Part 1 out of 2
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ALONZO FITZ AND OTHER STORIES
by Mark Twain
CONTENTS OF THIS VOLUME:
THE LOVES OF ALONZO FITZ CLARENCE AND ROSANNAH ETHELTON
ON THE DECAY OF THE ART OF LYING
ABOUT MAGNANIMOUS-INCIDENT LITERATURE
THE GRATEFUL POODLE
THE BENEVOLENT AUTHOR
THE GRATEFUL HUSBAND
PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH
THE GREAT REVOLUTION IN PITCAIRN
THE CANVASSER'S TALE
AN ENCOUNTER WITH AN INTERVIEWER
LEGEND OF SAGENFELD, IN GERMANY
SPEECH ON THE BABIES
SPEECH ON THE WEATHER
CONCERNING THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE
THE LOVES OF ALONZO FITZ CLARENCE AND ROSANNAH ETHELTON
It was well along in the forenoon of a bitter winter's day. The town of
Eastport, in the state of Maine, lay buried under a deep snow that was
newly fallen. The customary bustle in the streets was wanting. One
could look long distances down them and see nothing but a dead-white
emptiness, with silence to match. Of course I do not mean that you could
see the silence--no, you could only hear it. The sidewalks were merely
long, deep ditches, with steep snow walls on either side. Here and there
you might hear the faint, far scrape of a wooden shovel, and if you were
quick enough you might catch a glimpse of a distant black figure stooping
and disappearing in one of those ditches, and reappearing the next moment
with a motion which you would know meant the heaving out of a shovelful
of snow. But you needed to be quick, for that black figure would not
linger, but would soon drop that shovel and scud for the house, thrashing
itself with its arms to warm them. Yes, it was too venomously cold for
snow-shovelers or anybody else to stay out long.
Presently the sky darkened; then the wind rose and began to blow in
fitful, vigorous gusts, which sent clouds of powdery snow aloft, and
straight ahead, and everywhere. Under the impulse of one of these gusts,
great white drifts banked themselves like graves across the streets; a
moment later another gust shifted them around the other way, driving a
fine spray of snow from their sharp crests, as the gale drives the spume
flakes from wave-crests at sea; a third gust swept that place as clean as
your hand, if it saw fit. This was fooling, this was play; but each and
all of the gusts dumped some snow into the sidewalk ditches, for that was
Alonzo Fitz Clarence was sitting in his snug and elegant little parlor,
in a lovely blue silk dressing-gown, with cuffs and facings of crimson
satin, elaborately quilted. The remains of his breakfast were before
him, and the dainty and costly little table service added a harmonious
charm to the grace, beauty, and richness of the fixed appointments of the
room. A cheery fire was blazing on the hearth.
A furious gust of wind shook the windows, and a great wave of snow washed
against them with a drenching sound, so to speak. The handsome young
"That means, no going out to-day. Well, I am content. But what to do
for company? Mother is well enough, Aunt Susan is well enough; but
these, like the poor, I have with me always. On so grim a day as this,
one needs a new interest, a fresh element, to whet the dull edge of
captivity. That was very neatly said, but it doesn't mean anything.
One doesn't want the edge of captivity sharpened up, you know, but just
He glanced at his pretty French mantel-clock.
"That clock's wrong again. That clock hardly ever knows what time it is;
and when it does know, it lies about it--which amounts to the same thing.
There was no answer.
"Alfred! . . . Good servant, but as uncertain as the clock."
Alonzo touched an electric bell button in the wall. He waited a moment,
then touched it again; waited a few moments more, and said:
"Battery out of order, no doubt. But now that I have started, I will
find out what time it is." He stepped to a speaking-tube in the wall,
blew its whistle, and called, "Mother!" and repeated it twice.
"Well, that's no use. Mother's battery is out of order, too. Can't
raise anybody down-stairs--that is plain."
He sat down at a rosewood desk, leaned his chin on the left-hand edge of
it and spoke, as if to the floor: "Aunt Susan!"
A low, pleasant voice answered, "Is that you, Alonzo?'
"Yes. I'm too lazy and comfortable to go downstairs; I am in extremity,
and I can't seem to scare up any help."
"Dear me, what is the matter?"
"Matter enough, I can tell you!"
"Oh, don't keep me in suspense, dear! What is it?"
"I want to know what time it is."
"You abominable boy, what a turn you did give me! Is that all?"
"All--on my honor. Calm yourself. Tell me the time, and receive my
"Just five minutes after nine. No charge--keep your blessing."
"Thanks. It wouldn't have impoverished me, aunty, nor so enriched you
that you could live without other means."
He got up, murmuring, "Just five minutes after nine," and faced his
clock. "Ah," said he, "you are doing better than usual. You are only
thirty-four minutes wrong. Let me see . . . let me see. . . .
Thirty-three and twenty-one are fifty-four; four times fifty-four are two
hundred and thirty-six. One off, leaves two hundred and thirty-five.
He turned the hands of his clock forward till they marked twenty-five
minutes to one, and said, "Now see if you can't keep right for a while
--else I'll raffle you!"
He sat down at the desk again, and said, "Aunt Susan!"
"Yes, indeed, an hour ago."
"No--except sewing. Why?"
"Got any company?"
"No, but I expect some at half past nine."
"I wish I did. I'm lonesome. I want to talk to somebody."
"Very well, talk to me."
"But this is very private."
"Don't be afraid--talk right along, there's nobody here but me."
"I hardly know whether to venture or not, but--"
"But what? Oh, don't stop there! You know you can trust me, Alonzo--you
know, you can."
"I feel it, aunt, but this is very serious. It affects me deeply--me,
and all the family---even the whole community."
"Oh, Alonzo, tell me! I will never breathe a word of it. What is it?"
"Aunt, if I might dare--"
"Oh, please go on! I love you, and feel for you. Tell me all.
Confide in me. What is it?"
"Plague take the weather! I don't see how you can have the heart to
serve me so, Lon."
"There, there, aunty dear, I'm sorry; I am, on my honor. I won't do it
again. Do you forgive me?"
"Yes, since you seem so sincere about it, though I know I oughtn't to.
You will fool me again as soon as I have forgotten this time."
"No, I won't, honor bright. But such weather, oh, such weather! You've
got to keep your spirits up artificially. It is snowy, and blowy, and
gusty, and bitter cold! How is the weather with you?"
"Warm and rainy and melancholy. The mourners go about the streets with
their umbrellas running streams from the end of every whalebone. There's
an elevated double pavement of umbrellas, stretching down the sides of
the streets as far as I can see. I've got a fire for cheerfulness, and
the windows open to keep cool. But it is vain, it is useless: nothing
comes in but the balmy breath of December, with its burden of mocking
odors from the flowers that possess the realm outside, and rejoice in
their lawless profusion whilst the spirit of man is low, and flaunt their
gaudy splendors in his face while his soul is clothed in sackcloth and
ashes and his heart breaketh."
Alonzo opened his lips to say, "You ought to print that, and get it
framed," but checked himself, for he heard his aunt speaking to some one
else. He went and stood at the window and looked out upon the wintry
prospect. The storm was driving the snow before it more furiously than
ever; window-shutters were slamming and banging; a forlorn dog, with
bowed head and tail withdrawn from service, was pressing his quaking body
against a windward wall for shelter and protection; a young girl was
plowing knee-deep through the drifts, with her face turned from the
blast, and the cape of her waterproof blowing straight rearward over her
head. Alonzo shuddered, and said with a sigh, "Better the slop, and the
sultry rain, and even the insolent flowers, than this!"
He turned from the window, moved a step, and stopped in a listening
attitude. The faint, sweet notes of a familiar song caught his ear. He
remained there, with his head unconsciously bent forward, drinking in the
melody, stirring neither hand nor foot, hardly breathing. There was a
blemish in the execution of the song, but to Alonzo it seemed an added
charm instead of a defect. This blemish consisted of a marked flatting
of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh notes of the refrain or
chorus of the piece. When the music ended, Alonzo drew a deep breath,
and said, "Ah, I never have heard 'In the Sweet By-and-by' sung like that
He stepped quickly to the desk, listened a moment, and said in a guarded,
confidential voice, "Aunty, who is this divine singer?"
"She is the company I was expecting. Stays with me a month or two.
I will introduce you. Miss--"
"For goodness' sake, wait a moment, Aunt Susan! You never stop to think
what you are about!"
He flew to his bedchamber, and returned in a moment perceptibly changed
in his outward appearance, and remarking, snappishly:
"Hang it, she would have introduced me to this angel in that sky-blue
dressing-gown with red-hot lapels! Women never think, when they get
He hastened and stood by the desk, and said eagerly, "Now, Aunty, I am
ready," and fell to smiling and bowing with all the persuasiveness and
elegance that were in him.
"Very well. Miss Rosannah Ethelton, let me introduce to you my favorite
nephew, Mr. Alonzo Fitz Clarence. There! You are both good people, and
I like you; so I am going to trust you together while I attend to a few
household affairs. Sit down, Rosannah; sit down, Alonzo. Good-by; I
sha'n't be gone long."
Alonzo had been bowing and smiling all the while, and motioning imaginary
young ladies to sit down in imaginary chairs, but now he took a seat
himself, mentally saying, "Oh, this is luck! Let the winds blow now, and
the snow drive, and the heavens frown! Little I care!"
While these young people chat themselves into an acquaintanceship, let us
take the liberty of inspecting the sweeter and fairer of the two. She
sat alone, at her graceful ease, in a richly furnished apartment which
was manifestly the private parlor of a refined and sensible lady,
if signs and symbols may go for anything. For instance, by a low,
comfortable chair stood a dainty, top-heavy workstand, whose summit was a
fancifully embroidered shallow basket, with varicolored crewels, and
other strings and odds and ends protruding from under the gaping lid and
hanging down in negligent profusion. On the floor lay bright shreds of
Turkey red, Prussian blue, and kindred fabrics, bits of ribbon, a spool
or two, a pair of scissors, and a roll or so of tinted silken stuffs.
On a luxurious sofa, upholstered with some sort of soft Indian goods
wrought in black and gold threads interwebbed with other threads not so
pronounced in color, lay a great square of coarse white stuff, upon whose
surface a rich bouquet of flowers was growing, under the deft cultivation
of the crochet-needle. The household cat was asleep on this work of art.
