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Black Beetles in Amber by Ambrose Bierce

Part 5 out of 5

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CHORUS OF FOREIGN VOTERS.

MOUNTWAVE:

My friend, I beg that you will lend your ears
(I know 'tis asking a good deal of you)
While I for your instruction nominate
Some certain wrongs you suffer. Men like you
Imperfectly are sensible of all
The miseries they actually feel.
Hence, Providence has prudently raised up
Clear-sighted men like me to diagnose
Their cases and inform them where they're hurt.
The wounds of honest workingmen I've made
A specialty, and probing them's my trade.

HARDHAND:

Well, Mister, s'pose you let yer bossest eye
Camp on my mortal part awhile; then you
Jes' toot my sufferin's an' tell me what's
The fashionable caper now in writhes--
The very swellest wiggle.

MOUNTWAVE:

Well, my lad,
'Tis plain as is the long, conspicuous nose
Borne, ponderous and pendulous, between
The elephant's remarkable eye-teeth
(_Enter Tok Bak._)
That Chinese competition's what ails _you_.

BOTH (_Singing_):

O pig-tail Celestial,
O barbarous bestial,
Abominable Chinee!
Simian fellow man,
Primitive yellow man,
Joshian devotee!
Shoe-and-cigar machine,
Oleomargarine
You are, and butter are we--
Fat of the land are we,
Salt of the earth;
In God's image planned to be--
Noble in birth!
You, on the contrary,
Modeled upon very
Different lines indeed,
Show in conspicuous,
Base and ridiculous
Ways your inferior breed.
Wretched apology,
Shame of ethnology,
Monster unspeakably low!
Fit to be buckshotted--
Be you 'steboycotted.
Vanish--vamoose--mosy--Go!

TOK BAK:

You listen me! You beatee the big dlum
An' tell me go to Flowly Kingdom Come.
You all too muchee fool. You chinnee heap.
Such talkee like my washee--belly cheap!
(_Enter Satan._)
You dlive me outee clunty towns all way;
Why you no tackle me Safflisco, hay?

SATAN:

Methought I heard a murmuring of tongues
Sound through the ceiling of the hollow earth,
As if the anti-coolie ques----ha! friends,
Well met. You see I keep my ancient word:
Where two or three are gathered in my name,
There am I in their midst.

MOUNTWAVE:

O monstrous thief!
To quote the words of Shakespeare as your own.
I know his work.

HARDHAND:

Who's Shakespeare?--what's his trade?
I've heard about the work o' that galoot
Till I'm jest sick!

TOK BAK:

Go Sunny school--you'll know
Mo' Bible. Bime by pleach--hell-talkee. Tell
'Bout Abel--mebby so he live too cheap.
He mebby all time dig on lanch--no dlink,
No splee--no go plocession fo' make vote--
No sendee money out of clunty fo'
To helpee Ilishmen. Cain killum. Josh
He catchee at it, an' he belly mad--
Say: "Allee Melicans boycottee Cain."
Not muchee--you no pleachee that:
You all same lie.

MOUNTWAVE:

This cuss must be expelled.
(_Draws pistol_.)

MOUNTWAVE, HARDHAND, SATAN (_singing_):

For Chinese expulsion, hurrah!
To mobbing and murder, all hail!
Away with your justice and law--
We'll make every pagan turn tail.

CHORUS OF FOREIGN VOTERS:

Bedad! oof dot tief o'ze vorld--
Zat Ivan Tchanay vos got hurled
In Hella, da debil he say:
"Wor be yer return pairmit, hey?"
Und gry as 'e shaka da boot:
"Zis haythen haf nevaire been oot!"

HARDHAND:

Too many cooks are working at this broth--
I think, by thunder, t'will be mostly froth!
I'm cussed ef I can sarvy, up to date,
What good this dern fandango does the State.

MOUNTWAVE:

The State's advantage, sir, you may not see,
But think how good it is for me.

SATAN:

And me.

(_Curtain_.)

ASPIRANTS THREE

DRAMATIS PERSONAE.

_QUICK_:
DE YOUNG _a Brother to Mushrooms_

_DEAD_:
SWIFT _an Heirloom_
ESTEE _a Relic_

_IMMORTALS_:
THE SPIRIT OF BROKEN HOPES. THE AUTHOR.

_MISCELLANEOUS_:
A TROUPE OF COFFINS. THE MOON. VARIOUS COLORED FIRES.

