The Wit and Humor of America, Volume I. (of X.)
Author: Various
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I thought this reasoning foolish. "Even peasants eat, my dear," I muttered. "She must have seen somebody cook something. Field-workers have good appetites. If this woman ever ate, what did she eat and why can't we have the same? We have asked her for no luxuries. We have arrived at the stage, my poor girl, when all we need is, prosaically, to 'fill up.' You have given her opportunities to offer us samples of peasant food. The result has been nil."

"It is odd," Letitia declared, a wrinkle of perplexity appearing in the smooth surface of her forehead. "Of course, she says she doesn't understand me. And yet, Archie, I have talked to her in pure Swedish."

"I suppose you said, 'Pray give me a piece of venison,' from the conversation book."

"Don't be ridiculous, Archie. I know the Swedish for cauliflower, green peas, spinach, a leg of mutton, mustard, roast meat, soup, and—"

"'If the wind be favorable, we shall be at Gothenburg in forty hours,'" I interrupted. She was silent, and I went on: "It seems a pity to end your studies in Swedish, Letitia, but fascinating though they be, they do not really necessitate our keeping this barbarian. You can always pursue them, and exercise on me. I don't mind. Even with an American cook, if such a being exist, you could still continue to ask for venison steak in Swedish, and to look forward to arriving at Gothenburg in forty hours."

Letitia declined to argue. My mood was that known as cranky. We were in the drawing-room, after what we were compelled to call dinner. It had consisted of steak burned to cinders, potatoes soaked to a pulp, and a rice pudding that looked like a poultice the morning after, and possibly tasted like one. Letitia had been shopping, and was therefore unable to supervise. Our delicate repast was capped by "black" coffee of an indefinite straw-color, and with globules of grease on the surface. People who can feel elated with the joy of living, after a dinner of this description, are assuredly both mentally and morally lacking. Men and women there are who will say: "Oh, give me anything. I'm not particular—so long as it is plain and wholesome." I've met many of these people. My experience of them is that they are the greatest gluttons on earth, with veritably voracious appetites, and that the best isn't good enough for them. To be sure, at a pinch, they will demolish a score of potatoes, if there be nothing else; but offer them caviare, canvas-back duck, quail, and nesselrode pudding, and they will look askance at food that is plain and wholesome. The "plain and wholesome" liver is a snare and a delusion, like the "bluff and genial" visitor whose geniality veils all sorts of satire and merciless comment.

Letitia and I both felt weak and miserable. We had made up our minds not to dine out. We were resolved to keep the home up, even if, in return, the home kept us down. Give in, we wouldn't. Our fighting blood was up. We firmly determined not to degenerate into that clammy American institution, the boarding-house feeder and the restaurant diner. We knew the type; in the feminine, it sits at table with its bonnet on, and a sullen gnawing expression of animal hunger; in the masculine, it puts its own knife in the butter, and uses a toothpick. No cook—no lack of cook—should drive us to these abysmal depths.

Letitia made no feint at Ovid. I simply declined to breathe the breath of The Lives of Great Men. She read a sweet little classic called "The Table; How to Buy Food, How to Cook It, and How to Serve It," by Alessandro Filippini—a delightful table-d'hote-y name. I lay back in my chair and frowned, waiting until Letitia chose to break the silence. As she was a most chattily inclined person on all occasions, I reasoned that I should not have to wait long. I was right.

"Archie," said she, "according to this book, there is no place in the civilized world that contains so large a number of so-called high-livers as New York City, which was educated by the famous Delmonico and his able lieutenants."

"Great Heaven!" I exclaimed with a groan, "why rub it in, Letitia? I should also say that no city in the world contained so large a number of low-livers."

"'Westward the course of Empire sways,'" she read, "'and the great glory of the past has departed from those centers where the culinary art at one time defied all rivals. The scepter of supremacy has passed into the hands of the metropolis of the New World.'"

"What sickening cant!" I cried. "What fiendishly exaggerated restaurant talk! There are perhaps fifty fine restaurants in New York. In Paris there are five hundred finer. Here we have places to eat in; there they have artistic resorts to dine in. One can dine anywhere in Paris. In New York, save for those fifty fine restaurants, one feeds. Don't read any more of your cook-book to me, my girl. It is written to catch the American trade, with the subtile pen of flattery."

"Try and be patriotic, dear," she said soothingly. "Of course, I know you wouldn't allow a Frenchman to say all that, and that you are just talking cussedly with your own wife."

A ring at the bell caused a diversion. We hailed it. We were in the humor to hail anything. The domestic hearth was most trying. We were bored to death. I sprang up and ran to the door, a little pastime to which I was growing accustomed. Three tittering young women, each wearing a hat in which roses, violets, poppies, cornflowers, forget-me-nots, feathers and ribbons ran riot, confronted me.

"Miss Gerda Lyberg?" said the foremost, who wore a bright red gown, and from whose hat six spiteful poppies lurched forward and almost hit me in the face.

For a moment, dazed from the cook-book, I was nonplussed. All I could say was "No," meaning that I wasn't Miss Gerda Lyberg. I felt so sure that I wasn't that I was about to close the door.

"She lives here, I believe," asserted the damsel, again shooting forth the poppies.

I came to myself with an effort. "She is the—the cook," I muttered weakly.

"We are her friends," quoth the damsel, an indignant inflection in her voice. "Kindly let us in. We've come to the Thursday sociable."

The three bedizened ladies entered without further parley and went toward the kitchen, instinctively recognizing its direction. I was amazed. I heard a noisy greeting, a peal of laughter, a confusion of tongues, and then—I groped my way back to Letitia.

"They've come to the Thursday sociable!" I cried.

"Who?" she asked in astonishment, and I imparted to her the full extent of my knowledge. Letitia took it very nicely. She had always heard, she said, in fact Mrs. Archer had told her, that Thursday nights were festival occasions with the Swedes. She thought it rather a pleasant and convivial notion. Servants must enjoy themselves, after all. Better a happy gathering of girls than a rowdy collection of men. Letitia thought the idea felicitous. She had no objections to giving privileges to a cook. Nor had I, for the matter of that. I ventured to remark, however, that Gerda didn't seem to be a cook.

"Then let us call her a 'girl,'" said Letitia.

"Gerda is a girl, only because she isn't a boy," I remarked tauntingly. "If by 'girl' you even mean servant, then Gerda isn't a girl. Goodness knows what she is. Hello! Another ring!"

This time Miss Lyberg herself went to the door, and we listened. More arrivals for the sociable; four Swedish guests, all equally gaily attired in flower hats. Some of them wore bangles, the noise of which, in the hall, sounded like an infuriation of sleigh-bells. They were Christina and Sophie and Sadie and Alexandra—as we soon learned. It was wonderful how welcome Gerda made them, and how quickly they were "at home." They rustled through the halls, chatting and laughing and humming. Such merry girls! Such light-hearted little charmers! Letitia stood looking at them through the crack of the drawing-room door. Perhaps it was just as well that somebody should have a good time in our house.

"Just the same, Letitia," I observed, galled, "I think I should say to-morrow that this invasion is most impertinent—most uncalled for."

"Yes, Archie," said Letitia demurely, "you think you should say it. But please don't think I shall, for I assure you that I shan't. I suppose that we must discharge her. She can't do anything and she doesn't want to learn. I don't blame her. She can always get the wages she asks by doing nothing. You would pursue a similar policy, Archie, if it were possible. Everybody would. But all other laborers must know how to labor."

I was glad to hear Letitia echoing my sentiments. She was quite unconsciously plagiarizing. Once again she took up the cook-book. The sound of merrymaking in the kitchen drifted in upon us. From what we could gather, Gerda seemed to be "dressing up" for the delectation of her guests. Shrieks of laughter and clapping of hands made us wince. My nerves were on edge. Had any one at that moment dared to suggest that there was even a suspicion of humor in these proceedings I should have slain him without compunction. Letitia was less irate and tried to comfort me.

Letitia sighed, and shut up the cook-book. Eggs a la reine seemed as difficult as trigonometry, or conic sections, or differential calculus—and much more expensive. Certainly the eight giggling cooks in the kitchen, now at the very height of their exhilaration, worried themselves little about such concoctions. My nerves again began to play pranks. The devilish pandemonium infuriated me. Letitia was tired and wanted to go to bed. I was tired and hungry and disillusioned. It was close upon midnight and the Swedish Thursday was about over. I thought it unwise to allow them even an initial minute of Friday. When the clock struck twelve, I marched majestically to the kitchen, threw open the door, revealed the octette in the enjoyment of a mound of ice-cream and a mountain of cake—that in my famished condition made my mouth water—and announced in a severe, yet subdued tone, that the revel must cease.

"You must go at once," I said, "I am going to shut up the house."

Then I withdrew and waited. There was a delay, during which a Babel of tongues was let loose, and then Miss Lyberg's seven guests were heard noisily leaving the house. Two minutes later, there was a knock at our door and Miss Lyberg appeared, her eyes blazing, her face flushed and the expression of the hunted antelope defiantly asserting that it would never be brought to bay, on her perspiring features.

"You've insulted my guests!" she cried, in English as good as my own. "I've had to turn them out of the house, and I've had about enough of this place."

Letitia's face was a psychological study. Amazement, consternation, humiliation—all seemed determined to possess her. Here was the obtuse Swede, for whose dear sake she had dallied with the intricacies of the language of Stockholm, furiously familiar with admirable English! The dense, dumb Scandinavian—the lady of the "me no understand" rejoinder—apparently had the "gift of tongues." Letitia trembled. Rarely have I seen her so thoroughly perturbed. Yet seemingly she was unwilling to credit the testimony of her own ears, for with sudden energy, she confronted Miss Lyberg, and exclaimed imperiously, in Swedish that was either pure or impure: "Tig. Ga din vaeg!"

