A Guest at the Ludlow and Other Stories
by Edgar Wilson Bill Nye
AT THE LUDLOW
AND OTHER STORIES
EDGAR WILSON NYE
A GUEST AT THE
OLD POLKA DOT'S
HINTS FOR THE
A PROPHET AND A
THE SABBATH OF A
A FLYER IN DIRT
THE HATEFUL HEN
AS A CANDIDATE
EARNING A REWARD
A PLEA FOR
GRAINS OF TRUTH
THROUGH THE PARK
HINTS TO THE
HOW TO PICK OUT
MY TRIP TO DIXIE
ADVICE TO A SON
A GUEST AT THE LUDLOW
We are stopping quietly here, taking our meals in our rooms mostly,
and going out very little indeed. When I say we, I use the term
We notice first of all the great contrast between this and other
hotels, and in several instances this one is superior. In the first
place, there is a sense of absolute security when one goes to sleep
here that can not be felt at a popular hotel, where burglars secrete
themselves in the wardrobe during the day and steal one's pantaloons
and contents at night. This is one of the compensations of life in
Here the burglars go to bed at the hour that the rest of us do. We
all retire at the same time, and a murderer can not sit up any later at
night than the smaller or unknown criminal can.
You can get to Ludlow Street Jail by taking the Second avenue
Elevated train to Grand street, and then going east two blocks, or you
can fire a shotgun into a Sabbath-school.
You can pay five cents to the Elevated Railroad and get here, or you
can put some other man's nickel in your own slot and come here with an
William Marcy Tweed was the contractor of Ludlow Street Jail, and
here also he died. He was the son of a poor chair-maker, and was born
April 3, 1823. From the chair business in 1853 to congress was the
first false step. Exhilarated by the delirium of official life, and the
false joys of franking his linen home every week, and having cake and
preserves franked back to him at Washington, he resolved to still
further taste the delights of office, and in 1857 we find him as a
In 1860 he became Grand Sachem of the Tammany Society, an
association at that time more purely political than politically pure.
As president of the board of supervisors, head of the department of
public works, state senator, and Grand Sachem of Tammany, Tweed had a
large and seductive influence over the city and state. The story of how
he earned a scanty livelihood by stealing a million of dollars at a
pop, and thus, with the most rigid economy, scraped together
$20,000,000 in a few years by patient industry and smoking plug
tobacco, has been frequently told.
Tweed was once placed here in Ludlow Street Jail in default of
$3,000,000 bail. How few there are of us who could slap up that amount
of bail if rudely gobbled on the street by the hand of the law. While
riding out with the sheriff, in 1875, Tweed asked to see his wife, and
said he would be back in a minute.
He came back by way of Spain, in the fall of '76, looking much
improved. But the malaria and dissipation of Blackwell's Island
afterwards impaired his health, and having done time there, and having
been arrested afterwards and placed in Ludlow Street Jail, he died here
April 12, 1878, leaving behind him a large, vain world, and an equally
vain judgment for $6,537,117.38, to which he said he would give his
attention as soon as he could get a paving contract in the sweet
From the exterior Ludlow Street Jail looks somewhat like a
conservatory of music, but as soon as one enters he readily discovers
his mistake. The structure has 100 feet frontage, and a court, which is
sometimes called the court of last resort. The guest can climb out of
this court by ascending a polished brick wall about 100 feet high, and
then letting himself down in a similar way on the Ludlow street side.
That one thing is doing a great deal towards keeping quite a number
of people here who would otherwise, I think, go away.
James D. Fish and Ferdinand Ward both remained here prior to their
escape to Sing Sing. Red Leary, also, made his escape from this point,
but did not succeed in reaching the penitentiary. Forty thousand
prisoners have been confined in Ludlow Street Jail, mostly for civil
offenses. A man in New York runs a very short career if he tries to be
As you enter Ludlow Street Jail the door is carefully closed after
you, and locked by means of an iron lock about the size of a pictorial
family Bible. You then remain on the inside for quite a spell. You do
not hear the prattle of soiled children any more. All the glad
sunlight, and stench-condensing pavements, and the dark-haired
inhabitants of Rivington street, are seen no longer, and the heavy iron
storm-door shuts out the wail of the combat from the alley near by.
Ludlow Street Jail may be surrounded by a very miserable and dirty
quarter of the city, but when you get inside all is changed.
You register first. There is a good pen there that you can write
with, and the clerk does not chew tolu and read a sporting paper while
you wait for a room. He is there to attend to business, and he attends
to it. He does not seem to care whether you have any baggage or not.
You can stay here for days, even if you don't have any baggage. All you
need is a kind word and a mittimus from the court.
One enters this sanitarium either as a boarder or a felon. If you
decide to come in as a boarder, you pay the warden $15 a week for the
privilege of sitting at his table and eating the luxuries of the
market. You also get a better room than at many hotels, and you have a
good strong door, with a padlock on it, which enables you to prevent
the sudden and unlooked-for entrance of the chambermaid. It is a
good-sized room, with a wonderful amount of seclusion, a plain bed,
table, chairs, carpet and so forth. After a few weeks at the seaside,
at $19 per day, I think the room in which I am writing is not
unreasonable at $2.
Still, of course, we miss the sea breeze.
You can pay $50 to $100 per week here if you wish, and get your
money's worth, too. For the latter sum one may live in the bridal
chamber, so to speak, and eat the very best food all the time.
Heavy iron bars keep the mosquitoes out, and at night the house is
brilliantly lighted by incandescent lights of one-candle power each.
Neat snuffers, consisting of the thumb and forefinger polished on the
hair, are to be found in each occupied room.
Bread is served to the Freshmen and Juniors in rectangular wads. It
is such bread as convicts' tears have moistened many thousand years. In
that way it gets quite moist.
The most painful feature about life in Ludlow Street Jail is the
confinement. One can not avoid a feeling of being constantly hampered
and hemmed in.
One more disagreeable thing is the great social distinction here.
The poor man who sleeps in a stone niche near the roof, and who is
constantly elbowed and hustled out of his bed by earnest and restless
vermin with a tendency toward insomnia, is harassed by meeting in the
court-yard and corridors the paying boarders who wear good clothes,
live well, have their cigars, brandy and Kentucky Sec all the time.
The McAllister crowd here is just as exclusive as it is on the
But, great Scott! what a comfort it is to a man like me, who has
been nearly killed by a cyclone, to feel the firm, secure walls and
solid time lock when he goes to bed at night! Even if I can not belong
to the 400, I am almost happy.
We retire at 7:30 o'clock at night and arise at 6:30 in the morning,
so as to get an early start. A man who has five or ten years to stay in
a place like this naturally likes to get at it as soon as possible each
day, and so he gets up at 6:30.
We dress by the gaudy light of the candle, and while we do so, we
remember far away at home our wife and the little boy asleep in her
arms. They do not get up at 6:30. It is at this hour we remember the
fragrant drawer in the dresser at home where our clean shirts, and
collars and cuffs, and socks and handkerchiefs, are put every week by
our wife. We also recall as we go about our stone den, with its odor of
former corned beef, and the ghost of some bloody-handed predecessor's
snore still moaning in the walls, the picture of green grass by our own
doorway, and the apples that were just ripening, when the bench warrant
The time from 6:30 to breakfast is occupied by the average, or
non-paying inmate, in doing the chamberwork and tidying up his
state-room. I do not know how others feel about it, but I dislike
chamberwork most heartily, especially when I am in jail. Nothing has
done more to keep me out of jail, I guess, than the fact that while
there I have to make up my bed and dust the piano.
Breakfast is generally table d'hôte and consists of bread. A tin-cup
of coffee takes the taste of the bread out of your mouth, and then if
you have some Limburger cheese in your pocket you can with that remove
the taste of the coffee.
Dinner is served at 12 o'clock, and consists of more bread with
soup. This soup has everything in it except nourishment. The bead on
this soup is noticeable for quite a distance. It is disagreeable.
Several days ago I heard that the Mayor was in the soup, but I didn't
realize it before. I thought it was a newspaper yarn. There is
everything in this soup, from shop-worn rice up to neat's-foot oil.
Once I thought I detected cuisine in it.
The dinner menu is changed on Fridays, Sundays and Thursdays, on
which days you get the soup first and the bread afterwards. In this way
the bread is saved.
Three days in a week each man gets at dinner a potato containing a
thousand-legged worm. At 6 o'clock comes supper with toast and
responses. Bread is served at supper time, together with a cup of tea.
To those who dislike bread and never eat soup, or do not drink tea or
coffee, life at Ludlow Street Jail is indeed irksome.
I asked for kumiss and a pony of Benedictine, as my stone boudoir
made me feel rocky, but it has not yet been sent up.
Somehow, while here, I can not forget poor old man Dorrit, the
Master of the Marshalsea, and how the Debtors' Prison preyed upon his
mind till he didn't enjoy anything except to stand off and admire
himself. Ludlow Street Jail is a good deal like it in many ways, and I
can see how in time the canker of unrest and the bitter memories of
those who did us wrong but who are basking in the bright and bracing
air, while we, to meet their obligations, sacrifice our money, our
health and at last our minds, would kill hope and ambition.
In a few weeks I believe I should also get a preying on my mind.
That is about the last thing I would think of preying on, but a man
must eat something.
Before closing this brief and incomplete account as a guest at
Ludlow Street Jail I ought, in justice to my family, to say, perhaps,
that I came down this morning to see a friend of mine who is here
because he refuses to pay alimony to his recreant and morbidly sociable
wife. He says he is quite content to stay here, so long as his wife is
on the outside. He is writing a small ready-reference book on his side
of the great problem, Is Marriage a Failure?
With this I shake him by the hand and in a moment the big iron
storm-door clangs behind me, the big lock clicks in its hoarse, black
throat and I welcome even the air of Ludlow street so long as the blue
sky is above it.
OLD POLKA DOT'S DAUGHTER
I once decided to visit an acquaintance who had named his country
place The Elms. I went partly to punish him because his invitation
was so evidently hollow and insincere.
He had The Elms worked on his clothes, and embossed on his
stationery and blown in his glass, and it pained him to eat his food
from table linen that didn't have The Elms emblazoned on it. He told
me to come and surprise him any time, and shoot in his preserves, and
stay until business compelled me to return to town again. He had no
doubt heard that I never surprise any one, and never go away from home
very much, and so thought it would be safe. Therefore I went. I went
just to teach him a valuable lesson. When I go to visit a man for a
week, he is certainly thenceforth going to be a better man, or else
punishment is of no avail and the chastening rod entirely useless in
The Elms was a misnomer. It should have been called The Shagbark
or The Doodle Bug's Lair. It was supposed to mean a wide sweep of
meadow, a vine covered lodge, a broad velvet lawn, and a carriage way,
where the drowsy locust, in the sensuous shadow of magnanimous elms,
gnawed a file at intervals through the day, while back of all this the
mossy and gray-whiskered front and corrugated brow of the venerable
architectural pile stood off and admired itself in the deep and glassy
pool at its base.