_Scene_--The Political Graveyard at Bone Mountain.

DE YOUNG:

This is the spot agreed upon. Here rest
The sainted statesman who upon the field
Of honor have at various times laid down
Their own, and ended, ignominious,
Their lives political. About me, lo!
Their silent headstones, gilded by the moon,
Half-full and near her setting--midnight. Hark!
Through the white mists of this portentous night
(Which throng in moving shapes about my way,
As they were ghosts of candidates I've slain,
To fray their murderer) my open ear,
Spacious to maw the noises of the world,
Engulfs a footstep.
(_Enter Estee from his tomb._)
Ah, 'tis he, my foe,
True to appointment; and so here we fight--
Though truly 'twas my firm belief that he
Would send regrets, or I had not been here.

ESTEE:

O moon that hast so oft surprised the deeds
Whereby I rose to greatness!--tricksy orb,
The type and symbol of my politics,
Now draw my ebbing fortunes to their flood,
As, by the magic of a poultice, boils
That burn ambitions with defeated fires
Are lifted into eminence.
(_Sees De Young._)
What? you!
Faith, if I had suspected you would come
From the fair world of politics wherein
So lately you were whelped, and which, alas,
I vainly to revisit strive, though still
Rapped on the rotting head and bidden sleep
Till Resurrection's morn,--if I had thought
You would accept the challenge that I flung
I would have seen you damned ere I came forth
In the night air, shroud-clad and shivering,
To fight so mean a thing! But since you're here,
Draw and defend yourself. By gad, we'll _see_
Who'll be Postmaster-General!

DE YOUNG:

We will--
I'll fight (for I am lame) with any blue
And redolent remain that dares aspire
To wreck the Grand Old Grandson's cabinet.
Here's at you, nosegay!

(_They draw tongues and are about to fight, when from an
adjacent whited sepulcher, enter Swift._)

SWIFT:

Hold! put up your tongues!
Within the confines of this sacred spot
Broods such a holy calm as none may break
By clash of weapons, without sacrilege.
(_Beats down their tongues with a bone._)
Madmen! what profits it? For though you fought
With such heroic skill that both survived,
Yet neither should achieve the prize, for I
Would wrest it from him. Let us not contend,
But friendliwise by stipulation fix
A slate for mutual advantage. Why,
Having the pick and choice of seats, should we
Forego them all but one? Nay, we'll take three,
And part them so among us that to each
Shall fall the fittest to his powers. In brief,
Let us establish a Portfolio Trust.

ESTEE:

Agreed.

DE YOUNG:

Aye, truly, 'tis a greed--and one
The offices imperfectly will sate,
But I'll stand in.

SWIFT:

Well, so 'tis understood,
As you're the junior member of the Trust,
Politically younger and undead,
Speak, Michael: what portfolio do you choose?

DE YOUNG:

I've thought the Postal service best would serve
My interest; but since I have my pick,
I'll take the War Department. It is known
Throughout the world, from Market street to Pine,
(For a Chicago journal told the tale)
How in this hand I lately took my life
And marched against great Buckley, thundering
My mandate that he count the ballots fair!
Earth heard and shrank to half her size! Yon moon,
Which rivaled then a liver's whiteness, paused
That night at Butchertown and daubed her face
With sheep's blood! Then my serried rank I drew
Back to my stronghold without loss. To mark
My care in saving human life and limb,
The Peace Society bestowed on me
Its leather medal and the title, too,
Of Colonel. Yes, my genius is for war. Good land!
I naturally dote on a brass band!

(_Sings._)

O, give me a life on the tented field,
Where the cannon roar and ring,
Where the flag floats free and the foemen yield
And bleed as the bullets sing.
But be it not mine to wage the fray
Where matters are ordered the other way,
For that is a different thing.

O, give me a life in the fierce campaign--
Let it be the life of my foe:
I'd rather fall upon him than the plain;
That service I'd fain forego.
O, a warrior's life is fine and free,
But a warrior's death--ah me! ah me!
That's a different thing, you know.

ESTEE:

Some claim I might myself advance to that
Portfolio. When Rebellion raised its head,
And you, my friends, stayed meekly in your shirts,
I marched with banners to the party stump,
Spat on my hands, made faces fierce as death,
Shook my two fists at once and introduced
Brave resolutions terrible to read!
Nay, only recently, as you do know,
I conquered Treason by the word of mouth,
And slew, with Samson's weapon, the whole South!

