The Project Gutenberg eBook of Frontier Humor in Verse, Prose and Picture, by Palmer Cox
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Title: Frontier Humor in Verse, Prose and Picture
Author: Palmer Cox
Release Date: February 27, 2021 [eBook #64642]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Richard Tonsing, David Edwards, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)

Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1889, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C.


Not only is truth stranger than fiction, but it is funnier also. Just as some men have no eye for colors, but are color blind; so some men have no eye for fun, but are fun blind. Happy is the man who can see the humor which bubbles up in daily life; doubly happy he who, having seen, can tell the fun to others and so spread the glad contagion of a laugh; but thrice happy is the man who, having seen, can tell the fun; and having told, can picture it for others’ eyes and so roll on the rollicking humor, for the brightening of a world already far too sad.

Palmer Cox is one who sees, and tells, and pictures all the fun within his reach, as this volume of Frontier Humor will certainly attest.



Ah Tie—That Deadly Pie, 17
New Year’s Callers, 21
Scenes on the Sidewalk, 26
Sam Patterson’s Balloon, 31
My Canine, 53
Jim Dudley’s Flight, 56
Trials of the Farmer, 67
A Cunning Dodge 69
A Terrible Take in, 73
A Family Jar, 78
The Rod of Correction, 85
Gone from his Gaze, 89
St. Patrick’s Day, 91
The Contented Frog, 97
All Fools’ Day, 103
Finding a Horse-shoe, 107
An Evening with Scientists, 117
Our Table Girl, 120
An Old Woman in Peril, 122
For Better or for Worse, 128
Ode on a Bumble-bee, 131
Dudley and the Greased Pig, 135
Cora Lee, 156
A Brilliant Forensic Effort, 162
Visiting a School, 169
The Rejected Suitor, 171
A Night of Terror, 175
My Drive to the Cliff, 178
Second Sight, 184
The Thief, 187
viiiA Startling Cat-astrophe, 194
A Trip to the Mountains, 196
An Impatient Undertaker, 209
Sermon on a Pin, 218
Dudley’s Fight with the Texan, 221
Roller Skating, 242
A Terrible Nose, 243
A Masked Battery, 249
The Prize I Didn’t Win, 257
The Countryman’s Tooth, 260
Mining Stocks, 262
Ode on a Flea, 265
Fighting it Out on that Line, 268
Dudley’s Fight with Dr. Tweezer, 271
My Neighbor Worsted, 285
The Breathing Spell, 289
A Visit to Benicia, 290
Too Much of Indian, 297
Going Up the Spout, 299
The Glorious Fourth, 309
Jim Dudley’s Sermon, 313
The Poisoned Pet, 337
Seeking for a Wife, 340
David Goyle, the Miller Man, 349
Heels Up and Heads Down, 360
The Bitter End, 362
A Trip to the Interior, 367
Hunting with a Vengeance, 385
The Art Gallery, 391
A Rolling Stone, 396
Riding in the Street Cars, 399
Simon Rand, 408
The Value of a Collar, 420
Quaint Epitaphs, 425
Mistaken Identity, 430
Flirting, and What Came of It, 435
The Champion Mean Man, 436
In a Thousand Years, 452
The Cobbler’s End, 454
ixThe Last of his Race, 460
Jim Dudley’s Race, 462
Oleomargarine, 481
Dining Under Difficulties, 483
Answers to Correspondents, 486
Court-room Scenes, 489
The Mason’s Ride, 493
June, 497
The Anniversary, 500
A Country Town, 503
A Trip Across the Bay, 507
Christmas Eve, 513


Pictorial Title, iii
A Tight Place, 19
Starting Out, 23
A Little Mixed, 24
The Ex-veteran of Waterloo, 27
A Miner who will soon be Minus, 28
May and December, 30
Sam Patterson, 32
Premature Ascent, 37
Attempted Abduction of Sam’s Wife, 39
“Let Me Git Out,” 41
“Go in, Cripple,” 49
A Right Angled Try-ankle, 51
A Prey to Disease, 54
Bob Browser, 57
Old Hurley Welcomes Jim, 61
Old Hurley on the War Path, 65
A Happy Thought, 68
Advance of the Cripple Brigade, 71
“Pay in Advance, Sir,” 75
Emperor Nelson, of San Francisco, 77
Stranger Who Went Not In, 79
The Stranger Who Went In, 83
A Rear Attack, 87
Little Dog’s Leather Collar, 90
In the Morning, 93
In the Evening, 94
In Meditation, 98
Bob’s Attack, 101
Alas! Poor Frog, 102
xiiApril, 103
Sold, 104
The Horse-shoe Charm, 109
Repairs Needed, 113
The President of the Academy, 119
The Old Lady’s Ascent, 124
The Trying Moment, 129
Judge Perkins, 140
Bad for the Fruit Business, 143
Bow-legged Spinny, 146
Nip and Tuck, 151
More Light on the Subject, 154
The Chief, 158
Behind the Bars, 161
The Advocate, 163
Bill of Divorce, 167
Head of his Class, 169
Foot of her Class, 170
A Suitor Nonsuited, 172
A Rousing Event, 176
Slightly Embarrassing, 181
Badly Mixed, 182
The Economist Seeing Double, 186
Richard Roe, the Sardine Thief, 189
The Judge, 191
Neck to Neck, 199
Steam let On, 203
Blow me Up! 207
Business is Business, 213
Bill After his Glass Eye, 223
The Ministerial Looking Man, 227
Startling Disclosures, 234
Busting his Bugle, 244
The One-eyed Swede, 250
Needed Air, 254
The Best Shot, 258
The Ascent, 263
The Descent, 264
Going for the Doctor, 274
xiiiHands Up and Heads Down, 279
Alas! Poor Doctor, 281
One of Heenan’s Mementoes, 292
A Scientific Opening, 294
An Object of Suspicion, 300
On a Raid, 304
The Glorious Fourth, 309
Arousing the Dog, 311
The Final Explosion, 312
Something New, 314
The Doctor’s Scourge, 318
Joe Grimsby, 322
Truth is Powerful, 328
Mr. Spudd, 331
The Old Interrogator, 332
Having a Quiet Time, 339
The Crone, 341
Attending to Business, 345
Partner Wanted, 347
The New Acquaintance, 353
A One-sided Operation, 357
Lively Work, 364
A Mosquito on the Scent, 368
To the Hilt in Blood, 371
The Orchestra, 374
Macbeth, 378
Othello, 379
A Startling Apparition, 383
Advance of the Expedition, 386
Boggs Retrieving his Game, 390
From a Painting by an Old Master, 392
Love’s Young Dream, 394
A Through Passenger, 397
The Signal Station, 400
Rather “Sloroppy,” 403
Sniffing the Battle from Afar, 404
Alighting Gracefully, 407
Revenge is Sweet, 411
The Exploring Party, 413
xiv“Up he Comes,” 416
Unpromising Outlook, 418
No Collar, No Crumbs, 422
The Sexton, 429
The Clergyman in Limbo, 432
Sleepy Doby, 440
Opening his Heart, 444
Swearing to Get Even, 449
A Moving Scene, 457
Slipping Off the Mortal Coil, 458
The Last of his Race, 460
Abe Drake, 464
Kate Rykert, 466
Mrs. O’Laughlan, 472
Just as it Was, 473
Curing People’s Corns, 478
Bummers on the Raid, 484
A Drowsy Jury, 490
The Rocky Road to Masonry, 495
June, 497
The Fire Department, 506
Peering into the Depths, 508
Good-Bye, 509
Sketching from Nature, 510
So Sick! 511
At the Rail, 512


I Sing the woe and overthrow
Of one debased and sly,
Who entered soft a baker’s shop,
And stole a currant pie.
And not a soul about the place,
And no one passing by,
Chanced to detect him in the act,
Or dreamed that he was nigh.
The moon alone with lustre shone,
And viewed him from the sky,
And broadly smiled, as musing on
The sequel by and by.
Ah Tie began, while fast he ran,
To gobble down the pie,
Determined that, if caught at last,
No proof should meet the eye.
18For not the fox, for cunning famed,
The crow, or weasel, sly,
Could with that erring man compare—
The heathen thief, Ah Tie.
But, blessings on the pastry man!
Oh! blessings, rich and high,
Upon the cook who cooked a rag
Within that currant pie!
Dim was the light, and large the bite
The thief to bolt did try,
And in his haste, along with paste,
He gulped the wiper dry.
So thus it proves that slight affairs
Do oft, as none deny,
For good or evil, unawares,
Be waiting with reply.
The influence of every plot,
Or action bold or sly,
Or good or bad, mistake or not,
Will speak, we may rely.
He strove in vain, with cough and strain.
And finger swallowed nigh,
Or in, or out, to force the clout,
Or turn the thing awry.
19But tight as wadding in a gun,
Or cork in jug of rye,
The choking gag, but half-way down,
Fast in his throat did lie.


Not finger point, or second joint,
Or heaving cough, or pry,
Did seem to change its posture strange,
Or work a passage by.
The Lord was there, as everywhere—
His ways who can descry?
20He turned to use the rag that missed
The cook’s incautious eye.
The race was short, as it must be
When lungs get no supply
Of ever needful oxygen,
The blood to purify.
It matters not how large or small
The man, or beast, or fly,
A little air must be their share,
Or else to life “good bye.”
Slow grew his pace, and black his face,
And blood-shot rolled his eye;
And from his nerveless fingers fell
The fragments of the pie.
The broken crust rolled in the dust,
While scattered currants fly;
But ah, the fatal part had gone
Upon its mission high.
Then down he dropped, a strangled man,
Without a witness nigh—
And Death, the grim old boatman, ran
His noiseless shallop by.


Heigh ho, the New Year is again upon us with its open houses, its “hope you’re wells,” and its “bye bye’s.”

Let what will grow dull or rusty, the sweeping scythe of old Time is ever sharp and busy. How tempered must be that blade which nothing can dull or turn aside.

Now as I sit by my window and look pensively out upon the streets I see them crowded with callers, all anxious to increase the number of their acquaintances. They ring, scrape, and wait. The door opens and they disappear from my view, but fancy pictures them out as they doubtless appear inside, embarrassed because of a painful dearth of words. The weather, fortunately, is a standing theme of conversation. It will always bear comment, and but for this how many callers—who perhaps can hardly come under the head of acquaintances—would 22wish themselves well out upon the street again, even before sampling the customary wine and cake.

But Fashion is King, and when he nods, his satellites and minions must obey or perish. But I, who come not under the awe of his scepter, have few calls to make. With a leaking roof and no bolt to my door I can keep “open house” without going to the expense of procuring cake or wine, and for this left-handed blessing may the Lord make me truly thankful.



I have been sitting by my window most of the day, watching gentlemen—who were not so fortunate as myself. And I notice with considerable pain—for as reader and writer cannot understand each other too soon, I may as well inform you at once that I am a philanthropist—that some of these callers present an aspect in the evening quite different from their festive morning appearance. Here, for instance, is a sketch of an exquisite as he appears when starting to make his numerous calls. Mark what grace is in every movement as he struts the pavement with military precision, adjusting his lavender-colored kids as he goes. There is something in the airy set of his stylish new stove-pipe, in the very easy elegance of manner with which he holds the crystal orb over his left optic, that bespeaks the born gentleman. Not to a rise in stocks, he would tell you, or a lucky lottery 24ticket, does he owe his carriage, but to a line of ancestors which he can trace back, perhaps, to the very loins of William the Conqueror.


Look now upon this picture. The unpracticed eye could hardly recognize the gentleman, and yet this is the same sociable but 25absent-minded individual, as he appeared in the evening frogging up the steps of the dwelling opposite, to make his third call upon the same family. He is evidently “turned around,” poor fellow. Ah, this mixing of coffee, tea, and wine, not to mention stronger potations, will play the mischief with a man, and no mistake about it. The young ladies, with mouths ajar and dilated eyes, look out upon him through partially closed blinds. But he recks not of it as he leans backward, pulling and jerking at the bell knob as though he was drawing on a tight boot. The bell-hanger will doubtless have a job in that house to-morrow. The question naturally arises, will they chalk the gentleman down as a caller each time he favors them with his presence? Now that I think of it, they might do so with an easy conscience, for he is certainly not the man he was when he first offered the compliments of the day.



I sit at my window to view the odd sights,
And whatever to study or action invites
Upon the white paper before me I spread,
By aid of my constant companion, the Lead.
A lady of Fashion sails by like a queen,
With ruffles and lace, and her satin de chine;
27Her shimmering train as it now sweeps the street,
Is sadly ensnaring a gentleman’s feet.
It is painfully plain an apology’s due;
But which should apologize first of the two?


And next, an old man full of years shuffles by,
His nose to the dust, and his back to the sky;
The few snowy hairs that still cling to his head
Far down o’er his collar untidily spread.
And who now would think that the feeble, dry hand
That hardly can free the rude cane from the sand,
Once swung a long saber, that cut its way through
The cuirassiers’ helmets at famed Waterloo?
28Old Time warps the figure firm-knitted and square,
He sharpens the feature, he blanches the hair,
And bows the proud head, be it ever so high;
This much hath he done for the man passing by.


Away, to the fields of the diamond and ruby,
The miner sets out, like a consummate booby;
What loads the poor fellow proposes to pack:
His rifle, his shovel, his grub, and his sack;
His rifle to guard against numerous ills,
His shovel to shovel his way to the hills,
29The long leather sack he bears in his hand,
To hold the bright gems he may pick from the sand;
In fancy I see him ascend the steep hill,
Or traverse the plain with his sack empty still;
While down on his head ever scorching-hot rays
Descend from th’ unclouded sun like a blaze,—
Too far from his friends, and too nigh to his foes,
Who welcome the stranger with arrows and bows,
And rifles, and war-clubs, and hatchets of stone,
And weapons for scalping, and lances of bone.
Trudge on to your treasure (?), poor dupe of the knave
And prey of the savage—pass on to your grave.
Now stepping as one, see the new-married pair
Emerge from the church. What a contrast is there!
Come haste to the window and gaze out with me—
Ere they enter their carriage the pair you may see.
Oh, May and December! extremes of the year,
When linked thus together, how odd they appear;
The bride in her teens, with a mind as unstable
As ladders of fame, or a medium’s table;
With a riotous pulse, and her blood all aglow
With the fervor of passion, of pleasure, and show.
The bridegroom is pussy, rheumatic and old,
His teeth are in rubber, his blood thin and cold;
His nose tells a tale of inordinate drams,
The gout has laid hold of his corn-laden yams;
The hairs on his cranium scattering stand,
Like ill-nourished blades on a desert of sand.
I muse as I gaze on their arms softly twined;
How soon some young maidens can alter their mind!
30’Tis scarcely three weeks since I heard her declare,
When speaking of him who now walks by her there,
In marriage she never would give him her hand
Though rolling in gems, like a horse in the sand.
But she clings to him now, as a green, sappy vine


Embraces the trunk of a time-honored pine;
While her looks and her manner would seem to imply
That she never before on a man cast an eye;
But I, delving back through the layers of Time,
Exhume the pale ghost of a youth in his prime,
31Whose feelings were tortured, whose reason was muddied,
Whose pistol was emptied, whose temple was ruddied;
Because of coquetry so heartless and strange,
Her passion for diamonds, her longing for change.
Pass on, happy bride, with your beaming young face;
May happiness still with your moments keep pace,
And never mistrust pierce the groom at your side
That wealth, and not virtues, have won him his bride.


Last night while a party of us were sitting around the table in the cabin of the New World, talking about the “Avitor” and aerial sailing generally, our conversation was interrupted by a dark, raw-boned Hoosier who had entered the cabin shortly after the steamer left her wharf. He kept squirming on his chair for some time, and was evidently anxious to take part in the conversation. “I say, boys, I’m Sam 32Patterson,” he commenced at last, “and if this yer dish is free and no one han’t no objections, I’d like mi’ty well to dip my spoon in.”


All turned to look at the speaker. Even the fat old gentleman who during our conversation had not taken his eyes from the Christian Guardian he was reading, stretched up and peered over the top of the paper at Sam. Before 33any one could reply the Hoosier gave his chair a hitch nigher the table and went on:

“I say, boss,” he continued, addressing his conversation to me, perhaps because I had just been expressing my opinion, “I don’t go a picayune on navigatin’ the air. They ain’t no need of talkin’ and gassin’ about crossin’ the ’tlantic or any of them foolish ventur’s. I happen to know somethin’ about balloonin’, and understand pooty near what you can do and what you can’t do with one of them fellers. I’d a plag’y sight ruther undertake to cross the ocean in a dug-out, than ventur’ in one of them tricky cobwebs; you can’t depend on ’em. Thar like a flea—when a man thinks he’s got ’em he hain’t.”

“Perhaps you are misled by prejudice?” I ventured to remark.

“No, I ain’t nuther,” answered the Hoosier, “I speak from experience. I’ve bin thar.”

“Oh! you have given the aeronautic science some attention then?” I said. “An inventor, I presume?”

“Wal, no. I don’t exactly claim to be an inventor,” he replied; “I reckon I foller’d on 34the old plan, exceptin’ in the material used in constructin’.”

“Did you ever make an ascension?” I asked.

“Wal, yes, I’ve bin up some,” he answered dryly.

“Have you ever been very high?” inquired the fat old gentleman, who seemed to grow interested.

“Perhaps not so high as eagles or turkey-buzzards fly, but a mi’ty sight higher than barn-yard fowls ventur’,” answered the Hoosier. “You see,” he continued, “I was stayin’ down to Orleans once for about a week, and thar was a professor had a balloon in the park hitched to a stake, and he was histin’ people up the length of the rope for two bits a head. I stepped into the cradle that was a hangin’ to it, and went up the length of the rope, and liked it pooty well. I went up three or four times and made considerable inquiries about the manner of constructin’ and inflatin’, as I was cal’latin to rig up one when I got hum to Tuckersville.

“When I got back I telled Sal what I was bent on doin’. She tried pooty hard to git the notion out of my head, but t’was stuck thar, like 35a bur to a cow’s tail. I telled her it mout be the makin’ of us, so arter a while she gin in, and as silk was too alfired expensive Sal gin me a lot of bed sheets and helped me sew ’em together down in the cellar. We put it together down thar ’cause I didn’t want any of the neighbors to know what was up, until I could astonish ’em some fine mornin’ by risin’ above the hull caboodle, and for wunst lookin’ down on some on ’em that was snuffin’ around and tryin’ to look down on me mi’ty bad.

“I used a rousin’ great corn basket for the cradle, and arter she was all ready for inflatin’ I had my life insured, ’cause I didn’t want Sal to suffer by any of my ventur’s. Then I went to Sol Spence, the lawyer, and had him draw up the writin’s of a will, and while he was doin’ it he worked the balloon secret out of me, and wanted me to take him along. I telled him ’twas pooty risky business, and that he’d hev to run some chances, as I was cal’latin’ on seein’ what clouds war made of before I came down. He said them war his sentiments exactly; that he allers had a great hankerin’ to git up thar and see what sort of a spongy thing they war, anyhow.

36“I didn’t object much; I reckoned the sheets war good for it, though he went over two hundred, but I cal’lated he’d do instead of ballast, and be company besides. So I took some bed cord and slung another corn basket below the one I was gwine in, and after dark we hauled the great floppy thing out into the back yard, and arter we got it histed up on stakes we commenced buildin’ fires under her to git the gas up and gittin’ things ready ginnerally. About sun-up we had her all ready to step into. Spence had his sketch book along, cal’latin’ on taking some bird’s-eye views, and I had a bottle of tea, cal’latin’ to empty it gwine up, and fill it with rain water while up thar. The thing was a-wallopin’ and rollin’ around the yard mi’ty impatient to git off. I hitched her first to the grindstone frame, but she was snakin’ that around the yard, and the dogs commenced sech an all-fired yelpin’ and scuddin’ round and watchin’ of it through the fence, that we were obliged to put ’em in the cellar, ’cause we didn’t want the hull neighborhood attractid by ther barkin’. Then we fastened the balloon to the shed post, and left Sal to watch her while we war eatin’ a snack of breakfast. Pooty soon arter we heard Sal a-shoutin’ that she was a-gwine off with the wood-shed. So we ran out mi’ty lively, and had no time to spare, nuther. I jumped up and caught one rope, and Spence got hold of another. We couldn’t fetch it down till Sal caught hold of my leg, and between us three we pulled it back agin.


38“She gin a sort of puff and come down pooty sudden when near the ground, and one of the posts of the shed came fair onto the back of a leetle pet hog that was rootin’ round the yard, and knuckled his back down into the chips, leavin’ his head and hinder parts stickin’ up. He commenced sich an uproarious squealin’ you could hear him more’n two miles. While Spence and I were fussin’ at the ropes to unloose her from the shed, she took another sudden start up agin and shot away from us quicker than scat. Sal happened to have hold of a rope at the time, and up she went into the air, scootin’ like a rocket. Sal was a plucky critter. Shoot me, if she wasn’t as full of grit as a sandstone. She could have let go that rope, but she wouldn’t; she wanted 39to fetch the consarn down agin, and was bound to cling to her until she did. Blow me, if I didn’t think for a while I was goin’ to lose the old woman. Thar she was a-hangin’ on to the end of the rope, hollerin’ like a hull regiment chargin’ a battery, and trailin’ and swingin’ about without any notion of lettin’ go.


40“We had a lively time of it gettin’ her down agin too, now I can tell you. I jumped over a fence into the garden, and snatchin’ up a rake commenced to scrape at her, and finally the teeth caught in her dress, and then I had a pooty good hold so long as Sal was good for it. Spence got hold of another rope that was danglin’ around, so between us we got her down the second time. Then I sung out to Spence, ‘Spence,’ ses I, ‘climb into yer basket and let’s be off, or the hull town will be here and stop us gwine.’ So we clim’ into our baskets and flung out Sal’s flatirons, that we had for ballast, and up we shot like a spark up a chimney. I hollered back to Sal to put the hog out of pain and stop the squeakin’, and the last I seed of her as we went round the gable, she was a whackin’ him over the head with the back of an ax, and he was a hollerin’ wuss and wuss.

“The wind took the balloon over a swamp back of the village, where no person seemed to 41see us, and then the world began to drop away pooty nicely. ’Twant long till I heered Spence callin’ out, mi’ty skeered like:—


42“‘I guess, Sam, you mout as well land her and let me git out.’

“‘Are you afeered, Spence?’ ses I, jest that way.

“‘No,’ he answered. ‘I arn’t afeered, but I reckon my fam’ly would be mi’ty uneasy about this time if they knowed whar I was, and I begin to feel pooty sowlicitous about ’em.’

“‘This yer thing is somethin’ like law,’ I ses, ‘when yer’ into her you’ve got to keep goin’ till somethin’ gins out. She hasn’t got a rope a holdin’ of her down now, Spence, and as for yer’ fam’ly, I reckon the’re a mi’ty sight safer than you be, so if you have any spare sowlicitude, you had better be a tuckin’ it onto yourself. ‘Sides,’ I contin’ed, ‘I hain’t studied into the lettin’ down part of it half so much as into the rizin’.’

“‘Jerusalem!’ he shouted. ‘I thought you war famil’ar with the hull thing or I’d have as soon thought of gwine up in a whirlwind.’

“‘I fancy I do know considerable about it,’ I ses.

“‘Then why can’t you stop her right here?’ he hollered, lookin’ up, pooty pale.

43“‘I cal’late we’ve got to keep ascendin’ while the gas holds out,’ I answered.

“‘Thunder and lightnin’!’ he hollered, jest that way, ‘and what are you agwine to do arter the gas gins out?’

“‘I reckon,’ ses I, ‘we’ll come down agin.’

“‘A flukin’?’ he asked.

“‘Perhaps so,’ ses I. ‘I cal’late we’ll come down faster than we’re gwine up, but I’m hopin’ to catch an undercurrent of a’r that will sweep us along, and let us down sort of gently.’

“Just as we war talkin’ somethin’ gin a whoppin’ crack overhead, and she began to drop down by the run pooty lively.

“‘What’s that?’ shouted Spence. ‘I think I hear a sort of tearin’ noise up thar; ain’t somethin’ ginnin’ out?’

“‘I reckon the old woman’s sheets have commenced to gin out,’ I said, kind of careless like, though beginnin’ to feel mi’ty narvous all to wunst. On lookin’ down, I seed Spence was a cranin’ out of the basket and lookin’ down, jest as pale as could be.

“‘Sufferin’ pilgrims!’ he shouted. ‘Can’t you throw out somethin’, Sam, and lighten her 44a leetle? She’s droppin’ straight down, like an aerolite.’

“‘I hain’t got anythin’ to throw out exceptin’ the tea bottle, and that ar’ is e’enmost empty,’ I ses. ‘I cal’late we’ve got to take our chances; if you hain’t forgot yer childhood prayers, you mout as well be a runnin’ of ’em over, for things are beginnin’ to look mi’ty skeery jest now, I can tell ye.’

“Pooty soon I heer’d him a mumblin’ to himself, and I allers allowed he was prayin.’

“We war now about steeple high, and as I had expected, the wind caught us and began to sweep us around pooty loose. As we went wallopin’ over St. Patrick’s church, Spence’s basket struck the spire and was a spillin’ of him out like a lobster out of a market basket. I peered over and seed he was e’enmost gone, so I hollered, ‘Go for the spire, Spence, it’s your only chance.’ He seemed to be of the same mind, for as I spoke he was a grabbin’ for it and managed to git hold of one end of the weather-vane. I reckon if he had got hold on both ends he’d ha’ bin all right; but things war gettin’ desperate and he had to take what 45come. The balloon riz some when he fell out, and as it was a movin’ off I looked back to see how he was a makin’ it. He was a hangin’ thar like a gymnast, a kickin’ and a wormin’ and the steeple a rockin’. But he was too awful heavy; he couldn’t draw himself up nohow. Pooty soon the tail of the fish gin out, and down he slid along the steeple like a shot coon down a ’simmon tree.

“Fortunately he struck the roof and over it he rolled, clawin’ and a scratchin’ the shingles as he went. But it was ‘all go and no whoa,’ as the boy said when he was a slidin’ the greased banister. Old Father McGillop was just comin’ out of the vestry door after matins as Spence come a scootin’ over the eaves and down kerflumix right on top of him. This, ye see, sort of broke the fall for Spence, but it spread the distress. He was so heavy and come with such force he disjinted the neck of his Riverence, and shoved it so far down into the body that his ears were restin’ on the shoulders. They had to git a shovel to dig him out of the ground, and Doc Willoughby was a fussin’ over him more than five hours, a yankin’ 46his neck out of his body, and pressin’ his ears into shape, and”——

“Stop now,” said the fat old chap, who was worked up to the top notch of attention, “do you mean to say he lived after his neck was dislocated?”

“Wal, I reckon, boss,” said the narrator, as he took a fresh quid of tobacco, “I hain’t made no sech unreasonable assertion. I was sayin’ they hauled his neck back, and put his ears in place agin (or ruther one of ’em, for the butcher’s dog eat t’other one before the old sexton could git to it), so that he mout make somethin’ like a decent appearance in the coffin.

“Soon as Spence went over the eave I lost sight of him, for I was drivin’ pooty briskly over Kent’s corn patch, and as I came sweepin’ down by the widder O’Donnell’s she was in the yard gittin’ an apron full of chips. I reckon she heer’d a burrin’ sound overhead, ’cause she looked up, and when she seed the balloon she gin a squall and cried out somethin’ about protection. I reckoned she was callin’ on the saints, but had no time just then to listen. Before she had gone many steps she dropped, 47and I allowed she had gone down in a faintin’ fit.

“I was a drivin’ and a driftin’ over the village like a thistle-down, for more than two hours, and the dogs war a barkin’ and the men and wimmin a hollerin’ and a runnin’ arter it wherever it drifted. The barn-yard fowls war a cacklin’ and a screamin’. Jewillikens! didn’t I make a rumption among them though! You’d think thar war forty thousand hawks and turkey-buzzards a hoverin’ over the village, by the way they scattered, aginst the winders, ahind stun walls, into the wells, under lumber piles and currint bushes; such a scrougin’ and squattin’ and scootin’ I never did see. Parson Jones had thirteen lights of glass smashed by fowls batterin’ aginst the winders tryin’ to git in, and Dud Davis, the blacksmith, fished seven dead hens, two turkeys, a guinea fowl, and two small pigs out of his well next day, whar they sought refuge and war drown’d. Dad Kent gin me six traces of good seed corn next fall. He said barrin’ the killin’ of Priest McGillop, it was the best thing that ever happened in Tuckersville. He said I did more for his crop than if he had 48a scarecrow standin’ astride every hill. Thar wasn’t a crow flew within two miles of the village for mor’n a fortnight, and by that time the corn was grown so they couldn’t pull it up.

“Pooty soon the balloon come down about house high and druv over toward the dee-pot. I was a hopin’ she’d catch on the telegraph wire, but she skimm’d over, like a swallow over a fence, and immediately riz up tree high agin, where scrape, slap, slash, she went into an ole pine that stood out alone in the field. I was scratched pooty bad, but hung on to the limbs, and arter a while slid down the tree leavin’ the balloon hangin’ in the tree-top. Great turnips! if all Tuckersville wasn’t down thar in five minutes. Thar war young ‘uns runnin’ around half-dressed, with corn-dodgers in their hands, and wimmin with babies in their arms. It was like a dog fight, only, as the feller said when describin’ the nigger by the mulatter, it was more so.



“The train was delayed half an hour that mornin’, ’cause the engineer, conductor and all hands jumped off the cars and ran down to the balloon. Peg-leg Dibbly, the Mexican war veteran, was thar, hobblin’ around among the rest. He was in such a hurry to git down to the tree he wouldn’t go around by the road, but started in to take a short cut across the marsh with the crowd. And he had a sweet, sweatin’ time of it too, now I can assure you. First his cane would stick, and just about the time he would git that out, down would slide his iron-shod leg fully a foot into the mud, and stake 50him thar like a scarecrow. Then he would look down to where the people were standin’, and jerk and swear until the want of breath only would make him let up. He got down thar after a while though, but he had to crawl considerable before he could do it; and arter he got thar he was bobbin’ here and bobbin’ thar, tryin’ to git a better look up into the tree, until at last he stumbled and fell across one of Dud Davis’ young ‘uns, and gin her left leg a compound fractur’. She set up a screamin’, and he was so weak and frightened he couldn’t git up agin no how, but lay thar gruntin’, and sprawlin’, and kickin’ his one leg around. The blacksmith was thar himself, and when he seed his young ’un down in the mud with her leg broke, you never seed a man so mad in all your born days. He jest ran and grabbed the old pensioner by the coat collar, and slung him mor’n fifteen feet, landin’ him slidin’ on his back in the mud, like a crawfish.



“About the same time Tubbs, the cooper, was a lookin’ up, and he seed a bough springin’ up, and he allowed the balloon was comin’ down; so he started to run, and stepped on the foot of Kent’s snappin’ bull-dog, that was a settin’ thar lookin’ up the tree, thinkin’ thar must be a coon up it. The cur whirled round mad, and set his teeth into the nighest thing to him, which happened to be old Polly Alien’s ankle. But he got more than he bargained for, though, for she was so tuff that his teeth stuck thar, and she was a screamin’ and a runnin’ hum, draggin’ him arter her mor’n half the way. I never did see sich an 52excitin’ time. School was dismissed, and there wasn’t a lick of work done in Tuckersville the hul day. The hul talk was ‘Sam Patterson’s balloon, Sam Patterson’s balloon.’ I didn’t have to pay a picayune for anything for mor’n three weeks. Parson Jones preached a tellin’ sermon about the balloon, and thar wasn’t standin’ room in the church; they had to keep the windows open and let people standin’ on the outside stick their heads in and listen. He likened it first to youth, when it was a rollin’ around in the back yard, whar nobody seed it, impatient and ambitious to rise. Then like unto manhood, when it was up, a bustin’ and droppin’ down agin. Next he said it resembled old age, when it was in rags a floppin’ around in the tree, more for observation than use. Thar wasn’t hardly a dry eye in the hul meetin’ house. Hard-hearted old sinners cried like teethin’ babies.

“The balloon hung in the tree all summer, and every day thar’d be a crowd of people starin’ at it, like cats at a bird cage. A photographer came the hul way from town, and took lots of views of the remains; and one of Frank Leslie’s special artists come rattlin’ down 53thar, and sot on a stun wall for two days drawin’ sketches of it. He said it was the most spirited subject he had sot eyes on since he sketched the hoop-skirt Jeff Davis was captured in. But I’m gettin’ ruther dry. Ain’t some of you fellers agwine to call on the stimilints?”


“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”
Some fond poets sing of their lady-love’s eyes,
Or lovers who sail the seas over;
But poet-like I shall gaze up at the skies,
And muse of my little dog Rover.
The canine I sing, to disease is a prey;
The mange, the distemper, and flea,
Have all had their turn, and have worn him away;
His shadow you scarcely can see.
54From earliest light, until late in the night,
He’s dodging hot water and sticks;
I’m shamed to confess it, but truth I must write,
He’s a foot-ball that every one kicks.
I hear his thin cry, and his frightened “ki-yi,”
Almost any hour of the day;
And Bridget’s “Bad ’cess to the likes of your Skye,
Sure he’s here, and he’s there like a flay.”
Upon his poor body the hair has all died,
’Tis smooth and as bare as your hand;
I vow I believe there’s no life in his hide,
It looks just as if it were tanned.
His blood is so thin that he never is warm,
And keenly he feels the cold weather;
He shivering stands with tail end to the storm,
And his four feet all huddled together.
55He suffers sad woe, as his body doth show,
His face bears a hopeless expression;
He seems to be wondering why he’s a foe,
Who never commits a transgression.
He’s only a dog in the dark to be sure,
But I who am mourning his plight,
Know accident often exalts the low boor,
And crowds merit down out of sight.
How oft do we see the chief dunce of the town,
With head like a turnip or melon,
Advanced to the Bench, or clergyman’s gown,
Though thought to be born for a felon.
Dost laugh at my song? Well I care not a pin,
My notion I never shall lose;
I know that my dog hath a spirit within,
That cannot be crushed by abuse.


That blabbing Hoosier, Bob Browser, has found me out, and paid me a call, boring me with his confounded stories. Even as a hungry parrot when crackers are in view, or as a miller’s hopper when water is high and the farmer’s meal bags low, he rattles right along with copious discourse.

“What’s that you say! Did you know Jim Dudley? What! him as the boys in Gosport used to call Carrot Top Jim? Wal, I’ll be rattled if that ain’t queer. Wasn’t he the allfiredest shirk you ever did see? Perhaps you remember how sudden he left Gosport jest before the war? Oh, that’s so, sure enough, you went north sometime afore that.



“Wal, that chap was etarnally gettin’ in some scrape or another; I do jest think I’ve helped that Jim out of more close corners than there are buildin’s in this yer town. Yer see him and me was great chums, and roomed at the same house on York Street. Jim was a courtin’ a butcher’s darter that lived out near the cem’t’ry for ‘bout a year afore he left, leastwise he was a totin’ of her around considerable, takin’ her to picnics, circuses, hoss races, and the like. I 58kind of had my doubts about him gettin’ married, ’cause he was a pooty sot ole batch’, and sometimes I’d ask him when the nuptils were a comin’ off; but he’d allers shuffle out of it by sayin’ when they did come I’d git an invite, and kind of larf it off jest that way.

“One night pooty soon arter I had got into bed I heered some one thumpin’ at my door, and afore I had time to say anythin’ Jim Dudley was plum across the room and standin’ by the bedside.

“‘Bob,’ ses he, jest that way, ‘we’ve got to part agin’ and I’ve come to gin your paw a shake afore I leave.’

“‘What’s up now, Jim?’ ses I, pooty surprised and settin’ up amazin’ fast in bed to strike a light, ’cause I allers liked Jim. Drat my pictur, if I didn’t. He stuck to me like a hoss-leech when I was down with the yaller fever. I was peeled down so mi’ty thin that I didn’t make a shadder only arter I’d been eatin’ corn-dodgers or somethin’ that wasn’t transparent. Soon as I got a light I seed his face was tombstun white exceptin’ some long red scratches onto it, that made me think thar had been cats a-clawin’ of him.

59“‘I haint time to gin perticulars now, but water’s gettin’ too plaguey shaller for me in Gosport,’ ses he, jest that way. ‘And I’m gwine to pull out for deeper soundin’s. I want to head off the night express, and as I’ve got only fifteen minutes to do it in, must be a movin’,’ and givin’ my hand a rattlin’ shake he turned, and before I could say ‘scat,’ he was goin’ down the stairs like a bucket fallin’ down a well, and I thought he hadn’t more than got to the middle of the flight when I heer’d the door slam behind him.

“I lay awake thar for hours thinkin’ and wonderin’ what on airth could have turned up to make Jim dust out of town so all-fired sudden, bein’ as how he was doin’ pooty well pecun’ar’ly—that is, for him.

“I kind of mistrusted somethin’ had gone wrong with him out to old Hurley’s—the butcher’s. So the next day, bein’ kind of curious, I took a stroll out that way, to look around a leetle and see what was goin’ on. I seed a glaz’er a fussin’ round a winder, and old Hurley sittin’ on the steps lookin’ mi’ty solemn at a hat—which I knowed was Jim’s—that was a-hangin’ on a bush in the garden.

60“Some months arter this the war was a bilin’ and I jined a company and went down to Cairo to go into camp. By jingo! would you believe it? almost the first man I ran ag’in’ was Jim Dudley! He’d enlisted in a hoss regiment up to St. Louis, and come down to camp a few days afore me. We were both mi’ty tickled to meet one another right thar, so we p’inted for a place where we could have a straight-out chat, and while we were sittin’ thar, talkin’ about old times, ses I to him:—

“‘Jim, now we’re a gwine down into this blamed muss, and the chances are pooty good for us to git chawed up down thar, and nothin’ more to be heer’d about us—now s’posin’ you tell a feller what made you pull up stakes and dust from Gosport so amazin’ fast, last Fall.’

“‘Wal, Bob,’ ses he, ‘seein’ we’ve met agin, I don’t mind if I do ‘lighten you a leetle in regard to my leavin’ so sudden. You remember I’d bin over to Franklin some time afore I left, and jest got back to Gosport that day, and in the evenin’ I started out to see Mag. I was a hopin’ the old man wouldn’t be to hum—he ginerally was away Saturday nights.



“‘’Twas dark afore I got there, leastwise the bats were a flitterin’ aroun’ the gables and apple trees, a-lookin’ for thar suppers. I gin the bell-knob a jerk anyhow, and pooty soon old Hurley hisself came to the door, with a candle in his hand. He was in his shirt-sleeves, and I reckon he had jest come hum from work. He kind of gin a start, as though he was surprised to see me; and I gin a start, too, and jumped 62back from the door pooty quick, for I thought I heer’d him grit his teeth a leetle—somethin’ like a sheep arter she’s bin eatin’ beans—but I wasn’t sartain.

“‘Come in, M-i-s-t-e-r Dudley,’ ses he, kind of low and coaxin’ like. ‘I hope you’ve bin enjoyin’ good health. I hope you’ve come prepared to stop with us awhile.’

“Thankin’ him for his kind wishes, I follered him along, wonderin’ what in time made him so amazin’ solicitous for my health all to wunst, ’cause I knowed the old man hated me worse than a rat does pizen.

“He didn’t stop in the parlor where some folks were sittin’, but kept on into a small room, beck’nin’ me to foller, which I did, though I was beginnin’ to feel pooty suspicious about the old feller’s movements.

“‘Stay here a minute, Mr. Dudley,’ ses he, arter I had sot down. ‘Make yourself comfortable until I come back agin,’ he continued, jest that way, and then he stepped out.

“I tell you, I begun to feel wonderful fidgity and kind of prickly down along the spine; and when I heer’d the old man comin’ back, and 63heer’d his feet slappin’ down heavier and faster than when he went out, then I knowed thar’ was trouble ahead. I could feel a distressin’ presentiment jest a-bubblin’ through my veins, and limberin’ up all my jints.

“Pooty soon the old man came in, a-holdin’ his left hand in front of him doubled up tight as though for boxin’, and keepin’ his right hand ahind him, kind of careless like, as though ’twas there by accident. I knowed ’twas no nat’ral position, and kept peerin’ round, for I ’spected he had a cow-hide, and was calculatin’ to gin me a sound tannin’; but when he went to shet the door ahind him, I got a glimpse of the alfiredest great butcher’s cleaver you ever yet sot eyes on, a-shinin’ jest as bright as could be. Jerusalem! if that bone-splitter didn’t make me begin to feel tarnation uneasy, then thar’s no use sayin’ it. My heart flopped up so far into my throat it actewelly seemed as though I could taste it.

“‘I’ve got very pressin’ business down town, and guess I’d better be a-movin,’ ses I, rizin’ up.

“‘S-i-t d-o-w-n,’ ses he, easy, that way, as though he wasn’t disturbed any, though I seed 64he was awful pale. ‘Don’t be in a hurry,’ he went on, keepin’ his back flat against the door the whole time. ‘You’ve been pokin’ around here ‘bout long enuff,’ said he, ‘and I think it time you ’tended to bisness.

“‘I’ve sent for Father Quinn,’ he contin’ed, ‘cal’latin’ to hev you jined to the family rite off, afore you leave the house,’ and he gin the cleaver a sweepin’ flourish; but while he was a-doin’ it he sort of took his eyes away from me, and before he could say ‘scat,’ I jest shet my eyes tight, and made one detarmined lunge for the winder, head fust, like a sheep through a clump of briars, and went a-crashin’ plum out on all fours into the gardin, takin’ the hull lower sash along with me.



“The old man gin one rattlin’ shout like a wounded gorrillar, when he seed me go. I knowed he’d be arter me mi’ty quick, so I broke through the gardin for the toll-road, the blarsted ole sash a-hangin’ around my neck like a hog-yoke, catchin’ on everythin’ as I ran. I hadn’t more’n struck the road and begun to dust along it, when I heered the old man comin’, a-snortin’ an’ a spatterin’, down the turnpike ahind me. I ‘lowed he’d overhaul me if I kept right on, ’cause I hadn’t got the sash off yet, and the blamed thing was jest ginnin’ my neck jess; so flouncin’ aside pooty sudden, I flopped down ahind a sassafras bush, and I hadn’t more’n got thar nuther when old Hurley went a-rackin’ and a rearin’ past, the bloodthirsty great meat-ax a-gleamin’ in his hand. He reckoned I was still ahead, so he went a-flukin’ 66down the road, clearin’ the toll-bar at one bounce, without so much as dustin’ it, and keepin’ right on for Gosport. Thunder! didn’t I tear off the ruins of that winder mity fast, though? Then I clim’ the fence, and took across lots through Hiram Nye’s corn patch, and down by Blake’s orchard, comin’ into town by the lower road. I think more’n likely old Hurley kept a-goin’ it plum to Gosport before he mistrusted that I dodged him; and I do jest think if he had got hold on me—a-bilin’ as he was—he wouldn’t have left a piece of me together large enough to bait a mink trap. Wasn’t that an all-fired close dodge, though? I reckon you’ll not see me in Gosport agin, leastways not while old Hurley’s a-livin’. I’ve no notion o’ gettin’ married in no such haste as that. Thar’s the bugle callin’ to muster—let’s hurry up and go.”