In the first place none of the yeomanry for eight miles around knew
that he called his old malarial tank The Elms, so it was hard to
find. But when I described the looks of the lord of The Elms they wink
at each other and wagged their heads and said, Oh, yes, we know him,
also interjecting well known one syllable words that are not euphonious
enough to print.
[Illustration: ... His old look of apprehensive cordiality did
not leave him until he had seen me climb on a load of hay with my trunk
and start for home (Page 15)]
When I got there he was down cellar sprouting potatoes, and his wife
was hanging out upon the clothes line a pair of gathered summer
trousers that evidently were made for a man who had been badly mangled
in a saw-mill.
The Elms was not even picturesque, and the preserves were out of
order. I was received with the same cordiality which you detect on the
face of any other kind of detected liar. He wanted to be regarded as a
remarkable host and landed proprietor, without being really hospitable.
I remained there at The Elms a few days, rubbing rock salt and Cayenne
pepper into the wounds of my host, and suggesting different names for
his home, such as The Tom Tit's Eyrie, The Weeping Willow, The
Crook Neck Squash and The Muskrat's Retreat. Then I came away. His
old look of apprehensive cordiality did not leave him until he had seen
me climb on a load of hay with my trunk and start for home.
During my brief sojourn I noticed that the surrounding country was
full of people, and I presume there was a larger population of
boarders, as we were called indiscriminately, than ever before. The
number of available points to which the victims of humidity and poor
plumbing may retreat in summer time is constantly on the increase,
while, so far as I know, all the private and public boarding places are
filled to their utmost capacity. Everywhere, the gaudy boarder in
flannels and ecru shoes looms upon the green lawn or the brown dirt
road, or scales the mountain one day and stays in bed the following
week, rubbing James B. Pond's Extract on his swollen joints.
I scaled Mount Utsa-yantha in company with others. We picked out a
nice hot day, and, selecting the most erect wall of the mountain,
facing west, we scaled it in such a way that it will not have to be
done again till new scales grow on it.
Mount Utsa-yantha is 3,365 feet above sea level, and has a brow
which reminds me of mine. It is broad, massive and bleak. The foot of
the mountain is more massive, however. From the top of the mountain one
gets, with a good glass, a view of six or seven states, I was told.
Possibly there were that many in sight, though at that season of the
year states look so much alike that it takes an expert to pick them out
readily. When states are moulting, it is all I can do to tell Vermont
from Massachusetts. On this mountain one gets a nice view and highly
exhilarating birch beer.
Albany can be distinctly seen with a glassa field glass, I mean,
not a glass of birch beer. Some claim that the nub of a political boom
may be seen protruding from the Capitol with the nude vision. Others
say they can see the Green mountains, and as far south as the eye can
reach. We took two hours and a half for the ascent of the mountain, and
came down in about twenty minutes. We descended ungracefullythe way
the Irishman claimed that the toad walked, viz.: git up and sit down.
Mount Utsa-yanthaI use the accepted orthography as found in the
Blackhawk dictionaryhas a legend also. Many centuries ago this
beautiful valley was infested by the red brother and his bronze
progeny. Where now the red and blue blazer goes shimmering through the
swaying maples, and the girl with her other dress on and her straw
colored canvas cinch knocketh the croquet ball galley west, once there
dwelt an old chief whom we will call Polka Dot, the pride of his
people. He looked somewhat like William Maxwell Evarts, but was a
heavier set man. Places where old Polka Dot sat down and accumulated
rest for himself are still shown to city people whose faith was not
overworked while young.
Old Polka Dot was a firm man, with double teeth all around, and his
prowess got into the personal columns of the papers every little while.
He had a daughter named Utsa-yantha, which means a messenger sent
hastily for treasure, so I am told, or possibly old Polka Dot meant to
imply one sent off for cash.
Anyhow Utsa-yantha grew to be quite comely, as Indian women go. I
never yet saw one that couldn't stop an ordinary planet by looking at
it steadily for two minutes. She dressed simply, wearing the same
clothes while tooling cross-country before breakfast that she wore at
the scalp dance the evening before. In summer time she shellacked
herself and visited the poor. Taking a little box of water colors in a
shawl strap, so that she could change her clothes whenever she felt
like it, she would go away and be gone for a fortnight at a time,
visiting the ultra fashionable people of her tribe.
Finally a white man penetrated this region. He did it by asking a
brakeman on the West Shore road how to get here and then doing
differently. In that way he had no trouble at all. He saw Utsa-yantha
and loved her almost instantly. She was skinning a muskrat at the time,
and he could not but admire her deftness and skill. From that moment he
was not able to drive her image from his heart. He sought her again and
again to tell her of his passion, but she would jump the fence and flee
like a frightened fawn with a split stick on its tail, if such a
comparison may be permitted. At last he won her, and married her
quietly in his working clothes. The nearest justice of the peace was
then in England, and so rather than wait he was married informally to
Utsa-yantha, and she went home very much impressed indeed. That fall a
little russet baby came to bless their union. The blessing was all he
had with him when he arrived.
Then the old chief Polka Dot arose in his wrath, to which he added a
pair of moose hide moccasins, and he upbraided his daughter for her
conduct. He upbraided her with a piazza pole from his wigwam. He was
very much agitated. So was the pole.
Then he cursed her for being the mother of a 1/2 breed child, and
stalking 1/4 he slew the white man by cutting open his trunk and
disarranging his most valuable possessions. He then wiped the stab
knife on his tossing mane, and grabbing his grandson by his swaddling
clothes he hurled the surprised little stranger into Lake Utsa-yantha.
By pouring another pailful of water into the lake the child was
Then the widowed and childless Utsa-yantha came forth as night
settled down upon the beautiful valley and the day died peacefully on
the mountain tops. Her eyes were red with weeping and her breath was
punctuated with sobs. Putting on a pair of high rubber boots she waded
out into the middle of the lake, where there is quite a deep place, and
When the old man found the body of his daughter he was considerably
mortified. He took her to the top of the mountain and buried her there,
and ever afterward, it is said, whenever any one spoke of the death of
his daughter and her family, he would color up and change the subject.
This should teach us never to kill a son-in-law without getting his
A GREAT CEREBRATOR
Being at large in Virginia, along in the latter part of last season,
I visited Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson, also his
grave. Monticello is about an hour's ride from Charlottesville, by
diligence. One rides over a road constructed of rip-raps and broken
stone. It is called a macadamized road, and twenty miles of it will
make the pelvis of a long-waisted man chafe against his ears. I have
decided that the site for my grave shall be at the end of a trunk line
somewhere, and I will endow a droska to carry passengers to and from
Whatever my life may have been, and however short I may have fallen
in my great struggle for a generous recognition by the American people,
I propose to place my grave within reach of all.
Monticello is reached by a circuitous route to the top of a
beautiful hill, on the crest of which rests the brick house where Mr.
Jefferson lived. You enter a lodge gate in charge of a venerable negro,
to whom you pay two bits apiece for admission. This sum goes towards
repairing the roads, according to the ticket which you get. It just
goes toward it, however; it don't quite get there, I judge, for the
roads are still appealing for aid. Perhaps the negro can tell how far
it gets. Up through a neglected thicket of Virginia shrubs and
ill-kempt trees you drive to the house. It is a house that would
readily command $750, with queer porches to it, and large, airy
windows. The top of the whole hill was graded level, or terraced, and
an enormous quantity of work must have been required to do it, but
Jefferson did not care. He did not care for fatigue. With two hundred
slaves of his own, and a dowry of three hundred more which was poured
into his coffers by his marriage, Jeff did not care how much toil it
took to polish off the top of a bluff or how much the sweat stood out
on the brow of a hill.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. He sent it to one
of the magazines, but it was returned as not available, so he used it
in Congress and afterward got it printed in the Record.
I saw the chair he wrote it in. It is a plain, old-fashioned wooden
chair, with a kind of bosom-board on the right arm, upon which
Jefferson used to rest his Declaration of Independence whenever he
wanted to write it.
There is also an old gig stored in the house. In this gig Jefferson
used to ride from Monticello to Washington in a day. This is untrue,
but it goes with the place. It takes from 8:30 A. M. until noon to ride
this distance on a fast train, and in a much more direct line than the
old wagon road ran.
Mr. Jefferson was the father of the University of Virginia, one of
the most historic piles I have ever clapped eyes on. It is now under
the management of a classical janitor, who has a tinge of negro blood
in his veins, mixed with the rich Castilian blood of somebody else.
He has been at the head of the University of Virginia for over forty
years, bringing in the coals and exercising a general oversight over
the curriculum and other furniture. He is a modest man, with a tendency
toward the classical in his researches. He took us up on the roof,
showed us the outlying country, and jarred our ear-drums with the big
bell. Mr. Estes, who has general charge of Monticellocalled
Montechellosaid that Mr. Jefferson used to sit on his front porch
with a powerful glass, and watch the progress of the work on the
University, and if the workmen undertook to smuggle in a soft brick,
Mr. Jefferson, five or six miles away, detected it, and bounding
lightly into his saddle, he rode down there to Charlottesville, and
clubbed the bricklayers until they were glad to pull down the wall to
that brick and take it out again.
This story is what made me speak of that section a few minutes ago
as an outlying country.
The other day Charles L. Seigel told us the Confederate version of
an attack on Fort Moultrie during the early days of the war, which has
never been printed. Mr. Seigel was a German Confederate, and early in
the fight was quartered, in company with others, at the Moultrie House,
a seaside hotel, the guests having deserted the building.
Although large soft beds with curled hair mattresses were in each
room, the department issued ticks or sacks to be filled with straw for
the use of the soldiers, so that they would not forget that war was a
serious matter. Nobody used them, but they were there all the same.
Attached to the Moultrie House, and wandering about the back-yard,
there was a small orphan jackass, a sorrowful little light blue mammal,
with a tinge of bitter melancholy in his voice. He used to dwell on the
past a good deal, and at night he would refer to it in tones that were
choked with emotion.
The boys caught him one evening as the gloaming began to arrange
itself, and threw him down on the green grass. They next pulled a straw
bed over his head, and inserted him in it completely, cutting holes for
his legs. Then they tied a string of sleighbells to his tail, and hit
him a smart, stinging blow with a black snake.