"Ah, come off!" cried the handmaiden insolently. "I understand English. I haven't been in this country fifteen years for nothing. It's just on account of folks like you that poor hard-working girls, who ain't allowed to take no baths or entertain no lady friends, have to protect themselves. Pretend not to understand them, says I. I've found it worked before this. If they think you don't understand 'em, they'll let you alone and stop worriting. It's like your impidence to turn my lady-friends out of this flat. It's like your impidence. I'll—"

Letitia's crestfallen look, following upon her perturbation, completely upset me. A wave of indignation swamped me. I advanced, and in another minute Miss Gerda Lyberg would have found herself in the hall, impelled there by a persuasive hand upon her shoulder. However, it was not to be.

"You just lay a hand on me," she said with cold deliberation, and a smile, "and I'll have you arrested for assault. Oh, I know the law. I haven't been in this country fifteen years for nothing. The law looks after poor weak, Swedish girls. Just push me out. It's all I ask. Just you push me out."

She edged up to me defiantly. My blood boiled. I would have mortgaged the prospects of my Lives of Great Men (not that they were worth mortgaging) for the exquisite satisfaction of confounding this abominable woman. Then I saw the peril of the situation. I thought of horrid headliners in the papers: "Author charged with abusing servant girl," or, "Arrest of Archibald Fairfax on serious charge," and my mood changed.

"I understood you all the time," continued Miss Lyberg insultingly. "I listened to you. I knew what you thought of me. Now I'm telling you what I think of you. The idea of turning out my lady-friends, on a Thursday night, too! And me a-slaving for them, and a-bathing for them, and a-treating them to ice cream and cake, and in me own kitchen. You ain't no lady. As for you"—I seemed to be her particular pet—"when I sees a man around the house all the time, a-molly-coddling and a-fussing, I says to myself, he ain't much good if he can't trust the women folk alone."

We stood there like dummies, listening to the tirade. What could we do? To be sure, there were two of us, and we were in our own house. The antagonist, however, was a servant, not in her own house. The situation, for reasons that it is impossible to define, was hers. She knew it, too. We allowed her full sway, because we couldn't help it. The sympathy of the public, in case of violent measures, would not have been on our side. The poor domestic, oppressed and enslaved, would have appealed to any jury of married men, living luxuriously in cheap boarding-houses!

When she left us, as she did when she was completely ready to do so, Letitia began to cry. The sight of her tears unnerved me, and I checked a most unfeeling remark that I intended to make to the effect that, "if the wind be favorable, we shall be at Gothenburg in forty hours."

"It's not that I mind her insolence," she sobbed, "we were going to send her off anyway, weren't we? But it's so humiliating to be 'done.' We've been 'done.' Here have I been working hard at Swedish—writing exercises, learning verbs, studying proverbs—just to talk to a woman who speaks English as well as I do. It's—it's—so—so—mor—mortifying."

"Never mind, dear," I said, drying her eyes for her; "the Swedish will come in handy some day."

"No," she declared vehemently, "don't say that you'll take me to Sweden. I wouldn't go to the hateful country. It's a hideous language, anyway, isn't it, Archie? It is a nasty, laconic, ugly tongue. You heard me say Tig to her just now. Tig means 'be silent.' Could anything sound more repulsive? Tig! Tig! Ugh!"

Letitia stamped her foot. She was exceeding wroth.



There was once a little animal, No bigger than a fox, And on five toes he scampered Over Tertiary rocks. They called him Eohippus, And they called him very small, And they thought him of no value— When they thought of him at all; For the lumpish old Dinoceras And Coryphodon so slow Were the heavy aristocracy In days of long ago.

Said the little Eohippus, "I am going to be a horse! And on my middle finger-nails To run my earthly course! I'm going to have a flowing tail! I'm going to have a mane! I'm going to stand fourteen hands high On the psychozoic plain!"

The Coryphodon was horrified, The Dinoceras was shocked; And they chased young Eohippus, But he skipped away and mocked; Then they laughed enormous laughter, And they groaned enormous groans, And they bade young Eohippus Go view his father's bones: Said they, "You always were as small And mean as now we see, And that's conclusive evidence That you're always going to be: What! Be a great, tall, handsome beast, With hoofs to gallop on? Why, you'd have to change your nature!" Said the Loxolophodon: They considered him disposed of, And retired with gait serene; That was the way they argued In "the early Eocene."

There was once an Anthropoidal Ape, Far smarter than the rest, And everything that they could do He always did the best; So they naturally disliked him, And they gave him shoulders cool, And when they had to mention him They said he was a fool.

Cried this pretentious Ape one day, "I'm going to be a Man! And stand upright, and hunt, and fight, And conquer all I can! I'm going to cut down forest trees, To make my houses higher! I'm going to kill the Mastodon! I'm going to make a fire!"

Loud screamed the Anthropoidal Apes, With laughter wild and gay; They tried to catch that boastful one, But he always got away; So they yelled at him in chorus, Which he minded not a whit; And they pelted him with cocoanuts, Which didn't seem to hit; And then they gave him reasons, Which they thought of much avail, To prove how his preposterous Attempt was sure to fail.

Said the sages, "In the first place, The thing can not be done! And, second, if it could be, It would not be any fun! And, third, and most conclusive And admitting no reply, You would have to change your nature! We should like to see you try!" They chuckled then triumphantly, These lean and hairy shapes, For these things passed as arguments With the Anthropoidal Apes.

There was once a Neolithic Man, An enterprising wight, Who made his chopping implements Unusually bright; Unusually clever he, Unusually brave, And he drew delightful Mammoths On the borders of his cave.

To his Neolithic neighbors, Who were startled and surprised, Said he, "My friends, in course of time, We shall be civilized! We are going to live in cities! We are going to fight in wars! We are going to eat three times a day Without the natural cause! We are going to turn life upside down About a thing called gold! We are going to want the earth, and take As much as we can hold! We are going to wear great piles of stuff Outside our proper skins! We are going to have Diseases! And Accomplishments!! And Sins!!!"

Then they all rose up in fury Against their boastful friend, For prehistoric patience Cometh quickly to an end: Said one, "This is chimerical! Utopian! Absurd!" Said another, "What a stupid life! Too dull, upon my word!" Cried all, "Before such things can come, You idiotic child, You must alter Human Nature!" And they all sat back and smiled: Thought they, "An answer to that last It will be hard to find!" It was a clinching argument To the Neolithic Mind!



Corona had five hundred dollars and some pluck for her enterprise. She had also at her command a trifle for furnishing. But that seemed very small capital. Her friends at large discouraged her generously. Even Tom said he didn't know about that, and offered her three hundred more.

This manly offer she declined in a womanly manner.

"It is to be my house, thank you, Tom, dear. I can live in yours at home." ...

Corona's architectural library was small. She found on the top shelf one book on the construction of chicken-roosts, a pamphlet in explanation of the kindergarten system, a cook-book that had belonged to her grandmother, and a treatise on crochet. There her domestic literature came to an end. She accordingly bought a book entitled "North American Homes"; then, having, in addition, begged or borrowed everything within two covers relating to architecture that was to be found in her immediate circle of acquaintance, she plunged into that unfamiliar science with hopeful zeal.

The result of her studies was a mixed one. It was necessary, it seemed, to construct the North American home in so many contradictory methods, or else fail forever of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that Corona felt herself to be laboring under a chronic aberration of mind.... Then the plans. Well, the plans, it must be confessed, Corona did find it difficult to understand. She always had found it difficult to understand such things; but then she had hoped several weeks of close architectural study would shed light upon the density of the subject. She grew quite morbid about it. She counted the steps when she went up-stairs to bed at night. She estimated the bedroom post when she walked in the cold, gray dawn....

But the most perplexing thing about the plans was how one story ever got upon another. Corona's imagination never fully grappled with this fact, although her intellect accepted it. She took her books down-stairs one night, and Susy came and looked them over.

"Why, these houses are all one-story," said Susy. "Besides, they're nothing but lines, anyway. I shouldn't draw a house so."

Corona laughed with some embarrassment and no effort at enlightenment. She was not used to finding herself and Susy so nearly on the same intellectual level as in this instance. She merely asked: "How should you draw it?"

"Why, so," said Susy, after some severe thought. So she took her little blunt lead pencil, that the baby had chewed, and drew her plan as follows:

Corona made no comment upon this plan, except to ask Susy if that were the way to spell L; and then to look in the dictionary, and find that it was not spelled at all. Tom came in, and asked to see what they were doing.

"I'm helping Corona," said Susy, with much complacency. "These architects' things don't look any more like houses than they do like the first proposition in Euclid; and the poor girl is puzzled."

"I'll help you to-morrow, Co," said Tom, who was in too much of a hurry to glance at his wife's plan. But to-morrow Tom went into town by the early train, and when Corona emerged from her "North American Homes," with wild eye and knotted brow, at 5 o'clock p.m., she found Susy crying over a telegram which ran:

Called to California immediately. Those lost cargoes A No. 1 hides turned up. Can't get home to say good-by. Send overcoat and flannels by Simpson on midnight express. Gone four weeks. Love to all.


This unexpected event threw Corona entirely upon her own resources; and, after a few days more of patient research, she put on her hat, and stole away at dusk to a builder she knew of down-town—a nice, fatherly man who had once built a piazza for Tom and had just been elected superintendent of the Sunday-school. These combined facts gave Corona confidence to trust her case to his hands. She carried a neat little plan of her own with her, the result of several days' hard labor. Susy's plan she had taken the precaution to cut into paper dolls for the baby. Corona found the good man at home, and in her most business-like manner presented her points.

"Got any plan in yer own head?" asked the builder, hearing her in silence. In silence Corona laid before him the paper which had cost her so much toil.

It was headed in her clear black hand:


This was

"Well," said the builder, after a silence,—"well, I've seen worse."

"Thank you," said Corona, faintly.

"How does she set?" asked the builder.

"Who set?" said Corona, a little wildly. She could think of nothing that set but hens.

"Why, the house. Where's the points o' compass?"

"I hadn't thought of those," said Corona.

"And the chimney," suggested the builder. "Where's your chimneys?"

"I didn't put in any chimneys," said Corona.

"Where did you count on your stairs?" pursued the builder.

"Stairs? I—forgot the stairs."

"That's natural," said Mr. Timbers. "Had a plan brought me once without an entry or a window to it. It wasn't a woman did it, neither. It was a widower, in the noospaper line. What's your scale?"

