Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Elbow-Room by Charles Heber Clark (AKA Max Adeler)

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Longfellow had his leg cut pretty near to the bone."

"Did any of the shots strike her?"

"I don't understand you."

"You said he kept shooting past her, and I thought maybe some of the
bullets might have struck her."

"Why, I meant that he _ran_ past her, of course. How in the thunder
could he shoot bullets at her?"

"I thought maybe he had a gun. But I don't understand any of it. It is
the most astounding thing I ever heard of, at any rate."

"Now, my dear sir, I want to ask you how Longfellow _could_ manage a

"Why, as any other man does, of course."

"Man! man! Why, merciful Moses! you didn't think I was talking about
human beings all this time, did you? Why, Longfellow is a horse! They
were racing--running races over at the course this afternoon; and I
was trying to tell you about it."

"You don't say?" remarked the doctor, with a sigh of relief. "Well, I
declare, I thought you were speaking of the poet, and I hardly knew
whether to believe you or not; it seemed so strange that he should
behave in that manner."

Then Mr. Butterwick went into the smoking-car to tell the joke to his
friends, and the doctor sat reflecting upon the outrageous impudence
of the men who name their horses after respectable people.

While he was thinking about it, another sensational occurrence
attracted his attention.

A man sitting in the same car with the doctor had placed a bottle of
tomato catsup neck downward in the rack above his seat. Presently a
friend came in, and in a few moments the friend, who was cutting his
finger-nails with a knife, introduced the subject of the races. The
discussion gradually became warm, and as the excitement increased the
man with the knife gesticulated violently with the hand containing the
weapon while he explained his views. Meantime, the cork jolted out of
the bottle overhead, and the catsup dripped down over the owner's head
and coat and collar without his perceiving the fact.

[Illustration: AN EXCITED OLD LADY]

Soon a nervous old lady on the back seat caught sight of the red
stain, and imagining it was blood, instantly began to scream "Murder!"
at the top of her voice. As the passengers, conductor and brakemen
rushed up she brandished her umbrella wildly and exclaimed,

"Arrest that man there! Arrest that willin! I see him do it. I see him
stab that other one with his knife until the blood spurted out. Oh,
you wretch! Oh, you willinous rascal, to take human life in that
scandalous manner! I see you punch him with the knife, you butcher,
you! and I'll swear it agin you in court, too, you owdacious rascal!"

They took her into the rear car and soothed her, while the victim
wiped the catsup off his coat. But that venerable old woman will go
down to the silent grave with the conviction that she witnessed in
those cars one of the most awful and sanguinary encounters that has
occurred since the affair between Cain and Abel.

* * * * *

Dr. Dox recently was called upon to settle a bet upon a much more
serious matter than a horse-race. During a religious controversy
between Peter Lamb and some of his friends one of the latter asserted
that Peter didn't know who was the mother-in-law of Moses, and that he
couldn't ascertain. Peter offered to bet that he could find out,
and the wager was accepted. After searching in vain through the
Scriptures, Mr. Lamb concluded to go around and interview Deacon Jones
about it. The deacon is head-man in the gas-office, and in the office
there are half a dozen small windows, behind which sit clerks to
receive money. Applying at one of these, Mr. Lamb said,

"Is Deacon Jones in?"

"What's your business?"

"Why, I want to find out the name of Moses'--"

"Don't know anything about it. Look in the directory;" and the clerk
slammed the window shut.

Then Peter went to the next window and said,

"I want to see Mr. Jones a minute."

"What for?"

"I want to see if he knows Moses'--"

"Moses who?"

"Why, Moses, the Bible Moses--if he knows--"

"Patriarchs don't belong in this department. Apply across the street
at the Christian Association rooms;" and then the clerk closed the

At the next window Mr. Lamb said,

"I want to see Deacon Jones a minute in reference to a matter about

"Want to pay his gas-bill? What's the last name?"

"Oh no. I mean the first Moses, the original one."

"Anything the matter with his meter?"

"You don't understand me. I refer to the Hebrew prophet. I want to

"Well, you can't see him here. This is the gas-office. Try next door."

At the adjoining window Mr. Lamb said,

"Look here! I want to see Deacon Jones a minute about the prophet
Moses, and I wish you'd tell him so."

"No, I won't," replied the clerk. "He's too busy to be bothered
with-anything of that kind."

"But I must see him," said Peter; "I insist on seeing him. The fact of
the matter is, I've got a bet about Moses'--"

"Don't make any difference what you've got; you can't see him."

"But I will. I want you to go and tell him I'm here, and that I wish
for some information respecting Moses. I'll have you discharged if you
don't go."

"Don't care if you want to see him about all the children of Israel,
and the Pharaohs and Nebuchadnezzars. I tell you you can't. That
settles it. Turn off your gas and quit."

Then Peter resolved to give up the deacon and try Rev. Dr. Dox. When
he called at the parsonage, the doctor came down into the parlor.
Because of the doctor's deafness there was a little misunderstanding
when Peter said,

"I called, doctor, to ascertain if you could tell me who was the
mother-in-law of Moses."

"Well, really," said the doctor, "there isn't much preference. Some
like one kind of roses and some like another. A very good variety of
the pink rose is the Duke of Cambridge; grows large, bears early and
has very fine perfume. The Hercules is also excellent, but you must
manure it well and water it often."

"I didn't ask about _roses_, but _Moses_. You make a mistake," shouted

"Oh, of course! by all means. Train them up to a stake if you want to.
The wind don't blow them about so and they send out more shoots."

"You misunderstand me," yelled Mr. Lamb. "I asked about Moses, not
roses. I want to know who was the mother-in-law of Moses."

"Oh yes; certainly. Excuse me; I thought you were inquiring about
roses. The law of Moses was the foundation of the religion of the
Jews. You can find it in full in the Pentateuch. It is admirable--very
admirable--for the purpose for which it was ordained. We, of course,
have outlived that dispensation, but it still contains many things
that are useful to us, as, for instance, the--"

"Was Moses married?" shrieked Mr. Lamb.

"Married? Oh, yes; the name of his father-in-law, you know, was
Jethro, and--"

"Who was his wife?"

"Why, she was the daughter of Jethro, of course. I said Jethro was his

"No; Jethro's wife, I mean. I want to know to settle a bet."

"No, that wasn't her name. 'Bet' is a corruption of Elizabeth, and
that name, I believe, is not found in the Old Testament. I don't
remember what the name of Moses' wife was."

"I want to know what was the name of the mother-in-law of Moses, to
settle a bet."

"Young man," said the old doctor, sternly, "you are trifling with a
serious subject. What do you mean by wanting Moses to settle a bet?"

Then Mr. Lamb rolled up a sheet of music that lay on the piano; and
putting it to the doctor's ear, he shouted,

"I made--a--bet--that--I--could--find--out--what--the--name--of
Moses'--mother-in-law--was. Can--you--tell--me?"

"The Bible don't say," responded the doctor; "and unless you can get a
spiritualist to put you in communication with Moses, I guess you will

Then Peter went around and handed over the stakes. Hereafter he will
gamble on other than biblical games.

* * * * *

[Illustration: THE CAT SUCCUMBS]

Mr. Lamb has an inquiring mind. He is always investigating something.
He read somewhere the other day that two drops of the essential oil
of tobacco placed upon the tongue of a cat would kill the animal
instantly. He did not believe it, and he concluded to try the
experiment to see if it was so. Old Squills, the druggist, has a cat
weighing about fifteen pounds, and Mr. Lamb, taking the animal into
the back room, shut the door, opened the cat's mouth, and applied the
poison. One moment later a wild, unearthly "M-e-e-e-e-ow-ow-ow!" was
emitted by the cat, and, to Mr. Lamb's intense alarm, the animal began
swishing around the room with hair on end and tail in convulsive
excitement, screeching like a fog-whistle. Mr. Lamb is not certain,
but he considers it a fair estimate to say that the cat made the
entire circuit of the room, over chairs and under tables, seventy-four
times every minute, and he is willing to swear to seventy times,
without counting the occasional diversions made by the brute for the
purpose of snatching at Mr. Lamb's pantaloons and hair. Just as Mr.
Lamb had about made up his mind that the cat would conclude the
gymnastic exercises by eating him, the animal dashed through the glass
sash of the door into the shop, whisked two jars of licorice root and
tooth-brushes off the counter, tore out the ipecac-bottle and four
jugs of hair-dye, smashed a bottle of "Balm of Peru," alighted on
the bonnet of a woman who was drinking soda-water, and after a few
convulsions rolled over into a soap-box and died.

Mr. Lamb is now satisfied that a cat actually can be killed in the
manner aforementioned, but he would be better satisfied if old Squills
didn't insist upon collecting from him the price of those drugs and
the glass sash.

* * * * *

Last summer Peter's brother spent a few weeks with him. He owned a
"pistol cane," which he carried about with him loaded; but when he
went away, he accidentally left it behind, and without explaining to
Peter that it was different from ordinary canes.

So, one afternoon a few days later, Peter went out to Keyser's farm to
look at some stock, and he picked up the cane to take along with him.
When he got to Keyser's, the latter went to the barnyard to show
him an extraordinary kind of a new pig that he had developed by

"Now that pig," said Keyser, "just lays over all the other pigs on the
Atlantic Slope. Take him any way you please, he's the most gorgeous
pig anywheres around. Fat! Why, he's all fat! There's no lean in him.
He ain't anything but a solid mass of lard. Put that pig near a fire,
and in twenty minutes his naked skeleton'd be standing there in a
puddle of grease. That's a positive fact. Now, you just feel his

Then Peter lifted up his cane and gave the pig a poke. He poked it
two or three times, and he had just remarked, "That certainly is a
splendid pig," when he gave it another poke, and then somehow the
pistol in the cane went off and the pig rolled over and expired.

[Illustration: HOW THE PIG WAS KILLED]

"What in the mischief d'you do that for?" exclaimed Keyser, amazed and

"Do it for? _I_ didn't do it! This cane must've been made out of an
old gun-barrel with the load left in. I never had the least idea, I
pledge _you_ my word, that there was anything the matter with it."

"That's pretty thin," said Keyser; "you had a grudge agin that pig
because you couldn't scare up a pig like him, and you killed him on

"That's perfectly ridiculous."

"Oh, maybe it is. You'll just fork over two hundred dollars for that
piece of pork, if you please."

"I'll see you in Egypt first."

* * * * *

Peter whipped; but if Keyser _did_ give in first, Peter went home with
a bleeding nose, and the next day he was arrested for killing the
pig. The case is coming up soon, and Peter's brother is on, ready to
testify about that cane. Peter himself walks now with a hickory stick.