In a bay-window stood an easel with an unfinished picture on it, and a
palette and brushes on a chair beside it. There were books everywhere:
Robertson's Sermons, Tennyson, Moody and Sankey, Hawthorne, Rab and His
Friends, cook-books, prayer-books, pattern-books--and books about all
kinds of odious and exasperating pottery, of course. There was a piano,
with a deck-load of music, and more in a tender. There was a great
plenty of pictures on the walls, on the shelves of the mantelpiece, and
around generally; where coigns of vantage offered were statuettes, and
quaint and pretty gimcracks, and rare and costly specimens of peculiarly
devilish china. The bay-window gave upon a garden that was ablaze with
foreign and domestic flowers and flowering shrubs.
But the sweet young girl was the daintiest thing these premises, within
or without, could offer for contemplation: delicately chiseled features,
of Grecian cast; her complexion the pure snow of a japonica that is
receiving a faint reflected enrichment from some scarlet neighbor of the
garden; great, soft blue eyes fringed with long, curving lashes; an
expression made up of the trustfulness of a child and the gentleness of
a fawn; a beautiful head crowned with its own prodigal gold; a lithe and
rounded figure, whose every attitude and movement was instinct with
Her dress and adornment were marked by that exquisite harmony that can
come only of a fine natural taste perfected by culture. Her gown was of
a simple magenta tulle, cut bias, traversed by three rows of light-blue
flounces, with the selvage edges turned up with ashes-of-roses chenille;
overdress of dark bay tarlatan with scarlet satin lambrequins; corn-
colored polonaise, en zanier, looped with mother-of-pearl buttons and
silver cord, and hauled aft and made fast by buff velvet lashings; basque
of lavender reps, picked out with valenciennes; low neck, short sleeves;
maroon velvet necktie edged with delicate pink silk; inside handkerchief
of some simple three-ply ingrain fabric of a soft saffron tint; coral
bracelets and locket-chain; coiffure of forget-me-nots and lilies-of-the
-valley massed around a noble calla.
This was all; yet even in this subdued attire she was divinely beautiful.
Then what must she have been when adorned for the festival or the ball?
All this time she had been busily chatting with Alonzo, unconscious of
our inspection. The minutes still sped, and still she talked. But by
and by she happened to look up, and saw the clock. A crimson blush sent
its rich flood through her cheeks, and she exclaimed:
"There, good-by, Mr. Fitz Clarence; I must go now!"
She sprang from her chair with such haste that she hardly heard the young
man's answering good-by. She stood radiant, graceful, beautiful, and
gazed, wondering, upon the accusing clock. Presently her pouting lips
parted, and she said:
"Five minutes after eleven! Nearly two hours, and it did not seem twenty
minutes! Oh, dear, what will he think of me!"
At the self-same moment Alonzo was staring at his clock. And presently
"Twenty-five minutes to three! Nearly two hours, and I didn't believe it
was two minutes! Is it possible that this clock is humbugging again?
Miss Ethelton! Just one moment, please. Are you there yet?"
"Yes, but be quick; I'm going right away."
"Would you be so kind as to tell me what time it is?"
The girl blushed again, murmured to herself, "It's right down cruel of
him to ask me!" and then spoke up and answered with admirably
counterfeited unconcern, "Five minutes after eleven."
"Oh, thank you! You have to go, now, have you?"
"You you're there yet, ain't you?"
"Yes; but please hurry. What did you want to say?"
"Well, I--well, nothing in particular. It's very lonesome here. It's
asking a great deal, I know, but would you mind talking with me again by
and by--that is, if it will not trouble you too much?"
"I don't know but I'll think about it. I'll try."
"Oh, thanks! Miss Ethelton! . . . Ah, me, she's gone, and here are
the black clouds and the whirling snow and the raging winds come again!
But she said good-by. She didn't say good morning, she said good-by!
. . . The clock was right, after all. What a lightning-winged
two hours it was!"
He sat down, and gazed dreamily into his fire for a while, then heaved a
sigh and said:
"How wonderful it is! Two little hours ago I was a free man, and now my
heart's in San Francisco!"
About that time Rosannah Ethelton, propped in the window-seat of her
bedchamber, book in hand, was gazing vacantly out over the rainy seas
that washed the Golden Gate, and whispering to herself, "How different he
is from poor Burley, with his empty head and his single little antic
talent of mimicry!"
Four weeks later Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley was entertaining a gay
luncheon company, in a sumptuous drawing-room on Telegraph Hill, with
some capital imitations of the voices and gestures of certain popular
actors and San Franciscan literary people and Bonanza grandees. He was
elegantly upholstered, and was a handsome fellow, barring a trifling cast
in his eye. He seemed very jovial, but nevertheless he kept his eye on
the door with an expectant and uneasy watchfulness. By and by a nobby
lackey appeared, and delivered a message to the mistress, who nodded her
head understandingly. That seemed to settle the thing for Mr. Burley;
his vivacity decreased little by little, and a dejected look began to
creep into one of his eyes and a sinister one into the other.
The rest of the company departed in due time, leaving him with the
mistress, to whom he said:
"There is no longer any question about it. She avoids me. She
continually excuses herself. If I could see her, if I could speak to her
only a moment, but this suspense--"
"Perhaps her seeming avoidance is mere accident, Mr. Burley. Go to the
small drawing-room up-stairs and amuse yourself a moment. I will
despatch a household order that is on my mind, and then I will go to her
room. Without doubt she will be persuaded to see you."
Mr. Burley went up-stairs, intending to go to the small drawing-room, but
as he was passing "Aunt Susan's" private parlor, the door of which stood
slightly ajar, he heard a joyous laugh which he recognized; so without
knock or announcement he stepped confidently in. But before he could
make his presence known he heard words that harrowed up his soul and
chilled his young blood, he heard a voice say:
"Darling, it has come!"
Then he heard Rosannah Ethelton, whose back was toward him, say:
"So has yours, dearest!"
He saw her bowed form bend lower; he heard her kiss something--not merely
once, but again and again! His soul raged within him. The heartbreaking
conversation went on:
"Rosannah, I knew you must be beautiful, but this is dazzling, this is
blinding, this is intoxicating!"
"Alonzo, it is such happiness to hear you say it. I know it is not true,
but I am so grateful to have you think it is, nevertheless! I knew you
must have a noble face, but the grace and majesty of the reality beggar
the poor creation of my fancy."
Burley heard that rattling shower of kisses again.
"Thank you, my Rosannah! The photograph flatters me, but you must not
allow yourself to think of that. Sweetheart?"
"I am so happy, Rosannah."
"Oh, Alonzo, none that have gone before me knew what love was, none that
come after me will ever know what happiness is. I float in a gorgeous
cloud land, a boundless firmament of enchanted and bewildering ecstasy!"
"Oh, my Rosannah! for you are mine, are you not?"
"Wholly, oh, wholly yours, Alonzo, now and forever! All the day long,
and all through my nightly dreams, one song sings itself, and its sweet
burden is, 'Alonzo Fitz Clarence, Alonzo Fitz Clarence, Eastport, state
"Curse him, I've got his address, anyway!" roared Burley, inwardly, and
rushed from the place.
Just behind the unconscious Alonzo stood his mother, a picture of
astonishment. She was so muffled from head to heel in furs that nothing
of herself was visible but her eyes and nose. She was a good allegory of
winter, for she was powdered all over with snow.
Behind the unconscious Rosannah stood "Aunt Susan," another picture of
astonishment. She was a good allegory of summer, for she was lightly
clad, and was vigorously cooling the perspiration on her face with a fan.
Both of these women had tears of joy in their eyes.
"Soho!" exclaimed Mrs. Fitz Clarence, "this explains why nobody has been
able to drag you out of your room for six weeks, Alonzo!"
"So ho!" exclaimed Aunt Susan, "this explains why you have been a hermit
for the past six weeks, Rosannah!"
The young couple were on their feet in an instant, abashed, and standing
like detected dealers in stolen goods awaiting judge Lynch's doom.
"Bless you, my son! I am happy in your happiness. Come to your mother's
"Bless you, Rosannah, for my dear nephew's sake! Come to my arms!"
Then was there a mingling of hearts and of tears of rejoicing on
Telegraph Hill and in Eastport Square.
Servants were called by the elders, in both places. Unto one was given
the order, "Pile this fire high, with hickory wood, and bring me a
Unto the other was given the order, "Put out this fire, and bring me two
palm-leaf fans and a pitcher of ice-water."
Then the young people were dismissed, and the elders sat down to talk the
sweet surprise over and make the wedding plans.
Some minutes before this Mr. Burley rushed from the mansion on Telegraph
Hill without meeting or taking formal leave of anybody. He hissed
through his teeth, in unconscious imitation of a popular favorite in
melodrama, "Him shall she never wed! I have sworn it! Ere great Nature
shall have doffed her winter's ermine to don the emerald gauds of spring,
she shall be mine!"
Two weeks later. Every few hours, during same three or four days, a very
prim and devout-looking Episcopal clergyman, with a cast in his eye, had
visited Alonzo. According to his card, he was the Rev. Melton Hargrave,
of Cincinnati. He said he had retired from the ministry on account of
his health. If he had said on account of ill-health, he would probably
have erred, to judge by his wholesome looks and firm build. He was the
inventor of an improvement in telephones, and hoped to make his bread by
selling the privilege of using it. "At present," he continued, "a man
may go and tap a telegraph wire which is conveying a song or a concert
from one state to another, and he can attach his private telephone and
steal a hearing of that music as it passes along. My invention will stop
"Well," answered Alonzo, "if the owner of the music could not miss what
was stolen, why should he care?"
"He shouldn't care," said the Reverend.
"Well?" said Alonzo, inquiringly.
"Suppose," replied the Reverend, "suppose that, instead of music that was
passing along and being stolen, the burden of the wire was loving
endearments of the most private and sacred nature?"
Alonzo shuddered from head to heel. "Sir, it is a priceless invention,"
said he; "I must have it at any cost."
But the invention was delayed somewhere on the road from Cincinnati, most
unaccountably. The impatient Alonzo could hardly wait. The thought of
Rosannah's sweet words being shared with him by some ribald thief was
galling to him. The Reverend came frequently and lamented the delay, and
told of measures he had taken to hurry things up. This was some little
comfort to Alonzo.
One forenoon the Reverend ascended the stairs and knocked at Alonzo's
door. There was no response. He entered, glanced eagerly around,
closed the door softly, then ran to the telephone. The exquisitely soft
and remote strains of the "Sweet By-and-by" came floating through the
instrument. The singer was flatting, as usual, the five notes that
follow the first two in the chorus, when the Reverend interrupted her
with this word, in a voice which was an exact imitation of Alonzo's, with
just the faintest flavor of impatience added:
"Please don't sing that any more this week--try something modern."