"Scale?" asked Corona, without animation.

"Scale of feet. Proportions."

"Oh! I didn't have any scales, but I thought about forty feet front would do. I have but five hundred dollars. A small house must answer."

The builder smiled. He said he would show her some plans. He took a book from his table and opened at a plate representing a small, snug cottage, not uncomely. It stood in a flourishing apple-orchard, and a much larger house appeared dimly in the distance, upon a hill. The cottage was what is called a "story-and-half" and contained six rooms. The plan was drawn with the beauty of science.

"There," said Mr. Timbers, "I know a lady built one of those upon her brother-in-law's land. He give her the land, and she just put up the cottage, and they was all as pleasant as pease about it. That's about what I'd recommend to you, if you don't object to the name of it."

"What is the matter with the name?" asked Corona.

"Why," said the builder, hesitating, "it is called the Old Maid's House—in the book."

"Mr. Timbers," said Corona, with decision, "why should we seek further than the truth? I will have that house. Pray, draw me the plan at once."




Wisely a woman prefers to a lover a man who neglects her. This one may love her some day, some day the lover will not.


There are three species of creatures who when they seem coming are going, When they seem going they come: Diplomates, women, and crabs.


Pleasures too hastily tasted grow sweeter in fond recollection, As the pomegranate plucked green ripens far over the sea.


As the meek beasts in the Garden came flocking for Adam to name them, Men for a title to-day crawl to the feet of a king.


What is a first love worth, except to prepare for a second? What does the second love bring? Only regret for the first.


Health was wooed by the Romans in groves of the laurel and myrtle. Happy and long are the lives brightened by glory and love.


Wine is like rain: when it falls on the mire it but makes it the fouler, But when it strikes the good soil wakes it to beauty and bloom.


Break not the rose; its fragrance and beauty are surely sufficient: Resting contented with these, never a thorn shall you feel.


When you break up housekeeping, you learn the extent of your treasures; Till he begins to reform, no one can number his sins.


Maidens! why should you worry in choosing whom you shall marry? Choose whom you may, you will find you have got somebody else.


Unto each man comes a day when his favorite sins all forsake him, And he complacently thinks he has forsaken his sins.


Be not too anxious to gain your next-door neighbor's approval: Live your own life, and let him strive your approval to gain.


Who would succeed in the world should be wise in the use of his pronouns. Utter the You twenty times, where you once utter the I.


The best-loved man or maid in the town would perish with anguish Could they hear all that their friends say in the course of a day.


True luck consists not in holding the best of the cards at the table: Luckiest he who knows just when to rise and go home.


Pleasant enough it is to hear the world speak of your virtues; But in your secret heart 'tis of your faults you are proud.


Try not to beat back the current, yet be not drowned in its waters; Speak with the speech of the world, think with the thoughts of the few.


Make all good men your well-wishers, and then, in the years' steady sifting, Some of them turn into friends. Friends are the sunshine of life.



"There are quite as good fish In the sea As any one ever has caught," Said he. "But few of the fish— In the sea Will bite at such bait as you've got," Said she. To-day he is gray, and his line's put away, But he often looks back with regret; She's still "in the sea," and how happy she'd be If he were a fisherman yet!



MY DEAR SIR—Occasionally a gem occurs to me which I am unable to favor you with because of late we are not much together. Appreciating the keen delight with which you have been kind enough to receive my philosophy, I take the liberty of sending herewith a number of ideas which may please and benefit you, and which I have divided into paragraphs with headings.


I have observed that happiness and brains seldom go together. The pin-headed woman who regards her thin-witted husband as the greatest man in the world, is happy, and much good may it do her. In such cases ignorance is a positive blessing, for good sense would cause the woman to realize her distressed condition. A man who can think he is as "good as anybody" is happy. The fact may be notorious that the man is not so "good as anybody" until he is as industrious, as educated, and as refined as anybody, but he has not brains enough to know this, and, content with conceit, is happy. A man with a brain large enough to understand mankind is always wretched and ashamed of himself.


Reputation is not always desirable. The only thing I have ever heard said in Twin Mounds concerning Smoky Hill is that good hired girls may be had there.


1. Most women seem to love for no other reason than that it is expected of them.

2. I know too much about women to honor them more than they deserve; in fact I know all about them. I visited a place once where doctors are made, and saw them cut up one.

3. A woman loses her power when she allows a man to find out all there is to her; I mean by this that familiarity breeds contempt. I knew a young man once who worked beside a woman in an office, and he never married.

4. If men would only tell what they actually know about women, instead of what they believe or hear, they would receive more credit for chastity than is now the case, for they deserve more.


As a people we lack self-confidence. The country is full of men that will readily talk you to death privately, who would run away in alarm if asked to preside at a public meeting. In my Alliance movement I often have trouble in getting out a crowd, every farmer in the neighborhood feeling of so much importance as to fear that if he attends he will be called upon to say something.


In some communities where I have lived the women were mean to their husbands; in others, the husbands were mean to their wives. It is usually the case that the friends of a wife believe her husband to be a brute, and the friends of the husband believe the wife to possess no other talent than to make him miserable. You can't tell how it is; the evidence is divided.


There is only one grade of men; they are all contemptible. The judge may seem to be a superior creature so long as he keeps at a distance, for I have never known one who was not constantly trying to look wise and grave; but when you know him, you find there is nothing remarkable about him except a plug hat, a respectable coat, and a great deal of vanity, induced by the servility of those who expect favors.


You hear a great many persons regretting lack of opportunity. If every man had opportunity for his desires, this would be a nation of murderers and disgraced women.


Always be ready for that which you do not expect. Nothing that you expect ever happens. You have perhaps observed that when you are waiting for a visitor at the front door, he comes in at the back, and surprises you.


A woman's work is never done, as the almanacs state, for the reason that she does not go about it in time to finish it.


If you can not resist the low impulse to talk about people, say only what you actually know, instead of what you have heard. And, while you are about it, stop and consider whether you are not in need of charity yourself.


Every man overestimates his neighbors, because he does not know them so well as he knows himself. A sensible man despises himself because he knows what a contemptible creature he is. I despise Lytle Biggs, but I happen to know that his neighbors are just as bad.


Men are virtuous because the women are; women are virtuous from necessity.


I believe I never knew any one who was not ashamed of the truth. Did you ever notice that a railroad company numbers its cars from 1,000, instead of from 1?


We are sometimes unable to understand why a pretty little woman marries a fellow we know to be worthless; but the fellow, who knows the woman better than we do, considers that he has thrown himself away. We know the fellow, but we do not know the woman.


I detest an apology. The world is full of people who are always making trouble and apologizing for it. If a man respects me, he will not give himself occasion for apology. An offense can not be wiped out in that way. If it could, we would substitute apologies for hangings. I hope you will never apologize to me; I should regard it as evidence that you had wronged me.


The people of Smoky Hill are only fit for oldest inhabitants. In thirty or forty years from now there will be a great demand for reminiscences of the pioneer days. I recommend that they preserve extensive data for the only period in their lives when they can hope to attract attention.

Be good enough, sir, to regard me, as of old, your friend.




It was on a morning of the lovely New England May that we left the horse-car, and, spreading our umbrellas, walked down the street to our new home in Charlesbridge, through a storm of snow and rain so finely blent by the influences of this fortunate climate, that no flake knew itself from its sister drop, or could be better identified by the people against whom they beat in unison. A vernal gale from the east fanned our cheeks and pierced our marrow and chilled our blood, while the raw, cold green of the adventurous grass on the borders of the sopping side-walks gave, as it peered through its veil of melting snow and freezing rain, a peculiar cheerfulness to the landscape. Here and there in the vacant lots abandoned hoop-skirts defied decay; and near the half-finished wooden houses, empty mortar-beds, and bits of lath and slate strewn over the scarred and mutilated ground, added their interest to the scene....

This heavenly weather, which the Pilgrim Fathers, with the idea of turning their thoughts effectually from earthly pleasures, came so far to discover, continued with slight amelioration throughout the month of May and far into June; and it was a matter of constant amazement with one who had known less austere climates, to behold how vegetable life struggled with the hostile skies, and, in an atmosphere as chill and damp as that of a cellar, shot forth the buds and blossoms upon the pear-trees, called out the sour Puritan courage of the currant-bushes, taught a reckless native grape-vine to wander and wanton over the southern side of the fence, and decked the banks with violets as fearless and as fragile as New England girls; so that about the end of June, when the heavens relented and the sun blazed out at last, there was little for him to do but to redden and darken the daring fruits that had attained almost their full growth without his countenance.

Then, indeed, Charlesbridge appeared to us a kind of Paradise. The wind blew all day from the southwest, and all day in the grove across the way the orioles sang to their nestlings.... The house was almost new and in perfect repair; and, better than all, the kitchen had as yet given no signs of unrest in those volcanic agencies which are constantly at work there, and which, with sudden explosions, make Herculaneums and Pompeiis of so many smiling households. Breakfast, dinner, and tea came up with illusive regularity, and were all the most perfect of their kind; and we laughed and feasted in our vain security. We had out from the city to banquet with us the friends we loved, and we were inexpressibly proud before them of the Help, who first wrought miracles of cookery in our honor, and then appeared in a clean white apron, and the glossiest black hair, to wait upon the table. She was young, and certainly very pretty; she was as gay as a lark, and was courted by a young man whose clothes would have been a credit, if they had not been a reproach, to our lowly basement. She joyfully assented to the idea of staying with us till she married.

In fact, there was much that was extremely pleasant about the little place when the warm weather came, and it was not wonderful to us that Jenny was willing to remain. It was very quiet; we called one another to the window if a large dog went by our door; and whole days passed without the movement of any wheels but the butcher's upon our street, which flourished in ragweed and buttercups and daisies, and in the autumn burned, like the borders of nearly all the streets in Charlesbridge, with the pallid azure flame of the succory. The neighborhood was in all things a frontier between city and country. The horse-cars, the type of such civilization—full of imposture, discomfort, and sublime possibility—as we yet possess, went by the head of our street, and might, perhaps, be available to one skilled in calculating the movements of comets; while two minutes' walk would take us into a wood so wild and thick that no roof was visible through the trees. We learned, like innocent pastoral people of the golden age, to know the several voices of the cows pastured in the vacant lots, and, like engine-drivers of the iron age, to distinguish the different whistles of the locomotives passing on the neighboring railroad....