When young Mr. Spooner, Judge Twiddler's nephew, left college, he made
up his mind to enter the ministry and become a missionary. One day he
met Captain Hubbs; and when he mentioned that he thought of going out
as a missionary, Captain Hubbs asked him, "Where are you going?"

_S_. "To the Navigator Islands. I sail in October."

_Capt_. (shaking his head mournfully). "Pore young man! Pore young
man! It is too bad--too bad indeed! Going to the Navigator Islands!
Not married yet, I reckon? No? Ah! so much the better. No wife and
children to make widows and orphans of. But it's sad, anyway. A
promising young fellow like you! My heart bleeds for you."

_S_. "What d'you mean?"

_Capt_. "Oh, nothing. I don't want to frighten you. I know you're
doing it from a sense of duty. But I've been there to the Navigator
Islands, and I'm acquainted with the people's little ways, and
I--well, I--I--the fact is, you see, that--well, sooner'n disguise the
truth, I don't mind telling you straight out that the last day I was
there the folks et one of my legs--sawed it off an' et it. Now you can
see how things are yourself. Those Navigators gobbled that leg right
up. It was a leg a good deal like yours, only heavier, I reckon."

_S_. "You astonish me!"

_Capt._ "Oh, that's nothing. They did that just for a little bit of
fun. The chief told me the day before that they never et anything but
human beings. He said his family consumed about three a day all the
year round, counting holidays and Sundays. He was a light eater
himself, he said, on account of gitting dyspepsia from a tough
Australian that he et in 1847, but the girls and the old woman, so he
said, were very hearty eaters, and it kept him busy prowling around
after human beings to satisfy 'em. The old woman, he said, rather
preferred to eat babies, on account of her teeth being poor, but the
girls could eat the grizzliest sailor that ever went aboard ship."

_S_. "This is frightful."

_Capt_. "And the chief said sometimes the supply was scarce, but
lately they had begun to depend more on imported goods than on the
home products. And they were better, anyhow, for all the folks
preferred white meat. He said the missionary societies were shipping
them some nice lots of provender, and the tears came in his eyes when
he said how good they were to the poor friendless savage away on a
distant island. He said he liked a missionary not too old or too
young. But let's see; what's your age, did you say?"

[Illustration: MR. SPOONER IS ALARMED]

_S_. "I am twenty-eight."

_Capt._ "I think he mentioned twenty-seven; but howsomedever, he liked
'em old enough to be solid and young enough to be tender. And he said
he liked missionaries because they never used rum or tobacco and
always kept their flavor. I know I seen one young fellow who came out
there from Boston. He got up a camp-meeting in the woods; and while
he was giving out the hymn, one of the congregation banged him on the
head with a club, and in less than no time he was sizzling over a fire
right in front of the pulpit. They lit the fire with his hymn-book and
kept her going with his sermons. He was a man just about your build--a
little leaner'n you, maybe. And they like a man to be stoutish. He
eats more tender."

_S_. "I had no idea that such awful practices existed."

_Capt_. "I haven't told you half, for I don't want to discourage you.
I know you mean well, and maybe they'll let you alone. But I remember,
when I told the chief that there was a whole lot of you chaps studying
to be missionaries, he laughed and rubbed his hands, and ordered the
old woman to plant more horseradish and onions the following year. He
was a forehanded kind of a man for a mere pagan. He said that if they
would only give his tribe time, if they would send him along the
supplies regular, so's not to glut the market, they could put away the
entire clergy of the United States and half the deacons without an
effort. He was nibbling at a missionary-bone when he spoke, and the
old woman was making a new club out of another one. They are an
economical people. They utilize everything."

_S_. "This is the most painful intelligence that I ever received. If I
felt certain about it, I would remain at home."

_Capt_. "Don't let me induce you to throw the thing up. I wouldn't a
told you, anyway, only you kind of drew the information out of me. And
as long as I've gone this far, I might as well tell you that I got a
letter the other day from a man who'd just come from there, and he
said the crops were short, eatable people were scarce, and not one of
them savages had had a square meal for months. When he left, they
were sitting on the rocks, hungry as thunder, waiting for a
missionary-society ship to arrive. And now I must be going.
Good-bye. I know I'll never see you again. Take a last look at me.

Then the captain hobbled off.

Mr. Spooner has concluded to stay at home and teach school.

* * * * *

Another rather more enthusiastic friend of the savage is Mr. Dodge. He
came into the office the _Patriot_ one day and sought a desk where a
reporter was writing. Seating himself and tilting the chair until
it was nicely balanced upon two legs, he smiled a serene and
philanthropic smile, and said,

"You see, I'm the friend of the poor Indian; he regards me as his
Great White Brother, and I reciprocate his confidence and affection
by doing what I can to alleviate his sufferings in his present
unfortunate situation. Young man, you do not know the anguish that
fills the soul of the red man as civilization makes successive inroads
upon his rights. It is too sacred for exhibition. He represses his
emotion sternly, and we philanthropists only detect it by observing
that he betrays an increased longing for firewater and an aggravated
indisposition to wash himself. Now, what do you suppose is the _last_
sorrow that has come to blast the happiness of this persecuted being?
What do you think it is?"

"I don't know, and I don't care."

"I will tell you. It is the increasing tendency of the white man to
baldness. As civilization pushes upward, the hair of the pale face
recedes. Eventually, I suppose, about every other white man will be
bald. I notice that even you are gradually being reduced to a mere
fringe around the base of your skull. Now, imagine how an Indian feels
when he considers this tendency. Is it any wonder that the future
seems dark and gloomy and hairless to him? The scalping operation
to him is a sacred rite. It is interwoven with his most cherished
traditions. When he surrenders it, he dies with a broken heart. What
then, is to be done?"

"Oh, do hush up and quit."

"There is but one thing to be done to meet this grave emergency. We
cannot justly permit that grand aboriginal man who once held sway over
this mighty continent to be filled with desolation and misery by
the inaccessibility of the scalps of his fellow-creatures. My idea,
therefore, is to bring those scalps within his reach, even when they
are baldest and shiniest. But how?"

"That'll do now. Don't want to hear any more."

"Here my ingenuity comes into play. I have invented a simple little
machine which I call 'The Patent Adjustable Atmospheric Scalp-lifter.'
Here it is. The device consists of a disk of thin leather about six
inches in diameter. In the centre is a hole through which runs a
string. When the Indian desires to deal with a man with a bald head,
he proceeds as follows--observe the simplicity of the operation: He
wets the leather, stamps it carefully down upon the surface of the
scalp, slides his knife around over the ears, gives the string a jerk,
and off comes the scalp as nicely as if it had been Absalom's. In
fact, you will see at once that it is an ingenious application of the
'sucker' used by boys to raise bricks and stones. I know what you are
going to say--that a white man who is to be manipulated by an Indian
needs succor worse than the red man. It is an old joke, and a good
one; but my desire is to bring joy to the wigwam of the Kickapoo and
to make the heart of the Arapahoe glad."

"Oh, do dry up and go down stairs."

"You catch the idea, of course; but perhaps you'd like to see the
apparatus in operation. Wait a moment; I'll show you how splendidly it

Then, as the reporter resolutely continued at his task with his nose
almost against the desk, the friend of the disconsolate red man
suddenly produced a moist sucker and clapped it firmly upon the bald
place on the reporter's head, and then, before the indignant victim
could offer resistance, the Great White Brother, with the string in
his hand, careered around the office a couple of times, drawing the
helpless journalist after him. As he withdrew the machine he smiled
and said,

"Elegant, isn't it? Could pull a horse-car with it. I wish you'd come
to Washington with me and lend me your head, so's I can show the
Secretary of the Interior how the thing works. You have the best scalp
for a good hold of any I've tried yet."

But the reporter was at the speaking-tube calling for a boy to go for
a policeman, and he didn't seem to hear the suggestion. And so Mr.
Dodge folded up the machine, placed it in his carpet-bag, and went
out smiling as though he had been received with enthusiasm and been
promised a gratuitous advertisement. He passed the policeman on the
stairs, and then sailed serenely out of reach, perhaps to seek for
another and more sympathetic bald man upon whom to illustrate the
value of his invention.

* * * * *

Reference to the Indians reminds me of the very ungenerous treatment
that Mr. Bartholomew, one of our citizens, received at the hands of
certain red men with whom he trafficked in the West.

A year or two ago Mr. Bartholomew was out in Colorado for a few
months, and just before he started for the journey home he wrote to
his wife concerning the probable time of his arrival. As a postscript
to the letter he added the following message to his son, a boy about
eight years old:

"Tell Charley I am going to bring with me a dear little baby-bear that
I bought from an Indian."

Of course that information pleased Charley, and he directed most of
his thoughts and his conversation to the subject of the bear during
the next two weeks, wishing anxiously for his father to come with
the little pet. On the night which been fixed by Bartholomew for his
arrival he did not come, and the family were very much disappointed.
Charley particularly was dreadfully sorry, because he couldn't get the
bear. On the next evening, while Mrs. Bartholomew and the children
were sitting in the front room with the door open into the hall, they
heard somebody running through the front yard. Then the front door was
suddenly burst open, and a man dashed into the hall and up stairs at a
frightful speed. Mrs. Bartholomew was just about to go up after him to
ascertain who it was, when a large dark animal of some kind darted in
through the door and with an awful growl went bowling up stairs after
the man. It suddenly flashed upon the mind of Mrs. Bartholomew that
the man was her husband, and that that was the little baby-bear. Just
then the voice of Bartholomew was heard calling from the top landing:

"Ellen, for gracious sake get out of the house as quick as you can,
and shut all the doors and window-shutters."

[Illustration: THE LITTLE BABY-BEAR]

Then Mrs. Bartholomew sent the boys into Partridge's, next door, and
she closed the shutters, locked all the doors and went into the
yard to await further developments. When she got outside, she saw
Bartholomew on the roof kneeling on the trap-door, which he kept down
only by the most tremendous exertions. Then he screamed for somebody
to come up and help him, and Mr. Partridge got a ladder and a hatchet
and some nails, and ascended. Then they nailed down the trap-door, and
Bartholomew and Partridge came down the ladder together. After he had
greeted his family, Mrs. Bartholomew asked him what was the matter,
and he said,

"Why, you know that little baby-bear I said I'd bring Charley? Well, I
had him in a box until I got off the train up here at the depot, and
then I thought I'd take him out and lead him around home by the chain.
But the first thing he did was to fly at my leg; and when I jumped
back, I ran, and he after me. He would've eaten me up in about a
minute. That infernal Indian must have fooled me. He said it was a cub
only two months old and it had no teeth. I believe it's a full-grown

It then became a very interesting question how they should get the
bear out of the house. Bartholomew thought they had better try to
shoot him, and he asked a lot of the neighbors to come around to help
with their shot-guns. When they would hear the bear scratching at one
of the windows, they would pour in a volley at him, but after riddling
every shutter on the first floor they could still hear the bear
tearing around in there and growling. So Bartholomew and the others
got into the cellar, and as the bear crossed the floor they would fire
up through it at about the spot where they thought he was. But the
bombardment only seemed to exasperate the animal, and after each shot
they could hear him smashing something.

