THE WIT AND HUMOR OF AMERICA
In Ten Volumes
THE WIT AND HUMOR OF AMERICA
EDITED BY MARSHALL P. WILDER
Funk & Wagnalls Company New York and London
Copyright MDCCCCVII, BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY Copyright MDCCCCXI, THE THWING COMPANY
Arkansas Planter, An Opie Read 556 Auto Rubaiyat, The Reginald Wright Kauffman 546 Ballade of the "How To" Books, A John James Davies 416 Bohemians of Boston, The Gelett Burgess 519 Courtin', The James Russell Lowell 524 Crimson Cord, The Ellis Parker Butler 470 Diamond Wedding, The Edmund Clarence Stedman 549 Dislikes Oliver Wendell Holmes 536 Dos't o' Blues, A James Whitcomb Riley 486 Dying Gag, The James L. Ford 569 Elizabeth Eliza Writes a Paper Lucretia P. Hale 454 Garden Ethics Charles Dudley Warner 425 Genial Idiot Suggests a Comic Opera, The John Kendrick Bangs 504 Hans Breitmann's Party Charles Godfrey Leland 446 Hired Hand and "Ha'nts," The E.O. Laughlin 419 In Elizabeth's Day Wallace Rice 572 In Philistia Bliss Carman 567 Letter from Home, A Wallace Irwin 522 Little Mock-Man, The James Whitcomb Riley 540 Little Orphant Annie James Whitcomb Riley 444 Mammy's Lullaby Strickland W. Gillilan 542 Maxioms Carolyn Wells 424 Morris and the Honorable Tim Myra Kelly 488 Mr. Stiver's Horse James Montgomery Bailey 464 My First Visit to Portland Major Jack Downing 409 My Sweetheart Samuel Minturn Peck 544 New Version, The W.J. Lampton 574 Our New Neighbors at Ponkapog Thomas Bailey Aldrich 403 Plaint of Jonah, The Robert J. Burdette 485 Retort, The George P. Morris 584 Rhyme of the Chivalrous Shark, The Wallace Irwin 483 Rollo Learning to Read Robert J. Burdette 448 Selecting the Faculty Bayard Rust Hall 437 Southern Sketches Bill Arp 575 Tower of London, The Artemus Ward 528 Traveled Donkey, A Bert Leston Taylor 428 Tree-Toad, The James Whitcomb Riley 418 Two Automobilists, The Carolyn Wells 573 Two Business Men, The Carolyn Wells 583 Two Housewives, The Carolyn Wells 566 Two Ladies, The Carolyn Wells 548 Two Young Men, The Carolyn Wells 565 Uncle Simon and Uncle Jim Artemus Ward 539 Wamsley's Automatic Pastor Frank Crane 511 Wild Animals I Have Met Carolyn Wells 414
COMPLETE INDEX AT THE END OF VOLUME X.
OUR NEW NEIGHBORS AT PONKAPOG
BY THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
When I saw the little house building, an eighth of a mile beyond my own, on the Old Bay Road, I wondered who were to be the tenants. The modest structure was set well back from the road, among the trees, as if the inmates were to care nothing whatever for a view of the stylish equipages which sweep by during the summer season. For my part, I like to see the passing, in town or country; but each has his own unaccountable taste. The proprietor, who seemed to be also the architect of the new house, superintended the various details of the work with an assiduity that gave me a high opinion of his intelligence and executive ability, and I congratulated myself on the prospect of having some very agreeable neighbors.
It was quite early in the spring, if I remember, when they moved into the cottage—a newly married couple, evidently: the wife very young, pretty, and with the air of a lady; the husband somewhat older, but still in the first flush of manhood. It was understood in the village that they came from Baltimore; but no one knew them personally, and they brought no letters of introduction. (For obvious reasons, I refrain from mentioning names.) It was clear that, for the present at least, their own company was entirely sufficient for them. They made no advance toward the acquaintance of any of the families in the neighborhood, and consequently were left to themselves. That, apparently, was what they desired, and why they came to Ponkapog. For after its black bass and wild duck and teal, solitude is the chief staple of Ponkapog. Perhaps its perfect rural loveliness should be included. Lying high up under the wing of the Blue Hills, and in the odorous breath of pines and cedars, it chances to be the most enchanting bit of unlaced disheveled country within fifty miles of Boston, which, moreover, can be reached in half an hour's ride by railway. But the nearest railway station (Heaven be praised!) is two miles distant, and the seclusion is without a flaw. Ponkapog has one mail a day; two mails a day would render the place uninhabitable.
The village—it looks like a compact village at a distance, but unravels and disappears the moment you drive into it—has quite a large floating population. I do not allude to the perch and pickerel in Ponkapog Pond. Along the Old Bay Road, a highway even in the Colonial days, there are a number of attractive villas and cottages straggling off toward Milton, which are occupied for the summer by people from the city. These birds of passage are a distinct class from the permanent inhabitants, and the two seldom closely assimilate unless there has been some previous connection. It seemed to me that our new neighbors were to come under the head of permanent inhabitants; they had built their own house, and had the air of intending to live in it all the year round.
"Are you not going to call on them?" I asked my wife one morning.
"When they call on us," she replied lightly.
"But it is our place to call first, they being strangers."
This was said as seriously as the circumstance demanded; but my wife turned it off with a laugh, and I said no more, always trusting to her intuitions in these matters.
She was right. She would not have been received, and a cool "Not at home" would have been a bitter social pill to us if we had gone out of our way to be courteous.
I saw a great deal of our neighbors, nevertheless. Their cottage lay between us and the post-office—where he was never to be met with by any chance—and I caught frequent glimpses of the two working in the garden. Floriculture did not appear so much an object as exercise. Possibly it was neither; maybe they were engaged in digging for specimens of those arrowheads and flint hatchets, which are continually coming to the surface hereabouts. There is scarcely an acre in which the plowshare has not turned up some primitive stone weapon or domestic utensil, disdainfully left to us by the red men who once held this domain—an ancient tribe called the Punkypoags, a forlorn descendant of which, one Polly Crowd, figures in the annual Blue Book, down to the close of the Southern war, as a state pensioner. At that period she appears to have struck a trail to the Happy Hunting Grounds. I quote from the local historiographer.
Whether they were developing a kitchen garden, or emulating Professor Schliemann, at Mycenae, the newcomers were evidently persons of refined musical taste: the lady had a contralto voice of remarkable sweetness, although of no great compass, and I used often to linger of a morning by the high gate and listen to her executing an arietta, conjecturally at some window upstairs, for the house was not visible from the turnpike. The husband, somewhere about the ground, would occasionally respond with two or three bars. It was all quite an ideal, Arcadian business. They seemed very happy together, these two persons, who asked no odds whatever of the community in which they had settled themselves.
There was a queerness, a sort of mystery, about this couple which I admit piqued my curiosity, though as a rule I have no morbid interest in the affairs of my neighbors. They behaved like a pair of lovers who had run off and got married clandestinely. I willingly acquitted them, however, of having done anything unlawful; for, to change a word in the lines of the poet,
"It is a joy to think the best We may of human kind."
Admitting the hypothesis of elopement, there was no mystery in their neither sending nor receiving letters. But where did they get their groceries? I do not mean the money to pay for them—that is an enigma apart—but the groceries themselves. No express wagon, no butcher's cart, no vehicle of any description, was ever observed to stop at their domicile. Yet they did not order family stores at the sole establishment in the village—an inexhaustible little bottle of a shop which, I advertise it gratis, can turn out anything in the way of groceries, from a hand-saw to a pocket-handkerchief. I confess that I allowed this unimportant detail of their menage to occupy more of my speculation than was creditable to me.
In several respects our neighbors reminded me of those inexplicable persons we sometimes come across in great cities, though seldom or never in suburban places, where the field may be supposed too restricted for their operations—persons who have no perceptible means of subsistence, and manage to live royally on nothing a year. They hold no government bonds, they possess no real estate (our neighbors did own their house), they toil not, neither do they spin; yet they reap all the numerous soft advantages that usually result from honest toil and skilful spinning. How do they do it? But this is a digression, and I am quite of the opinion of the old lady in "David Copperfield," who says, "Let us have no meandering!"
Though my wife had declined to risk a ceremonious call on our neighbors as a family, I saw no reason why I should not speak to the husband as an individual, when I happened to encounter him by the wayside. I made several approaches to do so, when it occurred to my penetration that my neighbor had the air of trying to avoid me. I resolved to put the suspicion to the test, and one forenoon, when he was sauntering along on the opposite side of the road, in the vicinity of Fisher's sawmill, I deliberately crossed over to address him. The brusque manner in which he hurried away was not to be misunderstood. Of course I was not going to force myself upon him.
It was at this time that I began to formulate uncharitable suppositions touching our neighbors, and would have been as well pleased if some of my choicest fruit-trees had not overhung their wall. I determined to keep my eyes open later in the season, when the fruit should be ripe to pluck. In some folks, a sense of the delicate shades of difference between meum and tuum does not seem to be very strongly developed in the Moon of Cherries, to use the old Indian phrase.
I was sufficiently magnanimous not to impart any of these sinister impressions to the families with whom we were on visiting terms; for I despise a gossip. I would say nothing against the persons up the road until I had something definite to say. My interest in them was—well, not exactly extinguished, but burning low. I met the gentleman at intervals, and passed him without recognition; at rarer intervals I saw the lady.
