********************************************************** Transcriber's Note: To aid in finding items through the index, the following list contains the page numbers covered in each volume:
Volume 1 - 1 - 220 Volume 2 - 221 - 402 Volume 3 - 403 - 584 Volume 4 - 585 - 802 Volume 5 is not Library Edition and has different page numbering Volume 6 - 985 - 1216 Volume 7 - 1217 - 1398 Volume 8 - 1399 - 1634 Volume 9 - 1635 - 1800 Volume 10 - 1801 - 2042 **********************************************************
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
Araminta and the Automobile Charles Battell Loomis 1825 At Aunty's House James Whitcomb Riley 2007 Backsliding Brother, The Frank L. Stanton 1972 Biggs' Bar Howard D. Sutherland 1967 Bookworm's Plaint, A Clinton Scollard 1878 Breitmann in Politics Charles Godfrey Leland 1943 Concord Love Song, A James Jeffrey Roche 1913 Contentment Oliver Wendell Holmes 1952 Demon of the Study, The John Greenleaf Whittier 1869 Der Oak Und Der Vine Charles Follen Adams 1823 Double-Dyed Deceiver, A O. Henry 1927 Dum Vivimus Vigilamus John Paul 2005 Evidence in the Case of Smith vs. Jones, The Samuel L. Clemens 1918 Fall Styles in Faces Wallace Irwin 1992 "Festina Lente" Robert J. Burdette 2016 Genial Idiot Discusses Leap Year, The John Kendrick Bangs 2018 Great Prize Fight, The Samuel L. Clemens 1903 Had a Set of Double Teeth Holman F. Day 1994 Height of the Ridiculous, The Oliver Wendell Holmes 1832 Her Brother: Enfant Terrible Edmund L. Sabin 2001 Hezekiah Bedott's Opinion Frances M. Whicher 1893 His Grandmother's Way Frank L. Stanton 1901 Invisible Prince, The Henry Harland 1836 Jackpot, The Ironquill 2003 Jacob Phoebe Cary 1898 Johnny's Pa Wilbur D. Nesbit 1802 Lay of Ancient Rome, A Thomas Ybarra 2013 Little Bopeep and Little Boy Blue Samuel Minturn Peck 2015 Love Song Charles Godfrey Leland 1950 Maxims Benjamin Franklin 1804 Meeting, The S. E. Riser 1915 Mister Rabbit's Love Affair Frank L. Stanton 1887 Mother of Four, A Juliet Wilbor Tompkins 1976 Mothers' Meeting, A Madeline Bridges 1886 Nevada Sketches Samuel L. Clemens 1805 New Year Idyl, A Eugene Field 2011 Old-Time Singer, An Frank L. Stanton 1941 Oncl' Antoine on 'Change Wallace Bruce Amsbary 1891 Our Hired Girl James Whitcomb Riley 1888 Plain Language from Truthful James Bret Harte 1997 Poe-'em of Passion, A Charles F. Lummis 1879 Possession William J. Lampton 2000 Real Diary of a Real Boy, The Henry A. Shute 1881 Reason, The Ironquill 1890 Rubaiyat of Mathieu Lattellier Wallace Bruce Amsbary 1965 Settin' by the Fire Frank L. Stanton 1821 Shining Mark, A Ironquill 1877 "There's a Bower of Bean-Vines" Phoebe Cary 1916 To Bary Jade Charles Follen Adams 1899 Tom's Money Harriett Prescott Spofford 1955 Trial that Job Missed, The Kennett Harris 1917 Trouble-Proof Edwin L. Sabin 1801 Uncle Bentley and the Roosters Hayden Carruth 1873 Unsatisfied Yearning R. K. Munkittrick 1835 What Lack We Yet Robert J. Burdette 1897 When Lovely Woman Phoebe Cary 1834 Whisperer, The Ironquill 1822 Why Wait for Death and Time? Bert Leston Taylor 1866 Willy and the Lady Gelett Burgess 2009 Winter Dusk R. K. Munkittrick 1975 Winter Joys Eugene Field 1868 Ye Legende of Sir Yroncladde Wilbur D. Nesbitt 1973
COMPLETE INDEX AT THE END OF VOLUME X.
BY EDWIN L. SABIN
Never rains where Jim is— People kickin', whinin'; He goes round insistin',— "Sun is almost shinin'!"
Never's hot where Jim is— When the town is sweatin'; He jes' sets and answers,— "Well, I ain't a-frettin'!"
Never's cold where Jim is— None of us misdoubt it, Seein' we're nigh frozen! He "ain't thought about it!"
Things that rile up others Never seem to strike him! "Trouble-proof," I call it,— Wisht that I was like him!
 Lippincott's Magazine.
BY WILBUR D. NESBIT
My pa—he always went to school, He says, an' studied hard. W'y, when he's just as big as me He knew things by the yard! Arithmetic? He knew it all From dividend to sum; But when he tells me how it was, My grandma, she says "Hum!"
My pa—he always got the prize For never bein' late; An' when they studied joggerfy He knew 'bout every state. He says he knew the rivers, an' Knew all their outs an' ins; But when he tells me all o' that, My grandma, she just grins.
My pa, he never missed a day A-goin' to the school, An' never played no hookey, nor Forgot the teacher's rule; An' every class he's ever in, The rest he always led. My grandma, when pa talks that way, Just laughs an' shakes her head. My grandma says 'at boys is boys, The same as pas is pas, An' when I ast her what she means She says it is "because." She says 'at little boys is best When they grows up to men, Because they know how good they was, An' tell their children, then!
BY BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Never spare the parson's wine, nor the baker's pudding.
A house without woman or firelight is like a body without soul or spirit.
Kings and bears often worry their keepers.
Light purse, heavy heart.
He's a fool that makes his doctor his heir.
Ne'er take a wife till thou hast a house (and a fire) to put her in.
To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.
He that drinks fast pays slow.
He is ill-clothed who is bare of virtue.
Beware of meat twice boil'd, and an old foe reconcil'd.
The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.
He that is rich need not live sparingly, and he that can live sparingly need not be rich.
He that waits upon fortune is never sure of a dinner.
BY SAMUEL L. CLEMENS
IN CARSON CITY
I feel very much as if I had just awakened out of a long sleep. I attribute it to the fact that I have slept the greater part of the time for the last two days and nights. On Wednesday, I sat up all night, in Virginia, in order to be up early enough to take the five o'clock stage on Thursday morning. I was on time. It was a great success. I had a cheerful trip down to Carson, in company with that incessant talker, Joseph T. Goodman. I never saw him flooded with such a flow of spirits before. He restrained his conversation, though, until we had traveled three or four miles, and were just crossing the divide between Silver City and Spring Valley, when he thrust his head out of the dark stage, and allowed a pallid light from the coach lamps to illuminate his features for a moment, after which he returned to darkness again, and sighed and said, "Damn it!" with some asperity. I asked him who he meant it for, and he said, "The weather out there." As we approached Carson, at about half past seven o'clock, he thrust his head out again, and gazed earnestly in the direction of that city—after which he took it in again, with his nose very much frosted. He propped the end of that organ upon the end of his finger, and looked pensively upon it—which had the effect of making him cross-eyed—and remarked, "O, damn it!" with great bitterness. I asked him what was up this time, and he said, "The cold, damp fog—it is worse than the weather." This was his last. He never spoke again in my hearing. He went on over the mountains with a lady fellow passenger from here. That will stop his chatter, you know, for he seldom speaks in the presence of ladies.
In the evening I felt a mighty inclination to go to a party somewhere. There was to be one at Governor J. Neely Johnson's, and I went there and asked permission to stand around a while. This was granted in the most hospitable manner, and the vision of plain quadrilles soothed my weary soul. I felt particularly comfortable, for if there is one thing more grateful to my feelings than another, it is a new house—a large house, with its ceilings embellished with snowy mouldings; its floors glowing with warm-tinted carpets, with cushioned chairs and sofas to sit on, and a piano to listen to; with fires so arranged you can see them, and know there is no humbug about it; with walls garnished with pictures, and above all mirrors, wherein you may gaze and always find something to admire, you know. I have a great regard for a good house, and a girlish passion for mirrors. Horace Smith, Esq., is also very fond of mirrors. He came and looked in the glass for an hour with me. Finally it cracked—the night was pretty cold—and Horace Smith's reflection was split right down the centre. But where his face had been the damage was greatest—a hundred cracks converged to his reflected nose, like spokes from the hub of a wagon wheel. It was the strangest freak the weather has done this winter. And yet the parlor seemed warm and comfortable, too.
About nine o'clock the Unreliable came and asked Gov. Johnson to let him stand on the porch. The creature has got more impudence than any person I ever saw in my life. Well, he stood and flattened his nose against the parlor window, and looked hungry and vicious—he always looks that way—until Colonel Musser arrived with some ladies, when he actually fell in their wake and came swaggering in looking as if he thought he had been anxiously expected. He had on my fine kid boots, my plug hat, my white kid gloves (with slices of his prodigious hands grinning through the bursted seams), and my heavy gold repeater, which I had been offered thousands and thousands of dollars for many and many a time. He took those articles out of my trunk, at Washoe City, about a month ago, when we went there to report the proceedings of the convention. The Unreliable intruded himself upon me in his cordial way, and said, "How are you, Mark, old boy? When d'you come down? It's brilliant, ain't it? Appear to enjoy themselves, don't they? Lend a fellow two bits, can't you?" He always winds up his remarks that way. He appears to have an insatiable craving for two bits.