[Illustration: Then they tied a string of sleighbells to his
tail, and hit him a smart, stinging blow with a black snake (Page
Probably that was what suggested to him the idea of strolling down
the beach, past the sentry, and on toward the fort. The darkness of the
night, the rattle of hoofs, the clash of the bells, the quick challenge
of the guard, the failure to give the countersign, the sharp volley of
the sentinels, and the wild cry, to arms, followed in rapid
succession. The tocsin sounded, also the slogan. The culverin, ukase,
and door-tender were all fired. Huge beacons of fat pine were lighted
along the beach. The whole slumbering host sprang to arms, and the
crack of the musket was heard through the intense darkness.
In the morning the enemy was found intrenched in a mud-hole, south
of the fort, with his clean new straw tick spattered with clay, and a
wildly disheveled tail.
On board the Richmond train not long ago a man lost his hat as we
pulled out of Petersburg, and it fell by the side of the track. The
train was just moving slowly away from the station, so he had a chance
to jump off and run back after it. He got the hat, but not till we had
placed seven or eight miles between us and him. We could not help
feeling sorry for him, because very likely his hat had an embroidered
hat band in it, presented by one dearer to him than life itself, and so
we worked up quite a feeling for him, though of course he was very
foolish to lose his train just for a hat, even if it did have the
needle-work of his heart's idol in it.
Later I was surprised to see the same man in Columbia, South
Carolina, and he then told me this sad story:
I started out a month ago to take a little trip of a few weeks, and
the first day was very, very happily spent in scrutinizing nature and
scanning the faces of those I saw. On the second day out, I ran across
a young man whom I had known slightly before, and who is engaged in the
business of being a companionable fellow and the life of the party.
That is about all the business he has. He knows a great many people,
and his circle of acquaintances is getting larger all the time. He is
proud of the enormous quantity of friendship he has acquired. He says
he can't get on a train or visit any town in the Union that he doesn't
find a friend.
He is full of stories and witticisms, and explains the plays to
theater parties. He has seen a great deal of life and is a keen critic.
He would have enjoyed criticising the Apostle Paul and his elocutionary
style if he had been one of the Ephesians. He would have criticised
Paul's gestures, and said, 'Paul, I like your Epistles a heap better
than I do your appearance on the platform. You express yourself well
enough with your pen, but when you spoke for the Ephesian Y. M. C. A.,
we were disappointed in you and we lost money on you.'
Well, he joined me, and finding out where I was going, he decided
to go also. He went along to explain things to me, and talk to me when
I wanted to sleep or read the newspaper. He introduced me to large
numbers of people whom I did not want to meet, took me to see things I
didn't want to see, read things to me that I didn't want to hear, and
introduced to me people who didn't want to meet me. He multiplied
misery by throwing uncongenial people together and then said: 'Wasn't
it lucky that I could go along with you and make it pleasant for you?'
Everywhere he met more new people with whom he had an acquaintance.
He shook hands with them, and called them by their first names, and
felt in their pockets for cigars. He was just bubbling over with mirth,
and laughed all the time, being so offensively joyous, in fact, that
when he went into a car, he attracted general attention, which suited
him first-rate. He regarded himself as a universal favorite and
When we got to Washington, he took me up to see the President. He
knew the President wellclaimed to know lots of things about the
President that made him more or less feared by the administration. He
was acquainted with a thousand little vices of all our public men,
which virtually placed them in his power. He knew how the President
conducted himself at home, and was 'on to everything' in public life.
Well, he shook hands with the President, and introduced me. I could
see that the President was thinking about something else, though, and
so I came away without really feeling that I knew him very well.
Then we visited the departments, and I can see now that I hurt
myself by being towed around by this man. He was so free, and so
joyous, and so bubbling, that wherever we went I could hear the key
grate in the lock after we passed out of the door.
He started south with me. He was going to show me all the
battle-fields, and introduce me into society. I bought some strychnine
in Washington, and put it in his buckwheat cakes; but they got cold,
and he sent them back. I did not know what to do, and was almost wild,
for I was traveling entirely for pleasure, and not especially for his
At Petersburg I was told that the train going the other way would
meet us. As we started out, I dropped my hat from the window while
looking at something. It was a desperate move, but I did it. Then I
jumped off the train, and went back after it. As soon as I got around
the curve I ran for Petersburg, where I took the other train. I presume
you all felt sorry for me, but if you'd seen me fold myself in a long,
passionate embrace after I had climbed on the other train, you would
have changed your minds.
He then passed gently from my sight.
HINTS FOR THE HOUSEHOLD
There are a great many pleasures to which we may treat ourselves
very economically if we go at it right. In this way we can, at a slight
expense, have those comforts, and even luxuries, for which we should
otherwise pay a great price.
Costly rugs and carpets, though beautiful and rich in appearance,
involve such an outlay of money that many hesitate about buying them;
but a very tasty method of treating floors inexpensively consists in
staining the edge for several feet in width, leaving the center of the
room to be covered by a large rug. Staining for the floor maybe easily
made, by boiling maple bark, twenty parts; pokeberry juice, twenty-five
parts; hazel brush, thirty parts, and sour milk, twenty-five parts,
until it becomes about the consistency of the theory of infant
damnation. Let it stand a few weeks, until the rich flavor has died
down, so that you can look at it for quite a while without nausea; then
add vinegar and copperas to suit the taste, and apply by means of a
whisk broom. When dry, help yourself to some more of it. This gives the
floor a rich pauper's coffin shade, over which shellac or cod liver oil
should be applied.
Rugs may be made of coffee sacking or Turkish gunny-rest sacks,
inlaid with rich designs in red yarn, and a handsome fringe can be
added by raveling the edges.
A beautiful receptacle for soiled collars and cuffs may be made by
putting a cardboard bottom in a discarded and shattered coal scuttle,
gilding the whole and tying a pale blue ribbon on the bail.
A cheap and very handsome easy-chair can be constructed by sawing
into a flour barrel and removing less than half the length of staves
for one-third the distance around, then fasten inside a canvas or duck
seat, below which the barrel is filled with bran.
A neat little mackerel tub makes a most appropriate foot-stool for
this chair, and looks so unconventional and rustic that it wins every
one at once. Such a chair should also have a limited number of tidies
on its surface. Otherwise it might give too much satisfaction. A good
style of inexpensive tidy is made by poking holes in some heavy, strong
goods, and then darning up these holes with something else. The darned
tidy holds its place better, I think, and is more frequently worn away
on the back of the last guest than any other.
This list might be prolonged almost indefinitely, and I should be
glad to write my own experience in the line of experiment, if it were
not for the danger of appearing egotistical. For instance, I once
economized in the matter of paper-hanging, deciding that I would save
the paper-hanger's bill and put the money into preferred trotting
So I read a recipe in a household hint, which went on to state how
one should make and apply paste to wall paper, how to begin, how to
apply the paper, and all that. The paste was made by uniting flour,
water and glue in such a way as to secure the paper to the wall and yet
leave it smooth, according to the recipe. First the walls had to be
I took a tape-measure and sized the walls.
Next I began to prepare the paste and cook some in a large milk-pan.
It looked very repulsive indeed, but it looked so much better than it
smelled, that I did not mind. Then I put about five cents' worth of it
on one roll of paper, and got up on a chair to begin. My idea was to
apply it to the wall mostly, but the chair tipped, and so I papered the
piano and my wife on the way down. My wife gasped for breath, but soon
tore a hole through the paper so she could breathe, and then she
laughed at me. That is the reason I took another end of the paper and
repapered her face. I can not bear to have any one laugh at me when I
am myself unhappy.
It was good paste, if you merely desired to disfigure a piano or a
wife, but otherwise it would not stick at all. I did not like it. I was
mad about it. But my wife seemed quite stuck on it. She hasn't got it
all out of her hair yet.
[Illustration: My idea was to apply it to the wall mostly, but
the chair tipped, and so I papered the piano and my wife on the way
down] (Page 36)
Then a man dropped in to see me about some money that I had hoped to
pay him that morning, and he said the paste needed more glue and a
quart of molasses. I put in some more glue and the last drop of
molasses we had in the house. It made a mass which looked like unbaked
ginger snaps, and smelled as I imagine the deluge did at low tide.
I next proceeded to paper the room. Sometimes the paper would
adhere, and then again it would refrain from adhering. When I got
around the room I had gained ground so fast at the top and lost so much
time at the bottom of the walls, that I had to put in a wedge of paper
two feet wide at the bottom, and tapering to a point at the top, in
order to cover the space. This gave the room the appearance of having
been toyed with by an impatient cyclone, or an air of inebriety not in
keeping with my poor but honest character.
I went to bed very weary, and abraded in places. I had paste in my
pockets, and bronze up my nose. In the night I could hear the paper
crack. Just as I would get almost to sleep, it would pop. That was
because the paper was contracting and trying to bring the dimensions of
the room I own to fit it.
In the morning the room had shrunken so that the carpet did not fit,
and the paper hung in large molasses-covered welts on the walls. It
looked real grotesque. I got a paper-hanger to come and look at it. He
And what would you advise me to do with it, sir? I asked, with a
degree of deference which I had never before shown to a paper-hanger.
Well, I can hardly say at first. It is a very bad case. You see,
the glue and stuff have made the paper and wrinkles so hard now, that
it would cost a great deal to blast it off. Do you own the house?
Yes, sir. That is, I have paid one-half the purchase-price, and
there is a mortgage for the balance.
Oh. Well, then you are all right, said the paper-hanger, with a
gleam of hope in his eye. Let it go on the mortgage.
Then I had to economize again, so I next resorted to the home method
of administering the Turkish bath. You can get a Turkish bath in that
way at a cost of four and one-half to five cents, which is fully as
good as one that will cost you a dollar or more in some places.
I read the directions in a paper. There are two methods of
administering the low-price Turkish bath at home. One consists in
placing the person to be treated in a cane-seat chair, and then putting
a pan of hot water beneath this chair. Ever and anon a hot stone or hot
flat-iron is dropped into the water by means of tongs, and thus the
water is kept boiling, the steam rising in thick masses about the
person in the chair, who is carefully concealed in a large blanket.
Every time a hot flat-iron or stone is dropped into the pan it spatters
the boiling water on the bare limbs of the person who is being operated
upon, and if you are living in the same country with him, you will hear
him loudly wrecking his chances beyond the grave by stating things that
are really wrong.
The other method, and the one I adopted, is better than this. You
apply the heat by means of a spirit lamp, and no one, to look at a
little fifteen cent spirit lamp, would believe that it had so much heat
in it till he has had one under him as he sits in a wicker chair.
A wicker chair does not interfere with the lamp at all, or cut off
the heat, and one is so swathed in blankets and rubber overcoats that
he can't help himself.
I seated myself in that way, and then the torch was applied. Did the
reader ever get out of a bath and sit down on a wire brush in order to
put on his shoes, and feel a sort of startled thrill pervade his whole
being? Well, that is good enough as far as it goes, but it does not
really count as a sensation, when you have been through the Home
Treatment Turkish Bath.