SWIFT:

You once fought Stanford, too.

ESTEE:

Enough of that--
Give me the Interior and I'll devote
My mind to agriculture and improve
The breed of cabbages, especially
The _Brassica Celeritatis_, named
For _you_ because in days of long ago
You sold it at your market stall,--and, faith,
'Tis said you were an honest huckster then.
I'll be Attorney-General if you
Prefer; for know I am a lawyer too!

SWIFT:

I never have heard that!--did you, De Young?

DE YOUNG:

Never, so help me! And I swear I've heard
A score of Judges say that he is not.

SWIFT (_to Estee_):

You take the Interior. I might aspire
To military station too, for once
I led my party into Pixley's camp,
And he paroled me. I defended, too,
The State of Oregon against the sharp
And bloody tooth of the Australian sheep.
But I've an aptitude exceeding neat
For bloodless battles of diplomacy.
My cobweb treaty of Exclusion once,
Through which a hundred thousand coolies sailed,
Was much admired, but most by Colonel Bee.
Though born a tinker I'm a diplomat
From old Missouri, and I--ha! what's that?

(_Exit Moon. Enter Blue Lights on all the tombs, and a
circle of Red Fire on the grass; in the center the Spirit of
Broken Hopes, and round about, a Troupe of Coffins, dancing
and singing._)

CHORUS OF COFFINS:

Two bodies dead and one alive--
Yo, ho, merrily all!
Now for boodle strain and strive--
Buzzards all a-warble, O!
Prophets three, agape for bread;
Raven with a stone instead--
Providential raven!
Judges two and Colonel one--
Run, run, rustics, run!
But it's O, the pig is shaven,
And oily, oily all!

(_Exeunt Coffins, dancing. The Spirit of Broken Hopes
advances, solemnly pointing at each of the Three Worthies in
turn._)

SPIRIT OF BROKEN HOPES:

Governor, Governor, editor man,
Rusty, musty, spick-and-span,
Harlequin, harridan, dicky-dout,
Demagogue, charlatan--o, u, t, OUT!
(_De Young falls and sleeps._)

Antimonopoler, diplomat,
Railroad lackey, political rat,
One, two, three--SCAT!
(_Swift falls and sleeps._)

Boycotting chin-worker, working to woo
Fortune, the fickle, to smile upon _you_,
Jo-coated acrobat, shuttle-cock--SHOO!
(_Estee falls and sleeps._)

Now they lie in slumber sweet,
Now the charm is all complete,
Hasten I with flying feet
Where beyond the further sea
A babe upon its mother's knee
Is gazing into skies afar
And crying for a golden star.
I'll drag a cloud across the blue
And break that infant's heart in two!

(_Exeunt the Spirit of Broken Hopes and the Red and Blue
Fires. Re-enter Moon._)

ESTEE (_waking_):

Why, this is strange! I dreamed I know not what,
It seemed that certain apparitions were,
Which sang uncanny words, significant
And yet ambiguous--half-understood--
Portending evil; and an awful spook,
Even as I stood with my accomplices,
Counted me out, as children do in play.
Is that you, Mike?

DE YOUNG _(waking):_

It was.

SWIFT _(waking):_

Am I all that?
Then I'll reform my ways.
_(Reforms his ways.)_
Ah! had I known
How sweet it is to be an honest man
I never would have stooped to turn my coat
For public favor, as chameleons take
The hue (as near as they can judge) of that
Supporting them. Henceforth I'll buy
With money all the offices I need,
And know the pleasure of an honest life,
Or stay forever in this dismal place.
Now that I'm good, it will no longer do
To make a third with such, a wicked two.
_(Returns to his tomb.)_

DE YOUNG:

Prophetic dream! by some good angel sent
To make me with a quiet life content.
The question shall no more my bosom irk,
To go to Washington or go to work.
From Fame's debasing struggle I'll withdraw,
And taking up the pen lay down the law.
I'll leave this rogue, lest my example make
An honest man of him--his heart would break.
_(Exit De Young.)_

ESTEE:

Out of my company these converts flee,
But that advantage is denied to me:
My curst identity's confining skin
Nor lets me out nor tolerates me in.
Well, since my hopes eternally have fled,
And, dead before, I'm more than ever dead,
To find a grander tomb be now my task,
And pack my pork into a stolen cask.
_(Exit, searching. Loud calls for the Author, who appears,
bowing and smiling_.)

