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Title: Little Masterpieces of American Wit and Humor, Volume II
Author: Various
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 "Little Masterpieces of American Wit and Humor, Volume II" ***

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

WIT AND HUMOR, VOLUME II***


LITTLE MASTERPIECES OF AMERICAN WIT AND HUMOR

VOLUME II


[Illustration: Bret Harte Copyright by Elliott & Fry]


+--------------------------------------------+
|           LITTLE MASTERPIECES OF           |
|           AMERICAN WIT AND HUMOR           |
|                                            |
|        Edited by THOMAS L. MASSON          |
+--------------------------------------------+
|               VOLUME II                    |
|                                            |
|                   _By_                     |
|                                            |
|  Bret Harte          James Russell Lowell  |
|  Sol Smith           Mary Mapes Dodge      |
|  John Godfrey Saxe   Robert J. Burdette    |
|                                            |
|                and others                  |
|                                            |
|              [Illustration]                |
|                                            |
+--------------------------------------------+
|                 New York                   |
|         Doubleday, Page & Company          |
|                   1903                     |
+--------------------------------------------+

Copyright, 1903, by
Doubleday, Page & Company
Published, October, 1903



CONTENTS

_VOLUME II_

                                           PAGE

    SOL SMITH
    A Bully Boat and a Brag Captain           1

    AMBROSE BIERCE
    The Dog and the Bees                      8

    OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
    Dislikes                                  9

    G. H. DERBY ("Phoenix," "Squibob")
    Illustrated Newspapers                   13
    Tushmaker's Toothpuller                  67

    MARY MAPES DODGE
    Miss Malony on the Chinese Question      22

    JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
    The Courtin'                             27
    A Letter from Mr. Ezekiel Bigelow        59

    JOHN GODFREY SAXE
    The Coquette--A Portrait                 31

    SAMUEL L. CLEMENS ("Mark Twain")
    Colonel Mulberry Sellers                 33

    FREDERICK WILLIAM SHELTON
    Incidents in a Retired Life              43

    BRET HARTE
    Melons                                   49
    The Society upon the Stanislaus          71

    CHARLES GODFREY LELAND
    Ballad                                   65

    JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE
    The V-a-s-e                              74

    FRANK R. STOCKTON
    Pomona's Novel                           76

    JOHN TOWNSEND TROWBRIDGE
    Fred Trover's Little Iron-clad           96

    ROBERT JONES BURDETTE
    The Artless Prattle of Childhood        120

    ANONYMOUS
    St. Peter at the Gate                   130

    HENRY GUY CARLETON
    The Thompson Street Poker Club          134

    GEORGE T. LANIGAN
    The Fox and the Crow                    140

    HENRY CUYLER BUNNER
    Behold the Deeds!                       141

    FRANK DEMPSTER SHERMAN
    A Rhyme for Priscilla                   146

    THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
    A Rivermouth Romance                    149

    GELETT BURGESS
    The Bohemians of Boston                 161

    MARION COUTHOUY SMITH
    The Composite Ghost                     164

    BILL NYE
    A Fatal Thirst                          175

    GEORGE W. PECK
    Peck's Bad Boy                          178

    MISCELLANEOUS
    Susan Simpson                            21
    A Boston Lullaby                        119
    The House That Jack Built               127
    An Insurance Agent's Story              144
    An Epitaph                              148
    Some Messages Received by Teachers in
        Brooklyn Public Schools             171
    The Trout's Appeal                      174



SOL SMITH

A BULLY BOAT AND A BRAG CAPTAIN

A STORY OF STEAMBOAT LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI


Does any one remember the _Caravan_? She was what would now be
considered a slow boat--_then_ (1827) she was regularly advertised as
the "fast running," etc. Her regular trips from New Orleans to Natchez
were usually made in from six to eight days; a trip made by her in five
days was considered remarkable. A voyage from New Orleans to Vicksburg
and back, including stoppages, generally entitled the officers and crew
to a month's wages. Whether the _Caravan_ ever achieved the feat of a
voyage to the Falls (Louisville) I have never learned; if she did, she
must have "had a _time_ of it!"

It was my fate to take passage in this boat. The Captain was a
good-natured, easy-going man, careful of the comfort of his passengers,
and exceedingly fond of the _game of brag_. We had been out a little
more than five days, and we were in hopes of seeing the bluffs of
Natchez on the next day. Our wood was getting low, and night coming on.
The pilot on duty _above_ (the other pilot held three aces at the time,
and was just calling out the Captain, who "went it strong" on three
kings) sent down word that the mate had reported the stock of wood
reduced to half a cord. The worthy Captain excused himself to the pilot
whose watch was _below_ and the two passengers who made up the party,
and hurried to the deck, where he soon discovered by the landmarks that
we were about half a mile from a woodyard, which he said was situated
"right round yonder point." "But," muttered the Captain, "I don't much
like to take wood of the yellow-faced old scoundrel who owns it--he
always charges a quarter of a dollar more than any one else; however,
there's no other chance." The boat was pushed to her utmost, and in a
little less than an hour, when our fuel was about giving out, we made
the point, and our cables were out and fastened to trees alongside of a
good-sized woodpile.

"Hallo, Colonel! How d'ye sell your wood _this_ time?"

A yellow-faced old gentleman, with a two-weeks' beard, strings over
his shoulders holding up to his armpits a pair of copperas-colored
linsey-woolsey pants, the legs of which reached a very little below the
knee; shoes without stockings; a faded, broad-brimmed hat, which had
once been black, and a pipe in his mouth--casting a glance at the empty
guards of our boat and uttering a grunt as he rose from fastening our
"spring line," answered:

"Why, Capting, we must charge you _three and a quarter_ THIS _time_."

"The d----l!" replied the Captain--(captains did swear a little in
those days); "what's the odd _quarter_ for, I should like to know? You
only charged me _three_ as I went down."

"Why, Capting," drawled out the wood merchant, with a sort of leer on
his yellow countenance, which clearly indicated that his wood was as
good as sold, "wood's riz since you went down two weeks ago; besides,
you are awar that you very seldom stop going _down_--when you're going
_up_ you're sometimes obleeged to give me a call, becaze the current's
aginst you, and there's no other woodyard for nine miles ahead: and if
you happen to be nearly out of fooel, why----"

"Well, well," interrupted the Captain, "we'll take a few cords, under
the circumstances," and he returned to his game of brag.

In about half an hour we felt the _Caravan_ commence paddling again.
Supper was over, and I retired to my upper berth, situated alongside
and overlooking the brag-table, where the Captain was deeply engaged,
having now the _other_ pilot as his principal opponent. We jogged on
quietly--and seemed to be going at a good rate.

"How does that wood burn?" inquired the Captain of the mate, who was
looking on at the game.

"'Tisn't of much account, I reckon," answered the mate; "it's
cotton-wood, and most of it green at that."

"Well, Thompson--(Three aces, again, stranger--I'll take that X and the
small change, if you please. It's your deal)--Thompson, I say, we'd
better take three or four cords at the next woodyard--it can't be more
than six miles from here--(Two aces and a bragger, with the age! Hand
over those V's)."

The game went on, and the paddles kept moving. At eleven o'clock it was
reported to the Captain that we were nearing the woodyard, the light
being distinctly seen by the pilot on duty.

"Head her in shore, then, and take in six cords if it's good--see to
it, Thompson; I can't very well leave the game now--it's getting right
warm! This pilot's beating us all to smash."

The wooding completed, we paddled on again. The Captain seemed somewhat
vexed when the mate informed him that the price was the same as at the
last woodyard--_three and a quarter;_ but soon again became interested
in the game.

From my upper berth (there were no state-rooms _then_) I could
observe the movements of the players. All the contention appeared to
be between the Captain and the pilots (the latter personages took it
turn and turn about, steering and playing brag), _one_ of them almost
invariably winning, while the two passengers merely went through the
ceremony of dealing, cutting, and paying up their "anties." They were
anxious to _learn the game_--and they _did_ learn it! Once in awhile,
indeed, seeing they had two aces and a bragger, they would venture a
bet of five or ten dollars, but they were always compelled to back
out before the tremendous bragging of the Captain or pilot--or if they
did venture to "call out" on "two bullits and a bragger," they had the
mortification to find one of the officers had the same kind of a hand,
and were _more venerable_! Still, with all these disadvantages, they
continued playing--they wanted to learn the game.

At two o'clock the Captain asked the mate how we were getting on.

"Oh, pretty glibly, sir," replied the mate; "we can scarcely tell what
headway we _are_ making, for we are obliged to keep the middle of the
river, and there is the shadow of a fog rising. This wood seems rather
better than that we took in at Yellow-Face's, but we're nearly out
again, and must be looking out for more. I saw a light just ahead on
the right--shall we hail?"

"Yes, yes," replied the Captain; "ring the bell and ask 'em what's the
price of wood up here. (I've got you again; here's double kings.)"

I heard the bell and the pilot's hail, "What's _your_ price for wood?"

A youthful voice on the shore answered, "Three _and_ a quarter!"

"D----nèt!" ejaculated the Captain, who had just lost the price of
two cords to the pilot--the strangers suffering _some_ at the same
time--"three and a quarter again! Are we _never_ to get to a cheaper
country? (Deal, sir, if you please; better luck next time.)"

The other pilot's voice was again heard on deck--

"How much _have_ you?"

"Only about ten cords, sir," was the reply of the youthful salesman.

The Captain here told Thompson to take six cords, which would last till
daylight--and again turned his attention to the game.

The pilots here changed places. _When did they sleep?_

Wood taken in, the _Caravan_ again took her place in the middle of the
stream, paddling on as usual.

Day at length dawned. The brag-party broke up and settlements were
being made, during which operations the Captain's bragging propensities
were exercised in cracking up the speed of his boat, which, by his
reckoning, must have made at least sixty miles, and _would_ have made
many more if he could have procured good wood. It appears the two
passengers, in their first lesson, had incidentally lost one hundred
and twenty dollars. The Captain, as he rose to see about taking in some
_good_ wood, which he felt sure of obtaining now that he had got above
the level country, winked at his opponent, the pilot, with whom he had
been on very bad terms during the progress of the game, and said, in an
undertone, "Forty apiece for you and I and James" [the other pilot] "is
not bad for one night."

I had risen and went out with the Captain, to enjoy a view of the
bluffs. There was just fog enough to prevent the vision taking in more
than sixty yards--so I was disappointed in _my_ expectation. We were
nearing the shore for the purpose of looking for wood, the banks being
invisible from the middle of the river.

"There it is!" exclaimed the Captain; "stop her!" Ding--ding--ding!
went the big bell, and the Captain hailed:

"Hallo! the woodyard!"

"Hallo yourself!" answered a squeaking female voice, which came from a
woman, with a petticoat over her shoulders in place of a shawl.

"What's the price of wood?"

"I think you ought to know the price by this time," answered the old
lady in the petticoat; "it's three and a qua-a-rter! and now you know
it."

"Three and the d----l!" broke in the Captain. "What, have you raised on
_your_ wood, too? I'll give you _three_, and not a cent more."

"Well," replied the petticoat, "here comes the old man--_he'll_ talk to
you."

And, sure enough, out crept from the cottage the veritable faded hat,
copperas-colored pants, yellow countenance and two-weeks' beard we had
seen the night before, and the same voice we had heard regulating the
price of cotton-wood squeaked out the following sentence, accompanied
by the same leer of the same yellow countenance:

"Why, darn it all, Capting, there is but three or four cords left,
and _since it's you_, I don't care if I _do_ let you have it for
_three_--_as you're a good customer_!"

After a quick glance at the landmarks around, the Captain bolted, and
turned in to take some rest.

The fact became apparent--the reader will probably have discovered
it some time since--that _we had been wooding all night at the same
woodyard_!



THE DOG AND THE BEES


A dog being very much annoyed by bees, ran quite accidently into an
empty barrel lying on the ground, and looking out at the bung-hole,
addressed his tormentors 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 quarreling with bees.

                                                  AMBROSE BIERCE.



OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

DISLIKES


I want it to be understood that I consider that a certain number of
persons are at liberty to dislike me peremptorily, without showing
cause, and that they give no offense whatever in so doing.

If I did not cheerfully acquiesce in this sentiment toward myself
on the part of others, I should not feel at liberty to indulge my
own aversions. I try to cultivate a Christian feeling to all my
fellow-creatures, but inasmuch as I must also respect truth and
honesty, I confess to myself a certain number of inalienable dislikes
and prejudices, some of which may possibly be shared by others. Some
of these are purely instinctive; for others I can assign a reason. Our
likes and dislikes play so important a part in the order of things that
it is well to see on what they are founded.

There are persons I meet occasionally who are too intelligent by half
for my liking. They know my thoughts beforehand, and tell me what I
was going to say. Of course they are masters of all my knowledge, and
a good deal besides; have read all the books I have read, and in later
editions; have had all the experiences I have been through,--and more,
too. In my private opinion, every mother's son of them will lie at any
time rather than confess ignorance.

I have a kind of dread, rather than hatred, of persons with a large
excess of vitality--great feeders, great laughers, great story-tellers,
who come sweeping over their company with a huge tidal wave of animal
spirits and boisterous merriment. I have pretty good spirits myself,
and enjoy a little mild pleasantry, but I am oppressed and extinguished
by these great lusty, noisy creatures, and feel as if I were a mute at
a funeral when they get into full blast.

I cannot get along much better with those drooping, languid people,
whose vitality falls short as much as that of the others is in excess.
I have not life enough for two; I wish I had. It is not very enlivening
to meet a fellow-creature whose expression and accents say, "You are
the hair that breaks the camel's back of my endurance; you are the last
drop that makes my cup of woe run over"; persons whose heads drop on
one side like those of toothless infants; whose voices recall the tones
in which our old snuffling choir used to wail out the verse of

    "Life is the time to serve the Lord."

There is another style which does not captivate me. I recognize an
attempt at the _grand manner_ now and then, in persons who are well
enough in their way, but of no particular importance, socially or
otherwise. Some family tradition of wealth or distinction is apt to be
at the bottom of it, and it survives all the advantages that used to
set it off: I like family pride as well as my neighbors, and respect
the high-born fellow-citizen whose progenitors have not worked in
their shirt-sleeves for the last two generations full as much as I
ought to. But _grandpère oblige_; a person with a known grandfather is
too distinguished to find it necessary to put on airs. The few Royal
Princes I have happened to know were very easy people to get along
with, and had not half the social knee-action I have often seen in the
collapsed dowagers who lifted their eyebrows at me in my earlier years.

My heart does not warm as it should do toward the persons, not
intimates, who are always _too_ glad to see me when we meet by
accident, and discover all at once that they have a vast deal to
unbosom themselves to me.

There is one blameless person whom I cannot love and have no excuse
for hating. It is the innocent fellow-creature, otherwise inoffensive
to me, whom I find I have involuntarily joined on turning a corner.
I suppose the Mississippi, which was flowing quietly along, minding
its own business, hates the Missouri for coming into it all at once
with its muddy stream. I suppose the Missouri in like manner hates the
Mississippi for diluting with its limpid but insipid current the rich
reminiscences of the varied soils through which its own stream has
wandered. I will not compare myself to the clear or the turbid current,
but I will own that my heart sinks when I find all of a sudden I am in
for a corner confluence, and I cease loving my neighbor as myself until
I can get away from him.--_The Poet at the Breakfast Table._

       *       *       *       *       *

An Illinois boy was asked to write an essay on Masonry, and here is
what he wrote: "King Solomon was a man who lived so many years in the
country that he was the whole push. He was an awfully wise man, and
one day two women came to him, each holding to the leg of a baby and
nearly pulling it in two and each claiming it. And King Solomon wasn't
feeling right good and he said: "Why couldn't the brat have been twins
and stopped this bother?" And then he called for his machete and was
going to Weylerize the poor innocent little baby, and give each woman
a piece of it, when the real mother of the baby said: 'Stop, Solomon;
stay thy hand. Let the old hag have it. If I can't have a whole baby I
won't have any.' Then Solomon told her to take the baby and go home and
wash its face, for he knew it was hers. He told the other woman to go
chase herself. King Solomon built Solomon's Temple and was the father
of Masons. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred lady friends,
and that's why there are so many Masons in the world. My papa says King
Solomon was a warm member and I think he was hot stuff myself. That is
all I know about King Solomon."



G. H. DERBY ("Phoenix," "Squibob")

ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPERS


A year or two since, a weekly paper was started in London called the
_Illustrated News_. It was filled with tolerably executed wood-cuts,
representing scenes of popular interest; and though perhaps better
calculated for the nursery than the reading-room, it took very well
in England, where few can read but all can understand pictures, and
soon attained immense circulation. As when the inimitable London
_Punch_ attained its world-wide celebrity, supported by such writers
as Thackeray, Jerrold and Hood, would-be funny men on this side of the
Atlantic attempted absurd imitations--the _Yankee Doodle_, the _John
Donkey_, etc.--which as a matter of course proved miserable failures;
so did the success of this illustrated affair inspire our money-loving
publishers with hopes of dollars, and soon appeared from Boston, New
York and other places pictorial and illustrated newspapers, teeming
with execrable and silly effusions, and filled with the most fearful
wood engravings, "got up regardless of expense" or anything else; the
contemplation of which was enough to make an artist tear his hair and
rend his garments. A Yankee named Gleason, of Boston, published the
first, we believe, calling it _Gleason's Pictorial_ (it should have
been _Gleason's Pickpocket_) _and Drawing-Room Companion_. In this he
presented to his unhappy subscribers views of his house in the country,
and his garden, and, for aught we know, of "his ox and his ass, and the
stranger within his gates." A detestable invention for transferring
daguerreotypes to plates for engraving, having come into notice about
this time, was eagerly seized upon by Gleason for further embellishing
his catchpenny publication--duplicates and uncalled-for pictures
were easily obtained, and many a man has gazed in horror-stricken
astonishment on the likeness of a respected friend as a "Portrait of
Monroe Edwards," or that of his deceased grandmother in the character
of "One of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence." They
love pictures in Yankeedom; every tin-peddler has one on his wagon,
and an itinerant lecturer can always obtain an audience by sticking
up a likeness of some unhappy female, with her ribs laid open in an
impossible manner, for public inspection, or a hairless gentleman,
with the surface of his head laid out in eligible lots duly marked and
numbered. The factory girls of Lowell, the professors of Harvard, all
bought the new _Pictorial_. (Professor Webster was reading one when
Doctor Parkman called on him on the morning of the murder.) Gleason's
speculation was crowned with success, and he bought himself a new
cooking stove, and erected an outbuilding on his estate, with both of
which he favored the public in a new wood-cut immediately.

Inspired by his success, old
Feejec-Mermaid-Tom-Thumb-Woolly-Horse-Joyce-Heth-Barnum forthwith got
out another illustrated weekly, with pictures far more extensive,
letter-press still sillier, and engravings more miserable, if
possible, than Yankee Gleason's. And then we were bored and buffeted
by having incredible likenesses of Santa Anna, Queen Victoria and poor
old Webster thrust beneath our nose, to that degree that we wished
the respected originals had never existed, or that the art of wood
engraving had perished with that of painting on glass.

It was, therefore, with the most intense delight that we saw a notice
the other day of the failure and stoppage of _Barnum's Illustrated
News_; we rejoiced thereat greatly, and we hope that it will never be
revived, and that Gleason will also fail as soon as he conveniently
can, and that his trashy _Pictorial_ will perish with it.

It must not be supposed from the tenor of these remarks that we are
opposed to the publication of a properly conducted and creditably
executed illustrated paper. "On the contrary, quite the reverse." We
are passionately fond of art ourselves, and we believe that nothing
can have a stronger tendency to refinement in society than presenting
to the public chaste and elaborate engravings, copies of works of high
artistic merit, accompanied by graphic and well written essays. It
was for the purpose of introducing a paper containing these features
to our appreciative community that we have made these introductory
remarks, and for the purpose of challenging comparison, and defying
competition, that we have criticized so severely the imbecile and
ephemeral productions mentioned above. At a vast expenditure of money,
time and labor, and after the most incredible and unheard of exertion
on our part, individually, we are at length able to present to the
public an illustrated publication of unprecedented merit, containing
engravings of exceeding costliness and rare beauty of design, got up on
an expensive scale which never has been attempted before in this or any
other country.

We furnish our readers this week with the first number, merely
premising that the immense expense attending its issue will require a
corresponding liberality of patronage on the part of the Public, to
cause it to be continued.

                        _PHOENIX'S PICTORIAL_
               _And Second Story Front Room Companion_
                          [Illustration]
               -----------------------------------------
               Vol. 1.] San Diego, Oct. 1, 1853. [No. 1.
               -----------------------------------------
    [Illustration: Portrait of His Royal Highness Prince
    Albert.--Prince Albert, the son of a gentleman named Coburg,
    is the husband of Queen Victoria of England, and the father
    of many of her children. He is the inventor of the celebrated
    "Albert hat," which has been lately introduced with great
    effect in the U. S. Army. The Prince is of German extraction,
    his father being a Dutchman and his mother a Duchess.]

    [Illustration: Mansion of John Phoenix, Esq., San Diego,
    California.]

    [Illustration: House in which Shakespeare was born, in
    Stratford-on-Avon.]


    [Illustration: Abbottsford, the residence of Sir Walter Scott,
    author of Byron's "Pilgrim's Progress," etc.]

    [Illustration: The Capitol at Washington.]

    [Illustration: Residence of Governor Bigler, at Benicia,
    California.]

    [Illustration: Battle of Lake Erie (_see remarks_, p. 96).]

                           [Page 96.]
    The Battle of Lake Erie, of which our Artist presents a
    spirited engraving, copied from the original painting, by
    Hannibal Carracci, in the possession of J. P. Haven, Esq., was
    fought in 1836, on Chesapeake Bay, between the U. S. frigates
    _Constitution_ and _Guerriere_ and the British troops, under
    General Putnam. Our glorious flag, there as everywhere, was
    victorious, and "Long may it wave, o'er the land of the free,
    and the home of _the slave_."

    [Illustration: Fearful accident on the Camden and Amboy
    Railroad!! Terrible loss of life!!!]

    [Illustration: View of the City of San Diego, by Sir Benjamin
    West.]

    [Illustration: Interview between Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe and
    the Duchess of Sutherland, from a group of Statuary, by Clarke
    Mills.]

    [Illustration: Bank Account of J. Phoenix, Esq., at Adams and
    Company, Bankers, San Francisco, California.]

    [Illustration: Gas Works, San Diego _Herald_ office.]

    [Illustration: Steamer Goliah.]

    [Illustration: View of a California Ranch.--Landseer.]

    [Illustration: Shell of an oyster once eaten by General
    Washington; showing the General's manner of opening oysters.]

There! This is but a specimen of what we can do if liberally sustained.
We wait with anxiety to hear the verdict of the public before
proceeding to any further and greater outlays.

Subscription, $5 per annum, payable invariably in advance.

INDUCEMENTS FOR CLUBBING

Twenty copies furnished for one year for fifty cents. Address John
Phoenix, Office of the San Diego _Herald_.



SUSAN SIMPSON

    Sudden swallows swiftly skimming,
      Sunset's slowly spreading shade,
    Silvery songsters sweetly singing,
      Summer's soothing serenade.

    Susan Simpson strolled sedately,
      Stifling sobs, suppressing sighs.
    Seeing Stephen Slocum, stately
      She stopped, showing some surprise.

    "Say," said Stephen, "sweetest sigher;
      Say, shall Stephen spouseless stay?"
    Susan, seeming somewhat shier,
      Showed submissiveness straightway.

    Summer's season slowly stretches,
      Susan Simpson Slocum she--
    So she signed some simple sketches--
      Soul sought soul successfully.

    Six Septembers Susan swelters;
      Six sharp seasons snow supplies;
    Susan's satin sofa shelters
      Six small Slocums side by side.



MARY MAPES DODGE

MISS MALONY ON THE CHINESE QUESTION


Och! don't be talkin'. Is it howld on, ye say? An' didn't I howld on
till the heart of me was clane broke entirely, and me wastin' that thin
you could clutch me wid yer two hands! To think o' me toilin' like a
nager for the six year I've been in Ameriky--bad luck to the day I iver
left the owld counthry, to be bate by the likes o' them! (faix, an'
I'll sit down when I'm ready, so I will, Ann Ryan, an' ye'd better be
list'nin' than drawin' your remarks), an' it's mysel', with five good
characters from respectable places, would be herdin' wid the haythens.
The saints forgive me, but I'd be buried alive soon 'n put up wid a day
longer. Sure, an' I was a granehorn not to be lavin' at onct when the
missus kim into me kitchen wid her perlaver about the new waiter-man
which was brought out from Californy.