The agile step that goes with a happy heart was heard on the stairs, and
the Reverend, smiling diabolically, sought sudden refuge behind the heavy
folds of the velvet windowcurtains. Alonzo entered and flew to the
telephone. Said he:
"Rosannah, dear, shall we sing something together?"
"Something modern?" asked she, with sarcastic bitterness.
"Yes, if you prefer."
"Sing it yourself, if you like!"
This snappishness amazed and wounded the young man. He said:
"Rosarmah, that was not like you."
"I suppose it becomes me as much as your very polite speech became you,
Mr. Fitz Clarence."
"Mister Fitz Clarence! Rosannah, there was nothing impolite about my
"Oh, indeed! Of course, then, I misunderstood you, and I most humbly beg
your pardon, ha-ha-ha! No doubt you said, 'Don't sing it any more
"Sing what any more to-day?"
"The song you mentioned, of course, How very obtuse we are, all of a
"I never mentioned any song."
"Oh, you didn't?"
"No, I didn't!"
"I am compelled to remark that you did."
"And I am obliged to reiterate that I didn't."
"A second rudeness! That is sufficient, sir. I will never forgive you.
All is over between us."
Then came a muffled sound of crying. Alonzo hastened to say:
"Oh, Rosannah, unsay those words! There is some dreadful mystery here,
some hideous mistake. I am utterly earnest and sincere when I say I
never said anything about any song. I would not hurt you for the whole
world . . . . Rosannah, dear speak to me, won't you?"
There was a pause; then Alonzo heard the girl's sobbings retreating, and
knew she had gone from the telephone. He rose with a heavy sigh, and
hastened from the room, saying to himself, "I will ransack the charity
missions and the haunts of the poor for my mother. She will persuade her
that I never meant to wound her."
A minute later the Reverend was crouching over the telephone like a cat
that knoweth the ways of the prey. He had not very many minutes to wait.
A soft, repentant voice, tremulous with tears, said:
"Alonzo, dear, I have been wrong. You could not have said so cruel a
thing. It must have been some one who imitated your voice in malice or
The Reverend coldly answered, in Alonzo's tones:
"You have said all was over between us. So let it be. I spurn your
proffered repentance, and despise it!"
Then he departed, radiant with fiendish triumph, to return no more with
his imaginary telephonic invention forever.
Four hours afterward Alonzo arrived with his mother from her favorite
haunts of poverty and vice. They summoned the San Francisco household;
but there was no reply. They waited, and continued to wait, upon the
At length, when it was sunset in San Francisco, and three hours and a
half after dark in Eastport, an answer to the oft-repeated cry of
But, alas, it was Aunt Susan's voice that spake. She said:
"I have been out all day; just got in. I will go and find her."
The watchers waited two minutes--five minutes--ten minutes. Then came
these fatal words, in a frightened tone:
"She is gone, and her baggage with her. To visit another friend, she
told the servants. But I found this note on the table in her room.
Listen: 'I am gone; seek not to trace me out; my heart is broken; you
will never see me more. Tell him I shall always think of him when I sing
my poor "Sweet By-and-by," but never of the unkind words he said about
it.' That is her note. Alonzo, Alonzo, what does it mean? What has
But Alonzo sat white and cold as the dead. His mother threw back the
velvet curtains and opened a window. The cold air refreshed the
sufferer, and he told his aunt his dismal story. Meantime his mother was
inspecting a card which had disclosed itself upon the floor when she cast
the curtains back. It read, "Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley, San Francisco."
"The miscreant!" shouted Alonzo, and rushed forth to seek the false
Reverend and destroy him; for the card explained everything, since in the
course of the lovers' mutual confessions they had told each other all
about all the sweethearts they had ever had, and thrown no end of mud at
their failings and foibles for lovers always do that. It has a
fascination that ranks next after billing and cooing.
During the next two months many things happened. It had early transpired
that Rosannah, poor suffering orphan, had neither returned to her
grandmother in Portland, Oregon, nor sent any word to her save a
duplicate of the woeful note she had left in the mansion on Telegraph
Hill. Whosoever was sheltering her--if she was still alive--had been
persuaded not to betray her whereabouts, without doubt; for all efforts
to find trace of her had failed.
Did Alonzo give her up? Not he. He said to himself, "She will sing that
sweet song when she is sad; I shall find her." So he took his carpet-
sack and a portable telephone, and shook the snow of his native city from
his arctics, and went forth into the world. He wandered far and wide and
in many states. Time and again, strangers were astounded to see a
wasted, pale, and woe-worn man laboriously climb a telegraph-pole in
wintry and lonely places, perch sadly there an hour, with his ear at a
little box, then come sighing down, and wander wearily away. Sometimes
they shot at him, as peasants do at aeronauts, thinking him mad and
dangerous. Thus his clothes were much shredded by bullets and his person
grievously lacerated. But he bore it all patiently.
In the beginning of his pilgrimage he used often to say, "Ah, if I could
but hear the 'Sweet By-and-by'!" But toward the end of it he used to
shed tears of anguish and say, "Ah, if I could but hear something else!"
Thus a month and three weeks drifted by, and at last some humane people
seized him and confined him in a private mad-house in New York. He made
no moan, for his strength was all gone, and with it all heart and all
hope. The superintendent, in pity, gave up his own comfortable parlor
and bedchamber to him and nursed him with affectionate devotion.
At the end of a week the patient was able to leave his bed for the first
time. He was lying, comfortably pillowed, on a sofa, listening to the
plaintive Miserere of the bleak March winds and the muffled sound of
tramping feet in the street below for it was about six in the evening,
and New York was going home from work. He had a bright fire and the
added cheer of a couple of student-lamps. So it was warm and snug
within, though bleak and raw without; it was light and bright within,
though outside it was as dark and dreary as if the world had been lit
with Hartford gas. Alonzo smiled feebly to think how his loving vagaries
had made him a maniac in the eyes of the world, and was proceeding to
pursue his line of thought further, when a faint, sweet strain, the very
ghost of sound, so remote and attenuated it seemed, struck upon his ear.
His pulses stood still; he listened with parted lips and bated breath.
The song flowed on--he waiting, listening, rising slowly and unconsciously
from his recumbent position. At last he exclaimed:
"It is! it is she! Oh, the divine hated notes!"
He dragged himself eagerly to the corner whence the sounds proceeded,
tore aside a curtain, and discovered a telephone. He bent over, and as
the last note died away he burst forthwith the exclamation:
"Oh, thank Heaven, found at last! Speak tome, Rosannah, dearest! The
cruel mystery has been unraveled; it was the villain Burley who mimicked
my voice and wounded you with insolent speech!"
There was a breathless pause, a waiting age to Alonzo; then a faint sound
came, framing itself into language:
"Oh, say those precious words again, Alonzo!"
"They are the truth, the veritable truth, my Rosannah, and you shall have
the proof, ample and abundant proof!"
"Oh; Alonzo, stay by me! Leave me not for a moment! Let me feel that
you are near me! Tell me we shall never be parted more! Oh, this happy
hour, this blessed hour, this memorable hour!"
"We will make record of it, my Rosannah; every year, as this dear hour
chimes from the clock, we will celebrate it with thanksgivings, all the
years of our life."
"We will, we will, Alonzo!"
"Four minutes after six, in the evening, my Rosannah, shall henceforth--"
"Twenty-three minutes after twelve, afternoon shall--"
"Why; Rosannah, darling, where are you?"
"In Honolulu, Sandwich Islands. And where are you? Stay by me; do not
leave me for a moment. I cannot bear it. Are you at home?"
"No, dear, I am in New York--a patient in the doctor's hands."
An agonizing shriek came buzzing to Alonzo's ear, like the sharp buzzing
of a hurt gnat; it lost power in traveling five thousand miles. Alonzo
hastened to say:
"Calm yourself, my child. It is nothing. Already I am getting well
under the sweet healing of your presence. Rosannah?"
"Yes, Alonzo? Oh, how you terrified me! Say on."
"Name the happy day, Rosannah!"
There was a little pause. Then a diffident small voice replied,
"I blush--but it is with pleasure, it is with happiness. Would--would
you like to have it soon?"
"This very night, Rosannah! Oh, let us risk no more delays. Let it be
now!--this very night, this very moment!"
"Oh, you impatient creature! I have nobody here but my good old uncle,
a missionary for a generation, and now retired from service--nobody but
him and his wife. I would so dearly like it if your mother and your Aunt
"Our mother and our Aunt Susan, my Rosannah."
"Yes, our mother and our Aunt Susan--I am content to word it so if it
pleases you; I would so like to have them present."
"So would I. Suppose you telegraph Aunt Susan. How long would it take
her to come?"
"The steamer leaves San Francisco day after tomorrow. The passage is
eight days. She would be here the 31st of March."
"Then name the 1st of April; do, Rosannah, dear."
"Mercy, it would make us April fools, Alonzo!"
"So we be the happiest ones that that day's suit looks down upon in the
whole broad expanse of the globe, why need we care? Call it the 1st of
"Then the 1st of April at shall be, with all my heart!"
"Oh, happiness! Name the hour, too, Rosannah."
"I like the morning, it is so blithe. Will eight in the morning do,
"The loveliest hour in the day--since it will make you mine."
There was a feeble but frantic sound for some little time, as if
wool-upped, disembodied spirits were exchanging kisses; then Rosannah
said, "Excuse me just a moment, dear; I have an appointment, and am
called to meet it."
The young girl sought a large parlor and took her place at a window which
looked out upon a beautiful scene. To the left one could view the
charming Nuuana Valley, fringed with its ruddy flush of tropical flowers
and its plumed and graceful cocoa palms; its rising foothills clothed in
the shining green of lemon, citron, and orange groves; its storied
precipice beyond, where the first Kamehameha drove his defeated foes over
to their destruction, a spot that had forgotten its grim history, no
doubt, for now it was smiling, as almost always at noonday, under the
glowing arches of a succession of rainbows. In front of the window one
could see the quaint town, and here and there a picturesque group of
dusky natives, enjoying the blistering weather; and far to the right lay
the restless ocean, tossing its white mane in the sunshine.