AUTHOR _(singing):_

Jack Satan's the greatest of gods,
And Hell is the best of abodes.
'Tis reached, through the Valley of Clods,
By seventy different roads.
Hurrah for the Seventy Roads!
Hurrah for the clods that resound
With a hollow, thundering sound!
Hurrah for the Best of Abodes!

We'll serve him as long as we've breath--
Jack Satan the greatest of gods.
To all of his enemies, death!--
A home in the Valley of Clods.
Hurrah for the thunder of clods
That smother the soul of his foe!
Hurrah for the spirits that go
To dwell with the Greatest of Gods;

_(Curtain falls to faint odor of mortality. Exit the Gas_.)

THE BIRTH OF THE RAIL

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

LELAND, THE KID _a Road Agent_
COWBOY CHARLEY _Same Line of Business_
HAPPY HUNTY _Ditto in All Respects_
SOOTYMUG _a Devil_

_Scene_--the Dutch Flat Stage Road, at 12 P.M., on a Night
of 1864.

COWBOY CHARLEY:

My boss, I fear she is delayed to-night.
Already it is past the hour, and yet
My ears have reached no sound of wheels; no note
Melodious, of long, luxurious oaths
Betokens the traditional dispute
(Unsettled from the dawn of time) between
The driver and off wheeler; no clear chant
Nor carol of Wells Fargo's messenger
Unbosoming his soul upon the air--
his prowess to the tender-foot,
And how at divers times in sundry ways
He strewed the roadside with our carcasses.
Clearly, the stage will not come by to-night.

LELAND, THE KID:

I now remember that but yesterday
I saw three ugly looking fellows start
From Colfax with a gun apiece, and they
Did seem on business of importance bent.
Furtively casting all their eyes about
And covering their tracks with all the care
That business men do use. I think perhaps
They were Directors of that rival line,
The great Pacific Mail. If so, they have
Indubitably taken in that coach,
And we are overreached. Three times before
This thing has happened, and if once again
These outside operators dare to cut
Our rates of profit I shall quit the road
And take my money out of this concern.
When robbery no longer pays expense
It loses then its chiefest charm for me,
And I prefer to cheat--you hear me shout!

HAPPY HUNTY:

My chief, you do but echo back my thoughts:
This competition is the death of trade.
'Tis plain (unless we wish to go to work)
Some other business we must early find.
What shall it be? The field of usefulness
Is yearly narrowing with the advance
Of wealth and population on this coast.
There's little left that any man can do
Without some other fellow stepping in
And doing it as well. If one essay
To pick a pocket he is sure to feel
(With what disgust I need not say to you)
Another hand inserted in the same.
You crack a crib at dead of night, and lo!
As you explore the dining-room for plate
You find, in session there, a graceless band
Stuffing their coats with spoons, their skins with wine.
And so it goes. Why even undertake
To salt a mine and you will find it rich
With noble specimens placed there before!

LELAND, THE KID:

And yet this line of immigration has
Advantages superior to aught
That elsewhere offers: all these passengers,
If punched with care--

COWBOY CHARLEY:

Significant remark!
It opens up a prospect wide and fair,
Suggesting to the thoughtful mind--_my_ mind--
A scheme that is the boss lay-out. Instead
Of stopping passengers, let's carry them.
Instead of crying out: "Throw up your hands!"
Let's say: "Walk up and buy a ticket!" Why
Should we unwieldy goods and bullion take,
Watches and all such trifles, when we might
Far better charge their value three times o'er
For carrying them to market?

LELAND, THE KID:

Put it there,
Old son!

HAPPY HUNTY:

You take the cake, my dear. We'll build
A mighty railroad through this pass, and then
The stage folk will come up to us and squeal,
And say: "It is bad medicine for both:
What will you give or take?" And then we'll sell.

COWBOY CHARLEY:

Enlarge your notions, little one; this is
No petty, slouching, opposition scheme,
To be bought off like honest men and fools;
Mine eye prophetic pierces through the mists
That cloud the future, and I seem to see
A well-devised and executed scheme
Of wholesale robbery within the law
(Made by ourselves)--great, permanent, sublime,
And strong to grapple with the public throat--
Shaking the stuffing from the public purse,
The tears from bankrupt merchants' eyes, the blood
From widows' famished carcasses, the bread
From orphans' mouths!