The music struck up just then and saved me. The next moment I was far, far at sea in the plain quadrille. We carried it through with distinguished success; that is, we got as far as "balance around" and "half-a-man-left," when I smelled hot whisky punch, or something of that nature. I tracked the scent through several rooms, and finally discovered a large bowl from which it emanated. I found the omnipresent Unreliable there, also. He set down an empty goblet and remarked that he was diligently seeking the gentlemen's dressing room. I would have shown him where it was, but it occurred to him that the supper table and the punch bowl ought not to be left unprotected; wherefore we stayed there and watched them until the punch entirely evaporated. A servant came in then, to replenish the bowl, and we left the refreshments in his charge. We probably did wrong, but we were anxious to join the hazy dance. The dance was hazier than usual, after that. Sixteen couples on the floor at once, with a few dozen spectators scattered around, is calculated to have its effect in a brilliantly lighted parlor, I believe. Everything seemed to buzz, at any rate. After all the modern dances had been danced several times, the people adjourned to the supper-room. I found my wardrobe out there, as usual, with the Unreliable in it. His old distemper was upon him: he was desperately hungry. I never saw a man eat as much as he did in my life. I have various items of his supper here in my note-book. First, he ate a plate of sandwiches; then he ate a handsomely iced poundcake; then he gobbled a dish of chicken salad; after which he ate a roast pig; after that, a quantity of blanc-mange; then he threw in several dozen glasses of punch to fortify his appetite, and finished his monstrous repast with a roast turkey. Dishes of brandy-grapes, and jellies, and such things, and pyramids of fruits melted away before him as shadows fly at the sun's approach. I am of the opinion that none of his ancestors were present when the five thousand were miraculously fed in the old Scriptural times. I base my opinion on the twelve bushels of scraps and the little fishes that remained over after that feast. If the Unreliable himself had been there, the provisions would just about have held out, I think.
... At about two o'clock in the morning the pleasant party broke up and the crowd of guests distributed themselves around town to their respective homes; and after thinking the fun all over again, I went to bed at four o'clock. So having been awake forty-eight hours, I slept forty-eight, in order to get even again.
CITY MARSHAL PERRY
John Van Buren Perry, recently re-elected City Marshal of Virginia City, was born a long time ago, in County Kerry, Ireland, of poor but honest parents, who were descendants, beyond question, of a house of high antiquity. The founder of it was distinguished for his eloquence; he was the property of one Baalam, and received honorable mention in the Bible.
John Van Buren Perry removed to the United States in 1792—after having achieved a high gastronomical reputation by creating the first famine in his native land—and established himself at Kinderhook, New Jersey, as a teacher of vocal and instrumental music. His eldest son, Martin Van Buren, was educated there, and was afterwards elected President of the United States; his grandson, of the same name, is now a prominent New York politician, and is known in the East as "Prince John;" he keeps up a constant and affectionate correspondence with his worthy grandfather, who sells him feet in some of his richest wildcat claims from time to time.
While residing at Kinderhook, Jack Perry was appointed Commodore of the United States Navy, and he forthwith proceeded to Lake Erie and fought the mighty marine conflict, which blazes upon the pages of history as "Perry's Victory." In consequence of this exploit, he narrowly escaped the Presidency.
Several years ago Commodore Perry was appointed Commissioner Extraordinary to the Imperial Court of Japan, with unlimited power to treat. It is hardly worth while to mention that he never exercised that power; he never treated anybody in that country, although he patiently submitted to a vast amount of that sort of thing when the opportunity was afforded him at the expense of the Japanese officials. He returned from his mission full of honors and foreign whisky, and was welcomed home again by the plaudits of a grateful nation.
After the war was ended, Mr. Perry removed to Providence, Rhode Island, where he produced a complete revolution in medical science by inventing the celebrated "Pain Killer" which bears his name. He manufactured this liniment by the ship-load, and spread it far and wide over the suffering world; not a bottle left his establishment without his beneficent portrait upon the label, whereby, in time, his features became as well known unto burned and mutilated children as Jack the Giant Killer's.
When pain had ceased throughout the universe Mr. Perry fell to writing for a livelihood, and for years and years he poured out his soul in pleasing and effeminate poetry.... His very first effort, commencing:
"How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour," etc.—
gained him a splendid literary reputation, and from that time forward no Sunday-school library was complete without a full edition of his plaintive and sentimental "Perry-Gorics." After great research and profound study of his subject, he produced that wonderful gem which is known in every land as "The Young Mother's Apostrophe to Her Infant," beginning:
"Fie! fie! oo itty bitty pooty sing! To poke oo footsy-tootsys into momma's eye!"
This inspired poem had a tremendous run, and carried Perry's fame into every nursery in the civilized world. But he was not destined to wear his laurels undisturbed: England, with monstrous perfidy, at once claimed the "Apostrophe" for her favorite son, Martin Farquhar Tupper, and sent up a howl of vindictive abuse from her polluted press against our beloved Perry. With one accord, the American people rose up in his defense, and a devastating war was only averted by a public denial of the paternity of the poem by the great Proverbial over his own signature. This noble act of Mr. Tupper gained him a high place in the affection of this people, and his sweet platitudes have been read here with an ever augmented spirit of tolerance since that day.
The conduct of England toward Mr. Perry told upon his constitution to such an extent that at one time it was feared the gentle bard would fade and flicker out altogether; wherefore, the solicitude of influential officials was aroused in his behalf, and through their generosity he was provided with an asylum in Sing Sing prison, a quiet retreat in the state of New York. Here he wrote his last great poem, beginning:
"Let dogs delight to bark and bite, For God hath made them so— Your little hands were never made To tear out each other's eyes with—"
and then proceeded to learn the shoemaker's trade in his new home, under the distinguished masters employed by the commonwealth.
Ever since Mr. Perry arrived at man's estate his prodigious feet have been a subject of complaint and annoyance to those communities which have known the honor of his presence. In 1835, during a great leather famine, many people were obliged to wear wooden shoes, and Mr. Perry, for the sake of economy, transferred his bootmaking patronage from the tan-yard which had before enjoyed his custom, to an undertaker's establishment—that is to say, he wore coffins. At that time he was a member of Congress from New Jersey, and occupied a seat in front of the Speaker's throne. He had the uncouth habit of propping his feet upon his desk during prayer by the chaplain, and thus completely hiding that officer from every eye save that of Omnipotence alone. So long as the Hon. Mr. Perry wore orthodox leather boots the clergyman submitted to this infliction and prayed behind them in singular solitude, under mild protest; but when he arose one morning to offer up his regular petition, and beheld the cheerful apparition of Jack Perry's coffins confronting him, "The jolly old bum went under the table like a sick porpus" (as Mr. P. feelingly remarks), "and never shot off his mouth in that shanty again."
Mr. Perry's first appearance on the Pacific Coast was upon the boards of the San Francisco theaters in the character of "Old Pete" in Dion Boucicault's "Octoroon." So excellent was his delineation of that celebrated character that "Perry's Pete" was for a long time regarded as the climax of histrionic perfection.
Since John Van Buren Perry has resided in Nevada Territory, he has employed his talents in acting as City Marshal of Virginia, and in abusing me because I am an orphan and a long way from home, and can therefore be persecuted with impunity. He was re-elected day before yesterday, and his first official act was an attempt to get me drunk on champagne furnished to the Board of Aldermen by other successful candidates, so that he might achieve the honor and glory of getting me in the station-house for once in his life. Although he failed in his object, he followed me down C street and handcuffed me in front of Tom Peasley's, but officers Birdsall and Larkin and Brokaw rebelled against this unwarranted assumption of authority, and released me—whereupon I was about to punish Jack Perry severely, when he offered me six bits to hand him down to posterity through the medium of this Biography, and I closed the contract. But after all, I never expect to get the money.
A SUNDAY IN CARSON
I arrived in this noisy and bustling town of Carson at noon to-day, per Layton's express. We made pretty good time from Virginia, and might have made much better, but for Horace Smith, Esq., who rode on the box seat and kept the stage so much by the head she wouldn't steer. I went to church, of course,—I always go to church when I—when I go to church—as it were. I got there just in time to hear the closing hymn, and also to hear the Rev. Mr. White give out a long-metre doxology, which the choir tried to sing to a short-metre tune. But there wasn't music enough to go around: consequently, the effect was rather singular, than otherwise. They sang the most interesting parts of each line, though, and charged the balance to "profit and loss;" this rendered the general intent and meaning of the doxology considerably mixed, as far as the congregation were concerned, but inasmuch as it was not addressed to them, anyhow, I thought it made no particular difference.
By an easy and pleasant transition, I went from church to jail. It was only just down stairs—for they save men eternally in the second story of the new court house, and damn them for life in the first. Sheriff Gasheric has a handsome double office fronting on the street, and its walls are gorgeously decorated with iron convict-jewelry. In the rear are two rows of cells, built of bomb-proof masonry and furnished with strong iron doors and resistless locks and bolts. There was but one prisoner—Swazey, the murderer of Derrickson—and he was writing; I do not know what his subject was, but he appeared to be handling it in a way which gave him great satisfaction....
