your Majesty of its probable continuance, and beg your Majesty's
gracious permission to inquire--What is your Majesty going to do about
it?"

The king and his ministers were very much struck with this respectful
speech, with the ingenuity of the final inquiry, and with the bear's
paw. It was the paw, however, which made the most lasting impression.

Always give ear to the flattery of your powerful inferiors: it will
cheer you in your decline.



LXII.


A philosopher looking up from the pages of the Zend-Avesta, upon which
he had been centring his soul, beheld a pig violently assailing a
cauldron of cold slops.

"Heaven bless us!" said the sage; "for unalloyed delight give me a
good honest article of Sensuality. So soon as my 'Essay upon the
Correlation of Mind-forces' shall have brought me fame and fortune, I
hope to abjure the higher faculties, devoting the remainder of my life
to the cultivation of the propensities."

"Allah be praised!" soliloquized the pig, "there is nothing so godlike
as Intellect, and nothing so ecstatic as intellectual pursuits. I must
hasten to perform this gross material function, that I may retire to
my wallow and resign my soul to philosophical meditation."

This tale has one moral if you are a philosopher, and another if you
are a pig.



LXIII.


"Awful dark--isn't it?" said an owl, one night, looking in upon the
roosting hens in a poultry-house; "don't see how I am to find my way
back to my hollow tree."

"There is no necessity," replied the cock; "you can roost there,
alongside the door, and go home in the morning."

"Thanks!" said the owl, chuckling at the fool's simplicity; and,
having plenty of time to indulge his facetious humour, he gravely
installed himself upon the perch indicated, and shutting his eyes,
counterfeited a profound slumber. He was aroused soon after by a sharp
constriction of the throat.

"I omitted to tell you," said the cock, "that the seat you happen by
the merest chance to occupy is a contested one, and has been fruitful
of hens to this vexatious weasel. I don't know _how_ often I have been
partially widowed by the sneaking villain."

For obvious reasons there was no audible reply.

This narrative is intended to teach the folly--the worse than sin!--of
trumping your partner's ace.



LXIV.


A fat cow who saw herself detected by an approaching horse while
perpetrating stiff and ungainly gambols in the spring sunshine,
suddenly assumed a severe gravity of gait, and a sedate solemnity of
expression that would have been creditable to a Brahmin.

"Fine morning!" said the horse, who, fired by her example, was
curvetting lithely and tossing his head.

"That rather uninteresting fact," replied the cow, attending strictly
to her business as a ruminant, "does not impress me as justifying your
execution of all manner of unseemly contortions, as a preliminary to
accosting an entire stranger."

"Well, n--no," stammered the horse; "I--I suppose not. Fact is
I--I--no offence, I hope."

And the unhappy charger walked soberly away, dazed by the
preternatural effrontery of that placid cow.

When overcome by the dignity of any one you chance to meet, try to
have this fable about you.



LXV.


"What have you there on your back?" said a zebra, jeeringly, to a
"ship of the desert" in ballast.

"Only a bale of gridirons," was the meek reply.

"And what, pray, may you design doing with them?" was the incredulous
rejoinder.

"What am I to do with gridirons?" repeated the camel, contemptuously.
"Nice question for _you_, who have evidently just come off one!"

People who wish to throw stones should not live in glass houses; but
there ought to be a few in their vicinity.



LXVI.


A cat, waking out of a sound sleep, saw a mouse sitting just out of
reach, observing her. Perceiving that at the slightest movement of
hers the mouse would recollect an engagement, she put on a look of
extreme amiability, and said:

"Oh! it's you, is it? Do you know, I thought at first you were a
frightful great rat; and I am _so_ afraid of rats! I feel so much
relieved--you don't know! Of course you have heard that I am a great
friend to the dear little mice?"

[Illustration]

"Yes," was the answer, "I have heard that you love us indifferently
well, and my mission here was to bless you while you slept. But as you
will wish to go and get your breakfast, I won't bore you. Fine
morning--isn't it? _Au revoir!"_

This fable teaches that it is usually safe to avoid one who pretends
to be a friend without having any reason to be. It wasn't safe in this
instance, however; for the cat went after that departing rodent, and
got away with him.



LXVII.


A man pursued by a lion, was about stepping into a place of safety,
when he bethought him of the power of the human eye; and, turning
about, he fixed upon his pursuer a steady look of stern reproof. The
raging beast immediately moderated his rate per hour, and finally came
to a dead halt, within a yard of the man's nose. After making a
leisurely survey of him, he extended his neck and bit off a small
section of his victim's thigh.

"Beard of Arimanes!" roared the man; "have you no respect for the
Human Eye?"

"I hold the human eye in profound esteem," replied the lion, "and I
confess its power. It assists digestion if taken just before a meal.
But I don't understand why you should have two and I none."

With that he raised his foot, unsheathed his claws, and transferred
one of the gentleman's visual organs to his own mouth.

"Now," continued he, "during the brief remainder of a squandered
existence, your lion-quelling power, being more highly concentrated,
will be the more easily managed."

He then devoured the remnant of his victim, including the other eye.



LXVIII.


An ant laden with a grain of corn, which he had acquired with infinite
toil, was breasting a current of his fellows, each of whom, as is
their etiquette, insisted upon stopping him, feeling him all over, and
shaking hands. It occurred to him that an excess of ceremony is an
abuse of courtesy. So he laid down his burden, sat upon it, folded all
his legs tight to his body, and smiled a smile of great grimness.

"Hullo! what's the matter with _you_?" exclaimed the first insect
whose overtures were declined.

"Sick of the hollow conventionalities of a rotten civilization," was
the rasping reply. "Relapsed into the honest simplicity of primitive
observances. Go to grass!"

"Ah! then we must trouble you for that corn. In a condition of
primitive simplicity there are no rights of property, you know. These
are 'hollow conventionalities.'"

A light dawned upon the intellect of that pismire. He shook the reefs
out of his legs; he scratched the reverse of his ear; he grappled that
cereal, and trotted away like a giant refreshed. It was observed that
he submitted with a wealth of patience to manipulation by his friends
and neighbours, and went some distance out of his way to shake hands
with strangers on competing lines of traffic.



LXIX.


A snake who had lain torpid all winter in his hole took advantage of
the first warm day to limber up for the spring campaign. Having tied
himself into an intricate knot, he was so overcome by the warmth of
his own body that he fell asleep, and did not wake until nightfall. In
the darkness he was unable to find his head or his tail, and so could
not disentangle and slide into his hole. Per consequence, he froze to
death.

Many a subtle philosopher has failed to solve himself, owing to his
inability to discern his beginning and his end.



LXX.


A dog finding a joint of mutton, apparently guarded by a negligent
raven, stretched himself before it with an air of intense
satisfaction.

"Ah!" said he, alternately smiling and stopping up the smiles with
meat, "this is an instrument of salvation to my stomach--an instrument
upon which I love to perform."

"I beg your pardon!" said the bird; "it was placed there specially for
me, by one whose right to so convey it is beyond question, he having
legally acquired it by chopping it off the original owner."

"I detect no flaw in your abstract of title," replied the dog; "all
seems quite regular; but I must not provoke a breach of the peace by
lightly relinquishing what I might feel it my duty to resume by
violence. I must have time to consider; and in the meantime I will
dine."

Thereupon he leisurely consumed the property in dispute, shut his
eyes, yawned, turned upon his back, thrust out his legs divergently,
and died.

For the meat had been carefully poisoned--a fact of which the raven
was guiltily conscious.

There are several things mightier than brute force, and arsenic[A] is
one of them.

[Footnote A: In the original, "_pizen;"_ which might, perhaps, with
equal propriety have been rendered by "caper sauce."--TRANSLATOR.]



LXXI.


The King of Persia had a favourite hawk. One day his Majesty was
hunting, and had become separated from his attendants. Feeling
thirsty, he sought a stream of water trickling from a rock; took a
cup, and pouring some liquor into it from his pocket-flask, filled it
up with water, and raised it to his lips. The hawk, who had been all
this time hovering about, swooped down, screaming "No, you don't!" and
upset the cup with his wing.

"I know what is the matter," said the King: "there is a dead serpent
in the fountain above, and this faithful bird has saved my life by not
permitting me to drink the juice. I must reward him in the regular
way."

So he called a page, who had thoughtfully presented himself, and gave
directions to have the Remorse Apartments of the palace put in order,
and for the court tailor to prepare an evening suit of
sackcloth-and-ashes. Then summoning the hawk, he seized and dashed him
to the ground, killing him very dead. Rejoining his retinue, he
dispatched an officer to remove the body of the serpent from the
fountain, lest somebody else should get poisoned. There wasn't any
serpent--the water was remarkable for its wholesome purity!

Then the King, cheated of his remorse, was sorry he had slain the
bird; he said it was a needless waste of power to kill a bird who
merely deserved killing. It never occurred to the King that the hawk's
touching solicitude was with reference to the contents of the royal
flask.

_Fabula ostendit_ that a "twice-told tale" needs not necessarily be
"tedious"; a reasonable degree of interest may be obtained by
intelligently varying the details.



LXXII.


A herd of cows, blown off the summit of the Himalayas, were sailing
some miles above the valleys, when one said to another:

"Got anything to say about this?"

"Not much," was the answer. "It's airy."

"I wasn't thinking of that," continued the first; "I am troubled about
our course. If we could leave the Pleiades a little more to the right,
striking a middle course between Boötes and the ecliptic, we should
find it all plain sailing as far as the solstitial colure. But once we
get into the Zodiac upon our present bearing, we are certain to meet
with shipwreck before reaching our aphelion."

They escaped this melancholy fate, however, for some Chaldean
shepherds, seeing a nebulous cloud drifting athwart the heavens, and
obscuring a favourite planet they had just invented, brought out their
most powerful telescopes and resolved it into independent cows--whom
they proceeded to slaughter in detail with the instruments of smaller
calibre. There have been occasional "meat showers" ever since. These
are probably nothing more than--

[Our author can be depended upon in matters of fact; his scientific
theories are not worth printing.--TRANSLATOR.]



LXXIII.


A bear, who had worn himself out walking from one end of his cage to
the other, addressed his keeper thus:

"I say, friend, if you don't procure me a shorter cage I shall have to
give up zoology; it is about the most wearing pursuit I ever engaged
in. I favour the advancement of science, but the mechanical part of it
is a trifle severe, and ought to be done by contract."

"You are quite right, my hearty," said the keeper, "it _is_ severe;
and there have been several excellent plans proposed to lighten the
drudgery. Pending the adoption of some of them, you would find a
partial relief in lying down and keeping quiet."

"It won't do--it won't do!" replied the bear, with a mournful shake
of the head, "it's not the orthodox thing. Inaction may do for
professors, collectors, and others connected with the ornamental part
of the noble science; but for _us_, we must keep moving, or zoology
would soon revert to the crude guesses and mistaken theories of the
azoic period. And yet," continued the beast, after the keeper had
gone, "there is something novel and ingenious in what the underling
suggests. I must remember that; and when I have leisure, give it a
trial."

It was noted next day that the noble science had lost an active
apostle, and gained a passive disciple.



LXXIV.


A hen who had hatched out a quantity of ducklings, was somewhat
surprised one day to see them take to the water, and sail away out of
her jurisdiction. The more she thought of this the more unreasonable
such conduct appeared, and the more indignant she became. She resolved
that it must cease forthwith. So she soon afterward convened her
brood, and conducted them to the margin of a hot pool, having a
business connection with the boiling spring of Doo-sno-swair. They
straightway launched themselves for a cruise--returning immediately to
the land, as if they had forgotten their ship's papers.

When Callow Youth exhibits an eccentric tendency, give it him hot.



LXXV.


"Did it ever occur to you that this manner of thing is extremely
unpleasant?" asked a writhing worm of the angler who had impaled him
upon a hook. "Such treatment by those who boast themselves our
brothers is, possibly, fraternal--but it hurts."

"I confess," replied the idler, "that our usages with regard to vermin
and reptiles might be so amended as to be more temperately diabolical;
but please to remember that the gentle agonies with which we afflict
_you_ are wholesome and exhilarating compared with the ills we ladle
out to one another. During the reign of His Pellucid Refulgence,
Khatchoo Khan," he continued, absently dropping his wriggling auditor
into the brook, "no less than three hundred thousand Persian subjects
were put to death, in a pleasing variety of ingenious ways, for their
religious beliefs."

"What that has to do with your treatment of _us_" interrupted a fish,
who, having bitten at the worm just then, was drawn into the
conversation, "I am quite unable to see."

"That," said the angler, disengaging him, "is because you have the
hook through your eyeball, my edible friend."

Many a truth is spoken in jest; but at least ten times as many
falsehoods are uttered in dead earnest.



LXXVI.


A wild cat was listening with rapt approval to the melody of distant
hounds tracking a remote fox.

"Excellent! _bravo!_" she exclaimed at intervals. "I could sit and
listen all day to the like of that. I am passionately fond of music.
_Ong-core!_"

Presently the tuneful sounds drew near, whereupon she began to fidget;
ending by shinning up a tree, just as the dogs burst into view below
her, and stifled their songs upon the body of their victim before her
eyes--which protruded.

[Illustration]

"There is an indefinable charm," said she--"a subtle and tender
spell--a mystery--a conundrum, as it were--in the sounds of an unseen
orchestra. This is quite lost when the performers are visible to the
audience. Distant music (if any) for your obedient servant!"



LXXVII.


Having been taught to turn his scraps of bad Persian into choice
Latin, a parrot was puffed up with conceit.

"Observe," said he, "the superiority I may boast by virtue of my
classical education: I can chatter flat nonsense in the language of
Cicero."

"I would advise you," said his master, quietly, "to let it be of a
different character from that chattered by some of Mr. Cicero's most
admired compatriots, if you value the priviledge of hanging at that
public window. 'Commit no mythology,' please."

The exquisite fancies of a remote age may not be imitated in this;
not, perhaps, from a lack of talent, so much as from a fear of arrest.



LXXVIII.


A rat, finding a file, smelt it all over, bit it gently, and observed
that, as it did not seem to be rich enough to produce dyspepsia, he
would venture to make a meal of it. So he gnawed it into
_smithareens_[A] without the slightest injury to his teeth. With his
morals the case was somewhat different. For the file was a file of
newspapers, and his system became so saturated with the "spirit of the
Press" that he went off and called his aged father a "lingering
contemporary;" advised the correction of brief tails by amputation;
lauded the skill of a quack rodentist for money; and, upon what would
otherwise have been his death-bed, essayed a lie of such phenomenal
magnitude that it stuck in his throat, and prevented him breathing
his last. All this crime, and misery, and other nonsense, because he
was too lazy to worry about and find a file of nutritious fables.

This tale shows the folly of eating everything you happen to fancy.
Consider, moreover, the danger of such a course to your neighbour's
wife.

[Footnote A: I confess my inability to translate this word: it may
mean "flinders."--TRANSLATOR.]



LXXIX.


"I should like to climb up you, if you don't mind," cried an ivy to a
young oak.

"Oh, certainly; come along," was the cheerful assent.

So she started up, and finding she could grow faster than he, she
wound round and round him until she had passed up all the line she
had. The oak, however, continued to grow, and as she could not
disengage her coils, she was just lifted out by the root. So that ends
the oak-and-ivy business, and removes a powerful temptation from the
path of the young writer.



LXXX.


A merchant of Cairo gave a grand feast. In the midst of the revelry,
the great doors of the dining-hall were pushed open from the outside,
and the guests were surprised and grieved by the advent of a crocodile
of a tun's girth, and as long as the moral law.

"Thought I 'd look in," said he, simply, but not without a certain
grave dignity.

"But," cried the host, from the top of the table, "I did not invite
any saurians."

"No--I know yer didn't; it's the old thing, it is: never no wacancies
for saurians--saurians should orter keep theirselves _to_
theirselves--no saurians need apply. I got it all by 'eart, I tell
yer. But don't give yerself no distress; I didn't come to beg; thank
'eaven I ain't drove to that yet--leastwise I ain't done it. But I
thought as 'ow yer'd need a dish to throw slops and broken wittles in
it; which I fetched along this 'ere."

And the willing creature lifted off the cover by erecting the upper
half of his head till the snout of him smote the ceiling.

Open servitude is better than covert begging.



LXXXI.


A gander being annoyed by the assiduous attendance of his ugly
reflection in the water, determined that he would prosecute future
voyages in a less susceptible element. So he essayed a sail upon the
placid bosom of a clay-bank. This kind of navigation did not meet his
expectations, however, and he returned with dogged despair to his
pond, resolved to make a final cruise and go out of commission. He was
delighted to find that the clay adhering to his hull so defiled the
water that it gave back no image of him. After that, whenever he left
port, he was careful to be well clayed along the water-line.

The lesson of this is that if all geese are alike, we can banish
unpleasant reflections by befouling ourselves. This is worth knowing.



LXXXII.


The belly and the members of the human body were in a riot. (This is
not the riot recorded by an inferior writer, but a more notable and
authentic one.) After exhausting the well-known arguments, they had
recourse to the appropriate threat, when the man to whom they
belonged thought it time for _him_ to be heard, in his capacity as a
unit.

"Deuce take you!" he roared. "Things have come to a pretty pass if a
fellow cannot walk out of a fine morning without alarming the town by
a disgraceful squabble between his component parts! I am reasonably
impartial, I hope, but man's devotion is due to his deity: I espouse
the cause of my belly."

Hearing this, the members were thrown into so extraordinary confusion
that the man was arrested for a windmill.

As a rule, don't "take sides." Sides of bacon, however, may be
temperately acquired.



LXXXIII.


A man dropping from a balloon struck against a soaring eagle.

"I beg your pardon," said he, continuing his descent; "I never _could_
keep off eagles when in my descending node."

"It is agreeable to meet so pleasing a gentleman, even without
previous appointment," said the bird, looking admiringly down upon the
lessening aeronaut; "he is the very pink of politeness. How extremely
nice his liver must be. I will follow him down and arrange his simple
obsequies."

This fable is narrated for its intrinsic worth.



LXXXIV.


To escape from a peasant who had come suddenly upon him, an opossum
adopted his favourite expedient of counterfeiting death.

"I suppose," said the peasant, "that ninety-nine men in a hundred
would go away and leave this poor creature's body to the beasts of
prey." [It is notorious that man is the only living thing that will
eat the animal.] "But _I_ will give him good burial."

So he dug a hole, and was about tumbling him into it, when a solemn
voice appeared to emanate from the corpse: "Let the dead bury their
dead!"

"Whatever spirit hath wrought this miracle," cried the peasant,
dropping upon his knees, "let him but add the trifling explanation of
_how_ the dead can perform this or any similar rite, and I am
obedience itself. Otherwise, in goes Mr. 'Possum by these hands."

"Ah!" meditated the unhappy beast, "I have performed one miracle, but
I can't keep it up all day, you know. The explanation demanded is a
trifle too heavy for even the ponderous ingenuity of a marsupial."

And he permitted himself to be sodded over.

If the reader knows what lesson is conveyed by this narrative, he
knows--just what the writer knows.



LXXXV.


Three animals on board a sinking ship prepared to take to the water.
It was agreed among them that the bear should be lowered alongside;
the mouse (who was to act as pilot) should embark upon him at once, to
beat off the drowning sailors; and the monkey should follow, with
provisions for the expedition--which arrangement was successfully
carried out. The fourth day out from the wreck, the bear began to
propound a series of leading questions concerning dinner; when it
appeared that the monkey had provided but a single nut.

"I thought this would keep me awhile," he explained, "and you could
eat the pilot."

Hearing this, the mouse vanished like a flash into the bear's ear,
and fearing the hungry beast would then demand the nut, the monkey
hastily devoured it. Not being in a position to insist upon his
rights, the bear merely gobbled up the monkey.



[Illustration]


LXXXVI.


A lamb suffering from thirst went to a brook to drink. Putting his
nose to the water, he was interested to feel it bitten by a fish. Not
liking fish, he drew back and sought another place; but his persecutor
getting there before him administered the same rebuff. The lamb being
rather persevering, and the fish having no appointments for that day,
this was repeated a few thousand times, when the former felt justified
in swearing:

"I'm eternally boiled!" said he, "if ever I experienced so many fish
in all my life. It is discouraging. It inspires me with mint sauce and
green peas."

He probably meant amazement and fear; under the influence of powerful
emotions even lambs will talk "shop."

"Well, good bye," said his tormentor, taking a final nip at the
animal's muzzle; "I should like to amuse you some more; but I have
other fish to fry."

This tale teaches a good quantity of lessons; but it does _not_ teach
why this fish should have persecuted this lamb.



LXXXVII.


A mole, in pursuing certain geological researches, came upon the
buried carcase of a mule, and was about to tunnel him.

"Slow down, my good friend," said the deceased. "Push your mining
operations in a less sacrilegious direction. Respect the dead, as you
hope for death!"

"You have that about you," said the gnome, "that must make your grave
respected in a certain sense, for at least such a period as your
immortal part may require for perfect exhalation. The immunity I
accord is not conceded to your sanctity, but extorted by your scent.
The sepulchres of moles only are sacred."

To moles, the body of a lifeless mule
A dead mule's carcase is, and nothing more.



LXXXVIII.


"I think I'll set my sting into you, my obstructive friend," said a
bee to an iron pump against which she had flown; "you are always more
or less in the way."

"If you do," retorted the other, "I'll pump on you, if I can get any
one to work my handle."

Exasperated by this impotent conservative threat, she pushed her
little dart against him with all her vigour. When she tried to sheathe
it again she couldn't, but she still made herself useful about the
hive by hooking on to small articles and dragging them about. But no
other bee would sleep with her after this; and so, by her ill-judged
resentment, she was self-condemmed to a solitary cell.

The young reader may profitably beware.



LXXXIX.


A Chinese dog, who had been much abroad with his master, was asked,
upon his return, to state the most ludicrous fact he had observed.

"There is a country," said he, "the people of which are eternally
speaking about 'Persian honesty,' 'Persian courage,' 'Persian
loyalty,' 'Persian love of fair play,' &c., as if the Persians enjoyed
a clear monopoly of these universal virtues. What is more, they speak
thus in blind good faith--with a dense gravity of conviction that is
simply amazing."

"But," urged the auditors, "we requested something ludicrous, not
amazing."

"Exactly; the ludicrous part is the name of their country, which is--"

"What?"

"Persia."



XC.


There was a calf, who, suspecting the purity of the milk supplied him
by his dam, resolved to transfer his patronage to the barn-yard pump.

"Better," said he, "a pure article of water, than a diet that is
neither fish, flesh, nor fowl."

But, although extremely regular in his new diet--taking it all the
time--he did not seem to thrive as might have been expected. The
larger orders he drew, the thinner and the more transparent he became;
and at last, when the shadow of his person had become to him a vague
and unreal memory, he repented, and applied to be reinstated in his
comfortable sinecure at the maternal udder.

"Ah! my prodigal son," said the old lady, lowering her horns as if to
permit him to weep upon her neck, "I regret that it is out of my power
to celebrate your return by killing the fatted calf; but what I can I
will do."

And she killed him instead.

_Mot herl yaff ecti onk nocksal loth ervir tu esperfec tlyc old_.[A]

[Footnote A: The learned reader will appreciate the motive which has
prompted me to give this moral only in the original Persian.--TRANSLATOR.]



XCI.


"There, now," said a kitten, triumphantly, laying a passive mouse at
the feet of her mother. "I flatter myself I am coming on with a
reasonable degree of rapidity. What will become of the minor
quadrupeds when I have attained my full strength and ferocity, it is
mournful to conjecture!"

"Did he give you much trouble?" inquired the aged ornament of the
hearth-side, with a look of tender solicitude.

"Trouble!" echoed the kitten, "I never had such a fight in all my
life! He was a downright savage--in his day."

"My Falstaffian issue," rejoined the Tabby, dropping her eyelids and
composing her head for a quiet sleep, "the above is a _toy_ mouse."



XCII.


A crab who had travelled from the mouth of the Indus all the way to
Ispahan, knocked, with much chuckling, at the door of the King's
physician.

"Who's there?" shouted the doctor, from his divan within.

"A bad case of _cancer_," was the complacent reply.

"Good!" returned the doctor; "I'll _cure_ you, my friend."

So saying, he conducted his facetious patient into the kitchen, and
potted him in pickle. It cured him--of practical jocularity.

May the fable heal _you_, if you are afflicted with that form of evil.



XCIII.


A certain magician owned a learned pig, who had lived a cleanly
gentlemanly life, achieving great fame, and winning the hearts of all
the people. But perceiving he was not happy, the magician, by a
process easily explained did space permit, transformed him into a man.
Straightway the creature abandoned his cards, his timepiece, his
musical instruments, and all other devices of his profession, and
betook him to a pool of mud, wherein he inhumed himself to the tip of
his nose.

"Ten minutes ago," said the magician reprovingly, "you would have
scorned to do an act like that."

"True," replied the biped, with a contented grunt; "I was then a
learned pig; I am now a learned man."



XCIV.


"Nature has been very kind to her creatures," said a giraffe to an
elephant. "For example, your neck being so very short, she has given
you a proboscis wherewith to reach your food; and I having no
proboscis, she has bestowed upon me a long neck."

"I think, my good friend, you have been among the theologians," said
the elephant. "I doubt if I am clever enough to argue with you. I can
only say it does not strike me that way."

"But, really," persisted the giraffe, "you must confess your trunk is
a great convenience, in that it enables you to reach the high branches
of which you are so fond, even as my long neck enables me."

"Perhaps," mused the ungrateful pachyderm, "if we could not reach the
higher branches, we should develop a taste for the lower ones."

"In any case," was the rejoinder, "we can never be sufficiently
thankful that we are unlike the lowly hippopotamus, who can reach
neither the one nor the other."

"Ah! yes," the elephant assented, "there does not seem to have been
enough of Nature's kindness to go round."

"But the hippopotamus has his roots and his rushes."

"It is not easy to see how, with his present appliances, he could
obtain anything else."

This fable teaches nothing; for those who perceive the meaning of it
either knew it before, or will not be taught.



XCV.


A pious heathen who was currying favour with his wooden deity by
sitting for some years motionless in a treeless plain, observed a
young ivy putting forth her tender shoots at his feet. He thought he
could endure the additional martyrdom of a little shade, and begged
her to make herself quite at home.

"Exactly," said the plant; "it is my mission to adorn venerable
ruins."

She lapped her clinging tendrils about his wasted shanks, and in six
months had mantled him in green.

"It is now time," said the devotee, a year later, "for me to fulfil
the remainder of my religious vow. I must put in a few seasons of
howling and leaping. You have been very good, but I no longer require
your gentle ministrations."