I want to be a farmer
And with the farmers stand—
A whetstone in my pocket,
A blister on my hand.
I sing to be a farmer,
Without the right of way
Across my neighbor’s lot to drive
My ox-cart or my sleigh.
I long to be a farmer
And own a breachy mare,
68That oft will leap the bound’ry line,
And make my neighbors swear.
I pine to be a farmer
And own a kicking steer,
That I may feel his horny heel
Whenever I draw near.
I sigh to be a farmer
And plant my field of corn,
That crows may flock and pull it up
Before the streak of morn.
I shout to be a farmer:
How much I would adore
To drive a big and stubborn pig
Some five miles or more.


There was a certain citizen of this place, a butcher by occupation, who, deeming the remuneration he received small in comparison to the amount of service done, resolved to discontinue butchering cattle and become a butcher of men, or in other words to assume the responsibilities of a practicing physician and surgeon. It seems in his travels he had collected quite a number of receipts and prescriptions from old almanacs and doctors’ books.

With this limited stock of medical knowledge, and an unusually large amount of “cheek,” he thought to work himself into a lucrative business. As an invoice of smallpox was expected by every steamer, he imagined he might pass among other professionals as though his scientific acquirements were excelled by none, and his vocabulary of Latin names surpassed “Doctor Hornbook’s.”

70Hiring an office in a central locality, he hoisted a board reaching nearly across the building, on which his name and calling were made known in large characters. Then sitting down amidst a “beggarly account of empty bottles,” he patiently awaited the result. Whether the city had suddenly become remarkably healthy through the sanitary exertions of the health commissioners, or he had not his proportionate share of the medical practice in requisition, he knew not, but certain it was, that from morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve he sat in his room—

“As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.”

One day, however, while straying along North Beach, musing on the strange vicissitudes in human affairs, and thinking how “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable” were all the uses of this world, a happy idea presented itself. In the vicinity of the County Hospital he had noticed the invalids coming out to sun themselves, like seals, along the Beach. What a glorious attraction to custom they would be, congregated 71around his door! Entering into conversation with some of them, he soon struck a bargain with thirty or more. They were to visit his office once a day, those who could walk there without much trouble or pain receiving fifty cents per day, while those who traveled under greater difficulties were to be paid accordingly. So, every morning, after breakfast, they took up their line of march in twos and threes along the street toward the charlatan’s place of business. They were indeed a motley crowd—that cripple brigade—as they hobbled through the thoroughfare.


72There came the maimed, the halt, the withered, and the blind, shuffling into his office thicker than diseased Jews to the troubled pool of Bethesda. If any stranger chanced to drop in for medical treatment, the crowd of hired specimens began at once to converse among themselves of the wonderful skill of the physician. One remarked how his sight had improved under treatment, how he could see two objects now where he used to see but one. Another related in glowing terms the ravenous appetite the doctor’s bitters had awakened in his system; through all the hours of the day he was now as hungry as a whirlpool. A third would eulogize his method of treating contagious diseases in general.

In this way the real patient, though receiving no actual benefit from the watery potions administered, was retained in hopes of an ultimate cure. At length the curiosity of the resident physician of the Hospital was aroused. He couldn’t imagine where his patients filed away to every morning, as regularly as liberated geese 73to some well-known pond. Following up the bandaged crew and investigating the matter, he soon learned the state of affairs, and forbade their leaving the Hospital yard without a permit. This sudden falling off in the would-be-doctor’s patients made a material change in the appearance of his office. In short, it leveled his business and his hopes, and again the quack sank into that obscurity from which he so energetically struggled to emerge.


To-day, while taking dinner in an eating-house in a Western town, I witnessed an amusing incident. It appears the proprietor had often been imposed upon by bummers who would walk boldly into the dining-room, and after stowing away a supply of victuals that would fill an ordinary carpet sack, would shuffle 74up to the counter, and in an undertone of voice inform the person there officiating that they were unfortunately “dead broke.” Of course the law doesn’t allow any ripping to be done on such occasions, other than swearing. Then the well-filled rascals would walk off picking their teeth with the utmost composure; except in extreme cases when the out-going party would be assisted over the threshold by an uprising boot. But even kicks would not bring the coin into the till, or bring back upon the table the vanished edibles, so this treatment was seldom resorted to. Finally, the proprietor bought a large syringe, and placing it in a drawer in the dining-room, bided his time.

It happened while I was sitting at the table an individual, whose cheek the proprietor had reason to believe far exceeded his checks, entered the room and sat down directly in front of me. A plate of hot bean soup sat invitingly before him, from which the savory steam rose up in clouds, and not only filled the nostrils of the hungry man with delicious and enticing odors, but served to whet the hungry edge of appetite.



Lifting a large pewter spoon that lay beside the plate, he was about to introduce it to the hot decoction before him. Already the limber hinges of his jaw began to relax, preparatory to admitting the well-filled spoon. His attention was suddenly arrested by the proprietor, who, with one hand behind him and the other laid upon the spoon-arm of the would-be eater, demanded the price of the dinner before he 76went any further. The man, it seems, was not a member of that class of individuals which the hotel keeper thought him. He was justly indignant, therefore, at the demand, and sharply informed mine host that “he guessed after he had eaten his dinner would be time enough to pay for it.” But the oft-swindled proprietor thought differently. The man had scarcely got the words out of his mouth before “mine host” produced a syringe, large as the trunk of a small-sized elephant, and slapping the nozzle of it into the soup, ran it circling around the plate, and with one long, slobbering draught, like that of a horse drinking through his bits, the soup plate was left lying before the hungry man, as empty as his own stomach.

The astonished individual looked first at his plate, on which not even a bean was left, then at the dripping, steaming muzzle of the syringe, and lastly at the landlord, who stood with a look of triumph spreading over his face, silently waiting for the man to either come down with the coin or leave the table.

Though not liking that summary way of treating a person, the man was either too hungry 77or too limited in time to go further for a meal, so he fished out of his pocket the change and handed it to the proprietor. The latter thereupon discharged the contents of the syringe into the soup plate again, and walked away, leaving the customer to proceed with his dinner.



One night, while passing through the street,
A stranger paused to hear
The tumult from a cottage nigh,
That stunned the listening ear.
And as he stood without the door
The sound of war arose,
As when Boroo the Irish king
Engaged his stubborn foes.
So drawing nigh the window-sill
He studied matters fair,
And lo, the husband and the wife
Engaged in battle there:
The former with his doubled fists
The battle sought to win;
While to his head the wife applied
The heavy rolling-pin.
And as the stranger stood without
He thus communed with care,—
For he was shrewd and thought it best
To weigh the danger there,—
“This is some family affair:
Some question I opine
79That I should not discuss with them,
Nor make the quarrel mine;
For I am newly risen up
From off the bed of pain,
And they perchance will turn on me,
And send me there again.”


So turning from the window-sill
He journeyed on his way,
And went not in, but left the pair
Engaged in doubtful fray;
80And when he was a great way off
The stranger paused once more,
And lo! the noise of battle fell
Still louder than before.
Then he remarked, “This is indeed
A battle fierce and great;
I now repent me that I went
Not in, to remonstrate.”
Then taking to his road again,
He moved, repenting still,
And turned not back to enter in,
But slowly climbed the hill.
Not many minutes later on,
Behold, another man
Was passing by, and heard the war
That through the building ran;
And lo! the tumult that arose
Was like the clamor high
When Michael’s host and Satan’s horde
Did mingle in the sky.
And while he paused, he heard the stroke
The active husband sped;
And heard the fall of rolling-pin
Upon the husband’s head.
And he communed thus with himself,—
For he loved ways of peace,
Delighting not in heavy strokes,
But thinking war should cease:
81Said he, “A family jar, no doubt,
Now falls upon mine ear;
And I should promptly enter in
The house, to interfere;
Or soon, perchance, a murder will
Be done beneath this roof;
And I appear like one to blame,
Because I stood aloof,
Or passed along upon my way
And took no noble stand,
Nor raised my voice the war to stay,
Nor caught a lifted hand.”
So then the traveler left the street
And bravely entered in,
Through porch and hall, and gained the room
Where rose the fearful din;
And on the husband laying hold,
He cried, “Why do ye go
Beyond the brute that roots the sod
In this contention low,
And neither spare the sex, nor kin,
Which you are bound to do?
Now use no more your ready hand
Or you the act may rue!”
Then said the husband, turning round,
“Why, is she not mine own?
My flesh of flesh, as we are told,
And also bone of bone?
And who are you that here comes in
At me to rail and scout,
82When I, by neither word nor line,
Sent invitation out?
Do I not answer for the rent?
And all the taxes pay?
And say to whom I will, ‘Come in,’
Or, ‘Stand without,’ I pray?”
Then also did that warring wife
Now rest her rolling-pin,
And thus addressed the stranger too,
“Aye! wherefore came ye in?
Come, let us beat him soundly here,
And throw him down the stairs,
And teach him not to interfere
With other folks’ affairs.”
So hands they laid upon the wretch
While edging for the door,
And beat him freely out of shape,
And dragged him round the floor.
The wife would hold him down awhile
The husband’s blows to bide;
And then the husband held him till
The wife her weapon plied.
They rent the garments from his back,
And from his scalp the hair;
And from his face in handfuls plucked
The whiskers long and fair;
83And there, contrary to the laws,
And to his wish to boot,
He swallowed teeth that in his jaws
In youth had taken root.
At last, uniting at the task,
They hauled him to the door
And sent him howling home in pain;
A man both lame and sore.


Who showed the greatest wisdom here,—
The one who heard the fray
And went not in, but later stood
Repenting in the way?
84Or he, who turning from his path
Went in to stay the rout,
And after wished, with all his heart,
That he had stayed without?
The observations of a life
Prove, eight times out of nine,
They best can meddle with a strife
Who bear official sign.
But notwithstanding all the facts
This lesson has laid bare;
Of reaping good for noble acts
We never should despair.
Not here below reward we’ll know,
But virtue still prevails;
And valor, love, and rightful deeds,
Will count upon the scales.


It is not often that a poor fellow like myself can have a good laugh at the expense of a high dignitary. To-day, however, an opportunity presented itself, and happily I was in the right humor to appreciate it. Passing along a narrow street, I saw an old Irish woman unmercifully beating her boy with a rod, which, if it had not been divested of twigs and leaves, would have served as a Christmas tree for a good-sized family. This of itself was nothing to make one smile, and perhaps no person would more readily endorse such a sentiment than the boy himself. But the end was not yet.

It appears that while on his way from the grocery, with a pitcher of beer for his mother, the little fellow tripped-up and spilled nearly the whole contents in the street. This was something that Temperance folk might well rejoice over, but it was a serious matter for the boy. 86The old woman, with parched lips was standing at the gate, impatiently awaiting her youngster’s return. She saw him emerge from the store, pitcher in hand. Her quick eye caught sight of the light foam rising in airy bubbles above the brim, and she knew the grocer had sent her no stinted measure. In fancy she was already quenching her thirst with copious draughts of the cooling drink—when she saw the boy measuring his length upon the planks. Worst, and most lamentable of all, she saw the delectable beverage coursing down the sidewalk in a dozen foaming streams. Her rage knew no bounds. The moment the boy put his foot inside the gate, she seized him with the grip of a virago, and belabored him with the cudgel till he roared. So great was the outcry that every window in the vicinity was immediately crammed with heads. Taught by the lessons of my youth that he who meddles in other people’s affairs often treads upon his own corns, I maintained a wise silence; but I mentally prayed that the wrath of the old fury would be appeased, for the cries and wild antics of the little wretch began to grow monotonous.



There chanced at that moment to be passing an eminent minister who weekly fills his fashionable, spacious church with a glittering congregation. He saw the woman was in a towering passion, and he ventured to remark: “My good woman, the rod of correction should never become the weapon of passion.” The remark, which seemed good and to the point, caused her temporarily to suspend hostilities; but she still retained her hold on the collar, as she turned around sharply to ascertain who 88dared criticise her method of training up a child in the way he should go.

For a minute she glared upon the clergyman with flashing eyes, as if astonished at his interference. Surveying him from the soles of his boots to the very crown swirl of his silk hat, she drew herself up to her full height, and, in the most indignant voice, shouted: “Away wid yer cotations, you ould sermon thief! It’s not from the likes of yees I learn me juty!”

The clergyman was nonplussed; he quailed before the fiery eyes and sarcastic tongue of the old vixen; and I fancied his face lit up with joy when he discovered that he was nigh a corner, around which he quickly disappeared.



There was a little man,
And he had a little dog;
And he said: “Little dog, you must stay, stay, stay,
Playing here by the house,
As peaceful as a mouse,
And never hoist your tail and away, ’way, ’way—
And never hoist your tail and away.”
Then said this little pup,
At its master looking up:
“I know, little master, you are cute, cute, cute;
But if you will allow
Such a question, tell me, now,
What the dickens do you want with a brute, brute, brute?
What the dickens do you want with a brute?”
Then the little man did stare,
And up rose his little hair;
And his cheeks with fear grew pale, pale, pale,
As he said: “I do propose,
Soon as you have found your nose,
To kill by the dozen little quail, quail, quail—
To kill by the dozen little quail.”
At this the puppy grinned,
Like a mischief-making fiend,
As he whined: “You cannot come it upon me, me, me.
90You would have me lie around
In a back-yard, like a hound,
And become a paradise for the flea, flea, flea—
And become a paradise for the flea.”
When the toil of day had flown,
Little man, with little bone,
Went out where the little dog ought to be, be, be;
He whistled, and he called,
He patted, and he bawled,
But nary little dog could he see, see, see—
But nary little dog could he see.
Next day he chanced to stop
By a sausage maker’s shop,
And something that he saw made him holler, holler, holler;
For there in the street,
All bloody, at his feet,
Lay his poor little dog’s leather collar, collar, collar—
Lay his poor little dog’s leather collar.


Erin go bragh! St. Patrick’s day is upon us, and the city seems wrapped in a “mantle of green,” so numerous are the Irish flags flying in the breeze.

From hovel roof, and church of size
Alike, the harp and sun-burst flies!

The ear of morn is stunned with the bray of at least a dozen blatant bands, as they discourse Old Erin’s soul-stirring airs. It is an easy matter for a person to imagine himself sitting by some sheeling door in “County Kerry” instead of this great American city by the sea. The Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Fenians are out in full force, with clean-boiled shirts and soap-washed faces. Marshals charge around upon their caparisoned steeds like real heroes, and sitting gracefully as a sack of potatoes upon the back of a spavined mule trotting over a corduroy road. Evidently some 92of them have never before bent over anything that came nigher to an equine than a saw-horse. It is plain

Those who always rode, now ride the more,
And those now ride who never rode before.

Well, they love the country that gave them birth, and that is a virtue that is certainly commendable,—a natural excellence often wanting in other nationalities. Besides, celebrating the old gentleman’s birthday makes business lively with the stable men and the shoemakers, and that of itself is a good reason why the demonstration should be encouraged. It is hardly probable that any of the great powers will be materially weakened by these loyal manifestations.

Here is a sketch of a spirited member of the “Ancient Order of Hibernians,” as he appeared passing my window in the morning, full of life and loyalty, tripping the asphaltum pavement lightly as though traversing the springy surface of his native bogs. And following is another sketch of the same individual in the evening, when full of oaths and whiskey, lying in the gutter with all that ease and abandon which 93characterizes the Celtic race, wherever dispersed, in every land and in every age.


The different races of men have their different weaknesses. It may seem an extravagant statement, but I venture to say if there had been no rice plant in the world, the Chinese would not have cared to live. I will even go further and say perhaps there would have been no Mongolian race. And now the thought occurs to 94me, this deficiency in the human family would not have been such a terrible thing after all. True, we should have been obliged to get along with catnip tea instead of Souchong, which would have been pretty heavy on old women. We also would have been obliged to worry through without old Confucius, which might have made some confusion in metaphysics or political morality. But as the latter could hardly be worse than it is at present with all his teachings, we possibly might have managed to exist very well without the moon-eyed philosopher.


95The Teuton dotes on his well-seasoned bologna. The grizzly Emperor William I, standing upon an eminence near Rezonville, overlooking the battle-field, with a spy-glass in one hand and a large bologna sausage in the other, furnished indeed a striking sketch for the special artist of the occasion. The humor of the situation came in when the Emperor, forgetting himself in the excitement of the moment, raised the sausage to his eye instead of the spy-glass, and because he failed to see the squadron of Uhlans—that a moment before were charging upon a battery—concluded they were blown to smithereens, and losing his usual equanimity, commenced to swear fearfully, and order up another division to take their place. There was a broad and sarcastic humor couched in the remark of the officer at his side, who observed the mistake, and ventured the suggestion, “If your Majesty will take another bite from the sausage, perhaps you will be able to see through it.”

And then, there is the jovial, careless, free-hearted, yet quarrelsome Irishman, who thinks a new Jerusalem without a little whiskey still in 96one corner of it,—“over beyant the throne, and forninst the back dure,” for instance—would be just no Paradise at all. I believe there is not a race of men on the face of the earth—from Behring Straits to Terra del Fuego, round and about, over and under, or down either quarter—that can extract the same genuine soul-satisfying bliss from a flattened nose or swelled lip, that a real, irrepressible, County Kerry Irishman can. Let him have that, and a good stiff horn of whiskey to keep the blood running freely, and my advice to you is, keep upon the other side of the street, if you intend to sit for your picture that afternoon, or visit your sweetheart that evening, or expect to take up the collection during divine worship the next Sunday. At such a time he is no respecter of persons, this set-up Irishman.

You may be the Rector of the finest cathedral in the place, the mayor of the city, the judge of the supreme court, or even the governor of the state, and should your hat chance to blow off and roll in front of him,—though it should cost him a fall upon the pavement,—that man will kick it. I tell you he will kick it, and soundly 97too. He will make no mincing about it, but go for it, as he would for his neighbor’s pig, should he find it in his garden of cabbages. At such he is full of words also, and can bestow upon the stone that trips him up the same flow of abuse that he can shower upon the man who assists him to his feet.


The frog that once in Selby’s dam
Its weird music shed,
Now lies as mute as stranded clam—
Because that frog is dead.
So sleeps the plague of former days,
So noisy nights are o’er,
And he now on the pond decays
Who long cried, “Sleep no more!”
A frog upon a log one day
In meditation sat,
And gazed upon his pond, that lay
Still as a tanner’s vat.
98No fish swam in his fetid lake,
No current seaward run;
But hemmed by grasses, weed, and brake,
It mantled in the sun.


At length from revery he woke,
And thus to free his mind,
He in the gutt’ral jargon spoke
Peculiar to his kind:—
99“Give me my slimy pool,” quoth he,
“Before a river wide,
Where cranes are found, still wading round,
And hungry fishes glide.
“Here light first dawn’d, here was I spawn’d,
And here I make my home—
Those longest live who’re not inclined
In foreign parts to roam.
“Upon this log, or stone, I sit,
The water-fly to view,
Or watch the glossy whirligig
Describe his circles true.
“How foolish are some pollywogs;
Before they’ve lost their tails
They often class themselves with frogs,
And leave their native swales;
“And while exploring down some ditch,
Beneath a scorching ray,
Upon a sandy bar they hitch,
And bake as dry as hay.
“Had they but waited till the tail
Had from their body dropp’d—
And in its stead four legs shot forth—
Away they might have hopp’d.”
Thus while he sat above the pool,
Commenting on his lot,
100He heard a truant boy from school
Come whistling to the spot.
“Ah ha!” quoth he, “I hear, I see
An ancient foe of mine;
He stones will throw, that well I know,
And straight ones I divine.
“The sparrow on the picket fence,
The squirrel on the limb,
The swallow flying overhead,
Alike look out for him.
“There are some hands I scarcely fear,
So ill a stone they guide;
But when Bob Stevenson is near
’Tis meet that I should hide.”
So, prompted by the fearful thought,
He leaped in with a thud,
And diving to the bottom, sought
Concealment in the mud.
Now burrow, burrow, little frog,
As you will trouble find;
Think not because your eyes are shut
That every one is blind.
Then burrow deeper, deeper far,
Leave not one claw in view;
Or, swifter than a falling star,
A stone will cleave you through.
101“While here,” said he, “I’m safe enough,
And here I’ll peaceful lie
Until that little whistling rough
Has passed the water by.”


But, ah! while he did reckon that
The host was not around,—
The youngster saw him quit the log,
And soon a stone was found.
He stood beside the circling pond,
And gazed a while below—
The tell-tale mud the frog disturbed
Rose from the bottom slow.
102But, ah! for childhood’s searching eyes!
What can escape their darts?
Projecting from the mud he spies
The croaker’s hinder parts.
“Ho! ho!” then laughed this cruel boy,
As downward he did stare,
“If you from trouble would be free
Of every part take care.”
Then down he sent the ready stone,
Nor went it down in vain—
Dead as the missile that was thrown,
The frog came up again.
Along the river’s ferny banks
The frogs still chant their lays
While floating on his native pool
That stone-killed frog decays.


This is “all fools’ day,” and judging by the number of people who are passing along the sidewalk with strings and rags dangling from their coat tails, the custom of making people appear ridiculous is not obsolete. What delight the youngsters take in covering a few bricks with an old hat, and leaving it temptingly upon the sidewalk, while they withdraw into some nook to watch the bait and halloo at 104the person who is thoughtless enough to kick it.


Though the custom has age to sanction it, I am decidedly opposed to making people—either on the first of April or upon any other day—appear ridiculous in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of every person with whom they come in contact. People will make fools 105of themselves often enough, without the assistance of others. I wonder why men are not more upon their guard upon this day. Just now I saw a newspaper reporter, who certainly should have known better, kick an old hat from his way, and go limping to the office, denouncing everybody in general, but children in particular. Speaking of reporters calls to mind something that I have often thought. I believe if I had been endowed with more cheek and less scruples about over-stepping the line of veracity, I long before this would have made my mark in the world as a newspaper scribbler.

My unconquerable modesty always rose up like a barrier between me and reportorial fame. It would never allow me to dip into trivial, baseless rumors, and magnify them into scandalous reports. My pride, too, was a clog that blocked the wheel of progress. I could never throw it aside long enough to intrude myself uninvited at select gatherings, or creep and crouch under a window-sill or behind a door, like a base eavesdropper, to hear words that were not intended for the public ear, in order to work up a stirring article. But for these 106drawbacks, I cannot help thinking I would have done well at the business, because, by a singular decree of fate, I am generally present whenever any strange or amusing incident transpires, or even when scenes of a serious nature furnish work for the pen, and many a time, too, when I could well wish myself suddenly removed far enough from the distressing scene before me.

This afternoon, for example, a terrible assault was perpetrated in the back yard of the house adjoining the one in which I reside.

There is no use talking, I will have to get up and bundle out of this locality, before long. It is becoming too rough a quarter for me. Its poisonous air would tarnish the brightest reputation that ever shone upon a forehead.

With my usual luck, I happened to witness the affair. Thus far I have kept it to myself, as I have no desire to figure in a court of justice in any such scrape. Some people, perhaps, would rush forward and volunteer their testimony, but I am not of that turn of mind, and calculate to keep my mouth shut until it is pried open by a legal bar. I have been looking over the evening papers, but they make no mention 107of the case, so perhaps the authorities are keeping the matter quiet, fearing that by giving it publicity they would defeat the ends of justice. With this thought in mind, and to help them along in their efforts, it being “all fools’ day,” also, I will say no more about it.


Upon this day, and at this time, while the fire burneth in the grate and the warm drink steameth in the bowl, I speak as with the tongue of a scribe of the olden time, and this is the burden of my speech:—

A certain man, a citizen of this place, as he journeyed to his home, that looketh toward the mountain which is called Lone—and at the base of which the dead are entombed—found an horse-shoe in the way. And he was exceeding pleased because of his luck, insomuch that he 108rubbed his hands together joyfully, and said within himself: “How blessed am I in finding this shoe in the way. This bodeth good to me and mine household, because it pointeth in the way that I am going, and it would show a lack of understanding in me should I not pick it up.” So he placed it carefully in the pouch that was sewed in the hind part of his garment, which is called the tail, and hastened on towards his home; and as he went his countenance was bright to look upon. And it came to pass when he had arrived at his house, and was entered in at the door, he said unto himself—for he was an eccentric man, and his ways were not as the ways of sensible people—“Now will I make all haste and fasten this shoe above my parlor door, that it may continually bring good towards my house, for my grandmother hath often said there lieth a charm for good in the horse-shoe that is picked up by the way.” So reaching forth his hand, he took a hammer and a nail—such a nail as builders use when they would have their work outlast themselves—and stepping upon a chair, essayed to transfix the shoe to the casing above the door.



Now it chanced that this man had a wife, a woman who was not eccentric, neither had she 110patience to spare on those people who had eccentric ways; and as she was at work in the kitchen—for upon the whole sea-coast there was not found a more industrious or tidy woman—she heard the sound of the hammer proceeding from the room which was her pride; and she made haste and dropped the dough that she was kneading for the oven, and looking out into the apartment, she beheld her husband standing upon the chair attempting to transfix the horse-shoe above the door. And she was exceeding displeased because of his action, and of his provoking eccentricity, and she remonstrated with him mildly, saying:

“Souls of the Innocents! is this a barn? or a blacksmith’s shop? or are ye gone stark, staring mad? or has old age benumbed your senses beyond all hope? that thus you would establish the unsightly object above the door, to be a jest for visitors and a shame unto us?”

But the good man of the house, looking down reprovingly from the eminence upon which he was now set up—being nettled because she had likened him to a man stark, 111staring mad—answered the woman sharply, after this manner, saying:—

“Go delve into thy dough, old woman! Did ye never have a grandmother? or is thy memory as short as thy wind? Know ye not I fix it here that it may bring good unto our house, as hath been said of it in the olden time?” So he left off speaking with his wife, but turned him about and once more essayed to establish the shoe above the door. For his mind was firm on that point, that he would nail it there, that it might bring good unto his house.

Then waxed the woman exceedingly wroth—for she was of the house of O’Donohue, whose temper caused him to be cast into prison, because he smote the anointed priest within the chapel—and bending her body, she laid hold of the rounds of the chair upon which her husband was builded up, and pulled it suddenly from beneath him while he did reach to drive the spike, and behold, he came down quickly, and lay along the floor like a cedar felled.

And it so happened, as the woman attempted to pass out by the door which led out into the 112kitchen, lo! a hammer followed after, and overtook the woman, and lodged upon her back, even between the two shoulder blades, and caused her to cry out with a marvelous loud cry; but turning herself around while yet the cry was proceeding from her mouth, she lifted the hammer from the floor and cast it from her, even at the countenance of her rising husband. Now it came to pass when the good man of the house looked upon the weapon as it left the hand of his wife, and saw that it was drawing nigh unto his head, swift as a javelin hurled from a Trojan’s arm, he said within himself, “As my name is Bartholomew, my hour is come.” And as he spoke he dived to the floor, that it might pass over and work him no harm. But even while he stooped, the weapon caught upon his scalp and peeled it backward to the very nape.

Then went the woman out into the kitchen, and when her husband was risen from the floor, he ran out into the streets seeking where he might find a surgeon; and as he ran the people stood and looked after, and communed one with another, saying: “Surely this man hath 113escaped from the Modocs!” But he was sorely troubled because of his scalp, so he heeded not the people, neither loitered he by the way to enlighten them concerning the wound; but when he had entered in at a surgeon’s door he entreated him to make all haste and bind up his wounds, that he might become whole again.


114And when the surgeon drew nigh and looked upon the wound he was exceedingly astonished, and he cried, “Of what tribe was the savage that hath done this?”

But the injured man answered him sorrowfully, saying, “Nay, but my wife hath done this thing!” and bowing his head between his knees he wept bitterly, even as David wept when he learned that Absalom had perished in the boughs of the great oak. And when the surgeon had poured oil upon the wound, and sewed it together—even as a housewife seweth the rent in a garment—and spread plasters upon his head in divers ways, he arose and journeyed to the Hall of Justice, which is by the Plaza, and entered a complaint against the woman.

And it came to pass when the magistrates and the wise men of the place heard his complaint, they looked upon him as a person altogether given over to falsehoods, and they questioned him, saying: “How may we know if ye indeed speak the truth in our ears.” And 115removing the bandage from his head, with which the surgeon had wrapped it round, he answered and spake unto them, saying: “Ye ask for proof, and behold! I give it you!” And when they drew nigh and looked upon his head they saw that it was covered over with plasters, insomuch that it resembled a bolt of linen fresh from the loom, and they were sore displeased because of the assault. So they called together four men, the chosen officers of the force, and commanded them to arrest the woman, saying: “Take ye the woman into custody, and lodge her in prison, that on the morrow we may sit in judgment over her.”

So these four officers, named Murry, the brave; and Flynn, styled the “blinker,” and Curran, and Flaherty,—surnamed the “beat”—armed themselves with pistols, and clubs, and knives, and went forth to arrest the woman. And a great crowd followed after, for they said among themselves, “Surely some murder hath been done.” So when they had come nigh to the house they laid plans how they might surround it; and this was the manner of their approach toward the house. Murry on the 116east side; and Flynn, styled the “blinker,” on the west side; and Curran on the north side; and Flaherty, surnamed the “beat” on the south side. So they did compass the house about and enter it; and this was the manner of their entrance. One by the front door, and one by the back door, and one by the window that looked out at the west side of the house, and one by the window that looked out at the east side of the house; and they did converge and meet in the centre. And they found the hammer and the blood thereon; and the horse-shoe and the nail sticking therein; but they found not the woman. And they searched the house, beginning at the cellar, and ascending even up to the loft, but be it known unto you, the woman had fled, and her whereabouts remaineth a secret to this day.



This evening I accepted an invitation from a member of the Academy of Science to attend a regular meeting. I started out almost under protest, thinking it would prove a very dry entertainment. It had been said that at their meetings they conversed only about fossils or strata, or grew warm while arguing some point about the Azoic or Silurian age, that period before the Dinotherium or even the Mastodon ran bellowing across the flinty earth. I was agreeably disappointed, however. For I found it not only instructive, but amusing to others than scientists. The President announced to the Academy that a feathered mouse had been sent by an unknown friend from a distant town. A vote of thanks was then tendered the donor. The feathered mouse, however, proved to be a cruel fraud, for a subsequent examination revealed the painful fact 118that the feathers were stuck to the skin by some adhesive substance. The vote of thanks was then rescinded, and the feathered mouse was informally introduced to the office cat.

A communication was then read from a man in the interior. He informed the Academy that he had in his possession a large sow, which, when quite a small pig, had been severely bitten by a black dog, which made a lasting impression upon her. In after years if any of her litter were black she singled them out, and devoured them with as little remorse as an old woman would a dish of stir-about. The sow had that day died from the effects of eating a tarantula, and he offered to donate her to the Academy, providing they would bear the cost of transporting her to the city. By a unanimous vote the communication was laid under the table.

Quite a discussion then took place as to whether pigs really do see the wind, and if so, why?



A member then presented the Academy with a new species of snail, or slug, which he found in the mountains, and which had but one horn. He proposed having it called a “unicorn snail.” Quite a controversy followed. Several members maintained that the snail imprudently left its horns out over night, and one, getting nipped by the frost, dropped off. This proposition angered the generous donor, and reaching forth a hand trembling with emotion, he lifted the snail from the palm of the admiring President, and laid it down gently upon the floor—as a mother might deposit an infant in the cradle—and 120while the Academy stood spell-bound, before a tongue could be loosened from the roof of a mouth, or a hand stretched to save, he planted the sole of a number eleven boot upon the crowning back of the little gasteropod, and when he lifted his foot again, all that was visible of the one-horned snail was a little grease spot upon the floor, the size of an average rain drop. This inhuman act seemed to throw a gloom over the Academy.

No further business appearing, the meeting adjourned.


“O, those girls!
Naughty, laughing, beautiful girls.”—Old Song.

I commenced boarding in a new place to-day, and am completely smitten by the charming table girl—

Oh, she is young and bright and fair,
With midnight eyes and inky hair,
121Which unconfined, without a check,
Falls round a plump and snowy neck.
Oh, sweet she bends above my chair
Like Juno, when old Jove’s her care,
And as she stoops to hear me speak,
Soft falls her breath upon my cheek,
And I forget (true as I live)
The order that I fain would give.
Before her dark and earnest eyes
My appetite distracted flies,
And though I hungry sit me down,
I rise full as a country clown
Who by a picnic table stands,
And shovels in with both his hands.
’Tis true, at times the humble board
Does but a scant repast afford;
At times we grumble at the bread,
Or at the butter shake the head;
And oft the whisper circles round
About the mystery profound,
That may within the hash repose,
And any fateful stir disclose.
But still we linger, still we stay,
And hope for better things each day;
Thus proving that one winning face
Can keep from bankruptcy the place.


Yesterday, while in the back country, I saw an old woman in what would have been a very laughable predicament, had it not been a very pitiable one.

An unusually large vulture had for some time been soaring in the neighborhood, occasionally scraping acquaintance with one of the fat ewes grazing in the valley. Several of the farmers had felt the vexation of seeing him perched upon a lofty eminence and making the wool fly from some favorite Cotswold. They were justly enraged, and resolved to put a stop to his depredations.

They accordingly posted themselves nigh their flocks, and with guns heavily charged, awaited the advent of the rapacious bird. But he was no booby, and though his gizzard could digest a good-sized rib or hoof with all the ease of a Ballyshannon woman making away with a 123mealy potato, yet he hadn’t the least inclination to test its grinding power upon a charge of slugs or buckshot.

For several days thereafter he was known in the neighborhood as a “high flier.” With a pining maw he would sit upon some heaven-kissing crag, and with drooping head watch the fleecy flocks grazing in the green valley below. He found it difficult, however, to cloy the hungry edge of appetite by bare imagination of a feast, and, emboldened by want, began to drop to a lower level when flying across the fields.

Yesterday, as mutton was out of the question, he resolved to try his beak upon some tougher viand, and while in the vicinity of the village, he swooped down upon a little old woman who was gathering chips in front of her cottage.

The poor old body had not the least warning of the vulture’s approach. As she stooped in the act of picking fuel enough to cook her evening meal he dropped upon her like an arrow.



Fastening his powerful talons in the strong material of her loose-fitting garments, he spread abroad his mighty wings and began to haul her heavenward. The astonishment, anxiety and 125indescribable antics of the poor old lady when she found herself slowly but surely leaving terra firma by an unknown agency were indeed terrible to witness.

She knew not whether it was a gold-tinseled angel, or an iron-rusted demon, that was thus, in open day, and while she was yet in the flesh, unceremoniously translating her to some remote planet; she had no means of discovering; she was only certain she was going—that her direction was onward and upward. Her favorite hollyhock tickled her nose as she swept over her little garden, and the clothes-line, that for a moment seemed to baffle the vulture’s flight, was now stretching beneath.

She deployed her feet, regardless of appearances, first to the right, then to the left, above and below, vainly endeavoring to come in contact with something that would give her an inkling of what was responsible for this mysterious movement. There was a vague uncertainty about the whole proceeding well calculated to alarm her. Even though she succeeded in shaking herself loose, her fall would now be fearful, and each moment was adding to the 126danger. What could I do? I was powerless to save. I had no gun, and even if I had there would have been some grave doubts in my mind as to the propriety of firing, as I generally shoot low, and such an error in my aim could hardly have proved otherwise than disastrous.

There was no use striving to make the bird loosen his hold by hooting. If there had been any virtue in that sort of demonstration the old woman would hardly have been raised above the eaves of her shanty, for she was screaming in a manner that would have made a Modoc blush. The only thing that suggested itself, and that rather hurriedly, was to get out my pencil and paper and take a sketch as she appeared passing over her cottage in the vulture’s talons.

The blood, which at first forsook her cheeks through fear, was almost instantly forced back into her visage again by the pendant position of her head.

She beat the empty tin pan which she still retained in her hand, but the voracious and hunger-pinched vulture had no notion of relinquishing his hold on account of noise. On the 127contrary, he seemed to enjoy it, and with many a sturdy twitch and flap, and many an airy wheel, he still held his way toward a rugged promontory situated at the head of the valley. Fortunately, when he was twenty feet from the ground and about eighty rods from the cottage, the calico dress and undergarments in which mainly his talons were fastened, gave out, and the liberated woman dropped on hands and knees in the muddy bed of the creek, over which the bird was passing at the time.

While hovering over her, about to pounce down upon her and try the elevating business again, a sheep-herder who had seen the bird approaching the cottage, gave him a dose of buckshot, which broke one wing and left him at the mercy of his captor.



Jonathan.—“I hain’t got no tongue for soapin’ of ye, Susan Jane. I mean business, I do. Will ye hev me?”

Susan Jane.—“I don’t know much about ye, Jonathan Junkit, but I’m willin’ to risk it, anyhow. Yer’s my hand. I’m yourn.”

Old Volume.

This afternoon I attended a private wedding on Howard Street. I may safely term it “marriage in high life,” as the combined height of the couple was something over twelve feet.

The groom was a bachelor, who for many a year had stood around the fire like the half of a tongs, very good as a poker, but not worth standing room as a picker up.

He looked as though it wouldn’t require much advice to make him—even at the eleventh hour—prove recreant to his vows, and back out from under the yoke the reverend gentleman was about to place upon his neck.

His companion, however, was no novice in the business in which she was engaged. She 129was fearlessly putting forth upon that sea on which she had twice been wrecked, but she was nothing loth to try it again. Were she only skilled in navigation as well as in embarkation, she would have been the one to send on expeditions to either the North or South Pole, as the case might be.


It was truly encouraging to the timorous and 130uninitiated, to see with what a broad smile she regarded her husband that was to be; and with what a readiness she responded to the momentous question propounded by the minister. And when they stood as husband and wife, her Milesian face lighted up with irrepressible joy, until it beamed like a Chinese lantern.

Her emotions went far to convince me that there is in those matrimonial fields a balm for every ill; a perfect bliss worthy the seeking, even at the risk of receiving the bruised spirit, if not the bruised head.



Oh, busy, breezy bumble-bee,
A fitting theme in you I see!
At once you backward turn my gaze
To orchard, mead, and pasture days,
To watch your movements to and fro
With wondering eyes, as years ago.
Come, let me set my mark on thee,
As thou hast oft remembered me,
When with a seeming special zeal
You hastened to affix your seal.
I’ve heard your gruff good-morrow ring
When meeting kinsfolk on the wing;
Now coming zig-zag, light and airy,
Now going laden, straight and wary;
Still mindful of the spider’s snare
And kingbird, pirate of the air.
I’ve seen you upward turn your eye,
When clouds began to fleck the sky,
The winds to chafe the village pond,
And thunder rumble far beyond
And threaten storm, ere you could fill
Your honey sack, so empty still.
I’ve heard you whining forth your grief
When rain commenced to pelt the leaf,
And made you take the shortest road
That brought you to your dark abode.
I’ve marked your grumbling when you found
The working bee had been around;
Had left his bed and waxen door
And reached the field an hour before;
133For still, with early bird, or bee,
Or man, the maxim does agree
They all must be content to find
What early risers leave behind.
Against the bell I’ve heard you storm,
Because it kept your burly form
From passing in the honeyed way,
That open to the emmet lay.
Thus human folk are oft denied
What, in their judgment, or their pride,
They should enjoy, though kept instead
For meaner things that creep ahead.
I know how apt you are to cling
To locks of hair, to hide and sing,
And keep the victim still in doubt
Just where the mischief will break out;
I know full well your angry tone,
And how you stab to find the bone;
With what a brave, heroic breast
Ye strike for queen and treasure chest,
Like Sparta’s sons, at duty’s call,
Compelled to win, or fighting fall;
Not fearing odds, nor counting twice,
Ye fix your bayonet in a trice,
And charge upon the nearest foe,
And break the ranks where’er you go.
For not the stroke of halberdier
Nor thrust of Macedonian spear
Can check your onset when you fly
With full intent to do or die!
Beneath your straight and rapid dart
The foe will tumble, turn, depart,
134And leave you victor, to report
Your doings at the Queen Bee’s court.
And proudly may you bare your brow,
In presence of your sovereign bow,
And tell her why you came so late,
Thus panting, to the palace gate;
And show your limbs of wax bereft,
Your right arm crushed, and sprained the left,
Your twisted horn, exhausted sting,
Your wounded scalp and tattered wing,
But how, in spite of every ill,
You struck for independence still,
Until the acre lot was free
Of all that would molest the bee.
’Tis said that youngsters have a knack
To take you prisoner by the back;
To catch you by the wings, in haste,
A piece above the belted waist,
And hold you thus, to struggle there,
And use your sting on empty air.
But once I tried, and once I missed,
For you’re a great contortionist,
And somehow turn, and manage still
To plant your poison where you will.
Ah, they are wise, who meddling cease,
And let you go your way in peace!
Though many things may slip my mind
Before the narrow bed I find,
135In fancy’s field I’d often see
The busy, burly bumble-bee.


Boil-stricken Job had his comforters, who, despite his timely injunction, “Oh, lay your hands upon your mouths, and thereby show your wisdom,” would still drum in his ear, “Hear us, for we will speak.” Poor old Falstaff had his evil genius in Bardolph, his impecunious follower, with his “Lend me a shilling.” 136And I have my burdensome “Jim Dudley,” with his “Let me tell you a story.” I was kept awake last night listening to his crazy yarn about the “greased pig,” as if I cared anything about his villainous adventures.

“Oh, yes, that scrape with the greased pig? I never told you about it, eh? It’s worth heerin’, for that was a tearin’ old race, and I came mi’ty nigh gettin’ shoved out of the village on account of it, too, now, I can tell ye. Down on me? Wall, I reckon you’d think so if you heered the hollerin’ that was gwine on for awhile arter that race, some cryin’ one thin’ and some another. ‘Tar and feather the cheat,’ one would holler.

“‘Lynch the blamed humbug!’ another would shout.

“‘Put him in a sack and h’ist him over the bridge!’ would come from another quarter.

“A doctor was never so down on a patent medicine as they were on me arter that race, especially Parson Coolridge, who was one of the principal sufferers, yer see.

“It was May Day amongst ’em, and the hull village seemed to be out thar enjoyin’ ’emselves. They had sack races and wheelbarrow 137races. That was the day blindfold Tom Moody ran the wheelbarrow through the grocer’s window, and Old Shulkin knocked him down with a ham, and a dog ran away with it. He charged Tom with the ham in the bill, along with the broken winder.

“They had a greased pole standin’ thar with a ten-dollar greenback tacked on top of it, but no person could get within ten feet of the bill. The hungry crowds were standin’ around all day gazin’ longin’ly up at the flutterin’ greenback, like dogs at a coon in a tree-top.

“I didn’t try the pole, but when they brought out the greased pig—a great, slab-sided critter, jest in good condition for racin’,—I got sort o’ interested in the performance. His tail was more’n a foot long, and it was greased until it would slip through a feller’s fingers like a newly caught eel.

“Several of the boys started arter him, but they’d jest make one catch, and before they were certain whether they had hold of it, they would go one way and the hog would go another. And then the crowd would holler.

“I was standin’ thar a leanin’ over the fence 138watchin’ of ’em for some time, and I see the pig was in the habit of formin’ a sort of ring with his tail; leastwise he’d lap it over so that it e’enmost formed a knot—all it lacked was the end wanted drawin’ through. I cal’lated that a feller with pooty nimble fingers could make a tie by jest slippin’ his fingers through the ring and haulin’ the end of the tail through. That would make a plaguey good knot, and prevent his hand from slippin’ off. Arter thinkin’ over it for some time I concluded if I could git up a bet that would pay for the hardships that a feller would be likely to experience, I would try a catch anyhow.

“So I ses to Jake Swasey, who stood alongside of me, ‘Jake, I believe that I kin hold that pig until he gins out.’

“‘Hold?’ he ses, surprised like and raisin’ his eyebrows just that way; ‘what’s the matter of ye? hain’t ye slept well? Ye mout as well try to hold old Nick by the tail as that big, slab-sided critter.’

“‘Wal, now, jest wait a bit,’ ses I; so I went on and told him what I cal’lated to do, and arter he looked awhile, he ses, ‘Wal, go ahead, Jim, 139I’ll back ye. I reckon we can git any amount of odds so long as we keep the knot bus’ness to ourselves.’

“So pullin’ off my coat I gin it to Jake to hold, and jumpin’ on the fence, I hollered, ‘I’ll bet ten to twenty that I kin freeze to the pig’s tail till he gins out!’

“Great fish-hooks! you ought to have seen ’em a-rustlin’ towards me. I couldn’t see anythin’ but hands for five minutes, as they were holdin’ of ’em up, and signalin’, an’ a-hollerin’, ‘I’ll take that bet, Dudley, I’ll take that bet!’ I got rid of what money I had about me pooty soon, and Jake Swasey was jest a-spreadin’ out his greenbacks like a paymaster, and arter he exhausted his treasury he started arter his sister to git what money she had. I hollered to him to come back—I was fearin’ he’d tell her about the knot bus’ness; but he wasn’t no fool and knowed too well what gals are to trust her with any payin’ secret.

“Old Judge Perkins was thar, jolly as a boy on the last day of school. Wal, he was holdin’ of the stakes, and his pockets were crammed chockfull of greenbacks. He was a pooty 140good friend of mine, and couldn’t conceive how in thunder I was a-gwine to get my money back.


“Beckonin’ of me one side—‘Dudley,’ ses he, kind of low that way, and confidentially like, ‘I know you’re as hard to catch as an old trout with three broken hooks in its gill; but I can’t help thinkin’ a greased pig’s tail is a mi’ty slippery foundation to build hopes on.’

141“‘Never mind, Judge,’ ses I, winkin’, ‘I can see my way through.’

“‘Yes, Dudley,’ he ses, a-shakin’ of his head dubious like, ‘that’s what the fly ses when he’s a-buttin’ his head against the winder.’

“‘Wal,’ ses I, ‘without the tail pulls out, I cal’late to travel mi’ty close in the wake of that swine for the next half hour;’ and with that I moved off to where the pig was standin’ and listenin’ to all that was gwine on.

“I fooled round him a little until I got betwixt him and the crowd, and when he flopped his tail over as I was tellin’ ye, I made one desperate lunge, and made a go of it the fust time. I jest hauled the end through while he was turnin’ round, and grabbin’ hold above my hand, rolled it down into the tightest knot you ever sot eyes on. It was about two inches from the end of the tail, and he scolloped around so amazin’ lively nobody could see it. The crowd allowed I was hangin’ on the straight tail, and they didn’t know what to make of the performance anyhow.

“‘Go it, piggy,’ I ses to myself, just that way, ‘I guess it’s only a question of endurance 142now, as the gal said when she had the flea under the hot flat-iron.’

“The gate was open, and arter a few circles around the lot, the hog p’inted for it, and away he went, pig fust and I arter. He ran helter-skelter under old Mother Sheehan, the fruit woman, jest as she was comin’ through the gateway with a big basket of apples on each arm. I did hate like snakes to hoist the old lady, bounce me if I didn’t! I would ruther have run around a mountain than do it, ’cause you see she had jest been gittin’ off a bed of sickness that came nigh shroudin’ her, and she wasn’t prepared for a panic, by any means. I did my best to swing the critter around and git him off the notion of goin’ through, but his mind was made up. Thar was plenty of room outside for him to pass along without disturbin’ the old lady, but a hog is a hog, you know—contrary the world over. Besides, he allowed he could brush me off by the operation, but I wasn’t so easily got rid of. The money was up, you see, and I had no choice but to follow where he led and stick to the rooter till he gin out. ‘Where thou goest, I will go,’ I ses to 143myself, rememberin’ the passage in the Scriptures, and duckin’ my head to follow him. I scrouched down as low as I could and keep on my feet; for I cal’lated, do my best, the old woman would git elevated pooty lively.


144“She hollered as though a whole menagerie—elephants, kangaroos, snakes and all—had broke loose. Her sight wasn’t any too clear, and the whole proceedin’s had come upon her so sudden that she didn’t exactly know what sort of an animal was thar. She would have been satisfied it was a hog if it hadn’t taken so long to git through. I followed so close to his hams that she reckoned we both made one animal. The hog gin a snort when he started in to run the blockade, and she ses to herself, ‘Thar goes a big hog,’ but about the time she reckoned he had got out on the other side, I come a humpin’ and a boomin’ along in my shirt-sleeves, and gin her a second boost, throwin’ the old woman completely off her pins and out of her calculations at once.

“She did holler good, thar’s no mistake about that.

“The crowd hoorayed and applauded. The older ones of course sympathized with the poor old woman; but they could do nothin’ more, ’cause the whole catastrophe come as sudden as an earthquake and nobody seemed to be to blame. I wasn’t, and they all could see that 145plain enough. The young uns went for the scattered apples, but the pig and I kept right on attendin’ to business. Now and agin he’d double back towards the crowd, and they’d commence scatterin’ every which way, trampin’ on each other’s feet. Si Grope, the cashiered man-of-wars-man, stepped on Pat Cronin’s bunion, and he responded by fetchin’ the old salt a welt in the burr of the ear, and at it they went, tooth and nail, right thar. A few stopped to see fair play, but the heft of the crowd, about three hundred, kept right on arter me and the hog.

“Jake Swasey managed to git up pooty nigh to us once and hollered, ‘How are you makin’ it, Jim?’

“‘Fustrate,’ I answered; ‘I cal’late to stick to this swine through bush and bramble till I tire him out.’

“‘That’s the feelin’,’ he shouted, and with that we left him behind. The old judge was a puffin’ and a blowin’, strivin’ his best to keep up, and for some time he actewally led the crowd, but he didn’t hold out very long, but gradewelly sank to the rear.



“Rod Munnion, the tanner, stumbled and fell while crossin’ the street. His false teeth dropped out into the dirt, and while he was scramblin’ on all fours to git ’em ag’in, a feller named Welsh, who was clatterin’ past, slapped his foot down and bent the plate out of all shape. Munnion snatched ’em up ag’in as quick as the foot riz, and wipin’ ’em on his overalls as he ran, chucked ’em back into his mouth ag’in, all twisted as they were. They did 147look awful though, stickin’ straight out from his mouth, and pressin’ his lip chock up ag’inst his nose. You couldn’t understand what he was sayin’ any more than if he was Chinnook.

“Bow-legged Spinny, the cabbagin’ tailor, was thar. He met the crowd while carryin’ home Squire Lockwood’s new suit, and catchin’ the excitement of the moment, tossed the package into Slawson’s yard, and it bounded into the well quicker than ‘scat.’ He didn’t know it though, but hollered to the old woman, as he ran past the window, to look arter the package until he got back. Not seein’ any package she allowed he was crazy as a cow with her head stuck in a barrel, and flew to boltin’ of her doors pooty lively. He had been once to the Lunatic Asylum, you see, and they were still suspicious of him.

“The crowd thought to head us off by takin’ down a narrow lane, and it was while they were in that, that they began to surge ahead of Judge Perkins. He was awful quick tempered, and pooty conceited, and when bow-legged Spinny was elbowin’ past him he got mad. Catching the poor stitcher by the coat tail, he hollered: 148‘What! a miserable thread-needle machine claimin’ precedence?’ and with that he slung him more’n ten feet, landin’ him on his back in a nook of the fence.

“That was the day they buried old Mrs. Redpath, that the doctors disagreed over. Dr. Looty had been doctorin’ her for some time for bone disease. He said her back-bone war decayin’. He didn’t make much out of it though, and they got another doctor. The new feller said he understood the case thoroughly; he ridiculed the idea of bone disease, and went to work doctorin’ for the liver complaint. He said it had stopped workin’ and he was agwine to git it started ag’in. I reckon he’d have accomplished somethin’ if she had lived long enough, but she died in the meantime. When they held a post-mortem, they found out the old woman, some time in her life, had swallered a fish-bone which never passed her stomach, and eventually it killed her.

“‘Thar,’ ses Dr. Looty, ‘what did I tell ye? You’ll admit, I reckon, my diagnosis of the disease was right arter all, only I made a slight error in locatin’ the bone!’

149“‘Bone be splintered!’ ses the other feller, ‘hain’t I bin workin’ nigher the ailin’ part than you?’ So they went on quackin’ thar and disagreein’ over her until old Redpath got mad and hollered, ‘You old melonheads, isn’t it enough that I’m a widderer by your fumblin’ malpractice, without havin’ ye wranglin’ over the old woman!’ So he put ’em both out, and chucked their knives and saws arter ’em.

“But as I was sayin’, that was the day of the funeral, and while it was proceedin’ from the church to the buryin’ ground with Parson Coolridge at the head, with his long white gown on, we hove in sight comin’ tearin’ down to’ards the parsonage. The minister was a feller that actewelly doted on flowers. When he wasn’t copyin’ his sermons’ he was fussin’ around among the posies. He had his gardin chock full of all kinds of plants and shrubs. Thar you could see the snapdragon from Ireland, the fu-chu from China, the snow-ball from Canada, the bachelor’s button from Californy, and every kind you could mention.

“He had noticed the gardin gate was open when the funeral passed, and it worried him 150considerable. So when he heered the hootin’ and hollerin’, and got sight of the crowd surgin’ down the street, and see the pig and I pointin’ in the direction of the house, he couldn’t go ahead nohow.

“Turnin’ around to the pall bearers who were puffing along behind him, he ses, ‘Ease your hands a minit, boys, and let the old woman rest ’till I run back and see if that Dudley is agwine to drive that hog into my gardin. Confound him!’ he contin’ed, ‘he’s wuss to have around the neighborhood than the measles.’ With that he started back on the run, his long, white gown a-flyin’ away out behind, the most comical lookin’ thing you ever see. And he could run, that Parson Coolridge, in a way that was astonishin’. I reckon he hadn’t stirred out of a walk before for thirty years, and yit he streaked it over the ground as though it was an every-day occurrence.

“His j’ints cracked and snapped with the unusual motion, like an old stairs in frosty weather, but he didn’t mind that so long as he could git over the ground. He was thinkin’ of his favorite plants and the prospect of their gittin’ stirred up and transplanted in a manner he 151wasn’t prepared to approve. He did jerk back his elbows pooty spiteful, now I can tell you. He tried to make the gateway fust, and put in his best strides. But when he saw he couldn’t, he hollered, ‘Keep that hog out of my gardin, Dudley, or I’ll take the law of ye.’


152“‘Don’t git wrathy, Parson Coolridge,’ I shouted. ‘I can’t prevent the pig from gwine in. I have hold of the rudder, but I’ll be boosted if I can steer the ship.’ With that, through the openin’ we went, pig fust and me arter, and the hul crowd a clatterin’ behind us. The judge was amongst ’em, but got left in the hind end of it, where the women were a-trottin’. The Parson’s flowers went down with broken necks quicker than lightnin’. It wasn’t more’n ten seconds until they were six inches under ground, for the hog kept a circlin’ around and the hoorayin’ crowd follerin’ arter, payin’ no more attention to the Parson than if he had been a young ’un a-runnin’ around. When they saw the crowd, the pall bearers and most of the people who were jest follerin’ the remains through sympathy, turned back on the run and left the mourners standin’ thar by the coffin.

“Oh! it was the most excitin’ time the village ever seed. The ground was too soft in the gardin for the pig to git around well, and pooty soon he gin out. I was awful tired, too, and was hangin’ a dead weight on him for the last ten minutes.

153“When the boys see the knot on the tail you ought to hear ’em a-hollerin’, ‘Bets off! bets off!’ They were set on claimin’ a foul, and surrounded the old judge demandin’ thar money.

“But, as the crowd was increasin’ and the Parson was e’enmost crazy, the judge told ’em to come with him to the Court-house—he wouldn’t decide nothin’ in the gardin. As the hog couldn’t walk, the judge took his tobacco knife and cut the tail off and took it along with him to introduce as proof. He decided in my favor. He said that I had held on to the tail and touched nothin’ else, and if I managed to tie a knot while runnin’ I had performed a feat never before heard of in the country, so he paid over the money.

“But Parson Coolridge was the most worked up of any of ’em. He had legal advice on the matter, but the lawyer told him to gin it up, for the judge was on my side. Besides, he shouldn’t have left the gate open, if he didn’t want the pig to go in thar. Arter a while he gin up the notion of suin’ me, but while he stopped in the village he never got over it.



“The boys had pictures chalked up on the fences and shop doors, so that wherever you’d look you’d see sketches of the Parson runnin’ back from the funeral, and me a holdin’ on to the pig’s tail. He paid out more’n ten dollars in small sums to one boy, hirin’ him to go round and rub out the pictures wherever he’d happen to see ’em. But every time the Parson would start out through the village, thar on some fence 155or door, or side of a buildin’, would be the same strikin’ picture of him, a streakin’ it to head off the hog, so he would start the rubbin’-out boy arter that one.

“One evenin’ he happened to ketch that selfsame little rascal hard at work chalkin’ out the identical sketch on the cooper’s shop door, and the Parson was so bilin’ mad he chased him all over the village. The young speculator had bin carryin’ on a lively business, but arter that discovery thar was a sudden fallin’ away in his income. I tell ye it made a plag’y stir thar for awhile, and I reckon if Judge Perkins hadn’t been on my side I’d have been obliged to git out of the place.”



Would you hear the story told
Of the controversy bold,
That this day I did behold,
In a court of low degree,
Where his Honor sat like fate,
To decide betwixt the state
And a wanton villain’s mate,
Named Cora Lee?
The bold chief of stars was near,
As a witness to appear.
(By his order, Cora dear
Was languishing below.)
And for counsel she had got
A descendant of old Wat—
Noted for his daring plot,
Some years ago.
It was he commenced the fuss,
“For,” said he, “by this and thus,
Here I smell an animus[1]
As strong as musk of yore;
157And it’s my condensed belief,
That in language terse and brief,
I can trace it to the chief,
E’en to his door.”
Then to all it did appear
That the chief was seized with fear;
To the lawyer he drew near,
And to him muttered low:
“I could never think that ye
Would be quite so hard with me;
You had better let me be,
And travel slow.”
Then the lawyer quit his chair
As if wasps were buzzing there,
And with quite a tragic air,
Addressed his Honor thus—
“At your hands I claim protection.
Keep your eyes in this direction,
Take cognizance of his action,
This animus!”
Then arose the chief of stars,
And his visage shone like Mars,
When he recks not battle scars,
But charges to the fray.
And his hand began to glide
To his pocket deep and wide,
Where a weapon well supplied
In waiting lay.


“Ho!” he cried, “you shyster hound,
If you go on nosing round
Till an animus you’ve found,
My dear sir, hearken you:
I will open, by my soul!
In your carcass such a hole,
You will think a wagon pole
Has run you through.
159You would prate about the law?
You would magnify a flaw?
You would touch me on the raw?
So now, sir, say no more!
Keep a padlock on your jaw,
Not a sentence, or I’ll draw,
And I’ll scatter you like straw
Around the floor!”
Now the Judge’s face grew red
As a turkey gobbler’s head
When a scarlet robe is spread
On the lawn or fence.
“I adjourn the court,” he cried,
“’Till that animus has died,
And is buried head and hide
Far from hence.”
Then the rush was for the door;
From the corridors they pour,—
Three old women were run o’er
Within the justice hall;
And above the tramp and patter,
And the cursing and the chatter,
And the awful din and clatter,
Rose their squall.
When the open air was gained,
Then the epithets were rained,
And the passer’s ear was pained
With profanity flung loose,
160Back and forth the wordy pair,
Shameless swapped opinions there;
’Till all parties got their share
Of vile abuse.
When the man of “briefs” would flee,
Chieftain followed like a bee,
Or a shark a ship at sea
When hunger presses sore;
’Till, enraged, the lawyer, he
Cried, “If fight you want of me,
Wait with patience minutes three,
Not any more;
“’Till I hasten up the stair
To my office, and prepare,
Like yourself for rip and tear,
And piling bodies dead.
Then, if you can blaze it faster,
Carve designs for probe or plaster,
Quicker work a soul’s disaster,
Just waltz ahead.”
But alas! his hasty tongue,
Vulgar name or sentence flung,
And the chieftain’s pride was stung
Down to the marrow bone.
Now upon him, head and tail,
Pitched policemen, tooth and nail,
Hot as bees when they assail
A lazy drone.
161And upon the evening breeze
Rose the “begorras” and the “yees”
Of a dozen Mulroonees,
As they roughly hale
The poor lawyer through the street,
Sometimes lifted from his feet,
Sometimes o’er the noddle beat,
Toward the jail.
Now upon a truss of straw,
Lies the counsellor-at-law,
Wishing Satan had his paw
On wily Cora Lee.
For himself to grief is brought,
While the animus he sought
Running is, as free as thought,
Or like his fee.

1. Private enmity towards the prisoner.



Having learned that a highly-educated and respectable lady of this city had instituted a suit in one of our courts for the purpose of obtaining a divorce from her husband, I stepped into the hall of justice to learn how the case progressed. The fact of a young wife demanding a separation in a country like this, which is proverbial for its separations, is nothing to be wondered at, and I was considerably surprised, on reaching the court room, to find it so full of people that I could hardly gain admittance. I was not so much astonished at the great rush, however, when informed by the bailiff that the ground on which the lady rested her case was that her husband snored. As I entered, the plaintiff’s lawyer commenced addressing the court. He entered into the case with the spirit and fire of a Clay or a Webster. After reviewing and commenting largely upon 163the testimony given in the case, he ended his argument in the following words:—


“Now, sir, whatever other people may think 164of this application, I take a bold stand, regardless whose corns or bunions I tread upon, so long as I put my foot down where it belongs. We have too many snorers among us. They are in our places of amusement, introducing groans and thunder where none were intended in the play. We find them in our places of worship, breaking forth in the midst of the pastor’s prayer, or while he is picturing to the congregation the wreck of ages and the crash of worlds. I maintain that this application is a righteous one; that it is a shot in the right direction, which will in all likelihood eventually bring down the game; and were I a judge invested with power to decide a peculiar case of this kind, I would show no hesitation, but grant the plaintiff her natural and very reasonable request more readily than if the grounds on which she sued for a separation were drunkenness or desertion.

“The absurdity of an irascible wife seeking a divorce from a husband because he indulges too freely in the flowing bowl must be apparent to all. She rushes into the crowded court room, and, figuratively speaking, catches the 165astonished justice by the ear, as Joab in the extremity of his distress laid hold upon the horns of the altar, and requests him to sever the chafing bonds with his legal shears. Again: what a pitiable lack of discretion that woman exhibits who appeals to the court merely because her husband deserts her, leaving her to pursue the even tenor of her way. Why, in nine cases out of ten this is a ‘consummation devoutly to be wished;’ she is left untrammeled, and has no husband to support.

“I will not allude to the many other failings which wreck the home and put out the cheerful light of many a hearthstone.

“But, sir, it is with no ordinary thrill of pride that I espouse the cause of the woman who seeks a divorce from a snoring husband. I say, and I may remark that I say it boldly, that I rejoice it was reserved for me to raise my voice in her defence. I hold that a man who with malice aforethought takes from her peaceful home a tender and confiding maiden without first informing her of his trouble, commits a grave and unpardonable crime. The dogs of justice should be loosened at his heels to hound 166him from Puget’s Sound to Passamaquoddy Bay. He should be made to repent his villainous act. Think how the tender nerves of a sensitive creature must be shocked on being awakened by such an outburst. Picture to yourself her husband, not breathing her name in words of love, but lying flat on his back, and snoring with the vehemence of a stranded porpoise.

“Now, sir, I ask what mercy should be shown the monster who has himself shown none? He has doomed a fair representative of that sex whose presence civilizes ours, to an ever new affliction and a life of perpetual wakefulness. What course can she pursue? There are but two roads. Which shall she take? One leads to the court room and the other leads to the cemetery. She must either be freed from her husband or go down to an untimely grave, perhaps to have her place quickly filled by another unsuspecting victim. No, your Honor; this man, and I regret to say it, this husband and father, should not be permitted to destroy the peace and bright prospects of more than one female. Let it be known to the world that he has ruined the hopes of a loving wife, let it be blazoned 167upon the housetops and upon the fences that he snores; then let him get another mate, if he can.

“The wife should not only have a divorce from the deceptive monster, but she should have the custody of the children. She deserves them by virtue of her long suffering and patience, while he who has so heartlessly deceived her cannot be competent to guide their little feet aright in the dangerous walks of life. On behalf of this sorrowing wife, all other wives, and of 168the wives yet to be, who are ripening into womanhood around our hearths, I cry separation! In the name of confidence betrayed, of hopes blasted, and of a life aged before its time, I repeat, separation! separation!”

He sank into his seat, and despite the order of the bailiff for “silence in court,” generous applause swept throughout the room. The judge took occasion to compliment the lawyer for his able argument, and said it was the greatest forensic effort he had listened to since he assumed the responsibilities of his office. The prayer was granted and the children awarded to the plaintiff.



Accepting an invitation extended by the principal of an uptown school, I visited that institution to-day. The masses of young humanity a person finds in these temples of instruction is something amazingly impressive. Eight or nine hundred scholars are attending the one school on which I bestowed my attentions to-day.




This article must be embellished with a faithful sketch of the boy who stood at the head of his class. How he felt at that moment, I couldn’t say, never having any experience in the position myself. He looked happy and confident, however, and snapped eagerly at the words as they fell from the teacher’s lips, much as a hungry dog does at the crumbs falling from a table. But my sympathies were decidedly with the little contortionist who stood mournfully at the foot of her class. I knew how that was myself. I had been “yar,” and I regretted I wasn’t a ventriloquist, that I might from afar whisper in her ear, and assist her over some 171clogging syllables. If she could have gone into the yard, where I noticed a scholar of the senior class throwing herself in a delirium of joy, brought about by a skipping-rope, she would probably have acquitted herself in a creditable manner, and won the praise of all, for however inferior a person may be to another in some matters, when they can choose their game they often reverse the order, and peradventure the poor stammering scholar could have skipped the skirts off those jogging ahead of her in the common speller.


Not often does a sadder sight
Wake sympathetic strain,
Than glimpse of some rejected wight
Whose suit has proved in vain;
Who often pinched necessities
For bouquets, sweet and rare,
For tickets to the carnival,
The opera, or fair;


Whose pocket oft was visited
The candy box to fill;
The dollar spent that should have gone
To pay his laundry bill.
Especially the case is sad,
If he who seeks a wife
Has, step by step, encroached upon
The shady side of life.
173The fly no darker prospect views
That in the inkstand peers,
Than he, whose unrequited love
Must leak away in tears.
At such a time how ill the smile
Becomes the rival face;
The “ha, ha, ha’s!” the winks and nods,
Seem sadly out of place.
And then comparisons are drawn
At the expense, no doubt,
Of him whose overflowing cup
Seems full enough without.
While he who moves away, alas!
Of every grace so free,
To criticism opens wide
The door, as all may see.
His mind is not reflecting now
On fashions, style, or art,
On proper pace, or rules of grace;
But on his slighted heart.
He now but sees his promised joys
All foundering in his view,
His castles tumbling down, that high
In brighter moments grew.
To know that now those ruby lips
Another’s mouth will press,
And now that soft and soothing hand
Another’s brow caress,—
174Oh, dark before, and dark behind,
And full of woe and pain
Is life to him, whose heavy loss
Makes up a rival’s gain.
The gravel-walk beneath his feet
Cannot too sudden ope’,
To gather in the wretch, who mourns
The death of every hope.
The swallows, whispering in a row,
Seem mocking at his tear,
And in the cawing of the crow
He seems to catch a sneer;
The cattle grazing in the field
Awhile their lunch delay,
To gaze at him, who moves along
In such a listless way.
Perhaps he’ll know a thousand griefs
Ere death has laid him low.
Perhaps, beside an open grave,
He’ll shed the tear of woe;
Perhaps he’ll turn him from the sods
That hide a mother’s face,
A father’s smile, a brother’s hand,
Or sister’s buried grace;
But there can hardly come a time
When life will look so drear,
Or can so little reason show
Why he should linger here.


I am not the oldest inhabitant, and don’t know what sort of storms they used to have here before the flood; but I’ll wager a corner lot against a plug of tobacco, that this section, for the last twenty years, has not snoozed through a rougher night than the one just past.

It would have been a glorious night for a revivalist to stir up the masses. Converts would have crowded in like grists to a mill after harvest. Since the last great earthquake I have not felt so much concern about my future state as I did about twelve o’clock last night. I arose from bed, and went to rummaging books, trying to find the description of a storm that would equal ours. I found the tempest that Tam O’Shanter faced the night he discovered the witches, and the one in which King Lear was cavorting around, bare-headed, 176and that which made Cæsar take an account of stock and turn to interpreting dreams, and jumbled them all together; but the product was unequal to the fury that was raging without. There was no more similarity than a baby’s rattle bears to a Chinese gong.


177Then I fished out the storm that howled while Macbeth was murdering Duncan, and tumbled it in with the others. This addition made things about even. The “lamentations heard i’ the air” of Macbeth’s tempest were a fair precedent of the clamorous uproar from the fire bell in the City Hall tower. Only an earthquake was lacking to enable us to say, “The earth was feverous, and did shake,” or boast a night outvieing four of the roughest on record, all woven into one.

It had one good effect, however—one for which poison and boot-jacks have been tried in vain: it did silence the dogs and cats. Their midnight carousals were as rare as they were in Paris just before the capitulation. Quarrelsome curs postponed the settlement of their little differences and defiant barks until such times as they would be able to discover themselves whether they barked or yawned, and cats sought other places besides a fellow’s window-sill to express opinions about each other or chant their tales of love.

I know the rain is refreshing, the wind purifying, the lightning grand, and the thunder 178awe-inspiring; but as the poor land-lubber advised, when he was clinging to the spar of the wrecked vessel, “Praise the sea, but keep on land,” so I say to those people who want to prick up their willing ears, like a war-horse, to catch the sublime rumble of heaven’s artillery, or sit by their window and blink at the blazing sky, like a bedazzled owl at a calcium light; but I know one individual who could have got along quite as well if there had raged no war of the elements. He would have slept soundly and never mourned for what he had lost.


I am wofully out of humor, and what is worse, out of pocket, and have just been settling a bill for repairs to a buggy which was knocked out of kilter on the Cliff House road the other day. At the present writing I feel 179that it will be some time before I take the chances of injuring another. The moon may fill her horn and wane again, the seals howl, and the ocean roar, but I will hardly indulge in the luxury of a drive to the beach for many a day to come. I had a couple of ladies with me. Splendid company ladies are—so long as they have unlimited confidence in your skill as a driver. But they try one’s patience after they lose faith, and want to get the lines in their own hands every time you chance to run a wheel into the ditch, or accidentally climb over a pig or calf. Those who were with me on that occasion are not particularly loud in their praise of my driving. The fact is, I didn’t acquit myself in a manner calculated to draw down encomiums in showers upon my head. I drove a span that day. They were called high-strung animals. But I don’t like high-strung horses any more. If they would only run along the track like a locomotive, I could hold the ribbons as gracefully as anybody; but I am very much opposed to all of their little by-plays. This getting scared at a floating thistle-down, or grasshopper swinging on a straw, is something 180I don’t approve of in a horse. There is no reason in it; no profit accrues from it.

But my trotters were frightened at different objects at the same moment—one at a snail peacefully pursuing his way across the road, and the other at a butterfly winging his wabbling flight along the ditch. At once they became unmanageable, and vied with each other in extravagant antics. From the first the ladies had no very exalted opinion of my manner of handling the lines. Even before we were well under way I had the misfortune to run down a calf. Then a Newfoundland dog thought to stop the buggy by taking hold of one of the hubs, but he made a mis-dive, and shoving his head between the spokes, kept us company for twenty rods without any effort on his part whatever. I also ran over a wheelbarrow loaded with bricks (the Irishman escaped with a crushed hat), and overthrew an apple woman’s stand while turning a corner. I can yet hear ringing in my ear the shouts and execrations of the old vender, when she saw the wheels mounting her baskets and squeezing the cider out of her choicest bellflowers. Until I passed the next 181street I could look back and see the old lady in her embarrassing situation. There she sat, caught under the broken table, and kicking about wildly in frantic efforts to free herself, while her bonnet was knocked askew by the fall and stuck on one side of her head in the most jaunty position imaginable.


At this point the horses became more frightened, 182and commenced cutting up strange didos. Things were getting badly mixed, so much so that one horse turned his head to the dasher. The ladies took a hurried view of the situation, and voting me an incompetent driver, began to desert me by back-action movements over the rear end of the buggy.


183I shall always think that I could have managed the animals without any difficulty if they had not both been frightened at the same time. But with one bucking like a Mexican plug, evidently bent on crawling under the buggy, and the other seemingly striving to reach the stars by an invisible ladder, they were indeed difficult to control.

My companions concluded they had sufficient buggy riding for one day, and took the cars into town, while I patched up the harness as best I could, and returned to the livery stable, fully concurring with the women folks that as a driver I was not a success, and that hereafter promenades would suit me better.



A singular case of second sight occurred in the western part of the city last evening while I was there. An old Irishman named McSweegan, who lives in that locality, is the possessor of a multiplying pair of eyes. That is, they have the strange faculty of making two objects of one. This natural endowment is particularly distinguishable after he has been indulging freely in strong decoctions of old rye.

Yesterday he was attending a primary election, at which he expected to be brought before the public as a candidate for a fat local office. An influential friend had been intrusted with the highly important and vital mission of bringing his name before the delegates, for which service he was to receive some petty office if the election was effected. McSweegan stood back in a recess of the hall, hat in hand, impatiently 185waiting to hear the familiar name pronounced. In fancy, he already listened to the shout of applause that would follow his nomination. But he stood with a quiet smile and an attentive ear in vain. Candidate after candidate was announced, but the ancient and honorable name of McSweegan thrilled not his auricular nerves. The ticket was at last declared full, and he was not one of the happy number. His friend had played him false—to use a common expression, “had gone back on him,” and he was justly indignant.

On his way home he took Lethean draughts in which to drown his trouble and keen disappointment, and by the time he reached his clap-board front was in capital condition for seeing double. The hour was late as he entered his house, but he found his industrious better half sitting at a table sewing by the flicker of a tallow candle. His red and multiplying optics were riveted by the wannish flame, which to him had the semblance of two well-defined and separate lights. This was an extravagance that he could not countenance. To have found his wife up at such a late hour 186would have been severe enough strain upon his already ruffled temper, for he had no wish to discuss the result of the “Primary.” But to find her needlessly consuming two candles showed a wastefulness on her part, evincing an utter disregard for the low condition of his exchequer. He was exceedingly provoked, and with a view of curtailing home expenses, attempted to puff out one of the flames.


187After several ineffectual attempts, in which he scorched his whiskers and eyebrows, he succeeded, but found himself enveloped in Egyptian darkness. His rage increased. He at once accused his wife of blowing out the “other candle” through spite. Her contradictions only fanned his fury, and the performance ended by putting her out of the house and keeping her out all night—for which unhusbandly treatment she had him arrested, and he now languishes in the lock-up.


Richard Roe was a thief, whose temptation to steal
Always grew more resistless when wanting a meal;
Once he entered a store, when no person was by,
Took a box of sardines, and attempted to fly;
But, although he could slope when occasion required,
Like a stag to a stream when the forest is fired,
188The scoundrel was spotted and nabbed at the door,
By officers Murphy, McMannus and Moore;
And away to the jail, midst a crowd you should see,
Went the thief, the sardines, and the officers three.
The next day came his hearing, and people were there
From all stations in life, on the prisoner to stare:
There were gamblers, street-pavers, stevedores, undertakers,
Ship-chandlers, brick-masons, and umbrella makers,
Corn-doctors, reporters, clerks, tailors, and teachers,
Fruit-peddlers, horse-trainers, clairvoyants, and preachers;
A few women also jammed in with the rest,
With their bonnets awry, and their clothing sore pressed,
And their uplifted faces, perspiring and red,
Full ear-deep in the back of some person ahead;
And like peas in a kettle, or bees in a hive—
Ever shifting position—so they were alive;
All impatiently wedging around in a stew,
In the hope they could better their chance for a view;
This one grumbling because some one crowded so near
That he shot his hot breath in the depths of his ear;
That one cursing because some one’s elbow so rude
On his ribs was inclined to encroach and intrude;
And another one howling and looking forlorn,
Just because some one trod on his favorite corn;
Over all the hoarse voice of the bailiff did wheeze:
“Order! order in the court, gentlemen, if you please!”
189Six feet two, if an inch, and proportioned in size,
Stood the thief in the dock, when the clerk bid him rise;
And amongst all that crowd not a man could be found
With his shoulders so square and a physique so sound.


First, around on the lawyers and officers there
He defiantly gazed with a bold, brazen air;
And then, turning around, stared the Judge in the face,
As though he was the thief and the rogue in the case.
190The stern Judge ran his eyes the unmoved villain o’er,
From the crown of his head to his feet on the floor—
While the rogue seemed to study with critical care
The time-honored “Court,” with his thin crop of hair.
For five minutes or more, it’s my candid belief
That the thief eyed the Judge, and the Judge eyed the thief;
As two rivals, long parted, in some foreign land
By mischance blown together, each other they scanned;
While there rose from the concourse no perceptible sound,
Not a whisper or yawn, even, circled around.
But a charnel-house calm o’er the room seemed to fall,
Till the flies could be heard on the plastering crawl—
Till beneath the rogue’s stare the Court’s visage grew red.
But down-choking his rising resentment, he said:—
“Richard Roe”—and he spoke quite emphatic and slow,
As though weighing each word before letting it go—
And inclined his head downward, as men often do
When they look over spectacles rather than through—
“Richard Roe, you have come to the surface once more,
Like the ghost to the feast of the monarch of yore;
I have lectured, imprisoned and fined you in vain—
You will still depredate, and confront me again.
From the door of the jail to the till of a store
There is simply one pace unto you, and no more;
191As the dog to his vomit, the sow to her mire,
You will glide, the born slave of your fiendish desire;
By my oath, it’s a sin, a disgrace, and a shame;
With your shoulders so broad, and so robust your frame,
With your arms like a Hercules, muscled and strong,
With your wind like a stag-hound’s, so perfect and long,
To earn a support you’re possessed of all means—
And yet you’ve been stealing a box of sardines.


“I have worked my way onward, year out and year in,
Among characters blackened and blistered with sin;
Amongst men I’d have quaked to have met in a lane,
As I would the arch demon, relieved of his chain;
But I’m frank to confess, and I’d state it as free
On a Bible as large as a bed, if need be,
192In my thirty years’ practice, on Bench or at Bar,
A thief more consummate and bold than you are
I have never encountered, in county or town,
Among whites, copper-colored, or greasers done brown;
You’re as prone to purloin as an eagle to fly,
Or a salmon to swim, or a lover to sigh;
Not an esculent known, or utensil of use,
From a cantaloupe down to the quill of a goose,
From a tripe in the stall to a fowl in the coop,
But at some time or other in your life you did scoop.”
And as if in assent, Richard Roe bowed his head,
While the Judge wiped his face, and continuing, said:
“Here so often, of late, you have taken the stand,
To give answer for larcenies, petty or grand,
That your face has become as familiar to all
The practitioners here as the clock on the wall;”
Here he pointed it out, and a glance at it threw;
And bold Richard turned round and regarded it too,
While full back to his ears a grim smile slowly broke,
For, despite his position, he relished the joke.
“I regret that our law draws the limiting line,
For it seems but a farce to impose a small fine,
Or to send you below for a week or ten days,
To recline on a mat and hatch future forays.
“But since neither the gloom of the prison, nor fine,
Seems to work a reform in that bosom of thine,
I will try a new method—throw justice one side,
And appeal to your manhood, your honor, and pride;
It is said kindness conquers where knuckles will fail,
And a pardon may faster reform than the jail;
193Since the stock-raiser advocates crossing the breed,
And the farmer finds profit by changing the seed,
Who can tell but a change may regenerate you—
So we offer you mercy where none is your due.
“Mr. Sheriff! release that purloiner! as free
As the wind that awakes the dull ocean, is he.
But, sir, hark! Richard Roe, ere you mix with the throng,
Take this friendly advice from one knowing you long:
And in future, whenever your stomach does feel
Like digesting a fish, take a rod, and a reel,
A few hooks, a fine line, and of gentles a few,
And go catch your own fry, as all good people do;
For you’ll find it more wholesome to follow a creek,
And there angle for trout seven days of the week,
Than to strive to obtain by unwarranted means
E’en a box of diminutive, oily sardines.”
Subdued was bold Richard, he gazed in surprise,
And trembled, while tears welled fast from his eyes,
As he vowed that henceforth the right course he’d pursue;
And Roe is now honest, trustworthy, and true.


“Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more.’”

Last night, soon after retiring, I was made aware of the exceedingly annoying fact that a pair of cats had selected the yard under my window for their trysting-place, and were behaving in a most demonstrative manner.

I have no objection to cats having their courtships as well as men; but I see no reason in their having such a hoodooing time over it, making night hideous with rascally yowls. There is, perhaps, nothing more aggravating in life than to have a little saucy spit-fire of a puss keep a whole community awake for hours together, because an admirer of hers happens to take a moonlight stroll on a neighboring fence.

The night wore on. Their inharmonious chants increased in volume and spirit. Considering the matter, I came to the conclusion 195that I would rather pay the fine imposed for shooting in the city limits than lose so many hours from needed rest.

I hastened to procure my shot-gun, determined to make a scattering amongst them, if nothing more. As I reached the casement, a bright flash from the window of an adjoining house, and a simultaneous patter of shot in the yard, informed me that some co-sufferer had taken the initiative in the good work of demolition; for though wrought to the highest pitch of ferocity, his nerves were steady and his aim was sure.

He evidently hit them where their nine lives were centered, and they dropped as they stood when the fatal tube was leveled. In short—

They died as erring cats should die—
Without a kick, without a cry;
The faintest rustle in the chips,
A slight contraction of the lips,
Which brought the pointed teeth in sight,
And they had passed to endless night.

Even as I write (ten o’clock A. M.) they are lying in the yard as they fell, a terrible illustration of sudden transition from noisy debate to 196silent repose. There they lie, to compare small things with great, like a pair of shipwrecked lovers, who have clung to each other through fire and water, and at last have reached the wreck-strewed beach in body, but not in spirit.

The gentleman who owns the yard has just been out looking at them. After silently surveying the dead for a long time in silence, he walked away without disturbing them, pathetically murmuring the Latin motto, “Requies-cat in pace.


I have been taking a flying trip over the Sierras about which the poet so mellifluously sings. There were many beautiful scenes presented during that trip, but abler pens than mine have described them fully, and have done them justice, so I will not attempt to set forth their various charms. It is not my 197forte, anyway, and I am free to confess the fact. Enough for me to describe the excellent lunch which I had the good fortune to have along with me, and to speak plainly, I enjoyed it the most of anything I saw during my trip. It was no ordinary lunch, however. The back-bone of it was a nicely-roasted chicken, which reflected great credit upon both the poulterer and the kind-hearted young lady who volunteered to see it through the oven. Ah, that brisk little lady can prepare a dish fit to set before the gods. If that is not doing her justice, tell me what more can be said, and I will pile it higher. She is worthy of it.

The virtues of that fowl live in my memory yet. It was good. If you could meet an old lady that was a passenger in that car—not the one with the bunion on her left foot and the crockery teeth, who mistook me for a minister, but the mild old lady with glasses that sat opposite me—she would tell you the same. She knows. Bless her gentle heart! If she doesn’t, I would like to know who does. She partook of the fowl. I saw her looking wistfully upon it as I dismembered it, and, though 198I say it myself, I am not greedy, by any means, so I offered her the juicy neck. Did she take it? Ask, rather, if a cat that had fasted a week would take a mouse if she got between him and his hole? As old Shylock said, “Are you answered?” She was no novice at picking the neck of a fowl, either. She manipulated it in a manner that proved to me clearly she had a perfect knowledge of its construction. It was not long—perhaps ten seconds—before she had it picked as bare as a corkscrew. She did it with such ease, too; and that’s what got me. She kept it revolving as rapidly as a squirrel does the cylinder in his cage. She had but one front tooth left in her upper jaw. The intelligent mind will no doubt immediately picture forth a long tooth; and the intelligent mind, in so doing, portrays the incisor correctly. It was, indeed, a long tooth, but it was just the thing she needed for the business before her. It seemed to be specially made for it, as it fitted into every depression or notch in the neck as nicely as a key into a lock. It ran around between the vertebræ like a turner’s chisel, throwing the small particles of nutriment 199far back against the roof of her mouth. It did me good to see her play around that fowl’s neck. I grew young again while beholding the busy scene, and actually regretted that a chicken did not have two necks, as well as two legs, that I might repeat the generous donation, and see the pleasing scene enacted again. As it was, I won golden opinions from the old lady.


200A stout German woman who sat near by also seemed to be looking upon the chicken as though she would like to help me make away with it. With that magnanimity which was ever my peculiar characteristic, I severed the pope’s nose from the trunk and proffered her the delicious morsel, when, to my utter astonishment and confusion, she whipped out of her pocket a big bologna sausage the size of a stuffed club, and shook it triumphantly in my face, so close that it might have greased the end of my nose. She actually scouted the idea. Independent, proud and self-sustaining, these Germans, and no mistake. She evidently felt insulted, and delivered herself of a long essay in the German tongue. She was undoubtedly giving me to understand that she was able to furnish grists for her own mill. Of course that is what she meant. I could tell that by the way she flourished the bologna, and pointed to her mouth and stomach. I expected she was about to whack me over the jaw with the singular looking weapon, and prepared to dodge 201on the shortest possible notice. But she didn’t. As if to madden me, she commenced eating the sausage in a hasty, excited manner, taking about two inches at a bite. What could I do? What did I do? Why, let her eat it, of course; it was none of my business. I had no objection, so long as she didn’t choke, and render it necessary for me to pat her upon the back, which I certainly thought I would have to do before she finished her meal.

You may be sure I offered no more chicken to any person after that, but picked the bones as bare as pen-holders. If she liked bologna better than a choice piece of fowl, it was her fault, not mine. I washed my hands of the whole affair.

I stopped a few hours at a mill in the mountains, and while there witnessed an amusing incident. There was a small pipe leading from the engine, and projecting through the side of the building close to the ground. Through this pipe the waste water was conveyed from the engine, and at the end of it quite a puddle or drain had been formed, about a foot in width and eight or ten feet in length. The constant 202dripping from the pipe kept the water warm, and from it a steam was continually rising. There were several Indian camps in the vicinity of the mill, and as wood was rather scarce, the squaws belonging to the camps were in the habit of congregating around this warm drain when the cold weather numbed their poorly protected limbs. It was not an unusual thing to see half a dozen coming down the hill to squat beside the drain, and there sit for hours discussing the current topics of the day, enjoying at the same time the luxury of a cheap steam bath.

There were a couple sitting at the drain in this innocent manner while I was at the mill. I called the engineer’s attention to the capital opportunity that lay before him to give them a surprise that would be fun to behold. This he could do by simply turning a gauge cock and allowing the steam to go out with a rush upon the squatting pair. The engineer was a sober sort of man, not at all given to humor, and not inclined to take advantage of the opportunity. But when I informed him that I represented an illustrated paper and wanted to make a stirring 203sketch of the scene, he consented for my benefit. As he went to comply with my suggestion, I moved to the window to see how the squaws would enjoy it. I had hardly reached my position when the steam shot along the surface of the water like smoke from the muzzle of a rifle. At the same instant the gentle savages shot at least four feet into the air, in the most extravagant positions imaginable. Until that moment I would not have believed the human form could assume such strange attitudes on such short notice. If I had not been intently gazing upon the pair as they sat chatting sociably over the drain, and had my eyes riveted upon them as they shot aloft, I could hardly have thought the two dark figures performing such grotesque evolutions in mid air were indeed human beings.


204The steam was harmless, as it had to go quite a distance before escaping, but the squaws didn’t understand anything about that, you know. No person had enlightened their untutored minds upon that point, and they didn’t sit there very long in order to ascertain; for the sake of the squaws, however, let us hope that it was. One thing they evidently did feel certain about, and that was that something had broken loose, and that, too, at a very inopportune moment. The thought that followed close upon the heels of the other was to change their position in the shortest possible time. If they both had been shot into the air out of one mortar they could hardly have shown greater concert of action. If there was any difference in their sensitiveness 205or agility, the one farthest from the pipe seemed to claim the superiority, for, as near as I could judge, she was first to spring aloft. The back of one was towards me, and the face of the other. Though quite a distance from them, I could distinguish the white eyes of the latter standing out as prominently as a pair of silver-headed nails in the end of a mahogany coffin.

It may be argued that this was a mean trick. It may even be said that it was a sinful act. I admit all this; nay, more, it may be that I will have to answer for it hereafter, when you, and they, and all of us, have ceased to be interested in things pertaining to the flesh; but in the face of this supposition, I must still adhere to the original assertion that it was indeed an amusing incident, and will go further and say that as yet I have not been brought down to that perfect state of repentance where I could sincerely say that I regretted having been the instigator of the deed.

I never learned whether the squaws returned to the drain again, but, judging from the way they hustled over the hill in the direction of their camp, I am inclined to think not.

206While coming down the river there was quite an excitement on board, on account of the steamer grounding suddenly upon the “Hog’s Back.” She was running pretty fast at the time, and the sudden stop threw several passengers off their feet, and for a few moments all was confusion. I was partly disrobed at the time, and the first thought that entered my mind was that we had collided with some schooner on its way up the river. Before leaving, a gentleman placed a lady and two small children in my charge, and my first act was to run to the state-room in which they were. I found the lady preparing for rest, but the children were already in bed. Without much ceremony, I seized a child in each hand, and bidding the lady to follow, started to deposit them near the davits, that they might be handy to throw into the boats in case we were compelled to take to them.



While hastening through the cabin I was confronted by a terrified woman in her nightclothes, who jumped out of her state-room as I was passing the door. In her hands she grasped the nozzle of a large life preserver, which she had buckled around her, and which only needed to be inflated with wind to make her comparatively safe. No sooner did she see me than she commenced dancing frantically around me in the most insane manner, at the same time shouting with all the strength of her voice: “Blow me up! blow me up! for the love of heaven, Mister, blow me up!” But I had enough to do at that moment without stopping 208to “blow her up.” Besides, I didn’t know but I might have to swim to the shore, and would, consequently, need what little wind I could muster to bear me through the task. Before proceeding far, however, I met the mate, who told me to put the children back in bed and go soak my head, or do anything that would keep me from making an unmitigated fool of myself, with which kindly suggestion I meekly complied.



Now and then we come across a scoundrel, an inhuman wretch, of such magnitude that we are inclined, like Bassanio, to waver in our faith, and hold opinion with Pythagoras, that being the only hypothesis by which we are enabled to account for their being possessed of such brutish natures. For example: An undertaker was pointed out to me to-day who follows so close in the wake of death that he quite often appears in advance of the grim leveler, and secures, if possible, the job of burying the body while yet the person is alive, much as he would bespeak a quarter of beef of his neighbor before the animal was butchered. This individual heard that a man was about to die in the County Hospital, and learning that the only friend of the sick man was about to leave the city, he hunted him up and solicited the job of performing the last sad rites for his friend when death should have gathered him in.

210The request was unthinkingly granted, and sufficient money to cover the expenses of the burial was placed in the hands of a third party, who was to pay it to the undertaker when the obsequies were performed. The man of coffins departed, smiling over his success. The only thing that remained now between him and a fat profit was the man’s life; but this was only a slim barrier and likely to fall at every breath of air. He paid semi-daily visits to the hospital to learn how the disease was developing.

Each morning as he arose and looked out upon the cold fog hanging over the city, he rubbed his hands with delight, and chuckled as he thought how impossible it would be for the sick man to live through such a disagreeable day. “It’s not in the nature of the disease to allow it,” he argued. “If he is not gone already, he will be as stiff as a piston-rod before ten o’clock, or I am no judge of cause and effect.”

But somehow the last thread of life was indeed a tough one, and held out wonderfully. One, two and three days dragged by, and still the invalid’s cough waked the echoes of the 211corridors and halls of the hospital. This annoyed the anxious undertaker terribly.

“What if he should recover, and cheat me out of the money, after all?” thought he, as he sat in his gloomy office and gazed about upon the coffins standing on their ends around the room.

Then his small gray eyes lingered longer upon the cheap burial case in the corner—which he thought would about fit the man in the hospital. “There’s no use of this delay,” he muttered to himself. “There must be some outside influence brought to bear upon him, and that immediately, or the fellow may linger along through the whole winter, and keep the money lying idle that is now almost within my reach.” Taking a tape measure in his pocket, he repaired at once to the hospital, and gained admittance to the sick man’s room.

The poor fellow was lying apparently in the last stages of that deceptive disease, consumption. But instead of thinking he was so far gone that his obsequies had actually commenced, he was promising himself long, happy years of life and usefulness. The unfeeling scoundrel 212approached the bed and deliberately proceeded to measure the poor fellow for his last outfit, in the meantime keeping up a sort of rattling conversation, like the following: “Hello! old boy; so you’re going to peg out, eh? Well, it’s a road that sooner or later we’ve all got to travel; so there’s no use of a feller making any bones over it. Rather young, though, to have to stiffen out; without even having the pleasure of being married—there won’t be no such enjoyment where you’re going, the Scripture tells us. There—that’s a good fellow; stretch out full length, so that I can get a correct measure. If there is anything I do dislike it is to see a corpse stuck into a coffin that’s too short by a few inches. I would rather pinch a fellow a little in width than in length, ’cause it doesn’t cripple a corpse up so bad. There—that’s it to a dot; five feet nine and a quarter, with half an inch allowed for the stretching out of the joints just as you are going off. You know a fellow elongates a little about that time, so I always make some allowance when I measure a live man for his coffin. Now for the depth, my hearty! Jerusalem! a general caving 213in all along the line, eh? Why, you’re as flat as a griddle-cake. Ah! that consumption is the thing that plays hob with a fellow! it is, my boy, there’s no use denying it. It scoops a person out mighty quick, I can tell you. Four and three-quarters—four and a-half—pinch measurement. Why, blow me, if it doesn’t seem like a waste of material to give you the standard depth. If it wasn’t for your long feet I would be inclined to shallow a little on you, old boy! Let me think now,—why, what a numbskull I am, to be sure: I can twist your feet crosswise a little, and make a go of it like a charm; but hold on,—no, I can’t do it after all, for there’s your nose sticking up at t’other end, and it wouldn’t hardly be doing the fair thing by you to twist your head around ear up, for the sake of saving a few inches of material, no sir e-e. I wouldn’t do that sort of thing to the deadest corpse I ever screwed a lid over; I’ll do the fair thing by a man, be he dead or living, though it should keep me poor. I can give you the juvenile handles, though, for you don’t weigh any more than a Cape Ann codfish.


214“You’re going off the reel at a favorable time, too, for I’ve been wishing for a chance to give my light team an airing, for some time. Old Skidamadink over on Market street, I hear, is going to take out a stiff one to-morrow afternoon also, and no doubt he will be trying to forge ahead of me the way he did yesterday when I 215had the spavined grays along; but he’ll find out that he has got to limber up a little differently when Moll and Kate are stuck in his flank. He wouldn’t have shook me off yesterday, if I hadn’t that soggy old sea captain aboard. He seemed to grow heavier the longer I kept him. If there is any one thing I dislike more than another it is a pussy corpse. It is bad enough to have a fat person about you while living, but when they come to peter out it’s worse,—you can’t chuck them under the ground too quick. I had the old emblem of mortality packed away in an ice chest for three weeks, waiting for his wife to come down from the Mountains to attend the funeral, but she finally sent down word that she had got married again, and if she knew the duties of a wife—and she thought she did—her place was alongside of a living husband rather than traipsing after a dead one. Oh! these women are terribly slippery sweetmeats the world over. How fast they get over anything, crying one minute and singing the next. Well, well, I often wonder whether they have the genuine feeling that we men have.

“Well, business is business. There—now let 216me fold your arms across until I get the width; so we go, so we go, steady, there you are, that’s it, that’s the posish; natural and easy as death itself. Whew! there it is again, never knew it to fail, follows as naturally as the fruit does the blossom; broad across the shoulders, sure sign of consumption; show me a person broader at the shoulders than at the hips and I will show you an individual that is not long for this world; never knew a person of that build that didn’t die of consumption; never, sir; bound to cave, no getting around or climbing over it; might as well be knocked in the head at birth, for they are sure to go some time.

“Well, time is crowding, I must be off, as I’ve got to rustle around in order to have things ready for you. I’ll expect to find you over your troubles in the morning, so I’ll say good-bye now, while you can appreciate it.”

Thus did the inhuman scoundrel rattle along while his poor victim lay paralyzed with fear; hope, at every word uttered by the monster, deserting his breast, and despair usurping the vacant seat. With gaping mouth and wide open eyes he watched each movement of the undertaker. 217His face seemed to be all eyes as he stared at the bustling trader in death.

The hope of the visitor was, that a speedy death would follow this disconsolate harangue; but happy to relate, patients sometimes recover after doctors have devoted them to the yew-tree shade; and strange as it may seem, the patient in question suddenly improved, as though frightened by the undertaker into health instead of into his coffin.

The next day he sat up in bed. On the second he sat by the window. The third day he took an airing on the veranda, and passed the time of day with the undertaker who happened to be going by. In ten days he took his carpetbag in his hand and bade good-bye to both doctors and undertaker, and started to join his friend in the country.



Give me that simple shining pin,
So worthless in your hand,
Here on my desk a place to win
And as a lesson stand.
Think you no moral may be found
In such a common thing?
That Fancy will not hover ‘round
And apt allusions bring?
The Poet, with observing eyes,
Saw sermons in a stone;
So in this pin a sermon lies,
Of philosophic tone.
219We see it first, where placed in rows,
The pins lie side and side;
So children, wrapped in sweet repose,
In peaceful homes reside.
Soon from the rest it travels west,
Or east, by land or sea;
So loving households part in quest
Of pleasure, fame or fee.
Observe it well, with sober mind;
The head, you see, is flat;
Thus many heads in life you’ll find,
Beneath a stylish hat.
When new, how perfect, straight and neat,
How finished, and how sound;
So stands the upright man complete,
With virtues circled ‘round.
It has a point, and mission, too,
’Tis seldom made in vain;
So men should have a point in view
If they would glory gain.
If wrongly placed ‘twill mar your thought,
When one would fain be still;
So man, if badly bred or taught,
Will treat his neighbor ill.
Its life of constant service tends
To keep it clean and bright;
Thus men are kept, my loving friends,
By application, right.
220’Tis polished, like a sword or spear,
And in the light will shine;
Thus men of learning do appear,
Where wit and sense combine.
It moves around from coat to dress,
As trouble one befalls;
Thus men should hearken to distress,
And go where duty calls.
It oft assists to hide one’s shame
Till needles can repair;
Thus should it be the Christian’s aim
To cover faults with care.
If once ’tis sprung, ‘twill bend each day,
And is no longer true;
So thus in life, one step astray
Will often lead to two.
When bent, and blunt, and black at last,
Who stoops to lift the pin?
So thus the crowds do hurry past
The crooked slave of sin.


The poor cur, kicked and scalded during the day, at night can lie and lick his sores in peace. The scudding hare that can hold out ahead of the baying beagles, until black Hecate waves her wand between the hunters and the hunted, may hope to shake them off. The aeronaut, tiring of the clamor here below, can rise above the busy haunts of men and hold sweet communion with the gods in quiet. But I, alas, find no escape from the inexorable plague, “Jim Dudley.”

He comes upon me like a thief in the night and mars my rest. Within the holy sanctuary even, he whispers in mine ear. Through the busy marts and thoroughfares he haunts me still; and tells of fights and hair-breadth escapes, with all the glibness of an old battle-scarred veteran who has primed his firelock in three campaigns. He talks of drawing deadly 222weapons as a dentist would of drawing teeth. In all likelihood the fellow never drew a weapon in his life, except, perhaps, at a raffle. I had long noticed a scar on “Jim’s” forehead, but never ventured to ask him how he got it, fearing a story would follow. Last night he detected me looking inquiringly, and without any query on my part the following infliction fell upon me:—

“You see that scar that looks somethin’ like a wrinkle, over my left eyebrow, don’t ye? Wal, you can’t guess how I come by that. Cow kicked me? No, not by a long chalk, nor a hoss nuther. I got that scar the summer I was gwine through Texas. I’ll not forget how I got it nuther in a hurry, for I never did have sech a narrow dodge since the night dad’s old house burned down and I got out through the cellar drain.

“I was travelin’ towards the border of Texas, gwine away back of Waco, and arter I got as far as cars would take me I set out on hossback. One evenin,’ jest as I was gettin’ into a small village, my hoss got one of his legs into a hole in the road, and fallin’ over, broke it snap off 223below the knee. I felt mi’ty bad over it, because I didn’t have any too much money about me; but I had to leave him thar and go into the village on foot, carryin’ the saddle along, for I cal’lated to git another animal the next day and continue my journey. I put up for the night at a small hotel, and thar was quite a number of fellers a settin’ around the bar-room talkin’; but amongst ’em was one big, ugly-looking villain, with a glass eye that was continewally droppin’ out and rollin’ across the floor like a marble. Pupil up and pupil down, it would move along under chairs and tables, the most comical lookin’ thing you ever sot eyes on. He would walk after the truant, glarin’ around with the other eye as though watchin’ to see if anybody was laughin’ at him. Then he would pick it up and chuck it back into his head ag’in, as if it was a pipe that had dropped out of his mouth.

“He seemed to be a bully amongst ’em, for when any of the other fellows went to pass they circled around him, somethin’ like a woman around a hoss standin’ on the sidewalk. I judged by that they were skeered of him, and 224didn’t want to git anywhere near his corns lest they might accidentally touch ’em.


“I sat thar watchin’ of him for some time, and at last, while he was leanin’ on the counter beatin’ time with his fingers on top of it, a feller come in and called for somethin’ to drink.

“The bar-tender gin him the bottle and he poured out a drink and left the glass settin’ on the counter, while he turned around to drop his 225quid of terbacker. As he was doin’ it the big, bully-lookin’ customer h’isted the glass, drained it right thar, and smacked and licked his lips arter it as though wishin’ thar was more of it,—somethin’ like a young widder arter ye give her a kiss.

“The feller that ordered the drink turned back, wipin’ his mouth, gettin’ ready to swaller. When he see the empty glass he riz up sort of indignantly, and was agwine to say or do somethin’, but when he see who it was, he changed his mind pooty sudden, and settlin’ down about six inches, turned around and jest slid away easy like out of the room. As he was gwine out I could see his ears looked as though they were freezin’, for they were gettin’ whiter and whiter as he moved along down the steps. As I was thinkin’ about it, a ministerial-lookin’ man come edgin’ up to me and ses:—

“‘You’re a stranger in this quarter, I believe, and let me gin you a little advice; it may prove valuable to ye before you git away from yer.’

“‘Why, what’s the matter?’ I asked, wonderin’ what he was comin’ at, ‘have you got the smallpox in the house?’ I contin’ed.

226“‘Smallpox!’ he answered. ‘Wuss nor that, stranger; for the love of peace,’ he contin’ed, ‘keep clear of that feller at the counter. Let him hev his way. You mout as well undertake to cross a crater as him in any of his bullyin’ tantrums. Now mind I’m tellin’ ye. If his eye falls out, don’t laugh at it, don’t betray yer emotions.

“‘If he steps on yer corns, take it as if old Jupiter hisself had reached down his foot and trod on ye, and you’ll come out of it better than if you did object, a mi’ty sight.’

“‘Who is he?’ I inquired.

“‘Why, that’s Bill Cranebow,—Glass-eyed Bill, they call him. He’s had more fights over that glass eye of his’n than ever a dog had over a sheep’s shank.

“‘Everybody’s afeared of him. They hate him wuss than a lawyer does a peacemaker. No one who knows him wants to undertake the job of gettin’ away with him; they’d ruther let it out to strangers. Oh! he’s lightnin’ at a fight, for all he looks so clumsy. What the butcher is with the cleaver, that Glass-eyed Bill is with the bowie-knife. He knows jest where 227to strike to open a jint or git betwixt two ribs. You’d think to see him at it, he had practiced for twenty years with some old doctor, by the way he can disarrange the “house we live in,” as the poet ses.’


“‘Wal, that’s sort of curious,’ I ses; ‘ain’t thar no person around this section that has had any experience at the cuttin’ business? He’s only human, I reckon. If he gits a poke between 228wind and water he’s as likely to wilt as anybody else, isn’t he?’ I ses, jokin’ly, jest that way.

“‘Thunder and mud!’ exclaimed the ministerial-lookin’ man. ‘You’ve bin used to fightin’ with women, I reckon. Lose his strength? You mout as well try to kill the strength of a red pepper cuttin’ it up, as that feller. Why, I’ve seen that Glass-eyed Bill in some of his fights yer, when he was so cut and slashed apart that you could see his in’ards workin’ like a watch. And I’ll be called a down east noodle, if he didn’t stand up to his work like a barber until he got through with his man. He likes to fight in a dark room best, though, ’cause thar’s no chance of gittin’ on the blind side of him thar; and the landlord not long ago fixed up one on purpose to accommodate him, he had so much fightin’ to do. He’ll work a quarrel out of the least thing. Laughin’ at his eye rollin’ off is as certain a way of gettin’ into trouble as runnin’ ag’inst a wasp’s nest.

“‘Though he smokes like a coalpit himself, I knowed him to pick a quarrel with a young Georgian and kill him, because he happened to 229send a whiff of smoke in the direction whar he was settin’. Ever since that, whenever he comes into the room, you’ll see the fellers a-pluckin’ and a-snappin’ thar pipes out of thar mouths and crammin’ ’em into thar pockets or under thar coat-tails—anywhere to git ’em out of sight, like boys who are jest learnin’ the habit when they sight thar dad a-comin’ along.

“‘Take my advice and keep away from him, for he’s dead certain to pick a muss with strangers, as they ginnerally resent his insults. Plague on him!’ he contin’ed, ‘I wish he’d go away from the door, I want to git out; but it’s not good policy to go a-scrougin’ past him while he’s lookin’ so alfired glum.’ With that the old man went quietly over to a cheer in the corner and sat down—somethin’ the same as a monkey does when a larger one is dropped into the cage.

“I went to bed pooty early that night, as I was plaguey tired. In the mornin’ I learned thar had been a fight in the dark room betwixt Glass-eyed Bill and a Tuscaloosan. Bill, as usual, had killed his man. I began to wonder whether I’d git into some scrape or another 230before I’d leave, and as there was to be an auction sale of horses and mules that mornin’ right thar at the hotel, I concluded to make a purchase and git away as soon as possible.

“I bid two or three times on horses, but they run ’em up too high. At last they fetched out a big mule, and thinkin’ that would be jest the thing, I went for him pooty strong, and succeeded in gettin’ him. Glass-eyed Bill had bin settin’ on the door-step thar, and didn’t seem to be takin’ any part in the biddin’; but when I went to lead the mule off, he hollered:—

“‘Whar are ye a-gwine with that critter? Leave him standin’ thar, please; I kin attend to him myself, I reckon.’

“‘Wal,’ ses I, jest slow and easy, that way, for I wanted to keep down my rizin’ temper, knowin’ what I was when I got mad, ‘if I’m any judge of auctioneerin’, the mule is mine, and I cal’late to lead him away when and whar I please.’

“Just then the same old ministerial-lookin’ man come chuckin’ and pullin’ at my coat, and ses he, ‘I’m takin’ ruinous risks in speakin’ to ye now,’ he ses; ‘but I tell ye again, don’t 231cross him; let him have the mule, or you’ll expire quicker than a spark when it drops into a b’ilin’ pot. He doesn’t want the mule no more than a husband wants two mothers-in-law; but he’s jest pinin’ to git ye into a muss, and he doesn’t see any way of doin’ it without he disputes the mule with ye. Let him have it, or it’ll be wuss for ye; now mind what I’m tellin’ ye.’

“‘No, I’ll be shot if I will!’ I answered. ‘He ain’t a-gwine to wipe his hoofs on me until—arter I’m dead, anyhow.’ And with that I began to move away with the critter, when Glass-eyed Bill jumped up from whar he was settin’ and shouted pooty snappishly like, ‘Hold on thar! drop that rope, unless you want to collapse so quick that one-half of ye will be in etarnity before the other half knows thar’s anythin’ amiss.’

“‘On what groun’s do ye claim the critter?’ I asked, jest a-b’ilin’ inside, but keepin’ sort of cool outwardly.

“‘Words doesn’t amount to a woman’s sneeze in settlin’ a matter of this kind,’ answered old Glass-eye.

232“‘What does, then?’ I inquired, quite innocent like, as though I didn’t know what he meant; though I did know sure enuff what he was drivin’ at.

“‘This does!’ he answered, rizin’ up and puttin’ his hand behind him, as I do now, and jerkin’ out a rippin’ great knife about as big as the colter of a plow. ‘That’s the sort of a thing to settle disputes with. No gentleman will argue a case while he’s got an arbiter like that to leave it to,’ he contin’ed, a-slappin’ it down flatways into the palm of his left hand as he spoke, and bringin’ an echo from an old barn that stood near.

“I see the bystanders began to turn pale as whitewashed chimneys, and commenced lookin’ at the ground as though huntin’ for straws or splinters to pick thar teeth with, but they only wanted some excuse to git away.

“‘Supposin’ I should pull out a knife about seventeen inches and a half long,’ I ses, jest that way, ‘what then?’

“‘It’s jest exactly the thing I want to see,’ he answered quickly. ‘A young mother was never more tickled when she discovered the fust tooth 233a-peepin’ out of her young un’s gums, than I am when I see a knife comin’ out of its sheath in a feller’s hand.’

“‘Wal, I reckon you must have been brought up in a fightin’ settlement,’ I ses, jest like that, for I couldn’t hardly keep from jokin’, he seemed so amazin’ eager.

“‘Come, which’ll ye do? gin up the mule or fight? You’ve got to do one or t’other,’ he ses, impatiently, as he stooped to pick up his glass eye, which jest then dropped out and was a-rollin’ under the hoss trough.

“‘Wal,’ I ses, ‘I ain’t perticularly stuck arter fightin’, but it’s bad enough for a feller to squirt his terbacker juice onto you, without wantin’ to rub it in; and if it’ll be any accommodation to ye, I’ll fight fust and then take the mule arterwards.’

“‘Enough sed,’ he answered, just short that way; and then turnin’ to the landlord who was standin’ in the door, he asked, ‘Is the dark room ready for use?’

“‘No, not quite, he answered; ‘thar’s some pieces of that long Tuscaloosan lyin’ around in thar yet, I believe, but I’ll attend to removin’ 234them right away,’ and he started off with a bucket and dust-pan.


“So we all went into the bar-room, and staid round thar waitin’ until the place would be prepared. While we were thar, Glass-eyed Bill pulled out his knife, and commenced to draw it 235backwards and forwards over his boot-leg, as though to git a fine edge on it.

“‘Wal, you can whet your great scythe blade,’ I ses to myself, kind of low that way, for I allowed he was doin’ it to skeer me. ‘It ain’t allers the longest horned cow that does the most hookin’. my old terbacker shaver has got p’int enough on it to inaugurate a new passage to the interior if it won’t cut a har.’

“Arter a while he leaned over to a feller that sat by the table, and while runnin’ his thumb sort of feelin’ly along the edge of the knife, he ses: ‘The man I bought this from in Galveston assured me it was the best of steel; but he lied, I reckon, for I turned the edge of it last night on that long Tuscaloosan’s ribs. Yet that’s not to be much wondered at, arter all, for I do believe he had as many ribs as a snake. I thought I never would succeed in gettin’ the blade betwixt ’em. Arter I got him down in the corner and his knife away from him, I commenced jabbin’ at his armpit, and I prospected the hull way down to his kidney, before I could git in far enough to let his dinner loose.’

“Gewillikins! When I heered him talkin’ like 236that, didn’t I begin to squirm and fidget around on my cheer! I wished then I had never seen the place, more especially the long-eared mule. But I see I was in for it, as the boy said when he got his head stuck in the cream jar. Thar was no way of gittin’ out without comin’ right down to beggin’ off, and I was too consumin’ proud to do that, you know, if I was sartain of bein’ cut up into as many pieces as a boardin’-house pie.

“Jest then the landlord came back and sed the room was ready, but remarked that it was a leetle slippery yet. He sed, for a lean man he never did see a feller that had so much blood into him as that Tuscaloosan had. Beckonin’ me to the counter he ses:—

“‘You mout as well settle your bill now before you go in thar; it may be more satisfactory to you to have the settlin’ of your own affairs, and it’ll save me the trouble of huntin’ over your effects arter you’re dead.’

“‘All right,’ I ses, ‘now, if you say so; but it’s ginnerally admitted that sure things sometimes git mi’ty slippery all to wunst, and perhaps somebody’s goggles may prove blue in 237the mornin’ that were bought for green uns at night.’

“I didn’t want to let any of ’em think I was skeered, though, by jingo! I felt sartin of bein’ minced up, and the cold chills were jest streakin’ all over me.

“So we started for the room, which was about twelve feet square and dark as pitch.

“The landlord held the door open until we were in opposite corners with our knives out. Then he shut and locked it and left us to work out our own salvation, as the missionary did the South Sea Islanders when he overheerd ’em talkin’ about the best way of cookin’ him the next mornin’.

“Wasn’t it dark in thar though? and still? you could have heered a lizard a-breathin’ in thar, it was so quiet.

“I allowed Glass-eyed Bill was expectin’ that I would go a-shufflin’ and a-huntin’ around for him, but I had no sich foolish notion. I cal’lated if thar was any findin’ to be done he’d have to do it, for I was detarmined to stand right thar till I’d drop in my tracks before I’d go a-s’archin’ around for him.

238“I commenced breathin’ about twice a minute, and not makin’ any more noise at it than a wall-bug, nuther. But for all that I heered him a-movin’ over towards me. I’ll allers think that Cranebow had a nose onto him like a setter dog, for he somehow or another got right over thar whar I was standin’. Pooty soon I felt somethin’ a-stingin’ along my forehead thar, and I suspected at once that it was the knife that was feelin’ around for me; so I reckoned it wouldn’t be long until he was a-proddin’ of it somewhere else, and like the boy with the candy bag, I cal’lated the fust poke was everythin’; so I made one sudden and detarmined plunge and a sort of upward rip, at the same time, cal’latin’ to do all the damage I could right at once while I was about it.

“He heered me start, and thought to squat down before I got the knife into him I reckon. Though his intentions were good he only spread the disaster, like the gal who tried to put the fire out with the corn broom, for as he was gwine down the knife was rizin’, and the result was truly astonishin’. I’ll be smashed if he didn’t fly open from eend to eend like a ripe 239pea pod. It was done so alfired quick too, that he didn’t realize how bad he was hurt I think. Ses he, ‘We’ll try that over ag’in, stranger.’ As he spoke, he started to git up, but fell away seemin’ly in two different directions.

“‘Not on this side, we won’t,’ I ses, as I went huntin’ around for the door.

“I was surprised as much as him at the way things had turned out, for when I stepped into that room I looked on it as steppin’ into another world. When the door was found I commenced knockin’, and pooty soon the landlord came and opened it. He couldn’t see me at fust, but allowed it was the bully that was thar, of course, and ses he:—

“‘You made pooty quick work of it this time; that feller won’t want to buy any more mules arter this, I take it.’

“‘No,’ ses I, steppin’ out, ‘nor claim a critter that doesn’t belong to him nuther.’

“‘What!’ he cried, jumpin’ back with a look upon his face that told me at once he was mi’ty displeased at the way things war developin’, ‘is it you? whar’s Glass-eyed Bill?’ he contin’ed, 240shadin’ his eyes with his hand and peerin’ into the darkness.

“‘He’s lyin’ around in thar somewhar,’ I answered careless like, jest that way. ‘The head-half of him is nigh the door here, paralyzed, I reckon, but the leg part is somewhere over in the corner thar whar ye hear the kickin’; you mout as well be gettin’ yer bucket and dust-pan ready, for you’ll have quite a job gettin’ all the pieces together ag’in, I’m thinkin’,’ I contin’ed, just that indifferent way, and walkin’ out towards the bar-room as I spoke.

“You never did see a feller so set back in your life. He looked at me as though I had as many heads onto me as the beast we read about in the Scripters. I’ll allers believe that he was in cahoot with old Glass-eye, and jist kept him thar to pick quarrels with strangers so they could have the pickin’ over of thar effects.

“Arter washin’ my hands and plasterin’ up the cut on my forehead a little, I went out and saddled the mule, and the crowd all came out to see me gwine off. I reckon if I had stopped in the village I could have had things about my 241own way for some time. Before I rode off I turned round to ’em and ses:—

“‘When you git so frightened of a bully ag’in that you daren’t sneeze within forty feet of him, jest send for me, and I’ll open him up ready for saltin’ while you’d be wipin’ your mouth.’

“With that I rode off, and left ’em all starin’ at each other, and then arter me, as though wonderin’ who or what I was, anyhow.”



Oh! skating, roller skating now, of pastimes takes the lead;
No more we take the moonlight sail, or mount the prancing steed,
No more to fair, or carnival, no more to masquerade,
No more along the lengthy bridge, the thousands promenade,
No more we see Othello rave, and roll his jealous eyes,
Or Hamlet leaping in the grave, where loved Ophelia lies,
Or see the boasting Falstaff sheath his blade in Percy’s corse,
Or hear the baffled Richard shout, “My kingdom for a horse!”
In vain the minstrels shake the bones, and tell the funny tale,
Their blazoned bill, or blatant band, to draw the public fail;
243For those, who still their millions hide, and those at ruin’s brink,
Alike throw business cares aside, and hasten to the Rink.
Talk of your bounding horseback rides, or of the grace indeed.
A maiden shows when she bestrides the frail velocipede;
I charge ye, if you’d see a maid when graceful she appears,
Go see her on the roller skates, as round the Rink she steers.


I was to-day brought in contact with an old gentleman named Bickerstaff, who keeps a crockery store in the village where I am visiting. This Bickerstaff is the unfortunate possessor of the queerest-looking nose I have yet encountered.

It was not the original intention of Providence that he should follow such a proboscis 244through life, for there was a time when he, like other men, had a forerunner ornamental as well as useful. But through an accident, the nose he now bears in all its deformity was shoved upon him.


It seems one day, while furiously pursuing a little urchin who had mischievously put a stone through a glass jar by the door, he ran his face against the end of a scantling a boy was carrying past on his shoulder, and set his nose well up on his forehead in a triangular lump.

Strange to say, no inducements that the surgeon could hold out served to coax it back to 245its former position. His wife, who was young, and rather prepossessing in appearance, worried terribly about it. She finally left him, and went to live with her mother, and immediately set about obtaining a divorce from him.

She would, in all probability, have obtained it, if she had not died before the case was properly laid before the commissioners; because she was capable of doing better, and when you come to see the nose with which she wished to sever her connections, you could hardly blame her. Old Bickerstaff, to tell the honest truth, did look like the very old Nick in masquerade costume.

His nose, as it reposed between his eyebrows, displayed an enormous pair of nostrils large as front-door keyholes. At a short distance a person would think he had four eyes in his head. He was the living terror of the school children who daily passed his place of business. They either scurried past on the run, or with their hands over their eyes.

Even among creeping infants—who had often shrunk back from the threshold as old Bickerstaff passed the door—he was known as 246the Boo; and there was no danger of them crawling into the street while he remained in the vicinity.

Nervously-inclined women also avoided him. They would cut across the road when they saw him coming toward them, or turn back, feeling their pockets as though they had forgotten something, and hurry back to go round some other way.

Dogs never barked at him. If they happened to be engaged in that pastime when he hove in sight, they would slope off the demonstration into a yelp. And as if they had suddenly recollected that they were wanted at home about that time, they tucked their tails between their legs and dusted away at a lively rate. Hitched horses even snorted lustily and pulled hard upon their halters when old Bickerstaff shuffled by.

The old gentleman had a pew in the church directly in front of the pulpit, and the first time he attended divine worship after his nose had been set up, he threw the minister out of his discourse altogether. He couldn’t keep run of what he wanted to say, no way he could fix it. 247He had Jonah swallowing the whale, instead of the whale doing the job for Jonah.

No matter how much he endeavored to keep his eyes in some other direction, they would invariably wander back to rest upon that terrible sight, and then he would be off the track again in a twinkling. The next day the trustees of the church waited on Bickerstaff, and in the most polite manner possible requested him to exchange his pew for one farther removed from the pulpit.

The old fellow—who, by the way, had considerable temper—flew off the handle at once, and in the most unchristian-like language denounced the church and the doctrine that would draw the line of demarkation between fair faces and plain.

He informed the trustees if the parson didn’t like the looks of his congregation, he could turn his pulpit around facing the other way. Yet, though he was rough in his speech, and given to storming considerably when his pride was touched, he was not altogether lacking in those qualities which go far to make up your real man; and when the trustees offered 248to give him the side pew rent free, his voice at once grew low, and in a becoming manner he accepted the situation. After that, things were not quite as bad. The minister occasionally got a quartering view of him, but the odd-looking disfigurement didn’t strike him with full force. Still, I was informed, the Reverend gentleman’s discourse was principally addressed to the hearers on the other side of the church, thereafter.

But—to his credit be it mentioned—he always turned in the direction of old Bickerstaff when he closed his eyes in prayer.



I learn by an evening paper that an old lady in the lower part of the city to-day, while burning some cast-off garments, threw an old vest belonging to her son-in-law into the fireplace. A Remington rifle cartridge happened to be slumbering in one of the pockets. It awakened, and therefrom hangs a piece of crape.

This draws me on to fasten upon paper an incident that happened in the mountains some years ago. I was spending a few days in the mines at the time, with a friend named Colyer, who was working a claim back of Sonora.

He had three partners in the concern. One was an old fellow named Twitchell, who at some time in his life had been a judge in a supreme court in one of the Southwestern States—I forget which. At all events, they called him “Judge,” and he bore the title with becoming dignity.



Another was a dark-looking, one-eyed Swede, who wore a large green patch over the empty socket. This seemed to add a double brilliancy and fire to the other optic, and gave to him rather a ferocious appearance. He would have passed anywhere for a buccaneer of at least fifteen years’ cruising. Yet he was quite a mild and peaceable man, for all his demoniacal aspect. The third was a Vermonter, named Theodore Arthur Willoughby Spooner, called Spoon, for short. They occupied a small log cabin near their claim, and were like miners generally, hopeful, if not happy.

251One evening Theodore Arthur Willoughby Spooner was rummaging over some old articles left in the cabin by a former occupant. Among them he found an odd-looking pistol which the rust of years had rendered worthless. The weapon was an uncommon one. I never saw anything like it before or since, and it is my daily prayer that I never may. It was a ten-shooter; with nine chambers for bullets, and a tenth and larger barrel for throwing buckshot, slugs, walnuts, small onions, or potatoes. In fact it was capable of receiving almost anything not exceeding a billiard ball in size. Such an awe-inspiring shooting iron would be invaluable to a footpad or road agent. It was particularly suited for men of this stripe; for the man who would not blanch, settle down on his knees and surrender up his valuables when that battery was leveled at his head, must be brave indeed.

After we had examined it for some time and vainly endeavored to raise the hammer, the one-eyed Swede took it. In trying to revolve the chambers he dropped it unswervingly upon Judge Twitchell’s favorite corn. It weighed about as much as a good-sized anvil, and no 252person who had experienced the peculiar sensation that shoots along the nerves from an injured corn, could blame the Judge for indulging in a little profanity about that time.

Smarting under the contusion he grabbed the instrument and in an erring moment flung it into the fire.

Not a man of that little assemblage but would have given his day’s pan-out to have the pistol out of the flames again; but neither wished to assume the responsibility of poking for it. The confounded thing hadn’t been fully canvassed, and we didn’t know whether or not it was loaded or which way it was aiming. It might be pointing out at the door, or up the chimney, or it might be leveled at a fellow’s very vitals; there was a sort of creeping uncertainty about the whole thing that was calculated to inspire solemn and serious reflection, and make us sit uneasily upon our stools.

We were not long in doubt, however, for in ten seconds after the villainous-looking mitrailleuse settled into the glowing embers, there was no foot of space, no nook or corner within the wooden walls of that humble dwelling, that was 253a good place for a man to be who was not fully prepared to exchange worlds.

File firing commenced on the right of the fireplace, under cover of burning brands. There was a sharp report, a cloud of ashes and a shower of coals, and amid the general din the stem and bowl of the meerschaum in the teeth of Theodore Arthur Willoughby Spooner dissolved partnership at once and forever.

At the same instant the old water pitcher jumped from the table mortally wounded in the abdomen.

During the next few moments there was extraordinary ground and lofty tumbling inside the cabin.

Not because I was possessed of greater fear, or less courage, than any of the party, but because I felt that I had more to live for, I was the first to reach the open air. The “Judge” was following close at my heels, but in his blind haste he tripped in the doorway and blocked the passage. It was at this critical moment that the leap-frog performance commenced.



The antics of Chirini’s circus troupe, during their most brilliant achievements, dwindled into mere schoolboy exercise when compared with the gymnastic efforts of the excited miners. Out came my friend Colyer over the prostrate 255form of the Judge, and the one-eyed Swede over Colyer, his hair erect and his one dilated eye standing in bold relief from his dark face, like the ornamental stud on a horse’s blinker. Last though not least interested or frightened, came Theodore Arthur Willoughby Spooner, sailing like a flying squirrel over the one-eyed Swede. In the meantime the pistol was jumping about in the fire like a fish in a scoop-net, showering bullets in every direction.

The clock hung silent upon the wall, having received a charge of buckshot full in the face, and the dog lay dead upon the hearthstone. “Chickens come home to roost,” saith the old proverb, and indeed it would seem so, for poor Judge Twitchell, whose rashness brought about the whole calamity, received a parting salute, a farewell shot, just as he had gathered himself on all fours to make a final lunge from the fusillade within. Fortunately the wound was not a fatal one, though severe enough to keep his memory green for weeks.

Some time elapsed before any person would venture back into the cabin after the firing ceased. No one had kept count of the shots or 256knew at what moment the battery might open again. We probably would have remained out all night rather than take any chances, but the coals which had been thrown over the cabin, started a brisk fire in half a dozen different places, and we were obliged to run some risks to extinguish the flames and save the place.



Who hath contended for a prize? Who hath stood in front of an armed host with a noble emulation warming his breast? Who, with one eye glancing along the barrel to the target in the distance, and the other closed upon the world, hath pressed carefully upon the decisive trigger? And who hath seen the glittering bone of contention passing away into other hands than his at the close of the contest? If such a person there be, then can he sympathize with me in this, my dark hour of despondency.



To-day I entered the lists with eighty men to compete for a gold watch and chain of two hundred and fifty dollars in value. It was to be presented to the winner by the Governor of the State, at a grand ball in the evening. I, who prided myself that I was no woman with a gun, made a very fair impression upon the target; and fell back. For six long, dragging hours I watched the marksmen striving to beat my score. One by one the good shots whom I had reason to fear stepped forward, discharged their pieces, and fell back cursing their ill luck. At last nearly all had fired, and I in fancy could hear the elegant time-piece ticking in my pocket, and 259was already preparing the usual impromptu speech with which to thank the generous donor. At this point an individual stepped forward whom I had not included among my dangerous competitors, because on former occasions he failed to hit the broad side of a mountain. Yet to my astonishment he bore off the glittering prize!

I shall always think the devil rode astride of that individual’s bullets and guided them into the target; for while taking aim, the muzzle of his gun was tossing around like the tip of a cow’s horn when she’s grazing in a clover field.

What a picture was I, as I stood that evening at the ball, watching his Excellency presenting the magnificent watch I had for hours together looked upon as mine. Had I not received the premature congratulations of my friends, and been lavish of change at the bar in consequence? And the watch—where was it? I feel that I shall never have the face to look my musket in the muzzle again.



Last evening, while sitting in a physician’s office, I was amused by a countryman who entered the office to have a tooth extracted. The doctor took one of the old-fashioned “cant hooks” and went for the molar, but whether it was owing to lack of skill or the patient’s ducking while the instrument was being adjusted, it became fixed directly between two teeth, and after a painful struggle, out they both were drawn. The operator saw he had taken out two masticators instead of one, and before the patient noticed the fact, one was chucked under some papers lying upon the table by his side.