"He'll be here the night," says she, "and Kitty, it's meself looks to
you to be kind and patient wid him, for he's a furriner," says she, a
kind o' looking off. "Sure an' it's little I'll hinder nor interfare
wid him nor any other, mum," says I, a kind o' stiff, for I minded
me how these French waiters, wid their paper collars and brass rings
on their fingers, isn't company for no gurril brought up dacint and
honest. Och! sorra a bit I knew what was comin' till the missus walked
into me kitchen smilin', and says, kind o' schared, "Here's Fing Wing,
Kitty, an' you'll have too much sinse to mind his bein' a little
strange." Wid that she shoots the doore; and I, misthrusting if I was
tidied up sufficient for me fine buy wid his paper collar, looks up
and----Holy fathers! may I never brathe another breath, but there stud
a rale haythen Chineser a-grinnin' like he'd just come off a tay-box.
If you'll belave me, the crayture was that yeller it 'ud sicken you
to see him; and sorra stich was on him but a black night-gown over
his trousers, and the front of 'is head shaved claner nor a copper
biler, and a black tail a-hanging down from behind, wid his two feet
stook into the heathenesest shoes you ever set eyes on. Och! but I was
upstairs afore you could turn about, a-givin' the missus-warnin'; an'
only stopt wid her by her raisin' me wages two dollars and playdin'
wid me how it was a Christian's duty to bear wid haythins and taitch
'em all in our power--the saints save us! Well, the ways and trials I
had wid that Chineser, Ann Ryan, I couldn't be tellin'. Not a blissed
thing cud I do but he'd be lookin' on wid his eyes cocked up'ard like
two poomp-handles, an' he widdout a speck or a smitch o' whiskers on
him, and his finger-nails full a yard long. But it's dying you'd be to
see the missus a-larnin' him, and he grinnin' an' waggin' his pig-tail
(which was pieced out long wid some black stoof, the haythen chate!),
and gettin' into her ways wonderful quick, I don't deny, imitatin' that
sharp, you'd be shurprised, and ketchin' and copyin' things the best of
us will do a-hurried wid work yet don't want comin' to the knowledge of
the family--bad luck to him!

Is it ate wid him? Arrah, an' would I be sittin' wid a haythen, and he
a-atin' wid drum-sticks--yes, an' atin' dogs an' cats unknownst to me,
I warrant you, which is the custom of them Chinesers, till the thought
made me that sick I could die. An' didn't the crayture proffer to help
me a wake ago come Toosday, an' me a foldin' down me clane clothes
for the ironin', an' fill his haythen mouth wid wather, an' afore I
could hinder squrrit it through his teeth stret over the best linen
table-cloth and fold it up tight, as innercent now as a baby, the dirty
baste! But the worrest of all was the copyin' he'd be doin', till ye'd
be distracted. It's yerself knows the tinder feet that's on me since
ever I've bin in this country. Well, owin' to that, I fell into the way
o' slippin' me shoes off when I'd be settin' down to pale the praties
or the likes o' that, and, do ye mind, that haythin would do the same
thing after me whiniver the missus set him parin' apples or tomaterses.
The saints in heaven couldn't have made him belave he cud kape the
shoes on him when he'd be payling anything.

Did I lave fur that? Faix an' didn't he get me into trouble wid my
missus, the haythin? You're aware yerself how the boondles comin' from
the grocery often contains more'n'll go into anything dacently. So, for
that matter, I'd now and then take out a sup o' sugar, or flour, or
tay, an' wrap it in paper and put it in me bit of a box tucked under
the ironin' blankit the how it cuddent be bodderin' any one. Well, what
should it be, but this blessed Sathurday morn the missus was a-spakin'
pleasant and respec'ful wid me in me kitchen, when the grocer boy
comes in an' stands fornenst her wid his boondles, an' she motions
like to Fing Wing (which I never would call him by that name nor any
other but just haythin); she motions to him, she does, for to take the
boondles an' empty out the sugar an' what not where they belongs. If
you'll belave me, Ann Ryan, what did that blatherin' Chineser do but
take out a sup o' sugar, an' a handful o' tay, an' a bit o' chaze,
right afore the missus, wrap them into bits o' paper, an' I spacheless
wid shurprise, an' he the next minute up wid the ironin' blankit and
pullin' out me box wid a show o' bein' sly to put them in. Och, the
Lord forgive me, but I clutched it, and the missus sayin', "O Kitty!"
in a way that 'ud curdle your blood. "He's a haythin nager," says I.
"I've found you out," says she. "I'll arrist him," says I. "It's you
ought to be arristed," says she. "You won't," says I. "I will," says
she; and so it went, till she give me such sass as I cuddent take
from no lady, an' I give her warnin' an' left that instant, an' she
a-pointin' to the doore.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is now the proper time for the cross-eyed woman to fool with the
garden hose. I have faced death in almost every form, and I do not know
what fear is, but when a woman with one eye gazing into the zodiac
and the other peering into the middle of next week, and wearing one
of those floppy sun-bonnets, picks up the nozzle of the garden hose
and turns on the full force of the institution, I fly wildly to the
Mountains of Hepsidam.

Water won't hurt any one, of course, if care is used not to forget and
drink any of it, but it is this horrible suspense and uncertainty about
facing the nozzle of a garden hose in the hands of a cross-eyed woman
that unnerves and paralyzes me.

Instantaneous death is nothing to me. I am as cool and collected where
leaden rain and iron hail are thickest as I would be in my own office
writing the obituary of the man who steals my jokes. But I hate to be
drowned slowly in my good clothes and on dry land, and have my dying
gaze rest on a woman whose ravishing beauty would drive a narrow-gage
mule into convulsions and make him hate himself t'death.

                                                        BILL NYE.



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

THE COURTIN'


    God makes sech nights, all white an' still
      Fur'z you can look or listen,
    Moonshine an' snow on field an' hill,
      All silence an' all glisten.

    Zekle crep' up quite unbeknown
      An' peeked in thru' the winder,
    An' there sot Huldy all alone,
      'Ith no one nigh to hender.

    A fireplace filled the room's one side
      With half a cord o' wood in--
    There warn't no stoves (tell comfort died)
      To bake ye to a puddin'.

    The wa'nut logs shot sparkles out
      Toward the pootiest, bless her,
    An' leetle flames danced about
      The chiny on the dresser.

    Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung,
      An' in amongst 'em rusted
    The ole queen's-arm thet Gran'ther Young
      Fetched back from Concord busted.

    The very room, coz she was in,
      Seemed warm from floor to ceilin',
    An' she looked full ez rosy agin
      Ez the apples she was peelin'.

    'Twas kin' o' kingdom-come to look
      On sech a blessed cretur,
    A dogrose blushin' to a brook
      Ain't modester nor sweeter.

    He was six foot o' man, A 1,
      Clear grit an' human natur';
    None couldn't quicker pitch a ton
      Nor dror a furrer straighter.

    He'd sparked it with full twenty gals,
      He'd squired 'em, danced 'em, druv 'em,
    Fust this one, an' then thet, by spells--
      All is, he couldn't love 'em.

    But long o' her his veins 'ould run
      All crinkly like curled maple,
    The side she breshed felt full o' sun
      Ez a south slope in Ap'il.

    She thought no v'ice hed sech a swing
      Ez hisn in the choir;
    My! when he made Ole Hunderd ring,
      She _knowed_ the Lord was nigher.

    An' she'd blush scarlit, right in prayer,
      When her new meetin'-bunnet
    Felt somehow thru' its crown a pair
      O' blue eyes sot upon it.

    Thet night, I tell ye, she looked _some_!
      She seemed to've gut a new soul,
    For she felt sartin-sure he'd come,
      Down to her very shoe-sole.

    She heered a foot, an' knowed it, tu,
      A-raspin' on the scraper--
    All ways to once her feelin's flew
      Like sparks in burnt-up paper.

    He kin' o' l'itered on the mat,
      Some doubtfle o' the sekle,
    His heart kep' goin' pity-pat,
      But hern went pity Zekle.

    An' yit she gin her cheer a jerk
      Ez though she wished him furder
    An' on her apples kep' to work,
      Parin' away like murder.

    "You want to see my Pa, I s'pose?"
      "Wal--no--I come dasignin'----"
    "To see my Ma? She's sprinklin' clo'es
      Agin to-morrer's i'nin'."

    To say why gals act so or so,
      Or don't 'ould be presumin';
    Mebby to mean _yes_ an' say _no_
      Comes nateral to women.

    He stood a spell on one foot fust,
      Then stood a spell on t'other.
    An' on which one he felt the wust
      He couldn't ha' told ye nuther.

    Says he, "I'd better call agin;"
      Says she, "Think likely, Mister:"
    Thet last word pricked him like a pin,
      An'----Wal, he up an' kist her.

    When Ma bimeby upon 'em slips,
      Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
    All kin' o' smily roun' the lips
      An' teary roun' the lashes.

    For she was jes' the quiet kind
      Whose naturs never vary,
    Like streams that keep a summer mind
      Snowhid in Jenooary.

    The blood clost roun' her heart felt glued
      Too tight for all expressin',
    Tell mother see how metters stood,
      An' gin 'em both her blessin'.

    Then her red come back like the tide
      Down to the Bay o' Fundy,
    An' all I know is they was cried
      In meetin' come nex' Sunday.



JOHN GODFREY SAXE

THE COQUETTE--A PORTRAIT


    "You're clever at drawing, I own,"
      Said my beautiful cousin Lisette,
    As we sat by the window alone,
      "But say, can you paint a Coquette?"

    "She's painted already," quoth I;
      "Nay, nay!" said the laughing Lisette,
    "Now none of your joking--but try
      And paint me a thorough Coquette."

    "Well, Cousin," at once I began
      In the ear of the eager Lisette,
    "I'll paint you as well as I can,
      That wonderful thing, a Coquette.

    "She wears a most beautiful face"
      ("Of course," said the pretty Lisette),
    "And isn't deficient in grace,
      Or else she were not a Coquette.

    "And then she is daintily made"
      (A smile from the dainty Lisette)
    "By people expert in the trade
      Of forming a proper Coquette.

    "She's the winningest ways with the beaux"
      ("Go on!" said the winning Lisette),
    "But there isn't a man of them knows
      The mind of the fickle Coquette!

    "She knows how to weep and to sigh"
      (A sigh from the tender Lisette),
    "But her weeping is all in my eye--
      Not that of the cunning Coquette!

    "In short, she's a creature of art"
      ("O hush!" said the frowning Lisette),
    "With merely the ghost of a heart--
      Enough for a thorough Coquette.

    "And yet I could easily prove"
      ("Now don't!" said the angry Lisette),
    "The lady is always in love--
      In love with herself--the Coquette!

    "There--do not be angry--you know,
      My dear little cousin Lisette,
    You told me a moment ago,
      To paint _you_--a thorough Coquette!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Henry Ward Beecher, in his famous speech at Manchester, England, in
which he talked for an hour against a howling mob of Rebel sympathizers
before he gained their attention, was interrupted by a man in the
audience who shouted: "Why didn't you whip the Confederates in sixty
days, as you said you would?" "Because," replied Beecher, "we found we
had Americans to fight instead of Englishmen."



SAMUEL L. CLEMENS ("Mark Twain")

COLONEL MULBERRY SELLERS


Colonel Mulberry Sellers was in his "library," which was his
"drawing-room," and was also his "picture gallery," and likewise
his "workshop." Sometimes he called it by one of these names,
sometimes by another, according to occasion and circumstance. He
was constructing what seemed to be some kind of a frail mechanical
toy, and was apparently very much interested in his work. He was a
white-headed man now, but otherwise he was as young, alert, buoyant,
visionary and enterprising as ever. His loving old wife sat near by,
contentedly knitting and thinking, with a cat asleep in her lap. The
room was large, light and had a comfortable look--in fact, a homelike
look--though the furniture was of a humble sort and not over-abundant,
and the knick-knacks and things that go to adorn a living-room not
plenty and not costly. But there were natural flowers, and there was an
abstract and unclassifiable something about the place which betrayed
the presence in the house of somebody with a happy taste and an
effective touch.

Even the deadly chromos on the walls were somehow without offense;
in fact, they seemed to belong there and to add an attraction to
the room--a fascination, anyway; for whoever got his eye on one of
them was like to gaze and suffer till he died--you have seen that
kind of pictures. Some of these terrors were landscapes, some libeled
the sea, some were ostensible portraits, all were crimes. All the
portraits were recognizable as dead Americans of distinction, and
yet, through labeling, added by a daring hand, they were all doing
duty here as "Earls of Rossmore." The newest one had left the works
as Andrew Jackson, but was doing its best now as "Simon Lathers Lord
Rossmore, Present Earl." On one wall was a cheap old railroad map of
Warwickshire. This had been newly labeled, "The Rossmore Estates."
On the opposite wall was another map, and this was the most imposing
decoration of the establishment, and the first to catch a stranger's
attention, because of its great size. It had once borne simply the
title SIBERIA, but now the word "FUTURE" had been written in front
of that word. There were other additions, in red ink--many cities,
with great populations set down, scattered over the vast country at
points where neither cities nor populations exist to-day. One of
these cities, with population placed at 1,500,000, bore the name
"Libertyorloffskoizalinski," and there was a still more populous
one, centrally located and marked "Capitol," which bore the name
"Freedomslovnaivenovich."

The mansion--the Colonel's usual name for the house--was a rickety
old two-story frame of considerable size, which had been painted,
some time or other, but had nearly forgotten it. It was away out in
the ragged edge of Washington, and had once been somebody's country
place. It had a neglected yard around it, with a paling fence that
needed straightening up in places, and a gate that would stay shut. By
the door-post were several modest tin signs. "Col. Mulberry Sellers,
Attorney-at-Law and Claim Agent," was the principal one. One learned
from the others that the Colonel was a Materializer, a Hypnotizer, a
Mind-cure dabbler, and so on. For he was a man who could always find
things to do.

A white-headed Negro man, with spectacles and damaged white cotton
gloves, appeared in the presence, made a stately obeisance, and
announced:

"Marse Washington Hawkins, suh."

"Great Scott! Show him in, Dan'l; show him in."

The Colonel and his wife were on their feet in a moment, and
the next moment were joyfully wringing the hands of a stoutish,
discouraged-looking man, whose general aspect suggested that he was
fifty years old, but whose hair swore to a hundred.

"Well, well, well, Washington, my boy, it _is_ good to look at you
again. Sit down, sit down, and make yourself at home. There now--why,
you look perfectly natural; ageing a little, just a little, but you'd
have known him anywhere, wouldn't you, Polly?"

"Oh, yes, Berry; he's _just_ like his pa would have looked if he'd
lived. Dear, dear, where have you dropped from? Let me see, how long is
it since----"

"I should say it's all of fifteen years, Mrs. Sellers."

"Well, well, how time does get away with us. Yes, and oh, the changes
that----"

There was a sudden catch of her voice and a trembling of the lip, the
men waiting reverently for her to get command of herself and go on;
but, after a little struggle, she turned away with her apron to her
eyes, and softly disappeared.

"Seeing you made her think of the children, poor thing--dear, dear,
they're all dead but the youngest. But banish care; it's no time for
it now--on with the dance, let joy be unconfided, is my motto--whether
there's any dance to dance or any joy to unconfide, you'll be
the healthier for it every time--every time, Washington--it's my
experience, and I've seen a good deal of this world. Come, where have
you disappeared to all these years, and are you from there now, or
where are you from?"

"I don't quite think you would ever guess, Colonel. Cherokee Strip."

"My land!"

"Sure as you live."

"You can't mean it: Actually _living_ out there?"

"Well, yes, if a body may call it that; though it's a pretty strong
term for 'dobies and jackass rabbits, boiled beans and slapjack,
depression, withered hopes, poverty in all its varieties----"

"Louise out there?"

"Yes, and the children."

"Out there now?"

"Yes; I couldn't afford to bring them with me."

"Oh, I see--you had to come--claim against the Government. Make
yourself perfectly easy--I'll take care of that."

"But it isn't a claim against the Government."

"No? Want to be a postmaster? _That's_ all right. Leave it to me. I'll
fix it."

"But it isn't postmaster--you're all astray yet."

"Well, good gracious, Washington, why don't you come out and tell me
what it is? What do you want to be so reserved and distrustful with an
old friend like me for? Don't you reckon I can keep a se----"

"There's no secret about it--you merely don't give me a chance to----"

"Now, look here, old friend, I know the human race; and I know that
when a man comes to Washington, I don't care if it's from Heaven, let
alone Cherokee Strip, it's because he _wants_ something. And I know
that as a rule he's not going to get it; that he'll stay and try for
another thing and won't get that; the same luck with the next and the
next and the next; and keeps on till he strikes bottom, and is too
poor and ashamed to go back, even to Cherokee Strip; and at last his
heart breaks and they take up a collection and bury him. There--don't
interrupt me, I know what I'm talking about. Happy and prosperous in
the Far West, wasn't I? _You_ know that. Principal citizen of Hawkeye,
looked up to by everybody, kind of an autocrat, actually a kind of an
autocrat, Washington. Well, nothing would do but I must go as Minister
to St. James's, the Governor and everybody insisting, you know, and so
at last I consented--no getting out of it, _had_ to do it, so here I
came. _A day too late_, Washington. Think of that--what little things
change the world's history--yes, sir, the place had been filled. Well,
there I was, you see. I offered to compromise and go to Paris. The
President was very sorry and all that, but that place, you see, didn't
belong to the West, so there I was again. There was no help for it,
so I had to stoop a little--we all reach the day some time or other
when we've got to do that, Washington, and it's not a bad thing for
us, either, take it by and large all round--I had to stoop a little
and offer to take Constantinople. Washington, consider this--for it's
perfectly true--within a month I _asked_ for China; within another
month I _begged_ for Japan; one year later I was away down, down, down,
supplicating with tears and anguish for the bottom office in the gift
of the Government of the United States--Flint-picker in the cellars of
the War Department. And by George, I didn't get it."

"Flint-picker?"

"Yes. Office established in the time of the Revolution--last century.
The musket-flints for the military posts were supplied from the
Capitol. They do it yet; for although the flint-arm has gone out and
the forts have tumbled down, the decree hasn't been repealed--been
overlooked and forgotten, you see--and so the vacancies where old
Ticonderoga and others used to stand still get their six quarts of
gun-flints a year just the same."

Washington said musingly after a pause:

"How strange it seems--to start for Minister to England at twenty
thousand a year and fail for flint-picker at----"

"Three dollars a week. It's human life, Washington--just an epitome of
human ambition and struggle, and the outcome; you aim for the palace
and get drowned in the sewer."

There was another meditative silence. Then Washington said, with
earnest compassion in his voice:

"And so, after coming here, against your inclination, to satisfy your
sense of patriotic duty and appease a selfish public clamor, you get
absolutely nothing for it."

"Nothing?" The Colonel had to get up and stand, to get room for his
amazement to expand. "_Nothing_, Washington? I ask you this: to be a
Perpetual Member and the _only_ Perpetual Member of a Diplomatic Body
accredited to the greatest country on earth--do you call that nothing?"

It was Washington's turn to be amazed. He was stricken dumb; but the
wide-eyed wonder, the reverent admiration expressed in his face, were
more eloquent than any words could have been. The Colonel's wounded
spirit was healed, and he resumed his seat, pleased and content. He
leaned forward and said impressively:

"What was due to a man who had become forever conspicuous by an
experience without precedence in the history of the world--a man
made permanently and diplomatically sacred, so to speak, by having
been connected, temporarily, through solicitation, with every
single diplomatic post in the roster of this Government, from Envoy
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St.
James's all the way down to Consul to a guano rock in the Straits
of Sunda--salary payable in guano--which disappeared by volcanic
convulsion the day before they got down to my name in the list of
applicants? Certainly something august enough to be answerable to the
size of this unique and memorable experience was my due, and I got it.
By the common voice of this community, by acclamation of the people,
that mighty utterance which brushes aside laws and legislation, and
from whose decrees there is no appeal, I was named Perpetual Member
of the Diplomatic Body representing the multifarious sovereignties
and civilizations of the globe near the republican court of the
United States of America. And they brought me home with a torchlight
procession."

"It is wonderful, Colonel----simply wonderful."

"It's the loftiest official position in the whole earth."

"I should think so--and the most commanding."

"You have named the word. Think of it! I frown, and there is war; I
smile, and contending nations lay down their arms."

"It is awful. The responsibility, I mean."

"It is nothing. Responsibility is no burden to me; I am used to it;
have always been used to it."

"And the work--the work! Do you have to attend all the sittings?"

"Who, I? Does the Emperor of Russia attend the conclaves of the
Governors of the provinces? He sits at home and indicates his pleasure."

Washington was silent a moment, then a deep sigh escaped him.

"How proud I was an hour ago; how paltry seems my little promotion
now! Colonel, the reason I came to Washington is--I am Congressional
Delegate from Cherokee Strip!"

The Colonel sprang to his feet and broke out with prodigious enthusiasm:

"Give me your hand, my boy--this is immense news! I congratulate you
with all my heart. My prophecies stand firm. I always said it was in
you. I always said you were born for high distinction and would achieve
it. You ask Polly if I didn't."

Washington was dazed by this most unexpected demonstration.

"Why, Colonel, there's nothing _to_ it. That little, narrow, desolate,
unpeopled, oblong streak of grass and gravel, lost in the remote wastes
of the vast continent--why, it's like representing a billiard table--a
discarded one."

"Tut-tut, it's a great, it's a staving preferment, and just opulent
with influence here."

"Shucks, Colonel, I haven't even a vote."

"That's nothing; you can make speeches."

"No, I can't. The population only two hundred----"

"That's all right, that's all right----"

"And they hadn't any right to elect me; we're not even a territory;
there's no Organic Act; the Government hasn't any official knowledge of
us whatever."

"Never mind about that; I'll fix that. I'll rush the thing through;
I'll get you organized in no time."

"_Will_ you, Colonel--it's _too_ good of you; but it's just your old
sterling self, the same old, ever-faithful friend," and the grateful
tears welled up in Washington's eyes.

"It's just as good as done, my boy, just as good as done. Shake hands.
We'll hitch teams together, you and I, and we'll make things hum!"



FREDERICK WILLIAM SHELTON

INCIDENTS IN A RETIRED LIFE


Last year I had a solitary peach upon a solitary tree, for the early
frost frustrated the delicious crop. This only one, which, from its
golden color, might be entitled El Dorado, I watched with fear and
trembling from day to day, patiently waiting for the identical time
when I should buoy it up carefully in my hand, that its pulp should
not be bruised, tear off its thin peel, admonished that the time had
come by a gradual releasing of the fruit from its adhesion to the
stem, and I appointed the next day for the ceremonial of plucking.
The morrow dawned, as bright a day as ever dawned upon the earth, and
on a near approach I found it still there, and said, with chuckling
gratification, "There is some delicacy in thieves." Alas! on reaching
it, somebody had taken a large bite out of the ripest cheek, but with a
sacrilegious witticism had left it sticking to the stem. The detestable
prints of the teeth which bit it were still in it, and a wasp was
gloating at its core. Had he taken the whole peach I should have vented
my feelings in a violence of indignation unsuited to a balmy garden.
But as he was joker enough to bite only its sunny side, I must forgive
him, as one who has some element of salvation in his character, because
he is disposed to look at the bright side of things. What is a peach?
A mere globe of succulent and delicious pulp, which I would rather be
deprived of than cultivate bad feelings, even toward thieves. Wherever
you find rogues whose deeds involve a saline element of wit, make up
your mind that they are no rogues.--_Up the River._

       *       *       *       *       *

This morning the Shanghai hen laid another egg, of a rich brunette
complexion, which we took away, and replaced by a common vulgar egg,
intending to reserve the Shanghai's in a cool place until the time
of incubation. Very much amused was I with the sequel. The proud and
haughty superiority of the breed manifested itself by detecting the
cheat and resenting the insult. Shang and Eng flew at the suppositious
egg with the utmost indignation and picked it to pieces, scratching the
remnants of the shell from the nest.... There is one peculiarity of
these fowls which deserves to be mentioned. When I removed mine from
the basket I thought that the worthy donor had clipped their wings
to prevent them from flying away or scaling the hennery. On further
knowledge I have learned that their style and fashion is that of the
jacket-sleeve and bobtail coat. Their eminent domesticity is clearly
signified by this, because they cannot get over an ordinary fence, and
would not if they could. It is because they have no disposition to
do this, that Nature has cropped them of their superfluous wings and
given them a plumage suitable to their desires. "Their sober wishes
never learn to stray." They often come into the kitchen, but never go
abroad to associate with common fowls, but remain at home in dignified
retirement. Another thing remarkable and quite renowned about this is
the Oriental courtesy and politeness of the cock. If you throw a piece
of bread, he waits till the hen helps herself first, and often carries
it to her in his own beak. The feathered people in the East, and those
_not_ feathered, are far superior to ours in those elaborate and
delightful forms of manner which add a charm and zest to life. This has
been from the days of Abraham until now. There are no common people in
these realms. All are polite, and the very roosters illustrate the best
principles laid down in any book of etiquette. _Book of Etiquette!_
What is conventionalism without the inborn sense? Can any man or beast
be taught to be mechanically polite? Not at all--not at all!...