"But I require yours," replied the vine; "you have become a second
nature to me. Let others indulge in the delights of gymnastic worship;
you and I will 'surfer and be strong'--respectively."

The devotee muttered something about the division of labour, and his
bones are still pointed out to the pilgrim.



XCVI.


A fox seeing a swan afloat, called out:

"What ship is that? I wish to take passage by your line."

"Got a ticket?" inquired the fowl.

"No; I'll make it all right with the company, though."

So the swan moored alongside, and he embarked,--deck passage. When
they were well off shore the fox intimated that dinner would be
agreeable.

"I would advise you not to try the ship's provisions," said the bird;
"we have only salt meat on board. Beware the scurvy!"

"You are quite right," replied the passenger; "I'll see if I can stay
my stomach with the foremast."

So saying he bit off her neck, and she immediately capsizing, he was
drowned.

MORAL--highly so, but not instructive.



XCVII.


A monkey finding a heap of cocoa-nuts, gnawed into one, then dropped
it, gagging hideously.

"Now, this is what _I_ call perfectly disgusting!" said he: "I can
never leave anything lying about but some one comes along and puts a
quantity of nasty milk into it!"

A cat just then happening to pass that way began rolling the
cocoa-nuts about with her paw.

"Yeow!" she exclaimed; "it is enough to vex the soul of a cast-iron
dog! Whenever I set out any milk to cool, somebody comes and seals it
up tight as a drum!"

Then perceiving one another, and each thinking the other the offender,
these enraged animals contended, and wrought a mutual extermination.
Whereby two worthy consumers were lost to society, and a quantity of
excellent food had to be given to the poor.



XCVIII.


A mouse who had overturned an earthern jar was discovered by a cat,
who entered from an adjoining room and began to upbraid him in the
harshest and most threatening manner.

"You little wretch!" said she, "how dare you knock over that valuable
urn? If it had been filled with hot water, and I had been lying before
it asleep, I should have been scalded to death."

"If it had been full of water," pleaded the mouse, "it would not have
upset."

[Illustration]

"But I might have lain down in it, monster!" persisted the cat.

"No, you couldn't," was the answer; "it is not wide enough."

"Fiend!" shrieked the cat, smashing him with her paw; "I can curl up
real small when I try."

The _ultima ratio_ of very angry people is frequently addressed to the
ear of the dead.



XCIX.


In crossing a frozen pool, a monkey slipped and fell, striking upon
the back of his head with considerable force, so that the ice was very
much shattered. A peacock, who was strutting about on shore thinking
what a pretty peacock he was, laughed immoderately at the mishap.
N.B.--All laughter is immoderate when a fellow is hurt--if the fellow
is oneself.

"Bah!" exclaimed the sufferer; "if you could see the beautiful
prismatic tints I have knocked into this ice, you would laugh out of
the other side of your bill. The splendour of your tail is quite
eclipsed."

Thus craftily did he inveigle the vain bird, who finally came and
spread his tail alongside the fracture for comparison. The gorgeous
feathers at once froze fast to the ice, and--in short, that artless
fowl passed a very uncomfortable winter.



C.


A volcano, having discharged a few million tons of stones upon a small
village, asked the mayor if he thought that a tolerably good supply
for building purposes.

"I think," replied that functionary, "if you give us another dash of
granite, and just a pinch of old red sandstone, we could manage with
what you have already done for us. We would, however, be grateful for
the loan of your crater to bake bricks."

"Oh, certainly; parties served at their residences." Then, after the
man had gone, the mountain added, with mingled lava and contempt: "The
most insatiable people I ever contracted to supply. They shall not
have another pebble!"

He banked his fires, and in six weeks was as cold as a neglected
pudding. Then might you have seen the heaving of the surface boulders,
as the people began stirring forty fathoms beneath.

When you have got quite enough of anything, make it manifest by asking
for some more. You won't get it.



CI.


"I entertain for you a sentiment of profound amity," said the tiger to
the leopard. "And why should I not? for are we not members of the same
great feline family?"

"True," replied the leopard, who was engaged in the hopeless endeavour
to change his spots; "since we have mutually plundered one another's
hunting grounds of everything edible, there remains no grievance to
quarrel about. You are a good fellow; let us embrace!"

They did so with the utmost heartiness; which being observed by a
contiguous monkey, that animal got up a tree, where he delivered
himself of the wisdom following:

"There is nothing so touching as these expressions of mutual regard
between animals who are vulgarly believed to hate one another. They
render the brief intervals of peace almost endurable to both parties.
But the difficulty is, there are so many excellent reasons why these
relatives should live in peace, that they won't have time to state
them all before the next fight."



CII.


A woodpecker, who had bored a multitude of holes in the body of a dead
tree, was asked by a robin to explain their purpose.

"As yet, in the infancy of science," replied the woodpecker, "I am
quite unable to do so. Some naturalists affirm that I hide acorns in
these pits; others maintain that I get worms out of them. I
endeavoured for some time to reconcile the two theories; but the worms
ate my acorns, and then would not come out. Since then, I have left
science to work out its own problems, while I work out the holes. I
hope the final decision may be in some way advantageous to me; for at
my nest I have a number of prepared holes which I can hammer into some
suitable tree at a moment's notice. Perhaps I could insert a few into
the scientific head."

"No-o-o," said the robin, reflectively, "I should think not. A
prepared hole is an idea; I don't think it could get in."

MORAL.--It might be driven in with a steam-hammer.



CIII.


"Are you going to this great hop?" inquired a spruce cricket of a
labouring beetle.

"No," replied he, sadly, "I've got to attend this great ball."

"Blest if I know the difference," drawled a more offensive insect,
with his head in an empty silk hat; "and I've been in society all my
life. But why was I not invited to either hop or ball?"

He is now invited to the latter.



CIV.


"Too bad, too bad," said a young Abyssinian to a yawning hippopotamus.

"What is 'too bad?'" inquired the quadruped. "What is the matter with
you?"

"Oh, _I_ never complain," was the reply; "I was only thinking of the
niggard economy of Nature in building a great big beast like you and
not giving him any mouth."

"H'm, h'm! it was still worse," mused the beast, "to construct a
great wit like you and give him no seasonable occasion for the display
of his cleverness."

A moment later there were a cracking of bitten bones, a great gush of
animal fluids, the vanishing of two black feet--in short, the fatal
poisoning of an indiscreet hippopotamus.

The rubbing of a bit of lemon about the beaker's brim is the
finishing-touch to a whiskey punch. Much misery may be thus averted.



CV.


A salmon vainly attempted to leap up a cascade. After trying a few
thousand times, he grew so fatigued that he began to leap less and
think more. Suddenly an obvious method of surmounting the difficulty
presented itself to the salmonic intelligence.

"Strange," he soliloquized, as well as he could in the water,--"very
strange I did not think of it before! I'll go above the fall and leap
downwards."

So he went out on the bank, walked round to the upper side of the
fall, and found he could leap over quite easily. Ever afterwards when
he went up-stream in the spring to be caught, he adopted this plan. He
has been heard to remark that the price of salmon might be brought
down to a merely nominal figure, if so many would not wear themselves
out before getting up to where there is good fishing.



CVI.


"The son of a jackass," shrieked a haughty mare to a mule who had
offended her by expressing an opinion, "should cultivate the simple
grace of intellectual humility."

"It is true," was the meek reply, "I cannot boast an illustrious
ancestry; but at least I shall never be called upon to blush for my
posterity. Yonder mule colt is as proper a son--"

"Yonder mule colt?" interrupted the mare, with a look of ineffable
contempt for her auditor; "that is _my_ colt!"

"The consort of a jackass and the mother of mules," retorted he,
quietly, "should cultivate the simple thingamy of intellectual
whatsitsname."

The mare muttered something about having some shopping to do, threw on
her harness, and went out to call a cab.



CVII.


"Hi! hi!" squeaked a pig, running after a hen who had just left her
nest; "I say, mum, you dropped this 'ere. It looks wal'able; which I
fetched it along!" And splitting his long face, he laid a warm egg at
her feet.

"You meddlesome bacon!" cackled the ungrateful bird; "if you don't
take that orb directly back, I 'll sit on you till I hatch you out of
your saddle-cover!"

MORAL.--Virtue is its only reward.



CVIII.


A rustic, preparing to devour an apple, was addressed by a brace of
crafty and covetous birds:

"Nice apple that," said one, critically examining it. "I don't wish to
disparage it--wouldn't say a word against that vegetable for all the
world. But I never can look upon an apple of that variety without
thinking of my poisoned nestling! Ah! so plump, and rosy,
and--rotten!"

"Just so," said the other. "And you remember my good father, who
perished in that orchard. Strange that so fair a skin should cover so
vile a heart!"

Just then another fowl came flying up.

[Illustration]

"I came in, all haste," said he, "to warn you about that fruit. My
late lamented wife ate some off the same tree. Alas! how comely to the
eye, and how essentially noxious!"

"I am very grateful," the young man said; "but I am unable to
comprehend how the sight of this pretty piece of painted confectionery
should incite you all to slander your dead relations."

Whereat there was confusion in the demeanour of that feathered trio.



CIX.


"The Millennium is come," said a lion to a lamb. "Suppose you come out
of that fold, and let us lie down together, as it has been foretold we
should."

"Been to dinner to-day?" inquired the lamb.

"Not a bite of anything since breakfast," was the reply, "except a few
lean swine, a saddle or two, and some old harness."

"I distrust a Millennium," continued the lamb, thoughtfully, "which
consists _solely_ in our lying down together. My notion of that happy
time is that it is a period in which pork and leather are not articles
of diet, but in which every respectable lion shall have as much mutton
as he can consume. However, you may go over to yonder sunny hill and
lie down until I come."

It is singular how a feeling of security tends to develop cunning. If
that lamb had been out upon the open plain he would have readily
fallen into the snare--and it was studded very thickly with teeth.



CX.


"I say, you!" bawled a fat ox in a stall to a lusty young ass who was
braying outside; "the like of that is not in good taste!"

"In whose good taste, my adipose censor?" inquired the ass, not too
respectfully.

"Why--h'm--ah! I mean it does not suit _me_. You ought to bellow."

"May I inquire how it happens to be any of your business whether I
bellow or bray, or do both--or neither?"

"I cannot tell you," answered the critic, shaking his head
despondingly; "I do not at all understand it. I can only say that I
have been accustomed to censure all discourse that differs from my
own."

"Exactly," said the ass; "you have sought to make an art of
impertinence by mistaking preferences for principles. In 'taste' you
have invented a word incapable of definition, to denote an idea
impossible of expression; and by employing in connection therewith the
words 'good' and 'bad,' you indicate a merely subjective process in
terms of an objective quality. Such presumption transcends the limit
of the merely impudent, and passes into the boundless empyrean of pure
cheek!"

At the close of this remarkable harangue, the bovine critic was at a
loss for language to express his disapproval. So he said the speech
was in bad taste.



CXI.


A bloated toad, studded with dermal excrescences, was boasting that
she was the wartiest creature alive.

"Perhaps you are," said her auditor, emerging from the soil; "but it
is a barren and superficial honour. Look at me: I am one solid mole!"



CXII.


"It is very difficult getting on in the world," sighed a weary snail;
"very difficult indeed, with such high rents!"

"You don't mean to say you pay anything for that old rookery!" said a
slug, who was characteristically insinuating himself between the stems
of the celery intended for dinner. "A miserable old shanty like that,
without stables, grounds, or any modern conveniences!"

"Pay!" said the snail, contemptuously; "I'd like to see you get a
semi-detatched villa like this at a nominal rate!"

"Why don't you let your upper apartments to a respectable single
party?" urged the slug.

The answer is not recorded.



CXIII.


A hare, pursued by a dog, sought sanctuary in the den of a wolf. It
being after business hours, the latter was at home to him.

"Ah!" panted the hare; "how very fortunate! I feel quite safe here,
for you dislike dogs quite as much as I do."

"Your security, my small friend," replied the wolf, "depends not upon
those points in which you and I agree, but upon those in which I and
the dog differ."

"Then you mean to eat me?" inquired the timorous puss.

"No-o-o," drawled the wolf, reflectively, "I should not like to
promise _that_; I mean to eat a part of you. There may be a tuft of
fur, and a toe-nail or two, left for you to go on with. I am hungry,
but I am not hoggish."

"The distinction is too fine for me," said the hare, scratching her
head.

"That, my friend, is because you have not made a practice of
hare-splitting. I have."



CXIV.


"Oyster at home?" inquired a monkey, rapping at the closed shell.

There was no reply. Dropping the knocker, he laid hold of the
bell-handle, ringing a loud peal, but without effect.

"Hum, hum!" he mused, with a look of disappointment, "gone to the sea
side, I suppose."

So he turned away, thinking he would call again later in the season;
but he had not proceeded far before he conceived a brilliant idea.
Perhaps there had been a suicide!--or a murder! He would go back and
force the door. By way of doing so he obtained a large stone, and
smashed in the roof. There had been no murder to justify such
audacity, so he committed one.

The funeral was gorgeous. There were mute oysters with wands, drunken
oysters with scarves and hat-bands, a sable hearse with hearth-dusters
on it, a swindling undertaker's bill, and all the accessories of a
first-rate churchyard circus--everything necessary but the corpse.
That had been disposed of by the monkey, and the undertaker meanly
withheld the use of his own.

MORAL.--A lamb foaled in March makes the best pork when his horns have
attained the length of an inch.



CXV.


"Pray walk into my parlour," said the spider to the fly.
"That is not quite original," the latter made reply.
"If that's the way you plagiarize, your fame will be a fib--
But I'll walk into your parlour, while I pitch into your crib.
But before I cross your threshold, sir, if I may make so free,
Pray let me introduce to you my friend, 'the wicked flea.'"
"How do you?" says the spider, as his welcome he extends;
"'How doth the busy little bee,' and all our other friends?"
"Quite well, I think, and quite unchanged," the flea said; "though I learn,
In certain quarters well informed, 'tis feared 'the worm will turn.'"
"Humph!" said the fly; "I do not understand this talk--not I!"
"It is 'classical allusion,'" said the spider to the fly.



CXVI.


A polar bear navigating the mid-sea upon the mortal part of a late
lamented walrus, soliloquized, in substance, as follows:

"Such liberty of action as I am afflicted with is enough to embarrass
any bear that ever bore. I can remain passive, and starve; or I can
devour my ship, and drown. I am really unable to decide."

So he sat down to think it over. He considered the question in all its
aspects, until he grew quite thin; turned it over and over in his mind
until he was too weak to sit up; meditated upon it with a constantly
decreasing pulse, a rapidly failing respiration. But he could not make
up his mind, and finally expired without having come to a decision.

It appears to me he might almost as well have chosen starvation, at a
venture.



CXVII.


A sword-fish having penetrated seven or eight feet into the bottom of
a ship, under the impression that he was quarrelling with a whale, was
unable to draw out of the fight. The sailors annoyed him a good deal,
by pounding with handspikes upon that portion of his horn inside; but
he bore it as bravely as he could, putting the best possible face
upon the matter, until he saw a shark swimming by, of whom he inquired
the probable destination of the ship.

"Italy, I think," said the other, grinning. "I have private reasons
for believing her cargo consists mainly of consumptives."

"Ah!" exclaimed the captive; "Italy, delightful clime of the cerulean
orange--the rosy olive! Land of the night-blooming Jesuit, and the
fragrant _laszarone_! It would be heavenly to run down gondolas in the
streets of Venice! I _must_ go to Italy."

"Indeed you must," said the shark, darting suddenly aft, where he had
caught the gleam of shotted canvas through the blue waters.

But it was fated to be otherwise: some days afterwards the ship and
fish passed over a sunken rock which almost grazed the keel. Then the
two parted company, with mutual expressions of tender regard, and a
report which could be traced by those on board to no trustworthy
source.

The foregoing fable shows that a man of good behaviour need not care
for money, and _vice versâ_.



CXVIII.


A facetious old cat seeing her kitten sleeping in a bath tub, went
down into the cellar and turned on the hot water. (For the convenience
of the bathers the bath was arranged in that way; you had to undress,
and then go down to the cellar to let on the wet.) No sooner did the
kitten remark the unfamiliar sensation, than he departed thence with a
willingness quite creditable in one who was not a professional
acrobat, and met his mother on the kitchen stairs.

"Aha! my steaming hearty!" cried the elder grimalkin; "I coveted you
when I saw the cook put you in the dinner-pot. If I have a weakness,
it is hare--hare nicely dressed, and partially boiled."

Whereupon she made a banquet of her suffering offspring.[A]

Adversity works a stupendous change in tender youth; many a young man
is never recognized by his parents after having been in hot water.

[Footnote A: Here should have followed the appropriate and obvious
classical allusion. It is known our fabulist was classically educated.
Why, then, this disgraceful omission?--TRANSLATOR.]



CXIX.


"It is a waste of valour for us to do battle," said a lame ostrich to
a negro who had suddenly come upon her in the desert; "let us cast
lots to see who shall be considered the victor, and then go about our
business."

To this proposition the negro readily assented. They cast lots: the
negro cast lots of stones, and the ostrich cast lots of feathers. Then
the former went about his business, which consisted of skinning the
bird.

MORAL.--There is nothing like the arbitrament of chance. That form of
it known as _trile-bi-joorie_ is perhaps as good as any.



CXX.


An author who had wrought a book of fables (the merit whereof
transcended expression) was peacefully sleeping atop of the modest
eminence to which he had attained, when he was rudely awakened by a
throng of critics, emitting adverse judgment upon the tales he had
builded.

[Illustration]

"Apparently," said he, "I have been guilty of some small grains of
unconsidered wisdom, and the same have proven a bitterness to these
excellent folk, the which they will not abide. Ah, well! those who
produce the Strasburg _pâté_ and the feather-pillow are prone to
regard _us_ as rival creators. I presume it is in course of nature for
him who grows the pen to censure the manner of its use."

So speaking, he executed a smile a hand's-breath in extent, and
resumed his airy dream of dropping ducats.



CXXI.


For many years an opossum had anointed his tail with bear's oil, but
it remained stubbornly bald-headed. At last his patience was
exhausted, and he appealed to Bruin himself, accusing him of breaking
faith, and calling him a quack.

"Why, you insolent marsupial!" retorted the bear in a rage; "you
expect my oil to give you hair upon your tail, when it will not give
me even a tail. Why don't you try under-draining, or top-dressing with
light compost?"

They said and did a good deal more before the opossum withdrew his
cold and barren member from consideration; but the judicious fabulist
does not encumber his tale with extraneous matter, lest it be
pointless.



CXXII.


"So disreputable a lot as you are I never saw!" said a sleepy rat to
the casks in a wine-cellar. "Always making night hideous with your
hoops and hollows, and disfiguring the day with your bunged-up
appearance. There is no sleeping when once the wine has got into your
heads. I'll report you to the butler!"

"The sneaking tale-bearer," said the casks. "Let us beat him with our
staves."

"_Requiescat in pace_," muttered a learned cobweb, sententiously.

"Requires a cat in the place, does it?" shrieked the rat. "Then I'm
off!"

To explain all the wisdom imparted by this fable would require the pen
of a pig, and volumes of smoke.



CXXIII.


A giraffe having trodden upon the tail of a poodle, that animal flew
into a blind rage, and wrestled valorously with the invading foot.

"Hullo, sonny!" said the giraffe, looking down, "what are you doing
there?"

"I am fighting!" was the proud reply; "but I don't know that it is any
of your business."

"Oh, I have no desire to mix in," said the good-natured giraffe. "I
never take sides in terrestrial strife. Still, as that is my foot, I
think--"

"Eh!" cried the poodle, backing some distance away and gazing upward,
shading his eyes with his paw. "You don't mean to say--by Jove it's a
fact! Well, that beats _me_! A beast of such enormous length--such
preposterous duration, as it were--I wouldn't have believed it! Of
course I can't quarrel with a non-resident; but why don't you have a
local agent on the ground?"

The reply was probably the wisest ever made; but it has not descended
to this generation. It had so very far to descend.



CXXIV.


A dog having got upon the scent of a deer which a hunter had been
dragging home, set off with extraordinary zeal. After measuring off a
few leagues, he paused.

"My running gear is all right," said he; "but I seem to have lost my
voice."

Suddenly his ear was assailed by a succession of eager barks, as of
another dog in pursuit of him. It then began to dawn upon him that he
was a particularly rapid dog: instead of having lost his voice, his
voice had lost him, and was just now arriving. Full of his discovery,
he sought his master, and struck for better food and more comfortable
housing.

"Why, you miserable example of perverted powers!" said his master; "I
never intended you for the chase, but for the road. You are to be a
draught-dog--to pull baby about in a cart. You will perceive that
speed is an objection. Sir, you must be toned down; you will be at
once assigned to a house with modern conveniences, and will dine at a
French restaurant. If that system do not reduce your own, I'm an
'Ebrew Jew!"

The journals next morning had racy and appetizing accounts of a canine
suicide.



CXXV.


A gosling, who had not yet begun to blanch, was accosted by a chicken
just out of the shell:

"Whither away so fast, fair maid?" inquired the chick.

"Wither away yourself," was the contemptuous reply; "you are already
in the sere and yellow leaf; while I seem to have a green old age
before me."



CXXVI.


A famishing traveller who had run down a salamander, made a fire, and
laid him alive upon the hot coals to cook. Wearied with the pursuit
which had preceded his capture, the animal at once composed himself,
and fell into a refreshing sleep. At the end of a half-hour, the man,
stirred him with a stick, remarking:

"I say!--wake up and begin toasting, will you? How long do you mean to
keep dinner waiting, eh?"

"Oh, I beg you will not wait for me," was the yawning reply. "If you
are going to stand upon ceremony, everything will get cold. Besides, I
have dined. I wish, by-the-way, you would put on some more fuel; I
think we shall have snow."

"Yes," said the man, "the weather is like yourself--raw, and
exasperatingly cool. Perhaps this will warm you." And he rolled a
ponderous pine log atop of that provoking reptile, who flattened out,
and "handed in his checks."

  The moral thus doth glibly run--
    A cause its opposite may brew;
  The sun-shade is unlike the sun,
    The plum unlike the plumber, too.
  A salamander underdone
    His impudence may overdo.



CXXVII.


A humming-bird invited a vulture to dine with her. He accepted, but
took the precaution to have an emetic along with him; and immediately
after dinner, which consisted mainly of dew, spices, honey, and
similar slops, he swallowed his corrective, and tumbled the
distasteful viands out. He then went away, and made a good wholesome
meal with his friend the ghoul. He has been heard to remark, that the
taste for humming-bird fare is "too artificial for _him_." He says, a
simple and natural diet, with agreeable companions, cheerful
surroundings, and a struggling moon, is best for the health, and most
agreeable to the normal palate.

People with vitiated tastes may derive much profit from this opinion.
_Crede experto._



CXXVIII.


A certain terrier, of a dogmatic turn, asked a kitten her opinion of
rats, demanding a categorical answer. The opinion, as given, did not
possess the merit of coinciding with his own; whereupon he fell upon
the heretic and bit her--bit her until his teeth were much worn and
her body much elongated--bit her good! Having thus vindicated the
correctness of his own view, he felt so amiable a satisfaction that he
announced his willingness to adopt the opinion of which he had
demonstrated the harmlessness. So he begged his enfeebled antagonist
to re-state it, which she incautiously did. No sooner, however, had
the superior debater heard it for the second time than he resumed his
intolerance, and made an end of that unhappy cat.

"Heresy," said he, wiping his mouth, "may be endured in the vigorous
and lusty; but in a person lying at the very point of death such
hardihood is intolerable."

It is always intolerable.



CXXIX.


A tortoise and an armadillo quarrelled, and agreed to fight it out.
Repairing to a secluded valley, they put themselves into hostile
array.

"Now come on!" shouted the tortoise, shrinking into the inmost
recesses of his shell.

"All right," shrieked the armadillo, coiling up tightly in his coat of
mail; "I am ready for you!"

And thus these heroes waged the awful fray from morn till dewy eve, at
less than a yard's distance. There has never been anything like it;
their endurance was something marvellous! During the night each
combatant sneaked silently away; and the historian of the period
obscurely alludes to the battle as "the naval engagement of the
future."



CXXX.

[Illustration]

Two hedgehogs having conceived a dislike to a hare, conspired for his
extinction. It was agreed between them that the lighter and more agile
of the two should beat him up, surround him, run him into a ditch,
and drive him upon the thorns of the more gouty and unwieldy
conspirator. It was not a very hopeful scheme, but it was the best
they could devise. There was a chance of success if the hare should
prove willing, and, gambler-like, they decided to take that chance,
instead of trusting to the remote certainty of their victim's death
from natural cause. The doomed animal performed his part as well as
could be reasonably expected of him: every time the enemy's flying
detachment pressed him hard, he fled playfully toward the main body,
and lightly vaulted over, about eight feet above the spines. And this
prickly blockhead had not the practical sagacity to get upon a wall
seven feet and six inches high!

This fable is designed to show that the most desperate chances are
comparatively safe.



CXXXI.


A young eel inhabiting the mouth of a river in India, determined to
travel. Being a fresh-water eel, he was somewhat restricted in his
choice of a route, but he set out with a cheerful heart and very
little luggage. Before he had proceeded very far up-stream he found
the current too strong to be overcome without a ruinous consumption of
coals. He decided to anchor his tail where it then was, and _grow_ up.
For the first hundred miles it was tolerably tedious work, but when he
had learned to tame his impatience, he found this method of progress
rather pleasant than otherwise. But when he began to be caught at
widely separate points by the fishermen of eight or ten different
nations, he did not think it so fine.

This fable teaches that when you extend your residence you multiply
your experiences. A local eel can know but little of angling.



CXXXII.


Some of the lower animals held a convention to settle for ever the
unspeakably important question, What is Life?

"Life," squeaked the poet, blinking and folding his filmy wings,
"is--." His kind having been already very numerously heard from upon
the subject, he was choked off.

"Life," said the scientist, in a voice smothered by the earth he was
throwing up into small hills, "is the harmonious action of
heterogeneous but related faculties, operating in accordance with
certain natural laws."

"Ah!" chattered the lover, "but that thawt of thing is vewy gweat
blith in the thothiety of one'th thweetheart." And curling his tail
about a branch, he swung himself heavenward and had a spasm.

"It is _vita_!" grunted the sententious scholar, pausing in his
mastication of a Chaldaic root.

"It is a thistle," brayed the warrior: "very nice thing to take!"

