Part 3 out of 4
taught you to call people by their proper titles. In the service of
mankind I hold the rank of Fool.
S.--What, ho! without there! Let the trumpets sound!
F.--I beg you will not.
S.--True; you beg: I will not.
F.--But why rob when stealing is more honourable?
S.--Consider the competition.
* * * * *
FOOL.--Sir Cut-throat, how many orphans have you made to-day?
SOLDIER.--The devil an orphan! Have you a family?
F.--Put up your iron; I am the last of my race.
S.--How? No more fools?
F.--Not one, so help me! They have all gone to the wars.
S.--And why, pray, have _you_ not enlisted?
F.--I should be no fool if I knew.
* * * * *
FOOL.--You are somewhat indebted to me.
SOLDIER.--I do not acknowledge your claim. Let us submit the matter to
F.--The only arbiter whose decision you respect is on your own side.
S.--You allude to my sword, the most impartial of weapons: it cuts
F.--And each way is peculiarly objectionable to your opponent.
S.--But for what am I indebted to you?
F.--For existence: the prevalence of me has made you possible.
S.--The benefit is not conspicuous; were it not for your quarrels, I
should enjoy a quantity of elegant leisure.
F.--As a clodhopper.
S.--I should at least hop my clods in a humble and Christian spirit;
and if some other fellow did did not so hop his--! I say no more.
F.--You have said enough; there would be war.
* * * * *
SOLDIER.--Why wear a cap and bells?
FOOL.--I hasten to crave pardon, and if spared will at once exchange
F.--A helmet and feather.
S.--G "hang a calf-skin on those recreant limbs."
F.--'T is only wisdom should be bound in calf.
F.--Because wisdom is the veal of which folly is the matured beef.
S.--Then folly should be garbed in cow-skin?
F.--Aye, that it might the more speedily appear for what it is--the
S.--How should it?
F.--You would soon strip off its hide to make harness and trappings
withal. No one thinks how much conquerors owe to cows.
* * * * *
FOOL.--Tell me, hero, what is strategy?
SOLDIER.--The art of laying two knives against one throat.
F.--And what are tactics?
S.--The art of driving them home.
S.--I'll bust thy crust! (_Attempts to draw his sword, gets it between
his legs, and falls along_.)
F. (_from a distance_)--Shall I summon an army, or a sexton? And will
you have it of bronze, or marble?
* * * * *
FOOL.--When you have gained a great victory, how much of the glory
goes to the horse whose back you bestrode?
SOLDIER.--Nonsense! A horse cannot appreciate glory; he prefers corn.
F.--And this you call non-appreciation! But listen. (_Reads_) "During
the Crusades, a part of the armament of a Turkish ship was two hundred
serpents." In the pursuit of glory you are at least not above
employing humble auxiliaries. These be curious allies.
S.--What stuff a fool may talk! No true soldier would pit a serpent
against a brave enemy. These worms were _sailors_.
F.--A nice distinction, truly! Did you ever, my most acute professor
of vivisection, employ your trenchant blade in the splitting of hairs?
S.--I have split masses of them.
* * * * *
FOOL.--Speaking of the Crusades: at the siege of Acre, when a part of
the wall had been thrown down by the Christians, the Pisans rushed
into the breach, but the greater part of their army being at dinner,
they were bloodily repulsed.
SOLDIER.--You appear to have a minute acquaintance with military
F.--Yes--being a fool. But was it not a sin and a shame that those
feeders should not stir from their porridge to succour their suffering
S.--Pray why should a man neglect his business to oblige a friend?
F.--But they might have taken and sacked the city.
S.--The selfish gluttons!
* * * * *
SOLDIER.--Your presumption grows intolerable; I'll hold no further
parley with thee.
FOOL.--"Herculean gentleman, I dread thy drubs; pity the lifted whites
of both my eyes!"
S.--Then speak no more of the things you do but imperfectly
F.--Such censorship would doom all tongues to silence. But show me
wherein my knowledge is deficient.
S.--What is an _abattis_?
F.--Rubbish placed in front of a fort, to keep the rubbish outside
from getting at the rubbish inside.
S.--Egad! I'll part thy hair!
THE GRATEFUL BEAR.
I hope all my little readers have heard the story of Mr. Androcles and
the lion; so I will relate it as nearly as I can remember it, with the
caution that Androcles must not be confounded with the lion. If I had
a picture representing Androcles with a silk hat, and the lion with a
knot in his tail, the two might readily be distinguished; but the
artist says he won't make any such picture, and we must try to get on
One day Androcles was gathering truffles in a forest, when he found a
lion's den; and, walking into it, he lay down and slept. It was a
custom, in his time, to sleep in lions' dens when practicable. The
lion was absent, inspecting a zoological garden, and did not return
until late; but he did return. He was surprised to find a stranger in
his menagerie without a ticket; but, supposing him to be some
contributor to a comic paper, did not eat him: he was very well
satisfied not to be eaten by him. Presently Androcles awoke, wishing
he had some seltzer water, or something. (Seltzer water is good after
a night's debauch, and something--it is difficult to say what--is good
to begin the new debauch with). Seeing the lion eyeing him, he began
hastily to pencil his last will and testament upon the rocky floor of
the den. What was his surprise to see the lion advance amicably and
extend his right forefoot! Androcles, however, was equal to the
occasion: he met the friendly overture with a cordial grasp of the
hand, whereat the lion howled--for he had a carpet-tack in his foot.
Perceiving that he had made a little mistake, Androcles made such
reparation as was in his power by pulling out the tack and putting it
in his own foot.
After this the beast could not do too much for him. He went out every
morning--carefully locking the door behind him--and returned every
evening, bringing in a nice fat baby from an adjacent village, and
laying it gratefully at his benefactor's feet. For the first few days
something seemed to have gone wrong with the benefactor's appetite,
but presently he took very kindly to the new diet; and, as he could
not get away, he lodged there, rent-free, all the days of his
life--which terminated very abruptly one evening when the lion had not
met with his usual success in hunting.
All this has very little to do with my story: I throw it in as a
classical allusion, to meet the demands of a literary fashion which
has its origin in the generous eagerness of writers to give the public
more than it pays for. But the story of Androcles was a favourite with
the bear whose adventures I am about to relate.
One day this crafty brute carefully inserted a thorn between two of
his toes, and limped awkwardly to the farm-house of Dame Pinworthy, a
widow, who with two beautiful whelps infested the forest where he
resided. He knocked at the open door, sent in his card, and was duly
admitted to the presence of the lady, who inquired his purpose. By way
of "defining his position" he held up his foot, and snuffled very
dolorously. The lady adjusted her spectacles, took the paw in her lap
(she, too, had heard the tale of Androcles), and, after a close
scrutiny, discovered the thorn, which, as delicately as possible, she
extracted, the patient making wry faces and howling dismally the
When it was all over, and she had assured him there was no charge, his
gratitude was a passion to observe! He desired to embrace her at once;
but this, although a widow of seven years' standing, she would by no
means permit; she said she was not personally averse to hugging, "but
what would her dear departed--boo-hoo!--say of it?" This was very
absurd, for Mr. Boo-hoo had seven feet of solid earth above him, and
it couldn't make much difference what he said, even supposing he had
enough tongue left to say anything, which he had not. However, the
polite beast respected her scruples; so the only way in which he could
testify his gratitude was by remaining to dinner. They had the
housedog for dinner that day, though, from some false notion of
hospitable etiquette, the woman and children did not take any.
On the next day, punctually at the same hour, the bear came again with
another thorn, and stayed to dinner as before. It was not much of a
dinner this time--only the cat, and a roll of stair-carpet, with one
or two pieces of sheet music; but true gratitude does not despise even
the humblest means of expression. The succeeding day he came as
before; but after being relieved of his torment, he found nothing
prepared for him. But when he took to thoughtfully licking one of the
little girl's hands, "that answered not with a caress," the mother
thought better of it, and drove in a small heifer.
He now came every day; he was so old a friend that the formality of
extracting the thorn was no longer observed; it would have contributed
nothing to the good understanding that existed between him and the
widow. He thought that three or four instances of Good Samaritanism
afforded ample matter for perpetual gratitude. His constant visits
were bad for the live stock of the farm; for some kind of beast had to
be in readiness each day to furnish forth the usual feast, and this
prevented multiplication. Most of the textile fabrics, too, had
disappeared; for the appetite of this animal was at the same time
cosmopolitan and exacting: it would accept almost anything in the way
of _entremets_, but something it would have. A hearthrug, a hall-mat,
a cushion, mattress, blanket, shawl, or other article of wearing
apparel--anything, in short, that was easy of ingestion was graciously
approved. The widow tried him once with a box of coals as dessert to
some barn-yard fowls; but this he seemed to regard as a doubtful
comestible, seductive to the palate, but obstinate in the stomach. A
look at one of the children always brought him something else, no
matter what he was then engaged on.
It was suggested to Mrs. Pinworthy that she should poison the bear;
but, after trying about a hundredweight of strychnia, arsenic, and
Prussic acid, without any effect other than what might be expected
from mild tonics, she thought it would not be right to go into
toxicology. So the poor Widow Pinworthy went on, patiently enduring
the consumption of her cattle, sheep, and hogs, the evaporation of her
poultry, and the taking off of her bed linen, until there were left
only the clothing of herself and children, some curtains, a sickly
lamb, and a pet pigeon. When the bear came for these she ventured to
expostulate. In this she was perfectly successful: the animal
permitted her to expostulate as long as she liked. Then he ate the
lamb and pigeon, took in a dish-cloth or two, and went away just as
contentedly as if she had not uttered a word.
Nothing edible now stood between her little daughters and the grave.
Her mental agony was painful to her mind; she could scarcely have
suffered more without an increase of unhappiness. She was roused to
desperation; and next day, when she saw the bear leaping across the
fields toward the house, she staggered from her seat and shut the
door. It was singular what a difference it made; she always remembered
it after that, and wished she had thought of it before.
* * * * *
THE SETTING SACHEM.
'Twas an Injin chieftain, in feathers all fine,
Who stood on the ocean's rim;
There were numberless leagues of excellent brine--
But there wasn't enough for him.