I have received a present of a pair of Cochin Chinas, a superb cock
and a dun-colored hen. I put them with my other fowls in the cellar,
to protect them for a short time from the severity of the weather. My
Shanghai rooster had for several nights been housed up; for on one
occasion, when the cold was snapping, he was discovered under the lee
of a stone wall, standing on one leg, taking no notice of the approach
of any one, and nearly gone. When brought in, he backed up against
the red-hot kitchen stove, and burned his tail off. Before this he had
no feathers in the rear to speak of, and now he is bobtailed indeed.
Anne sewed upon him a jacket of carpet, and put him in a tea-box for
the night; and it was ludicrous on the next morning to see him lifting
up his head above the square prison-box and crowing lustily to greet
the day. But before breakfast time he had a dreadful fit. He retreated
against the wall, he fell upon his side, he kicked, and he "carried
on"; but when the carpet was taken off he came to himself, and ate corn
with a voracious appetite. His indisposition was, no doubt, occasioned
by a rush of blood to the head from the tightness of the bandages. When
Shanghai and Cochin met together in the cellar, they enacted in that
dusky hole all the barbarities of a profane cockpit. I heard a sound as
if from the tumbling of barrels, followed by a dull, thumping noise,
like spirit-rappings, and went below, where the first object which met
my eye was a mouse creeping along the beam out of an excavation in my
pineapple cheese. As for the fowls, instead of salutation after the
respectful manner of their country--which is expressed thus: Shang
knocks knees to Cochin, bows three times, touches the ground, and makes
obeisance--they were engaged in a bloody fight, unworthy of celestial
poultry. With their heads down, eyes flashing, and red as vipers, and
with a feathery frill or ruffle about their necks, they were leaping
at each other, to see who should hold dominion over the ash-heap. It
put me exactly in mind of two Scythians or two Greeks in America, where
each wished to be considered the only Scythian or only Greek in the
country. A contest or emulation is at all times highly animating and
full of zest, whether two scholars write, two athletes strive, two
boilers strain, or two cocks fight. Every lazy dog in the vicinity is
immediately at hand. I looked on until I saw the Shanghai's peepers
darkened, and his comb streaming with blood. These birds contended for
some days after for preëminence on the lawn, and no flinching could be
observed on either part, although the Shanghai was by one-third the
smaller of the two. At last the latter was thoroughly mortified; his
eyes wavered and wandered vaguely, as he stood opposite the foe; he
turned tail and ran. From that moment he became the veriest coward,
and submitted to every indignity without attempting to resist. He
suffered himself to be chased about the lawn, fled from the Indian
meal, and was almost starved. Such submission on his part at last
resulted in peace, and the two rivals walked side by side without
fighting, and ate together, with a mutual concession, of the corn.
This, in turn, engendered a degree of presumption on the part of the
Shanghai cock; and one day, when the dew sparkled and the sun shone
peculiarly bright, he so far forgot himself as to ascend a hillock and
venture on a tolerably triumphant crow. It showed a lack of judgment;
his cock-a-doodle-doo proved fatal. Scarcely had he done so, when
Cochin China rushed upon him, tore out his feathers, and flogged him
so severely that it was doubtful whether he would remain with us.
Now, alas! he presents a sad spectacle: his comb frozen off, his tail
burned off, and his head knocked to a jelly. While the corn jingles
in the throats of his compeers when they eagerly snap it, as if they
were eating from a pile of shilling pieces or fi'-penny bits, he stands
aloof and grubs in the ground. How changed!--_Up the River._

       *       *       *       *       *

A clergyman was very anxious to introduce some hymn-books into the
church, and arranged with his clerk that the latter was to give out
the notice immediately after the sermon. The clerk, however, had a
notice of his own to give out with reference to the baptism of infants.
Accordingly, at the close of the sermon he arose and announced that
"All those who have children whom they wish to have baptized please
send in their names at once to the clerk." The clergyman, who was stone
deaf, assumed that the clerk was giving out the hymn-book notice, and
immediately rose and said: "And I should say, for the benefit of those
who haven't any, that they may be obtained at the vestry any day from
three to four o'clock; the ordinary little ones at one shilling each,
and special ones with red backs at one shilling and fourpence."



BRET HARTE

MELONS


As I do not suppose the most gentle of readers will believe that
anybody's sponsors in baptism ever wilfully assumed the responsibility
of such a name, I may as well state that I have reason to infer that
Melons was simply the nickname of a small boy I once knew. If he had
any other, I never knew it.

Various theories were often projected by me to account for this strange
cognomen. His head, which was covered with a transparent down, like
that which clothes very small chickens, plainly permitting the scalp
to show through, to an imaginative mind might have suggested that
succulent vegetable. That his parents, recognizing some poetical
significance in the fruits of the season, might have given this name to
an August child, was an Oriental explanation. That from his infancy he
was fond of indulging in melons seemed on the whole the most likely,
particularly as Fancy was not bred in McGinnis's Court. He dawned upon
me as Melons. His proximity was indicated by shrill, youthful voices
as "Ah, Melons!" or playfully, "Hi, Melons!" or authoritatively, "You,
Melons!"

McGinnis's Court was a democratic expression of some obstinate
and radical property-holder. Occupying a limited space between two
fashionable thoroughfares, it refused to conform to circumstances, but
sturdily paraded its unkempt glories, and frequently asserted itself in
ungrammatical language. My window--a rear room on the ground floor--in
this way derived blended light and shadow from the court. So low was
the window-sill, that had I been the least disposed to somnambulism it
would have broken out under such favorable auspices, and I should have
haunted McGinnis's Court. My speculations as to the origin of the court
were not altogether gratuitous, for by means of this window I once
saw the Past, as through a glass darkly. It was a Celtic shadow that
early one morning obstructed my ancient lights. It seemed to belong to
an individual with a pea-coat, a stubby pipe, and bristling beard. He
was gazing intently at the court, resting on a heavy cane, somewhat in
the way that heroes dramatically visit the scenes of their boyhood.
As there was little of architectural beauty in the court, I came to
the conclusion that it was McGinnis looking after his property. The
fact that he carefully kicked a broken bottle out of the road somewhat
strengthened me in the opinion. But he presently walked away, and the
court knew him no more. He probably collected his rents by proxy--if he
collected them at all.

Beyond Melons, of whom all this is purely introductory, there was
little to interest the most sanguine and hopeful nature. In common
with all such localities, a great deal of washing was done, in
comparison with the visible results. There was always something
whisking on the line, and always something whisking through the court
that looked as if it ought to be there. A fish-geranium--of all
plants kept for the recreation of mankind, certainly the greatest
illusion--straggled under the window. Through its dusty leaves I caught
the first glance of Melons.

His age was about seven. He looked older, from the venerable whiteness
of his head, and it was impossible to conjecture his size, as he always
wore clothes apparently belonging to some shapely youth of nineteen.
A pair of pantaloons that, when sustained by a single suspender,
completely equipped him, formed his every-day suit. How, with this
lavish superfluity of clothing, he managed to perform the surprising
gymnastic feats it had been my privilege to witness, I have never been
able to tell. His "turning the crab," and other minor dislocations,
were always attended with success. It was not an unusual sight at any
hour of the day to find Melons suspended on a line, or to see his
venerable head appearing above the roofs of the outhouses. Melons knew
the exact height of every fence in the vicinity, its facilities for
scaling, and the possibility of seizure on the other side. His more
peaceful and quieter amusements consisted in dragging a disused boiler
by a large string, with hideous outcries, to imaginary fires.

Melons was not gregarious in his habits. A few youth of his own age
sometimes called upon him, but they eventually became abusive, and
their visits were more strictly predatory incursions for old bottles
and junk which formed the staple of McGinnis's Court. Overcome by
loneliness one day, Melons inveigled a blind harper into the court.
For two hours did that wretched man prosecute his unhallowed calling,
unrecompensed, and going round and round the court, apparently under
the impression that it was some other place, while Melons surveyed him
from an adjoining fence with calm satisfaction. It was this absence
of conscientious motive that brought Melons into disrepute with his
aristocratic neighbors. Orders were issued that no child of wealthy
and pious parentage should play with him. This mandate, as a matter
of course, invested Melons with a fascinating interest to them.
Admiring glances were cast at Melons from nursery windows. Baby fingers
beckoned to him. Invitations to tea (on wood and pewter) were lisped
to him from aristocratic back-yards. It was evident he was looked upon
as a pure and noble being, untrammeled by the conventionalities of
parentage, and physically as well as mentally exalted above them. One
afternoon an unusual commotion prevailed in the vicinity of McGinnis's
Court. Looking from my window I saw Melons perched on the roof of a
stable, pulling up a rope by which one "Tommy," an infant scion of an
adjacent and wealthy house, was suspended in midair. In vain the female
relatives of Tommy congregated in the back-yard expostulated with
Melons; in vain the unhappy father shook his fist at him. Secure in
his position, Melons redoubled his exertions and at last landed Tommy
on the roof. Then it was that the humiliating fact was disclosed that
Tommy had been acting in collusion with Melons. He grinned delightedly
back at his parents, as if "by merit raised to that bad eminence." Long
before the ladder arrived that was to succor him, he became the sworn
ally of Melons, and, I regret to say, incited by the same audacious
boy, "chaffed" his own flesh and blood below him. He was eventually
taken, though, of course, Melons escaped. But Tommy was restricted
to the window after that, and the companionship was limited to "Hi,
Melons!" and "You, Tommy!" and Melons to all practical purposes lost
him forever. I looked afterward to see some signs of sorrow on Melons'
part, but in vain; he buried his grief, if he had any, somewhere in his
one voluminous garment.

At about this time my opportunities of knowing Melons became more
extended. I was engaged in filling a void in the Literature of the
Pacific Coast. As this void was a pretty large one, and as I was
informed that the Pacific Coast languished under it, I set apart two
hours each day to this work of filling in. It was necessary that I
should adopt a methodical system, so I retired from the world and
locked myself in my room at a certain hour each day, after coming
from my office. I then carefully drew out my portfolio and read what
I had written the day before. This would suggest some alterations,
and I would carefully rewrite it. During this operation I would turn
to consult a book of reference, which invariably proved extremely
interesting and attractive. It would generally suggest another and
better method of "filling in." Turning this method over reflectively
in my mind, I would finally commence the new method which I eventually
abandoned for the original plan. At this time I would become convinced
that my exhausted faculties demanded a cigar. The operation of lighting
a cigar usually suggested that a little quiet reflection and meditation
would be of service to me, and I always allowed myself to be guided
by prudential instincts. Eventually, seated by my window, as before
stated, Melons asserted himself. Though our conversation rarely went
further than "Hello, Mister!" and "Ah, Melons!" a vagabond instinct we
felt in common implied a communion deeper than words. Thus time passed,
often beguiled by gymnastics on the fence or line (always with an eye
to my window) until dinner was announced and I found a more practical
void required my attention. An unlooked-for incident drew us in closer
relation.

A seafaring friend just from a tropical voyage had presented me with
a bunch of bananas. They were not quite ripe, and I hung them before
my window to mature in the sun of McGinnis's Court, whose forcing
qualities were remarkable. In the mysteriously mingled odors of ship
and shore which they diffused throughout my room, there was lingering
reminiscence of low latitudes. But even that joy was fleeting and
evanescent: they never reached maturity.

Coming home one day, as I turned the corner of that fashionable
thoroughfare before alluded to, I met a small boy eating a banana.
There was nothing remarkable in that, but as I neared McGinnis's Court
I presently met another small boy, also eating a banana. A third
small boy engaged in a like occupation obtruded a painful coincidence
upon my mind. I leave the psychological reader to determine the exact
correlation between the circumstance and the sickening sense of loss
that overcame me on witnessing it. I reached my room--and found the
bunch of bananas was gone.

There was but one that knew of their existence, but one who frequented
my window, but one capable of gymnastic effort to procure them, and
that was--I blush to say it--Melons. Melons the depredator--Melons,
despoiled by larger boys of his ill-gotten booty, or reckless and
indiscreetly liberal; Melons--now a fugitive on some neighborhood
housetop. I lit a cigar, and, drawing my chair to the window, sought
surcease of sorrow in the contemplation of the fish-geranium. In a few
moments something white passed my window at about the level of the
edge. There was no mistaking that hoary head, which now represented
to me only aged iniquity. It was Melons, that venerable, juvenile
hypocrite.

He affected not to observe me, and would have withdrawn quietly, but
that horrible fascination which causes the murderer to revisit the
scene of his crime impelled him toward my window.

I smoked calmly and gazed at him without speaking.

He walked several times up and down the court with a half-rigid,
half-belligerent expression of eye and shoulder, intended to represent
the carelessness of innocence.

Once or twice he stopped, and putting his arms their whole length into
his capacious trousers, gazed with some interest at the additional
width they thus acquired. Then he whistled. The singular conflicting
conditions of John Brown's body and soul were at that time beginning to
attract the attention of youth, and Melons's performance of that melody
was always remarkable. But to-day he whistled falsely and shrilly
between his teeth.

At last he met my eye. He winced slightly, but recovered himself, and
going to the fence, stood for a few moments on his hands, with his bare
feet quivering in the air. Then he turned toward me and threw out a
conversational preliminary:

"They is a cirkis"--said Melons gravely, hanging with his back to
the fence and his arms twisted around the palings--"a cirkis over
yonder!"--indicating the locality with his foot--"with hosses and
hossback riders. They is a man wot rides six hosses to onct--six hosses
to onct--and nary saddle"--and he paused in expectation.

Even this equestrian novelty did not affect me. I still kept a fixed
gaze on Melons's eye, and he began to tremble and visibly shrink in his
capacious garment. Some other desperate means--conversation with Melons
was always a desperate means--must be resorted to. He recommenced more
artfully:

"Do you know Carrots?"

I had a faint remembrance of a boy of that euphonious name, with
scarlet hair, who was a playmate and persecutor of Melons. But I said
nothing.

"Carrots is a bad boy. Killed a policeman onct. Wears a dirk knife in
his boots. Saw him to-day looking in your windy."

I felt that this must end here. I rose sternly and addressed Melons.

"Melons, this is all irrelevant and impertinent to the case. _You_
took those bananas. Your proposition regarding Carrots, even if I were
inclined to accept it as credible information, does not alter the
material issue. You took those bananas. The offense under the statutes
of California is felony. How far Carrots may have been accessory to
the fact either before or after it is not my intention at present to
discuss. The act is complete. Your present conduct shows the _animo
furandi_ to have been equally clear."

By the time I had finished this exordium Melons had disappeared, as I
fully expected.

He never reappeared. The remorse that I have experienced for the part
I had taken in what I fear may have resulted in his utter and complete
extermination, alas! he may not know, except through these pages. For
I have never seen him since. Whether he ran away and went to sea to
reappear at some future day as the most ancient of mariners, or whether
he buried himself completely in his trousers, I never shall know. I
have read the papers anxiously for accounts of him. I have gone to the
police office in the vain attempt of identifying him as a lost child.
But I never saw him or heard of him since. Strange fears have sometimes
crossed my mind that his venerable appearance may have been actually
the result of senility, and that he may have been gathered peacefully
to his fathers in a green old age. I have even had doubts of his
existence, and have sometimes thought that he was providentially and
mysteriously offered to fill the void I have before alluded to. In that
hope I have written these pages.--_Mrs. Skaggs's Husbands, and other
Sketches._



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

A LETTER FROM MR. EZEKIEL BIGELOW


    Thrash away, you'll _hev_ to rattle
      On them kittle-drums o' yourn,
    'Tain't a knowin' kind o' cattle
      Thet is ketched with moldy corn;
    Put in stiff, you fifer feller,
      Let folks see how spry you be--
    Guess you'll toot till you are yeller
      'Fore you git a-hold o' me!

    Thet air flag's a leetle rotten,
      Hope it ain't your Sunday's best--
    Fact! it takes a sight o' cotton
      To stuff out a soger's chest;
    Sence we farmers hev to pay fer't,
      Ef you must wear humps like these
    S'posin' you should try salt hay fer't,
      It would du ez slick ez grease.

    'Twouldn't suit them Southun fellers,
      They're a dreffle graspin' set,
    We must ollers blow the bellers
      Wen they want their irons het;
    Maybe it's all right ez preachin',
      But _my_ narves it kind o' grates,
    Wen I see the overreachin'
      O' them nigger-drivin' States.

    Them thet rule us, them slave-traders,
      Hain't they cut a thunderin' swath
    (Helped by Yankee renegaders),
      Thru the vartu o' the North!
    We begin to think it's natur
      To take sarse an' not be riled--
    Who'd expect to see a tater
      All on eend at bein' biled?

    Ez fer war, I call it murder--
      There you hev it plain an' flat;
    I don't want to go no furder
      Than my Testament fer that;
    God hez sed so plump an' fairly,
      It's ez long ez it is broad,
    An' you've gut to git up airly
      Ef you want to take in God.

    'Tain't your eppyletts an' feathers
      Make the thing a grain more right;
    'Tain't a-follerin' your bell-wethers
      Will excuse ye in His sight;
    Ef you take a sword an' dror it,
      An' go stick a feller thru,
    Guv'ment ain't to answer for it,
      God'll send the bill to you.

    Wut's the use o' meetin'-goin'
      Every Sabbath, wet or dry,
    Ef it's right to go a-mowin'
      Feller-men like oats an' rye?
    I dunno but wut it's pooty
      Trainin' round in bobtail coats--
    But it's curus Christian dooty
      This 'ere cuttin' folks's throats.

    They may talk o' Freedom's airy
      Tell they're pupple in the face--
    It's a grand gret cemetary
      Fer the barthrights of our race;
    They jest want this Californy
      So's to lug new slave States in
    To abuse ye, an' to scorn ye,
      An' to plunder ye like sin.

    Ain't it cute to see a Yankee
      Take sech everlastin' pains,
    All to git the Devil's thankee
      Helpin' on 'em weld their chains?
    Wy, it's jest ez clear ez figgers,
      Clear ez one an' one make two,
    Chaps thet make black slaves o' niggers
      Want to make wite slaves o' you.

    Tell ye jest the eend I've come to
      Arter cipherin' plaguy smart,
    An' it makes a handy sum, tu,
      Any gump could larn by heart;
    Laborin' man an' laborin' woman
      Hev one glory an' one shame.
    Ev'ythin' thet's done inhuman
      Injers all on 'em the same.

    'Tain't by turnin' out to hack folks
      You're agoin' to git your rights
    Nor by lookin' down on black folks
      Coz you're put upon by wite;
    Slavery ain't o' nary color,
      'Tain't the hide thet makes it wus,
    All it keers fer is a feller
      'S jest to make him fill his pus.

    Want to tackle _me_ in, du ye?
      I expect you'll hev to wait;
    Wen cold lead puts daylight thru ye
      You'll begin to kal'late;
    S'pose the crows wun't fall to pickin'
      All the carkiss from your bones,
    Coz you helped to give a lickin'
      To them poor half-Spanish drones?

    Jest go home an' ask our Nancy
      Wether I'd be sech a goose
    Ez to jine ye--guess you'd fancy
      The etarnal bung wuz loose!
    She wants me fer home consumption,
      Let alone the hay's to mow--
    Ef you're arter folks o' gumption,
      You've a darned long row to hoe.

    Take them editors thet's crowin'
      Like a cockerel three months old--
    Don't ketch any on 'em goin',
      Though they _be_ so blasted bold;
    _Ain't_ they a prime lot o' fellers?
      'Fore they think on't they will sprout
    (Like a peach thet's got the yellers),
      With the meanness bustin' out.

    Wal, go 'long to help 'em stealin'
      Bigger pens to cram with slaves,
    Help the men thet's ollers dealin'
      Insults on your fathers' graves;
    Help the strong to grind the feeble,
      Help the many agin the few,
    Help the men that call your people
      Witewashed slaves an' peddlin' crew?

    Massachusetts, God forgive her,
      She's a-kneelin' with the rest,
    She, thet ough' to ha' clung ferever
      In her grand old eagle-nest;
    She thet ough' to stand so fearless
      Wile the wracks are round her hurled,
    Holdin' up a beacon peerless
      To the oppressed of all the world!

    Hain't they sold your colored seamen?
      Hain't they made your env'ys wiz?
    _Wut'll_ make ye act like freemen?
      _Wut'll_ git your dander riz?
    Come, I'll tell ye wut I'm thinkin'
      Is our dooty in this fix,
    They'd ha' done 't ez quick ez winkin'
      In the days o' seventy-six.

    Clang the bells in every steeple,
      Call all true men to disown
    The tradoocers of our people,
      The enslavers o' their own;
    Let our dear old Bay State proudly
      Put the trumpet to her mouth,
    Let her ring this messidge loudly
      In the ears of all the South--

    "I'll return ye good fer evil
      Much ez we frail mortils can,
    But I wun't go help the Devil
      Makin' man the cuss o' man;
    Call me coward, call me traiter,
      Jest ez suits your mean idees--
    Here I stand a tyrant-hater,
      An' the friend o' God an' Peace!"

    Ef I'd _my_ way I hed ruther
      We should go to work an' part--
    They take one way, we take t'other--
      Guess it wouldn't break my heart;
    Man hed ought to put asunder
      Them thet God has noways jined;
    An' I shouldn't gretly wonder
      Ef there's thousands o' my mind.

                          --_Bigelow Papers._



CHARLES GODFREY LELAND

BALLAD


    Der noble Ritter Hugo
      Von Schwillensaufenstein,
    Rode out mit shpeer and helmet
      Und he coom to de panks of de Rhine

    Und oop dere rose a meer maid,
      Vot hadn't got nodings on,
    Und she say, "Oh, Ritter Hugo,
      Vhere you goes mit yourself alone?"

    Und he says, "I rides in de creenwood
      Mit helmet und mit shpeer,
    Till I cooms into em Gasthuas,
      Und dere I trinks some beer."

    Und den outshpoke de maiden
      Vot hadn't got nodings on:
    "I ton't dink mooch of beoplesh
      Dat goes mit demselfs alone.

    "You'd petter coom down in de wasser,
      Vere dere's heaps of dings to see,
    Und have a shplendid tinner
      Und drafel along mit me.

    "Dere you sees de fisch a-schwimmin,
      Und you catches dem efery one"--
    So sang dis wasser maiden
      Vot hadn't got nodings on.

    "Dere ish drunks all full mit money
      In ships dat vent down of old;
    Und you helpsh yourself, by dunder!
      To shimmerin crowns of gold.

    "Shoost look at dese shpoons und vatches!
      Shoost see dese diamant rings!
    Coom down und full your bockets,
      Und I'll giss you like averydings.

    "Vot you vantsh mit your schnapps und lager?
      Coom down into der Rhine!
    Der ish pottles der Kaiser Charlemagne
      Vonce filled mit gold-red wine!"

    _Dat_ fetched him--he shtood all shpellpound;
      She pooled his coat-tails down,
    She drawed him oonder der wasser,
      De maiden mit nodings on.

                                        CHARLES G. LELAND.

       *       *       *       *       *

A neighbor whose place adjoined Bronson Alcott's had a vegetable garden
in which he took a great interest. Mr. Alcott had one also, and both
men were especially interested in their potato patches. One morning,
meeting by the fence, the neighbor said, "How is it, Mr. Alcott, you
are never troubled with bugs, while my vines are crowded with them?"

"My friend," replied Mr. Alcott, "I rise very early in the morning,
gather all the bugs from my vines and throw them into your yard."



G. H. DERBY ("Phoenix," "Squibob")

TUSHMAKER'S TOOTHPULLER


Doctor Tushmaker was never regularly bred as a physician or surgeon,
but he possessed naturally a strong mechanical genius and a fine
appetite; and finding his teeth of great service in gratifying the
latter propensity, he concluded that he could do more good in the
world, and create more real happiness therein, by putting the teeth
of its inhabitants in good order than in any other way; so Tushmaker
became a dentist. He was the man who first invented the method of
placing small cog-wheels in the back teeth for the more perfect
mastication of food, and he claimed to be the original discoverer of
that method of filling cavities with a kind of putty which, becoming
hard directly, causes the tooth to ache so grievously that it has to be
pulled, thereby giving the dentist two successive fees for the same job.

Tushmaker was one day seated in his office, in the city of Boston,
Massachusetts, when a stout old fellow named Byles presented himself to
have a back tooth drawn. The dentist seated his patient in the chair of
torture, and, opening his mouth, discovered there an enormous tooth,
on the right-hand side, about as large, as he afterward expressed it,
"as a small Polyglot Bible."

"I shall have trouble with this tooth," thought Tushmaker, but he
clapped on his heaviest forceps and pulled. It didn't come. Then he
tried the turn-screw, exerting his utmost strength, but the tooth
wouldn't stir. "Go away from here," said Tushmaker to Byles, "and
return in a week, and I'll draw that tooth for you or know the reason
why." Byles got up, clapped a handkerchief to his jaw, and put
forth. Then the dentist went to work, and in three days he invented
an instrument which he was confident would pull anything. It was a
combination of the lever, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane,
wedge and screw. The castings were made, and the machine put up in the
office, over an iron chair rendered perfectly stationary by iron rods
going down into the foundations of the granite building. In a week
old Byles returned; he was clamped into the iron chair, the forceps
connected with the machine attached firmly to the tooth, and Tushmaker,
stationing himself in the rear, took hold of a lever four feet in
length. He turned it slightly. Old Byles gave a groan and lifted his
right leg. Another turn, another groan, and up went the leg again.

"What do you raise your leg for?" asked the Doctor.

"I can't help it," said the patient.

"Well," rejoined Tushmaker, "that tooth is bound to come out now."

He turned the lever clear round with a sudden jerk, and snapped old
Byles's head clean and clear from his shoulders, leaving a space of
four inches between the severed parts!

They had a _post-mortem_ examination--the roots of the tooth were found
extending down the right side, through the right leg, and turning up in
two prongs under the sole of the right foot!

"No wonder," said Tushmaker, "he raised his right leg."

The jury thought so, too, but they found the roots much decayed; and
five surgeons swearing that mortification would have ensued in a few
months, Tushmaker was cleared on a verdict of "justifiable homicide."

He was a little shy of that instrument for some time afterward; but one
day an old lady, feeble and flaccid, came in to have a tooth drawn, and
thinking it would come out very easy, Tushmaker concluded, just by way
of variety, to try the machine. He did so, and at the first turn drew
the old lady's skeleton completely and entirely from her body, leaving
her a mass of quivering jelly in her chair! Tushmaker took her home in
a pillow-case.