After a while I not only missed my occasional glimpses of her pretty, slim figure, always draped in some soft black stuff with a bit of scarlet at the throat, but I inferred that she did not go about the house singing in her light-hearted manner, as formerly. What had happened? Had the honeymoon suffered eclipse already? Was she ill? I fancied she was ill, and that I detected a certain anxiety in the husband, who spent the mornings digging solitarily in the garden, and seemed to have relinquished those long jaunts to the brow of Blue Hill, where there is a superb view of all Norfolk County combined with sundry venerable rattlesnakes with twelve rattles.
As the days went by it became certain that the lady was confined to the house, perhaps seriously ill, possibly a confirmed invalid. Whether she was attended by a physician from Canton or from Milton, I was unable to say; but neither the gig with the large white allopathic horse, nor the gig with the homoeopathic sorrel mare, was ever seen hitched at the gate during the day. If a physician had charge of the case, he visited his patient only at night. All this moved my sympathy, and I reproached myself with having had hard thoughts of our neighbors. Trouble had come to them early. I would have liked to offer them such small, friendly services as lay in my power; but the memory of the repulse I had sustained still rankled in me. So I hesitated.
One morning my two boys burst into the library with their eyes sparkling.
"You know the old elm down the road?" cried one.
"The elm with the hang-bird's nest?" shrieked the other.
"Well, we both just climbed up, and there's three young ones in it!"
Then I smiled to think that our new neighbors had got such a promising little family.
MY FIRST VISIT TO PORTLAND
BY MAJOR JACK DOWNING
In the fall of the year 1829, I took it into my head I'd go to Portland. I had heard a good deal about Portland, what a fine place it was, and how the folks got rich there proper fast; and that fall there was a couple of new papers come up to our place from there, called the "Portland Courier" and "Family Reader," and they told a good many queer kind of things about Portland, and one thing and another; and all at once it popped into my head, and I up and told father, and says,—
"I am going to Portland, whether or no; and I'll see what this world is made of yet."
Father stared a little at first, and said he was afraid I would get lost; but when he see I was bent upon it, he give it up, and he stepped to his chist, and opened the till, and took out a dollar, and he gave it to me; and says he,—
"Jack, this is all I can do for you; but go and lead an honest life, and I believe I shall hear good of you yet."
He turned and walked across the room, but I could see the tears start into his eyes. And mother sat down and had a hearty crying-spell.
This made me feel rather bad for a minit or two, and I almost had a mind to give it up; and then again father's dream came into my mind, and I mustered up courage, and declared I'd go. So I tackled up the old horse, and packed in a load of axe-handles, and a few notions; and mother fried me some doughnuts, and put 'em into a box, along with some cheese, and sausages, and ropped me up another shirt, for I told her I didn't know how long I should be gone. And after I got rigged out, I went round and bid all the neighbors good-by, and jumped in, and drove off for Portland.
Aunt Sally had been married two or three years before, and moved to Portland; and I inquired round till I found out where she lived, and went there, and put the old horse up, and eat some supper, and went to bed.
And the next morning I got up, and straightened right off to see the editor of the "Portland Courier," for I knew by what I had seen in his paper, that he was just the man to tell me which way to steer. And when I come to see him, I knew I was right; for soon as I told him my name, and what I wanted, he took me by the hand as kind as if he had been a brother, and says he,—
"Mister," says he, "I'll do anything I can to assist you. You have come to a good town; Portland is a healthy, thriving place, and any man with a proper degree of enterprise may do well here. But," says he, "stranger," and he looked mighty kind of knowing, says he, "if you want to make out to your mind, you must do as the steamboats do."
"Well," says I, "how do they do?" for I didn't know what a steamboat was, any more than the man in the moon.
"Why," says he, "they go ahead. And you must drive about among the folks here just as though you were at home, on the farm among the cattle. Don't be afraid of any of them, but figure away, and I dare say you'll get into good business in a very little while. But," says he, "there's one thing you must be careful of; and that is, not to get into the hands of those are folks that trades up round Huckler's Row, for ther's some sharpers up there, if they get hold of you, would twist your eye-teeth out in five minits."
Well, arter he had giv me all the good advice he could, I went back to Aunt Sally's ag'in, and got some breakfast; and then I walked all over the town, to see what chance I could find to sell my axe-handles and things and to get into business.
After I had walked about three or four hours, I come along towards the upper end of the town, where I found there were stores and shops of all sorts and sizes. And I met a feller, and says I,—
"What place is this?"
"Why, this," says he, "is Huckler's Row."
"What!" says I, "are these the stores where the traders in Huckler's Row keep?"
And says he, "Yes."
"Well, then," says I to myself, "I have a pesky good mind to go in and have a try with one of these chaps, and see if they can twist my eye-teeth out. If they can get the best end of a bargain out of me, they can do what there ain't a man in our place can do; and I should just like to know what sort of stuff these 'ere Portland chaps are made of." So I goes into the best-looking store among 'em. And I see some biscuit on the shelf, and says I,—
"Mister, how much do you ax apiece for them 'ere biscuits?"
"A cent apiece," says he.
"Well," says I, "I shan't give you that, but, if you've a mind to, I'll give you two cents for three of them, for I begin to feel a little as though I would like to take a bite."
"Well," says he, "I wouldn't sell 'em to anybody else so, but, seeing it's you, I don't care if you take 'em."
I knew he lied, for he never seen me before in his life. Well, he handed down the biscuits, and I took 'em and walked round the store awhile, to see what else he had to sell. At last says I,—
"Mister, have you got any good cider?"
Says he, "Yes, as good as ever ye see."
"Well," says I, "what do you ax a glass for it?"
"Two cents," says he.
"Well," says I, "seems to me I feel more dry than I do hungry now. Ain't you a mind to take these 'ere biscuits again, and give me a glass of cider?"
And says he,—
"I don't care if I do."
So he took and laid 'em on the shelf again, and poured out a glass of cider. I took the cider and drinkt it down, and, to tell the truth, it was capital good cider. Then says I,—
"I guess it's time for me to be a-going," and I stept along towards the door; but says he,—
"Stop, mister: I believe you haven't paid me for the cider?"
"Not paid you for the cider!" says I. "What do you mean by that? Didn't the biscuits that I give you just come to the cider?"
"Oh, ah, right!" says he.
So I started to go again, and says he,—
"But stop there, mister: you didn't pay me for the biscuits."
"What!" says I, "do you mean to impose upon me? do you think I am going to pay you for the biscuits and let you keep them, too? Ain't they there now on your shelf? What more do you want? I guess, sir, you don't whittle me in that way."
So I turned about and marched off, and left the feller staring and scratching his head, as though he was struck with a dunderment.
Howsomever, I didn't want to cheat him, only jest to show 'em it wa'n't so easy a matter to pull my eye-teeth out; so I called in next day and paid him two cents.
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE MET
BY CAROLYN WELLS
I've met this beast in drawing-rooms, 'Mong ladies gay with silks and plumes. He looks quite bored, and silly, too, When he's held up to public view. I think I like him better when Alone I brave him in his den.
I never seek the surly Bear, But if I meet him in his lair I say, "Good day, sir; sir, good day," And then make haste to get away. It is no pleasure, I declare, To meet the cross, ill-natured Bear.
I know it would be of no use To say I'd never met a Goose. There are so many all around, With idle look and clacking sound. And sometimes it has come to pass I've seen one in my looking-glass.
This merry one, with laughing eyes, Not too sedate nor overwise, Is best of comrades; frank and free, A clever hand at making tea; A fearless nature, full of pluck, I like her well—she is a Duck.
The Cat's a nasty little beast; She's seen at many a fete and feast. She's spiteful, sly and double-faced, Exceeding prim, exceeding chaste. And while a soft, sleek smile she wears, Her neighbor's reputation tears.
Of all the animals I've met The Puppy is the worst one yet. Clumsy and crude, he hasn't brains Enough to come in when it rains. But with insufferable conceit He thinks that he is just too sweet.
Kids are the funniest things I know; Nothing they do but eat and grow. They're frolicsome, and it is said They eat tin cans and are not dead. I'm not astonished at that feat, For all things else I've seen them eat.
A BALLADE OF THE "HOW TO" BOOKS
BY JOHN JAMES DAVIES
That time when Learning's path was steep, And rocks and fissures marred the way, The few who dared were forced to creep, Their souls oft quaking with dismay; The goal achieved, their hairs were gray, Their bodies bent like shepherds' crooks; How blest are we who run to-day The easy road of "How To" books!
The presses groan, and volumes heap, Our dullness we no more betray; To know the stars, or shear a sheep— To live on air, or polo play; The trick is ours, or we may stray Beneath the seas, with science cooks, And sprint by some reflected ray The easy road of "How To" books!
Who craves the boon of dreamless sleep? Who bricks would make, sans straw or clay? "Call spirits from the vasty deep," Or weave a lofty, living lay? Let him be heartened, jocund, gay, Nor hopeless writhe on tenter-hooks,— They meet no barriers who essay The easy road of "How To" books!
The critics still will slash and slay Poor hapless scribes, in sanctum nooks; Lo! here's a refuge for their prey— The easy road of "How To" books!
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
"'Scurious-like," said the tree-toad, "I've twittered fer rain all day; And I got up soon, And I hollered till noon— But the sun, hit blazed away, Till I jest clumb down in a crawfish-hole, Weary at heart, and sick at soul!
"Dozed away fer an hour, And I tackled the thing agin; And I sung, and sung, Till I knowed my lung Was jest about give in; And then, thinks I, ef hit don't rain now, There're nothin' in singin', anyhow!
"Once in awhile some farmer Would come a-drivin' past; And he'd hear my cry, And stop and sigh— Till I jest laid back, at last, And I hollered rain till I thought my th'oat Would bust right open at ever' note!