HAPPY HUNTY:

Hooray!

LELAND, THE; KID:

Hooray!

ALL:

Hooray!

_(They tear the masks from their faces, and discharging their
shotguns, throw them into the chapparal. Then they join hands,
dance and sing the following song:)_

Ah! blessed to measure
The glittering treasure!
Ah! blessed to heap up the gold
Untold
That flows in a wide
And deepening tide--
Rolled, rolled, rolled
From multifold sources,
Converging its courses
Upon our--

LELAND, THE KID:

Just wait a bit, my pards, I thought I heard
A sneaking grizzly cracking the dry twigs.
Such an intrusion might deprive the State
Of all the good that we intend it. Ha!

_(Enter Sootymug. He saunters carelessly in and gracefully
leans his back against a redwood.)_

SOOTYMUG:

My boys, I thought I heard
Some careless revelry,
As if your minds were stirred
By some new devilry.
I too am in that line. Indeed, the mission
On which I come--

HAPPY HUNTY:

Here's more damned competition!
_(Curtain.)_

A BAD NIGHT

DRAMATIS PERSONAE.

VILLIAM _a Sen_
NEEDLESON _a Sidniduc_
SMILER _a Scheister_
KI-YI _a Trader_
GRIMGHAST _a Spader_
SARALTHIA _a Love-lorn Nymph_
NELLIBRAC _a Sweetun_

A BODY; A GHOST; AN UNMENTIONABLE THING; SKULLS;
HOODOOS; ETC.

_Scene_--a Cemetery in San Francisco.

_Saralthia, Nellibrac, Grimghast._

SARALTHIA:

The red half-moon is dipping to the west,
And the cold fog invades the sleeping land.
Lo! how the grinning skulls in the level light
Litter the place! Methinks that every skull
Is a most lifelike portrait of my Sen,
Drawn by the hand of Death; each fleshless pate,
Cursed with a ghastly grin to eyes unrubbed
With love's magnetic ointment, seems to mine
To smile an amiable smile like his
Whose amiable smile I--I alone
Am able to distinguish from his leer!
See how the gathering coyotes flit
Through the lit spaces, or with burning eyes
Star the black shadows with a steadfast gaze!
About my feet the poddy toads at play,
Bulbously comfortable, try to hop,
And tumble clumsily with all their warts;
While pranking lizards, sliding up and down
My limbs, as they were public roads, impart
A singularly interesting chill.
The circumstance and passion of the time,
The cast and manner of the place--the spirit
Of this confederate environment,
Command the rights we come to celebrate
Obedient to the Inspired Hag--
The seventh daughter of the seventh daughter,
Who rules all destinies from Minna street,
A dollar a destiny. Here at this grave,
Which for my purposes thou, Jack of Spades--
_(To Grimghast_)
Corrupter than the thing that reeks below--
Hast opened secretly, we'll work the charm.
Now what's the hour?
_(Distant clock strikes thirteen_.)
Enough--hale forth the stiff!

_(Grimghast by means of a boat-hook stands the coffin on end
in the excavation; the lid crumbles, exposing the remains of a
man.)_

Ha! Master Mouldybones, how fare you, sir?

THE BODY:

Poorly, I thank your ladyship; I miss
Some certain fingers and an ear or two.
There's something, too, gone wrong with my inside,
And my periphery's not what it was.
How can we serve each other, you and I?

NELLIBRAC:

O what a personable man!

_(Blushes bashfully, drops her eyes and twists the corner of
her apron_.)

SARALTHIA:

Yes, dear,
A very proper and alluring male,
And quite superior to Lubin Rroyd,
Who has, however, this distinct advantage--
He is alive.

GRIMGHAST:

Missus, these yer remains
Was the boss singer back in '72,
And used to allers git invites to go
Down to Swellmont and sing at every feed.
In t'other Villiam's time, that was, afore
The gent that you've hooked onto bought the place.

THE BODY _(singing):_

Down among the sainted dead
Many years I lay;
Beetles occupied my head,
Moles explored my clay.

There we feasted day and night--
I and bug and beast;
They provided appetite
And I supplied the feast.