Rosannah stood there, in her filmy white raiment, fanning her flushed and
heated face, waiting. A Kanaka boy, clothed in a damaged blue necktie
and part of a silk hat, thrust his head in at the door, and announced,
"Show him in," said the girl, straightening herself up and assuming a
meaning dignity. Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley entered, clad from head to
heel in dazzling snow--that is to say, in the lightest and whitest of
Irish linen. He moved eagerly forward, but the girl made a gesture and
gave him a look which checked him suddenly. She said, coldly, "I am
here, as I promised. I believed your assertions, I yielded to your
importune lies, and said I would name the day. I name the 1st of April-
-eight in the morning. NOW GO!"
"Oh, my dearest, if the gratitude of a lifetime--"
"Not a word. Spare me all sight of you, all communication with you,
until that hour. No--no supplications; I will have it so."
When he was gone, she sank exhausted in a chair, for the long siege of
troubles she had undergone had wasted her strength. Presently she said,
"What a narrow escape! If the hour appointed had been an hour earlier
--Oh, horror, what an escape I have made! And to think I had come to
imagine I was loving this beguiling, this truthless, this treacherous
monster! Oh, he shall repent his villainy!"
Let us now draw this history to a close, for little more needs to be
told. On the 2d of the ensuing April, the Honolulu Advertiser contained
MARRIED.--In this city, by telephone, yesterday morning,--at eight
o'clock, by Rev. Nathan Hays, assisted by Rev. Nathaniel Davis, of
New York, Mr. Alonzo Fitz Clarence, of Eastport, Maine, U. S., and
Miss Rosannah Ethelton, of Portland, Oregon, U. S. Mrs. Susan
Howland, of San Francisco, a friend of the bride, was present, she
being the guest of the Rev. Mr. Hays and wife, uncle and aunt of the
bride. Mr. Sidney Algernon Burley, of San Francisco, was also
present but did not remain till the conclusion of the marriage
service. Captain Hawthorne's beautiful yacht, tastefully decorated,
was in waiting, and the happy bride and her friends immediately
departed on a bridal trip to Lahaina and Haleakala.
The New York papers of the same date contained this notice:
MARRIED.--In this city, yesterday, by telephone, at half-past two in
the morning, by Rev. Nathaniel Davis, assisted by Rev. Nathan Hays,
of Honolulu, Mr. Alonzo Fitz Clarence, of Eastport, Maine, and Miss
Rosannah Ethelton, of Portland, Oregon. The parents and several
friends of the bridegroom were present, and enjoyed a sumptuous
breakfast and much festivity until nearly sunrise, and then departed
on a bridal trip to the Aquarium, the bridegroom's state of health
not admitting of a more extended journey.
Toward the close of that memorable day Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo Fitz Clarence
were buried in sweet converse concerning the pleasures of their several
bridal tours, when suddenly the young wife exclaimed: "Oh, Lonny, I
forgot! I did what I said I would."
"Did you, dear?"
"Indeed, I did. I made him the April fool! And I told him so, too!
Ah, it was a charming surprise! There he stood, sweltering in a black
dress-suit, with the mercury leaking out of the top of the thermometer,
waiting to be married. You should have seen the look he gave when I
whispered it in his ear. Ah, his wickedness cost me many a heartache and
many a tear, but the score was all squared up, then. So the vengeful
feeling went right out of my heart, and I begged him to stay, and said I
forgave him everything. But he wouldn't. He said he would live to be
avenged; said he would make our lives a curse to us. But he can't, can
"Never in this world, my Rosannah!"
Aunt Susan, the Oregonian grandmother, and the young couple and their
Eastport parents, are all happy at this writing, and likely to remain so.
Aunt Susan brought the bride from the islands, accompanied her across our
continent, and had the happiness of witnessing the rapturous meeting
between an adoring husband and wife who had never seen each other until
A word about the wretched Burley, whose wicked machinations came so near
wrecking the hearts and lives of our poor young friends, will be
sufficient. In a murderous attempt to seize a crippled and helpless
artisan who he fancied had done him some small offense, he fell into a
caldron of boiling oil and expired before he could be extinguished.
ON THE DECAY OF THE ART OF LYING
ESSAY, FOR DISCUSSION, READ AT A MEETING OF THE HISTORICAL AND
ANTIQUARIAN CLUB OF HARTFORD, AND OFFERED FOR THE THIRTY-DOLLAR PRIZE.
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED.--[Did not take the prize]
Observe, I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered
any decay or interruption--no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, a Principle, is
eternal; the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need,
the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man's best and surest friend, is
immortal, and cannot perish from the earth while this Club remains. My
complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying. No high-minded
man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly
lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so
prostituted. In this veteran presence I naturally enter upon this scheme
with diffidence; it is like an old maid trying to teach nursery matters
to the mothers in Israel. It would not become me to criticize you,
gentlemen, who are nearly all my elders--and my superiors, in this thing-
-and so, if I should here and there seem to do it, I trust it will in
most cases be more in a spirit of admiration than of fault-finding;
indeed, if this finest of the fine arts had everywhere received the
attention, encouragement, and conscientious practice and development
which this Club has devoted to it I should not need to utter this lament
or shed a single tear. I do not say this to flatter: I say it in a
spirit of just and appreciative recognition.
[It had been my intention, at this point, to mention names and give
illustrative specimens, but indications observable about me admonished me
to beware of particulars and confine myself to generalities.]
No fact is more firmly established than that lying is a necessity of our
circumstances--the deduction that it is then a Virtue goes without
saying. No virtue can reach its highest usefulness without careful and
diligent cultivation--therefore, it goes without saying that this one
ought to be taught in the public schools--at the fireside--even in the
newspapers. What chance has the ignorant, uncultivated liar against the
educated expert? What chance have I against Mr. Per-- against a lawyer?
Judicious lying is what the world needs. I sometimes think it were even
better and safer not to lie at all than to lie injudiciously. An
awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth.
Now let us see what the philosophers say. Note that venerable proverb:
Children and fools always speak the truth. The deduction is plain
--adults and wise persons never speak it. Parkman, the historian, says,
"The principle of truth may itself be carried into an absurdity." In
another place in the same chapter he says, "The saying is old that truth
should not be spoken at all times; and those whom a sick conscience
worries into habitual violation of the maxim are imbeciles and
nuisances." It is strong language, but true. None of us could live with
an habitual truth-teller; but, thank goodness, none of us has to. An
habitual truth-teller is simply an impossible creature; he does not
exist; he never has existed. Of course there are people who think they
never lie, but it is not so--and this ignorance is one of the very things
that shame our so-called civilization. Everybody lies--every day; every
hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning; if he
keeps his tongue still, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his attitude, will
convey deception--and purposely. Even in sermons--but that is a
In a far country where I once lived the ladies used to go around paying
calls, under the humane and kindly pretense of wanting to see each other;
and when they returned home, they would cry out with a glad voice,
saying, "We made sixteen calls and found fourteen of them out"--not
meaning that they found out anything against the fourteen--no, that was
only a colloquial phrase to signify that they were not at home--and their
manner of saying it--expressed their lively satisfaction in that fact.
Now, their pretense of wanting to see the fourteen--and the other two
whom they had been less lucky with--was that commonest and mildest form
of lying which is sufficiently described as a deflection from the truth.
Is it justifiable? Most certainly. It is beautiful, it is noble; for
its object is, not to reap profit, but to convey a pleasure to the
sixteen. The iron-souled truth-monger would plainly manifest, or even
utter the fact, that he didn't want to see those people--and he would be
an ass, and inflict a totally unnecessary pain. And next, those ladies
in that far country--but never mind, they had a thousand pleasant ways of
lying, that grew out of gentle impulses, and were a credit to their
intelligence and at honor to their hearts. Let the particulars go.
The men in that far country were liars; every one. Their mere howdy-do
was a lie, because they didn't care how you did, except they were
undertakers. To the ordinary inquirer you lied in return; for you made
no conscientious diagnosis of your case, but answered at random, and
usually missed it considerably. You lied to the undertaker, and said
your health was failing--a wholly commendable lie, since it cost you
nothing and pleased the other man. If a stranger called and interrupted
you, you said with your hearty tongue, "I'm glad to see you," and said
with your heartier soul, "I wish you were with the cannibals and it was
dinner-time." When he went, you said regretfully, "Must you go?" and
followed it with a "Call again"; but you did no harm, for you did not
deceive anybody nor inflict any hurt, whereas the truth would have made
you both unhappy.
I think that all this courteous lying is a sweet and loving art, and
should be cultivated. The highest perfection of politeness is only a
beautiful edifice, built, from the base to the dome, of graceful and
gilded forms of charitable and unselfish lying.
What I bemoan is the growing prevalence of the brutal truth. Let us do
what we can to eradicate it. An injurious truth has no merit over an
injurious lie. Neither should ever be uttered. The man who speaks an
injurious truth, lest his soul be not saved if he do otherwise, should
reflect that that sort of a soul is not strictly worth saving. The man
who tells a lie to help a poor devil out of trouble is one of whom the
angels doubtless say, "Lo, here is an heroic soul who casts his own
welfare into jeopardy to succor his neighbor's; let us exalt this
An injurious lie is an uncommendable thing; and so, also, and in the same
degree, is an injurious truth--a fact which is recognized by the law of
Among other common lies, we have the silent lie, the deception which one
conveys by simply keeping still and concealing the truth. Many obstinate
truth-mongers indulge in this dissipation, imagining that if they speak
no lie, they lie not at all. In that far country where I once lived,
there was a lovely spirit, a lady whose impulses were always high and
pure, and whose character answered to them. One day I was there at
dinner, and remarked, in a general way, that we are all liars. She was
amazed, and said, "Not all!" It was before "Pinafore's" time so I did
not make the response which would naturally follow in our day, but
frankly said, "Yes, all--we are all liars; there are no exceptions."
She looked almost offended, and said, "Why, do you include me?"
"Certainly," I said, "I think you even rank as an expert." She said,
"'Sh!--'sh! the children!"
So the subject was changed in deference to the children's presence, and
we went on talking about other things. But as soon as the young people
were out of the way, the lady came warmly back to the matter and said,
"I have made it the rule of my life to never tell a lie; and I have never
departed from it in a single instance." I said, "I don't mean the least
harm or disrespect, but really you have been lying like smoke ever since
I've been sitting here. It has caused me a good deal of pain, because I
am not used to it." She required of me an instance--just a single
instance. So I said:
"Well, here is the unfilled duplicate of the blank which the Oakland
hospital people sent to you by the hand of the sick-nurse when she came
here to nurse your little nephew through his dangerous illness. This
blank asks all manner of questions as to the conduct of that sick-nurse:
'Did she ever sleep on her watch? Did she ever forget to give the
medicine?' and so forth and so on. You are warned to be very careful and
explicit in your answers, for the welfare of the service requires that
the nurses be promptly fined or otherwise punished for derelictions.