My wife was in another room reading a new book in which she was
greatly interested. While she was thus storing her mind with
information, she thought she smelled something burning. She went all
around over the house trying to find out what it was. Finally she found
It was her husband. I called to her, of course, but she wanted me to
wait until she had discovered what was on fire. I tried to tell her to
come and search my neighborhood, but I presume I did not make myself
understood, because I was excited, and my personal epidermis was being
singed off in a way that may seem funny to others, but was not so to
one who had to pass through it.
It bored me quite a deal. Once the wicker seat of the chair caught
Oh, heavens, I cried, with a sudden pang of horror, am I to be
thus devoured by the fire fiend? And is there no one to help? Help!
I also made use of other expressions but they did not add to the
sense of the above.
I perspired very much, indeed, and so the bath was, in a measure, a
success, but oh, what doth it profit a man to gain a bath if he lose
his own soul?
A JOURNEY WESTWARD
I once visited my old haunts in Colorado and Wyoming after about
seven years of absence. I also went to Utah, where spring had come in
the rich valley of the Jordan and the glossy blackbird, with wing of
flame, scooted gaily from bough to bough, deftly declaring his
affections right and left, and acquiring more wives than he could
support, then clearing his record by claiming to have had a revelation
which made it all right.
One could not shut his eyes to the fact that there was great real
estate activity in the West that spring. It took the place of mining
and stock, I judge, and everywhere you heard and saw men with their
heads together plotting against the poor rich man. In Salt Lake I saw
the sign, Drugs and Real Estate.
I presume it meant medicine and a small residence lot in the
In early days in Denver, Henry C. Brown, then in the full flush and
vigor of manhood, opened negotiations with the agent of the Atchison
stage line for a ticket back to Atchison, as he was heart-broken and
homesick. He owned a quarter-section of land, with a heavy growth of
prairie dogs on it, and he had almost persuaded the agent to swap him a
ticket for this sage brush conservatory, when the ticket seller backed
gently out of the trade. Mr. Brown then sat him down on the sidewalk
and cried bitterly.
I just tell this to show how easily some men weep. Atchison is at
present so dead that a good cowboy, with an able mule, could tie his
rope to its tail, and, putting his spurs to the mule, jerk loose the
entire pelt at any time, while Brown's addition to Denver is worth
anywhere from one and a half to two millions of dollars. When Mr. Brown
weeps now it is because his food is too rich and gives him the gout. He
sold prairie dogs enough to fence the land in so that it could not blow
into Cherry Creek vale, and then he set to work earnestly to wait for
the property to advance. Finding that he could not sell the property at
any price, he, with great foresight, concluded to retain it. Some men,
with no special ability in other directions, have the greatest genius
for doing such things, while others, with superior talent in other
ways, do not make money in this way.
A report once got around that I had made a misguess on some
property. This is partly true, only it was my wife who speculated. She
had never speculated much before, though she had tried other open air
amusements. So she swapped a cottage and lots in Hudson, Wisconsin, for
city lots in Minneapolis, employing a man named Flinton Pansley to work
up the trade, look into the title, and do the square thing for her. He
was a real good man, with heavenly aspirations and a true sorrow in his
heart for the prevalence of sin. Still this sorrow did not break in on
his business. Well, the business was done by correspondence and Mr.
Pansley only charged a reasonable amount, she giving him her new
carriage to remunerate him for his brain fag. What the other man paid
him for disposing of the lots I do not know. I was away at the time,
and having no insect powder with which to take his life I regretfully
spared him to his Bible class.
[Illustration: Frogs build their nests there in the spring and
rear their young, but people never go there (Page 45)]
I did send a man over the lots, however, when I returned. They were
not really in the city of Minneapolis, that is, they were not near
enough to worry anybody by the tumult of the town. In fact, they were
in another county. You may think I am untruthful about this, but the
lots are there, if you have any curiosity to see them. They are not
where they were represented to be, however, and the machine shops and
gas works and court-house are quite a long distance away.
You could cut some hay on these lots, but not enough to pay the
interest on the mortgage. Frogs build their nests there in the spring
and rear their young, but people never go there. Two years ago Senator
Washburn killed a bear on one of these lots, but that is all they have
ever produced, except a slight coldness on our part toward Mr. Pansley.
He says he likes the carriage real well, and anything he can do for us
in the future in dickering for city property will be done with an
alacrity that would almost make one's head swim. I must add that I have
permission to use this information, as the victim seems to think there
is something kind of amusing about it. Some people think a thing funny
which others can hardly get any amusement out of. What I wonder at is
that Pansley did not ask for the team when he got the carriage.
Possibly he did not like the team.
I just learned recently that he and the Benders used to be very
thick in an early day, but after awhile the Benders said they guessed
they would have to be excused. Even the Benders had to draw the line
Later I bought property in Salt Lake. Not a heavy venture, you
understand. Just the box-office receipts for one evening. I saw it
stated in the papers at $10,000. Anyway, I will let that go. That is
near enough. When I see anything in the papers I ask no more questions.
I do not think it is right. Patti and I have both made it a rule to put
in at least one evening as an investment where we happen to be. We are
almost sure to do well out of it, and we also get better notices in the
Patti is not looking so well as she did when my father took me to
see her in the prime of her life. Though getting quite plain, it costs
as much to see her as ever it did. Her voice has a metallic, or rather
bi-metallic, ring to it nowadays, and she misses it by not working in
more topical songs and bright Italian gags.
I asked her about an old singer who used to be with her. She said:
He was remova to ze ocean, where he keepa ze lighthouse. He learn to
himself how to manage ze lighthouse one seasong; then he try by himself
Now, if she would do some of those things on the stage it would pay
her first rate.
When I was in Wyoming on that trip I met many old friends, all of
whom shook me warmly by the hand as soon as they saw me. I visited the
Capitol, and both houses adjourned for an hour out of respect to my
memory. I will never again say anything mean of a member of the
legislature. A speech of welcome was made by the gentleman from Crook
county, Mr. Kellogg, the Demosthenes of the coming state. He made
statements about me that day which in the paper read almost as good and
truthful as an epitaph.
Going over the hill, at Crow Creek, whose perfumed waters kiss the
livery stables and abattoirs at Camp Carlin, three slender Sarah
Bernhardt coyotes came towards the train, looking wistfully at me as if
to say: Why, partner, how you have fleshed up! Answering them from
the platform of the car, I said: Go East, young men, and flesh up with
the country. Honestly and seriously, I do think that if the coyote
would change off and try the soft-shell crab diet for a while, he would
pick right up.
When I got to Laramie City the welcome was so warm that it almost
wiped out the memory of my shabby reception in New York harbor last
summer, on my return from Europe, when even my band went back on me and
got drunk at Coney Island on the very money I had given them to use in
welcoming me home again.
Winter had been a little severe along the cattle ranges, and
deceased cattle might be seen extending their swollen carcasses into
the bright, crisp air as the train whirled one along at the rate of
seven to eight miles per hour. The skinning of a frozen steer is a
diverting and unusual proceeding. Col. Buffalo Bill, who served under
Washington and killed buffalo and baby elephants at Valley Forge,
according to an Italian paper, should put this feature into his show.
Maybe he will when he reads this. The cow gentleman first selects a
quick yet steady-going mule; then he looks for a dead steer. He does
not have to look very far. He now fastens one end of the deceased to
some permanent object. This is harder to find than the steer, however.
He then attaches his rope to the hide of the remains, having cut it
with his knife first. He next starts the mule off, and a mile or so
away he discovers that the hide is entirely free from the cold and
Sometimes a cowboy tries to skin a steer before the animal is
entirely dead, and when the former gets back to the place from which he
was kicked, he finds that he has a brand new set of whiskers with which
to surprise his friends.
The Pacific roads have greatly improved in recent years, and though
they do not dazzle one with their speed, they are much more comfortable
to pass a few weeks on than they were when the eating-houses, or many
of them, were in the hands of people who could not cook very well, but
who made a great deal of money. Now you can eat in a good buffet-car,
or a first-class dining-car, at your leisure, or you can stop off and
get a good meal, or you can carry a few hens and eat hard-boiled eggs
all over your neighbors.
I do not think people on the cars ought to keep hens. It disturbs
the other passengers and is anything but agreeable to the hens. Close
confinement is never good for a hen that is advanced in years, and the
cigar smoke from the rear of the car hurts her voice, I think.
A PROPHET AND A PIUTE
I have bought some more real estate. It occurred in Oakland,
California. In making the purchase I had the assistance of a prophet,
and I hope the prophet will not be overbalanced by the loss. It came
about in this way: A prophet on a bicycle came to Oakland suddenly very
hard up a few weeks ago, and began to ride up and down on his
two-wheeler, warning the people to flee to the high ground, and thus
escape the wrath to come, for, he said, the waters of the great deep
would arise at about the middle of the month and smite the people of
Oakland and slay them, and float the pork barrels out of their cellars,
and fill their cisterns with people who had sneered at his prophecy.
This gentleman was an industrious prophet and did a good business in
his line. He attracted much notice, and had all he could do at his
trade for several weeks. Many Oakland people were frightened,
especially as Wiggins, the great intellectual Sahara of the prophet
industry, also prophesied a high wave which would rise at least above
the bills at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. With the aid of these
two gifted middle-weight prophets, I was enabled to secure some good
bargains in corner lots and improved property in Oakland at ten per
cent. of the estimated value. In other words, I put my limited powers
as a prophet against those of Professor Wiggins, the painstaking and
conscientious seer of Canada, and the bicycle prophet of the Pacific
slope. I am willing to stand or fall by the result.
As a prophet I have never attracted attention in this country,
mostly because I have been too busy with other things. Also because
there was so little prophesying to be done in these degenerate days
that I did not care to take hold of the industry; but I have ever been
ready to purchase at a great discount the desirable residences of those
contemplating a general collapse of the universe, or a tidal wave which
would wipe out the general government and cover with a placid sea the
mighty republic which God has heretofore, for some reason, smiled upon.
Moreover, I can hardly believe that the Deity would commission a man to
go out over California on a bicycle to warn people, when a few red
messages and a standing notice in the newspapers would do the work in
less time. Reasoning in this manner with a sturdy logic worthy of my
rich and unctious past, I have secured some good trades in down-town
property, and shall await the coming devastation with a calm and
entirely unruffled breast.
California, at any season of the year, is a miracle of beauty, as
almost every one knows. Nature heightens the effect for the tenderfoot
by compelling him to cross the Alpine heights of the Sierra Nevada
Mountains and freeze approximately to death in the cold heart of a snow
blockade. Thus, weather-beaten and sore, he reaches the rolling green
hills and is greeted with the rich odor of violets. I submitted to the
insults of a tottering monopoly for a week, in the heart of the winter,
and, tired and sick at soul, with chilblains on my feet and liniment on
my other lineaments, I burst forth one bright morning into the realm of
eternal summer. The birds sang in my frozen bosom. I shed the gunnysack
wraps from my tender feet even as a butterfly or a tramp bursts his
hull in the spring time, and I laughed two or three coarse, outdoor
laughs, which shook the balmy branches of the tall pomegranate trees
and twittered in the dense foliage of the magnolia.