The woman lived seven years after that, and they called her the
"India-Rubber Woman." She had suffered terribly with the rheumatism,
but after this occurrence never had a pain in her bones. The dentist
kept them in a glass case. After this, the machine was sold to the
contractor of the Boston Custom-House, and it was found that a child
of three years of age could, by a single turn of the screw, raise a
stone weighing twenty-three tons. Smaller ones were made on the same
principle and sold to the keepers of hotels and restaurants. They were
used for boning turkeys. There is no moral to this story whatever,
and it is possible that the circumstances may have become slightly
exaggerated. Of course, there can be no doubt of the truth of the main
incidents.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bob Ingersoll relates an anecdote of a Hebrew who went into a
restaurant to get his dinner. The devil of temptation whispered in his
ear, "Bacon." He knew if there was anything that made Jehovah real
white mad, it was to see anybody eating bacon; but he thought, "Maybe
He is too busy watching sparrows and counting hairs to notice me," and
so he took a slice. The weather was delightful when he went into the
restaurant, but when he came out the sky was overcast, the lightning
leaped from cloud to cloud, the earth trembled, and it was dark. He
went back into the restaurant, trembling with fear, and, leaning over
the counter, said to the clerk, "My God, did you ever hear such a fuss
about a little piece of bacon!"



BRET HARTE

THE SOCIETY UPON THE STANISLAUS


    I reside at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
    I am not up to small deceit, or any sinful games;
    And I'll tell in simple language what I know about the row
    That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow.

    But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan
    For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man,
    And, if a member don't agree with his peculiar whim,
    To lay for that same member for to "put a head" on him.

    Now, nothing could be finer or more beautiful to see
    Than the first six months' proceedings of that same society,
    Till Brown of Calaveras brought a lot of fossil bones
    That he found within a tunnel near the tenement of Jones.

    Then Brown he read a paper, and he reconstructed there,
    From those same bones an animal that was extremely rare,
    And Jones then asked the chair for a suspension of the rules,
    Till he could prove that those same bones was one of his lost mules.

    Then Brown he smiled a bitter smile, and said he was at fault;
    It seemed he had been trespassing on Jones's family vault:
    He was a most sarcastic man, this quiet Mr. Brown,
    And on several occasions he had cleaned out the town.

    Now, I hold it is not decent for a scientific gent
    To say another is an ass--at least, to all intent;
    Nor should the individual who happens to be meant
    Reply by heaving rocks at him to any great extent.

    Then Abner Dean of Angel's raised a point of order--when
    A chunk of old red sandstone took him in the abdomen,
    And he smiled a kind of sickly smile, and curled up on the floor,
    And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more.

    For, in less time than I write it, every member did engage
    In a warfare with the remnants of a palæozoic age;
    And the way they heaved those fossils in their anger was a sin,
    Till the skull of an old mammoth caved the head of Thompson in.

    And this is all I have to say of these improper games,
    For I live at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
    And I've told in simple language what I know about the row
    That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow.

       *       *       *       *       *

A beginner in newspaper work in a Southern town, who occasionally
sent "stuff" to one of the New York dailies, picked up last summer
what seemed to him a "big story." Hurrying to the telegraph office he
"queried" the telegraph editor: "Column story on so and so. Shall I
send it?"

The reply was brief and prompt, but, to the enthusiast, unsatisfactory.
"Send six hundred words," was all it said.

"Can't be told in less than twelve hundred," he wired back.

Before long the reply came: "Story of creation of world told in six
hundred. Try it."



THE V-A-S-E


    From the madding crowd they stand apart,
    The maidens four and the Work of Art;

    And none might tell from sight alone
    In which had Culture ripest grown--

    The Gotham Million fair to see,
    The Philadelphia Pedigree,

    The Boston Mind of azure hue,
    Or the soulful Soul from Kalamazoo--

    For all loved Art in a seemly way,
    With an earnest soul and a capital A.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Long they worshiped; but no one broke
    The sacred stillness, until up spoke

    The Western one from the nameless place,
    Who, blushing, said, "What a lovely vase!"

    Over three faces a sad smile flew,
    And they edged away from Kalamazoo.

    But Gotham's haughty soul was stirred
    To crush the stranger with one small word.

    Deftly hiding reproof in praise,
    She cries, "'Tis, indeed, a lovely vaze!"

    But brief her unworthy triumph when
    The lofty one from the house of Penn,

    With the consciousness of two grandpapas,
    Exclaims, "It is quite a lovely vahs!"

    And glances round with an anxious thrill,
    Awaiting the word of Beacon Hill.

    But the Boston maid smiles courteouslee
    And gently murmurs, "Oh, pardon me!

    "I did not catch your remark, because
    I was so entranced with that charming vaws!"

          _Dies erit prægelida
           Sinistra quum Bostonia._

                                             JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE.

    By permission of _Life_ Publishing Company

       *       *       *       *       *

A Negro preacher addressed his flock with great earnestness on the
subject of "Miracles" as follows: "My beloved friends, de greatest of
all miracles was 'bout the loaves and fishes. Dey was five thousand
loaves and two thousand fishes, and de twelve 'postles had to eat 'em
all. De miracle is, dey didn't bust."



FRANK R. STOCKTON

POMONA'S NOVEL


It was in the latter part of August of that year that it became
necessary for some one in the office in which I was engaged to go to
St. Louis to attend to important business. Everything seemed to point
to me as the fit person, for I understood the particular business
better than any one else. I felt that I ought to go, but I did not
altogether like to do it. I went home, and Euphemia and I talked over
the matter far into the regulation sleeping hours.

There were very good reasons why we should go (for of course I would
not think of taking such a journey without Euphemia). In the first
place, it would be of advantage to me, in my business connection, to
take the trip, and then it would be such a charming journey for us. We
had never been west of the Alleghanies, and nearly all the country we
would see would be new to us. We would come home by the Great Lakes
and Niagara, and the prospect was delightful to both of us. But then
we would have to leave Rudder Grange for at least three weeks, and how
could we do that?

This was indeed a difficult question to answer. Who could take care
of our garden, our poultry, our horse, and cow, and all their
complicated belongings? The garden was in admirable condition. Our
vegetables were coming in every day in just that fresh and satisfactory
condition--altogether unknown to people who buy vegetables--for which I
had labored so faithfully, and about which I had had so many cheerful
anticipations. As to Euphemia's chicken-yard--with Euphemia away--the
subject was too great for us. We did not even discuss it. But we would
give up all the pleasures of our home for the chance of this most
desirable excursion, if we could but think of some one who would come
and take care of the place while we were gone. Rudder Grange could not
run itself for three weeks.

We thought of every available person. Old John would not do. We did not
feel that we could trust him. We thought of several of our friends;
but there was, in both our minds, a certain shrinking from the idea of
handing over the place to any of them for such a length of time. For my
part, I said, I would rather leave Pomona in charge than any one else;
but then Pomona was young and a girl. Euphemia agreed with me that she
would rather trust her than any one else, but she also agreed in regard
to the disqualifications. So when I went to the office the next morning
we had fully determined to go on the trip, if we could find some one to
take charge of our place while we were gone. When I returned from the
office in the afternoon I had agreed to go to St. Louis. By this time
I had no choice in the matter unless I wished to interfere very much
with my own interests. We were to start in two days. If in that time
we could get any one to stay at the place, very well; if not, Pomona
must assume the charge. We were not able to get any one, and Pomona did
assume the charge. It is surprising how greatly relieved we felt when
we were obliged to come to this conclusion. The arrangement was exactly
what we wanted, and now that there was no help for it our consciences
were easy.

We felt sure that there would be no danger to Pomona. Lord Edward would
be with her, and she was a young person who was extraordinary well able
to take care of herself. Old John would be within call in case she
needed him, and I borrowed a bulldog to be kept in the house at night.
Pomona herself was more than satisfied with the plan.

We made out, the night before we left, a long and minute series of
directions for her guidance in household, garden and farm matters, and
directed her to keep a careful record of everything noteworthy that
might occur. She was fully supplied with all the necessaries of life,
and it has seldom happened that a young girl has been left in such a
responsible and independent position as that in which we left Pomona.
She was very proud of it. Our journey was ten times more delightful
than we had expected it would be, and successful in every way; and yet,
although we enjoyed every hour of the trip, we were no sooner fairly
on our way home than we became so wildly anxious to get there that we
reached Rudder Grange on Wednesday, whereas we had written that we
would be home on Thursday. We arrived early in the afternoon and walked
up from the station, leaving our baggage to be sent in the express
wagon. As we approached our dear home we wanted to run, we were so
eager to see it.

There it was, the same as ever. I lifted the gate-latch; the gate was
locked. We ran to the carriage gate; that was locked, too. Just then I
noticed a placard on the fence; it was not printed, but the lettering
was large, apparently made with ink and a brush. It read--

            TO BE SOLD
            FOR TAXES.

We stood and looked at each other. Euphemia turned pale.

"What does this mean?" said I. "Has our landlord----?"

I could say no more. The dreadful thought arose that the place might
pass away from us. We were not yet ready to buy it. But I did not put
the thought in words. There was a field next to our lot, and I got
over the fence and helped Euphemia over. Then we climbed our side
fence. This was more difficult, but we accomplished it without thinking
much about its difficulties; our hearts were too full of painful
apprehensions. I hurried to the front door; it was locked. All the
lower windows were shut. We went around to the kitchen. What surprised
us more than anything else was the absence of Lord Edward. Had _he_
been sold?

Before we reached the back part of the house Euphemia said she felt
faint and must sit down. I led her to a tree nearby, under which I
had made a rustic chair. The chair was gone. She sat on the grass,
and I ran to the pump for some water. I looked for the bright tin
dipper which always hung by the pump. It was not there. But I had a
traveling cup in my pocket, and as I was taking it out I looked around
me. There was an air of bareness over everything. I did not know what
it all meant, but I know that my hand trembled as I took hold of the
pump-handle and began to pump.

At the first sound of the pump-handle I heard a deep bark in the
direction of the barn, and then furiously around the corner came Lord
Edward.

Before I had filled the cup he was bounding about me. I believe the
glad welcome of the dog did more to revive Euphemia than the water. He
was delighted to see us, and in a moment up came Pomona, running from
the barn. Her face was radiant, too. We felt relieved. Here were two
friends who looked as if they were neither sold nor ruined.

Pomona quickly saw that we were ill at ease, and before I could put a
question to her she divined the cause. Her countenance fell.

"You know," said she, "you said you wasn't coming till to-morrow. If
you only _had_ come then--I was going to have everything just exactly
right--an' now you had to climb in----"

And the poor girl looked as if she might cry, which would have been a
wonderful thing for Pomona to do.

"Tell me one thing," said I. "What about--those taxes?"

"Oh, that's all right," she cried. "Don't think another minute about
that. I'll tell you all about it soon. But come in first, and I'll get
you some lunch in a minute."

We were somewhat relieved by Pomona's statement that it was "all right"
in regard to the tax-poster, but we were very anxious to know all about
the matter. Pomona, however, gave us little chance to ask her any
questions.

As soon as she had made ready our lunch she asked us as a particular
favor to give her three-quarters of an hour to herself, and then, said
she, "I'll have everything looking just as if it was to-morrow."

We respected her feelings, for, of course, it was a great
disappointment to her to be taken thus unawares, and we remained in
the dining-room until she appeared and announced that she was ready
for us to go about. We availed ourselves quickly of the privilege, and
Euphemia hurried to the chicken-yard, while I bent my steps toward the
garden and barn. As I went out I noticed that the rustic chair was in
its place, and passing the pump I looked for the dipper. It was there.
I asked Pomona about the chair, but she did not answer as quickly as
was her habit.

"Would you rather," said she, "hear it altogether, when you come in, or
have it in little bits, head and tail, all of a jumble?"

I called to Euphemia and asked her what she thought, and she was so
anxious to get to her chickens that she said she would much rather wait
and hear it all together. We found everything in perfect order--the
garden was even free from weeds, a thing I had not expected. If it had
not been for that cloud on the front fence, I should have been happy
enough. Pomona had said it was all right, but she could not have paid
the taxes--however, I would wait; and I went to the barn.

When Euphemia came in from the poultry-yard, she called me and said she
was in a hurry to hear Pomona's account of things. So I went in, and we
sat on the side porch, where it was shady, while Pomona, producing some
sheets of foolscap paper, took her seat on the upper step.

"I wrote down the things of any account what happened," said she, "as
you told me to, and while I was about it I thought I'd make it like a
novel. It would be jus' as true, and p'r'aps more amusin'. I suppose
you don't mind?"

No, we didn't mind. So she went on.

"I haven't got no name for my novel. I intended to think one out
to-night. I wrote this all of nights. And I don't read the first
chapters, for they tell about my birth and my parentage, and my early
adventures. I'll just come down to what happened to me while you was
away, because you'll be more anxious to hear about that. All that's
written here is true, jus' the same as if I told it to you, but I've
put it into novel language because it comes easier to me."

And then, in a voice somewhat different from her ordinary tones, as if
the "novel language" demanded it, she began to read:

"'Chapter Five. The Lonely House and the Faithful Friend. Thus was
I left alone. None but two dogs to keep me com-pa-ny. I milk-ed the
lowing kine and water-ed and fed the steed, and then, after my fru-gal
repast, I clos-ed the man-si-on, shutting out all re-collections
of the past and also foresights into the future. That night was a
me-mor-able one. I slept soundly until the break of morn, but had the
events transpired which afterward occur-red, what would have hap-pen-ed
to me no tongue can tell. Early the next day nothing happen-ed. Soon
after breakfast the vener-able John came to bor-row some ker-o-sene
oil and a half a pound of sugar, but his attempt was foil-ed. I knew
too well the in-sid-i-ous foe. In the very out-set of his vil-la-in-y
I sent him home with a empty can. For two long days I wan-der-ed amid
the ver-dant pathways of the garden and to the barn, when-ever and
anon my du-ty call-ed me, nor did I ere neg-lect the fowlery. No cloud
o'erspread this happy peri-od of my life. But the cloud was ri-sing in
the horizon, although I saw it not.

"'It was about twenty-five minutes after eleven, on the morning of a
Thursday, that I sat pondering in my mind the ques-ti-on what to do
with the butter and the veg-et-ables. Here was butter, and here was
green corn and lima beans and trophy tomats, far more than I ere could
use. And here was a horse, idly cropping the fol-i-age in the field,
for as my employer had advis-ed and order-ed, I had put the steed to
grass. And here was a wagon, none too new, which had it the top taken
off, or even the curtains roll-ed up, would do for a li-cen-sed vender.
With the truck and butter, and mayhap some milk, I could load the
wagon----'"

"Oh, Pomona," interrupted Euphemia, "you don't mean to say that you
were thinking of doing anything like that?"

"Well, I was just beginning to think of it," said Pomona. "But I
couldn't have gone away and left the house. And you'll see I didn't do
it." And then she continued her novel. "'But while my thoughts were
thus employ-ed, I heard Lord Edward burst into bark-ter----'"

At this Euphemia and I could not help bursting into laughter. Pomona
did not seem at all confused, but went on with her reading.

"'I hurried to the door, and, look-ing out, I saw a wagon at the gate.
Re-pair-ing there, I saw a man. Said he "Wilt open the gate?" I had
fasten-ed up the gates and remov-ed every stealable ar-ticle from the
yard.'"

Euphemia and I looked at each other. This explained the absence of the
rustic seat and the dipper.

"'Thus, with my mind at ease, I could let my faith-ful fri-end, the
dog, for he it was, roam with me through the grounds, while the fi-erce
bulldog guard-ed the man-si-on within. Then said I, quite bold unto
him, "No. I let in no man here. My em-ploy-er and employ-er-ess are now
from home. What do you want?" Then says he, as bold as brass, "I've
come to put the light-en-ing rods upon the house. Open the gate." "What
rods?" says I. "The rods as was order-ed," says he. "Open the gate." I
stood and gazed at him. Full well I saw through his pinch-beck mask. I
knew his tricks. In the ab-sence of my employer, he would put up rods
and ever so many more than was wanted, and likely, too, some miserable
trash that would attract the light-en-ing, instead of keep-ing it off.
Then, as it would spoil the house to take them down, they would be
kept, and pay demand-ed. "No, sir," says I. "No light-en-ing rods upon
this house whilst I stand here," and with that I walk-ed away, and
let Lord Edward loose. The man he storm-ed with pas-si-on. His eyes
flash-ed fire. He would e'en have scal-ed the gate, but when he saw the
dog he did forbear. As it was then near noon, I strode away to feed
the fowls; but when I did return I saw a sight which froze the blood
with-in my veins----'"

"The dog didn't kill him?" cried Euphemia.

"Oh, no, ma'am!" said Pomona. "You'll see that that wasn't it. 'At one
cor-ner of the lot, in front, a base boy, who had accompa-ni-ed this
man, was banging on the fence with a long stick, and thus attrack-ing
to hisself the rage of Lord Edward, while the vile intrig-er of a
light-en-ing rodder had brought a lad-der to the other side of the
house, up which he had now as-cend-ed, and was on the roof. What
horrors fill-ed my soul! How my form trembl-ed!' This," continued
Pomona, "is the end of the novel," and she laid her foolscap pages on
the porch.

Euphemia and I exclaimed, with one voice, against this. We had just
reached the most exciting part, and I added we had heard nothing yet
about that affair of the taxes.

"You see, sir," said Pomona, "it took me so long to write out the
chapters about my birth, my parentage, and my early adventures, that
I hadn't time to finish up the rest. But I can tell you what happened
after that jus' as well as if I had writ it out." And so she went on,
much more glibly than before, with the account of the doings of the
lightning-rod man.

"There was that wretch on top of the house, a-fixin' his old rods
and hammerin' away for dear life. He'd brought his ladder over the
side fence, where the dog, a-barkin' and plungin' at the boy outside,
couldn't see him. I stood dumb for a minute, and then I know'd I had
him. I rushed into the house, got a piece of well-rope, tied it to the
bulldog's collar, an' dragged him out and fastened him to the bottom
rung of the ladder. Then I walks over to the front fence with Lord
Edward's chain, for I knew that if he got at that bulldog there'd be
times, for they'd never been allowed to see each other yet. So says I
to the boy, 'I'm goin' to tie up the dog, so you needn't be afraid of
his jumpin' over the fence'--which he couldn't do, or the boy would
have been a corpse for twenty minutes, or maybe half an hour. The boy
kinder laughed, and said I needn't mind, which I didn't. Then I went to
the gate, and I clicked to the horse which was standin' there, an' off
he starts, as good as gold, an' trots down the road. The boy, he said
somethin' or other pretty bad an' away he goes after him; but the horse
was a-trottin' real fast, an' had a good start."

"How on earth could you ever think of doing such things?" said
Euphemia. "That horse might have upset the wagon and broken all the
lightning-rods, besides running over I don't know how many people."

"But you see, ma'am, that wasn't my lookout," said Pomona. "I was
a-defendin' the house, and the enemy must expect to have things happen
to him. So then I hears an awful row on the roof, and there was the
man just coming down the ladder. He'd heard the horse go off, and when
he got about half-way down an' caught a sight of the bulldog, he was
madder than ever you seed a lightnin-rodder in all your born days.
'Take that dog off of there!' he yelled at me. 'No, I won't,' says I.
'I never see a girl like you since I was born,' he screams at me. 'I
guess it would 'a' been better fur you if you had,' says I; an' then he
was so mad he couldn't stand it any longer, and he comes down as low as
he could, and when he saw just how long the rope was--which was pretty
short--he made a jump and landed clear of the dog. Then he went on
dreadful because he couldn't get at his ladder to take it away; and I
wouldn't untie the dog, because if I had he'd 'a' torn the tendons out
of that fellow's legs in no time. I never see a dog in such a boiling
passion, and yet never making no sound at all but bloodcurdlin' grunts.
An' I don't see how the rodder would 'a' got his ladder at all if the
dog hadn't made an awful jump at him, and jerked the ladder down. It
just missed your geranium-bed, and the rodder, he ran to the other end
of it, and began pulling it away, dog and all. 'Look a-here,' says I,
'we can fix him now;' and so he cooled down enough to help me, and I
unlocked the front door, and we pushed the bottom end of the ladder
in, dog and all; an' then I shut the door as tight as it would go
an' untied the end of the rope, an' the rodder pulled the ladder out
while I held the door to keep the dog from follerin', which he came
pretty near doin', anyway. But I locked him in, and then the man began
stormin' again about his wagon; but when he looked out an' see the
boy comin' back with it--for somebody must 'a' stopped the horse--he
stopped stormin' and went to put up his ladder ag'in. 'No, you don't,'
says I; 'I'll let the big dog loose next time, and if I put him at the
foot of your ladder you'll never come down.' 'But I want to go and take
down what I put up,' he says; 'I ain't a-goin' on with this job.' 'No,'
says I, 'you ain't; and you can't go up there to wrench off them rods
and make rain-holes in the roof, neither.' He couldn't get no madder
than he was then, an' fur a minute or two he couldn't speak, an' then
he says, 'I'll have satisfaction for this.' An' says I, 'How?' An' says
he, 'You'll see what it is to interfere with a ordered job.' An' says
I, 'There wasn't no order about it;' an' says he, 'I'll show you better
than that;' an' he goes to his wagon an' gits a book, 'There,' says he,
'read that.' 'What of it?' says I; 'there's nobody of the name of Ball
lives here.' That took the man kinder back, and he said he was told it
was the only house on the lane, which I said was right, only it was the
next lane he oughter 'a' gone to. He said no more after that, but just
put his ladder in his wagon and went off. But I was not altogether rid
of him. He left a trail of his baleful presence behind him.

"That horrid bulldog wouldn't let me come into the house! No matter
what door I tried, there he was, just foamin' mad. I let him stay till
nearly night, and then went and spoke kind to him; but it was no good.
He'd got an awful spite ag'in me. I found something to eat down cellar,
and I made a fire outside an' roasted some corn and potatoes. That
night I slep' in the barn. I wasn't afraid to be away from the house
for I knew it was safe enough, with that dog in it, and Lord Edward
outside. For three days, Sunday an all, I was kep' out of this here
house. I got along pretty well with the sleepin' and the eatin', but
the drinkin' was the worst. I couldn' get no coffee or tea; but there
was plenty of milk."

"Why didn't you get some man to come and attend to the dog?" I asked.
"It was dreadful to live in that way."

"Well, I didn't know no man that could do it," said Pomona. "The dog
would 'a' been too much for old John, and besides, he was mad about
the kerosene. Sunday afternoon, Captain Atkinson and Mrs. Atkinson and
their little girl in a push-wagon come here, and I told 'em you was
gone away; but they says they would stop a minute, and could I give
them a drink; an' I had nothin' to give it them but an old chicken-bowl
that I had washed out, for even the dipper was in the house, an' I told
'em everything was locked up, which was true enough, though they must
'a' thought you was a queer kind of people; but I wasn't a-goin' to say
nothin' about the dog, fur, to tell the truth, I was ashamed to do it.
So as soon as they'd gone, I went down into the cellar--and it's lucky
that I had the key for the outside cellar door--and I got a piece of
fat corn-beef and the meat ax. I unlocked the kitchen door and went
in, with the ax in one hand and the meat in the other. The dog might
take his choice. I know'd he must be pretty nigh famished, for there
was nothin' that he could get at to eat. As soon as I went in, he came
runnin' to me; but I could see he was shaky on his legs. He looked a
sort of wicked at me, and then he grabbed the meat. He was all right
then."

"Oh, my!" said Euphemia, "I am so glad to hear that. I was afraid you
never got in. But we saw the dog--is he as savage yet?"

"Oh, no!" said Pomona; "nothin' like it."

"Look here, Pomona," said I, "I want to know about those taxes. When do
they come into your story?"

"Pretty soon, sir," said she, and she went on:

"After that, I know'd it wouldn't do to have them two dogs so that
they'd have to be tied up if they see each other. Just as like as not
I'd want them both at once, and then they'd go to fighting, and leave
me to settle with some bloodthirsty lightnin'-rodder. So, as I know'd
if they once had a fair fight and found out which was master, they'd be
good friends afterward, I thought the best thing to do would be to let
'em fight it out, when there was nothin' else for 'em to do. So I fixed
up things for the combat."

"Why, Pomona!" cried Euphemia, "I didn't think you were capable of such
a cruel thing."

"It looks that way, ma'am, but really it ain't," replied the girl.
"It seemed to me as if it would be a mercy to both of 'em to have the
thing settled. So I cleared away a place in front of the woodshed and
unchained Lord Edward, and then I opened the kitchen door and called
the bull. Out he came, with his teeth a-showin', and his bloodshot
eyes, and his crooked front legs. Like lightnin' from the mount'in
blast, he made one bounce for the big dog, and oh! what a fight there
was! They rolled, they gnashed, they knocked over the wood-horse and
sent chips a-flyin' all ways at onst. I thought Lord Edward would whip
in a minute or two; but he didn't, for the bull stuck to him like a
burr, and they was havin' it, ground and lofty, when I hears some
one run up behind me, an' turnin' quick, there was the 'piscopalian
minister. 'My! my! my!' he hollers, 'what an awful spectacle! Ain't
there no way of stoppin' it?' 'No, sir,' says I, and I told him how I
didn't want to stop it and the reason why. 'Then,' says he, 'where's
your master?' and I told him how you was away. 'Isn't there any man at
all about?' says he. 'No,' says I. 'Then,' says he, 'if there's nobody
else to stop it, I must do it myself.' An' he took off his coat. 'No,'
says I, 'you keep back, sir. If there's anybody to plunge into that
erena, the blood be mine;' an' I put my hand, without thinkin', ag'in
his black shirt-bosom, to hold him back; but he didn't notice, bein'
so excited. 'Now,' says I, jist wait one minute, and you'll see that
bull's tail go between his legs. He's weakenin'.' An' sure enough, Lord
Edward got a good grab at him, and was a-shakin' the very life out of
him, when I run up and took Lord Edward by the collar. 'Drop it!' says
I; an' he dropped it, for he know'd he'd whipped, and he was pretty
tired hisself. Then the bulldog, he trotted off with his tail a-hangin'
down. 'Now, then,' says I, 'them dogs will be bosom friends forever
after this.' 'Ah, me!' says he, 'I'm sorry indeed that your employer,
for whom I've always had a great respect, should allow you to get into
such bad habits.'