We played a little at gardening, of course, and planted tomatoes, which the chickens seemed to like, for they ate them up as fast as they ripened; and we watched with pride the growth of our Lawton blackberries, which, after attaining the most stalwart proportions, were still as bitter as the scrubbiest of their savage brethren, and which, when by advice left on the vines for a week after they turned black, were silently gorged by secret and gluttonous flocks of robins and orioles. As for our grapes, the frost cut them off in the hour of their triumph.

So, as I have hinted, we were not surprised that Jenny should be willing to remain with us, and were as little prepared for her desertion as for any other change of our mortal state. But one day in September she came to her nominal mistress with tears in her beautiful eyes and protestations of unexampled devotion upon her tongue, and said that she was afraid she must leave us. She liked the place, and she never had worked for any one that was more of a lady, but she had made up her mind to go into the city. All this, so far, was quite in the manner of domestics who, in ghost stories, give warning to the occupants of haunted houses; and Jenny's mistress listened in suspense for the motive of her desertion, expecting to hear no less than that it was something which walked up and down the stairs and dragged iron links after it, or something that came and groaned at the front door, like populace dissatisfied with a political candidate. But it was in fact nothing of this kind; simply, there were no lamps upon our street, and Jenny, after spending Sunday evening with friends in East Charlesbridge, was always alarmed, on her return, in walking from the horse-car to our door. The case was hopeless, and Jenny and our household parted with respect and regret.

We had not before this thought it a grave disadvantage that our street was unlighted. Our street was not drained nor graded; no municipal cart ever came to carry away our ashes; there was not a water-butt within half a mile to save us from fire, nor more than the one-thousandth part of a policeman to protect us from theft. Yet, as I paid a heavy tax, I somehow felt that we enjoyed the benefits of city government, and never looked upon Charlesbridge as in any way undesirable for residence. But when it became necessary to find help in Jenny's place, the frosty welcome given to application at the intelligence offices renewed a painful doubt awakened by her departure. To be sure, the heads of the offices were polite enough; but when the young housekeeper had stated her case at the first to which she applied, and the Intelligencer had called out to the invisible expectants in the adjoining room, "Anny wan wants to do giner'l housewark in Charlsbrudge?" there came from the maids invoked so loud, so fierce, so full a "No!" as shook the lady's heart with an indescribable shame and dread. The name that, with an innocent pride in its literary and historical associations, she had written at the heads of her letters, was suddenly become a matter of reproach to her; and she was almost tempted to conceal thereafter that she lived in Charlesbridge, and to pretend that she dwelt upon some wretched little street in Boston. "You see," said the head of the office, "the gairls doesn't like to live so far away from the city. Now, if it was on'y in the Port." ...

This pen is not graphic enough to give the remote reader an idea of the affront offered to an inhabitant of Old Charlesbridge in these closing words. Neither am I of sufficiently tragic mood to report here all the sufferings undergone by an unhappy family in finding servants, or to tell how the winter was passed with miserable makeshifts. Alas! is it not the history of a thousand experiences? Any one who looks upon this page could match it with a tale as full of heartbreak and disaster, while I conceive that, in hastening to speak of Mrs. Johnson, I approach a subject of unique interest....

I say, our last Irish girl went with the last snow, and on one of those midsummer-like days that sometimes fall in early April to our yet bleak and desolate zone, our hearts sang of Africa and golden joys. A Libyan longing took us, and we would have chosen, if we could, to bear a strand of grotesque beads, or a handful of brazen gauds, and traffic them for some sable maid with crisp locks, whom, uncoffling from the captive train beside the desert, we should make to do our general housework forever, through the right of lawful purchase. But we knew that this was impossible, and that, if we desired colored help, we must seek it at the intelligence office, which is in one of those streets chiefly inhabited by the orphaned children and grandchildren of slavery. To tell the truth these orphans do not seem to grieve much for their bereavement, but lead a life of joyous, and rather indolent oblivion in their quarter of the city. They are often to be seen sauntering up and down the street by which the Charlesbridge cars arrive,—the young with a harmless swagger, and the old with the generic limp which our Autocrat has already noted as attending advanced years in their race.... How gayly are the young ladies of this race attired, as they trip up and down the side-walks, and in and out through the pendent garments at the shop-doors! They are the black pansies and marigolds and dark-blooded dahlias among womankind. They try to assume something of our colder race's demeanor, but even the passer on the horse-car can see that it is not native with them, and is better pleased when they forget us, and ungenteelly laugh in encountering friends, letting their white teeth glitter through the generous lips that open to their ears. In the streets branching upward from this avenue, very little colored men and maids play with broken or enfeebled toys, or sport on the wooden pavements of the entrances to the inner courts. Now and then a colored soldier or sailor—looking strange in his uniform, even after the custom of several years—emerges from those passages; or, more rarely, a black gentleman, stricken in years, and cased in shining broadcloth, walks solidly down the brick sidewalk, cane in hand,—a vision of serene self-complacency, and so plainly the expression of virtuous public sentiment that the great colored louts, innocent enough till then in their idleness, are taken with a sudden sense of depravity, and loaf guiltily up against the house-walls. At the same moment, perhaps, a young damsel, amorously scuffling with an admirer through one of the low open windows, suspends the strife, and bids him,—"Go along now, do!" More rarely yet than the gentleman described, one may see a white girl among the dark neighbors, whose frowsy head is uncovered, and whose sleeves are rolled up to her elbows, and who, though no doubt quite at home, looks as strange there as that pale anomaly which may sometimes be seen among a crew of blackbirds.

An air not so much of decay as of unthrift, and yet hardly of unthrift, seems to prevail in the neighborhood, which has none of the aggressive and impudent squalor of an Irish quarter, and none of the surly wickedness of a low American street. A gayety not born of the things that bring its serious joy to the true New England heart—a ragged gayety, which comes of summer in the blood, and not in the pocket or the conscience, and which affects the countenance and the whole demeanor, setting the feet to some inward music, and at times bursting into a line of song or a child-like and irresponsible laugh—gives tone to the visible life, and wakens a very friendly spirit in the passer, who somehow thinks there of a milder climate, and is half persuaded that the orange-peel on the side-walks came from fruit grown in the soft atmosphere of those back courts.

It was in this quarter, then, that we heard of Mrs. Johnson; and it was from a colored boarding-house there that she came out to Charlesbridge to look at us, bringing her daughter of twelve years with her. She was a matron of mature age and portly figure, with a complexion like coffee soothed with the richest cream; and her manners were so full of a certain tranquillity and grace, that she charmed away all our will to ask for references. It was only her barbaric laughter and lawless eye that betrayed how slightly her New England birth and breeding covered her ancestral traits, and bridged the gulf of a thousand years of civilization that lay between her race and ours. But in fact, she was doubly estranged by descent; for, as we learned later, a sylvan wildness mixed with that of the desert in her veins: her grandfather was an Indian, and her ancestors on this side had probably sold their lands for the same value in trinkets that bought the original African pair on the other side.

The first day that Mrs. Johnson descended into our kitchen, she conjured from the malicious disorder in which it had been left by the flitting Irish kobold a dinner that revealed the inspirations of genius, and was quite different from a dinner of mere routine and laborious talent. Something original and authentic mingled with the accustomed flavors; and, though vague reminiscences of canal-boat travel and woodland camps arose from the relish of certain of the dishes, there was yet the assurance of such power in the preparation of the whole, that we knew her to be merely running over the chords of our appetite with preliminary savors, as a musician acquaints his touch with the keys of an unfamiliar piano before breaking into brilliant and triumphant execution. Within a week she had mastered her instrument; and thereafter there was no faltering in her performances, which she varied constantly, through inspiration or from suggestion.... But, after all, it was in puddings that Mrs. Johnson chiefly excelled. She was one of those cooks—rare as men of genius in literature—who love their own dishes; and she had, in her personally child-like simplicity of taste, and the inherited appetites of her savage forefathers, a dominant passion for sweets. So far as we could learn, she subsisted principally upon puddings and tea. Through the same primitive instincts, no doubt, she loved praise. She openly exulted in our artless flatteries of her skill; she waited jealously at the head of the kitchen stairs to hear what was said of her work, especially if there were guests; and she was never too weary to attempt emprises of cookery.

While engaged in these, she wore a species of sightly handkerchief like a turban upon her head, and about her person those mystical swathings in which old ladies of the African race delight. But she most pleasured our sense of beauty and moral fitness when, after the last pan was washed and the last pot was scraped, she lighted a potent pipe, and, taking her stand at the kitchen door, laded the soft evening air with its pungent odors. If we surprised her at these supreme moments, she took the pipe from her lips, and put it behind her, with a low, mellow chuckle, and a look of half-defiant consciousness; never guessing that none of her merits took us half so much as the cheerful vice which she only feigned to conceal.

Some things she could not do so perfectly as cooking because of her failing eyesight, and we persuaded her that spectacles would both become and befriend a lady of her years, and so bought her a pair of steel-bowed glasses. She wore them in some great emergencies at first, but had clearly no pride in them. Before long she laid them aside altogether, and they had passed from our thoughts, when one day we heard her mellow note of laughter and her daughter's harsher cackle outside our door, and, opening it, beheld Mrs. Johnson in gold-bowed spectacles of massive frame. We then learned that their purchase was in fulfilment of a vow made long ago, in the life-time of Mr. Johnson, that, if ever she wore glasses, they should be gold-bowed; and I hope the manes of the dead were half as happy in these votive spectacles as the simple soul that offered them.