"But I fetched her! O I fetched her!— 'Cause a little while ago, As I kindo' set, With one eye shet, And a-singin' soft and low, A voice drapped down on my fevered brain, Sayin',—'Ef you'll jest hush I'll rain!'"
THE HIRED HAND AND "HA'NTS"
BY E.O. LAUGHLIN
The Hired Hand was Johnnie's oracle. His auguries were infallible; from his decisions there was no appeal. The wisdom of experienced age was his, and he always stood willing to impart it to the youngest. No question was too trivial for him to consider, and none too abstruse for him to answer. He did not tell Johnnie to "never mind" or wait until he grew older, but was ever willing to pause in his work to explain things. And his oracular qualifications were genuine. He had traveled—had even been as far as the State Fair; he had read—from Robinson Crusoe to Dick the Dead Shot, and, more than all, he had meditated deeply.
The Hired Hand's name was Eph. Perhaps he had another name, too, but if so it had become obsolete. Far and wide he was known simply as Eph.
Eph was generally termed "a cur'ous feller," and this characterization applied equally well to his peculiar appearance and his inquiring disposition. In his confirmation nature had evidently sacrificed her love of beauty to a temporary passion for elongation. Length seemed to have been the central thought, the theme, as it were, upon which he had been composed. This effect was heightened by generously broad hands and feet and a contrastingly abbreviated chin. The latter feature caused his countenance to wear in repose a decidedly vacant look, but it was seldom caught reposing, usually having to bear a smirk of some sort.
Eph's position in the Winkle household was as peculiar as his personality. Nominally he was a hired servant, but, in fact, from his own point of view at least, he was Mr. Winkle's private secretary and confidential adviser. He had been on the place "ever sence old Fan was a yearlin'," which was a long while, indeed; and had come to regard himself as indispensable. The Winkles treated him as one of the family, and he reciprocated in truly familiar ways. He sat at the table with them, helped entertain their guests, and often accompanied them to church. In regulating matters on the farm Mr. Winkle proposed, but Eph invariably disposed, in a diplomatic way, of course; and, although his judgment might be based on false logic, the result was generally successful and satisfactory.
With all his good qualities and her attachment to him, however, Mrs. Winkle was not sure that Eph's moral status was quite sound, and she was inclined to discourage Johnnie's association with him. As a matter of fact she had overheard Johnnie utter several bad words, of which Eph was certainly the prime source. But a mother's solicitude was of little avail when compared with Eph's Delphian wisdom. Johnnie would steal away to join Eph in the field at every chance, and the information he acquired at these secret seances, was varied and valuable.
It was Eph who taught him how to tell the time of day by the sun; how to insert a "dutchman" in the place of a lost suspender button; how to make bird-traps; and how to "skin the cat." Eph initiated him into the mysteries of magic and witchcraft, and showed him how to locate a subterranean vein of water by means of a twig of witch-hazel. Eph also confided to Johnnie that he himself could stanch the flow of blood or stop a toothache instantly by force of a certain charm, but he could not tell how to do this because the secret could be imparted only from man to woman, or vice versa. Even the shadowy domain of spirits had not been exempt from Eph's investigations, and he related many a terrifying experience with "ha'nts."
Johnnie was first introduced to the ghost world one summer night, when he and Eph had gone fishing together.
"If ye want to ketch the big uns, always go at night in the dark o' the moon," said Eph, and his piscatorial knowledge was absolute.
They had fished in silence for some time, and Johnnie was nodding, when Eph suddenly whispered:
"Let's go home, sonny, I think I see a ha'nt down yander."
Johnnie had no idea what a "ha'nt" might be, but Eph's constrained manner betokened something dreadful.
It was not until they had come within sight of home that Johnnie ventured to inquire:
"Say, Eph, what is a ha'nt?"
"Huh! What is ha'nts? Why, sonny, you mean to tell me you don't know what ha'nts is?"
"Not exactly; sompin' like wildcats, ain't they?"
"Well, I'll be confounded! Wildcats! Not by a long shot;" and Eph broke into the soft chuckle which always preceded his explanations. They reached the orchard fence, and, seating himself squarely on the topmost rail, Eph began impressively:
"Ha'nts is the remains of dead folks—more 'specially them that's been assinated, er, that is, kilt—understan'? They're kind o' like sperrits, ye know. After so long a time they take to comin' back to yarth an' ha'ntin' the precise spot where they wuz murdered. They always come after dark, an' the diffrunt shapes they take on is supprisin'. I have seed ha'nts that looked like sheep, an' ha'nts that looked like human persons; but lots of 'em ye cain't see a-tall, bein' invisible, as the sayin' is. Now, fer all we know, they may be a ha'nt settin' right here betwixt us, this minute!"
With this solemn declaration Johnnie shivered and began edging closer to Eph, until restrained and appalled by the thought that he might actually sit on the unseen spirit by such movement.
"But do they hurt people, Eph?" he asked anxiously.
Eph gave vent to another chuckle.
"Not if ye understan' the'r ways," he observed sagely. "If ye let 'em alone an' don't go foolin' aroun' the'r ha'ntin'-groun' they'll never harm ye. But don't ye never trifle with no ha'nt, sonny. I knowed a feller't thought 'twuz smart to hector 'em an' said he wuzn't feared. Onct he throwed a rock at one—"
Here Eph paused.
"What h-happened?" gasped Johnnie.
"In one year from that time," replied Eph gruesomely, "that there feller's cow wuz hit by lightnin'; in three year his hoss kicked him an' busted a rib; an' in seven year he wuz a corpse!"
The power of this horrible example was too much for Johnnie.
"Don't you reckon it's bedtime?" he suggested tremblingly.
Thenceforth for many months Johnnie led a haunted life. Ghosts glowered at him from cellar and garret. Specters slunk at his heels, phantoms flitted through the barn. Twilight teemed with horrors, and midnight, when he awoke at that hour, made of his bedroom a veritable Brocken.
It was vain for his parents to expostulate with him. Was one not bound to believe one's own eyes? And how about the testimony of the Hired Hand?
The story in his reader—told in verse and graphically illustrated—of the boy named Walter, who, being alone on a lonesome highway one dark night, beheld a sight that made his blood run cold, acquired an abnormal interest for Johnnie. Walter, with courage resembling madness, marched straight up to the alleged ghost and laughed gleefully to find, "It was a friendly guide-post, his wand'ring steps to guide."
This was all very well, as it turned out, but what if it had been a sure-enough ghost, reflected Johnnie. What if it had reached down with its long, snaky arms and snatched Walter up—and run off with him in the dark—and no telling what? Or it might have swooped straight up in the air with him, for ghosts could do that. Johnnie resolved he would not take any chances with friendly guide-posts which might turn out to be hostile spirits.
Then there was the similar tale of the lame goose, and the one concerning the pillow in the swing—each intended, no doubt, to allay foolish fears on the part of children, but exercising an opposite and harrowing influence upon Johnnie.
BY CAROLYN WELLS
Reward is its own virtue. The wages of sin is alimony. Money makes the mayor go. A penny saved spoils the broth. Of two evils, choose the prettier. There's no fool like an old maid. Make love while the moon shines. Where there's a won't there's a way. Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder. A word to the wise is a dangerous thing. A living gale is better than a dead calm. A fool and his money corrupt good manners. A word in the hand is worth two in the ear. A man is known by the love-letters he keeps. A guilty conscience is the mother of invention. Whosoever thy hands find to do, do with thy might. It's a wise child who knows less than his own father. Never put off till to-morrow what you can wear to-night. He who loves and runs away, may live to love another day.
BY CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER
I believe that I have found, if not original sin, at least vegetable total depravity in my garden; and it was there before I went into it. It is the bunch-, or joint-, or snake-grass,—whatever it is called. As I do not know the names of all the weeds and plants, I have to do as Adam did in his garden,—name things as I find them. This grass has a slender, beautiful stalk: and when you cut it down, or pull up a long root of it, you fancy it is got rid of; but in a day or two it will come up in the same spot in half a dozen vigorous blades. Cutting down and pulling up is what it thrives on. Extermination rather helps it. If you follow a slender white root, it will be found to run under the ground until it meets another slender white root; and you will soon unearth a network of them, with a knot somewhere, sending out dozens of sharp-pointed, healthy shoots, every joint prepared to be an independent life and plant. The only way to deal with it is to take one part hoe and two parts fingers, and carefully dig it out, not leaving a joint anywhere. It will take a little time, say all summer, to dig out thoroughly a small patch; but if you once dig it out, and keep it out, you will have no further trouble.
I have said it was total depravity. Here it is. If you attempt to pull up and root out sin in you, which shows on the surface,—if it does not show, you do not care for it,—you may have noticed how it runs into an interior network of sins, and an ever-sprouting branch of these roots somewhere; and that you can not pull out one without making a general internal disturbance, and rooting up your whole being. I suppose it is less trouble to quietly cut them off at the top—say once a week, on Sunday, when you put on your religious clothes and face,—so that no one will see them, and not try to eradicate the network within.
Remark.—This moral vegetable figure is at the service of any clergyman who will have the manliness to come forward and help me at a day's hoeing on my potatoes. None but the orthodox need apply.
I, however, believe in the intellectual, if not the moral, qualities of vegetables, and especially weeds. There was a worthless vine that (or who) started up about midway between a grape-trellis and a row of bean-poles, some three feet from each, but a little nearer the trellis. When it came out of the ground, it looked around to see what it should do. The trellis was already occupied. The bean-pole was empty. There was evidently a little the best chance of light, air, and sole proprietorship on the pole. And the vine started for the pole, and began to climb it with determination. Here was as distinct an act of choice, of reason, as a boy exercises when he goes into a forest, and, looking about, decides which tree he will climb. And, besides, how did the vine know enough to travel in exactly the right direction, three feet, to find what it wanted? This is intellect. The weeds, on the other hand, have hateful moral qualities. To cut down a weed is, therefore, to do a moral action. I feel as if I were destroying a sin. My hoe becomes an instrument of retributive justice. I am an apostle of nature. This view of the matter lends a dignity to the art of hoeing which nothing else does, and lifts it into the region of ethics. Hoeing becomes, not a pastime, but a duty. And you get to regard it so, as the days and the weeds lengthen.