"That made me feel real bad, and I told him, mighty quick, that you was
the last man in the world to let me do anything like that, and that if
you'd a-been here you'd a-separated them dogs if they'd a-chawed your
arms off; that you was very particular about such things, and that it
would be a pity if he was to think you was a dog-fightin' gentleman,
when I'd often heard you say that, now you was fixed and settled, the
one thing you would like most would be to be made a vestry-man."

I sat up straight in my chair.

"Pomona!" I exclaimed. "You didn't tell him that?"

"That's what I said, sir, for I wanted him to know what you really
was; an' he says, 'Well, well, I never knew that. It might be a very
good thing. I'll speak to some of the members about it. There's two
vacancies now in our vestry.'"

I was crushed; but Euphemia tried to put the matter into the brightest
light.

"Perhaps it may all turn out for the best," she said, "and you may be
elected, and that would be splendid. But it would be an awfully funny
thing for a dog-fight to make you a vestry-man."

I could not talk on this subject. "Go on, Pomona," I said, trying to
feel resigned to my shame, "and tell us about that poster on the fence."

"I'll be to that almost right away," she said.

"It was two or three days after the dog-fight that I was down at the
barn, and happenin' to look over to old John's, I saw that tree-man
there. He was a-showin' his book to John, and him and his wife and all
the young ones was a-standin' there, drinkin' down them big peaches
and pears as if they was all real. I know'd he'd come here ag'in, for
them fellers never gives you up; and I didn't know how to keep him
away, for I didn't want to let the dogs loose on a man what, after all,
didn't want to do no more harm than to talk the life out of you. So I
just happened to notice, as I came to the house, how kind of desolate
everything looked, and I thought perhaps I might make it look worse,
and he wouldn't care to deal here. So I thought of putting up a poster
like that, for nobody whose place was a-goin' to be sold for taxes
would be likely to want trees. So I run in the house, and wrote it
quick and put it up. And sure enough, the man he come along soon, and
when he looked at that paper an' tried the gate, an' looked over the
fence an' saw the house all shut up an' not a livin' soul about--for I
had both the dogs in the house with me--he shook his head an' walked
off, as much as to say, 'If that man had fixed his place up proper
with my trees he wouldn't a-come to this!' An' then, as I found the
poster worked so good, I thought it might keep other people from comin'
a-botherin' around, and so I left it up; but I was a-goin' to be sure
and take it down before you came."

As it was now pretty late in the afternoon, I proposed that Pomona
should postpone the rest of her narrative until evening. She said that
there was nothing else to tell that was very particular; and I did not
feel as if I could stand anything more just now, even if it was very
particular.

When we were alone, I said to Euphemia:

"If we ever have to go away from this place again----"

"But we won't go away," she interrupted, looking up to me with as
bright a face as she ever had; "at least, not for a long, long, long
time to come.

"And I'm so glad you're to be a vestry-man."

    By permission of Charles Scribner's Sons

       *       *       *       *       *

"What was it the aeronaut said when he fell out of his balloon and
struck the earth with his usual dull thud?"

"He remarked that it was a hard world."



JOHN TOWNSEND TROWBRIDGE

FRED TROVER'S LITTLE IRON-CLAD


Did I never tell you the story? Is it possible? Draw up your chair.
Stick of wood, Harry. Smoke?

You've heard of my Uncle Popworth, though. Why, yes! You've seen
him--the eminently respectable elderly gentleman who came one day last
summer just as you were going; book under his arm, you remember; weed
on his hat; dry smile on bland countenance; tall, lank individual in
very seedy black. With him my tale begins; for if I had never indulged
in an Uncle Popworth I should never have sported an Iron-clad.

Quite right, sir; his arrival _was_ a surprise to me. To know how great
a surprise, you must understand why I left city, friends, business, and
settled down in this quiet village. It was chiefly, sir, to escape the
fascinations of that worthy old gentleman that I bought this place, and
took refuge here with my wife and little ones. Here we had respite,
nepenthe from our memories of Uncle Popworth; here we used to sit
down in the evening and talk of the past with grateful and tranquil
emotions, as people speak of awful things endured in days that are
no more. To us the height of human happiness was raising green corn
and strawberries in a retired neighborhood where uncles were unknown.
But, sir, when that Phantom, that Vampire, that Fate, loomed before my
vision that day, if you had said, "Trover, I'll give ye sixpence for
this neat little box of yours," I should have said, "Done!" with the
trifling proviso that you should take my uncle in the bargain.

The matter with him? What, indeed, could invest human flesh with such
terrors--what but this? he was--he is--let me shriek it in your ear--a
bore--a BORE! of the most malignant type; an intolerable, terrible,
unmitigated BORE!

That book under his arm was a volume of his own sermons--nine hundred
and ninety-nine octavo pages, O Heaven! It wasn't enough for him to
preach and repreach those appalling discourses, but then the ruthless
man must go and print 'em! When I consider what book-sellers--worthy
men, no doubt, many of them, deserving well of their kind--he must have
talked nearly into a state of syncope before ever he found one to give
way, in a moment of weakness, of utter exhaustion and despair, and
consent to publish him; and when I reflect what numbers of inoffensive
persons, in the quiet walks of life, have been made to suffer the
infliction of that Bore's Own Book, I pause, I stand aghast at the
inscrutability of Divine Providence.

Don't think me profane, and don't for a moment imagine I underrate
the function of the preacher. There's nothing better than a good
sermon--one that puts new life into you. But what of a sermon that
takes life out of you, instead of a spiritual fountain, a spiritual
sponge that absorbs your powers of body and soul, so that the longer
you listen the more you are impoverished? A merely poor sermon isn't so
bad; you will find, if you are the right kind of a hearer, that it will
suggest something better than itself; a good hen will lay to a bit of
earthen. But the discourse of your ministerial vampire, fastening by
some mystical process upon the hearer who has life of his own--though
not every one has that--sucks and sucks and sucks; and he is exhausted
while the preacher is refreshed. So it happens that your born bore is
never weary of his own boring; he thrives upon it; while he seems to be
giving, he is mysteriously taking in--he is drinking your blood.

But you say nobody is obliged to _read_ a sermon. O my unsophisticated
friend! if a man will put his thoughts--or his words, if thoughts are
lacking--between covers--spread his banquet, and respectfully invite
Public Taste to partake of it, Public Taste being free to decline, then
your observation is sound. If an author quietly buries himself in his
book--very good! _hic jacet_: peace to his ashes!

                              "The times have been,
    That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
    And there an end; but now they rise again,"

as Macbeth observes, with some confusion of syntax, excusable in a
person of his circumstances. Now, suppose they--or he--the man whose
brains are out--goes about with his coffin under his arm, like my
worthy uncle? and suppose he blandly, politely, relentlessly insists
upon reading to you, out of that octavo sarcophagus, passages which in
his opinion prove that he is not only not dead, but immortal? If such a
man be a stranger, snub him; if a casual acquaintance, met in an evil
hour, there is still hope--doors have locks, and there are two sides
to a street, and nearsightedness is a blessing, and (as a last resort)
buttons may be sacrificed (you remember Lamb's story of Coleridge) and
left in the clutch of the fatal fingers. But one of your own kindred,
and very respectable, adding the claim of misfortune to his other
claims upon you--pachydermatous to slights, smilingly persuasive,
gently persistent--as imperturbable as a ship's wooden figurehead
through all the ups and downs of the voyage of life, and as insensible
to cold water--in short, an uncle like my uncle, whom there was no
getting rid of--what the deuce would you do?

Exactly; run away as I did. There was nothing else to be done, unless,
indeed, I had throttled the old gentleman; in which case I am confident
that one of our modern model juries would have brought in the popular
verdict of justifiable insanity. But, being a peaceable man, I was
averse to extreme measures. So I did the next best thing--consulted my
wife, and retired to this village.

Then consider the shock to my feelings when I looked up that day and
saw the enemy of our peace stalking into our little Paradise with his
book under his arm and his carpet-bag in his hand!--coming with his
sermons and his shirts, prepared to stay a week--that is to say a
year--that is to say forever, if we would suffer him--and how was he to
be hindered by any desperate measures short of burning the house down?

"My dear nephew!" says he, striding toward me with eager steps, as you
perhaps remember, smiling his eternally dry, leathery smile--"Nephew
Frederick!"--and he held out both hands to me, book in one and bag in
t'other--"I am rejoiced! One would almost think you had tried to hide
away from your old uncle, for I've been three days hunting you up. And
how is Dolly? She ought to be glad to see me, after all the trouble
I've had in finding you! And, Nephew Frederick--h'm!--can you lend me
three dollars for the hackman? For I don't happen to have----Thank you!
I should have been saved this if you had only known I was stopping last
night at a public house in the next village, for I know how delighted
you would have been to drive over and fetch me!"

If you were not already out of hearing, you may have noticed that I
made no reply to this affecting speech. The old gentleman has grown
quite deaf of late years--an infirmity which was once a source of
untold misery to his friends, to whom he was constantly appealing for
their opinions, which they were obliged to shout in his ear. But now,
happily, the world has about ceased responding to him, and he has
almost ceased to expect responses from the world. He just catches your
eye, and when he says, "Don't you think so, sir?" or "What is your
opinion, sir?" an approving nod does your business.

The hackman paid, my dear uncle accompanied me to the house, unfolding
the catalogue of his woes by the way. For he is one of those worthy,
unoffending persons whom an ungrateful world jostles and tramples
upon--whom unmerciful disaster follows fast and follows faster. In
his younger days he was settled over I don't know how many different
parishes; but secret enmity pursued him everywhere, poisoning the
parochial mind against him, and driving him relentlessly from place
to place. Then he relapsed into agencies, and went through a long
list of them, each terminating in flat failure, to his ever-recurring
surprise--the simple old soul never suspecting, to this day, who his
one great tireless, terrible enemy is!

I got him into the library, and went to talk over this unexpected
visit--or visitation--with Dolly. She bore up under it more cheerfully
than could have been expected--suppressed a sigh--and said she would
go down and meet him. She received him with a hospitable smile (I
verily believe that more of the world's hypocrisy proceeds from too
much good-nature than from too little) and listened patiently to his
explanations.

"You will observe that I have brought my bag," says he, "for I knew you
wouldn't let me off for a day or two--though I must positively leave
in a week--in two weeks, at the latest. I have brought my volume, too,
for I am contemplating a new edition" (he is always contemplating a new
edition, making that a pretext for lugging the book about with him),
"and I wish to enjoy the advantages of your and Frederick's criticism.
I anticipate some good, comfortable, old-time talks over the old book,
Frederick!"

We had invited some village friends to come in and eat strawberries
and cream with us that afternoon; and the question arose, what should
be done with the old gentleman? Harry, who is a lad of a rather lively
fancy, coming in while we were taking advantage of his great-uncle's
deafness to discuss the subject in his presence, proposed a pleasant
expedient. "Trot him out into the cornfield, introduce him to the
scarecrow, and let him talk to that," says he, grinning up into the
visitor's face, who grinned down at him, no doubt thinking what a
wonderfully charming boy he was! If he were as blind as he is deaf, he
might have been disposed of very comfortably in some such ingenious
way--the scarecrow, or any other lay figure, might have served to
engage him in one of his immortal monologues. As it was, the suggestion
bore fruit later, as you will see.

While we were consulting--keeping up our scattering fire of small-arms
under the old talker's heavy guns--our parish minister called,--old
Doctor Wortleby, for whom we have a great liking and respect. Of
course we had to introduce him to Uncle Popworth--for they met face to
face; and of course Uncle Popworth fastened at once upon the brother
clergyman. Being my guest, Wortleby could do no less than listen to
Popworth, who is my uncle. He listened with interest and sympathy for
the first half hour; and then continued listening for another half
hour, after his interest and sympathy were exhausted. Then, attempting
to go, he got his hat, and sat with it in his hand half an hour longer.
Then he stood half an hour on his poor old gouty feet, desperately
edging toward the door.

"Ah, certainly," says he, with a weary smile, repeatedly endeavoring
to break the spell that bound him. "I shall be most happy to hear the
conclusion of your remarks at some future time" (even ministers can lie
out of politeness); "but just now--"

"One word more, and I am done," cries my Uncle Popworth, for the
fiftieth time; and Wortleby, in despair, sat down again.

Then our friends arrived.

Dolly and I, who had all the while been benevolently wishing Wortleby
would go, and trying to help him off, now selfishly hoped he would
remain and share our entertainment--and our Uncle Popworth.

"I ought to have gone two hours ago," he said, with a plaintive smile,
in reply to our invitation; "but, really, I am feeling the need of a
cup of tea" (and no wonder!) "and I think I will stay."

We cruelly wished that he might continue to engage my uncle in
conversation; but that would have been too much to hope from the
sublime endurance of a martyr--if ever there was one more patient than
he. Seeing the Lintons and the Greggs arrive, he craftily awaited his
opportunity, and slipped off, to give them a turn on the gridiron.
First Linton was secured; and you should have seen him roll his mute,
appealing orbs, as he settled helplessly down under the infliction.
Suddenly he made a dash. "I am ignorant of these matters," said he;
"but Gregg understands them--Gregg will talk with you." But Gregg
took refuge behind the ladies. The ladies, receiving a hint from poor
distressed Dolly, scattered. But no artifice availed against the
dreadful man. Piazza, parlor, garden--he ranged everywhere, and was
sure to seize a victim.

At last tea was ready, and we all went in. The Lintons and Greggs
were people of the world, who would hardly have cared to wait for a
blessing on such lovely heaps of strawberries, in mugs of cream they
saw before them; but, there being two clergymen at the table, the
ceremony was evidently expected. We were placidly seated; there was
a hush, agreeably filled with the fragrance of the delicious fruit;
even my Uncle Popworth, from long habit, turned off his talk at that
suggestive moment; when I did what I thought a shrewd thing. I knew too
well my relative's long-windedness at his devotions, as at everything
else. (I wonder if Heaven itself isn't bored by such fellows!) I had
suffered, I had seen my guests suffer, too much from him already--to
think of deliberately yielding him a fearful advantage over us; so I
coolly passed him by, and gave an expressive nod to the old Doctor.

Wortleby began; and I was congratulating myself on my adroit management
of a delicate matter, when--conceive my consternation!--Popworth--not
to speak it profanely--followed suit! The reverend egotist couldn't
take in the possibility of anybody but himself being invited to say
grace at our table, he being present--he hadn't noticed my nod to the
Doctor, and the Doctor's low, earnest voice didn't reach him--and
there, with one blessing going on one side of the table, he, as I
said, pitched in on the other! His eyes shut, his hands spread over
his plate, his elbows on the board, his head bowed, he took care that
grace should abound with us for once! His mill started, I knew there
was no stopping it, and I hoped Wortleby would desist. But he didn't
know his man. He seemed to feel that he had the stroke-car, and he
pulled away manfully. As Popworth lifted up his loud, nasal voice, the
old Doctor raised his voice, in the vain hope, I suppose, of making
himself heard by his lusty competitor. If you have never had two
blessings running opposition at your table, in the presence of invited
guests, you can never imagine how astounding, how killingly ludicrous
it was! I felt that both Linton and Gregg were ready to tumble over,
each in an apoplexy of suppressed emotions; while I had recourse to
my handkerchief to hide my tears. At length, poor Wortleby yielded to
fate--withdrew from the unequal contest--hauled off--for repairs, and
the old seventy-two gun-ship thundered away in triumph.

At last (as there must be an end to everything under the sun) my uncle
came to a close; and a moment of awful silence ensued, during which no
man durst look at another. But in my weak and jelly-like condition I
ventured a glance at him, and noticed that he looked up and around with
an air of satisfaction at having performed a solemn duty in a becoming
manner, blissfully unconscious of having run a poor brother off the
track. Seeing us all with moist eyes and much affected--two or three
handkerchiefs still going--he no doubt flattered himself that the
pathetic touches in his prayer had told.

This will give you some idea of the kind of man we had on our hands;
and I won't risk making myself as great a bore as he is, by attempting
a history of his stay with us; for I remember I set out to tell you
about my little Iron-clad. I'm coming to that.

Suffice it to say, he stayed--he _stayed_--he STAYED!--five mortal
weeks; refusing to take hints when they almost became kicks;
driving our friends from us, and ourselves almost to distraction;
his misfortunes alone protecting him from a prompt and vigorous
elimination; when a happy chance helped me to a solution of this awful
problem of destiny.

More than once I had recalled Harry's vivacious suggestion of the
scarecrow--if one could only have been invented that would sit
composedly in a chair and nod when spoken to! I was wishing for some
such automaton, to bear the brunt of the boring with which we were
afflicted, when one day there came a little man into the garden, where
I had taken refuge.

He was a short, swarthy, foreign looking, diminutive, stiff, rather
comical fellow--little figure mostly head, little head mostly face,
little face mostly nose, which was by no means little--a sort of human
vegetable (to my horticultural eye) running marvelously to seed in that
organ. The first thing I saw, on looking up at the sound of footsteps,
was the said nose coming toward me, among the sweet-corn tassels.
Nose of a decidedly Hebraic cast--the bearer respectably dressed,
though his linen had an unwholesome sallowness, and his cloth a shiny,
much-brushed, second-hand appearance.

Without a word he walks up to me, bows solemnly, and pulls from his
pocket (I thought he was laying his hand on his heart) the familiar,
much-worn weapon of his class--the folded, torn yellow paper, ready
to fall to pieces as you open it--in short, the respectable beggar's
certificate of character. With another bow (which gave his nose the
aspect of the beak of a bird of prey making a pick at me) he handed me
the document. I found that it was dated in Milwaukee, and signed by the
mayor of that city, two physicians, three clergymen, and an editor,
who bore united testimony to the fact that Jacob Menzel--I think that
was his name--the bearer, anyway--was a deaf mute, and, considering
that fact, a prodigy of learning, being master of no less than five
different languages (a pathetic circumstance, considering that he was
unable to speak one); moreover, that he was a converted Jew; and,
furthermore, a native of Germany, who had come to this country in
company with two brothers, both of whom had died of cholera in St.
Louis in one day; in consequence of which affliction, and his recent
conversion, he was now anxious to return to the Fatherland, where he
proposed to devote his life to the conversion of his brethren--the
upshot of all which was that good Christians and charitable souls
everywhere were earnestly recommended to aid the said Jacob Menzel in
his pious undertaking.

I was fumbling in my pocket for a little change wherewith to dismiss
him--for that is usually the easiest way of getting off your premises
and your conscience the applicant for "aid," who is probably an
impostor, yet possibly not--when my eye caught the words (for I still
held the document), "would be glad of any employment which may help to
pay his way." The idea of finding employment for a man of such a large
nose and little body, such extensive knowledge and diminutive legs--who
had mastered five languages yet could not speak or understand a word of
any one of them, struck me as rather pleasant, to say the least; yet,
after a moment's reflection--wasn't he the very thing I wanted, the
manikin, the target for my uncle?

Meanwhile he was scribbling rapidly on a small slate he had taken
from his pocket. With another bow (as if he had written something
wrong and was going to wipe it out with his nose), he handed me the
slate, on which I found written in a neat hand half a dozen lines in
as many different languages--English, Latin, Hebrew, German, French,
Greek--each, as far as I could make out, conveying the cheerful
information that he could communicate with me in that particular
tongue. I tried him in English, French and Latin, and I must
acknowledge that he stood the test; he then tried me in Greek and
Hebrew, and I as freely confess that I didn't stand the test. He smiled
intelligently, nodded, and condescendingly returned to the English
tongue, writing quickly, "I am a poor exile from Fatherland, and I much
need friends."

I wrote: "You wish employment?"

He replied: "I shall be much obliged for any service I shall be capable
to do," and passed me the slate with a hopeful smile.

"What can you do?" I asked.

He answered: "I copy the manuscripts, I translate from the one language
to others with some perfect exactitude, I arrange the libraries, I
make the catalogues, I am capable to be any secretary." And he looked
up as if he saw in my eyes a vast vista of catalogues, manuscripts,
libraries, and Fatherland at the end of it.

"How would you like to be companion to a literary man?" I inquired.

He nodded expressively, and wrote: "I should that like over all. But I
speak and hear not."

"No matter," I replied. "You will only have to sit and appear to
listen, and nod occasionally."

"You shall be the gentleman?" he asked, with a bright, pleased look.

I explained to him that the gentleman was an unfortunate connection of
my family, whom we could not regard as being quite in his right mind.

Jacob Menzel smiled, and touched his forehead interrogatively.

I nodded, adding on the slate, "He is perfectly harmless, but he can
only be kept quiet by having some person to talk and read to. He will
talk and read to you. He must not know you are deaf. He is very deaf
himself, and will not expect you to reply." And, for a person wishing a
light and easy employment, I recommended the situation.

He wrote at once, "How much you pay?"

"One dollar a day, and board you," I replied.

He of the nose nodded eagerly at that, and wrote, "Also you make to be
washed my shirt?"

I agreed; and the bargain was closed. I got him into the house, and
gave him a bath, a clean shirt, and complete instructions how to act.

The gravity with which he entered upon the situation was astonishing.
He didn't seem to taste the slightest flavor of a joke in it at all. It
was a simple matter of business; he saw in it only money and Fatherland.

Meanwhile I explained my intentions to Dolly, saying in great glee:
"His deafness is his defense: the old three-decker may bang away at
him; he is IRON-CLAD!" And that suggested the name we have called him
by ever since.

When he was ready for action, I took him in tow, and ran him in to
draw the Popworth's fire--in other words, introduced him to my uncle in
the library. The meeting of my tall, lank relative and the big-nosed
little Jew was a spectacle to cure a hypochondriac! "Mr. Jacob
Menzel--gentleman from Germany--traveling in this country," I yelled
in the old fellow's ear. He of the diminutive legs and stupendous nose
bowed with perfect decorum, and seated himself, stiff and erect, in
the big chair I placed for him. The avuncular countenance lighted up;
here were fresh woods and pastures new to that ancient shepherd. As for
myself, I was well nigh strangled by a cough which just then seized
me, and obliged to retreat--for I never was much of an actor, and the
comedy of that first interview was overpowering.

As I passed the dining-room door, Dolly, who was behind it, gave my arm
a fearful pinch that answered, I suppose, in the place of a scream, as
a safety-valve for her hysterical emotions. "Oh, you cruel man--you
miserable humbug!" says she; and went off into convulsions of laughter.
The door was open, and we could see and hear everything.

"You are traveling, h'm?" says my uncle. The nose nodded duly. "H'm! I
have traveled, myself," the old gentleman proceeded; "my life has been
one of vicissitudes, h'm! I have journeyed, I have preached, I have
published--perhaps you have heard of my literary venture"--and over
went the big volume to the little man, who took it, turned the leaves,
and nodded and smiled, according to instructions.

"You are very kind to say so; thank you!" says my uncle, rubbing his
husky hands with satisfaction. "Rejoiced to meet with you! It is always
a gratification to have an intelligent and sympathizing brother to open
one's mind to; it is especially refreshing to me, for, as I may say
without egotism, my life and labors have _not_ been appreciated."

From that the old interminable story took its start and flowed on, the
faithful nose nodding assent at every turn in that winding stream.

The children came in for their share of the fun; and for the first time
in our lives we took pleasure in the old gentleman's narration of his
varied experiences.

"Oh, hear him! See him go it!" said Robbie. "What a nose!"

"Long may it wave!" said Harry.

With other remarks of a like genial nature; while there they sat, the
two--my uncle on one side, long, lathy, self-satisfied, gesticulating,
earnestly laying his case before a grave jury of one, whom he was bound
to convince, if time would allow; my little Jew facing him, upright in
his chair, stiff, imperturbable, devoted to business, honorably earning
his money, the nose in the air, immovable, except when it played duly
up and down at fitting intervals; in which edifying employment I left
them and went about my business, a cheerier man.

Ah, what a relief it was to feel myself free for a season from the
attacks of the enemy--to know that my plucky little Iron-clad was
engaging him! In an hour I passed through the hall again, heard the
loud, blatant voice still discoursing (it had got as far as the
difficulties with the second parish), and saw the unflinching nasal
organ perform its graceful seesaw of assent. An hour later it was the
same--except that the speaker had arrived at the persecutions which
drove him from parish number three. When I went to call them to dinner,
the scene had changed a little, for now the old gentleman, pounding
the table for a pulpit, was reading aloud passages from a powerful
farewell sermon preached to his ungrateful parishioners. I was sorry I
couldn't give my man a hint to use his handkerchief at the affecting
periods, for the nose can hardly be called a sympathetic feature
(unless, indeed, you blow it), and these nods were becoming rather
too mechanical, except when the old gentleman switched off on the
argumentative track, as he frequently did. "What think you of that?" he
would pause in his reading to inquire. "Isn't that logic? Isn't that
unanswerable?" In responding to which appeals nobody could have done
better than my serious, my devoted, my lovely little Jew.