She and her late partner were the parents of eleven children, some of whom were dead, and some of whom were wanderers in unknown parts. During his life-time she had kept a little shop in her native town; and it was only within a few years that she had gone into service. She cherished a natural haughtiness of spirit, and resented control, although disposed to do all she could of her own notion. Being told to say when she wanted an afternoon, she explained that when she wanted an afternoon she always took it without asking, but always planned so as not to discommode the ladies with whom she lived. These, she said, had numbered twenty-seven within three years, which made us doubt the success of her system in all cases, though she merely held out the fact as an assurance of her faith in the future, and a proof of the ease with which places are to be found. She contended, moreover, that a lady who had for thirty years had a house of her own, was in nowise bound to ask permission to receive visits from friends where she might be living, but that they ought freely to come and go like other guests. In this spirit she once invited her son-in-law, Professor Jones of Providence, to dine with her; and her defied mistress, on entering the dining-room, found the Professor at pudding and tea there,—an impressively respectable figure in black clothes, with a black face rendered yet more effective by a pair of green goggles. It appeared that this dark professor was a light of phrenology in Rhode Island, and that he was believed to have uncommon virtue in his science by reason of being blind as well as black.

I am loath to confess that Mrs. Johnson had not a flattering opinion of the Caucasian race in all respects. In fact, she had very good philosophical and Scriptural reasons for looking upon us as an upstart people of new blood, who had come into their whiteness by no creditable or pleasant process. The late Mr. Johnson, who had died in the West Indies, whither he voyaged for his health in quality of cook upon a Down-East schooner, was a man of letters, and had written a book to show the superiority of the black over the white branches of the human family. In this he held that, as all islands have been at their discovery found peopled by blacks, we must needs believe that humanity was first created of that color. Mrs. Johnson could not show us her husband's work (a sole copy in the library of an English gentleman at Port au Prince is not to be bought for money), but she often developed its arguments to the lady of the house; and one day, with a great show of reluctance, and many protests that no personal slight was meant, let fall the fact that Mr. Johnson believed the white race descended from Gehaz, the leper, upon whom the leprosy of Naaman fell when the latter returned by Divine favor to his original blackness. "And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow," said Mrs. Johnson, quoting irrefutable Scripture. "Leprosy, leprosy," she added thoughtfully,—"nothing but leprosy bleached you out."

It seems to me much in her praise that she did not exult in our taint and degradation, as some white philosophers used to do in the opposite idea that a part of the human family were cursed to lasting blackness and slavery in Ham and his children, but even told us of a remarkable approach to whiteness in many of her own offspring. In a kindred spirit of charity, no doubt, she refused ever to attend church with people of her elder and wholesomer blood. When she went to church, she said, she always went to a white church, though while with us I am bound to say she never went to any. She professed to read her Bible in her bedroom on Sundays; but we suspected, from certain sounds and odors which used to steal out of this sanctuary, that her piety more commonly found expression in dozing and smoking.

I would not make a wanton jest here of Mrs. Johnson's anxiety to claim honor for the African color, while denying this color in many of her own family. It afforded a glimpse of the pain which all her people must endure, however proudly they hide it or light-heartedly forget it, from the despite and contumely to which they are guiltlessly born; and when I thought how irreparable was this disgrace and calamity of a black skin, and how irreparable it must be for ages yet, in this world where every other shame and all manner of wilful guilt and wickedness may hope for covert and pardon, I had little heart to laugh. Indeed, it was so pathetic to hear this poor old soul talk of her dead and lost ones, and try, in spite of all Mr. Johnson's theories and her own arrogant generalizations, to establish their whiteness, that we must have been very cruel and silly people to turn her sacred fables even into matter of question. I have no doubt that her Antoinette Anastasia and her Thomas Jefferson Wilberforce—it is impossible to give a full idea of the splendor and scope of the baptismal names in Mrs. Johnson's family—have as light skins and as golden hair in heaven as her reverend maternal fancy painted for them in our world. There, certainly, they would not be subject to tanning, which had ruined the delicate complexion, and had knotted into black woolly tangles the once wavy blonde locks of our little maid-servant Naomi; and I would fain believe that Toussaint Washington Johnson, who ran away to sea so many years ago, has found some fortunate zone where his hair and skin keep the same sunny and rosy tints they wore to his mother's eyes in infancy. But I have no means of knowing this, or of telling whether he was the prodigy of intellect that he was declared to be. Naomi could no more be taken in proof of the one assertion than of the other. When she came to us, it was agreed that she should go to school; but she overruled her mother in this as in everything else, and never went. Except Sunday-school lessons, she had no other instruction than that her mistress gave her in the evenings, when a heavy day's play and the natural influences of the hour conspired with original causes to render her powerless before words of one syllable.

The first week of her services she was obedient and faithful to her duties; but, relaxing in the atmosphere of a house which seems to demoralize all menials, she shortly fell into disorderly ways of lying in wait for callers out of doors, and, when people rang, of running up the front steps, and letting them in from the outside. As the season expanded, and the fine weather became confirmed, she modified even this form of service, and spent her time in the fields, appearing at the house only when nature importunately craved molasses....

In her untamable disobedience, Naomi alone betrayed her sylvan blood, for she was in all other respects negro and not Indian. But it was of her aboriginal ancestry that Mrs. Johnson chiefly boasted,—when not engaged in argument to maintain the superiority of the African race. She loved to descant upon it as the cause and explanation of her own arrogant habit of feeling; and she seemed indeed to have inherited something of the Indian's hauteur along with the Ethiop's supple cunning and abundant amiability. She gave many instances in which her pride had met and overcome the insolence of employers, and the kindly old creature was by no means singular in her pride of being reputed proud.

She could never have been a woman of strong logical faculties, but she had in some things a very surprising and awful astuteness. She seldom introduced any purpose directly, but bore all about it, and then suddenly sprung it upon her unprepared antagonist. At other times she obscurely hinted a reason, and left a conclusion to be inferred; as when she warded off reproach for some delinquency by saying in a general way that she had lived with ladies who used to come scolding into the kitchen after they had taken their bitters. "Quality ladies took their bitters regular," she added, to remove any sting of personality from her remark; for, from many things she had let fall, we knew that she did not regard us as quality. On the contrary, she often tried to overbear us with the gentility of her former places; and would tell the lady over whom she reigned, that she had lived with folks worth their three and four hundred thousand dollars, who never complained as she did of the ironing. Yet she had a sufficient regard for the literary occupations of the family, Mr. Johnson having been an author. She even professed to have herself written a book, which was still in manuscript, and preserved somewhere among her best clothes.

It was well, on many accounts, to be in contact with a mind so original and suggestive as Mrs. Johnson's. We loved to trace its intricate yet often transparent operations, and were perhaps too fond of explaining its peculiarities by facts of ancestry,—of finding hints of the Pow-wow or the Grand Custom in each grotesque development. We were conscious of something warmer in this old soul than in ourselves, and something wilder, and we chose to think it the tropic and the untracked forest. She had scarcely any being apart from her affection; she had no morality, but was good because she neither hated nor envied; and she might have been a saint far more easily than far more civilized people.

There was that also in her sinuous yet malleable nature, so full of guile and so full of goodness, that reminded us pleasantly of lowly folks in elder lands, where relaxing oppressions have lifted the restraints of fear between master and servant, without disturbing the familiarity of their relation. She advised freely with us upon all household matters, and took a motherly interest in whatever concerned us. She could be flattered or caressed into almost any service, but no threat or command could move her. When she erred she never acknowledged her wrong in words, but handsomely expressed her regrets in a pudding, or sent up her apologies in a favorite dish secretly prepared. We grew so well used to this form of exculpation, that, whenever Mrs. Johnson took an afternoon at an inconvenient season, we knew that for a week afterwards we should be feasted like princes. She owned frankly that she loved us, that she never had done half so much for people before, and that she never had been nearly so well suited in any other place; and for a brief and happy time we thought that we never should part.

One day, however, our dividing destiny appeared in the basement, and was presented to us as Hippolyto Thucydides, the son of Mrs. Johnson, who had just arrived on a visit to his mother from the State of New Hampshire. He was a heavy and loutish youth, standing upon the borders of boyhood, and looking forward to the future with a vacant and listless eye. I mean this was his figurative attitude; his actual manner, as he lolled upon a chair beside the kitchen window, was so eccentric that we felt a little uncertain how to regard him, and Mrs. Johnson openly described him as peculiar. He was so deeply tanned by the fervid suns of the New Hampshire winter, and his hair had so far suffered from the example of the sheep lately under his charge, that he could not be classed by any stretch of comparison with the blonde and straight-haired members of Mrs. Johnson's family.

He remained with us all the first day until late in the afternoon, when his mother took him out to get him a boarding-house. Then he departed in the van of her and Naomi, pausing at the gate to collect his spirits, and, after he had sufficiently animated himself by clapping his palms together, starting off down the street at a hand-gallop, to the manifest terror of the cows in the pasture, and the confusion of the less demonstrative people of our household. Other characteristic traits appeared in Hippolyto Thucydides within no very long period of time, and he ran away from his lodgings so often during the summer that he might be said to board round among the outlying cornfields and turnip-patches of Charlesbridge. As a check upon this habit, Mrs. Johnson seemed to have invited him to spend his whole time in our basement; for whenever we went below we found him there, balanced—perhaps in homage to us, and perhaps as a token of extreme sensibility in himself—upon the low window-sill, the bottoms of his boots touching the floor inside, and his face buried in the grass without.

We could formulate no very tenable objection to all this, and yet the presence of Thucydides in our kitchen unaccountably oppressed our imaginations. We beheld him all over the house, a monstrous eidolon, balanced upon every window-sill; and he certainly attracted unpleasant notice to our place, no less by his furtive and hangdog manner of arrival than by the bold displays with which he celebrated his departures. We hinted this to Mrs. Johnson, but she could not enter into our feeling. Indeed, all the wild poetry of her maternal and primitive nature seemed to cast itself about this hapless boy; and if we had listened to her we should have believed there was no one so agreeable in society, or so quick-witted in affairs, as Hippolyto, when he chose....

