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Some day an enterprising editor may find time to glean from the whole field of Canadian literature a representative collection of wit and humour. It would include the productions of such acknowledged humorists as Thomas Chandler Haliburton and George Thomas Lanigan, as well as specimens of characteristic humour from writers who are better remembered by their more serious work. It would also include a great deal of genuine wit and humour, largely anonymous, in such Canadian periodicals as Grip, Punch in Canada, the Grumbler, the Free Lance, and Diogenes; and characteristic passages from the speeches of such brilliant and witty debaters as Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Joseph Howe, and Nicholas Flood Davin. The present little collection obviously makes no such ambitious claim. It embraces, however, what are believed to be representative examples of the work of some of our better-known writers, many of which will no doubt be quite familiar to Canadian readers, but perhaps none the less welcome on that account.
For permission to reproduce these selections the Editor is indebted to the authors or their representatives, and in the case of the late Dr. Drummond he is also indebted to the publishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York. The selection from Joseph Howe's work is taken from his Poems and Essays; Haliburton's sketches are taken from The Old Judge; those of Dr. Drummond from The Habitant, Johnnie Courteau, and The Voyageur; that of Mrs. Cotes from her Social Departure; McCarroll's poem from Madeleine; Lanigan's Fables from the little volume published under that title; and DeMille's selection from The Dodge Club. Lanigan's humorous verse was never brought together in book form.
|JOSEPH HOWE (1804-1873):|
|The Blue Nose||1|
|A Toast (To Haliburton)||5|
|THOMAS CHANDLER HALIBURTON (1796-1865):|
|Sheepskins and Politics||8|
|Mother Hunt's Chickens||15|
|The Deacon's Bargain||19|
|WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND (1854-1907):|
|The Corduroy Road||22|
|How Bateese came Home||34|
|MRS. EVERARD COTES (1862- ):|
|The Japanese Reporter||46|
|JAMES McCARROLL (1814-1890):|
|The Gray Linnet||59|
|GEORGE THOMAS LANIGAN (1845-1886):|
|The Ahkoond of Swat||61|
|The Amateur Orlando||64|
|The Plumber's Revenge||71|
|The Merchant of Venice||77|
|The Unfortunate Elephant||78|
|The Coroner and the Banana Peel||79|
|The Rhinoceros and the Dromedary||80|
|The Hen and the Tailor||82|
|The Glow-worm and the Famished Nightingale||83|
|The Centipede and the Barbaric Yak||85|
|The Honest Newsboy||87|
|The Villager and the Snake||88|
|The Ostrich and the Hen||90|
|JAMES DEMILLE (1836-1880):|
|The Senator's Laundry||91|
THE BLUE NOSE
Let the Student of Nature in rapture descant,
On the Heaven's cerulean hue;
Let the Lover indulge in poetical rant,
When the eyes of his Mistress are blue.
But fill high your glasses—fill, fill to the brim,
I've a different toast to propose:
While such eyes, and such skies, still are beaming for him,
Here's a health to the jolly Blue Nose.
Let the Frenchman delight in his vine-covered vales,
Let the Greek toast his old classic ground;
Here's the land where the bracing Northwester prevails,
And where jolly Blue Noses abound.
Long—long may it flourish, to all of us dear,
Loved and honoured by hearts that are true;
But, should ever a foe chance his nose to show here
He shall find all our Noses true Blue.
Oh! blame me not, Mary, for gazing at you,
Nor suppose that my thoughts from the Preacher were straying,
Tho' I stole a few glances—believe me 'tis true—
They were sweet illustrations of what he was saying.
For, when he observed that Perfection was not
To be found upon Earth—for a moment I bent
A look upon you—and could swear on the spot
That perfection in Beauty was not what he meant.
And when, with emotion, the worthy Divine
On the doctrine of loving our neighbours insisted,
I felt, if their forms were as faultless as thine,
I could love every soul of them while I existed.
And Mary, I'm sure 'twas the fault of those eyes—
'Twas the lustre of them to the error gave birth—
That, while he spoke of Angels that dwelt in the Skies,
I was gazing with rapture at one upon Earth.
Here's a health to thee, Tom: a bright bumper we drain
To the friends that our bosoms hold dear,
As the bottle goes round, and again and again
We whisper, "We wish he were here."
Here's a health to thee, Tom: may the mists of this earth
Never shadow the light of that soul
Which so often has lent the mild flashes of mirth
To illumine the depths of the Bowl.
vWith a world full of beauty and fun for a theme,
And a glass of good wine to inspire,
E'en without thee we sometimes are bless'd with a gleam
That resembles thy spirit's own fire.
Yet still, in our gayest and merriest mood,
Our pleasures are tasteless and dim,
For the thoughts of the past and of Tom that intrude
Make us feel we're but happy with him.
Like the Triumph of old where the absent one threw
A cloud o'er the glorious scene,
Are our feasts, my dear Tom, when we meet without you,
And think of the nights that have been.
When thy genius, assuming all hues of delight
Fled away with the rapturous hours,
And when wisdom and wit, to enliven the night,
Scattered freely their fruits and their flowers.
When thy eloquence played round each topic in turn,
Shedding lustre and life where it fell,
As the sunlight, in which the tall mountain tops burn,
Paints each bud in the lowliest dell.
When that eye, before which the pale Senate once quailed
With humour and deviltry shone,
And the voice which the heart of the patriot hailed,
Had mirth in its every tone.
Then a health to thee, Tom: ev'ry bumper we drain
But renders thy image more dear,
As the bottle goes round, and again and again,
We wish, from our hearts, you were here.
SHEEPSKINS AND POLITICS
You know Uncle Tim; he was small, very small—not in stature, for he was a six-footer, but small in mind and small in heart; his soul was no bigger than a flea's. "Zeb, my boy," says he to me one day, "always be neuter in elections. You can't get nothing by them but ill-will. Dear, dear! I wish I had never voted. I never did but oncest, and, dear, dear! I wish I had let that alone. There was an army doctor oncest, Zeb, lived right opposite to me to Digby: dear, dear! he was a good friend to me. He was very fond of wether mutton; and, when he killed a sheep, he used to say to me, 'Friend Tim, I will give you the skin if you will accept it.' Dear, dear! what a lot of them he gave me, first and last! Well, oncest the doctor's son, Lawyer Williams, offered for the town, and so did my brother-in-law, Phin Tucker; and, dear, dear! I was in a proper fix. Well, the doctor axed me to vote for his son, and I just up and told him I would, only my relation was candidating also; but ginn him my hand and promise I would be neuter. Well, I told brother-in-law the same, that I'd vote for him with pleasure, only my old friend, the doctor's son, was offering too; and, therefore, gave him my word also, I'd be neuter. And, oh, dear, dear! neuter I would have remained too, if it hadn't a-been for them two electioneering generals—devils, I might say—Lory Scott and Terry Todd. Dear, dear! somehow or 'nother, they got hold of the story of the sheepskins, and they gave me no peace day or night. 'What,' says they, 'are you going to sell your country for a sheepskin?' The day of the election they seized on me, one by one arm, and the other by the other, and lugged me off to the poll, whether I would or no.
"'Who do you vote for?' said the sheriff.
"'Would you sell your country for a sheepskin?' shouted Terry, in one ear.
"'Would you sell your country for a sheepskin?' bellowed Lory, in the other ear.
"I was so frightened, I hardly knew what I did; but they tell me I voted for brother Phin! Dear, dear! the doctor never gave me a sheepskin while he lived after that. Dear, dear!—that was an ugly vote for me!"
Old Dr. Green (you knowed him, in course—everybody knowed him) lived on Digby Neck. He was reckoned a skilful man, and was known to be a regular rotated doctor; but he drank like a fish (and it's actilly astonishing how many country doctors have taken to drink), and, of course, he warn't always a very safe man in cases where a cool head and a steady hand was needed (though folks did say he knowed a plaguey sight more, even when he was drunk, than one-half of them do when they are sober). Well, one day old Jim Reid, who was a pot-companion of his, sent him a note to come into town immediately, without the loss of one moment of time, and bring his amputating instruments with him, for there was a most shocking accident had happened to his house. So in come the doctor as hard as he could drive, looking as sorry, all the time, as if he didn't live by misfortunes and accidents, the old hypocrite!