ADVICE TO THE UNRELIABLE ON CHURCH-GOING
In the first place, I must impress upon you that when you are dressing for church, as a general thing, you mix your perfumes too much; your fragrance is sometimes oppressive; you saturate yourself with cologne and bergamot, until you make a sort of Hamlet's Ghost of yourself, and no man can decide, with the first whiff, whether you bring with you air from Heaven or from hell. Now, rectify this matter as soon as possible; last Sunday you smelled like a secretary to a consolidated drug store and barber shop. And you came and sat in the same pew with me; now don't do that again.
In the next place when you design coming to church, don't lie in bed until half past ten o'clock and then come in looking all swelled and torpid, like a doughnut. Do reflect upon it, and show some respect for your personal appearance hereafter.
There is another matter, also, which I wish to remonstrate with you about. Generally, when the contribution box of the missionary department is passing around, you begin to look anxious, and fumble in your vest pockets, as if you felt a mighty desire to put all your worldly wealth into it—yet when it reaches your pew, you are sure to be absorbed in your prayer-book, or gazing pensively out of the window at far-off mountains, or buried in meditation, with your sinful head supported by the back of the pew before you. And after the box is gone again, you usually start suddenly and gaze after it with a yearning look, mingled with an expression of bitter disappointment (fumbling your cash again meantime), as if you felt you had missed the one grand opportunity for which you had been longing all your life. Now, to do this when you have money in your pockets is mean. But I have seen you do a meaner thing. I refer to your conduct last Sunday, when the contribution box arrived at our pew—and the angry blood rises to my cheek when I remember with what gravity and sweet serenity of countenance you put in fifty cents and took out two dollars and a half....
EDS. ENTERPRISE—I received the following atrocious document the morning I arrived here. It was from that abandoned profligate, the Unreliable, and I think it speaks for itself:
CARSON CITY, Thursday Morning.
To the Unreliable:
SIR—Observing the driver of the Virginia stage hunting after you this morning, in order to collect his fare, I infer you are in town.
In the paper which you represent, I noticed an article which I took to be an effusion from your muddled brain, stating that I had "cabbaged" a number of valuable articles from you the night I took you out of the streets of Washoe City and permitted you to occupy my bed.
I take this opportunity to inform you that I will compensate you at the rate of $20 per head for every one of these valuable articles that I received from you, providing you will relieve me of their presence. This offer can be either accepted or rejected on your part: but providing you don't see proper to accept it, you had better procure enough lumber to make a box 4x8, and have it made as early as possible. Judge Dixon will arrange the preliminaries if you don't accede. An early reply is expected by RELIABLE.
Not satisfied with wounding my feelings by making the most extraordinary reference to allusions in the above note, he even sent a challenge to fight, in the same envelop with it, hoping to work upon my fears and drive me from the country by intimidation. But I was not to be frightened; I shall remain in the Territory. I guessed his object at once, and determined to accept his challenge, choose weapons and things, and scare him, instead of being scared myself. I wrote a stern reply to him, and offered him mortal combat with boot-jacks at a hundred yards. The effect was more agreeable than I could have hoped for. His hair turned black in a single night, from excess of fear; then he went into a fit of melancholy, and while it lasted he did nothing but sigh, and sob, and snuffle, and slobber, and say "he wished he was in the quiet tomb;" finally he said he would commit suicide—he would say farewell to the cold, cold world, with its cares and troubles, and go to sleep with his fathers, in perdition. Then rose up this young man, and threw his demijohn out of the window, and took up a glass of pure water, and drained it to the dregs. And then he fell to the floor in a swoon. Dr. Tjader was called in, and as soon as he found that the cuss was poisoned, he rushed down to the Magnolia Saloon and got the antidote, and poured it down him. As he was drawing his last breath, he scented the brandy and lingered yet a while on earth, to take a drink with the boys. But for this he would have been no more—or possible a great deal less—in a moment. So he survived; but he has been in a mighty precarious condition ever since. I have been up to see how he was getting along two or three times a day.... He is a very sick man; I was up there a while ago, and I could see that his friends had begun to entertain hopes that he would not get over it. As soon as I saw that, all my enmity vanished; I even felt like doing the poor Unreliable a kindness, and showing him, too, how my feelings toward him had changed. So I went and bought him a beautiful coffin, and carried it up and set it down on his bed and told him to climb in when his time was up. Well, sir, you never saw a man so affected by a little act of kindness as he was by that. He let off a sort of war-whoop, and went to kicking things around like a crazy man; and he foamed at the mouth and went out of one fit into another faster than I could take them down in my note-book....
I did not return to Virginia yesterday, on account of the wedding. The parties were Hon. James H. Sturtevant, one of the first Pi-Utes of Nevada, and Miss Emma Curry, daughter of the Hon. A. Curry, who also claims that his is a Pi-Ute family of high antiquity.... I had heard it reported that a marriage was threatened, so felt it my duty to go down there and find out the facts of the case. They said I might stay, as it was me.... I promised not to say anything about the wedding, and I regard that promise as sacred—my word is as good as my bond.... Father Bennett advanced and touched off the high contracting parties with the hymeneal torch (married them, you know), and at the word of command from Curry, the fiddle bows were set in motion, and the plain quadrilles turned loose. Thereupon, some of the most responsible dancing ensued that I ever saw in my life. The dance that Tam O'Shanter witnessed was slow in comparison to it. They kept it up for six hours, and then carried out the exhausted musicians on a shutter, and went down to supper. I know they had a fine supper, and plenty of it, but I do not know much else. They drank so much shampin around me that I got confused, and lost the hang of things, as it were.... It was mighty pleasant, jolly and sociable, and I wish to thunder I was married myself. I took a large slice of bridal cake home with me to dream on, and dreamt that I was still a single man, and likely to remain so, if I live and nothing happens—which has given me a greater confidence in dreams than I ever felt before. I cordially wish my newly-married couple all kinds of happiness and prosperity, though.
YE SENTIMENTAL LAW STUDENT
EDS. ENTERPRISE—I found the following letter, or Valentine, or whatever it is, lying on the summit, where it had been dropped unintentionally, I think. It was written on a sheet of legal cap, and each line was duly commenced within the red mark which traversed the sheet from top to bottom. Solon appeared to have had some trouble getting his effusion started to suit him. He had begun it, "Know all men by these presents," and scratched it out again; he had substituted, "Now at this day comes the plaintiff, by his attorney," and scratched that out also; he had tried other sentences of like character, and gone on obliterating them, until, through much sorrow and tribulation, he achieved the dedication which stands at the head of his letter, and to his entire satisfaction, I do cheerfully hope. But what a villain a man must be to blend together the beautiful language of love and the infernal phraseology of the law in one and the same sentence! I know but one of God's creatures who would be guilty of such depravity as this: I refer to the Unreliable. I believe the Unreliable to be the very lawyer's-cub who sat upon the solitary peak, all soaked in beer and sentiment, and concocted the insipid literary hash I am talking about. The handwriting closely resembles his semi-Chinese tarantula tracks.
SUGAR LOAF PEAK, February 14, 1863.
To the loveliness to whom these presents shall come, greeting:—This is a lovely day, my own Mary; its unencumbered sunshine reminds me of your happy face, and in the imagination the same doth now appear before me. Such sights and scenes as this ever remind me, the party of the second part, of you, my Mary, the peerless party of the first part. The view from the lonely and segregated mountain peak, of this portion of what is called and known as Creation, with all and singular the hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto appertaining and belonging, is inexpressively grand and inspiring; and I gaze, and gaze, while my soul is filled with holy delight, and my heart expands to receive thy spirit-presence, as aforesaid. Above me is the glory of the sun; around him float the messenger clouds, ready alike to bless the earth with gentle rain, or visit it with lightning, and thunder, and destruction; far below the said sun and the messenger clouds aforesaid, lying prone upon the earth in the verge of the distant horizon, like the burnished shield of a giant, mine eyes behold a lake, which is described and set forth in maps as the Sink of Carson; nearer, in the great plain, I see the Desert, spread abroad like the mantle of a Colossus, glowing by turns, with the warm light of the sun, hereinbefore mentioned, or darkly shaded by the messenger clouds aforesaid; flowing at right angles with said Desert, and adjacent thereto, I see the silver and sinuous thread of the river, commonly called Carson, which winds its tortuous course through the softly tinted valley, and disappears amid the gorges of the bleak and snowy mountains—a simile of man!—leaving the pleasant valley of Peace and Virtue to wander among the dark defiles of Sin, beyond the jurisdiction of the kindly beaming sun aforesaid! And about said sun, and the said clouds, and around the said mountains, and over the plain and the river aforesaid, there floats a purple glory—a yellow mist—as airy and beautiful as the bridal veil of a princess, about to be wedded according to the rites and ceremonies pertaining to, and established by, the laws or edicts of the kingdom or principality wherein she doth reside, and whereof she hath been and doth continue to be, a lawful sovereign or subject. Ah! my Mary, it is sublime! it is lovely! I have declared and made known, and by these presents do declare and make known unto you, that the view from Sugar Loaf Peak, as hereinbefore described and set forth, is the loveliest picture with which the hand of the Creator has adorned the earth, according to the best of my knowledge and belief, so help me God.
Given under my hand, and in the spirit-presence of the bright being whose love has restored the light of hope to a soul once groping in the darkness of despair, on the day and year first above written.
Law Student, and Notary Public in and for the said County of Storey, and Territory of Nevada.