At last, when we said positively that Thucydides should come to us no more, and then qualified the prohibition by allowing him to come every Sunday, she answered that she never would hurt the child's feelings by telling him not to come where his mother was; that people who did not love her children did not love her; and that, if Hippy went, she went. We thought it a masterstroke of firmness to rejoin that Hippolyto must go in any event; but I am bound to own that he did not go, and that his mother stayed, and so fed us with every cunning propitiatory dainty, that we must have been Pagans to renew our threat. In fact, we begged Mrs. Johnson to go into the country with us, and she, after long reluctation on Hippy's account, consented, agreeing to send him away to friends during her absence.

We made every preparation, and on the eve of our departure Mrs. Johnson went into the city to engage her son's passage to Bangor, while we awaited her return in untroubled security.

But she did not appear till midnight, and then responded with but a sad "Well, sah!" to the cheerful "Well, Mrs. Johnson!" that greeted her.

"All right, Mrs. Johnson?"

Mrs. Johnson made a strange noise, half chuckle and half death-rattle, in her throat. "All wrong, sah. Hippy's off again; and I've been all over the city after him."

"Then you can't go with us in the morning?"

"How can I, sah?"

Mrs. Johnson went sadly out of the room. Then she came back to the door again, and opening it, uttered, for the first time in our service, words of apology and regret: "I hope I ha'n't put you out any. I wanted to go with you, but I ought to knowed I couldn't. All is, I loved you too much."



A father said unto his hopeful son, "Who was Leonidas, my cherished one?" The boy replied, with words of ardent nature, "He was a member of the legislature." "How?" asked the parent; then the youngster saith: "He got a pass, and held her like grim death." "Whose pass? what pass?" the anxious father cried; "'Twas the'r monopoly," the boy replied.

In deference to the public, we must state, That boy has been an orphan since that date.



"What is the 'Poet's License,' say?" Asked rose-lipped Anna of a poet. "Now give me an example, pray, That when I see one I may know it." Quick as a flash he plants a kiss Where perfect kisses always fall. "Nay, sir! what liberty is this?" "The Poet's License,—that is all!"



Was workin' away on de farm dere, wan morning not long ago, Feexin' de fence for winter—'cos dat's w'ere we got de snow! W'en Jeremie Plouffe, ma neighbor, come over an' spik wit' me, "Antoine, you will come on de city, for hear Ma-dam All-ba-nee?"

"W'at you mean?" I was sayin' right off, me, "Some woman was mak' de speech, Or girl on de Hooraw Circus, doin' high kick an' screech?" "Non—non," he is spikin'—"Excuse me, dat's be Madam All-ba-nee Was leevin' down here on de contree, two mile 'noder side Chambly.

"She's jus' comin' over from Englan', on steamboat arrive Kebeck, Singin' on Lunnon an' Paree, an' havin' beeg tam, I ex-pec', But no matter de moche she enjoy it, for travel all roun' de worl', Somet'ing on de heart bring her back here, for she was de Chambly girl.

"She never do not'ing but singin' an' makin' de beeg grande tour An' travel on summer an' winter, so mus' be de firs' class for sure! Ev'ryboddy I'm t'inkin' was know her, an' I also hear 'noder t'ing, She's frien' on La Reine Victoria an' show her de way to sing!"

"Wall," I say, "you're sure she is Chambly, w'at you call Ma-dam All-ba-nee? Don't know me dat nam' on de Canton—I hope you're not fool wit' me?" An he say, "Lajeunesse, dey was call her, before she is come mariee, But she's takin' de nam' of her husban'—I s'pose dat's de only way."

"C'est bon, mon ami," I was say me, "If I get t'roo de fence nex' day An' she don't want too moche on de monee, den mebbe I see her play." So I finish dat job on to-morrow, Jeremie he was helpin' me too, An' I say, "Len' me t'ree dollar quickly for mak' de voyage wit' you."

Correc'—so we're startin' nex' morning, an' arrive Montreal all right, Buy dollar tiquette on de bureau, an' pass on de hall dat night. Beeg crowd, wall! I bet you was dere too, all dress on some fancy dress, De lady, I don't say not'ing, but man's all w'ite shirt an' no ves'.

Don't matter, w'en ban' dey be ready, de foreman strek out wit' hees steek, An' fiddle an' ev'ryt'ing else too, begin for play up de musique. It's fonny t'ing too dey was playin' don't lak it mese'f at all, I rader be lissen some jeeg, me, or w'at you call "Affer de ball."

An' I'm not feelin' very surprise den, w'en de crowd holler out, "Encore," For mak' all dem feller commencin' an' try leetle piece some more, 'Twas better wan' too, I be t'inkin', but slow lak you're goin' to die, All de sam', noboddy say not'ing, dat mean dey was satisfy.

Affer dat come de Grande piano, lak we got on Chambly Hotel, She's nice lookin' girl was play dat, so of course she's go off purty well, Den feller he's ronne out an' sing some, it's all about very fine moon, Dat shine on Canal, ev'ry night too, I'm sorry I don't know de tune.

Nex' t'ing I commence get excite, me, for I don't see no great Ma-dam yet, Too bad I was los all dat monee, an' too late for de raffle tiquette! W'en jus' as I feel very sorry, for come all de way from Chambly, Jeremie he was w'isper, "Tiens, tiens, prenez garde, she's comin' Ma-dam All-ba-nee!"

Ev'ryboddy seem glad w'en dey see her, come walkin' right down de platform, An' way dey mak' noise on de han' den, w'y! it's jus' lak de beeg tonder storm! I'll never see not'ing lak dat, me, no matter I travel de worl', An' Ma-dam, you t'ink it was scare her? Non, she laugh lak de Chambly girl!

Dere was young feller comin' behin' her, walk nice, comme un Cavalier, An' before All-ba-nee she is ready an' piano get startin' for play, De feller commence wit' hees singin', more stronger dan all de res', I t'ink he's got very bad manner, know not'ing at all politesse.

Ma-dam, I s'pose she get mad den, an' before anyboddy can spik, She settle right down for mak' sing too, an' purty soon ketch heem up quick, Den she's kip it on gainin' an' gainin', till de song it is tout finis, An' w'en she is beatin' dat feller, Bagosh! I am proud Chambly!

I'm not very sorry at all, me, w'en de feller was ronnin' away, An' man he's come out wit' de piccolo, an' start heem right off for play, For it's kin' de musique I be fancy, Jeremie he is lak it also, An' wan de bes' t'ing on dat ev'ning is man wit' de piccolo!

Den mebbe ten minute is passin', Ma-dam she is comin' encore, Dis tam all alone on de platform, dat feller don't show up no more, An' w'en she start off on de singin' Jeremie say, "Antoine, dat's Francais," Dis give us more pleasure, I tole you, 'cos w'y? We're de pure Canayen!

Dat song I will never forget me, 't was song of de leetle bird, W'en he's fly from it's nes' on de tree top, 'fore res' of de worl' get stirred, Ma-dam she was tole us about it, den start off so quiet an' low, An' sing lak de bird on de morning, de poor leetle small oiseau.

I 'member wan tam I be sleepin' jus' onder some beeg pine tree An song of de robin wak' me, but robin he don't see me, Dere's not'ing for scarin' dat bird dere, he's feel all alone on de worl', Wall! Ma-dam she mus' lissen lak dat too, w'en she was de Chambly girl!

Cos how could she sing dat nice chanson, de sam' as de bird I was hear, Till I see it de maple an' pine tree an' Richelieu ronnin' near, Again I'm de leetle feller, lak young colt upon de spring Dat's jus' on de way I was feel, me, w'en Ma-dam All-ba-nee is sing!

An' affer de song it is finish, an' crowd is mak' noise wit' its han', I s'pose dey be t'inkin' I'm crazy, dat mebbe I don't onderstan', Cos I'm set on de chair very quiet, mese'f an' poor Jeremie, An' I see dat hees eye it was cry too, jus' sam' way it go wit' me.

Dere's rosebush outside on our garden, ev'ry spring it has got new nes', But only wan bluebird is buil' dere, I know her from all de res', An' no matter de far she be flyin' away on de winter tam, Back to her own leetle rosebush she's comin' dere jus' de sam'.

We're not de beeg place on our Canton, mebbe cole on de winter, too, But de heart's "Canayen" on our body an' dat's warm enough for true! An' w'en All-ba-nee was got lonesome for travel all roun' de worl' I hope she'll come home, lak de bluebird, an' again be de Chambly girl!

[Footnote 1: From "The Habitant and Other French Canadian Poems," by William Henry Drummond. Copyright 1897 by G.P. Putnam's Sons.]



"Panthers, what we-all calls 'mountain lions,'" observed the Old Cattleman, wearing meanwhile the sapient air of him who feels equipped of his subject, "is plenty furtive, not to say mighty sedyoolous to skulk. That's why a gent don't meet up with more of 'em while pirootin' about in the hills. Them cats hears him, or they sees him, an' him still ignorant tharof; an' with that they bashfully withdraws. Which it's to be urged in favor of mountain lions that they never forces themse'fs on no gent; they're shore considerate, that a-way, an' speshul of themse'fs. If one's ever hurt, you can bet it won't be a accident. However, it ain't for me to go 'round impugnin' the motives of no mountain lion; partic'lar when the entire tribe is strangers to me complete. But still a love of trooth compels me to concede that if mountain lions ain't cowardly, they're shore cautious a lot. Cattle an' calves they passes up as too bellicose, an' none of 'em ever faces any anamile more warlike than a baby colt or mebby a half-grown deer. I'm ridin' along the Caliente once when I hears a crashin' in the bushes on the bluff above—two hundred foot high, she is, an' as sheer as the walls of this yere tavern. As I lifts my eyes, a fear-frenzied mare an' colt comes chargin' up an' projects themse'fs over the precipice an' lands in the valley below. They're dead as Joolius Caesar when I rides onto 'em, while a brace of mountain lions is skirtin' up an' down the aige of the bluff they leaps from, mewin' an' lashin' their long tails in hot enthoosiasm. Shore, the cats has been chasin' the mare an' foal, an' they locoes 'em to that extent they don't know where they're headin' an' makes the death jump I relates. I bangs away with my six-shooter, but beyond givin' the mountain lions a convulsive start I can't say I does any execootion. They turns an' goes streakin' it through the pine woods like a drunkard to a barn raisin'.

"Timid? Shore! They're that timid, seminary girls compared to 'em is as sternly courageous as a passel of buccaneers. Out in Mitchell's canyon a couple of the Lee-Scott riders cuts the trail of a mountain lion and her two kittens. Now whatever do you-all reckon this old tabby does? Basely deserts her offsprings without even barin' a tooth, an' the cow-punchers takes 'em gently by their tails an' beats out their joovenile brains. That's straight; that mother lion goes swarmin' up the canyon like she ain't got a minute to live. An' you can gamble the limit that where a anamile sees its children perish without frontin' up for war, it don't possess the commonest roodiments of sand. Sech, son, is mountain lions.

"It's one evenin' in the Red Light when Colonel Sterett, who's got through his day's toil on that Coyote paper he's editor of, onfolds concernin' a panther round-up which he pulls off in his yooth.

"'This panther hunt,' says Colonel Sterett, as he fills his third tumbler, 'occurs when mighty likely I'm goin' on seventeen winters. I'm a leader among my young companions at the time; in fact, I allers is. An' I'm proud to say that my soopremacy that a-way is doo to the dom'nant character of my intellects. I'm ever bright an' sparklin' as a child, an' I recalls how my aptitoode for learnin' promotes me to be regyarded as the smartest lad in my set. If thar's visitors to the school, or if the selectman invades that academy to sort o' size us up, the teacher allers plays me on 'em. I'd go to the front for the outfit. Which I'm wont on sech harrowin' o'casions to recite a ode—the teacher's done wrote it himse'f—an' which is entitled Napoleon's Mad Career. Thar's twenty-four stanzas to it; an' while these interlopin' selectmen sets thar lookin' owley an' sagacious, I'd wallop loose with the twenty-four verses, stampin' up and down, an' accompanyin' said recitations with sech a multitood of reckless gestures, it comes plenty clost to backin' everybody plumb outen the room. Yere's the first verse:

I'd drink an' sw'ar an' r'ar an' t'ar An' fall down in the mud, While the y'earth for forty miles about Is kivered with my blood.

"'You-all can see from that speciment that our school-master ain't simply flirtin' with the muses when he originates that epic; no, sir, he means business; an' whenever I throws it into the selectmen, I does it jestice. The trustees used to silently line out for home when I finishes, an' never a yeep. It stuns 'em; it shore fills 'em to the brim!

"'As I gazes r'arward,' goes on the Colonel, as by one rapt impulse he uplifts both his eyes an' his nosepaint, 'as I gazes r'arward, I says, on them sun-filled days, an' speshul if ever I gets betrayed into talkin' about 'em, I can hardly t'ar myse'f from the subject. I explains yeretofore, that not only by inclination but by birth, I'm a shore-enough 'ristocrat. This captaincy of local fashion I assoomes at a tender age. I wears the record as the first child to don shoes throughout the entire summer in that neighborhood; an' many a time an' oft does my yoothful but envy-eaten compeers lambaste me for the insultin' innovation. But I sticks to my moccasins; an' to-day shoes in the Bloo Grass is almost as yooniversal as the licker habit.

"'Thar dawns a hour, however, when my p'sition in the van of Kaintucky ton comes within a ace of bein' ser'ously shook. It's on my way to school one dewy mornin' when I gets involved all inadvertent in a onhappy rupture with a polecat. I never does know how the misonderstandin' starts. After all, the seeds of said dispoote is by no means important; it's enough to say that polecat finally has me thoroughly convinced.

"'Followin' the difference an' my defeat, I'm witless enough to keep goin' on to school, whereas I should have returned homeward an' cast myse'f upon my parents as a sacred trust. Of course, when I'm in school I don't go impartin' my troubles to the other chil'en; I emyoolates the heroism of the Spartan boy who stands to be eat by a fox, an' keeps 'em to myself. But the views of my late enemy is not to be smothered; they appeals to my young companions; who tharupon puts up a most onneedful riot of coughin's an' sneezin's. But nobody knows me as the party who's so pungent.

"'It's a tryin' moment. I can see that, once I'm located, I'm goin' to be as onpop'lar as a b'ar in a hawg pen; I'll come tumblin' from my pinnacle in that proud commoonity as the glass of fashion an' the mold of form. You can go your bottom peso, the thought causes me to feel plenty perturbed.

"'At this peril I has a inspiration; as good, too, as I ever entertains without the aid of rum. I determines to cast the opprobrium on some other boy an' send the hunt of gen'ral indignation sweepin' along his trail.

"'Thar's a innocent infant who's a stoodent at this temple of childish learnin' an' his name is Riley Bark. This Riley is one of them giant children who's only twelve an' weighs three hundred pounds. An' in proportions as Riley is a son of Anak, physical, he's dwarfed mental; he ain't half as well upholstered with brains as a shepherd dog. That's right; Riley's intellects, is like a fly in a saucer of syrup, they struggles 'round plumb slow. I decides to uplift Riley to the public eye as the felon who's disturbin' that seminary's sereenity. Comin' to this decision, I p'ints at him where he's planted four seats ahead, all tangled up in a spellin' book, an' says in a loud whisper to a child who's sittin' next:

"'"Throw him out!"

"'That's enough. No gent will ever realize how easy it is to direct a people's sentiment ontil he take a whirl at the game. In two minutes by the teacher's bull's-eye copper watch, every soul knows it's pore Riley; an' in three, the teacher's done drug Riley out doors by the ha'r of his head an' chased him home. Gents, I look back on that yoothful feat as a triumph of diplomacy; it shore saved my standin' as the Beau Brummel of the Bloo Grass.

"'Good old days, them!' observes the Colonel mournfully, 'an' ones never to come ag'in! My sternest studies is romances, an' the peroosals of old tales as I tells you-all prior fills me full of moss an' mockin' birds in equal parts. I reads deep of Walter Scott an' waxes to be a sharp on Moslems speshul. I dreams of the Siege of Acre, an' Richard the Lion Heart; an' I simply can't sleep nights for honin' to hold a tournament an' joust a whole lot for some fair lady's love.

"'Once I commits the error of my career by joustin' with my brother Jeff. This yere Jeff is settin' on the bank of the Branch fishin' for bullpouts at the time, an' Jeff don't know I'm hoverin' near at all. Jeff's reedic'lous fond of fishin'; which he'd sooner fish than read Paradise Lost. I'm romancin' along, sim'larly bent, when I notes Jeff perched on the bank. To my boyish imagination Jeff at once turns to be a Paynim. I drops my bait box, couches my fishpole, an' emittin' a impromptoo warcry, charges him. It's the work of a moment; Jeff's onhossed an' falls into the Branch.

"'But thar's bitterness to follow vict'ry. Jeff emerges like Diana from the bath an' frales the wamus off me with a club. Talk of puttin' a crimp in folks! Gents, when Jeff's wrath is assuaged I'm all on one side like the leanin' tower of Pisa. Jeff actooally confers a skew-gee to my spinal column.

"'A week later my folks takes me to a doctor. That practitioner puts on his specs an' looks me over with jealous care.

"'"Whatever's wrong with him, Doc?" says my father.

"'"Nothin'," says the physician, "only your son Willyum's five inches out o' plumb."

"'Then he rigs a contraption made up of guy-ropes an' stay-laths, an' I has to wear it; an' mebby in three or four weeks or so he's got me warped back into the perpendic'lar.'

"'But how about this cat hunt?' asks Dan Boggs. 'Which I don't aim to be introosive none, but I'm camped yere through the second drink waitin' for it, an' these procrastinations is makn' me kind o' batty.'

"'That panther hunt is like this,' says the Colonel, turnin' to Dan. 'At the age of seventeen, me an' eight or nine of my intimate brave comrades founds what we-all denom'nates as the "Chevy Chase Huntin' Club." Each of us maintains a passel of odds an' ends of dogs, an' at stated intervals we convenes on hosses, an' with these fourscore curs at our tails goes yellin' an' skally-hootin' up an' down the countryside allowin' we're shore a band of Nimrods.

"'The Chevy Chasers ain't been in bein' as a institootion over long when chance opens a gate to ser'ous work. The deep snows in the Eastern mountains it looks like has done drove a panther into our neighborhood. You could hear of him on all sides. Folks glimpses him now an' then. They allows he's about the size of a yearlin' calf; an' the way he pulls down sech feeble people as sheep or lays desolate some he'pless henroost don't bother him a bit. This panther spreads a horror over the county. Dances, pra'er meetin's, an' even poker parties is broken up, an' the social life of that region begins to bog down. Even a weddin' suffers; the bridesmaids stayin' away lest this ferocious monster should show up in the road an' chaw one of 'em while she's en route for the scene of trouble. That's gospel trooth! the pore deserted bride has to heel an' handle herse'f an' never a friend to yoonite her sobs with hers doorin' that weddin' ordeal. The old ladies present shakes their heads a heap solemn.

"'"It's a worse augoory," says one, "than the hoots of a score of squinch owls."

"'When this reign of terror is at its height, the local eye is rolled appealin'ly towards us Chevy Chasers. We rises to the opportoonity. Day after day we're ridin' the hills an' vales, readin' the milk white snow for tracks. An' we has success. One mornin' I comes up on two of the Brackenridge boys an' five more of the Chevy Chasers settin' on their hosses at the Skinner cross roads. Bob Crittenden's gone to turn me out, they says. Then they p'ints down to a handful of close-wove bresh an' stunted timber an' allows that this maraudin' cat-o-mount is hidin' thar; they sees him go skulkin' in.

"'Gents, I ain't above admittin' that the news puts my heart to a canter. I'm brave; but conflicts with wild an' savage beasts is to me a novelty an' while I faces my fate without a flutter, I'm yere to say I'd sooner been in pursoot of minks or raccoons or some varmint whose grievous cap'bilities I can more ackerately stack up an' in whose merry ways I'm better versed. However, the dauntless blood of my grandsire mounts in my cheek; an' as if the shade of that old Trojan is thar personal to su'gest it, I searches forth a flask an' renoos my sperit; thus qualified for perils, come in what form they may, I resolootely stands my hand.