The raven is a dicky-bird,

SARALTHIA _(singing):_

The jackal is a daisy,

NELLIBRAC _(singing):_

The wall-mouse is a worthy third,

A SPOOK _(singing):_

But mortals all are crazy.

CHORUS OF SKULLS:

O mortals all are crazy,
Their intellects are hazy;
In the growing moon they shake their shoon
And trip it in the mazy.

But when the moon is waning,
Their senses they're regaining:
They fall to prayer and from their hair
Remove the straws remaining.

SARALTHIA:

That's right, Rogues Gallery, pray keep it up:
Your song recalls my Villiam's "Auld Lang Syne,"
What time he came and (like an amorous bird
That struts before the female of its kind,
Warbling to cave her down the bank) piped high
His cracked falsetto out of reach. Enough--
Now let's to business. Nellibrac, sweet child,
St. Cloacina's future devotee,
The time is ripe and rotten--gut the grip!

_(Nellibrac brings forward a valise and takes from it five
articles of clothing, which, one by one, she lays upon the points
of a magic pentagram that has thoughtfully inscribed itself in
lines of light on the wet grass. The Body holds its late lamented
nose.)_

NELLIBRAC _(singing):_

Fragrant socks, by Villiam's toes
Consecrated to the nose;

Shirt that shows the well worn track
Of the knuckles of his back,

Handkerchief with mottled stains,
Into which he blew his brains;

Collar crying out for soap--
Prophet of the future rope;

An unmentionable thing
It would sicken me to sing.

UNMENTIONABLE THING _(aside):_

What! _I_ unmentionable? Just you wait!
In all the family journals of the State
You'll sometime see that I'm described at length,
With supereditorial grace and strength.

SARALTHIA _(singing):_

Throw them in the open tomb
They will cause his love to bloom
With an amatory boom!

CHORUS OF INVISIBLE HOODOOS:

Hoodoo, hoodoo, voudou-vet
Villiam struggles in the net!
By the power and intent
Of the charm his strength is spent!
By the virtue in each rag
Blessed by the Inspired Hag
He will be a willing victim
Limp as if a donkey kicked him!
By this awful incantation
We decree his animation--

By the magic of our art
Warm the cockles of his heart,
Villiam, if alive or dead,
Thou Saralthia shalt wed!

_(They cast the garments into the grave and push over the
coffin. Grimghast fills up the hole. Hoodoos gradually become
apparent in a phosphorescent light about the grave, holding one
another's back-hair and dancing in a circle.)_

HOODOO SONG AND DANCE:

O we're the larrikin hoodoos!
The chirruping, lirruping hoodoos!
We mix things up that the Fates ordain,
Bring back the past and the present detain,
Postpone the future and sometimes tether
The three and drive them abreast together--
We rollicking, frolicking hoodoos!

To us all things are the same as none
And nothing is that is under the sun.
Seven's a dozen and never is then,
Whether is what and what is when,
A man is a tree and a cuckoo a cow
For gold galore and silver enow
To magical, mystical hoodoos!

SARALTHIA:

What monstrous shadow darkens all the place,

_(Enter Smyler.)_

Flung like a doom athwart--ha!--thou?
Portentous presence, art thou not the same
That stalks with aspect horrible among
Small youths and maidens, baring snaggy teeth,
Champing their tender limbs till crimson spume,
Flung from, thy lips in cursing God and man,
Incarnadines the land?

SMYLER:

Thou dammid slut!

_(Exit Smyler.)_

NELLIBRAC:

O what a pretty man!

SARALTHIA

Now who is next?
Of tramps and casuals this graveyard seems
Prolific to a fault!

_(Enter Needleson, exhaling, prophetically, an odor of decayed
eggs and, actually, one of unlaundried linen. He darts an
intense regard at an adjacent marble angel and places his open
hand behind his ear.)_

NEEDLESON:

Hay?
_(Exit Needleson.)_

NELLIBRAC:

Sweet, sweet male!
I yearn to play at Copenhagen with him!

_(Blushes diligently and energetically.)_

CHORUS OF SKULLS:

Hoodoos, hoodoos, disappear--
Some dread deity draws near!

_(Exeunt Hoodos.)_

Smitten with a sense of doom,
The dead are cowering in the tomb,
Seas are calling, stars are falling
And appalling is the gloom!
Fragmentary flames are flung
Through the air the trees among!
Lo! each hill inclines its head--
Earth is bending 'neath his thread!