"Dinner!" I shouted over my uncle's dickey. It was almost the only
word that had the magic in it to rouse him from the feast of reason
which his own conversation was to him. It was always easy to head him
toward the dining-room--to steer him into port for necessary supplies.
The little Iron-clad followed in his wake. At table the old gentleman
resumed the account of his dealings with parish number three, and got
on as far as negotiations with number four; occasionally stopping to
eat his soup or roast beef very fast; at which time Jacob Menzel, who
was very much absorbed in his dinner, but never permitted himself to
neglect business for pleasure, paused at the proper intervals, with his
spoon or fork half-way to his mouth, and nodded--just as if my uncle
had been speaking--yielding assent to his last remarks after mature
consideration, no doubt the old gentleman thought.

The fun of the thing wore off after awhile, and then we experienced
the solid advantages of having an Iron-clad in the house.
Afternoon--evening--the next day--my little man of business performed
his function promptly and assiduously. But in the afternoon of the
second day he began to change perceptibly. He wore an aspect of languor
and melancholy that alarmed me. The next morning he was pale, and went
to his work with an air of sorrowful resignation.

"He is thinking of Fatherland," said the sympathizing Dolly; while
Harry's less-refined but more sprightly comment was, that the nose had
about played out.

Indeed, it had almost ceased to wave; and I feared that I was about to
lose a most valuable servant, whose place it would be impossible to
fill. Accordingly, I wrote on a slip of paper, which I sent in to him:

"You have done well, and I raise your salary to a dollar and a quarter
a day. Your influence over our unfortunate relative is soothing and
beneficial. Go on as you have begun and merit the lasting gratitude of
an afflicted family."

That seemed to cheer him a little--to wind him up, as Harry said,
and set the pendulum swinging again. But it was not long before the
listlessness and low spirits returned; Menzel showed a sad tendency to
shirk his duty; and before noon there came a crash.

I was in the garden, when I heard a shriek of rage and despair, and saw
the little Jew coming toward me with frantic gestures.

"I yielt! I abandone! I take my moneys and my shirt, and I go!" says he.

I stood in perfect astonishment at hearing the dumb speak; while he
threw his arms wildly above his head, exclaiming:

"I am not teaf! I am not teaf! I am not teaf! He is one terreeble mon!
He vill haf my life! So I go--I fly--I take my moneys and my shirt--I
leafe him, I leafe your house! I vould earn honest living, but--_Gott
im himmel! Dieu des dieux!_ All de devils!" he shrieked, mixing up
several of his languages at once, in his violent mental agitation.

"Jacob Menzel!" said I solemnly, "I little thought I was having to do
with an impostor!"

"If I haf you deceive, I haf myself more dan punish!" was his reply.
"Now I resign de position. I ask for de moneys and de shirt, and I
part!"

Just then my uncle came up, amazed at his new friend's sudden revolt
and flight, and anxious to finish up with his seventh parish.

"I vill hear no more of your six, of your seven--I know not how many
parish!" screamed the furious little Jew, turning on him.

"What means all this?" said my bewildered uncle.

"I tell you vat means it all!" the vindictive little impostor,
tiptoeing up to him, yelled at his cheek. "I make not vell my affairs
in your country; I vould return to Faderlant; for conwenience I carry
dis pappeer. I come here; I am suppose teaf; I accept de position to be
your companion, for if a man hear, you kill him tead soon vid your book
and your ten, twenty parish! I hear! You kill me! and I go!"

And, having obtained his "moneys" and his shirt, he went. That is the
last I ever saw of my little Iron-clad. I remember him with gratitude,
for he did me good service, and he had but one fault, namely, that he
was _not_ iron-clad!

As for my uncle, for the first time in his life, I think, he said never
a word, but stalked into the house. Dolly soon came running out to
ask what was the matter; Popworth was actually packing his carpet-bag!
I called Andrew, and ordered him to be in readiness with the buggy to
take the old gentleman over to the railroad.

"What! going?" I cried, as my uncle presently appeared, bearing his
book and his baggage.

"Nephew Frederick," said he, "after this treatment, can you ask me if I
am going?"

"Really," I shouted, "it is not my fault that the fellow proved an
impostor. I employed him with the best of intentions, for your--and
our--good!"

"Nephew Frederick," said he, "this is insufferable; you will regret it!
I shall never--NEVER" (as if he had been pronouncing my doom) "accept of
your hospitalities again!"

He did, however, accept some money which I offered him, and likewise a
seat in the buggy. I watched his departure with joy and terror--for at
any moment he might relent and stay; nor was I at ease in my mind until
I saw Andrew come riding back alone.

We have never seen the old gentleman since. But last winter I received
a letter from him; he wrote in a forgiving tone, to inform me that
he had been appointed chaplain in a prison, and to ask for a loan
of money to buy a suit of clothes. I sent him fifty dollars and my
congratulations. I consider him eminently qualified to fill the new
situation. As a hardship, he can't be beat; and what are the rogues
sent to prison for but to suffer punishment?

Yes, it would be a joke if my little Iron-clad should end his career
of imposture in that public institution, and sit once more under my
excellent uncle! But I can't wish him any such misfortune. His mission
to us was one of mercy. The place has been Paradise again, ever since
his visit.--_Scribner's Magazine_, August, 1873.



A BOSTON LULLABY


    Doff thy new spectacles,
      Peregrine, darling one;
    Minds are but obstacles
      When work is overdone.
    Lullaby, hushaby, slumber thou festinate,
    Hushaby, lullaby, never procrastinate.

    Lay down thy Ibsen, dear,
      Browning and Emerson;
    Sealed be thy cultured ear
      Save to my benison.
    Lullaby, hushaby, cherish obedience.
    Hushaby, lullaby, captivate somnolence.

    Dream thou of Lohengrin,
      Siegfried, Brünnhilde fair;
    Banish, my Peregrine,
      Thoughts of the Pilgrims spare.
    Lullaby, hushaby, sleep, dear, till night is done.
    Hushaby, lullaby, mother's phenomenon.



ROBERT JONES BURDETTE

THE ARTLESS PRATTLE OF CHILDHOOD


We always did pity a man who does not love childhood. There is
something morally wrong with such a man. If his tenderest sympathies
are not awakened by their innocent prattle, if his heart does not
echo their merry laughter, if his whole nature does not reach out in
ardent longing after their pure thoughts and unselfish impulses, he is
a sour, crusty, crabbed old stick, and the world full of children has
no use for him. In every age and clime the best and noblest men loved
children. Even wicked men have a tender spot left in their hardened
hearts for little children. The great men of the earth love them. Dogs
love them. Kamehame Kemokimodahroah, the King of the Cannibal Islands,
loves them. Rare and no gravy. Ah, yes, we all love children.

And what a pleasure it is to talk with them! Who can chatter with
a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked, quick-witted little darling, anywhere
from three to five years, and not appreciate the pride which swells a
mother's breast when she sees her little ones admired? Ah, yes, to be
sure.

One day--ah, can we ever cease to remember that dreamy, idle, summer
afternoon--a lady friend, who was down in the city on a shopping
excursion, came into the sanctum with her little son, a dear little
tid-toddler of five bright summers, and begged us to amuse him while
she pursued the duties which called her down-town. Such a bright boy;
so delightful it was to talk to him. We can never forget the blissful
half-hour we spent booking that prodigy up in his centennial history.

"Now, listen, Clary," we said--his name was Clarence Fitzherbert
Alencon de Marchemont Caruthers--"and learn about George Washington."

"Who's he?" inquired Clarence, etc.

"Listen," we said; "he was the father of his country."

"Whose country?"

"Ours--yours and mine; the confederated union of the American people,
cemented with the life-blood of the men of '76 poured out upon the
altars of our country as the dearest libation to liberty that her
votaries can offer."

"Who did?" asked Clarence.

There is a peculiar tact in talking to children that very few people
possess. Now, most people would have grown impatient and lost their
temper, when little Clarence asked so many irrelevant questions, but
we did not. We knew that, however careless he might appear at first,
we could soon interest him in the story, and he would be all eyes
and ears. So we smiled sweetly--that same sweet smile which you may
have noticed on our photographs. Just the faintest ripple of a smile
breaking across the face like a ray of sunlight, and checked by lines
of tender sadness just before the two ends of it pass each other at the
back of the neck.

And so, smiling, we went on.

"Well, one day George's father----"

"George who?" asked Clarence.

"George Washington. He was a little boy then, just like you. One day
his father----"

"Whose father?" demanded Clarence, with an encouraging expression of
interest.

"George Washington's--this great man we were telling you of. One day
George Washington's father gave him a little hatchet for a----"

"Gave who a little hatchet?" the dear child interrupted with a gleam
of bewitching intelligence. Most men would have betrayed signs of
impatience, but we didn't. We know how to talk to children, so we went
on.

"George Washington. His----"

"Who gave him the little hatchet?"

"His father. And his father----"

"Whose father?"

"George Washington's."

"Oh!"

"Yes, George Washington. And his father told him----"

"Told who?"

"Told George."

"Oh, yes, George."

And we went on, just as patient and as pleasant as you could imagine.
We took up the story right where the boy interrupted; for we could see
that he was just crazy to hear the end of it. We said:

"And he told him that----"

"Who told him what?" Clarence broke in.

"Why, George's father told George."

"What did he tell him?"

"Why, that's just what I'm going to tell you. He told him----"

"Who told him?"

"George's father. He----"

"What for?"

"Why, so he wouldn't do what he told him not to do. He told him----"

"George told him?" queried Clarence.

"No, his father told George----"

"Oh!"

"Yes; told him that he must be careful with the hatchet----"

"Who must be careful?"

"George must."

"Oh!"

"Yes; must be careful with the hatchet----"

"What hatchet?"

"Why, George's."

"Oh!"

"Yes; with the hatchet, and not cut himself with it, or drop it in the
cistern, or leave it out in the grass all night. So George went round
cutting everything he could reach with his hatchet. At last he came to
a splendid apple tree, his father's favorite, and cut it down and----"

"Who cut it down?"

"George did."

"Oh!"

"--but his father came home and saw it the first thing, and----"

"Saw the hatchet?"

"No; saw the apple tree. And he said, 'Who has cut down my favorite
apple tree?'"

"What apple tree?"

"George's father's. And everybody said they didn't know anything about
it, and----"

"Anything about what?"

"The apple tree."

"Oh!"

"--and George came up and heard them talking about it----"

"Heard who talking about it?"

"Heard his father and the men."

"What was they talking about?"

"About this apple tree."

"What apple tree?"

"The favorite apple tree that George cut down."

"George who?"

"George Washington."

"Oh!"

"So George came up and heard them talking about it, and he----"

"What did he cut it down for?"

"Just to try his little hatchet."

"Whose little hatchet?"

"Why, his own; the one his father gave him."

"Gave who?"

"Why, George Washington."

"Who gave it to him?"

"His father did."

"Oh!"

"So George came up and he said, 'Father, I cannot tell a lie. I----'"

"Who couldn't tell a lie?"

"Why, George Washington. He said, 'Father, I cannot tell a lie. It
was----'"

"His father couldn't?"

"Why, no; George couldn't."

"Oh, George? Oh, yes."

"'--it was I cut down your apple tree. I did----'"

"His father did?"

"No, no. It was George said this."

"Said he cut his father?"

"No, no, no; said he cut down his apple tree."

"George's apple tree?"

"No, no; his father's."

"Oh!"

"He said----"

"His father said?"

"No, no, no; George said, 'Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did it with
my little hatchet.' And his father said, 'Noble boy, I would rather
lose a thousand trees than have you tell a lie.'"

"George did?"

"No; his father said that."

"Said he'd rather have a thousand apple trees?"

"No, no, no; said he'd rather lose a thousand apple trees than----"

"Said he'd rather George would?"

"No; said he'd rather he would than have him lie."

"Oh, George would rather have his father lie?"

We are patient, and we love children, but if Mrs. Caruthers, of Arch
Street, hadn't come and got her prodigy at this critical juncture, we
don't believe all Burlington could have pulled us out of that snarl.
And as Clarence Fitzherbert Alencon de Marchemont Caruthers patted down
the stairs, we heard him telling his ma about a boy who had a father
named George, and he told him to cut down an apple tree, and he said
he'd rather tell a thousand lies than cut down one apple tree.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the House of Representatives one day Mr. Springer was finishing an
argument and ended by saying, "I am right, I know I am; and I would
rather be right than be President." He stood near the late S. S. Cox,
who looked mischievously across at him and said as he ended, "Don't
worry about that, Springer; you'll never be either."



THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT


    Behold the mansion reared by dedal Jack.

    See the malt stored in many a plethoric sack,
    In the proud cirque of Ivan's bivouac.

    Mark how the rat's felonious fangs invade
    The golden stores in John's pavilion laid.

    Anon with velvet foot and Tarquin strides
    Subtle grimalkin to his quarry glides--
    Grimalkin grim that slew the fierce rodent
    Whose tooth insidious Johann's sackcloth rent.

    Lo! now the deep-mouthed canine foe's assault,
    That vexed the avenger of the stolen malt,
    Stored in the hallowed precincts of that hall
    That rose complete at Jack's creative call.

    Here stalks the impetuous cow with crumpled horn
    Whereon the exacerbating hound was torn.
    Who bayed the feline slaughter-beast that slew
    The rat predacious, whose keen fangs ran through
    The textile fibers that involved the grain
    Which lay in Hans's inviolate domain.

    Here walks forlorn the damsel crowned with rue,
    Lactiferous spoils from vaccine drugs who drew
    Of that corniculate beast whose tortuous horn
    Tossed to the clouds in fierce vindictive scorn
    The harrowing hound whose braggart bark and stir
    Arched the lithe spine and reared the indignant fur
    Of puss, that with verminicidal claw
    Struck the weird rat in whose insatiate maw
    Lay reeking malt that erst in Juan's courts we saw.

    Robed in senescent garb that seems in sooth
    Too long a prey to Chronos's iron tooth,
    Behold the man whose amorous lips incline,
    Full with Eros's osculative sign,
    To the lorn maiden whose lactalbic hands
    Drew albulactic bovine wealth from lacteal glands
    Of that immortal bovine, by whose horn
    Distort to realm ethereal was borne
    The beast catulean, vexed of the sly
    Ulysses quadrupedal, who made die
    The old mordacious rat that dared devour
    Antecedaneous ale in John's domestic bower.

    Lo! here, with hirsute honors doffed, succinct
    Of saponaceous locks, the priest who linked
    In Hymen's golden bands the torn unthrift,
    Whose means exiguous stared through many a rift,
    Even as he kissed the virgin all forlorn,
    Who milked the cow with implicated horn,
    Who in fine wrath the canine torturer skied,
    That dared to vex the insidious muricide,
    Who let auroral effluence through the pelt
    Of the sly rat that robbed the palace Jack had built.

    The loud cantankerous Shanghai comes at last,
    Whose shouts aroused the shorn ecclesiast,
    Who sealed the vows of Hymen's sacrament,
    To him, who, robed in garments indigent,
    Exosculates the damsel lachrymose,
    The emulgator of that horned brute morose,
    That tossed the dog, that worried the cat, that kilt
    The rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

       *       *       *       *       *

The late Mr. William R. Travers liked Bermuda enormously, but it would
seem that he found its comforts not altogether unalloyed. A friend
who once visited him there was congratulating him on his improved
appearance.

"This is a grand place for change and rest," said his friend. "Just
what you needed."

"Yes," replied Mr. Travers, sadly. "Th-th-this is a
magn-ni-ni-nif-ficent place f-f-f-for b-b-both. The ni-ni-niggers look
out f-f-f-for the ch-ch-ch-_change_, and the hotel ke-ke-keepers take
th-th-the _rest_."



[ANONYMOUS]

ST. PETER AT THE GATE


    St. Peter stood guard at the golden gate
    With a solemn mien and an air sedate,
    When up to the top of the golden stair
    A man and a woman ascending there,
    Applied for admission. They came and stood
    Before St. Peter, so great and good.
    In hopes the City of Peace to win--
    And asked St. Peter to let them in.
    The woman was tall, and lank, and thin,
    With a scraggy beardlet upon her chin,
    The man was short, and thick and stout,
    His stomach was built so it rounded out,
    His face was pleasant, and all the while
    He wore a kindly and genial smile.
    The choirs in the distance the echoes woke
    And the man kept still while the woman spoke:
    "Oh, thou who guardest the gate," said she,
    "We two come hither beseeching thee
    To let us enter the heavenly land,
    And play our harps with the angel band.
    Of me, St. Peter, there is no doubt--
    There is nothing from heaven to bar me out;
    I have been to meetings three times a week,
    And almost always I'd rise and speak.
    I've told the sinners about the day
    When they'd repent their evil way;
    I have told my neighbors, I have told them all
    'Bout Adam and Eve, and the primal fall;
    I've shown them what they'd have to do
    If they'd pass in with the chosen few;
    I've marked their path of duty clear--
    Laid out the plan for their whole career;
    I've talked and talked to 'em, loud and long,
    For my lungs are good and my voice is strong.
    So good St. Peter, you'll clearly see
    The gate of heaven is open to me;
    But my old man, I regret to say,
    Hasn't walked exactly the narrow way--
    He smokes and he swears, and grave faults he's got,
    And I don't know whether he will pass or not.
    He never would pray with an earnest vim,
    Or go to revival, or join in a hymn,
    So I had to leave him in sorrow there
    While I, with the chosen, united in prayer.
    He ate what the pantry chanced to afford,
    While I, in my purity, sang to the Lord;
    And if cucumbers were all he got
    It's a chance if he merited them or not.
    But oh, St. Peter, I love him so!
    To the pleasures of heaven please let him go!
    I've done enough--a saint I've been--
    Won't that atone? Can't you let him in?
    By my grim gospel I know 'tis so
    That the unrepentant must fry below;
    But isn't there some way that you can see,
    That he may enter who's dear to me?
    It's a narrow gospel by which I pray,
    But the chosen expect to find some way
    Of coaxing, or fooling, or bribing you
    So that their relation can amble through.
    And say, St. Peter, it seems to me
    This gate isn't kept as it ought to be;
    You ought to stand by that opening there,
    And never sit down in that easy chair.
    And say, St. Peter, my sight is dimmed,
    But I don't like the way your whiskers are trimmed,
    They're cut too wide and outward toss:
    They'd look better narrower, cut straight across.
    Well, we must be going our crowns to win,
    So open, St. Peter, and we'll pass in."
    St. Peter sat quiet and stroked his staff;
    But spite of his office he had to laugh;
    Then said with a fiery gleam in his eye,
    "Who's tending this gateway--you or I?"
    And then he arose in his stature tall,
    And pressed a button upon the wall,
    And said to the imp who answered the bell,
    "Escort this lady around to hell!"
    The man stood still as a piece of stone--
    Stood sadly, gloomily there alone,
    A life-long, settled idea he had
    That his wife was good and he was bad.
    He thought if the woman went down below
    That he would certainly have to go--
    That if she went to the regions dim
    There wasn't a ghost of a show for him.
    Slowly he turned, by habit bent,
    To follow wherever the woman went.
    St. Peter, standing on duty there,
    Observed that the top of his head was bare.
    He called the gentleman back and said,
    "Friend, how long have you been wed?"
    "Thirty years" (with a weary sigh),
    And then he thoughtfully added, "Why?"
    St. Peter was silent. With head bent down
    He raised his hand and scratched his crown;
    Then, seeming a different thought to take,
    Slowly, half to himself, he spake:
    "Thirty years with that woman there?
    No wonder the man hasn't any hair!
    Swearing is wicked, smoke's not good.
    He smoked and swore--I should think he would,
    Thirty years with that tongue so sharp!
    Ho, Angel Gabriel! Give him a harp!
    A jeweled harp with a golden string,
    Good sir, pass in where the angels sing!
    Gabriel, give him a seat alone--
    One with a cushion, up near the throne;
    Call up some angels to play their best,
    Let him enjoy the music in rest,
    See that on finest ambrosia he feeds,
    He's had about all the hell he needs;
    It isn't just hardly the thing to do
    To roast him on earth and the future, too."
    They gave him a harp with golden strings,
    A glittering robe with a pair of wings,
    And he said, as he entered the Realm of Day,
    "Well, this beats cucumber, any way!"
    And so the Scriptures had come to pass
    "The last shall be first and the first shall be last."



HENRY GUY CARLETON

THE THOMPSON STREET POKER CLUB

SOME CURIOUS POINTS IN THE NOBLE GAME UNFOLDED


When Mr. Tooter Williams entered the gilded halls of the Thompson
Street Poker Club Saturday evening it was evident that fortune had
smeared him with prosperity. He wore a straw hat with a blue ribbon,
an expression of serene content, and a glass amethyst on his third
finger whose effulgence irradiated the whole room and made the envious
eyes of Mr. Cyanide Whiffles stand out like a crab's. Besides these
extraordinary furbishments, Mr. Williams had his mustache waxed
to fine points and his back hair was precious with the luster and
richness which accompany the use of the attar of Third Avenue roses
combined with the bear's grease dispensed by basement barbers on that
fashionable thoroughfare.

In sharp contrast to this scintillating entrance was the coming of
the Reverend Mr. Thankful Smith, who had been disheveled by the heat,
discolored by a dusty evangelical trip to Coney Island, and oppressed
by an attack of malaria which made his eyes bloodshot and enriched his
respiration with occasional hiccoughs and that steady aroma which is
said to dwell in Weehawken breweries.

The game began at eight o'clock, and by nine and a series of two-pair
hands and bull luck Mr. Gus Johnson was seven dollars and a nickel
ahead of the game, and the Reverend Mr. Thankful Smith, who was
banking, was nine stacks of chips and a dollar bill on the wrong side
of the ledger. Mr. Cyanide Whiffles was cheerful as a cricket over four
winnings amounting to sixty-nine cents; Professor Brick was calm, and
Mr. Tooter Williams was gorgeous and hopeful, and laying low for the
first jackpot, which now came. It was Mr. Whiffles's deal, and feeling
that the eyes of the world were upon him, he passed around the cards
with a precision and rapidity which were more to his credit than the I.
O. U. from Mr. Williams which was left over from the previous meeting.

Professor Brick had nine high and declared his inability to make an
opening.

Mr. Williams noticed a dangerous light come into the Reverend Mr.
Smith's eye and hesitated a moment, but having two black jacks and a
pair of trays, opened with the limit.

"I liffs yo' jess tree dollahs, Toot," said the Reverend Mr. Smith,
getting out the wallet and shaking out a wad.

Mr. Gus Johnson, who had a four flush and very little prudence, came
in. Mr. Whiffles sighed and fled.

Mr. Williams polished the amethyst, thoroughly examining a scratch on
one of its facets, adjusted his collar, skinned his cards, stealthily
glanced again at the expression of the Reverend Mr. Smith's eye, and
said he would "Jess--jess call."

Mr. Whiffles supplied the wants of the gentlemen from the pack with
the mechanical air of a man who had lost all hope in a hereafter. Mr.
Williams wanted one card, the Reverend Mr. Smith said he'd take about
three, and Mr. Gus Johnson expressed a desire for a club, if it was not
too much trouble.

Mr. Williams caught another tray, and, being secretly pleased, led out
by betting a chip. The Reverend Mr. Smith uproariously slammed down a
stack of blue chips and raised him seven dollars.

Mr. Gus Johnson had captured the nine of hearts and so retired.

Mr. Williams had four chips and a dollar left.

"I sees dat seven," he said impressively, "an' I humps it ten mo'."

"Whar's de c'lateral?" queried the Reverend Mr. Smith calmly, but with
aggressiveness in his eye.

Mr. Williams sniffed contemptuously, drew off the ring, and deposited
it in the pot with such an air as to impress Mr. Whiffles with the idea
that the jewel must have been worth at least four million dollars. Then
Mr. Williams leaned back in his chair and smiled.

"Whad yer goin' ter do?" asked the Reverend Mr. Smith, deliberately
ignoring Mr. Williams's action.

Mr. Williams pointed to the ring and smiled.

"Liff yo' ten dollahs."

"On whad?"

"Dat ring."

"_Dat_ ring?"

"Yezzah." Mr. Williams was still cool.

"Huh!" The Reverend Mr. Smith picked the ring up, examined it
scientifically with one eye closed, dropped it several times as if to
test its soundness, and then walked across and rasped it several times
heavily on the window pane.

"Whad yo' doin' dat for?" excitedly asked Mr. Williams.

A double rasp with the ring was the Reverend Mr. Smith's only reply.

"Gimme dat jule back!" demanded Mr. Williams.

The Reverend Mr. Smith was now vigorously rubbing the setting of the
stone on the floor.

"Leggo dat sparkler," said Mr. Williams again.

The Reverend Mr. Smith carefully polished off the scratches by rubbing
the ring awhile on the sole of his foot. Then he resumed his seat and
put the precious thing back into the pot. Then he looked calmly at Mr.
Williams, and leaned back in his chair as if waiting for something.

"Is yo' satisfied?" said Mr. Williams, in the tone used by men who have
sustained a deep injury.

"Dis is pokah," said the Reverend Mr. Thankful Smith.

"I rised yo' ten dollahs," said Mr. Williams, pointing to the ring.

"Did yer ever saw three balls hangin' over my do'?" asked the Reverend
Mr. Smith. "Doesn't yo' know my name hain't Oppenheimer?"

"Whad yo' mean?" asked Mr. Williams excitedly.

"Pokah am pokah, and dar's no 'casion fer triflin' wif blue glass 'n
junk in dis yar club," said the Reverend Mr. Smith.

"I liffs yo' ten dollahs," said Mr. Williams, ignoring the insult.

"Pud up de c'lateral," said the Reverend Mr. Smith. "Fo' chips is
fohty, 'n a dollah's a dollah fohty, 'n dat's a dollah fohty-fo' cents."

"Whar's de fo' cents?" smiled Mr. Williams, desperately.

The Reverend Mr. Smith pointed to the ring. Mr. Williams rose
indignantly, shucked off his coat, hat, vest, suspenders and scarfpin,
heaped them on the table, and then sat down and glared at the Reverend
Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith rolled up the coat, put on the hat, threw his own out of the
window, gave the ring to Mr. Whiffles, jammed the suspenders into his
pocket, and took in the vest, chips and money.

"Dis yar's buglry!" yelled Mr. Williams.

The Reverend Mr. Smith spread out four eights and rose impressively.

"Toot," he said, "doan trifle wif Prov'dence. Because a man wars ten
cent grease 'n' gits his july on de Bowery, hit's no sign dat he kin
buck agin cash in a jacker 'n' git a boodle from fo' eights. Yo's now
in yo' shirt sleeves 'n' low sperrets, bud de speeyunce am wallyble.
I'se willin' ter stan' a beer an' sassenger, 'n' shake 'n' call it
squar'. De club 'll now 'journ."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Blaine used to tell this story:

Once in Dublin, toward the end of the opera, Satan was conducting Faust
through a trap-door which represented the gates of Hades. His Majesty
got through all right--he was used to going below--but Faust, who was
quite stout, got only about half-way in, and no squeezing would get him
any farther. Suddenly an Irishman in the gallery exclaimed, devoutly,
"Thank God, hell is full."

       *       *       *       *       *

While Mark Twain was ill in London a report that he had died was
circulated. It spread to America and reached Charles Dudley Warner in
Hartford, Connecticut. Mr. Warner immediately cabled to London to find
out if it was really so. The cablegram in some way came directly into
the humorist's hands, and he forthwith cabled the following reply:
"Reports of my death greatly exaggerated."



GEORGE T. LANIGAN

THE FOX AND THE CROW


A crow, having secured a Piece of Cheese, flew with its Prize to a
lofty Tree, and was preparing to devour the Luscious Morsel, when a
crafty Fox, halting at the foot of the Tree, began to cast about how he
might obtain it.

"How tasteful is your Dress," he cried, in well-feigned Ecstacy; "it
cannot surely be that your Musical Education has been neglected? Will
you not oblige----?"

"I have a horrid Cold," replied the Crow, "and never sing without my
Music; but since you press me--at the same time, I should add that I
have read Æsop, and been there before."

So saying, she deposited the Cheese in a safe Place on the Limb of the
Tree, and favored him with a Song.

"Thank you," exclaimed the Fox, and trotted away, with the Remark that
Welsh Rabbits never agreed with him, and were far inferior in Quality
to the animate Variety.

_Moral_--The foregoing fable is supported by a whole Gatling Battery
of Morals. We are taught (1) that it Pays to take the Papers; (2) that
Invitation is not Always the Sincerest Flattery; (3) that a Stalled
Rabbit with Contentment is better than No Bread; and (4) that the Aim
of Art is to Conceal Disappointment.

                                                 GEO. T. LANIGAN.

    By permission of _Life_ Publishing Company



HENRY CUYLER BUNNER

BEHOLD THE DEEDS!


(_Chant Royal_)

    I would that all men my hard case might know;
      How grievously I suffer for no sin:
    I, Adolphe Culpepper Furguson, for lo!
      I, of my landlady, am locked in,
    For being short on this sad Saturday,
    Nor having shekels of silver wherewith to pay;
      She has turned and is departed with my key;
      Wherefore, not even as other boarders free,
    I sing (as prisoners to their dungeon stones
      When for ten days they expiate a spree):
    Behold the deeds that are done of Mrs. Jones!

    One night and one day have I wept my woe;
      Nor wot I when the morrow doth begin,
    If I shall have to write to Briggs & Co.,
      To pray them to advance the requisite tin
    For ransom of their salesman, that he may
    Go forth as other boarders go alway--
      As those I hear now flocking from their tea,
      Led by the daughter of my landlady
    Pianoward. This day for all my moans,
      Dry bread and water have been servèd me.
    Behold the deeds that are done of Mrs. Jones!

    Miss Amabel Jones is musical, and so
      The heart of the young he-boardèr doth win,
    Playing "The Maiden's Prayer," _adagio_--
      That fetcheth him, as fetcheth the banco skin
    The innocent rustic. For my part, I pray:
    That Badarjewska maid may wait for aye
      Ere sits she with a lover, as did we
      Once sit together, Amabel! Can it be
    That all that arduous wooing not atones
      For Saturday shortness of trade dollars three?
    _Behold_ the deeds that are done of Mrs. Jones!

    Yea! she forgets the arm was wont to go
      Around her waist. She wears a buckle whose pin
    Galleth the crook of the young man's elbòw;
      _I_ forget not, for I that youth have been.
    Smith was aforetime the Lothario gay.
    Yet once, I mind me, Smith was forced to stay
      Close in his room. Not calm, as I, was he;
      But his noise brought no pleasaunce, verily.
    Small ease he gat of playing on the bones,
      Or hammering on his stovepipe, that I see.
    Behold the deeds that are done of Mrs. Jones!

    Thou, for whose fear the figurative crow
      I eat, accursed be thou and all thy kin!
    Thee will I show up--yea, up will I show
      Thy too thick buckwheats, and thy tea too thin.
    Ay! here I dare thee, ready for the fray!
    Thou dost _not_ "keep a first-class house," I say!
      It does not with the advertisements agree.
      Thou lodgest a Briton with a puggaree,
    And thou hast harbored Jacobses and Cohns,
      Also a Mulligan. Thus denounce I thee!
    Behold the deeds that are done of Mrs. Jones!

_Envoy_

    Boarders! the worst I have not told to ye:
    She hath stolen my trousers, that I may not flee
      Privily by the window. Hence these groans,
    There is no fleeing in a _robe de nuit_.
      Behold the deeds that are done of Mrs. Jones!

    By permission of Charles Scribner's Sons

       *       *       *       *       *

Secretary Chase was not originally a profane man. He learned how to
swear after he went into Lincoln's Cabinet. One day, after he had
delivered himself vigorously, Lincoln said to him:

"Mr. Chase, are you an Episcopalian?"

"Why do you ask?" was the somewhat surprised counter-question.

"Oh, just out of curiosity," replied Lincoln. "Seward is an
Episcopalian, and I had noticed that you and he swore in much the same
manner."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Family Physician_: "Well, I congratulate you."

_Patient_ (excitedly): "I will recover?"

_Family Physician_: "Not exactly, but--well, after consultation, we
find that your disease is entirely novel, and if the autopsy should
demonstrate that fact we have decided to name it after you."



AN INSURANCE AGENT'S STORY


"Oh, I guess we have our experiences," laughed the fire insurance
agent. "We are just like others who have to deal with all kinds of
people.

"Take the smart Alecs, for instance. They give us a whirl once in
awhile, but we generally manage to get as good as a draw with them. It
was only last fall that one of them came in and wanted me to insure his
coal pile. Of course I caught on at once, but I made out his policy
and took his money. In the spring he came around with a broad grin on
his face and told me that the coal had been burned--in the furnace,
of course. I solemnly informed him that we must decline to settle the
loss. He said he would sue. I told him to blaze away, and I would have
him arrested as an incendiary. That straightened his face out, and it
cost him a tidy little supper for a dozen of us just to insure our
silence.

"One shrewd old chap had grown rich out of our company, and when he
had built an elegant new store and stocked it with goods he came to
us again for insurance. I refused him, but he was persistent, and I
finally assented on condition that he hang a gross of hand-grenades
in the place. After I had seen them properly distributed, I sent an
old chum of his up to get the real lay of the land, for I was still
suspicious. This is what the cronies said to each other:

"'What is them things, Ike?'

"'Hand-grenades.'

"'What's hand-grenades?'

"'I don't know what was in 'em at first, but they're full of kerosene
oil now.'

"We canceled the policy."

       *       *       *       *       *

A girl from town is staying with some country cousins who live at a
farm. On the night of her arrival she finds, to her mortification, that
she is ignorant of all sorts of things connected with farm life which
to her country cousins are matters of every-day knowledge. She fancies
they seem amused at her ignorance.

At breakfast the following morning she sees on the table a dish of fine
honey, whereupon she thinks she has found an opportunity of retrieving
her humiliating experience of the night before, and of showing her
country cousins that she knows something of country life after all. So,
looking at the dish of honey, she says carelessly:

"Ah, I see you keep a bee."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Minister_ (at baptismal font): "Name, please?"

_Mother_ (baby born abroad): "Philip Ferdinand Chesterfield Randolph y
Livingstone."

_Minister_ (aside to assistant): "Mr. Kneeler, a little more water,
please."



FRANK DEMPSTER SHERMAN

A RHYME FOR PRISCILLA


    Dear Priscilla, quaint and very
      Like a modern Puritan,
    Is a modest, literary,
      Merry young American:
    Horace she has read, and Bion
      Is her favorite in Greek;
    Shakspeare is a mighty lion
      In whose den she dares but peek;
    Him she leaves to some sage Daniel,
      Since of lions she's afraid--
    She prefers a playful spaniel,
      Such as Herrick or as Praed;
    And it's not a bit satiric
      To confess her fancy goes
    From the epic to a lyric
      On a rose.

    Wise Priscilla, dilettante,
      With a sentimental mind,
    Doesn't deign to dip in Dante,
      And to Milton isn't kind;
    L'Allegro, Il Penseroso
      Have some merits she will grant,
    All the rest is only so-so--
      Enter Paradise she can't!
    She might make a charming angel
      (And she will if she is good),
    But it's doubtful if the change'll
      Make the Epic understood:
    Honeysuckling, like a bee she
      Goes and pillages his sweets,
    And it's plain enough to see she
      Worships Keats.

    Gay Priscilla--just the person
      For the Locker whom she loves;
    What a captivating verse on
      Her neat-fitting gowns or gloves
    He could write in catching measure,
      Setting all the heart astir!
    And to Aldrich what a pleasure
      It would be to sing of her--
    He, whose perfect songs have won her
      Lips to quote them day by day.
    She repeats the rhymes of Bunner
      In a fascinating way,
    And you'll often find her lost in--
      She has reveries at times--
    Some delightful one of Austin
      Dobson's rhymes.

    O Priscilla, sweet Priscilla,
      Writing of you makes me think,
    As I burn my brown Manila
      And immortalize my ink,
    How well satisfied these poets
      Ought to be with what they do
    When, especially, they know it's
      Read by such a girl as you:
    I who sing of you would marry
      Just the kind of girl you are--
    One who doesn't care to carry
      Her poetic taste too far--
    One whose fancy is a bright one,
      Who is fond of poems fine,
    And appreciates a light one
      Such as mine.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the car reached Westville, an old man with a long white beard
rose feebly from a corner seat and tottered toward the door. He was,
however, stopped by the conductor, who said:

"Your fare, please."

"I paid my fare."

"When? I don't remember it."

"Why, I paid you when I got on the car."

"Where did you get on?"

"At Fair Haven."

"That won't do! When I left Fair Haven there was only a little boy on
the car."

"Yes," answered the old man, "I know it. I was that little boy."



AN EPITAPH

    Here lies the body of Susan Lowder
    Who burst while drinking Seidlitz powder.
    Called from this world to her heavenly rest,
    She should have waited till it effervesced.



THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH

A RIVERMOUTH ROMANCE


At five o'clock of the morning of the tenth of July, 1860, the front
door of a certain house on Anchor Street, in the ancient seaport town
of Rivermouth, might have been observed to open with great caution.
This door, as the least imaginative reader may easily conjecture,
did not open itself. It was opened by Miss Margaret Callaghan, who
immediately closed it softly behind her, paused for a few seconds with
an embarrassed air on the stone step, and then, throwing a furtive
glance up at the second-story windows, passed hastily down the street
toward the river, keeping close to the fences and garden walls on her
left.

There was a ghostlike stealthiness to Miss Margaret's movements, though
there was nothing whatever of the ghost about Miss Margaret herself.
She was a plump, short person, no longer young, with coal-black hair
growing low on the forehead, and a round face that would have been
nearly meaningless if the features had not been emphasized--italicized,
so to speak--by the smallpox. Moreover, the brilliancy of her toilet
would have rendered any ghostly hypothesis untenable. Mrs. Solomon (we
refer to the dressiest Mrs. Solomon, whichever one that was) in all
her glory was not arrayed like Miss Margaret on that eventful summer
morning. She wore a light-green, shot-silk frock, a blazing red shawl,
and a yellow crape bonnet profusely decorated with azure, orange and
magenta artificial flowers. In her hand she carried a white parasol.
The newly risen sun, ricochetting from the bosom of the river and
striking point-blank on the top-knot of Miss Margaret's gorgeousness,
made her an imposing spectacle in the quiet street of that Puritan
village. But, in spite of the bravery of her apparel, she stole
guiltily along by garden walls and fences until she reached a small,
dingy frame house near the wharves, in the darkened doorway of which
she quenched her burning splendor, if so bold a figure is permissible.

Three-quarters of an hour passed. The sunshine moved slowly up Anchor
Street, fingered noiselessly the well-kept brass knockers on either
side, and drained the heeltaps of dew which had been left from the
revels of the fairies overnight in the cups of the morning-glories.
Not a soul was stirring yet in this part of the town, though the
Rivermouthians are such early birds that not a worm may be said to
escape them. By and by one of the brown Holland shades at one of
the upper windows of the Bilkins Mansion--the house from which Miss
Margaret had emerged--was drawn up, and old Mr. Bilkins in spiral
nightcap looked out on the sunny street. Not a living creature was
to be seen save the dissipated family cat--a very Lovelace of a cat
that was not allowed a night-key--who was sitting on the curbstone
opposite, waiting for the hall door to open. Three-quarters of an hour,
we repeat, had passed, when Mrs. Margaret O'Rourke, _née_ Callaghan,
issued from the small, dingy house by the river and regained the
doorstep of the Bilkins Mansion in the same stealthy fashion in which
she had left it.

Not to prolong a mystery that must already oppress the reader,
Mr. Bilkins's cook had, after the manner of her kind, stolen
out of the premises before the family were up and got herself
married--surreptitiously and artfully married--as if matrimony were an
indictable offense.

And something of an offense it was in this instance. In the first
place, Margaret Callaghan had lived nearly twenty years with the
Bilkins family, and the old people--there were no children now--had
rewarded this long service by taking Margaret into their affections. It
was a piece of subtle ingratitude for her to marry without admitting
the worthy couple to her confidence.

In the next place, Margaret had married a man some eighteen years
younger than herself. That was the young man's lookout, you say. We
hold it was Margaret that was to blame. What does a young blade of
twenty-two know? Not half so much as he thinks he does. His exhaustless
ignorance at that age is a discovery which is left for him to make in
his prime.

    "Curly gold locks cover foolish brains,
      Billing and cooing is all your cheer;
    Sighing and singing of midnight strains,
      Under Bonnybell's window panes--
      Wait till you come to Forty Year!"

In one sense Margaret's husband _had_ come to forty year--she was forty
to a day.

Mrs. Margaret O'Rourke, with the baddish cat following closely at
her heels, entered the Bilkins mansion, reached her chamber in the
attic without being intercepted, and there laid aside her finery. Two
or three times, while arranging her more humble attire, she paused
to take a look at the marriage certificate, which she had deposited
between the leaves of her prayer-book, and on each occasion held that
potent document upside down; for Margaret's literary culture was of the
severest order, and excluded the art of reading.

The breakfast was late that morning. As Mrs. O'Rourke set the
coffee-urn in front of Mrs. Bilkins and flanked Mr. Bilkins with the
broiled mackerel and buttered toast, Mrs. O'Rourke's conscience smote
her. She afterward declared that when she saw the two sitting there
so innocent-like, not dreaming of the _comether_ she had put upon
them, she secretly and unbeknownst let a few tears fall into the cream
pitcher. Whether or not it was this material expression of Margaret's
penitence that spoiled the coffee does not admit of inquiry; but the
coffee was bad. In fact, the whole breakfast was a comedy of errors.

It was a blessed relief to Margaret when the meal was ended. She
retired in a cold perspiration to the penetralia of the kitchen, and it
was remarked by both Mr. and Mrs. Bilkins that those short flights of
vocalism--apropos of the personal charms of one Kate Kearney, who lived
on the banks of Killarney--which ordinarily issued from the direction
of the scullery, were unheard that forenoon.

The town clock was striking eleven, and the antiquated timepiece on
the staircase (which never spoke but it dropped pearls and crystals,
like the fairy in the story) was lisping the hour, when there came
three tremendous knocks at the street door. Mrs. Bilkins, who was
dusting the brass-mounted chronometer in the hall, stood transfixed,
with arm uplifted. The admirable old lady had for years been carrying
on a guerrilla warfare with itinerant venders of furniture polish,
and pain-killer, and crockery cement, and the like. The effrontery of
the triple knock convinced her the enemy was at her gates--possibly
that dissolute creature with twenty-four sheets of note-paper and
twenty-four envelopes for fifteen cents.

Mrs. Bilkins swept across the hall and opened the door with a jerk.
The suddenness of the movement was apparently not anticipated by the
person outside, who, with one arm stretched feebly toward the receding
knocker, tilted gently forward and rested both hands on the threshold
in an attitude which was probably common enough with our ancestors of
the Simian period, but could never have been considered graceful. By an
effort that testified to the excellent condition of his muscles, the
person instantly righted himself, and stood swaying unsteadily on his
toes and heels, and smiling rather vaguely on Mrs. Bilkins.

It was a slightly built but well-knitted young fellow, in the not
unpicturesque garb of our marine service. His woolen cap, pitched
forward at an acute angle with his nose, showed the back part of a head
thatched with short yellow hair, which had broken into innumerable
curls of painful tightness. On his ruddy cheeks a sparse, sandy beard
was making a timid début. Add to this a weak, good-natured mouth, a
pair of devil-may-care blue eyes, and the fact that the man was very
drunk, and you have a pre-Raphaelite portrait--we may as well say at
once--of Mr. Larry O'Rourke of Mullingar, County Westmeath, and late of
the United States sloop-of-war _Santee_.

The man was a total stranger to Mrs. Bilkins; but the instant she
caught sight of the double white anchors embroidered on the lapels of
his jacket, she unhesitatingly threw back the door, which with great
presence of mind she had partly closed.

A drunken sailor standing on the step of the Bilkins mansion was no
novelty. The street, as we have stated, led down to the wharves, and
sailors were constantly passing. The house abutted directly on the
street; the granite doorstep was almost flush with the sidewalk, and
the huge old-fashioned brass knocker--seemingly a brazen hand that had
been cut off at the wrist, and nailed against the oak as a warning to
malefactors--extended itself in a kind of grim appeal to everybody. It
seemed to possess strange fascinations for all seafaring folk; and when
there was a man-of-war in port the rat-tat-tat of that knocker would
frequently startle the quiet neighborhood long after midnight. There
appeared to be an occult understanding between it and the blue-jackets.
Years ago there was a young Bilkins, one Pendexter Bilkins--a sad
losel, we fear--who ran away to try his fortunes before the mast, and
fell overboard in a gale off Hatteras. "Lost at sea," says the chubby
marble slab in the Old South Burying Ground, "_ætat._ 18." Perhaps that
is why no blue-jacket, sober or drunk, was ever repulsed from the door
of the Bilkins mansion.

Of course Mrs. Bilkins had her taste in the matter, and preferred them
sober. But as this could not always be, she tempered her wind, so to
speak, to the shorn lamb. The flushed, prematurely old face that now
looked up at her moved the good lady's pity.

"What do you want?" she asked kindly.

"Me wife."

"There's no wife for you here," said Mrs. Bilkins, somewhat taken
aback. "His wife!" she thought; "it's a mother the poor boy needs."

"Me wife," repeated Mr. O'Rourke, "for betther or for worse."

"You had better go away," said Mrs. Bilkins, bridling up, "or it will
be the worse for you."

"To have and to howld," continued Mr. O'Rourke, wandering
retrospectively in the mazes of the marriage service, "to have and to
howld till death--bad luck to him!--takes one or the ither of us."

"You're a blasphemous creature," said Mrs. Bilkins severely.

"Thim's the words his riverince spake this mornin', standin' foreninst
us," explained Mr. O'Rourke. "I stood here, see, and me jew'l stood
there, and the howly chaplain beyont."

And Mr. O'Rourke with a wavering forefinger drew a diagram of the
interesting situation on the doorstep.

"Well," returned Mrs. Bilkins, "if you're a married man, all I have to
say is, there's a pair of fools instead of one. You had better be off;
the person you want doesn't live here."

"Bedad, thin, but she does."

"Lives here?"

"Sorra a place else."

"The man's crazy," said Mrs. Bilkins to herself.

While she thought him simply drunk, she was not in the least afraid;
but the idea that she was conversing with a madman sent a chill over
her. She reached back her hand preparatory to shutting the door, when
Mr. O'Rourke, with an agility that might have been expected from his
previous gymnastics, set one foot on the threshold and frustrated the
design.

"I want me wife," he said sternly.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bilkins had gone uptown, and there was no one in the
house except Margaret, whose pluck was not to be depended on. The case
was urgent. With the energy of despair Mrs. Bilkins suddenly placed
the toe of her boot against Mr. O'Rourke's invading foot and pushed it
away. The effect of this attack was to cause Mr. O'Rourke to describe a
complete circle on one leg, and then sit down heavily on the threshold.
The lady retreated to the hat-stand, and rested her hand mechanically
on the handle of a blue cotton umbrella. Mr. O'Rourke partly turned his
head and smiled upon her with conscious superiority. At this juncture a
third actor appeared on the scene, evidently a friend of Mr. O'Rourke,
for he addressed that gentleman as a "spalpeen," and told him to go
home.

"Divil an inch," replied the spalpeen; but he got himself off the
threshold and resumed his position on the step.

"It's only Larry, mum," said the man, touching his forelock politely;
"as dacent a lad as ever lived, when he's not in liquor; an' I've known
him to be sober for days togither," he added, reflectively. "He don't
mane a ha'p'orth o' harum, but jist now he's not quite in his right
moind."

"I should think not," said Mrs. Bilkins, turning from the speaker to
Mr. O'Rourke, who had seated himself gravely on the scraper and was
weeping. "Hasn't the man any friends?"

"Too many of 'em, mum, an' it's along wid dhrinkin' toasts wid 'em that
Larry got throwed. The punch that spalpeen has dhrunk this day would
amaze ye. He give us the slip awhiles ago, bad cess to him, an' come
up here. Didn't I tell ye, Larry, not to be afther ringin' at the owle
gintleman's knocker? Ain't ye got no sinse at all?"

"Misther Donnehugh," responded Mr. O'Rourke with great dignity, "ye're
dhrunk again."

Mr. Donnehugh, who had not taken more than thirteen ladles of rum
punch, disdained to reply directly.

"He's a dacent lad enough"--this to Mrs. Bilkins--"but his head is
wake. Whin he's had two sups o' whisky he belaves he's dhrunk a
bar'lful. A gill o' wather out of a jimmy-john'd fuddle him, mum."

"Isn't there anybody to look after him?"

"No, mum; he's an orphan. His father and mother live in the owld
counthry, an' a fine, hale owld couple they are."

"Hasn't he any family in the town?"

"Sure, mum, he has a family; wasn't he married this blessed mornin'?"

"He said so."

"Indade, thin, he was--the pore divil!"

"And the--the person?" inquired Mrs. Bilkins.

"Is it the wife, ye mane?"

"Yes, the wife; where is she?"

"Well, thin, mum," said Mr. Donnehugh, "it's yerself can answer that."

"I?" exclaimed Mrs. Bilkins. "Good heavens! this man's as crazy as the
other!"

"Begorra, if anybody's crazy, it's Larry, for it's Larry has married
Margaret."

"What Margaret?" cried Mrs. Bilkins.

"Margaret Callaghan, sure."

"_Our_ Margaret? Do you mean to say that OUR Margaret has married
that--that good-for-nothing, inebriated wretch?"

"It's a civil tongue the owld lady has, anyway," remarked Mr. O'Rourke
critically, from the scraper.

Mrs. Bilkin's voice during the latter part of the colloquy had been
pitched in a high key; it rung through the hall and penetrated to the
kitchen, where Margaret was wiping the breakfast things. She paused
with a half-dried saucer in her hand, and listened. In a moment more
she stood, with bloodless face and limp figure, leaning against the
banister behind Mrs. Bilkins.

"Is it there ye are, me jew'l!" cried Mr. O'Rourke, discovering her.

Mrs. Bilkins wheeled upon Margaret.

"Margaret Callaghan, _is_ that thing your husband?"

"Ye--yes, mum," faltered Mrs. O'Rourke, with a woful lack of spirit.