To Miss Mary Links, Virginia (and may the laws have her in their holy keeping).
SETTIN' BY THE FIRE
BY FRANK L. STANTON
Never much on stirrin' roun' (Sich warn't his desire), Allers certain to be foun' Settin' by the fire.
When the frost wuz comin' down— Col' win' creepin' nigher, Spent each day jest thataway— Settin' by the fire.
When the dancin' shook the groun'— Raised the ol' roof higher, Never swung the gals eroun'— Sot thar' by the fire.
Same ol' corner night an' day— Never 'peared to tire; Not a blessed word to say! Jest sot by the fire.
When he died, by slow degrees, Folks said: "He's gone higher;" But it's my opinion he's Settin' by the fire.
He never tried to make a speech; A speech was far beyond his reach. He didn't even dare to try; He did his work upon the sly. He took the voter to the rear And gently whispered in his ear.
He never wrote; he could not write; He never tried that style of fight. No argument of his was seen In daily press or magazine. He only tried to get up near And whisper in the voter's ear.
It worked so well that he became A person of abundant fame. He couldn't write; he couldn't speak, But still pursued his course unique. He had a glorious career— He whispered in the voter's ear.
DER OAK UND DER VINE
BY CHARLES FOLLEN ADAMS
I don'd vas preaching voman's righdts, Or anyding like dot, Und I likes to see all beoples Shust gondented mit dheir lot; Budt I vants to gondradict dot shap Dot made dis leedle shoke: "A voman vas der glinging vine, Und man, der shturdy oak."
Berhaps, somedimes, dot may be drue; Budt, den dimes oudt off nine, I find me oudt dot man himself Vas peen der glinging vine; Und ven hees friendts dhey all vas gone, Und he vas shust "tead proke," Dot's ven der voman shteps righdt in, Und peen der shturdy oak.
Shust go oup to der paseball groundts Und see dhose "shturdy oaks" All planted roundt ubon der seats— Shust hear dheir laughs und shokes! Dhen see dhose vomens at der tubs, Mit glothes oudt on der lines; Vhich vas der shturdy oaks, mine friendts, Und vhich der glinging vines?
Vhen sickness in der householdt comes, Und veeks und veeks he shtays, Who vas id fighdts him mitoudt resdt, Dhose veary nighdts und days? Who beace und gomfort alvays prings, Und cools dot fefered prow? More like id vas der tender vine Dot oak he glings to, now.
"Man vants budt leedle here below," Der boet von time said; Dhere's leedle dot man he don'd vant, I dink id means, inshted; Und ven der years keep rolling on, Dheir cares und droubles pringing, He vants to pe der shturdy oak, Und, also, do der glinging.
Maype, vhen oaks dhey gling some more, Und don'd so shturdy peen, Der glinging vines dhey haf some shance To helb run Life's masheen. In helt und sickness, shoy und pain, In calm or shtormy veddher, 'T was beddher dot dhose oaks und vines Should alvays gling togeddher.
ARAMINTA AND THE AUTOMOBILE
BY CHARLES BATTELL LOOMIS
Some persons spend their surplus on works of art; some spend it on Italian gardens and pergolas; there are those who sink it in golf, and I have heard of those who expended it on charity.
None of these forms of getting away with money appeal to Araminta and myself. As soon as it was ascertained that the automobile was practicable and would not cost a king's ransom, I determined to devote my savings to the purchase of one.
Araminta and I lived in a suburban town; she because she loves Nature and I because I love Araminta. We have been married for five years.
I am a bank clerk in New York, and morning and night I go through the monotony of railway travel, and for one who is forbidden to use his eyes on the train and who does not play cards it is monotony, for in the morning my friends are either playing cards or else reading their papers, and one does not like to urge the claims of conversation on one who is deep in politics or the next play of his antagonist; so my getting to business and coming back are in the nature of purgatory. I therefore hailed the automobile as a Heaven-sent means of swift motion with an agreeable companion, and with no danger of encountering either newspapers or cards. I have seen neither reading nor card-playing going on in any automobile.
The community in which I live is not progressive, and when I said that I expected to buy an automobile as soon as my ship came in I was frowned upon by my neighbors. Several of them have horses, and all, or nearly all, have feet. The horsemen were not more opposed to my proposed ownership than the footmen—I should say pedestrians. They all thought automobiles dangerous and a menace to public peace, but of course I pooh-poohed their fears and, being a person of a good deal of stability of purpose, I went on saving my money, and in course of time I bought an automobile of the electric sort.
Araminta is plucky, and I am perfectly fearless. When the automobile was brought home and housed in the little barn that is on our property, the man who had backed it in told me that he had orders to stay and show me how it worked, but I laughed at him—good-naturedly yet firmly. I said, "Young man, experience teaches more in half an hour than books or precepts do in a year. A would-be newspaper man does not go to a school of journalism if he is wise; he gets a position on a newspaper and learns for himself, and through his mistakes. I know that one of these levers is to steer by, that another lets loose the power, and that there is a foot-brake. I also know that the machine is charged, and I need to know no more. Good day."
Thus did I speak to the young man, and he saw that I was a person of force and discretion, and he withdrew to the train and I never saw him again.
Araminta had been to Passaic shopping, but she came back while I was out in the barn looking at my new purchase, and she joined me there. I looked at her lovingly, and she returned the look. Our joint ambition was realized; we were the owners of an automobile, and we were going out that afternoon.
Why is it that cheap barns are so flimsily built? I know that our barn is cheap because the rent for house and barn is less than what many a clerk, city pent, pays for a cramped flat, but again I ask, why are they flimsily built? I have no complaint to make. If my barn had been built of good stout oak I might to-day be in a hospital.
It happened this way. Araminta said, "Let me get in, and we will take just a little ride to see how it goes," and I out of my love for her said, "Wait just a few minutes, dearest, until I get the hang of the thing. I want to see how much go she has and just how she works."
Araminta has learned to obey my slightest word, knowing that love is at the bottom of all my commands, and she stepped to one side while I entered the gayly-painted vehicle and tried to move out of the barn. I moved out. But I backed. Oh, blessed, cheaply built barn. My way was not restricted to any appreciable extent. I shot gayly through the barn into the hen yard, and the sound of the ripping clapboards frightened the silly hens who were enjoying a dust-bath, and they fled in more directions than there were fowls.
I had not intended entering the hen yard, and I did not wish to stay there, so I kept on out, the wire netting not being what an automobile would call an obstruction. I never lose my head, and when I heard Araminta screaming in the barn, I called out cheerily to her, "I'll be back in a minute, dear, but I'm coming another way."
And I did come another way. I came all sorts of ways. I really don't know what got into the machine, but she now turned to the left and made for the road, and then she ran along on her two left wheels for a moment, and then seemed about to turn a somersault, but changed her mind, and, still veering to the left, kept on up the road, passing my house at a furious speed, and making for the open country. With as much calmness as I could summon I steered her, but I think I steered her a little too much, for she turned toward my house.
I reached one end of the front piazza at the same time that Araminta reached the other end of it. I had the right of way, and she deferred to me just in time. I removed the vestibule storm door. It was late in March, and I did not think we should have any more use for it that season. And we didn't.
I had ordered a strongly-built machine, and I was now glad of it, because a light and weak affair that was merely meant to run along on a level and unobstructed road would not have stood the assault on my piazza. Why, my piazza did not stand it. It caved in, and made work for an already overworked local carpenter who was behind-hand with his orders. After I had passed through the vestibule, I applied the brake, and it worked. The path is not a cinder one, as I think them untidy, so I was not more than muddied. I was up in an instant, and looked at the still enthusiastic machine with admiration.
"Have you got the hang of it?" said Araminta.
Now that's one thing I like about Araminta. She does not waste words over non-essentials. The point was not that I had damaged the piazza. I needed a new one, anyway. The main thing was that I was trying to get the hang of the machine, and she recognized that fact instantly.
I told her that I thought I had, and that if I had pushed the lever in the right way at first, I should have come out of the barn in a more conventional way.
She again asked me to let her ride, and as I now felt that I could better cope with the curves of the machine I allowed her to get in.
"Don't lose your head," said I.
"I hope I shan't," said she dryly.
"Well, if you have occasion to leave me, drop over the back. Never jump ahead. That is a fundamental rule in runaways of all kinds."
Then we started, and I ran the motor along for upward of half a mile after I had reached the highway, which I did by a short cut through a field at the side of our house. There is only a slight rail fence surrounding it, and my machine made little of that. It really seemed to delight in what some people would have called danger.
"Araminta, are you glad that I saved up for this?"
"I am mad with joy," said the dear thing, her face flushed with excitement mixed with expectancy. Nor were her expectations to be disappointed. We still had a good deal to do before we should have ended our first ride.
So far I had damaged property to a certain extent, but I had no one but myself to reckon with, and I was providing work for people. I always have claimed that he who makes work for two men where there was only work for one before, is a public benefactor, and that day I was the friend of carpenters and other mechanics.
Along the highway we flew, our hearts beating high, but never in our mouths, and at last we saw a team approaching us. By "a team" I mean a horse and buggy. I was raised in Connecticut, where a team is anything you choose to call one.
The teamster saw us. Well, perhaps I should not call him a teamster (although he was one logically): he was our doctor, and, as I say, he saw us.