"Life, my friends," croaked the philosopher from his hollow tree,
dropping the lids over his cattish eyes, "is a disease. We are all
symptoms."

"Pooh!" ejaculated the physician, uncoiling and springing his rattle.
"How then does it happen that when _we_ remove the symptoms, the
disease is gone?"

"I would give something to know that," replied the philosopher,
musingly; "but I suspect that in most cases the inflammation remains,
and is intensified."

Draw your own moral inference, "in your own jugs."



CXXXIII.


A heedless boy having flung a pebble in the direction of a basking
lizard, that reptile's tail disengaged itself, and flew some distance
away. One of the properties of a lizard's camp-follower is to leave
the main body at the slightest intimation of danger.

"There goes that vexatious narrative again," exclaimed the lizard,
pettishly; "I never had such a tail in my life! Its restless tendency
to divorce upon insufficient grounds is enough to harrow the
reptilian soul! Now," he continued, backing up to the fugitive part,
"perhaps you will be good enough to resume your connection with the
parent establishment."

No sooner was the splice effected, than an astronomer passing that way
casually remarked to a friend that he had just sighted a comet.
Supposing itself menaced, the timorous member again sprang away,
coming down plump before the horny nose of a sparrow. Here its career
terminated.

We sometimes escape from an imaginary danger, only to find some real
persecutor has a little bill against us.



CXXXIV.


A jackal who had pursued a deer all day with unflagging industry, was
about to seize him, when an earthquake, which was doing a little civil
engineering in that part of the country, opened a broad chasm between
him and his prey.

"Now, here," said he, "is a distinct interference with the laws of
nature. But if we are to tolerate miracles, there is an end of all
progress."

So speaking, he endeavoured to cross the abyss at two jumps. His fate
would serve the purpose of an impressive warning if it might be
clearly ascertained; but the earth having immediately pinched together
again, the research of the moral investigator is baffled.



CXXXV.


"Ah!" sighed a three-legged stool, "if I had only been a quadruped, I
should have been happy as the day is long--which, on the twenty-first
of June, would be considerable felicity for a stool."

"Ha! look at me!" said a toadstool; "consider my superior privation,
and be content with your comparatively happy lot."

"I don't discern," replied the first, "how the contemplation of
unipedal misery tends to alleviate tripedal wretchedness."

"You don't, eh!" sneered the toadstool. "You mean, do you, to fly in
the face of all the moral and social philosophers?"

"Not unless some benefactor of his race shall impel me."

"H'm! I think Zambri the Parsee is the man for that kindly office, my
dear."

This final fable teaches that he is.



BRIEF SEASONS OF INTELLECTUAL DISSIPATION.



I.


FOOL.--I have a question for you.

PHILOSOPHER.--I have a number of them for myself. Do you happen to
have heard that a fool can ask more questions in a breath than a
philosopher can answer in a life?

F.--I happen to have heard that in such a case the one is as great a
fool as the other.

PH.--Then there is no distinction between folly and philosophy?

F.--Don't lay the flattering unction to your soul. The province of
folly is to ask unanswerable questions. It is the function of
philosophy to answer them.

PH.--Admirable fool!

F.--Am I? Pray tell me the meaning of "a fool."

PH.--Commonly he has none.

F.--I mean--

PH.--Then in this case he has one.

F.--I lick thy boots! But what does Solomon indicate by the word fool?
That is what I mean.

PH.--Let us then congratulate Solomon upon the agreement between the
views of you two. However, I twig your intent: he means a wicked
sinner; and of all forms of folly there is none so great as wicked
sinning. For goodness is, in the end, more conducive to personal
happiness--which is the sole aim of man.

F.--Hath virtue no better excuse than this?

PH.--Possibly; philosophy is not omniscience.

F.--Instructed I sit at thy feet!

PH.--Unwilling to instruct, I stand on my head.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--You say personal happiness is the sole aim of man.

PHILOSOPHER.--Then it is.

F.--But this is much disputed.

PH.--There is much personal happiness in disputation.

F.--Socrates--

PH.--Hold! I detest foreigners.

F.--Wisdom, they say, is of no country.

PH.--Of none that I have seen.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--Let us return to our subject--the sole aim of mankind. Crack me
these nuts. (1) The man, never weary of well-doing, who endures a life
of privation for the good of his fellow-creatures?

PHILOSOPHER.--Does he feel remorse in so doing? or does the rascal
rather like it?

F.--(2) He, then, who, famishing himself, parts his loaf with a
beggar?

PH.--There are people who prefer benevolence to bread.

F.--Ah! _De gustibus_--

PH.--Shut up!

F.--Well, (3) how of him who goes joyfully to martyrdom?

PH.--He goes joyfully.

F.--And yet--

PH.--Did you ever converse with a good man going to the stake?

F.--I never saw a good man going to the stake.

PH.--Unhappy pupil! you were born some centuries too early.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--You say you detest foreigners. Why?

PHILOSOPHER.--Because I am human.

F.--But so are they.

PH.--Excellent fool! I thank thee for the better reason.

       *       *       *       *       *

PHILOSOPHER.--I have been thinking of the _pocopo_.

FOOL.--Is it open to the public?

PH.--The pocopo is a small animal of North America, chiefly remarkable
for singularity of diet. It subsists solely upon a single article of
food.

F.--What is that?

PH.--Other pocopos. Unable to obtain this, their natural sustenance, a
great number of pocopos die annually of starvation. Their death leaves
fewer mouths to feed, and by consequence their race is rapidly
multiplying.

F.--From whom had you this?

PH.--A professor of political economy.

F.--I bend in reverence! What made you think of the pocopo?

PH.--Speaking of man.

F.--If you did not wish to think of the pocopo, and speaking of man
would make you think of it, you would not speak of man, would you?

PH.--Certainly not.

F.--Why not?

PH.--I do not know.

F.--Excellent philosopher!

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--I have attentively considered your teachings. They may be full
of wisdom; they are certainly out of taste.

PHILOSOPHER.--Whose taste?

F.--Why, that of people of culture.

PH.--Do any of these people chance to have a taste for intoxication,
tobacco, hard hats, false hair, the nude ballet, and over-feeding?

F.--Possibly; but in intellectual matters you must confess their taste
is correct.

PH.--Why must I?

F.--They say so themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

PHILOSOPHER.--I have been thinking why a dolt is called a donkey.

FOOL.--I had thought philosophy concerned itself with a less personal
class of questions; but why is it?

PH.--The essential quality of a dolt is stupidity.

F.--Mine ears are drunken!

PH.--The essential quality of an ass is asininity.

F.--Divine philosophy!

PH.--As commonly employed, "stupidity" and "asininity" are convertible
terms.

F.--That I, unworthy, should have lived to see this day!

       *       *       *       *       *



II.


FOOL.--If _I_ were a doctor--

DOCTOR.--I should endeavour to be a fool.

F.--You would fail; folly is not easily achieved.

D.--True; man is overworked.

F.--Let him take a pill.

D.--If he like. I would not.

F.--You are too frank: take a fool's advice.

D.--Thank thee for the nastier prescription.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--I have a friend who--

DOCTOR.--Stands in great need of my assistance. Absence of excitement,
gentle restraint, a hard bed, simple diet--that will straighten him
out.

F.--I'll give thee sixpence to let me touch the hem of thy garment!

D.--What of your friend?

F.--He is a gentleman.

D.--Then he is dead!

F.--Just so: he is "straightened out"--he took your prescription.

D.--All but the "simple diet."

F.--He is himself the diet.

D.--How simple!

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--Believe you a man retains his intellect after decapitation?

DOCTOR.--It is possible that he acquires it?

F.--Much good it does him.

D.--Why not--as compensation? He is at some disadvantage in other
respects.

F.--For example?

D.--He is in a false position.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--What is the most satisfactory disease?

DOCTOR.--Paralysis of the thoracic duct.

F.--I am not familiar with it.

D.--It does not encourage familiarity. Paralysis of the thoracic duct
enables the patient to accept as many invitations to dinner as he can
secure, without danger of spoiling his appetite.

F.--But how long does his appetite last?

D.--That depends. Always a trifle longer than he does.

F.--The portion that survives him--?

D.--Goes to swell the Mighty Gastric Passion which lurks darkly
Outside, yawning to swallow up material creation!

F.--Pitch it a biscuit.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--You attend a patient. He gets well. Good! How do you tell
whether his recovery is because of your treatment or in spite of it?

DOCTOR.--I never do tell.

F.--I mean how do you know?

D.--I take the opinion of a person interested in the question: I ask a
fool.

F.--How does the patient know?

D.--The fool asks me.

F.--Amiable instructor! How shall I reward thee?

D.--Eat a cucumber cut up in shilling claret.

       *       *       *       *       *

DOCTOR.--The relation between a patient and his disease is the same as
that which obtains between the two wooden weather-prophets of a Dutch
clock. When the disease goes off, the patient goes on; when the
disease goes on, the patient goes off.

FOOL.--A pauper conceit. Their relations, then, are not of the most
cordial character.

D.--One's relations--except the poorer sort--seldom are.

F.--My tympanum is smitten with pleasant peltings of wisdom! I 'll lay
you ten to one you cannot tell me the present condition of your last
patient.

D.--Done!

F.--You have won the wager.

FOOL.--I once read the report of an actual conversation upon a
scientific subject between a fool and a physician.

DOCTOR.--Indeed! That sort of conversation commonly takes place
between fools only.

F.--The reporter had chosen to confound orthography: he spelt fool
"phool," and physician "fysician." What the fool said was, therefore,
preceded by "PH;" the remarks of the physician were indicated by the
letter "F."

D.--This must have been very confusing.

F.--It was. But no one discovered that any liberties had been taken
with orthography.

D.--You tumour!

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--Suppose you had amongst your menials an ailing oyster?

DOCTOR.--Oysters do not ail.

F.--I have heard that the pearl is the result of a disease.

D.--Whether a functional derangement producing a valuable gem can be
properly termed, or treated as, a disease, is open to honest doubt.

F.--Then in the case supposed you would not favour excision of the
abnormal part?

D.--Yes; I would remove the oyster.

F.--But if the pearl were growing very rapidly this operation would
not be immediately advisable.

D.--That would depend upon the symptomatic diagnosis.

F.--Beast! Give me air!

       *       *       *       *       *

DOCTOR.--I have been thinking--

FOOL.--(Liar!)

D.--That you "come out" rather well for a fool.

Can it be that I have been entertaining an angel unawares?

F.--Dismiss the apprehension: I am as great a fool as yourself. But
there is a way by which in future you may resolve a similar doubt.

D.--Explain.

F.--Speak to your guest of symptomatic diagnosis. If he is an angel,
he will not resent it.

       *       *       *       *       *



III.


SOLDIER (_reading from "Napier"_).--"Who would not rather be buried by
an army upon the field of battle than by a sexton in a church-yard!"

FOOL.--I give it up.

S.--I am not aware that any one has asked you for an opinion.

F.--I am not aware that I have given one: there is a happiness yet in
store for you.

S.--I will revel in anticipation.

F.--You must revel somehow; without revelry there would be no
soldiering.

S.--Idiot.

F.--I beg your pardon: I had thought your profession had at least
taught you to call people by their proper titles. In the service of
mankind I hold the rank of Fool.

S.--What, ho! without there! Let the trumpets sound!

F.--I beg you will not.

S.--True; you beg: I will not.

F.--But why rob when stealing is more honourable?

S.--Consider the competition.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--Sir Cut-throat, how many orphans have you made to-day?

SOLDIER.--The devil an orphan! Have you a family?

F.--Put up your iron; I am the last of my race.

S.--How? No more fools?

F.--Not one, so help me! They have all gone to the wars.

S.--And why, pray, have _you_ not enlisted?

F.--I should be no fool if I knew.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--You are somewhat indebted to me.

SOLDIER.--I do not acknowledge your claim. Let us submit the matter to
arbitration.

F.--The only arbiter whose decision you respect is on your own side.

S.--You allude to my sword, the most impartial of weapons: it cuts
both ways.

F.--And each way is peculiarly objectionable to your opponent.

S.--But for what am I indebted to you?

F.--For existence: the prevalence of me has made you possible.

S.--The benefit is not conspicuous; were it not for your quarrels, I
should enjoy a quantity of elegant leisure.

F.--As a clodhopper.

S.--I should at least hop my clods in a humble and Christian spirit;
and if some other fellow did did not so hop his--! I say no more.

F.--You have said enough; there would be war.

       *       *       *       *       *

SOLDIER.--Why wear a cap and bells?

FOOL.--I hasten to crave pardon, and if spared will at once exchange
them.

S.--For what?

F.--A helmet and feather.

S.--G "hang a calf-skin on those recreant limbs."

F.--'T is only wisdom should be bound in calf.

S.--Why?

F.--Because wisdom is the veal of which folly is the matured beef.

S.--Then folly should be garbed in cow-skin?

F.--Aye, that it might the more speedily appear for what it is--the
naked truth.

S.--How should it?

F.--You would soon strip off its hide to make harness and trappings
withal. No one thinks how much conquerors owe to cows.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--Tell me, hero, what is strategy?

SOLDIER.--The art of laying two knives against one throat.

F.--And what are tactics?

S.--The art of driving them home.

F.--Supermundane lexicographer!

S.--I'll bust thy crust! (_Attempts to draw his sword, gets it between
his legs, and falls along_.)

F. (_from a distance_)--Shall I summon an army, or a sexton? And will
you have it of bronze, or marble?

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--When you have gained a great victory, how much of the glory
goes to the horse whose back you bestrode?

SOLDIER.--Nonsense! A horse cannot appreciate glory; he prefers corn.

F.--And this you call non-appreciation! But listen. (_Reads_) "During
the Crusades, a part of the armament of a Turkish ship was two hundred
serpents." In the pursuit of glory you are at least not above
employing humble auxiliaries. These be curious allies.

S.--What stuff a fool may talk! No true soldier would pit a serpent
against a brave enemy. These worms were _sailors_.

F.--A nice distinction, truly! Did you ever, my most acute professor
of vivisection, employ your trenchant blade in the splitting of hairs?

S.--I have split masses of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

FOOL.--Speaking of the Crusades: at the siege of Acre, when a part of
the wall had been thrown down by the Christians, the Pisans rushed
into the breach, but the greater part of their army being at dinner,
they were bloodily repulsed.

SOLDIER.--You appear to have a minute acquaintance with military
history.

F.--Yes--being a fool. But was it not a sin and a shame that those
feeders should not stir from their porridge to succour their suffering
comrades?

S.--Pray why should a man neglect his business to oblige a friend?

F.--But they might have taken and sacked the city.

S.--The selfish gluttons!

       *       *       *       *       *

SOLDIER.--Your presumption grows intolerable; I'll hold no further
parley with thee.

FOOL.--"Herculean gentleman, I dread thy drubs; pity the lifted whites
of both my eyes!"

S.--Then speak no more of the things you do but imperfectly
understand.

F.--Such censorship would doom all tongues to silence. But show me
wherein my knowledge is deficient.

S.--What is an _abattis_?

F.--Rubbish placed in front of a fort, to keep the rubbish outside
from getting at the rubbish inside.

S.--Egad! I'll part thy hair!



DIVERS TALES.



THE GRATEFUL BEAR.


I hope all my little readers have heard the story of Mr. Androcles and
the lion; so I will relate it as nearly as I can remember it, with the
caution that Androcles must not be confounded with the lion. If I had
a picture representing Androcles with a silk hat, and the lion with a
knot in his tail, the two might readily be distinguished; but the
artist says he won't make any such picture, and we must try to get on
without.

One day Androcles was gathering truffles in a forest, when he found a
lion's den; and, walking into it, he lay down and slept. It was a
custom, in his time, to sleep in lions' dens when practicable. The
lion was absent, inspecting a zoological garden, and did not return
until late; but he did return. He was surprised to find a stranger in
his menagerie without a ticket; but, supposing him to be some
contributor to a comic paper, did not eat him: he was very well
satisfied not to be eaten by him. Presently Androcles awoke, wishing
he had some seltzer water, or something. (Seltzer water is good after
a night's debauch, and something--it is difficult to say what--is good
to begin the new debauch with). Seeing the lion eyeing him, he began
hastily to pencil his last will and testament upon the rocky floor of
the den. What was his surprise to see the lion advance amicably and
extend his right forefoot! Androcles, however, was equal to the
occasion: he met the friendly overture with a cordial grasp of the
hand, whereat the lion howled--for he had a carpet-tack in his foot.
Perceiving that he had made a little mistake, Androcles made such
reparation as was in his power by pulling out the tack and putting it
in his own foot.

After this the beast could not do too much for him. He went out every
morning--carefully locking the door behind him--and returned every
evening, bringing in a nice fat baby from an adjacent village, and
laying it gratefully at his benefactor's feet. For the first few days
something seemed to have gone wrong with the benefactor's appetite,
but presently he took very kindly to the new diet; and, as he could
not get away, he lodged there, rent-free, all the days of his
life--which terminated very abruptly one evening when the lion had not
met with his usual success in hunting.

All this has very little to do with my story: I throw it in as a
classical allusion, to meet the demands of a literary fashion which
has its origin in the generous eagerness of writers to give the public
more than it pays for. But the story of Androcles was a favourite with
the bear whose adventures I am about to relate.

One day this crafty brute carefully inserted a thorn between two of
his toes, and limped awkwardly to the farm-house of Dame Pinworthy, a
widow, who with two beautiful whelps infested the forest where he
resided. He knocked at the open door, sent in his card, and was duly
admitted to the presence of the lady, who inquired his purpose. By way
of "defining his position" he held up his foot, and snuffled very
dolorously. The lady adjusted her spectacles, took the paw in her lap
(she, too, had heard the tale of Androcles), and, after a close
scrutiny, discovered the thorn, which, as delicately as possible, she
extracted, the patient making wry faces and howling dismally the
while.

[Illustration]

When it was all over, and she had assured him there was no charge, his
gratitude was a passion to observe! He desired to embrace her at once;
but this, although a widow of seven years' standing, she would by no
means permit; she said she was not personally averse to hugging, "but
what would her dear departed--boo-hoo!--say of it?" This was very
absurd, for Mr. Boo-hoo had seven feet of solid earth above him, and
it couldn't make much difference what he said, even supposing he had
enough tongue left to say anything, which he had not. However, the
polite beast respected her scruples; so the only way in which he could
testify his gratitude was by remaining to dinner. They had the
housedog for dinner that day, though, from some false notion of
hospitable etiquette, the woman and children did not take any.

On the next day, punctually at the same hour, the bear came again with
another thorn, and stayed to dinner as before. It was not much of a
dinner this time--only the cat, and a roll of stair-carpet, with one
or two pieces of sheet music; but true gratitude does not despise even
the humblest means of expression. The succeeding day he came as
before; but after being relieved of his torment, he found nothing
prepared for him. But when he took to thoughtfully licking one of the
little girl's hands, "that answered not with a caress," the mother
thought better of it, and drove in a small heifer.

He now came every day; he was so old a friend that the formality of
extracting the thorn was no longer observed; it would have contributed
nothing to the good understanding that existed between him and the
widow. He thought that three or four instances of Good Samaritanism
afforded ample matter for perpetual gratitude. His constant visits
were bad for the live stock of the farm; for some kind of beast had to
be in readiness each day to furnish forth the usual feast, and this
prevented multiplication. Most of the textile fabrics, too, had
disappeared; for the appetite of this animal was at the same time
cosmopolitan and exacting: it would accept almost anything in the way
of _entremets_, but something it would have. A hearthrug, a hall-mat,
a cushion, mattress, blanket, shawl, or other article of wearing
apparel--anything, in short, that was easy of ingestion was graciously
approved. The widow tried him once with a box of coals as dessert to
some barn-yard fowls; but this he seemed to regard as a doubtful
comestible, seductive to the palate, but obstinate in the stomach. A
look at one of the children always brought him something else, no
matter what he was then engaged on.

It was suggested to Mrs. Pinworthy that she should poison the bear;
but, after trying about a hundredweight of strychnia, arsenic, and
Prussic acid, without any effect other than what might be expected
from mild tonics, she thought it would not be right to go into
toxicology. So the poor Widow Pinworthy went on, patiently enduring
the consumption of her cattle, sheep, and hogs, the evaporation of her
poultry, and the taking off of her bed linen, until there were left
only the clothing of herself and children, some curtains, a sickly
lamb, and a pet pigeon. When the bear came for these she ventured to
expostulate. In this she was perfectly successful: the animal
permitted her to expostulate as long as she liked. Then he ate the
lamb and pigeon, took in a dish-cloth or two, and went away just as
contentedly as if she had not uttered a word.

Nothing edible now stood between her little daughters and the grave.
Her mental agony was painful to her mind; she could scarcely have
suffered more without an increase of unhappiness. She was roused to
desperation; and next day, when she saw the bear leaping across the
fields toward the house, she staggered from her seat and shut the
door. It was singular what a difference it made; she always remembered
it after that, and wished she had thought of it before.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE SETTING SACHEM.


  'Twas an Injin chieftain, in feathers all fine,
    Who stood on the ocean's rim;
  There were numberless leagues of excellent brine--
    But there wasn't enough for him.
  So he knuckled a thumb in his painted eye,
  And added a tear to the scant supply.

  The surges were breaking with thund'rous voice,
    The winds were a-shrieking shrill;
  This warrior thought that a trifle of noise
    Was needed to fill the bill.
  So he lifted the top of his head off and scowled--
  Exalted his voice, did this chieftain, and howled!

  The sun was aflame in a field of gold
    That hung o'er the Western Sea;
  Bright banners of light were broadly unrolled,
    As banners of light should be.
  But no one was "speaking a piece" to that sun,
  And therefore this Medicine Man begun:

  "O much heap of bright! O big ball of warm!
    I've tracked you from sea to sea!
  For the Paleface has been at some pains to inform
    Me, _you_ are the emblem of _me_.
  He says to me, cheerfully: 'Westward Ho!'
  And westward I've hoed a most difficult row.

  "Since you are the emblem of me, I presume
    That I am the emblem of you,
  And thus, as we're equals, 't is safe to assume,
    That one great law governs us two.
  So now if I set in the ocean with thee,
  With thee I shall rise again out of the sea."

  His eloquence first, and his logic the last!
    Such orators die!--and he died:
  The trump was against him--his luck bad--he "passed"--
    And so he "passed out"--with the tide.
  This Injin is rid of the world with a whim--
  The world it is rid of his speeches and him.

       *       *       *       *       *



FEODORA.


Madame Yonsmit was a decayed gentlewoman who carried on her
decomposition in a modest wayside cottage in Thuringia. She was an
excellent sample of the Thuringian widow, a species not yet extinct,
but trying very hard to become so. The same may be said of the whole
genus. Madame Yonsmit was quite young, very comely, cultivated,
gracious, and pleasing. Her home was a nest of domestic virtues, but
she had a daughter who reflected but little credit upon the nest.
Feodora was indeed a "bad egg"--a very wicked and ungrateful egg. You
could see she was by her face. The girl had the most vicious
countenance--it was repulsive! It was a face in which boldness
struggled for the supremacy with cunning, and both were thrashed into
subjection by avarice. It was this latter virtue in Feodora which kept
her mother from having a taxable income.

Feodora's business was to beg on the highway. It wrung the heart of
the honest amiable gentlewoman to have her daughter do this; but the
h.a.g. having been reared in luxury, considered labour
degrading--which it is--and there was not much to steal in that part
of Thuringia. Feodora's mendicity would have provided an ample fund
for their support, but unhappily that ingrate would hardly ever fetch
home more than two or three shillings at a time. Goodness knows what
she did with the rest.

Vainly the good woman pointed out the sin of coveteousness; vainly she
would stand at the cottage door awaiting the child's return, and begin
arguing the point with her the moment she came in sight: the receipts
diminished daily until the average was less than tenpence--a sum upon
which no born gentlewoman would deign to exist. So it became a matter
of some importance to know where Feodora kept her banking account.
Madame Yonsmit thought at first she would follow her and see; but
although the good lady was as vigorous and sprightly as ever, carrying
a crutch more for ornament than use, she abandoned this plan because
it did not seem suitable to the dignity of a decayed gentlewoman. She
employed a detective.

The foregoing particulars I have from Madame Yonsmit herself; for
those immediately subjoining I am indebted to the detective, a skilful
officer named Bowstr.

[Illustration]

No sooner had the scraggy old hag communicated her suspicions than the
officer knew exactly what to do. He first distributed hand-bills all
over the country, stating that a certain person suspected of
concealing money had better look sharp. He then went to the Home
Secretary, and by not seeking to understate the real difficulties of
the case, induced that functionary to offer a reward of a thousand
pounds for the arrest of the malefactor. Next he proceeded to a
distant town, and took into custody a clergyman who resembled Feodora
in respect of wearing shoes. After these formal preliminaries he took
up the case with some zeal. He was not at all actuated by a desire to
obtain the reward, but by pure love of justice. The thought of
securing the girl's private hoard for himself never for a moment
entered his head.

He began to make frequent calls at the widow's cottage when Feodora
was at home, when, by apparently careless conversation, he would
endeavour to draw her out; but he was commonly frustrated by her old
beast of a mother, who, when the girl's answers did not suit, would
beat her unmercifully. So he took to meeting Feodora on the highway,
and giving her coppers carefully marked. For months he kept this up
with wonderful self-sacrifice--the girl being a mere uninteresting
angel. He met her daily in the roads and forest. His patience never
wearied, his vigilance never flagged. Her most careless glances were
conscientiously noted, her lightest words treasured up in his memory.
Meanwhile (the clergyman having been unjustly acquitted) he arrested
everybody he could get his hands on. Matters went on in this way until
it was time for the grand _coup_.

The succeeding-particulars I have from the lips of Feodora herself.

When that horrid Bowstr first came to the house Feodora thought he was
rather impudent, but said, little about it to her mother--not desiring
to have her back broken. She merely avoided him as much as she dared,
he was so frightfully ugly. But she managed to endure him until he
took to waylaying her on the highway, hanging about her all day,
interfering with the customers, and walking home with her at night.
Then her dislike deepened into disgust; and but for apprehensions not
wholly unconnected with a certain crutch, she would have sent him
about his business in short order. More than a thousand million times
she told him to be off and leave her alone, but men are such
fools--particularly this one.

What made Bowstr exceptionally disagreeable was his shameless habit of
making fun of Feodora's mother, whom he declared crazy as a loon. But
the maiden bore everything as well as she could, until one day the
nasty thing put his arm about her waist and kissed her before her very
face; _then_ she felt--well, it is not clear how she felt, but of one
thing she was quite sure: after having such a shame put upon her by
this insolent brute, she would never go back under her dear mother's
roof--never. She was too proud for _that_, at any rate. So she ran
away with Mr. Bowstr, and married him.

The conclusion of this history I learned for myself.

Upon hearing of her daughter's desertion Madame Yonsmit went clean
daft. She vowed she could bear betrayal, could endure decay, could
stand being a widow, would not repine at being left alone in her old
age (whenever she should become old), and could patiently submit to
the sharper than a serpent's thanks of having a toothless child
generally. But to be a mother-in-law! No, no; that was a plane of
degradation to which she positively would _not_ descend. So she
employed me to cut her throat. It was the toughest throat I ever cut
in all my life.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE LEGEND OF IMMORTAL TRUTH.


  A bear, having spread him a notable feast,
    Invited a famishing fox to the place.
  "I've killed me," quoth he, "an edible beast
  As ever distended the girdle of priest
    With 'spread of religion,' or 'inward grace.'
  To my den I conveyed her,
  I bled her and flayed her,
    I hung up her skin to dry;
  Then laid her naked, to keep her cool,
  On a slab of ice from the frozen pool;
    And there we will eat her--you and I."

  The fox accepts, and away they walk,
  Beguiling the time with courteous talk.
  You'd ne'er have suspected, to see them smile,
  The bear was thinking, the blessed while,
    How, when his guest should be off his guard,
    With feasting hard,
  He'd give him a "wipe" that would spoil his style.
  You'd never have thought, to see them bow,
  The fox was reflecting deeply how
  He would best proceed, to circumvent
    His host, and prig
    The entire pig--
  Or other bird to the same intent.
  When Strength and Cunning in love combine,
  Be sure 't is to more than merely dine.

  The while these biters ply the lip,
  A mile ahead the muse shall skip:
  The poet's purpose she best may serve
  Inside the den--if she have the nerve.
  Behold! laid out in dark recess,
  A ghastly goat in stark undress,
  Pallid and still on her gelid bed,
  And indisputably very dead.
  Her skin depends from a couple of pins--
  And here the most singular statement begins;
    For all at once the butchered beast,
    With easy grace for one deceased,
    Upreared her head,
    Looked round, and said,
    Very distinctly for one so dead:
  "The nights are sharp, and the sheets are thin:
  I find it uncommonly cold herein!"

[Illustration]

  I answer not how this was wrought:
  All miracles surpass my thought.
  They're vexing, say you? and dementing?
  Peace, peace! they're none of my inventing.
  But lest too much of mystery
  Embarrass this true history,
  I'll not relate how that this goat
  Stood up and stamped her feet, to inform'em
  With--what's the word?--I mean, to warm'em;
  Nor how she plucked her rough _capote_
  From off the pegs where Bruin threw it,
  And o'er her quaking body drew it;
  Nor how each act could so befall:
  I'll only swear she did them all;
  Then lingered pensive in the grot,
  As if she something had forgot,
  Till a humble voice and a voice of pride
  Were heard, in murmurs of love, outside.
  Then, like a rocket set aflight,
  She sprang, and streaked it for the light!

  Ten million million years and a day
  Have rolled, since these events, away;
  But still the peasant at fall of night,
  Belated therenear, is oft affright
  By sounds of a phantom bear in flight;
  A breaking of branches under the hill;
  The noise of a going when all is still!
  And hens asleep on the perch, they say,
  Cackle sometimes in a startled way,
  As if they were dreaming a dream that mocks
  The lope and whiz of a fleeting fox!

  Half we're taught, and teach to youth,
    And praise by rote,
  Is not, but merely stands for, truth.
    So of my goat:
  She's merely designed to represent
  The truth--"immortal" to this extent:
  Dead she may be, and skinned--_frappé_--
  Hid in a dreadful den away;
  Prey to the Churches--(any will do,
  Except the Church of me and you.)
  The simplest miracle, even then,
  Will get her up and about again.



CONVERTING A PRODIGAL.


Little Johnny was a saving youth--one who from early infancy had
cultivated a provident habit. When other little boys were wasting
their substance in riotous gingerbread and molasses candy, investing
in missionary enterprises which paid no dividends, subscribing to the
North Labrador Orphan Fund, and sending capital out of the country
gene rally, Johnny would be sticking sixpences into the chimney-pot of
a big tin house with "BANK" painted on it in red letters above an
illusory door. Or he would put out odd pennies at appalling rates of
interest, with his parents, and bank the income. He was never weary of
dropping coppers into that insatiable chimney-pot, and leaving them
there. In this latter respect he differed notably from his elder
brother, Charlie; for, although Charles was fond of banking too, he
was addicted to such frequent runs upon the institution with a
hatchet, that it kept his parents honourably poor to purchase banks
for him; so they were reluctantly compelled to discourage the
depositing element in his panicky nature.

Johnny was not above work, either; to him "the dignity of labour" was
not a juiceless platitude, as it is to me, but a living, nourishing
truth, as satisfying and wholesome as that two sides of a triangle are
equal to one side of bacon. He would hold horses for gentlemen who
desired to step into a bar to inquire for letters. He would pursue the
fleeting pig at the behest of a drover. He would carry water to the
lions of a travelling menagerie, or do anything, for gain. He was
sharp-witted too: before conveying a drop of comfort to the parching
king of beasts, he would stipulate for six-pence instead of the usual
free ticket--or "tasting order," so to speak. He cared not a button
for the show.

The first hard work Johnny did of a morning was to look over the house
for fugitive pins, needles, hair-pins, matches, and other unconsidered
trifles; and if he sometimes found these where nobody had lost them,
he made such reparation as was in his power by losing them again where
nobody but he could find them. In the course of time, when he had
garnered a good many, he would "realize," and bank the proceeds.

Nor was he weakly superstitious, this Johnny. You could not fool _him_
with the Santa Claus hoax on Christmas Eve: he would lie awake all
night, as sceptical as a priest; and along toward morning, getting
quietly out of bed, would examine the pendent stockings of the other
children, to satisfy himself the predicted presents were not there;
and in the morning it always turned out that they were not. Then, when
the other children cried because they did not get anything, and the
parents affected surprise (as if they really believed in the venerable
fiction), Johnny was too manly to utter a whimper: he would simply
slip out of the back door, and engage in traffic with affluent
orphans; disposing of woolly horses, tin whistles, marbles, tops,
dolls, and sugar archangels, at a ruinous discount for cash. He
continued these provident courses for nine long years, always banking
his accretions with scrupulous care. Everybody predicted he would one
day be a merchant prince or a railway king; and some added he would
sell his crown to the junk-dealers.

His unthrifty brother, meanwhile, kept growing worse and worse. He was
so careless of wealth--so so wastefully extravagant of lucre--that
Johnny felt it his duty at times to clandestinely assume control of
the fraternal finances, lest the habit of squandering should wreck the
fraternal moral sense. It was plain that Charles had entered upon the
broad road which leads from the cradle to the workhouse--and that he
rather liked the travelling. So profuse was his prodigality that there
were grave suspicions as to his method of acquiring what he so openly
disbursed. There was but one opinion as to the melancholy termination
of his career--a termination which he seemed to regard as eminently
desirable. But one day, when the good pastor put it at him in so many
words, Charles gave token of some apprehension.

"Do you really think so, sir?" said he, thoughtfully; "ain't you
playin' it on me?"

"I assure you, Charles," said the good man, catching a ray of hope
from the boy's dawning seriousness, "you will certainly end your days
in a workhouse, unless you speedily abandon your course of
extravagance. There is nothing like habit--nothing!"

Charles may have thought that, considering his frequent and lavish
contributions to the missionary fund, the parson was rather hard upon
him; but he did not say so. He went away in mournful silence, and
began pelting a blind beggar with coppers.

One day, when Johnny had been more than usually provident, and Charles
proportionately prodigal, their father, having exhausted moral suasion
to no apparent purpose, determined to have recourse to a lower order
of argument: he would try to win Charles to economy by an appeal to
his grosser nature. So he convened the entire family, and,

"Johnny," said he, "do you think you have much money in your bank?
You ought to have saved a considerable sum in nine years."

Johnny took the alarm in a minute: perhaps there was some barefooted
little girl to be endowed with Sunday-school books.

"No," he answered, reflectively, "I don't think there can be much.
There's been a good deal of cold weather this winter, and you know how
metal shrinks! No-o-o, I'm sure there can't be only a little."

"Well, Johnny, you go up and bring down your bank. We'll see. Perhaps
Charles may be right, after all; and it's not worth while to save
money. I don't want a son of mine to get into a bad habit unless it
pays."

So Johnny travelled reluctantly up to his garret, and went to the
corner where his big tin bank-box had sat on a chest undisturbed for
years. He had long ago fortified himself against temptation by vowing
never to even shake it; for he remembered that formerly when Charles
used to shake his, and rattle the coins inside, he always ended by
smashing in the roof. Johnny approached his bank, and taking hold of
the cornice on either side, braced himself, gave a strong lift
upwards, and keeled over upon his back with the edifice atop of him,
like one of the figures in a picture of the great Lisbon earthquake!
There was but a single coin in it; and that, by an ingenious device,
was suspended in the centre, so that every piece popped in at the
chimney would clink upon it in passing through Charlie's little hole
into Charlie's little stocking hanging innocently beneath.

Of course restitution was out of the question; and even Johnny felt
that any merely temporal punishment would be weakly inadequate to the
demands of justice. But that night, in the dead silence of his
chamber, Johnny registered a great and solemn swear that so soon as he
could worry together a little capital, he would fling his feeble
remaining energies into the spendthrift business. And he did so.

       *       *       *       *       *



FOUR JACKS AND A KNAVE.


In the "backwoods" of Pennsylvania stood a little mill. The miller
appertaining unto this mill was a Pennsylvania Dutchman--a species of
animal in which for some centuries _sauerkraut_ has been usurping the
place of sense. In Hans Donnerspiel the usurpation was not complete;
he still knew enough to go in when it rained, but he did not know
enough to stay there after the storm had blown over. Hans was known to
a large circle of friends and admirers as about the worst miller in
those parts; but as he was the only one, people who quarrelled with an
exclusively meat diet continued to patronize him. He was honest, as
all stupid people are; but he was careless. So absent-minded was he,
that sometimes when grinding somebody's wheat he would thoughtlessly
turn into the "hopper" a bag of rye, a lot of old beer-bottles, or a
basket of fish. This made the flour so peculiar, that the people about
there never knew what it was to be well a day in all their lives.
There were so many local diseases in that vicinity, that a doctor from
twenty miles away could not have killed a patient in a week.

Hans meant well; but he had a hobby--a hobby that he did not ride:
that does not express it: it rode him. It spurred him so hard, that
the poor wretch could not pause a minute to see what he was putting
into his mill. This hobby was the purchase of jackasses. He expended
all his income in this diversion, and his mill was fairly sinking
under its weight of mortgages. He had more jackasses than he had hairs
on his head, and, as a rule, they were thinner. He was no mere amateur
collector either, but a sharp discriminating _connoisseur_. He would
buy a fat globular donkey if he could not do better; but a lank shabby
one was the apple of his eye. He rolled such a one, as it were, like a
sweet morsel under his tongue.

Hans's nearest neighbour was a worthless young scamp named Jo Garvey,
who lived mainly by hunting and fishing. Jo was a sharp-witted rascal,
without a single scruple between, himself and fortune. With a tithe of
Hans's industry he might have been almost anything; but his dense
laziness always rose up like a stone wall about him, shutting him in
like a toad in a rock. The exact opposite of Hans in almost every
respect, he was notably similar in one: he had a hobby. Jo's hobby was
the selling of jackasses.

One day, while Hans's upper and nether mill-stones were making it
lively for a mingled grist of corn, potatoes, and young chickens, he
heard Joseph calling outside. Stepping to the door, he saw him holding
three halters to which were appended three donkeys.

"I say, Hans," said he, "here are three fine animals for your stud. I
have brought 'em up from the egg, and I know 'em to be first-class.
But they 're not so big as I expected, and you may have 'em for a sack
of oats each."

Hans was delighted. He had not the least doubt in the world that Joe
had stolen them; but it was a fixed principle with him never to let a
donkey go away and say he was a hard man to deal with. He at once
brought out and delivered the oats. Jo gravely examined the quality,
and placing a sack across each animal, calmly led them away.

[Illustration]

When he had gone, it occurred to Hans that he had less oats and no
more asses than he had before.

"Tuyfel!" he exclaimed, scratching his pow; "I puy dot yackasses, und
I don't vos god 'im so mooch as I didn't haf 'im before--ain't it?"

Very much to his comfort it was, therefore, to see Jo come by next day
leading the same animals.

"Hi!" he shrieked; "you prings me to my yackasses. You gif me to my
broberdy back!"

"Oh, very well, Hans. If you want to crawfish out of a fair bargain,
all right. I'll give you back your donkeys, and you give me back my
oats."

"Yaw, yaw," assented the mollified miller; "you his von honest
shentlemans as I vos efer vent anyvhere. But I don't god ony more
oats, und you moost dake vheat, eh?"

And fetching out three sacks of wheat, he handed them over. Jo was
proceeding to lay these upon the backs of the animals; but this was
too thin for even Hans.

"Ach! you tief-veller! you leabs dis yackasses in me, und go right
avay off; odther I bust your het mid a gloob, don't it?"

So Joseph was reluctantly constrained to hang the donkeys to a fence.
While he did this, Hans was making a desperate attempt to think.
Presently he brightened up:

"Yo, how you coom by dot vheat all de dime?"

"Why, old mudhead, you gave it to me for the jacks."

"Und how you coom by dot oats pooty soon avhile ago?"

"Why, I gave that to you for them," said Joseph, pressed very hard for
a reply.

"Vell, den, you goes vetch me back to dot oats so gwicker as a lamb
gedwinkle his dail--hay?"

"All right, Hans. Lend me the donkeys to carry off my wheat, and I 'll
bring back your oats on 'em."

Joseph was beginning to despair; but no objection being made, he
loaded up the grain, and made off with his docile caravan. In a
half-hour he returned with the donkeys, but of course without anything
else.

"I zay, Yo, where is dis oats I hear zo mooch dalk aboud still?"

"Oh, curse you and your oats!" growled Jo, with simulated anger. "You
make such a fuss about a bargain, I have decided not to trade. Take
your old donkeys, and call it square!"

"Den vhere mine vheat is?"

"Now look here, Hans; that wheat is yours, is it?"

"Yaw, yaw."

"And the donkeys are yours, eh?"

"Yaw, yaw."

"And the wheat's been yours all the time, has it?"

"Yaw, yaw."

"Well, so have the donkeys. I took 'em out of your pasture in the
first place. Now what have you got to complain of?"

The Dutchman reflected all over his head with' his forefinger-nail.

"Gomblain? I no gomblain ven it is all right. I zee now I vos made a
mistaken. Coom, dake a drinks."

Jo left the animals standing, and went inside, where they pledged one
another in brimming mugs of beer. Then taking Hans by the hand,

"I am sorry," said he, "we can't trade. Perhaps some other day you
will be more reasonable. Good bye!"

And Joseph departed leading away the donkeys!

Hans stood for some moments gazing after him with a complacent smile
making his fat face ridiculous. Then turning to his mill-stones, he
shook his head with an air of intense self-satisfaction:

"Py donner! Dot Yo Garfey bees a geen, shmard yockey, but he gonnot
spiel me svoppin' yackasses!"

       *       *       *       *       *



DR. DEADWOOD, I PRESUME.


My name is Shandy, and this is the record of my Sentimental Journey.
Mr. Ames Jordan Gannett, proprietor's son of the "York----," with
which paper I am connected by marriage, sent me a post-card in a
sealed envelope, asking me to call at a well-known restaurant in
Regent Street. I was then at a well-known restaurant in Houndsditch. I
put on my worst and only hat, and went. I found Mr. Gannett, at
dinner, eating pease with his knife, in the manner of his countrymen.
He opened the conversation, characteristically, thus:

"Where's Dr. Deadwood?"

After several ineffectual guesses I had a happy thought. I asked him:

"Am I my brother's bar-keeper?"

Mr. Gannett pondered deeply, with his forefinger alongside his nose.
Finally he replied:

"I give it up."

He continued to eat for some moments in profound silence, as that of a
man very much in earnest. Suddenly he resumed:

"Here is a blank cheque, signed. I will send you all my father's
personal property to-morrow. Take this and find Dr. Deadwood. Find him
actually if you can, but find him. Away!"

I did as requested; that is, I took the cheque. Having supplied myself
with such luxuries as were absolutely necessary, I retired to my
lodgings. Upon my table in the centre of the room were spread some
clean white sheets of foolscap, and sat a bottle of black ink. It was
a good omen: the virgin paper was typical of the unexplored interior
of Africa; the sable ink represented the night of barbarism, or the
hue of barbarians, indifferently.

Now began the most arduous undertaking mentioned in the "York----," I
mean in history. Lighting my pipe, and fixing my eye upon the ink and
paper, I put my hands behind my back and took my departure from the
hearthrug toward the Interior. Language fails me; I throw myself upon
the reader's imagination. Before I had taken two steps, my vision
alighted upon the circular of a quack physician, which I had brought
home the day before around a bottle of hair-wash. I now saw the words,
"Twenty-one fevers!" This prostrated me for I know not how long.
Recovering, I took a step forward, when my eyes fastened themselves
upon my pen-wiper, worked into the similitude of a tiger. This
compelled me to retreat to the hearthrug for reinforcements. The
red-and-white dog displayed upon that article turned a deaf ear to my
entreaties; nothing would move him.

A torrent of rain now began falling outside, and I knew the roads were
impassable; but, chafing with impatience, I resolved upon another
advance. Cautiously proceeding _viâ_ the sofa, my attention fell upon
a scrap of newspaper; and, to my unspeakable disappointment, I read:

"The various tribes of the Interior are engaged in a bitter warfare."

It may have related to America, but I could not afford to hazard all
upon a guess. I made a wide _détour_ by way of the coal-scuttle, and
skirted painfully along the sideboard. All this consumed so much time
that my pipe expired in gloom, and I went back to the hearthrug to get
a match off the chimney-piece. Having done so, I stepped over to the
table and sat down, taking up the pen and spreading the paper between
myself and the ink-bottle. It was late, and something must be done.
Writing the familiar word Ujijijijijiji, I caught a neighbourly
cockroach, skewered him upon a pin, and fastened him in the centre of
the word. At this supreme moment I felt inclined to fall upon his neck
and devour him with kisses; but knowing by experience that cockroaches
are not good to eat, I restrained my feelings. Lifting my hat, I said:

"Dr. Deadwood, I presume?"

_He did not deny it!_

Seeing he was feeling sick, I gave him a bit of cheese and cheered him
up a trifle. After he was well restored,

"Tell me," said I, "is it true that the Regent's Canal falls into Lake
Michigan, thence running uphill to Omaha, as related by Ptolemy,
thence spirally to Melbourne, where it joins the delta of the Ganges
and becomes an affluent of the Albert Nicaragua, as Herodotus
maintains?"

HE DID NOT DENY IT!

The rest is known to the public.

       *       *       *       *       *



NUT-CRACKING.


In the city of Algammon resided the Prince Champou, who was madly
enamoured of the Lady Capilla. She returned his affection--unopened.

In the matter of back-hair the Lady Capilla was blessed even beyond
her deserts. Her natural pigtail was so intolerably long that she
employed two pages to look after it when she walked out; the one a few
yards behind her, the other at the extreme end of the line. Their
names were Dan and Beersheba, respectively.

[Illustration]

Aside from salaries to these dependents, and quite apart from the
consideration of macassar, the possession of all this animal filament
was financially unprofitable: the hair market was buoyant, and hers
represented a large amount of idle capital. And it was otherwise a
source of annoyance and irritation; for all the young men of the city
were hotly in love with her, and skirmishing for a love-lock. They
seldom troubled Dan much, but the outlying Beersheba had an animated
time of it. He was subject to constant incursions, and was always in a
riot.

The picture I have drawn to illustrate this history shows nothing of
all these squabbles. My pen revels in the battle's din, but my
peaceful pencil loves to depict the scenes I know something about.

Although the Lady Capilla was unwilling to reciprocate the passion of
Champou the man, she was not averse to quiet interviews with Champou
the Prince. In the course of one of these (see my picture), as she sat
listening to his carefully-rehearsed and really artistic avowals, with
her tail hanging out of the window, she suddenly interrupted him:

"My dear Prince," said she, "it is all nonsense, you know, to ask for
my heart; but I am not mean; you shall have a lock of my hair."

"Do you think," replied the Prince, "that I could be so sordid as to
accept a single jewel from that glorious crown? I love this hair of
yours very dearly, I admit, but only because of its connection with
your divine head. Sever that connection, and I should value it no more
than I would a tail plucked from its native cow."

This comparison seems to me a very fine one, but tastes differ, and to
the Lady Capilla it seemed quite the reverse. Rising indignantly, she
marched away, her queue running in through the window and gradually
tapering off the interview, as it were. Prince Champou saw that he had
missed his opportunity, and resolved to repair his error. Straightway
he forged an order on Beersheba for thirty yards of love-lock. To
serve this writ he sent his business partner; for the Prince was wont
to beguile his dragging leisure by tonsorial diversions in an obscure
quarter of the town. At first Beersheba was sceptical, but when he saw
the writing in real ink, his scruples vanished, and he chopped off the
amount of souvenir demanded.

Now Champou's partner was the Court barber, and by the use of a
peculiar hair oil which the two of them had concocted, they soon
managed to balden the pates of all the male aristocracy of the place.
Then, to supply the demand so created, they devised beautiful wigs
from the Lady Capilla's lost tresses, which they sold at a marvellous
profit. And so they were enabled to retire from this narrative with
good incomes.

It was known that the Lady Capilla, who, since the alleged murder of
one Beersheba, had shut herself up like a hermit, or a jack-knife,
would re-enter society; and a great ball was given to do her honour.
The feauty, bank, and rashion of Algammon had assembled in the
Guildhall for that purpose. While the revelry was at its fiercest, the
dancing at its loosest, the rooms at their hottest, and the
perspiration at spring-tide, there was a sound of wheels outside,
begetting an instant hush of expectation within. The dancers ceased to
spin, and all the gentlemen crowded about the door. As the Lady
Capilla entered, these instinctively fell into two lines, and she
passed down the space between, with her little tail behind her. As the
end of the latter came into the room, the wigs of the two gentlemen
nearest the door leaped off to join their parent stem. In their haste
to recover them the two gentlemen bent eagerly forward, knocking their
shining pows together with a vehemence that shattered them like
egg-shells. The wigs of the next pair were similarly affected; and in
seeking to recover them the pair similarly perished. Then, _crack!
spat! pash!_--at every step the lady took there were two heads that
beat as one. In three minutes there was but a single living male in
the room. He was an odd one, who, having a lady opposite him, had
merely pitched himself headlong into her stomach, doubling her like a
lemon-squeezer.

It was merry to see the Lady Capilla floating through the mazy dance
that night, with all those wigs fighting for their old places in her
pigtail.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE MAGICIAN'S LITTLE JOKE.


About the middle of the fifteenth century there dwelt in the Black
Forest a pretty but unfashionable young maiden named Simprella
Whiskiblote. The first of these names was hers in monopoly; the other
she enjoyed in common with her father. Simprella was the most
beautiful fifteenth-century girl I ever saw. She had coloured eyes, a
complexion, some hair, and two lips very nearly alike, which partially
covered a lot of teeth. She was gifted with the complement of legs
commonly worn at that period, supporting a body to which were loosely
attached, in the manner of her country, as many arms as she had any
use for, inasmuch as she was not required to hold baby. But all these
charms were only so many objective points for the operations of the
paternal cudgel; for this father of hers was a hard, unfeeling man,
who had no bowels of compassion for his bludgeon. He would put it to
work early, and keep it going all day; and when it was worn out with
hard service, instead of rewarding it with steady employment, he would
cruelly throw it aside and get a fresh one. It is scarcely to be
wondered at that a girl harried in this way should be driven to the
insane expedient of falling in love.

Near the neat mud cottage in which Simprella vegetated was a dense
wood, extending for miles in various directions, according to the
point from which it was viewed. By a method readily understood, it had
been so arranged that it was the next easiest thing in the world to
get into it, and the very easiest thing in the world to stay there.

In the centre of this labyrinth was a castle of the early promiscuous
order of architecture--an order which was until recently much employed
in the construction of powder-works, but is now entirely exploded. In
this baronial hall lived an eligible single party--a giant so tall he
used a step-ladder to put on his hat, and could not put his hands into
his pockets without kneeling. He lived entirely alone, and gave
himself up to the practice of iniquity, devising prohibitory liquor
laws, imposing the income tax, and drinking shilling claret. But,
seeing Simprella one day, he bent himself into the form of a
horse-shoe magnet to look into her eyes. Whether it was his magnetic
attitude acting upon a young heart steeled by adversity, or his
chivalric forbearance in not eating her, I know not: I only know that
from that moment she became riotously enamoured of him; and the reader
may accept either the scientific or the popular explanation, according
to the bent of his mind.

She at once asked the giant in marriage, and obtained the consent of
his parents by betraying her father into their hands; explaining to
them, however, that he was not good to eat, but might be drunk on the
premises.

The marriage proved a very happy one, but the household duties of the
bride were extremely irksome. It fatigued her to dress the beeves for
dinner; it nearly broke her back to black her lord's boots without any
scaffolding. It took her all day to perform any kindly little office
for him. But she bore it all uncomplainingly, until one morning he
asked her to part his back hair; then the bent sapling of her spirit
flew up and hit him in the face. She gathered up some French novels,
and retired to a lonely tower to breathe out her soul in unavailing
regrets.

One day she saw below her in the forest a dear gazelle, gladding her
with its soft black eye. She leaned out of the window, and said
_Scat!_ The animal did not move. Then she waved her arms--above
described--and said _Shew!_ This time he did not move as much as he
did before. Simprella decided he must have a bill against her; so she
closed her shutters, drew down the blind, and pinned the curtains
together. A moment later she opened them and peeped out. Then she went
down to examine his collar, that she might order one like it.

When the gazelle saw Simprella approach, he arose, and, beckoning with
his tail, made off slowly into the wood. Then Simprella perceived this
was a supernatural gazelle--a variety now extinct, but which then
pervaded the Schwarzwald in considerable quantity--sent by some good
magician, who owed the giant a grudge, to pilot her out of the forest.
Nothing could exceed her joy at this discovery: she whistled a dirge,
sang a Latin hymn, and preached a funeral discourse all in one breath.
Such were the artless methods by which the full heart in the fifteenth
century was compelled to express its gratitute for benefits; the
advertising columns of the daily papers were not then open to the
benefactor's pen.