Then Partridge said maybe a couple of good dogs might whip him; and he
borrowed a bulldog and a setter from Scott and pushed them through the
front door. They listened, and for half an hour they could hear a most
terrific contest raging; and Scott said he'd bet a million dollars
that bull-dog would eat up any two bears in the Rocky Mountains. Then
everything became still, and a few moments later they could hear
the bear eating something and cracking bones with his teeth; and
Bartholomew said that the Indian out in Colorado told him that the
bear was particularly fond of dog-meat, and could relish a dog almost
any time.

At last Bartholomew thought he would try strategy. He procured a huge
iron hook with a sharp point to it, tied it to a rope and put three
or four pounds of fresh beef on the hook. Then he went up the ladder,
opened the trap-door in the roof and dropped in the bait. In a few
moments he got a bite, and all hands manned the rope and pulled,
when out came Scott's bull-dog, which had been hiding in the garret.
Bartholomew was disgusted; but he put on fresh bait and threw in
again, and in about an hour the bear took hold, and they hauled him
out and knocked him on the head.

Then they entered the house. In the hall the carpet was covered with
particles of dead setter, and in the parlor the carpet and the windows
had been shot to pieces, while the furniture was full of bullet-holes.
The bear had smashed the mirror, torn up six or seven chairs,
knocked over the lamp and demolished all the crockery in the pantry.
Bartholomew gritted his teeth as he surveyed the ruin, and Mrs.
Bartholomew said she wished to patience he had stayed in Colorado.
However, they fixed things up as well as they could, and then Mrs.
Bartholomew sent into Partridge's for Charley and the youngest girl.
When Charley came, he rushed up to Bartholomew and said,

"Oh, pa! where's my little baby-bear?"

Then Bartholomew gazed at him severely for a moment, looked around to
see if Mrs. Bartholomew had left the room, and then gave Charley the
most terrific spanking that he ever received.

The Bartholomew children have no pets at present but a Poland rooster
which has moulted his tail.



Peter Lamb, a young man who is employed in one of the village stores,
some time ago conceived a very strong passion for a neighbor of his,
Miss Julia Brown, the doctor's daughter. But the Fates seemed to be
against the successful prosecution of his suit, for he managed to
plunge into a series of catastrophes in the presence of the young
lady, and to make himself so absurd that even his affection seemed
ridiculous. One summer evening, when he was just beginning to make
advances, Miss Brown came over to see Peter's sister, and the two
girls sat out upon the front porch together in the darkness, talking.
Peter plays a little upon the bugle, and it occurred to him that it
would be a good thing to exhibit his skill to Julia. So he went into
the dark parlor and felt over the top of the piano for the horn. It
happened that his aunt from Penn's Grove had been there that day and
had left her brass ear-trumpet lying on the piano, and Peter got hold
of this without perceiving the mistake, as the two were of similar
shape. He took it in his hand and went out on the porch where Miss
Brown was sitting. He asked Miss Brown if she was fond of music on the
horn; and when she said she adored it, he asked her how she would like
him to play "Ever of Thee;" and she said that was the only tune she
cared anything for.

So Peter put the small end of the trumpet to his lips and blew. He
blew and blew. Then he blew some more, and then he drew a fresh breath
and blew again. The only sound that came was a hollow moan, which
sounded so queerly in the darkness that Miss Brown asked him if he was
not well. And when he said he was, she said that he went exactly like
a second cousin of hers that had the asthma.

Then Peter remarked that somehow the horn was out of order for "Ever
of Thee;" but if Miss Brown would like to hear "Sweetly I dreamed,
Love," he would try to play it, and Miss Brown said that the fondest
recollections clustered about the melody.

So Peter put the trumpet to his lips again and strained his lungs
severely in an effort to make some music. It wouldn't come, but he
made a very singular noise, which induced Miss Brown to ask if the
horse in the stable back of the house had heaves. Then Peter said he
thought somebody must have plugged the bugle up with something, and
he asked his sister to light the gas in the entry while he cleaned it
out. When she did so, the ear-trumpet became painfully conspicuous,
and both the girls laughed. When Miss Brown laughed, Peter looked up
at her with pain in his face, put on his hat and went out into the
street, where he could express his feelings in violent terms.

A few nights later the Browns had a tea-party, to which Mr. Lamb was
invited. He went, determined to do his full share of entertaining the
company. While supper was in progress, Mr. Lamb said in a loud voice,

"By the way, did you read that mighty good thing in the _Patriot_ the
other day about the woman over in Bridgeport? It was one of the most
amusing things that ever came under my observation. The woman's name,
you see, was Emma. Well, there were two young fellows paying attention
to her, and after she'd accepted one of them the other also proposed
to her and as she felt certain that the first one wasn't in earnest,
she accepted the second one too. So a few days later both of 'em
called at the same time, both claimed her hand, and both insisted on
marrying her at once. Then, of course, she found herself face to face
with a mighty unpleasant--unpleasant--Er--er--er--Less see; what's the
word I want? Unpleasant--Er--er--Blamed if I haven't forgotten that

"Predicament," suggested Mr. Potts.

"No, that's not it. What's the name of that thing with two horns?
Unpleasant--Er--er--Hang it! it's gone clear out of my mind."

"A cow," hinted Miss Mooney.

"No, not a cow."

"Maybe it's a buffalo," remarked Dr. Dox.

"No, no kind of an animal. Something else with two horns. Mighty queer
I can't recall it."

"Perhaps it's a brass band," observed Butterwick.

"Or a man who's had a couple of drinks," suggested Dr. Brown.

"Of course not."

"You don't mean a fire company?" asked Mrs. Banger.

"N--no. That's the confounded queerest thing I ever heard of, that I
can't remember that word," said Mr. Lamb, getting warm and beginning
to feel miserable.

"Well, give us the rest of the story without it," said Potts.

"That's the mischief of it," said Mr. Lamb. "The whole joke turns on
that infernal word."

"_Two_ horns did you say?" asked Dr. Dox. "Maybe it is a catfish."

"Or a snail," remarked Judge Twiddler.

"N--no; none of those."

"Is it an elephant or a walrus?" asked Mrs. Dox.

"I guess I'll have to give it up," said Mr. Lamb, wiping the
perspiration from his brow.

"Well, that's the sickest old story I ever encountered," remarked
Butterwick to Potts. Then everybody smiled, and Mr. Lamb, looking
furtively at Julia, appeared to feel as if he would welcome death on
the spot.

The mystery is yet unsolved; but it is believed that Peter was
trying to build up the woman's name, Emma, into a pun upon the word
"dilemma." The secret, however, is buried in his bosom.

Peter professes to be an expert in legerdemain, and he came to Brown's
prepared to perform some of his best feats. When the company assembled
in the drawing-room after tea, he determined to redeem the fearful
blunder that he had made in the dining-room.

Several of the magicians who perform in public do what they call
"the gold-fish trick." The juggler stands upon the stage, throws a
handkerchief over his extended arm and produces in succession three or
four shallow glass dishes filled to the brim with water in which live
gold-fish are swimming. Of course the dishes are concealed somehow
upon the person of the performer.

Peter had discovered how the trick was done, and he resolved to do it
now. So the folks all gathered in one end of the parlor, and in a few
moments Lamb entered the door at the other end. He said,

"Ladies and gentlemen, you will perceive that I have nothing about me
except my ordinary clothing; and yet I shall produce presently two
dishes filled with water and living fish. Please watch me narrowly."

Then Peter flung the handkerchief over his hand and arm, and we could
see that he was working away vigorously at something beneath it. He
continued for some moments, and still the gold-fish did not appear. Then
he began to grow very red in the face, and we saw that something was the
matter. Then the perspiration began to stand on Peter's forehead, and
Mrs. Brown asked him if anything serious was the matter. Then the
company smiled, and the magician grew redder; but he kept on fumbling
beneath that handkerchief, and apparently trying to reach around under
his coat-tails. Then we heard something snap, and the next moment a
quart of water ran down the wizard's left leg and spread out over the
carpet. By this time he looked as if joy had forsaken him for ever. But
still he continued to feel around under the handkerchief. At last
another snap was heard, and another quart of water plunged down his
right leg and formed a pool about his shoe. Then the necromancer
hurriedly said that the experiment had failed somehow, and he darted
into the dining-room. We followed him, and found him sitting on the sofa
trying to remove his pantaloons. He exclaimed,

"Oh, gracious! Come here quick, and pull these off! They're soaking
wet, and I've got fifteen live gold-fish inside my trousers flipping
around, and rasping the skin with their fins enough to set a man
crazy. Ouch! Hurry that shoe off, and catch that fish there at my left
knee, or I'll have to howl right out."

[Illustration: THE GOLDFISH TRICK]

Then we undressed him and picked the fish out of his clothes, and we
discovered that he had had two dishes full of water and covered with
India-rubber tops strapped inside his trousers behind. In his struggle
to get at them he had torn the covers to rags. We fixed him up in a
pair of Dr. Brown's trousers, which were six inches too short for
him, and then he climbed over the back fence and went home. Such
misfortunes would have discouraged most men utterly, but Peter was
desperately in love; and a week or two later, without stopping to
estimate his chances, he proposed to his fair enchantress. She refused
him promptly, of course. He seemed almost wild over his defeat, and
his friends feared that some evil consequences would ensue. Their
apprehensions were realized. Peter called upon young Potts and asked
him if he had a revolver, and Potts said he had. Peter asked Potts to
lend it to him, and Potts did so. Then Peter informed Potts that he
had made up his mind to commit suicide. He said that since Miss Brown
had dealt so unkindly with him he felt that life was an insupportable
burden, and he could find relief only in the tomb. He intended to go
down by the river-shore and there blow out his brains, and so end all
this suffering and grief and bid farewell to a world that had grown
dark to him. He said that he mentioned the fact to Potts in confidence
because he wanted him to perform some little offices for him when he
was gone. He entrusted to Potts a sonnet entitled "A Last Farewell,"
and addressed to Julia Brown. This he asked should be delivered to
Miss Brown as soon as his corpse was discovered. He said it might
excite a pang in her bosom and induce her to cherish his memory. Then
he gave Potts his watch as a keepsake, and handed him forty dollars,
with which he desired Mr. Potts to purchase a tombstone. He said he
would prefer a plain one with his simple name cut upon it, and he
wanted the funeral to be as unostentatious as possible.