Observation.—Nevertheless, what a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. The hoe is an ingenious instrument, calculated to call out a great deal of strength at a great disadvantage.
The striped bug has come, the saddest of the year. He is a moral double-ender, iron-clad at that. He is unpleasant in two ways. He burrows in the ground so that you can not find him, and he flies away so that you can not catch him. He is rather handsome, as bugs go, but utterly dastardly, in that he gnaws the stem of the plant close to the ground, and ruins it without any apparent advantage to himself. I find him on the hills of cucumbers (perhaps it will be a cholera-year, and we shall not want any), the squashes (small loss), and the melons (which never ripen). The best way to deal with the striped bug is to sit down by the hills, and patiently watch for him. If you are spry, you can annoy him. This, however, takes time. It takes all day and part of the night. For he flieth in the darkness, and wasteth at noonday. If you get up before the dew is off the plants,—it goes off very early,—you can sprinkle soot on the plant (soot is my panacea: if I can get the disease of a plant reduced to the necessity of soot, I am all right); and soot is unpleasant to the bug. But the best thing to do is set a toad to catch the bugs. The toad at once establishes the most intimate relations with the bug. It is a pleasure to see such unity among the lower animals. The difficulty is to make the toad stay and watch the hill. If you know your toad, it is all right. If you do not, you must build a tight fence round the plants, which the toad can not jump over. This, however, introduces a new element. I find that I have a zooelogical garden. It is an unexpected result of my little enterprise, which never aspired to the completeness of the Paris "Jardin des Plantes."
A TRAVELED DONKEY
BY BERT LESTON TAYLOR
But Buddie got no farther. The sound of music came to her ears, and she stopped to listen. The music was faint and sweet, with the sighful quality of an AEolian harp. Now it seemed near, now far.
"What can it be?" said Buddie.
"Wait here and I'll find out," said Snowfeathers. He darted away and returned before you could count fifty.
"A traveling musician," he reported. "Come along. It's only a little way."
Back he flew, with Buddie scrambling after. A few yards brought her to a little open place, and here was the queerest sight she had yet seen in this queer wood.
On a bank of reindeer moss, at the foot of a great white birch, a mouse-colored donkey sat playing a lute. Over his head, hanging from a bit of bark, was the sign:
WHILE YOU WAIT OLD SAWS RESET
After the many strange things that Buddie had come upon in Queerwood, nothing could surprise her very much. Besides, as she never before had seen a donkey, or a lute, or the combination of donkey and lute, it did not strike her as especially remarkable that the musician should be holding his instrument upside down, and sweeping the strings with one of his long ears, which he was able to wave without moving his head a jot. And this it was that gave to the music its soft and furry-purry quality.
The Donkey greeted Buddie with a careless nod, and remarked, as if anticipating a comment he had heard many times:
"Oh, yes; I play everything by ear."
"Please keep on playing," said Buddie, taking a seat on another clump of reindeer moss.
"I intended to," said the Donkey; and the random chords changed to a crooning melody which wonderfully pleased Buddie, whose opportunities to hear music were sadly few. As for the White Blackbird, he tucked his little head under his wing and went fast asleep.
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked the Donkey, putting down the lute.
"Very nice, sir," answered Buddie, enthusiastically; though she added to herself: The idea of saying sir to an animal! "Would you please tell me your name?" she requested.
The Donkey pawed open a saddle-bag, drew forth with his teeth a card, and presented it to Buddie, who spelled out the following:
PROFESSOR BRAY TENORE BARITONALE TEACHER OF SINGING ALL METHODS CONCERTS AND RECITALS
While Buddie was reading this the Donkey again picked up his instrument and thrummed the strings.
"Did you ever see a donkey play a lute?" said he. "That's an old saw," he added.
"I never saw a donkey before," said Buddie.
"You haven't traveled much," said the other. "The world is full of them."
"This is the farthest I've ever been from home," confessed Buddie, feeling very insignificant indeed.
"And how far may that be?"
Buddie couldn't tell exactly.
"But it can't be a great way," she said. "I live in the log house by the lake."
"Pooh!" said the Donkey. "That's no distance at all." Buddie shrank another inch or two. "I'm a great traveler myself. All donkeys travel that can. If a donkey travels, you know, he may come home a horse; and to become a horse is, of course, the ambition of every donkey!"
"Is it?" was all Buddie could think of to remark. What could she say that would interest a globe-trotter?
"Perhaps you have an old saw you'd like reset," suggested the Donkey, still thrumming the lute-strings.
Buddie thought a moment.
"There's an old saw hanging up in our woodshed," she began, but got no farther.
"Hee-haw! hee-haw!" laughed the Donkey. "Thistles and cactus, but that's rich!" And he hee-hawed until the tears ran down his nose. Poor Buddie, who knew she was being laughed at but didn't know why, began to feel very much like crying and wished she might run away.
"Excuse these tears," the Donkey said at last, recovering his family gravity. "Didn't you ever hear the saying, A burnt child dreads the fire?"
Buddie nodded, and plucked up her spirits.
"Well, that's an old saw. And you must have heard that other very old saw, No use crying over spilt milk."
Another nod from Buddie.
"Here's my setting of that," said the Donkey; and after a few introductory chords, he sang:
"'Oh, why do you cry, my pretty little maid, With a Boo-hoo-hoo and a Heigho?' 'I've spilled my milk, kind sir,' she said, And the Cat said, 'Me-oh! my-oh!'
'No use to cry, my pretty little maid, With a Boo-hoo-hoo and a Heigho.' 'But what shall I do, kind sir?' she said, And the Cat said, 'Me-oh! my-oh!'
'Why, dry your eyes, my pretty little maid, With a Boo-hoo-hoo and a Heigho.' 'Oh, thank you, thank you, sir,' she said, And the Cat said, 'Me-oh! my-oh!'"
"How do you like my voice?" asked the Donkey, in a tone that said very plainly: "If you don't like it you're no judge of singing."
Buddie did not at once reply. A professional critic would have said, and enjoyed saying, that the voice was of the hit-or-miss variety; that it was pitched too high (all donkeys make that mistake); that it was harsh, rasping and unsympathetic, and that altogether the performance was "not convincing."
Now, Little One, although Buddie was not a professional critic, and neither knew how to wound nor enjoyed wounding, even she found the Donkey's voice harsh; but she did not wish to hurt his feelings—for donkeys have feelings, in spite of a popular opinion to the contrary. And, after all, it was pretty good singing for a donkey. Critics should not, as they sometimes do, apply to donkeys the standards by which nightingales are judged. So Buddie was able to say, truthfully and kindly:
"I think you do very well; very well, indeed."
It was a small tribute, but the Donkey was so blinded by conceit that he accepted it as the greatest compliment.
"I ought to sing well," he said. "I've studied methods enough. The more methods you try, you know, the more of a donkey you are."
"Oh, yes," murmured Buddie, not understanding in the least.
"Yes," went on the Donkey; "I've taken the Donkesi Method, the Sobraylia Method, the Thistlefixu Method—"
"I'm afraid I don't quite know what you mean by 'methods,'" ventured Buddie.
The Donkey regarded her with a pitying smile.
"A method," he explained, "is a way of singing 'Ah!' For example, in the Thistlefixu Method, which I am at present using, I fill my mouth full of thistles, stand on one leg, take in a breath three yards long, and sing 'Ah!' The only trouble with this method is that the thistles tickle your throat and make you cough, and you have to spray the vocal cords twice a day, which is considerable trouble, especially when traveling, as I always am."
"I should think it would be," said Buddie. "Won't you sing something else?"
"I'm a little hoarse," apologized the singer.
"That's what you want to be, isn't it?" said Buddie, misunderstanding him.
"Hee-haw!" laughed the Donkey. "Is that a joke? I mean my throat is hoarse."
"And the rest of you is donkey!" cried Buddie, who could see a point as quickly as any one of her age.
"There's something to that," said the other, thoughtfully. "Now, if the hoarseness should spread—"
"And you became horse all over—"
"Think of another old saw," said the Donkey, picking up his lute.
"No; I don't believe I can remember any more old saws," said Buddie, after racking her small brain for a minute or two.
"Pooh!" said the Donkey. "They're as common as, Pass the butter, or, Some more tea, please. Ever hear, Fair words butter no parsnips?"
Buddie shook her head.
"The wolf does something every day that keeps him from church on Sunday—?"
Again Buddy shook her head.
"It is hard to shave an egg—?"
Still another shake.
"A miss is as good as a mile? You can not drive a windmill with a pair of bellows? Help the lame dog over the stile? A hand-saw is a good thing, but not to shave with? Nothing venture, nothing have? Well, you haven't heard much, for a fact," said the Donkey, contemptuously, as Buddie shook her head after each proverb. "I'll try a few more; there's no end to them. Ever hear, When the sky falls we shall all catch larks? Too many cooks spoil the broth?"
"I've heard that," said Buddie, eagerly.
"It's a wonder," returned the Donkey. "Well, I have a very nice setting of that." And he sang:
"Some said, 'Stir it fast,' Some said, 'Slow'; Some said, 'Skim it off,' Some said, 'No'; Some said, 'Pepper,' Some said, 'Salt';— All gave good advice, All found fault.