[Illustration]

All would now have been well, but for the fact that it was not. In
following her deliverer, Simprella observed that his golden collar was
inscribed with the mystic words--HANDS OFF! She tried hard to obey the
injunction; she did her level best; she--but why amplify? Simprella
was a woman.

No sooner had her fingers touched the slender chain depending from the
magic collar, than the poor animal's eyes emitted twin tears, which
coursed silently but firmly down his nose, vacating it more in sorrow
than in anger. Then he looked up reproachfully into her face. Those
were his first tears--this was his last look. In two minutes by the
watch he was blind as a mole!

There is but little more to tell. The giant ate himself to death; the
castle mouldered and crumbled into pig-pens; empires rose and fell;
kings ascended their thrones, and got down again; mountains grew grey,
and rivers bald-headed; suits in chancery were brought and decided,
and those from the tailor were paid for; the ages came, like maiden
aunts, uninvited, and lingered till they became a bore--and still
Simprella, with the magician's curse upon her, conducted her sightless
guide through the interminable wilderness!

To all others the labyrinth had yielded up its clue. The hunter
threaded its maze; the woodman plunged confidently into its innermost
depths; the peasant child gathered ferns unscared in its sunless
dells. But often the child abandoned his botany in terror, the woodman
bolted for home, and the hunter's heart went down into his boots, at
the sight of a fair young spectre leading a blind phantom through the
silent glades. I saw them there in 1860, while I was gunning. I shot
them.



SEAFARING.


My envious rivals have always sought to cast discredit upon the
following tale, by affirming that mere unadorned truth does not
constitute a work of literary merit. Be it so: I care not what they
call it. A rose with any other smell would be as sweet.

In the autumn of 1868 I wanted to go from Sacramento, California, to
San Francisco. I at once went to the railway office and bought a
ticket, the clerk telling me that would take me there. But when I
tried it, it wouldn't. Vainly I laid it on the railway and sat down
upon it: it would not move; and every few minutes an engine would come
along and crowd me off the track. I never travelled by so badly
managed a line!

I then resolved to go by way of the river, and took passage on a
steamboat. The engineer of this boat had once been a candidate for the
State Legislature while I was editing a newspaper. Stung to madness by
the arguments I had advanced against his election (which consisted
mainly in relating how that his cousin was hanged for horse-stealing,
and how that his sister had an intolerable squint which a free people
could never abide), he had sworn to be revenged. After his defeat I
had confessed the charges were false, so far as he personally was
concerned, but this did not seem to appease him. He declared he would
"get even on me," and he did: he blew up the boat.

Being thus summarily set ashore, I determined that I would be
independent of common carriers destitute of common courtesy. I
purchased a wooden box, just large enough to admit one, and not
transferable. I lay down in this, double-locked it on the outside, and
carrying it to the river, launched it upon the watery waste. The box,
I soon discovered, had an hereditary tendency to turn over. I had
parted my hair in the middle before embarking, but the precaution was
inadequate; it secured not immunity, only impartiality, the box
turning over one way as readily as the other. I could counteract this
evil only by shifting my tobacco from cheek to cheek, and in this way
I got on tolerably well until my navy sprang a leak near the stern.

I now began to wish I had not locked down the cover; I could have got
out and walked ashore. But it was childish to give way to foolish
regrets; so I lay perfectly quiet, and yelled. Presently I thought of
my jack-knife. By this time the ship was so water-logged as to be a
little more stable. This enabled me to get the knife from my pocket
without upsetting more than six or eight times, and inspired hope.
Taking the whittle between my teeth, I turned over upon my stomach,
and cut a hole through the bottom near the bow. Turning back again, I
awaited the result. Most men would have awaited the result, I think,
if they could not have got out. For some time there was no result. The
ship was too deeply laden astern, where my feet were, and water will
not run up hill unless it is paid to do it. But when I called in all
my faculties for a good earnest think, the weight of my intellect
turned the scale. It was like a cargo of pig-lead in the forecastle.
The water, which for nearly an hour I had kept down by drinking it as
it rose about my lips, began to run out at the hole I had scuttled,
faster than it could be admitted at the one in the stern; and in a few
moments the bottom was so dry you might have lighted a match upon it,
if you had been there, and obtained the captain's permission.

[Illustration]

I was all right now. I had got into San Pablo Bay, where it was all
plain sailing. If I could manage to keep off the horizon I should be
somewhere before daylight. But a new annoyance was in store for me.
The steamboats on these waters are constructed of very frail
materials, and whenever one came into collision with my flotilla, she
immediately sank. This was most exasperating, for the piercing shrieks
of the hapless crews and passengers prevented my getting any sleep.
Such disagreeable voices as these people had would have tortured an
ear of corn. I felt as if I would like to step out and beat them
soft-headed with a club; though of course I had not the heart to do
so while the padlock held fast.

The reader, if he is obliging, will remember that there was formerly
an obstruction in the harbour of San Francisco, called Blossom Rock,
which was some fathoms under water, but not fathoms enough to suit
shipmasters. It was removed by an engineer named Von Schmidt. This
person bored a hole in it, and sent down some men who gnawed out the
whole interior, leaving the rock a mere shell. Into this drawing-room
suite were inserted thirty tons of powder, ten barrels of
nitro-glycerine, and a woman's temper. Von Schmidt then put in
something explosive, and corked up the opening, leaving a long wire
hanging out. When all these preparations were complete, the
inhabitants of San Francisco came out to see the fun. They perched
thickly upon Telegraph Hill from base to summit; they swarmed
innumerable upon the beach; the whole region was black with them. All
that day they waited, and came again the next. Again they were
disappointed, and again they returned full of hope. For three long
weeks they did nothing but squat upon that eminence, looking fixedly
at the wrong place. But when it transpired that Von Schmidt had
hastily left the State directly he had completed his preparations,
leaving the wire floating in the water, in the hope that some
electrical eel might swim against it and ignite the explosives, the
people began to abate their ardour, and move out of town. They said it
might be a good while before a qualified gymnotus would pass that way,
although the State Ichthyologer assured them that he had put some
eels' eggs into the head waters of the Sacramento River not two weeks
previously. But the country was very beautiful at that time of the
year, and the people would not wait. So when the explosion really
occurred, there wasn't anybody in the vicinity to witness it. It was a
stupendous explosion all the same, as the unhappy gymnotus discovered
to his cost.

Now, I have often thought that if this mighty convulsion had occurred
a year or two earlier than it really did, it would have been bad for
me as I floated idly past, unconscious of danger. As it was, my little
bark was carried out into the broad Pacific, and sank in ten thousand
fathoms of the coldest water!--it makes my teeth chatter to relate it!

       *       *       *       *       *



TONY ROLLO'S CONCLUSION.


To a degree unprecedented in the Rollo family, of Illinois, Antony was
an undutiful son. He was so undutiful that he may be said to have been
preposterous. There were seven other sons--Antony was the eldest. His
younger brothers were a nice, well-behaved bevy of boys as ever you
saw. They always attended Sunday School regularly; arriving just
before the Doxology (I think Sunday School exercises terminate that
way), and sitting in a solemn row on a fence outside, waiting with
pious patience for the girls to come forth; then they walked home with
them as far as their respective gates. They were an obedient seven,
too; they knew well enough the respect due to paternal authority, and
when their father told them what was what, and which side up it ought
to lie, they never tarried until he had more than picked up a hickory
cudgel before tacitly admitting the correctness of the riper judgment.
Had the old gentleman commanded the digging of seven graves, and the
fabrication of seven board coffins to match, these necessaries would
have been provided with unquestioning alacrity.

But Antony, I bleed to state, was of an impractical, pensive turn. He
despised industry, scoffed at Sunday-schooling, set up a private
standard of morals, and rebelled against natural authority. He
wouldn't be a dutiful son--not for money! He had no natural
affections, and loved nothing so well as to sit and think. He was
tolerably thoughtful all the time; but with some farming implement in
his hand he came out strong. He has been known to take an axe between
his knees, and sit on a stump in a "clearing" all day, wrapt in a
single continuous meditation. And when interrupted by the
interposition of night, or by the superposition of the paternal
hickory, he would resume the meditation, next day, precisely where he
left off, going on, and on, and on, in one profound and inscrutable
think. It was a common remark in the neighbourhood that "If Tony Rollo
didn't let up, he'd think his ridiculous white head off!" And on
divers occasions when the old man's hickory had fallen upon that
fleecy globe with unusual ardour, Tony really did think it off--until
the continued pain convinced him it was there yet.

You would like to know what Tony was thinking of, all these years.
That is what they all wanted to know; but he didn't seem to tell. When
the subject was mentioned he would always try to get away; and if he
could not avoid a direct question, he would blush and stammer in so
distressing a confusion that the doctor forbade all allusion to the
matter, lest the young man should have a convulsion. It was clear
enough, however, that the subject of Tony's meditation was "more than
average inter_est_in'," as his father phrased it; for sometimes he
would give it so grave consideration that observers would double their
anxiety about the safety of his head, which he seemed in danger of
snapping off with solemn nods; and at other times he would laugh
immoderately, smiting his thigh or holding his sides in uncontrollable
merriment. But it went on without abatement, and without any
disclosure; went on until his poor mother's curiosity had worried her
grey hairs in sorrow to the grave; went on until his father, having
worn out all the hickory saplings on the place, had made a fair
beginning upon the young oaks; went on until all the seven brothers,
having married a Sunday-school girl each, had erected comfortable
log-houses upon outlying corners of the father-in-legal farms; on, and
ever on, until Tony was forty years of age! This appeared to be a
turning-point in Tony's career--at this time a subtle change stole
into his life, affecting both his inner and his outer self: he worked
less than formerly, and thought a good deal more!

Years afterwards, when the fraternal seven were well-to-do
freeholders, with clouds of progeny, making their hearts light and
their expenses heavy--when the old homestead was upgrown with rank
brambles, and the live-stock long extinct--when the aged father had so
fallen into the sere and yellow leaf that he couldn't hit hard enough
to hurt--Tony, the mere shadow of his former self, sat, one evening,
in the chimney corner, thinking very hard indeed. His father and three
or four skeleton hounds were the only other persons present; the old
gentleman quietly shelling a peck of Indian corn given by a grateful
neighbour whose cow he had once pulled out of the mire, and the hounds
thinking how cheerfully they would have assisted him had Nature
kindly made them graminivorous. Suddenly Tony spake.

"Father," said he, looking straight across the top of the axe-handle
which he held between his knees as a mental stimulant, "father, I've
been thinking of something a good bit lately."

"Jest thirty-five years, Tony, come next Thanksgiving," replied the
old man, promptly, in a thin asthmatic falsetto. "I recollect your
mother used to say it dated from the time your Aunt Hannah was here
with the girls."

"Yes, father, I think it may be a matter of thirty-five years; though
it don't seem so long, does it? But I've been thinking harder for the
last week or two, and I'm going to speak out."

Unbounded amazement looked out at the old man's eyes; his tongue,
utterly unprepared for the unexpected contingency, refused its office;
a corncob imperfectly denuded dropped from his nerveless hand, and was
critically examined, in turn, by the gossamer dogs, hoping against
hope. A smoking brand in the fireplace fell suddenly upon a bed of hot
coals, where, lacking the fortitude of Guatimozin, it emitted a
sputtering protest, followed by a thin flame like a visible agony. In
the resulting light Tony's haggard face shone competitively with a
ruddy blush, which spread over his entire scalp, to the imminent
danger of firing his flaxen hair.

"Yes, father," he answered, making a desperate clutch at calmness, but
losing his grip, "I'm going to make a clean breast of it this time,
for sure! Then you can do what you like about it."

The paternal organ of speech found sufficient strength to grind out an
intimation that the paternal ear was open for business.

"I've studied it all over, father; I've looked at it from every side;
I've been through it with a lantern! And I've come to the conclusion
that, seeing as I'm the oldest, it's about time I was beginning to
think of getting married!"

       *       *       *       *       *



NO CHARGE FOR ATTENDANCE.


Near the road leading from Deutscherkirche to Lagerhaus may be seen
the ruins of a little cottage. It never was a very pretentious pile,
but it has a history. About the middle of the last century it was
occupied by one Heinrich Schneider, who was a small farmer--so small a
farmer his clothes wouldn't fit him without a good deal of taking-in.
But Heinrich Schneider was young. He had a wife, however--most small
farmers have when young. They were rather poor: the farm was just
large enough to keep them comfortably hungry.

Schneider was not literary in his taste; his sole reading was an old
dog's-eared copy of the "Arabian Nights" done into German, and in that
he read nothing but the story of "Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp."
Upon his five hundredth perusal of that he conceived a valuable idea:
he would rub _his_ lamp and _corral_ a Genie! So he put a thick
leather glove on his right hand, and went to the cupboard to get out
the lamp. He had no lamp. But this disappointment, which would have
been instantly fatal to a more despondent man, was only an agreeable
stimulus to him. He took out an old iron candle-snuffer, and went to
work upon that.

Now, iron is very hard; it requires more rubbing than any other metal.
I once chafed a Genie out of an anvil, but I was quite weary before I
got him all out; the slightest irritation of a leaden water-pipe would
have fetched the same Genie out of it like a rat from his hole. But
having planted all his poultry, sown his potatoes, and set out his
wheat, Heinrich had the whole summer before him, and he was patient;
he devoted all his time to compelling the attendance of the
Supernatural.

When the autumn came, the good wife reaped the chickens, dug out the
apples, plucked the pigs and other cereals; and a wonderfully abundant
harvest it was. Schneider's crops had flourished amazingly. That was
because he did not worry them all summer with agricultural implements.
One evening when the produce had been stored, Heinrich sat at his
fireside operating upon his candle-snuffer with the same simple faith
as in the early spring. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and
the expected Genie put in an appearance. His advent begot no little
surprise in the good couple.

He was a very substantial incarnation, indeed, of the Supernatural.
About eight feet in length, extremely fat, thick-limbed, ill-favoured,
heavy of movement, and generally unpretty, he did not at first sight
impress his new master any too favourably.

However, he was given a stool at the fireside, and Heinrich plied him
with a multitude of questions: Where did he come from? whom had he
last served? how did he like Aladdin? and did he think _they_ should
get on well? To all these queries the Genie returned evasive answers;
he was Delphic to the verge of unintelligibility. He would only nod
mysteriously, muttering beneath his breath in some unknown tongue,
probably Arabic--in which, however, his master thought he could
distinguish the words "roast" and "boiled" with significant
frequency. This Genie must have served last in the capacity of cook.

[Illustration]

This was a gratifying discovery: for the next four months or so there
would be nothing to do about the farm; the Slave could prepare the
family meals during the winter, and in the spring go regularly to
work. Schneider was too shrewd to risk everything by extravagant
demands all at once. He remembered the roc's egg of the legend, and
thought he would proceed with caution. So the good couple brought out
their cooking utensils, and by pantomime inducted the Slave into the
mystery of their use. They showed him the larder, the cellars, the
granary, the chicken-coops, and everything. He appeared interested and
intelligent, apprehended the salient points of the situation with
marvellous ease, and nodded like he would drop his big head off--did
everything but talk.

After this the _frau_ prepared the evening meal, the Genie assisting
very satisfactorily, except that his notions of quantity were rather
too liberal; perhaps this was natural in one accustomed to palaces and
courts. When all was on the table, by way of testing his Slave's
obedience Heinrich sat down at the board and carelessly rubbed the
candle-snuffer. The Genie was there in a second! Not only so, but he
fell upon the viands with an ardour and sincerity that were alarming.
In two minutes he had got away with everything on the table. The
rapidity with which that spirit crowded all manner of edibles into his
neck was simply shocking!

Having finished his repast he stretched himself before the fire and
went to sleep. Heinrich and Barbara were depressed in spirit; they sat
up until nearly morning in silence, waiting for the Genie to vanish
for the night; but he did not perceptibly vanish any. Moreover, he had
not vanished next morning; he had risen with the lark, and was
preparing breakfast, having made his estimates upon a basis of most
immoderate consumption. To this he soon sat down with the same
catholicity of appetite that had distinguished him the previous
evening. Having bolted this preposterous breakfast he arrayed his fat
face in a sable scowl, beat his master with a stewpan, stretched
himself before the fire, and again addressed himself to sleep. Over a
furtive and clandestine meal in the larder, Heinrich and Barbara
confessed themselves thoroughly heart-sick of the Supernatural.

"I told you so," said he; "depend upon it, patient industry is a
thousand per cent. better than this invisible agency. I will now take
the fatal candle-snuffer a mile from here, rub it real hard, fling it
aside, and run away."

But he didn't. During the night ten feet of snow had fallen. It lay
all winter too.

Early the next spring there emerged from that cottage by the wayside
the unstable framework of a man dragging through seas of melting snow
a tottering female of dejected aspect. Forlorn, crippled, famishing,
and discouraged, these melancholy relics held on their way until they
came to a cross-roads (all leading to Lagerhaus), where they saw
clinging to an upright post the tatter of an old placard. It read as
follows:

   LOST, strayed, or stolen, from Herr Schaackhofer's Grand
   Museum, the celebrated Patagonian Giant, Ugolulah. Height 8 ft.
   2 in., elegant figure, handsome, intelligent features,
   sprightly and vivacious in conversation, of engaging address,
   temperate in diet, harmless and tractable in disposition.
   Answers to the nickname of Fritz Sneddeker. Any one returning
   him to Herr Schaackhofer will receive Seven Thalers Reward, and
   no questions asked.

It was a tempting offer, but they did not go back for the giant. But
he was afterwards discovered sleeping sweetly upon the hearthstone,
after a hearty meal of empty barrels and boxes. Being secured he was
found to be too fat for egress by the door. So the house was pulled
down to let him out; and that is how it happens to be in ruins now.

       *       *       *       *       *



PERNICKETTY'S FRIGHT.


_"Sssssst!"_

Dan Golby held up his hand to enjoin silence; in a breath we were as
quiet as mice. Then it came again, borne upon the night wind from away
somewhere in the darkness toward the mountains, across miles of
treeless plain--a low, dismal, sobbing sound, like the wail of a
strangling child! It was nothing but the howl of a wolf, and a wolf is
about the last thing a man who knows the cowardly beast would be
afraid of; but there was something so weird and unearthly in this "cry
between the silences"--something so banshee-like in its suggestion of
the grave--that, old mountaineers that we were, and long familiar with
it, we felt an instinctive dread--a dread which was not fear, but only
a sense of utter solitude and desolation. There is no sound known to
mortal ear that has in it so strange a power upon the imagination as
the night-howl of this wretched beast, heard across the dreary wastes
of the desert he disgraces.

Involuntarily we drew nearer together, and some one of the party
stirred the fire till it sent up a tall flame, widening the black
circle shutting us in on all sides. Again rose the faint far cry, and
was answered by one fainter and more far in the opposite quarter.
Then another, and yet another, struck in--a dozen, a hundred all at
once; and in three minutes the whole invisible outer world seemed to
consist mainly of wolves, jangled out of tune by some convulsion of
nature.

About this time it was a pleasing study to watch the countenance of
Old Nick. This party had joined us at Fort Benton, whither he had come
on a steamboat, up the Missouri. This was his maiden venture upon the
plains, and his habit of querulous faultfinding had, on the first day
out, secured him the _sobriquet_ of Old Pernicketty, which the
attrition of time had worn down to Old Nick. He knew no more of wolves
and other animals than a naturalist, and he was now a trifle
frightened. He was crouching beside his saddle and kit, listening with
all his soul, his hands suspended before him with divergent fingers,
his face ashy pale, and his jaw hanging unconsidered below.

Suddenly Dan Golby, who had been watching him with an amused smile,
assumed a grave aspect, listened a moment very intently, and remarked:

"Boys, if I didn't _know_ those were wolves, I should say we'd better
get out of this."

"Eh?" exclaimed Nick, eagerly; "if you did not know they were
_wolves_? Why, what else, and what worse, could they be?"

"Well, there's an innocent!" replied Dan, winking slyly at the rest of
us. "Why, they _might_ be Injuns, of course. Don't you know, you old
bummer, that that's the way the red devils run a surprise party? Don't
you know that when you hear a parcel of wolves letting on like that,
at night, it's a hundred to one they carry bows and arrows?"

Here one or two old hunters on the opposite side of the fire, who had
not caught Dan's precautionary wink, laughed good-humouredly, and made
derisive comments. At this Dan seemed much vexed, and getting up, he
strode over to them to argue it out. It was surprising how easily they
were brought round to his way of thinking!

By this time Old Nick was thoroughly perturbed. He fidgeted about,
examining his rifle and pistols, tightened his belt, and looked in the
direction of his horse. His anxiety became so painful that he did not
attempt to conceal it. Upon our part, we affected to partially share
it. One of us finally asked Dan if he was quite _sure_ they were
wolves. Then Dan listened a long time with his ear to the ground,
after which he said, hesitatingly:

"Well, no; there's no such thing as _absolute_ certainty, I suppose;
but I _think_ they're wolves. Still, there's no harm in being ready
for anything--always well to be ready, I suppose."

Nick needed nothing more; he pounced upon his saddle and bridle, slung
them upon his mustang, and had everything snug in less time than it
takes to tell it. The rest of the party were far too comfortable to
co-operate with Dan to any considerable extent; we contented ourselves
with making a show of examining our weapons. All this time the wolves,
as is their way when attracted by firelight, were closing in,
clamouring like a legion of fiends. If Nick had known that a single
pistol-shot would have sent them scampering away for dear life, I
presume he would have fired one; as it was, he had Indian on the
brain, and just stood by his horse, quaking till his teeth rattled
like dice in a box.

"No," pursued the implacable Dan, "these _can't_ be Injuns; for if
they were, we should, perhaps, hear an owl or two among them. The
chiefs sometimes hoot, owl-fashion, just to let the rabble know
they're standing up to the work like men, and to show where they are."

_"Too-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooaw!"_

It took us all by surprise. Nick made one spring and came down astride
his sleepy mustang, with force enough to have crushed a smaller beast.
We all rose to our feet, except Jerry Hunker, who was lying flat on
his stomach, with his head buried in his arms, and whom we had thought
sound asleep. One look at _him_ reassured us as to the "owl" business,
and we settled back, each man pretending to his neighbour that he had
got up merely for effect upon Nick.

That man was now a sight to see. He sat in his saddle gesticulating
wildly, and imploring us to get ready. He trembled like a jelly-fish.
He took out his pistols, cocked them, and thrust them so back into the
holsters, without knowing what he was about. He cocked his rifle,
holding it with the muzzle directed anywhere, but principally our way;
grasped his bowie-knife between his teeth, and cut his tongue trying
to talk; spurred his nag into the fire, and backed him out across our
blankets; and finally sat still, utterly unnerved, while we roared
with the laughter we could no longer suppress.

_Hwissss! pft! swt! cheew!_ Bones of Cæsar! The arrows flitted and
clipt amongst us like a flight of bats! Dan Golby threw a
double-summersault, alighting on his head. Dory Durkee went smashing
into the fire. Jerry Hunker was pinned to the sod where he lay fast
asleep. Such dodging and ducking, and clawing about for weapons I
never saw. And such genuine Indian yelling--it chills my marrow to
write of it!

Old Nick vanished like a dream; and long before we could find our
tools and get to work we heard the desultory reports of his pistols
exploding in his holsters, as his pony measured off the darkness
between us and safety.

For some fifteen minutes we had tolerable warm work of it,
individually, collectively, and miscellaneously; single-handed, and
one against a dozen; struggling with painted savages in the firelight,
and with one another in the dark; shooting the living, and stabbing
the dead; stampeding our horses, and fighting _them_; battling with
anything that would battle, and smashing our gunstocks on whatever
would not!

When all was done--when we had renovated our fire, collected our
horses, and got our dead into position--we sat down to talk it over.
As we sat there, cutting up our clothing for bandages, digging the
poisoned arrow-heads out of our limbs, readjusting our scalps, or
swapping them for such vagrant ones as there was nobody to identify,
we could not help smiling to think how we had frightened Old Nick. Dan
Golby, who was sinking rapidly, whispered that "it was the one sweet
memory he had to sustain and cheer him in crossing the dark river into
everlasting f----." It is uncertain how Dan would have finished that
last word; he may have meant "felicity"--he may have meant "fire." It
is nobody's business.

       *       *       *       *       *



JUNIPER.


He was a dwarf, was Juniper. About the time of his birth Nature was
executing a large order for prime giants, and had need of all her
materials. Juniper infested the wooded interior of Norway, and dwelt
in a cave--a miserable hole in which a blind bat in a condition of
sempiternal torpor would have declined to hibernate, rent-free.
Juniper was such a feeble little wretch, so inoffensive in his way of
life, so modest in his demeanour, that every one was disposed to love
him like a cousin; there was not enough of him to love like a brother.
He, too, was inclined to return the affection; he was too weak to love
very hard, but he made the best stagger at it he could. But a singular
fatality prevented a perfect communion of soul between him and his
neighbours. A strange destiny had thrown its shadow upon him, which
made it cool for him in summer. There was a divinity that shaped his
ends extremely rough, no matter how he hewed them.

Somewhere in that vicinity lived a monstrous bear--a great hulking
obnoxious beast who had no more soul than tail. This rascal had
somehow conceived a notion that the appointed function of his
existence was the extermination of the dwarf. If you met the latter
you might rely with cheerful confidence upon seeing the ferocious
brute in eager pursuit of him in less than a minute. No sooner would
Juniper fairly accost you, looking timidly over his shoulder the
while, than the raging savage would leap out of some contiguous jungle
and make after him like a locomotive engine too late for the train.
Then poor Juniper would streak it for the nearest crowd of people,
diving and dodging amongst their shins with nimble skill, shrieking
all the time like a panther. He was as earnest about it as if he had
made a bet upon the result of the race. Of course everybody was too
busy to stop, but in his blind terror the dwarf would single out some
luckless wight--commonly some well-dressed person; Juniper
instinctively sought the protection of the aristocracy--getting
behind him, ducking between his legs, surrounding him, dancing through
him--doing anything to save the paltry flitch of his own bacon.
Presently the bear would lose all patience and nip the other fellow.
Then, ashamed of losing his temper, he would sneak sullenly away,
taking along the body. When he had gone, poor Juniper would fall upon
his knees, tearing his beard, pounding his breast, and crying _Mea
culpa_ in deep remorse. Afterwards he would pay a visit of condolence
to the bereaved relations and offer to pay the funeral expenses; but
of course there never were any funeral expenses. Everybody, as before
stated, liked the unhappy dwarf, but nobody liked the company he kept,
and people were not at home to him as a rule. Whenever he came into a
village traffic was temporarily suspended, and he was made the centre
of as broad a solitude as could be hastily improvised.