"My dear friend," said he solemnly, to Reid, and a-taking of him by the hand, and giving it a doleful shake—"My dear friend, what is the matter?—who is hurt? And what the devil is to pay now? How thankful we all ought to be that the accident hasn't occurred to one whom we all respect so much as you!"
And then he unpacked his instruments, off with his coat, and up with his sleeves; and, with one hand, pulls a hair out of his head, and, with the other, takes his knife and cuts it in two, to prove the edge was all right. Then he began to whistle while he examined his saw, for nothing puts these chaps in such good humour as cutting and slashing away at legs and arms—operating, as they call it—and, when all was ready, says he—
"Reid," says he, a-tapping him on the shoulder, "where is the patient?"
Well, Reid opened the door of another room, and there was a black boy a-holding of a duck on the table that had broke his leg!
"There is a case for amputation, doctor!" said he; "but, first of all, take a glass of brandy and water to steady your nerves. He knows you," says he; "hear him how he calls out Quack, quack! after you, as if he was afraid to let you perform on him."
Well, the doctor entered into the joke as good-natured as possible, laughed like anything, whipped down the grog, whipped off the leg, and whipped up the knives and saws in no time.
"You must stay to dine, doctor," said Reid (for the joke was only intended to get him into town to drink along with him); and he stayed to dine, and stayed to sup, and, being awful drunk, stayed to bed, too.
Well, every time Reid saw him arter that in town, he asked him to come in and see his patient, which meant to come in and drink; and so he did as long as the cask of rael, particular Jamaikey lasted.
Some time after that the old fellow sent in a bill for operating, making a wooden leg, medical attendance, and advice, per order, for twenty-five pounds; and, what's more, when Reid wouldn't pay it, the doctor sued him for it to court, and gained his cause. Fact, I assure you.
MOTHER HUNT'S CHICKENS
Five years ago, come next summer, the old lady made a trip to Halifax, in one of our Digby coasters, to see sister Susannah, that is married in that city to Ted Fowler, the upholsterer, and took a whole lot of little notions with her to market to bear expenses; for she is a saving kind of body, is mother, and likes to make two ends meet at the close of the year. Among the rest, was the world and all of eggs, for she was a grand hand in a poultry-yard. Some she stowed away in boxes, and some in baskets, and some in tubs, so that no one accident could lose them all for her. Well, under the berths in the cabin were large drawers for bedding; and she rotated that out, and packed them full of eggs in wool, as snug as you please, and off they started on their voyage. Well, they had nothing but calms, and light airs, or head winds, and were ever so long in getting to town; and, when they anchored, she got her duds together, and began to collect her eggs all ready for landing. The first drawer she opened, out hopped ever so many chickens on the cabin floor, skipping and hopping about, a-chirping, "Chick, chick, chick!" like anything!
"Well, if that don't beat all!" said mother, and she looked the very picture of doleful dumps. "I hope there is no more of them a-coming into the world that way, without being sent for!" and she opened a second, and out came a second flock, with a "Chick, chick, chick!" and another, and another, till she pulled them all out. The cabin floor was chockful of them; for the heat and confined bilge air had hatched all the eggs that were in the close and hot drawers.
Oh, the captain, and passengers, and sailors, they roared with laughter! Mother was awful mad, for nothing makes one so angry as accidents that set folks off a tee-hee-ing that way. If anybody had been to blame but herself, wouldn't they have caught it, that's all? for scolding is a great relief to a woman; but as there warn't, there was nothing left but to cry: and scolding and crying are two safety-valves that have saved many a heart from busting.
Well, the loss was not great, though she liked to take care of her coppers, too; it was the vexation that worried her. But the worst was to come yet. When she returned home, the boys to Digby got hold of the story; and, wherever she went, they called out after her "Chick, chick, chick!" I skinned about half-a-dozen of the little imps of mischief for it, but it only made them worse; for they hid in porches, and behind doors, and gates, and fences, as seen her a-coming, and roared out, "Chick, chick, chick!" and nearly bothered her to death. So she give up going out any more, and never leaves home now. It's my opinion, her rheumatism is nothing but the effect of want of exercise, and all comes from that cursed "Chick, chick, chick!"
THE DEACON'S BARGAIN
Old Deacon Bruce of Aylesford, last Monday week, bought a sleigh of his fellow-deacon, Squire Burns, for five pounds. On his way home with it, who should he meet but Zeek Morse, a-trudging along through the snow a-foot.
"Friend Zeek," says the old Christian, "won't you get in and ride? Here's room for you and welcome."
"Don't care if I do," said Zeek, "seeing that sitting is as cheap as walking, if you don't pay for it." So he hops in, and away they go.
Well, Zeek was mightily taken with the sleigh.
"Deacon," says he, "how shall you and me trade for it? It's just the article I want, for I am a-going down to Bridgetown next week to be married; and it will suit me to a notch to fetch Mrs. Morse, my wife, home in. What will you take for it?"
"Nine pounds," said old Conscience. "It cost me seven pounds ten shillings, to Deacon Burns, who built it; and as it's the right season for using it, and I can't get another made till next winter, I must have nine pounds for it, and it ain't dear at that price neither."
"Done!" says Zeek—for he is an offhand kind of chap, and never stands bantering and chaffering a long time, but says at once what he means, as I do. "Done!" says he—"'tis mine!" and the deacon drives up to his house, gets his pay, and leaves the sleigh there.
Next morning, when Zeek went to examine his purchase, he found there was a bolt left out by mistake, so off he goes to the maker, Deacon Burns, to get it put in, when he ups and tells him all about the bargain.
"Did the old gentleman tell you my price was seven pounds ten?" said he.
"Oh yes," said Zeek, "in course he did—there is no mistake about it. I'll take my oath to it."
"Well, so it was," said Burns. "He told you true. He was to give me seven pounds ten; but as there was nobody by but him and me when we traded, and as it ain't paid for yet, he might perhaps forget it, for he is getting to be an old man now. Will you try to recollect it?"
"Sartainly," said Zeek. "I'll swear to it any day you please, in any court in the world, for them was his very words to me."
What does Deacon Burns do but go right off and sue Deacon Bruce for seven pounds ten, instead of five pounds, the real price; called Zeek as a witness to his admission, and gained his case! Fact, upon my soul!
THE CORDUROY ROAD
De corduroy road go bompety bomp,
De corduroy road go jompety jomp,
An' he's takin' beeg chances upset hees load
De horse dat'll trot on de corduroy road.
Of course it's purty rough, but it's handy t'ing enough,
An' dey mak' it wit' de log all jine togeder
W'en dey strek de swampy groun' w'ere de water hang aroun'
Or passin' by some tough ole beaver medder.
But it's not macadamise, so if you're only wise
You will tak' your tam an' never min' de worry,
For de corduroy is bad, an' will mak' you plaintee mad
By de way de buggy jomp, in case you hurry.
An' I'm sure you don't expec' leetle Victorine Leveque
She was knowin' moche at all about dem places,
'Cos she's never dere before, till young Zepherin Madore
He was takin' her away for see de races.
Oh, I wish you see her den! dat's before she marry, w'en
She's de fines' on de lan'; but no use talkin'.
I can bet you w'at you lak, if you meet her you look back
Jus' to watch de fancy way dat girl is walkin'.
Yass, de leetle Victorine was de nices' girl between
De town of Yamachiche an' Maskinongé,
But she's stuck up an' she's proud, an' you'll never count de crowd
Of de boy she geev it w'at dey call de congé.
Ah! de moder spoil her, sure, for even to Joe D'Amour,
W'en he's ready nearly ev'ry t'ing to geev her
If she mak' de mariée, only say, "Please go away,"
An' he's riches' habitant along de reever.
Zepherin he try it too, an' he's workin' somet'ing new,
For he's makin' de old woman many presen'—
Prize package on de train, umbrella for de rain—
But she's grompy all de tam, an' never pleasan'.