Poor little Tommy Trottett! Couldn't eat it when he got it."
"I like that," said Buddie. "Oh, and I've just thought of another old ax—I mean saw, if it is one—Don't count your chickens before they are hatched. Do you sing that?"
"One of my best," replied the Donkey. And again he sang:
"'Thirteen eggs,' said Sammy Patch, 'Are thirteen chickens when they hatch.' The hen gave a cluck, but said no more; For the hen had heard such things before.
The eggs fall out from tilted pail And leave behind a yellow trail; But Sammy,—counting, as he goes, Upon his fingers,—never knows.
Oh, Sammy Patch, your 'rithmetic Won't hatch a solitary chick."
"I like that the best," said Buddie, who knew what it was to tip over a pail of eggs, and felt as sorry for Sammy Patch as if he really existed.
"It's one of my best," said the Donkey. "I don't call it my very best. Personally I prefer, Look before you leap. You've heard that old saw, I dare say."
"No; but that doesn't matter. I shall like it just as well," replied Buddie.
"That doesn't follow, but this does," said the Donkey, and once more he sang:
"A foolish Frog, one summer day, While splashing round in careless way, Observed a man With large tin can, And manner most suspicious. 'I think I know,' remarked the Frog, 'A safer place than on this log; For when a man Comes with a can His object is malicious.'
Thus far the foolish Frog was wise; But had he better used his eyes, He would have seen, Close by, a lean Old Pike—his nose just showing. Kersplash! The Pike made just one bite.... The moral I need scarce recite: Before you leap Just take a peep To see where you are going."
Buddie, however, clung to her former opinion. "I like Sammy Patch the best," said she.
"That," rejoined the singer, "is a matter of taste, as the donkey said to the horse who preferred hay to thistles. Usually the public likes best the very piece the composer himself cares least about. So wherever I go I hear, 'Oh, Professor, do sing us that beautiful song about Sammy Patch.' And I can't poke my head inside the Thistle Club but some donkey bawls out, 'Here's Bray! Now we'll have a song. Sing us Sammy Patch, old fellow.' Really, I've sung that song so many times I'm tired of the sound of it."
"It must be nice to be such a favorite," said Buddie.
"Suppose we go up to the Corner and see what's stirring," suggested the Donkey, with a yawn.
"Oh, are you going up to the Corner, too?" cried Buddie. "I am to meet the Rabbit there at two o'clock. I hope it isn't late."
The Donkey glanced skyward.
"It isn't noon yet," said he.
"How do you tell time?" inquired Buddie.
"By the way it flies. Time flies, you know. You can tell a great many birds that way, too." As he spoke the Donkey put his lute into one of his bags and took down his sign.
"You can ride if you wish," he offered graciously.
"Thank you," said Buddie. And leaving the White Blackbird asleep on his perch,—for, as Buddie said, he was having such a lovely nap it would be a pity to wake him,—they set off through the wood.
It was bad traveling for a short distance, but presently they came out on an old log-road; and along this the Donkey ambled at an easy pace. On both sides grew wild flowers in wonderful abundance, but, as Buddie noticed, they were all of one kind—Enchanter's Nightshade.
Buddie had also noticed, when she climbed to her comfortable seat, a peculiar marking on the Donkey's broad back. It was bronze in color, and in shape like a cross.
"Perhaps it's a strawberry mark," she thought, "and he may not want to talk about it." But curiosity got the better of her.
"Oh, that?" said the Donkey, carelessly, in reply to a question. "That's a Victoria Cross. I served three months with the British army in South Africa, and was decorated for gallantry in leading a charge of the ambulance corps. I shall have to ask you not to hang things on my neck. It's all I can do to hold up my head."
"Oh, excuse me," said Buddie, untying the sign, OLD SAWS RESET WHILE YOU WAIT.
"Hang it round your own neck," said the Donkey, and Buddie did so.
"I often wonder," she said, "whether a horse doesn't sometimes get tired holding his head out at the end of his neck. And as for a giraffe, I don't see how he stands it."
"Well, a giraffe's neck runs out at a more convenient angle," said the Donkey. "Still, it is tiresome without a check-rein. You hear a great deal about a check-rein being a cruel invention, but, on the contrary, it's a great blessing. Now, a nose-bag is a positive outrage, and the more oats it contains the more of an imposition it is. People have the queerest ideas!"
SELECTING THE FACULTY
BY BAYNARD RUST HALL
Our Board of Trustees, it will be remembered, had been directed by the Legislature to procure, as the ordinance called it, "Teachers for the commencement of the State College at Woodville." That business, by the Board, was committed to Dr. Sylvan and Robert Carlton—the most learned gentleman of the body, and of—the New Purchase. Our honorable Board will be more specially introduced hereafter; at present we shall bring forward certain rejected candidates, that, like rejected prize essays, they may be published, and thus have their revenge.
None can tell us how plenty good things are till he looks for them; and hence, to the great surprise of the Committee, there seemed to be a sudden growth and a large crop of persons even in and around Woodville, either already qualified for the "Professorships," as we named them in our publication, or who could "qualify" by the time of election. As to the "chair" named also in our publications, one very worthy and disinterested schoolmaster offered, as a great collateral inducement for his being elected, "to find his own chair!"—a vast saving to the State, if the same chair I saw in Mr. Whackum's school-room. For his chair there was one with a hickory bottom; and doubtless he would have filled it, and even lapped over its edges, with equal dignity in the recitation room of Big College.
The Committee had, at an early day, given an invitation to the Rev. Charles Clarence, A.M., of New Jersey, and his answer had been affirmative; yet for political reasons we had been obliged to invite competitors, or make them, and we found and created "a right smart sprinkle."
Hopes of success were built on many things—for instance, on poverty; a plea being entered that something ought to be done for the poor fellow—on one's having taught a common school all his born days, who now deserved to rise a peg—on political, or religious, or fanatical partizan qualifications—and on pure patriotic principles, such as a person's having been "born in a canebrake and rocked in a sugar trough." On the other hand, a fat, dull-headed, and modest Englishman asked for a place, because he had been born in Liverpool! and had seen the world beyond the woods and waters, too! And another fussy, talkative, pragmatical little gentleman rested his pretensions on his ability to draw and paint maps!—not projecting them in roundabout scientific processes, but in that speedy and elegant style in which young ladies copy maps at first chop boarding-schools! Nay, so transcendent seemed Mr. Merchator's claims, when his show or sample maps were exhibited to us, that some in our Board, and nearly everybody out of it, were confident he would do for Professor of Mathematics and even Principal.
But of all our unsuccessful candidates, we shall introduce by name only two—Mr. James Jimmy, A.S.S., and Mr. Solomon Rapid, A. to Z.
Mr. Jimmy, who aspired to the mathematical chair, was master of a small school of all sexes, near Woodville. At the first, he was kindly, yet honestly told, his knowledge was too limited and inaccurate; yet, notwithstanding this, and some almost rude repulses afterward, he persisted in his application and his hopes. To give evidence of competency, he once told me he was arranging a new spelling-book, the publication of which would make him known as a literary man, and be an unspeakable advantage to "the rising generation." And this naturally brought on the following colloquy about the work:
"Ah! indeed! Mr. Jimmy?"
"Yes, indeed, Mr. Carlton."
"On what new principle do you go, sir?"
"Why, sir, on the principles of nature and common sense. I allow school-books for schools are all too powerful obstruse and hard-like to be understood without exemplifying illustrations."
"Yes, but Mr. Jimmy, how is a child's spelling-book to be made any plainer?"
"Why, sir, by clear explifications of the words in one column, by exemplifying illustrations in the other."
"I do not understand you, Mr. Jimmy, give me a specimen—"
"To be sure—here's a spes-a-example; you see, for instance, I put in the spelling-column, C-r-e-a-m, cream, and here in the explification column, I put the exemplifying illustration—Unctious part of milk!"
We had asked, at our first interview, if our candidate was an algebraist, and his reply was negative; but, "he allowed he could 'qualify' by the time of election, as he was powerful good at figures, and had cyphered clean through every arithmetic he had ever seen, the rule of promiscuous questions and all!" Hence, some weeks after, as I was passing his door, on my way to a squirrel hunt, with a party of friends, Mr. Jimmy, hurrying out with a slate in his hand, begged me to stop a moment, and thus addressed me:
"Well, Mr. Carlton, this algebra is a most powerful thing—ain't it?"
"Indeed it is, Mr. Jimmy—have you been looking into it?"
"Looking into it! I have been all through this here fust part; and by election time, I allow I'll be ready for examination."
"Yes, sir! but it is such a pretty thing! Only to think of cyphering by letters! Why, sir, the sums come out, and bring the answers exactly like figures. Jist stop a minute—look here: a stands for 6, and b stands for 8, and c stands for 4, and d stands for figure 10; now if I say a plus b minus c equals d, it is all the same as if I said, 6 is 6 and 8 makes 14, and 4 subtracted, leaves 10! Why, sir, I done a whole slate full of letters and signs; and afterward, when I tried by figures, they every one of them came out right and brung the answer! I mean to cypher by letters altogether."
"Mr. Jimmy, my company is nearly out of sight—if you can get along this way through simple and quadratic equations by our meeting, your chance will not be so bad—good morning, sir."
But our man of "letters" quit cyphering the new way, and returned to plain figures long before reaching equations; and so he could not become our professor. Yet anxious to do us all the good in his power, after our college opened, he waited on me, a leading trustee, with a proposal to board our students, and authorized me to publish—"as how Mr. James Jimmy will take strange students—students not belonging to Woodville—to board, at one dollar a week, and find everything, washing included, and will black their shoes three times a week to boot, and—give them their dog-wood and cherry-bitters every morning into the bargain!"