So he knuckled a thumb in his painted eye,
And added a tear to the scant supply.
The surges were breaking with thund'rous voice,
The winds were a-shrieking shrill;
This warrior thought that a trifle of noise
Was needed to fill the bill.
So he lifted the top of his head off and scowled--
Exalted his voice, did this chieftain, and howled!
The sun was aflame in a field of gold
That hung o'er the Western Sea;
Bright banners of light were broadly unrolled,
As banners of light should be.
But no one was "speaking a piece" to that sun,
And therefore this Medicine Man begun:
"O much heap of bright! O big ball of warm!
I've tracked you from sea to sea!
For the Paleface has been at some pains to inform
Me, _you_ are the emblem of _me_.
He says to me, cheerfully: 'Westward Ho!'
And westward I've hoed a most difficult row.
"Since you are the emblem of me, I presume
That I am the emblem of you,
And thus, as we're equals, 't is safe to assume,
That one great law governs us two.
So now if I set in the ocean with thee,
With thee I shall rise again out of the sea."
His eloquence first, and his logic the last!
Such orators die!--and he died:
The trump was against him--his luck bad--he "passed"--
And so he "passed out"--with the tide.
This Injin is rid of the world with a whim--
The world it is rid of his speeches and him.
* * * * *
Madame Yonsmit was a decayed gentlewoman who carried on her
decomposition in a modest wayside cottage in Thuringia. She was an
excellent sample of the Thuringian widow, a species not yet extinct,
but trying very hard to become so. The same may be said of the whole
genus. Madame Yonsmit was quite young, very comely, cultivated,
gracious, and pleasing. Her home was a nest of domestic virtues, but
she had a daughter who reflected but little credit upon the nest.
Feodora was indeed a "bad egg"--a very wicked and ungrateful egg. You
could see she was by her face. The girl had the most vicious
countenance--it was repulsive! It was a face in which boldness
struggled for the supremacy with cunning, and both were thrashed into
subjection by avarice. It was this latter virtue in Feodora which kept
her mother from having a taxable income.
Feodora's business was to beg on the highway. It wrung the heart of
the honest amiable gentlewoman to have her daughter do this; but the
h.a.g. having been reared in luxury, considered labour
degrading--which it is--and there was not much to steal in that part
of Thuringia. Feodora's mendicity would have provided an ample fund
for their support, but unhappily that ingrate would hardly ever fetch
home more than two or three shillings at a time. Goodness knows what
she did with the rest.
Vainly the good woman pointed out the sin of coveteousness; vainly she
would stand at the cottage door awaiting the child's return, and begin
arguing the point with her the moment she came in sight: the receipts
diminished daily until the average was less than tenpence--a sum upon
which no born gentlewoman would deign to exist. So it became a matter
of some importance to know where Feodora kept her banking account.
Madame Yonsmit thought at first she would follow her and see; but
although the good lady was as vigorous and sprightly as ever, carrying
a crutch more for ornament than use, she abandoned this plan because
it did not seem suitable to the dignity of a decayed gentlewoman. She
employed a detective.
The foregoing particulars I have from Madame Yonsmit herself; for
those immediately subjoining I am indebted to the detective, a skilful
officer named Bowstr.
No sooner had the scraggy old hag communicated her suspicions than the
officer knew exactly what to do. He first distributed hand-bills all
over the country, stating that a certain person suspected of
concealing money had better look sharp. He then went to the Home
Secretary, and by not seeking to understate the real difficulties of
the case, induced that functionary to offer a reward of a thousand
pounds for the arrest of the malefactor. Next he proceeded to a
distant town, and took into custody a clergyman who resembled Feodora
in respect of wearing shoes. After these formal preliminaries he took
up the case with some zeal. He was not at all actuated by a desire to
obtain the reward, but by pure love of justice. The thought of
securing the girl's private hoard for himself never for a moment
entered his head.
He began to make frequent calls at the widow's cottage when Feodora
was at home, when, by apparently careless conversation, he would
endeavour to draw her out; but he was commonly frustrated by her old
beast of a mother, who, when the girl's answers did not suit, would
beat her unmercifully. So he took to meeting Feodora on the highway,
and giving her coppers carefully marked. For months he kept this up
with wonderful self-sacrifice--the girl being a mere uninteresting
angel. He met her daily in the roads and forest. His patience never
wearied, his vigilance never flagged. Her most careless glances were
conscientiously noted, her lightest words treasured up in his memory.
Meanwhile (the clergyman having been unjustly acquitted) he arrested
everybody he could get his hands on. Matters went on in this way until
it was time for the grand _coup_.
The succeeding-particulars I have from the lips of Feodora herself.
When that horrid Bowstr first came to the house Feodora thought he was
rather impudent, but said, little about it to her mother--not desiring
to have her back broken. She merely avoided him as much as she dared,
he was so frightfully ugly. But she managed to endure him until he
took to waylaying her on the highway, hanging about her all day,
interfering with the customers, and walking home with her at night.
Then her dislike deepened into disgust; and but for apprehensions not
wholly unconnected with a certain crutch, she would have sent him
about his business in short order. More than a thousand million times
she told him to be off and leave her alone, but men are such
fools--particularly this one.
What made Bowstr exceptionally disagreeable was his shameless habit of
making fun of Feodora's mother, whom he declared crazy as a loon. But
the maiden bore everything as well as she could, until one day the
nasty thing put his arm about her waist and kissed her before her very
face; _then_ she felt--well, it is not clear how she felt, but of one
thing she was quite sure: after having such a shame put upon her by
this insolent brute, she would never go back under her dear mother's
roof--never. She was too proud for _that_, at any rate. So she ran
away with Mr. Bowstr, and married him.
The conclusion of this history I learned for myself.
Upon hearing of her daughter's desertion Madame Yonsmit went clean
daft. She vowed she could bear betrayal, could endure decay, could
stand being a widow, would not repine at being left alone in her old
age (whenever she should become old), and could patiently submit to
the sharper than a serpent's thanks of having a toothless child
generally. But to be a mother-in-law! No, no; that was a plane of
degradation to which she positively would _not_ descend. So she
employed me to cut her throat. It was the toughest throat I ever cut
in all my life.
* * * * *
THE LEGEND OF IMMORTAL TRUTH.
A bear, having spread him a notable feast,
Invited a famishing fox to the place.
"I've killed me," quoth he, "an edible beast
As ever distended the girdle of priest
With 'spread of religion,' or 'inward grace.'
To my den I conveyed her,
I bled her and flayed her,
I hung up her skin to dry;
Then laid her naked, to keep her cool,
On a slab of ice from the frozen pool;
And there we will eat her--you and I."
The fox accepts, and away they walk,
Beguiling the time with courteous talk.
You'd ne'er have suspected, to see them smile,
The bear was thinking, the blessed while,
How, when his guest should be off his guard,
With feasting hard,
He'd give him a "wipe" that would spoil his style.
You'd never have thought, to see them bow,
The fox was reflecting deeply how
He would best proceed, to circumvent
His host, and prig
The entire pig--
Or other bird to the same intent.
When Strength and Cunning in love combine,
Be sure 't is to more than merely dine.
The while these biters ply the lip,
A mile ahead the muse shall skip:
The poet's purpose she best may serve
Inside the den--if she have the nerve.
Behold! laid out in dark recess,
A ghastly goat in stark undress,
Pallid and still on her gelid bed,
And indisputably very dead.
Her skin depends from a couple of pins--
And here the most singular statement begins;
For all at once the butchered beast,
With easy grace for one deceased,
Upreared her head,
Looked round, and said,
Very distinctly for one so dead:
"The nights are sharp, and the sheets are thin:
I find it uncommonly cold herein!"
I answer not how this was wrought:
All miracles surpass my thought.
They're vexing, say you? and dementing?
Peace, peace! they're none of my inventing.
But lest too much of mystery
Embarrass this true history,
I'll not relate how that this goat
Stood up and stamped her feet, to inform'em
With--what's the word?--I mean, to warm'em;
Nor how she plucked her rough _capote_
From off the pegs where Bruin threw it,
And o'er her quaking body drew it;
Nor how each act could so befall:
I'll only swear she did them all;
Then lingered pensive in the grot,
As if she something had forgot,
Till a humble voice and a voice of pride
Were heard, in murmurs of love, outside.
Then, like a rocket set aflight,
She sprang, and streaked it for the light!
Ten million million years and a day
Have rolled, since these events, away;
But still the peasant at fall of night,
Belated therenear, is oft affright
By sounds of a phantom bear in flight;
A breaking of branches under the hill;
The noise of a going when all is still!
And hens asleep on the perch, they say,
Cackle sometimes in a startled way,
As if they were dreaming a dream that mocks
The lope and whiz of a fleeting fox!
Half we're taught, and teach to youth,
And praise by rote,
Is not, but merely stands for, truth.
So of my goat:
She's merely designed to represent
The truth--"immortal" to this extent:
Dead she may be, and skinned--_frappe_--
Hid in a dreadful den away;
Prey to the Churches--(any will do,
Except the Church of me and you.)
The simplest miracle, even then,
Will get her up and about again.
CONVERTING A PRODIGAL.
Little Johnny was a saving youth--one who from early infancy had
cultivated a provident habit. When other little boys were wasting
their substance in riotous gingerbread and molasses candy, investing
in missionary enterprises which paid no dividends, subscribing to the
North Labrador Orphan Fund, and sending capital out of the country
gene rally, Johnny would be sticking sixpences into the chimney-pot of
a big tin house with "BANK" painted on it in red letters above an
illusory door. Or he would put out odd pennies at appalling rates of
interest, with his parents, and bank the income. He was never weary of
dropping coppers into that insatiable chimney-pot, and leaving them
there. In this latter respect he differed notably from his elder
brother, Charlie; for, although Charles was fond of banking too, he
was addicted to such frequent runs upon the institution with a
hatchet, that it kept his parents honourably poor to purchase banks
for him; so they were reluctantly compelled to discourage the
depositing element in his panicky nature.