_(On the contrary, enter Villiam on a chip, navigating an
odor of mignonette. Saralthia springs forward to put him in
her pocket, but he is instantly retracted by an invisible string.
She falls headlong, breaking her heart. Reenter Villiam,
Needleson, Smyler. All gather about Saralthia, who loudly
laments her accident. The Spirit of Tar-and Feathers, rising
like a black smoke in their midst, executes a monstrous wink of
graphic and vivid significance, then contemplates them with an
obviously baptismal intention. The cross on Lone Mountain
takes fire, splendoring the Peninsula. Tableau. Curtain.)_

ON STONE

_As in a dream, strange epitaphs I see,
Inscribed on yet unquarried stone,
Where wither flowers yet unstrown--
The Campo Santo of the time to be_.

A WREATH OF IMMORTELLES

* * * * *

LORING PICKERING

_(After Pope)_

Here rests a writer, great but not immense,
Born destitute of feeling and of sense.
No power he but o'er his brain desired--
How not to suffer it to be inspired.
Ideas unto him were all unknown,
Proud of the words which, only, were his own.
So unreflecting, so confused his mind,
Torpid in error, indolently blind,
A fever Heaven, to quicken him, applied,
But, rather than revive, the sluggard died.

* * * * *

A WATER-PIRATE

Pause, stranger--whence you lightly tread
Bill Carr's immoral part has fled.
For him no heart of woman burned,
But all the rivers' heads he turned.
Alas! he now lifts up his eyes
In torment and for water cries,
Entreating that he may procure
One drop to cool his parched McClure!

* * * * *

C.P. BERRY

Here's crowbait!--ravens, too, and daws
Flock hither to advance their caws,
And, with a sudden courage armed,
Devour the foe who once alarmed--
In life and death a fair deceit:
Nor strong to harm nor good to eat.
King bogey of the scarecrow host,
When known the least affrighting most,
Though light his hand (his mind was dark)
He left on earth a straw Berry mark.

* * * * *

THE REV. JOSEPH

He preached that sickness he could floor
By prayer and by commanding;
When sick himself he sent for four
Physicians in good standing.
He was struck dead despite their care,
For, fearing their dissension,
He secretly put up a prayer,
Thus drawing God's attention.

* * * * *

Cynic perforce from studying mankind
In the false volume of his single mind,
He damned his fellows for his own unworth,
And, bad himself, thought nothing good on earth.
Yet, still so judging and so erring still,
Observing well, but understanding ill,
His learning all was got by dint of sight,
And what he learned by day he lost by night.
When hired to flatter he would never cease
Till those who'd paid for praises paid for peace.
Not wholly miser and but half a knave,
He yearned to squander but he lived to save,
And did not, for he could not, cheat the grave.
_Hic jacet_ Pixley, scribe and muleteer:
Step lightly, stranger, anywhere but here.

* * * * *

McAllister, of talents rich and rare,
Lies at this spot at finish of his race.
Alike to him if it is here or there:
The one spot that he cared for was the ace.

* * * * *

Here lies Joseph Redding, who gave us the catfish.
He dined upon every fish except that fish.
'Twas touching to hear him expounding his fad
With a heart full of zeal and a mouth full of shad.
The catfish miaowed with unspeakable woe
When Death, the lone fisherman, landed their Jo.

* * * * *

Judge Sawyer, whom in vain the people tried
To push from power, here is laid aside.
Death only from the bench could ever start
The sluggish load of his immortal part.

* * * * *

John Irish went, one luckless day,
To loaf and fish at San Jose.
He got no loaf, he got no fish:
They brained him with an empty dish!
They laid him in this place asleep--
O come, ye crocodiles, and weep.

* * * * *

In Sacramento City here
This wooden monument we rear
In memory of Dr. May,
Whose smile even Death could not allay.
He's buried, Heaven alone knows where,
And only the hyenas care;
This May-pole merely marks the spot
Where, ere the wretch began to rot,
Fame's trumpet, with its brazen bray,
Bawled; "Who (and why) was Dr. May?"

* * * * *

Dennis Spencer's mortal coil
Here is laid away to spoil--
Great riparian, who said
Not a stream should leave its bed.
Now his soul would like a river
Turned upon its parching liver.

* * * * *

For those this mausoleum is erected
Who Stanford to the Upper House elected.
Their luck is less or their promotion slower,
For, dead, they were elected to the Lower.