You told me you were perfectly delighted with that nurse--that she had a
thousand perfections and only one fault: you found you never could depend
on her wrapping Johnny up half sufficiently while he waited in a chilly
chair for her to rearrange the warm bed. You filled up the duplicate of
this paper, and sent it back to the hospital by the hand of the nurse.
How did you answer this question--'Was the nurse at any time guilty of a
negligence which was likely to result in the patient's taking cold?'
Come--everything is decided by a bet here in California: ten dollars to
ten cents you lied when you answered that question." She said, "I
didn't; I left it blank!" "Just so--you have told a silent lie; you have
left it to be inferred that you had no fault to find in that matter."
She said, "Oh, was that a lie? And how could I mention her one single
fault, and she so good?--it would have been cruel." I said, "One ought
always to lie when one can do good by it; your impulse was right, but,
your judgment was crude; this comes of unintelligent practice. Now
observe the result of this inexpert deflection of yours. You know Mr.
Jones's Willie is lying very low with scarlet fever; well, your
recommendation was so enthusiastic that that girl is there nursing him,
and the worn-out family have all been trustingly sound asleep for the
last fourteen hours, leaving their darling with full confidence in those
fatal hands, because you, like young George Washington, have a reputa--
However, if you are not going to have anything to do, I will come around
to-morrow and we'll attend the funeral together, for, of course, you'll
naturally feel a peculiar interest in Willie's case--as personal a one,
in fact, as the undertaker."
But that was all lost. Before I was half-way through she was in a
carriage and making thirty miles an hour toward the Jones mansion to save
what was left of Willie and tell all she knew about the deadly nurse.
All of which was unnecessary, as Willie wasn't sick; I had been lying
myself. But that same day, all the same, she sent a line to the hospital
which filled up the neglected blank, and stated the facts, too, in the
squarest possible manner.
Now, you see, this lady's fault was not in lying, but only in lying
injudiciously. She should have told the truth there, and made it up to
the nurse with a fraudulent compliment further along in the paper. She
could have said, "In one respect the sick-nurse is perfection--when she
is on watch, she never snores." Almost any little pleasant lie would
have taken the sting out of that troublesome but necessary expression of
Lying is universal we all do it; we all must do it. Therefore, the wise
thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully,
judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for
others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably,
humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and
graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely,
with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as
being ashamed of our high calling. Then shall we be rid of the rank and
pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good
and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature
habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather. Then--but
I am but a new and feeble student in this gracious art; I can not
instruct this Club.
Joking aside, I think there is much need of wise examination into what
sorts of lies are best and wholesomest to be indulged, seeing we must all
lie and do all lie, and what sorts it may be best to avoid--and this is a
thing which I feel I can confidently put into the hands of this
experienced Club--a ripe body, who may be termed, in this regard, and
without undue flattery, Old Masters.
ABOUT MAGNANIMOUS-INCIDENT LITERATURE
All my life, from boyhood up, I have had the habit of reading a certain
set of anecdotes, written in the quaint vein of The World's ingenious
Fabulist, for the lesson they taught me and the pleasure they gave me.
They lay always convenient to my hand, and whenever I thought meanly of
my kind I turned to them, and they banished that sentiment; whenever I
felt myself to be selfish, sordid, and ignoble I turned to them, and they
told me what to do to win back my self-respect. Many times I wished that
the charming anecdotes had not stopped with their happy climaxes, but had
continued the pleasing history of the several benefactors and
beneficiaries. This wish rose in my breast so persistently that at last
I determined to satisfy it by seeking out the sequels of those anecdotes
myself. So I set about it, and after great labor and tedious research
accomplished my task. I will lay the result before you, giving you each
anecdote in its turn, and following it with its sequel as I gathered it
through my investigations.
THE GRATEFUL POODLE
One day a benevolent physician (who had read the books) having found a
stray poodle suffering from a broken leg, conveyed the poor creature to
his home, and after setting and bandaging the injured limb gave the
little outcast its liberty again, and thought no more about the matter.
But how great was his surprise, upon opening his door one morning, some
days later, to find the grateful poodle patiently waiting there, and in
its company another stray dog, one of whose legs, by some accident, had
been broken. The kind physician at once relieved the distressed animal,
nor did he forget to admire the inscrutable goodness and mercy of God,
who had been willing to use so humble an instrument as the poor outcast
poodle for the inculcating of, etc., etc., etc.
The next morning the benevolent physician found the two dogs, beaming
with gratitude, waiting at his door, and with them two other
dogs-cripples. The cripples were speedily healed, and the four went
their way, leaving the benevolent physician more overcome by pious wonder
than ever. The day passed, the morning came. There at the door sat now
the four reconstructed dogs, and with them four others requiring
reconstruction. This day also passed, and another morning came; and now
sixteen dogs, eight of them newly crippled, occupied the sidewalk, and
the people were going around. By noon the broken legs were all set, but
the pious wonder in the good physician's breast was beginning to get
mixed with involuntary profanity. The sun rose once more, and exhibited
thirty-two dogs, sixteen of them with broken legs, occupying the sidewalk
and half of the street; the human spectators took up the rest of the
room. The cries of the wounded, the songs of the healed brutes, and the
comments of the onlooking citizens made great and inspiring cheer, but
traffic was interrupted in that street. The good physician hired a
couple of assistant surgeons and got through his benevolent work before
dark, first taking the precaution to cancel his church-membership, so
that he might express himself with the latitude which the case required.
But some things have their limits. When once more the morning dawned,
and the good physician looked out upon a massed and far-reaching
multitude of clamorous and beseeching dogs, he said, "I might as well
acknowledge it, I have been fooled by the books; they only tell the
pretty part of the story, and then stop. Fetch me the shotgun; this
thing has gone along far enough."
He issued forth with his weapon, and chanced to step upon the tail of the
original poodle, who promptly bit him in the leg. Now the great and good
work which this poodle had been engaged in had engendered in him such a
mighty and augmenting enthusiasm as to turn his weak head at last and
drive him mad. A month later, when the benevolent physician lay in the
death-throes of hydrophobia, he called his weeping friends about him, and
"Beware of the books. They tell but half of the story. Whenever a poor
wretch asks you for help, and you feel a doubt as to what result may flow
from your benevolence, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and kill
And so saying he turned his face to the wall and gave up the ghost.
THE BENEVOLENT AUTHOR
A poor and young literary beginner had tried in vain to get his
manuscripts accepted. At last, when the horrors of starvation were
staring him in the face, he laid his sad case before a celebrated author,
beseeching his counsel and assistance. This generous man immediately put
aside his own matters and proceeded to peruse one of the despised
manuscripts. Having completed his kindly task, he shook the poor young
man cordially by the hand, saying, "I perceive merit in this; come again
to me on Monday." At the time specified, the celebrated author, with a
sweet smile, but saying nothing, spread open a magazine which was damp
from the press. What was the poor young man's astonishment to discover
upon the printed page his own article. "How can I ever," said he,
falling upon his knees and bursting into tears, "testify my gratitude for
this noble conduct!"
The celebrated author was the renowned Snodgrass; the poor young beginner
thus rescued from obscurity and starvation was the afterward equally
renowned Snagsby. Let this pleasing incident admonish us to turn a
charitable ear to all beginners that need help.
The next week Snagsby was back with five rejected manuscripts. The
celebrated author was a little surprised, because in the books the young
struggler had needed but one lift, apparently. However, he plowed
through these papers, removing unnecessary flowers and digging up some
acres of adjective stumps, and then succeeded in getting two of the
A week or so drifted by, and the grateful Snagsby arrived with another
cargo. The celebrated author had felt a mighty glow of satisfaction
within himself the first time he had successfully befriended the poor
young struggler, and had compared himself with the generous people in the
books with high gratification; but he was beginning to suspect now that
he had struck upon something fresh in the noble-episode line. His
enthusiasm took a chill. Still, he could not bear to repulse this
struggling young author, who clung to him with such pretty simplicity and
Well, the upshot of it all was that the celebrated author presently found
himself permanently freighted with the poor young beginner. All his mild
efforts to unload this cargo went for nothing. He had to give daily
counsel, daily encouragement; he had to keep on procuring magazine
acceptances, and then revamping the manuscripts to make them presentable.
When the young aspirant got a start at last, he rode into sudden fame by
describing the celebrated author's private life with such a caustic humor
and such minuteness of blistering detail that the book sold a prodigious
edition, and broke the celebrated author's heart with mortification.
With his latest gasp he said, "Alas, the books deceived me; they do not
tell the whole story. Beware of the struggling young author, my friends.
Whom God sees fit to starve, let not man presumptuously rescue to his own
THE GRATEFUL HUSBAND
One day a lady was driving through the principal street of a great city
with her little boy, when the horses took fright and dashed madly away,
hurling the coachman from his box and leaving the occupants of the
carnage paralyzed with terror. But a brave youth who was driving a
grocery-wagon threw himself before the plunging animals, and succeeded in
arresting their flight at the peril of his own.--[This is probably a
misprint.--M. T.]--The grateful lady took his number, and upon arriving
at her home she related the heroic act to her husband (who had read the
books), who listened with streaming eyes to the moving recital, and who,
after returning thanks, in conjunction with his restored loved ones, to
Him who suffereth not even a sparrow to fall to the ground unnoticed,
sent for the brave young person, and, placing a check for five hundred
dollars in his hand, said, "Take this as a reward for your noble act,
William Ferguson, and if ever you shall need a friend, remember that
Thompson McSpadden has a grateful heart." Let us learn from this that
a good deed cannot fail to benefit the doer, however humble he may be.
William Ferguson called the next week and asked Mr. McSpadden to use his
influence to get him a higher employment, he feeling capable of better
things than driving a grocer's wagon. Mr. McSpadden got him an
underclerkship at a good salary.
Presently William Ferguson's mother fell sick, and William--Well, to cut
the story short, Mr. McSpadden consented to take her into his house.
Before long she yearned for the society of her younger children; so Mary
and Julia were admitted also, and little Jimmy, their brother. Jimmy had
a pocket knife, and he wandered into the drawing-room with it one day,
alone, and reduced ten thousand dollars' worth of furniture to an
indeterminable value in rather less than three-quarters of an hour.