Now I think it would have been friendly in him, seeing that I was more or less of a novice at the art of automobiling, to have turned to the left when he saw that I was inadvertently turning to the left, but the practice of forty years added to a certain native obstinacy made him turn to the right, and he met me at the same time that I met him.
The horse was not hurt, for which I am truly glad, and the doctor joined us, and continued with us for a season, but his buggy was demolished.
Of course I am always prepared to pay for my pleasure, and though it was not, strictly speaking, my pleasure to deprive my physician of his turn-out, yet if he had turned out it wouldn't have happened—and, as I say, I was prepared to get him a new vehicle. But he was very unreasonable; so much so that, as he was crowding us—for the seat was not built for more than two, and he is stout—I at last told him that I intended to turn around and carry him home, as we were out for pleasure, and he was giving us pain.
I will confess that the events of the last few minutes had rattled me somewhat, and I did not feel like turning just then, as the road was narrow. I knew that the road turned of its own accord a half-mile farther on, and so I determined to wait.
"I want to get out," said the doctor tartly, and just as he said so Araminta stepped on the brake, accidentally. The doctor got out—in front. With great presence of mind I reversed, and so we did not run over him. But he was furious and sulphurous, and that is why I have changed to homeopathy. He was the only allopathic doctor in Brantford.
I suppose that if I had stopped and apologized, he would have made up with me, and I would not have got angry with him, but I couldn't stop. The machine was now going as she had done when I left the barn, and we were backing into town.
Through it all I did not lose my coolness. I said: "Araminta, look out behind, which is ahead of us, and if you have occasion to jump now, do it in front, which is behind," and Araminta understood me.
She sat sideways, so that she could see what was going on, but that might have been seen from any point of view, for we were the only things going on—or backing.
Pretty soon we passed the wreck of the buggy, and then we saw the horse grazing on dead grass by the roadside, and at last we came on a few of our townfolk who had seen us start, and were now come out to welcome us home. But I did not go home just then. I should have done so if the machine had minded me and turned in at our driveway, but it did not.
Across the way from us there is a fine lawn leading up to a beautiful greenhouse full of rare orchids and other plants. It is the pride of my very good neighbor, Jacob Rawlinson.
The machine, as if moved by malice prepense, turned just as we came to the lawn, and began to back at railroad speed.
I told Araminta that if she was tired of riding, now was the best time to stop; that she ought not to overdo it, and that I was going to get out myself as soon as I had seen her off.
I saw her off.
Then after one ineffectual jab at the brake, I left the machine hurriedly, and as I sat down on the sposhy lawn I heard a tremendous but not unmusical sound of falling glass——
I tell Araminta that it isn't the running of an automobile that is expensive. It is the stopping of it.
THE HEIGHT OF THE RIDICULOUS
BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
I wrote some lines once on a time In wondrous merry mood, And thought, as usual, men would say They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer, I laughed as I would die; Albeit, in the general way, A sober man am I.
I called my servant, and he came; How kind it was of him To mind a slender man like me, He of the mighty limb!
"These to the printer," I exclaimed, And, in my humorous way, I added, (as a trifling jest,) "There'll be the devil to pay."
He took the paper, and I watched, And saw him peep within; At the first line he read, his face Was all upon the grin.
He read the next; the grin grew broad, And shot from ear to ear; He read the third; a chuckling noise I now began to hear.
The fourth; he broke into a roar; The fifth; his waistband split; The sixth; he burst five buttons off, And tumbled in a fit.
Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye, I watched that wretched man, And since, I never dare to write As funny as I can.
WHEN LOVELY WOMAN
BY PHOEBE CARY
When lovely woman wants a favor, And finds, too late, that man won't bend, What earthly circumstance can save her From disappointment in the end?
The only way to bring him over, The last experiment to try, Whether a husband or a lover, If he have feeling is—to cry.
BY R. K. MUNKITTRICK
Down in the silent hallway Scampers the dog about, And whines, and barks, and scratches, In order to get out.
Once in the glittering starlight, He straightway doth begin To set up a doleful howling In order to get in.
THE INVISIBLE PRINCE
BY HENRY HARLAND
At a masked ball given by the Countess Wohenhoffen, in Vienna, during carnival week, a year ago, a man draped in the embroidered silks of a Chinese mandarin, his features entirely concealed by an enormous Chinese head in cardboard, was standing in the Wintergarten, the big, dimly-lighted conservatory, near the door of one of the gilt-and-white reception-rooms, rather a stolid-seeming witness of the multi-coloured romp within, when a voice behind him said, "How do you do, Mr. Field?"—a woman's voice, an English voice.
The mandarin turned round.
From a black mask, a pair of blue-gray eyes looked into his broad, bland Chinese face; and a black domino dropped him an extravagant little curtsey.
"How do you do?" he responded. "I'm afraid I'm not Mr. Field; but I'll gladly pretend I am, if you'll stop and talk with me. I was dying for a little human conversation."
"Oh you're afraid you're not Mr. Field, are you?" the mask replied derisively. "Then why did you turn when I called his name?"
"You mustn't hope to disconcert me with questions like that," said he. "I turned because I liked your voice."
He might quite reasonably have liked her voice, a delicate, clear, soft voice, somewhat high in register, with an accent, crisp, chiselled, concise, that suggested wit as well as distinction. She was rather tall, for a woman; one could divine her slender and graceful, under the voluminous folds of her domino.
She moved a little away from the door, deeper into the conservatory. The mandarin kept beside her. There, amongst the palms, a fontaine lumineuse was playing, rhythmically changing colour. Now it was a shower of rubies; now of emeralds or amethysts, of sapphires, topazes, or opals.
"How pretty," she said, "and how frightfully ingenious. I am wondering whether this wouldn't be a good place to sit down. What do you think?" And she pointed with a fan to a rustic bench.
So they sat down on the rustic bench, by the fontaine lumineuse.
"In view of your fear that you're not Mr. Field, it's rather a coincidence that at a masked ball in Vienna you should just happen to be English, isn't it?" she asked.
"Oh, everybody's more or less English, in these days, you know," said he.
"There's some truth in that," she admitted, with a laugh. "What a diverting piece of artifice this Wintergarten is, to be sure. Fancy arranging the electric lights to shine through a dome of purple glass, and look like stars. They do look like stars, don't they? Slightly overdressed, showy stars, indeed; stars in the German taste; but stars, all the same. Then, by day, you know, the purple glass is removed, and you get the sun—the real sun. Do you notice the delicious fragrance of lilac? If one hadn't too exacting an imagination, one might almost persuade oneself that one was in a proper open-air garden, on a night in May—Yes, everybody is more or less English, in these days. That's precisely the sort of thing I should have expected Victor Field to say."
"By-the-bye," questioned the mandarin, "if you don't mind increasing my stores of knowledge, who is this fellow Field?"
"This fellow Field? Ah, who indeed?" said she. "That's just what I wish you'd tell me."
"I'll tell you with pleasure, after you've supplied me with the necessary data," he promised cheerfully.
"Well, by some accounts, he's a little literary man in London," she remarked.
"Oh, come! You never imagined that I was a little literary man in London," protested he.
"You might be worse," she retorted. "However, if the phrase offends you, I'll say a rising young literary man, instead. He writes things, you know."
"Poor chap, does he? But then, that's a way they have, sizing up literary persons?" His tone was interrogative.
"Doubtless," she agreed. "Poems and stories and things. And book reviews, I suspect. And even, perhaps, leading articles in the newspapers."
"Toute la lyre enfin? What they call a penny-a-liner?"
"I'm sure I don't know what he's paid. I should think he'd get rather more than a penny. He's fairly successful. The things he does aren't bad," she said.
"I must look 'em up," said he. "But meantime, will you tell me how you came to mistake me for him? Has he the Chinese type? Besides, what on earth should a little London literary man be doing at the Countess Wohenhoffen's?"
"He was standing near the door, over there," she told him, sweetly, "dying for a little human conversation, till I took pity on him. No, he hasn't exactly the Chinese type, but he's wearing a Chinese costume, and I should suppose he'd feel uncommonly hot in that exasperatingly placid Chinese head. I'm nearly suffocated, and I'm only wearing a loup. For the rest, why shouldn't he be here?"
"If your loup bothers you, pray take it off. Don't mind me," he urged gallantly.
"You're extremely good," she responded. "But if I should take off my loup, you'd be sorry. Of course, manlike, you're hoping that I'm young and pretty."
"Well, and aren't you?"
"I'm a perfect fright. I'm an old maid."
"Thank you. Manlike, I confess I was hoping you'd be young and pretty. Now my hope has received the strongest confirmation. I'm sure you are," he declared triumphantly.
"Your argument, with a meretricious air of subtlety, is facile and superficial. Don't pin your faith to it. Why shouldn't Victor Field be here?" she persisted.
"The Countess only receives tremendous swells. It's the most exclusive house in Europe."
"Are you a tremendous swell?" she wondered.
"Rather!" he asseverated. "Aren't you?"
She laughed a little, and stroked her fan, a big fan, a big fan of fluffy black feathers.
"That's very jolly," said he.
"What?" said she.
"That thing in your lap."
"I expect you'd call it a fan."
"For goodness' sake, what would you call it?" cried she.
"I should call it a fan."
She gave another little laugh. "You have a nice instinct for the mot juste," she informed him.