The railroad was very kind to me at first. That was when I was
buying my ticket. Later on it became more harsh and even reproached me
at times. Conductors woke me up two or three times in the night to gaze
fondly on my ticket and look as if they were sorry they ever parted
with it. On the Central Pacific passengers are not permitted to give
their tickets to the porter on retiring. You must wake up and converse
with the conductor at all hours of the night, and hold a lantern for
him while he slowly spells out the hard words on your ticket. I did not
like this, and several times I murmured in a querulous tone to the
conductor. But he did not mind it. He went on doing the behests of his
employer, and in that way endearing himself to the great adversary of
I said to an official of the road: Do you not think this is the
worst managed road in the United Statesalways excepting the Western
North Carolina Railroad, which is an incorporated insult to humanity?
Well, he replied, that depends, of course, on the standpoint from
which you view it. If we were trying to divert travel to the Southern
Pacific, also the rolling stock, the good-will, the culverts, the
dividends, the frogs, the snowsheds, the right of way and the new-laid
train figs, everything except the first, second and third mortgages,
which would naturally revert to the government, would you not think we
were managing the business with a steady hand and a watchful eye?
I said I certainly should. I then wrung his hand softly and stole
away, as he also began to do the same thing.
[Illustration: I improved the time by cultivating the
acquaintance of the beautiful and picturesque outcasts known as the
Piute Indians (Page 57)]
At Reno we had a day or two in which to observe the city from the
car platform, while waiting for the blockade to be raised. We could not
go away from the train further than five hundred feet, for it might
start at any moment. That is one beauty about a snow blockade. It
entitles you to a stop-over, but you must be ready to hop on when the
train starts. I improved the time by cultivating the acquaintance of
the beautiful and picturesque outcasts known as the Piute Indians. They
are a quiet, reserved set of people, who, by saying nothing, sometimes
obtain a reputation for deep thought. I always envy anybody who can do
that. Such men make good presidential candidates. Candidates, I say,
mind you. The time has come in this country when it is hard to unite
good qualifications as a candidate with the necessary qualities for a
The Piute, in March or April, does not go down cellar and bring up
his gladiolus, or remove the banking from the side of his villa. He
does not mulch the asparagus bed, or prune the pie-plant, or rake the
front yard, or salt the hens. He does not even wipe his heartbroken and
neglected nose. He makes no especial change in his great life-work
because spring has come. He still looks serious, and like a man who is
laboring under the impression that he is about to become the parent of
a thought. These children of the Piute brave never mature. They do not
take their places in the histories or the school readers of our common
country. The Piute wears a bright red lap-robe over his person, and
generally a stiff Quaker hat, with a leather band. His hair is very
thick, black and coarse, and is mostly cut off square in the neck, by
means of an adz, I judge, or possibly it is eaten off by moths. The
Piute is never bald during life. After he is dead he becomes bald and
Johnson Sides is a well-known Piute who had the pleasure of meeting
me at Reno. He said he was a great admirer of mine and had all my
writings in a scrap-book at home. He also said that he wished I would
come and lecture for his tribe. I afterward learned that he was an
earnest and hopeful liar from Truckee. He had no scrap-book at all.
Also no home.
Mr. Sides at one time became quite civilized, distinguishing himself
from his tribe by reading the Bible and imprisoning the lower drapery
of his linen garment in the narrow confines of a pair of cavalry
trousers, instead of giving it to the irresponsible breeze, as other
Piutes did. He then established a hotel up the valley in the Sierras,
and decided to lead a life of industry. He built a hostelry called the
Shack-de-Poker-Huntus, and advertised in the Carson Appeal, a
paper which even the editor, Sam Davis, says fills him with wonder and
amazement when he knows that people actually subscribe for it. Very
soon Piutes began to go to the shack to spend the heated term. Every
Piute who took the Appeal saw the advertisement, which went on
to state that hot and cold water could be got into every room in the
house, and that electric bells, baths, silver-voiced chambermaids,
over-charges, and everything else connected with a first-class hotel,
could be found at that place. So the Piute people locked up their own
homes, and, ejecting the cat, they spat on the fire, and moved to the
new summer hotel. They took their friends with them. They had no money,
but they knew Johnson Sides, and they visited him all summer.
In the fall Mr. Sides closed the house, and resuming his blanket he
went back to live with his tribe. When the butcher wagon called the
next day the driver found a notice of sale, and in the language of Sol
Smith Russell, Good reasons given for selling.
Mr. Sides had been a temperance man now for a year, at least
externally, but with the humiliation of this great financial wreck came
a wild desire to flee to the maddening bowl, having been monkeying with
the madding crowd all summer. So, silently, he obtained a bottle of
Reno embalming fluid and secreted himself behind a tree, where he was
asked to join himself in a social nip. He had hardly wiped away an idle
tear with the corner of his blanket and replaced the stopper in his
tear jug when the local representative of the U. G. J. E. T. A. of Reno
came upon him. He was reported to the lodge, and his character bade
fair to be smirched so badly that nothing but saltpeter and a
consistent life could save it. At this critical stage Mr. Davis, of the
Appeal, came to his aid, and not only gave him the support and
encouragement of his columns, but told Mr. Sides that he would see that
the legislature took speedy action in removing his alcoholic
disabilities. Through the untiring efforts of Mr. Davis, therefore, a
bill was framed whereby the drink taken by Johnson Sides, of Nevada,
be and is hereby declared null and void.
On a certain day Mr. Davis told him that the bill would come up for
final passage and no doubt pass without opposition, but a purse would
have to be raised to defray the expenses. The tribe began to collect
what money they had and to sell their grasshoppers in order to raise
Johnson Sides and his people gathered on the day named, and seated
themselves in the galleries. Slim old warriors with firm faces and
beetling brows, to say nothing of having their hair roached, but yet
with no flies on them to speak of, sat in the front seats. Large,
corpulent squaws, wearing health costumes, secured by telegraph wire,
listened to the proceedings, knowing no more of what was going on than
other people do who go to watch the legislature. Finally, however, Sam
Davis came and told Mr. Sides that he was now pure as the driven snow.
I saw him last week, but it seemed to me it was about time to get some
more special legislation for him.
Once Mr. Davis met Mr. Sides on the street and was so glad to see
him that he said: Johnson, I like you first-rate, and should always be
glad to see you. Whenever you can, let me know where you are.
The next week Sam got quite a lot of telegrams from along the
railroadfor the Indians ride free on account of their sympathies with
the road. These telegrams were dated at different stations. They were
hopeful and even cheery, and were all marked collect. They read about
Sam Davis, Carson, Nev.:
WINNEMUCCA, NEV., March 31.
I am here.
Every little while for quite a long time Mr. Davis would get a
bright, reassuring telegram, sometimes in the middle of the night, when
he was asleep, informing him that Johnson Sides was there, and he
then would go back to bed cheered and soothed and sustained.
THE SABBATH OF A GREAT AUTHOR
I awake at an unearthly hour on Sunday morning, after which I turn
over and go to sleep again. This second, or beauty sleep, I find to be
almost invaluable. I do it also with much more earnestness and
expression than that in the earlier part of the night. All the other
people in the house gradually wake up as I begin to get in my more
By eight o'clock everybody is stirring, and so I get up and glide
about in my pajamas, which makes me look almost like the Clémenceau
Case in search of an engagement.
Mr. Rogers is going to have me sit to him in my pajamas for a group
of statuary. He also wishes to model an iron hitching post from me.
On waking I at once take to me tub and give myself a good cold bath.
I then put in my teeth.
After doing some little studies in chiropody I throw a silk-velvet
dressing gown over my shoulders and look at my bright and girlish
beauty in a full-length mirror, comparing the dimpling curves, as I see
them reflected, with those shown in the morning paper.
After reading a little from the chess column of some good author, I
descend to the salon and greet my family smilingly in order to
open the day auspiciously. We all then sing around the parlor organ a
little pean entitled, It's Funny When You Feel That Way.
We now go to the breakfast room, where the children are taught to
set aside the daintiest bits for papa, because he might die some time
and then it would be a life-long regret to those who are spared that
they did not give him the tender part of the steer or the second joint
of the hen.
After breakfast, which consists of chops, hashed brown potatoes,
muffins and coffee, preceded by canteloupe or baked beans, we proceed
to quarrel over who shall go to church and who shall remain at home to
keep the cattle out of the corn.
We then go to church, those who can, at least, whilst the others
remain and read something that is improving. Sometimes I shave myself
on Sunday mornings. Then it takes me quite a while to get back into a
religious frame of mind. I do not manage very well in shaving myself,
and people who go by the house are often attracted by my yells.
I go to church quite regularly and enjoy the sermon unless it is too
firm or personal. If it goes into doctrine too much I am apt to be
quite fatigued at its end on account of the mental reservations I have
made along through it.
I like to go and hear about God's love, but I am rarely benefited by
a discourse which enlarges upon his jealousy. When I am told also that
God spares no pains in getting even with people, I not only do not
enjoy the information, but I would sit up till a late hour at night to
[Illustration: He sometimes succeeds in getting himself disliked
by some other dog and then I can observe the fight (Page 67)]
I shake hands with the pastor, and after suggesting something for
him to preach about on the following Sabbath, I go home.
In the afternoon I go walking if no one calls. We have dinner at 2
o'clock on Sunday, consisting of jerked beef smothered in milk gravy.
This is the remove. For side dishes we have squash or meat pie. We
sometimes open with soup and then have clean plates all around, with
fowl and greens, tapering off with some kind of rich pie.
After dinner I sometimes nap a little and then fool with the colt.
This is done quietly, however, so as not to break in upon the
devotional spirit of the day. After this I go for a walk or converse
intelligently with any foreign powers who may be visiting our shores.
When I walk I am generally accompanied by a restless Queen Anne dog,
which precedes me about a mile. He sometimes succeeds in getting
himself disliked by some other dog and then I can observe the fight
when I catch up with him.
As the twilight gathers all seem ready again for more food and we
begin to clamor for pabulum, keeping it up until either square or round
crackers and smearcase are produced. These are washed down with foaming
beakers of sarsaparilla.