* * * * *

Beneath this stone lies Reuben Lloyd,
Of breath deprived, of sense devoid.
The Templars' Captain-General, he
So formidable seemed to be,
That had he not been on his back
Death ne'er had ventured to attack.

* * * * *

Here lies Barnes in all his glory--
Master he of oratOry.
When he died the people weeping,
(For they thought him only sleeping)
Cried: "Although he now is quiet
And his tongue is not a riot,
Soon, the spell that binds him breaking,
He a motion will be making.
Then, alas, he'll rise and speak
In support of it a week."

* * * * *

Rash mortal! stay thy feet and look around--
This vacant tomb as yet is holy ground;
But soon, alas! Jim Fair will occupy
These premises--then, holiness, good-bye!

* * * * *

Here Salomon's body reposes;
Bring roses, ye rebels, bring roses.
Set all of your drumsticks a-rolling,
Discretion and Valor extrolling:
Discretion--he always retreated--
And Valor--the dead he defeated.
Brings roses, ye loyal, bring roses:
As patriot here he re-poses.

* * * * *

When Waterman ended his bright career
He left his wet name to history here.
To carry it with him he did not care:
'Twould tantalize spirits of statesmen There.

* * * * *

Here lie the remains of Fred Emerson Brooks,
A poet, as every one knew by his looks
Who hadn't unluckily met with his books.

On civic occasions he sprang to the fore
With poems consisting of stanzas three score.
The men whom they deafened enjoyed them the more.

Of reason his fantasy knew not the check:
All forms of inharmony came at his beck.
The weight of his ignorance fractured his neck.

In this peaceful spot, so the grave-diggers say,
With pen, ink and paper they laid him away--
The Poet-elect of the Judgment Day.

* * * * *

George Perry here lies stiff and stark,
With stone at foot and stone at head.
His heart was dark, his mind was dark--
"Ignorant ass!" the people said.

Not ignorant but skilled, alas,
In all the secrets of his trade:
He knew more ways to be an ass
Than any ass that ever brayed.

* * * * *

Here lies the last of Deacon Fitch,
Whose business was to melt the pitch.
Convenient to this sacred spot
Lies Sammy, who applied it, hot.
'Tis hard--so much alike they smell--

One's grave from t'other's grave to tell,
But when his tomb the Deacon's burst
(Of two he'll always be the first)
He'll see by studying the stones
That he's obtained his proper bones,
Then, seeking Sammy's vault, unlock it,
And put that person in his pocket.

* * * * *

Beneath this stone O'Donnell's tongue's at rest--
Our noses by his spirit still addressed.
Living or dead, he's equally Satanic--
His noise a terror and his smell a panic.

* * * * *

When Gabriel blows a dreadful blast
And swears that Time's forever past,
Days, weeks, months, years all one at last,
Then Asa Fiske, laid here, distressed,
Will beat (and skin his hand) his breast:
There'll be no rate of interest!

* * * * *

Step lightly, stranger: here Jerome B. Cox
Is for the second time in a bad box.
He killed a man--the labor party rose
And showed him by its love how killing goes.

* * * * *

When Vrooman here lay down to sleep,
The other dead awoke to weep.
"Since he no longer lives," they said
"Small honor comes of being dead."

* * * * *

Here Porter Ashe is laid to rest
Green grows the grass upon his breast.
This patron of the turf, I vow,
Ne'er served it half so well as now.

* * * * *

Like a cold fish escaping from its tank,
Hence fled the soul of Joe Russel, crank.
He cried: "Cold water!" roaring like a beast.
'Twas thrown upon him and the music ceased.

* * * * *

Here Estee rests. He shook a basket,
When, like a jewel from its casket,
Fell Felton out. Said Estee, shouting
With mirth; "I've given you an outing."
Then told him to go back. He wouldn't.
Then tried to _put_ him back. He couldn't.
So Estee died (his blood congealing
In Felton's growing shadow) squealing.

* * * * *

Mourn here for one Bruner, called Elwood.
He doesn't--he never did--smell good
To noses of critics and scholars.
If now he'd an office to sell could
He sell it? O, no--where (in Hell) could
He find a cool four hundred dollars?

* * * * *

Here Stanford lies, who thought it odd
That he should go to meet his God.
He looked, until his eyes grew dim,
For God to hasten to meet him.

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