"Oh, no," he disclaimed, modestly. "But I can call a fan a fan, when I think it won't shock the sensibilities of my hearer."
"If the Countess only receives tremendous swells," said she, "you must remember that Victor Field belongs to the Aristocracy of Talent."
"Oh, quant a ca, so, from the Wohenhoffens' point of view, do the barber and the horse-leech. In this house, the Aristocracy of Talent dines with the butler."
"Is the Countess such a snob?" she asked.
"No; she's an Austrian. They draw the line so absurdly tight in Austria."
"Well, then, you leave me no alternative," she argued, "but to conclude that Victor Field is a tremendous swell. Didn't you notice, I bobbed him a curtsey?"
"I took the curtsey as a tribute to my Oriental magnificence," he confessed. "Field doesn't sound like an especially patrician name. I'd give anything to discover who you are. Can't you be induced to tell me? I'll bribe, entreat, threaten—I'll do anything you think might persuade you."
"I'll tell you at once, if you'll own up that you're Victor Field," said she.
"Oh, I'll own up that I'm Queen Elizabeth if you'll tell me who you are. The end justifies the means."
"Then you are Victor Field?" she pursued him eagerly.
"If you don't mind suborning perjury, why should I mind committing it?" he reflected. "Yes. And now, who are you?"
"No; I must have an unequivocal avowal," she stipulated. "Are you or are you not Victor Field?"
"Let us put it at this," he proposed, "that I'm a good serviceable imitation; an excellent substitute when the genuine article is not procurable."
"Of course, your real name isn't anything like Victor Field," she declared, pensively.
"I never said it was. But I admire the way in which you give with one hand and take back with the other."
"Your real name—" she began. "Wait a moment—Yes, now I have it. Your real name—It's rather long. You don't think it will bore you?"
"Oh, if it's really my real name, I daresay I'm hardened to it," said he.
"Your real name is Louis Charles Ferdinand Stanislas John Joseph Emmanuel Maria Anna."
"Mercy upon me," he cried, "what a name! You ought to have broken it to me in instalments. And it's all Christian name at that. Can't you spare me just a little rag of a surname, for decency's sake?" he pleaded.
"The surnames of royalties don't matter, Monseigneur," she said, with a flourish.
"Royalties? What? Dear me, here's rapid promotion! I am royal now! And a moment ago I was a little penny-a-liner in London."
"L'un n'empeche pas l'autre. Have you never heard the story of the Invisible Prince?" she asked.
"I adore irrelevancy," said he. "I seem to have read something about an invisible prince, when I was young. A fairy tale, wasn't it?"
"The irrelevancy is only apparent. The story I mean is a story of real life. Have you ever heard of the Duke of Zeln?"
"Zeln? Zeln?" he repeated, reflectively. "No, I don't think so."
She clapped her hands. "Really, you do it admirably. If I weren't perfectly sure of my facts, I believe I should be taken in. Zeln, as any history would tell you, as any old atlas would show you, was a little independent duchy in the center of Germany."
"Poor dear thing! Like Jonah in the center of the whale," he murmured, sympathetically.
"Hush. Don't interrupt. Zeln was a little independent German duchy, and the Duke of Zeln was its sovereign. After the war with France it was absorbed by Prussia. But the ducal family still rank as royal highness. Of course, you've heard of the Leczinskis?"
"Lecz—what?" said he.
"Leczinski," she repeated.
"How do you spell it?"
"Good. Capital. You have a real gift for spelling," he exclaimed.
"Will you be quiet," she said, severely, "and answer my question? Are you familiar with the name?"
"I should never venture to be familiar with a name I didn't know," he asserted.
"Ah, you don't know it? You have never heard of Stanislas Leczinska, who was king of Poland? Of Marie Leczinska, who married Louis VI?"
"Oh, to be sure. I remember. The lady whose portrait one sees at Versailles."
"Quite so. Very well," she continued, "the last representative of the Leczinskis, in the elder line, was the Princess Anna Leczinska, who, in 1858, married the Duke of Zeln. She was the daughter of John Leczinski, Duke of Grodnia and Governor of Galicia, and of the Archduchess Henrietta d'Este, a cousin of the Emperor of Austria. She was also a great heiress, and an extremely handsome woman. But the Duke of Zeln was a bad lot, a viveur, a gambler, a spendthrift. His wife, like a fool, made her entire fortune over to him, and he proceeded to play ducks and drakes with it. By the time their son was born he'd got rid of the last farthing. Their son wasn't born till '63, five years after their marriage. Well, and then, what do you suppose the Duke did?"
"Reformed, of course. The wicked husband always reforms when a child is born, and there's no more money," he generalized.
"You know perfectly well what he did," said she. "He petitioned the German Diet to annul the marriage. You see, having exhausted the dowry of the Princess Anna, it occurred to him that if she could only be got out of the way, he might marry another heiress, and have the spending of another fortune."
"Clever dodge," he observed. "Did it come off?"
"It came off, all too well. He based his petition on the ground that the marriage had never been—I forget what the technical term is. Anyhow, he pretended that the princess had never been his wife except in name, and that the child couldn't possibly be his. The Emperor of Austria stood by his connection, like the royal gentleman he is; used every scrap of influence he possessed to help her. But the duke, who was a Protestant (the princess was of course a Catholic), the duke persuaded all the Protestant States in the Diet to vote in his favour. The Emperor of Austria was powerless, the Pope was powerless. And the Diet annulled the marriage."
"Ah," said the mandarin.
"Yes," she went on. "The marriage was annulled, and the child declared illegitimate. Ernest Augustus, as the duke was somewhat inconsequently named, married again, and had other children, the eldest of whom is the present bearer of the title—the same Duke of Zeln one hears of, quarreling with the croupiers at Monte Carlo. The Princess Anna, with her baby, came to Austria. The Emperor gave her a pension, and lent her one of his country houses to live in—Schloss Sanct—Andreas. Our hostess, by-the-by, the Countess Wohenhoffen, was her intimate friend and her premiere dame d'honneur."
"Ah," said the mandarin.
"But the poor princess had suffered more than she could bear. She died when her child was four years old. The Countess Wohenhoffen took the infant, by the Emperor's desire, and brought him up with her own son Peter. He was called Prince Louis Leczinski. Of course, in all moral right, he was the Hereditary Prince of Zeln. His legitimacy, for the rest, and his mother's innocence, are perfectly well established, in every sense but a legal sense, by the fact that he has all the physical characteristics of the Zeln stock. He has the Zeln nose and the Zeln chin, which are as distinctive as the Hapsburg lip."
"I hope, for the poor young man's sake, though, that they're not so unbecoming?" questioned the mandarin.
"They're not exactly pretty," answered the mask. "The nose is a thought too long, the chin is a trifle too short. However, I daresay the poor young man is satisfied. As I was about to tell you, the Countess Wohenhoffen brought him up, and the Emperor destined him for the Church. He even went to Rome and entered the Austrian College. He'd have been on the high road to a cardinalate by this time if he'd stuck to the priesthood, for he had strong interest. But, lo and behold, when he was about twenty, he chucked the whole thing up."
"Ah? Histoire de femme?"
"Very likely," she assented, "though I've never heard any one say so. At all events, he left Rome, and started upon his travels. He had no money of his own, but the Emperor made him an allowance. He started upon his travels, and he went to India, and he went to America, and he went to South Africa, and then, finally, in '87 or '88, he went—no one knows where. He totally disappeared, vanished into space. He's not been heard of since. Some people think he's dead. But the greater number suppose that he tired of his false position in the world, and one fine day determined to escape from it, by sinking his identity, changing his name, and going in for a new life under new conditions. They call him the Invisible Prince. His position was rather an ambiguous one, wasn't it? You see, he was neither one thing nor the other. He has no etat-civil. In the eyes of the law he was a bastard, yet he knew himself to be the legitimate son of the Duke of Zeln. He was a citizen of no country, yet he was the rightful heir to a throne. He was the last descendant of Stanislas Leczinski, yet it was without authority that he bore his name. And then, of course, the rights and wrongs of the matter were only known to a few. The majority of people simply remembered that there had been a scandal. And (as a wag once said of him) wherever he went, he left his mother's reputation behind him. No wonder he found the situation irksome. Well, there is the story of the Invisible Prince."
"And a very exciting, melodramatic little story, too. For my part, I suspect your Prince met a boojum. I love to listen to stories. Won't you tell me another? Do, please," he pressed her.
"No, he didn't meet a boojum," she returned. "He went to England, and set up for an author. The Invisible Prince and Victor Field are one and the same person."
"Oh, I say! Not really!" he exclaimed.
"What makes you think so?" he wondered.
"I'm sure of it," said she. "To begin with, I must confide to you that Victor Field is a man I've never met."
"Never met—?" he gasped. "But, by the blithe way in which you were laying his sins at my door, a little while ago, I supposed you were sworn confederates."
"What's the good of masked balls, if you can't talk to people you've never met?" she submitted. "I've never met him, but I'm one of his admirers. I like his little poems. And I'm the happy possessor of a portrait of him. It's a print after a photograph. I cut it from an illustrated paper."
"I really almost wish I was Victor Field," he sighed. "I should feel such a glow of gratified vanity."
"And the Countess Wohenhoffen," she added, "has at least twenty portraits of the Invisible Prince—photographs, miniatures, life-size paintings, taken from the time he was born, almost, to the time of his disappearance. Victor Field and Louis Leczinski have countenances as like each other as two halfpence."