Potts promised to fulfill these commissions, and he suggested that he
would lend Mr. Lamb a bowie-knife, with which he could slash himself
up if the pistol failed.

But the suicide said that he would make sure work with the revolver,
although he was much obliged for the offer all the same. He said he
would like Potts to go around in the morning and break the news as
gently as possible to his unhappy mother, and to tell her that his
last thought was of her. But he particularly requested that she would
not put on mourning for her erring son.

Then he said that the awful act would be performed on the beach, just
below the gas-works, and he wished Potts to come out with some kind of
a vehicle to bring the remains home. If Julia came to the funeral,
she was to have a seat in the carriage next to the hearse; and if she
wanted his heart, it was to be given to her in alcohol. It beat only
for her. Potts was to tell his employers at the store that he parted
with them with regret, but doubtless they would find some other person
more worthy of their confidence and esteem. He said he didn't care
where he was buried, but let it be in some lonely place far from the
turmoil and trouble of the world--some place where the grass grows
green and where the birds come to carol in the early spring-time.

Mr. Potts asked him if he preferred a deep or a shallow grave; but Mr.
Lamb said it made very little difference--when the spirit was gone,
the mere earthly clay was of little account. He owed seventy cents for
billiards down at the saloon, and Potts was to pay that out of the
money in his hands, and to request the clergyman not to preach a
sermon at the cemetery. Then he shook hands with Potts and went away
to his awful doom.

The next morning Mr. Potts wrote to Julia, stopped in to tell them at
the store, and nearly killed Mrs. Lamb with the intelligence. Then he
borrowed Bradley's wagon; and taking with him the coroner, he drove
out to the beach, just below the gas-works, to fetch home the
mutilated corpse. When they reached the spot, the body was not there,
and Potts said he was very much afraid it had been washed away by the
flood tide. So they drove up to Keyser's house, about half a mile
from the shore, to ask if any of the folks there had heard the fatal
pistol-shot or seen the body.

On going around to the wood-pile they saw Keyser holding a terrier dog
backed close up against a log. The dog's tail was lying across the
log, and another man had the axe uplifted. A second later the axe
descended and cut the tail off close to the dog, and while Keyser
restrained the frantic animal, the other man touched the bleeding
stump with caustic. As they let the dog go Potts was amazed to see
that the chopper was the wretched suicide. He was amazed, but
before he could ask any questions Peter stepped up to him and said,
"Hush-sh-sh! Don't say anything about that matter. I thought better
of it. The pistol looked so blamed dangerous when I cocked it that I
changed my mind and came over here to Keyser's to stay all night. I'm
going to live just to spite that Brown girl."

[Illustration: A CURTAILMENT]

Then the coroner said that he didn't consider he had been treated like
a gentleman, and he had half a notion to give Mr. Lamb a pounding.
But they all drove home in the wagon, and just as Mrs. Lamb got done
hugging Peter a letter was handed him containing the sonnet he had
sent Julia. She returned it with the remark that it was the most
dreadful nonsense she ever read, and that she knew he hadn't courage
enough to kill himself. Then Peter went back to the store, and was
surprised to find that his employers had so little emotion as to dock
him for half a day's absence. What he wants now is to ascertain if he
cannot compel Potts to give up that watch. Potts says he has too much
respect for the memory of his unfortunate friend to part with it, but
he is really sorry now that he ordered that tombstone. On the first of
May, Peter's bleeding heart had been so far stanched as to enable him
to begin skirmishing around the affections of a girl named Smith; and
if she refuses him, he thinks that tombstone may yet come into play.
But we all have our doubts about it.



Game was so plenty about our neighborhood last fall that Mr. Fogg
determined to become a sportsman. He bought a double-barrel gun, and
after trying it a few times by firing it at a mark, he loaded it and
placed it behind the hall door until he should want it. A few days
later he made up his mind to go out and shoot a rabbit or two, so he
shouldered his gun and strode off toward the open country. A mile
or two from the town he saw a rabbit; and taking aim, he pulled the
trigger. The gun failed to go off. Then he pulled the other trigger,
and again the cap snapped. Mr. Fogg used a strong expression of
disgust, and then, taking a pin, he picked the nipples of the gun,
primed them with a little powder and made a fresh start. Presently
he saw another rabbit. He took good aim, but both caps snapped. The
rabbit did not see Mr. Fogg, so he put on more caps, and they snapped

Then Mr. Fogg cleaned out the nipples again, primed them and leveled
the gun at a fence. The caps snapped again. Then Mr. Fogg became
furious, and in his rage he expended forty-two caps trying to make the
gun go off. When the forty-second cap missed also, Mr. Fogg thought,
perhaps, there might be something the matter with the inside of the
gun, and so he sounded the barrels with his ramrod. To his utter
dismay, he discovered that both barrels were empty. Mrs. Fogg, who is
nervous about firearms, had drawn the loads without telling Fogg. The
language used by Mr. Fogg when he made this discovery was extremely
disgraceful, and he felt sorry for it a moment afterward. As he grew
cooler he loaded both barrels and started afresh for the rabbits. He
saw one in a few moments and was about to fire, when he noticed that
there were no caps on the gun. He felt for one, and, to his dismay,
found that he had snapped the last one off. Then he ground his teeth
and walked home. On his way he saw a greater number of rabbits than he
ever saw before or is likely to see again, and as he looked at them
and thought of Mrs. Fogg he felt mad and murderous. He went gunning
eight or ten times afterward that autumn, always with a full supply of
ammunition, but he never once saw a rabbit or any other kind of game
within gun-shot.


But he forgave Mrs. Fogg, and for a while their domestic peace was
unruffled. One evening, however, while they were sitting together,
they got to talking about their married life and their past troubles
until both of them grew quite sympathetic. At last Mrs. Fogg suggested
that it might help to kindle afresh the fire of love in their hearts
if they would freely confess their faults to each other and promise to
amend them. Mr. Fogg said it struck him as being a good idea. For his
part, he was willing to make a clean breast of it, but he suggested
that perhaps his wife had better begin. She thought for a moment, and
this conversation ensued:

"Well, then," said Mrs. Fogg, "I am willing to acknowledge that I am
the worst-tempered woman in the world."

_Mr. Fogg_ (turning and looking at her). "Maria, that's about the only
time you ever told the square-toed truth in your life."

_Mrs. Fogg_ (indignantly). "Mr. Fogg, that's perfectly outrageous. You
ought to be ashamed of yourself."

_F_. "Well, you know it's so. You _have_ got the worst temper of any
woman I ever saw--the very worst; now haven't you?"


_Mrs. F_. "No, I haven't, either. I'm just as good-tempered as you

_F_. "That's not so. You're as cross as a bear If you were married to
a graven image, you'd quarrel with it."

_Mrs. F_. "That's an outrageous falsehood! There isn't any woman about
this neighborhood that puts up with as much as I do without getting
angry. You're a perfect brute."

_F_. "It's you that is the brute."

_Mrs. F_. "No, it isn't."

_F_. "Yes, it is. You're as snappish as a mad dog. It's few men that
could live with you."

_Mrs. F_. "If you say that again, I'll scratch your eyes out."

_F_. "I dare you to lay your hands on me, you vixen."

_Mrs. F_. "You do, eh? Well, take that! and that" (cuffing him on the

_F_. "You let go of my hair, or I'll murder you."

_Mrs. F_. "I will; and I'll leave this house this very night; I won't
live any longer with such a monster."

_F_. "Well, quit; get out. The sooner, the better. Good riddance to
bad rubbish; and take your clothes with you."

_Mrs. F_. "I'm sorry I ever married you. You ain't fit to be yoked
with any decent woman, you wretch you!"

_F_. "Well, you ain't half as sorry as I am. Good-bye. Don't come back

Then Mrs. Fogg put on her bonnet and went around to her mother's, but
she came back in the morning. Mr. Fogg hasn't yet confessed what his
principal failing is.

* * * * *

Mr. Fogg's life has been very troublous. He told me that he had a fit
of sleeplessness one night lately, and after vainly trying to lose
himself in slumber he happened to remember that he once read in an
almanac that a man could put himself to sleep by imagining that he
saw a lot of sheep jumping over a fence, and by counting them as they
jumped. He determined to try the experiment; and closing his eyes, he
fancied the sheep jumping and began to count. He had reached his one
hundred and fortieth sheep, and was beginning to doze off, when Mrs.
Fogg suddenly said,


"Oh, what?"

"I believe that yellow hen of ours wants to set."

"Oh, don't bother me with such nonsense as that now! Do keep quiet and
go to sleep."

Then Mr. Fogg started his sheep again and commenced to count. He got
up to one hundred and twenty, and was feeling as if he would drop off
at any moment, when, just as his one hundred and twenty-first sheep
was about to take that fence, the baby began to cry.

"Hang that child!" he shouted at Mrs. Fogg. "Why don't you tend to it
and put it to sleep? Hush, you little imp, or I'll spank you!"

When Mrs. Fogg had quieted it, Mr. Fogg, although a little nervous and
excited, concluded to try it again. Turning on the imaginary mutton,
he began. Only sixty-four sheep had slid over the fence, when Fogg's
aunt knocked at the door and asked if he was awake. When she learned
that he was, she said she believed he had forgotten to close the back
shutters, and she thought she heard burglars in the yard.

Then Mr. Fogg arose in wrath and went down to see about it. He
ascertained that the shutters were closed, as usual, and as he
returned to bed he resolved that his aunt should leave the house for
good in the morning, or he would. However, he thought he might as well
give the almanac-plan another trial; and setting the sheep in motion,
he began to count. This time he reached two hundred and forty, and
would probably have got to sleep before the three hundredth sheep
jumped, had not Mix's new dog, in the next yard, suddenly become
home-sick and begun to express his feelings in a series of prolonged
and exasperating howls.

Mr. Fogg was indignant. Neglecting the sheep, he leaped from bed and
began to bombard Mix's new dog with boots, soap-cups and every loose
object he could lay his hands on. He hit the animal at last with a
plaster bust of Daniel Webster, and induced the dog to retreat to the
stable and think about home in silence.