A day or two later he fell down-stairs and broke his neck, and seventeen
of his family's relatives came to the house to attend the funeral. This
made them acquainted, and they kept the kitchen occupied after that, and
likewise kept the McSpaddens busy hunting-up situations of various sorts
for them, and hunting up more when they wore these out. The old woman
drank a good deal and swore a good deal; but the grateful McSpaddens knew
it was their duty to reform her, considering what her son had done for
them, so they clave nobly to their generous task. William came often and
got decreasing sums of money, and asked for higher and more lucrative
employments--which the grateful McSpadden more or less promptly procured
for him. McSpadden consented also, after some demur, to fit William for
college; but when the first vacation came and the hero requested to be
sent to Europe for his health, the persecuted McSpadden rose against the
tyrant and revolted. He plainly and squarely refused. William
Ferguson's mother was so astounded that she let her gin-bottle drop, and
her profane lips refused to do their office. When she recovered she said
in a half-gasp, "Is this your gratitude? Where would your wife and boy
be now, but for my son?"
William said, "Is this your gratitude? Did I save your wife's life or
not? Tell me that!"
Seven relations swarmed in from the kitchen and each said, "And this is
William's sisters stared, bewildered, and said, "And this is his grat--"
but were interrupted by their mother, who burst into tears and exclaimed,
"To think that my sainted little Jimmy threw away his life in the service
of such a reptile!"
Then the pluck of the revolutionary McSpadden rose to the occasion, and
he replied with fervor, "Out of my house, the whole beggarly tribe of
you! I was beguiled by the books, but shall never be beguiled again
--once is sufficient for me." And turning to William he shouted, "Yes,
you did save my, wife's life, and the next man that does it shall die in
Not being a clergyman, I place my text at the end of my sermon instead of
at the beginning. Here it is, from Mr. Noah Brooks's Recollections of
President Lincoln in Scribners Monthly:
J. H. Hackett, in his part of Falstaff, was an actor who gave Mr.
Lincoln great delight. With his usual desire to signify to others
his sense of obligation, Mr. Lincoln wrote a genial little note to
the actor expressing his pleasure at witnessing his performance.
Mr. Hackett, in reply, sent a book of some sort; perhaps it was one
of his own authorship. He also wrote several notes to the
President. One night, quite late, when the episode had passed out
of my mind, I went to the white House in answer to a message.
Passing into the President's office, I noticed, to my surprise,
Hackett sitting in the anteroom as if waiting for an audience. The
President asked me if any one was outside. On being told, he said,
half sadly, "Oh, I can't see him, I can't see him; I was in hopes he
had gone away." Then he added, "Now this just illustrates the
difficulty of having pleasant friends and acquaintances in this
place. You know how I liked Hackett as an actor, and how I wrote to
tell him so. He sent me that book, and there I thought the matter
would end. He is a master of his place in the profession, I
suppose, and well fixed in it; but just because we had a little
friendly correspondence, such as any two men might have, he wants
something. What do you suppose he wants?" I could not guess, and
Mr. Lincoln added, "well, he wants to be consul to London. Oh,
I will observe, in conclusion, that the William Ferguson incident
occurred, and within my personal knowledge--though I have changed the
nature of the details, to keep William from recognizing himself in it.
All the readers of this article have in some sweet and gushing hour of
their lives played the role of Magnanimous-Incident hero. I wish I knew
how many there are among them who are willing to talk about that episode
and like to be reminded of the consequences that flowed from it.
PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH
Will the reader please to cast his eye over the following lines, and see
if he can discover anything harmful in them?
Conductor, when you receive a fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
Punch, brothers! punch with care!
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
I came across these jingling rhymes in a newspaper, a little while ago,
and read them a couple of times. They took instant and entire possession
of me. All through breakfast they went waltzing through my brain; and
when, at last, I rolled up my napkin, I could not tell whether I had
eaten anything or not. I had carefully laid out my day's work the day
before--thrilling tragedy in the novel which I am writing. I went to my
den to begin my deed of blood. I took up my pen, but all I could get it
to say was, "Punch in the presence of the passenjare." I fought hard for
an hour, but it was useless. My head kept humming, "A blue trip slip for
an eight-cent fare, a buff trip slip for a six-cent fare," and so on and
so on, without peace or respite. The day's work was ruined--I could see
that plainly enough. I gave up and drifted down-town, and presently
discovered that my feet were keeping time to that relentless jingle.
When I could stand it no longer I altered my step. But it did no good;
those rhymes accommodated themselves to the new step and went on
harassing me just as before. I returned home, and suffered all the
afternoon; suffered all through an unconscious and unrefreshing dinner;
suffered, and cried, and jingled all through the evening; went to bed and
rolled, tossed, and jingled right along, the same as ever; got up at
midnight frantic, and tried to read; but there was nothing visible upon
the whirling page except "Punch! punch in the presence of the
passenjare." By sunrise I was out of my mind, and everybody marveled and
was distressed at the idiotic burden of my ravings--"Punch! oh, punch!
punch in the presence of the passenjare!"
Two days later, on Saturday morning, I arose, a tottering wreck, and went
forth to fulfil an engagement with a valued friend, the Rev. Mr.------,
to walk to the Talcott Tower, ten miles distant. He stared at me, but
asked no questions. We started. Mr.------ talked, talked, talked as is
his wont. I said nothing; I heard nothing. At the end of a mile,
Mr.------ said "Mark, are you sick? I never saw a man look so haggard
and worn and absent-minded. Say something, do!"
Drearily, without enthusiasm, I said: "Punch brothers, punch with care!
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!"
My friend eyed me blankly, looked perplexed, they said:
"I do not think I get your drift, Mark. Then does not seem to be any
relevancy in what you have said, certainly nothing sad; and yet--maybe it
was the way you said the words--I never heard anything that sounded so
pathetic. What is--"
But I heard no more. I was already far away with my pitiless,
heartbreaking "blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare, buff trip slip for
a six-cent fare, pink trip slip for a three-cent fare; punch in the
presence of the passenjare." I do not know what occurred during the
other nine miles. However, all of a sudden Mr.------ laid his hand on my
shoulder and shouted:
"Oh, wake up! wake up! wake up! Don't sleep all day! Here we are at
the Tower, man! I have talked myself deaf and dumb and blind, and never
got a response. Just look at this magnificent autumn landscape! Look at
it! look at it! Feast your eye on it! You have traveled; you have seen
boaster landscapes elsewhere. Come, now, deliver an honest opinion.
What do you say to this?"
I sighed wearily; and murmured:
"A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare, a pink trip slip for a three-cent
fare, punch in the presence of the passenjare."
Rev. Mr. ------ stood there, very grave, full of concern, apparently, and
looked long at me; then he said:
"Mark, there is something about this that I cannot understand. Those are
about the same words you said before; there does not seem to be anything
in them, and yet they nearly break my heart when you say them. Punch in
the--how is it they go?"
I began at the beginning and repeated all the lines.
My friend's face lighted with interest. He said:
"Why, what a captivating jingle it is! It is almost music. It flows
along so nicely. I have nearly caught the rhymes myself. Say them over
just once more, and then I'll have them, sure."
I said them over. Then Mr. ------ said them. He made one little
mistake, which I corrected. The next time and the next he got them
right. Now a great burden seemed to tumble from my shoulders. That
torturing jingle departed out of my brain, and a grateful sense of rest
and peace descended upon me. I was light-hearted enough to sing; and I
did sing for half an hour, straight along, as we went jogging homeward.
Then my freed tongue found blessed speech again, and the pent talk of
many a weary hour began to gush and flow. It flowed on and on, joyously,
jubilantly, until the fountain was empty and dry. As I wrung my friend's
hand at parting, I said:
"Haven't we had a royal good time! But now I remember, you haven't said
a word for two hours. Come, come, out with something!"
The Rev. Mr.------ turned a lack-luster eye upon me, drew a deep sigh,
and said, without animation, without apparent consciousness:
"Punch, brothers, punch with care! Punch in the presence of the
A pang shot through me as I said to myself, "Poor fellow, poor fellow!
he has got it, now."
I did not see Mr.------ for two or three days after that. Then, on
Tuesday evening, he staggered into my presence and sank dejectedly into a
seat. He was pale, worn; he was a wreck. He lifted his faded eyes to my
face and said:
"Ah, Mark, it was a ruinous investment that I made in those heartless
rhymes. They have ridden me like a nightmare, day and night, hour after
hour, to this very moment. Since I saw you I have suffered the torments
of the lost. Saturday evening I had a sudden call, by telegraph, and
took the night train for Boston. The occasion was the death of a valued
old friend who had requested that I should preach his funeral sermon.
I took my seat in the cars and set myself to framing the discourse. But
I never got beyond the opening paragraph; for then the train started and
the car-wheels began their 'clack, clack-clack-clack-clack! clack-clack!
--clack-clack-clack!' and right away those odious rhymes fitted
themselves to that accompaniment. For an hour I sat there and set a
syllable of those rhymes to every separate and distinct clack the
car-wheels made. Why, I was as fagged out, then, as if I had been
chopping wood all day. My skull was splitting with headache. It seemed
to me that I must go mad if I sat there any longer; so I undressed and
went to bed. I stretched myself out in my berth, and--well, you know
what the result was. The thing went right along, just the same.
'Clack-clack clack, a blue trip slip, clack-clack-clack, for an eight
cent fare; clack-clack-clack, a buff trip slip, clack clack-clack, for a
six-cent fare, and so on, and so on, and so on punch in the presence of
the passenjare!' Sleep? Not a single wink! I was almost a lunatic when
I got to Boston. Don't ask me about the funeral. I did the best I
could, but every solemn individual sentence was meshed and tangled and
woven in and out with 'Punch, brothers, punch with care, punch in the
presence of the passenjare.' And the most distressing thing was that my
delivery dropped into the undulating rhythm of those pulsing rhymes, and
I could actually catch absent-minded people nodding time to the swing of
it with their stupid heads. And, Mark, you may believe it or not, but
before I got through the entire assemblage were placidly bobbing their
heads in solemn unison, mourners, undertaker, and all. The moment I had
finished, I fled to the anteroom in a state bordering on frenzy. Of
course it would be my luck to find a sorrowing and aged maiden aunt of
the deceased there, who had arrived from Springfield too late to get into
the church. She began to sob, and said:
"'Oh, oh, he is gone, he is gone, and I didn't see him before he died!'
"'Yes!' I said, 'he is gone, he is gone, he is gone--oh, will this
suffering never cease!'
"'You loved him, then! Oh, you too loved him!'
"'Loved him! Loved who?'
"'Why, my poor George! my poor nephew!'
"'Oh--him! Yes--oh, yes, yes. Certainly--certainly. Punch--punch--oh,
this misery will kill me!'
"'Bless you! bless you, sir, for these sweet words! I, too, suffer in
this dear loss. Were you present during his last moments?'
"'Yes. I--whose last moments?'
"'His. The dear departed's.'
"'Yes! Oh, yes--yes--yes! I suppose so, I think so, I don't know! Oh,
certainly--I was there I was there!'
"'Oh, what a privilege! what a precious privilege! And his last words-
-oh, tell me, tell me his last words! What did he say?'
"'He said--he said--oh, my head, my head, my head! He said--he said--he
never said anything but Punch, punch, punch in the presence of the
passenjare! Oh, leave me, madam! In the name of all that is generous,
leave me to my madness, my misery, my despair!--a buff trip slip for a
six-cent fare, a pink trip slip for a three-cent fare--endu--rance can no
fur--ther go!--PUNCH in the presence of the passenjare!"
My friend's hopeless eyes rested upon mine a pregnant minute, and then he
"Mark, you do not say anything. You do not offer me any hope. But, ah
me, it is just as well--it is just as well. You could not do me any
good. The time has long gone by when words could comfort me. Something
tells me that my tongue is doomed to wag forever to the jigger of that
remorseless jingle. There--there it is coming on me again: a blue trip
slip for an eight-cent fare, a buff trip slip for a--"
Thus murmuring faint and fainter, my friend sank into a peaceful trance
and forgot his sufferings in a blessed respite.
How did I finally save him from an asylum? I took him to a neighboring
university and made him discharge the burden of his persecuting rhymes
into the eager ears of the poor, unthinking students. How is it with
them, now? The result is too sad to tell. Why did I write this article?
It was for a worthy, even a noble, purpose. It was to warn you, reader,
if you should came across those merciless rhymes, to avoid them--avoid
them as you would a pestilence.
THE GREAT REVOLUTION IN PITCAIRN
Let me refresh the reader's memory a little. Nearly a hundred years ago
the crew of the British ship Bounty mutinied, set the captain and his
officers adrift upon the open sea, took possession of the ship, and
sailed southward. They procured wives for themselves among the natives
of Tahiti, then proceeded to a lonely little rock in mid-Pacific, called
Pitcairn's Island, wrecked the vessel, stripped her of everything that
might be useful to a new colony, and established themselves on shore.
Pitcairn's is so far removed from the track of commerce that it was many
years before another vessel touched there. It had always been considered
an uninhabited island; so when a ship did at last drop its anchor there,
in 1808, the captain was greatly surprised to find the place peopled.
Although the mutineers had fought among themselves, and gradually killed
each other off until only two or three of the original stock remained,
these tragedies had not occurred before a number of children had been
born; so in 1808 the island had a population of twenty-seven persons.
John Adams, the chief mutineer, still survived, and was to live many
years yet, as governor and patriarch of the flock. From being mutineer
and homicide, he had turned Christian and teacher, and his nation of
twenty-seven persons was now the purest and devoutest in Christendom.
Adams had long ago hoisted the British flag and constituted his island an
appanage of the British crown.
To-day the population numbers ninety persons--sixteen men, nineteen
women, twenty-five boys, and thirty girls--all descendants of the
mutineers, all bearing the family names of those mutineers, and all
speaking English, and English only. The island stands high up out of the
sea, and has precipitous walls. It is about three-quarters of a mile
long, and in places is as much as half a mile wide. Such arable land as
it affords is held by the several families, according to a division made
many years ago. There is some live stock--goats, pigs, chickens, and
cats; but no dogs, and no large animals. There is one church-building
used also as a capitol, a schoolhouse, and a public library. The title
of the governor has been, for a generation or two, "Magistrate and Chief
Ruler, in subordination to her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain." It
was his province to make the laws, as well as execute them. His office
was elective; everybody over seventeen years old had a vote--no matter
about the sex.
The sole occupations of the people were farming and fishing; their sole
recreation, religious services. There has never been a shop in the
island, nor any money. The habits and dress of the people have always
been primitive, and their laws simple to puerility. They have lived in a
deep Sabbath tranquillity, far from the world and its ambitions and
vexations, and neither knowing nor caring what was going on in the mighty
empires that lie beyond their limitless ocean solitudes. Once in three
or four years a ship touched there, moved them with aged news of bloody
battles, devastating epidemics, fallen thrones, and ruined dynasties,
then traded them some soap and flannel for some yams and breadfruit, and
sailed away, leaving them to retire into their peaceful dreams and pious
dissipations once more.
On the 8th of last September, Admiral de Horsey, commander-in-chief of
the British fleet in the Pacific, visited Pitcairn's Island, and speaks
as follows in his official report to the admiralty:
They have beans, carrots, turnips, cabbages, and a little maize;
pineapples, fig trees, custard-apples, and oranges; lemons, and
cocoanuts. Clothing is obtained alone from passing ships, in barter
for refreshments. There are no springs on the island, but as it
rains generally once a month they have plenty of water, although at
times in former years they have suffered from drought. No alcoholic
liquors, except for medicinal purposes, are used, and a drunkard is
The necessary articles required by the islanders are best shown by
those we furnished in barter for refreshments: namely, flannel,
serge, drill, half-boots, combs, tobacco, and soap. They also stand
much in need of maps and slates for their school, and tools of any
kind are most acceptable. I caused them to be supplied from the
public stores with a Union jack: for display on the arrival of
ships, and a pit-saw, of which they were greatly in need. This, I
trust, will meet the approval of their lordships. If the munificent
people of England were only aware of the wants of this most
deserving little colony, they would not long go unsupplied....
Divine service is held every Sunday at 10.30 A.M. and at 3 P.M.,
in the house built and used by John Adams for that purpose until he
died in 1829. It is conducted strictly in accordance with the
liturgy of the Church of England, by Mr. Simon Young, their selected
pastor, who is much respected. A Bible class is held every
Wednesday, when all who conveniently can attend. There is also a
general meeting for prayer on the first Friday in every month.
Family prayers are said in every house the first thing in the
morning and the last thing in the evening, and no food is partaken
of without asking God's blessing before and afterward. Of these
islanders' religious attributes no one can speak without deep
respect. A people whose greatest pleasure and privilege is to
commune in prayer with their God, and to join in hymns of praise,
and who are, moreover, cheerful, diligent, and probably freer from
vice than any other community, need no priest among them.
Now I come to a sentence in the admiral's report which he dropped
carelessly from his pen, no doubt, and never gave the matter a second
thought. He little imagined what a freight of tragic prophecy it bore!
This is the sentence:
One stranger, an American, has settled on the island--a doubtful
A doubtful acquisition, indeed! Captain Ormsby, in the American ship
Hornet, touched at Pitcairn's nearly four months after the admiral's
visit, and from the facts which he gathered there we now know all about
that American. Let us put these facts together in historical form. The
American's name was Butterworth Stavely. As soon as he had become well
acquainted with all the people--and this took but a few days, of course
--he began to ingratiate himself with them by all the arts he could
command. He became exceedingly popular, and much looked up to; for one
of the first things he did was to forsake his worldly way of life, and
throw all his energies into religion. He was always reading his Bible,
or praying, or singing hymns, or asking blessings. In prayer, no one had
such "liberty" as he, no one could pray so long or so well.
At last, when he considered the time to be ripe, he began secretly to sow
the seeds of discontent among the people. It was his deliberate purpose,
from the beginning, to subvert the government, but of course he kept that
to himself for a time. He used different arts with different
individuals. He awakened dissatisfaction in one quarter by calling
attention to the shortness of the Sunday services; he argued that there
should be three three-hour services on Sunday instead of only two. Many
had secretly held this opinion before; they now privately banded
themselves into a party to work for it. He showed certain of the women
that they were not allowed sufficient voice in the prayer-meetings; thus
another party was formed. No weapon was beneath his notice; he even
descended to the children, and awoke discontent in their breasts
because--as he discovered for them--they had not enough Sunday-school.
This created a third party.
Now, as the chief of these parties, he found himself the strongest power
in the community. So he proceeded to his next move--a no less important
one than the impeachment of the chief magistrate, James Russell Nickoy;
a man of character and ability, and possessed of great wealth, he being
the owner of a house with a parlor to it, three acres and a half of yam-
land, and the only boat in Pitcairn's, a whaleboat; and, most
unfortunately, a pretext for this impeachment offered itself at just the
One of the earliest and most precious laws of the island was the law
against trespass. It was held in great reverence, and was regarded as
the palladium of the people's liberties. About thirty years ago an
important case came before the courts under this law, in this wise: a
chicken belonging to Elizabeth Young (aged, at that time, fifty-eight,
a daughter of John Mills, one of the mutineers of the Bounty) trespassed
upon the grounds of Thursday October Christian (aged twenty-nine, a
grandson of Fletcher Christian, one of the mutineers). Christian killed
the chicken. According to the law, Christian could keep the chicken; or,
if he preferred, he could restore its remains to the owner and receive
damages in "produce" to an amount equivalent to the waste and injury
wrought by the trespasser. The court records set forth that "the said
Christian aforesaid did deliver the aforesaid remains to the said Eliza
beth Young, and did demand one bushel of yams in satisfaction of the
damage done." But Elizabeth Young considered the demand exorbitant; the
parties could not agree; therefore Christian brought suit in the courts.
He lost his case in the justice's court; at least, he was awarded only a
half-peck of yams, which he considered insufficient, and in the nature of
a defeat. He appealed. The case lingered several years in an ascending
grade of courts, and always resulted in decrees sustaining the original
verdict; and finally the thing got into the supreme court, and there it
stuck for twenty years. But last summer, even the supreme court managed
to arrive at a decision at last. Once more the original verdict was
sustained. Christian then said he was satisfied; but Stavely was
present, and whispered to him and to his lawyer, suggesting, "as a mere
form," that the original law be exhibited, in order to make sure that it
still existed. It seemed an odd idea, but an ingenious one. So the
demand was made. A messenger was sent to the magistrate's house; he
presently returned with the tidings that it had disappeared from among
the state archives.
The court now pronounced its late decision void, since it had been made
under a law which had no actual existence.
Great excitement ensued immediately. The news swept abroad over the
whole island that the palladium of the public liberties was lost--maybe
treasonably destroyed. Within thirty minutes almost the entire nation
were in the court-room--that is to say, the church. The impeachment of
the chief magistrate followed, upon Stavely's motion. The accused met
his misfortune with the dignity which became his great office. He did
not plead, or even argue; he offered the simple defense that he had not
meddled with the missing law; that he had kept the state archives in the
same candle-box that had been used as their depository from the
beginning; and that he was innocent of the removal or destruction of the
But nothing could save him; he was found guilty of misprision of treason,
and degraded from his office, and all his property was confiscated.
The lamest part of the whole shameful matter was the reason suggested by
his enemies for his destruction of the law, to wit: that he did it to
favor Christian, because Christian was his cousin! Whereas Stavely was
the only individual in the entire nation who was not his cousin. The
reader must remember that all these people are the descendants of half a
dozen men; that the first children intermarried together and bore
grandchildren to the mutineers; that these grandchildren intermarried;
after them, great and great-great-grandchildren intermarried; so that to-
day everybody is blood kin to everybody. Moreover, the relationships are
wonderfully, even astoundingly, mixed up and complicated. A stranger,
for instance, says to an islander:
"You speak of that young woman as your cousin; a while ago you called her
"Well, she is my aunt, and my cousin, too. And also my stepsister, my
niece, my fourth cousin, my thirty-third cousin, my forty-second cousin,
my great-aunt, my grandmother, my widowed sister-in-law--and next week
she will be my wife."
So the charge of nepotism against the chief magistrate was weak. But no
matter; weak or strong, it suited Stavely. Stavely was immediately
elected to the vacant magistracy, and, oozing reform from every pore, he
went vigorously to work. In no long time religious services raged
everywhere and unceasingly. By command, the second prayer of the Sunday
morning service, which had customarily endured some thirty-five or forty
minutes, and had pleaded for the world, first by continent and then by
national and tribal detail, was extended to an hour and a half, and made
to include supplications in behalf of the possible peoples in the several
planets. Everybody was pleased with this; everybody said, "Now this is
something like." By command, the usual three-hour sermons were doubled
in length. The nation came in a body to testify their gratitude to the
new magistrate. The old law forbidding cooking on the Sabbath was
extended to the prohibition of eating, also. By command, Sunday-school
was privileged to spread over into the week. The joy of all classes was
complete. In one short month the new magistrate had become the people's
The time was ripe for this man's next move. He began, cautiously at
first, to poison the public mind against England. He took the chief
citizens aside, one by one, and conversed with them on this topic.
Presently he grew bolder, and spoke out. He said the nation owed it to
itself, to its honor, to its great traditions, to rise in its might and
throw off "this galling English yoke."
But the simple islanders answered:
"We had not noticed that it galled. How does it gall? England sends a
ship once in three or four years to give us soap and clothing, and things
which we sorely need and gratefully receive; but she never troubles us;
she lets us go our own way."
"She lets you go your own way! So slaves have felt and spoken in all the
ages! This speech shows how fallen you are, how base, how brutalized you
have become, under this grinding tyranny! What! has all manly pride
forsaken you? Is liberty nothing? Are you content to be a mere
appendage to a foreign and hateful sovereignty, when you might rise up
and take your rightful place in the august family of nations, great,
free, enlightened, independent, the minion of no sceptered master, but
the arbiter of your own destiny, and a voice and a power in decreeing the
destinies of your sister-sovereignties of the world?"
Speeches like this produced an effect by and by. Citizens began to feel
the English yoke; they did not know exactly how or whereabouts they felt
it, but they were perfectly certain they did feel it. They got to
grumbling a good deal, and chafing under their chains, and longing for
relief and release. They presently fell to hating the English flag, that
sign and symbol of their nation's degradation; they ceased to glance up
at it as they passed the capitol, but averted their eyes and grated their
teeth; and one morning, when it was found trampled into the mud at the
foot of the staff, they left it there, and no man put his hand to it to
hoist it again. A certain thing which was sure to happen sooner or later
happened now. Some of the chief citizens went to the magistrate by
night, and said:
"We can endure this hated tyranny no longer. How can we cast it off?"
"By a coup d'etat."
"A coup d'etat. It is like this: everything is got ready, and at the
appointed moment I, as the official head of the nation, publicly and
solemnly proclaim its independence, and absolve it from allegiance to any
and all other powers whatsoever."
"That sounds simple and easy. We can do that right away. Then what will
be the next thing to do?"
"Seize all the defenses and public properties of all kinds, establish
martial law, put the army and navy on a war footing, and proclaim the
This fine program dazzled these innocents. They said:
"This is grand--this is splendid; but will not England resist?"
"Let her. This rock is a Gibraltar."
"True. But about the empire? Do we need an empire and an emperor?"
"What you need, my friends, is unification. Look at Germany; look at
Italy. They are unified. Unification is the thing. It makes living
dear. That constitutes progress. We must have a standing army and a
navy. Taxes follow, as a matter of course. All these things summed up
make grandeur. With unification and grandeur, what more can you want?
Very well--only the empire can confer these boons."
So on the 8th day of December Pitcairn's Island was proclaimed a free and
independent nation; and on the same day the solemn coronation of
Butterworth I, Emperor of Pitcairn's Island, took place, amid great
rejoicings and festivities. The entire nation, with the exception of
fourteen persons, mainly little children, marched past the throne in
single file, with banners and music, the procession being upward of
ninety feet long; and some said it was as much as three-quarters of a
minute passing a given point. Nothing like it had ever been seen in the
history of the island before. Public enthusiasm was measureless.
Now straightway imperial reforms began. Orders of nobility were
instituted. A minister of the navy was appointed, and the whale-boat put
in commission. A minister of war was created, and ordered to proceed at
once with the formation of a standing army. A first lord of the treasury
was named, and commanded to get up a taxation scheme, and also open
negotiations for treaties, offensive, defensive, and commercial, with
foreign powers. Some generals and admirals were appointed; also some
chamberlains, some equerries in waiting, and some lords of the
At this point all the material was used up. The Grand Duke of Galilee,
minister of war, complained that all the sixteen grown men in the empire
had been given great offices, and consequently would not consent to serve
in the ranks; wherefore his standing army was at a standstill. The
Marquis of Ararat, minister of the navy, made a similar complaint. He
said he was willing to steer the whale-boat himself, but he must have
somebody to man her.
The emperor did the best he could in the circumstances: he took all the
boys above the age of ten years away from their mothers, and pressed them
into the army, thus constructing a corps of seventeen privates, officered
by one lieutenant-general and two major-generals. This pleased the
minister of war, but procured the enmity of all the mothers in the land;
for they said their precious ones must now find bloody graves in the
fields of war, and he would be answerable for it. Some of the more
heartbroken and unappeasable among them lay constantly wait for the
emperor and threw yams at him, unmindful of the body-guard.
On account of the extreme scarcity of material, it was found necessary to
require the Duke of Bethany postmaster-general, to pull stroke-oar in the
navy and thus sit in the rear of a noble of lower degree namely, Viscount
Canaan, lord justice of the common pleas. This turned the Duke of
Bethany into tolerably open malcontent and a secret conspirator--a thing
which the emperor foresaw, but could not help.
Things went from bad to worse. The emperor raised Nancy Peters to the
peerage on one day, and married her the next, notwithstanding, for
reasons of state, the cabinet had strenuously advised him to marry
Emmeline, eldest daughter of the Archbishop of Bethlehem. This caused
trouble in a powerful quarter--the church. The new empress secured the
support and friendship of two-thirds of the thirty-six grown women in the
nation by absorbing them into her court as maids of honor; but this made
deadly enemies of the remaining twelve. The families of the maids of
honor soon began to rebel, because there was nobody at home to keep
house. The twelve snubbed women refused to enter the imperial kitchen as
servants; so the empress had to require the Countess of Jericho and other
great court dames to fetch water, sweep the palace, and perform other
menial and equally distasteful services. This made bad blood in that
Everybody fell to complaining that the taxes levied for the support of
the army, the navy, and the rest of the imperial establishment were
intolerably burdensome, and were reducing the nation to beggary. The
emperor's reply--"Look--Look at Germany; look at Italy. Are you better
than they? and haven't you unification?"---did not satisfy them. They
said, "People can't eat unification, and we are starving. Agriculture
has ceased. Everybody is in the army, everybody is in the navy,
everybody is in the public service, standing around in a uniform, with
nothing whatever to do, nothing to eat, and nobody to till the fields--"
"Look at Germany; look at Italy. It is the same there. Such is
unification, and there's no other way to get it--no other way to keep it
after you've got it," said the poor emperor always.
But the grumblers only replied, "We can't stand the taxes--we can't stand
Now right on top of this the cabinet reported a national debt amounting
to upward of forty-five dollars--half a dollar to every individual in the
nation. And they proposed to fund something. They had heard that this
was always done in such emergencies. They proposed duties on exports;
also on imports. And they wanted to issue bonds; also paper money,
redeemable in yams and cabbages in fifty years. They said the pay of the
army and of the navy and of the whole governmental machine was far in
arrears, and unless something was done, and done immediately, national
bankruptcy must ensue, and possibly insurrection and revolution. The
emperor at once resolved upon a high-handed measure, and one of a nature
never before heard of in Pitcairn's Island. He went in state to the
church on Sunday morning, with the army at his back, and commanded the
minister of the treasury to take up a collection.
That was the feather that broke the camel's back. First one citizen, and
then another, rose and refused to submit to this unheard-of outrage
--and each refusal was followed by the immediate confiscation of the
malcontent's property. This vigor soon stopped the refusals, and the
collection proceeded amid a sullen and ominous silence. As the emperor
withdrew with the troops, he said, "I will teach you who is master here."
Several persons shouted, "Down with unification!" They were at once
arrested and torn from the arms of their weeping friends by the soldiery.
But in the mean time, as any prophet might have foreseen, a Social
Democrat had been developed. As the emperor stepped into the gilded
imperial wheelbarrow at the church door, the social democrat stabbed at
him fifteen or sixteen times with a harpoon, but fortunately with such a
peculiarly social democratic unprecision of aim as to do no damage.
That very night the convulsion came. The nation rose as one man--though
forty-nine of the revolutionists were of the other sex. The infantry
threw down their pitchforks; the artillery cast aside their cocoanuts;
the navy revolted; the emperor was seized, and bound hand and foot in his