As the evening lamp is now lighted, I produce some good book or
pamphlet like The Greatest Thing in the World, and read from it,
occasionally cuffing a child in order to keep everything calm and
reposeful. At 9 o'clock the cat is expelled and the eight-day clock is
wound up for the week. Gazing up at the bright cold stars after kicking
forth the cat, I realize that another Sabbath has been filed away in
the great big brawny bosom of the past, and with a little remorseful
sigh and an incipient sob when I think that I am not making a better
record, I drive a fence nail in over the door latch and seek my library
which, on being properly approached, opens and becomes a beautiful
A FLYER IN DIRT
I have just returned from a visit to my property at Minneapolis, and
can not refrain from referring to its marvelous growth. The distance
between it and the business center of the city has also grown a good
deal since I last saw it. This is the property which I purchased some
three years ago of a real good man. His name is PansleyFlinton
Pansley. He has done business in most all the towns of the Northwest.
Perhaps a further word or two about this pious gentleman will not be
amiss. Entering a place quietly and even meekly, with a letter to the
local pastor, he would begin reaching out his little social tendrils by
sighing over the lost and undone condition of mankind. After regretting
the state in which he had found God's vineyard, he would rent a store
and sell goods at a sacrifice, but when the sacrifice was being offered
up, a close observer would discover that Mr. Pansley was not in it.
In this way he would build up quite a trade, only sparing a little
time each day in which to retire to his closet and sob over the
altogether godless condition in which he had found man. He would then
make an assignment.
Pardon me for again referring to the matter, but I do so utterly
without malice, and in connection with the unparalleled growth of my
property here. So if the gentle and rather attractive reader will
excuse a bad pen, and some plain stationery, as my own crested
writing-paper is in my trunk, which is now in the possession of a
well-known hotel man whose name is suppressed on account of his family,
I shall refer again briefly to the property and the circumstances
surrounding its purchase. I had intended to put a good fence around it
ere this, but with these peculiar circumstances surrounding it, I feel
that it is safe from intrusion.
The property was sold to my wife by Mr. Pansley at a sacrifice, but
when the burnt offering had ascended, and the atmosphere had cleared,
and the ashes on the altar had been blown aside, the suspender buttons
of Mr. Pansley were not there. He had taken his bright red mark-down
figures, and a letter to his future pastor, and gone to another town.
He is now selling groceries. From town lots to groceries is, to a
versatile man, a very small stride. He is in business in St. Paul, and
that has given Minneapolis quite a little spurt of prosperity.
We exchanged a cottage for city lots unimproved, as I said in a
former article, and got Mr. Pansley to do it for us. My wife gave him
her carriage for acting in that capacity. She was sorry she could not
do more for him, because he was a man who had found his fellow-men in
such an undone condition everywhere, and had been trying ever since to
do them up.
The property lies about half-way between the West Hotel and the open
Polar Sea, and is in a good neighborhood, looking south; at least it
was the other day when I left it. It lies all over the northwest,
resembling in that respect the man we bought it of.
Mr. Pansley took the carriage, also the wrench with which I was wont
to take off the nuts thereof when I greased it on Sabbath mornings. We
still go to church, but we walk. Occasionally Mr. Pansley whirls by us,
and his dust and debris fall upon my freshly ironed and neat linen coat
as he passes by us with a sigh.
He said once that he did not care for money if he only could let in
the glad sunlight of the gospel upon the heathen.
Why, I exclaimed, why do you wish to let in the glad sunlight of
the gospel upon the heathen?
Alas! he said, brushing away a tear with the corner of a gray
shawl which he wore, and wiping his bright, piercing nose on the top
rail of my fence, so that they would not go to hell, Mr. Nye!
And do you think that the heathen who knows nothing of God will go
to hell, or has been going to hell for, say, ten thousand years,
without having seen a daily paper or a Testament?
I do. Millions of ignorant people in yet undiscovered lands are
going to hell daily without the knowledge of God. With that he turned
away, and concealed his emotion in his shawl, while his whole frame
But, even if he should escape by reason of his ignorance, we can
not escape the responsibility of shedding the light of the gospel upon
his opaque soul, said he.
So I gave him $2 to assist the poor heathen to a place where he may
share the welcome of a cordial and eternal damnation along with the
more educated and refined classes. Whether the heathen will ever
appreciate it or not, I can not tell at this moment. Lately I have had
a little ray of fear that he might not, and with that fear, like a beam
of sunshine, comes the blessed hope that possibly something may have
happened to the $2, and that mayhap it did not get there.
I went up to see the property with which my wife had been endowed by
the generous foresight of Mr. Pansley, the heathen's friend. I had seen
the place before, but not in the autumn.
Oh, no, I had not saw it in the hectic of the dying year! I had not
saw it when the squirrel, the comic lecturer, and the Italian go forth
to gather their winter hoard of chestnuts. I had not saw it as the god
of day paints the royal mantle of the year's croaking monarch and the
crow sinks softly onto the swelling bosom of the dead horse. I had only
saw it in the wild, wet spring. I had only saw it when the frost and
the bullfrog were heaving out of the ground.
[Illustration: Then rolling my trousers up a yard or two, I
struck off into the scrub pine, carrying with me a large board
I strolled out there. I rode on the railroad for a couple of hours
first, I think. Then I got off at a tank, where I got a nice, cool,
refreshing drink of as good, pure water as I ever flung a lip over.
Then rolling my trousers up a yard or two, I struck off into the scrub
pine, carrying with me a large board on which I had painted in clear,
The owner finding it necessary to go to Europe for eight or
years, in order to brush up on the languages of the continent
return a few royal visits there, will sell all this suburban
property. Terms reasonable. No restrictions except that
shall not run past these lots at a higher rate of speed than
miles per hour without permission of the owner.
I think that the property looks better in the autumn even than it
does in spring. The autumn leaves are falling. Also the price on this
piece of property. It would be a good time to buy it now. Also a good
time to sell. I shall add nothing because it has been associated with
me. That will cut no figure, for it has not been associated with me so
very long, or so very intimately.
The place, with advertising and the free use of capital, could be
made a beautiful rural resort, or it could be fenced off tastefully
into a cheap commodious place in which to store bears for market.
But it has grown. It is wider, it seems to me, and there is less to
obstruct the view. As soon as commutation or dining trains are put on
between Minneapolis and Sitka, a good many pupils will live on my
property and go to school at Sitka.
Trade is quiet in that quarter at present, however, and traffic is
practically at a standstill. A good many people have written to me
asking about my subdivision and how various branches of industry would
thrive there. Having in an unguarded moment used the stamps, I hasten
to say that they would be premature in going there now, unless in
pursuit of rabbits, which are extremely prevalent.
Trade is very dull, and a first or even a second national bank in my
subdivision of the United States would find itself practically out of a
job. A good newspaper, if properly conducted, could have some fun and
get a good many advertisements by swopping kind words at regular
catalogue prices for goods. But a theater would not pay. I write this
for the use of a man who has just written to know if a good opera-house
with folding seats would pay a fair investment on capital. No, it would
not. I will be fair and honest. Smarting as I do yet under the cruel
injustice done me by the meek and gentle groceryman, who, while he wept
upon my corrugated bosom with one hand, softly removed my pelt with the
other and sprinkled Chili sauce all over me, I will not betray my own
friends. Even with my still bleeding carcass quivering under the
Halford sauce of Mr. Pansley, the skin and hypocrite, the friend of
the far-distant savage and the foe of those who are his unfortunate
neighbors, I will not betray even a stranger. Though I have used his
postage-stamp I shall not be false to him. An opera-house this fall
would be premature. Most everybody's dates are booked, anyhow. We could
not get Francis Wilson or Nat C. Goodwin or Lillian Russell or Henry
Irving or Mr. Jefferson, for they are all too busy turning people away,
and I would hate to open with James Owen O'Connor or any other
No. Wait another year at least. At present an opera-house in my
subdivision of the solar system would be as useless as a Dull Thud in
the state of New York.
One drawback to the immediate prosperity of the place is that
commutation rates are yet in their infancy. Eighty-seven and one-half
cents per ride on trains which run only on Tuesdays and Fridays is not
sufficient compensation for the long and lonely walk and the paucity of
some suitable cottages when one gets there.
So I will sell the dear old place, with all its associations and the
good-will of a thriving young frog conservatory, at the buyer's price.
As I say, there has been since I was last there a steady growth, which
is mostly noticeable on the mortgage that I secured along with the
property. It was on there when I bought it, and as it could not be
removed without injury to the realty, according to an old and
established law of Justinian or Coke or Littleton, Mr. Pansley ruled
that it was part of the property and passed with its conveyance. It is
looking well, with a nice growth of interest around the edges and its
foreclosure clause fully an inch and a half long.
I shall be willing, in case I do not find a cash buyer, to exchange
the property for almost anything I can eat, except Paris green. Nor
should I hesitate to swap the whole thing, to a man whom I felt that I
could respect, for a good bird dog. I am also willing to trade the lots
for a milk route or a cold storage. It would be a good site for some
gentleman in New York to build a country cottage.
I should also swap the estate to a man who really means business for
a second-hand cellar. Call on or address the undersigned early, and
please do not push or rudely jostle those in the line ahead of you.
Cast-off clothing, express prepaid, and free from all contagious
diseases, accepted at its full value. Anything left by mistake in the
pockets will be taken good care of, and, possibly, returned in the
Gunnysack Oleson, who lives eight miles north of the county line,
will show you over the grounds. Please do not hitch horses to the
trees. I will not be responsible for horses injured while tied to my
A new railroad track is thinking of getting a right of way next
year, which may be nearer by two miles than the one that I have to
take, provided they will let me off at the right place.
I promise to do all that I can conscientiously for the road, to aid
any one who may buy the property, and I will call the attention of all
railroads to the advisability of a road in that direction. All that I
can honorably do, I will do. My honor is as dear to me as my gas bill
every year I live.
N. B.The dead horse on lot 9, block 21, Nye's Addition to the
Solar System, is not mine. Mine died before I got there.
A SINGULAR HAMLET
The closing debut of that great Shakespearian humorist and emotional
ass, Mr. James Owen O'Connor, at the Star Theater, will never be
forgotten. During his extraordinary histrionic career he gave his
individual and amazing renditions of Hamlet, Phidias, Shylock, Othello,
and Richelieu. I think I liked his Hamlet best, and yet it was a
pleasure to see him in anything wherein he killed himself.
Encouraged by the success of beautiful but self-made actresses, and
hoping to win a place for himself and his portrait in the great soap
and cigarette galaxy, Mr. O'Connor placed himself in the hands of some
misguided elocutionist, and then sought to educate the people of New
York and elocute them out of their thralldom up into the glorious light
of the O'Connor school of acting.
The first week he was in the hands of the critics, and they spoke
quite serenely of his methods. Later, it was deemed best to place his
merits in the hands of a man who would be on an equal footing with him.
What O'Connor wanted was one of his peers, who would therefore judge
him fairly. I was selected because I know nothing whatever about acting
and would thus be on an equality with Mr. O'Connor.