It seemed almost ridiculous to resume those sheep again, but he
determined to give the almanac-man one more chance, and soon as they
began to jump the fence he began to count, and after seeing the
eighty-second sheep safely over he was gliding gently in the land of
dreams, when Mrs. Fogg rolled out of bed and fell on the floor with
such violence that she waked the baby and started it crying, while Mr.
Fogg's aunt came down stairs four steps at a time to ask if they felt
that earthquake.

The situation was too awful for words. Mr. Fogg regarded it for a
minute with speechless indignation, and then, seizing a pillow, he
went over to the sofa in the back sitting-room and lay down.

He fell asleep in ten minutes without the assistance of the almanac,
but he dreamed all night that he was being butted around the equator
by a Cotswold ram, and he woke in the morning with a terrific headache
and a conviction that sheep are good enough for wool and chops, but
not worth anything as a narcotic.

* * * * *

Mr. Fogg has a strong tendency to exaggeration in conversation, and he
gave a striking illustration of this in a story that he related one
day when I called at his house. Fogg was telling me about an incident
that occurred in a neighboring town a few days before, and this is the
way he related it:

"You see old Bradley over here is perfectly crazy on the subject of
gases and the atmosphere and such things--absolutely wild; and one day
he was disputing with Green about how high up in the air life could be
sustained, and Bradley said an animal could live about forty million
miles above the earth if--"

"Not forty millions, my dear," interposed Mrs. Fogg; "only forty
miles, he said."

"Forty, was it? Thank you. Well, sir, old Green, you know, said that
was ridiculous; and he said he'd bet Bradley a couple of hundred
thousand dollars that life couldn't be sustained half that way up, and

"Wilberforce, you are wrong; he only offered to bet fifty dollars,"
said Mrs. Fogg.

"Well, anyhow, Bradley took him up quicker'n a wink, and they agreed
to send up a cat in a balloon to decide the bet. So what does Bradley
do but buy a balloon about twice as big as our barn and begin to--"

"It was only about ten feet in diameter, Mr. Adeler; Wilberforce

"--Begin to inflate her. When she was filled, it took eighty men to
hold her; and--"

"Eighty men, Mr. Fogg!" said Mrs. F. "Why, you know Mr. Bradley held
the balloon himself."

"He did, did he? Oh, very well; what's the odds? And when everything
was ready, they brought out Bradley's tomcat and put it in the basket
and tied it in, so it couldn't jump, you know. There were about one
hundred thousand people looking on; and when they let go, you never
heard such--"

"There was not one more than two hundred people there," said Mrs.
Fogg; "I counted them myself."

"Oh, don't bother me!--I say, you never heard such a yell as the
balloon went scooting up into the sky, pretty near out of sight.
Bradley said she went up about one thousand miles, and--now, don't
interrupt me, Maria; I know what the man said--and that cat, mind you,
howling like a hundred fog-horns, so's you could a heard her from here
to Peru. Well, sir, when she was up so's she looked as small as a
pin-head something or other burst. I dunno know how it was, but pretty
soon down came that balloon, a-hurtling toward the earth at the rate
of fifty miles a minute, and old--"

"Mr. Fogg, you know that the balloon came down as gently as--"

"Oh, do hush up! Women don't know anything about such things.--And old
Bradley, he had a kind of registering thermometer fixed in the basket
along with that cat--some sort of a patent machine; cost thousands of
dollars--and he was expecting to examine it; and Green had an idea
he'd lift out a dead cat and take in the stakes. When all of a sudden,
as she came pelting down, a tornado struck her--now, Maria, what in
the thunder are you staring at me in that way for? It was a tornado--a
regular cyclone--and it struck her and jammed her against the
lightning-rod on the Baptist church-steeple; and there she
stuck--stuck on that spire about eight hundred feet up in the air, and
looked as if she had come there to stay."

"You may get just as mad as you like," said Mrs. Fogg, "but I am
positively certain that steeple's not an inch over ninety-five feet."

"Maria, I wish to _gracious_ you'd go up stairs and look after the
children.--Well, about half a minute after she struck out stepped that
tomcat onto the weathercock. It made Green sick. And just then the
hurricane reached the weathercock, and it began to revolve six hundred
or seven hundred times a minute, the cat howling until you couldn't
hear yourself speak.--Now, Maria, you've had your put; you keep
quiet.--That cat stayed on the weathercock about two months--"

"Mr. Fogg, that's an awful story; it only happened last Tuesday."

"Never mind her," said Mr. Fogg, confidentially.--And on Sunday the
way that cat carried on and yowled, with its tail pointing due east,
was so awful that they couldn't have church. And Sunday afternoon the
preacher told Bradley if he didn't get that cat down he'd sue him for
one million dollars damages. So Bradley got a gun and shot at the
cat fourteen hundred times.--Now you didn't count 'em, Maria, and I
did.--And he banged the top of the steeple all to splinters, and at
last fetched down the cat, shot to rags; and in her stomach he found
his thermometer. She'd ate it on her way up, and it stood at eleven
hundred degrees, so old--"

"No thermometer ever stood at such a figure as that," exclaimed Mrs.

"Oh, well," shouted Mr. Fogg, indignantly, "if you think you can tell
the story better than I can, why don't you tell it? You're enough to
worry the life out of a man."

Then Fogg slammed the door and went out, and I left. I don't know
whether Bradley got the stakes or not.



The people of Millburg feel a very intense interest in politics, and
during a campaign there is always a good deal of excitement. The
bitterest struggle that the town has had for a long while was that
which preceded the election of a couple of years ago, when I was not a
resident of the place. One incident particularly attracted a good
deal of attention. Mr. Potts related the facts to me in the following

"You know we nominated Bill Slocum for burgess. He was the most
popular man in the place; everybody liked him. And a few days after
the convention adjourned Bill was standing talking to Joe Snowden
about the election, and Bill happened to remark, 'I've got to win.'
Mrs. Martin was going by at the time; and as Bill was speaking very
rapidly, he pronounced it like this: 'I've got t'win;' and Mrs. Martin
thought he was telling Snowden that he'd got _twins_. And Mrs. Martin,
just like all women about such matters, at once went through the
village spreading the report that Mrs. Slocum had twins.

"So, of course, there was a fuss right off; and the boys said that as
Bill was a candidate, and a mighty good fellow anyhow you took him,
it'd be nothing more than fair to congratulate him on his good luck
by getting up some kind of a public demonstration from his
fellow-citizens. Well, sir, you never saw such enthusiasm. The way
that idea took was wonderful, and all hands agreed that we ought
to have a parade. So they ran up the flags on the hotels and the
town-hall, and on the two schooners down at the wharf, and Judge
Twiddler adjourned the court over till the next day, and the
supervisors gave the public schools a holiday and got up a turkey
dinner for the convicts in the jail.

"And some of the folks drummed up the brass band, and it led off, with
Major Slott following, carrying an American flag hung with roses. Then
came the clergy in carriages, followed by the Masons and Odd Fellows
and Knights of Pythias. And the Young Men's Christian Association
turned out with the Sons of Temperance, about forty strong, in full
regalia. And General Trumps pranced along on a white horse ahead of
the Millburg Guards. After them came the judges on foot, followed by
the City Council and the employes of the gas-works, and the members of
the Bible Society and Patriotic Sons of America. Then came citizens
walking two and two, afoot, while a big crowd of men and boys brought
up the rear.

"The band, mind you, all this time playing the most gorgeous
music--'Star-Spangled Banner,' 'Life on the Ocean Wave,' 'Beautiful
Dreamer,' 'Home Again,' and all those things, with cymbals and
Jenkins' colored man spreading himself on the big drum. And Bill never
knew anything about it. It was a perfect surprise to him. And when the
procession stopped in front of his house, they gave him three cheers,
and he came rushing out on the porch to see what all the noise was
about. As soon as he appeared the band struck up 'See, the Conquering
Hero Comes,' and Major Slott lowered the flag, and General Trumps
waved his hat, and the guard fired a salute, and everybody cheered.

"Bill bowed and made a little speech, and said how honored he was by
such a demonstration, and he said he felt certain of victory, and when
he was in office he would do his best to serve his fellow-citizens
faithfully. Bill thought it was a political serenade; and when he got
through, General Trumps cried,

"'Bring out the twins.'

"Bill looked puzzled for a minute, and then he says,

"'I don't think I understand you. What d'you say?'

"'Bring out the twins,' said Judge Twiddler. 'Less look at 'em.'

"'Twins!' says Bill. 'Twins! Why, what d'ye mean, judge?'

"'Why, the twins. Rush 'em out. Hold 'em in the window, so's we can
see 'em,' said Major Slott.

"'Gentlemen,' said Bill, 'there must be some little, some slight
mistake respecting the--that is, you must have been misinformed about
the--the--er--er--Why, there are no twins about this house.'

"Then they thought he was joking, and the band broke in with 'Listen
to the Mocking-bird,' and Bill came down to find out the drift of
Judge Twiddler's remarks. And when he really convinced them that
there wasn't a twin anywhere about the place, you never saw a worse
disgusted crowd in your life. Mad as fury. They said they had no idea
Bill Slocum would descend to such trickery as that.

"So they broke up. The judge went back to the court-room so indignant
he sentenced a prisoner for twenty years, when the law only allowed
him to give ten. The supervisors, they took their spite out by docking
the school-teachers half a day and cutting off the cranberry sauce
from the turkey dinner at the jail. General Trumps got drunk as an
owl. The City Councils held an adjourned meeting and raised the water
rent on Slocum, and Jenkins' nigger burst in the head of the big drum
with a brick. Mad's no word for it. They were wild with rage.

"And that killed Bill. They beat him by two hundred majority at the
election, just on account of old Mrs. Martin misunderstanding him.
Rough, wasn't it? But it don't seem to me like the fair thing on

Mr. Slocum was defeated, despite the fact that he wished to succeed.
Mr. Walsh, it appears, was disappointed, in the same contest, in a
wholly different manner. Mr. Walsh was the predecessor of our present
coroner, Mr. Maginn. How Mr. Walsh was elected he informed me in these

"You know," said Mr. Walsh, "that I didn't want that position. When
they talked of nominating me, I told them, says I, 'It's no use; you
needn't elect me; I'm not going to serve. D'you s'pose I'm going to
give up a respectable business to become a kind of State undertaker?
I'm opposed to this _post-mortem_ foolery, any way. When a man's blown
up with gunpowder, it don't interest me to know what killed him; so
you needn't make me coroner, for I won't serve.'