Wall, w'en he ax Ma-dame tak' de girl away dat tam
See dem races on Sorel wit' all de trotter
De moder say, "All right, if you bring her home to-night,
Before de cow's milk, I let her go, ma daughter."
So Victorine she go wit' Zepherin her beau
On de yankee buggy mak' it on St. Bruno,
An' w'en dey pass hotel on de middle of Sorel
Dey're puttin' on de beeges' style dat you know.
Wall! dey got some good horse dere, but Zepherin don't care.
He's back it up, hees own paroisse, ba golly,
An' he mak' it t'ree doll-arre w'en Maskinongé Star
On de two mile heat was beating Sorel Molly.
Victorine don't min' at all, till de "free for all" dey call—
Dat's de las' race dey was run before de snow fly—
Den she say, "I t'ink de cow mus' be gettin home soon now
An' you know it's only clock ole woman go by.
"An' if we're comin' late w'en de cow pass on de gate
You'll be sorry if you hear de way she talk dere,
So w'en I see de race on Sorel or any place
Affer dis, you may be sure I got to walk dere."
Den he laugh, dat Zepherin, an' he say, "Your poor mama,
I know de pile she t'ink about her daughter
So we'll tak' de short road back on de corduroy race track;
Don't matter if we got to sweem de water."
No wonder he is smile till you hear heem half a mile,
For dat morning he was tole hees leetle broder
Let de cattle out de gate, so he know it's purty late
By de tam dem cow was findin' out each oder.
So along de corduroy de young girl an' de boy
Dey was kipin' up a joggin' nice an' steady.
It isn't heavy load, an' Guillaume he know de road
For many tam he's been dat way already.
But de girl she fin' it slow, so she ax de boy to go
Somet'ing better dan a mile on fifteen minute,
An' he's touch heem up, Guillaume; so dat horse he lay for home,
An' de nex' t'ing Victorine she know she's in it.
"Oh, pull him in," she yell, "for even on Sorel
I am sure I never see de quicker racer,"
But it's leetle bit too late, for de horse is get hees gait
An' de worse of all, ba gosh! Guillaume's a pacer.
See hees tail upon de air, no wonder she was scare!
But she hang on lak de winter on T'ree Reever.
Cryin' out, "Please hol' me tight, or I'm comin' dead to-night,
An' ma poor old moder dear, I got to leave her."
Wit' her arm aroun' hees wais'—she was doin' it in case
She bus' her head, or keel herse'f, it's not so easy sayin'—
Dey was comin' on de jomp t'roo dat dam old beaver swamp
An' meet de crowd is lookin' for dem cow was go a-strayin'.
Den she' cryin', Victorine, for she's knowin' w'at it mean—
De parish dey was talkin' firse chances dey be gettin'.
\But no sooner dat young man stop de horse, he tak' her han'
An' w'isper, "Never min', ma chère, won't do no good a-frettin'."
Non! she isn't cryin' long, for he tole her it was wrong.
She's sure he save her life too, or she was moche mistaken,
An' de ole Ma-dame Leveque also kiss heem on de neck
An' quickly after dat, Hooraw! de man an' wife dey're makin'.
You dunno ma leetle boy Dominique?
Never see heem runnin' roun' about de place?
'Cos I want to get advice how to kip heem lookin' nice,
So he won't be alway dirty on de face.
Now dat leetle boy of mine, Dominique,
If you wash heem an' you sen' heem off to school,
But instead of goin' dere, he was playin' fox an hare—
Can you tell me how to stop de leetle fool?
"I'd tak' dat leetle feller Dominique,
An' I'd put heem on de cellar ev'ry day,
An' for workin' out a cure bread an' water's very sure,
You can bet he mak' de promise not to play!"
Dat's very well to say, but ma leetle Dominique
W'en de jacket we put on heem's only new,
An' he's goin' travel roun' on de medder up an' down,
Wit' de strawberry on hees pocket runnin' t'roo,
An' w'en he climb de fence, see de hole upon hees pant,
No wonder hees poor moder's feelin' mad!
So if you ketch heem den, w'at you want to do, ma frien'?
Tell me quickly an' before he get too bad.
"I'd lick your leetle boy Dominique,
I'd lick heem till he's crying purty hard,
An' for fear he's gettin' spile, I'd geev' heem castor ile,
An' I wouldn't let heem play outside de yard."
If you see ma leetle boy Dominique
Hangin' on to poor ole "Billy" by de tail,
W'en dat horse is feelin' gay, lak I see heem yesterday,
I suppose you t'ink he's safer on de jail?
W'en I'm lightin' up de pipe on de evenin' affer work,
An' de powder dat young rascal's puttin' in,
It was makin' such a pouf, nearly blow me t'roo de roof—
W'at's de way you got of showin' 'twas a sin?
"Wall! I put heem on de jail right away,
You may bet de wan is got de beeges' wall!
A honder foot or so, w'ere dey never let heem go,
Non! I wouldn't kip a boy lak dat at all."
Dat's good advice for sure, very good,
On de cellar, bread an' water—it'll do,
De nice sweet castor ile geev heem ev'ry leetle w'ile,
An' de jail to finish up wit' w'en he's t'roo!
Ah! ma frien', you never see Dominique
W'en he's lyin' dere asleep upon de bed;
If you do, you say to me, "W'at an angel he mus' be,
An' dere can't be not'ing bad upon hees head."
Many t'ank for your advice, an' it may be good for some,
But de reason you was geev it isn't very hard to seek—
Yass! it's easy seein' now, w'en de talk is over, how
You dunno ma leetle boy Dominique.
HOW BATEESE CAME HOME
W'en I was young boy on de farm—dat's twenty year ago—
I have wan frien', he's leev near me, call Jean Bateese Trudeau,
An offen, w'en we are alone, we lak for spik about
De tam w'en we was come beeg man, wit' moustache on our mout'.
Bateese is get it on hees head he's too moche educate
For mak' de habitant farmerre—he better go on State—
An' so wan summer evening we're driving home de cow
He's tole me all de whole beez-nesse—jus' lak you hear me now.
"Wat's use mak foolish on de farm? dere's no good chances lef',
An' all de tam you be poor man—you know dat's true you'se'f;
We never get no fun at all—don't never go on spree
Onless we pass on 'noder place, an' mak it some monee.
"I go on Les Etats-Unis, I go dere right away,
An' den, mebbe, on ten-twelve year, I be rich man some day,
An' w'en I mak' de large fortune I come back, I s'pose,
Wit' Yankee famme from off de State, an' monee on my clothes.
"I tole you somet'ing else also—mon cher Napoléon—
I get de grande majorité, for go on parliament,
Den buil' fine house on borde l'eau—near w'ere de church is stand—
More finer dan de Presbytère, w'en I am come riche man!"
I say, "For w'at you spik lak dat? you must be gone crazee.
Dere's plaintee feller on de State, more smarter dan you be;
Besides, she's not so healtee place, an' if you mak l'argent,
You spen' it jus' lak Yankee man, an' not lak habitant.
"For me, Bateese, I tole you dis: I'm very satisfy—
De bes' man don't leev too long tam; some day, ba gosh! he die—
An' s'pose you got good trotter horse, an' nice famme Canadienne
Wit' plaintee on de house for eat—W'at more you want, ma frien'?"
But Bateese have it all mak' up, I can't stop him at all.
He's buy, etc., seconde classe tiquette, for go on Central Fall,
An' wit' two-t'ree some more de boy—w'at t'ink de sam' he do—
Pass on de train de very nex' wick, was lef' Rivière du Loup.
Wall! mebbe fifteen year or more since Bateese go away
I fin' meself Rivière du Loup, wan cole, cole winter day.
De quick express she come, horraw! but stop de soon she can,
An' beeg swell feller jomp off car, dat's boss by nigger man.