“Jerusalem!” cried the countryman, as soon as he could speak. “I thought by the yankin’ and the torturin’ pain you had hitched the blamed thingamagig onto my back-bone and was a snakin’ it out. Why, bless my soul!” he continued, as he ran his tongue into the awful 261chasm. “Hain’t you made a mistake, doctor, and pulled out the jaw instead of the tooth? Thar appears to be a ginneral cavin’ in all around thar.”

“Oh, no,” said the doctor; “there is the tormentor, sir,” and he held up the one tooth before the contorted face of the victim in triumph. “Your teeth pull out easy, sir, for their size,” he continued, as he wiped his instruments and put them away.

“They do, eh?” he exclaimed. “Wal, dear help them that have teeth that come out hard. ‘Taint all in the pullin’ nuther, but the incredulous hole they leave ahind ’em when they do come. Why, my teeth seem as far apart as two Sundays to a laborin’ man.”

“The other teeth will crowd over after a while,” said the doctor, encouragingly.

“It may be I’ll git sort of used to it after a while,” he replied, “but I’ll be blowed to the moon, if it doesn’t feel as though my tongue was wabblin’ around in some other person’s mouth about this time;” and he arose from the inquisitorial chair, paid the damages, and left the office.



The city to-day has been in a state of feverish excitement over dispatches received from the mining regions. The telegrams were fraught with startling intelligence. There has been a rich strike in the Savage mine, and stock is going up accordingly.

When stocks are running high,
How natural to sigh,
Ah, that I a thousand shares did command,
That I might drink champagne,
And hold a double rein,
And be counted a power in the land.

The streets are crowded with men, women and children. It is certainly—as an old woman remarked at my elbow—easier for a needle to go through a camel’s eye, than for a person to pass through the throng at some of the corners. At present the person who does not own Savage stock is not considered of much account. I, who 263am always on the alert for new developments, and act upon the moment, make haste to give a sketch of the Savage stock going up.


It is ascending at a lively rate, there is no mistake about that. There is always two sides to a hill, however, and though the lucky stockholder to-day may reach the summit of his 264expectations, to-morrow may bring a descent that will be something to stand from under. And being possessed of quite a prophetic soul, I anticipate the event, and as a companion piece for the foregoing, give another sketch of the Savage stock coming down, which it will undoubtedly be before many days.


265Well, I can exclaim with Banquo’s facetious murderer, “Let it comedown,” the decline cannot destroy my peace, nor deplete my purse.


“A lofty theme,
Fit subject for the noblest bard
That ever strung a lyre.”
Insufferable pest! that with wondrous force
Sinks in my quivering flesh thy noxious tooth,
To tap life’s current in its healthful course,
And break my needful rest, and bring me ruth.
266Oh! virulent marauder, thou art a bore in truth,
And who, that smarts beneath thy awful bite,
And poisonous delving, but will, forsooth,
Think that sage poet may have erred a mite,
Who ably sang in ages past, “Whatever is, is right.”
I’ll place thee foremost in the swarm of those
Tormenting insects that plague mankind;
Yet greater craven from the earth ne’er rose,
Than thou, mute robber of my peace of mind.
In the musical mosquito noble traits we find;
When he at night upon his mission goes,
And quits the ceiling where he long has pined,
On his shrill bugle a lusty blast he blows,
To warn his drowsy prey that a raid he doth propose.
The vampire bat of Southern latitudes,
That preys at night upon the throat of man,
Quite conscious of the pain his tooth intrudes,
Doth with membraneous wings the victim fan,
To hold him still unconscious if he can,
Of the dark demon hovering o’er his head,
Drawing the blood from visage cold and wan,
Till fully gorged it leaves the sleeper’s bed,
And he, awaking, scarce believes he has been freely bled.
But thou, black delver, what virtue canst thou claim?
Save great activity, which makes me hate thee more.
Through night and day thy laboring is the same,
Insatiate ever, thou never wilt give o’er,
But glutton-like, still sap and bite, and bore.
267Yet truly thou art cursed in having such a jaw,
The champ of which doth try my patience sore.
And soon thou hast to scud from angry scratch and claw,
And often thou must bite afresh ere surfeited thy maw!
Hadst thou instead of escharotic teeth
Been furnished with a blood-extracting bill,
Which once insinuated skin beneath,
The worst were past; I’d feel no thrill
To make me shiver as though an ague chill
Did all my joints and nerves undo,
Till I sit chattering like a fanning mill,
Perhaps when sitting in the still church pew,
Where I should think of heaven instead of things like you.
I grant there’s naught on earth, nor in the sea,
Nor in the windy waste around our rolling sphere,
That can at all compare with thy agility
When thou art taken with a sense of fear.
And what was ever formed that can come near
Thy well-knit bones? Thy strange infrangibility
Is too well known to need long mention here,
For who but oft has seen thee spring away quite free,
Although between the fingers rolled most spitefully.


While crossing Telegraph Hill this evening in the vicinity of the beach, I witnessed an incident which has kept me smiling to myself for the last two hours.

A couple of carters met in a street at a place which needed repairing. One cart was heavily loaded with brick. The other contained a small lot of coal.

The driver of No. 1 was in favor of suspending that time-honored clause in common law, which says, “turn to the right.” Having the heavier load he wished to adopt the English system:—

“The law of the road is a paradox quite;
For as you are driving along,
If you go to the left you are sure to go right,
If you go to the right you go wrong.”

But driver No. 2 was immovable as Cæsar when the conspirators with ready weapons knelt 269around him. He was determined to enforce his prerogative, even to the anchoring of his opponent’s cart.

No. 1 said he would “stand there until his corns sprouted.” No. 2 replied that he “wouldn’t budge until his corns not only sprouted, but until they went to seed, or he would have his rights.”

After considerable loud talk in which they freely expressed unqualified opinions of each other, they commenced unhitching their horses from the carts, as night was setting in, and quietly started off to their respective stables.

It happened they had met directly before the residence of a stout Teuton who owns a large brewery at the Beach. They had scarcely left the disputed point when the brewer arrived. His flushed face showed he had been freely testing the quality of his malt liquor. He demanded of some bystanders how the carts came there. Being informed of the whys and wherefores to his satisfaction, he called out his two stout sons to assist in removing the unsightly ornaments.

The united efforts of the three soon started the carts down the hill, in the direction of the 270bay, like a battery of flying artillery. It was only a few rods to the water, and in they plunged, one after the other, and shot out from the shore like things of life. The old man and his sons stood upon the crest of the hill viewing the descent in silence. After they had been successfully launched, the trio retired into the house with that self-satisfied and confident air that Emperor William and his two warlike aids might exhibit when retiring to their tent after a battle in which the enemy was routed. To some of the bystanders this seemed rather a precipitate proceeding; but to my untutored mind it was an act worthy to be ranked with the judicial hangings by the San Francisco Vigilance Committee.

As I left the hill, I took a last look back at the carts, fast growing indistinct in the gloom and mist closing over the bay. One craft was hugging the shore off Black Point, with a close reefed tail-board, and her wheel well under water. The other was sinking by the stern, but still scudding under bare poles in the direction of Raccoon Straits.



Jim Dudley called again last night, and, as usual, bored me with one of his yarns. I overshot myself by mentioning to him how low he stood in the estimation of Doctor Tweezer, for that brought down the following upon my head:—

“Dr. Tweezer didn’t speak very highly of me, eh! Wal, ’tain’t to be wondered at when you know how I wrought upon his feelin’s once. When a feller has to go around among his patients for more’n two weeks with a beefsteak the size of a hearth rug tied to his face, as he did, he ain’t agwine to hurt himself eulogizin’ the person who set him off,—not much.

“Ever fight? wal, I reckon you’d think so if you had seen the Doctor’s yard arter we got through turnin’ the chips over thar. He can fight, and squirm like a cat with her tail in a tongs, that Dr. Tweezer can.

272“You see the Doctor’s place was alongside the widder Gezot’s, and she had a numerous assortment of hens, specimens from cold countries, with feathers clear down to thar toe nails; and others from bilin’ hot districts, with no feathers at all onto ’em, ‘ceptin’ a few downy substitutes frillin’ around the neck. They were continually a-gettin’ into his garden and a sprawlin’ round in the soft beds thar.

“He was pooty mad over it too, for he prided himself on razin’ early vegetables, and two or three times he cautioned her to look arter her p’ultry, or he’d gin ’em a dose that would warm thar little gizzards for em’ if he was any judge of drugs.

“The widder Gezot was a plaguey stirrin’ little woman, one that was allers willin’ to flounder ahead the best way she could. Being myself somewhat interested in the lady, I used to ginnerally chime in when she got into any difficulty.

“She soon told me what Dr. Tweezer said about the hens; so we set in, and poked ’em, and stuck feathers through their bills, and did all we could, except wringing their necks, to keep ’em out of his garden.

273“But hens are hens, you know, and the warm sand makes ’em feel mi’ty nice, I reckon. They still managed to git through the fence, or over it, and hold caucuses in the Doctor’s onion beds. One day arter I had bin down town talkin’ politics with the boys thar, I was settin’ on the widder’s door-step smokin’ and musin’ like, when I see her hens come a-rustlin’ hum as though forty hawks were a-stirrin’ ’em up. They p’inted straight for the water trough, and after takin’ about two dips into it, commenced the wildest gymnastic feats you ever see, flip-flopin’ around, stannin’ on thar heads, and then on thar tails. Finally they quieted down, and turnin’ feet up, lay thar dead as the chips around ’em.

“I more than suspected Dr. Tweezer had gin ’em a dose of arsenic or some other mi’ty tellin’ drug. So I jest riz up quietly and took a look over into his yard, and sure enough thar he was, a-staggerin’ and squirmin’ around, a-holdin’ of his sides, and e’enmost a-bustin’ with in’ard laughter. Now this sort of upsot me. Not that I cared so much about the widder’s chickens, but I didn’t like to see a feller so mi’ty tickled over 274a mean trick. So I went prancin’ around to the Doctor’s yard pooty durned lively, a-pullin’ off my coat as I ran. I cal’lated I couldn’t devote much time to strippin’ arter I got in thar.


“His back was towards me, and he never suspicioned 275I was comin’, but stooped over warpin’ around and sort of unwittin’ly invitin’ a kick.

“‘It’s mi’ty funny business, a-pizenin’ chickens, isn’t it?’ I ses, jest that way, and at the same time I gin him such a hoist, that I sent him playin’ leap-frog mor’n fifteen feet, and for a few moments I reckon he thought he had backed up ag’inst a batterin’ ram.

“He was mi’ty cranky though, and turned round quicker than a dog when his tail is trod on.

“‘Dudley,’ he hollered, ‘you meddlin’ ruffian, you’ve invoked the pest, so now look out for scabs,’ and with that he came at me like a cluckin’ hen at a strange dog. I see I was in for a lively time, as the boy said when he upset the bee hive. At it we went, ring and twist, duck and dodge, hop and catch it, round and round the yard like fightin’ turkeys. I could play around him at boxin’ like a cooper round a barrel, but he was grizzly on a hug, and could kick and gouge like a Mississippian.

“He went for my right eye like an Irishman for a ballot box. I’ll be blowed if I didn’t think I’d have to go one eye on it ever arterwards. Several times he had it stickin’ out like a door 276knob. Finally while he was a-fumblin’ around he accident’ly slipped his finger into my mouth, and I shut down on it mi’ty fast now I can tell you.

“‘Fair play! fair play!’ he hollered, ‘no bitin’.’

“‘Rats!’ ses I, jest that way, ’twixt my teeth, ‘all’s grist that comes to my mill, I reckon,’ and with that I snapped it off at the second jint like a radish. Jest then his wife, hearin’ an unusual rustlin’ and scrapin’ around the yard, come a-runnin’ to the door to see what was up. Woman like, without inquirin’ into the particulars, she took sides to wunst, and started with a dish of hot water cal’latin’ to gin me an alfired scaldin’. Luckily she stumbled over the dog that was a-skelpin’ into the house to git out of harm’s way, and her own young ’un that was crawlin’ around the floor munchin’ dirt got the hottest bath it ever experienced. That gave her somethin’ else to look arter, so that the Doctor and I had it out alone.

“Arter we had bin at it about fifteen minutes we held a sort of informal truce, just arter a simultaneous exchange of compliments, which 277left the Doctor layin’ across the grindstone and me astride the pump. It was the first chance I had of gittin’ a fair look at him, since we started in. I see he was punished mi’ty bad. One eye was retirin’ from active service pooty fast, while his face ginnerally looked as if he had bin bobbin’ for pennies in a dish of tomato sauce. I reckon he wasn’t aware he presented such an appearance, for ses he:—

“‘You’re lookin’ mi’ty bad, Dudley, and you mout as well gin up now as any time, for you’ll eventually have to holler.’

“‘If I looked one-half as bad as you do, Doctor, I would holler,’ I answered.

“‘I ginnerally have to look about this bad before my blood gits up to a fightin’ heat,’ he ses detarminedly.

“‘Wal,’ ses I, ‘I’ve fit at every election for the last five years, and last Fourth, put the bully mate of Terre Haute into a coal bunker, blind as a bat, and I cal’late no derned pill-mixer is agwine to git away with me very bad.’

“‘You’ll have to be born ag’in before you can whale me, Dudley,’ he shouted, ‘for I’ll fight 278while there’s enough blood left in me to lunch a stall-fed musketeer.’

“‘We both suck through the same straw then, Doctor,’ ses I, ‘for I cal’late to stick to you like a poor man’s plaster to a beggar’s ribs or I’ll have the worth of the widder’s chickens out on ye,’ and with that I spit out his finger that I had forgot all about, and the hul time had bin chawin’ like a piece of flag-root, I was so burnin’ mad. I allers will think he would have gin up the fight then, if he hadn’t seen me spit out the finger. He looked down at his maimed hand and then at me, and the awful sight seemed to spur him on ag’in.

“‘You cannibal varmint!’ he hollered, as he edged up to me. ‘I’ll make head-cheese of ye!’ and with that he made a pass at me; so at it we went ag’in, hotter than ever, hands up and heads down like fightin’ wasps, round and about, over the goose-house and wheelbarrow spat-a-te-kick, and down into the sink pool roll-et-e-roll, and the hair was a-flyin’ and the teeth war a-spinnin’. I got in a left-handed wipe on his chin while his mouth was open, swarin’, and I 279made his jaws snap like a wolf trap, and sent one of his molars a-buzzin’ through the kitchen winder like a bullet from a Springfield muskit.


“I never knowed a man could lose so much blood and stand up arter it, until I had that fight with Dr. Tweezer. The blood was a-flyin’ from him every which way, like the water from a sprinklin’ cart, and yet he wouldn’t holler.

“Arter a while he clinched and throwed me, 280but I managed to turn him, and commenced to shut off his supply of wind by twistin’ his necktie; but jest as his tongue began to crop out promisin’ly, a couple of fellers drivin’ by in a wagon seen us, and they allowed that I was one of the Doctor’s crazy patients that had got the better of him; so they come runnin’ in with a long rope, and set in to tie me up right thar.

“The plaguey Doctor turned in to help ’em do it, too. I cussed, and hollered, and kicked off both boots, and broke two of my teeth a-grittin’ of ’em, I was so consumin’ mad. But it was no go; I was a-playin’ a lone hand, with both bowers and the ace ag’inst me.

“The fust thing I knew they had me tied hand and foot, and h’isted into thar greasy old meat wagon with some dead hogs.

“‘To the lock-up with him,’ shouted the Doctor, jest bilin’ with rage; ‘he’s crazy as a cow with her horns knocked off.’ They took me thar, sure enough, and I staid thar till midnight before the mistake was known. I was pooty well scratched up, but that Dr. Tweezer was the most horrid sight you ever did see.



“Arter that fight he looked as though he had been the subject in a dissectin’ room, with at least a dozen medical students peelin’ and hackin’ of him in the interests of science. The Doctor allowed that the erysipelas would set 282in, seein’ thar were so many small veins busted in his face, so he painted it all over with scarlet iodine as a precautionary measure.

“He did look like the very old Nick, and no mistake. His face was fearfully puffed up, you see, and his nose was knocked clear away round to one side. His mouth in particular was a study that a feller couldn’t git familiar with. It was a problem that the more you looked into the more your ideas got confused. It was swelled and twisted and run around, out of all shape and proportion.

“He had the terriblest time you ever heard of gittin’ his victuals into it and fairly started down his throat. Thar he would sit at the table explorin’ about for fully five minutes strivin’ to make the harbor, and when he couldn’t fetch it, he would draw the spoon back and look at it a while, plannin’ another expedition. He knew where his mouth ought to be, you see, and where it had been a few hours before, and to be obliged to canvass the whole of his head to find it, was somethin’ he wasn’t accustomed to.

“It seemed as if he never would git through 283jabbin’ the spoon about his face, and when he would finally strike the openin’, it would be away round on one side of his head, so much so in fact, that a person would think he was pourin’ the soup into his ear. He would be all hunkadory then durin’ the remainder of that meal, but the next time he would come to the table, the same performance would have to be gone through with.

“He couldn’t keep run of the thing, nohow. It was here to-day and somewhere else to-morrow, like a wrinkle in a shirt.

“The swellin’ kept shiftin’ and undulatin’ about continually, down in one place and up in another, all within an hour, and that would shove the mouth away down along the neck somewhere, or clear across to the other side of the head, perhaps.

“The family would be sittin’ thar eatin’ no more than he was, they would be so busily engaged watchin’ his singular manœuverin’, and it would make him so roarin’ mad that he would send ’em all away from the table.

“He tried to eat by the aid of a small lookin’ glass, but that didn’t work any better than goin’ 284it blind. When he saw how disfigured every feature was, his appetite would begin to git away from him pooty lively, and he would sling the glass into the corner, and fall to denouncin’ me like a crazy bush-whacker.

“The yard, too, was a sight; everythin’ in it was painted and scratched and painted ag’in.

“Old Mrs. Sharron—who was allers a-smellin’ around about butcherin’ time, on the lookout for a fresh morsel—was gwine by the Doctor’s the next mornin’, and she noticed the blood and ha’r a-stickin’ to the chips and pump handle, and she allowed he had killed his spring pig, so she dropped in to ask him for the ears and a piece of the liver.

“The Doctor thought she was runnin’ him on his late skirmish, and you never see a man fly into such a passion in all your born days.

“He jumped up and pulled his pizen pump out of a drawer, and ses he: ‘You old faded remnant! you scollop! you creasy old cinder of an incendi’ry fire!’ he contin’ed, jest that way, ‘I’ll gin ye jest seven seconds to git out of my house in, or I’ll hoist the gizzard out of ye mi’ty quick!’

285“Jehominy! wasn’t she skeered, though? You never see a cat git from under a stove quicker when a pot biles over, than she got out of that house.

“So Dr. Tweezer didn’t speak very highly of me, eh? Wal, now you kind o’ know the reason, don’t ye?”


As I look from my window I am surprised at the change the last half hour has wrought upon my neighbor and his immediate surroundings. At that time he emerged from the shed in which he keeps his extra household furniture, with a length of stove-pipe and an elbow under his arms. They were apparently just the things he needed to tone down the draught of his new stove, and shoot the sparks clear of the banker’s eaves.

286I think I never saw him look better-natured than at that moment. His face was clear and unruffled as a woodland pool. His children played around him with unsuspecting minds and unlimited speech. The household cat, with all confidence in his noble nature, familiarly rubbed her ribs against his leg, as he for a moment stood deciding which end of the length to introduce to the elbow. Even the old hen roosting on the enclosure seemed to settle her head into her body with more than ordinary satisfaction as she regarded the complacent scene beneath her.

But half an hour ago all was peace, confidence and love, and now what a change is here! I hear the children, but see them not. Their plaintive wail reminds me how often laughter is the harbinger of tears. The hen with ruffled feathers and outstretched neck stands aloof upon the ridge of a distant dwelling. The household cat that had grown old in the family, and had good reason to believe herself privileged, purrs no more. She has painful reasons to think otherwise now, as she crouches in the most retired corner of the premises, assiduously applying whatever balm her tongue 287affords to injured parts. She doubtless muses how heavier than an infant’s spoon it is to feel an adult’s boot.

Yet my neighbor was neither rash nor hasty.

He seemed the embodiment of perseverance, as he repeatedly offered that length of stove-pipe an elbow which it, like a prudish maiden, provokingly refused. Soon the drops of perspiration began to stand upon his face and neck in large globes, and I knew that patience was oozing from every pore. I knew by the scattering children, the cackling hen, and the flying household cat, that the “rose-lipped cherubim” of which the poet sings, were abiding with him no longer.

Presently his wife came to his assistance with a case-knife, and for a time it seemed as though victory would crown their united efforts. Reinforcements turned the tide at Waterloo, and laid proud France at the mercy of Europe, and how often the assistance from the mind or arm of a noble wife rolls back the enemy from the door. But reinforcements could not mend the matter here. The poor woman soon retired from the scene with wounded fingers and damaged pride.

288My neighbor himself has ceased to strive. Flattened, kicked, and abandoned, the pipes lie masters of the situation.

Ah! I am fully persuaded that neither depth of affliction, nor height of impudence, nor length of trial, nor breadth of argument, nor extravagance, nor parsimony, nor things in particular, nor things in general, can begin to compare, as triers of patience, with a couple of old frill-edged stove-pipes, that emphatically set their edge against a union.



As some lone reaper, tanned and sore,
Doth pause to glance his acres o’er,
Comparing what hath passed his hands
With what before him bristling stands—
Behind him lie the shocks and sheaves,
While like a sea before him heaves,
Far over valley, hill and plain,
The waving heads of waiting grain—
So pause I now, when half way through
This growing book, my task to view;
Behind lie many a sketch and line;
Before me, countless pages shine;
Behind, the thoughts are shaped and bound;
Before, they float in freedom round.
And as that reaper stoops again
To throw his hook around the grain,
And sinks amid the sea of gold,
To rise when hands no longer hold;
So bend I to my task anew,
And undismayed my course pursue,
’Till clip on clip, and sheaf on sheaf,
Shall bear me to the farthest leaf.


To-day I had occasion to visit Benicia. The place is situated on the Straits of Carquinez. Not far from the town the Government Arsenal and Barracks are situated. And as a striking proof of the loyal and law-abiding spirit of the citizens, I may mention the fact, that all the government property above alluded to is defended by two soldiers, a corporal—who, by the way, has a wooden leg—and a high private.

While stopping there, I noticed they were engaged in the pleasurable task of firing a salute of twenty-one guns, in commemoration of Bunker Hill. They were having a busy time of it, for while the wooden-legged corporal was loading and discharging the cannon, the private was forwarding the ammunition from the magazine—about a quarter of a mile distant—in a wheelbarrow. “If soldiers will do this in time of peace,” I said to myself, “what would they not accomplish in time of war?” and I walked away 291from the spot, congratulating myself for having invested in Government bonds.

The town, in all likelihood, would never have been heard of outside of the State of California, had it not been for the brave “Benicia Boy.” Here it was that he swung the blacksmith’s heavy sledge, and practiced the first rudiments of the pugilistic profession, which subsequently gained him his world-wide notoriety.

Many of the citizens are yet pointed out to the visitor as parties who at some period of their life served as a sand bag on which the muscular “Boy” hardened his knuckles.

As I gazed upon the scattered village,—for it is no more,—I mused, how a man should come forth from such a paltry place to “awe” the world. For as Goliath challenged the hosts of Israel, so came the brave “Benicia Boy” and dared creation’s millions.

And as the youthful shepherd, afterwards king, rose up and smote the overweening giant with a stone, till all his brain oozed forth, so from Albion’s Isle a youthful “King,” smote the western champion in the midriff with his mawley, and all his wind gushed out!



After searching some time to discover the blacksmith shop where the pugilist used to work, I learned that it was long since torn down and a church now occupied the site. But an old gentleman who kept a small boarding house, conducted me to an ancient pump, at which he said the “Boy” on several occasions bathed his nose after having a bout with some person who didn’t let him have things all his own way, and there I wept my tears of tribute.

A large iron-bound boot-jack, set in a glass 293case, was shown to me by a saloon-keeper. He assured me, with this weapon the “Boy” had killed several cats belonging to the neighbors which had disturbed his slumbers. This boot-jack had also caused the death of a mule, for on one occasion the pugilist hurled it with such violence at a cat that was scampering across the roof of a shed that the heavy missile went through the boards. A farmer’s mule that was standing inside received the weapon behind the ear, and immediately went to gravel as though he had been felled with a sledge-hammer. The farmer instituted a suit against the “Boy” to recover damages, but the friends of the pugilist made up a purse to satisfy the demand of the farmer, and the matter was hushed.

I was also shown a jagged hole in a high board fence, which, it is said, the “Boy” made one night while going home from a neighboring saloon.

It seems he had some trouble with a companion before leaving the saloon, and seeing his shadow dogging his steps, mistook it for the substance of his late antagonist; very naturally presuming that his intentions were anything but 294friendly, he turned hastily around and dissipated the obnoxious shadow by knocking it about fifteen feet into the garden.


295The fence rattled and shook around the whole lot under the terrible blow. He made a hole in the boards through which a large goat could readily jump without sacrificing any of its hair by the performance, and permanently injured a good-sized pear tree that stood inside the enclosure, about three feet distant. The concussion was terrible. A couple of turkeys that happened to be roosting in the tree at the time dropped from their limb as though shot through the head with a needle-gun. Never afterwards could they be induced to roost upon anything further from the ground than the cross-bar of a saw-horse or the handles of a wheelbarrow.

No doubt the town at one time had great expectations, as it formerly was the capital of the State. It is now a capital joke to see a person undertaking to walk through the town in the winter season, without faith strong enough or feet broad enough to support him upon the surface of the oceans of mud he will find himself gazing wistfully across.

On my way down a man was pointed out to me on the boat who is said to be the meanest 296man in his county. My informant assured me that when the mean individual’s wife died last year, he borrowed a pair of forceps from the dentist at Benicia, and extracted all her gold-filled teeth. And on the morning prior to her funeral he sat upon the door-step, hammer in hand, with a flat-iron upon his knees, cracking the teeth like English walnuts, and with a sewing awl extracting the filling from the cavities.

During my journey I didn’t cultivate that man’s acquaintance. He is a person to stand away from, especially when clouds are charged with electricity.



Take away the dish; I have had my fill of Modoc; have had buck for breakfast, squaw for dinner, and papoose for supper, until at the very name of Indian my appetite forsakes me.

The appellations that for a season fell upon my ears, like a new poem from the lips of some sweet bard, have poetry for me no longer. The names, “Captain Jack,” “Scarfaced Charlie,” “Shacknasty Jim,” “Rain-in-the-face,” “Old-man-afraid-of-his-horse,” “Sitting Bull,” or “Ellen’s 298Man,” have lost their charm. They have become dull and uninteresting, and I would hear them no more forever. I have been duped, deceived, defrauded, on account of these rascally Indians.

I have gazed in silent awe upon what I supposed to be the scalp of no less a personage than “Old Sconchin,” and it now transpires that the redoubtable old chief turns up among the Indians recently captured.

Oh! Oh! how this world is given to lying!

I have journeyed long and far, by water and by rail, on horseback and on foot, and purchased at an extravagant price an Indian’s scalp which the seller under oath, with lifted hand, assured me was the veritable crown lock of that same “Old Sconchin.”

With tears coursing down his sunburned cheeks he informed me, that with his own eyes, in the full light of day, he saw it plucked smoking from the sconce of the expiring brave.

I have consequently braided watch chains of the hair, fashioned a money purse of the skin, and then withdrawn into a private apartment to shed bitter tears of sorrow, because the material didn’t quite hold out to make a tobacco pouch. 299And now the distressing intelligence reaches me that the renowned “Old Sconchin” stands manacled in the camp of his foemen, with an unscarified top and as luxuriant hair as ever drew nourishment from an Indian head.

Oh! where shall we turn, or where shall we look for honesty, since it is not found in the breast of the Indian scalp peddler?


Rats and mice, like ourselves, often labor at a great disadvantage while endeavoring to make a livelihood. They often make a miss of it altogether by not knowing the proper time to set out upon an expedition. Their life is a perpetual skirmish. They have to take chances and be upon their guard continually. Their mortal enemy and dread, the cat, may be asleep in the fourth story, and the poor mouse knows not of it as he looks wistfully across the intervening 300space between the ash barrel and the basement stairs; but after weighing the chances of escape or capture, he scurries across the opening with as much haste as though the sharp claws of pussy were raking the stunted fur from his wiry tail.

The sun may pour down its genial rays and the planks which his way lies over be warm and inviting, but he cannot loiter to enjoy its warmth or survey the beauties of nature. Oh! who would be a mouse? sigh I, as I sit and ponder over his life of inherent fear and uncertainty.

He seems to have no confidence in himself. His actions are like those of an inferior checker player. Shove about as he may, the chances are he will soon regret the manœuvre, and wish himself safely back again at the starting point.


Everything about the premises seems to be after him. He regards the old blacking-brush that lies under the bench with looks of suspicion for hours together, and dare not risk a scamper past. He takes it for a horrid cat, quietly and patiently biding her time. He retires into his hole and waits fully an hour 301before peeping out again; but there it sits to blast his sight and cause a cold thrill to run along his little spine. The fact that it does not change its position does not in the least weaken his mistrust; on the contrary, it rather strengthens it. “It is so cat-like,” he says to himself, “for it to be sitting there motionless.” In the handle projecting from one end he very naturally thinks he recognizes the tail, and at this new discovery he backs into his hole again in great trepidation.

He feels certain now that he was right in his suspicions. Another wait follows. On again emerging, there it lies as before; and if that mouse was profane, and had a soul to hazard, it would undoubtedly hazard it, and roundly berate that brush through compressed teeth.

It takes but little to set a poor mouse into a perfect fluster. Down rolls a stick of wood from the pile, and Mr. Mouse, nibbling at the other corner of the shed, jumps at least eight feet in the direction of his hole. The wind blows down the clothes-line stick, and simultaneous with its fall upon the planks the heart, liver and lights of the poor mouse seem to be 302running a steeple-chase to see which can jump from his mouth first. Away he scurries across the yard, so fast, that though your eyes were endeavoring to keep up with him all the way, you merely know something has been moving, but can only surmise what.

We sometimes think the trials and disappointments of humanity are great, but dear me! what are they compared to the miseries of these poor creatures. From their hardships deliver me! For all their care and caution, they do so often miscalculate. This is evidenced by the number of times our old cat enters the house with her mouth full, and her eyes sparkling with pride.

There is nothing so very degrading or humiliating in a cat’s life, and the thought of becoming a cat does not make one shudder as does the thought of becoming a mouse. A good household cat does not occupy such a very bad position in life after all; by good I mean an excellent mouser, one never guilty of letting a mouse escape after having the second wipe at him; no scraggy creature with stove-singed back and scolloped ears, but a well-behaved, home-loving 303animal. The lot of such a creature is preferable to that of some men whom I have met in life, that is, if there were no rude children in the house. There is always some drawback; a cat is peculiarly blessed that lives in a house where there are no children; it seems to be counted as one of the family almost, and its life, though short, is certainly a happy one. But ah! these reckless children, that snatch up Tommy by the tail as they would a sauce-pan, and as though the tail was actually intended for a handle. On second thought, the life of a cat is not so very pleasant after all.

For the last half hour I have been deeply interested in the manœuvres of a large rat in the yard of an adjacent house. He has made three unsuccessful attempts to go up the sink-spout. Thrice has he glided up the slippery incline until the tip of his long tail disappeared from view, but as often has he beat a hasty retreat, assisted on his downward way by a rushing torrent of hot dish-water.



He is a determined fellow, however, and sticks to an enterprise with the spirit and pertinacity of a world-seeking Columbus, or a prison-breaking Monte Christo. No doubt the hungry edge of appetite is whetted by the strong effluvium arising from Limburger cheese (the people are Germans) that fills the whole atmosphere with an odor truly agreeable to the rodent nose, every time the pantry door is opened. The cheese has been lately stirred up, I presume, by the trenchant knife of Pater-familias, and consequently the poor hunger-pinched rat is allured 305up the spout at this inopportune hour, while the servant girl is washing the dishes.

Every living creature has its weakness. The horse whinnies when the oats draw nigh, and forgets the galling collar. Sheep, that at other times will not come within gunshot, grow tame and unsuspicious when the salt is shaken in the pan.

The hog has a penchant for clover-roots, or wherefore does the rusted wire ring ornament his nose? Is it there because it is the fashion? Ask the farmer.

And undoubtedly cheese is the weakness of the rat family. It is their aim, and often their end, too. It is the shrine to bow down before which the rat will jeopardize his life every hour of the twenty-four.

He dreams of it. In his fitful slumbers he beholds it ranged around him tier on tier, as in a great store room, and not a cat within forty leagues. He is in the rat’s Paradise, and happy. No deceptive poisons that consume the stomach, no insidious, subtle traps, yawning ready to clutch the unsuspecting victim, surround him. He is safe and at peace, and would dwell there 306forever and forever in one unbroken endless night. But the heavy rumbling of a dray startles him, for all sweet dreams have their wakings, alas! that it is so! He wakes, and where is he? Under the wet sidewalk, drenched and tousled with the drippings of the day’s rain, with nothing for breakfast but a dry onion peel, the prog of the previous night, which nothing but a forty-eight hours’ fast could induce him to seize. Ah, me! what chances the fellow has to take in order to secure sufficient sustenance to keep life and body together.

“Honor pricks me on,” soliloquized old Sir John, on the field of Shrewsbury, when he withdrew from the general clash and rendering up of souls, to breathe a spell, and moralize upon the insignificance of Fame, or Honor, as against the value of life. But nothing pricks on the poor rat but his craving little digestive organs. The mill is crying out for grists, the hopper is empty, the stone still turning, and something must be done, and that quickly.

No honor is attached to the expedition, and even though he should succeed in making the “inning,” which is doubtful, all that can be said 307is that he has “gone up the spout,” and in the common acceptation of the saying, that is certainly nothing to be very highly elated over.

I actually feel ashamed when I think of the many projects I have abandoned through life, because I met with slight reverses. Here before me is this poor water-soaked rat, his hair still smoking from his recent scald, emerging once more from behind the wood box, determined to solve the problem of the sink-spout or perish in the attempt. A grim smile of resolution seems to part his pointed features, as he moves quietly up to the dripping conduit from which he lately scampered with steaming ribs.

They may talk of deeds of noble daring, of vaulting the breach, or traversing the wild; but for sterling courage, for indomitable perseverance and pluck, commend me to this little adventurer in my neighbor’s yard. In the face of three scalding inundations, he ventures again upon the expedition, unshaken, unsubdued, unterrified. He takes more chances and subjects himself to more risks in ascending that spout than old Samuel de Champlain in exploring up the St. Lawrence among the Iroquois.

308What if the large flea-pasturing dog lying indolently in the yard would rouse from the lethargic sleep that holds him, and for once make himself useful by thrusting his bristling muzzle up the orifice after the little explorer, thereby cutting off retreat in the event of another disastrous deluge? The terrible result of such an action on the part of the dog is too painful and improbable to contemplate.



You need not wake to call me, to call me, mother dear,
For to-morrow’ll be the noisest day of all the passing year;
310Of all the passing year, mother, the most uproarious day,
And I, you bet, will stirring be before the morning gray.
A flag-staff will be hoisted, mother, two hundred feet in air,
And cannon will be ranged around the whole of Union Square,
And on the instant Phœbus shoots his arrows o’er the hill,
There’ll be a roar will shake the shore as far as Watsonville.
You know the tailor’s nephew, mother, they call him Squinty Ware;
Last year he powdered Perry’s jaw, and blinded Dobson’s mare,
And while his poor old grandmamma was peeping through the blind,
She got a “whiz” in her old phiz, that she’ll forever mind.
And Henrietta Loring, mother, tied crackers to the tail
Of Deacon Reed’s big, lazy hound, while eating from a pail;
And goodness! gracious! how he jumped, and dusted for the shed;
And in a moment every straw was blazing in his bed.
311And you’d have died of laughter, mother, I’m certain, if you saw
Old Deacon Reed run out to tramp upon the burning straw;
And when he ran to get the hose—for tramping would not do—
His wig blew off, and down the street for half a block it flew.


I know it was not proper, mother, and I ashamed should be
To stand and gag, just like a wag, another’s loss to see;
But ’twas a sight that got me quite, and I’ll be old indeed
When I forget the comic look of that old Deacon Reed.
312I’ve got a rousing pistol, mother, the loudest in the block;
And I have filed the little catch that holds the thing at cock,
And hardly do I get the charge of powder in the bore,
When off it goes just with a shake, and thunder! what a roar!
So sleep on if you can, dear mother, and have no thought of me,
For I’ll be up and charging round before there’s light to see;
And when you hear a bang that makes the ring dance in your ear,
Then you can bet your scissors, mother, that I am somewhere near.


Hereafter I shall have no faith in reports. Last week I heard that Jim Dudley had left the city, and was congratulating myself on at last escaping him. But my congratulations were premature. Last night he called upon me, and kept me in torture for fully two hours; at a time, too, when I should have been asleep. But what cared he for that? The scoundrel! there was no shaking him off. He sticks to a person like mortar to a brick. I had to sit and listen, though I do honestly believe every word the fellow uttered was an unqualified lie; but he swears to its truth, and how can I prove it otherwise. It is better to take it as it comes and ask no questions for conscience’ sake.

“I never told you about the sermon I preached over in Misertown one Sunday. I had a time of it thar and no mistake. Hold on a minute and I’ll tell you how it was.

314“You see, Gil Bizby—that plaguey shirk, I never mention his name but what I feel like trouncin’ of him—but he was a genius though and no foolin’ about it, a natural born inventor, chock full of notions as a toy shop.


“But somehow or another he never could bring anythin’ to a payin’ focus. Allers whittlin’ and borin’ and plannin’ around though. Wherever you’d meet him he’d be haulin’ out of his pocket some old drawin’, with more wheels and contrivances pictured out on it than 315you could think of in a twelve hours’ dream. He never could git the cap sheaf onto his endeavor though. Allers somethin’ amiss; a wheel too many, or another one wantin’, or too many cogs to have the thing work just right.

“He invented a contrivance for pluckin’ chickens.

“That was a rustler. He shoved the fowls through a machine somethin’ like a corn sheller, an gin ’em an electric shock while passin’ along, and shot ’em out of a spout at t’other end of the machine as bare as weavers’ shuttles. He didn’t make anythin’ out of it though. He had to chuck ’em through while alive, you see, and that clashed with the law. When he took the machine down to the city to introduce it to the pultry dealers, the society fellers who look out for the interests of dumb critters got arter him and sewed him up. They put a reef in his jib pooty quick now, I tell you.

“They were passin’ along through the market one day, and they saw Gil just a humpin’ himself showin’ off the apparatus to the market men. He was crankin’ and pumpin’ away, like a sailor when there’s fifteen feet of water in the 316hold and still rizin, and the chickens were a screamin’ and a scootin’ through the contrivance, close as if they were run on a string head ag’inst tail, and just a cloud of feathers hoverin’ around over it. Didn’t they fasten on to that Gil Bizby though? They snatched him up quicker than if he had been hoss-stealin’, and confiscated his plucker, and tucked an alfired heavy fine onto him besides.

“Meetin’ with such poor encouragement in that direction he went back to Sculleyville, and set out to invent a thunderin’ great machine for layin’ cobble-stones. That was just him all over; allers startin’ in to git up some outlandish lookin’ thing. This machine was a crusher and no gettin’ ‘round it. It was fearful enough to make a cow slip her cud, I’ll be shot if it wasn’t. It looked somethin’ like Noah’s ark set on wheels and filled with all kinds of machinery.

“He started in to experiment one moonlight night in front of the court house, but got the main belt crossed or somethin’, I disremember just what, and Jerusalem! in less than ten minutes he ran the whole population out to the foot-hills in thar night clothes. There wasn’t 317no stoppin’ the consarned thing. Poor Gil was knocked senseless at the first revolution, and nobody else knowed how to control it. It rolled the whole length of the square, tearin’ up the stones it had pounded down the day before and sendin’ of ’em buzzin’ over the village in all directions.

“No home was sacred, and no head was safe, as the poet has it. Poor old Mrs. Scooley lived just long enough to learn this, and no longer. She was goin’ once too often to git her pitcher filled at the corner grocery that night, and a stone took her in the small of the back as she was enterin’ the door, and it h’isted her clear over the counter on top of a barrel; it’s true as I’m tellin’ it to you. Poor old body; she was the pioneer female of the village too. The first woman to wash a shirt in Sculleyville. But arter all, the town wasn’t much loser by her passin’ away.

“She was a sort of panicky old critter anyhow, always scary about catchin’ the smallpox or any other prevailin’ disease that come around. The old village physician said he would ruther 318see the very old scratch makin’ towards him on the street than old Mrs. Scooley.


“Comin’ from church or market, as the case might be, she would fasten on to him like a wood-tick to a leaf, and he couldn’t git rid of her nohow. She would have him time her pulse right thar on the sidewalk; and be a shovin’ of 319her tongue out for his inspection. And she did have such an unlimited, wallopin’ great tongue too; it seemed when she was shovin’ all of it out, as though she was actewelly disgorgin’ her liver. It’s so, by Jingo! People would be a stoppin’ and standin’ thar, wonderin’ what was the matter with the old gal—that is, people that didn’t know her peculiarities; though most everybody in the village had seen her standin’ in that position so often, that they would be more surprised to see her with her tongue in her mouth than projectin’ out in the rain.

“The old Doctor used to be terribly annoyed. He would say, kind of hurriedly like, because he would be itchin’ to git away from her:

“‘Oh! you’re all right I reckon, Mrs. Scooley; but you had better be a gittin’ along home, and not stand too long in the cold air, with so much of your vital organs exposed to the weather; the result may be fearful if not fatal!’

“That would ginnerally start her off pooty lively towards her shanty. They say the first time the Doctor saw her tongue he was surprised so much that he looked actewelly 320skeered. Says he: ‘I’ve been nigh unto eight and thirty years a practicin’ physician, and until this moment I flattered myself that I was familiar with all the ins and outs of the profession. But I begin to think I gin over the dissectin’ knife too soon, for here’s somethin’ that I was not prepared for.’

“But that’s not tellin’ you about the sermon, is it? but when I mentioned that Gil Bizby, I sort of wandered off arter him and his contrivances. Wal, as I was about to tell you, Gil and I were saunterin’ around Misertown one Sunday, and we saw any number of gals goin’ into the school-house where the preachin’ was carried on. So we concluded to step in and git a better look at some of ’em. I didn’t know many of the people round thar, but from what I heard I judged they were the meanest, close-fistedest set of sinners that ever had the gospel dispensed with amongst ’em.