"Well, do you believe that they persisted in nominating me on the
Republican ticket--actually put me up as a candidate? So I published a
letter declining the nomination; but they absolutely had the impudence
to keep me on the ticket and to hold mass-meetings, at which they made
speeches in my favor. I was pretty mad about it, because it showed
such a disregard of my feelings; and so I chummed in with the
Democrats, and for about two months I went around to the Democratic
mass-meetings and spoke against myself and in favor of the opposition
candidate. I thought I had them for sure, because I knew more about my
own failings than those other fellows did, and I enlarged upon them
until I made myself out--Well, I heaped up the iniquity until I used
to go home feeling that I was a good deal wickeder sinner than I ever
thought I was before. It did me good, too: I reformed. I've been a
better man ever since.

"Now, you'd a thought people would a considered me pretty fair
authority about my own unfitness for the office, but hang me if the
citizens of this county positively didn't go to the polls and elect me
by about eight hundred majority. I was the worst disappointed of any
man you ever saw. I had repeaters around at the polls, too, voting for
the Democratic candidate, and I paid four of the judges to falsify the
returns, so as to elect him. But it was no use; the majority was too
big. And on election night the Republican executive committee came
round to serenade me, and as soon as the band struck up I opened on
them with a shot-gun and wounded the bass drummer in the leg. But they
kept on playing; and after a while, when they stopped, they poked some
congratulatory resolutions under the front door, and gave me three
cheers and went home. I was never so annoyed in my life.

"Then they sent me round my certificate of election, but I refused to
receive it; and those fellows seized me and held me while Harry Hammer
pushed the certificate into my coat-pocket, and then they all quit.
The next day a man was run over on the railroad, and they wanted me to
tend to him. But I was angry, and I wouldn't. So what does the sheriff
do but come here with a gang of police and carry me out there by
force? And he hunted up a jury, which brought in a verdict. Then they
wanted me to take the fees, but I wouldn't touch them. I said I wasn't
going to give my sanction to the proceedings. But of course it was
no use. I thought I was living in a free country, but I wasn't. The
sheriff drew the money and got a mandamus from the court, and he came
here one day while I was at dinner. When I said I wouldn't touch a
dollar of it, he drew a pistol and said if I didn't take the money
he'd blow my brains out. So what was a man to do? I resigned fifteen
times, but somehow those resignations were suppressed. I never heard
from them. Well, sir, at last I yielded, and for three years I kept
skirmishing around, perfectly disgusted, meditating over folks that
had died suddenly.

[Illustration: FORCED TO DO DUTY]

"And do you know that on toward the end of my term they had the face
to try to nominate me again? It's a positive fact. Those politicians
wanted me to run again; said I was the most popular coroner the county
ever had; said that everybody liked my way of handling a dead person,
it was so full of feeling and sympathy, and a lot more like that. But
what did I do? I wasn't going to run any such risk again. So I went up
to the city, and the day before the convention met I sent word down
that I was dead. Circulated a report that I'd been killed by falling
off a ferry-boat. Then they hung the convention-hall in black and
passed resolutions of respect, and then they nominated Barney Maginn.

"On the day after election I turned up, and you never saw men look so
miserable, so cut to the heart, as those politicians. They said it was
an infamous shame to deceive them in that way, and they declared that
they'd run me for sheriff at the next election to make up for it. If
they do, I'm going to move for good. I'm going to sail for Colorado,
or some other decent place where they'll let a man alone. I'll die in
my tracks before I'll ever take another office in this county. I will,
now mind me!"



Horatio remarks to Hamlet, "The morning cock crew loud;" and I have no
doubt he did; he always does, especially if he is confined during the
performance of his vocal exercises to a narrow city yard surrounded by
brick walls which act as sounding-boards to carry the vibrations to
the ears of a sleeper who is already restless with the summer heat
and with the buzzing of early and pertinacious flies. To such a man,
aroused and indignant, there comes a profound conviction that the
urban rooster is far more vociferous than his rural brethren; that he
can sing louder, hold on longer and begin again more quickly than the
bucolic cock who has communed only with nature and known no envious
longings to outshriek the morning milkman or the purveyor of catfish.
And he who is thus afflicted perhaps may be justified if he regards
"the cock, that trumpet of the morn," as an insufferable nuisance,
whose only excuse for existence is that he is pleasant to the eye and
the palate when, bursting with stuffing, he lies, brown and crisp,
among the gravy, ready for the carving-knife.

But the man who is fortunate enough to dwell in the country during
the ardent summer days takes a different and more kindly view of
chanticleer. If he is waked early in the morning by the clarion voice
of some neighboring cock, he will not repine, provided he went to bed
at a reasonably early hour, for he will hear some music that is not
wholly to be despised. The rooster in the neighboring barn-yard gives
out the theme. His voice is a deep, but broken, bass. It is suggestive
of his having roosted during the night in a draft, which has inflamed
his vocal chords so that his tones have lost their sweetness. It is
as if a coffee-mill had essayed to crow. The theme is taken up by a
thin-voiced rooster a quarter of a mile away, and scarcely has he
reached the concluding note before a baritone cock, a little more
remote, repeats the cadence, only to have his song broken in upon by
a nearer bird who understands exactly the part he is to play in the
fugue. And so it passes on from the one to the other, growing fainter
and fainter in the distance as Shanghai sings to Bantam and Chittagong
to Brahmapootra, until, at last, there is silence; and then, "O hark!
O hear! How thin and clear!" far, far away some rooster sends out a
delicate falsetto note that might have come from a microscopic cock
who is practicing ventriloquism in the cellar. Instantly the catarrhal
chicken in the next yard begins the refrain again with his hoarse
voice; and then again and again the fugue goes round, never tiring the
listener, but always growing more musical, until the sun is fairly up,
the hens awake and the scratching of the day is ready to begin.

The note of the cock has been misrepresented. Shakespeare, following
usage, perhaps, has given it as "cock-a-doodle-doo," and that is the
accepted interpretation of it. But this does not convey the proper
impression. We should say that if human syllables can tell the story
they would assume some such form as:


It is a song that ought to be studied and glorified in print. Think
what a history it has! That identical combination of sounds which
wakes and maddens the sleeping citizen of to-day was heard by Noah and
his family with precisely the same cadence and accent in the ark. It
was that very crow that Peter heard when he had denied his Master. It
is a crow that has come down to us from Eden almost without a moment's
intermission. It is a crow which has passed round the world century
after century, and now passes, as the herald of the coming of the sun.
It may yet be made the theme of a majestic musical composition, now
that Wagner has come to teach men how to build a lyric drama upon
a phrase. Perhaps the coming American national song may have this
familiar crow for its inspiration and its burden. We might do worse,
perhaps, than to take the rooster for our national bird, even if we
reject his song as the basis of our national anthem. We took our eagle
from Rome, as France did hers; would it not have been wiser if we had
taken the cock instead, as France did after the Revolution? The Romans
and Greeks regarded the cock as a sacred bird. The principal thing
that the average school-boy remembers about Socrates is that he killed
himself immediately after ordering that a cock should be sacrificed to
Aesculapius; and some have held that the reason of his suicide was the
vociferousness of the cock, which he wanted to kill in revenge for the
misery it had caused him while he was trying to sleep or to think.

[Illustration: THE EARLY COCK]

The cock is a braver bird than the eagle. He has ever been a bold and
ready warrior, and has worn a warrior's spurs from the beginning. He
has one high soldierly quality: he knows when he is whipped; for who
has not seen him, when defeated in a gallant contest, sneak away to a
distant-corner to stand, with ruffled feathers, upon a single leg, the
very picture of humiliation and despair? And he is vigilant, for
has he not for ages revolved upon church-steeples as the emblem of
watchfulness? He has the homelier virtues. He is a kind father and a
fond as well as a multitudinous husband. He knows how to protect his
family from errant and disreputable roosters, and he is always willing
to stand aside with unsatisfied appetite and permit them to devour a
dainty he has found. He is useful and admirable in his relation to
this world, and he is not without value to the next, for popular
belief has credited him with the office of warning revisiting spirits
to retire from the earth; and when he crows all through the night, the
Katie Kings and other ghostly persons who come from space to rap
upon tables and evoke discordant twangs from guitars are deaf to the
seductive entreaties of the mediums. When

"This bird of dawning singeth all night long,
... then they say no spirit dares stir abroad."

Perhaps the true method of expelling Satan from the land and of
reforming the corruption which afflicts the country is to place
the cock upon our standards and to offer him inducements to crow
perpetually. There should be something to that effect in the political
platforms. A goose saved Rome; why should not a rooster rescue
America? Let the patriot who curses the noisy bird which crows him
from his drowsy couch at an unseemly hour think of these things and
allay his wrath with reflections upon the well-deserved glories of the
matutinal rooster.

I have one neighbor who does not regard the crowing cock with proper
enthusiasm--who is indeed inclined to look upon it with disgust; but
as he has been a victim of the bird's vociferousness, perhaps his
sentiments of dislike for the proud bird may be excused.

The agricultural society of our county held a poultry show last fall,
and Mr. Butterwick, who is a member of the society, was invited to
deliver the address at the commencement of the fair. Mr. Butterwick
prepared what he considered a very learned paper upon the culture of
domestic fowls; and when the time arrived, he was on the platform
ready to enlighten the audience. The birds were arranged around the
hall in cages; and when the exhibition had been formally opened by the
chairman, the orator came forward with his manuscript in his hand.
Just as he began to read it a black Poland rooster close to the stage
uttered a loud and defiant crow. There were about two hundred roosters
in the hall, and every one of them instantly began to crow in the most
vehement manner, and the noise excited the hens so much that they all
cackled as loudly they could.

Of course the speaker's voice could not be heard, and he came to a
dead halt, while the audience laughed. After waiting for ten minutes
silence was again obtained, and Butterwick began a second time.

As soon as he had uttered the words "Ladies and gentlemen," the Poland
rooster, which seemed to have a grudge against the speaker, emitted
another preposterous crow, and all the other fowls in the room joined
in the deafening chorus. The audience roared, and Butterwick grew red
in the face with passion. But when the noise subsided, he went at it
again, and got as far as "Ladies and gentlemen, the domestic barn-yard
fowl affords a subject of the highest interest to the--" when the
Poland rooster became engaged in a contest with an overgrown Shanghai
chicken, and this set the hens of the combatants to cackling, and in a
moment the entire collection was in another uproar. This was too
much. Mr. Butterwick was beside himself with rage. He flung down his
manuscript, rushed to the cage, and shaking his fist at the Poland
chicken exclaimed,

"You diabolical fiend, I've half a mind to murder you!"