Johnny was not above work, either; to him "the dignity of labour" was
not a juiceless platitude, as it is to me, but a living, nourishing
truth, as satisfying and wholesome as that two sides of a triangle are
equal to one side of bacon. He would hold horses for gentlemen who
desired to step into a bar to inquire for letters. He would pursue the
fleeting pig at the behest of a drover. He would carry water to the
lions of a travelling menagerie, or do anything, for gain. He was
sharp-witted too: before conveying a drop of comfort to the parching
king of beasts, he would stipulate for six-pence instead of the usual
free ticket--or "tasting order," so to speak. He cared not a button
for the show.
The first hard work Johnny did of a morning was to look over the house
for fugitive pins, needles, hair-pins, matches, and other unconsidered
trifles; and if he sometimes found these where nobody had lost them,
he made such reparation as was in his power by losing them again where
nobody but he could find them. In the course of time, when he had
garnered a good many, he would "realize," and bank the proceeds.
Nor was he weakly superstitious, this Johnny. You could not fool _him_
with the Santa Claus hoax on Christmas Eve: he would lie awake all
night, as sceptical as a priest; and along toward morning, getting
quietly out of bed, would examine the pendent stockings of the other
children, to satisfy himself the predicted presents were not there;
and in the morning it always turned out that they were not. Then, when
the other children cried because they did not get anything, and the
parents affected surprise (as if they really believed in the venerable
fiction), Johnny was too manly to utter a whimper: he would simply
slip out of the back door, and engage in traffic with affluent
orphans; disposing of woolly horses, tin whistles, marbles, tops,
dolls, and sugar archangels, at a ruinous discount for cash. He
continued these provident courses for nine long years, always banking
his accretions with scrupulous care. Everybody predicted he would one
day be a merchant prince or a railway king; and some added he would
sell his crown to the junk-dealers.
His unthrifty brother, meanwhile, kept growing worse and worse. He was
so careless of wealth--so so wastefully extravagant of lucre--that
Johnny felt it his duty at times to clandestinely assume control of
the fraternal finances, lest the habit of squandering should wreck the
fraternal moral sense. It was plain that Charles had entered upon the
broad road which leads from the cradle to the workhouse--and that he
rather liked the travelling. So profuse was his prodigality that there
were grave suspicions as to his method of acquiring what he so openly
disbursed. There was but one opinion as to the melancholy termination
of his career--a termination which he seemed to regard as eminently
desirable. But one day, when the good pastor put it at him in so many
words, Charles gave token of some apprehension.
"Do you really think so, sir?" said he, thoughtfully; "ain't you
playin' it on me?"
"I assure you, Charles," said the good man, catching a ray of hope
from the boy's dawning seriousness, "you will certainly end your days
in a workhouse, unless you speedily abandon your course of
extravagance. There is nothing like habit--nothing!"
Charles may have thought that, considering his frequent and lavish
contributions to the missionary fund, the parson was rather hard upon
him; but he did not say so. He went away in mournful silence, and
began pelting a blind beggar with coppers.
One day, when Johnny had been more than usually provident, and Charles
proportionately prodigal, their father, having exhausted moral suasion
to no apparent purpose, determined to have recourse to a lower order
of argument: he would try to win Charles to economy by an appeal to
his grosser nature. So he convened the entire family, and,
"Johnny," said he, "do you think you have much money in your bank?
You ought to have saved a considerable sum in nine years."
Johnny took the alarm in a minute: perhaps there was some barefooted
little girl to be endowed with Sunday-school books.
"No," he answered, reflectively, "I don't think there can be much.
There's been a good deal of cold weather this winter, and you know how
metal shrinks! No-o-o, I'm sure there can't be only a little."
"Well, Johnny, you go up and bring down your bank. We'll see. Perhaps
Charles may be right, after all; and it's not worth while to save
money. I don't want a son of mine to get into a bad habit unless it
So Johnny travelled reluctantly up to his garret, and went to the
corner where his big tin bank-box had sat on a chest undisturbed for
years. He had long ago fortified himself against temptation by vowing
never to even shake it; for he remembered that formerly when Charles
used to shake his, and rattle the coins inside, he always ended by
smashing in the roof. Johnny approached his bank, and taking hold of
the cornice on either side, braced himself, gave a strong lift
upwards, and keeled over upon his back with the edifice atop of him,
like one of the figures in a picture of the great Lisbon earthquake!
There was but a single coin in it; and that, by an ingenious device,
was suspended in the centre, so that every piece popped in at the
chimney would clink upon it in passing through Charlie's little hole
into Charlie's little stocking hanging innocently beneath.
Of course restitution was out of the question; and even Johnny felt
that any merely temporal punishment would be weakly inadequate to the
demands of justice. But that night, in the dead silence of his
chamber, Johnny registered a great and solemn swear that so soon as he
could worry together a little capital, he would fling his feeble
remaining energies into the spendthrift business. And he did so.
* * * * *
FOUR JACKS AND A KNAVE.
In the "backwoods" of Pennsylvania stood a little mill. The miller
appertaining unto this mill was a Pennsylvania Dutchman--a species of
animal in which for some centuries _sauerkraut_ has been usurping the
place of sense. In Hans Donnerspiel the usurpation was not complete;
he still knew enough to go in when it rained, but he did not know
enough to stay there after the storm had blown over. Hans was known to
a large circle of friends and admirers as about the worst miller in
those parts; but as he was the only one, people who quarrelled with an
exclusively meat diet continued to patronize him. He was honest, as
all stupid people are; but he was careless. So absent-minded was he,
that sometimes when grinding somebody's wheat he would thoughtlessly
turn into the "hopper" a bag of rye, a lot of old beer-bottles, or a
basket of fish. This made the flour so peculiar, that the people about
there never knew what it was to be well a day in all their lives.
There were so many local diseases in that vicinity, that a doctor from
twenty miles away could not have killed a patient in a week.
Hans meant well; but he had a hobby--a hobby that he did not ride:
that does not express it: it rode him. It spurred him so hard, that
the poor wretch could not pause a minute to see what he was putting
into his mill. This hobby was the purchase of jackasses. He expended
all his income in this diversion, and his mill was fairly sinking
under its weight of mortgages. He had more jackasses than he had hairs
on his head, and, as a rule, they were thinner. He was no mere amateur
collector either, but a sharp discriminating _connoisseur_. He would
buy a fat globular donkey if he could not do better; but a lank shabby
one was the apple of his eye. He rolled such a one, as it were, like a
sweet morsel under his tongue.
Hans's nearest neighbour was a worthless young scamp named Jo Garvey,
who lived mainly by hunting and fishing. Jo was a sharp-witted rascal,
without a single scruple between, himself and fortune. With a tithe of
Hans's industry he might have been almost anything; but his dense
laziness always rose up like a stone wall about him, shutting him in
like a toad in a rock. The exact opposite of Hans in almost every
respect, he was notably similar in one: he had a hobby. Jo's hobby was
the selling of jackasses.
One day, while Hans's upper and nether mill-stones were making it
lively for a mingled grist of corn, potatoes, and young chickens, he
heard Joseph calling outside. Stepping to the door, he saw him holding
three halters to which were appended three donkeys.
"I say, Hans," said he, "here are three fine animals for your stud. I
have brought 'em up from the egg, and I know 'em to be first-class.
But they 're not so big as I expected, and you may have 'em for a sack
of oats each."
Hans was delighted. He had not the least doubt in the world that Joe
had stolen them; but it was a fixed principle with him never to let a
donkey go away and say he was a hard man to deal with. He at once
brought out and delivered the oats. Jo gravely examined the quality,
and placing a sack across each animal, calmly led them away.
When he had gone, it occurred to Hans that he had less oats and no
more asses than he had before.
"Tuyfel!" he exclaimed, scratching his pow; "I puy dot yackasses, und
I don't vos god 'im so mooch as I didn't haf 'im before--ain't it?"
Very much to his comfort it was, therefore, to see Jo come by next day
leading the same animals.
"Hi!" he shrieked; "you prings me to my yackasses. You gif me to my
"Oh, very well, Hans. If you want to crawfish out of a fair bargain,
all right. I'll give you back your donkeys, and you give me back my
"Yaw, yaw," assented the mollified miller; "you his von honest
shentlemans as I vos efer vent anyvhere. But I don't god ony more
oats, und you moost dake vheat, eh?"
And fetching out three sacks of wheat, he handed them over. Jo was
proceeding to lay these upon the backs of the animals; but this was
too thin for even Hans.
"Ach! you tief-veller! you leabs dis yackasses in me, und go right
avay off; odther I bust your het mid a gloob, don't it?"
So Joseph was reluctantly constrained to hang the donkeys to a fence.
While he did this, Hans was making a desperate attempt to think.
Presently he brightened up:
"Yo, how you coom by dot vheat all de dime?"
"Why, old mudhead, you gave it to me for the jacks."
"Und how you coom by dot oats pooty soon avhile ago?"
"Why, I gave that to you for them," said Joseph, pressed very hard for
"Vell, den, you goes vetch me back to dot oats so gwicker as a lamb
gedwinkle his dail--hay?"
"All right, Hans. Lend me the donkeys to carry off my wheat, and I 'll
bring back your oats on 'em."
Joseph was beginning to despair; but no objection being made, he
loaded up the grain, and made off with his docile caravan. In a
half-hour he returned with the donkeys, but of course without anything
"I zay, Yo, where is dis oats I hear zo mooch dalk aboud still?"
"Oh, curse you and your oats!" growled Jo, with simulated anger. "You
make such a fuss about a bargain, I have decided not to trade. Take
your old donkeys, and call it square!"
"Den vhere mine vheat is?"
"Now look here, Hans; that wheat is yours, is it?"
"And the donkeys are yours, eh?"
"And the wheat's been yours all the time, has it?"
"Well, so have the donkeys. I took 'em out of your pasture in the
first place. Now what have you got to complain of?"
The Dutchman reflected all over his head with' his forefinger-nail.
"Gomblain? I no gomblain ven it is all right. I zee now I vos made a
mistaken. Coom, dake a drinks."
Jo left the animals standing, and went inside, where they pledged one
another in brimming mugs of beer. Then taking Hans by the hand,
"I am sorry," said he, "we can't trade. Perhaps some other day you
will be more reasonable. Good bye!"
And Joseph departed leading away the donkeys!
Hans stood for some moments gazing after him with a complacent smile
making his fat face ridiculous. Then turning to his mill-stones, he
shook his head with an air of intense self-satisfaction:
"Py donner! Dot Yo Garfey bees a geen, shmard yockey, but he gonnot
spiel me svoppin' yackasses!"
* * * * *
DR. DEADWOOD, I PRESUME.
My name is Shandy, and this is the record of my Sentimental Journey.
Mr. Ames Jordan Gannett, proprietor's son of the "York----," with
which paper I am connected by marriage, sent me a post-card in a
sealed envelope, asking me to call at a well-known restaurant in
Regent Street. I was then at a well-known restaurant in Houndsditch. I
put on my worst and only hat, and went. I found Mr. Gannett, at
dinner, eating pease with his knife, in the manner of his countrymen.
He opened the conversation, characteristically, thus:
"Where's Dr. Deadwood?"
After several ineffectual guesses I had a happy thought. I asked him:
"Am I my brother's bar-keeper?"
Mr. Gannett pondered deeply, with his forefinger alongside his nose.
Finally he replied:
"I give it up."
He continued to eat for some moments in profound silence, as that of a
man very much in earnest. Suddenly he resumed:
"Here is a blank cheque, signed. I will send you all my father's
personal property to-morrow. Take this and find Dr. Deadwood. Find him
actually if you can, but find him. Away!"
I did as requested; that is, I took the cheque. Having supplied myself
with such luxuries as were absolutely necessary, I retired to my
lodgings. Upon my table in the centre of the room were spread some
clean white sheets of foolscap, and sat a bottle of black ink. It was
a good omen: the virgin paper was typical of the unexplored interior
of Africa; the sable ink represented the night of barbarism, or the
hue of barbarians, indifferently.
Now began the most arduous undertaking mentioned in the "York----," I
mean in history. Lighting my pipe, and fixing my eye upon the ink and
paper, I put my hands behind my back and took my departure from the
hearthrug toward the Interior. Language fails me; I throw myself upon
the reader's imagination. Before I had taken two steps, my vision
alighted upon the circular of a quack physician, which I had brought
home the day before around a bottle of hair-wash. I now saw the words,
"Twenty-one fevers!" This prostrated me for I know not how long.
Recovering, I took a step forward, when my eyes fastened themselves
upon my pen-wiper, worked into the similitude of a tiger. This
compelled me to retreat to the hearthrug for reinforcements. The
red-and-white dog displayed upon that article turned a deaf ear to my
entreaties; nothing would move him.
A torrent of rain now began falling outside, and I knew the roads were
impassable; but, chafing with impatience, I resolved upon another
advance. Cautiously proceeding _via_ the sofa, my attention fell upon
a scrap of newspaper; and, to my unspeakable disappointment, I read:
"The various tribes of the Interior are engaged in a bitter warfare."
It may have related to America, but I could not afford to hazard all
upon a guess. I made a wide _detour_ by way of the coal-scuttle, and
skirted painfully along the sideboard. All this consumed so much time
that my pipe expired in gloom, and I went back to the hearthrug to get
a match off the chimney-piece. Having done so, I stepped over to the
table and sat down, taking up the pen and spreading the paper between
myself and the ink-bottle. It was late, and something must be done.
Writing the familiar word Ujijijijijiji, I caught a neighbourly
cockroach, skewered him upon a pin, and fastened him in the centre of
the word. At this supreme moment I felt inclined to fall upon his neck
and devour him with kisses; but knowing by experience that cockroaches
are not good to eat, I restrained my feelings. Lifting my hat, I said:
"Dr. Deadwood, I presume?"
_He did not deny it!_
Seeing he was feeling sick, I gave him a bit of cheese and cheered him
up a trifle. After he was well restored,
"Tell me," said I, "is it true that the Regent's Canal falls into Lake
Michigan, thence running uphill to Omaha, as related by Ptolemy,
thence spirally to Melbourne, where it joins the delta of the Ganges
and becomes an affluent of the Albert Nicaragua, as Herodotus
HE DID NOT DENY IT!
The rest is known to the public.
* * * * *
In the city of Algammon resided the Prince Champou, who was madly
enamoured of the Lady Capilla. She returned his affection--unopened.
In the matter of back-hair the Lady Capilla was blessed even beyond
her deserts. Her natural pigtail was so intolerably long that she
employed two pages to look after it when she walked out; the one a few
yards behind her, the other at the extreme end of the line. Their
names were Dan and Beersheba, respectively.
Aside from salaries to these dependents, and quite apart from the
consideration of macassar, the possession of all this animal filament
was financially unprofitable: the hair market was buoyant, and hers
represented a large amount of idle capital. And it was otherwise a
source of annoyance and irritation; for all the young men of the city
were hotly in love with her, and skirmishing for a love-lock. They
seldom troubled Dan much, but the outlying Beersheba had an animated
time of it. He was subject to constant incursions, and was always in a
The picture I have drawn to illustrate this history shows nothing of
all these squabbles. My pen revels in the battle's din, but my
peaceful pencil loves to depict the scenes I know something about.
Although the Lady Capilla was unwilling to reciprocate the passion of
Champou the man, she was not averse to quiet interviews with Champou
the Prince. In the course of one of these (see my picture), as she sat
listening to his carefully-rehearsed and really artistic avowals, with
her tail hanging out of the window, she suddenly interrupted him:
"My dear Prince," said she, "it is all nonsense, you know, to ask for
my heart; but I am not mean; you shall have a lock of my hair."
"Do you think," replied the Prince, "that I could be so sordid as to
accept a single jewel from that glorious crown? I love this hair of
yours very dearly, I admit, but only because of its connection with
your divine head. Sever that connection, and I should value it no more
than I would a tail plucked from its native cow."
This comparison seems to me a very fine one, but tastes differ, and to
the Lady Capilla it seemed quite the reverse. Rising indignantly, she
marched away, her queue running in through the window and gradually
tapering off the interview, as it were. Prince Champou saw that he had
missed his opportunity, and resolved to repair his error. Straightway
he forged an order on Beersheba for thirty yards of love-lock. To
serve this writ he sent his business partner; for the Prince was wont
to beguile his dragging leisure by tonsorial diversions in an obscure
quarter of the town. At first Beersheba was sceptical, but when he saw
the writing in real ink, his scruples vanished, and he chopped off the
amount of souvenir demanded.
Now Champou's partner was the Court barber, and by the use of a
peculiar hair oil which the two of them had concocted, they soon
managed to balden the pates of all the male aristocracy of the place.
Then, to supply the demand so created, they devised beautiful wigs
from the Lady Capilla's lost tresses, which they sold at a marvellous
profit. And so they were enabled to retire from this narrative with
It was known that the Lady Capilla, who, since the alleged murder of
one Beersheba, had shut herself up like a hermit, or a jack-knife,
would re-enter society; and a great ball was given to do her honour.
The feauty, bank, and rashion of Algammon had assembled in the
Guildhall for that purpose. While the revelry was at its fiercest, the
dancing at its loosest, the rooms at their hottest, and the
perspiration at spring-tide, there was a sound of wheels outside,
begetting an instant hush of expectation within. The dancers ceased to
spin, and all the gentlemen crowded about the door. As the Lady
Capilla entered, these instinctively fell into two lines, and she
passed down the space between, with her little tail behind her. As the
end of the latter came into the room, the wigs of the two gentlemen
nearest the door leaped off to join their parent stem. In their haste
to recover them the two gentlemen bent eagerly forward, knocking their
shining pows together with a vehemence that shattered them like
egg-shells. The wigs of the next pair were similarly affected; and in
seeking to recover them the pair similarly perished. Then, _crack!
spat! pash!_--at every step the lady took there were two heads that
beat as one. In three minutes there was but a single living male in
the room. He was an odd one, who, having a lady opposite him, had
merely pitched himself headlong into her stomach, doubling her like a
It was merry to see the Lady Capilla floating through the mazy dance
that night, with all those wigs fighting for their old places in her
* * * * *
THE MAGICIAN'S LITTLE JOKE.
About the middle of the fifteenth century there dwelt in the Black
Forest a pretty but unfashionable young maiden named Simprella
Whiskiblote. The first of these names was hers in monopoly; the other
she enjoyed in common with her father. Simprella was the most
beautiful fifteenth-century girl I ever saw. She had coloured eyes, a
complexion, some hair, and two lips very nearly alike, which partially
covered a lot of teeth. She was gifted with the complement of legs
commonly worn at that period, supporting a body to which were loosely
attached, in the manner of her country, as many arms as she had any
use for, inasmuch as she was not required to hold baby. But all these
charms were only so many objective points for the operations of the
paternal cudgel; for this father of hers was a hard, unfeeling man,
who had no bowels of compassion for his bludgeon. He would put it to
work early, and keep it going all day; and when it was worn out with
hard service, instead of rewarding it with steady employment, he would
cruelly throw it aside and get a fresh one. It is scarcely to be
wondered at that a girl harried in this way should be driven to the
insane expedient of falling in love.
Near the neat mud cottage in which Simprella vegetated was a dense
wood, extending for miles in various directions, according to the
point from which it was viewed. By a method readily understood, it had
been so arranged that it was the next easiest thing in the world to
get into it, and the very easiest thing in the world to stay there.
In the centre of this labyrinth was a castle of the early promiscuous
order of architecture--an order which was until recently much employed
in the construction of powder-works, but is now entirely exploded. In
this baronial hall lived an eligible single party--a giant so tall he
used a step-ladder to put on his hat, and could not put his hands into
his pockets without kneeling. He lived entirely alone, and gave
himself up to the practice of iniquity, devising prohibitory liquor
laws, imposing the income tax, and drinking shilling claret. But,
seeing Simprella one day, he bent himself into the form of a
horse-shoe magnet to look into her eyes. Whether it was his magnetic
attitude acting upon a young heart steeled by adversity, or his
chivalric forbearance in not eating her, I know not: I only know that
from that moment she became riotously enamoured of him; and the reader
may accept either the scientific or the popular explanation, according
to the bent of his mind.
She at once asked the giant in marriage, and obtained the consent of
his parents by betraying her father into their hands; explaining to
them, however, that he was not good to eat, but might be drunk on the
The marriage proved a very happy one, but the household duties of the
bride were extremely irksome. It fatigued her to dress the beeves for
dinner; it nearly broke her back to black her lord's boots without any
scaffolding. It took her all day to perform any kindly little office
for him. But she bore it all uncomplainingly, until one morning he
asked her to part his back hair; then the bent sapling of her spirit
flew up and hit him in the face. She gathered up some French novels,
and retired to a lonely tower to breathe out her soul in unavailing
One day she saw below her in the forest a dear gazelle, gladding her
with its soft black eye. She leaned out of the window, and said
_Scat!_ The animal did not move. Then she waved her arms--above
described--and said _Shew!_ This time he did not move as much as he
did before. Simprella decided he must have a bill against her; so she
closed her shutters, drew down the blind, and pinned the curtains
together. A moment later she opened them and peeped out. Then she went
down to examine his collar, that she might order one like it.
When the gazelle saw Simprella approach, he arose, and, beckoning with
his tail, made off slowly into the wood. Then Simprella perceived this
was a supernatural gazelle--a variety now extinct, but which then
pervaded the Schwarzwald in considerable quantity--sent by some good
magician, who owed the giant a grudge, to pilot her out of the forest.
Nothing could exceed her joy at this discovery: she whistled a dirge,
sang a Latin hymn, and preached a funeral discourse all in one breath.
Such were the artless methods by which the full heart in the fifteenth
century was compelled to express its gratitute for benefits; the
advertising columns of the daily papers were not then open to the
All would now have been well, but for the fact that it was not. In
following her deliverer, Simprella observed that his golden collar was
inscribed with the mystic words--HANDS OFF! She tried hard to obey the
injunction; she did her level best; she--but why amplify? Simprella
was a woman.
No sooner had her fingers touched the slender chain depending from the
magic collar, than the poor animal's eyes emitted twin tears, which
coursed silently but firmly down his nose, vacating it more in sorrow
than in anger. Then he looked up reproachfully into her face. Those
were his first tears--this was his last look. In two minutes by the
watch he was blind as a mole!
There is but little more to tell. The giant ate himself to death; the
castle mouldered and crumbled into pig-pens; empires rose and fell;
kings ascended their thrones, and got down again; mountains grew grey,
and rivers bald-headed; suits in chancery were brought and decided,
and those from the tailor were paid for; the ages came, like maiden
aunts, uninvited, and lingered till they became a bore--and still
Simprella, with the magician's curse upon her, conducted her sightless
guide through the interminable wilderness!
To all others the labyrinth had yielded up its clue. The hunter
threaded its maze; the woodman plunged confidently into its innermost
depths; the peasant child gathered ferns unscared in its sunless
dells. But often the child abandoned his botany in terror, the woodman
bolted for home, and the hunter's heart went down into his boots, at
the sight of a fair young spectre leading a blind phantom through the
silent glades. I saw them there in 1860, while I was gunning. I shot
My envious rivals have always sought to cast discredit upon the
following tale, by affirming that mere unadorned truth does not
constitute a work of literary merit. Be it so: I care not what they
call it. A rose with any other smell would be as sweet.
In the autumn of 1868 I wanted to go from Sacramento, California, to
San Francisco. I at once went to the railway office and bought a
ticket, the clerk telling me that would take me there. But when I
tried it, it wouldn't. Vainly I laid it on the railway and sat down
upon it: it would not move; and every few minutes an engine would come
along and crowd me off the track. I never travelled by so badly
managed a line!
I then resolved to go by way of the river, and took passage on a
steamboat. The engineer of this boat had once been a candidate for the
State Legislature while I was editing a newspaper. Stung to madness by
the arguments I had advanced against his election (which consisted
mainly in relating how that his cousin was hanged for horse-stealing,
and how that his sister had an intolerable squint which a free people
could never abide), he had sworn to be revenged. After his defeat I
had confessed the charges were false, so far as he personally was
concerned, but this did not seem to appease him. He declared he would
"get even on me," and he did: he blew up the boat.
Being thus summarily set ashore, I determined that I would be
independent of common carriers destitute of common courtesy. I
purchased a wooden box, just large enough to admit one, and not
transferable. I lay down in this, double-locked it on the outside, and
carrying it to the river, launched it upon the watery waste. The box,
I soon discovered, had an hereditary tendency to turn over. I had
parted my hair in the middle before embarking, but the precaution was
inadequate; it secured not immunity, only impartiality, the box
turning over one way as readily as the other. I could counteract this
evil only by shifting my tobacco from cheek to cheek, and in this way
I got on tolerably well until my navy sprang a leak near the stern.
I now began to wish I had not locked down the cover; I could have got
out and walked ashore. But it was childish to give way to foolish
regrets; so I lay perfectly quiet, and yelled. Presently I thought of
my jack-knife. By this time the ship was so water-logged as to be a
little more stable. This enabled me to get the knife from my pocket
without upsetting more than six or eight times, and inspired hope.
Taking the whittle between my teeth, I turned over upon my stomach,
and cut a hole through the bottom near the bow. Turning back again, I
awaited the result. Most men would have awaited the result, I think,
if they could not have got out. For some time there was no result. The
ship was too deeply laden astern, where my feet were, and water will
not run up hill unless it is paid to do it. But when I called in all
my faculties for a good earnest think, the weight of my intellect
turned the scale. It was like a cargo of pig-lead in the forecastle.
The water, which for nearly an hour I had kept down by drinking it as
it rose about my lips, began to run out at the hole I had scuttled,
faster than it could be admitted at the one in the stern; and in a few
moments the bottom was so dry you might have lighted a match upon it,
if you had been there, and obtained the captain's permission.
I was all right now. I had got into San Pablo Bay, where it was all
plain sailing. If I could manage to keep off the horizon I should be
somewhere before daylight. But a new annoyance was in store for me.
The steamboats on these waters are constructed of very frail
materials, and whenever one came into collision with my flotilla, she
immediately sank. This was most exasperating, for the piercing shrieks
of the hapless crews and passengers prevented my getting any sleep.
Such disagreeable voices as these people had would have tortured an
ear of corn. I felt as if I would like to step out and beat them
soft-headed with a club; though of course I had not the heart to do
so while the padlock held fast.
The reader, if he is obliging, will remember that there was formerly
an obstruction in the harbour of San Francisco, called Blossom Rock,
which was some fathoms under water, but not fathoms enough to suit
shipmasters. It was removed by an engineer named Von Schmidt. This
person bored a hole in it, and sent down some men who gnawed out the
whole interior, leaving the rock a mere shell. Into this drawing-room
suite were inserted thirty tons of powder, ten barrels of
nitro-glycerine, and a woman's temper. Von Schmidt then put in
something explosive, and corked up the opening, leaving a long wire
hanging out. When all these preparations were complete, the
inhabitants of San Francisco came out to see the fun. They perched
thickly upon Telegraph Hill from base to summit; they swarmed
innumerable upon the beach; the whole region was black with them. All
that day they waited, and came again the next. Again they were
disappointed, and again they returned full of hope. For three long
weeks they did nothing but squat upon that eminence, looking fixedly
at the wrong place. But when it transpired that Von Schmidt had
hastily left the State directly he had completed his preparations,
leaving the wire floating in the water, in the hope that some
electrical eel might swim against it and ignite the explosives, the
people began to abate their ardour, and move out of town. They said it
might be a good while before a qualified gymnotus would pass that way,
although the State Ichthyologer assured them that he had put some
eels' eggs into the head waters of the Sacramento River not two weeks
previously. But the country was very beautiful at that time of the
year, and the people would not wait. So when the explosion really
occurred, there wasn't anybody in the vicinity to witness it. It was a
stupendous explosion all the same, as the unhappy gymnotus discovered
to his cost.
Now, I have often thought that if this mighty convulsion had occurred
a year or two earlier than it really did, it would have been bad for
me as I floated idly past, unconscious of danger. As it was, my little
bark was carried out into the broad Pacific, and sank in ten thousand
fathoms of the coldest water!--it makes my teeth chatter to relate it!
* * * * *
TONY ROLLO'S CONCLUSION.
To a degree unprecedented in the Rollo family, of Illinois, Antony was
an undutiful son. He was so undutiful that he may be said to have been
preposterous. There were seven other sons--Antony was the eldest. His
younger brothers were a nice, well-behaved bevy of boys as ever you
saw. They always attended Sunday School regularly; arriving just
before the Doxology (I think Sunday School exercises terminate that
way), and sitting in a solemn row on a fence outside, waiting with
pious patience for the girls to come forth; then they walked home with
them as far as their respective gates. They were an obedient seven,
too; they knew well enough the respect due to paternal authority, and
when their father told them what was what, and which side up it ought
to lie, they never tarried until he had more than picked up a hickory
cudgel before tacitly admitting the correctness of the riper judgment.
Had the old gentleman commanded the digging of seven graves, and the
fabrication of seven board coffins to match, these necessaries would
have been provided with unquestioning alacrity.
But Antony, I bleed to state, was of an impractical, pensive turn. He
despised industry, scoffed at Sunday-schooling, set up a private
standard of morals, and rebelled against natural authority. He
wouldn't be a dutiful son--not for money! He had no natural
affections, and loved nothing so well as to sit and think. He was
tolerably thoughtful all the time; but with some farming implement in
his hand he came out strong. He has been known to take an axe between
his knees, and sit on a stump in a "clearing" all day, wrapt in a
single continuous meditation. And when interrupted by the
interposition of night, or by the superposition of the paternal
hickory, he would resume the meditation, next day, precisely where he
left off, going on, and on, and on, in one profound and inscrutable
think. It was a common remark in the neighbourhood that "If Tony Rollo
didn't let up, he'd think his ridiculous white head off!" And on
divers occasions when the old man's hickory had fallen upon that
fleecy globe with unusual ardour, Tony really did think it off--until
the continued pain convinced him it was there yet.
You would like to know what Tony was thinking of, all these years.
That is what they all wanted to know; but he didn't seem to tell. When
the subject was mentioned he would always try to get away; and if he
could not avoid a direct question, he would blush and stammer in so
distressing a confusion that the doctor forbade all allusion to the
matter, lest the young man should have a convulsion. It was clear
enough, however, that the subject of Tony's meditation was "more than
average inter_est_in'," as his father phrased it; for sometimes he
would give it so grave consideration that observers would double their
anxiety about the safety of his head, which he seemed in danger of
snapping off with solemn nods; and at other times he would laugh
immoderately, smiting his thigh or holding his sides in uncontrollable
merriment. But it went on without abatement, and without any
disclosure; went on until his poor mother's curiosity had worried her
grey hairs in sorrow to the grave; went on until his father, having
worn out all the hickory saplings on the place, had made a fair
beginning upon the young oaks; went on until all the seven brothers,
having married a Sunday-school girl each, had erected comfortable
log-houses upon outlying corners of the father-in-legal farms; on, and
ever on, until Tony was forty years of age! This appeared to be a
turning-point in Tony's career--at this time a subtle change stole
into his life, affecting both his inner and his outer self: he worked
less than formerly, and thought a good deal more!
Years afterwards, when the fraternal seven were well-to-do
freeholders, with clouds of progeny, making their hearts light and
their expenses heavy--when the old homestead was upgrown with rank
brambles, and the live-stock long extinct--when the aged father had so
fallen into the sere and yellow leaf that he couldn't hit hard enough
to hurt--Tony, the mere shadow of his former self, sat, one evening,
in the chimney corner, thinking very hard indeed. His father and three
or four skeleton hounds were the only other persons present; the old
gentleman quietly shelling a peck of Indian corn given by a grateful
neighbour whose cow he had once pulled out of the mire, and the hounds
thinking how cheerfully they would have assisted him had Nature
kindly made them graminivorous. Suddenly Tony spake.
"Father," said he, looking straight across the top of the axe-handle
which he held between his knees as a mental stimulant, "father, I've
been thinking of something a good bit lately."
"Jest thirty-five years, Tony, come next Thanksgiving," replied the
old man, promptly, in a thin asthmatic falsetto. "I recollect your
mother used to say it dated from the time your Aunt Hannah was here
with the girls."
"Yes, father, I think it may be a matter of thirty-five years; though
it don't seem so long, does it? But I've been thinking harder for the
last week or two, and I'm going to speak out."
Unbounded amazement looked out at the old man's eyes; his tongue,
utterly unprepared for the unexpected contingency, refused its office;
a corncob imperfectly denuded dropped from his nerveless hand, and was
critically examined, in turn, by the gossamer dogs, hoping against
hope. A smoking brand in the fireplace fell suddenly upon a bed of hot
coals, where, lacking the fortitude of Guatimozin, it emitted a
sputtering protest, followed by a thin flame like a visible agony. In
the resulting light Tony's haggard face shone competitively with a
ruddy blush, which spread over his entire scalp, to the imminent
danger of firing his flaxen hair.
"Yes, father," he answered, making a desperate clutch at calmness, but
losing his grip, "I'm going to make a clean breast of it this time,
for sure! Then you can do what you like about it."
The paternal organ of speech found sufficient strength to grind out an
intimation that the paternal ear was open for business.
"I've studied it all over, father; I've looked at it from every side;
I've been through it with a lantern! And I've come to the conclusion
that, seeing as I'm the oldest, it's about time I was beginning to
think of getting married!"
* * * * *
NO CHARGE FOR ATTENDANCE.
Near the road leading from Deutscherkirche to Lagerhaus may be seen
the ruins of a little cottage. It never was a very pretentious pile,
but it has a history. About the middle of the last century it was
occupied by one Heinrich Schneider, who was a small farmer--so small a
farmer his clothes wouldn't fit him without a good deal of taking-in.
But Heinrich Schneider was young. He had a wife, however--most small
farmers have when young. They were rather poor: the farm was just
large enough to keep them comfortably hungry.
Schneider was not literary in his taste; his sole reading was an old
dog's-eared copy of the "Arabian Nights" done into German, and in that
he read nothing but the story of "Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp."
Upon his five hundredth perusal of that he conceived a valuable idea:
he would rub _his_ lamp and _corral_ a Genie! So he put a thick
leather glove on his right hand, and went to the cupboard to get out
the lamp. He had no lamp. But this disappointment, which would have
been instantly fatal to a more despondent man, was only an agreeable
stimulus to him. He took out an old iron candle-snuffer, and went to
work upon that.
Now, iron is very hard; it requires more rubbing than any other metal.
I once chafed a Genie out of an anvil, but I was quite weary before I
got him all out; the slightest irritation of a leaden water-pipe would
have fetched the same Genie out of it like a rat from his hole. But
having planted all his poultry, sown his potatoes, and set out his
wheat, Heinrich had the whole summer before him, and he was patient;
he devoted all his time to compelling the attendance of the
When the autumn came, the good wife reaped the chickens, dug out the
apples, plucked the pigs and other cereals; and a wonderfully abundant
harvest it was. Schneider's crops had flourished amazingly. That was
because he did not worry them all summer with agricultural implements.
One evening when the produce had been stored, Heinrich sat at his
fireside operating upon his candle-snuffer with the same simple faith
as in the early spring. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and
the expected Genie put in an appearance. His advent begot no little
surprise in the good couple.
He was a very substantial incarnation, indeed, of the Supernatural.
About eight feet in length, extremely fat, thick-limbed, ill-favoured,
heavy of movement, and generally unpretty, he did not at first sight
impress his new master any too favourably.
However, he was given a stool at the fireside, and Heinrich plied him
with a multitude of questions: Where did he come from? whom had he
last served? how did he like Aladdin? and did he think _they_ should
get on well? To all these queries the Genie returned evasive answers;
he was Delphic to the verge of unintelligibility. He would only nod
mysteriously, muttering beneath his breath in some unknown tongue,
probably Arabic--in which, however, his master thought he could
distinguish the words "roast" and "boiled" with significant
frequency. This Genie must have served last in the capacity of cook.
This was a gratifying discovery: for the next four months or so there
would be nothing to do about the farm; the Slave could prepare the
family meals during the winter, and in the spring go regularly to
work. Schneider was too shrewd to risk everything by extravagant
demands all at once. He remembered the roc's egg of the legend, and
thought he would proceed with caution. So the good couple brought out
their cooking utensils, and by pantomime inducted the Slave into the
mystery of their use. They showed him the larder, the cellars, the
granary, the chicken-coops, and everything. He appeared interested and
intelligent, apprehended the salient points of the situation with
marvellous ease, and nodded like he would drop his big head off--did
everything but talk.
After this the _frau_ prepared the evening meal, the Genie assisting
very satisfactorily, except that his notions of quantity were rather
too liberal; perhaps this was natural in one accustomed to palaces and
courts. When all was on the table, by way of testing his Slave's
obedience Heinrich sat down at the board and carelessly rubbed the
candle-snuffer. The Genie was there in a second! Not only so, but he
fell upon the viands with an ardour and sincerity that were alarming.
In two minutes he had got away with everything on the table. The
rapidity with which that spirit crowded all manner of edibles into his
neck was simply shocking!
Having finished his repast he stretched himself before the fire and
went to sleep. Heinrich and Barbara were depressed in spirit; they sat
up until nearly morning in silence, waiting for the Genie to vanish
for the night; but he did not perceptibly vanish any. Moreover, he had
not vanished next morning; he had risen with the lark, and was
preparing breakfast, having made his estimates upon a basis of most
immoderate consumption. To this he soon sat down with the same
catholicity of appetite that had distinguished him the previous
evening. Having bolted this preposterous breakfast he arrayed his fat
face in a sable scowl, beat his master with a stewpan, stretched
himself before the fire, and again addressed himself to sleep. Over a
furtive and clandestine meal in the larder, Heinrich and Barbara
confessed themselves thoroughly heart-sick of the Supernatural.
"I told you so," said he; "depend upon it, patient industry is a
thousand per cent. better than this invisible agency. I will now take
the fatal candle-snuffer a mile from here, rub it real hard, fling it
aside, and run away."
But he didn't. During the night ten feet of snow had fallen. It lay
all winter too.
Early the next spring there emerged from that cottage by the wayside
the unstable framework of a man dragging through seas of melting snow
a tottering female of dejected aspect. Forlorn, crippled, famishing,
and discouraged, these melancholy relics held on their way until they
came to a cross-roads (all leading to Lagerhaus), where they saw
clinging to an upright post the tatter of an old placard. It read as
LOST, strayed, or stolen, from Herr Schaackhofer's Grand
Museum, the celebrated Patagonian Giant, Ugolulah. Height 8 ft.
2 in., elegant figure, handsome, intelligent features,
sprightly and vivacious in conversation, of engaging address,
temperate in diet, harmless and tractable in disposition.
Answers to the nickname of Fritz Sneddeker. Any one returning
him to Herr Schaackhofer will receive Seven Thalers Reward, and
no questions asked.
It was a tempting offer, but they did not go back for the giant. But
he was afterwards discovered sleeping sweetly upon the hearthstone,
after a hearty meal of empty barrels and boxes. Being secured he was
found to be too fat for egress by the door. So the house was pulled
down to let him out; and that is how it happens to be in ruins now.
* * * * *
Dan Golby held up his hand to enjoin silence; in a breath we were as
quiet as mice. Then it came again, borne upon the night wind from away
somewhere in the darkness toward the mountains, across miles of
treeless plain--a low, dismal, sobbing sound, like the wail of a
strangling child! It was nothing but the howl of a wolf, and a wolf is
about the last thing a man who knows the cowardly beast would be
afraid of; but there was something so weird and unearthly in this "cry
between the silences"--something so banshee-like in its suggestion of
the grave--that, old mountaineers that we were, and long familiar with
it, we felt an instinctive dread--a dread which was not fear, but only
a sense of utter solitude and desolation. There is no sound known to
mortal ear that has in it so strange a power upon the imagination as
the night-howl of this wretched beast, heard across the dreary wastes
of the desert he disgraces.
Involuntarily we drew nearer together, and some one of the party
stirred the fire till it sent up a tall flame, widening the black
circle shutting us in on all sides. Again rose the faint far cry, and
was answered by one fainter and more far in the opposite quarter.