The most extraordinary candidate, however, was Mr. Solomon Rapid. He was now somewhat advanced into the shaving age, and was ready to assume offices the most opposite in character; although justice compels us to say Mr. Rapid was as fit for one thing as another. Deeming it waste of time to prepare for any station till he was certain of obtaining it, he wisely demanded the place first, and then set to work to become qualified for its duties, being, I suspect, the very man, or some relation of his, who is recorded as not knowing whether he could read Greek, as he had never tried. And, besides, Mr. Solomon Rapid contended that all offices, from president down to fence-viewer, were open to every white American citizen; and that every republican had a blood-bought right to seek any that struck his fancy; and if the profits were less, or the duties more onerous than had been anticipated, that a man ought to resign and try another.
Naturally, therefore, Mr. Rapid thought he would like to sit in our chair of languages, or have some employment in the State college; and hence he called for that purpose on Dr. Sylvan, who, knowing the candidate's character, maliciously sent him to me. Accordingly, the young gentleman presented himself, and without ceremony, instantly made known his business thus:
"I heerd, sir, you wanted somebody to teach the State school, and I'm come to let you know I'm willing to take the place."
"Yes, sir, we are going to elect a professor of languages who is to be the principal and a professor—"
"Well, I don't care which I take, but I'm willing to be the principal. I can teach sifring, reading, writing, joggerfee, surveying, grammur, spelling, definition, parsin—"
"Are you a linguist?"
"You, of course, understand the dead languages?"
"Well, can't say I ever seed much of them, though I have heerd tell of them; but I can soon larn them—they ain't more than a few of them I allow?"
"Oh! my dear sir, it is not possible—we—can't—"
"Well, I never seed what I couldn't larn about as smart as anybody—"
"Mr. Rapid, I do not mean to question your abilities; but if you are now wholly unacquainted with the dead languages, it is impossible for you or any other talented man to learn them under four or five years."
"Pshoo! foo! I'll bet I larn one in three weeks! Try me, sir,—let's have the furst one furst—how many are there?"
"Mr. Rapid, it is utterly impossible; but if you insist, I will loan you a Latin book—"
"That's your sort, let's have it, that's all I want, fair play."
Accordingly, I handed him a copy of Historiae Sacrae, with which he soon went away, saying, he "didn't allow it would take long to git through Latin, if 'twas only sich a thin patch of a book as that."
In a few weeks, to my no small surprise, Mr. Solomon Rapid again presented himself; and drawing forth the book began with a triumphant expression of countenance:
"Well, sir, I have done the Latin."
"Done the Latin!"
"Yes, I can read it as fast as English."
"Read it as fast as English!!"
"Yes, as fast as English—and I didn't find it hard at all."
"May I try you on a page?"
"Try away, try away; that's what I've come for."
"Please read here then, Mr. Rapid;" and in order to give him a fair chance, I pointed to the first lines of the first chapter, viz.: "In principio Deus creavit coelum et terram intra sex dies; primo die fecit lucem," etc.
"That, sir?" and then he read thus, "In prinspo duse creevit kalelum et terrum intra sex dyes—primmo dye fe-fe-sit looseum," etc.
"That will do, Mr. Rapid—"
"Ah! ha! I told you so."
"Yes, yes—but translate."
"Translate!" (eyebrows elevating.)
"Yes, translate, render it."
"Render it!! how's that?" (forehead more wrinkled.)
"Why, yes, render it into English—give me the meaning of it."
"MEANING!!" (staring full in my face, his eyes like saucers, and forehead wrinkled with the furrows of eighty)—"MEANING!! I didn't know it had any meaning. I thought it was a DEAD language!!"
* * * * *
Well, reader, I am glad you are not laughing at Mr. Rapid; for how should anything dead speak out so as to be understood? And indeed, does not his definition suit the vexed feelings of some young gentlemen attempting to read Latin without any interlinear translation? and who inwardly, cursing both book and teacher, blast their souls "if they can make any sense out of it." The ancients may yet speak in their own languages to a few; but to most who boast the honor of their acquaintance, they are certainly dead in the sense of Solomon Rapid.
LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay, An' wash the cups and saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away, An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep, An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep; An' all us other childern, when the supper things is done, We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about, An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
Onc't there was a little boy wouldn't say his pray'rs— An' when he went to bed at night, away up stairs, His mammy heerd him holler, an' his daddy heerd him bawl, An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wasn't there at all! An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press, An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'wheres, I guess; But all they ever found was thist his pants an' roundabout! An' the Gobble-uns'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin, An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin; An' onc't when they was "company," an' ole folks was there, She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care! An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide, They was two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side, An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about! An' the Gobble-uns'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue, An' the lampwick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo! An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray, An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,— You better mind yer parents, and yer teachers fond and dear, An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear, An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about, Er the Gobble-uns'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
HANS BREITMANN'S PARTY
BY CHARLES GODFREY LELAND
Hans Breitmann gife a barty, Dey had biano-blayin; I felled in lofe mit a Merican frau, Her name vas Madilda Yane. She hat haar as prown ash a pretzel, Her eyes vas himmel-plue, Und ven dey looket indo mine, Dey shplit mine heart in two.
Hans Breitmann gife a barty, I vent dere you'll pe pound. I valtzet mit Madilda Yane Und vent shpinnen round und round. De pootiest Fraeulein in de House, She vayed 'pout dwo hoondred pound, Und efery dime she gife a shoomp She make de vindows sound.
Hans Breitmann gife a barty, I dells you it cost him dear. Dey rolled in more ash sefen kecks Of foost-rate Lager Beer. Und venefer dey knocks de shpicket in De Deutschers gifes a cheer. I dinks dat so vine a barty, Nefer coom to a het dis year.
Hans Breitmann gife a barty; Dere all vas Souse und Brouse, Ven de sooper comed in, de gompany Did make demselfs to house; Dey ate das Brot and Gensy broost, De Bratwurst and Braten fine, Und vash der Abendessen down Mit four parrels of Neckarwein.
Hans Breitmann gife a barty; We all cot troonk ash bigs. I poot mine mout to a parrel of bier Und emptied it oop mit a schwigs. Und denn I gissed Madilda Yane Und she shlog me on de kop, Und de gompany fited mit daple-lecks Dill de coonshtable made oos shtop.
Hans Breitmann gife a barty— Where ish dat barty now! Where ish de lofely golden cloud Dat float on de moundain's prow? Where ish de himmelstrablende Stern— De shtar of de shpirit's light? All goned afay mit de Lager Beer— Afay in de ewigkeit!
ROLLO LEARNING TO READ
BY ROBERT J. BURDETTE
When Rollo was five years young, his father said to him one evening:
"Rollo, put away your roller skates and bicycle, carry that rowing machine out into the hall, and come to me. It is time for you to learn to read."
Then Rollo's father opened the book which he had sent home on a truck and talked to the little boy about it. It was Bancroft's History of the United States, half complete in twenty-three volumes. Rollo's father explained to Rollo and Mary his system of education, with special reference to Rollo's learning to read. His plan was that Mary should teach Rollo fifteen hours a day for ten years, and by that time Rollo would be half through the beginning of the first volume, and would like it very much indeed.
Rollo was delighted at the prospect. He cried aloud:
"Oh, papa! thank you very much. When I read this book clear through, all the way to the end of the last volume, may I have another little book to read?"
"No," replied his father, "that may not be; because you will never get to the last volume of this one. For as fast as you read one volume, the author of this history, or his heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns, will write another as an appendix. So even though you should live to be a very old man, like the boy preacher, this history will always be twenty-three volumes ahead of you. Now, Mary and Rollo, this will be a hard task (pronounced tawsk) for both of you, and Mary must remember that Rollo is a very little boy, and must be very patient and gentle."
The next morning after the one preceding it, Mary began the first lesson. In the beginning she was so gentle and patient that her mother went away and cried, because she feared her dear little daughter was becoming too good for this sinful world, and might soon spread her wings and fly away and be an angel.
But in the space of a short time, the novelty of the expedition wore off, and Mary resumed running her temper—which was of the old-fashioned, low-pressure kind, just forward of the fire-box—on its old schedule. When she pointed to "A" for the seventh time, and Rollo said "W," she tore the page out by the roots, hit her little brother such a whack over the head with the big book that it set his birthday back six weeks, slapped him twice, and was just going to bite him, when her mother came in. Mary told her that Rollo had fallen down stairs and torn his book and raised that dreadful lump on his head. This time Mary's mother restrained her emotion, and Mary cried. But it was not because she feared her mother was pining away. Oh, no; it was her mother's rugged health and virile strength that grieved Mary, as long as the seance lasted, which was during the entire performance.
That evening Rollo's father taught Rollo his lesson and made Mary sit by and observe his methods, because, he said, that would be normal instruction for her. He said:
"Mary, you must learn to control your temper and curb your impatience if you want to wear low-neck dresses, and teach school. You must be sweet and patient, or you will never succeed as a teacher. Now, Rollo, what is this letter?"
"I dunno," said Rollo, resolutely.
"That is A," said his father, sweetly.
"Huh," replied Rollo, "I knowed that."
"Then why did you not say so?" replied his father, so sweetly that Jonas, the hired boy, sitting in the corner, licked his chops.
Rollo's father went on with the lesson:
"What is this, Rollo?"
"I dunno," said Rollo, hesitatingly.
"Sure?" asked his father. "You do not know what it is?"
"Nuck," said Rollo.
"It is A," said his father.