Many were the attempts to capture the terrible beast; hundreds of the
country people would assemble to hunt him with guns and dogs. But even
the dogs seemed to have an instinctive sense of some occult connection
between him and the dwarf, and could never be made to understand that
it was the former that was wanted. Directly they were laid on the
scent they would forsake it to invest the dwarf's abode; and it was
with much difficulty the pitying huntsmen could induce them to raise
the siege. Things went on in this unsatisfactory fashion for years;
the population annually decreasing, and Juniper making the most
miraculous escapes.

Now there resided in a small village near by, a brace of twins; little
orphan girls, named Jalap and Ginseng. Their considerate neighbours
had told them such pleasing tales about the bear that they decided to
leave the country. So they got their valuables together in a box and
set out. They met Juniper! He approached to inform them it was a fine
morning, when the great beast of a bear "rose like the steam of rich
distilled perfume" from the earth in front of them, and made a mouth
at him. Juniper did not run, as might have been expected; he stood for
a moment peering into the brute's cavernous jaws, and then flew! He
absented himself with such extraordinary nimbleness that after he was
a mile distant his image appeared to be standing there yet; and
looking back he saw it himself. Baffled of his dwarf, the bear thought
he would make a shift to get on, for the present, with an orphan. So
he picked up Jalap by her middle, and thoughtfully withdrew.

[Illustration]

The thankful but disgusted Ginseng continued her emigration, but soon
missed the jewel-box, which in their alarm had been dropped and burst
asunder. She did not much care for the jewels, but it contained some
valuable papers, among them the "Examiner" (a print which once had the
misfortune to condemn a book written by the author of this tale) and
this she doted on. Returning for her property, she peered cautiously
around the angle of a rock, and saw a spectacle that begot in her mind
a languid interest. The bear had returned upon a similar mission; he
was calmly distending his cheeks with the contents of the broken box.
And perched on a rock near at hand sat Juniper waiting for him!

It was natural that a suspicion of collusion between the two should
dawn upon that infant's mind. It did dawn; it brightened and broadened
into the perfect day of conviction. It was a revelation to the child.
"At that moment," said she afterwards, "I felt that I could lay my
finger on the best-trained bear in Christendom." But with praiseworthy
moderation she controlled herself and didn't do it; she just stood
still and allowed the beast to proceed. Having stored all the jewels
in his capacious mouth, he began taking in the valuable papers. First
some title-deeds disappeared; then some railway bonds; presently a
roll of rent-receipts. All these seemed to be as honey to his tongue;
he smiled a smile of tranquil happiness. Finally the newspaper
vanished into his face like a wisp of straw drawn into a threshing
machine.

Then the brute expanded his mouth with a ludicrous gape, spilling out
the jewels, a glittering shower. Then he snapped his jaws like a steel
trap afflicted with _tetanus_, and stood on his head awhile. Next he
made a feeble endeavour to complicate the relations between his
parts--to tie himself into a love-knot. Failing in this he lay flat
upon his side, wept, retched, and finally, fashioning his visage into
the semblance of sickly grin, gave up the ghost. I don't know what he
died of; I suppose it was hereditary in his family.

The guilty come always to grief. Juniper was arrested, charged with
conspiracy to kill, tried, convicted, sentenced to be hanged, and
before the sun went down was pardoned. In searching his cavern the
police discovered countless human bones, much torn clothing, and a
mighty multitude of empty purses. But nothing of any value--not an
article of any value. It was a mystery what Juniper had done with his
ill-gotten valuables. The police confessed it was a mystery!

       *       *       *       *       *



FOLLOWING THE SEA.


At the time of "the great earthquake of '68," I was at Arica, Peru. I
have not a map by me, and am not certain that Arica is not in Chili,
but it can't make much difference; there was earthquake all along
there. As nearly as I can remember it occured in August--about the
middle of August, 1869 or '70.

Sam Baxter was with me; I think we had gone from San Francisco to make
a railway, or something. On the morning of the 'quake, Sam and I had
gone down to the beach to bathe. We had shed our boots and begun to
moult, when there was a slight tremor of the earth, as if the elephant
who supports it were pushing upwards, or lying down and getting up
again. Next, the surges, which were flattening themselves upon the
sand and dragging away such small trifles as they could lay hold of,
began racing out seaward, as if they had received a telegraphic
dispatch that somebody was not expected to live. This was needless,
for _we_ did not expect to live.

When the sea had receded entirely out of sight, we started after it;
for it will be remembered we had come to bathe; and bathing without
some kind of water is not refreshing in a hot climate. I have heard
that bathing in asses' milk is invigorating, but at that time I had no
dealings with other authors. I have had no dealings with them since.

For the first four or five miles the walking was very difficult,
although the grade was tolerably steep. The ground was soft, there
were tangled forests of sea-weed, old rotting ships, rusty anchors,
human skeletons, and a multitude of things to impede the pedestrian.
The floundering sharks bit our legs as we toiled past them, and we
were constantly slipping down upon the flat fish strewn about like
orange-peel on a sidewalk. Sam, too, had stuffed his shirt-front with
such a weight of Spanish doubloons from the wreck of an old galleon,
that I had to help him across all the worst places. It was very
dispiriting.

Presently, away on the western horizon, I saw the sea coming back. It
occurred to me then that I did not wish it to come back. A tidal wave
is nearly always wet, and I was now a good way from home, with no
means of making a fire.

The same was true of Sam, but he did not appear to think of it in that
way. He stood quite still a moment with his eyes fixed on the
advancing line of water; then turned to me, saying, very earnestly:

"Tell you what, William; I never wanted a ship so bad from the cradle
to the grave! I would give m-o-r-e for a ship!--more than for all the
railways and turnpikes you could scare up! I'd give more than a
hundred, thousand, million dollars! I would--I'd give all I'm worth,
and all my Erie shares, for--just--one--little--ship!"

To show how lightly he could part with his wealth, he lifted his shirt
out of his trousers, unbosoming himself of his doubloons, which
tumbled about his feet, a golden storm.

By this time the tidal wave was close upon us. Call _that_ a wave! It
was one solid green wall of water, higher than Niagara Falls,
stretching as far as we could see to right and left, without a break
in its towering front! It was by no means clear what we ought to do.
The moving wall showed no projections by means of which the most
daring climber could hope to reach the top. There was no ivy; there
were no window-ledges. Stay!--there was the lightning-conductor! No,
there wasn't any lightning-conductor. Of course, not!

Looking despairingly upward, I made a tolerably good beginning at
thinking of all the mean actions I had wrought in the flesh, when I
saw projecting beyond the crest of the wave a ship's bowsprit, with a
man sitting on it, reading a newspaper! Thank fortune, we were saved!

Falling upon our knees with tearful gratitude, we got up again and
ran--ran as fast as we could, I suspect; for now the whole fore-part
of the ship bulged through the water directly above our heads, and
might lose its balance any moment. If we had only brought along our
umbrellas!

I shouted to the man on the bowsprit to drop us a line. He merely
replied that his correspondence was already very onerous, and he
hadn't any pen and ink.

Then I told him I wanted to get aboard. He said I would find one on
the beach, about three leagues to the south'ard, where the "Nancy
Tucker" went ashore.

At these replies I was disheartened. It was not so much that the man
withheld assistance, as that he made puns. Presently, however, he
folded his newspaper, put it carefully away in his pocket, went and
got a line, and let it down to us just as we were about to give up the
race. Sam made a lunge at it, and got it--right into his side! For the
fiend above had appended a shark-hook to the end of the line--which
was _his_ notion of humour. But this was no time for crimination and
recrimination. I laid hold of Sam's legs, the end of the rope was
passed about the capstan, and as soon as the men on board had had a
little grog, we were hauled up. I can assure you that it was no fine
experience to go up in that way, close to the smooth vertical front of
water, with the whales tumbling out all round and above us, and the
sword-fishes nosing us pointedly with vulgar curiosity.

We had no sooner set foot on deck, and got Sam disengaged from the
hook, than the purser stepped up with book and pencil.

"Tickets, gentlemen."

We told him we hadn't any tickets, and he ordered us to be set ashore
in a boat. It was represented to him that this was quite impossible
under the circumstances; but he replied that he had nothing to do with
circumstances--did not know anything about circumstances. Nothing
would move him till the captain, who was a really kind-hearted man,
came on deck and knocked him overboard with a spare topmast. We were
now stripped of our clothing, chafed all over with stiff brushes,
rolled on our stomachs, wrapped in flannels, laid before a hot stove
in the saloon, and strangled with scalding brandy. We had not been
wet, nor had we swallowed any sea-water, but the surgeon said this was
the proper treatment. I suspect, poor man, he did not often get the
opportunity to resuscitate anybody; in fact, he admitted he had not
had any such case as ours for years. It is uncertain what he might
have done to us if the tender-hearted captain had not thrashed him
into his cabin with a knotted hawser, and told us to go on deck.

By this time the ship was passing above the town of Arica, and the
sailors were all for'd, sitting on the bulwarks, snapping peas and
small shot at the terrified inhabitants flitting through the streets a
hundred feet below. These harmless projectiles rattled very merrily
upon the upturned boot-soles of the fleeting multitude; but not seeing
any fun in this, we were about to go astern and fish a little, when
the ship grounded on a hill-top. The captain hove out all the anchors
he had about him; and when the water went swirling back to its legal
level, taking the town along for company, there we were, in the midst
of a charming agricultural country, but at some distance from any
sea-port.

At sunrise next morning we were all on deck. Sam sauntered aft to the
binnacle, cast his eye carelessly upon the compass, and uttered an
ejaculation of astonishment.

"Tell _you_, captain," he called out, "this has been a direr
convulsion of nature than you have any idea. Everything's been screwed
right round. Needle points due south!"

"Why, you cussed lubber!" growled the skipper, moving up and taking a
look, "it p'ints d'rectly to labbard, an' there's the sun, dead
ahead!"

Sam turned and confronted him, with a steady gaze of ineffable
contempt.

"Now, who said it wasn't dead ahead?--tell me _that_. Shows how much
_you_ know about earthquakes. 'Course, I didn't mean just this
continent, nor just this earth: I tell you, the _whole thing's_
turned!"

       *       *       *       *       *



A TALE OF SPANISH VENGEANCE.


Don Hemstitch Blodoza was an hidalgo--one of the highest dalgos of old
Spain. He had a comfortably picturesque castle on the Guadalquiver,
with towers, battlements, and mortages on it; but as it belonged, not
to his own creditors, but to those of his bitterest enemy, who
inhabited it, Don Hemstitch preferred the forest as a steady
residence. He had that curse of Spanish pride which will not permit
one to be a burden upon the man who may happen to have massacred all
one's relations, and set a price upon the heads of one's family
generally. He had made a vow never to accept the hospitality of Don
Symposio--not if he died for it. So he pervaded the romantic dells,
and the sunless jungle was infected with the sound of his guitar. He
rose in the morning and laved him in the limpid brooklet; and the
beams of the noonday sun fell upon him in the pursuit of diet--

  "The thistle's downy seed his fare,
    His drink the morning dew."

He throve but indifferently upon this meagre regimen, but beyond all
other evils a true Spaniard of the poorer sort dreads obesity. During
the darkest night of the season he will get up at an absurd hour and
stab his best friend in the back rather than grow fat.

It will of course be suspected by the experienced reader that Don
Hemstitch did not have any bed. Like the Horatian lines above quoted--

  "He perched at will on every spray."

In translating this tale into the French, M. Victor Hugo will please
twig the proper meaning of the word "spray"; I shall be very angry if
he make it appear that my hero is a gull.

One morning while Don Hemstitch was dozing upon his leafy couch--not
his main couch, but a branch--he was roused from his tranquil nap by
the grunting of swine; or, if you like subtle distinctions, by the
sound of human voices. Peering cautiously through his bed-hangings, he
saw below him at a little distance two of his countrymen in
conversation. The fine practised phrenzy of their looks, their
excellently rehearsed air of apprehensive secrecy, showed him they
were merely conspiring against somebody's life; and he dismissed the
matter from his mind until the mention of his own name recalled his
attention. One of the conspirators was urging the other to make one of
a joint-stock company for the Don's assassination; but the more
conscientious plotter would not consent.

"The laws of Spain," said the latter, "with which we have an
acquaintance meanly withheld from the attorneys, enjoin that when one
man murders another, except for debt, he must make provision for the
widow and orphans. I leave it to you if, after the summer's
unprofitable business, we are in a position to assume the care and
education of a large family. We have not a single asset, and our
liabilities amount to fourteen widows, and more than thirty children
of strong and increasing appetite.

"_Car-r-rajo!"_ hissed the other through his beard; "we will slaughter
the lot of them!"

At this cold-blooded proposition his merciful companion recoiled
aghast.

"_Diablo_!" he shrieked. "Tempt me no farther. What! immolate a whole
hecatomb of guiltless women and children? Consider the funeral
expense!"

There is really no moving the law-abiding soul to crime of doubtful
profit. But Don Hemstitch was not at ease; he could not say how soon
it might transpire that he had nor chick nor child. Should Don
Symposio pass that way and communicate this information--and he was in
a position to know--the moral scruples of the conscientious plotter
would vanish like the baseless fabric of a beaten cur. Moreover, it is
always unpleasant to be included in a conspiracy in which one is not a
conspirator. Don Hemstitch resolved to sell his life at the highest
market price.

Hastily descending his tree, he wrapped his cloak about him and
stood for some time, wishing he had a poniard. Trying the temper of
this upon his thumbnail, he found it much more amiable than his own.
It was a keen Toledo blade--keen enough to sever a hare. To nerve
himself for the deadly work before him, he began thinking of a lady
whom he had once met--the lovely Donna Lavaca, beloved of El
Toro-blanco. Having thus wrought up his Castilian soul to a high pitch
of jealously, he felt quite irresistible, and advanced towards the two
ruffians with his poniard deftly latent in his flowing sleeve. His
mien was hostile, his stride puissant, his nose tip-tilted--not to put
too fine a point upon it, petallic. Don Hemstitch was upon the
war-path with all his might. The forest trembled as he trode, the
earth bent like thin ice beneath his heel. Birds, beasts, serpents,
and poachers fled affrighted to the right and left of his course. He
came down upon the unsuspecting assassins like a mild Spanish
avalanche.

[Illustration]

"_Senores!_" he thundered, with a frightful scowl and a faint aroma of
garlic, "patter your _pater-nosters_ as fast as you conveniently may.
You have but ten minutes to exist. Has either of you a watch?"

Then might you have seen a guilty dismay over-spreading the faces of
two sinners, like a sudden snow paling twin mountain peaks. In the
presence of Death, Crime shuddered and sank into his boots. Conscience
stood appalled in the sight of Retribution. In vain the villains
essayed speech; each palsied tongue beat out upon the yielding air
some weak words of supplication, then clave to its proper concave. Two
pairs of brawny knees unsettled their knitted braces, and bent limply
beneath their loads of incarnate wickedness swaying unsteadily above.
With clenched hands and streaming eyes these wretched men prayed
silently. At this supreme moment an American gentleman sitting by,
with his heels upon a rotted oaken stump, tilted back his chair, laid
down his newspaper, and began operating upon a half-eaten apple-pie.
One glance at the title of that print--one look at that calm angular
face clasped in its crescent of crisp crust--and Don Hemstitch Blodoza
reeled, staggered like an exhausted spinning-top. He spread his
baffled hand upon his eyes, and sank heavily to earth!

"Saved! saved!" shrieked the penitent conspirators, springing to their
feet. The far deeps of the forest whispered in consultation, and a
distant hillside echoed back the words. "Saved!" sang the
rocks--"Saved!" the glad birds twittered from the leaves above. The
hare that Don Hemstitch Blodoza's poniard would have severed limped
awkwardly but confidently about, saying, "Saved!" as well as he knew
how.

Explanation is needless. The American gentleman was the Special
Correspondent of the "New York Herald." It is tolerably well known
that except beneath his searching eye no considerable event can
occur--and his whole attention was focused upon that apple-pie!

That is how Spanish vengeance was balked of its issue.

       *       *       *       *       *



MRS. DENNISON'S HEAD.


While I was employed in the Bank of Loan and Discount (said Mr.
Applegarth, smiling the smile with which he always prefaced a nice old
story), there was another clerk there, named Dennison--a quiet,
reticent fellow, the very soul of truth, and a great favourite with
us all. He always wore crape on his hat, and once when asked for whom
he was in mourning he replied his wife, and seemed much affected. We
all expressed our sympathy as delicately as possible, and no more was
said upon the subject. Some weeks after this he seemed to have arrived
at that stage of tempered grief at which it becomes a relief to give
sorrow words--to speak of the departed one to sympathizing friends;
for one day he voluntarily began talking of his bereavement, and of
the terrible calamity by which his wife had been deprived of her head!

This sharpened our curiosity to the keenest edge; but of course we
controlled it, hoping he would volunteer some further information with
regard to so singular a misfortune; but when day after day went by and
he did not allude to the matter, we got worked up into a fever of
excitement about it. One evening after Dennison had gone, we held a
kind of political meeting about it, at which all possible and
impossible methods of decapitation were suggested as the ones to which
Mrs. D. probably owed her extraordinary demise. I am sorry to add that
we so far forgot the grave character of the event as to lay small
wagers that it was done this way or that way; that it was accidental
or premeditated; that she had had a hand in it herself or that it was
wrought by circumstances beyond her control. All was mere conjecture,
however; but from that time Dennison, as the custodian of a secret
upon which we had staked our cash, was an object of more than usual
interest. It wasn't entirely that, either; aside from our paltry
wagers, we felt a consuming curiosity to know the truth for its own
sake. Each set himself to work to elicit the dread secret in some way;
and the misdirected ingenuity we developed was wonderful. All sorts
of pious devices were resorted to to entice poor Dennison into
clearing up the mystery. By a thousand indirect methods we sought to
entrap him into divulging all. History, fiction, poesy--all were laid
under contribution, and from Goliah down, through Charles I., to Sam
Spigger, a local celebrity who got his head entangled in mill
machinery, every one who had ever mourned the loss of a head received
his due share of attention during office hours. The regularity with
which we introduced, and the pertinacity with which we stuck to, this
one topic came near getting us all discharged; for one day the cashier
came out of his private office and intimated that if we valued our
situations the subject of hanging would afford us the means of
retaining them. He added that he always selected his subordinates with
an eye to their conversational abilities, but variety of subject was
as desirable, at times, as exhaustive treatment.

During all this discussion Dennison, albeit he had evinced from the
first a singular interest in the theme, and shirked not his fair share
of the conversation, never once seemed to understand that it had any
reference to himself. His frank truthful nature was quite unable to
detect the personal significance of the subject. It was plain that
nothing short of a definite inquiry would elicit the information we
were dying to obtain; and at a "caucus," one evening, we drew lots to
determine who should openly propound it. The choice fell upon me.

Next morning we were at the bank somewhat earlier than usual, waiting
impatiently for Dennison and the time to open the doors: they always
arrived together. When Dennison stepped into the room, bowing in his
engaging manner to each clerk as he passed to his own desk, I
confronted him, shaking him warmly by the hand. At that moment all
the others fell to writing and figuring with unusual avidity, as if
thinking of anything under the sun except Dennison's wife's head.

"Oh, Dennison," I began, as carelessly as I could manage it; "speaking
of decapitation reminds me of something I would like to ask you. I
have intended asking it several times, but it has always slipped my
memory. Of course you will pardon me if it is not a fair question."

As if by magic, the scratching of pens died away, leaving a dead
silence which quite disconcerted me; but I blundered on:

"I heard the other day--that is, you said--or it was in the
newspapers--- or somewhere--something about your poor wife, you
understand--about her losing her head. Would you mind telling me how
such a distressing accident--if it was an accident--occurred?"

When I had finished, Dennison walked straight past me as if he didn't
see me, went round the counter to his stool, and perched himself
gravely on the top of it, facing the other clerks. Then he began
speaking, calmly, and without apparent emotion:

"Gentlemen, I have long desired to speak of this thing, but you gave
me no encouragement, and I naturally supposed you were indifferent. I
now thank you all for the friendly interest you take in my affairs. I
will satisfy your curiosity upon this point at once, if you will
promise never hereafter to allude to the matter, and to ask not a
single question now."

We all promised upon our sacred honour, and collected about him with
the utmost eagerness. He bent his head a moment, then raised it,
quietly saying:

"My poor wife's head was bitten off!"

"By what?" we all exclaimed eagerly, with suspended breath.

He gave us a look full of reproach, turned to his desk, and went at
his work.

We went at ours.

       *       *       *       *       *



A FOWL WITCH.


Frau Gaubenslosher was strongly suspected of witchcraft. I don't think
she was a witch, but would not like to swear she was not, in a court
of law, unless a good deal depended upon my testimony, and I had been
properly suborned beforehand. A great many persons accused of
witchcraft have themselves stoutly disbelieved the charge, until, when
subjected to shooting with a silver bullet or boiling in oil, they
have found themselves unable to endure the test. And it must be
confessed appearances were against the Frau. In the first place, she
lived quite alone in a forest, and had no visiting list. This was
suspicious. Secondly--and it was thus, mainly, that she had acquired
her evil repute--all the barn-yard fowls in the vicinity seemed to
bear her the most uncompromising ill-will. Whenever she passed a flock
of hens, or ducks, or turkeys, or geese, one of them, with dropped
wings, extended neck, and open bill, would start in hot pursuit.
Sometimes the whole flock would join in for a few moments with shrill
clamour; but there would always be one fleeter and more determined
than the rest, and that one would keep up the chase with unflagging
zeal clean out of sight.

Upon these occasions the dame's fright was painful to behold. She
would not scream--her organs of screech seemed to have lost their
power--nor, as a rule, would she curse; she would just address herself
to silent prayerful speed, with every symptom of abject terror!

The Frau's explanation of this unnatural persecution was singularly
weak. Upon a certain night long ago, said she, a poor bedraggled and
attenuated gander had applied at her door for relief. He stated in
piteous accents that he had eaten nothing for months but tin-tacks and
an occasional beer-bottle; and he had not roosted under cover for so
long a time he did not know what it was like. Would she give him a
place on her fender, and fetch out six or eight cold pies to amuse him
while she was preparing his supper? To this plea she turned a deaf
ear, and he went away. He came again the next night, however, bringing
a written certificate from a clergyman that his case was a deserving
one. She would not aid him, and he departed. The night after he
presented himself again, with a paper signed by the relieving officer
of the parish, stating that the necessity for help was most urgent.

By this time the Frau's good-nature was quite exhausted: she slew him,
dressed him, put him in a pot, and boiled him. She kept him boiling
for three or four days, but she did not eat him because her teeth were
just like anybody's teeth--no weaker, perhaps, but certainly no
stronger nor sharper. So she fed him to a threshing machine of her
acquaintance, which managed to masticate some of the more modern
portions, but was hopelessly wrecked upon the neck. From that time the
poor beldame had lived under the ban of a great curse. Hens took
after her as naturally as after the soaring beetle; geese pursued her
as if she were a fleeting tadpole; ducks, turkeys, and guinea fowl
camped upon her trail with tireless pertinacity.

Now there was a leaven of improbability in this tale, and it leavened
the whole lump. Ganders do not roost; there is not one in a hundred of
them that could sit on a fender long enough to say Jack Robinson. So,
as the Frau lived a thousand years before the birth of common
sense--say about a half century ago--when everything uncommon had a
smell of the supernatural, there was nothing for it but to consider
her a witch. Had she been very feeble and withered, the people would
have burned her, out of hand; but they did not like to proceed to
extremes without perfectly legal evidence. They were cautious, for
they had made several mistakes recently. They had sentenced two or
three females to the stake, and upon being stripped the limbs and
bodies of these had not redeemed the hideous promise of their
shrivelled faces and hands. Justice was ashamed of having toasted
comparatively plump and presumably innocent women; and the punishment
of this one was wisely postponed until the proof should be all in.

But in the meantime a graceless youth, named Hans Blisselwartle, made
the startling discovery that none of the fowls that pursued the Frau
ever came back to boast of it. A brief martial career seemed to have
weaned them from the arts of peace and the love of their kindred. Full
of unutterable suspicion, Hans one day followed in the rear of an
exciting race between the timorous dame and an avenging pullet. They
were too rapid for him; but bursting suddenly in at the lady's door
some fifteen minutes afterward, he found her in the act of placing
the plucked and eviscerated Nemesis upon her cooking range. The Frau
betrayed considerable confusion; and although the accusing
Blisselwartle could not but recognize in her act a certain poetic
justice, he could not conceal from himself that there was something
grossly selfish and sordid in it. He thought it was a good deal like
bottling an annoying ghost and selling him for clarified moonlight; or
like haltering a nightmare and putting her to the cart.

When it transpired that the Frau ate her feathered persecutors, the
patience of the villagers refused to honour the new demand upon it:
she was at once arrested, and charged with prostituting a noble
superstition to a base selfish end. We will pass over the trial;
suffice it she was convicted. But even then they had not the heart to
burn a middle-aged woman, with full rounded outlines, as a witch, so
they broke her upon the wheel as a thief.

[Illustration]

The reckless antipathy of the domestic fowls to this inoffensive lady
remains to be explained. Having rejected her theory, I am bound in
honour to set up one of my own. Happily an inventory of her effects,
now before me, furnishes a tolerably safe basis. Amongst the articles
of personal property I note "One long, thin, silken fishing line, and
hook." Now if I were a barn-yard fowl--say a goose--and a lady not a
friend of mine were to pass me, munching sweetmeats, and were to drop
a nice fat worm, passing on apparently unconscious of her loss, I
think I should try to get away with that worm. And if after swallowing
it I felt drawn towards that lady by a strong personal attachment, I
suppose that I should yield if I could not help it. And then if the
lady chose to run and I chose to follow, making a good deal of noise,
I suppose it would look as if I were engaged in a very reprehensible
pursuit, would it not? With the light I have, that is the way in
which the case presents itself to my intelligence; though, of course,
I may be wrong.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE CIVIL SERVICE IN FLORIDA.


Colonel Bulper was of a slumberous turn. Most people are not: they
work all day and sleep all night--are always in one or the other
condition of unrest, and never slumber. Such persons, the Colonel used
to remark, are fit only for sentry duty; they are good to watch our
property while we take our rest--and they take the property. But this
tale is not of them; it is of Colonel Bulper.