"Then take it away!" cried Mrs. Bilkins.

Margaret, with a slight flush on either cheek, glided past Mrs.
Bilkins, and the heavy oak door closed with a bang, as the gates of
Paradise must have closed of old upon Adam and Eve.

"Come!" said Margaret, taking Mr. O'Rourke by the hand; and the two
wandered forth upon their wedding journey down Anchor Street, with
all the world before them where to choose. They chose to halt at the
small, shabby tenement-house by the river, through the doorway of
which the bridal pair disappeared with a reeling, eccentric gait; for
Mr. O'Rourke's intoxication seemed to have run down his elbow, and
communicated itself to Margaret.

O Hymen! who burnest precious gums and scented woods in thy torch at
the melting of aristocratic hearts, with what a pitiful penny-dip thou
hast lighted up our little back-street romance.--_Majorie Daw, and
Other Stories._

       *       *       *       *       *

The story is told of a famous Boston lawyer, that one day, after having
a slight discussion with the Judge, he deliberately turned his back
upon that personage and started to walk off.

"Are you trying, sir, to show your contempt for the Court?" asked the
judge, sternly.

"No, sir," was the reply; "I am trying to conceal it."



GELETT BURGESS

THE BOHEMIANS OF BOSTON


    The "Orchids" were as tough a crowd
    As Boston anywhere allowed;
    It was a club of wicked men--
    The oldest, twelve, the youngest, ten;
    They drank their soda colored green,
    They talked of "Art," and "Philistine,"
    They wore buff "wescoats," and their hair
    It used to make the waiters stare!
    They were so shockingly behaved
    And Boston thought them _so_ depraved,
    Policemen, stationed at the door,
    Would raid them every hour or more!
    They used to smoke (!) and laugh out loud (!)
    They were a very devilish crowd!
    They formed a Cult, far subtler, brainier,
    Than ordinary Anglomania,
    For all as Jacobites were reckoned,
    And gaily toasted Charles the Second!
    (What would the Bonnie Charlie say,
    If he could see that crowd to-day?)
    Fitz-Willieboy McFlubadub
    Was Regent of the Orchids' Club;
    A wild Bohemian was he,
    And spent his money fast and free.
    He thought no more of spending dimes
    On some debauch of pickled limes,
    Than you would think of spending nickels
    To buy a pint of German pickles!
    The Boston maiden passed him by
    With sidelong glances of her eye,
    She dared not speak (he _was_ so wild),
    Yet worshiped this Lotharian child.
    Fitz-Willieboy was so _blasé_,
    He burned a _Transcript_ up one day!
    The Orchids fashioned all their style
    On Flubadub's infernal guile.
    That awful Boston oath was his--
    _He_ used to 'jaculate, "Gee Whiz!"
    He showed them that immoral haunt.
    The dirty Chinese Restaurant,
    And there they'd find him, even when
    It got to be as late as ten!
    He ate chopped _suey_ (with a fork),
    You should have heard the villain talk
    Of one _reporter_ that he knew (!)
    An artist, and an actor, too!!!
    The Orchids went from bad to worse,
    Made epigrams--attempted verse!
    Boston was horrified and shocked
    To hear the way those Orchids mocked;
    For they made fun of Boston ways,
    And called good men Provincial Jays!
    The end must come to such a story,
    Gone is the wicked Orchids' glory,
    The room was raided by police,
    One night, for breaches of the Peace
    (There had been laughter, long and loud,
    In Boston this is not allowed),
    And there, the sergeant of the squad
    Found awful evidence--my God!--
    Fitz-Willieboy McFlubadub,
    The Regent of the Orchids' Club,
    Had written on the window-sill,
    This shocking outrage--"Beacon H--ll!"

    In "The Burgess Nonsense Book"

       *       *       *       *       *

Of the countless good stories attributed to Artemus Ward, the best one,
perhaps, is one which tells of the advice which he gave to a Southern
railroad conductor soon after the war. The road was in a wretched
condition, and the trains were consequently run at a phenomenally low
rate of speed. When the conductor was punching his ticket, Artemus
remarked:

"Does this railroad company allow passengers to give it advice, if they
do so in a respectful manner?"

The conductor replied in gruff tones that he guessed so.

"Well," Artemus went on, "it occurred to me that it would be well to
detach the cowcatcher from the front of the engine and hitch it to the
rear of the train, for you see we are not liable to overtake a cow,
but what's to prevent a cow from strolling into this car and biting a
passenger?"



MARION COUTHOUY SMITH

THE COMPOSITE GHOST


    They were placed on exhibition, in a long, imposing row,
    All who'd borne the name of Spriggins for three centuries or so;
    From old Amram, who came over in the Pilgrim Fathers' track,
    To the late lamented Jane, for whom the family still wore black.
    They stood upon a hardwood shelf, in rich and proud array,
    Not disposed, I beg to state, in any grim, offensive way.
    They were not a row of mummies, standing terrible and tall,
    Nor a grisly stack of coffins, piled up high along the wall;
    You never came across a skull, nor stumbled on a bone,
    Nor a human frame in lattice-work, left rattling there alone;
    Your nerves would never suffer there from sudden shocks or "turns"--
    There was nothing but a score or two of classic little urns,
    Which held their sacred contents, sealed in elegant reserve,
    Like a ghastly kind of jam, or supernatural preserve.
    You never, never would suspect that in those graceful rows,
    The entire Spriggins ancestry could peacefully repose.
    'Tis a plan that's most convenient, thus within a little space,
    To have your relatives condensed, and keep them in a vase;
    For if you care to travel, why, wherever you may go,
    You can simply take your family vault along with you, you know.
    You can have the whole collection sent by Peterson's express,
    To be a genteel solace in bereavement and distress.
    Besides, it is the prettiest end a man could wish himself--
    To be gathered to his fathers in an urn upon a shelf.

           *       *       *       *       *

    There rested all the Spriggins tribe, each in his little urn,
    On which the names and dates were carved, as each had died in turn;
    And Spriggins, _père_, was proud of them, and often went to weep,
    Beside the sacred shelf on which he one day hoped to sleep.
    One fatal afternoon it chanced that Spriggins's youngest son,
    Whose un-Christian age was seven, and whose Christian name was John,
    Obtained the key to that small room, and found that sacred store
    Of the ashes of his fathers, which he ne'er had seen before.
    This Johnny was a clever boy, much given to research,
    His very nose turned up, with interrogatory perch;
    His head--excuse the slang--was very level, you'll surmise,
    But 'twas level where his bump of veneration ought to rise.
    He knew they were his relatives, within those vases packed,
    But he didn't care a button for that interesting fact;
    All he wanted was to reach those curious urns and take them down.
    (Alas! the shelf was several feet above his little crown.)
    There came a sudden avalanche, and flat upon the floor
    He lay, sprinkled with the ashes of a century or more!
    A portion of his grandpa ran in torrents down his neck,
    And 'round him all his great-great aunts were lying by the peck.
    He had Pilgrim Fathers in his shoes, all trickling 'round his toes;
    He had grandmas in his hair, and he had cousins in his nose,
    And, worst of all, a fragment of the late lamented Jane
    Had lodged beneath his eyelid, and was causing dreadful pain!
    But John had lots of courage, and he didn't stop to cry,
    Not even with the ashes of his sister in his eye;
    He only gasped, and quickly rose, and ruefully surveyed
    The ruin and confusion that his luckless fall had made.
    He could sweep up all the ashes, but things never could be fixed,
    For the worthy house of Spriggins was inextricably mixed!
    Such stirring up would stagger e'en the very stoutest brain;
    Why, you couldn't tell old Amram from the late lamented Jane.
    The scions of this honored line, all by that little loon,
    Might just as well have been stirred up, like pudding, with a spoon.
    'Twas very sad; but Johnny, yielding not to thoughts of gloom,
    Brought up a chair to stand on, and a dustpan and a broom,
    And soon that little room was very, very cleanly swept,
    And urns and ashes all put back, just where they had been kept.
    You never, never would suspect what that one day had cost,
    And that in that act each Spriggins's identity was lost!

           *       *       *       *       *

    That night, alas! Pa Spriggins, in a solemn frame of mind,
    Betook himself to that small room, as oft he felt inclined,
    And he shut the door, and sat him down, those urns to contemplate,
    While appropriate reflections chased each other through his pate,
    For he loved to pensively recount the treasures of the past,
    And wondered constantly how long the family would last.
    The place was dark and gloomy--he was shut up there alone,
    When suddenly--his hair stood up!--he heard a hollow groan!
    The cover of the largest urn rose up a little way,
    A mist came forth, which altered to a figure dim and gray.
    It rose up from the ashes, like the Phenix known of old,
    But of such an awful bird as this the ancients never told.
    It bore a distant likeness to the figure of a man,
    But picture such a nondescript I know I never can.
    It had a gray old head upon the shoulders of a child;
    One eye was small and wicked, and the other large and wild.
    Its hands, its feet, its teeth, its ears, I solemnly declare,
    You couldn't pick out two of them that matched to make a pair!
    One foot was slim and dainty, and the other huge and flat,
    And it had a woman's wig on underneath a man's cocked hat;
    A waistcoat like George Washington's, a blazer and a train,
    That Spriggins knew had once belonged to his departed Jane!
    He sank upon his bonded knees, with terror quite unmanned;
    It stood upon its one large foot, and waved its biggest hand,
    And spake: "Unhappy man," it said, "for this have we been burned?
    For this have we been kept here long, so carefully inurned?
    Oh, see, upon this sacred shelf what dire confusion reigns!
    Wretch! What have you been doing with your ancestors' remains?
    You listen to your father's voice, but thanks, I fear, to you,
    It is your uncle Solomon whose mouth it's speaking through!
    Oh, tell me who or what I am, and how long I've been dead;
    And tell me if I've got my own or some one else's head;
    I don't belong to any special period at all.
    Am I my Aunt Kiziah, or am I your brother Paul?
    Oh, Spriggins--Ebenezer J!--Oh, wretch! Oh, fool! Oh, rash!
    How could you mix our ashes in one vast, ancestral hash?"
    Thus ending, with a mingled wail of misery and rage,
    That awful vision ceased to speak, and vanished from the stage,
    While ghostly groanings issued from the various urns around,
    But poor old Spriggins heard no more--he swooned upon the ground.

           *       *       *       *       *

    And now these mingled embers 'neath memorial marbles lie,
    And Spriggins and his family will be buried when they die.



SOME MESSAGES RECEIVED BY TEACHERS IN BROOKLYN PUBLIC SCHOOLS


The fact that the "Slab City" parents object to clay-modeling in the
schools is illustrated in the following note sent to a teacher in one
of the Tenth Ward schools:

    _Miss ----_: John kem home yesterday wid his clothes covered wid
    mud. He said you put him to work mixing clay when he ought to be
    learning to read an' write. Me man carries th' hod, an' God knows I
    hev enuf trouble wid his clothes in th' wash widout scraping John's
    coat. If he comes home like this agin I'll send him back ter yez to
    wash his clothes.
                                                      MRS. O'R----

Here is one from a Brownsville mother who objects to physical culture:

    _Miss Brown_: You must stop teach my Lizzie fisical torture she
    needs yet readin' an' figors mit sums more as that, if I want her
    to do jumpin' I kin make her jump.
                                                  MRS. CANAVOWSKY.

The number of parents who object to the temperance plank in the
educational platform is greater than the number of objectors to any
other class of study in Williamsburg. Here is a copy of a note sent to
a teacher in the Stagg Street school:

    _Miss ----_: My boy tells me that when I trink beer der overcoat
    vrom my stummack gets to thick. Please be so kind and don't
    intervere in my family afairs.
                                                    MR. CHRIS ----

Here is a sample on the same subject sent to a teacher in the Maujer
Street school:

    _Dear Teacher_: You should mine your own bizniss an' not tell Jake
    he should not trink bier, so long he lif he trinks the bier an' he
    trinks it yen wen bill rains is ded, if you interfer some more I go
    on the bored of edcation.
                                                             W. S.

In this school the teachers are often compelled to listen to long
arguments on the excise question, and the parents who call around to
argue become greatly excited when told that the children are taught not
to taste alcoholic liquors. One little boy told his teacher that his
mother had given him orders to get up and leave the classroom during
the hour for discussing the alcohol question. The teacher told the boy
to ask his mother to call around at the schoolhouse. She wrote this
note instead:

    _Teacher_: John says you want to see me. I have a bier saloon and
    nine children. Bizness is good in morning an' aft'noon. How can I
    come?

The Pickleville parents as a rule never omit the "obliging" end of a
note, as will be seen in the following, sent to a teacher of the Wall
Street school:

    _Dear Teacher_: Pleas excus Fritz for staying home he had der
    meesells to oblige his father.
                                                            J. B.

And here is another of the obliging kind:

    _Teacher_: Please excuse Henny for not comeing in school as he died
    from the car run-over on Tuesday. By doing so you will greatly
    oblige his loving mother.

Here is one sent to the Brownsville school:

    _Dear Miss Baker_: Please excuse Rachael for being away those two
    days her grandmother died to oblige her mother.
                                                     MRS. RENSKI.

The child mentioned in the following note was neither German nor Irish.
But he is back in school after a battle with the doctors:

    _Miss ----_: Frank could not come these three weeks because he had
    the amonia and information of the vowels.
                                                      MRS. SMITH.

The notes sent are sometimes written on scented paper, and as a rule
these are misspelled. Here is a scented-paper sample:

    _Teacher_: You must excuse my girl for not coming to school, she
    was sick and lade in a common dose state for tree days.
                                                          MRS. W.

In this same school a teacher received the following:

    _Miss ----_: Please let Willie home at 2 o'clock. I take him out for
    a little pleasure to see his grandfather's grave.
                                                          MRS. R.

Still another mother wrote the following:

    _Miss ----_: Please be so kind an' knock hell out of Sol when he
    gives too much lip to oblige his mother.



THE TROUT'S APPEAL


    Don't visit the commonplace Winnepesauke,
      Or the rivulet Onoquinapaskeasanognog,
    Nor climb to the summit of bare Moosilauke,
      And look eastward toward the clear Umbagog;
    But come into Maine to the Welokennebacock,
      Or to the saucy little river Essiqualsagook,
    Or still smaller stream of Chinquassabunticook,
      Then visit me last on the great Anasagunticook.



BILL NYE

A FATAL THIRST


From the London _Lancet_ we learn that "many years ago a case was
recorded by Doctor Otto, of Copenhagen, in which 495 needles passed
through the skin of a hysterical girl, who had probably swallowed them
during a hysterical paroxysm, but these all emerged from the regions
below the diaphragm, and were collected in groups, which gave rise
to inflammatory swellings of some size. One of these contained 100
needles. Quite recently Doctor Bigger described before the Society of
Surgery of Dublin a case in which more than 300 needles were removed
from the body of a woman. It is very remarkable in how few cases the
needles were the cause of death, and how slight an interference with
function their presence and movement cause."

It would seem, from the cases on record, that needles in the system
rather assist in the digestion and promote longevity.

For instance, we will suppose that the hysterical girl above alluded
to, with 495 needles in her stomach, should absorb the midsummer
cucumber. Think how interesting those needles would make it for the
great colic promoter!

We can imagine the cheerful smile of the cucumber as it enters the
stomach, and, bowing cheerfully to the follicles standing around, hangs
its hat upon the walls of the stomach, stands its umbrella in a corner,
and proceeds to get in its work.

All at once the cucumber looks surprised and grieved about something.
It stops in its heaven-born colic generation, and pulls a rusty needle
out of its person. Maddened by the pain, it once more attacks the
digestive apparatus, and once more accumulates a choice job lot of
needles.

Again and again it enters into the unequal contest, each time losing
ground and gaining ground, till the poor cucumber, with assorted
hardware sticking out in all directions, like the hair on a cat's tail,
at last curls up like a caterpillar and yields up the victory.

Still, this needle business will be expensive to husbands, if wives
once acquire the habit and allow it to obtain the mastery over them.

If a wife once permits this demon appetite for cambric needles to get
control of the house, it will soon secure a majority in the senate, and
then there will be trouble.

The woman who once begins to tamper with cambric needles is not safe.
She may think that she has power to control her appetite, but it is
only a step to the maddening thirst for the darning-needle, and perhaps
to the button-hook and carpet-stretcher.

It is safer and better to crush the first desire for needles than to
undertake when it is too late reformation from the abject slavery to
this hellish thirst.

We once knew a sweet young creature, with dewy eye and breath like
timothy hay. Her merry laugh rippled out upon the summer air like the
joyful music of baldheaded bobolinks.

Everybody loved her, and she loved everybody too. But in a thoughtless
moment she swallowed a cambric needle. This did not satisfy her. The
cruel thraldom had begun. Whenever she felt depressed and gloomy, there
was nothing that would kill her ennui and melancholy but the fatal
needle-cushion.

From this she rapidly became more reckless, till there was hardly an
hour that she was not under the influence of needles.

If she couldn't get needles to assuage her mad thirst, she would take
hairpins or door-keys. She gradually pined away to a mere skeleton. She
could no longer sit on one foot and be happy.

Life for her was filled with opaque gloom and sadness. At last she took
an overdose of sheep-shears and monkey-wrenches one day, and on the
following morning her soul had lit out for the land of eternal summer.

We should learn from this to shun the maddening needle-cushion as we
would a viper, and never tell a lie.



GEORGE W. PECK

PECK'S BAD BOY


"Say, are you a Mason, or a Nodfellow, or anything?" asked the bad boy
of the grocery man, as he went to the cinnamon bag on the shelf and
took out a long stick of cinnamon bark to chew.

"Why, yes, of course I am; but what set you to thinking of that?" asked
the grocery man, as he went to the desk and charged the boy's father
with a half-pound of cinnamon.

"Well, do the goats bunt when you nishiate a fresh candidate?"

"No, of course not. The goats are cheap ones, that have no life, and
we muzzle them, and put pillows over their heads so they can't hurt
anybody," said the grocery man, as he winked at a brother Oddfellow who
was seated on a sugar barrel, looking mysterious. "But why do you ask?"

"Oh, nothin', only I wish me and my chum had muzzled our goat with
a pillow. Pa would have enjoyed his becoming a member of our lodge
better. You see, Pa had been telling us how much good the Masons and
Oddfellers did, and said we ought to try and grow up good so we could
jine the lodges when we got big; and I asked Pa if it would do any
hurt for us to have a play lodge in my room, and purtend to nishiate,
and Pa said it wouldn't do any hurt. He said it would improve our minds
and learn us to be men. So my chum and me borried a goat that lives in
a livery stable. Say, did you know they keep a goat in a livery stable
so the horses won't get sick? They get used to the smell of the goat,
and after that nothing can make them sick but a glue factory. You see,
my chum and me had to carry the goat up to my room when Ma and Pa was
out riding, and he blatted so we had to tie a handkerchief around his
nose, and his feet made such a noise on the floor that we put some
baby's socks on his hoofs.

"Well, my chum and me practised with that goat until he could bunt the
picture of a goat every time. We borried a bock-beer sign from a saloon
man and hung it on the back of a chair, and the goat would hit it every
time. That night Pa wanted to know what we were doing up in my room,
and I told him we were playing lodge, and improving our minds; and Pa
said that was right, there was nothing that did boys of our age half so
much good as to imitate men, and store by useful nollidge. Then my chum
asked Pa if he didn't want to come up and take the grand bumper degree,
and Pa laffed and said he didn't care if he did, just to encourage
us boys in innocent pastime that was so improving to our intellex.
We had shut the goat up in a closet in my room, and he had got over
blatting; so we took off the handkerchief and he was eating some of my
paper collars and skate straps. We went upstairs and told Pa to come
up pretty soon and give three distinct raps, and when we asked him who
comes there he must say, 'A pilgrim, who wants to join your ancient
order and ride the goat.' Ma wanted to come up, too, but we told her
if she come in it would break up the lodge, 'cause a woman couldn't
keep a secret, and we didn't have any side-saddle for the goat. Say, if
you never tried it, the next time you nishiate a man in your Mason's
lodge you sprinkle a little kyan pepper on the goat's beard just before
you turn him loose. You can get three times as much fun to the square
inch of goat. You wouldn't think it was the same goat. Well, we got
all fixed, and Pa rapped, and we let him in and told him he must be
blindfolded, and he got on his knees a-laffing, and I tied a towel
around his eyes, and then I turned him around and made him get down on
his hands also, and then his back was right toward the closet sign, and
I put the bock-beer sign right against Pa's clothes. He was a-laffing
all the time, and said we boys were as full of fun as they made 'em,
and we told him it was a solemn occasion, and we wouldn't permit no
levity, and if he didn't stop laffing we couldn't give him the grand
bumper degree. Then everything was ready, and my chum had his hand on
the closet door, and some kyan pepper in his other hand, and I asked
Pa in low bass tones if he felt as though he wanted to turn back, or if
he had nerve enough to go ahead and take the degree. I warned him that
it was full of dangers, as the goat was loaded for bear, and told him
he yet had time to retrace his steps if he wanted to. He said he wanted
the whole bizness, and we could go ahead with the menagerie. Then I
said to Pa that if he had decided to go ahead, and not blame us for the
consequences, to repeat after me the following, 'Bring forth the Royal
Bumper and let him Bump.'

"Pa repeated the words, and my chum sprinkled the kyan pepper on the
goat's mustache, and he sneezed once and looked sassy, and then he
see the lager-beer goat rearing up, and he started for it just like a
crow-catcher, and blatted. Pa is real fat, but he knew he got hit, and
he grunted and said, 'What you boys doin'?' and then the goat gave him
another degree, and Pa pulled off the towel and got up and started for
the stairs, and so did the goat; and Ma was at the bottom of the stairs
listening, and when I looked over the banisters Pa and Ma and the goat
were all in a heap, and Pa was yelling murder, and Ma was screaming
fire, and the goat was blatting, and sneezing, and bunting, and the
hired girl came into the hall and the goat took after her, and she
crossed herself just as the goat struck her and said, 'Howly mother,
protect me!' and went downstairs the way we boys slide down hill,
with both hands on herself, and the goat reared up and blatted, and Pa
and Ma went into their room and shut the door, and then my chum and me
opened the front door and drove the goat out. The minister, who comes
to see Ma every three times a week, was just ringing the bell, and
the goat thought he wanted to be nishiated, too, and gave him one for
luck, and then went down the sidewalk, blatting, and sneezing, and the
minister came in the parlor and said he was stabbed, and then Pa came
out of his room with his suspenders hanging down, and he didn't know
the minister was there, and he said cuss words, and Ma cried and told
Pa he would go to the bad place sure, and Pa said he didn't care, he
would kill that kussid goat afore he went, and I told Pa the minister
was in the parlor, and he and Ma went down and said the weather was
propitious for a revival, and it seemed as though an outpouring of the
spirit was about to be vouchsafed, and none of them sot down but Ma,
cause the goat didn't hit her, and while they were talking relidgin
with their mouths, and kussin' the goat inwardly, my chum and me
adjourned the lodge, and I went and stayed with him all night, and I
haven't been home since. But I don't believe Pa will lick me, 'cause he
said he would not hold us responsible for the consequences. He ordered
the goat hisself, and we filled the order, don't you see? Well, I guess
I will go and sneak in the back way, and find out from the hired girl
how the land lays. She won't go back on me, 'cause the goat was not
loaded for hired girls. She just happened to get in at the wrong time.
Good-by, sir. Remember and give your goat kyan pepper in your lodge."

       *       *       *       *       *

The average American at home or abroad does not take kindly to anything
that would seem to cast the shadow of a shade upon his native land.
A story told one evening at the Richmond Avenue Methodist Episcopal
Church by the Rev. George W. Peck might be cited in illustration. An
Englishman was traveling through Italy with an American friend, and
in the course of their sojournings each maintained the superiority
of his own country. Finally, the grand spectacle of Mount Vesuvius
in eruption, throwing its brilliant rays across the Bay of Naples,
burst upon their astonished gaze. "Now, look at that," chuckled the
Englishman; "you haven't got anything in America that can come anywhere
near that." "No," moodily replied the Yankee. "It is true we have not
got a Vesuvius, but we have got a waterfall that could put that thing
out in less than five minutes."

       *       *       *       *       *

An Illinois paper has the following: "The funeral services of the late
William P. Lewis were somewhat hurried to enable his estimable and
grief-stricken widow to catch the two o'clock train for Chicago, where
she goes to visit friends."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Fellow-citizens," said the candidate, "I have fought against the
Indians. I have often had no bed but the battle-field, and no canopy
but the sky. I have marched over the frozen ground till every step has
been marked with blood."

His story told well, till a dried-up looking voter came to the front.

"Did yer say yer'd fought for the Union?"

"Yes," replied the candidate.

"And agin the Indians?"

"Yes, many a time."

"And that you had slept on the ground with only the sky for a kiver?"

"Certainly."

"And that your feet bled in marching over the frozen ground?"

"That they did," cried the exultant candidate.

"Then I'll be darned if you hain't done enough for your country. Go
home and rest. I'll vote for the other fellow."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. L---- had often told Mamie, her four-year-old daughter, that she
was never alone, because God was always with her. One day Mrs. L----
was called from the room and left Mamie for a longer time than she
expected. When she came back she said pityingly: "Why, Mamie, have you
been here alone all the time? I thought some one would come in." "Oh, I
haven't been alone, mamma," Mamie answered, "because God has been with
me; but," she added, gravely, "he's _dretful_ poor company."





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