Then he kicked the cage to pieces with his foot, and seizing the
rooster twisted its neck and flung it on the floor. Then he fled from
the hall, followed by peals of laughter from the audience and more
terrific clatter from the fowls. The exhibition was opened without
further ceremony, and the dissertation on the domestic barn-yard fowl
was ordered to be printed in the annual report of the proceedings of
the society.

One day while I was talking with Mr. Keyser upon the subject of the
cock he pointed to a chicken that was roosting upon an adjoining
fence, and told me a story about the fowl that I must refuse to

"Perhaps you never noticed that rooster," said Keyser--"very likely
you wouldn't have observed him; but I don't care in what light you
look at him, the more you study him, the more talented he appears.
You talk about your American iggles and birds of freedom, but that
insignificant-looking chicken yonder can give any of them twenty
points and pocket them at the first shot. That rooster has traits of
character that'd adorn almost any walk of life.


"Most chickens are kinder stupid; but what I like about him is that he
is sympathetic, he has feeling. I know last fall that my Shanghai hen
was taken sick while she was trying to hatch out some eggs, and that
rooster was so compassionate that he used to go in and set on that
nest for hours, trying to help her out, so that she could go off
recreating after exercise. And when she died, he turned right in and
took charge of things--seemed to feel that he ought to be a father to
those unborn little orphans; and he straddled around over those eggs
for ever so long. He never got much satisfaction out of it, though.
Most of them were duck eggs, and it seemed to kinder cut him up when
he looked at those birds after they hatched out. He took it to heart,
and appeared to feel low-spirited and afflicted. He would go off and
stand by himself--stand on one leg in a corner of the fence and let
his mind brood over his troubles until you'd pity him. It disgusted
him to think how the job turned out.

"Now, you wouldn't think such a chicken as that would have much
courage, but he'd just as leave fight a wagon-load of tigers as not.
He got a notion in his head that that rooster over there on the
Baptist church-steeple was alive, and he couldn't bear to think that
it was up there sailing around and putting on airs over him, and a
good many times I've seen him try to fly up at it, so's to arrange a
fight. When he found he couldn't make it, he'd crow at the Baptist
rooster and dare it to come down, and at last, when all his efforts
were useless, would you believe that rooster one day attacked the
sexton as the weathercock's next friend, and drove his spurs so far
into the sexton's shanks that he walked on crutches for more'n a week?
I never saw a mere chicken have such fine instincts and such pluck.

"He is a splendid fighter, anyway, just as he stands. Why, he had a
little fuss with Murphy's Poland rooster here some time back, and
instead of going at him and taking the chances of getting whipped,
that chicken actually put himself into training, ate nothing but corn,
took regular exercise, went to roost early, took a cold bath every
morning and got a pullet to rub him down with a corn-cob. It was
wonderful; and in a week or so he was all bone and muscle, and he
flickered over the fence after Murphy's rooster and sent him whizzing
into the next world on the fourth round.

"I never knew such a rooster. Now, do you know I believe that chicken
actually takes an interest in politics? Oh, you may laugh, but last
fall during the campaign he was so excited about something that he
couldn't eat, and the night they had the Republican mass-meeting here
he roosted on the chandelier in the hall, and every time General
Trumps made a good point that chicken would cackle and flap his wings,
as much as to say, 'Them's my sentiments!' And on the day of the
parade he turned out and followed the last wagon, keeping step with
the music and never dropping out of line but once, when he stopped to
fight a Democratic rooster belonging to old Byerly, who was on the
Democratic ticket. And in the morning, after the Republicans won, he
just got on the fence out here and crowed so vociferously you could've
heard him across the river, particularly when I ran up the American
flag and read the latest returns.

"Yes, sir. Now, I know you'll think it's ridiculous when I tell you,
but it's an actual fact, that that very day my daughter was playing
the 'Star-spangled Banner' on the piano, and that rooster, when he
heard it, came scudding into the parlor, and after flipping up on the
piano he struck out and crowed that tune just as natural as if he was
an educated musician. Positive truth; and he beat time with his tail.
He don't crow like any other rooster. Every morning he works off
selections from Beethoven and Mozart and those people, and on Sundays
he frequently lets himself out on hymn-tunes. I've known him to set on
that fence for more'n an hour at a time practicing the scales, and he
nearly kicked another rooster to death one day because that rooster
crowed flat. I saw him do it myself. And now I really must be going.

I think I shall send out and kill that rooster at the first
opportunity. I want Keyser to have one thing less to fib about. He has
too much variety at present.



During one of the cold spells of last winter the gas-meter in my
cellar was frozen. I attempted to thaw it out by pouring hot water
over it, but after spending an hour upon the effort I emerged from the
contest with the meter with my feet and trousers wet, my hair full of
dust and cobwebs and my temper at fever heat. After studying how I
should get rid of the ice in the meter, I concluded to use force
for the purpose, and so, seizing a hot poker, I jammed it through
a vent-hole and stirred it around inside of the meter with a
considerable amount of vigor. I felt the ice give way, and I heard the
wheels buzz around with rather more vehemence than usual. Then I went
up stairs.

I noticed for three or four days that the internal machinery of the
meter seemed to be rattling around in a remarkable manner; it could
be heard all over the house. But I was pleased to find that it
was working again in spite of the cold weather, and I retained my

About two weeks afterward my gas bill came. It accused me of burning
during the quarter about one million five hundred thousand feet of
gas, and it called on me to settle to the extent of nearly three
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. I put on my hat and went down to
the gas-office. I addressed one of the clerks:

"How much gas did you make at the Blank works last quarter?"

"I dunno; about a million feet, I reckon."

"Well, you have charged me in my bill for burning half a million more
than you made; I want you to correct it."

"Less see the bill. Hm--m--m! this is all right. It's taken off of the
meter. That's what the meter says."

"S'pose'n it does; I _couldn't_ have burned more'n you made."

"Can't help that; the meter can't lie."

"Well, but how d'you account for the difference?"

"Dunno; 'tain't our business to go nosing and poking around after
scientific truth. We depend on the meter. If that says you burned six
million feet, why, you _must_ have burned it, even if we never made a
foot of gas out at the works."

"To tell you the honest truth," said I, "the meter was frozen, and I
stirred it up with a poker and set it whizzing around."

"Price just the same," said the clerk. "We charge for pokers just as
we do for gas."

"You are not actually going to have the audacity to ask me to pay
three hundred and fifty thousand dollars on account of that poker?"

"If it was seven hundred thousand dollars, I'd take it with a calmness
that would surprise you. Pay up, or we'll turn off your gas."

"Turn it off and be hanged," I exclaimed as I emerged from the office,
tearing the bill to fragments. Then I went home; and grasping that
too lavish poker, I approached the meter. It had registered another
million feet since the bill was made out; it was running up a score of
a hundred feet a minute; in a month I would have owed the gas company
more than the United States Government owes its creditors. So I beat
the meter into a shapeless mass, tossed it into the street and turned
off the gas inside the cellar.

Then I went down to the _Patriot_ office to persuade Major Slott
to denounce the fraud practiced by the company. While I was in the
editorial room two or three visitors came in. The first one behaved
in a violent and somewhat mysterious manner. He saluted the major by
throwing a chair at him. Then he seized the editor by the hair, bumped
his head against the table three or four times and kicked him. When
this exhilarating exercise was over, the visitor shook his fist very
close to the major's nose and said, "You idiot and outcast, if you
don't put that notice in to-morrow, I'll come round here and murder
you! Do you hear me?" Then he cuffed the major's ears a couple of
times, kicked him some more, emptied the ink-stand over his head,
poured the sand from the sand-box in the same place, knocked over the
table and went out. During all this time the major sat still with a
sickly kind of a smile upon his face and never uttered a word. When
the man left, the major picked up the table, wiped the ink and sand
from his face, and turning to me said,

"Harry will have his little fun, you see."

[Illustration: THE SHERIFF IS MAD]

"He is a somewhat exuberant humorist," I replied. "What was the object
of the joke?"

"Well, he's going to sell his furniture at auction, and I promised to
notice the fact in to-day's _Patriot_, but I forgot it, and he called
to remind me of it."

"Do all of your friends refresh your memory in that vivid manner? If
I'd been in your place, I'd have knocked him down."

"No, you wouldn't," said Slott--"no, you wouldn't. Harry is the
sheriff, and he controls two thousand dollars' worth of official
advertising. I'd sooner he'd kick me from here to Borneo and back
again than to take that advertising away from the _Patriot_. What are
a few bumps and a sore shin or two compared with all that fatness? No,
sir; he can have all the fun he wants out of me."

The next visitor was less demonstrative. He was tall and slender and
clad in the habiliments of woe. He entered the office and took a
chair. Removing his hat, he wiped the moisture from his eyes, rubbed
his nose thoughtfully for a moment, put his handkerchief in his hat,
his hat upon the floor, and said,

"You didn't know Mrs. Smith?"

"I hadn't that pleasure. Who was she?"

"She was my wife. She's been sick some time. But day before yesterday
she was took worse, and she kep' on sinking until evening, when she
gave a kinder sudden jump a couple of times, and then her spirit
flickered. Dead, you know. Passed away into another world."

"I'm very sorry."

"So am I. And I called around to see if I couldn't get some of
you literary people to get out some kind of a poem describing her
peculiarities, so that I can advertise her in the paper."

"I dunno; maybe we might."

[Illustration: MR. SMITH'S GRIEF]

"Oh, you didn't know her, you say? Well, she was a sing'lar kinder
woman. Had strong characteristics. Her nose was the crookedest in the
State--all bent around sideways. Old Captain Binder used to say that
it looked like the jibsail of an oyster-sloop on the windward tack.
Only his fun, you know. But Helen never minded it. She said herself
that it aimed so much around the corner that whenever she sneezed
she blew down her back hair. There were rich depths of humor in that
woman. Now, I don't mind if you work into the poem some picturesque
allusion to the condition of her nose, so her friends will recognize
her. And you might also spend a verse or two on her defective eye."

"What was the matter with her eye?"

"Gone, sir--gone! Knocked out with a chip while she was splitting
kin'ling-wood when she was a child. She fixed it up somehow with a
glass one, and it gave her the oddest expression you ever saw. The
false one would stand perfectly still while the other one was rolling
around, so that 'bout half the time you couldn't tell whether she was
studying astronomy or watching the hired girl pare potatoes. And she
lay there at night with the indisposed eye wide open glaring at me,
while the other was tight shut, so that sometimes I'd get the horrors
and kick her and shake her to make her get up and fix it. Once I got
some mucilage and glued the lid down myself, but she didn't like it
when she woke in the morning. Had to soak her eye in warm water, you
know, to get it open.