Then another, and yet another, struck in--a dozen, a hundred all at
once; and in three minutes the whole invisible outer world seemed to
consist mainly of wolves, jangled out of tune by some convulsion of
About this time it was a pleasing study to watch the countenance of
Old Nick. This party had joined us at Fort Benton, whither he had come
on a steamboat, up the Missouri. This was his maiden venture upon the
plains, and his habit of querulous faultfinding had, on the first day
out, secured him the _sobriquet_ of Old Pernicketty, which the
attrition of time had worn down to Old Nick. He knew no more of wolves
and other animals than a naturalist, and he was now a trifle
frightened. He was crouching beside his saddle and kit, listening with
all his soul, his hands suspended before him with divergent fingers,
his face ashy pale, and his jaw hanging unconsidered below.
Suddenly Dan Golby, who had been watching him with an amused smile,
assumed a grave aspect, listened a moment very intently, and remarked:
"Boys, if I didn't _know_ those were wolves, I should say we'd better
get out of this."
"Eh?" exclaimed Nick, eagerly; "if you did not know they were
_wolves_? Why, what else, and what worse, could they be?"
"Well, there's an innocent!" replied Dan, winking slyly at the rest of
us. "Why, they _might_ be Injuns, of course. Don't you know, you old
bummer, that that's the way the red devils run a surprise party? Don't
you know that when you hear a parcel of wolves letting on like that,
at night, it's a hundred to one they carry bows and arrows?"
Here one or two old hunters on the opposite side of the fire, who had
not caught Dan's precautionary wink, laughed good-humouredly, and made
derisive comments. At this Dan seemed much vexed, and getting up, he
strode over to them to argue it out. It was surprising how easily they
were brought round to his way of thinking!
By this time Old Nick was thoroughly perturbed. He fidgeted about,
examining his rifle and pistols, tightened his belt, and looked in the
direction of his horse. His anxiety became so painful that he did not
attempt to conceal it. Upon our part, we affected to partially share
it. One of us finally asked Dan if he was quite _sure_ they were
wolves. Then Dan listened a long time with his ear to the ground,
after which he said, hesitatingly:
"Well, no; there's no such thing as _absolute_ certainty, I suppose;
but I _think_ they're wolves. Still, there's no harm in being ready
for anything--always well to be ready, I suppose."
Nick needed nothing more; he pounced upon his saddle and bridle, slung
them upon his mustang, and had everything snug in less time than it
takes to tell it. The rest of the party were far too comfortable to
co-operate with Dan to any considerable extent; we contented ourselves
with making a show of examining our weapons. All this time the wolves,
as is their way when attracted by firelight, were closing in,
clamouring like a legion of fiends. If Nick had known that a single
pistol-shot would have sent them scampering away for dear life, I
presume he would have fired one; as it was, he had Indian on the
brain, and just stood by his horse, quaking till his teeth rattled
like dice in a box.
"No," pursued the implacable Dan, "these _can't_ be Injuns; for if
they were, we should, perhaps, hear an owl or two among them. The
chiefs sometimes hoot, owl-fashion, just to let the rabble know
they're standing up to the work like men, and to show where they are."
It took us all by surprise. Nick made one spring and came down astride
his sleepy mustang, with force enough to have crushed a smaller beast.
We all rose to our feet, except Jerry Hunker, who was lying flat on
his stomach, with his head buried in his arms, and whom we had thought
sound asleep. One look at _him_ reassured us as to the "owl" business,
and we settled back, each man pretending to his neighbour that he had
got up merely for effect upon Nick.
That man was now a sight to see. He sat in his saddle gesticulating
wildly, and imploring us to get ready. He trembled like a jelly-fish.
He took out his pistols, cocked them, and thrust them so back into the
holsters, without knowing what he was about. He cocked his rifle,
holding it with the muzzle directed anywhere, but principally our way;
grasped his bowie-knife between his teeth, and cut his tongue trying
to talk; spurred his nag into the fire, and backed him out across our
blankets; and finally sat still, utterly unnerved, while we roared
with the laughter we could no longer suppress.
_Hwissss! pft! swt! cheew!_ Bones of Caesar! The arrows flitted and
clipt amongst us like a flight of bats! Dan Golby threw a
double-summersault, alighting on his head. Dory Durkee went smashing
into the fire. Jerry Hunker was pinned to the sod where he lay fast
asleep. Such dodging and ducking, and clawing about for weapons I
never saw. And such genuine Indian yelling--it chills my marrow to
write of it!
Old Nick vanished like a dream; and long before we could find our
tools and get to work we heard the desultory reports of his pistols
exploding in his holsters, as his pony measured off the darkness
between us and safety.
For some fifteen minutes we had tolerable warm work of it,
individually, collectively, and miscellaneously; single-handed, and
one against a dozen; struggling with painted savages in the firelight,
and with one another in the dark; shooting the living, and stabbing
the dead; stampeding our horses, and fighting _them_; battling with
anything that would battle, and smashing our gunstocks on whatever
When all was done--when we had renovated our fire, collected our
horses, and got our dead into position--we sat down to talk it over.
As we sat there, cutting up our clothing for bandages, digging the
poisoned arrow-heads out of our limbs, readjusting our scalps, or
swapping them for such vagrant ones as there was nobody to identify,
we could not help smiling to think how we had frightened Old Nick. Dan
Golby, who was sinking rapidly, whispered that "it was the one sweet
memory he had to sustain and cheer him in crossing the dark river into
everlasting f----." It is uncertain how Dan would have finished that
last word; he may have meant "felicity"--he may have meant "fire." It
is nobody's business.
* * * * *
He was a dwarf, was Juniper. About the time of his birth Nature was
executing a large order for prime giants, and had need of all her
materials. Juniper infested the wooded interior of Norway, and dwelt
in a cave--a miserable hole in which a blind bat in a condition of
sempiternal torpor would have declined to hibernate, rent-free.
Juniper was such a feeble little wretch, so inoffensive in his way of
life, so modest in his demeanour, that every one was disposed to love
him like a cousin; there was not enough of him to love like a brother.
He, too, was inclined to return the affection; he was too weak to love
very hard, but he made the best stagger at it he could. But a singular
fatality prevented a perfect communion of soul between him and his
neighbours. A strange destiny had thrown its shadow upon him, which
made it cool for him in summer. There was a divinity that shaped his
ends extremely rough, no matter how he hewed them.
Somewhere in that vicinity lived a monstrous bear--a great hulking
obnoxious beast who had no more soul than tail. This rascal had
somehow conceived a notion that the appointed function of his
existence was the extermination of the dwarf. If you met the latter
you might rely with cheerful confidence upon seeing the ferocious
brute in eager pursuit of him in less than a minute. No sooner would
Juniper fairly accost you, looking timidly over his shoulder the
while, than the raging savage would leap out of some contiguous jungle
and make after him like a locomotive engine too late for the train.
Then poor Juniper would streak it for the nearest crowd of people,
diving and dodging amongst their shins with nimble skill, shrieking
all the time like a panther. He was as earnest about it as if he had
made a bet upon the result of the race. Of course everybody was too
busy to stop, but in his blind terror the dwarf would single out some
luckless wight--commonly some well-dressed person; Juniper
instinctively sought the protection of the aristocracy--getting
behind him, ducking between his legs, surrounding him, dancing through
him--doing anything to save the paltry flitch of his own bacon.
Presently the bear would lose all patience and nip the other fellow.
Then, ashamed of losing his temper, he would sneak sullenly away,
taking along the body. When he had gone, poor Juniper would fall upon
his knees, tearing his beard, pounding his breast, and crying _Mea
culpa_ in deep remorse. Afterwards he would pay a visit of condolence
to the bereaved relations and offer to pay the funeral expenses; but
of course there never were any funeral expenses. Everybody, as before
stated, liked the unhappy dwarf, but nobody liked the company he kept,
and people were not at home to him as a rule. Whenever he came into a
village traffic was temporarily suspended, and he was made the centre
of as broad a solitude as could be hastily improvised.
Many were the attempts to capture the terrible beast; hundreds of the
country people would assemble to hunt him with guns and dogs. But even
the dogs seemed to have an instinctive sense of some occult connection
between him and the dwarf, and could never be made to understand that
it was the former that was wanted. Directly they were laid on the
scent they would forsake it to invest the dwarf's abode; and it was
with much difficulty the pitying huntsmen could induce them to raise
the siege. Things went on in this unsatisfactory fashion for years;
the population annually decreasing, and Juniper making the most
Now there resided in a small village near by, a brace of twins; little
orphan girls, named Jalap and Ginseng. Their considerate neighbours
had told them such pleasing tales about the bear that they decided to
leave the country. So they got their valuables together in a box and
set out. They met Juniper! He approached to inform them it was a fine
morning, when the great beast of a bear "rose like the steam of rich
distilled perfume" from the earth in front of them, and made a mouth
at him. Juniper did not run, as might have been expected; he stood for
a moment peering into the brute's cavernous jaws, and then flew! He
absented himself with such extraordinary nimbleness that after he was
a mile distant his image appeared to be standing there yet; and
looking back he saw it himself. Baffled of his dwarf, the bear thought
he would make a shift to get on, for the present, with an orphan. So
he picked up Jalap by her middle, and thoughtfully withdrew.
The thankful but disgusted Ginseng continued her emigration, but soon
missed the jewel-box, which in their alarm had been dropped and burst
asunder. She did not much care for the jewels, but it contained some
valuable papers, among them the "Examiner" (a print which once had the
misfortune to condemn a book written by the author of this tale) and
this she doted on. Returning for her property, she peered cautiously
around the angle of a rock, and saw a spectacle that begot in her mind
a languid interest. The bear had returned upon a similar mission; he
was calmly distending his cheeks with the contents of the broken box.
And perched on a rock near at hand sat Juniper waiting for him!
It was natural that a suspicion of collusion between the two should
dawn upon that infant's mind. It did dawn; it brightened and broadened
into the perfect day of conviction. It was a revelation to the child.