After seeing his Hamlet I was of the opinion that he did wisely in
choosing New York for debutting purposes, for had he chosen Denver,
Colorado, at the end of the third act kind hands would have removed him
from the stage by means of benzine and a rag.
I understand that Mr. O'Connor charged Messrs. Henry E. Abbey and
Henry Irving with using their influence among the masses in order to
prejudice said masses against Mr. O'Connor, thus making it unpleasant
for him to act, and inciting in the audience a feeling of gentle but
evident hostility, which Mr. O'Connor deprecated very much whenever he
could get a chance to do so. I looked into this matter a little and I
do not think it was true. Until almost the end of Mr. O'Connor's
career, Messrs. Abbey and Irving were not aware of his great
metropolitan success, and it is generally believed among the friends of
the two former gentlemen that they did not feel it so keenly as Mr.
O'Connor was led to suppose.
But James Owen O'Connor did one thing which I take the liberty of
publicly alluding to. He took that saddest and most melancholy bit of
bloody history, trimmed with assassinations down the back and looped up
with remorse, insanity, duplicity and unrequited love, and he filled it
with silvery laughter and cauliflower and mirth, and various other
groceries which the audience throw in from time to time, thus making it
more of a spectacular piece than under the conservative management of
such old-school men as Booth, who seem to think that Hamlet should be
soaked full of sadness.
I went to see Hamlet, thinking that I would be welcome, for my
sympathies were with James when I heard that Mr. Irving was picking on
him and seeking to injure him. I went to the box office and explained
who I was, and stated that I had been detailed to come and see Mr.
O'Connor act; also that in what I might say afterwards my instructions
were to give it to Abbey and Irving if I found that they had tampered
with the audience in any way.
The man in the box office did not recognize me, but said that Mr.
Fox would extend to me the usual courtesies. I asked where Mr. Fox
could be found, and he said inside. I then started to go inside, but
ran against a total stranger, who was on the door, as we say. He was
feeding red and yellow tickets into a large tin oven, and looking far,
far away. I conversed with him in low, passionate tones, and asked him
where Mr. Fox could be found. He did not know, but thought he was still
in Europe. I went back and told the box office that Mr. Fox was in
Europe. He said No, I would find him inside. Well, but how shall I get
inside? I asked eagerly, for I could already, I fancied, hear the
orchestra beginning to twang its lyre.
Walk in, said he, taking in $2 and giving back 50 cents in change
to a man with a dead cat in his overcoat pocket.
I went back, and springing lightly over the iron railing while the
gatekeeper was thinking over his glorious past, I went all around over
the theater looking for Mr. Fox. I found him haggling over the price of
some vegetables which he was selling at the stage door and which had
been contributed by admirers and old subscribers to Mr. O'Connor at a
When Mr. Fox got through with that I presented to him my card, which
is as good a piece of job work in colors as was ever done west of the
Missouri river, and to which I frequently point with pride.
Mr. Fox said he was sorry, but that Mr. O'Connor had instructed him
to extend no courtesies whatever to the press. The press, he claimed,
had said something derogatory to Mr. O'Connor as a tragedian, and while
he personally would be tickled to death to give me two divans and a
folding-bed near the large fiddle, he must do as Mr. O'Connor had
bidor bade him, I forget which; and so, restraining his tears with
great difficulty, he sent me back to the entrance and although I was
already admitted in a general way, I went to the box office and
purchased a seat. I believe now that Mr. Fox thought he had virtually
excluded me from the house when he told me I should have to pay in
order to get in.
I bought a seat in the parquet and went in. The audience was not
large and there were not more than a dozen ladies present.
Pretty soon the orchestra began to ooze in through a little opening
under the stage. Then the overture was given. It was called Egmont.
The curtain now arose on a scene in Denmark. I had asked an usher to
take a note to Mr. O'Connor requesting an audience, but the boy had
returned with the statement that Mr. O'Connor was busy rehearsing his
soliloquy and removing a shirred egg from his outer clothing.
He also said he could not promise an audience to any one. It was all
he could do to get one for himself.
So the play went on. Elsinore, where the first act takes place, is
in front of a large stone water tank, where two gentlemen armed with
long-handled hay knives are on guard.
All at once a ghost who walks with an overstrung Chickering action
and stiff, jerky, Waterbury movement, comes in, wearing a dark mosquito
net over his headso that harsh critics can not truly say there are
any flies on him, I presume. When the ghost enters most every one
enjoys it. Nobody seems to be frightened at all. I knew it was not a
ghost as quick as I looked at it. One man in the gallery hit the ghost
on the head with a soda cracker, which made him jump and feel of his
ear; so I knew then that it was only a man made up to look like a
One of the guards, whose name, I think, was Smith, had a droop to
his legs and an instability about the knees which were highly
enjoyable. He walked like a frozen-toed hen, and stood first on one
foot and then on the other, with almost human intelligence. His support
was about as poor as O'Connor's.
After awhile the ghost vanished with what is called a stately tread,
but I would regard it more as a territorial tread. Horatio did quite
well, and the audience frequently listened to him. Still, he was about
the only one who did not receive crackers or cheese as a slight
testimonial of regard from admirers in the audience.
Finally, Mr. James Owen O'Connor entered. It was fully five minutes
before he could be heard, and even then he could not. His mouth moved
now and then, and a gesture would suddenly burst forth, but I did not
hear what he said. At least I could not hear distinctly what he said.
After awhile, as people got tired and went away, I could hear better.
Mr. O'Connor introduced into his Hamlet a set of gestures evidently
intended for another play. People who are going to act out on the stage
can not be too careful in getting a good assortment of gestures that
will fit the play itself. James had provided himself with a set of
gestures which might do for Little Eva, or Ten Nights in a Bar-room,
but they did not fit Hamlet. There is where he makes a mistake. Hamlet
is a man whose victuals don't agree with him. He feels depressed and
talks about sticking a bodkin into himself, but Mr. O'Connor gives him
a light, elastic step, and an air of persiflage, bonhomie, and
frisk, which do not match the character.
Mr. O'Connor sought in his conception and interpretation of Hamlet
to give it a free and jaunty Kokomo flavora nameless twang of tansy
and dried apples, which Shakespeare himself failed to sock into his
James did this, and more. He took the wild-eyed and morbid
Blackwell's Island Hamlet, and made him a $2 parlor humorist who could
be the life of the party, or give lessons in elocution, and take
applause or crackers and cheese in return for the same.
There is really a good lesson to be learned from the pitiful and
pathetic tale of James Owen O'Connor. Injudicious friends, doubtless,
overestimated his value, and unduly praised his Smart Aleckutionary
powers. Loving himself unwisely but too extensively, he was led away
into the great, untried purgatory of public scrutiny, and the general
The truth stands out brighter and stronger than ever that there is
no cut across lots to fame or success. He who seeks to jump from
mediocrity to a glittering triumph over the heads of the patient
student, and the earnest, industrious candidate who is willing to bide
his time, gets what James Owen O'Connor receivedthe just condemnation
of those who are abundantly able to judge.
In seeking to combine the melancholy beauty of Hamlet's deep and
earnest pathos with the gentle humor of A Hole in the Ground, Mr.
O'Connor evidently corked himself, as we say at the Browning Club, and
it was but justice after all. Before we curse the condemnation of the
people and the press, let us carefully and prayerfully look ourselves
over, and see if we have not overestimated ourselves.
There are many men alive to-day who do not dare say anything without
first thinking how it will read in their memoirsmen whom we can not,
therefore, thoroughly enjoy until they are dead, and yet whose graves
will be kept green only so long as the appropriation lasts.
MY MATRIMONIAL BUREAU
The following matrimonial inquiries are now in my hands awaiting
replies, and I take this method of giving them more air. A few months
ago I injudiciously stated that I should take great pleasure in
booming, or otherwise whooping up, everything in the matrimonial line,
if those who needed aid would send me twenty-five cents, with personal
description, lock of hair, and general outline of the style of husband
or wife they were yearning for. As a result of thus yielding to a blind
impulse and giving it currency through the daily press, I now have a
huge mass of more or less soiled postage stamps that look as though
they had made a bicycle tour around the world, a haymow full of letters
breathing love till you can't rest, and a barrel of calico-colored
hair. It is a rare treat to look at this assortment of hair of every
hue and degree of curl and coarseness. When I pour it out on the floor
it looks like the interior of a western barber shop during a state
fair. When I want fun again I shall not undertake to obtain it by
starting a matrimonial agency.
I have one letter from a man of twenty-seven summers, who pants to
bestow himself on some one at as early a date as possible. He tells me
on a separate slip of paper, which he wishes destroyed, that he is a
little given to bowling up, a term with which I am not familiar, but
he goes on to say that a good, noble woman, with love in her heart and
an earnest desire to save a soul, could rush in and gather him in in
good shape. He says that he is worthy, and that if he could be snatched
from a drunkard's grave in time he believes he would become eminent. He
says that several people have already been overheard to say: What a
pity he drinks. From this he is led to believe that a good wife, with
some means, could redeem him. He says it is quite a common thing for
young women where he lives to marry young men for the purpose of saving
I think myself that some young girl ought to come forward and snatch
this brand at an early date.
The great trouble with men who form the bowl habit is that, on the
morrow, after they have been so bowling, they awake with a distinct and
well-defined sensation of soreness and swollenness about the head,
accompanied by a strong desire to hit some living thing with a stove
leg. The married man can always turn to his wife in such an emergency,
smite her and then go to sleep again, but to one who is doomed to
wander alone through life there is nothing to do but to suffer on, or
go out and strike some one who does not belong to his family, and so
lay himself liable to arrest.
This letter is accompanied by a tin-type picture of a young man who
shaves in such a way as to work in a streak of whiskers by which he
fools himself into the notion that he has a long and luxuriant
mustache. He looks like a person who, under the influence of liquor,
would weep on the bosom of a total stranger and then knock his wife
down because she split her foot open instead of splitting the kindling.
He is not a bad-looking man, and the freckles on his hands do not
hurt him as a husband. Any young lady who would like to save him from a
drunkard's grave can address him in my care, inclosing twenty-five
cents, a small sum which goes toward a little memorial fund I am
getting up for myself. My memory has always been very poor, and if I
can do it any good with this fund I shall do so. The lock of hair sent
with this letter may be seen at any time nailed up on my woodshed door.
It is a dull red color, and can be readily cut by means of a pair of
The two following letters, taken at random from my files, explain
BURNT PRAIRIE, NEAR THE JUNCTION,}
ON THE ROAD TO THE COURT HOUSE,}
TENNESSEE, January 2.}
DEAR SIRI am in search of a wife and would be willing to
down if I could get a good wife. I was but twenty-six years of
when my mother died and I miss her sadly for she was oh so
kind to me her caring son.