"'Thar's forty dogs if thar's one in our company as we pauses at the Skinner cross-roads. An' when the Crittenden yooth returns, he brings with him the Rickett boys an' forty added dogs. Which it's worth a ten-mile ride to get a glimpse of that outfit of canines! Thar's every sort onder the canopy: thar's the stolid hound, the alert fice, the sapient collie; that is thar's individyool beasts wherein the hound, or fice, or collie seems to preedominate as a strain. The trooth is thar's not that dog a-whinin' about our hosses' fetlocks who ain't proudly descended from fifteen different tribes, an' they shorely makes a motley mass meetin'. Still, they're good, zealous dogs; an' as they're going to go for'ard an' take most of the resks of that panther, it seems invidious to criticize 'em.

"'One of the Twitty boys rides down an' puts the eighty or more dogs into the bresh. The rest of us lays back an' strains our eyes. Thar he is! A shout goes up as we descries the panther stealin' off by a far corner. He's headin' along a hollow that's full of bresh an' baby timber an' runs parallel with the pike. Big an' yaller he is; we can tell from the slight flash we gets of him as he darts into a second clump of bushes. With a cry—what young Crittenden calls a "view halloo,"—we goes stampeedin' down the pike in pursoot.

"'Our dogs is sta'nch; they shore does themse'fs proud. Singin' in twenty keys, reachin' from growls to yelps an' from yelps to shrillest screams, they pushes dauntlessly on the fresh trail of their terrified quarry. Now an' then we gets a squint of the panther as he skulks from one copse to another jest ahead. Which he's goin' like a arrow; no mistake! As for us Chevy Chasers, we parallels the hunt, an' continyoos poundin' the Skinner turnpike abreast of the pack, ever an' anon givin' a encouragin' shout as we briefly sights our game.

"'Gents,' says Colonel Sterett, as he ag'in refreshes hims'ef, 'it's needless to go over that hunt in detail. We hustles the flyin' demon full eighteen miles, our faithful dogs crowdin' close an' breathless at his coward heels. Still, they don't catch up with him; he streaks it like some saffron meteor.

"'Only once does we approach within strikin' distance; that's when he crosses at old Stafford's whisky still. As he glides into view, Crittenden shouts:

"'"Thar he goes!"

"'For myse'f I'm prepared. I've got one of these misguided cap-an'-ball six-shooters that's built doorin' the war; an' I cuts that hardware loose! This weapon seems a born profligate of lead, for the six chambers goes off together. Which you should have seen the Chevy Chasers dodge! An' well they may; that broadside ain't in vain! My aim is so troo that one of the r'armost dogs evolves a howl an' rolls over; then he sets up gnawin' an' lickin' his off hind laig in frantic alternations. That hunt is done for him. We leaves him doctorin' himse'f an' picks him up two hours later on our triumphant return.

"'As I states, we harries that foogitive panther for eighteen miles an' in our hot ardor founders two hosses. Fatigue an' weariness begins to overpower us; also our prey weakens along with the rest. In the half glimpses we now an' ag'in gets of him it's plain that both pace an' distance is tellin' fast. Still, he presses on; an' as thar's no spur like fear, that panther holds his distance.

"'But the end comes. We've done run him into a rough, wild stretch of country where settlements is few an' cabins roode. Of a sudden, the panther emerges onto the road an' goes rackin' along the trail. We pushes our spent steeds to the utmost.

"'Thar's a log house ahead; out in the stump-filled lot in front is a frowsy woman an' five small children. The panther leaps the rickety worm-fence an' heads straight as a bullet for the cl'arin! Horrors! the sight freezes our marrows! Mad an' savage, he's doo to bite a hunk outen that devoted household! Mutooally callin' to each other, we goads our horses to the utmost. We gain on the panther! He may wound but he won't have time to slay that fam'ly.

"'Gents, it's a soopreme moment! The panther makes for the female squatter an' her litter, we pantin' an' pressin' clost behind. The panther is among 'em; the woman an' the children seems transfixed by the awful spectacle an' stands rooted with open eyes an' mouths. Our emotions shore beggars deescriptions.

"'Now ensooes a scene to smite the hardiest of us with dismay. No sooner does the panther find himse'f in the midst of that he'pless bevy of little ones, than he stops, turns round abrupt, an' sets down on his tail; an' then upliftin' his muzzle he busts into shrieks an' yells an' howls an' cries, a complete case of dog hysterics! That's what he is, a great yeller dog; his reason is now a wrack because we harasses him the eighteen miles.

"'Thar's a ugly outcast of a squatter, mattock in hand, comes tumblin' down the hillside from some'ers out back of the shanty where he's been grubbin':

"'"What be you-all eediots chasin' my dog for?" demands this onkempt party. Then he menaces us with the implement.

"'We makes no retort but stands passive. The great orange brute whose nerves has been torn to rags creeps to the squatter an' with mournful howls explains what we've made him suffer.

"'No, thar's nothin' further to do an' less to be said. That cavalcade, erstwhile so gala an' buoyant, drags itself wearily homeward, the exhausted dogs in the r'ar walkin' stiff an' sore like their laigs is wood. For more'n a mile the complainin' howls of the hysterical yeller dog is wafted to our years. Then they ceases; an' we figgers his sympathizin' master has done took him into the shanty an' shet the door.

"'No one comments on this adventure, not a word is heard. Each is silent ontil we mounts the Big Murray hill. As we collects ourse'fs on this eminence one of the Brackenridge boys holds up his hand for a halt. "Gents," he says, as—hosses, hunters an' dogs—we-all gathers 'round, "gents, I moves you the Chevy Chase Huntin' Club yereby stands adjourned sine die." Thar's a moment's pause, an' then as by one impulse every gent, hoss an' dog, says "Ay!" It's yoonanimous, an' from that hour till now the Chevy Chase Huntin' Club ain't been nothin' save tradition. But that panther shore disappears; it's the end of his vandalage; an' ag'in does quadrilles, pra'rs, an poker resoom their wonted sway. That's the end; an' now, gents, if Black Jack will caper to his dooties we'll uplift our drooped energies with the usual forty drops.'"



It was in the year of our Lord 1629 that Mynheer Wouter Van Twiller was appointed governor of the province of Nieuw Nederlandts, under the commission and control of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General of the United Netherlands, and the privileged West India Company.

This renowned old gentleman arrived at New Amsterdam in the merry month of June, the sweetest month in all the year; when dan Apollo seems to dance up the transparent firmament,—when the robin, the thrush, and a thousand other wanton songsters make the woods to resound with amorous ditties, and the luxurious little bob-lincoln revels among the clover-blossoms of the meadows,—all which happy coincidence persuaded the old dames of New Amsterdam, who were skilled in the art of foretelling events, that this was to be a happy and prosperous administration.

The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van Twiller was descended from a long line of Dutch burgomasters, who had successively dozed away their lives and grown fat upon the bench of magistracy in Rotterdam; and who had comported themselves with such singular wisdom and propriety, that they were never either heard or talked of—which, next to being universally applauded, should be the object of ambition of all magistrates and rulers. There are two opposite ways by which some men make a figure in the world; one, by talking faster than they think, and the other, by holding their tongues and not thinking at all. By the first, many a smatterer acquires the reputation of a man of quick parts; by the other, many a dunderpate, like the owl, the stupidest of birds, comes to be considered the very type of wisdom. This, by the way, is a casual remark, which I would not, for the universe, have it thought I apply to Governor Van Twiller. It is true he was a man shut up within himself, like an oyster, and rarely spoke, except in monosyllables; but then it was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. So invincible was his gravity that he was never known to laugh or even to smile through the whole course of a long and prosperous life. Nay, if a joke were uttered in his presence, that set light-minded hearers in a roar, it was observed to throw him into a state of perplexity. Sometimes he would deign to inquire into the matter, and when, after much explanation, the joke was made as plain as a pike-staff, he would continue to smoke his pipe in silence, and at length, knocking out the ashes, would exclaim, "Well, I see nothing in all that to laugh about."

With all his reflective habits, he never made up his mind on a subject. His adherents accounted for this by the astonishing magnitude of his ideas. He conceived every subject on so grand a scale that he had not room in his head to turn it over and examine both sides of it. Certain it is, that if any matter were propounded to him on which ordinary mortals would rashly determine at first glance, he would put on a vague, mysterious look, shake his capacious head, smoke some time in profound silence, and at length observe, that "he had his doubts about the matter"; which gained him the reputation of a man slow of belief and not easily imposed upon. What is more, it gained him a lasting name; for to this habit of the mind has been attributed his surname of Twiller; which is said to be a corruption of the original Twijfler, or, in plain English, Doubter.

The person of this illustrious old gentleman was formed and proportioned as though it had been moulded by the hands of some cunning Dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and lordly grandeur. He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such stupendous dimensions, that Dame Nature, with all her sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it firmly on the top of his backbone, just between the shoulders. His body was oblong, and particularly capacious at bottom; which was wisely ordered by Providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary habits, and very averse to the idle labor of walking. His legs were short, but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to sustain; so that when erect he had not a little the appearance of a beer barrel on skids. His face, that infallible index of the mind, presented a vast expanse, unfurrowed by those lines and angles which disfigure the human countenance with what is termed expression. Two small gray eyes twinkled feebly in the midst, like two stars of lesser magnitude in a hazy firmament, and his full-fed cheeks, which seemed to have taken toll of everything that went into his mouth, were curiously mottled and streaked with dusty red, like a spitzenberg apple.

His habits were as regular as his person. He daily took his four stated meals, appropriating exactly an hour to each; he smoked and doubted eight hours, and he slept the remaining twelve of the four-and-twenty. Such was the renowned Wouter Van Twiller,—a true philosopher, for his mind was either elevated above, or tranquilly settled below, the cares and perplexities of this world. He had lived in it for years, without feeling the least curiosity to know whether the sun revolved round it, or it round the sun; and he had watched, for at least half a century, the smoke curling from his pipe to the ceiling, without once troubling his head with any of those numerous theories by which a philosopher would have perplexed his brain, in accounting for its rising above the surrounding atmosphere.

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