"An accidental resemblance, doubtless."
"No, it isn't an accidental resemblance," she affirmed.
"Oh, then you think it's intentional?" he quizzed.
"Don't be absurd. I might have thought it accidental, except for one or two odd little circumstances. Primo, Victor Field is a guest at the Wohenhoffens' ball."
"Oh, he is a guest here?"
"Yes, he is," she said. "You are wondering how I know. Nothing simpler. The same costumier who made my domino, supplied his Chinese dress. I noticed it at his shop. It struck me as rather nice, and I asked whom it was for. The costumier said, for an Englishman at the Hotel de Bade. Then he looked in his book, and told me the Englishman's name. It was Victor Field. So, when I saw the same Chinese dress here to-night, I knew it covered the person of one of my favorite authors. But I own, like you, I was a good deal surprised. What on earth should a little London literary man be doing at the Countess Wohenhoffen's? And then I remembered the astonishing resemblance between Victor Field and Louis Leczinski; and I remembered that to Louis Leczinski the Countess Wohenhoffen had been a second mother; and I reflected that though he chose to be as one dead and buried for the rest of the world, Louis Leczinski might very probably keep up private relations with the Countess. He might very probably come to her ball, incognito, and safely masked. I observed also that the Countess's rooms were decorated throughout with white lilac. But the white lilac is the emblematic flower of the Leczinskis; green and white are their family colours. Wasn't the choice of white lilac on this occasion perhaps designed as a secret compliment to the Prince? I was taught in the schoolroom that two and two make four."
"Oh, one can see that you've enjoyed a liberal education," he apprised her. "But where were you taught to jump to conclusions? You do it with a grace, an assurance. I too have heard that two and two make four; but first you must catch your two and two. Really, as if there couldn't be more than one Chinese costume knocking about Vienna, during carnival week! Dear, good, sweet lady, it's of all disguises the disguise they're driving hardest, this particular season. And then to build up an elaborate theory of identities upon the mere chance resemblance of a pair of photographs! Photographs indeed! Photographs don't give the complexion. Say that your Invisible Prince is dark, what's to prevent your literary man from being fair or sandy? Or vice versa? And then, how is a little German Polish princeling to write poems and things in English? No, no, no; your reasoning hasn't a leg to stand on."
"Oh, I don't mind its not having legs," she laughed, "so long as it convinces me. As for writing poems and things in English, you yourself said that everybody is more or less English, in these days. German princes are especially so. They all learn English, as a second mother-tongue. You see, like Circassian beauties, they are mostly bred up for the marriage market; and nothing is a greater help towards a good sound remunerative English marriage, than a knowledge of the language. However, don't be frightened. I must take it for granted that Victor Field would prefer not to let the world know who he is. I happen to have discovered his secret. He may trust to my discretion."
"You still persist in imagining that I'm Victor Field?" he murmured sadly.
"I should have to be extremely simple-minded," she announced, "to imagine anything else. You wouldn't be a male human being if you had sat here for half an hour patiently talking about another man."
"Your argument," said he, "with a meretricious air of subtlety, is facile and superficial. I thank you for teaching me that word. I'd sit here till doomsday talking about my worst enemy, for the pleasure of talking with you."
"Perhaps we have been talking of your worst enemy. Whom do the moralists pretend a man's worst enemy is wont to be?" she asked.
"I wish you would tell me the name of the person the moralists would consider your worst enemy," he replied.
"I'll tell you directly, as I said before, if you'll own up," she offered.
"Your price is prohibitive. I've nothing to own up to."
"Well then—good night," she said.
Lightly, swiftly, she fled from the conservatory, and was soon irrecoverable in the crowd.
The next morning Victor Field left Vienna for London; but before he left he wrote a letter to Peter Wohenhoffen. In the course of it he said: "There was an Englishwoman at your ball last night with the reasoning powers of a detective in a novel. By divers processes of elimination and induction, she had formed all sorts of theories about no end of things. Among others, for instance, she was willing to bet her halidome that a certain Prince Louis Leczinski, who seems to have gone on the spree some years ago, and never to have come home again—she was willing to bet anything you like that Leczinski and I—moi qui vous parle—were to all intents and purposes the same. Who was she, please? Rather a tall woman, in a black domino, with gray eyes, or grayish-blue, and a nice voice."
In the answer which he received from Peter Wohenhoffen towards the end of the week, Peter said: "There were nineteen Englishwomen at my mother's party, all of them rather tall, with nice voices, and gray or blue-gray eyes. I don't know what colours their dominoes were. Here is a list of them."
The names that followed were names of people whom Victor Field almost certainly would never meet. The people Victor knew in London were the sort of people a little literary man might be expected to know. Most of them were respectable; some of them even deemed themselves rather smart, and patronized him right Britishly. But the nineteen names in Peter Wohenhoffen's list ("Oh, me! Oh, my!" cried Victor) were names to make you gasp.
All the same, he went a good deal to Hyde Park during the season, and watched the driving.
"Which of all those haughty high-born beauties is she?" he wondered futilely.
And then the season passed, and then the year; and little by little, of course, he ceased to think about her.
* * * * *
One afternoon last May, a man, habited in accordance with the fashion of the period, stopped before a hairdresser's shop in Knightsbridge somewhere, and, raising his hat, bowed to the three waxen ladies who simpered from the window.
"Oh! It's Mr. Field!" a voice behind him cried. "What are those cryptic rites that you're performing? What on earth are you bowing into a hairdresser's window for?"—a smooth, melodious voice, tinged by an inflection that was half ironical, half bewildered.
"I was saluting the type of English beauty," he answered, turning. "Fortunately, there are divergencies from it," he added, as he met the puzzled smile of his interlocutrice; a puzzled smile, indeed, but, like the voice, by no means without its touch of irony.
She gave a little laugh; and then, examining the models critically, "Oh?" she questioned. "Would you call that the type? You place the type high. Their features are quite faultless, and who ever saw such complexions?"
"It's the type, all the same," said he. "Just as the imitation marionette is the type of English breeding."
"The imitation marionette? I'm afraid I don't follow," she confessed.
"The imitation marionettes. You've seen them at little theatres in Italy. They're actors who imitate puppets. Men and women who try to behave as if they weren't human, as if they were made of starch and whalebone, instead of flesh and blood."
"Ah, yes," she assented, with another little laugh. "That would be rather typical of our insular methods. But do you know what an engaging, what a reviving spectacle you presented, as you stood there flourishing your hat? What do you imagine people thought? And what would have happened to you if I had just chanced to be a policeman instead of a friend?"
"Would you have clapped your handcuffs on me?" he inquired. "I suppose my conduct did seem rather suspicious. I was in the deepest depths of dejection. One must give some expression to one's sorrow."
"Are you going towards Kensington?" she asked, preparing to move on.
"Before I commit myself, I should like to be sure whether you are," he replied.
"You can easily discover with a little perseverance."
He placed himself beside her, and together they walked towards Kensington.
She was rather taller than the usual woman, and slender. She was exceedingly well-dressed; smartly, becomingly; a jaunty little hat of strangely twisted straw, with an aigrette springing defiantly from it; a jacket covered with mazes and labyrinths of embroidery; at her throat a big knot of white lace, the ends of which fell winding in a creamy cascade to her waist (do they call the thing a jabot?); and then.... But what can a man trust himself to write of these esoteric matters? She carried herself extremely well, too: with grace, with distinction, her head held high, even thrown back a little, superciliously. She had an immense quantity of very lovely hair. Red hair? Yellow hair? Red hair with yellow lights burning in it? Yellow hair with red fires shimmering through it? In a single loose, full billow it swept away from her forehead, and then flowed into a half-a-thousand rippling, crinkling, capricious undulations. And her skin had the sensitive colouring, the fineness of texture, that are apt to accompany red hair when it's yellow, yellow hair when it's red. Her face, with its pensive, quizzical eyes, its tip-tilted nose, its rather large mouth, and the little mocking quirks and curves the lips took, with an alert, arch, witty face; a delicate high-bred face; and withal a somewhat sensuous, emotional face; the face of a woman with a vast deal of humour in her soul; a vast deal of mischief; of a woman who would love to tease you, and mystify you, and lead you on, and put you off; and yet who, in her own way, at her own time, would know supremely well how to be kind.
But it was mischief rather than kindness that glimmered in her eyes at present, as she asked, "You were in the deepest depths of dejection? Poor man! Why?"
"I can't precisely determine," said he, "whether the sympathy that seems to vibrate in your voice is genuine or counterfeit."
"Perhaps it's half and half," she suggested. "But my curiosity is unmixed. Tell me your troubles."
"The catalogue is long. I've sixteen hundred million. The weather, for example. The shameless beauty of this radiant spring day. It's enough to stir all manner of wild pangs and longings in the heart of an octogenarian. But, anyhow, when one's life is passed in a dungeon, one can't perpetually be singing and dancing from mere exuberance of joy, can one?"
"Is your life passed in a dungeon?" she exclaimed.
"Indeed, indeed, it is. Isn't yours?"
"It had never occurred to me that it was."
"You're lucky. Mine is passed in the dungeons of Castle Ennui," he said.
"Oh, Castle Ennui. Ah, yes. You mean you're bored?"