“I understood they had treated their minister plaguey mean when he fust come thar to look arter them. Thar was no regular place for him to stop, you see, and they agreed amongst themselves to take turns a keepin’ him until 321they could get a house up for him. He was one of those young, easy, green kind of fellers that had seemin’ly never been so far away from home before but what he could see the smoke of his father’s chimney, or smell his mother’s corn-dodgers burnin’. And they soon took advantage of it, and sort of played button with him, shovin’ him around from one to another as though he was too hot to hold.

“He fust went to a feller by the name of Wigglewort. Ses Wig, ‘I’m really very sorry, Mr. Sermonslice, but we unfortunately have no accommodations for you at present. We have no place for you to sleep ’thout we put you in the barn, and the nights are ruther cold for that, besides the rats might annoy you. Sorry you happened to come just at this time, of all others the most embarrassin’. It’s not but what I would like to have you stop with us; I would indeed, Mr. Sermonslice, consider it an honor to have you.’

“The minister, takin’ his books under his arm, started out into the night as though his life depended upon the most prompt kind of action. He wasn’t within hailin’ inside of two 322minutes. He went over and succeeded in gettin’ lodgin’s with a feller named Joe Grimsby, who lived over by Frog Marsh.


“Joe was too derned lazy to do his own prayin’, and while the parson stopped with him he got rid of it. They do say he was the laziest old curmudgeon that ever turned up his eyes. He used to say a praar at the beginnin’ of the month, and on the followin’ nights he would always allude to it in a sort of matter-offact 323way. ‘You know my feelin’s towards ye. Nothin’ hid from ye I reckon. I haven’t changed my sentiments yet. If I do I’ll let ye know of it. I’ll keep nothin’ back from you, though it should take the har off.’ He would go on in that business-like way, and the hul time be a crawlin’ into bed.

“Wal, as I was goin’ to tell you, Gil and I poked into the buildin’, and sat down thar amongst the congregation.

“The minister hadn’t come yet, and pooty soon an old feller got up, and ses he, ‘It may be the minister has had a late breakfast and will not git here for some time yet. In the meantime, as it’s a dry season and our crops need a shower of rain, we mout as well have a little prayin’ goin’ on. We can’t do much harm anyhow, and we may be the means of bringin’ down a good smart shower that will be money in our pockets in the long run.’

“He asked several to take hold and do somethin’ in that way, but one had a cold, and another one was just gettin’ over the mumps. And so on they went makin’ excuses. Finally the old feller turned to me, and ses he: ‘Perhaps 324you would lead us, you look like one who has had some experience that way.’

“I thanked him for the compliment, but told him I was somethin’ like the officers in the army—I would ruther foller than lead. But he stuck to me like a Jew to a customer. Arter a while I consented, and jest as I was about startin’ in, a feller come in and said the minister had got a terrible ticklin’ in his throat caused by partly swallowin’ a har in the butter over to old Joe Grimsby’s, and couldn’t attend to his duties that day. So the old chap got up ag’in, and ses:—

“‘We won’t have any preachin’ then, without some person present will volunteer to act in our pastor’s place this mornin’.’ But no one spoke up. ‘Perhaps,’ he ses, turnin’ to me, ‘you would favor us by conductin’ the service, young man. You doubtless are competent to perform that duty.’

“This sort of got me. Then the thought struck me perhaps I’d make somethin’ out of ’em by it. Besides didn’t want to plead ignorance right thar amongst ’em, so gettin’ up, I ses: ‘This is somewhat unexpected. Honors foller one another pooty fast.’ With that I got 325into the pulpit and began to look down at ’em pooty seriously. Thar was no Bible on the desk, so I asked if thar was any person that would loan me one for the occasion.

“Some of ’em spoke up and said they had books, but were in the habit of keepin’ em to foller along arter the minister, and correct him when he made a mistake. Besides they liked to see how he worked out the text. I looked at ’em some time pooty hard. I thought they beat anythin’ I had come across for some time, and I had a good mind to git down ag’in, only I allowed they’d laugh at me. So I ses, ‘all right. You can keep your books. I reckon I know enough by heart to git along with.’ I then gin out somethin’ for them to sing.

“‘Short or long meter?’ inquired the leader of the singers, who were settin’ over in the corner. I didn’t exactly understand him. As I knowed he was in the habit of meetin’ Sal Clippercut over to Mrs. Curry’s every Sunday afternoon, I allowed he was askin’ for somethin’ shorter, as he was longin’ to meet her. I spoke up pooty sharp, and ses, ‘You will please sing what I gin you to sing. I reckon you aren’t 326longin’ to meet her so bad but what you can wait until arter the service is over. She’ll keep that long, I reckon, without spilin’. I know her. She isn’t none of your Spring chickens nuther,’ I contin’ed, just like that, and you ought to have seen the way he looked; and the gals commenced to snicker and crowd thar handkerchiefs into thar mouths.

“One little red-faced critter that sat alongside of him tittered right out. Her mother who was sittin’ near by jumped up and ses: ‘Becky Jane, you go right straight hum this minute, and go to peelin’ the ‘taters for dinner.’ But a feller who looked as though his mother had been a mullator, or even somethin’ of a darker shade, got up and ses:

“‘The gal isn’t to blame in the least. It’s that feller in the pulpit thar. I for one don’t want to hear any more of his lingo.’

“‘Wal, then, you can stuff wool in your ears,’ I ses, ‘and you won’t have far to go to get it nuther,’ I contin’ed, just that way, alludin’ to his own har, which seemed pooty woolly.

“You ought to see how they looked, fust at him, then at me. He colored up, I reckon, but 327he was too black to show it. I heard him grit his teeth from whar I was standin’. He didn’t say any more, but an old woman who was settin’ near jumped up, and ses she:

“‘The meetin’-house is turned into a thayeter! When a muntybank gets into the pulpit it is high time for respectable people to be movin’. I’ll leave!’ she exclaimed, pullin’ her shawl around her shoulders and beginnin’ to bustle out of her seat.

“‘Wal, ye kin go!’ I hollered, jest that way, for I was beginnin’ to git sort of riled at the way things war a goin’. When I’m talkin’ politics or arguin’ over the merits of whisky, I can bear crossin’ and any amount of contradiction. But right thar, where a feller had to be choice of his language, it was different business. ‘Ye kin go,’ I ses. ‘We kin git along without you, I reckon. We’re willin’ to chance it, anyhow. Take your knittin’ along; don’t leave that behind,’ I contin’ed, pointin’ to the seat as though I saw it lyin’ thar. I didn’t though, but I wanted to give her a mi’ty hard rub, for I suspected her piety was put on, and that she was displeased because nobody was noticin’ her new bonnet.

328“The hul congregation took it for granted that the knittin’ was thar, and you ought to have seen ’em stretchin’ and cranin’ out thar necks as far as they could to get a look into the pew.


One old feller that was settin’ back pooty far, craned out kind of quarterin’ ruther suddenly and his neck gin a crack like a bon bon. He commenced oh! ohin’ and tryin’ to git it back to its old position ag’in, but he couldn’t 329make any headway until his wife went to rubbin’ and chafin’ of it, right thar.

“But that old woman, whew! She was as mad as a wet hen. She couldn’t hardly find the door, she was so mixed up. When she finally got thar she turned round and straightenin’ of herself up she ses, ‘Young man!’—Before she got any further I broke in on her, for I judged she had a tongue that was hung in the middle. So I ses, ‘That’ll do, that’ll do, Mrs. You kin move along. You’re disturbin’ the peace of the congregation, and besides all that you’re showin’ your false teeth mi’ty bad in the bargain.’

“She got out arter that pooty lively, now I can tell you. I could see her as she went up the road towards her home, and two or three times she stopped and turnin’ around acted as though she had half a mind to come back and try the hul thing over ag’in. But arter standin’ thar a while thinkin’ like a pig when it’s listenin’ to the grass takin’ root, she would shake her head and move along up the turnpike as though she concluded she had enough of that kind of pie.

330“This piece of performance sort of throwed me off the track. While I was standin’ thar thinkin’ where to start in with the discourse, Gil Bizby come a crawfishin’ up the steps to one side of me and whisperin’ ses, ‘I say, Jim, you haven’t got to chock blocks already, have ye?’

“‘No,’ I answered, ‘I ain’t got to chock blocks, but I’ve got the ropes twisted around and things look ginnerally mixed jist now, I can tell ye.’

“‘Wall, start in on the sermon at once then,’ he urged, ‘for they are gettin’ mi’ty impatient now I can tell you. You’ve got to be doin’ somethin’ pooty quick. But whatever you do,’ he contin’ed, ‘don’t git up very high without havin’ some idea how you are goin’ to git down ag’in. Keep steerin’ around waters that you’ve piloted over before. Remember a blind mouse shouldn’t venture very far from its hole, especially if thar’s a whole generation of cats watchin’ of it.’

“With that he backed down to his seat ag’in, and took out his pencil and began to design a machine for pickin’ the bones out of fish, on the fly-leaf of a book that was lyin’ thar. So 331I started in on the sermon. It wasn’t much of a sermon, to be sure. It was more like a lectur’. I couldn’t think of any passages of scriptur’ just then, so I gin ’em the line from the philosopher, ‘Why does the frightened dog depress his tail when he runneth?’


“You ought to have seen ’em rustlin’ and turnin’ the leaves, huntin’ to find the passage. One old feller by the name of Spudd commenced to paw over the pages, and his wife ses, ‘Don’t go that way; turn back to the Book of Job.’ He looked round at her with his under lip stickin’ out jest that way, arter wettin’ of his thumb to start turnin’ over ag’in, and ses, ‘Job 332be biled and buttered! I kin pick old Solomon from amongst a thousand of ’em. He was sound on the goose, he was.’


333“Two or three of ’em started in to ask me where the text was located, but I kept on talkin’ right straight along, lookin’ around to all of ’em at once and no one in particular. I didn’t gin ’em a chance to stop me ag’in, or git a word in edgeways. One singular-lookin’ old coon with a weed on his hat got up and stood signalin’ of me, and waitin’ and watchin’ for a chance to ask me somethin’. But I never let on to see him. I reckon he stood thar five minutes with his finger up pointin’ to attract my attention, and his mouth open so wide, that from my elevated position I could tell what he had swallowed for breakfast.

“I gin ’em a sort of ramblin’ discourse, alludin’ to the prevailin’ passions, and errors of the age. Amongst other things I touched on jealousy a little,—I wanted to stir ’em up a trifle on that subject, because there was a great deal of jealousy in that neighborhood. The green-eyed monster was a-rantin’ and a-ravin’ round in a good many households, and as it ginnerally turns out, there was least cause for it where it was most prevailin’. One old feller was moved by the first remark. When I said—quotin’ 334from the poet—‘Jealousy in the wife is wuss than trichina in the pork,’ he leaned over to the man settin’ in the next pew and ses, ‘I can’t tell you for the life of me whar he gits the passage, but it’s the solid truth, anyhow.’

“So I went on and finished the sermon, or lectur’ ruther, and then I ses, ‘The choir will please sing the hymn beginnin’ “Give, give, give to the needy,” arter which I will pass around amongst the congregation and take up a collection for the benefit of the heathen in furrin parts.’

“Je-whitteker! You ought to have seen ’em turn around and look at each other when I said that. I can’t describe it to you. I can’t do the scene justiss. If I had told ’em I was goin’ to stay with them through the season, I could hardly have started ’em to thinkin’ any more than I did by tellin’ ’em about that collection for the heathen in furrin parts.

“Arter two or three attempts the singin’ began. I closed my eyes, and leanin’ back in my chair minister-like, commenced to estimate the probable yield of each pew. While I was thinkin’ thar, and cal’latin’ how much I would 335make by the preachin’ business, I noticed the singin’ dyin’ out, and a dyin’ out slowly like, as the prisoner said his hopes were when the sheriff was a-fumblin’ around his neck adjustin’ the rope. So I opened my eyes easy like, as though comin’ back to earthly scenes reluctantly, and you can water my whiskey if I wasn’t just in time to see ole Ned Scullet’s coat-tails whiskin’ around the door jamb, the hindmost rag of the congregation. Women and children and all were gone sure enough. On lookin’ out of the winder I see ’em a-scatterin’ and a-hustlin’ and elbowin’ themselves ahead of each other along the turnpike, as though thar was great danger in bein’ left behind.

“Would you believe it, thar was that plaguey shirk Gil Bizby a-cranin’ up the hill a-leadin’ the crowd. I sat thar a while lookin’ after ’em and then, comin’ down I began to look around a little, and pooty soon I noticed that several of ’em left thar hats, they were in such a hurry to git out. So I selected a good one, only ’twas a little out of fashion, and puttin’ it on I ses to myself, ‘If you think I’m interested enough in your welfare here or hereafter to preach to you 336for nothin’, you’re mistaken, I reckon.’ With that I walked out, but not until I had kicked the remainin’ hats around the room pooty lively.

“The next day I noticed an old feller with a dilapidated beaver on, that looked as if it had done duty on a scarecrow for several seasons, sidlin’ up to me, and circlin’ around two or three times lookin’ mi’ty close at my tile. I’ll allers think it was his stove-pipe, but he was too much ashamed to come right out and lay claim to it.

“But that Gil Bizby! I didn’t wonder so much at the congregation dustin’, arter all, cause they didn’t know me, but he!—well, no matter, I’ll git even on him yet.”



It was my good fortune the other day to attend a picnic in the country. A lady friend insisted on tacking her pet boy to me on that occasion. As she couldn’t go herself she wanted me to have an eye to “sonney,” and see that he didn’t come in contact with poison-oak. She assured me he was a good boy and would mind me as if I was his father! I didn’t pine for the pet’s company, but could not very well refuse her request. So he went with me.

I very soon found out he was one of those smart children, who, by a strange freak of nature, are placed in possession of an impudence that prompts them to believe they know more at the age of eight than your average adult.

My will and his wishes soon clashed.

Then the thought entered my head that his mother misrepresented “sonney’s” obedient nature. “If this is the obedience that an offspring 338manifests to a father,” I mentally murmured, “it were better to be destitute of the offspring.” The boy sauced me. He even went so far as to call me names anything but flattering, while I was sitting in the presence of a young lady I most ardently adored. “Go on, sonney!” I said to myself savagely, “go on, precocious youth, there are no raging bears in this suburban park to tear the flesh from the bones of mouthy children who ‘sauce’ their betters, as did the animals in the days of prophets; but nature in other ways has made provision for such as you, and has sprinkled a few shrubs around here that can pile the flesh on to a person’s bones to an alarming degree, if they get a fair chance.”

After that I paid no attention to him. He ran at will, browsed through the vines like a hungry deer, and burrowed into the very heart of the poison-oak and ivy, with as little fear as a quail retiring to roost. He enjoyed himself immensely; so he informed me in the evening. I am glad he did, for he is having a quiet time of it now. I saw him this morning, and his face was as full of expression as a Christmas pudding 339new rolled from the cloth. I think my lady friend will not be over-anxious to appoint me guardian over her dutiful son at another picnic. In the interests of art I have made a sketch of “sonney” as he appeared this morning, striving to recognize me by my voice, which he failed to do, however, being deaf as he was blind.




And it came to pass about the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, being in the autumn, when the new wine was oozing from the press, and the corn was hardening in the crib, a bachelor, a farmer of great possessions, dwelling in the valley of Berryessa, bent above his resting plow, and thus communed with himself:—

“My stacks are builded, my wine is dripping from the press, the ripe ears are garnered in my cribs, my flocks and herds feed fat upon the hills; and yet, because of my loneliness, am I unhappy.

“I will arise at eve and repair to my neighbor’s cottage. Peradventure the aged widow of the murdered gypsy can counsel me.”

So when the evening hour was come, the farmer arose and sought the aged widow’s abode.

341And as he drew nigh to the cottage, he lifted up his eyes and, behold! the crone sat upon her door-step.


And when the dame looked upon the farmer she knew his heart was troubled; but she knew not the cause.

342So, lifting up her voice she cried, inquiringly: “What aileth my neighbor? Has aught befel thy goods? Has bruin descended from the mountains to worry thy flocks? Or, are thy stacks consumed? that thus you droop your eyelids to the path, and move as by a hearse.”

And the farmer, drawing nigh, replied: “My flocks unharmed graze sleek upon the hills; my stacks stand unconsumed; yet is my spirit heavy, because my walks are lonely and my heart is sad, and I come as one seeking counsel.”

Then answered the dame reprovingly: “Out upon thee, for a fusty, dreamy bachelor! Go take to thyself a wife; then will thy walks be no more lonely, neither will thy heart be sad.”

But he, answering her sorrowfully, said: “Mock me not, good madam, but look with pitying eyes upon me, and hearken to my voice.

“Behold I am now well stricken in years, my body is stooping to the grave, my manners, like my hands, are rough; my blood, like my hair, is thin; and my teeth but shine in memories of the past.

“How, then, can I win maidens’ hearts? 343Alas! on the contrary, they would giggling flee from before me; no hope for me remains; if I would wed, I needs must wed a squaw!” And his countenance fell.

Then was the crone exceedingly displeased, because he said, “I needs must wed a squaw,” and she answered him derisively, saying:—

“Go to! Ye speak as with the beak of a parrot, and with the understanding of a babe! Are ye studied in books and know not the proverb, ‘A golden snare will catch the wildest hare?’

“Do not your stacks dot the vale below like an Egyptian camp? Are not your tanks brimming with wine and your cribs grinning with corn?

“Do not your cattle graze upon an hundred hills? and your industrious laborers follow in the furrow? And are ye still afeared? Oh, ye of doubting mind!

“Go, get thee to thy chest and take to thyself suitable coin, and hasten to that great city by the sea—whose churches point to heaven, but whose people bow to gold.

344“There sojourn for a season, and make no delay in adorning thyself with precious stones.

“Put diamonds upon thy bosom and rings upon thy fingers, and be zealous to stand in the hall-ways and in the market-places, and in the houses of exchange.

“Seek to be observed of the people, and take heed that ye look upon all men as being thy servants.

“And let thy wealth be noised abroad.

“Then shall rise up in the house of mourning the widow of a month, and dry her weeping eyes.

“Then shall the maid of many summers lay aside her pets, to readjust her charms, and disinter her smiles.

“Then shall the doting damsel, when her parent maketh fast the door, creep out some other way.

“And they all shall come trooping as with the voice of birds to court thy smiles and thy manners, and thy years shall be as the silk of the spider in thy way.”

345Then was he exceedingly glad because of the crone’s advice, and he went away to his own home rejoicing.


And on the morrow he arose before it was 346yet day, and saddled his mule, and journeyed to the great city by the sea, and lodged at the house of a friend.

And he made haste to purchase diamonds, and rubies, and emeralds, and onyx-stones, and sapphires, and put massive rings upon his fingers, and seals upon his chain.

And even as the crone had directed, he scrupled not to stand in the hall-ways, and in the market-places, and in the houses of exchange, and sought to be observed of the people, and lived as a man having great possessions.

And not many days after, a fair lady of that place looking from her window, saw that the stranger shone like the mid-day sun, even so much that her heart was warmed.

So she called the keeper of the house aside and questioned him concerning the stranger, saying:—

“Who is this stranger that lodgeth in thy house, who beameth with jewels like the noonday sun? Make him known to me, for he is a choice and goodly man, and my heart warmeth for the stranger.”



Then answered the good man of the house, “He is a sojourner from the valley of Berryessa, and lo, he is a man of great possessions; and moreover, take heed if he cometh in your way, that ye smile graciously upon him, for be it known unto you he is a bachelor, who cometh amongst us seeking a wife.”

348Then was the damsel exceedingly moved.

And when it came to pass that the stranger was introduced to her, she smiled graciously upon him, and she opened her mouth and spake knowingly of barley, and of rye, and of corn in the ear, and of tares.

And she also spake of four-footed beasts, of calves, of pigs, and of goats, and cattle after their kind; and of fowls; of doves, and of ducks, and of geese, and poultry after their kind.

And she spoke also of cabbages, and of squashes, and of turnips, and of new laid eggs, and of honey, and of buckwheat cakes, and of cheese, and of sausages!

And lo! the farmer’s heart was touched, for she was comely to look upon, and wise withal.

And he communed within himself, saying: “Surely this maid would indeed be a great catch, she would make her husband’s home cheerful, and in divers ways pluck from the palm of life the festering thorns. Beshrew me, but I will lay strong siege to the damsel’s heart.”

So he made haste to pull wide open the mouth of his purse and loaded her with presents, for 349the damsel had found favor in his eyes, and he sought to win her.

And not many days after he espoused the maiden, and there was great feasting and merry making at that house, and the same was heard of the neighbors.

And on the following day, the farmer took her to his own home, in the valley of Berryessa, and they lived happily together for the space of many years.


“’Tis a strange cap: ’Twill give and take, and fit many heads.”—Old Volume.

Oh, will you hear with patient ear,
The story I’ll relate
About man’s infidelity,
And learn his losses great?
There lived a little miller once,
Who owned a tiny mill;
While there was water in his pond
The stones were never still.
350For not a man the country round,
From Inyo to the Bay,
Was closer to his business found,
Than David Goyle, they say.
Let people pass at eve, or noon,
Or at the break of day,
They’d see the dusty miller there
And hear the hoppers play;
But when the narrow stream run dry,
The miller was at fault;
The rack-a-tacket mill reposed
As silent as a vault.
The little vicious artisan
Had spun his silken snare
Across the dusty flour-chute,
And silent gearing there;
While in the elevator’s cup
Was heard the mouse’s squeak,
And village children in the flume
Dry-shod, played hide-and-seek.
Said David to his wife one day,
“I think, while water’s low,
I’ll take a business trip to town,
Just for a week or so;
I have not ground a peck of grain,
’Tis now eight days or more;
But sat and picked, and picked the stones,
And dressed their surface o’er.”
351Then turned his little loving wife—
With much concern, said she,
“I hope while you are stopping there,
That you will careful be;
And shun those dark and narrow streets
Where rogues do congregate,
And look from out their low retreats
As spiders watch and wait.
“Have not the city papers teemed
With incidents, wherein
Some people proved not what they seemed,
And took the stranger in?
Then trust not smiles, or cunning wiles;
Be careful where you tread;
The very ground beneath your feet
With pitfalls may be spread;
There’s not a trick, a trap, or plot,
Or scheme of any sort—
From playing fine to drugging wine—
To which they’ll not resort.”
Then leaned this little miller man
Away back in his chair,
And laughed until his anxious wife
Thought he would strangle there.
Said he, “You much amuse me, wife;
Have you forgot, my dear,
That I have traveled in my life,
And came from Jersey here?
352“Or can you for a moment think
Your husband’s mind is crude?
Or deem that I the cup would drink,
By Temperance men tabooed?
Those who can get the start of me,
In country or in town,
By Jove, must early risers be,
And you can put that down.”
For he was vain, this miller man,
Who thought his mind so vast;
But look with me, and we will see
How he comes out at last.
In course of time he reached the town,
To stop a week or more;
And in a large hotel was lodged,
Upon the second floor;
If you should doubt my word in this,
Step over to the “Grand;”
You’ll find his name recorded there,
And in a scrawling hand.
It chanced—but hold! ere more I say,
Or sentence more you read,
Are you prepared with me to stray
Wherever he may lead?
You are! all right, then “on’s” the word,
Again my pen I hold,
And blame me not, if I should jot
Down facts he’d wish untold.
353It chanced while Dave was strolling down
A certain crowded street,—
(Its name at present slips my mind,
Or you’d have all complete)—
He met a stranger in the way,
Who brought him to a stand;
He smiled upon him as in joy
And reached a friendly hand.


He hailed the stranger, no, I think,
The stranger him addressed;
I would not do the fellow wrong,
He’s bad enough at best.
354The stranger spoke him very free;
He came from Jersey, too;
For he was sharp as one can be;
He thought his folks he knew.
“There was a Goyle;—yes, yes, I’m sure;
How strange that we should meet!
I’ve passed his house a thousand times,
And met him on the street.”
The miller scarce could credit this;
But frank he seemed and fair,
So he resolved to step inside,
And talk the matter there.
There is a drug that bunco men
Do mingle with the wine
They give to country friends like Dave,
For what, I can’t divine.
Perhaps those thoughtful rascals deem
The noisiness of town
Might not allow refreshing sleep
To weigh their eyelids down.
But whether this the cause, or not,
Enough for you and me
To know, the wine that David got
Was not from mixtures free!
Oh! for a club to brain the knave
Who could not see the snare;
Oh! for a spade to dig his grave,
And dump him headlong there.
355The night has passed away at last;
Now hand in hand we’ll scout,
Now here, now there, with greatest care,
To search that miller out.
Thus, side and side, we first will glide
O’er letter, word, and line;
Until we stand that house beside,
Where Dave was drinking wine.
Oh, sight! so painful to the eyes,
It dims them like a fog!
Within the house the miller lies,
As still as any log!
And not until the sun was high,
And bells in towers spoke,
From out that deep lethargic sleep
He wonderingly awoke.
He gazed upon the papered wall;
The ceiling overhead;
But strange was paper, pictures all,
The foot-board of the bed.
Swift as the lightning’s flash destroys
The spider’s flimsy toil,
Suspicion traveled through the head
Of the awakening Goyle.
As starts the lodger from repose,
When flames burst in the door,
So suddenly that miller rose,
And bounced upon the floor;
356One stride sufficed to reach the chair;
On which his robes were cast;
But seemed it to that man an age,
Until he grasped them fast.
No nimbler does the maiden’s hand
Play o’er the keys of sound,
Than did that miller’s fingers glide
In searching pockets round.
In vain he felt from tail to top;
The thief had gone before,
And harvested a golden crop,
While he did dream and snore.
Gone was his purse, and all within;
A ring he valued more;
Gone watch and chain, the diamond pin
That on his scarf he wore.
His little wife with miser care,
(And warning words, no doubt,)
With her own hands affixed it there
The morning he set out.
Enraged, that miller waltzed around,
And like his hopper shook:
And swore by all the grists he ground,
And all the tolls he took,
That since the days when he was schooled
In games of pitch and toss,
He never was so deeply fooled,
Or so betrayed to loss!
357Ten times at least, that pallid man
Strove to insinuate
His nervous limbs into his pants,
But failed to guide them straight.
First hop, hop, hop, to left he went,
Now, hop, hop, hop, to right!
Then hop, hop, backwards, till he rent
The pants asunder quite!


Now partly in and partly out,
He polka’d here and there,
Now chasse up, now chasse back,
Then balanced o’er the chair.
358At last his toilet was complete,
The yawning rent was pinned,
And out into the narrow street
He bolted like the wind.
He traveled towards the City Hall,
And vowed at every bound
That justice would he seek and have,
If justice could be found.
The milkmen stopped their reckless drive,
Or dropped the cup and can,
And leaned to catch a glimpse of Dave
As down the street he ran.
Old women early out to mass
When Dave went racking by,
Would jump aside to let him pass,
Then to each other cry:
“The saints protect us! see him go
Upon his wild career;
A crazy creature well I know,
From some asylum near.”
Suffice it here to be explained
Before I close the tale,
The justice David Goyle obtained,
Was not of much avail.
Go net the sea to catch the whale
That did on Jonah dine;
Go rake the land to find the stone
That slew the Philistine;
359But seek not her whose hoodwink’d eyes,
Proclaim her dealings just;
Well hangs her balance in the skies,
For here on earth they’d rust.
The rumbling stones are grinding now,
The water’s rushing down;
But do not bet that miller yet
Forgets his trip to town.
For every waking hour he knows
Throughout the twenty-four,
His scowling face and muttering shows
He counts his losses o’er.
There’s not a time he laves his hands,
But what that ring is missed!
(Its gold he gathered from the sands,
A gift the amethyst).
And oh, the query gives him pain,
“What is the time of day?”
For to the missing watch and chain
The miller’s mind will stray.
And now no more upon his breast
The brilliant diamond shines,
Its lustre falls in other halls
Where flow the noxious wines.


A stout old gentleman was enjoying the luxury of a salt-water bath in the bay, a short distance from where I was fishing. As he was a poor swimmer—notwithstanding he had a good supply of blubber—he attached a couple of inflated air-bags to his shoulders, by means of a string under his arm-pits. During his splashing about, and his repeated endeavors to strike out like Cassius bearing Cæsar from the troubled waters of the Tiber, the floats changed their position from his shoulders to his hips. This change he was not prepared for, and the result was distressing in the extreme. He immediately commenced sinking—as sailors say—by the head. In vain would he make long and desperate reaches toward the bottom, striving to anchor his feet in the soft sand. Just as his toes would touch the bed below, the buoyancy of the supports and undercurrent combined would prevail against him.

361Up would come his pedal extremities to the surface, and consequently down he would go, head first, like a pearl diver, grasping at the pebbles beneath. After making a commotion in the water like the screw of a tug boat, which brought small crabs and crawfish to the top with dismembered limbs, he would manage to get his head above water long enough to get a mouthful of fresh air, but retire immediately below to digest it. Some Italian fishermen, running in from the offing with their day’s catch, sighted the old gentleman beating off the Point. They mistook him for a “devil fish,” or some other odd-looking inhabitant of the briny deep, disporting itself in the sheltered waters of the bay. Getting out their hooks and harpoons ready for action, and changing course, they bore down with all possible speed in the direction of the singular monster.

The wind was blowing quite fresh, and it wasn’t long until the Italians came nigh enough to ascertain the real state of affairs, and rescue the unfortunate swimmer from his perilous situation. The fishermen rolled the old gentleman over a keg they had in the boat for half an 362hour, before his stomach could be emptied of its washy load and breathing rendered easy. When sufficiently relieved to admit of speech, the bather gave his rescuers to understand that in future the tide might ebb and flow, be warm as milk new drawn from the cow, and tranquil as a frozen pond, but a common bath-tub would be rivers, lakes—yea, oceans—to him during the remainder of his natural life.


While in one of the interior counties to-day I stood beside the graves of six members of one household. The father and his five sons all fell in one sanguinary family feud.

It seems an ill feeling had long existed between two families named respectively Frost and Coates. Though they frequently indulged 363in small skirmishes—from which black eyes, bloody noses, or slit ears were the principal trophies borne away—they had never met when their full forces were under arms. And for the happy hour that would bring about such a meeting, each party looked forward with interest, if not impatience.

A day arrived at last, full of promise. It was an election day. Each party expected the other out in strength, with furbished arms, and prepared themselves accordingly. They took the street, resolved, that—

“Ere the bat had flown
His cloistered flight: ere to black Hecate’s summons
The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums,
Had rung night’s yawning peal, there would be done
A deed of dreadful note.”

Two planets keep not their motion in one sphere, nor could two quarrelsome families move long in a small village, or freely patronize the same groggeries without a collision. Towards evening they met, some mounted and more on foot, and from low jests amongst themselves respecting each other’s lack of prowess upon former occasions, the controversy soon 364reached the point of positive contradictions. As the “lie direct” is equivalent to a well-developed kick to your average fighting man, hostilities soon commenced.


The Coates family opened the engagement with a brisk fusilade, and at the first fire the gray-bearded patriarch of the Frost faction went down with all his imperfections on his head.

The firing now became general. “From rank to rank, the volleyed thunder flew.”

365Neutral parties fled from the street, and for a time transacted business with “closed doors.” The report of the firearms frightened the horse of a disinterested gentleman, who was riding through the village, and despite his efforts to control the animal, it dashed directly between the belligerent parties. The fighting men, however, did not slacken fire on his account, but blazed away without seeming to notice or care whether the agitated stranger went down in the general melee or not. Fortunately, the gentleman escaped injury, but it was certainly more by chance than good guidance. It is said so rapid was the fire that a steady blaze seemed issuing from the muzzle of their weapons. When the smoke of battle raised, five of the Coates family were lying dead.

On the other side, Frost and one of his sons were killed, and a son-in-law mortally wounded. People say the funeral was a saddening spectacle. Amongst the mourners were mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

But the end was not yet.

Before the grass had taken root upon the graves, the ground was again broken, and another 366victim of the malignant feud was hidden from the sight of friends and foes.

The fires of hate still smouldered, and within a year another of the Coates family was put hors du combat, while going one night from the village to his ranch.

He was seen leaving for home on horseback at nine o’clock, but about ten his horse ran masterless into the farm-yard. The man was found lying by the roadside dead, a bullet having passed through his head. Suspicion reverted to the Frost family, but no proof could be brought to establish their guilt. The public finger still points toward them, however, and doubtless will continue so to do for many a day, or until the mystery is cleared up.



A flying trip into the interior has not favorably impressed me. There were too many mosquitoes—too many graybacks. It is too far from civilization, and too nigh the sun. I stopped over night in a small city, and the first thing that attracted my attention on entering the place was the pale and sickly look of the inhabitants. This I attributed to the fever and ague, the hot weather, and impure river water which they drink. I was credibly informed by several parties that their pallor was owing to the quantity of blood that is nightly extracted from their veins by the mosquitoes. From the number of these pests infesting the place, it has taken the name of “The Mosquito City.”

Those people who cannot indulge in such a luxury as mosquito bars, have to sleep during the day. They sit up nights and wage war 368against their ferocious enemies with tobacco smoke, burning leather, wet towels, or any other weapon to which they can conveniently resort.


To be stung by a black hornet or a scorpion is bad; to be bitten by a tarantula or rattlesnake is worse; but to be punctured to the bone by the bugle of one of these mosquitoes is terrible. They are enormous insects. When flying through the air they are as discernible as thistle-down, or even humming birds. The sharp tube through which they sap their victim’s blood is fully three-quarters of an inch long, and resembles a cambric needle; this they steadily and unhesitatingly press into the flesh until they either strike a bone, or their forehead prevents them from doing deeper injury.

369Towards evening they rise with pining maws from the low, damp land around the city—

“Innumerable as the blades of green,
That carpet the vale of the San Joaquin;”

and as they close in upon the devoted inhabitants, their blended cries swell in pitch and compass until the sound resembles the impassioned tone of a fish-peddler’s horn. I stopped at a hotel in the lower part of the city, and before retiring for the night looked carefully about the room. As few mosquitoes were in sight, I concluded to sleep without using the bar. Congratulating myself on being assigned a room where so few of the common enemy of man were lying in wait, I extinguished the light and turned in.

Scarce was I stretched upon the couch when

“At once there rose such hungry yells,
From every point the compass tells,”

that I lost no time in striking a light and adjusting the netting. I now saw them emerging from every conceivable hiding place. Trooping they came, from behind picture-frames, from under the bureau; out of vases and 370old empty bottles. They were climbing and clambering and pitching towards me with energy. I noticed a steady stream of them shooting out of the closet through the key-hole, with such velocity that they went warping half-way across the apartment before they could check themselves sufficiently to tack around and dive for the bed.

They had all they bargained for, to get safely through that key-hole, too. There was not much spare room, I can tell you. But for the great pressure from behind kept up by others anxious to get through, many a large fellow would have been sticking in that opening yet. But once they got started in, there was no backing out; no, indeed! On! on’, was the cry, and they pressed forward with a rush, often sacrificing a leg or wing by the maneuver. But they didn’t seem to care for the loss of one of those members so long as their bill remained intact. Deprive a mosquito of one wing, and he will seem to laugh at you while he makes the other do double duty. Brush off one leg, and he will shake the remaining ones triumphantly in your face.



But damage his bill and you demoralize him at once. He becomes immediately disheartened. He loses caste among his companions and confidence in himself. He wabbles about here and there to no purpose, like an old bachelor. You deprive him at once of his song and his supper. You can hardly picture to yourself a more dejected insect, one more hopelessly down in the mouth. He withdraws to the ceiling, or curtain, and looks with envious eyes upon his associates gorging themselves while his poor digestive organs are drying through inactivity.

We would be inclined to pity him in his sad 372condition, were it not that we hold the whole insect race as coming under our ban. The whine of disappointment, long, loud and quavering, that went up when they ascertained I was protected, will always remain a fixture in my memory.

As they closed around the bed, so numerous were they, their flight was actually impeded. Down they settled with locked wings on the bar above me, thick as snow-flakes around some old uprooted pine by the Madawaska. I had long heard of the mosquitoes of this locality, and was prepared for an introduction to formidable insects, but found them even worse than I expected.

Discouraged by the mosquitoes, I fled to a neighboring city, only to find that it is the stronghold of fever and ague. In other parts it may be more active for a few months of the year, but here it stays by the people like their consciences. The winds may rise and comb the valley until the very grass is lifted by the roots and borne to the mountains. The sun may grow weary of well doing, enter Capricorn, and for a season be hid; or the rains may 373descend until the narrow slough—by which the city is situated—becomes a wide-spreading lake, through which ships of the line might plow with safety; but the chills and fever stays by them still. There is no “shaking” it off. It holds its grip like a mortgage. The tender limbs of the new-born babe, and the pithless bones of ripe old age, shiver alike in its awful grasp.

The citizens of this sad place are a serious, matter-of-fact people, who seem to think it was not the original intention that men should spend any time in laughter, for they indulge very little in witticisms or humor. A good joke is often lost upon them, and the perpetrator of a bad one places himself in jeopardy. A person who attempts a pun that does not carry its point before it, like a sword-fish, is in danger of being immediately seized from behind and hurried in the direction of the Insane Asylum.

While stopping in this delightful place I visited the small theatre of which the inhabitants are justly proud, and shall never forgive myself if I fail to mention the orchestra, that discoursed most eloquent music on that occasion.



Whether the regular musicians of the theatre were on a strike for higher wages, and the manager was obliged to bring in outside talent, I did not learn; but certain it was, the sole instrument that kept the audience awake between the acts, the night in question, was a large piece—a bassoon, I think—filled and manipulated by a 375stout, spectacled representative from the Faderland.

In addition to the musician’s frog-shaped body—which of itself would doubtless have attracted my attention—he had a head that was truly a study. To say he was bald, is to make a remark that would be applicable to about two-thirds of the gentlemen in the theatre, but to say that his head was as smooth, as shiny, and devoid of hair, from the eyebrows to the very nape of the neck, as a billiard ball, is hardly doing the head justice. It seemed actually peeled.

Besides, it was of a conical form, and as I looked upon it I thought what an advantage it would have been to me in my younger days if I had had some such thing in the barn-yard, over which to break pumpkins for the cattle. I am certain a pumpkin or squash brought down upon such an object with well-centred precision, would fly into as many fragments as the Turkish Empire.

I was not the only person whose attention was arrested by that marvelous development. If a diamond the size of a rutabaga had suddenly flashed, the audience would scarcely have turned 376with greater haste to contemplate its beauties than they did to regard that head the instant the hat was removed.

It had such a smooth and polished surface that the actors, as they passed back and forth upon the stage, were mirrored out upon it in Liliputian proportions. The large globe light was reflected so perfectly upon that glossy scalp that it shed a positive light to remote corners of the auditorium; and a person would look first at the head, then up at the globe, and then down at the head again, and then hardly be prepared to decide from which object the original rays of light proceeded.

The musician had one original “turn” which afforded me much amusement. At the commencement of a tune he would sit facing the stage, which was proper enough; but as he proceeded he would turn by degrees until he was sitting full face to the audience.

The gods in the gallery seemed to consider it their especial privilege to pelt his head with peanuts; and when one would happen to hit—which was quite often—it would bound and skip from the polished object in a 377manner that would invariably bring down the house.

Standing as it did in bold relief from the dark panel-work and drapery behind, it was a most excellent and inviting mark. Man though I am, with the sobering cares of life closing gloomily around me, I actually regretted I couldn’t try a shot at the old codger’s head myself.

It has been said “The king of Shadows loves a shining mark.” If this is so, how that musician managed to escape the arrows so long is more than I can understand. For many a year he certainly has presented a target worthy the whole archery of the realm of Death.

The evening’s entertainment was made up of selections from Shakespeare’s tragedies, “Macbeth,” and “Othello.”



The principal actor, whose name I forget, was the oddest and hungriest looking player I ever saw stalk across a stage, or foam and fret in histrionic effort. He looked as though he had been dangling from the lowest spoke of Fortune’s wheel for the last twenty years. His make-up was terrible also, and after I learned the performance was not an intentional burlesque, I could hardly keep from hooting whenever he appeared. As the evening advanced, however, he warmed up considerably. When he appeared as the murderous Thane moving toward the apartments of his slumbering victim, huskily repeating the thrilling lines, “The bell invites me! I go, and it is done!” he looked every inch a villain, and the little theatre rung again with the clapping and clattering of the 379enthusiastic audience. In “Othello” his dress was even worse than in “Macbeth.” In the scene where he smothers Desdemona, he was barefooted, and looked supremely ridiculous. I would have given double the amount I paid for admission for the glorious privilege of kicking him across the stage.


380The customary pitcher-shaped lamp which the “Moor” usually bears in his hand upon this occasion, and to which he alludes when he says:—

“If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me,”

was not procurable. The tragedian therefore carried a candle stuck in the neck of a large wine-bottle, and under his left arm he carried a pillow about the size of a single-bed mattress, with which to put out the light of the fair Desdemona, who was lying upon a lounge at the left of the stage. I was too great a lover of Shakespeare to sit longer by and witness the terrible butchery. I arose and left the house, and as I passed out, the pitying glances of the audience informed me that they didn’t understand the real state of affairs, but thought I was taken suddenly ill. I was ill at ease, and had been, during the entire evening.

On the way down the next morning an over land passenger made my acquaintance on the cars, and while conversing about the long snow sheds and tunnels he had passed, I informed 381him of the long tunnel through which we would pass on leaving the valley.

“Are we near that tunnel now?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered, “we will enter it in about fifteen minutes.” “Is the tunnel dark?” he inquired. “Yes, very dark,” I replied, “ten shades darker than a cloudy midnight.” “By jingo!” he cried, “that’s just the thing for me. I forgot to put on a clean shirt last night, and I hate like the deuce to arrive at my destination looking as I do now. Do you think a fellow would have time to put a shirt on while passing through it?” he continued, earnestly.

“He might,” I answered, “if he had it ready before reaching the tunnel.”

“Well, I’ll try a pull, anyway,” he said, as he took down the valise from a rack overhead to select the garment. “I’ll have it all ready for a hoist,” he continued, “and if I don’t climb into it faster than a spark into a chimney, I’m not what I think I am, that’s all;” and with a look of determination he went to a seat in the rear of the car, and for a time seemed busily engaged preparing for the great change.

I had made an error in regard to the time 382that would elapse before we reached the tunnel, and the result was we reached it before he was fully prepared for it. Into it the locomotive plunged with a wild scream. Gloom closed around the passengers, hiding the nearest objects from their view. On we sped. The rattling of the trucks told us rail after rail was passed, but still a darkness that might be felt enveloped the rushing train.

Those who were conversing as the car entered the tunnel, stopped as though the icy hand of death had been laid upon their throat. The half-uttered word rested upon the tongue, and the tunnel, like a long dash, stretched between the parts of a sentence.

I thought of the passenger, doubtless by this time struggling into his linen, and turned around in my seat facing him. With considerable interest I waited the return of light. At last it came glimmering far ahead. Plainer and plainer the objects grew around, and first and most noticeable of all, was the tall form of the passenger from over the mountains, leaning over the seat in front of him, enveloped in his snowy linen, his hands stuck in the sleeves at the 383elbows, and his head vainly endeavoring to shoot through the opening at the neck, which in his haste he had neglected to unbutton.


Notwithstanding his head was enveloped, he was conscious that light had dawned upon the scene, and his struggles and frantic thrusts became painful to look upon.

Finally the fastening at the neck gave way, and his face came through the opening, red as a pickled beet. Fortunately most of the passengers 384were sitting with backs toward him and but few witnessed the terrible struggle. One old lady, however, got nearly frightened out of her wits. When objects began to grow visible around her, she became suddenly apprised of the startling fact that a white figure was bent over her, with outstretched wings fanning the air, and she very naturally came to the conclusion that an angel was about to gather her to her fathers.

The ashen look of the poor old body, as she stole a glance over her shoulder at the white object behind, showed that however fitted she was—in respect of years—for the final taking off, she was anything but willing to start upon such an uncertain journey.



“That man received his charge from me.”

My friend butcher Gale has been quail hunting under difficulties. His case is a sad one, and as I feel in somewhat of a rhyming mood at present, I will invoke the gods, and with eyes in “fine frenzy rolling,” proceed to state his case in verse.

“Come leave your hogs,” said lawyer Boggs
To red-faced butcher Gale,
“We’ll take a day across the bay,
And slather lots of quail.”
Soon guns were got, and bags of shot,
With powder, wads, and caps,
And up the canyons dry and hot,
Tramped these two city chaps.
Old lawyer Boggs had borrowed dogs
Well worth their weight in gold;
The setter had a “double nose,”
And it of her was told,
386That she could scent two different ways
As easy as you please;
While one nose smelled along the ground,
The other sniffed the trees.


The pointer had peculiar traits;
His power of scent was small;
But if he saw three birds at once,
He pointed at them all.
387For while his nose would indicate
Where one poor piper sat,
His tail, straight as a marline-spike,
Would point another at;
Then if a third one raised its head,
Preparing for the air,
That dog would balance on three legs,
And aim the other there.
With such a pair the quick to scare,
And then retrieve the dead,
The hunters’ sole remaining care
Was how to scatter lead.
They traversed gorge and gully low,
And many a slippery height,
And though their feet did heavier grow,
Their game bags still were light.
While roving o’er the mountain side,
It seemed that every quail
Within the county limits wide
Was piping in the vale;
But when they would forsake the hills,
And in the valleys dive,
It seemed as if the heights around
With bevies were alive.
388Boggs had one fault, from childhood brought,
More marked with age it grew;
He never failed to shut both eyes
Whilst he the trigger drew.
This plan might do, if lead he threw
At barns or target rings;
But frightened quail, when turning tail,
Are visionary things.
And let him sight, quick as he might,
Space still would grow between,
And bang! would go the shower of woe
Just where the bird—had been.
’Tis said those knowing canines knew
While men were taking aim,
Whether or not ’twould be their lot
To gather in some game.
So when they saw Boggs shut both eyes
Whene’er the piece he fired,
They dropped upon their hams and howled,
And from the hunt retired.
And he as soon could cause a stump
To walk upon its roots,
As from a sitting posture coax
The two disgusted brutes.
389Wide was their aim, and wild the game,
And when such facts do yoke,
There’s many a shot goes off, I wot,
Brings nothing to the “poke.”
The grains were sown, the fields were mown,
The crops proved rather thin;
Oft was the raking summons thrown,
But slow the heads came in.
At last while Gale, just in advance,
Was clambering o’er some logs,
He got a charge of shot by chance,
From the excited Boggs.
Then was there rustling there a spell,
And as you may suppose,
From out the shaking chaparral
Linked oaths profusely rose.
Boggs dropped his gun and forward run,
With apprehension bleached,
And this poor lame excuse begun
When he the butcher reached:
“A splendid shot! I quite forgot
Precisely where you stood;
The birds flew fast, were nearly passed
Behind a screen of wood;
390“I must let go, or lose a show
Of bagging three or four,
And in my mind you were behind,
Until I heard you roar.”


He cursed the logs and kicked the dogs,
And wished the quail on toast,
But that did not take out the shot,
Which then was needed most.
391The doctors who have dressed his wounds
Have to his friends declared,
That though he is a sorry sight,
His sight is not impaired.
There is a moral this within,
And shaped the times to suit,
But lest it should appear too thin,
Here’s this advice to boot:—
Ne’er venture on a hunting cruise
With any green galoot,
Who shuts both eyes whene’er he tries
The flitting game to shoot.


Hearing that a large collection of paintings were on exhibition at the Art Gallery, I visited the rooms this afternoon, and was agreeably surprised to discover that quite a number were by eminent artists.

392It is pleasant to gaze upon an old picture that has come down through the dust of ages, so I made it a point to employ the hour at my disposal in sketching several subjects most admired by the visitors. I did not learn the author of the large picture from which the first of my sketches was taken, but was assured that it came from the hand of an old master.


I would have thought it a representation of “Cleopatra before Cæsar,” if the female had been running toward the man instead of away from him.

A gentleman present who examined the 393painting closely, gave it as his opinion, that the couple represented “Tarquin and Lucrece.”

He informed me he had visited many art galleries of the Old World, and found several paintings which had been copied from this masterpiece by artists, who paid homage to such creative genius.

As he claimed to be something of a connoisseur, his supposition was probably a correct one, though he was not able to thoroughly account for the singular looking bonnet that shadowed the head of the prancing “Lucrece.”

It is certainly anything but a Roman head-dress, and why it should be dangling from her royal top, is something for critics to comment on, and antiquarians to inquire into.

Another little sketch attracted great attention, especially from the ladies, whose love for the beautiful is only excelled by their love for the good. It was entitled “Love’s Young Dream.” I regret I am not able to give the artist’s name. I could not get near enough to decipher the signature, owing to the crowd of ladies admiring the beautiful gem.

The members of the Graphic Club were 394sketching. Accepting an invitation from one I stepped into their room to see them draw. Quite a number of artists were present. The famous marine painter was there, who loves to paint the vessel going before the wind, when in its might it takes “the ruffian billows by the top.” It was pleasant to watch his pencil pile up the “yeasty waves” at will.


395It was also interesting to lean over the landscape painter’s shoulder and see the branches sprout from his grand old oaks, against whose trunks it would seem the storms of centuries had spent their force.

It was no less pleasant or interesting to perceive the horns shoot from the animal painter’s cows. As the creature grows under his active pencil, we may be inclined to think she will be of the Mooley species, and never shake a gory horn above a prostrate victim; but alas! a few hasty but well directed strokes, and she stands forth more formidable than the armed rhinoceros or rampant unicorn. Then we hold our breath, as we see the pencil slide away to some other locality before a tail is attached to the body, and inwardly wonder whether the artist has forgotten to bestow upon her that graceful adjunct, or is intentionally giving us a new species of cattle. We heave a sigh of relief when the pencil returns, after a brief skirmish along the ribs, to bestow upon the cow that terminal appendage, at once a scourge for milk-maids and a swing for dogs.



This afternoon, while climbing a steep hill that overlooks the bay, in company with a gentleman named Stone, I saw an illustration of the old maxim, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” We had almost completed the ascent, when Stone’s feet slipped from under him, and striking upon his side he commenced a rapid descent.

About four hundred feet of steep grade stretched before him without let or hindrance. I saw at a glance he was bound to pass over every inch of the space before he stopped. Onward he went, gathering speed as he proceeded, and catching wildly around him at every revolution; but, as there was nothing growing upon the barren slope but stunted grass or brittle moss, his efforts to “slow speed” were in vain. After he had made about ten revolutions his hat came off, and for a short time the 397race between him and his tile was truly interesting. It would have been an even bet, which would first reach the fence at the bottom of the hill. After making about half the distance, however, the hat swung in ahead of him.


398Whether it was the wind acted upon it I couldn’t tell, but Stone overhauled it, and passing over it, materially injured its form as a roller, by giving it an oblong shape, and soon left the crushed hat wabbling far behind. He turned neither to the right nor to the left, but rolled as straight down the hill as a saw-log down the bank of a river into a mill-pond. Goats nibbling in the vicinity paused in their repast and looked pitifully at the gentleman as he went tumbling by them, and evidently congratulated themselves on being goats, that feel at home on the steepest hillside that nature can present to their hoofs. When, in his mad career, my friend Stone would reach some intercepting shelf he would bounce about three feet into the air, and continue down the incline with increased velocity. Nor did he stop his brilliant course until he brought up whack against the fence.

Fortunately he was unhurt, but was so dizzy that everything was turning around him for an hour afterwards. He declares that though he should live until he becomes so old as to forget the way to his mouth, he has taken his last 399look at the city and the surrounding bay from the summit of that hill. And when we think of his last descent from that high altitude, we can hardly wonder at the declaration.


A chiel’s amang ye takin’ notes,
And faith he’ll prent it.

The greater portion of this day I have spent riding in the street cars. I find it is quite a pleasant way of passing a few leisure hours. Neither is it an extravagant way of entertaining one’s self.

On figuring up I find, by choosing the longest routes, it cost just seven and one-quarter cents per hour. This is certainly reasonable.



There is always something amusing to look at as you pass along. There stands the nervous old lady upon the street corner. She wishes to ride, and endeavors to signal the driver and prepare for embarking at one and the same time. She proves the truth of the old saying that a person may get too many irons in the fire. In her eagerness to attract the attention of the driver or conductor, she is not aware that in lifting her skirts she has elevated one or 401two thicknesses more than she intended, or than is at all necessary. Poor old lady! She does indeed present a picture that might well attract the artistic eye. We in more becoming order turn our eyes from the singular spectacle and study the advertisements ranged around for our special benefit. She emits a short, quick cry, half whoop and half squeal, and signals repeatedly, to do which the inevitable umbrella is brought into requisition, and flourished around her head as though she was warding off a detachment of aggressive wasps. She gives the conductor a look of surprise, if not anger, because he completes the curve before stopping to take her up. The old lady means business, and has never got it through her head that conductors have rights which she is bound to respect. She no doubt believes that on all occasions and at all times he ought to seize the strap and stop the car as suddenly as he would a clock by grasping the pendulum.

Then there are the fashions which we can study without having to pay exorbitant prices for seats in the theatres. It is even better than to go to a fashionable church.

402Besides the advantages which a ride in the street car offers us in the way of studying the fashions, we often see strange sights, well calculated to awaken humor. There, for instance, we encounter the sleepy passenger, who, in charity let us hope, is drowsy through loss of rest, rather than loss of reason! Let us hope he is some physician who has been attending to his patients; or a minister of the gospel who has spent the night by the bedside of some sinking penitent; or a supervisor, who—while his constituents have been snugly dreaming away their troubles—has been legislating, and growing hoarse declaiming for the public good. Doctor or supervisor, as the case may be, it is evident he is sleepy, and cares not who knows it. Otherwise he would pick up his hat, which has fallen off, before it has twice been stepped on by passengers staggering through the car while it is in motion.

With a persistency truly amusing he tips in the direction of some old lady, who apparently hates men, especially when excessive drowsiness makes them familiar. He, however, is oblivious 403of her likes or dislikes, even of her presence, it would seem.


He bobs towards her until his dishevelled forelock actually tickles her under the ear, which sensation causes her to start suddenly, and look around so quickly, that a person must think the movement gave her a crick in the neck, 404and her subsequent rubbing of the cords below the ear would seem to bear out the supposition as correct.


Then, as we ride along we can see the bold policeman! standing by the corner of a building. 405He is earnestly looking down a narrow lane, taking notes perhaps; but more likely watching the progress of a fight, and wisely waiting until all the pistols are discharged before venturing to arrest any of the belligerent parties. He looks as though it would not take much longer reflection or many more shots, to make him forego that duty in toto, and turn around to arrest the poor Chinese vegetable peddler, who, with his basket pole upon his shoulder, is trotting along upon the sidewalk, and thereby violating one of the city ordinances. While hustling the prisoner to the station house he would escape performing more unpleasant and risky business.

He is in the right of it, too, when a person comes right down to reason the case. The policeman may have a family depending on him for support. Or it may be upon the very stroke of the hour when his duty for the day will cease, and he can saunter to his home, leaving his successor to rush in and stay the slaughter.

It may be argued that the policeman is paid to take prisoners, and consequently to take chances. This is true, but he is not paid to 406commit suicide. For a broad man like him to move down a narrow lane up which the bullets are whistling, can hardly be considered anything short of it. Oh! he is a cunning fellow I tell you, and revolves the matter carefully in his mind before taking action.

He has been too long a resident of the city, and too long a member of the “star brigade,” not to know that the city can better afford to lose two or three indifferent citizens than it can one able and efficient policeman.

We turn from the policeman to contemplate the blooming blonde, who comes bouncing in with her poodle dog in her arms.

After she is seated she amuses some of the passengers and displeases more, by the affectionate names she lavishes upon the little watery-eyed pet in her lap. Some of the passengers would doubtless like to be the dog and others would like to be a distemper that they might legally kill the cur. She temporarily ends her caresses by repeatedly kissing its cold peaked nose, to the infinite disgust of the majority of the passengers, who, rather than witness a repetition of the silly act, look out of the windows 407and become suddenly interested in the construction of the buildings or fences along the route.


And then there is the impatient passenger, who is either limited in time or sense, probably in both.

He foolishly attempts to leave the car while it is in motion, in order to save a few moments. Immediately afterwards he wishes he hadn’t, and sits down with considerable feeling to think 408over his rashness. There was a time, no doubt, when he could jump on and off a car like a newsboy; but that time has evidently gone by.

When we consider the roughness of his seat, and the unexpected manner in which he settled on it, we have to acknowledge that he sits with considerable grace. However, as he has lost time instead of gaining it, by the action, he will perhaps try to catch a better hold of the old rascal’s forelock the next time he is running past him.


No poet, however gifted, can get along without his muse, any better than a navigator can without his compass. If the goddess is not at his elbow, the lyre hangs mute upon the wall, and the pen corrodes in the ink. Then what can the poor limited rhymer do without a muse 409to inspire him? As mine is at present leaning over the back of my chair in a very encouraging manner, I will strike my harp and lay the following heart-rending tale before the world in verse.

First Gossip—“Was she false?”
Second Gossip—“Ay, false as her teeth.”
Old Volume.
In Siskiyou, a tanner lived,
Whose name was Simon Rand;
He loved the miller’s daughter, fair
Annetta Hildebrand.
The maiden loved the tanner, too,
(At least the maid so said,)
And she the happy day had named
The parson would them wed.
The golden day-dreams lengthened as
The season shorter grew,
And Cupid slung his bow across
His shoulder, and withdrew.
A golden pointed arrow lay
Imbedded in each heart;
The little god conjectured they
Could never live apart.
But fire will test the iron safe,
And powder prove the mine,
And tempests try the ship at sea,
The woodman’s axe the pine;
410And gold will sound the human heart,
The maiden’s love it tries;
It is the plummet weight that proves
How deep affection lies.
One Jacob Towle, a rival, came
To darken Simon’s days;
His clothes were fine, his purse a mine,
He drove a span of bays!
The fair Annetta was his mark;
He deftly played his hand;
He turned her giddy head around,
And love, from Simon Rand.
The tanner saw his dove prove daw,
And scarce believed his eyes;
But change was there, in look and air,
And in her curt replies.
He called one night, in hopes he might
Back his affianced win;
Word came by “sis” (an old game this),
“Annetta was not in.”
But ah! how keen are lovers’ eyes
When rivals are around;
A glossy hat hung in the hall;
He reached it with a bound.
“See, my child, a pleasing sight!”
Said he with a ghastly smile;
“For into fraction, into mite,
I’ll smash the villain’s tile.”
411He seized it, and he squeezed it, too,
He bowled it on the floor,
He thumped it, and he jumped it, and
He kicked it through the door.
So through the gate he then escaped,
And he was heard to say,
“By all the hides that I have scraped
With life I’ll make away.”


Next morning he was missing, and
The neighbors thought it queer:
For he at work was ever found
Throughout the busy year.
Noon came, but brought not Simon back;
And then their wonder grew
Into a fear, that he had done
What he had sworn to do.
412A search was instituted, and
All work was at a stand,
For weak and stout alike turned out
To search for Simon Rand.
Across the mill-pond and the flume,
The grappling drag they drew,
They scanned the trees and probed the wells
The little village through.
But tale or tidings none they found;
So all the search gave o’er,
And sat them down to talk and smoke,
Around the tavern door.
When teamster Joe picked up a hoe
That by his side was laid,
And turning round to farmer Pound,
He slapped his thigh and said,
“I’ll stake my strongest pair of mules
Against Moll Benson’s cat,
That Simon Rand, the missing man,
Lies dead in his own vat!”
No face was there, beard-hid or bare,
Light, tawny-hue, or dark,
But on the instant plainly showed
The weight of that remark.
To feet they sprung, both old and young,
And down the shortest road,
By Silly’s still and Burrill’s mill,
To Simon’s shop they strode.


One pace in front leaned Parson Lunt,
Who let his dinner stand,
And joined the throng that surged along
In search of Simon Rand.
Across his shoulder, stooped with age,
He poised his garden rake,
And those had need to urge their speed
Who followed in his wake.
414Then side and side, with equal stride,
Pressed Joe and Jasper Lane;
Next Elder Chase kept even pace
With stout old Sidney Vane.
Then two and two, and three and three,
And sometimes four abreast,
With hoes and hooks, and thoughtful looks,
Come clattering on the rest.
The place was gained, all eyes were strained
Upon the brimming vat;
But not an eye its depths could spy,
Or pierce its scum of fat.
“A fearful place,” sighed Elder Chase,
As down he dipped his pole;
“No love or woe could make him throw
Himself in such a hole.
A man would choose a hempen noose,
A pistol, drug, or knife,
If he designed through troubled mind
To make away with life.”
A silent group they kneel and stoop,
And shove their poles around,
Now left, now right, till all affright
One cried, “I’ve something found!
It’s him I know, I must let go!
I dare not see his face
When coming from the depths below;
Will some one take my place?”
415Then Parson Lunt stepped to the front,
And clasped his hands in prayer;
And cried, “We thank thee for his dust,
His soul in mercy spare.”
Then took the pole from Selby’s hand,
Who quickly sought the rear,
Yet dodged and peeped his best to see
If Rand indeed was there.
Up rose the heavy burdened hook;
“That’s him!” a dozen cried;
But when they took a second look
It proved a brindled hide!
Then impious Brown, the village clown,
Turned from that vat aside,
And laughed until the tears ran down
His cheeks as though he cried.
Still round he went, with body bent,
His face one endless grin,
Because the Parson praised the Lord,
Then raised—the heifer’s skin!
The tools once more sink as before,
To scrape the bottom slow:
Another mass—they strike—and pass,
It rolls along below!
“I have him now!” cried Dennis Howe,
The blacksmith’s helping man;
While down his face, in rapid race,
The perspiration ran.
416With mighty grip, and backward tip,
Stout Dennis manned the pole,
Which bent as though ’twould snap and go,
And Howe would backwards roll.


417And woe is me, that tanner man,
And woe is me, that maid!
And woe is me, that staring group
Around that vat, afraid.
The hold was good, the pole has stood,
And up the hook has drawn
The poor discarded Simon Rand,
Dead as a pickled prawn!
And lo! a great cast-iron weight
Fast to one leg was tied;
Which, as he rose did oscillate,
And swing from side to side.
Upon a door his form they bore
Back slowly through the town,
And still behind them left a trail
Where dripped the water down.
For every step fresh showers drew
Down from that litter bare,
From garments soaked quite through and through,
From mouth and nose and hair.
’Twere sad to tell of funeral show
That in that town was seen;
Enough to know that Simon low
Lies where the grass is green.
Annetta, now, is Mrs. Towle,
And servants on her wait;
And dogs with uninviting growl
Drive beggars from her gate.
418And Simon’s shop has gone to wreck,
No bark is needed now,
No more before the greasy door
Lie horns of ox or cow!


But on the anniversary
Of that distressful night,
The superstitious people say—
Within it burns a light.
419And there the tanner may be seen
His thin arms shining bare,
Bent o’er the bench, as though at work
Fast scraping off the hair!
Anon, slow rising from his toil
A woeful sigh he gives,
And gazes long towards the hill,
Where false Annetta lives.
Then turning round he gives a bound,
As when he crushed the hat,
And fastening to his leg a weight
He leaps into the vat!
And with him goes the wondrous light
That shed its ghostly ray;
And dismal darkness wraps the place
Until the dawn of day.


Dear me! what a terrible dodging life the poor city cur leads, to be sure, whose owner does not consider him of sufficient importance to warrant taking out a license. His excursions must necessarily be limited.

He never dares to bark in the daytime, and now I think of it, that may account for his howling all night. To bark between the hours of seven in the morning and six in the evening would be equivalent to running his head into the pound-keeper’s lariat. He knows it, too, the rascal, and hardly indulges in a yelp, even if his tail is trod upon. I have always noticed that the eyes of the cur that wears no collar—(which would entitle him to the freedom of the city)—protrude from the sockets much farther than the optics in the head of the licensed animal. I have noticed this fact and pondered over it, striving not a little to arrive at some 421satisfactory conclusion in regard to the matter. It may be that this strange protrusion is brought about by the continual strain while on the lookout for the pound-keeper or his sneaking aids.

Another peculiarity about the unlicensed cur,—his eyes are invariably the color of tobacco juice. “Why are they so?” you probably inquire. Be patient, and I will tell you? It is the result of the burning envy continually agitating his breast and adding a bloodier lustre to his orbs.

How must envy consume his very vitals when he beholds his younger brother, perhaps, trotting forth into the street, his neck encircled with the leather zone that insures him respect and immunity from assault; while he must cower behind the ash barrel, and wait for night to temporarily shield him from insult and injury.

The old adage is hardly applicable to his case. He has no day, but he has his night, however, and he would be a fool not to make the most of it.

How trifling a thing will draw the line between him and his licensed brother. One white foot, perhaps, a spot too many on the 422head, or want of one above the tail may have cursed him through the length and breadth of his existence. If he lives it must be by his wits. Every man’s hand or boot seems to be against him. The licensed dog can stretch lazily upon the sidewalk and oblige the pedestrians to go around him rather than take the chances of stepping over, or stirring him up with a kick.


It is dangerous business, this waking up a 423dog with your boot. You may take him in a time when not in the mood for permitting such familiar demonstrations.

Perhaps he may be hungry, and since the dogs devoured poor painted Jezebel, their weakness for human flesh will occasionally make itself manifest. I, who have been thrice vaccinated by a canine tooth (and it took each time, too), speak knowingly on this subject.

Now, as I gaze out upon the street, I mark the slow approach of the pound-keeper’s dingy cart. Ever and anon it comes to a sudden halt, and skirmishers are deployed on each side to search the alley-ways and lanes along the route. Hark! what cry is this that comes quavering forth from that shaky prison? A bark? No, never a bark, but a quavering bleat from the pale lips of a poor old goat. Alas! poor goat.

It, too, was evidently straying about unlawfully, in some one’s garden, perhaps, or stripping the posters off the fence before the paste was dry, or the bill-sticker a block away, and in consequence he is now occupying a position that, however exalted it may be in one sense, makes him feel very ill at ease all the same.

424His fellow prisoners are dogs of every breed under the sun.

There is no discrimination in that moving prison, no separate cells. The full blood setter pup fares no better than the worthless poodle that couldn’t smell a quail a yard distant unless it was roasting. The big, sour, surly mastiff, with blood-shot eyes and pendent jowl, who long has been the acknowledged champion of a block, and in his day lacerated many a paw, hasn’t even a growl to offer, but crouches side by side with the poor maimed and mongrel cur that for years has been racking through life on three legs.

Still the dismal looking cart jolts along attracting the attention of the passing crowds. Still the villainous-looking aids, who flank the vehicle, trail their ready lariats, and dart exploring glances into every nook and corner. And as I gaze, I marvel to see how quickly the outlaws get a knowledge of its approach, and stand not upon the order of their going, but precipitately leave for back yards and kitchens.



While strolling through an old cemetery this afternoon I was surprised at the number of quaint epitaphs there to be found.

For a while I almost imagined myself rummaging among the old time-worn tombstones in some English or Welsh burying-ground. Many are written in verse, especially on the stones erected during a certain period, extending over about ten years, which proves that during these years the city had a tombstone poet among her citizens.

He was an odd genius, whoever he was, this graveyard rhymer.

One peculiarity seems to have been his coupling with the epitaph a brief account of the manner in which the deceased party was taken off. The first inscription which attracted my notice as odd, was chiseled upon a large marble 426slab which leaned over the spot where a party who had borne the ancient and honorable name of “Smith,” rested from his labors. The obituary ran thus:—

“Smith ran to catch his fatted hog,
And carried the knife around;
He slipped and fell;
The hog is well,
But Smith is under ground.”

This stanza should be introduced into public schools, and adopted as a morning chant, to impress upon the mind of the pupils the importance of a person’s having his wits about him. Death brought about by such gross carelessness as Smith showed, is—to say the least—first cousin to suicide, and doubtless there will come a time when Smith’s case will be inquired into.

Under a large oak tree on the south side I came upon a tombstone which bore no date, but had evidently been erected many years. The fence which once enclosed the grave had nearly disappeared, nothing remaining except a few rotten stakes protruding through the grass. What once had been a mound was now a hollow, 427which told the mute gazer, decay had done its worst.

Through a rank growth of weeds and briers, a few pale neglected flowers raised their delicate faces, like virtue struggling heavenward through the retarding throng inhabiting this naughty world.

The headstone was evidently erected before the poet’s day, and he who erected it had composed the epitaph. It is more than likely he chiseled it also, as the letters were ill-shaped and irregular, and looked as though carved out with a pick.

Here is a fac-simile of the inscription:—

“Cynthy Ann is berried here.
Be easy with her,
And, you won’t lose nothin’,
She was a plaguey good wife to me
She wouldn’t be druv.”

That “Cynthia Ann” had faults is evident from the tone. But I thought as I turned from the spot, if her greatest fault lay in not allowing herself to be “druv,” her prospects were better than the average.

428What a contrast was the line inscribed upon a tombstone directly opposite:—

“He sleeps in Heaven.”

Mere speculation only, and wild at that. The extravagant notion that a person sleeps in Paradise must have emanated from the brain of some sluggard, who thought that heaven without sleep would be a wearisome place. The “sleeper’s” name was Gregg, and from a representation of a pair of scissors cut upon the slab I presumed he was a tailor. On making inquiry of the sexton, busily engaged closing a grave at the time, I found my supposition was right. Gregg was a tailor, but met death at the heels of a horse. To use the sexton’s own words, which were spoken in pure Greek—

“Begorra he was a tailor, and it was meself that planted him there. He was killed in the barn beyant, while sthrivin’ to pull the makin’s of a fish-line out of the tail of owld Gleason’s stallion.”

When a person learns what his occupation had been, and how he died, the assertion that he had gone to heaven, strikes one as too ridiculous for anything.



Not less amusing or quaint was the verse inscribed upon the plain marble slab which marked the resting-place of Mr. and Mrs. Barradier. The stone was probably put up by some acquaintance of the deceased couple who 430knew that their marriage had been anything but a happy one; the verse upon it also informs the passer-by that they left no descendants to perform that pious duty. It said—

“Released from worldly care and strife,
Here side and side lie man and wife;
And with the couple buried here
Expired the name of Barradier.”


An amusing scene occurred this afternoon as I was coming up from the post-office. It was a case of mistaken identity. It seems a somewhat dissipated old Irish woman was deserted some weeks ago by her husband.

Through her domestic troubles and excessive drinking she at times becomes quite crazy,—so much so that her friends have to keep a constant watch over her to prevent her from doing mischief. She is very large and powerful, and 431when in one of her tantrums is no easy person to manage. It appears that when she has one of these crazy spells, she imagines she recognizes her husband’s Milesian features in almost every face she looks upon.

This afternoon, while the crazy fit was upon her, she escaped from her keepers, and rushed into the street with dilated eyes and dishevelled hair. With sleeves rolled above the elbows and clenched hands, she charged up the street, looking right and left for some person on whom to fasten.

She was indeed ripe for an encounter, and nearly the first person she met was a prominent clergyman returning to his residence from the Mercantile Library, with his newly selected book under his arm. She stood for a moment directly in front of the minister, and riveted her red optics upon his face in an inquiring stare, which soon kindled into one of recognition.

Anticipating trouble, he attempted to pass around her and proceed quietly on his way.

But she was too quick for him.

Reaching out her long bare arm, she brought 432it around like the boom of a sloop, and with one wide sweep knocked his hat spinning to the sidewalk at her feet.


He stooped to pick it up again, and while bent in the act, she seized him by the hair with both hands, and giving a guttural laugh, not unlike the self-satisfied croak of a down east bullfrog, exclaimed:—

“Ah! Barney, ye galavantin’ spalpeen! ye can’t desave me wid yer stove-pipe! So ye’d 433dezart the wife o’ yer boosome, would ye? ah, ha! come home wid me now, or I’ll be afther takin’ your durty ould scalp along wid me!”

A soft rabbit under the wide paw of a California lion, or a sparrow in the talons of a hawk, is not more utterly helpless than was the poor dominie in her terrible clutch. His position was anything but an enviable one. It actually seemed as if every hair upon his head was gathered and drawn into one mass, over which her muscular fingers held complete control.

He dropped his book and shouted loudly, partly through pain, and partly anger at seeing the fate of his fashionable hat, now lying under her great broad foot, flat as a German pancake.

His cries of fear only made the crazy woman more confident of her abilities. She commenced backing along the street, in the direction of home, and at every step, with an irresistible yank, she dragged the expostulating minister along with her over the uneven sidewalk.

She had snaked him along fully two rods in this manner, and was making, to use a nautical phrase, such good stern-way that she was on the 434point of breaking into a trot, when her heel caught on the edge of a plank.

The result was terrible in the extreme.

She fell backwards, pulling the unfortunate captive to the sidewalk after her, where they gyrated in the most ludicrous positions imaginable.

A couple of gentlemen, emerging from a store at that instant, looked on the pair in blank astonishment for a moment. Recognizing their own gifted pastor, they ran to his assistance, and lost no time in raising him to his feet, and turning over the old crazy woman to an officer who happened at that moment to step out of a saloon.



At an open window wide, just across the way,
Sits a roguish little blonde nearly all the day,
Playing with a tabby cat, and gazing down below,
Flirting with conductors that are passing to and fro.
Some receive a passing nod, and some receive a smile;
But she watches Number 6 whilst going half a mile.
And the gay conductor while he’s throwing kisses there,
Doesn’t hear the signals given by an aged pair,
Though the man, as best he can, whistles loud and shrill,
And the wife, as though for life, charges down the hill.
436And the blameful driver, while he gazes wistful back,
Doesn’t see the little child a creeping on the track.
Soon the jury summoned there to question how it died,
Will as their opinion give, “a case of suicide;”
And the driver and his mate acquitted from all blame,
Kisses at the blonde will throw, and she’ll return the same.


Yesterday I came across a singular looking individual dressed in a greasy, dingy suit. He was sitting on a log before his door engaged in repairing a shovel-handle.

“Say, stranger,” I said, addressing him, “can you inform me where Deacon Shellbark lives?”

The farmer looked up, pushed his slouched hat back on his head, and after surveying me some time in silence, drawled out:—

“Be you any relation of his’n?”

“No,” I replied, a little surprised at his manner 437of answering; “I haven’t a relative in the State.”

“By thunder! I congratulate you upon your good fortune,” he ejaculated, “particularly because there’s no tie of consanguinity existin’ atwixt you and old Deacon Shellbark. He’s expectin’ a son home, and I thought you mout be him.

“Wal,” he continued, pointing with a huge jack-knife that he held in his hand, “you see that house to the left of them scrub oaks, don’t you? that ar buildin’ with the leetle coopalow on’t? Wal, thar’s whar old Deacon Shellbark lives; the meanest man in this yer county, and that’s sayin’ considerable, too! cause we’ve got some vicey-fisted customers round these yer parts, men who scrape the puddin’ pot mighty clean before the dog gits a chance to canvass it, now I can tell ye. But I feel safe in stickin’ in old Shellbark at the head, and I ain’t agwine to haul him down nuther. I don’t believe in talkin’ much about one’s neighbors, but I ginnerally tell strangers what sort of a man he is, cause if they go to tradin’ with him and aren’t on thar guard, he’ll skin 438’em quicker than a whirlpool sucks in a dead fish.”

“You know the Deacon, then?” I remarked, while the hope I had entertained of getting his name on my subscription list began to take to itself wings.

“Yes, I reckon I do know him,” he replied, “pooty well, too; a great sight better than is profitable to him, and he knows it. Oh, you bet he knows it, and hates me as he does the dry murrain that gin the crows fifteen of his best cows last summer. I knowed him back in Scrabble Town.

“They wouldn’t allow him to come within pistol shot of a church back thar, because they mor’n suspected he stole the wine and bread from the communion table one day. They were down on him flatter than a stone on a cricket allers arterwards. He’s a deacon out here though, but that ain’t nothin’. He can’t fool me with his prayin’. I want no sech crooked old disciple as he is intercedin’ for me, you know.”

“I was hoping he would subscribe for this book,” I remarked, “but I am afraid there is 439not much use of my going there if he is so very mean.”

“Look’e here, stranger,” he remarked earnestly, “you mout just as well stop thar whar you’re standin’. Subscribe! He’ll gig back from a subscription list jest as he would from a six-shooter.”

“Ah, but this is a religious work, and perhaps he would lend that his support,” I answered quickly.

“Religious work be shelved!” exclaimed the farmer. “That doesn’t help ye any; you can’t do anythin’ with him, ’cause he hain’t got no more soul than an empty gin bottle. You mout as well bait a rat trap with a cat’s head and expect the varmin to go a-nibblin’ at it, as to expect him to put his name down to anything that’s agwine to take coin from his pockets.



“You’re a stranger in these yer parts I see, and tharfore haven’t the slightest idea what a towerin’ mean man he is; why he’d run a mile to git on the sunny side of a feller to cheat him out of his shadow! I knowed him back in old Indiany. He’s from the same place that I am, but you can kick me clear over to them foot-hills and back ag’in if I don’t feel like takin’ pizin every time I have to own up to it. He used to be in cahoot with a tanner back thar named Doby; sleepy Doby, the boys 441called him, for he was the sleepiest feller you ever did see. Go asleep while workin’ at anythin’. He would drop asleep sometimes while scrapin’ a hide, and cut the consarned thing all into parin’s; at other times he would fall back into the tan vat, then wake up and holler for the boys to come and fish him out.

“They say he dropped asleep once while ringin’ a hog to prevent him from rootin’ up the clover patch. The minister of the village had to pause in the middle of a sermon he was preachin’ half a block away, until the squealin’ subsided.

“But as I was gwine to tell ye, before the rheumatism got into his j’ints, and made him shun water as he would a tax-collector, old Shellbark used to be pooty fond of fishin’. One day Parson Bodfish was gwine off to have a day’s sport, and took me along to carry the fish. I was only a boy then, and mighty tickled because I could go. Jest about the time we got to the river we overtook old Shellbark a-pointin’ thar too. When we got to the bank they both set in gettin’ out thar hooks and lines, and then for the first time old Shellbark found 442out he had left his bait to hum. So he commenced to sputter and fret, takin’ on terribly about it, until Parson Bodfish ses to him, ‘That’s all right; I reckon I’ve got enough bait in this box for both of us, and I’ll give you half of mine, and let us start in and make the most of it.’ So the Parson—who had a heart the size of a sheep’s head—took out his bait-box and gin him more than half. It’s so; I seed ’em when he took ’em out. Pooty soon arter, while the parson was a-standin’ on a log that horned out over the water, a-baitin’ of his hooks, a big-mouthed fish-hawk gin a-chatterin’ screech overhead, and startled him a leetle, and while lookin’ up he let his bait-box fall into the river.

“The box was open, so the worms war scattered every which way, and away went box and bait a-flukin’ down the rapids, and the parson’s cusses follerin’ arter. He did swar, by hunky! I heer’d him. He had a mi’ty hot temper, and it was more than he could do sometimes to keep it down. A feller couldn’t blame him much for swa’rin’ jest then, ’cause ’twas a pooty tryin’ time. He turned around sort of 443quick when he thought of me bein’ thar. I seed him turnin’, though, and let on to be talkin’ to a fish that I was stringin’ on, so he reckoned I hadn’t noticed him. We hurried on down the river, and arter a while overtook old Shellbark, who was snakin ’em out as fast as he could fix bait and throw in.

“‘I lost all my worms back thar, while standin’ on a log,’ ses the parson, ‘and will have to fall back on you for some.’ The old snipe grumbled out somethin’ about bein’ out of all patience with people who war so fool careless. Arter a while he took out the rag he kept the worms in, and although he had quite a large knot of ’em, he gin the parson jest one, and dead at that! It’s so! You may laugh, but I seed it. When he was a-pickin’ it out and handin’ it to him, and when Parson Bodfish was a-stickin’ the hook into him, he lay thar and took it as e-a-s-y, and never squirmed or objected the least. You’d hev thought it was a link of vermicelli the parson had picked out of a soup plate.

“When Parson Bodfish took it from him, he held it between his finger and thumb a while, 444jest that way, and I swow I felt solid sure he was agwine to slap it back into old Shellbark’s face.


“He didn’t, though. But he did look as if he’d like to, mi’ty well. He stood thar and 445stared him in the face as if actewally in doubt about his being the person he divided with in the mornin’. Arter a while he baited his hook and started in right thar. He had amazin’ good luck, too, with one bait. He hauled out four floppin’ great chubs, one right arter the other, and durin’ the same time old Shellbark didn’t get a bite from anythin’ but musquiters. He seemed just tearin’ mad over it, too, I can tell you.

“He stood thar a-floppin’ and a-scratchin’ and a-slingin’ of his line out the full length, tryin’ on all sides continewally, but to no purpose.

“At last, thinkin’ he had a fish when he didn’t, he switched up his line so spiteful it caught in a tree-top more than fifteen feet above his head; and while he was a-gawpin’ up thar, jerkin’ the line, and stampin’ round, he sot his foot flat onto his string of fish that war layin’ thar on the bank, and squashed the in’ards out of nigh every one of ’em. Between thar slipperiness and his confusion, hurryin’ to git off ’em before they were sp’iled, he fell and slid away down the bank, head fust, a-clawin’ and a-kickin’ jest like 446a skeer’d alligator. Only he chanced to strike ag’inst an old root that was stickin’ up at the margin of the river, he’d have gone plum to the bottom for sartain.

“Unfortunately the last fish Parson Bodfish caught had swallered the bait, so he ses to me kind of low, ‘Dolphus, let’s see if we can’t skeer up a lizard, or somethin’ that’ll do for bait when a man’s in a pinch.’

“So we set in to huntin’ and s’archin’ under old logs and stones, and dead wild grass, but couldn’t git hold of anythin’. The parson fell three times on all fours in the dirt, and gin his wrist a mi’ty bad sprain while pursuin’ a queer, long-legg’d horned critter somethin’ like a cricket, only pizenous, I guess. I could have caught it once, as it went dronin’ past, but didn’t feel like touchin’ it. Finally it got stuck into a clump of ferns, and he gin it up. So arter a while he ses, ‘I’ll have to go back and try that old Shellbark ag’in, though I’d ruther take a dose o’ ipecac than do it.’

“So we come back to whar he was fishin’. He looked mi’ty solemn, and was muddy as an old stone boat. Ses the parson to him, ‘I’ll 447have to call on you ag’in for another dead worm; the one you gin me is all gobbled up.’

“‘Seems to me you’re mi’ty extravagint with the bait,’ he ses gruffly, and switchin’ his line around and slingin’ it out far as the pole would let it go, but not makin’ the least motion to comply with the parson’s request.

“‘Waal, I don’t know how that is,’ ses Parson Bodfish, kind of easy like, and tryin’ to keep down his anger, that I seed was rizin’ jest like bilin’ sugar, ‘I nabbed four rousin’ good fish with that one bait. I reckon that’s doin’ pooty well; fact I know it is. They seem to bite fust rate at dead worms jest now.’

“‘Waal, I don’t know anythin’ about that,’ ses the old narrow gauge, ‘s’posin’ you cut up some of your fish and see if you can’t catch somethin’ with that sort of bait; fish bite pooty well at that sort of an offerin’ jest before rain, they say.’

“‘Then you ain’t a gwine to give me any worms?’ ses the parson, in a husky voice, and shakin’ like a rag in the wind, he was so chock full of passion.

“‘Waal, this is a sort of curious world, Mr. 448Bodfish,’ ses old Shellbark, slow and niggardly like, jest that way, ‘and without a feller looks out for himself he ain’t considered nothin’. ‘Sides you know,’ he contin’ed, ‘fish bait is a good deal like an oyster or a bean—somethin’ that’s mi’ty hard to divide with a feller,’ and he commenced to troll along down stream.

“Apple sass and spinage! I never did see a man so riled as that Parson Bodfish was sence I could distinguish the moon from a lightnin’ bug. He changed to all the colors of the rainbow by turns in less time than I’m tellin’ ye. You never seed sech a struggle between sin and piety as raged inside that parson for about five minutes.

“Fust piety seemed to be gettin’ on top, then sin would choke her down and hold her thar. At last he turned around and run full chisel ahind the turned up roots of a big windfall as though a gallon and a half of black hornets war arter him. I reckoned he was gwine arter stuns to gin the old feller a good peltin’, and that kind of work bein’ right into my hand I ran thar too, cal’latin’ to help him do it. But I was mistaken’d.



“He wasn’t gwine arter stuns, for I seed so soon as he thought he was out of sight he flopped down on his knees right thar in the mud, a-holdin’ his hands jined together above his head jest that way. I allowed he was a gwine to pray then for sartin, but he didn’t pray; no siree, not much pra’ar jest then! he 450sw’ar’d though. He did! I heered him, jest as plain as could be, ses he:—

“‘I sw’ar I’ll git even yet with that old Shellbark, if I have to yank him out of his grave like a body-snatcher, to accomplish it!’

“I felt like runnin’ thar and sayin,’ ‘Don’t rise yet, let me kneel and sw’ar too,’ the same as that tricky feller does in the play whar he’s a-foolin’ the jealous nigger so bad; but I knowed it wouldn’t do, ’cause he didn’t want me to see him kneel thar in the mud. So when he came back he found me peltin’ a frog as if nothin’ had happened.

“‘Come, Dolphus,’ ses he, ‘its gettin’ pooty late; I guess we mout as well be a-movin’ back home.’ So we turned back toward the village, though ’twa’n’t more than noon, and left old Shellbark fishin’ thar. He did git even with him though.

“One Sunday soon arter Parson Bodfish was”—here the farmer was interrupted by a wild looking female who stuck her frowzy head out of an open window, like a turtle out of its shell, and shouted, in anything but a sweet voice:—

451“‘Dolphus! you natural born talkin’ machine you! what are ye a-settin’ a-pratin’ and a-pratin’ about out thar? that old hog is in the gardin’ ag’in, a-h’istin’ the parsnips, and crunchin’ ’em like an old b’ar.’

“Consarn her spotted hide!” he vociferated, jumping up and grabbing a huge cudgel that lay near by. “Jest you stop yer, stranger, for about ten seconds, until I make that old swine think thar’s a trip-hammer got a foul of her, then I’ll tell ye how the parson got even.”

“I couldn’t stop to hear the story any way,” I replied, “for I must be travelling. However, I’ll take your advice and give the Deacon a wide berth.”

As I descended the hill, the swine’s wail was ringing in my ears, and I judged the trip-hammer was at work.



’Twill be all the same in a thousand years!
What a terrible line this, to draw out the tears.
Oh, how oft do I weep at the dance, or the play,
O’er the sorrows we women are doomed to convey;
And can it be so, must we stand at the gate,
Denied all the honors of the country or State?
Our part but to please and obey lordly man;
Be kind when he’s surly, and be sweet as we can;
As students to shiver, like leaves in the breeze,
If we chance to infringe on his rules or decrees?
Then have pity, ye gods, who look down on our case,
Shut from Bar, Bench and School Board, and every fat place,
To pick up the pennies that oppressors fling down,
For cutting and stitching, and clothing the town.
Oh, the tyrant’s sharp lash, his “pooh pooh’s,” and his sneers,
Will be all the same in a thousand years.
Ah! ’tis not the same in a thousand years;
How sweet and how pleasant our life now appears,
For women no longer bow down at the nod
453Of creatures, who ruled with a chain and a rod;
But as lawyers they plead, and as doctors dissect,
And in temples of learning control and direct.
The weak-footed student at mile-posts may rest
Without springing a mine in the President’s breast;
There’s no splitting of hairs to deny her the prize,
She receives her diploma and a blessing likewise;
Now women no more stitch and stew for their lives,
Or suffer injustice, because daughters or wives;
Lo, they sit down as jurors, they judge and they vote,
And in steering through life ply an oar in the boat.
The mother departed looks down here with pride
On her merciful child dealing charity wide;
While man, that once governed so harsh and severe,
Applies for positions in meekness and fear;
Now the cane of the dude is no more on the street,
The eyeglass is missing, and sharp-pointed feet,
The poor “chappy” himself is beyond the bright spheres,
For ’tis not the same in a thousand years.


A large crowd of people was standing in and around a small shoemaker’s shop on Third Street. Elbowing my way to the inner circle, I found the excitement was over a man who had committed suicide. He was lying upon the floor, his hands still grasping a shot gun, with which he had blown off the top of his head.

I learned it was the shoemaker, and that he had committed the rash act because the lady on whom his affections were set had seen fit to choose another for her partner. Worst of all, it was a tailor who, to use a common expression and one to the point, had cut him out. They were both charmed with the comeliness of the young woman, and whenever an opportunity offered, were in the habit of throwing sheep’s eyes in the direction of her apartment. The lady seemed to grow more interested in the 455situation, and even went so far as to smile archly upon him.

The tailor, who had never received such a compliment from so pretty a woman before, was quite carried away with joy. He felt that his love was returned, and from that moment the world presented a different aspect. It was not even a new picture in an old frame, or vice versâ, but was new throughout.

Even the old breeches on his lap seemed to suddenly undergo a strange metamorphosis. The stout, rough material, over which he had lately been bending with crippled fingers and sprung needle, in the twinkling of an eye seemed transformed into a golden fleece, through which the waxed thread flew like chain-lightning through a cotton umbrella. To have an interview was now his only study, and where there’s a will there’s a way.

One day a small boy was pressed into service and intrusted with a letter to the woman in whom his whole heart seemed wrapped. She received it safely, and duly by return of post broke the delightful intelligence to the tailor that 456his love was returned, and ended the epistle by requesting him to call.

Hardly had “seeling night scarfed up the tender eye of pitiful day,” when the tailor with palpitating heart ascended the rickety stairs that led to the apartment. How he was received there is no knowing, but it is apparent to all he soon ingratiated himself with the handsome damsel, as the sequel shows.

The knight of the thimble and needle had saved considerable money and was comely to look upon, while she was both free and willing to wed, so the courtship was a short one.

As it happened, the tailor had received an offer from a business firm in the country that day, and as delays were considered dangerous, they decided to be married at once and start for their new home. It chanced that neither the lover nor his fair inamorata were troubled with enough luggage to require the services of an express wagon, and it wasn’t long before their traps were stuffed into sacks and bundles ready for removal.

Talk about striking while the iron is hot: they 457went ahead of the time-honored injunction, and hammered the iron while it was yet in the furnace. The bat had hardly found his evening meal before they were united and received the congratulations of the officiating clergyman, and before Hesperus led her starry host down to the western main the happy pair might have been seen bending under their respective burdens, and moving rapidly down the thoroughfare to catch the first train for the country.


458Crispin soon discovered his handsome bird had flown. This was too much for the poor cobbler. He couldn’t bear up under the weight, and having procured a shot-gun, soon ceased to exist.


These facts I gleaned from a grocer who lived near by, and who was acquainted with all the parties. My mind was so disturbed by the distressing event, I found it impossible to sleep for hours after I reached my room. I started 459in to recite a book of Paradise Lost, but it was no go. I had Michael assaulting Satan with a shoemaker’s awl instead of with his sword of celestial temper. I then endeavored to run over an act in Shakespeare, but met with no better success. I had Othello blowing his head off with a shot-gun, instead of stabbing himself with a knife. Still, the terrible combination of circumstances culminating in the death of the poor cobbler crowded upon me in a saddening train, and much-needed rest came not to my relief until the following lines were composed and set to music:—

“Oh, the sunshine of his life
Had become a tailor’s wife,
Which was more than selfish heart could bear;
So he got his gun in haste,
In his mouth the muzzle placed,
Turned his eyes aloft as if in prayer;
On the trigger set his toes—
As the illustration shows—
Then up to the ceiling went his hair!


While passing through the market this morning, I saw the old turkey that had escaped the ravages of Christmas. He is said to be the sole remnant of the turkey tribe—living or dead—at present to be found. Though the door of his coop was open he seemed to have no desire to escape. Evidently, like Byron’s “Prisoner of Chillon,” he 461has been so long an inmate he has become attached to it, and would rather remain there than take his chances in the busy world outside.

He stood most of the time in the centre of the coop in a brown study. Once, while I was looking at him, he attempted to expand the dilapidated substitute for a tail and assume the dignity and strut of other days. The effort was too much for him, and he settled down again into a dreamy, somnolent state, from which the crowing of a large Brahma even failed to arouse him. The poor fellow will doubtless fall a victim to man’s rapacity on New Year, for I noticed a fleshy old epicure regarding him with hungry sinister looks; nay, more, setting a price upon his head.

Passing again through the market this afternoon, I noticed the coop was empty, the “Prisoner of Chillon” was missing. Who had purchased him? or what had become of him? were questions which, however pertinent they might be, I felt I had no right to ask, and I didn’t. But the finger of suspicion points directly at the mouth of that venerable justice who was setting a price upon its head.



Now that I am rid of my wild-cat mining stock, my aching teeth and inverted toenails, “Jim Dudley” turns up again with his stories and slang.

Last night he told about the fast team he once sported in Indiana, and I wager considerable that he never drove a horse in his life, except it was to the pound that the might get half the fine. But this is the way he spun his yarn:—

“Did the boys tell you about the span I used to drive down at Grab Corners? No? wal, that’s queer. I owned a mi’ty fast pair while I was stoppin’ thar.

“You see I fust had a four-year old hoss, and used to go buzzin’ through the village like a streak o’ lightnin’; and when I had jest enough whiskey aboard to make me feel a leetle reckless, I used to turn the corners on the two inner wheels and never make a miss of it.

463“My ambition was to own a span, though. Arter a while I bought a young mare from Deacon Shovelridge. She was the homeliest lookin’ critter, though, you ever sot eyes on. Her tail was as hairless as a garter snake. She was a basin-raised colt, and one mornin’ she was standin’ round whar the boys were makin’ soap, and while backin’ up to the blaze to git warm, her tail caught fire, and every spear of hair was burned off. It never came out agin, nuther.

“It made her look pooty bad, but I see the go was in her, and that was what I was arter. Durin’ fly time I used to help her out of her troubles a leetle by fastenin’ a heavy tassel to the end of her tail, and arter some practice she could fetch a fly off her ribs or fore shoulder e’enmost every pop.

“I got her pooty reasonable. The Deacon said he was actewally ashamed to go out with her, for the boys were allers a-hootin’ arter him. Besides, the old codger seemed to have a likin’ for me, and allers took my part when others were runnin’ me down. The mare matched the young hoss fust rate. Both had hides like rhinoceroses, which sweat could never get through. 464They might be bilin’ hot inside, but they never showed any signs of it outwardly.


“Arter a little trainin’ they pulled together, and spatted it out as even as the wheels of a ferry-boat. I used to make a commotion among the villagers when I turned out, for I could pass everythin’ around the Corners; 465and you ought to have seen the fellers a-runnin’ out to hold their hosses by the head when they see me comin’, and the wimmin a-hollerin’ and tuckin’ up their skirts and scuddin’ arter their young ‘uns as though a drove of Mexican cattle were a-comin’ across the bridge.

“One day an old sport named Abe Drake, a sort of spreein’ old bachelor, come over thar from Illinois. He afterwards married a brokin’ winded old concert singer that used to be squeakin’ around there, and went to live in Hulltown. Wal, as I was sayin’, he came over there and brought a spankin’ fine team along.

“They were amazin’ nice-lookin’ critters now, I can tell you; skins smooth and shiny as seals, and tails on ’em that actewally trailed in the dust behind. He allers had plenty of money, and was continewally takin’ the gals around to one place or another. He was ginerally considered the biggest cat on the wood pile. We never came in contact when we had our teams out until one day at a picnic in Gawley’s Wood.

“That straw-headed Kate Rykert was thar. She was the rollickin’, don’t-care gal of the village, one of these tree-climbin’, astride-ridin’ 466critters, but a mi’ty good gal for all that, and handsome as a new fiddle. She was well up in the fine arts, but she could realize more genuine enjoyment chargin’ through the pastur’ astride the old mooly cow than she could by trummin’ a pianer.


“Wal, there wasn’t hardly a gal in the village that Abe Drake hadn’t bin a-spurrin’ round, and he had sort o’ commenced a-trampin’ on his wing like around Kate Rykert about this time.

467“It happened I had a sort of weakness that way myself, and I didn’t like his maneuverin’ any too well now, I kin assure you. He couldn’t make much out of Kate, though. She liked fast horses and a splurge, but she wasn’t one of those gals that would marry an old pair of breeches jest because there was greenbacks in the pockets.

“But, as I was remarkin’, that day while the picnic was breakin’ up, we all got talkin’ about a ball that was comin’ off the followin’ week down at Crow Bend. Abe wanted Kate to go down thar with him, but she had partly agreed afore that to go long er me; so to git herself out of it and me in, she said she would go with the one who could take her the fastest.

“‘That’s me,’ said Abe, straightenin’ up kind of proudly, and givin’ his pantaloons a hitch up at the waistband. ‘I can let you count the panels along the turnpike a leetle the quickest of any person around these quarters,’ and he looked sideways at me to see how I took the assertion.

“‘It’s not allers the hen that does the most extensive advertizin’ that makes the largest 468deposits,’ said Tom Ruggles, laughin’, as he sat thar packin’ away his dishes.

“‘No, Tom,’ said Gus Parks, the millinery man, who didn’t like Abe any too well, because he sort o’ smashed an engagement between him and the schoolmarm; ‘and it’s not allers your longest-tailed quadrupeds that git over the ground the fastest, nuther.’

“‘Wal, never mind, boys,’ ses I, jest easy, that way, ‘the proof of the whiskey is in the headache arterwards. I reckon I kin kill as many grasshoppers between here and Grab Corners as any person that cracks a whip in these parts.’

“‘What! with them thick-skinned critters of yourn?’ said Abe, p’intin’ his fingers at my hosses, and laughin’ as though it was mi’ty funny. It made me feel pooty riley, but I kept my temper.

“‘Supposin’ they hev thick skins,’ I ses, ‘they’re somethin’ like the cheese that goggle-eyed Peter bought from the peddler, their peculiarity doesn’t lie in the thickness of their hide so much as in the mysterious way they have of movin’ themselves around.’

469“‘S’pose you try a race back to the Corner, then,’ ses one of the boys.

“‘Yes,’ ses Kate Rykert, clappin’ her hands and jumpin’ up. ‘I’ll ride back to the Corner with one of you, and let Tilley Evans go with the other, and I’ll go to the ball with the one who gets to the village first.’

“‘Agreed,’ ses Abe, ‘and you’ll ride back with me?’

“‘No, I’m heavier than Tilley,’ ses Kate, ‘let everythin’ be even; toss up for partners back to the Corner.’

“This seemed fair, so we flipped, and I won Kate. She weighed ten pounds more than Tilley, but I didn’t care for that, for I knowed if the worst come to the worst, she was none of your jumpin’ out kind; she would stick to the buggy while there was one wheel and the seat left, and that’s the sort of a gal to have along with a feller when he’s tryin’ hoss flesh.

“The whole picnic gathered around us when we were gettin’ our teams ready and war speculatin’ on the result. Money was gwine up on all sides. Parson Briarly had no change about him, but he bet his gold-bowed spectacles against 470old Silverthorn’s meerschaum pipe that I would git to the Corner fust.

“‘Beat him, Jim,’ ses Gus Parks, ‘and I’ll give Kate the best bonnet in the store.’

“‘And I’ll give her the highest-heeled pair of boots that I’ve got in my shop,’ said Tom Ruggles, the boot and shoe dealer.

“‘Then Kate is a bonnet and a pair of boots ahead, for sartain,’ says I, jumpin’ into the buggy and squarin’ round my horses for the road; and with that we started, lick-a-te-split! down the turnpike, Abe a leetle ahead, but not enough to make much difference with five miles of good turnpike ahead of us, without let or hindrance.

“Pooty soon Kate leaned over to me, and ses she, ‘You must beat him, Jim, for between you and me, I would ruther go to the ball with you than with Abe.’

“This made me feel mi’ty good, and ses I, ‘You mustn’t get skeered, then, for I reckon we’ll hev to take some desperate chances to git thar fust.’

“‘Let me alone for that,’ ses she; ‘when I can’t ride as fast as a hoss can run, then I’ll stay 471to hum, and let dad tote me around in the wheelbarrow.’

“Just then we came up with him. He tried to shake us off, and would spurt ahead, but I’d crawl up on him agin, and stick thar, lappin’ him and goin’ with him stretch for stretch, like a dog when he’s a-freezin’ to a pig’s ear. Away went Kate’s hat a-flutterin’ over butter-cup swale, like a Bird of Paradise over the gardin’ of Eden.

“‘That’s mi’ty bad, Kate,’ ses I, lookin’ over my shoulder at it sailin’ off.

“‘Let it go hatchin’,’ ses Kate, laughin’. ‘It’s only gettin’ out of the way of the new bonnet.’

“I thought ’twas a good omen myself, but didn’t say anythin’, for jist then Abe shot a leetle ahead, and as he was gwine off, he hollered, ‘You can’t do it, Jim.’

“‘I kin,’ ses I, determinedly.

“‘Your hosses are ginnin’ out; they hain’t got the bottom into ’em,’ he shouted, jest that way.

“‘It must hev dropped out last night, then,’ ses I, and with that I overhauled him agin. Past Brian O’Laughlan’s door yard we went 472like a whirlwind through a flour ‘mill, over a hen and three suckin’ pigs. The old woman was standin’ thar in the yard with her apron full of chickens, shakin’ her fist at us and swearin’ like a drunken gypsy. Her long tongue was a-slushin’ and dashin’ against her one front tooth like a mop ag’inst a table leg.


473“I could have laughed myself to tears only I had to keep my eyes clear, for the road was so narrow in some places that when we were abreast there wasn’t any ground to spare.


“We were now passin’ the half-way spring and the race was fully as undecided as when we broke away from the hootin’ crowd on the picnic grounds.

“Down past old Deacon Shovelridge’s ten-acre 474hop yard we went rack-a-te-bang! hub end against hub end, and the outer wheels a-spokin’ it within six inches of a four-foot ditch.

“The ride to the Corners began to look like the ride to etarnity, and Tilley was as pale as a gray nun’s ghost, and continewally making narvous reaches for the lines.

“But Kate was equal to the surroundin’s. Thar she sot, with one arm around me and ’tother graspin’ the seat rail, and above the clatter of hoofs and steel axles, I could hear her repeatin’:—

“‘Stick to him, Jim, and start my stitches, if he doesn’t git his crop full of dust yet!’

“Old Shovelridge was in the field on a load of hay as we were passin’. He was inclined to piety, and if the world had no hosses in it I reckon he’d have been as pious as a church organ.

“And when he saw us a-raspin’ down the turnpike as though we were ridin’ in a four-hoss chariot, and saw Kate Rykert’s great swad of blonde har a-streamin’ out behind, like the tail of a comet, he couldn’t contain his feelin’s no how.

475“He gin a rousin’ whoop like a Chilchat Indian, when he sights a fur hunter. Throwin’ away the pitchfork—which accidentl’y harpooned the old lady in the back who was rakin’ behind—and jumpin’ from the load, he took across the field to’ards the turnpike, swingin’ his old straw hat and hollerin’:—

“‘Go it, Dudley; go it! Keep the hoss up with the rat-tail mare, and I’ll bet my farm you’ll make Grab Corner fust!’

“This made me feel pooty good, for the mare was the one I had some fears about.

“But you ought to see how it affected Abe; he commenced to slash his hosses and swar like an ox teamster when his cart is stuck hub deep in the mud.

“Finally the off-horse broke, and there was a sort of irregular upheaval among ’em for a while, as though they war steppin’ on broken cakes of ice; one would be gwine down while ’tother was a-comin’ up.

“Abe tried to bring ’em down to their work agin, and in the meantime I kind of corkscrewed ahead and swung into the centre of the road in advance of him. Then I began to 476feel somethin’ like a feller what holds the winnin’ cards, and sees the other chaps a-pilin’ up the coin on their inferior pasteboards. But I see some young half-breeds a-squattin’ around on the road about a quarter of a mile ahead, and knowed at the rate we war travellin’ we’d be on top of ’em before they’d see us if I didn’t haul up.

“So I ses to Kate, ‘See them plag’y brats ahead of us thar! what bed we better do about it?’

“‘Run over the centipedes,’ ses she. ‘Abe ain’t a gwine to slack up for ’em,’ and she cuddled closer to me so the jolt wouldn’t hist her out.

“I shouted two or three times, but they were too busy with their mud pies, I reckon, to take any notice, and Abe was makin’ no signs of haulin’ up. I did my best to sheer round ’em, and kept right on for the Corner.

“I heered ’em scream as we went a-whirlin’ on, but reckon it was more through fright than injury.

“Abe had lost his grippin’s. He couldn’t overhaul me ag’in, no how, and I gradually crawled away from him, if he did his pootiest.

477“The whole village seemed to be out to the bridge to see what was comin.’

“They see the dust risin’ when we were more’n a mile away, and they allowed the greatest run-away was a-comin’ down the turnpike that had happened since Bull Run, and were out thar speculatin’ as to whose family was in danger.

“But when they see it was a race, and recognized me, you ought to see the scatterin’ amongst ’em. You’d think a hull menagery had broken loose and was comin’ for ’em.

“Ole Pelvy, the shoemaker, was a-settin’ on the railin’ of the bridge; but jest as I crossed it, the crowd hoorayed, and jostled him off. He hung over the railin’ by one leg, with his body swayin’ below, and him a-hollerin’ like a good feller, and signalin’ for help, but the crowd were so taken up with the race, and were cheerin’ and swingin’ of their hats continewally, that they never knowed anythin’ about his position.



“Pooty soon his leg slipped over, and then he went, end over end more’n twenty-five feet, into the river, and was carried over the falls before anybody missed him. Arter that people weren’t troubled so much with corns around Grab Corner, for though he’s dead now, I’ll say 479it of him, he was the wust shoemaker that ever shoved an awl into a hide.

“I druv up to the hotel, and had jest got through helpin’ Kate out, when up come Abe, with his hosses hobblin’ as if they had picked up a twenty-penny nail in every hoof.

“They looked somewhat as if they had bin swimmin’ in a soap vat.

“Abe was very much of a man, though, arter all. His hosses I reckon had never bin passed before, but he didn’t bluster or git mad about it neither, though it must have bin pooty tryin’ to him.

“‘By the Witch of Endor’s long eye tooth,’ he cried, as he jumped from the buggy, ‘you did it, Jim; and you did it fair. Only I kinder think you swung in ahead of me a leetle too quick, back thar where that crazy old whipperin hollered so.’

“‘No, Abe,’ ses I, ‘I didn’t take an inch o’ turnpike till I was entitled to it.’

“‘Wal,’ ses he, as he came round to look at my animals, that were standin’ thar seemingly as cool as a brace of toads in a celler, ‘I’ll be shot if them hosses of yourn ain’t somethin’ like 480the widder Tappan’s boarders. The speed they show in gettin’ away with anythin’ was most surprisin’.’

“So Kate Rykert got the bonnet and boots, and I gin her a new dress to go with them, and if we didn’t shine out some the next week down to Crow Bend then thar ain’t no use talkin’ about it, that’s all.”



Through the busy bustling street,
Rolls a cart I often meet,
The driver shouting from the seat:
On the tail-board long and wide,
Reaching fair from side to side,
Shines the word in painted pride:
What it is doth not appear,
Where it comes from all may fear,
Still I shudder when I hear:
Here and there he slowly crawls,
Pausing by the butcher stalls,
In the kitchen door he bawls:
Bring your tallow, bring your fat,
Candle ends and all like that,
They will issue from the vat
482Any scraps you have about,
Kidney, liver, tripe, or snout,
All will make, when they’re tried out,
Comes the cry across the way,
From a dame with rent to pay:
“Do you purchase puppies? say,
“Is he fat?” the driver cries;
“I should say so,” she replies;
“Then pitch him in where pussy lies.”
In the church, or at the play,
In the parlor, night or day,
Still the voices seem to say:
From the birds that round me fly,
In the brook that babbles by,
Still I seem to catch the cry:
With suspicion now I spread
The cow’s rich offering on my bread
That weird butter still I dread,—
Dainties now I must forego,
Pies and cakes and puddings, Oh!
Can I trust them? no! no!! no!!!


Taking dinner to-day in a restaurant, I was in danger of being carried off by cockroaches. If I was inclined to draw comparisons, I would say that in size the cockroaches I encountered in this place would compare favorably with cupboard door buttons. I had seen these troublesome insects on former occasions when I thought they were numerous—when they were as thick around the bread-plate as bees around their hive in June. But I had never been present when they turned out in sufficient numbers to take and hold possession of everything upon the table, even to the mustard-pot. To-day I witnessed such a spectacle. I counted until I tired; their skelping to and fro made the task painfully difficult, and the effort was abandoned. They had evidently been lying in ambush in the cruet stand from the moment I sat down and gave my order, for the ring of the plate as it 484struck the board seemed to be the signal for a general advance. They appeared in military ranks, moving towards the dish in a semicircle, like a line of Fenian skirmishers advancing heroically upon a turnip patch. There were no frost-nipped fellows, with drooping horns and dragging limbs, among those legions either. All were active, square-shouldered customers, real thoroughbreds, wide across the hips, and boasting a depth of chest capable of enduring any amount of running; while their long, formidable-looking feelers stood out at right angles from their heads, like the horns on a Mexican steer.


485“During your natural life,” I commenced, addressing a waiter who stood near by, evidently enjoying my surprise, “whether while officiating as head steward on board of a floating palace on the Mississippi, or serving as second cook on a grain scow on the San Joaquin, did you ever run across a place where the cockroaches were one-ninetieth part as numerous as they are in this restaurant?”

“Numerous?” he answered; “you should be here a warm, sunshiny day, if you want to see cockroaches, for then all the invalids are out—those fellows who have had their movements across the table accelerated by a snapping finger, or such as have only tasted the poison scattered around for their benefit, or those who have taken an overdose and throwed it up again. These lie in cracks and cupboards, with stiffened joints and weak stomachs, when the weather is cold and cloudy; 486but when a warm day comes, they are all abroad and busy.”

“Well, I will bear that in mind,” I said, rising from the table, “and when the next total eclipse of the sun occurs, which, as I am informed, will take place in about four hundred and thirty-seven years, I may come into this restaurant for another meal, and not until then,” and with that I left.


The editor of a city paper having occasion to take a trip into the country, prevailed upon me to assume the responsibility of answering letters from correspondents. The task is an onerous one—the more so as the editor, with that cunning ever noticeable in a person who takes the cream of a job, left me to reply only to the knottiest epistles. But I 487will some time get even with him, however. I will assume the editorial “we,” and should I waken the wrath of any person, he will be the sufferer. Here is a copy of my answer to “Katie:”—

“The minister was perfectly right in refusing to marry the couple, if, as you say, the bride insisted upon holding her poodle in her arms during the ceremony. The more so as the clergyman was near-sighted. He might possibly mistake the puppy for the bridegroom.”

Another person accuses a correspondent of a mis-statement. He says it was the editor of the Farmer, and not the editor of the Examiner, who planted the package of No. 16 homœopathic pills sent him from the country by a wag, as the seeds of a Sandwich Island cabbage.

The old editor for weeks regularly watered the plot where he sowed them; but as nothing appeared, wrote to the country gentleman, informing him that his seeds hadn’t sprouted, and he thought it likely they might have been taken from a dead head.

“Amy” is all in a fluster about spirits. I will talk to her after this manner:—

488“We have always considered spiritualism the bluest carbuncle that ever festered upon the neck of society. We care not if the spirits were rapping around our table like a forty-stamp mill, we would eat our regular allowance with all the coolness that a Celestial manifests when absorbing his birds’-nest soup. If your bed dances a pas-seul after you get into it at night, there must be more than spirits around; and you would do well to throw a boot-jack or flat-iron under it before retiring. Such a proceeding might give you the satisfaction of hearing the spirits yell blue murder.

“There is not much danger of your going crazy, because, in plain terms, we consider you to be luny already. The poor fellow in the lunatic asylum who imagines Queen Victoria has made a private residence of his nose, and who has nearly blown both eyes out striving to eject her, is hardly more so.”

I trust the editor will lose some hair over that answer.

On second thought, I remember the editor has none.



I am as full of law this evening as a sea-shell of sound, having been wedged in the District Court room from 10 o’clock A. M. to 9 P. M., listening to testimony in the re-trial of the case of the People vs. a fiery lady, if we may use the expression, who brought down her game the first shot.

Though the room was crowded almost to suffocation, I fancy there is not that deep interest that was manifested during the former trial. On that occasion there were so many letters introduced in evidence, such a mass of private correspondence dragged from musty trunks, and laid open to the public, that thousands flocked daily to the court room, in hopes of hearing something rich, if not instructive. I shall never forget the excitement during the reading of letter No. 947. It was from the defendant.

The counsel for the defence argued a good 490round two hours and a half by the court-room clock, against the letter being admitted in evidence. He maintained it was irrelevant, as it had never been opened, the receiver forgetting to read it, or neglecting to do so, for some reason of his own.


The counsel for the people followed with even a longer appeal to the judge to admit the letter, strengthening his argument by lengthy 491quotations from Blackstone, Kent, Wharton, and other authorities, endeavoring to prove it should be put in evidence, as its contents might assist materially in furthering the ends of justice.

The judge began to show unmistakable signs of impatience. He remarked that already a package of letters had been read that would go far towards shingling the Mechanics’ Pavilion, and had no more bearing upon the point at issue than “Darwin’s Descent of Man” had upon the culture of white beans. He finally gave way before the preponderance of the prosecuting attorney’s argument, and directed an officer to wake the jury, as a letter was to be read that all should hear. After considerable shaking and poking, this difficult duty was performed. Even the deaf juror was aroused, though the good-natured judge had permitted him to sleep during the introduction of several preceding epistles.

After order was restored, and an inventive juror had improvised an ear trumpet with a piece of legal cap for his unfortunate companion, the billet doux was opened. As the seal was 492broken, judge and jury rose to their feet with one accord, and leaned as far forward as their desks would allow, the more readily to catch every word of the important document. The silence in the room was death-like. It was supposed that on the contents of this letter hung either a scaffold or an acquittal. The weak ticking of the dusty clock upon the wall was the only sound that disturbed the awful stillness. As the calm settled, the muffled beat of the time-piece increased in force and volume until it seemed to attain the tones of a fire bell. Presently the attorney in a high and tremulous voice began to read. The contents ran thus:—

My Dear, Delightful Darling:—How are my stocks selling now?

Your Loving, Adoring L——.”

The effect was thrilling. The lawyer dropped the letter upon the table before him, ran his white fingers through his hair, and looked around with the air of a tired traveler when he ascertains he has walked five miles upon the wrong road. The gentlemen of the jury, with looks more of anger than of sorrow, dropped into 493their seats as suddenly as though an invisible hand had caught them from behind and jerked them to their benches.

The Judge, with an ill-concealed look of disgust, settled back into his chair, and the deep crease in his vest, immediately over where his dinner should have been hours before, grew more painfully perceptible.

I elbowed my way from the suffocating room before further correspondence was selected from the package for perusal.


The goat, the goat, the bearded goat!
The horned, the hoofed, the hairy goat!
As I’m a sinner of some note,
Last night I rode the Mason’s goat!
He was a beast of wondrous size,
With lengthy limbs and glassy eyes,
And beard that swept the carpet clear,
And horns that shook the chandelier!
494Ye gods! if there’s a time we feel
Misgivings through our noddle steal,
It is when we through mystery float
Upon the dark Freemason’s goat.
Now some will say there’s no such thing,
And at the goat derision fling;
And say that all is Fancy wrought,
Through fear and dread suspicion brought.
But those who such remarks outpour
Have never knocked at Mason’s door,
Have nothing known about that beast
That was imported from the East,
Where kings of wisdom, wealth, and pomp
Bestrode him through his midnight romp.
Three times was I compelled to ride
The creature ‘round the Temple wide,
But while I tried the fearful mount,
My heart’s pulsations all might count,
For thump on thump with treble knell
Within my breast it rose and fell.
Twice did I make the circuit fair,
My hold his horns, his tail, or hair,
Though never shot a kangaroo,
So fast Australian jungle through.
From garret roof to basement floor,
Through ante-room and closet door,
O’er winding steps and columns tall,
He held his way through house and hall,
495Till on the third attempt, and last,
When I presumed all danger past,
He pitched me clear of horns and head,
And left me far below for dead.


I felt as though a worthless clod
Unfit to keep above the sod;
But when I rose with terror pale
The goat had vanished, head and tail,
496And I was styled by one and all
The greenest mason in the hall.
Let those who deem they are possessed
Of fadeless cheeks and valiant breast,
Of hair that never will aspire
To bristle like a brush of wire,
No matter through what risk they run,
Go ride that goat, as I have done.


Oh June! thou comest once again
With bales of hay and sheaves of grain,
That make the farmer’s heart rejoice,
And anxious herds lift up their voice.
I hear thy promise, sunny maid,
Sound in the reapers’ ringing blade,
And in the laden harvest wain,
That rumbles through the stubble plain.
Ye tell a tale of bearded stacks,
Of busy mills and floury sacks;
498Of cars oppressed with cumbrous loads,
Hard curving down their iron roads;
Of barges grounding on their way
Down winding streams to reach the bay;
Of vessels spreading to the breeze
Their snowy sails in stormy seas,
While bearing to some foreign strand
The products of this golden land.
Ye come again with cereal brows,
And crescent blade, to fill the mows;
And never fall thy feet too soon,
Oh, ever welcome, sunny June.
Once more I see your banner spread
Across the evening sky,
I see your trace in shallow brooks
That feebly ripple by.
I see your face in mirror-lakes,
In fields and forests old,
And in the gardens all arrayed
In crimson, blue and gold.
I hear your voice in twittering birds,
That round the gables wheel,
And in the humming monologues
Which from the meadows steal.
Oh, month of Love and plighted faith,
And airy castles high!
I hear you in the lover’s song
And in the maiden’s sigh.
499And in the breeze that gently wakes
The leaves upon the bough,
I feel your soothing mother-touch
Caressing cheek and brow.
Oh, sweet as sunrise to the lark,
As noonday to the bee,
Or evening to the nightingale,
Is June’s return to me.


This is the anniversary of my departure from my native fields. As I sit gazing by the fire, pondering over the event, thoughts of friends far away and foes who are near, come crowding upon me numerous as spirits around some favored medium.

Many years ago I turned my back upon all I loved and setting my face against the sinking sun, cried:—

“Ho, sailors! spread your widest sails,
And court the strong impellent gales,
Until the stout and stubborn mast
Bends like a sapling to the blast;
And westward let your bearing be;
My fortune lies beyond the sea.”

What a ruinous rent fifteen or twenty years make in a person’s lease of life. Why, bless my benighted understanding! the seal, the signature and the better portion of the parchment are gone. There’s hardly enough document 501remaining upon which to hinge a hope. Now, that I think of it, what have the departed years neglected to bring me? No flaxen heads cluster around my board; no nose is flattened against the window pane; no eye strained to mark my coming, when the granite pave is chafed by the homeward hastening feet.

No jute or mohair chignons lie around my room in rich profusion, adding charms to the apartment that pictures cannot give.

When I muse upon the many blessings that the past years have failed to furnish, I am inclined to sadness. But when I turn to contemplate what they have brought, my heart sinks down into its lowest recess and for a time lies still. Aye! that’s the rub that makes me wince.

There is but little satisfaction in the thought that I am not alone in this. I look around and I see others drifting down the stream as rapidly as I. Time is cutting furrows in fairer brows than mine. He has brought many a person during the last ten years—

A scattered sight, a limping gait,
Toothless gums and a shining pate.

502Why should I squeal because I feel his hands? But where are those full cheeks, those hopeful smiles, those luxuriant locks, and firm-set grinders that once were mine?

Gone, like the life from a busted balloon,
Gone, like the soul from a ruptured bassoon,
Gone, like the sheen from a pock-pitted cheek,
Gone, like our change at the close of the week,

But what has that to do with my sore heel, peeled to-day by the hoof of a clergyman’s horse before I could get out of the way? The event called forth the following lines, written while laboring under great mental excitement:

How blest is he above the many
Who turns to-day a handsome penny,
By stating to the drowsy throng
The line dividing right and wrong!
Far richer pickings he commands
Than ears of corn rubbed in the hands.
How different now from days of yore,
When sandal-shod and spirit sore,
With stiffened joints and limber thews,
And garments damp with midnight dews,
The poor Apostles, staff in hand,
Went limping through a stranger’s land.
503Now charge they up and down the way,
Like jockeys on the “Derby day;”
And we poor wights must waltz aside,
And let the pulpit princes glide;
Or have a phaeton o’er us wheeled,
Or have our heels adroitly peeled.
Oh, money! money! root and start
Of every sin, ’tis claimed thou art;
But let them doubt the fact who will,
’Tis money spreads the gospel still.


Yesterday I took a trip to a quiet country resort. On entering the town I was surprised at the scarcity of men in the place. There were plenty of women—fashionably dressed and otherwise—to be seen in the houses or gardens, but I rarely encountered one of the male sex in my travels through the streets. This, I at first supposed, was owing to the number of gentlemen residing there who 504carry on business in the city by the sea, and are consequently in the latter place during the day. I was informed, however, by the proprietor of the hotel at which I stopped, that such was not the case. He assured me it was mainly owing to the fact that the County Court commenced that morning, and most of the male inhabitants, as was their custom on such occasions, had taken to the surrounding woods and mountains to escape jury duty.

The place is beautifully situated between high green hills, and said to possess the healthiest climate of any town in the State. During the summer months people flock there from all parts of the country. Healthy people pay high prices at the hotels for the privilege of living there, and sickly people do likewise, for the privilege of dying there.

The peculiarities of the town, and the distinctive manners and customs of the inhabitants, have been ably described by a poet whose effusions have not yet been translated into the foreign languages. Following is a part of the poem which bears directly on the town in question:—

505“Here rest we now by sulphur well,
Where invalids and nurses dwell;
Where yelping dogs run through the street
Like wolves across a prairie wide,
And cattle wild as bison meet
You face to face, on every side;
With tails in air, and frothy nose,
And leveled horns, they round you close.
“Where people sit around the door,
In lazy groups of three or four,
And still their chronic thirst abate
With copious draughts of ‘sulphur straight.’”

There was quite an excitement in the town before I left. A fire broke out in an ash barrel situated in the rear yard of the house at which I was stopping, and for a time threatened to destroy the ashes. There is no estimating the amount of damage the citizens might have suffered if the fire had spread to a wash-tub that stood close by, and which at the time contained a portion of the town’s washing. Business was generally suspended, and stock in the insurance companies went down immediately. The citizens breathed more freely, however, when the efficient and energetic Fire Department turned out promptly as one man, and hastened to the 506city water-works, situated on a slight eminence in the centre of the town, and, turning on the water, succeeded in extinguishing the flames. The only damage done was the partial burning of the barrel and the scorching of the wash-tub and five dog-houses. The dogs were lying under the kitchen stove at the time, and escaped injury.




I took a trip across the water this afternoon. The bay was so rough the ferry-boat could scarcely make her trips. The passengers were nearly all sea-sick, and, elbow to elbow, leaned over the side of the vessel. One gentleman, while gazing into the sea, lost his hat overboard, but he was so taken up with internal affairs that he cared little for outward appearances, as one could readily observe.

I reached my destination, and was convinced that all the sorrows are not on the sea. I saw a poor old woman thrown into terrible disorder by a kick from the cow she was milking in her own yard. Judging by the quantity of milk lying around loose, she must have been nearly through her task, and was probably in the very act of complimenting the cow for her generosity, when the spiteful animal gave the pail a hoist completely over the woman’s head, like a huge 508helmet, while the lacteal fluid ran down her body. The pail seemed to stick, despite her efforts to remove it.


As I looked back, I could see her groping toward the house, her visage still concealed in the 509blue bucket. She did look odd enough, as she felt her way up the steps, decorated with that novel head-dress.


There is a youth in this suburban town who bids fair to be a second Landseer. As I passed his father’s residence, I saw the young aspirant at work sketching from nature.

510He had the foot of a little cur fast in the jaws of a steel-trap staked in the orchard. The artist sat at a short distance sketching the poor beast, as it stood on three legs gazing at the heavens and crying piteously. He was eagerly striving to get the expression of pain upon the dog’s face, and by the grin upon his own countenance I judged he was succeeding.


There was something in the pair that reminded me of Parrhasius and the Captive; and being in somewhat of a sketching mood myself at the time, I produced my book and pencil, 511and leaning over the fence, sketched the painter and his howling model.


On my way back to the city the bay seemed even rougher than in the morning. There was hardly a passenger on board the ferry-boat but showed symptoms of trouble. Although most of them would have been excellent subjects for the artist of a comic pictorial, my attention was specially directed towards an elderly lady who 512sat with folded arms, the elbows resting upon her knees, and a most woe-begone expression upon her wrinkled visage. Some passengers who were sick were able partly to conceal their emotions; she was not; every muscle of her face betrayed her. She was sick and couldn’t help but show it.


513If any individual amongst that crowd of disquieted passengers knocked louder at the door of human sympathy than did the old lady referred to, it was unmistakably that woman who was sick and had to show it at the vessel’s rail.


Christmas Eve! I sit idly by my window, listening to the rapid patter of the rain upon the shingles and the wild whistle of the wind as it plays around the gables, or draws weird music from the telegraph wires stretched between the house tops, and upon which dangles the ghost of many a schoolboy’s kite. Christmas Eve! and I am not yet invited out to dinner! what can this mean? Am I then left to wither for want of attention, like some poor shrub plucked from a garden and planted in a graveyard? Well, let it be so. Alone though 514I am, I nevertheless enjoy myself hugely, and it requires considerable to enliven me now. There was a time when I could be moved to mirth by very little. The desperate efforts of a one-legged grasshopper describing circles while endeavoring to leap straight ahead, would amuse me for hours together. But it is not so now; I turn from such scenes to bury my eyes in the pages of profound works, and it is meet and proper I should.

For the last half hour I have been watching an old washerwoman stealing, as I think, a neighbor’s wood. It is barely possible that she is taking this method of paying herself for services rendered at the tub. Be this as it may, the wood is going. There is no mistake about that.

It is interesting to me, as it furnishes food for comment, and keeps the mind from lagging too long around the saddening fact that Time is writing lines upon my brow “with his antique pen.” Besides it is holiday season, and though I am not able to be charitable to a great degree, I can at least afford to be indifferent in this case.

515The washerwoman is doubtless a hard-working and deserving old body, who perhaps has sunk her whole week’s earnings in a Christmas turkey, that her children’s hearts may be made glad and their stomachs full; and it would be a great pity if it should be spoiled i’ the cooking for the want of fuel.

I waive the crime, and speak of the facts from a disinterested stand-point. I have been such a diligent scholar in the severe school of experience, that I have learned to look upon my own misfortunes lightly, and certainly can behold—with an unmoistened eye—my neighbor’s choicest sticks noiselessly slipping into an adjoining yard. Besides, my neighbor can afford to lose a few. To make my position good, I entrench myself behind the following fact: To be in the fashion, he pays the price of a good-sized farm for seats at the opera, where the language is as foreign to his understanding as South Sea Island gibberish. While he indifferently beholds such a wasteful running at the bung, why should I assume the busybody’s rôle and clap my finger on the dripping spigot?

Besides, I saw his wife last evening with fully 516four yards of expensive satin trailing in the dust. It was my misfortune to be walking directly behind her. As the crowd was pressing me onward, I was obliged to dance a sailor’s hornpipe around the hall, in order to keep from treading upon her skirts. It needed not the grins of lookers-on to assure me that I was cutting a ridiculous figure.

I am now enjoying my revenge! Indirectly though it comes, it is none the less sweet or acceptable. On the contrary, it is rather more gratifying, as it calls for no action on my part, but simply to keep my mouth hermetically sealed. The poet truly sings:—

“Time at last sets all things even.”

It has been in this case much quicker than I expected. As the skinny white arm stretches up out of the gloom of the washerwoman’s yard, and another billet shoots from the pile and disappears like a star from the firmament of heaven, I feel that a load is lifted from my heart, and I am reaping revenge.

Stay! what is this? a note, that all the evening escaped my notice. Lo! an aroma issues 517from it, sweet as Cytherea’s breath! It is an invitation, as I live, to help dissect a Christmas turkey! Sound the timbrel, beat the tom-tom. I am not forgotten yet!

  1. P. 319, changed “shovin’ of it” to “shovin’ all of it”.
  2. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  3. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.
  4. Footnotes were re-indexed using numbers and collected together at the end of the chapter.
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