"At that moment," said she afterwards, "I felt that I could lay my
finger on the best-trained bear in Christendom." But with praiseworthy
moderation she controlled herself and didn't do it; she just stood
still and allowed the beast to proceed. Having stored all the jewels
in his capacious mouth, he began taking in the valuable papers. First
some title-deeds disappeared; then some railway bonds; presently a
roll of rent-receipts. All these seemed to be as honey to his tongue;
he smiled a smile of tranquil happiness. Finally the newspaper
vanished into his face like a wisp of straw drawn into a threshing
Then the brute expanded his mouth with a ludicrous gape, spilling out
the jewels, a glittering shower. Then he snapped his jaws like a steel
trap afflicted with _tetanus_, and stood on his head awhile. Next he
made a feeble endeavour to complicate the relations between his
parts--to tie himself into a love-knot. Failing in this he lay flat
upon his side, wept, retched, and finally, fashioning his visage into
the semblance of sickly grin, gave up the ghost. I don't know what he
died of; I suppose it was hereditary in his family.
The guilty come always to grief. Juniper was arrested, charged with
conspiracy to kill, tried, convicted, sentenced to be hanged, and
before the sun went down was pardoned. In searching his cavern the
police discovered countless human bones, much torn clothing, and a
mighty multitude of empty purses. But nothing of any value--not an
article of any value. It was a mystery what Juniper had done with his
ill-gotten valuables. The police confessed it was a mystery!
* * * * *
FOLLOWING THE SEA.
At the time of "the great earthquake of '68," I was at Arica, Peru. I
have not a map by me, and am not certain that Arica is not in Chili,
but it can't make much difference; there was earthquake all along
there. As nearly as I can remember it occured in August--about the
middle of August, 1869 or '70.
Sam Baxter was with me; I think we had gone from San Francisco to make
a railway, or something. On the morning of the 'quake, Sam and I had
gone down to the beach to bathe. We had shed our boots and begun to
moult, when there was a slight tremor of the earth, as if the elephant
who supports it were pushing upwards, or lying down and getting up
again. Next, the surges, which were flattening themselves upon the
sand and dragging away such small trifles as they could lay hold of,
began racing out seaward, as if they had received a telegraphic
dispatch that somebody was not expected to live. This was needless,
for _we_ did not expect to live.
When the sea had receded entirely out of sight, we started after it;
for it will be remembered we had come to bathe; and bathing without
some kind of water is not refreshing in a hot climate. I have heard
that bathing in asses' milk is invigorating, but at that time I had no
dealings with other authors. I have had no dealings with them since.
For the first four or five miles the walking was very difficult,
although the grade was tolerably steep. The ground was soft, there
were tangled forests of sea-weed, old rotting ships, rusty anchors,
human skeletons, and a multitude of things to impede the pedestrian.
The floundering sharks bit our legs as we toiled past them, and we
were constantly slipping down upon the flat fish strewn about like
orange-peel on a sidewalk. Sam, too, had stuffed his shirt-front with
such a weight of Spanish doubloons from the wreck of an old galleon,
that I had to help him across all the worst places. It was very
Presently, away on the western horizon, I saw the sea coming back. It
occurred to me then that I did not wish it to come back. A tidal wave
is nearly always wet, and I was now a good way from home, with no
means of making a fire.
The same was true of Sam, but he did not appear to think of it in that
way. He stood quite still a moment with his eyes fixed on the
advancing line of water; then turned to me, saying, very earnestly:
"Tell you what, William; I never wanted a ship so bad from the cradle
to the grave! I would give m-o-r-e for a ship!--more than for all the
railways and turnpikes you could scare up! I'd give more than a
hundred, thousand, million dollars! I would--I'd give all I'm worth,
and all my Erie shares, for--just--one--little--ship!"
To show how lightly he could part with his wealth, he lifted his shirt
out of his trousers, unbosoming himself of his doubloons, which
tumbled about his feet, a golden storm.
By this time the tidal wave was close upon us. Call _that_ a wave! It
was one solid green wall of water, higher than Niagara Falls,
stretching as far as we could see to right and left, without a break
in its towering front! It was by no means clear what we ought to do.
The moving wall showed no projections by means of which the most
daring climber could hope to reach the top. There was no ivy; there
were no window-ledges. Stay!--there was the lightning-conductor! No,
there wasn't any lightning-conductor. Of course, not!
Looking despairingly upward, I made a tolerably good beginning at
thinking of all the mean actions I had wrought in the flesh, when I
saw projecting beyond the crest of the wave a ship's bowsprit, with a
man sitting on it, reading a newspaper! Thank fortune, we were saved!
Falling upon our knees with tearful gratitude, we got up again and
ran--ran as fast as we could, I suspect; for now the whole fore-part
of the ship bulged through the water directly above our heads, and
might lose its balance any moment. If we had only brought along our
I shouted to the man on the bowsprit to drop us a line. He merely
replied that his correspondence was already very onerous, and he
hadn't any pen and ink.
Then I told him I wanted to get aboard. He said I would find one on
the beach, about three leagues to the south'ard, where the "Nancy
Tucker" went ashore.
At these replies I was disheartened. It was not so much that the man
withheld assistance, as that he made puns. Presently, however, he
folded his newspaper, put it carefully away in his pocket, went and
got a line, and let it down to us just as we were about to give up the
race. Sam made a lunge at it, and got it--right into his side! For the
fiend above had appended a shark-hook to the end of the line--which
was _his_ notion of humour. But this was no time for crimination and
recrimination. I laid hold of Sam's legs, the end of the rope was
passed about the capstan, and as soon as the men on board had had a
little grog, we were hauled up. I can assure you that it was no fine
experience to go up in that way, close to the smooth vertical front of
water, with the whales tumbling out all round and above us, and the
sword-fishes nosing us pointedly with vulgar curiosity.
We had no sooner set foot on deck, and got Sam disengaged from the
hook, than the purser stepped up with book and pencil.
We told him we hadn't any tickets, and he ordered us to be set ashore
in a boat. It was represented to him that this was quite impossible
under the circumstances; but he replied that he had nothing to do with
circumstances--did not know anything about circumstances. Nothing
would move him till the captain, who was a really kind-hearted man,
came on deck and knocked him overboard with a spare topmast. We were
now stripped of our clothing, chafed all over with stiff brushes,
rolled on our stomachs, wrapped in flannels, laid before a hot stove
in the saloon, and strangled with scalding brandy. We had not been
wet, nor had we swallowed any sea-water, but the surgeon said this was
the proper treatment. I suspect, poor man, he did not often get the
opportunity to resuscitate anybody; in fact, he admitted he had not
had any such case as ours for years. It is uncertain what he might
have done to us if the tender-hearted captain had not thrashed him
into his cabin with a knotted hawser, and told us to go on deck.
By this time the ship was passing above the town of Arica, and the
sailors were all for'd, sitting on the bulwarks, snapping peas and
small shot at the terrified inhabitants flitting through the streets a
hundred feet below. These harmless projectiles rattled very merrily
upon the upturned boot-soles of the fleeting multitude; but not seeing
any fun in this, we were about to go astern and fish a little, when
the ship grounded on a hill-top. The captain hove out all the anchors
he had about him; and when the water went swirling back to its legal
level, taking the town along for company, there we were, in the midst
of a charming agricultural country, but at some distance from any
At sunrise next morning we were all on deck. Sam sauntered aft to the
binnacle, cast his eye carelessly upon the compass, and uttered an
ejaculation of astonishment.
"Tell _you_, captain," he called out, "this has been a direr
convulsion of nature than you have any idea. Everything's been screwed
right round. Needle points due south!"
"Why, you cussed lubber!" growled the skipper, moving up and taking a
look, "it p'ints d'rectly to labbard, an' there's the sun, dead
Sam turned and confronted him, with a steady gaze of ineffable
"Now, who said it wasn't dead ahead?--tell me _that_. Shows how much
_you_ know about earthquakes. 'Course, I didn't mean just this
continent, nor just this earth: I tell you, the _whole thing's_
* * * * *
A TALE OF SPANISH VENGEANCE.
Don Hemstitch Blodoza was an hidalgo--one of the highest dalgos of old
Spain. He had a comfortably picturesque castle on the Guadalquiver,
with towers, battlements, and mortages on it; but as it belonged, not
to his own creditors, but to those of his bitterest enemy, who
inhabited it, Don Hemstitch preferred the forest as a steady
residence. He had that curse of Spanish pride which will not permit
one to be a burden upon the man who may happen to have massacred all
one's relations, and set a price upon the heads of one's family
generally. He had made a vow never to accept the hospitality of Don
Symposio--not if he died for it. So he pervaded the romantic dells,
and the sunless jungle was infected with the sound of his guitar. He
rose in the morning and laved him in the limpid brooklet; and the
beams of the noonday sun fell upon him in the pursuit of diet--
"The thistle's downy seed his fare,
His drink the morning dew."
He throve but indifferently upon this meagre regimen, but beyond all
other evils a true Spaniard of the poorer sort dreads obesity. During
the darkest night of the season he will get up at an absurd hour and
stab his best friend in the back rather than grow fat.
It will of course be suspected by the experienced reader that Don
Hemstitch did not have any bed. Like the Horatian lines above quoted--
"He perched at will on every spray."
In translating this tale into the French, M. Victor Hugo will please
twig the proper meaning of the word "spray"; I shall be very angry if
he make it appear that my hero is a gull.
One morning while Don Hemstitch was dozing upon his leafy couch--not
his main couch, but a branch--he was roused from his tranquil nap by
the grunting of swine; or, if you like subtle distinctions, by the
sound of human voices. Peering cautiously through his bed-hangings, he
saw below him at a little distance two of his countrymen in
conversation. The fine practised phrenzy of their looks, their
excellently rehearsed air of apprehensive secrecy, showed him they
were merely conspiring against somebody's life; and he dismissed the
matter from his mind until the mention of his own name recalled his
attention. One of the conspirators was urging the other to make one of
a joint-stock company for the Don's assassination; but the more
conscientious plotter would not consent.
"The laws of Spain," said the latter, "with which we have an
acquaintance meanly withheld from the attorneys, enjoin that when one
man murders another, except for debt, he must make provision for the
widow and orphans. I leave it to you if, after the summer's
unprofitable business, we are in a position to assume the care and