"At this particular moment I'm savouring the most exquisite excitement," he professed. "But in general, when I am not working or sleeping, I'm bored to extermination—incomparably bored. If only one could work and sleep alternately, twenty-four hours a day, the year round! There's no use trying to play in London. It's so hard to find a playmate. The English people take their pleasures without salt."
"The dungeons of Castle Ennui," she repeated meditatively. "Yes, we are fellow-prisoners. I'm bored to extermination too. Still," she added, "one is allowed out on parole, now and again. And sometimes one has really quite delightful little experiences."
"It would ill become me, in the present circumstances, to dispute that," he answered, bowing.
"But the castle waits to reclaim us afterwards, doesn't it?" she mused. "That's rather a happy image, Castle Ennui."
"I'm extremely glad you approve of it. Castle Ennui is the bastile of modern life. It is built of prunes and prisms; it has its outer court of convention, and its inner court of propriety; it is moated round by respectability, and the shackles its inmates wear are forged of dull little duties and arbitrary little rules. You can only escape from it at the risk of breaking your social neck, or remaining a fugitive from social justice to the end of your days. Yes, it is a fairly decent little image."
"A bit out of something you're preparing for the press?" she hinted.
"Oh, how unkind of you!" he cried. "It was absolutely extemporaneous."
"One can never tell, with vous autres gens-de-lettres," she laughed.
"It would be friendlier to say nous autres gens d'esprit," he submitted.
"Aren't we proving to what degree nous autres gens d'esprit sont betes," she remarked, "by continuing to walk along this narrow pavement, when we can get into Kensington Gardens by merely crossing the street. Would it take you out of your way?"
"I have no way. I was sauntering for pleasure, if you can believe me. I wish I could hope that you have no way either. Then we could stop here, and crack little jokes together the livelong afternoon," he said, as they entered the Gardens.
"Alas, my way leads straight back to the Castle. I've promised to call on an old woman in Campden Hill," said she.
"Disappoint her. It's good for old women to be disappointed. It whips up their circulation."
"I shouldn't much regret disappointing the old woman," she admitted, "and I should rather like an hour or two of stolen freedom. I don't mind owning that I've generally found you, as men go, a moderately interesting man to talk with. But the deuce of it is—You permit the expression?"
"I'm devoted to the expression."
"The deuce of it is, I'm supposed to be driving," she explained.
"Oh, that doesn't matter. So many suppositions in this world are baseless," he reminded her.
"But there's the prison van," she said. "It's one of the tiresome rules in the female wing of Castle Ennui that you're always supposed, more or less, to be driving. And though you may cheat the authorities by slipping out of the prison van directly it's turned the corner, and sending it on ahead, there it remains, a factor that can't be eliminated. The prison van will relentlessly await my arrival in the old woman's street."
"That only adds to the sport. Let it wait. When a factor can't be eliminated, it should be haughtily ignored. Besides, there are higher considerations. If you leave me, what shall I do with the rest of this weary day?"
"You can go to your club."
He threw up his hand. "Merciful lady! What sin have I committed? I never go to my club, except when I've been wicked, as a penance. If you will permit me to employ a metaphor—oh, but a tried and trusty metaphor—when one ship on the sea meets another in distress, it stops and comforts it, and forgets all about its previous engagements and the prison van and everything. Shall we cross to the north, and see whether the Serpentine is in its place? Or would you prefer to inspect the eastern front of the Palace? Or may I offer you a penny chair?"
"I think a penny chair would be the maddest of the three dissipations," she decided.
And they sat down in penny chairs.
"It's rather jolly here, isn't it?" said he. "The trees, with their black trunks, and their leaves, and things. Have you ever seen such sumptuous foliage? And the greensward, and the shadows, and the sunlight, and the atmosphere, and the mistiness—isn't it like pearl-dust and gold-dust floating in the air? It's all got up to imitate the background of a Watteau. We must do our best to be frivolous and ribald, and supply a proper foreground. How big and fleecy and white the clouds are. Do you think they're made of cotton-wood? And what do you suppose they paint the sky with? There never was such a brilliant, breath-taking blue. It's much too nice to be natural. And they've sprinkled the whole place with scent, haven't they? You notice how fresh and sweet it smells. If only one could get rid of the sparrows—the cynical little beasts! hear how they're chortling—and the people, and the nursemaids and children. I have never been able to understand why they admit the public to the parks."
"Go on," she encouraged him. "You're succeeding admirably in your effort to be ribald."
"But that last remark wasn't ribald in the least—it was desperately sincere. I do think it's inconsiderate of them to admit the public to the parks. They ought to exclude all the lower classes, the people, at one fell swoop, and then to discriminate tremendously amongst the others."
"Mercy, what undemocratic sentiments!" she cried. "The People, the poor dear People—what have they done?"
"Everything. What haven't they done? One could forgive their being dirty and stupid and noisy and rude; one could forgive their ugliness, the ineffable banality of their faces, their goggle-eyes, their protruding teeth, their ungainly motions; but the trait one can't forgive is their venality. They're so mercenary. They're always thinking how much they can get out of you—everlastingly touching their hats and expecting you to put your hand in your pocket. Oh, no, believe me, there's no health in the People. Ground down under the iron heel of despotism, reduced to a condition of hopeless serfdom, I don't say that they might not develop redeeming virtues. But free, but sovereign, as they are in these days, they're everything that is squalid and sordid and offensive. Besides, they read such abominably bad literature."
"In that particular they're curiously like the aristocracy, aren't they?" said she. "By-the-bye, when are you going to publish another book of poems?"
"Apropos of bad literature?"
"Not altogether bad. I rather like your poems."
"So do I," said he. "It's useless to pretend that we haven't tastes in common."
They were both silent for a bit. She looked at him oddly, an inscrutable little light flickering in her eyes. All at once she broke out with a merry trill of laughter.
"What are you laughing at?" he demanded.
"I'm hugely amused," she answered.
"I wasn't I aware that I'd said anything especially good."
"You're building better than you know. But if I am amused, you look ripe for tears. What is the matter?"
"Every heart knows its own bitterness," he answered. "Don't pay the least attention to me. You mustn't let moodiness of mine cast a blight upon your high spirits."
"No fear," she assured him. "There are pleasures that nothing can rob of their sweetness. Life is not all dust and ashes. There are bright spots."
"Yes, I've no doubt there are," he said.
"And thrilling little adventures—no?" she questioned.
"For the bold, I dare say."
"None but the bold deserve them. Sometimes it's one thing, and sometimes it's another."
"That's very certain," he agreed.
"Sometimes, for instance," she went on, "one meets a man one knows, and speaks to him. And he answers with a glibness! And then, almost directly, what do you suppose one discovers?"
"What?" he asked.
"One discovers that the wretch hasn't a ghost of a notion who one is—that he's totally and absolutely forgotten one!"
"Oh, I say! Really?" he exclaimed.
"Yes, really. You can't deny that that's an exhilarating little adventure."
"I should think it might be. One could enjoy the man's embarrassment," he reflected.
"Or his lack of embarrassment. Some men are of an assurance, of a sang froid! They'll place themselves beside you, and walk with you, and talk with you, and even propose that you should pass the livelong afternoon cracking jokes with them in a garden, and never breathe a hint of their perplexity. They'll brazen it out."
"That's distinctly heroic, Spartan, of them, don't you think?" he said. "Intentionally, poor dears, they're very likely suffering agonies of discomfiture."
"We'll hope they are. Could they decently do less?" said she.
"And fancy the mental struggles that must be going on in their brains," he urged. "If I were a man in such a situation I'd throw myself upon the woman's mercy. I'd say, 'Beautiful, sweet lady! I know I know you. Your name, your entirely charming and appropriate name, is trembling on the tip of my tongue. But, for some unaccountable reason, my brute of a memory chooses to play the fool. If you've a spark of Christian kindness in your soul, you'll come to my rescue with a little clue."
"If the woman had a Christian sense of the ridiculous in her soul, I fear you'd throw yourself on her mercy in vain," she warned.
"What is the good of tantalizing people?"
"Besides," she continued, "the woman might reasonably feel slightly humiliated to find herself forgotten in that bare-faced manner."
"The humiliation would be surely all the man's. Have you heard from the Wohenhoffens lately?"
"The—what? The—who?" She raised her eyebrows.
"The Wohenhoffens," he repeated.
"What are the Wohenhoffens? Are they persons? Are they things?"
"Oh, nothing. My inquiry was merely dictated by a thirst for knowledge. It occurred to me that you might have won a black domino at the masked ball they gave, the Wohenhoffens. Are you sure you didn't?"
"I've a great mind to punish your forgetfulness by pretending that I did," she teased.
"She was rather tall, like you, and she had gray eyes, and a nice voice, and a laugh that was sweeter than the singing of nightingales. She was monstrously clever, too, with a flow of language that would have made her a leader in any sphere. She was also a perfect fiend. I have always been anxious to meet her again, in order that I might ask her to marry me. I'm strongly disposed to believe that she was you. Was she?" he pleaded.
"If I say yes, will you at once proceed to ask me to marry you?" she asked.
"Try it and see."
"Ce n'est pas la peine. It occasionally happens that a woman's already got a husband."
"She said she was an old maid."
"Do you dare to insinuate that I look like an old maid?" she cried.
"Upon my word!"
"Would you wish me to insinuate that you look like anything so insipid as a young girl? Were you the woman of the black domino?" he persisted.