There was a fellow named Halsey, a practical joker, and one of the
most disagreeable of his class. He would remain broad awake for a year
at a time, for no other purpose than to break other people of their
natural rest. And I must admit that from the wreck of his faculties
upon the rock of _insomnia_ he had somehow rescued a marvellous
ingenuity and fertility of expedient. But this tale is not so much of
him as of Colonel Bulper.

At the time of which I write, the Colonel was the Collector of Customs
at a sea-port town in Florida, United States. The climate there is
perpetual summer; it never rains, nor anything; and there was no good
reason why the Colonel should not have enjoyed it to the top of his
bent, as there was enough for all. In point of fact, the Collectorship
had been given him solely that he might repair his wasted vitality by
a short season of unbroken repose; for during the Presidential canvass
immediately preceding his appointment he had been kept awake a long
time by means of strong tea, in order to deliver an able and
exhaustive political argument prepared by the candidate, who was
ultimately successful in spite of it. Halsey, who had favoured the
other aspirant, was a merchant, and had nothing in the world to do but
annoy the collector. If the latter could have kept away from him, the
dignity of the office might have been preserved, and the object of the
incumbent's appointment to it attained; but sneak away whithersoever
he might--into the heart of the dismal swamp, or anywhere in the
Everglades--some vagrom Indian or casual negro was sure to stumble
over him before long, and go and tell Halsey, securing a plug of
tobacco for reward. Or if he was not found in this way, some company
was tolerably certain, in the course of time, to survey a line of
railway athwart his leafy couch, and laying his prostrate trunk aside
out of the way, send word to his persecutor; who, as soon as the line
was as nearly completed as it ever would be, would come down on
horseback with some diabolical device for waking the slumberer. I will
confess there is a subtle seeming of unlikelihood about all this; but
in the land where Ponce de Leon searched for the Fountain of Youth
there is an air of unreality in everything. I can only say I have had
the story by me a long time, and it seems to me just as true as it was
the day I wrote it.

Sometimes the Colonel would seek out a hillside with a southern
exposure; but no sooner would he compose his members for a bit of
slumber, than Halsey would set about making inquiries for him, under
pretence that a ship was _en route_ from Liverpool, and the
collector's signature might be required for her anchoring papers.
Having traced him--which, owing to the meddlesome treachery of the
venal natives, he was always able to do--Halsey would set off to Texas
for a seed of the prickly pear, which he would plant exactly beneath
the slumberer's body. This he called a triumph of modern engineering!
As soon as the young vegetable had pushed its spines above the soil,
of course the Colonel would have to get up and seek another spot--and
this nearly always waked him.

Upon one occasion the Colonel existed five consecutive days without
slumber--travelling all day and sleeping in the weeds at night--to
find an almost inaccessible crag, on the summit of which he hoped to
be undisturbed until the action of the dew should wear away the rock
all round his body, when he expected and was willing to roll off and
wake. But even there Halsey found him out, and put eagles' eggs in his
southern pockets to hatch. When the young birds were well grown, they
pecked so sharply at the Colonel's legs that he had to get up and
wring their necks. The malevolence of people who scorn slumber seems
to be practically unlimited.

At last the Colonel resolved upon revenge, and having dreamed out a
feasible plan, proceeded to put it into execution. He had in the
warehouse some Government powder, and causing a keg of this to be
conveyed into his private office, he knocked out the head. He next
penned a note to Halsey, asking him to step down to the office "upon
important business;" adding in a postscript, "As I am liable to be
called out for a few moments at any time, in case you do not find me
in, please sit down and amuse yourself with the newspaper until I
return." He knew Halsey was at his counting-house, and would certainly
come if only to learn what signification a Government official
attached to the word "business." Then the Colonel procured a brief
candle and set it into the powder. His plan was to light the candle,
dispatch a porter with the message, and bolt for home. Having
completed his preparations, he leaned back in his easy chair and
smiled. He smiled a long time, and even achieved a chuckle. For the
first time in his life, he felt a serene sense of happiness in being
particularly wide awake. Then, without moving from his chair, he
ignited the taper, and put out his hand toward the bell-cord, to
summon the porter. At this stage of his vengeance the Colonel fell
into a tranquil and refreshing slumber.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is nothing omitted here; that is merely the Colonel's present
address.

       *       *       *       *       *



A TALE OF THE BOSPHORUS.


Pollimariar was the daughter of a Mussulman--she was, in fact, a
Mussulgirl. She lived at Stamboul, the name of which is an admirable
rhyme to what Pollimariar was profanely asserted to be by her two
sisters, Djainan and Djulya. These were very much older than
Pollimariar, and proportionately wicked. In wickedness they could
discount her, giving her the first innings.

The relations between Pollimariar and her sisters were in all respects
similar to those that existed between Cinderella and _her_ sisters.
Indeed, these big girls seldom read anything but the story of
Cinderella; and that work, no doubt, had its influence in forming
their character. They were always apparelling themselves in gaudy
dresses from Paris, and going away to balls, leaving their meritorious
little sister weeping at home in their every-day finery. Their father
was a commercial traveller, absent with his samples in Damascus most
of the time; and the poor girl had no one to protect her from the
outrage of exclusion from the parties to which she was not invited.
She fretted and chafed very much at first, but after forbearance
ceased to be a virtue it came rather natural to her to exercise a
patient endurance. But perceiving this was agreeable to her sisters
she abandoned it, devising a rare scheme of vengeance. She sent to the
"Levant Herald" the following "personal" advertisement:

   "G.V.--Regent's Canal 10.30 p.m., Q.K.X. is O.K.! With coals at
   48 sh-ll-ngs I cannot endure existence without you! Ask for
   G-field St-ch. J.G. + ¶ pro rata. B-tty's N-bob P-ckles.
   Oz-k-r-t! Meet me at the 'Turban and Scimitar,' Bebeck Road,
   Thursday morning at three o'clock; blue cotton umbrella, wooden
   shoes, and Ulster overskirt Polonaise all round the bottom.

   One Who Wants to Know Yer."

The latter half of this contained the gist of the whole matter; the
other things were put in just to prevent the notice from being
conspicuously sensible. Next morning, when the Grand Vizier took up
his newspaper, he could not help knowing he was the person addressed;
and at the appointed hour he kept the tryst. What passed between them
the sequel will disclose, if I can think it out to suit me.

Soon afterwards Djainan and Djulya received cards of invitation to a
grand ball at the Sultan's palace, given to celebrate the arrival of a
choice lot of Circassian beauties in the market. The first thing the
wicked sisters did was to flourish these invitations triumphantly
before the eyes of Pollimariar, who declared she did not believe a
word of it; indeed, she professed such aggressive incredulity that she
had to be severely beaten. But she denied the invitations to the last.
She thought it was best to deny them.

The invitations stated that at the proper hour the old original
Sultana would call personally, and conduct the young ladies to the
palace; and she did so. They thought, at the time, she bore a striking
resemblance to a Grand Vizier with his beard shaven off, and this led
them into some desultory reflections upon the sin of nepotism and
family favour at Court; but, like all moral reflections, these came to
nothing. The old original Sultana's attire, also, was, with the
exception of a reticule and fan, conspicuously epicene; but, in a
country where popular notions of sex are somewhat confused, this
excited no surprise.

As the three marched off in stately array, poor little deserted
Pollimariar stood cowering at one side, with her fingers spread
loosely upon her eyes, weeping like--a crocodile. The Sultana said it
was late; they would have to make haste. She had not fetched a cab,
however, and a recent inundation of dogs very much impeded their
progress. By-and-by the dogs became shallower, but it was near eleven
o'clock before they arrived at the Sublime Porte--very old and fruity.
A janizary standing here split his visage to grin, but it was
surprising how quickly the Sultana had his head off.

Pretty soon afterwards they came to a low door, where the Sultana
whistled three times and kicked at the panels. It soon yielded,
disclosing two gigantic Nubian eunuchs, black as the ace of clubs,
who stared at first, but when shown a very cleverly-executed
signet-ring of paste, knocked their heads against the ground with
respectful violence. Then one of them consulted a thick book, and took
from a secret drawer two metal badges numbered 7,394 and 7,395, which
he fastened about the necks of the now frightened girls, who had just
observed that the Sultana had vanished. The numbers on the badges
showed that this would be a very crowded ball.

The other black now advanced with a measuring tape, and began gravely
measuring Djainan from head to heel. She ventured to ask the sable
guardian with what article of dress she was to be fitted.

"Bedad, thin, av ye must know," said he, grinning, "it is to be a
_sack_."

"What! a _sacque_ for a ball?"

"Indade, it's right ye are, mavourneen; it is fer a ball--fer a
cannon-ball--as will make yer purty body swim to the bothom nately as
ony shtone."

And the eunuch toyed lovingly with his measuring-tape, which the
wretched girls now observed was singularly like a bow-string.

"O, sister," shrieked Djainan, "this is--"

"O, sister," shrieked Djulya, "this is--"

"That horrid--"

"That horrid--"

_"Harem!"_

It was even so. A minute later the betrayed maidens were carried,
feet-foremost-and-fainting, through a particularly dirty portal, over
which gleamed the infernal legend: "Who enters here leaves soap
behind!" I wash my hands of them.

[Illustration]

Next morning the following "personal" appeared in the "Levant Herald:"

"P-ll-m-r-r.--All is over. The S-lt-n cleared his shelves of the old
stock at midnight. If you purchased the Circ-n B-ties with the money
I advanced, be sure you don't keep them too long on hand. Prices are
sure to fall when I have done buying for the H-r-m. Meet me at time
and place agreed upon, and divide profits. G--d V--r."

       *       *       *       *       *



JOHN SMITH.

AN EDITORIAL ARTICLE FROM A JOURNAL. OF MAY 3rd, A.D. 3873.


At the quiet little village of Smithcester (the ancient London) will
be celebrated to-day the twentieth, centennial anniversary of this
remarkable man, the foremost figure of antiquity. The recurrence of
what, no longer than six centuries ago, was a popular _fête_ day, and
which even now is seldom allowed to pass without some recognition by
those to whom the word liberty means something more precious than
gold, is provocative of peculiar emotion. It matters little whether or
no tradition has correctly fixed the date of Smith's birth; that he
_was_ born--that being born he wrought nobly at the work his hand
found to do--that by the mere force of his intellect he established
our present perfect form of government, under which civilization has
attained its highest and ripest development--these are facts beside
which a mere question of chronology sinks into insignificance.

That this extraordinary man originated the Smitharchic system of
government is, perhaps, open to honest doubt; very possibly it had a
_de facto_ existence in various debased and uncertain shapes as early
as the sixteenth century. But that he cleared it of its overlying
errors and superstitions, gave it a definite form, and shaped it into
an intelligible scheme, there is the strongest evidence in the
fragments of twentieth-century literature that have descended to us,
disfigured though they are with amazingly contradictory statements of
his birth, parentage, and manner of life before he strode upon the
political stage as the liberator of mankind. It is stated that
Snakeshear--one of his contemporaries, a poet whose works had in their
day some reputation (though it is difficult to say why)--alludes to
him as "the noblest Roman of them all;" our ancestors at the time
being called Englishmen or Romans, indifferently. In the only fragment
of Snakeshear extant, however, we have been unable to find this
passage.

Smith's military power is amply attested in an ancient manuscript of
undoubted authenticity, which has just been translated from the
Japanese. It is an account of the water-battle of Loo, by an
eyewitness whose name, unfortunately, has not reached us. In this
battle it is stated that Smith overthrew the great Neapolitan general,
whom he captured and conveyed in chains to the island of Chickenhurst.

In his Political History of the Twentieth Century, the late
Mimble--or, as he would have been called in the time of which he
writes, _Mister_ Mimble--has this luminous sentence: "With the single
exception of Coblentz, there was no European government the Liberator
did not upset, and which he did not erect into a pure Smitharchy; and
though some of them afterward relapsed temporarily into the crude
forms of antiquity, and others fell into fanciful systems begotten of
the intellectual activity he had stirred up, yet so firmly did he
establish the principle, that in the Thirty-second Century the
enlightened world was, what it has since remained, practically
Smitharchic."

It may be noted here as a curious coincidence, that the same year
which saw the birth of him who established rational government
witnessed the death of him who perfected literature. In 1873, Martin
Farquhar Tupper--next to Smith the most notable name in history--died
of starvation in the streets of London. Like that of Smith, his origin
is wrapped in profoundest obscurity. No less than seven British cities
claimed the honour of his birth. Meagre indeed is our knowledge of
this only bard whose works have descended to us through the changes of
twenty centuries entire. All that is positively established is that
during his life he was editor of "The Times 'magazine,'" a word of
disputed meaning--and, as quaint old Dumbleshaw says, "an accomplished
Greek and Latin scholar," whatever "Greek" and "Latin" may have been.
Had Smith and Tupper been contemporaries, the iron deeds of the former
would doubtless have been immortalized in the golden pages of the
latter. Upon such chances does History depend for her materials!

Strangely unimpressible indeed must be the mind which, looking
backward through the vista of twenty centuries upon the singular race
from whom we are supposed to be descended, can repress a feeling of
emotional interest. The names of John Smith and Martin Farquhar
Tupper, blazoned upon the page of the dim past, and surrounded by the
lesser names of Snakeshear, the first Neapolitan, Oliver Cornwell,
Close, "Queen" Elizabeth, or Lambeth, the Dutch Bismarch, Julia Cæsar,
and a host of contemporary notables are singularly suggestive. They
call to mind the odd old custom of covering the body with "clothes;"
the curious error of Copernicus and other wide guesses of antique
"science;" the lost arts of telegramy, steam locomotion, and printing
with movable types; and the exploded theory of gunpowder. They set us
thinking upon the zealous idolatry which led men to make pious
pilgrimages to the then accessible regions about the North Pole and
into the interior of Africa, which at that time was but little better
than a wilderness. They conjure up visions of bloodthirsty "Emperors,"
tyrannical "Kings," vampire "Presidents," and useless
"Parliaments"--strangely horrible shapes contrasted with the serene
and benevolent aspect of our modern Smithocracy!

Let us to-day rejoice that the old order of things has for ever passed
away; let us be thankful that our lot has been cast in more wholesome
days than those in which John Smith chalked out the better destinies
of a savage race, and Tupper sang divine philosophy to inattentive
ears. And yet let us keep green the memory of whatever there was of
good--if any--in the dark pre-Smithian ages, when men cherished quaint
superstitions and rode on the backs of "horses"--when they passed
_over_ the seas instead of under them--when science had not yet dawned
to chase away the shadows of imagination--and when the cabalistic
letters A.D., which from habit we still affix to the numerals
designating the age of the world, had perhaps a known signification.

       *       *       *       *       *



SUNDERED HEARTS.


Deidrick Schwackenheimer was a lusty young goatherd. He stood six feet
two in his _sabots_, and there was not an ounce of superfluous bone or
brain in his composition. If he had a fault, it was a tendency to
sleep more than was strictly necessary. The nature of his calling
fostered this weakness: after being turned into some neighbour's
pasture, his animals would not require looking after until the owner
of the soil turned them out again. Their guardian naturally devoted
the interval to slumber. Nor was there danger of oversleeping: the
pitchfork of the irate husbandman always roused him at the proper
moment.

At nightfall Deidrick would marshal his flock and drive it homeward to
the milking-yard. Here he was met by the fair young Katrina
Buttersprecht, the daughter of his employer, who relieved the tense
udders of their daily secretion. One evening after the milking,
Deidrick, who had for years been nourishing a secret passion for
Katrina, was smitten with an idea. Why should she not be his wife? He
went and fetched a stool into the yard, led her tenderly to it, seated
her, and _asked_ her why. The girl thought a moment, and then was at
some pains to explain. She was too young. Her old father required all
her care. Her little brother would cry. She was engaged to Max
Manglewurzzle. She amplified considerably, but these were the
essential points of objection. She set them before him _seriatim_ with
perfect frankness, and without mental reservation. When she had done,
her lover, with that instinctive sense of honour characteristic of the
true goatherd, made no attempt to alter her decision. Indeed, he had
nodded a heart-broken assent to each separate proposition, and at the
conclusion of the last was fast asleep. The next morning he jocundly
drove his goats afield and appeared the same as usual, except that he
slept a good deal more, and thought of Katrina a good deal less.

[Illustration]

That evening when he returned with his spraddling milch-nannies, he
found a second stool placed alongside the first. It was a happy
augury; his attentions, then, were not altogether distasteful. He
seated himself gravely upon the stool, and when Katrina had done
milking, she came and occupied the other. He mechanically renewed his
proposal. Then the artless maid proceeded to recapitulate the
obstacles to the union. She was too young. Her old father required all
her care. Her little brother would cry. She was engaged to Max
Manglewurzzle. As each objection was stated and told off on the
_fraülein's_ fingers, Deidrick nodded a resigned acquiescence, and at
the finish was fast asleep. Every evening after that Deidrick proposed
in perfect good faith, the girl repeated her objections with equal
candour, and they were received with somnolent approval. Love-making
is very agreeable, and by the usuage of long years it becomes a
confirmed habit. In less than a decade it became impossible for
Katrina to enjoy her supper without the regular proposal, and Deidrick
could not sleep of a night without the preliminary nap in the
goat-yard to taper off his wakefulness. Both would have been wretched
had they retired to bed with a shade of misunderstanding between them.

And so the seasons went by. The earth grayed and greened herself anew;
the planets sailed their appointed courses; the old goats died, and
their virtues were perpetuated in their offspring. Max Manglewurzzle
married the miller's daughter; Katrina's little brother, who would
have cried at her wedding, did not cry any at his own; the aged
Buttersprecht was long gathered to his fathers; and Katrina was
herself well stricken in years. And still at fall of night she defined
her position to the sleeping lover who had sought her hand--defined it
in the self-same terms as upon that eventful eve. The gossiping
_frauen_ began to whisper it would be a match; but it did not look
like it as yet. Slanderous tongues even asserted that it ought to have
been a match long ago, but I don't see how it could have been, without
the girl's consent. The parish clerk began to hanker after his fee;
but, lacking patience, he was unreasonable.

The whole countryside was now taking a deep interest in the affair.
The aged did not wish to die without beholding the consummation of the
love they had seen bud in their youth; and the young did not wish to
die at all. But no one liked to interfere; it was feared that counsel
to the woman would be rejected, and a thrashing to the man would be
misunderstood. At last the parson took heart of grace to make or mar
the match. Like a reckless gambler he staked his fee upon the cast of
a die. He went one day and removed the two stools--now worn extremely
thin--to another corner of the milking-yard.

That evening, when the distended udders had been duly despoiled, the
lovers repaired to their trysting-place. They opened their eyes a bit
to find the stools removed. They were tormented with a vague
presentiment of evil, and stood for some minutes irresolute; then,
assisted to a decision by their weakening knees, they seated
themselves flat upon the ground. Deidrick stammered a weak proposal,
and Katrina essayed an incoherent objection. But she trembled and
became unintelligible; and when he attempted to throw in a few nods of
generous approval they came in at the wrong places. With one accord
they arose and sought their stools. Katrina tried it again. She
succeeded in saying her father was over-young to marry, and Max
Manglewurzzle would cry if she took care of him. Deidrick executed a
reckless nod that made his neck snap, and was broad awake in a minute.
A second time they arose. They conveyed the stools back to their
primitive position, and began again. She remarked that her little
brother was too old to require all her care, and Max would cry to
marry her father. Deidrick addressed himself to sleep, but a horrid
nightmare galloped rough-shod into his repose and set him off with a
strangled snort. The good understanding between those two hearts was
for ever dissipated; neither one knew if the other were afoot or on
horseback. Like the sailor's thirtieth stroke with the rope's-end, it
was perfectly disgusting! Their meetings after this were so
embarrassing that they soon ceased meeting altogether. Katrina died
soon after, a miserable broken-spirited maiden of sixty; and Deidrick
drags out a wretched existence in a remote town, upon an income of
eight _silbergroschen_ a week.

Oh, friends and brethren, if you did but know how slight an act may
sunder for ever the bonds of love--how easily one may wreck the peace
of two faithful hearts--how almost without an effort the waters of
affection may be changed to gall and bitterness--I suspect you would
make even more more mischief than you do now.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE EARLY HISTORY OF BATH.


Bladud was the eldest son of a British King (whose name I perfectly
remember, but do not choose to write) _temp_. Solomon--who does not
appear to have known Bladud, however. Bladud was, therefore, Prince of
Wales. He was more than that: he was a leper--had it very bad, and the
Court physician, Sir William Gull, frequently remarked that the
Prince's death was merely a question of time. When a man gets to that
stage of leprosy he does not care much for society, particularly if no
one will have anything to do with him. So Bladud bade a final adieu to
the world, and settled in Liverpool. But not agreeing with the
climate, he folded his tent into the shape of an Arab, as Longfellow
says, and silently stole away to the southward, bringing up in
Gloucestershire.

Here Bladud hired himself out to a farmer named Smith, as a
swineherd. But Fate, as he expressed it in the vernacular, was
"ferninst him." Leprosy is a contagious disease, within certain
degrees of consanguinity, and by riding his pigs afield he
communicated it to them; so that in a few weeks, barring the fact that
they were hogs, they were no better off than he. Mr. Smith was an
irritable old gentleman, so choleric he made his bondsmen
tremble--though he was now abroad upon his own recognizances. Dreading
his wrath, Bladud quitted his employ, without giving the usual week's
notice, but so far conforming to custom in other respects as to take
his master's pigs along with him.

We find him next at a place called Swainswick--or Swineswig--a mile or
two to the north-east of Bath, which, as yet, had no existence, its
site being occupied by a smooth level reach of white sand, or a stormy
pool of black water, travellers of the time disagree which. At
Swainswick Bladud found his level; throwing aside all such nonsense
as kingly ambition, and the amenities of civilized society--utterly
ignoring the deceitful pleasures of common sense--he contented his
simple soul with composing _bouts rimés_ for Lady Miller, at
Batheaston Villa; that one upon a buttered muffin, falsely ascribed by
Walpole to the Duchess of Northumberland, was really constructed by
Bladud.

A brief glance at the local history of the period cannot but prove
instructive. Ralph Allen was then residing at Sham Castle, where Pope
accused him of doing good like a thief in the night and blushing to
find it unpopular. Fielding was painfully evolving "Tom Jones" from an
inner consciousness that might have been improved by soap and any
water but that of Bath. Bishop Warburton had just shot the Count Du
Barré in a duel with Lord Chesterfield; and Beau Nash was disputing
with Dr. Johnson, at the Pelican Inn, Walcot, upon a question of
lexicographical etiquette. It is necessary to learn these things in
order the better to appreciate the interest of what follows.

During all this time Bladud never permitted his mind to permanently
desert his calling; he found family matters a congenial study, and he
thought of his swine a good deal, off and on. One day while baiting
them amongst the hills, he observed a cloud of steam ascending from
the valley below. Having always believed steam a modern invention,
this ancient was surprised, and when his measly charge set up a wild
squeal, rushing down a steep place into the aspiring vapour, his
astonishment ripened into dismay. As soon as he conveniently could
Bladud followed, and there he heard the saw--I mean he saw the herd
wallowing and floundering multitudinously in a hot spring, and
punctuating the silence of nature with grunts of quiet satisfaction,
as the leprosy left them and clave to the waters--to which it cleaves
yet. It is not probable the pigs went in there for a medicinal
purpose; how could they know? Any butcher will tell you that a pig,
after being assassinated, is invariably boiled to loosen the hair. By
long usage the custom of getting into hot water has become a habit
which the living pig inherits from the dead pork. (See Herbert Spencer
on "Heredity.")

Now Bladud (who is said to have studied at Athens, as most Britons of
his time did) was a rigid disciple of Bishop Butler; and Butler's line
of argument is this: Because a rose-bush blossoms this year, a
lamppost will blossom next year. By this ingenious logic he proves the
immortality of the human soul, which is good of him; but in so doing
he proves, also, the immortality of the souls of snakes, mosquitos,
and everything else, which is less commendable. Reasoning by analogy,
Bladud was convinced that if these waters would cure a pig, they would
cure a prince: and without waiting to see _how_ they had cured the
bacon, he waded in.

When asked the next day by Sir William Waller if he intended trying
the waters again, and if he retained his fondness for that style of
bathing, he replied, "Not any, thank you; I am quite cured!" Sir
William at once noised abroad the story of the wonderful healing, and
when it reached the king's ears, that potentate sent for Bladud to
"come home at once and succeed to the throne, just the same as if he
had a skin"--which Bladud did. Some time afterwards he thought to
outdo Dædalus and Icarus, by flying from the top of St. Paul's
Cathedral. He outdid them handsomely; he fell a good deal harder than
they did, and broke his precious neck.

Previously to his melancholy end he built the City of Bath, to
commemorate his remarkable cure. He endowed the Corporation with ten
millions sterling, every penny of the interest of which is annually
devoted to the publication of guide-books to Bath, to lure the unwary
invalid to his doom. From motives of mercy the Corporation have now
set up a contrivance for secretly extracting the mineral properties of
the fluid before it is ladled out, but formerly a great number of
strangers found a watery grave.

If King Bladud was generous to Bath, Bath has been grateful in return.
One statue of him adorns the principal street, and another graces the
swimming pond, both speaking likenesses. The one represents him as he
was before he divided his leprosy with the pigs; the other shows him
as he appeared after breaking his neck.

Writing in 1631, Dr. Jordan says: "The baths are bear-gardens, where
both sexes bathe promiscuously, while the passers-by pelt them with
dead dogs, cats, and pigs; and even human creatures are hurled over
the rails into the water." It is not so bad as that now, but lodgings
are still held at rates which might be advantageously tempered to the
shorn.

I append the result of a chemical analysis I caused to be made of
these incomparable Waters, that the fame of their virtues may no
longer rest upon the inadequate basis of their observed effects.

One hundred parts of the water contain:

Brandate of Sodium                       9.50 parts.
Sulphuretted Hydrogen                    3.50   "
Citrate of Magnesia                     15.00   "
Calves'-foot Jelly                      10.00   "
Protocarbonate of Brass                 11.00   "
Nitric Acid                              7.50   "
Devonshire Cream                         6.00   "
Treaclate of Soap                        2.00   "
Robur                                    3.50   "
Superheated Mustard                     11.50   "
Frogs                                   20.45   "
Traces of Guano, Leprosy, Picallilly,
  and Scotch Whiskey                      .05   "

Temperature of the four baths, 117 degrees each--or 468 altogether.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE FOLLOWING DORG.