He's dressim on de première classe, an' got new suit of clothes
Wit' long moustache dat's stickin' out, de 'noder side hees nose,
Fine gol' watch chain—nice portmanteau—an' long, long overcoat
Wit beaver hat—dat's Yankee style—an' red tie on hees t'roat—
I say, "Hello, Bateese! Hello! Comment ça va, mon vieux?"
He say, "Excuse to me, ma frien', I t'ink I don't know you."
I say, "She's very curis t'ing, you are Bateese Trudeau,
Was raise on just sam' place wit' me, dat's fifteen year ago?"
He say, "Oh yass, dat's sure enough—I know you now firs'-rate;
But I forget mos' all ma French since I go on de State.
Dere's 'noder t'ing kip on your head, ma frien', dey mus' be tole
Ma name's Bateese Trudeau no more, but John B. Waterhole!"
"Hole on de water's" fonny name for man wat's call Trudeau;
Ma frien's dey all was spik lak dat, an' I am tole heem so.
He say, "Trudeau an' Waterhole, she's jus' about de sam,
An' if you for leev on State, you must have Yankee nam'."
Den we invite heem come wit' us, "Hôtel du Canadaw,"
W'ere he was treat mos' ev'ry tam, but can't tak' w'iskey blanc.
He say sat's leetle strong for man jus' come off Central Fall,
An "tabac Canayen" bedamme! he won't smoke dat at all!
But fancy drink lak "Collings John" de way he put it down!
Was long tam since I don't see dat—I t'ink he's goin' drown!—
An' fine cigar cos' five cent each, an' mak' on Trois-Rivières!
L'enfant! he smoke beeg pile of dem—for monee he don't care!
I s'pose, meseff, it's t'ree o'clock w'en we are t'roo dat night.
Bateese, hees fader come for heem, an' tak' heem home all right;
De ole man say Bateese spik French, w'en he is place on bed—
An' say bad word—but w'en he wake—forget it on hees head.
Wall! all de winter, w'en we have soirée dat's grande affaire
Bateese Trudeau, dit Waterhole, de be de boss man dere—
You bet he have beeg tam!—but w'en de spring is come encore
He's buy première classe tiquette for go on State some more.
You 'member w'en de hard tam come on Les Etats-Unis,
An' plaintee Canayens go back for stay deir own contree?
Wall! jus' about dat' tam again I go Rivière du Loup
For sole me two-t'ree load of hay—mak' leetle visit too.
De freight train she is jus' arrive—only ten hour delay;
She's never carry passengaire—dat's w'at dey always say.
I see poor man on char caboose—he's got heem small valise.
Begosh! I nearly tak' de fit.—It is—it is Bateese!
He know me very well dis tam, an' say, "Bon jour, mon vieux.
I hope you know Bateese Trudeau was educate wit' you.
I'm jus' come off de State to see ma familee encore;
I bus' mesef on Central Fall—I don't go dere no more.
"I got no monee—not at all! I'm broke it up for sure.
Dat's locky t'ing, Napoleon, de brakeman, Joe Latour,
He's cousin of wan frien' of me call Camille Valiquette,
Conductor too's good Canayen—don't ax me no tiquette."
I tak' Bateese wit' me once more "Hôtel du Canadaw."
An' he was glad for get de chance drink some good w'iskey blanc!
Dat's warm heem up, and den he eat mos' ev'ryt'ing he see;
I watch de w'ole beez-nesse mese'f—Monjee! he was hongree!
Madame Charette, w'at's kip de place, get very much excite
For see de many pork an' bean Bateese put out of sight—
Du pain doré—potato pie—an' 'noder t'ing be dere,
But w'en Bateese is get heem t'roo—dey go I don't know w'ere.
It don't tak' long for tole de news "Bateese come off de State."
An' purty soon we have beeg crowd, lak village she's en fête.
Bonhomme Maxime Trudeau hese'f he's comin' wit' de pries'
An' pass heem on de "Room for eat" w'ere he is see Bateese.
Den ev'rybody feel it glad, for watch de embrasser,
An' bimeby de old man spik. "Bateese, you here for stay?"
Bateese, he's cry lak beeg bebé, "Bâ, j'eux rester ici.
An' if I never see de State, I'm sure I don't care—me."
"Correc'," Maxime is say right off. "I place you on de farm
For help your poor ole fader; won't do you too moche harm.
Please come wit' me on Magasin, I feex you up—bâ oui,
An' den you're ready for go home an' see de familee."
Wall! w'en de old man an' Bateese come off de Magasin
Bateese is los' hees Yankee clothes—he's dress lak Canayen
Wit' bottes sauvages—ceinture fléchée—an' coat wit' capuchon
An' spik Français au naturel, de sam' as habitant.
I see Bateese de oder day, he's work hees fader's place.
I t'ink mese'f he's satisfy—I see dat on hees face.
He say, "I got no use for State, mon cher Napoléon.
Kebeck, she's good enough for me—Hooraw! pour Canadaw."
THE JAPANESE REPORTER
We do not know to this day to what circumstance we owed the honour of appearing in print in Japan—whether we were mistaken for individuals of distinction, or whether we were considered remarkable on our own merits on account of being by ourselves; but we went downstairs fully believing it to be a custom of the country, a rather flattering custom, to which we were much pleased to conform; and this is a true chronicle of what happened.
It was a slender, round-faced youth who made his deprecating bow to us in the drawing-room. His shoulders sloped, his gray-blue kimono lay in narrow folds across his chest like what the old-fashioned people at home used to call a sontag. American boots were visible under the skirt of the garment, and an American stiff felt hat reposed on the sofa beside him. His thick, short black hair stood crisply on end, and out of his dark eyes slanted a look of modest inquiry. He was the most unaggressive reporter I have ever seen. His boots and his hat were the only things about him that I could connect with journalism, as I had previously been acquainted with it.
"How do you do?" I said, seeing that the silence must be broken and the preliminaries gone through with by somebody.
"Yes!" he responded, with an amiability that induced Orthodocia to get up hurriedly and look out of the window. "Did the radies arrive to the Duke of Westminster?" looking from one to the other of us.
"We believe they did!" gasped Orthodocia, and immediately looked out of the window again. I edged my chair toward the other window. Then the cloven foot appeared in the shape of a note-book. He produced it with gentle ostentation, as one would a trump card. The simile is complete when I add that he took it from his sleeve.
"How old is rady?" calmly, deliberately.
"I—I forget," falsified this historian; "forty-five, I believe."
The reporter put it down.
"Other rady, your friend,—not so old? Older? More old?"
"I am twenty-two years of age," said Orthodocia gravely, with a reproachful glance at me, "and I weigh ten stone. Height, five feet eight inches. In shoes, I am in the habit of wearing fives; in gloves, six and a half."
The reporter scribbled convulsively.
"Radies will study Japanese porryticks—please say."
"I beg pardon?"
"Yes." Fills another page.
Orthodocia, suavely, "Are they produced here to any extent?"
"We have here many porryticks—ribarer, conservative, monarchist."
"Oh!" more recourse to the window.
"Orthodocia," I said severely, "you may not be aware of it, but your conduct is throwing discredit upon a person hitherto fairly entitled to the world's good opinion—which is me. Continue to be absorbingly interested in that brick wall, and allow me to talk to the gentleman."
"We have come," I said distinctly—Orthodocia bears testimony to the fact that I said it distinctly—"to see Japan as far as Japan will permit. Her politics, system of education, customs, and arts will be of—ahem!—interest to us. We cannot truthfully say that we expect to penetrate more deeply into the national life than other travellers have done. In repressing this expectation we claim to be original. We confess that our impressions will naturally be superficial, but we hope to represent the crust so charmingly that nobody will ask for any of the—interior—of the—well, of the pie."
"That's equivocal," said Orthodocia, "and ridiculous."
"Notwithstanding the well-known reticence of the Japanese," I continued, "we hope to meet some of them who will show us something more of their domesticity than we can see through the windows."
"You will acquire ranguage of Japan?"
"Not all of it, I think. It seems a little difficult, but musical—much more musical than our ugly English," interposed Orthodocia.
"Yes. Will you the story of your journey please say?"
"Certainly. We came from Montreal to Vancouver by the C.P.R.—that is the best Western railroad on the continent, because it is built with English capital," bombastically. "Some people say that you never would have heard of Canada in Japan but for the C.P.R., but I am told that they are mostly jealous Republican Americans."
The reporter bowed.
"We travelled three thousand nine hundred miles by this route across the North-West and through the Rocky Mountains." Here Orthodocia dwelt upon the remarkable snow-sheds for protection against avalanches. She went on with vague confidence to speak of the opening up of trade between Canada and Japan by the new railway and steamship line, and I added a few remarks about the interest in Japanese art that existed in Montreal, and the advisability of the Japanese establishing firms of their own there; while the reporter flattered our eloquence by taking down notes enough to fill a quarto volume. We had never been interviewed before—we might never be again—and we were determined to make the occasion an illustrious one. We were quite pleased with ourselves as the nice little creature bowed himself out, promising to send us the fortunate shimbun which would publish the interview, with a translation of the same, a day or two later.
I suppose it was Orthodocia's effect upon him—the effect I had begun to find usual—but he didn't send the shimbun; he brought it next morning with much apology and many bows. I have before me a pencilled document in the handwriting of three persons. The document contains the interview as it was set down in the language of the translator, who sat with an expression of unruffled repose, and spake aloud from the shimbun which he held in his hand. Sometimes Orthodocia took it down, sometimes he took it down himself, sometimes I took it down while Orthodocia left the room. The reason for this will perhaps be self-evident. Orthodocia and I possess the document in turns, to ward off low spirits. We have only to look at it to bring on an attack of the wildest hilarity.
The reporter came entirely in Japanese costume the second time, and left his wooden sandals outside on the stairs. He left most of his English there, too, apparently, but he bowed all the way from the door to the middle of the apartment in a manner that stood for a great deal of polite conversation. Then he sat down and we sat down, and Orthodocia prepared to transcribe the interview which had introduced us to the Japanese nation from his lips. It was a proud, happy moment.
The reporter took the journal with which he was connected out of one of the long, graceful, flowing sleeves which make life worth living for masculine Japan. He told us that it was the Hochi-Hochi-Shimbun, and he carefully pointed out the title, date beginning and end of the article, which we marked, intending to buy several copies of the paper and send them home. We were anxious that the people there should be kept fully enlightened as to our movements, and there seemed to be a great deal of detail in the article. Its appearance was a little sensational, Orthodocia thought, but she silently concluded, with her usual charity, not to blame the reporter for that, since he couldn't possibly be considered responsible for the exaggerations of the Chinese alphabet.
"Yesterday," translated the reporter solemnly—I must copy the document, which does not give his indescribable pronunciation—"by Canada steamer radies arrived. The correspondent, who is me, went to Grand Hotel, which the radies is. Radies is of Canada, and in-the-time-before of Engrand. They have a beautiful countenance."
Here the reporter bowed, and Orthodocia left the room for the first time. I think she said she must go and get her pencil sharpened. She left it with me, however, and I took up the thread of the interview.
"Object of radies' rocomotion, to make beautiful their minds. Miss Elder-Rady answered, 'Our object is to observe habits, makings, and beings of the Japanese nation, and to examine how civirisation of Engrand and America prevails among the nation. And other objects is to examine the art and drawing and education from the exterior of the confectionery. In order to observe customs of Japan we intend to rearn a private house.'"
We were getting on swimmingly when Orthodocia reappeared, having recovered in the interval, and told the reporter that he must think foreigners very abrupt and rude, and that he really spoke English extremely well. To both of which remarks he responded, with a polite suavity that induced me to turn my back upon her in an agony of suppressed feeling, "Yes."
"Miss Younger-Rady-measuring-ten-stone-and-wearing-six-shoes-and-a-half, continue, 'The rai-road between the Montreal and Canada is passing——'"
"I beg pardon," said the unhappy Orthodocia, with an awful galvanism about the corners of her mouth, "I didn't quite catch what you said—I mean what I said."
The reporter translated it over again.
"Perhaps," said I nervously, "it's a misprint."
"No," the reporter replied gravely, "Miss Younger-Rady."
"Gracious!" said Orthodocia.
"And if by the rai-road we emproy the steamer, the commerce of Montreal and Japan will prevail. Correspondent asked to Miss Younger-Rady may I heard the story of your caravansery?"
Orthodocia again retired. It was a little trying for me, but when he continued, "She answered, 'From Montreal to Canada the distance is three thousand mires,'" I was glad she had gone. I am afraid I choked a little at this point, for just here he decided to wrestle with the pencil himself. When he handed the paper back again I read: "While we are passing the distance between Mount Rocky I had a great danger, for the snow over the mountain is falling down, and the railroad shall be cut off. Therefore, by the snowshade, which is made by the tree, its falling was defend. Speaking finish. The ladies is to took their caravansery attending among a few days. Ladies has the liability of many news."
"That last item," said Orthodocia, who had come in with the excuse of some tea, "is frightfully correct."
Having despatched the business of the hour and a half, the reporter began to enjoy himself, while Orthodocia and I tried to seat ourselves where we couldn't see each other's faces in the mirror over the mantelpiece. He drank his tea with his head on a level with the table, and if suction can express approval it was expressed. He said that there were fourteen editorial writers on his shimbun, and that its circulation was one million. Which shows that for the soul of a newspaper man Shintoism has no obvious advantages. He dwelt upon the weather for quarters of an hour at a time. The Japanese are such a leisurely people. He took more tea, by this time stone cold. He said he would bring a Japanese "gentleman and rady" to see us, and in response to our inquiry as to whether the lady was the wife or the sister of the gentleman, he said, with gravity, "I do not know the rady's wife." He asked us for our photographs, and when Orthodocia retired at this for the fifth time he thought she had gone to get them, and stayed until I was compelled to go and pray her to return. It was the ringing of the two o'clock lunch bell that suggested to him that the day was waning, and that perhaps he had better wane too.
THE GRAY LINNET
There's a little gray friar in yonder green bush,
Clothed in sackcloth—a little gray friar,
Like the druid of old in his temple—but hush!
He's at vespers; you must not go nigher.
Yet, the rogue! can those strains be addressed to the skies,
And around us so wantonly float,
Till the glowing refrain like a shining thread flies
From the silvery reel of his throat?
When he roams, though he stains not his path through the air
With the splendour of tropical wings,
All the lustre denied to his russet plumes there
Flashes forth through his lay when he sings;
For the little gray friar is so wondrous wise,
Though in such a plain garb he appears,
That on finding he can't reach your soul through your eyes,
He steals in through the gates of your ears.
But the cheat!—'tis not heaven he's warbling about—
Other passions, less holy, betide—
For behold, there's a little gray nun peeping out
From a bunch of green leaves at his side.
THE AHKOOND OF SWAT
What, what, what,
What's the news from Swat?
Comes by the cable led
Through the Indian Ocean's bed,
Through the Persian Gulf, the Red
Sea and the Med-
The Ahkoond is dead!
For the Akhoond I mourn,
He strove to disregard the message stern,
But he Ahkoodn't.
Dead, dead, dead;
Swats wha hae wi' Ahkoond bled,
Swats whom he had often led
Onward to a gory bed,
Or to victory,
As the case might be.
Shed tears like water,
Your great Ahkoond is dead!
That Swats the matter!
Mourn, city of Swat!
Your great Ahkoond is not,
But lain 'mid worms to rot:
His mortal part alone, his soul was caught
(Because he was a good Ahkoond)
Up to the bosom of Mahound.
Though earthly walls his frame surround
(For ever hallowed be the ground!)
And sceptics mock the lowly mound
And say, "He's now of no Ahkoond!"
(His soul is in the skies!)
The azure skies that bend above his loved
Metropolis of Swat
He sees with larger, other eyes,
Athwart all earthly mysteries—
He knows what's Swat.
Let Swat bury the great Ahkoond
With a noise of mourning and of lamentation!
Let Swat bury the great Ahkoond
With the noise of the mourning of the Swattish nation!
Fallen is at length
Its tower of strength,
Its sun had dimmed ere it had nooned;
Dead lies the great Ahkoond,
The great Ahkoond of Swat
THE AMATEUR ORLANDO
It was an Amateur Dram. Ass.
(Kind reader, although your
Knowledge of French is not first-class
Don't call that Amature.)
It was an Amateur Dram. Ass.,
The which did warfare wage
On the dramatic works of this
And every other age.
It had a walking gentleman,
A leading juvenile,
First lady in book-muslin dressed,
With a galvanic smile;
Thereto a singing chambermaid,
Benignant heavy pa,
And oh, heavier still was the heavy vill-
Ain, with his fierce "Ha! ha!"
There wasn't an author from Shakespeare down—
Or up—to Boucicault
These amateurs weren't competent
(S. Wegg) to collar and throw.
And when the winter time came round—
"Season" 's a stagier phrase—
The Am. Dram. Ass. assaulted one
Of the Bard of Avon's plays.
'Twas As you Like It that they chose;
For the leading lady's heart
Was set on playing Rosalind,
Or some other page's part.
And the President of the Am. Dram. Ass.,
A stalwart, dry-goods clerk,
Was cast for Orlando, in which rôle
He felt he'd make his mark.
"I mind me," said the President
(All thoughtful was his face),
"When Orlando was taken by Thingummy
That Charles was played by Mace.
Charles hath not many lines to speak,
Nay, not a single length—
Oh, if find we can a Mussulman
(That is, a man of strength),
And bring him on the stage as Charles—
But, alas! it can't be did!"
"It can," replied the Treasurer;
"Let's get The Hunky Kid."
This Hunky Kid of whom they spoke
Belonged to the P. R.;
He always had his hair cut short,
And always had catarrh.
His voice was gruff, his language rough,
His forehead villainous low,
And 'neath his broken nose a vast
Expanse of jaw did show.
He was forty-eight about the chest,
And his fore-arm at the mid
Did measure twenty-one and a half—
Such was The Hunky Kid!
The Am. Dram. Ass., they have engaged
This pet of the P. R.;
As Charles the Wrestler he's to be
A bright, particular star.
And when they put the programme out,
Announce him thus they did:
Orlando ... Mr. Romeo Jones;
Charles ... Mr. T. H. Kid.
The night has come; the house is packed
From pit to gallery,
As those who through the curtain peep
Quake inwardly to see.
A squeak's heard in the orchestra,
As the leader draws across
Th' intestines of the agile cat
The tail of the noble hoss.
All is at sea behind the scenes.
Why do they fear and funk?
Alas, alas, The Hunky Kid
Is lamentably drunk!
He's in that most unlovely stage
When men resent the hint they're tight
As a personal imputation!
"Ring up! ring up!" Orlando cried,
"Or we must cut the scene;
For Charles the Wrestler is imbued
With poisonous benzine,
And every moment gets more drunk
Than he before has been."
The wrestling scene has come and Charles
Is much disguised in drink;
The stage to him's an inclined plane,
The footlights make him blink,
Still strives he to act well his part
Where all the honour lies,
Though Shakespeare would not in his lines
His language recognise
Instead of "Come, where is this young——?"
This man of bone and brawn,
He squares himself and bellows, "Time!
Fetch your Orlandos on!"
"Now, Hercules be thy speed, young man,"
Fair Rosalind said she,
As the two wrestlers in the ring
Grapple right furiously;
But Charles the Wrestler had no sense
Of dramatic propriety.
He seized on Mr. Romeo Jones
In Graeco-Roman style;
He got what they call a grapevine lock
On that leading juvenile;
He flung him into the orchestra,
And the man with the ophicleide,
On whom he fell, he just said—well,
No matter what—and died!
When once the tiger has tasted blood,
And found that it is sweet,
He has a habit of killing more
Than he can possibly eat.
And thus it was with The Hunky Kid.
In his homicidal blindness
He lifted his hand against Rosalind,
Not in the way of kindness.
He chased poor Celia off at L.,
At R. U. E. Le Beau,
And he put such a head upon Duke Fred,
In fifteen seconds or so,
That never one of the courtly train
Might his haughty master know.
And that's precisely what came to pass
Because the luckless carles
Belonging to the Am. Dram. Ass.
Cast The Hunky Kid for Charles!
THE PLUMBER'S REVENGE
A LEGEND OF MADISON AVENUE
Canto I—The Death-Bed Oath
It was some thirty years ago,
An evening calm and red,
When a gold-haired stripling stood beside
His father's dying-bed.
"Attend, my son," the sick man said,
"Unto my dying tones,
And swear eternal vengeance to
The accursed race of Jones.
For why? Just nineteen years ago
A girl sat by my side,
With cheek of rose and breast of snow,
My peerless, promised bride.
A viper by the name of Jones
Came in between us twain;
With honeyed words he stole away
My loved Belinda Jane.
For he was rich and I was poor,
And poets all are stupid
Who feign the god of Love is not
Cupidity, but Cupid.
Perchance 'tis well, for had I wed
That maid of dark-brown curls,
You had not been, or been, instead
Of boy, a pair of girls.
Now listen to me, Walter Smith;
Hie to yon plumber bold,
An thou would'st ease my dying pang,
His 'prentice be enrolled.
For Jones has houses many on
The fashionable squares,
And thou, perchance, may'st be called in
To see to the repairs.
Think on thy father's ravished love.
Recall thy father's ills,
Remember this, the death-bed oath,
Then, make out Jones's bills."
Canto II—The Young Avenger
Young Walter's to the plumber gone.
A boy with smut on nose,
Furnace and carpet-sack in hand,
With the journeyman he goes.
Now grown a journeyman himself,
In grimy hand he gripes
A candle-end, and 'neath the sink
Explores the frozen pipes.
His furnace portable he lights
With smoking wads of news-
Papers, and smiles to see within
The pot the solder fuse.
He gives his fiat: "They are froze
Down about sixteen feet;
If you want water ere July
You must dig up the street."
"Practical Plumber" now is he,
As witnesseth his sign,
And ready now to undertake
Repairs in any line.
One day a housemaid, as he sat
At the receipt of biz,
Came crying, "Ho, Sir Smith, Sir Smith,
Sir Jones's pipes is friz."
He girt his apron round his loins,
His tools took from the shelf,
And to the journeyman he said,
"I'll see to this myself."
"Would," said he, as he drew the bill,
"My father were alive;
Ten pounds of solder at ten cents,
Canto III—The Traitor's Doom
The Jones had houses many on
The avenues and squares,
And hired the young Avenger Smith
To see to the repairs,
And Smith put faucets in, and cocks,
And meters, eke, and taps,
Connections, T-joints, sewer pipes,
Basins and water-traps;
He tore the walls and ripped the floors
To reach the pipes beyond,
And excavations in the street
And 'neath the side-walk yawned;
And daily as he entered up
The items in his book
The plumber's face wore a serene
And retrospective look.
And Jones would wring his hands and cry,
"Woe, woe, and utter woe!
Ah me! that taxes should be so high
And rents should be so low!"
Then he would give the Smith the house
As instalment on account
Of its repairs, and notes of hand
For the rest of the amount.
Canto IV—Avenged at Last
Now Smith had been for a dozen years
In the practical plumbing line,
And the bills of Smith did not grind slow,
And they ground extremely fine.
Terrace by terrace, house by house,
The lands of Jones he took,
And heavier still the balance was
Writ in that fatal book.
At last, no property nor cash
Had he, so he did fail,
And the avenging plumber locked
Him up in Ludlow Jail.
His heartless creditor he besought
For mercy in his need.
"Nay, nay, no mercy, lie and rot,"
Quoth he, "in jail, like Tweed.
For I have sworn avenged to be
On thee, thy kin and kith;
Rememberest thou Belinda Jane?
I am the son of Smith!!!"
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
A Venetian Merchant who was lolling in the lap of luxury was accosted upon the Rialto by a friend who had not seen him for many months. "How is this?" cried the latter. "When I last saw you your gaberdine was out at elbows, and now you sail in your own gondola." "True," replied the Merchant, "but since then I have met with serious losses, and been obliged to compound with my creditors for ten cents on the dollar."
Moral.—Composition is the life of trade.
THE UNFORTUNATE ELEPHANT
An Elephant had been endeavouring to rive the bole of a knotted oak with his trunk, but the tree closed upon that member, detaining it, and causing the hapless Elphas Africanus intense pain. He shook the forest with his trumpeting, and all the beasts gathered around him. "Ah, ha, my friend," said a pert Chimpanzee, "you have got your trunk checked, I see." "My children," said a temperate Camel to her young, "let this awful example teach you to shun the bole." "Does it hurt much?" said a compassionate Gnu. "Ah, it does; it does; it must; I gnu it; I have been a mother myself." And while they were sympathising with him the unfortunate Elephant expired in great agony.
Moral.—The moral of the above is so plain as to need explanation. Talk is cheap.
THE CORONER AND THE BANANA PEEL
As a Coroner was entering a saloon to see a man he beheld a careless boy, who was eating a Banana, cast the rind of the fruit upon the slippery stone sidewalk, but instead of chiding the urchin, smiled and passed on. As he was coming out of the saloon, having satisfied his thirst, he slipped on the peel of the Banana, and, falling, broke his neck; so that a rival coroner made the fees from the inquest.
Moral.—It is rare sport to see the Coroner hoist with his own petard.
THE RHINOCEROS AND THE DROMEDARY
A thirsty Rhinoceros, having to his great joy encountered a Dromedary in the desert of Sahara, besought the latter animal of his mercy to give him a drink, but the Dromedary refused, stating that he was holding the fluid for an advance. "Why," said he to the Rhinoceros, "did you not imitate my forethought and prudence, and take some heed to the morrow?" The Rhinoceros acknowledged the justice of the rebuke. Some time afterwards he met in an oasis the Dromedary, who had realised at the turn of the market and was now trying to cover his shorts. "For Heaven's sake," he gasped to the Rhinoceros, who was wallowing in the midst of a refreshing pool, "trust me for a nip." "When I was thirsty," replied the Rhinoceros, "you declined to stand the drinks, but I will give you a horn." So saying, he let the grateful sunlight into the Dromedary's innards.
Moral.—Virtue is its own reward.
THE HEN AND THE TAILOR
A Hen who had saved a Tailor from drowning in a marine disaster that had cost several of his less fortunate companions their lives asked him his opinion of the theory of evolution. The grateful Tailor replied that he was himself an instance of the survival of the fittest; and the philosophical Fowl, remarking that it was vulgar to pun, walked off with much dignity to resume her interrupted occupation of hatching out a china nest-egg.
Moral.—Some people cannot take a joke.
THE GLOW-WORM AND THE FAMISHED NIGHTINGALE
A famished Nightingale, who had been singing to very thin houses, chanced to encounter a Glow-worm at eventide and prepared to make upon him a light repast. The unfortunate Lampyris Splendidula besought the Songster, in the sacred name of Art, not to quench his vital spark, and appealed to his magnanimity. "The Nightingale who needlessly sets claw upon a Glow-worm," he said, "is a being whom it were gross flattery to term a Luscinia Philomela." The Bird, however, turned a deaf beak to these appeals and was about to douse the glim, when the Glow-worm cried out, "Beware, lest I give you the heartburn; remember how Herod and Luther died of a diet of Glow-worms," and while the Nightingale (who was by no means a bad bird at stomach) was considering these propositions, escaped, hanging out false lights to baffle his enemy's pursuit.
Moral.—Let the dead past bury its dead; act, act in the living present.
THE CENTIPEDE AND THE BARBARIC YAK
While a Centipede was painfully toiling over the Libyan Desert he was encountered by a barbaric Yak, who scornfully asked him how were his poor feet. The humble creature made no reply at the time, but some days later found the barbaric Yak taken in the nets of the hunter and almost devoured by insects, which fled at the approach of the Centipede. "Help, help, my good friend!" exclaimed the unfortunate beast. "I cannot move a muscle in these cruel toils, and the ravenous insects have devoured my delicate flesh." "Say you so?" responded the Centipede. "Can you really not defend yourself?" "Alas! how can I?" replied the Yak. "See you not how straitly I am bound?" "And is your flesh then so delicate?" "It is, though I say it who should not." "Then," said the Centipede, "I guess I'll take a bite myself."
Moral.—The other man's extremity is often our opportunity.
THE HONEST NEWSBOY
A Newsboy was passing along the street, when he chanced to discover a purse of greenbacks. He was at first inclined to conceal it, but, repelling the unworthy suggestion, he asked a Venerable Man if it was his'n. The Venerable Man looked at it hurriedly, said it was, patted him on the head, gave him a quarter, and said he would yet be president. The Venerable Man then hastened away, but was arrested for having counterfeit bills in his possession, while the honest Newsboy played penny-ante with his humble quarter and ran it up to $2.62.
Moral.—Honesty is sometimes the best policy.
THE VILLAGER AND THE SNAKE
A Villager one frosty day found under a hedge a Snake almost dead with cold. Moved with compassion, and having heard that snake oil was good for the rheumatiz, he took it home and placed it on the hearth, where it shortly began to wake and crawl. Meanwhile, the Villager having gone out to keep an engagement with a man 'round the corner, the Villager's son (who had not drawn a sober breath for a week) entered, and, beholding the Serpent unfolding its plain, unvarnished tail, with the cry, "I've got 'em again!" fled to the office of the nearest Justice of the Peace, swore off and became an apostle of Temperance at $700 a week. The beneficent Snake next bit the Villager's mother-in-law so severely that death soon ended her sufferings—and his; then silently stole away, leaving the Villager deeply and doubly in its debt.
Moral.—A virtuous action is not always its only reward. A snake in the grass is worth two in the boot.
THE OSTRICH AND THE HEN
An Ostrich and a Hen chanced to occupy adjacent apartments, and the former complained loudly that her rest was disturbed by the cackling of her humble neighbour. "Why is it," she finally asked the Hen, "that you make such an intolerable noise?" The Hen replied, "Because I have laid an egg." "Oh no," said the Ostrich, with a superior smile, "it is because you are a Hen and don't know any better."
Moral.—The moral of the foregoing is not very clear, but it contains some reference to the Agitation for Female Suffrage.
THE SENATOR'S LAUNDRY
Signora Mirandolina Rocca, who was the landlady of the house where the Club were lodging, was a widow, of about forty years of age, still fresh and blooming, with a merry dark eye, and much animation of features. Sitting usually in the small room which they passed on the way to their apartments, they had to stop to get their keys, or to leave them when they went out, and Buttons and Dick frequently stopped to have a little conversation. The rest, not being able to speak Italian, contented themselves with smiles; the Senator particularly, who gave the most beaming of smiles both on going and on returning. Sometimes he even tried to talk to her in his usual adaptation of broken English, spoken in loud tones to the benighted but fascinating foreigner. Her attention to Dick during his sickness increased the Senator's admiration, and he thought her one of the best, one of the most kind-hearted and sympathetic of beings.
One day, toward the close of their stay in Rome, the Senator was in a fix. He had not had any washing done since he came to the city. He had run through all his clean linen, and came to a dead stand. Before leaving for another place it was absolutely necessary to attend to this. But how? Buttons was off with the Spaniards; Dick had gone out on a drive. No one could help him, so he tried it himself. In fact, he had never lost confidence in his powers of making himself understood. It was still a fixed conviction of his that in cases of necessity any intelligent man could make his wants known to intelligent foreigners. If not, there is stupidity somewhere. Had he not done so in Paris and in other places?
So he rang and managed to make the servant understand that he wished to see the landlady. The landlady had always shown a great admiration for the manly, not to say gigantic charms of the Senator. Upon him she bestowed her brightest smile, and the quick flush on her face and heaving breast told that the Senator had made wild work with her too susceptible heart.
So now when she learned that the Senator wished to see her, she at once imagined the cause to be any thing and every thing except the real one. Why take that particular time, when all the rest were out? she thought. Evidently for some tender purpose. Why send for her? Why not come down to see her? Evidently because he did not like the publicity of her room at the Conciergerie.
She arrayed herself, therefore, in her brightest and her best charms; gave an additional flourish to her dark hair that hung wavingly and luxuriantly, and still without a trace of gray, over her forehead; looked at herself with her dark eyes in the glass to see if she appeared to the best advantage; and finally, in some agitation, but with great eagerness, she went to obey the summons.
Meantime the Senator had been deliberating how to begin. He felt that he could not show his bundle of clothes to so fair and fine a creature as this, whose manners were so soft and whose smile so pleasant. He would do anything first. He would try a roundabout way of making known his wishes, trusting to his own powers and the intelligence of the lady for a full and complete understanding. Just as he had come to this conclusion there was a timid knock at the door.
"Come in," said the Senator, who began to feel a little awkward already.
"E permesso?" said a soft, sweet voice, "se puo entrare?" and Signora Mirandolina Rocca advanced into the room, giving one look at the Senator, and then casting down her eyes.
"Umilissima serva di Lei, Signore, mi commandi."
But the Senator was in a quandary. What could he do? How begin? What gesture would be the most fitting for a beginning?
The pause began to be embarrassing. The lady, however, as yet was calm—calmer, in fact, than when she entered.
So she spoke once more.
"Di che ha Ella bisogna, Illustrissimo?"
The Senator was dreadfully embarrassed. The lady was so fair in his eyes. Was this a woman who could contemplate the fact of soiled linen? Never.
"Ehem!" said he.
Then he paused.
"Serva devota," said Signora Mirandolina. "Che c'e, Signore."
Then, looking up, she saw the face of the Senator, all rosy red, turned toward her with a strange confusion and embarrassment in his eye; yet it was a kind eye—a soft, kind eye.
"Egli e forse innamorato di me," murmured the lady, gathering new courage as she saw the timidity of the other. "Che grandezza!" she continued, loud enough for the Senator to hear, yet speaking as if to herself. "Che bellezza! un galantuomo, certamente—e quest' e molto piacevole."
She glanced at the manly figure of the Senator with a tender admiration in her eye, which she could not repress, and which was so intelligible to the Senator that he blushed more violently than ever, and looked helplessly around him.
"E innamorato di me, senza dubio," said the Signora, "vergogna non vuol che si sapesse."
The Senator at length found voice. Advancing toward the lady he looked at her very earnestly, and as she thought very piteously held out both his hands, then smiled, then spread his hands apart, then nodded and smiled again, and said:
"Me—me—want—ha—hum—ah! You know—me—gentleman—hum—me——Confound the luck!" he added, in profound vexation.
"Signore," said Mirandolina, "la di Lei gentelezza me confonde."
The Senator turned his eyes all around, everywhere, in a desperate, half-conscious search for escape from an embarrassing situation.
"Signore noi ci siamo sole, nessuno ci senti," remarked the Signora encouragingly.
"Me want to tell you this!" burst forth the Senator. "Clothes—you know—washy—washy." Whereupon he elevated his eyebrows, smiled, and brought the tips of his fingers together.
"Io non so che cosa vuol dir mi, Illustrissimo," said the Signora, in bewilderment.
"You—you—you know. Ah? Washy? Hey? No, no," shaking his head, "not washy, but get washy."
The landlady smiled. The Senator, encouraged by this, came a step nearer.
"Che cosa? Il cuor me palpita. Io tremo," murmured La Rocca.
She retreated a step. Whereupon the Senator at once fell back again in great confusion.
"Washy, washy," he repeated mechanically, as his mind was utterly vague and distrait.
"Uassi-Uassi?" repeated the other interrogatively.
"Tu," said she, with tender emphasis.
"Wee, mounseer," said he, with utter desperation.
The Signora shook her head.
"Non capisco. Ma quelle, balordaggini ed intormentimente, che sono si non segni manifesti d'amore?"
"I don't understand, marm, a single word of that."
The Signora smiled. The Senator took courage again.
"The fact is this, marm," said he firmly, "I want to get my clothes washed somewhere. Of course you don't do it, but you can tell me, you know. Hm?"
"Madame," said he, feeling confident that she would understand that word at least, and thinking, too, that it might perhaps serve as a key to explain any other words which he might append to it, "my clothes—I want to get them washed—laundress—washy—soap and water—clean 'em all up—iron 'em—hang 'em out to dry. Ha?"
While saying this he indulged in an expressive pantomime. When alluding to his clothes he placed his hands against his chest, when mentioning the drying of them he waved them in the air. The landlady comprehended this. How not? When a gentleman places his hand on his heart, what is his meaning?
"O sottigliezza d'amore!" murmured she. "Che cosa cerca," she continued, looking up timidly but invitingly.
The Senator felt doubtful at this, and in fact a little frightened. Again he placed his hands on his chest to indicate his clothes; he struck that manly chest forcibly several times, looking at her all the time. Then he wrung his hands.
"Ah, Signore," said La Rocca, with a melting glance, "non è d'uopo di desperazione."
"Eppure, se Ella vuol sposarmi, non ce difficoltà," returned the other, with true Italian frankness.
"Soap and water——"
"Non ho il coraggio di dir di no."
The Senator had his arms outstretched to indicate the hanging-out process. Still, however, feeling doubtful if he were altogether understood, he thought he would try another form of pantomime. Suddenly he fell down on his knees, and began to imitate the action of a washer-woman over her tub, washing, wringing, pounding, rubbing.
"O gran' cielo!" cried the Signora, her pitying heart filled with tenderness at the sight of this noble being on his knees before her, and, as she thought, wringing his hands in despair. "O gran' cielo! Egli è innamorato di me non puo parlar Italiano e cosi non puo dirmelo."
Her warm heart prompted her, and she obeyed its impulse. What else could she do? She flung herself into his outstretched arms as he raised himself to hang out imaginary clothes on an invisible line.
The Senator was thunderstruck, confounded, bewildered, shattered, overcome, crushed, stupefied, blasted, overwhelmed, horror-stricken, wonder-smitten, annihilated, amazed, horrified, shocked, frightened, terrified, nonplussed, wilted, awe-struck, shivered, astounded, dumfounded. He did not even struggle. He was paralysed.
"Ah, carissimo," said a soft and tender voice in his ear, a low, sweet voice, "se veramenta me ami, saro lo tua carissima sposa——"
At that moment the door opened and Buttons walked in. In an instant he darted out. The Signora hurried away.
"Addio, bellissima, carissima gioia!" she sighed.
The Senator was still paralysed.
After a time he went with a pale and anxious face to see Buttons. That young man promised secrecy, and when the Senator was telling his story tried hard to look serious and sympathetic. In vain. The thought of that scene, and the cause of it, and the blunder that had been made overwhelmed him. Laughter convulsed him. At last the Senator got up indignantly and left the room.
But what was he to do now? The thing could not be explained. How could he get out of the house? He would have to pass her as she sat at the door.
He had to call on Buttons again and implore his assistance. The difficulty was so repugnant, and the matter so very delicate, that Buttons declared he could not take the responsibility of settling it. It would have to be brought before the Club.
The Club had a meeting about it, and many plans were proposed. The stricken Senator had one plan, and that prevailed. It was to leave Rome on the following day. For his part he had made up his mind to leave the house at once. He would slip out as though he intended to return, and the others could settle his bill, and bring with them the clothes that had caused all this trouble. He would meet them in the morning outside the gates of the city.
This resolution was adopted by all, and the Senator, leaving money to settle for himself, went away. He passed hurriedly out of the door. He dared not look. He heard a soft voice pronounce the word "Gioia!" He fled.
Now that one who owned the soft voice afterward changed her feelings so much toward her "gioia" that opposite his name in her house-book she wrote the following epithets: Birbone, Villano, Zolicaccio, Burberone, Gaglioffo, Meschino, Briconaccio, Anemalaccio.
[End of Humour of the North by Lawrence J. Burpee (Editor)]