"A what?" asked Rollo.
"A nothing," replied his father, "it is just A. Now, what is it?"
"Just A," said Rollo.
"Do not be flip, my son," said Mr. Holliday, "but attend to your lesson. What letter is this?"
"I dunno," said Rollo.
"Don't fib to me," said his father, gently, "you said a minute ago that you knew. That is N."
"Yes, sir," replied Rollo, meekly. Rollo, although he was a little boy, was no slouch, if he did wear bibs; he knew where he lived without looking at the door-plate. When it came time to be meek, there was no boy this side of the planet Mars who could be meeker, on shorter notice. So he said, "Yes, sir," with that subdued and well pleased alacrity of a boy who has just been asked to guess the answer to the conundrum, "Will you have another piece of pie?"
"Well," said his father, rather suddenly, "what is it?"
"M," said Rollo, confidently.
"N!" yelled his father, in three-line Gothic.
"N," echoed Rollo, in lower case nonpareil.
"B-a-n," said his father, "what does that spell?"
"Cat?" suggested Rollo, a trifle uncertainly.
"Cat?" snapped his father, with a sarcastic inflection, "b-a-n, cat! Where were you raised? Ban! B-a-n—Ban! Say it! Say it, or I'll get at you with a skate-strap!"
"B-a-m, band," said Rollo, who was beginning to wish that he had a rain-check and could come back and see the remaining innings some other day.
"Ba-a-a-an!" shouted his father, "B-a-n, Ban, Ban, Ban! Now say Ban!"
"Ban," said Rollo, with a little gasp.
"That's right," his father said, in an encouraging tone; "you will learn to read one of these years if you give your mind to it. All he needs, you see, Mary, is a teacher who doesn't lose patience with him the first time he makes a mistake. Now, Rollo, how do you spell, B-a-n—Ban?"
Rollo started out timidly on c-a—then changed to d-o,—and finally compromised on h-e-n.
Mr. Holiday made a pass at him with Volume I, but Rollo saw it coming and got out of the way.
"B-a-n!" his father shouted, "B-a-n, Ban! Ban! Ban! Ban! Ban! Now go on, if you think you know how to spell that! What comes next? Oh, you're enough to tire the patience of Job! I've a good mind to make you learn by the Pollard system, and begin where you leave off! Go ahead, why don't you? Whatta you waiting for? Read on! What comes next? Why, croft, of course; anybody ought to know that—c-r-o-f-t, croft, Bancroft! What does that apostrophe mean? I mean, what does that punctuation mark between t and s stand for? You don't know? Take that, then! (whack). What comes after Bancroft? Spell it! Spell it, I tell you, and don't be all night about it! Can't, eh? Well, read it then; if you can't spell it, read it. H-i-s-t-o-r-y-ry, history; Bancroft's History of the United States! Now what does that spell? I mean, spell that! Spell it! Oh, go away! Go to bed! Stupid, stupid child," he added as the little boy went weeping out of the room, "he'll never learn anything so long as he lives. I declare he has tired me all out, and I used to teach school in Trivoli township, too. Taught one whole winter in district number three when Nick Worthington was county superintendent, and had my salary—look here, Mary, what do you find in that English grammar to giggle about? You go to bed, too, and listen to me—if Rollo can't read that whole book clear through without making a mistake to-morrow night, you'll wish you had been born without a back, that's all."
The following morning, when Rollo's father drove away to business, he paused a moment as Rollo stood at the gate for a final good-by kiss—for Rollo's daily good-byes began at the door and lasted as long as his father was in sight—Mr. Holliday said:
"Some day, Rollo, you will thank me for teaching you to read."
"Yes, sir," replied Rollo, respectfully, and then added, "but not this day."
Rollo's head, though it had here and there transient bumps consequent upon foot-ball practice, was not naturally or permanently hilly. On the contrary, it was quite level.
SPELL AND DEFINE:
Tact Exasperation Lamb Imperturbability Red-hot Philosopher Ebullition Knout Terrier
Which end of a rattan hurts the more?—Why does reading make a full man?—Is an occasional whipping good for a boy?—At precisely what age does corporal punishment cease to be effective?—And why?—State, in exact terms, how much better are grown up people without the rod, than little people with it.—And why?—When would a series of good sound whippings have been of the greatest benefit to Solomon, when he was a godly young man, or an idolatrous old one?—In order to reform this world thoroughly, then, whom should we thrash, the children or the grown-up people?—And why?—If, then, the whipping post should be abolished in Delaware, why should it be retained in the nursery and the school room?—Write on the board, in large letters, the following sentence:
If a boy ten years old should be whipped for breaking a window, what should be done to a man thirty-five years old for breaking the third commandment?
ELIZABETH ELIZA WRITES A PAPER
BY LUCRETIA P. HALE
Elizabeth Eliza joined the Circumambient Club with the idea that it would be a long time before she, a new member, would have to read a paper. She would have time to hear the other papers read, and to see how it was done; and she would find it easy when her turn came. By that time she would have some ideas; and long before she would be called upon, she would have leisure to sit down and write out something. But a year passed away, and the time was drawing near. She had, meanwhile, devoted herself to her studies, and had tried to inform herself on all subjects by way of preparation. She had consulted one of the old members of the Club as to the choice of a subject.
"Oh, write about anything," was the answer,—"anything you have been thinking of."
Elizabeth Eliza was forced to say she had not been thinking lately. She had not had time. The family had moved, and there was always an excitement about something, that prevented her sitting down to think.
"Why not write on your family adventures?" asked the old member.
Elizabeth Eliza was sure her mother would think it made them too public; and most of the Club papers, she observed, had some thought in them. She preferred to find an idea.
So she set herself to the occupation of thinking. She went out on the piazza to think; she stayed in the house to think. She tried a corner of the china-closet. She tried thinking in the cars, and lost her pocket-book; she tried it in the garden, and walked into the strawberry bed. In the house and out of the house, it seemed to be the same,—she could not think of anything to think of. For many weeks she was seen sitting on the sofa or in the window, and nobody disturbed her. "She is thinking about her paper," the family would say, but she only knew that she could not think of anything.
Agamemnon told her that many writers waited till the last moment, when inspiration came, which was much finer than anything studied. Elizabeth Eliza thought it would be terrible to wait till the last moment, if the inspiration should not come! She might combine the two ways,—wait till a few days before the last, and then sit down and write anyhow. This would give a chance for inspiration, while she would not run the risk of writing nothing.
She was much discouraged. Perhaps she had better give it up? But, no; everybody wrote a paper: if not now, she would have to do it some time!
And at last the idea of a subject came to her! But it was as hard to find a moment to write as to think. The morning was noisy, till the little boys had gone to school; for they had begun again upon their regular course, with the plan of taking up the study of cider in October. And after the little boys had gone to school, now it was one thing, now it was another,—the china-closet to be cleaned, or one of the neighbors in to look at the sewing-machine. She tried after dinner, but would fall asleep. She felt that evening would be the true time, after the cares of the day were over.
The Peterkins had wire mosquito-nets all over the house,—at every door and every window. They were as eager to keep out the flies as the mosquitoes. The doors were all furnished with strong springs, that pulled the doors to as soon as they were opened. The little boys had practised running in and out of each door, and slamming it after them. This made a good deal of noise, for they had gained great success in making one door slam directly after another, and at times would keep up a running volley of artillery, as they called it, with the slamming of the doors. Mr. Peterkin, however, preferred it to flies.
So Elizabeth Eliza felt she would venture to write of a summer evening with all the windows open.
She seated herself one evening in the library, between two large kerosene lamps, with paper, pen, and ink before her. It was a beautiful night, with the smell of the roses coming in through the mosquito-nets, and just the faintest odor of kerosene by her side. She began upon her work. But what was her dismay! She found herself immediately surrounded with mosquitoes. They attacked her at every point. They fell upon her hand as she moved it to the inkstand; they hovered, buzzing, over her head; they planted themselves under the lace of her sleeve. If she moved her left hand to frighten them off from one point, another band fixed themselves upon her right hand. Not only did they flutter and sting, but they sang in a heathenish manner, distracting her attention as she tried to write, as she tried to waft them off. Nor was this all. Myriads of June-bugs and millers hovered round, flung themselves into the lamps, and made disagreeable funeral-pyres of themselves, tumbling noisily on her paper in their last unpleasant agonies. Occasionally one darted with a rush toward Elizabeth Eliza's head.
If there was anything Elizabeth Eliza had a terror of it was a June-bug. She had heard that they had a tendency to get into the hair. One had been caught in the hair of a friend of hers, who had long, luxuriant hair. But the legs of the June-bug were caught in it like fishhooks, and it had to be cut out, and the June-bug was only extricated by sacrificing large masses of the flowing locks.
Elizabeth Eliza flung her handkerchief over her head. Could she sacrifice what hair she had to the claims of literature? She gave a cry of dismay.
The little boys rushed in a moment to the rescue. They flapped newspapers, flung sofa-cushions; they offered to stand by her side with fly-whisks, that she might be free to write. But the struggle was too exciting for her, and the flying insects seemed to increase. Moths of every description—large brown moths, small, delicate white millers—whirled about her, while the irritating hum of the mosquito kept on more than ever. Mr. Peterkin and the rest of the family came in to inquire about the trouble. It was discovered that each of the little boys had been standing in the opening of a wire door for some time, watching to see when Elizabeth Eliza would have made her preparations and would begin to write. Countless numbers of dorbugs and winged creatures of every description had taken occasion to come in. It was found that they were in every part of the house.
"We might open all the blinds and screens," suggested Agamemnon, "and make a vigorous onslaught and drive them all out at once."