"Now, I reckon you could run in some language about her eccentricities
of vision, couldn't you? Don't care what it is, so that I have the
main facts."

"Was she peculiar in other respects?"

"Well, yes. One leg was gone--run over by a wagon when she was little.
But she wore a patent leg that did her pretty well. Bothered her
sometimes, but most generally gave her a good deal of comfort. She was
fond of machinery. She was very grateful for her privileges. Although
sometimes it worried her, too. The springs'd work wrong now and then,
and maybe in church her leg'd give a spurt and begin to kick and
hammer away at the board in front of the pew until it sounded like a
boiler-factory. Then I'd carry her out, and most likely it'd kick at
me all the way down the aisle and end up by dancing her around the
vestibule, until the sexton would rebuke her for waltzing in church.
Seems to me there's material for poetry in that, isn't there? She was
a self-willed woman. Often, when she wanted to go to a sewing-bee or
to gad about somewhere, maybe, I'd stuff that leg up the chimney or
hide it in the wood-pile. And when I wouldn't tell her where it was,
do you know what she'd do?"


"Why, she'd lash an umbrella to her stump and drift off down the
street 'sif that umbrella was born there. You couldn't get ahead of
her. She was ingenious.

"So I thought I'd mention a few facts to you, and you can just throw
them together and make them rhyme, and I'll call 'round and pay you
for them. What day? Tuesday? Very well; I'll run in on Tuesday and see
how you've fixed her up."

Then Mr. Smith smoothed up his hat with his handkerchief, wiped the
accumulated sorrow from his eyes, placed his hat upon his head,
and sailed serenely out and down the stairs toward his desolated

The last caller was an artist. He took a chair and said,

"My name is Brewer; I am the painter of the allegorical picture of
'The Triumph of Truth' on exhibition down at Yelverton's. I called,
major, to make some complaint about the criticism of the work which
appeared in your paper. Your critic seems to have misunderstood
somewhat the drift of the picture. For instance, he says--Let me quote
the paragraph:

"'In the background to the left stands St. Augustine with one foot
on a wooden Indian which is lying upon the ground. Why the artist
decorated St. Augustine with a high hat and put his trousers inside
his boots, and why he filled the saint's belt with navy revolvers and
tomahawks, has not been revealed. It strikes us as being ridiculous to
the very last degree.'

"Now, this seems to me to be a little too harsh. That figure does
_not_ represent St. Augustine. It is meant for an allegorical picture
of Brute Force, and it has its foot upon Intellect--_Intellect_, mind
you! and _not_ a cigar-store Indian. It is a likeness of Captain Kidd,
and I set it back to represent the fact that Brute Force belonged to
the Dark Ages. How on earth that man of yours ever got an idea that it
was St. Augustine beats me."

"It is singular," said the major.

"And now let me direct your attention to another paragraph. He says,

"'We were astonished to notice that while Noah's ark goes sailing
in the remote distance, there is close to it a cotton-factory, the
chimney of which is pouring out white smoke that covers the whole of
the sky in the picture, while the ark seems to be trying to sail down
that chimney. Now, they didn't have cotton-factories in those days;
the thing don't hang. The artist must have been drunk.'

"Now, this insinuation pains me. How would you like it if you painted
a picture of the tower of Babel, and somebody should come along and
insist that it was the chimney of a cotton-factory, and that the
clouds with which the sky is covered were smoke? Cotton-factory! Your
man certainly cannot be familiar with the Scriptures; and when he
talks about the ark sailing down that chimney, he forgets that the
reason why it is standing on one end is that the water is so rough as
to make it pitch. You know the Bible says that arks did pitch 'without
and within.' Now, don't it?"

"I think maybe it does," said the major.

"But that's not the worst. I can stand that; but what do you think
of a man that goes to criticising a work of art, and says--Now just
listen to this:

"'On the right is a boy who has his clothes off and has apparently
been in swimming, and has been rescued by a big yellow dog just as he
was about to drown. What this has to do with the Triumph of Truth we
don't know, but we do know that the dog is twice as large as the boy,
and that he has the boy's head in his mouth, while the boy's hands are
tied behind his back. Now, for a boy to go in swimming with his hands
tied, and for a dog to swallow his head so as to drag him out, appears
to us the awfulest foolishness on earth.'

"You will probably be surprised to learn that your critic is here
referring to a very beautiful study of a Christian martyr who has been
thrown among the wild beasts of the arena, and who is engaged in being
eaten by a lion. The animal is not a yellow dog; that human being has
not been in swimming; and the reason that he is smaller than the lion
is that I had to make him so in order to get his head into the lion's
mouth. Would you have me represent the lion as large as an elephant?
Would you have me paste a label on the Christian martyr to inform the
public that 'This is not a boy who has been treading water with
his hands tied'? Now, look at the matter calmly. Is the _Patriot_
encouraging art when it goes on in this manner? Blame me if I think it

"It certainly doesn't seem so."

"Well, then, what do you say to this? What do you think of a critic
who remarks,

"'But the most extraordinary thing in the picture is the group in
the foreground. An old lady with an iron coal-scuttle on her head is
handing some black pills to a ballet-dancer dressed in pink tights,
while another woman in a badly-fitting chemise stands by them brushing
off the flies with the branch of a tree, with a canary-bird resting
upon her shoulder and trying to sing at some small boys who are seen
in the other corner of the field. What this means we haven't the
remotest idea; but we do know that the ballet-dancers' legs have the
knee-pans at the back of the joint, and that the canary-bird looks
more as if he wanted to eat the coal-scuttle than as if he desired to

"This is too bad. Do you know what that beautiful group really
represents? That old lady, as your idiot calls her, is Minerva, the
goddess of War, handing cannon balls to the goddess of Love as a token
there shall be no more war. And the figure in what he considers the
chemise is the genius of Liberty holding out an olive branch with
one hand, while upon her shoulder rests an American eagle screaming
defiance at the enemies of his country, who are seen fleeing in the
distance. Canary bird! small boys! ballet-girl! The man is crazy, sir;
stark, staring mad. And now I want you to write up an explanation for
me. This kind of thing exposes me to derision. I can't stand it, and,
by George! I won't! I'll sue you for libel."

Then the major promised to make amends, and Mr. Brewer withdrew in a
calmer mood.



An itinerant theatrical company gave two or three performances in
Millburg last winter, and in a very creditable fashion, too. One of
the plays produced was Shakespere's "King John," with the "eminent
tragedian Mr. Hammer" in the character of the _King_. It is likely
that but for an unfortunate misunderstanding the entertainment would
have been wholly delightful. There is a good deal of flourishing of
trumpets in the drama, and the manager, not having a trumpeter of his
own, engaged a German musician named Schenck to supply the music.
Schenck doesn't understand the English language very well, and the
manager put him behind the scenes on the left of the stage, while the
manager stood in the wing at the right of the stage. Then Schenck was
instructed to toot his trumpet when the manager signaled with his
hand. Everything went along smoothly enough until _King John_ (Mr.
Hammer) came to the passage, "Ah, me! this tyrant fever burns me up!"
Just as _King John_ was about to utter this the manager brushed a fly
off of his nose, and Schenck, mistaking the movement for the appointed
signal, blew out a frightful blare upon his bugle. The _King_ was
furious and the manager made wild gestures for Schenck to stop, but
that estimable German musician imagined that the manager wanted him to
play louder, and every time a fresh motion was made Schenck emitted a
more terrific blast The result was something like the following:

_King John_. "Ah, me! this tyrant--"

_Schenck_ (with his cheeks distended and his eyes beaming through
his spectacles). "Ta-tarty; ta-ta-tarty, rat-tat tarty-tarty-tarty,
ta-ta-ta, tanarty-arty, te-tarty."

_King John_. "Fever burns--"

_Schenck_. "Rat-tat-tarty, poopen-arty, oopen-arty,
ta-tarty-arty-oopen-arty; ta-ta; ta-ta-ta-tarty poopen-arty, poopen

_King John_. "Ah, me! this--"

_Schenck_ (ejecting a hurricane from his lungs).
"Hoopen-oopen-oopen-arty, ta-tarty; tat-tat-ta-tarty-ti-ta-tarty;
poopen-ta-poopen-ta-poopen-ta-a-a-a-tarty-whoop ta-ta."

_King John_ (quickly). "Tyrant fever burns me up."

_Schenck_ (with perspiration standing out on his forehead).
"To-ta ta-ta. Ta-ta ta-ta tatten-atten-atten arty te-tarty
poopen oopen-oo-oo-oo-oo-oopen te-tarty ta-ta-ar-ar-ar-te

_King John_ (to the audience). "Ladies and gentlemen--"

_Schenck_. "Ta-ta, ta-ta, ta-ta, poopen-oopen, poopen-oopen, te-ta,
tarty oo-hoo oo-hoo-te tarty arty, appen-arty."

_King John_. "There is a German idiot behind the scenes here who is--"

_Schenck_. "Whoopen-arty te-tarty-arty-arty-ta-ta-a-a-a tat-tarty."

_King John_. "Blowing infamously upon a horn, and--"

_Schenck_. "Poopen-arty."

_King John_. "If you will excuse me--"

_Schenck_. "Pen-arty-arty."

_King John_. "I will go behind the scenes and check him in his wild

_Schenck_. "Poopen-arty ta-tarty-arty poopen-a-a-a-arty

Then _King John_ disappeared and a scuffle was heard, with some
violent expressions in the German language. Ten minutes later a
gentleman from the Fatherland might have been seen standing on the
pavement in front of the theatre with a bugle under his arm and a
handkerchief to his bleeding nose, wondering what on earth was the
matter. In the mean time the _King_ had returned to the stage, and the
performance concluded without any music. After this the manager will
employ home talent when he wants airs on the bugle.

* * * * *

I have been studying the horn to some extent myself. Nothing is more
delightful than to have sweet music at home in the evenings. It
lightens the burdens of care, it soothes the ruffled feelings, it
exercises a refining influence upon the children, it calms the
passions and elevates the soul. A few months ago I thought that it
might please my family if I learned to play upon the French horn. It
is a beautiful instrument, and after hearing a man perform on it at a
concert I resolved to have one. I bought a splendid one in the city,
and concluded not to mention the fact to any one until I had learned
to play a tune. Then I thought I would serenade Mrs. A. some evening
and surprise her. Accordingly, I determined to practice in the garret.
When I first tried the horn I expected to blow only a few gentle notes

Book of the day: