Charles Heber Clark (AKA Max Adeler)
Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Curtis Weyant, Tim Koeller and the Online Distributed
_A NOVEL WITHOUT A PLOT_
AUTHOR OF "OUT OF THE HURLY-BURLY," ETC., ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY ARTHUR B. FROST
If every book that contains nothing but nonsense confessed that fact
in its preface, the world would have been saved a vast amount of
dreary reading. Most of such volumes, however, are believed by their
authors to be full of wisdom of the solidest kind; and confession,
therefore, being impossible, the reader may learn the truth only
through much tribulation. The writer of this book freely admits, at
the outset, that it contains only the lightest humor, and that its
single purpose is to afford amusement. At the same time, he claims for
it that it is wiser and far more useful than many more solemn books
that have been published, with the intent to regenerate mankind, by
authors who would regard such a volume as this with feelings of scorn.
This is simply an effort to tell stories of a humorous character; and
although the attempt may not be so successful as it has been in the
hands of others, from Boccaccio downward, it has at least one quality
that some greater achievements do not possess: it is absolutely pure
in thought, word and suggestion. If it is filled with nonsense, that
nonsense at any rate is innocent. It is modest, cleanly and without
malice or irreverence. A worthier and nobler work might have been
written; a purer work could not have been.
What its other merits are he who reads it will discern. To apologize
for it in any manner would be to admit that it has grave deficiencies,
and such an admission the author would not make even if his conscience
impelled him to do so. The book is offered to the reader with the
conviction that if the man who laughs is the happiest man, it may
contribute something to the sum of human felicity.
The story of the French horn, related in the twentieth chapter, will
recall to the reader of the "Sparrowgrass Papers" an incident related
in that most charming book of humor. Perhaps it ought to be said that
the former narrative was at least suggested by the latter.
The artist who has illustrated the book, Mr. Arthur B. Frost, deserves
to have it said of him that he has done his work skilfully, tastefully
and with nice appreciation of the humor of the various situations.
I. THE ADVANTAGES OF ELBOW-ROOM
II. THE TERRIBLE MISHAP TO MR. FOGG'S BABY
III. INTERNAL NAVIGATION.--AN UNFORTUNATE INVENTOR
IV. THE FACTS IN REFERENCE TO MR. BUTTERWICK'S HORSE
V. SOME EDUCATIONAL FACTS
VI. THE EDITOR OF "THE PATRIOT"
VII. HOW MR. BUTTERWICK PURSUED HORTICULTURE
VIII. THE MEETING, AND ITS MISSIONARY WORK
IX. JUDGE TWIDDLER'S COW
X. OUR CIVIL SERVICE
XI. FUNEREAL AND CONJUGAL
XII. A NEW MRS. TOODLES.--POTTS' ADVENTURES
XIII. THE RACES, AND SOME OTHER THINGS
XIV. RESPECTING CERTAIN SAVAGES
XV. LOVE, SUFFERING AND SUICIDE
XVI. MR. FOGG AS SPORTSMAN AND SPOUSE
XVII. HOW WE CONDUCT A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN
XVIII. THE MATUTINAL ROOSTER
XIX. AN UNRULY METER.--SCENES IN A SANCTUM
XX. HIGH ART
XXI. CERTAIN DENTAL EXPERIENCES.--AN UNFORTUNATE OFFICIAL
XXII. JUSTICE, AND A LITTLE INJUSTICE
XXIII. THE TRAMP WITH GENIUS AND WITHOUT IT
XXIV. THE DOG OF MR. BUTTERWICK'S, AND OTHER DOGS
XXV. A PERSECUTED JOURNALIST
XXVI. THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF DR. PERKINS
XXVII. GENERAL TRUMPS OF THE MILITIA
XXVIII. THE MISDIRECTED ENERGIES OF MR. BRADLEY
XXIX. THE TRIALS OF MR. KEYSER, GRANGER
XXX. MR. BANGER'S AUNT
XXXI. VARIOUS THINGS
MR. FOGG AS A MESMERIST
A NOVEL MOUSETRAP
A PERPLEXED MULE
THE SECRETARY IS ALARMED
MR. BUTTERWICK'S HORSE LIES DOWN
THE BATTLE OF CANNAE.
MR. BARNES PROPOSES
THE CARBOLIC DOOR-MAT
THE GARDENER RETREATS
THE HEATHEN CLOTHE THEMSELVES
THE JUDGE'S COW
A TOMBSTONE CONTRACT
MR. POTTS' MOUSE
SHOOTING A BURGLAR
A FLAT-IRON WEDDING
AN EXCITED OLD LADY
THE CAT SUCCUMBS
HOW THE PIG WAS KILLED
MR. SPOONER IS ALARMED
THE LITTLE BABY-BEAR
THE GOLDFISH TRICK.
AN INDIGNANT GUNNER
CONFESSING THEIR FAULTS
FORCED TO DO DUTY
THE EARLY COCK
THE AFFAIR AT THE POULTRY-SHOW
THE SHERIFF IS MAD
MR. SMITH'S GRIEF
A SCARED FAMILY
DR. SLUGG'S INVENTION
A COURT SCENE
A DOG FOR SALE
SMITH'S BOY RETREATS
THE WANDERING JEW
THE GENERAL IN A RAGE
"TAKE HER, YOUNG MAN!"
THE NEW MOTOR
A QUEER PLANT
TOO MUCH OF A BORE.
MAJOR SLOTT'S TIGER
FACING THE TIGER
_THE ADVANTAGES OF ELBOW-ROOM_.
The professors of sociology, in exploring the mysteries of the science
of human living, have not agreed that elbow-room is one of the great
needs of modern civilized society, but this may be because they have
not yet reached the bottom of things and discovered the truth. In
crowded communities men have chances of development in certain
directions, but in others their growth is surely checked. A man who
lives in a large city is apt to experience a sharpening of his wits,
for attrition of minds as well as of pebbles produces polish and
brilliancy; but perhaps this very process prevents the free unfolding
of parts of his character. If his individuality is not partially lost
amid the crowd, it is likely that, first, his imitative faculty will
induce him to shape himself in accordance with another than his own
pattern, and that, second, the dread of the conspicuousness which is
the certain result of eccentricity will persuade him to avoid any
tendency he may have to become strongly unlike his neighbors.
The house that he lives in is tightly squeezed in a row of dwellings
builded upon a precisely similar plan, so that the influence brought
to bear upon him by the home resembles to some extent that which
operates upon his fellows. There is a pressure upon both sides of
him in the house; and when he plunges into business, there is a far
greater pressure there, in the shape of sharp competition, which
brings him into constant collision with other men, and mayhap drives
him or compels him to drive his weaker rival to the wall.
The city-man is likely to cover himself with a mantle of reserve and
dissimulation. If he has a longing to wander in untrodden and devious
paths, he is disposed resolutely to suppress his desire and to go in
the beaten track. If Smith, in a savage state, would certainly conduct
himself in a wholly original manner, in a social condition he yields
to an inevitable apprehension that Jones will think queer of his
behavior, and he shapes his actions in accordance with the plan that
Jones, with strong impulses to unusual and individual conduct, has
adopted because he is afraid he will be thought singular by Smith. And
in the mean time, Robinson, burning with a desire to go wantonly in a
direction wholly diverse from that of his associates, realizes that to
set at defiance the theories of which Smith and Jones are apparently
the earnest advocates would be to expose himself to harsh criticism,
sacrifices himself to his terror of their opinion and yields to the
force of their example.
In smaller and less densely-populated communities the weight of public
opinion is not largely decreased, but the pressure is not so great.
There is more elbow-room. A man who knows everybody about him gauges
with a reasonable degree of accuracy the characters of those who are
to judge him, and is able to form a pretty fair estimate of the value
of their opinions. When men can do this, they are apt to feel a
greater degree of freedom in following their natural impulses. If men
could sound the depths of all knowledge and read with ease the secrets
of the universe, they might lose much of their reverence. When they
know the exact worth of the judgment of their fellow-men, they begin
to regard it with comparative indifference. And so, if a dweller in a
small village desires to leave the beaten track, he can summon courage
to do so with greater readiness than the man of the town. If he has
occasionally that proneness to make a fool of himself which seizes
every man now and then, he may indulge in the perilous luxury without
great carefulness of the consequences. Smith's ordinary conduct is the
admiration of Jones as a regular thing; but when Smith switches off
into some eccentricity for which Jones has no inclination, it is
only a matter of course that Jones should indulge in his own little
oddities without caring whether Smith smiles upon him or not.
It is, therefore, in such communities that search can most profitably
be made for raw human nature that has had room to grow upon every side
with little check or hindrance. The man who chooses to seek may
find original characters, queer combinations of events, surprising
revelations of individual and family experiences and an unlimited fund
of amusement, especially if he is disposed, perhaps even while he
submits to an overpowering conviction that all life is tragic, to
summon into prominence those humorous phases of social existence
which, as in the best of artificial tragedies, are permitted to appear
in real life as the foil of that which is truly sorrowful. To depict
events that are simply amusing may not be the highest and best
function of a writer; but if he has a strong impulse to undertake
such a task in the intervals of more serious work, it may be that he
performs a duty which is more obvious because the common inclination
of those who tell the story of human life is to present that which is
sad and terrible, and to lead-the reader, whose soul has bitterness
enough of its own, into contemplation of the true or fictitious
anguish of others.
At any rate, an attempt to show men and their actions in a purely
humorous aspect is justified by the facts of human life; and if
fiction is, for the most part, tragedy, there is reason why much of
the remainder should be devoted to fun. To laugh is to perform as
divine a function as to weep. Man, who was made only a little lower
than the angels, is the only animal to whom laughter is permitted.
He is the sole earthly heir of immortality, and he laughs. More than
this, the process is healthful to both mind and body, for it is the
man who laughs with reason and judgment who is the kindly, pure,
cheerful and happy man.
It is in a village wherein there is elbow-room for the physical and
intellectual man that the characters in this book may be supposed to
be, to do and to suffer. It would be unfair to say that the reader can
visit the spot and meet face to face all these people who appear in
the incidents herein recorded, and it would be equally improper to
assert that there is naught written of them but veritable history. But
it might perhaps be urged that the individuals exist in less decided
and grotesque forms, and that the words and deeds attributed to them
are less than wholly improbable. And if any one shall consider it
worth while to inquire further concerning the matter, let him discover
where may be found a community which exists in such a locality as this
that I will now describe.
A hamlet set upon a hillside. The top a breezy elevation crowned
with foliage and commanding a view of matchless beauty. To the west,
beneath, a sea of verdure rolling away in mighty billows, which here
bear upon their crests a tiny wood, a diminutive dwelling, a flock of
sheep or a drove of cattle, and there sweep apparently almost over a
shadowy town which nestles between two of the emerald waves. Far, far
beyond the steeples which rise dimly from the distant town a range of
hills; beyond it still, a faint film of blue, the indistinct and misty
semblance of towering mountains.
To the north a lovely plain that rises a few miles away into a long
low ridge which forms the sharp and clear horizon. To the south and
east a narrow valley that is little more than a deep ravine, the sides
of the precipitous hills covered with forest to the brink of the
stream, which twists and turns at sharp angles like a wounded snake,
shining as burnished silver when one catches glimpses of it through
the trees, and playing an important part in a landscape which at brief
distance seems as wild and as unconscious of the presence of man as if
it were a part of the wilderness of Oregon rather than the adjunct of
a busy town which feels continually the stir and impulse of the huge
city only a dozen miles away.
He who descends from the top of the village hill will pass pretty
mansions set apart from their neighbors in leafy and flowery solitudes
wherein the most unsocial hermit might find elbow-room enough; he will
see little cottages which stand nearer to the roadside, as if they
shunned isolation and wished to share in the life that often fills
the highway in front of them. Farther down the houses become more
companionable; they cling together in groups with the barest
possibility of retaining their individuality, until at last the
thoroughfare becomes a street wherein small shops do their traffic in
quite a spirited sort of a way.
Clear down at the foot of the hill, by the brink of the sweet and
placid river, there are iron mills and factories and furnaces, whose
chimneys in the daytime pour out huge columns of black smoke, and from
which long tongues of crimson and bluish flame leap forth at night
against the pitchy darkness of the sky. Here, as one whirls by in the
train after nightfall, he may catch hurried glimpses of swarthy men,
stripped to the waist, stirring the molten iron with their long levers
or standing amid showers of sparks as the brilliant metal slips to and
fro among the rollers that mould it into the forms of commerce. If
upon a summer evening one shall rest amid the sweet air and the
rustling trees upon the hill-top, he may hear coming up from this
dusky, grimy blackness of the mills and the railway the soughing of
the blowers of the blast-furnaces, the sharp crack of the exploding
gases in the white-hot iron, the shriek of the locomotive whistle
and all night long the roar and rattle of the passing trains, but
so mellowed by the distance that the harsh sounds seem almost
musical--almost as pleasant and as easily endured as the voices of
nature. And in the early morning a look from the chamber window
perhaps may show a locomotive whirling down the valley around the
sharp curves with its white streamer flung out upon the green
hillside, and seeming like a snowy ribbon cut from the huge mass of
vapor which lies low upon the surface of the stream.
The name of this town among the hills is--well, it has a very
charming Indian name, to reveal which might be to point with too much
distinctness to the worthy people who in some sort figure in the
following pages. It shall be called Millburg in those pages, and its
inhabitants shall tell their stories and play their parts under the
cover of that unsuggestive title; so that the curious reader of little
faith shall have difficulty if he resolves to discover the whereabouts
of the village and to inquire respecting the author's claim to
credibility as a historian.
_THE TERRIBLE MISHAP TO MR. FOGG'S BABY_.
Mr. and Mrs. Fogg have a young baby which was exceedingly restless and
troublesome at night while it was cutting its teeth. Mr. Fogg, devoted
and faithful father that he is, used to take a good deal more than his
share of the nursing of the infant, and often, when he would turn
out of bed for the fifteenth or sixteenth time and with fluttering
garments and unshod feet carry the baby to and fro, soothing it with
a little song, he would think how true it is, as Napoleon once said,
that "the only real courage is two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage."
Mr. Fogg thought he had a reasonable amount of genuine bravery, and
justly, for he performed the functions of a nurse with unsurpassed
patience and good humor.
One night, however, the baby was unusually wakeful and tempestuous,
and after struggling with it for several hours he called Mrs. Fogg and
suggested that it would be well to give the child some paregoric
to relieve it from the intense pain from which it was evidently
suffering. The medicine stood upon the bureau, but Mrs. Fogg had to go
down stairs to the dining-room to get some sugar; and while she was
fumbling about in the entry in the dark it occurred to Mr. Fogg that
he had heard of persons being relieved from pain by applications of
mesmerism. He had no notion that he could exercise such power; but
while musing upon the subject he rubbed the baby's eyebrows carelessly
with his fingers and made several passes with his hands upon its
forehead. As Mrs. Fogg began to feel her way up stairs, he was
surprised and pleased to find that the baby had become quiet and had
dropped off into sweet and peaceful slumber. Mrs. Fogg put the sugar
away as her husband placed the child in its crib and covered it up
carefully, and then they went to bed.
[Illustration: MR. FOGG AS A MESMERIST]
They were not disturbed again that night, and in the morning the baby
was still fast asleep. Mrs. Fogg said she guessed the poor little
darling must have gotten a tooth through, which made it feel easier.
Mr. Fogg said, "Maybe it has."
But he had a faint though very dark suspicion that something was
After breakfast he went up to the bed-room to see if the baby was
awake. It still remained asleep; and Mr. Fogg, when he had leaned over
and listened to its breathing, shook it roughly three or four times
and cleared his throat in a somewhat boisterous manner. But it did not
wake, and Mr. Fogg went down stairs with a horrible dread upon him,
and assuming his hat prepared to go to the office. Mrs. Fogg called to
"Don't slam the front door and wake the baby!"
And then Mr. Fogg did slam it with extraordinary violence; after which
he walked up the street with gloom in his soul and a wretched feeling
of apprehension that the baby would never waken.
"What on earth would we do if it should stay asleep for years?
S'pose'n it should sleep right straight ahead for half a century, and
grow to be an old man without knowing its pa and ma, and without ever
learning anything or seeing anything!"
The thought maddened him. He remembered Rip Van Winkle; he recalled
the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus; he thought of the afflicted woman whom
he saw once at a menagerie in a trance, in which she had been for
twenty years continuously, excepting when she awoke for a few moments
at long intervals to ask for something to eat. Perhaps when he and
Mrs. Fogg were dead the baby might be rented to a menagerie, and be
carried around the country as a spectacle. The idea haunted him. It
made him miserable. He tried for two or three hours to fix his mind
upon his office-duties, but it was impossible. He determined to
go back to the house to ascertain if the baby had returned to
consciousness. When he got there, Mrs. Fogg was beginning to feel very
uneasy. She said,
"Isn't it strange, Wilberforce, that the baby stays asleep? He is not
awake yet. I suppose it is nervous exhaustion, poor darling! but I am
a little worried about it."
Mr. Fogg felt awfully. He went up and jagged a pin into the baby's
leg quietly, so that his wife could not see him. Still it lay there
wrapped in slumber; and after repeating the experiment he abandoned
himself to despair and went back to his office, uncertain whether to
fly or to go home and confess the terrible truth to Mrs. Fogg.
In a couple of hours that lovely woman came in to see him. She was
scared and breathless:
"Mr. Fogg, the baby is actually asleep yet, and I can't rouse him.
I've shaken him, called to him and done _everything_, and he don't
stir. What _can_ be the matter with him? I'm afraid something dreadful
has happened to him."
"Maybe he is sleeping up a lot ahead, so's to stay awake at night some
more," said Mr. Fogg, with a feeble smile at his attempt at a joke.
"Wilberforce, you ought to be ashamed of yourself to trifle with such
a matter! S'pose the baby should die while it is in that condition? I
believe it _is_ going to die, and I want you to go straight for the
Mr. Fogg started at once, and in half an hour he reached the house in
company with Dr. Gill. The doctor examined the child carefully and
said that it was a very queer case, but that, in his opinion, he must
be under the influence of opium.
"Did you give him any while I was asleep last night, Mr. Fogg?" asked
Mrs. Fogg, suspiciously and tearfully.
"Upon my word and honor I didn't," said Mr. Fogg, with the cold
perspiration standing upon his forehead.
"Are you _sure_ you didn't give him _anything_?" demanded the mother,
suddenly remembering that the baby became quiet while she was down
stairs upon the preceding night.
"Maria, do you think I would deceive you?" asked Mr. Fogg, in agony.
"I'll take my solemn oath that I did not give it a drop of medicine of
"It is very remarkable--very," said the doctor. "I don't know that I
ever encountered precisely such a case before. I think I will call in
Dr. Brown and consult with him about it."
Then Mrs. Fogg began to sob; and while she fondled the baby, Mr. Fogg,
feeling like a murderer, followed the doctor down stairs. When they
reached the hall, Mr. Fogg drew the doctor aside and said, in a
"Doctor, I am going to tell you something, but I want you to promise
solemnly that you will keep it a secret."
"Very well; what is it?"
"You won't tell Mrs. Fogg?"
"Well, doctor, I--I--I--know what is the matter with that baby."
"You do! you know! Well, why didn't you--What _is_ the matter with
"The fact is, I mesmerized it last night."
"You did! Mesmerized it! And why don't you rouse it up again?"
"I don't know how; that's the mischief of it. I did it accidentally,
you know. I was sort of fingering around the child's forehead, and all
of a sudden it stopped crying and dropped off. Can't you find me a
professional mesmerizer to come and undo the baby?"
"I don't believe I can. The only one I know of lives in San Francisco,
and he couldn't get here in less than a week even if we should
telegraph for him."
"By that time," shrieked Mr. Fogg, "the baby'll be dead and Maria will
be insane! What, under Heaven, are we going to do about it?"
"Let's hunt up Brown; maybe he knows."
So they went around to Dr. Brown's office and revealed the secret to
him. Brown seemed to think that he might perhaps do something to rob
the situation of its horrors, and he accompanied Mr. Fogg and Dr.
Gill to the house. When they entered, Mrs. Fogg was rapidly becoming
hysterical. Dr. Brown placed the baby on the bed; he slapped its
little hands and rubbed its forehead and dashed cold water in its
face. In a few moments the baby opened its eyes, then it suddenly sat
up and began to cry. Mr. Fogg used to hate that noise, but now it
seemed to him sweeter than music. Mrs. Fogg was wild with joy. She
took the baby in her arms and kissed and hugged it, and then she said,
"What do you think was the matter with him, doctor?"
"Why, your husband says he mesmerized the child," replied the doctor,
incautiously letting the secret drop.
Then Mrs. Fogg looked at the culprit as if she wished to assassinate
him; but she merely ejaculated, "Monster!" and flew from the room; and
Mr. Fogg, as he went down with the physicians, put on an injured look
"If that baby wants to holloa now, I'm going to let him holloa, if he
holloas the top of his head off."
* * * * *
It was this offence, according to popular rumor, that brought things
to a crisis in Mr. Fogg's family and induced Mrs. Fogg to seek to
remove the heavy burden of woe imposed upon her by her husband. Only
a few days later Mr. and Mrs. Fogg knocked at the door of Colonel
Coffin's law office, and then filed in, Mrs. Fogg in advance. Mr.
Fogg, the reader may care to know, was a subdued, weak-eyed and timid
person. He had the air of a victim of perpetual tyranny--of a man who
had been ruthlessly and remorselessly sat upon until his spirit was
wholly gone. And Mrs. Fogg looked as if she might have been his
despot. She opened the conversation by addressing the lawyer:
"Colonel, I have called to engage you as my counsel in a divorce suit
against Mr. Fogg. I have resolved to separate from him--to sunder our
ties and henceforth to live apart."
"Indeed!" replied the colonel; "I'm sorry to hear that. What's the
matter? Has he been beating and ill-treating you?"
"Beating!" exclaimed Mrs. Fogg, disdainfully; "I should think not! I
should like him to try it."
"Maria, let me--" interposed Mr. Fogg, mildly.
"Now, Wilberforce," she exclaimed, interrupting him, "you remain
quiet; I will explain this matter to Colonel Coffin. You see, colonel,
Mr. Fogg is eccentric beyond endurance. He goes on continually in a
manner that will certainly drive me to distraction. I can stand it no
longer. We _must_ be cut asunder. For years, colonel, Wilberforce has
been attempting to learn to play upon the flute. He has no more
idea of music than a crow, but he _will_ try to learn. He has been
practicing upon the flute since 1862, and he has learned but a portion
of but one tune--'Nelly Bly.' He can play but four notes, 'Nelly Bly
shuts--' and there he stops. He has practiced these four notes for
fourteen years. He plays them upon the porch in the evening; he blows
them out from the garret; he stands out in the yard and puffs them;
he has frequently risen in the night and seized his flute and played
'Nel-ly Bly shuts' for hours, until I had to scream to relieve my
"Now, Maria," said Mr. Fogg, "you know that I can play as far as
'shuts her eye'--six notes in all. I learned them in the early part of
"Very well, now; it's of no consequence. Don't interrupt me. This is
bad enough. I submitted to it because I loved him. But on Tuesday,
while I was watching him through the crack of the parlor door, I saw
him wink twice at my chambermaid; I saw him distinctly."
"Maria," shrieked Fogg, "this is scandalous. You know very well that I
am suffering from a nervous affection of the eye-lids."
"Wilberforce, hush! In addition to this wickedness, colonel, Mr. Fogg
is becoming so absent-minded that he torments my life; he makes me
utterly wretched. Four times now has he brought his umbrella to bed
with him and scratched me by joggling it around with the sharp points
of the ribs toward me. What on earth he means I cannot imagine. He
said he thought somehow it was the baby, but that is so preposterous
that I can hardly believe him."
"Why can't you? Don't you remember perfectly well that I emptied a
bottle of milk into the umbrella twice? Would I have done that if I
hadn't thought it was the baby?"
"There, now, Wilberforce! that's enough from you. Do let me have a
chance to talk! And, colonel, the real baby he treats in the most
malignant manner. A few days ago he mesmerized it secretly, and scared
me so that I am ill from the effects of it yet. I thought the dear
child would sleep for ever. And in addition to this, I came in on
Thursday and found that he had laid the large family Bible on the
darling's stomach. It was at the last gasp. I thought it would never
"Maria, didn't I tell you I gave it to the child to play with to keep
"Mr. Fogg, will you please let me get a word in edgeways? Our older
children, too, he is simply ruining. He teaches them the most
pernicious and hurtful doctrines. He told Johnny the other day that
Madagascar was an island in the Peruvian Ocean off the coast of
Illinois, and that a walrus was a kind of a race horse used by the
Caribbees. And our oldest girl told me that he instructed her that
Polycarp fought the battle of Waterloo for the purpose of defeating
"Not the Saracens, Maria; Lucy misunderstood--"
[Illustration: A NOVEL MOUSETRAP]
"Wilberforce, I wish you would hush! His general treatment of me was
scandalous. He was constantly taking my teeth for the purpose of
knocking around the spigot in the bath-tub at night when the baby
wanted a drink, and only last week he took both sets after I had gone
to bed, propped them apart, baited them with cheese, and caught two
horrid mice before morning. I was so hurt by his behavior that I drank
some laudanum for the purpose of committing suicide, and then Mr. Fogg
borrowed a pump in at Knott's drug store and pumped me out twice in
such a rude manner that I have felt hollow ever since."
"I did it from kindness, Maria."
"Don't talk of kindness to me, Wilberforce, after your conduct. And,
colonel, one night last week, after I had retired, Mr. Fogg sat down
in the room below and determined to see if it were true that a candle
could be shot through a board from a gun. He dropped a lighted candle
in his gun, and of course it exploded. It came up through the floor
and made a large spot of grease upon the ceiling of my room, nearly
scaring me to death and filling my legs full of bird-shot."
"Maria, I asked you to believe that I forgot about the candle being
lighted. I did it in a fit of absent-mindedness."
"Do go into the other room, Wilberforce, or else hold your tongue. So,
colonel, I want to get a divorce. Existence is unendurable to me. The
lives of my children are in danger. I cannot remain in such slavery
any longer. Can you release me?"
Colonel Coffin said he would think it over and give her an answer in a
week. His idea was to give her time to think better of it. So then
she told Wilberforce to put on his hat; and when he had done so, he
followed her meekly out, and they went home. It is believed in the
neighborhood that she has concluded to stick to him for a while
_INTERNAL NAVIGATION.--AN UNFORTUNATE INVENTOR_.
The village not only has a railroad running by it, but it has a canal
upon which a large amount of traffic is done. There has been a good
deal of agitation lately concerning the possibility of improving
locomotion upon the canal, and the company offered a reward for the
best device that could be suggested in that direction. A committee was
appointed to examine and report upon the merits of the various plans
submitted. While the subject was under discussion one boat-owner,
Captain Binns, made an experiment upon his own account.
He had a pair of particularly stubborn mules to haul his boat, and
it occurred to him that he might devise some scientific method of
inducing the said mules to move whenever they were inclined to be
baulky. Both mules had phlegmatic temperaments; and when they made up
their minds to stop, they would do so and refuse to go, no matter with
what vigor the boy applied the whip. Captain Binns therefore bought a
tow-line made of three strands of galvanized wire; and placing iron
collars upon the necks of the mules, he fastened the wire to them, and
then he got a very strong galvanic battery and put it in the cabin
of the boat, attaching it to the other end of the line, forming a
[Illustration: A PERPLEXED MULE]
The first time the mules stopped to reflect, the captain sent a strong
current through the wire. The leading mule gave a little start of
astonishment, and then it looked around at the boy upon the tow-path
with a mournful smile that seemed to say, "Sonny, I would like to know
how you worked that?" But the mules stood still. Then the captain
turned a stronger current on, and the mule shied a little and looked
hard at the boy, who was sitting by whittling a stick. The captain
sent another shock through the line, and then the mule, convinced
that that boy was somehow responsible for the mysterious occurrence,
reached over, seized the boy's jacket with his teeth, shook him up and
passed him to the hind mule, which kicked him carefully over the bank
into the river.
The mules were about to turn the matter over in their minds when
Captain Binns sent the full force of the current through the wire and
kept it going steadily. Thereupon the animals became panic-stricken.
They began to rear and plunge; they turned around and dashed down the
tow-path toward the boat. Then the line became taut; it jerked the
boat around suddenly with such force that the stern of it broke
through a weak place in the bank, and before the captain could turn
off his battery the mules had dashed around the other side of the
toll-collector's cabin, and then, making a lurch to the left, they
fell over the bank themselves, the line scraping the cabin, the
collector, three children and a colored man over with them. By the
time the line was cut and the sufferers rescued the mules were drowned
and all the water in the canal had gone out through the break. It
cost Captain Binns three hundred dollars for damages; and when he
had settled the account, he concluded to wait for the report of that
committee before making any new experiments.
The report of the committee upon improved locomotion was submitted to
the company during the following summer. It was a long and exceedingly
entertaining document, and the following extracts from it may possess
"In reference to the plan offered by Henry Bushelson, which proposes
to run the boats by means of his patent propeller, we may remark that
the steam-engine with which the propeller is moved would sink the
boat; and even if it would not, the propeller-blades, being longer
than the depth of the canal, would dig about five hundred cubic
feet of mud out of the bottom at each revolution. As a mud-dredge
Bushelson's patent might be a success, but as a motive-power it is
a failure; and his suggestion that the tow-path might be cut into
lengths and laid side by side and sold for a farm, therefore, is not
"The idea of William Bradley is that holes might be cut in the bottom
of the boat, and through these the legs of the mule could be inserted,
so that it could walk along the bottom, while its body is safe and
dry inside. This notion is the offspring of a fruitful and ingenious
intellect; and if the water could be kept from coming through the
holes, it might be considered valuable but for one thing--somebody
would have to invent a new kind of mule with legs about seven feet
long. Mr. Bradley's mind has not yet devised any method of procuring
such a mule, and unless he can induce the ordinary kind to walk upon
stilts, we fear that the obstacles to success in this direction may be
regarded as insurmountable.
"Mr. Peterman Bostwick urges that important results might be secured
by making the canal an inclined plane, so that when a boat is placed
upon it the boat will simply slide down hill by the power of the
attraction of gravitation. This seems to us a beautiful method of
adapting to the wants of man one of the most remarkable of the laws of
Nature, and we should be inclined to give Mr. Bostwick the first prize
but for the fact that we have discovered, upon investigation, that
the water in the canal also would slide down hill, and that it would
require about fifteen rivers the size of the Mississippi to keep up
the supply. Mr. Bostwick does not mention where we are to get those
rivers. He does, however, say that if it shall be deemed inadvisable
to slope the canal, the boats themselves might be made in the shape of
inclined planes, so that they would run down hill upon a level canal.
There is something so deep, so amazing, in this proposition that your
committee needs more time to consider it and brood over it.
"Mr. W.P. Robbins proposes to draw off the water from the canal, lay
rails on the bottom, and then put the boats on wheels and run them
with a locomotive. Your committee has been very much struck with this
proposition, but has concluded, upon reflection, that it is rather too
revolutionary. If canal navigation should be begun in this manner,
probably we should soon have the railroad companies running their
trains on water by means of sails, and stage lines traveling in the
air with balloons. Such things would unsettle the foundations of
society and induce anarchy and chaos. A canal that has no water is
a licentious and incendiary canal; and it is equally improper and
equally repugnant to all conservative persons when, as Mr. Robbins
suggests, the boats are floated in tanks and the tanks are run on
"Your committee has given much thought and patient examination to the
plan of Mr. Thompson McGlue. He suggests that the mules shall be clad
in submarine armor and made to walk under water along the bottom of
the canal, being fed with air through a pump. As we have never seen a
mule in action while decorated with submarine armor, we are unable
to say with positiveness what his conduct would be under such
circumstances. But the objections to the plan are of a formidable
character. The mule would, of course, be wholly excluded from every
opportunity to view the scenery upon the route, and we fear that this
would have a tendency to discourage him. Being under water, too, he
might be tempted to stop frequently for the purpose of nibbling at the
catfish encountered by him, and this would distract his attention from
his work. Somebody would have to dive whenever he got his hind leg
over the tow-line; and when the water was muddy, he might lose his
way and either pull the boat in the wrong direction or be continually
butting against the bank.
"Of the various other plans submitted, your committee have to say that
A.R. Mackey's proposition to run the boat by sails, and to fill the
sails with wind by means of a steam blower on the vessel; James
Thompson's plan of giving the captain and crew small scows to put
on their feet, so that they could stand overboard and push behind;
William Black's theory that motion could be obtained by employing
trained sturgeon to haul the boat; and Martin Stotesbury's plea that
propulsion could be given by placing a cannon upon the poop-deck and
firing it over the stern, so that the recoil would shove the boat
along,--are wonderful evidences of what the human mind can do when it
exerts itself, but they are not as useful as they are marvelous."
The prize has not yet been awarded. It is thought that the canal
company will have to make it larger before they secure exactly what
* * * * *
There is nothing in common between canals and sausages, but the
mention of Mr. William Bradley's name in the above report recalls
another report in which it figured. Bradley is an inventor who has
a very prolific mind, which, however, rarely produces anything that
anybody wants. One of Mr. Bradley's inventions during the war was
entitled by him "The Patent Imperishable Army Sausage." His idea
was to simplify the movements of troops by doing away with heavy
provision-trains and to furnish soldiers with nutritious food in
a condensed form. The sausage was made on strictly scientific
principles. It contained peas and beef, and salt and pepper, and
starch and gum-arabic, and it was stuffed in the skins by a machine
which exhausted the air, so that it would be air-tight. Bradley said
that his sausage would keep in any climate. You might lay it on the
equator and let the tropical sun scorch it, and it would remain
as sweet and fresh as ever; and Bradley said that there was more
flesh-and-muscle-producing material in a cubic inch of the sausage
than in an entire dinner of roast turkey and other such foolery.
So when Bradley had made up a lot of the Imperishable, he stored
the bulk of them in the garret; and putting a sample of them in his
pocket, he went down to Washington to see the Secretary of War, to get
him to introduce them to the army.
He walked into the secretary's office and pulled out a sausage,
and holding it toward him was about to explain it to him, when the
secretary suddenly dodged behind the table. The movement struck
Bradley as being queer, and he walked around after the secretary,
still holding out a sample of the Imperishable. Then the secretary
made a bolt for the door and went out, and presently in came a couple
of clerks with shot-guns. They aimed at Bradley, and told him to drop
his weapon or they would fire. He deposited the sausage on the table
and asked them what was the matter, and then the secretary came in and
said he mistook the sausage for a revolver. When Bradley explained his
mission, the secretary told him that nothing could be done without the
action of Congress, and he recommended the inventor to go up to the
Capitol and push his sausage through there.
[Illustration: THE SECRETARY IS ALARMED]
So Bradley was on hand next day before the session opened, and he laid
a sausage on the desk of each member. When the House assembled,
there was a large diversity of opinion respecting the meaning of the
extraordinary display. Some were inclined to regard the article as an
infernal machine introduced by some modern Guy Fawkes, while others
leaned to the view that it was a new kind of banana developed by
the Agricultural Department. After a while Bradley turned up and
explained, and he spent the winter there trying to force his sausage
on his beloved country. At the very end of the session a bill was
smuggled through, ordering the commissary department of the army to
appoint a commission to investigate Bradley's sausage, and to report
to the Secretary of War.
When the commission was organized, it came on with Bradley to his home
on his farm to examine his method. As the party approached the house
a terrific smell greeted them, and upon entering the front door it
became nearly unendurable. Mrs. Bradley said she thought there must be
something dead under the washboard. But upon going into the garret the
origin of the smell became obvious. About half a ton of the Patent
Imperishable Sausage lay on the floor in a condition of fearful decay.
Then the commissioners put their fingers to their noses and adjourned,
and the chairman went to the hotel to write out his report. It was
about as follows:
"After a careful examination of the Bradley Patent Imperishable
Army Sausage, we find that it is eminently suitable for certain
well-defined purposes. If it should be introduced to warfare as a
missile, we could calculate with precision that its projection from
a gun into a besieged town would instantly induce the garrison to
evacuate the place and quit; but the barbarity which would be involved
in subjecting even an enemy to direct contact with the Bradley Sausage
is so frightful that we shrink from recommending its use, excepting in
extreme cases. The odor disseminated by the stink-pot used in war by
the Chinese is fragrant and balmy compared with the perfume which
belongs to this article. It might also be used profitably as a manure
for poor land, and in a very cold climate, where it is absolutely
certain to be frozen, it could be made serviceable as a tent-pin.
"But as an article of food it is open to several objections. Bradley's
method of mixing is so defective that he has one sausage filled with
peas, another with gum-arabic, another with pepper and another with
beef. The beef sausages will certainly kill any man who eats a
mouthful, unless they are constantly kept on ice from the hour they
are made, and the gum-arabic sausages are not sufficiently nutritious
to enable an army to conduct an arduous campaign. We are therefore
disposed to recommend that the sausage shall not be accepted by the
department, and that Bradley's friends put him in an asylum where his
mind can be cared for."
When Bradley heard about the report, he was indignant; and after
reflecting that republics are always ungrateful, he sent a box of
the sausages to Bismarck, in order to ascertain if they could not be
introduced to the German army. Three months later he was shot at
one night by a mysterious person, and the belief prevails in this
neighborhood that it was an assassin sent over to this country by
Bismarck for the single purpose of butchering the inventor of the
Imperishable Army Sausage. Since then Bradley has abandoned the
project, and he is now engaged in perfecting a washing-machine which
has reached such a stage that on the first trial it tore four shirts
and a bolster-slip to rags.
_THE FACTS IN REFERENCE TO MR. BUTTERWICK'S HORSE_.
Mr. Butterwick is not a good judge of horses, but a brief while ago he
thought he would like to own a good horse, and so he went to a sale at
a farm over in Tulpehocken township, and for some reason that has not
yet been revealed he bid upon the forlornest wreck of a horse that
ever retained vitality. It was knocked down to him before he had a
chance to think, and he led it home with something like a feeling of
dismay. The purchase in a day or two got to be the joke of the whole
village, and people poked fun at Butterwick in the most merciless
manner. But he was inclined to take a philosophical view of the
matter, and to present it in rather a novel and interesting light.
When I spoke to him of the unkind things that were said about the
horse, he said,
"Oh, I know that they say he has the heaves; but one of the things I
bought him for was because he breathes so loud. That is a sign that he
has a plenty of wind. You take any ordinary horse, and you can't hear
him draw a breath; his lungs are frail and he daren't inflate 'em. But
my horse fills his up and blows 'em out again vigorously, so people
can hear for themselves how he enjoys the fresh air. Now, I'll let you
into a secret, only mind you don't go to whispering it about: When you
want to buy a horse, go and stand off a quarter of a mile and see if
you can hear him kinder sighing. If you can, why go for that horse;
he's worth his weight in gold. That's strictly between you and me, now
"And you know that old idiot, Potts, was trying to joke me because the
horse was sprung in the knees, as if that was not the very thing that
made me resolve to have that horse if I ran him up to five hundred
dollars! You are a young man with no experience in the world, and I'll
tell you why I like such legs: They give the horse more leverage. Do
you see? When a horse's leg is straight, the more he bears on it,
the more likely he is to fracture the bone. But you curve that leg a
little to the front, and the upper bone bears obliquely on the
lower bone, the pressure is distributed and the horse has plenty of
purchase. It is the well-known principle of the arch, you know. If
it's good in building a house, why isn't it good in getting up a
horse? Sprung in the knees! Why, good gracious, man! a horse that is
not sprung is not any horse at all; he is only fit for soap-fat and
glue. Now, that's as true as my name's Butterwick.
"And as for his tail, that they talk so much about! Who'n the thunder
wanted a long tail on the horse? I knew well enough it was short and
had only six or seven hairs on it. But the Romans and Egyptians made
their horses bob-tailed, and why? Maybe you ain't up in ancient
history? Why, those old Romans knew that a horse with a fifteen-inch
tail had more meat on him than a horse with a four-inch tail, and
consequently required more nourishment. They knew that more muscular
force is expended in brandishing a long tail than a short one, and
muscular force is made by food, so they chopped off their horses'
tails to make 'em eat less. They had level heads in those times. They
were up in scientific knowledge. But what do these idiots around this
town know about such things? Let 'em laugh. I can stand a tail that
saves me a couple of bushels of oats a year. I'll bet you anything
that there's millions and millions of dollars wasted--just thrown
away--in this country every year furnishing nutriment to tails that
are of no earthly use to the horses after they're nourished. You can
depend on that. I've examined the government statistics, and they're
enough to make a man cry to see how wasteful the American people are.
"And when you talk about his ribs showing so plainly through his
sides, you prove that you have a very singular want of taste. Which is
handsomer, a flat wall or a wall with a surface varied with columns
and pilasters? Well, then, when you take a horse, no man who loves art
wants to see him smooth and even from stem to stern. What you want is
a varied surface--a little bit of hill and a little bit of valley; and
you get it in a horse like mine. Most horses are monotonous. They tire
on you. But swell out the ribs, and there you have a horse that always
pleases the eye and appeals to the finer sensibilities of the mind.
Besides, you are always perfectly certain that he has his full number
of ribs, and that the man you buy him of is not keeping back a single,
solitary bone. Your horse is all there, and you go to bed at night
comfortable because you know it. That's the way I look at it; and
without caring to have it mentioned around, I don't mind telling you
that I know a man who came all the way from Georgia to buy my horse
simply because he heard that his ribs stuck out. I got my bid in ahead
of him, and he went home the worst disgusted man you ever saw.
"And about his having glanders and botts and blind staggers and a raw
shoulder, I can tell you that those things never attack any but a
thoroughbred horse; and for my part, I made up my mind years ago, when
I was a child, that if any man ever offered me a horse that hadn't
blind staggers I wouldn't take him as a gift. Now, that's as true as
you're alive. Professor Owen says that so far from regarding glanders
as a disease he considers it the crowning glory of a good horse, and
he wants the English government to pass a law inoculating every horse
on the island with it. You write to him and ask him if that ain't so."
And so Butterwick put his phenomenal horse in his stable, hired an
Irishman to take care of it, and possessed his soul in peace. However,
before he fairly had a chance to enjoy his purchase, he was summoned
to St. Louis to look after some business matters, and he was detained
there for about six weeks. During his absence Mrs. Butterwick assumed
the responsibility for the management of the horse; and as she knew
as much about taking care of horses as she did about conducting the
processes of the sidereal system, the result was that Mr. Butterwick's
horse was the unconscious parent of infinite disaster. When Butterwick
returned and had kissed his wife and talked over his journey, the
following conversation ensued. Mrs. Butterwick said,
"You know our horse, dearest?"
"Yes, sweet; how is he getting along?"
"Not so _very_ well; he has cost a great deal of money since you've
"Yes; besides his regular feed and Patrick's wages as hostler, I have
on hand unpaid bills to the amount of two thousand dollars on his
"Two thousand! Why, Emma, you amaze me! What on earth does it mean?"
"I'll tell you the whole story, love. Just after you left he took a
severe cold, and he coughed incessantly. You could hear him cough for
miles. All the neighbors complained of it, and Mr. Potts, next door,
was so mad that he shot at the horse four times. Patrick said it was
"Whooping-cough, darling! Impossible! A horse _never_ has
"Well, Patrick said so. And as I always give paregoric to the children
when they cough, I concluded that it would be good for the horse, so I
bought a bucketful and gave it to him with sugar."
"A bucketful of paregoric, my love! It was enough to kill him."
"Patrick said that was a regular dose for a horse of sedentary habits;
and it didn't kill him: it put him to sleep. You will be surprised,
dear, to learn that the horse slept straight ahead for four weeks.
Never woke up once. I was frightened about it, but Patrick told me
that it was a sign of a good horse. He said that Dexter often slept
six months on a stretch, and that once they took Goldsmith Maid to
a race while she was sound asleep and she trotted a mile in 2:15, I
think he said, without getting awake."
"Patrick said that, did he?"
"Yes; that was at the end of the second week. But as the horse didn't
rouse up, Patrick said it couldn't be the paregoric that kept him
asleep so long; and he came to me and asked me not to mention it, but
he had suspicions that Mr. Fogg had mesmerized him."
"I never heard of a horse being mesmerized, dearest."
"Neither did I, but Patrick said it was a common thing with the better
class of horses. And when he kept on sleeping, dear, I got frightened,
and Patrick consulted the horse-doctor, who came over with a galvanic
battery, which he said would wake the horse. They fixed the wires to
his leg and turned on the current. It did rouse him. He got up and
kicked fourteen boards out of the side of the stable and then jumped
the fence into Mr. Potts' yard, where he trod on a litter of young
pigs, kicked two cows to death and bit the tops off of eight apple
trees. Patrick said he tried to swallow Mrs. Potts' baby, but I didn't
see him do that. Patrick may have exaggerated. I don't know. It seems
hardly likely, does it, that the horse would actually try to eat a
"The man that sold him to me didn't mention that he was fond of
"But he got over the attack. The only effect was that the paregoric or
the electricity, or something, turned his hair all the wrong way, and
he looks the queerest you ever saw. Oh yes; it did seem to affect his
appetite, too. He appeared to be always hungry. He ate up the hay-rack
and two sets of harness. And one night he broke out and nibbled off
all the door-knobs on the back of the house."
"Door-knobs, Emma? Has he shown a fondness for door-knobs?"
"Yes; and he ate Louisa's hymn-book, too. She left it lying on the
table on the porch. Patrick said he knew a man in Ireland whose horse
would starve to death unless they fed him on Bibles. If he couldn't
get Bibles, he'd take Testaments; but unless he got Scriptures of some
kind, he was utterly intractable."
"I would like to have had a look at that horse, sweet."
"So we got the horse-doctor again, and he said that what the poor
animal wanted was a hypodermic injection of morphia to calm his
nerves. He told Patrick to get a machine for placing the morphia under
the horse's skin. But Patrick said that he could do it without the
machine. So one day he got the morphia, and began to bore a hole in
the horse with a gimlet."
"A gimlet, Emma?"
"An ordinary gimlet. But it seemed unpleasant to the horse, and so he
kicked Patrick through the partition, breaking three of his ribs. Then
I got the doctor to perform the operation properly, and the horse
after that appeared right well, excepting that Patrick said that he
had suddenly acquired an extraordinary propensity for standing on his
"He is the first horse that ever wanted to do that, love."
"Patrick said not. He told me about a man he worked for in Oshkosh who
had a team of mules which always stood on their heads when they were
not at work. He said all the mules in Oshkosh did. So Patrick tied a
heavy stone to our horse's tail to Balance him and keep him straight.
And this worked to a charm until I took the horse to church one
Sunday, when, while a crowd stood round him looking at him, he swung
his tail around and brained six boys with the stone."
"Brained them, love?"
"Well, I didn't see them myself, but Patrick told me, when I came out
of church, that they were as good as dead. And he said he remembered
that that Oshkosh man used to coax his mules to stand on their legs by
letting them hear music. It soothed them, he said. And so Patrick got
a friend to come around and sit in the stall and calm our horse by
playing on the accordion."
"Did it make him calmer?"
"It seemed to at first; but one day Patrick undertook to bleed him for
the blind staggers, and he must have cut the horse in the wrong place,
for the poor brute fell over on the accordion person and died, nearly
killing the musician."
"The horse is dead, then? Where is the bill?"
"I'll read it to you:
Horse-doctor's fees $125 50
Paregoric for cough 80 00
Galvanic battery 10 00
Repairing stable 12 25
Potts' cow, pigs, apple trees and baby 251 00
Damage to door-knobs, etc. 175 00
Louisa's hymn-book 25
Gimlet and injections 15 00
Repairing Patrick's ribs 145 00
Music on accordion 21 00
Damages to player 184 00
Burying six boys 995 00
"That is all, love, is it?"
Then Mr. Butterwick folded the bill up and went out into the back yard
to think. Subsequently, he told me that he had concluded to repudiate
the unpaid portions of the bill, and then to try to purchase a better
horse. He said he had heard that Mr. Keyser, a farmer over in Lower
Merion, had a horse that he wanted to sell, and he asked me to go over
there with him to see about it. I agreed to do so.
When we reached the place, Mr. Keyser asked us into the parlor, and
while we were sitting there we heard Mrs. Keyser in the dining-room,
adjoining, busy preparing supper. Keyser would not sell his horse, but
he was quite sociable, and after some conversation, he said,
"Gentlemen, in 1847 I owned a hoss that never seen his equal in this
State. And that hoss once did the most extr'ordinary thing that
was ever done by an animal. One day I had him out, down yer by the
Here Mrs. Keyser opened the door and exclaimed, shrilly,
"Keyser, if you want any supper, you'd better get me some kin'lin-wood
Then Keyser turned to us and said, "Excuse me for a few moments,
gentlemen, if you please."
A moment later we heard him splitting wood in the cellar beneath, and
indulging in some very hard language with his soft pedal down, Mrs.
Keyser being the object of his objurgations. After a while he came
into the parlor again, took his seat, wiped the moisture from his
brow, put his handkerchief in his hat, his hat on the floor, and
"As I was sayin', gentlemen, one day I had that hoss down yer by the
creek; it was in '47 or '48, I most forget which. But, howsomedever, I
took him down yer by the creek, and I was jest about to--"
_Mrs. Keyser_ (opening the door suddenly). "You, Keyser! there's not a
drop of water in the kitchen, and unless some's drawed there'll be no
supper in this house _this_ night, now mind _me_!"
_Keyser_ (with a look of pain upon his face). "Well, well! this is too
bad! too bad! Gentlemen, just wait half a minute. I'll be right back.
The old woman's rarin' 'round, and she won't wait."
Then we heard Keyser at work at the well-bucket; and looking out the
back window, we saw him bringing in a pail of water. On his way he
encountered a dog, and in order to give his pent-up feelings adequate
expression, he kicked the animal clear over the fence. Presently he
came into the parlor, mopped his forehead, and began again.
_Keyser_. "As I was sayin', that hoss was perfeckly astonishin'. On
the day of which I was speakin'. I was ridin' him down yer by the
creek, clost by the corn-field, and I was jest about to wade him in,
when, all of a suddent-like, he--"
_Mrs. Keyser_ (at the door, and with her voice pitched at a high key).
"ARE you goin' to fetch that ham from the smoke-house, or ARE you
goin' to set there jabberin' and go without your supper? If that ham
isn't here in short order, I'll know the reason why. You hear me?"
_Keyser_ (his face red and his manner excited). "_Gra_-SHUS! If this
isn't--Well, well! this just lays over all the--Pshaw! Mr. Butterwick,
if you'll hold on for a second, I'll be with you agin. I'll be right
Then we heard Keyser slam open the smokehouse door, and presently he
emerged with a ham, which he carried in one hand, while with the other
he made a fist, which he shook threateningly at the kitchen door, as
if to menace Mrs. Keyser, who couldn't see him.
Again he entered the parlor, smelling of smoke and ham, and, crossing
his legs, he continued.
_Keyser_ "Excuse these little interruptions; the old woman's kinder
sing'ler, and you've got to humor her to live in peace with her. Well,
sir, as I said, I rode that extr'ordinary hoss down yer by the creek
on that day to which I am referring and after passin' the cornfield I
was goin' to wade him into the creek; just then, all of a, suddent,
what should that hoss do but--"
_Mrs. Keyser_ (at the door again). "Keyser, you lazy vagabone! Why
don't you 'tend to milkin' them cows? Not one mossel of supper do you
put in your mouth this night unless you do the milkin' right off. You
sha'n't touch a crust, or my name's not Emeline Keyser!"
Then Keyser leaped to his feet in a perfect frenzy of rage and hurled
the chair at Mrs. Keyser; whereupon she seized the poker and came
toward him with savage earnestness. Then we adjourned to the front
yard suddenly; and as Butterwick and I got into the carriage to go
home, Keyser, with a humble expression in his eyes, said:
"Gentlemen, I'll tell you that hoss story another time, when the old
woman's calmer. Good-day."
I am going to ask him to write it out. I am anxious to know what that
horse did down at the creek.
Butterwick subsequently bought another horse from a friend of his in
the city, but the animal developed eccentricities of such a remarkable
character that he became unpopular. Butterwick, in explaining the
subject to me, said,
"I was surprised to find, when I drove him out for the first time,
that he had an irresistible propensity to back. He seemed to be
impressed with a conviction that nature had put his hind legs in
front, and that he could see with his tail; and whenever I attempted
to start him, he always proceeded backward until I whipped him
savagely, and then he would go in a proper manner, but suddenly, and
with the air of a horse who had a conviction that there was a lunatic
in the carriage who didn't know what he was about. One day, while we
were coming down the street, this theory became so strong that he
suddenly stopped and backed the carriage through the plate-glass
window of Mackey's drug-store. After that I always hitched him up
with his head toward the carriage, and then he seemed to feel better
contented, only sometimes he became too sociable, and used to put his
head over the dasher and try to chew my legs or to eat the lap-cover.
"Besides, the peculiar arrangement of the animal excited unpleasant
remark when I drove out; and when I wanted to stop and would hitch him
by the tail to a post, he had a very disagreeable way of reaching out
with his hind legs and sweeping the sidewalk whenever he saw anybody
that he felt as if he would like to kick.
"He was not much of a saddle-horse; not that he would attempt to throw
his rider, but whenever a saddle was put on him it made his back itch,
and he would always insist upon rubbing it against the first tree or
fence or corner of a house that he came to; and if he could bark the
rider's leg, he seemed to be better contented. The last time I rode
him was upon the day of Mr. Johnson's wedding. I had on my best suit,
and on the way to the festival there was a creek to be forded. When
the horse got into the middle of it, he took a drink, and then looked
around at the scenery. Then he took another drink, and gazed again at
the prospect. Then he suddenly felt tired and lay down in the water.
By the time he was sufficiently rested I was ready to go home.
[Illustration: MR. BUTTERWICK'S HORSE LIES DOWN]
"The next day he was taken sick. Patrick said it was the epizooty, and
he mixed him up some turpentine in a bucket of warm feed. That night
the horse had spasms, and kicked four of the best boards out of the
side of the stable. Jones said that horse hadn't the epizooty, but
the botts, and that the turpentine ought to have been rubbed on the
outside of him instead of going into his stomach. So we rubbed him
with turpentine, and next morning he hadn't a hair on his body.
"Colonel Coffin told me that if I wanted to know what really ailed
that horse he would tell me. It was glanders, and if he wasn't bled he
would die. So the colonel bled him for me. We took away a tubful, and
the horse thinned down so that his ribs made him look as if he had
swallowed a flour-barrel.
"Then I sent for the horse-doctor, and he said there was nothing the
matter with the horse but heaves, and he left some medicine 'to patch
up his wind.' The result was that the horse coughed for two days as if
he had gone into galloping consumption, and between two of the
coughs he kicked the hired man through the partition and bit our
black-and-tan terrier in half.
"I thought perhaps a little exercise might improve his health, so I
drove him out one day, and he proceeded in such a peculiar manner that
I was afraid he might suddenly come apart and fall to pieces. When we
reached the top of White House hill, which is very steep by the side
of the road, he stopped, gave a sort of shudder, coughed a couple of
times, kicked a fly off his side with his hind leg, and then lay down
and calmly rolled over the bank. I got out of the carriage before he
fell, and I watched him pitch clear down to the valley beneath, with
the vehicle dragging after him. When we got to him he was dead, and
the man at the farm-house close by said he had the blind staggers.
"I sold him for eight dollars to a man who wanted to make him up into
knife-handles and suspender-buttons; and since then we have walked.
I hardly think I shall buy another horse. My luck doesn't seem good
enough when I make ventures of that kind."
_SOME EDUCATIONAL FACTS_.
The public-school system of the village was reorganized during a
recent summer; and in consequence of a considerable enlargement of
the single school-building and the great increase of the number of
scholars, it was determined to engage an additional woman-teacher in
the girls' department. Accordingly, the board of directors advertised
for a suitable person, instructing applicants to call upon Judge
Twiddler, the chairman. A day or two later, Mrs. Twiddler advertised
in a city paper for a cook, and upon the same afternoon an Irish girl
came to the house to obtain the place in the kitchen. The judge was
sitting upon the front porch at the time reading a newspaper; and
when the girl entered the gate of the yard, he mistook her for a
school-mistress, and he said to her,
"Did you come about that place?"
"Yes, sor," she answered.
"Oh, very well, then; take a seat and I'll run over a few things in
order to ascertain what your qualifications are. Bound Africa."
"If you please, sor, I don't know what you mean."
"I say, bound Africa."
"Bou--bou--Begorra, I don't know what ye're referrin' to."
"Very strange," said the judge. "Can you tell me if 'amphibious' is an
adverb or a preposition? What is an adverb?"
"Indade, and ye bother me intirely. I never had anything to do wid
such things at my last place."
"Then it must have been a curious sort of an institution," said the
judge. "Probably you can tell me how to conjugate the verb 'to be,'
and just mention, also, what you know about Herodotus."
"Ah, yer Honor's jokin' wid me. Be done wid yer fun, now."
"Did you ever hear of Herodotus?"
"Never once in the whole coorse of my life. Do you make it with eggs?"
"This is the most extraordinary woman I ever encountered," murmured
the judge. "How she ever associated Herodotus with the idea of eggs is
simply incomprehensible. Well, can you name the hemisphere in which
China and Japan are situated?"
"Don't bother me wid yer fun, now. I can wash the china and the pans
as well as anybody, and that's enough, now, isn't it?"
"Dumb! awful dumb! Don't know the country from the crockery. I'll try
her once more. Name the limits of the Tropic of Capricorn, and tell me
where Asia Minor is located."
"I have a brother that's one, sor; that's all I know about it."
"One? One what?"
"Didn't ye ask me afther the miners, sor? My brother Teddy works wid
"And this," said the judge, "is the kind of person to whom we are
asked to entrust the education of youth. Woman, what _do_ you know?
What kind of a school have you been teaching?"
"None, sor. What should I teach school for?"
"Totally without experience, as I supposed," said the judge.
"Mrs. Ferguson had a governess teach the children when I was cookin'
"Cooking! Ain't you a school-teacher? What do you mean by proposing to
stop cooking in order to teach school? Why, it's preposterous."
"Begorra, I came here to get the cook's place, sor, and that's all of
"Oh, by George! I see now. You ain't a candidate for the grammar
school, after all. You want to see Mrs. Twiddler. Maria, come down
here a minute. There's a thick-headed immigrant here wants to cook for
And the judge picked up his paper and resumed the editorial on "The
They obtained a good teacher, however, and the course of affairs in
the girls' department was smooth enough; but just after the opening of
the fall session there was some trouble in the boys' department.
Mr. Barnes, the master, read in the _Educational Monthly_ that boys
could be taught history better than in any other way by letting each
boy in the class represent some historical character, and relate the
acts of that character as if he had done them himself. This struck
Barnes as a mighty good idea, and he resolved to put it in practice.
The school had then progressed so far in its study of the history of
Rome as the Punic wars, and Mr. Barnes immediately divided the boys
into two parties, one Romans and the other Carthaginians, and certain
of the boys were named after the leaders upon both sides. All the boys
thought it was a fine thing, and Barnes noticed that they were so
anxious to get to the history lesson that they could hardly say their
other lessons properly.
When the time came, Barnes ranged the Romans upon one side of the room
and the Carthaginians on the other. The recitation was very spirited,
each party telling about its deeds with extraordinary unction. After a
while Barnes asked a Roman to describe the battle of Cannae. Whereupon
the Romans hurled their copies of Wayland's Moral Science at the
enemy. Then the Carthaginians made a battering-ram out of a bench and
jammed it among the Romans, who retaliated with a volley of books,
slates and chewed paper-balls. Barnes concluded that the battle of
Cannae had been sufficiently illustrated, and he tried to stop it;
but the warriors considered it too good a thing to let drop, and
accordingly the Carthaginians dashed over to the Romans with another
battering-ram and thumped a couple of them savagely.
Then the Romans turned in, and the fight became general. A
Carthaginian would grasp a Roman by the hair and hustle him around
over the desk in a manner that was simply frightful, and a Roman would
give a fiendish whoop and knock a Carthaginian over the head with
Greenleaf's Arithmetic. Hannibal got the head of Scipio Africanus
under his arm, and Scipio, in his efforts to break away, stumbled,
and the two generals fell and had a rough-and-tumble fight under the
blackboard. Caius Gracchus prodded Hamilcar with a ruler, and the
latter in his struggles to get loose fell against the stove and
knocked down about thirty feet of stove-pipe. Thereupon the Romans
made a grand rally, and in five minutes they chased the entire
Carthaginian army out of the school-room, and Barnes along with it;
and then they locked the door and began to hunt up the apples and
lunch in the desks of the enemy.
[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF CANNAE.]
After consuming the supplies they went to the windows and made
disagreeable remarks to the Carthaginians, who were standing in the
yard, and dared old Barnes to bring the foe once more into battle
array. Then Barnes went for a policeman; and when he knocked at the
door, it was opened, and all the Romans were found busy studying their
lessons. When Barnes came in with the defeated troops he went for
Scipio Africanus; and pulling him out of his seat by the ear, he
thrashed that great military genius with a rattan until Scipio began
to cry, whereupon Barnes dropped him and began to paddle Caius
Gracchus. Then things settled down in the old way, and next morning
Barnes announced that history in the future would be studied as it
always had been; and he wrote a note to the _Educational Monthly_ to
say that in his opinion the man who suggested the new system ought
to be led out and shot. The boys do not now take as much interest in
Roman history as they did on that day.
* * * * *
The young tragedian who represented Scipio Africanus is named Smith.
His family came to the village to live only a few weeks before the
school opened. Scipio is a very enterprising and ingenious lad.
Colonel Coffin's boy leaned over the fence one day and gave to me his
impressions of Scipio, a lad about fourteen years old:
"Yes, me and him are right well acquainted now; he knows more'n I do,
and he's had more experience. Bill says his father used to be a robber
(Smith, by the way, is a deacon in the Presbyterian church, and a very
excellent lawyer), and that he has ten million dollars in gold buried
in his cellar, along with a whole lot of human bones--people he's
killed. And he says his father is a conjurer, and that he makes all
the earthquakes that happen anywheres in the world. The old man'll
come home at night, after there's been an earthquake, all covered with
perspiration and so tired he kin hardly stand. Bill says it's such
"And Bill tole me that once when a man came around there trying to
sell lightning-rods his father got mad and et him--et him right up;
and he takes bites out of everybody he comes acrost.
"That's what Bill tells me. That's all I know about it. And he tole me
that once he used to have a dog--one of these little kind of dogs--and
he was flying his kite, and just for fun he tied the kite-string
onto his dog's tail. And then the wind struck her and his dog went
a-scuddin' down the street with his hind legs in the air for about a
mile, when the kite all of a sudden begun to go up, and in about
a minute the dog was fifteen miles high and commanding a view of
California and Egypt, I think Bill said. He came down, anyhow, I know,
in Brazil, and Bill said he swum home all the way in the Atlantic
Ocean; and when he landed, his legs were all nibbled off by sharks.
"I wish father'd buy me a dog, so's I could send him up that way. But
I never have any luck. Bill said that where they used to live he went
out on the roof one day to fly his kite, and he sat on top of the
chimbly to give her plenty of room, and while he was sitting there
thinking about nothing, the old man put a keg of powder down below
in the fire-place to clean the soot out of the chimbly. And when he
touched her off, Bill was blowed over agin the Baptist church steeple,
and he landed on the weather-cock with his pants torn, and they
couldn't git him down for three days, so he hung there, going round
and round with the wind, and he lived by eating the crows that came
and sat on him, because they thought he was made of sheet-iron and put
up there on purpose.
"He's had more fun than enough. He was telling me the other day about
a sausage-stuffer his brother invented. It was a kinder machine that
worked with a treadle; and Bill said the way they did in the fall was
to fix it on the hog's back, and connect the treadle with a string,
and then the hog'd work the treadle and keep on running it up and down
until the machine cut the hog all up fine and shoved the meat into the
skins. Bill said his brother called it 'Every Hog His Own Stuffer,'
and it worked splendid. But I do' know. 'Pears to me 'sif there
couldn't be no machine like that. But anyway, Bill said so.
"And he told me about an uncle of his out in Australia who was et by a
big oyster once; and when, he got inside, he stayed there until he'd
et the oyster. Then he split the shell open and took half a one for a
boat, and he sailed along until he met a sea-serpent, and he killed it
and drawed off its skin, and when he got home he sold it to an engine
company for a hose, for forty thousand dollars, to put out fires with.
Bill said that was actually so, because he could show me a man who
used to belong to the engine company. I wish father'd let me go out
to find a sea-serpent like that; but he don't let me have a chance to
"Bill was saying only yesterday that the Indians caught him once and
drove eleven railroad spikes through his stomach and cut off his
scalp, and it never hurt him a bit. He said he got away by the
daughter of the chief sneaking him out of the wigwam and lending him a
horse. Bill says she was in love with him; and when I asked him to let
me see the holes where they drove in the spikes, he said he daresn't
take off his clothes or he'd bleed to death. He said his own father
didn't know it, because Bill was afraid it might worry the old man.
"And Bill tole me they wasn't going to get him to go to Sunday-school.
He says his father has a brass idol that he keeps in the garret, and
Bill says he's made up his mind to be a pagan, and to begin to go
naked, and carry a tomahawk and a bow and arrow, as soon as the warm
weather comes. And to prove it to me, he says his father has this town
all underlaid with nitro-glycerine, and as soon as he gets ready he's
going to blow the old thing out, and bust her up, let her rip, and
demolish her. He said so down at the dam, and tole me not to tell
anybody, but I thought they'd be no harm in mentioning it to you.
"And now I believe I must be going. I hear Bill a-whistling. Maybe
he's got something else to tell me."
The Smith boy will be profitable to the youth of the community.
* * * * *
Barnes, the pedagogue, is a worthy man who has seen trouble. Precisely
what was the nature of the afflictions which had filled his face with
furrows and given him the air of one who has been overburdened with
sorrows was not revealed until Mr. Keyser told the story one evening
at the grocery-store. Whether his narrative is strictly true or not
is uncertain. There is a bare possibility that Mr. Keyser may have
exaggerated grossly a very simple fact.
"Nobody ever knew how it got in there," said Mr. Keyser, clasping his
hands over his knee and spitting into the stove. "Some thought Barnes
must've swallowed a tadpole while drinking out of a spring and it
subsequently grew inside him, while others allowed that maybe he'd
accidentally eaten frogs' eggs some time and they'd hatched out.
But anyway, he had that frog down there inside of him settled and
permanent and perfectly satisfied with being in out of the rain. It
used to worry Barnes more'n a little, and he tried various things to
git rid of it. The doctors they give him sickening stuff, and over and
over agin emptied him; and then they'd hold him by the heels and shake
him over a basin, and they'd bait a hook with a fly and fish down his
throat hour after hour, but that frog was too intelligent. He never
even gave them a nibble; and when they'd try to fetch him with an
emetic, he'd dig his claws into Barnes's membranes and hold on until
the storm was over.
"Not that Barnes minded the frog merely being in there if he'd only a
kept quiet. But he was too vociferous--that's what Barnes said to me.
A taciturn frog he wouldn't have cared about so much. But how would
you like to have one down inside of you there a-whooping every now and
then in the most ridiculous manner? Maybe, for instance, Barnes'd be
out taking tea with a friend, and just when everybody else was quiet
it'd suddenly occur to his frog to tune-up, and the next minute you'd
hear something go 'Blo-o-o-ood-a-noun! Blo-oo-oo-ood-a-noun!' two or
three times, apparently under the table. Then the folks would ask if
there was an aquarium in the house or if the man had a frog-pond in
the cellar, and Barnes'd get as red as fire and jump up and go home.
"And often when he'd be setting in church, perhaps in the most solemn
part of the sermon, he'd feel something give two or three quick kinder
jerks under his vest, and presently that reptile would bawl right out
in the meeting 'Bloo-oo-oo-ood-a-noun! Bloo-oo-oo-ood-a-nou-ou-oun!'
and keep it up until the sexton would come along and run out two or
three boys for profaning the sanctuary. And at last he'd fix it on
poor old Barnes, and then tell him that if he wanted to practice
ventriloquism he'd better wait till after church. And then the frog'd
give six or seven more hollers, so that the minister would stop and
look at Barnes, and Barnes'd get up and skip down the aisle and go
home furious about it.
"It had a deep voice for an ordinary frog--betwixt a French horn and a
bark-mill. And Mrs. Barnes told me herself that often, when John'd get
comfortably fixed in bed and just dropping off into a nap, the frog'd
think it was a convenient time for some music; and after hopping
about a bit, it'd all at once grind out three or four awful
'Bloo-oo-ood-a-nouns' and wake Mrs. Barnes and the baby, and start
things up generally all around the house. And--would you believe
it?--if that frog felt, maybe, a little frisky, or p'raps had some
tune running through its head, it'd keep on that way for hours. It
worried Barnes like thunder.
"I dunno whether it was that that killed his wife or not; but anyhow,
when she died, Barnes wanted to marry agin, and he went for a while to
see Miss Flickers, who lives out yer on the river road, you know. He
courted her pretty steady for a while, and we all thought there was
goin' to be a consolidation. But she was telling my wife that one
evening Barnes had just taken hold of her hand and told her he
loved her, when all of a sudden something said,
"'What on earth's that?' asked Miss Flickers, looking sorter scared.
"'I dunno,' said Barnes; 'it sounds like somebody making a noise in
the cellar.' Lied, of course, for he knew mighty well what it was.
[Illustration: MR. BARNES PROPOSES]
"''Pears to me 'sif it was under the sofa,' says she.
"'Maybe it wasn't anything, after all,' says Barnes, when just then
the frog, he feels like running up the scales again, and he yells out,
"'Upon my word,' says Miss Flickers, 'I believe you've got a frog in
your pocket, Mr. Barnes; now, haven't you?'
"Then he gets down on his knees and owns up to the truth, and swears
he'll do his best to git rid of the frog, and all the time he is
talking the frog is singing exercises and scales and oratorios inside
of him, and worse than ever, too, because Barnes drank a good deal of
ice-water that day, and it made the frog hoarse--ketched cold, you
"But Miss Flickers, she refused him. Said she might've loved him, only
she couldn't marry any man that had continual music in his interior.
"So Barnes, he was the most disgusted man you ever saw. Perfectly sick
about it. And one day he was lying on the bed gaping, and that frog
unexpectedly made up its mind to come up to ask Barnes to eat more
carefully, maybe, and it jumped out on the counterpane. After looking
about a bit it came up and tried three or four times to hop back,
but he kept his mouth shut, and killed the frog with the back of a
hair-brush. Ever since then he runs his drinking-water through a
strainer, and he hates frogs worse than you and me hate pison. Now,
that's the honest truth about Barnes; you ask him if it ain't."
Then Keyser bought some tobacco and went home.
_THE EDITOR OF THE PATRIOT_.
The editor of the village paper, _The Patriot and Advertiser_, is
Major Slott; and a very clever journalist he is. Even his bitterest
adversary, the editor of _The Evening Mail_, in the town above us on
the river, admits that. In the last political campaign, indeed, _The
Mail_ undertook to tell how it was that the major acquired such a
taste for journalism. The story was that shortly after he was born the
doctor ordered that the baby should be fed upon goat's milk. This was
procured from a goat that was owned by an Irish woman who lived in the
rear of the office of _The Weekly Startler_ and fed her goat chiefly
upon the exchanges which came to that journal. The consequence,
according to _The Mail_, was that young Slott was fed entirely upon
milk formed from digested newspapers; and he throve on it, although
when the Irish woman mixed the Democratic journals carelessly with the
Whig papers they disagreed after they were eaten, and the milk gave
the baby colic. Old Slott intended the boy to be a minister; but as
soon as he was old enough to take notice he cried for every newspaper
that he happened to see, and no sooner did he learn how to write than
he began to slash off editorials upon "The Need of Reform," etc. He
ran away from school four times to enter a newspaper office, and
finally, when the paternal Slott put him in the House of Refuge, he
started a weekly in there, and called it the _House of Refuge Record_;
and one day he slid over the wall and went down to the _Era_ office,
where he changed his name to Blott, and began his career on that paper
with an article on "Our Reformatory Institutions for the Young." Then
old Slott surrendered to what seemed to be a combination of manifest
destiny and goat's milk, and permitted him to pursue his profession.
The major, _The Mail_ alleges, has the instinct so strong that if he
should fall into the crater of Vesuvius his first thought on striking
bottom would be to write to somebody to ask for a free pass to come
out with. "But," continued _The Mail_, "you would hardly believe this
story if you ever read _The Patriot_. We often suspect, when we are
looking over that sheet, that the nurse used to mix the goat's milk
with an unfair proportion of water."
The major has a weekly edition in which he publishes serial stories
of a stirring character, and he is always looking out for good ones.
Recently a tale was submitted by a certain Mr. Stack, a young man who
had high ambition without much experience as a writer of fiction.
After waiting a long while and hearing nothing about the story, Mr.
Stack concluded to call upon the major in order to ascertain why
that narrative had not attracted attention. When Stack mentioned his
errand, the major reached for the manuscript; and looking very solemn,
"Mr. Stack, I don't think I can accept this story. In some respects it
is really wonderful; but I am afraid that if I published it, it would
attract almost too much attention. People would get too wild over it.
We have to be careful. For instance, here in the first chapter you
mention the death of Mrs. McGinnis, the hero's mother. She dies; you
inter Mrs. McGinnis in the cemetery; you give an affecting scene at
the funeral; you run up a monument over her and plant honeysuckle upon
her grave. You create in the reader's mind a strong impression
that Mrs. McGinnis is thoroughly dead. And yet, over here in the
twenty-second chapter, you make a man named Thompson fall in love with
her, and she is married to him, and she goes skipping around through
the rest of the story as lively as a grasshopper, and you all the time
alluding to Thompson as her second husband. You see that kind of thing
won't do. It excites remark. Readers complain about it."
"You don't say I did that? Well, now, do you know I was thinking
all the time that it was _Mr._ McGinnis that I buried in the first
chapter? I must have got them mixed up somehow."
"And then," continued the major, "when you introduce the hero, you
mention that he has but one arm, having lost the other in battle. But
in chapter twelve you run him through a saw-mill by an accident, and
you mention that he lost an arm there, too. And yet in the nineteenth
chapter you say, 'Adolph rushed up to Mary, threw his arms about her,
and clasped her to his bosom;' and then you go on to relate how he sat
down at the piano in the soft moonlight and played one of Beethoven's
sonatas 'with sweet poetic fervor.' Now, the thing, you see, don't
dovetail. Adolph couldn't possibly throw his arms around Mary if one
was buried in the field of battle and the other was minced up in a
saw-mill, and he couldn't clasp her to his bosom unless he threw a
lasso with his teeth and hauled her in by swallowing the slack of the
rope. As for the piano--well, you know as well as I do that an armless
man can't play a Beethoven sonata unless he knows how to perform on
the instrument with his nose, and in that case you insult the popular
intelligence when you talk about 'sweet poetic fervor.' I have my
fingers on the public pulse, and I know they won't stand it."
"Well, well," said Stack, "I don't know how I ever came to--"
"Let me direct your attention to another incendiary matter,"
interrupted the major. "In the first love-scene between Adolph
and--and--let me see--what's her name?--Mary--you say that 'her liquid
blue eye rested softly upon him as he poured forth the story of his
love, and its azure was dimmed by a flood of happy tears.' Well, sir,
about twenty pages farther on, where the villain insults her, you
observe that her black eyes flashed lightning at him and seemed to
scorch him where he stood. Now, let me direct attention to the fact
that if the girl's eyes were blue they couldn't be black; and if you
mean to convey the impression that she had one blue eye and one black
eye, and that she only looked softly at Adolph out of the off eye,
while the near eye roamed around, not doing anything in particular,
why, she is too phenomenal for a novel, and only suitable for a place
in the menagerie by the side of the curiosities. And then you say that
although her eye was liquid yet it scorched the villain. People
won't put up with that kind of thing. It makes them delirious and
"Too bad!" said Stack. "I forgot what I'd said about her eyes when I
wrote that scene with the villain."
"And here, in the twentieth chapter, you say that Magruder was stabbed
with a bowie-knife in the hands of the Spaniard, and in the next
chapter you give an account of the _post-mortem_ examination, and make
the doctors hunt for the bullet and find it embedded in his liver.
Even patient readers can't remain calm under such circumstances. They
lose control of themselves."
"It's unfortunate," said Stack.
"Now, the way you manage the Browns in the story is also exasperating.
First you represent Mrs. Brown as taking her twins around to church to
be christened. In the middle of the book you make Mrs. Brown lament
that she never had any children, and you wind up the story by bringing
in Mrs. Brown with her grandson in her arms just after having caused
Mr. Brown to state to the clergyman that the only child he ever had
died in his fourth year. Just think of the effect of such a thing on
the public mind! Why, this story would fill all the insane asylums in
"Those Browns don't seem to be very definite, somehow," said Stack,
"Worst of all," said major, "in chapter thirty-one you make the lovers
resolve upon suicide, and you put them in a boat and drift them over
Niagara Falls. Twelve chapters farther on you suddenly introduce them
walking in the twilight in a leafy lane, and although afterward she
goes into a nunnery and takes the black veil because he has been
killed by pirates in the Spanish West Indies, in the next chapter to
the last you have a scene where she goes to a surprise-party at the
Presbyterian minister's and finds him there making arrangements for
the wedding as if nothing had ever happened; and then, after you
disclose the fact that she was a boy in disguise, and not a woman at
all, you marry them to each other, and represent the boy heroine as
giving her blessing to her daughter. Oh, it's awful--awful! It won't
do. It really won't. You'd better go into some other kind of business,
Then Stack took his manuscript and went home to fix it up so as to
make the story run together better. The _Patriot_ will not publish it
even if Stack reconstructs it.
* * * * *
Major Slott, like most other editors, is continually persecuted by
bores, but recently he was the victim of a peculiarly dastardly attack
from a person of this class. While he was sitting in the office of the
_Patriot_, writing an editorial about "Our Grinding Monopolies," he
suddenly became conscious of the presence of a fearful smell. He
stopped, snuffed the air two or three times, and at last lighted a
cigar to fumigate the room. Then he heard footsteps upon the stairs,
and as they drew nearer the smell grew stronger. When it had reached a
degree of intensity that caused the major to fear that it might break
some of the furniture, there was a knock at the door. Then a man
entered with a bundle under his arm, and as he did so the major
thought that he had never smelt such a fiendish smell in the whole
course of his life. He held his nose; and when the man saw the
gesture, he said,
"I thought so; the usual effect. You hold it tight while I explain."
"What hab you god id that buddle?" asked the major.
"That, sir," said the man, "is Barker's Carbolic Disinfecting
Door-mat. I am Barker, and this is the mat. I invented it, and it's a
"Is id thad thad smells so thudderig bad?" asked the major, with his
nostrils tightly shut.
"Yes, sir; smells very strong, but it's a healthy smell. It's
invigorating. It braces the system. I'll tell you--"
"Gid oud with the blabed thig!" exclaimed the major.
"I must tell you all about it first. I called to explain it to you.
You see I've been investigating the causes of epidemic diseases. Some
scientists think they are spread by molecules in the air; others
attribute them to gases generated in the sewers; others hold that they
are conveyed by contagion; but I--"
"Aid you goig to tague thad idferdal thig away frob here?" asked the
"But I have discovered that these diseases are spread by the agency of
door-mats. Do you understand? Door-mats! And I'll explain to you how
it's done. Here's a man who's been in a house where there's disease.
He gets it on his boots. The leather is porous, and it becomes
saturated. He goes to another house and wipes his boots on the mat.
Now, every man who uses that mat must get some of the stuff on his
boots, and he spreads it over every other door-mat that he wipes them
on. Now, don't he?"
"Why dode you tague thad sbell frob udder by dose?"
"Well, then, my idea is to construct a door-mat that will disinfect
those boots. I do it by saturating the mat with carbolic acid and
drying it gradually. I have one here prepared by my process. Shall I
"If you do, I'll blow your braids out!" shouted the major.
"Oh, very well, then. Now, the objection to this beautiful invention
is that it possesses a very strong and positive odor."
"I'll bed it does," said the major.
[Illustration: THE CARBOLIC DOOR-MAT]
"And as this is offensive to many persons, I give to each purchaser a
'nose-guard,' which is to be worn upon the nose while in a house where
the carbolic mat is placed. This nose-guard is filled with a
substance which completely neutralizes the smell, and it has only one
disadvantage. Now, what is that?"
"Are you goig to quid and led me breathe, or are you goig to stay here
all day log?"
"Have patience, now; I'm coming to the point. I say, what is that? It
is that the neutralizing substance in the nose-guard evaporates too
quickly. And how do I remedy that? I give to every man who buys a mat
and a nose-guard two bottles of 'neutralizer.' What it is composed of
is a secret. But the bottles are to be carried in the pocket, so as to
be ready for every emergency. The disadvantage of this plan consists
of the fact that the neutralizer is highly explosive, and if a man
should happen to sit down on a bottle of it in his coat-tail pocket
suddenly it might hist him through the roof. But see how beautiful my
"Oh, thudder add lightnig! aid you ever goig to quid?"
"See how complete it is! By paying twenty dollars additional, every
man who takes a mat has his life protected in the Hopelessly Mutual
Accident Insurance Company, so that it really makes no great
difference whether he is busted through the shingles or not. Now, does
"Oh, dode ask me. I dode care a ced about id, adyway."
"Well, then, what I want you to do is to give me a first-rate notice
in your paper, describing the invention, giving the public some
general notion of its merits and recommending its adoption into
general use. You give me a half-column puff, and I'll make the thing
square by leaving you one of the mats, with a couple of bottles of the
neutralizer and a nose-guard. I'll leave them now."
"Whad d'you say?"
"I say I'll just leave you a mat and the other fixings for you to look
over at your leisure."
"You biserable scoundrel, if you lay wod ob those blasted thigs dowd
here, I'll burder you od the spod! I wod stad such foolishness."
"Won't you notice it, either?"
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