"I do believe there are more inside than out now," said Solomon John.
"The wire nets, of course," said Agamemnon, "keep them in now."
"We might go outside," proposed Solomon John, "and drive in all that are left. Then to-morrow morning, when they are all torpid, kill them and make collections of them."
Agamemnon had a tent which he had provided in case he should ever go to the Adirondacks, and he proposed using it for the night. The little boys were wild for this.
Mrs. Peterkin thought she and Elizabeth Eliza would prefer trying to sleep in the house. But perhaps Elizabeth Eliza would go on with her paper with more comfort out of doors.
A student's lamp was carried out, and she was established on the steps of the back piazza, while screens were all carefully closed to prevent the mosquitoes and insects from flying out. But it was no use. There were outside still swarms of winged creatures that plunged themselves about her, and she had not been there long before a huge miller flung himself into the lamp and put it out. She gave up for the evening.
Still the paper went on. "How fortunate," exclaimed Elizabeth Eliza, "that I did not put it off till the last evening!" Having once begun, she persevered in it at every odd moment of the day. Agamemnon presented her with a volume of "Synonymes," which was a great service to her. She read her paper, in its various stages, to Agamemnon first, for his criticism, then to her father in the library, then to Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin together, next to Solomon John, and afterward to the whole family assembled. She was almost glad that the lady from Philadelphia was not in town, as she wished it to be her own unaided production. She declined all invitations for the week before the night of the Club, and on the very day she kept her room with eau sucree, that she might save her voice. Solomon John provided her with Brown's Bronchial Troches when the evening came, and Mrs. Peterkin advised a handkerchief over her head, in case of June-bugs.
It was, however, a cool night. Agamemnon escorted her to the house.
The Club met at Ann Maria Bromwick's. No gentlemen were admitted to the regular meetings. There were what Solomon John called "occasional annual meetings," to which they were invited, when all the choicest papers of the year were re-read.
Elizabeth Eliza was placed at the head of the room, at a small table, with a brilliant gas-jet on one side. It was so cool the windows could be closed. Mrs. Peterkin, as a guest, sat in the front row.
This was her paper, as Elizabeth Eliza read it, for she frequently inserted fresh expressions:—
It is impossible that much can be known about it. This is why we have taken it up as a subject. We mean the sun that lights us by day and leaves us by night. In the first place, it is so far off. No measuring-tapes could reach it; and both the earth and the sun are moving about us, that it would be difficult to adjust ladders to reach it, if we could. Of course, people have written about it, and there are those who have told us how many miles off it is. But it is a very large number, with a great many figures in it; and though it is taught in most if not all of our public schools, it is a chance if any one of the scholars remembers exactly how much it is.
It is the same with its size. We can not, as we have said, reach it by ladders to measure it; and if we did reach it, we should have no measuring-tapes large enough, and those that shut up with springs are difficult to use in a high places. We are told, it is true, in a great many of the school-books, the size of the sun; but, again, very few of those who have learned the number have been able to remember it after they have recited it, even if they remembered it then. And almost all of the scholars have lost their school-books, or have neglected to carry them home, and so they are not able to refer to them,—I mean, after leaving school. I must say that is the case with me, I should say with us, though it was different. The older ones gave their school-books to the younger ones, who took them back to school to lose them, or who have destroyed them when there were no younger ones to go to school. I should say there are such families. What I mean is, the fact that in some families there are no younger children to take off the school-books. But even then they are put away on upper shelves, in closets or in attics, and seldom found if wanted,—if then, dusty.
Of course, we all know of a class of persons called astronomers, who might be able to give us information on the subject in hand, and who probably do furnish what information is found in school-books. It should be observed, however, that these astronomers carry on their observations always in the night. Now, it is well known that the sun does not shine in the night. Indeed, that is one of the peculiarities of the night, that there is no sun to light us, so we have to go to bed as long as there is nothing else we can do without its light, unless we use lamps, gas, or kerosene, which is very well for the evening, but would be expensive all night long; the same with candles. How, then, can we depend upon their statements, if not made from their own observation,—I mean, if they never saw the sun?
We can not expect that astronomers should give us any valuable information with regard to the sun, which they never see, their occupation compelling them to be up at night. It is quite likely that they never see it; for we should not expect them to sit up all day as well as all night, as, under such circumstances, their lives would not last long.
Indeed, we are told that their name is taken from the word aster, which means "star;" the word is "aster—know—more." This, doubtless, means that they know more about the stars than other things. We see, therefore, that their knowledge is confined to the stars, and we can not trust what they have to tell us of the sun.
There are other asters which should not be mixed up with these,—we mean those growing by the wayside in the fall of the year. The astronomers, from their nocturnal habits, can scarcely be acquainted with them; but as it does not come within our province, we will not inquire.
We are left, then, to seek our own information about the sun. But we are met with a difficulty. To know a thing, we must look at it. How can we look at the sun? It is so very bright that our eyes are dazzled in gazing upon it. We have to turn away, or they would be put out,—the sight, I mean. It is true, we might use smoked glass, but that is apt to come off on the nose. How, then, if we can not look at it, can we find out about it? The noonday would seem to be the better hour, when it is the sunniest; but, besides injuring the eyes, it is painful to the neck to look up for a long time. It is easy to say that our examination of this heavenly body should take place at sunrise, when we could look at it more on a level, without having to endanger the spine. But how many people are up at sunrise? Those who get up early do it because they are compelled to, and have something else to do than look at the sun.
The milkman goes forth to carry the daily milk, the ice-man to leave the daily ice. But either of these would be afraid of exposing their vehicles to the heating orb of day,—the milkman afraid of turning the milk, the ice-man timorous of melting his ice—and they probably avoid those directions where they shall meet the sun's rays. The student, who might inform us, has been burning the midnight oil. The student is not in the mood to consider the early sun.
There remains to us the evening, also,—the leisure hour of the day. But, alas! our houses are not built with an adaptation to this subject. They are seldom made to look toward the sunset. A careful inquiry and close observation, such as have been called for in preparation of this paper, have developed the fact that not a single house in this town faces the sunset! There may be windows looking that way, but in such a case there is always a barn between. I can testify to this from personal observations, because, with my brothers, we have walked through the several streets of this town with note-books, carefully noting every house looking upon the sunset, and have found none from which the sunset could be studied. Sometimes it was the next house, sometimes a row of houses, or its own wood-house, that stood in the way.
Of course, a study of the sun might be pursued out of doors. But in summer, sunstroke would be likely to follow; in winter, neuralgia and cold. And how could you consult your books, your dictionaries, your encyclopaedias? There seems to be no hour of the day for studying the sun. You might go to the East to see it at its rising, or to the West to gaze upon its setting, but—you don't.
Here Elizabeth Eliza came to a pause. She had written five different endings, and had brought them all, thinking, when the moment came, she would choose one of them. She was pausing to select one, and inadvertently said, to close the phrase, "you don't." She had not meant to use the expression, which she would not have thought sufficiently imposing,—it dropped out unconsciously,—but it was received as a close with rapturous applause.
She had read slowly, and now that the audience applauded at such a length, she had time to feel she was much exhausted and glad of an end. Why not stop there, though there were some pages more? Applause, too, was heard from the outside. Some of the gentlemen had come,—Mr. Peterkin, Agamemnon, and Solomon John, with others,—and demanded admission.
"Since it is all over, let them in," said Ann Maria Bromwick.
Elizabeth Eliza assented, and rose to shake hands with her applauding friends.
MR. STIVER'S HORSE
BY JAMES MONTGOMERY BAILEY
The other morning at breakfast Mrs. Perkins observed that Mr. Stiver, in whose house we live, had been called away, and wanted to know if I would see to his horse through the day.
I knew that Mr. Stiver owned a horse, because I occasionally saw him drive out of the yard, and I saw the stable every day,—but what kind of a horse I didn't know. I never went into the stable, for two reasons: in the first place, I had no desire to; and, secondly, I didn't know as the horse cared particularly for company.
I never took care of a horse in my life; and, had I been of a less hopeful nature, the charge Mr. Stiver had left with me might have had a very depressing effect; but I told Mrs. Perkins I would do it.
"You know how to take care of a horse, don't you?" said she.
I gave her a reassuring wink. In fact, I knew so little about it that I didn't think it safe to converse more fluently than by winks.
After breakfast I seized a toothpick and walked out towards the stable. There was nothing particular to do, as Stiver had given him his breakfast, and I found him eating it; so I looked around. The horse looked around, too, and stared pretty hard at me. There was but little said on either side. I hunted up the location of the feed, and then sat down on a peck measure and fell to studying the beast. There is a wide difference in horses. Some of them will kick you over and never look around to see what becomes of you. I don't like a disposition like that, and I wondered if Stiver's horse was one of them.
When I came home at noon I went straight to the stable. The animal was there all right. Stiver hadn't told me what to give him for dinner, and I had not given the subject any thought; but I went to the oat-box and filled the peck measure and sallied boldly up to the manger.
When he saw the oats he almost smiled; this pleased and amused him. I emptied them into the trough, and left him above me to admire the way I parted my hair behind. I just got my head up in time to save the whole of it. He had his ears back, his mouth open, and looked as if he were on the point of committing murder. I went out and filled the measure again, and climbed up the side of the stall and emptied it on top of him. He brought his head up so suddenly at this that I immediately got down, letting go of everything to do it. I struck on the sharp edge of a barrel, rolled over a couple of times, then disappeared under a hay-cutter. The peck measure went down on the other side, and got mysteriously tangled up in that animal's heels, and he went to work at it, and then ensued the most dreadful noise I ever heard in all my life, and I have been married eighteen years.