Dad Petto, as everybody called him, had a dog, upon whom he lavished
an amount of affection which, had it been disbursed in a proper
quarter, would have been adequate to the sentimental needs of a dozen
brace of lovers. The name of this dog was Jerusalem, but it might more
properly have been Dan-to-Beersheba. He was not a fascinating dog to
look at; you can buy a handsomer dog in any shop than this one. He had
neither a graceful exterior nor an engaging address. On the contrary,
his exceptional plainness had passed into a local proverb; and such
was the inbred coarseness of his demeanour, that in the dark you might
have thought him a politician.

If you will take two very bandy-legged curs, cut one off just abaft
the shoulders, and the other immediately forward of the haunches,
rejecting the fore-part of the first and the rear portion of the
second, you will have the raw material for constructing a dog
something like Dad Petto's. You have only to effect a junction between
the accepted sections, and make the thing eat.

Had he been favoured with as many pairs of legs as a centipede,
Jerusalem would not have differed materially from either of his race;
but it was odd to see such a wealth of dog wedded to such a poverty of
leg. He was so long that the most precocious pupil of the public
schools could not have committed him to memory in a week.

It was beautiful to see Jerusalem rounding the angle of a wall, and
turning his head about to observe how the remainder of the procession
was coming on. He was once circumnavigating a small out-house, when,
catching sight of his own hinder-quarters, he flew into a terrible
rage. The sight of another dog always had this effect upon Jerusalem,
and more especially when, as in this case, he thought he could grasp
an unfair advantage. So Jerusalem took after that retreating foe as
hard as ever he could hook it. Round and round he flew, but the faster
he went, the more his centrifugal force widened his circle, until he
presently lost sight of his enemy altogether. Then he slowed down,
determined to accomplish his end by strategy. Sneaking closely up to
the wall, he moved cautiously forward, and when he had made the full
circuit, he came smack up against his own tail. Making a sudden
spring, which must have stretched him like a bit of India-rubber, he
fastened his teeth into his ham, hanging on like a country visitor. He
felt sure he had nailed the other dog, but he was equally confident
the other dog had nailed him; so the problem was simplified to a mere
question of endurance--and Jerusalem was an animal of pluck. The grim
conflict was maintained all one day--maintained with deathless
perseverance, until Dad Petto discovered the belligerent and uncoupled
him. Then Jerusalem looked up at his master with a shake of the head,
as much as to say: "It's a precious opportune arrival for the other
pup; but who took _him_ off _me_?"

I don't think I can better illustrate the preposterous longitude of
this pet, than by relating an incident that fell under my own
observation. I was one day walking along the highway with a friend who
was a stranger in the neighbourhood, when a rabbit flashed past us,
going our way, but evidently upon urgent business. Immediately upon
his heels followed the first instalment of Dad Petto's mongrel,
enveloped in dust, his jaws distended, the lower one shaving the
ground to scoop up the rabbit. He was going at a rather lively gait,
but was some time in passing. My friend stood a few moments looking
on; then rubbed his eyes, looked again, and finally turned to me, just
as the brute's tail flitted by, saying, with a broad stare of
astonishment:

"Did you ever see a pack of hounds run so perfectly in line? It beats
anything! And the speed, too--they seem fairly blended! If a fellow
didn't know better, he would swear there was but a single dog!"

I suppose it was this peculiarity of Jerusalem that had won old
Petto's regard. He liked as much of anything as he could have for his
money; and the expense of this creature, generally speaking, was no
greater than that of a brief succinct bull pup. But there were times
when he was costly. All dogs are sometimes "off their feed"--will eat
nothing for a whole day but a few ox-tails, a pudding or two, and such
towelling as they can pick up in the scullery. When Jerusalem got that
way, which, to do him justice, was singularly seldom, it made things
awkward in the near future. For in a few days after recovering his
passion for food, the effect of his former abstemiousness would begin
to reach his stomach; but of course all he could _then_ devour would
work no immediate relief. This he would naturally attribute to the
quality of his fare, and would change his diet a dozen times a day,
his _menu_ in the twelve working hours comprising an astonishing range
of articles, from a wood-saw to a kettle of soft soap--edibles as
widely dissimilar as the zenith and the nadir, which, also, he would
eat. So catholic an appetite was, of course, exceptional: ordinarily
Jerusalem was as narrow and illiberal as the best of us. Give him
plenty of raw beef, and he would not unsettle his gastric faith by
outside speculation or tentative systems.

I could relate things of this dog by the hour. Such, for example, as
his clever device for crossing a railway. He never attempted to do
this endwise, like other animals, for the obvious reason that, like
every one else, he was unable to make any sense of the time-tables;
and unless he should by good luck begin the manoeuvre when a train was
said to be due, it was likely he would be abbreviated; for of course
no one is idiot enough to cross a railway track when the time-table
says it is all clear--at least no one as long as Jerusalem. So he
would advance his head to the rails, calling in his outlying
convolutions, and straightening them alongside the track, parallel
with it; and then at a signal previously agreed upon--a short wild
bark--this sagacious dog would make the transit unanimously, as it
were. By this method he commonly avoided a quarrel with the engine.

Altogether he was a very interesting beast, and his master was fond of
him no end. And with the exception of compelling Mr. Petto to remove
to the centre of the State to avoid double taxation upon him, he was
not wholly unprofitable; for he was the best sheep-dog in the country:
he always kept the flock well together by the simple device of
surrounding them. Having done so, he would lie down, and eat, and eat,
and eat, till there wasn't a sheep left, except a few old rancid ones;
and even those he would tear into small spring lambs.

Dad Petto never went anywhere without the superior portion of
Jerusalem at his side; and he always alluded to him as "the following
dorg." But the beast finally became a great nuisance in Illinois. His
body obstructed the roads in all directions; and the Representative of
that district in the National Congress was instructed by his
constituents to bring in a bill taxing dogs by the linear yard,
instead of by the head, as the law then stood. Dad Petto proceeded at
once to Washington to "lobby" against the measure. He knew the wife of
a clerk in the Bureau of Statistics; armed with this influence he felt
confident of success. I was myself in Washington, at the time, trying
to secure the removal of a postmaster who was personally obnoxious to
me, inasmuch as I had been strongly recommended for the position by
some leading citizens, who to their high political characters
superadded the more substantial merit of being my relations.

Dad and I were standing, one morning, in front of Willard's Hotel,
when he stooped over and began patting Jerusalem on the head. All of a
sudden the smiling brute sprang open his mouth and bade farewell to a
succession of yells which speedily collected ten thousand miserable
office-seekers, and an equal quantity of brigadier-generals, who, all
in a breath, inquired who had been stabbed, and what was the name of
the lady.

Meantime nothing would pacify the pup; he howled most dismally,
punctuating his wails with quick sharp shrieks of mortal agony. More
than an hour--more than two hours--we strove to discover and allay the
canine grievance, but to no purpose.

Presently one of the hotel pages stepped up to Mr. Petto, handing him
a telegraphic dispatch just received. It was dated at his home in
Cowville, Illinois, and making allowance for the difference in time,
something more than two hours previously. It read as follows:

"A pot of boiling glue has just been upset upon Jerusalem's
hind-quarters. Shall I try rhubarb, or let it get cold and chisel it
off?

"P.S. He did it himself, wagging his tail in the kitchen. Some
Democrat has been bribing that dog with cold victuals.--PENELOPE
PETTO."

Then we knew what ailed "the following dorg."

I should like to go on giving the reader a short account of this
animal's more striking personal peculiarities, but the subject seems
to grow under my hand. The longer I write, the longer he becomes, and
the more there is to tell; and after all, I shall not get a copper
more for pourtraying all this length of dog than I would for depicting
an orbicular pig.



SNAKING.


Very talkative people always seemed to me to be divided into two
classes--those who lie for a purpose and those who lie for the love of
lying; and Sam Baxter belonged, with broad impartiality, to both. With
him falsehood was not more frequently a means than an end; for he
would not only lie without a purpose but at a sacrifice. I heard him
once reading a newspaper to a blind aunt, and deliberately falsifying
the market reports. The good old lady took it all in with a trustful
faith, until he quoted dried apples at fifty cents a yard for unbolted
sides; then she arose and disinherited him. Sam seemed to regard the
fountain of truth as a stagnant pool, and himself an angel whose
business it was to stand by and trouble the waters.

"You know Ben Dean," said Sam to me one day; "I'm down on that fellow,
and I'll tell you why. In the winter of '68 he and I were snaking
together in the mountains north of the Big Sandy."

"What do you mean by snaking, Sam?"

"Well, _I_ like _that_! Why, gathering snakes, to be
sure--rattlesnakes for zoological gardens, museums, and side-shows to
circuses. This is how it is done: a party of snakers go up to the
mountains in the early autumn, with provisions for all winter, and
putting up a snakery at some central point, get to work as soon as the
torpid season sets in, and before there is much snow. I presume you
know that when the nights begin to get cold, the snakes go in under
big flat stones, snuggle together, and lie there frozen stiff until
the warm days of spring limber them up for business.

"We go about, raise up the rocks, tie the worms into convenient
bundles and carry them to the snakery, where, during the snow season,
they are assorted, labelled according to quality, and packed away for
transportation. Sometimes a single showman will have as many as a
dozen snakers in the mountains all winter.

"Ben and I were out, one day, and had gathered a few sheaves of prime
ones, when we discovered a broad stone that showed good indications,
but we couldn't raise it. The whole upper part of the mountain seemed
to be built mostly upon this one stone. There was nothing to be done
but mole it--dig under, you know; so taking the spade I soon widened
the hole the creatures had got in at, until it would admit my body.
Crawling in, I found a kind of cell in the solid rock, stowed nearly
full of beautiful serpents, some of them as long as a man. You would
have revelled in those worms! They were neatly disposed about the
sides of the cave, an even dozen in each berth, and some odd ones
swinging from the ceiling in hammocks, like sailors. By the time I had
counted them roughly, as they lay, it was dark, and snowing like the
mischief. There was no getting back to head-quarters that night, and
there was room for but one of us inside."

"Inside what, Sam?"

"See here! have you been listening to what I'm telling you, or not?
There is no use telling _you_ anything. Perhaps you won't mind waiting
till I get done, and then you can tell something of your own. We drew
straws to decide who should sleep inside, and it fell to me. Such luck
as that fellow Ben always had drawing straws when I held them! It was
sinful! But even inside it was coldish, and I was more than an hour
getting asleep. Toward morning, though, I woke, feeling very warm and
peaceful. The moon was at full, just rising in the valley below, and,
shining in at the hole I'd entered at, it made everything light as
day."

"But, Sam, according to _my_ astronomy a full moon never rises towards
morning."

"Now, who said anything about your astronomy? I'd like to know who is
telling this--you or I? Always think you know more than I do--and
always swearing it isn't so--and always taking the words out of my
mouth, and--but what's the use of arguing with _you_? As I was saying,
the snakes began waking about the same time I did; I could hear them
turn over on their other sides and sigh. Presently one raised himself
up and yawned. He meant well, but it was not the regular thing for an
ophidian to do at that season. By-and-by they began to poke their
heads up all round, nodding good morning to one another across the
room; and pretty soon one saw me lying there and called attention to
the fact. Then they all began to crowd to the front and hang out over
the sides of the beds in a fringe, to study my habits. I can't
describe the strange spectacle: you would have supposed it was the
middle of March and a forward season! There were more worms than I had
counted, and they were larger ones than I had thought. And the more
they got awake the wider they yawned, and the longer they stretched.
The fat fellows in the hammocks above me were in danger of toppling
out and breaking their necks every minute.

"Then it went through my mind like a flash what was the matter.
Finding it cold outside, Ben had made a roaring fire on the top of the
rock, and the heat had deceived the worms into the belief that it was
late spring. As I lay there and thought of a full-grown man who hadn't
any better sense than to do such a thing as _that_, I was mad enough
to kill him. I lost confidence in mankind. If I had not stopped up the
entrance before lying down, with a big round stone which the heat had
swollen so that a hydraulic ram couldn't have butted it loose, I
should have put on my clothes and gone straight home."

"But, Sam, you said the entrance was open, and the moon shining in."

"There you go again! Always contradicting--and insinuating that the
moon must remain for hours in one position--and saying you've heard it
told better by some one else--and wanting to fight! I've told this
story to your brother over at Milk River more than a hundred million
times, and he never said a word against it."

"I believe you, Samuel; for he is deaf as a tombstone."

"Tell you what to do for him! I know a fellow in Smith's Valley will
cure him in a minute. That fellow has cleaned the deafness all out of
Washington County a dozen times. I never knew a case of it that could
stand up against him ten seconds. Take three parts of snake-root to a
gallon of waggon-grease, and--I'll go and see if I can find the
prescription!"

And Sam was off like a rocket.

       *       *       *       *       *



MAUD'S PAPA.

That is she in the old black silk--the one with the gimlet curls and
the accelerated lap-cat. Doesn't she average about as I set her forth?

"Never told you anything about her?" Well, I will.

Twenty years ago, many a young man, of otherwise good character,
would have ameliorated his condition for that girl; and would have
thought himself overpaid if she had restored a fosy on his sepulchre.
Maud would have been of the same opinion--and wouldn't have construed
the fosy. And she was the most sagacious girl I ever experienced! As
you shall hear.

I was her lover, and she was mine. We loved ourselves to detraction.
Maud lived a mile from any other house--except one brick barn. Not
even a watch-dog about the place--except her father. This pompous old
weakling hated me boisterously; he said I was dedicated to hard drink,
and when in that condition was perfectly incompatible. I did not like
him, too.

One evening I called on Maud, and was surprised to meet her at the
gate, with a shawl drawn over her head, and apparently in great
combustion. She told me, hastily, the old man was ill of a fever, and
had nearly derided her by going crazy.

This was all a lie; something had gone wrong with the old party's
eyes--amanuensis of the equinox, or something; he couldn't see well,
but he was no more crazy than I was sober.

"I was sitting quietly by him," said Maud, "when he sat up in bed and
be-_gan!_ You never in all your born life! I'm so glad you've come;
you can take care of him while I fetch the doctor. He's quiet enough
now, but you just wait till he gets another paralogism. When _they_'re
on--oh my! You mustn't let him talk, nor get out of bed; doctor says
it would prolong the diagnosis. Go right in, now. Oh dear! whatever
shall I ought to do?"

And, blowing her eyes on the corner of her shawl, Maud shot away like
a comic.

I walked hurriedly into the house, and entered the old man's
dromedary, without knocking.

The playful girl had left that room a moment before, with every
appearance of being frightened. She had told the old one there was a
robber in the house, and the venerable invalid was a howling coward--I
tell you this because I scorn to deceive you.

I found the old gentleman with his head under the blankets, very quiet
and speaceful: but the moment he heard me he got up, and yelled like a
heliotrope. Then he fixed on me a wild spiercing look from his
bloodshot eyes, and for the first time in my life I believed Maud had
told me the truth for the first time in hers. Then he reached out for
a heavy cane. But I was too punctual for him, and, clapping my hand on
his breast, I crowded him down, holding him tight. He curvetted some;
then lay still, and swore weak oaths that wouldn't have hurt a sick
chicken! All this time I was firm as a rock of amaranth. Presently,
moreover, he spoke very low and resigned like--except his teeth
chattered:

"Desperate man, there is no need; you will find it to the north-west
corner of my upper secretary drawer. I spromise not to appear."

"All right, my lobster-snouted bulbul," said I, delighted with the
importunity of abusing him; "that is the dryest place you could keep
it in, old spoolcotton! Be sure you don't let the light get to it,
angleworm! Meantime, therefore, you must take this draught."

"Draught!" he shrieked, meandering from the subject. "O my poor
child!"--and he sprang up again, screaming a multiple of things.

I had him by the shoulders in a minute, and crushed him back--except
his legs kept agitating.

"Keep still, will you?" said I, "you sugarcoated old mandible, or
I'll conciliate your exegesis with a proletarian!"

I never had such a flow of language in my life; I could say anything I
wanted to.

He quailed at that threat, for, deleterious as I thought him, he saw I
meant it; but he affected to prefer it that way to taking it out of
the bottle.

"Better," he moaned, "better even that than the poison. Spare me the
poisoned chalice, and you may do it in the way you mention."

The "draught," it may be sproper to explain, was comprised in a large
bottle sitting on the table. I thought it was medicine--except it was
black--and although Maud (sweet screature!) had not told me to give
him anything, I felt sure this was nasty enough for him, or anybody.
And it was; it was ink. So I treated his proposed compromise with
silent contempt, merely remarking, as I uncorked the bottle:
"Medicine's medicine, my fine friend; and it is for the sick." Then,
spinioning his arms with one of mine, I concerted the neck of the
bottle between his teeth.

"Now, you lacustrine old cylinder-escapement," I exclaimed, with some
warmth, "hand up your stomach for this healing precoction, or I'm
blest if I won't controvert your _raison d'être!_"

He struggled hard, but, owing to my habit of finishing what I
undertake, without any success. In ten minutes it was all down--except
that some of it was spouted about rather circumstantially over the
bedding, and walls, and me. There was more of the draught than I had
thought. As he had been two days ill, I had supposed the bottle must
be nearly empty; but, of course, when you think of it, a man doesn't
abrogate much ink in an ordinary attack--except editors.

Just as I got my knees off the spatient's breast, Maud peeped in at
the door. She had remained in the lane till she thought the charm had
had time to hibernate, then came in to have her laugh. She began
having it, gently; but seeing me with the empty bottle in my sable
hand, and the murky inspiration rolling off my face in gasconades, she
got graver, and came in very soberly.

Wherewith, the draught had done its duty, and the old gentleman was
enjoying the first rest he had known since I came to heal him. He is
enjoying it yet, for he was as dead as a monogram.

As there was a good deal of scandal about my killing a sprospective
father-in-law, I had to live it down by not marrying Maud--who has
lived single, as a rule, ever since. All this epigastric tercentenary
might have been avoided if she had only allowed a good deal of margin
for my probable condition when she splanned her little practicable
joke.

"Why didn't they hang me?"--- Waiter, bring me a brandy spunch.--Well,
that is the most didactic question! But if you must know--they did.

       *       *       *       *       *



JIM BECKWOURTH'S POND.


Not long after _that_ (said old Jim Beckwourth, beginning a new story)
there was a party of about a dozen of us down in the Powder River
country, after buffalo. It was the _worst_ place! Just think of the
most barren and sterile spot you ever saw, or ever will see. Now take
that spot and double it: that is where _we_ were. One day, about noon,
we halted near a sickly little _arroyo_, that was just damp enough to
have deluded some feeble bunches of bonnet-wire into setting up as
grass along its banks. After picketing the horses and pack-mules we
took luncheon, and then, while the others smoked and played cards for
half-dollars, I took my rifle and strolled off into the hills to see
if I could find a blind rabbit, or a lame antelope, that had been
unable to leave the country. As I went on I heard, at intervals of
about a quarter of an hour, a strange throbbing sound, as of smothered
thunder, which grew more distinct as I advanced. Presently I came upon
a lake of near a mile in diameter, and almost circular. It was as calm
and even as a mirror, but I could see by a light steamy haze above it
that the water was nearly at boiling heat--a not very uncommon
circumstance in that region. While I looked, big bubbles began to rise
to the surface, chase one another about, and burst; and suddenly,
without any other preliminary movement, there occurred the most awful
and astounding event that (with a single exception) it has ever been
my lot to witness! I stood rooted to the spot with horror, and when it
was all over, and again the lake lay smiling placidly before me, I
silently thanked Heaven I had been standing at some distance from the
deceitful pool. In a quarter of an hour the frightful scene was
repeated, preceded as before by the rising and bursting of bubbles,
and producing in me the utmost terror; but after seeing it three or
four times I became calm. Then I went back to camp, and told the boys
there was a tolerably interesting pond near by, if they cared for such
things.

At first they did not, but when I had thrown in a few lies about the
brilliant hues of the water, and the great number of swans, they laid
down their cards, left Lame Dave to look after the horses, and
followed me back to see. Just before we crossed the last range of
hills we heard a thundering sound ahead, which somewhat astonished the
boys, but I said nothing till we stood on a low knoll overlooking the
lake. There it lay, as peaceful as a dead Indian, of a dull grey
colour, and as innocent of water-fowl as a new-born babe.

"There!" said I, triumphantly, pointing to it.

"Well," said Bill Buckster, leaning on his rifle and surveying it
critically, "what's the matter with the pond? I don't see nothin' in
_that_ puddle."

"Whar's yer swans?" asked Gus Jamison.

"And yer prismatic warter?" added Stumpy Jack.

"Well, I like _this!_" drawled Frenchwoman Pete. "What 'n thunder d'
ye mean, you derned saddle-coloured fraud?"

I was a little nettled at all this, particularly as the lake seemed to
have buried the hatchet for that day; but I thought I would "cheek it
through."

"Just you wait!" I replied, significantly.

"O yes!" exclaimed Stumpy, derisively; "'course, boys, you mus'
_wait_. 'Tain't no use a-hurryin' up the cattle; yer mustn't rush the
buck. Jest wait till some feller comes along with a melted rainbow,
and lays on the war-paint! and another feller fetches the swans' eggs,
and sets on 'em, and hatches 'em out!--and me a-holding both bowers
an' the ace!" he added, regretfully, thinking of the certainty he had
left, to follow a delusive hope.

Then I pointed out to them a wide margin of wet and steaming clay
surrounding the water on all sides, asking them if _that_ wasn't worth
coming to see.

"_That_!" exclaimed Gus. "I've seen the same thing a thousand million
times! It's the reg'lar thing in Idaho. Clay soaks up the water and
sweats it out."

To verify his theory he started away, down to the shore. I was
concerned for Gus, but I did not dare call him back for fear of
betraying my secret in some way. Besides, I knew he would not come;
and he ought not to have been so sceptical, anyhow.

Just then two or three big bubbles rose to the surface, and silently
exploded. Quick as lightning I dropped on my knees and raised my arms.

"Now may Heaven grant my prayer," I began with awful solemnity, "and
send the great Ranunculus to loose the binding chain of concupiscence,
heaving the multitudinous aquacity upon the heads of this wicked and
sententious generation, whelming these diametrical scoffers in a
supercilious Constantinople!"

I knew the long words would impress their simple souls with a belief
that I was actually praying; and I was right, for every man of them
pulled his hat off, and stood staring at me with a mixed look of
reverence, incredulity, and astonishment--but not for long. For before
I could say amen, yours truly, or anything, that entire body of water
shot upward five hundred feet into the air, as smooth as a column of
crystal, curled over in broad green cataracts, falling outward with a
jar and thunder like the explosion of a thousand subterranean cannon,
then surging and swirling back to the centre, one steaming, writhing
mass of snowy foam!

As I rose to my feet to put my hand in my pocket for a chew of
tobacco, I looked complacently about upon my comrades. Stumpy Jack
stood paralysed, his head thrown back at an alarming angle, precisely
as he had tilted it to watch the ascending column, and his neck
somehow out of joint, holding it there. All the others were down upon
their marrow-bones, white with terror, praying with extraordinary
fervency, each trying his best to master the ridiculous jargon they
had heard me use, but employing it with an even greater disregard of
sense and fitness than I did. Away over on the next range of hills,
toward camp, was something that looked like a giant spider, scrambling
up the steep side of the sand-hill, and sliding down a trifle faster
than it got up. It was Lame Dave, who had abandoned his equine trust,
to come up at the eleventh hour and see the swans. He had seen enough,
and was now trying, in his weak way, to get back to camp.

In a few minutes I had got Stumpy's head back into the position
assigned it by Nature, had crowded his eyes in, and was going about
with a reassuring smile, helping the pious upon their feet. Not a word
was spoken; I took the lead, and we strode solemnly to camp, picking
up Lame Dave at the foot of his acclivity, played a little game for
Gus Jamison's horse and "calamities," then mounted our steeds,
departing thence. Three or four days afterward I ventured cautiously
upon a covert allusion to peculiar lakes, but the simultaneous
clicking of ten revolvers convinced me that I need not trouble myself
to pursue the subject.

       *       *       *       *       *



STRINGING A BEAR.


"I was looking for my horse one morning, up in the San Joaquin
Valley," said old Sandy Fowler, absently stirring the camp fire, "when
I saw a big bull grizzly lying in the sunshine, picking his teeth with
his claws, and smiling, as if he said, 'You need not mind the horse,
old fellow; he's been found.' I at once gave a loud whoop, which I
thought would be heard by the boys in the camp, and prepared to string
the brute."

"Oh, I know how it goes," interrupted Smarty Mellor, as we called him;
"seen it done heaps o' times! Six or eight o' ye rides up to the b'ar,
and s'rounds him, every son-of-a-gun with a _riata_ a mile long, and
worries him till he gits his mad up, and while he's a-chasin' one
feller the others is a-goin' äter him, and a-floorin' of him by
loopin' his feet as they comes up behind, and when he turns onto them
fellers the other chappy turns onto him, and puts another loop onto
his feet as they comes up behind, and then--"

"I bound my _riata_ tightly about my wrist," resumed old Sandy,
composedly, "so that the beast should not jerk away when I had got
him. Then I advanced upon him--very slowly, so as not to frighten him
away. Seeing me coming, he rose upon his haunches, to have a look at
me. He was about the size of a house--say a small two-storey house,
with a Mansard roof. I paused a moment, to take another turn of the
thong about my wrist.

"Again I moved obliquely forward, trying to look as if I were thinking
about the new waterworks in San Francisco, or the next presidential
election, so as not to frighten him away. The brute now rose squarely
upon end, with his paws suspended before him, like a dog begging for a
biscuit, and I thought what a very large biscuit he must be begging
for! Halting a moment, to see if the _riata_ was likely to cut into my
wrist, I perceived the beast had an inkling of my design, and was
trying stupidly to stretch his head up out of reach.

"I now threw off all disguise, and whirled my cord with a wide
circular sweep, and in another moment it would have been very
unpleasant for Bruin, but somehow the line appeared to get foul. While
I was opening the noose, the animal settled upon his feet and came
toward me; but the moment he saw me begin to whirl again, he got
frightened, up-ended himself as before, and shut his eyes.

"Then I felt in my belt to see if my knife was there, when the bear
got down again and came forward, utterly regardless.

"Seeing he was frightened and trying to escape by coming so close I
could not have a fair fling at him, I dropped the noose on the ground
and walked away, trailing the line behind me. When it was all run out,
the rascal arrived at the loop. He first smelled it, then opened it
with his paws, and putting it about his neck, tilted up again, and
nodded significantly.

"I pulled out my knife, and severing the line at my wrist, walked
away, looking for some one to introduce me to Smarty Mellor."





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