I have been wanting for the past year to settle down, but I
not saw a girl that I thought would make me a good, true wife.
know I have saw a good deal of the world, and am inclined to
cynical for I see how hollow everything is, and how much need
is for a great reform. Sometimes I think that if I could
the wild thoughts that surges up and down in my system, I
a deathless name. When I get two or three drinks aboard I can
of things faster than I can speak them, or draw them off for
paper. What I want is a woman that can economize, and also
place of my lost mother, who loved me and put a better polish
boots than any other living man.
I know I am gay and giddy in my nature, but if I could meet a
joyous young girl just emerging upon life's glad morn, and she
means, I would be willing to settle down and make a good,
ASHMEAD, LEDUC CO., I.T.,}
DEAR SIRI have very little time in which to pencil off a few
lines regarding a wife. I am a man of business, and I can't
around much, but I would be willing to marry the right kind of
young woman. I am just bursting forth on the glorious dawn of
sixty-third year. I have been married before, and as I might
say, I have been in that line man and boy for over forty
pathway has been literally decorated with wives ever since I
twenty years old.
I ain't had any luck with my wives heretofore, for they have
off like sheep. I've treated all of them as well as I knew
never asking of them to do any more than I did, and giving of
just the same kind of vittles that I had myself, but they are
gone now. There was a year or two that seemed just as if there
a funeral procession stringing out of my front gate half the
What I want is a young woman that can darn a sock without
two or three tumors into it, cook in a plain economical way
pampering the appetites of hired help, do chores around the
and assist me in accumulating property.
I. D. P.
This last letter contains a small tress of dark hair that feels like
a bunch of barbed wire when drawn through the fingers, and has a
tendency to crock.
THE HATEFUL HEN
The following inquiries and replies have been awaiting publication
and I shall print them here if the reader has no objections. I do not
care to keep correspondents waiting too long for fear they will get
tired and fail to write me in the future when they want to know
anything. Mr. Earnest Pendergast writes from Puyallup as follows:
Why do you not try to improve your appearance more? I think you
could if you would, and we would all be so glad. You either have a very
malicious artist, or else your features must pain you a good deal at
times. Why don't you grow a mustache?
These remarks, of course, are a little bit personal, Earnest, but
still they show your goodness of heart. I fear that you are cursed with
the fatal gift of beauty yourself and wish to have others go with you
on the downward way. You ask why I do not grow a mustache, and I tell
you frankly that it is for the public good that I do not. I used to
wear a long, drooping and beautiful mustache, which was well received
in society, and, under the quiet stars and opportune circumstances,
gave good satisfaction; but at last the hour came when I felt that I
must decide between this long, silky mustache and soft-boiled eggs, of
which I am passionately fond. I hope that you understand my position,
Earnest, and that I am studying the public welfare more than my own at
Sassafras Oleson, of South Deadman, writes to know something of the
care of fowls in the spring and summer. Do you know, he asks,
anything of the best methods for feeding young orphan chickens? Is
there any way to prevent hens from stealing their nests and sitting on
inanimate objects? Tell us as tersely as possible what your own
experience has been with hens.
To speak tersely of the hen and her mission in life seems to me
almost sacrilege. It is at least in poor taste. The hen and her works
lie near to every true heart. She does much toward making us better,
and she doesn't care who knows it, either. Young chicks who have lost
their mothers by death, and whose fathers are of a shiftless and
improvident nature, may be fed on kumiss, two parts; moxie, eight
parts; distilled water, ten parts. Mix and administer till relief is
obtained. Sometimes, however, a guinea hen will provide for the young
chicken, and many lives have been saved in this way. Whether or not
this plan will influence the voice of the rising hen is a question
among henologists of the country which I shall not attempt to answer.
Hens who steal their nests are generally of a secretive nature and
are more or less social pariahs. A hen who will do this should be
watched at all times and won back by kind words from the step she is
about to take. Brute force will accomplish little. Logic also does not
avail. You should endeavor to influence her by showing her that it is
honorable at all times to lay a good egg, and that as soon as she
begins to be secretive and to seek to mislead those who know and love
her, she takes a course which can not end with honor to herself or her
I have made the hen a study for many years, and love to watch her
even yet as she resumes her toils on a falling market year after year,
or seeks to hatch out a summer hotel by setting on a door knob. She
interests and pleases me. Careful study of the hen convinces me that
her low, retreating forehead is a true index to her limited reasoning
faculties and lack of memory, ideality, imagination, calculation and
spirituality. She is also deficient in her enjoyment of humor.
I once owned a large white draught rooster, who stood about seven
hands high, and had feet on him that would readily break down a whole
corn-field if he walked through it. Yet he lacked the courage of his
convictions, and socially was not a success. Leading hens regarded him
as a good-hearted rooster, and seemed to wonder that he did not get on
better in a social way. He had a rich baritone voice, and was a good
provider, digging up large areas of garden, and giving the hens what
was left after he got through, and yet they gave their smiles to far
more dissolute though perhaps brighter minds. So I took him away
awhile, and let him see something of the world by allowing him to visit
among the neighbors, and go into society a little. Then I brought him
home again, and one night colored him with diamond dyes so that he was
a beautiful scarlet. His name was Sumner.
I took Sumner the following morning and turned him loose among his
old neighbors. Surprise was written on every face. He realized his
advantage, and the first thing he did was to greet the astonished crowd
with a gutteral remark, which made them jump. He then stepped over to a
hated rival, and ate off about fifteen cents' worth of his large, red,
pompadour comb. He now remarked in a courteous way to a small
Poland-China hen, who seemed to be at the head of all works of social
improvement, that we were having rather a backward spring. Then he
picked out the eye of another rival, much to his surprise, and went on
with the conversation. By noon the bright scarlet rooster owned the
town. Those who had picked on him before had now gone to the hospital,
and practically the social world was his. He got so stuck up that he
crowed whenever the conversation lagged, and was too proud to eat a
worm that was not right off the ice. I never saw prosperity knock the
sense out of a rooster so soon. He lost my sympathy at once, and I
resolved to let him carve out his own career as best he might.
Gradually his tail feathers grew gray and faded, but he wore his
head high. He was arrogant and made the hens go worming for his
breakfast by daylight. Then he would get mad at the food and be real
hateful and step on the little chickens with his great big feet.
But as his new feathers began to come in folks got on to him, as
Matthew Arnold has it, and the other roosters began to brighten up and
also blow up their biceps muscles.
[Illustration: He looked up sadly at me with his one eye as who
should say, Have you got any more of that there red paint left?
One day he was especially mean at breakfast. A large fat worm,
brought to him by the flower of his harem, had a slight gamey flavor,
he seemed to think, and so he got mad and bit several chickens with his
great coarse beak and stepped on some more and made a perfect show of
At this moment a small bantam wearing one eye still in mourning
danced up and kicked Sumner's eye out. Then another rival knocked the
stuffing for a whole sofa pillow out of Sumner, and retired. By this
time the surprised and gratified hens stepped back and gave the boys a
chance. The bantam now put on his trim little telegraph climbers and,
going up Mr. Sumner's powerful frame at about four jumps, he put in
some repairs on the giant's features, presented his bill, and returned.
By nine o'clock Sumner didn't have features enough left for a Sunday
paper. He looked as if he had been through the elevated station at City
Hall and Brooklyn bridge. He looked up sadly at me with his one eye as
who should say, Have you got any more of that there red paint left?
But I shook my head at him and he went away into a little patch of
catnip and stayed there four days. After that you could get that
rooster to do anything for youexcept lay. He was gentle to a fault.
He would run errands for those hens and turn an icecream freezer for
them all day on lawn festival days while others were gay. He never
murmured nor repined. He was kind to the little chickens and often
spoke to them about the general advantages of humility.
After many years of usefulness Sumner one day thoughtlessly ate the
remains of a salt mackerel, and pulling the drapery of his couch about
him he lay down to pleasant dreams, and life's fitful fever was over.
His remains were given to a poor family in whom I take a great
interest, frequently giving them many things for which I have no
This should teach us that some people can not stand prosperity, but
need a little sorrow, ever and anon, to teach them where they belong.
And, oh! how the great world smiles when a rooster, who has owned the
ranch for a year or so, and made himself odious, gets spread out over
the United States by a smaller one with less voice.
The study of the fowl is filled with interest. Of late years I keep
fowls instead of a garden. Formerly my neighbors kept fowls and I kept
It is better as it is.
Mertie Kersykes, Whatcom, Washington, writes as follows: Dear Mr.
Nye, does pugilists ever reform? They are so much brought into Contax
with course natures that I do not see how they can ever, ever become
good lives or become professors of religion. Do you know if such is the
case to the best of your knowledge, and answeer Soon as convenient, and
so no more at Present.
AS A CANDIDATE
The heat and venom of each political campaign bring back to my mind
with wonderful clearness the bitter and acrimonious war, and the savage
factional fight, which characterized my own legislative candidacy in
what was called the Prairie Dog District of Wyoming, about ten years
ago. This district was known far and wide as the battleground of the
territory, and generally when the sun went down on the eve of election
day the ground had that disheveled and torn-up appearance peculiar to
the grave of Brigham Young the next day after his aggregated widow has
held her regular annual sob recital and scalding-tear festival.
I hesitated about accepting the nomination because I knew that
Vituperation would get up on its hind feet and annoy me greatly, and I
had reason to believe that no pains would be spared on the part of the
management of the opposition to make my existence a perfect bore. This
turned out to be the case, and although I was nominated in a way that
seemed to indicate perfect harmony, it was not a week before the
opposition organ, to which I had frequently loaned print paper when it
could not get its own C. O. D. paper out of the express office, said as
follows in a startled and double-leaded tone of voice:
The candidate for assembly in this district, whose
name seems to be Nye, turns out to be the same man who left
Penobscot county, Maine, in the dark of the moon four years
Mr. Nye's disappearance was so mysterious that prominent
Penobscoters, especially the sheriff, offered a large reward
his person. It was afterwards learned that he was kidnapped
and taken across the Canadian line by a high-spirited
and high-stepping horse valued at $1,300. Mr. Nye's candidacy
the high office to which he aspires has brought him into such
prominence that at the mass meeting held last evening in Jimmy
Avery's barber-shop, he was recognized at once by a Maine man
making a telling speech in favor of putting in a stone culvert
the draw above Mandel's ranch. The man from Maine, who is
our thriving little town with a view to locating here and
establishing an agency for his world-renowned rock-alum
says that Mr. Nye, in the hurry and rush incident to his
for Canada, overlooked his wife and seven little ones. He also
that the candidate's boasted liberality here is different from
kind he was using while in Maine, and quotes the following
incident: Two years before he went away from Penobscot county,
of our present candidate's children was playing on the
track of the Bangor &Moosehead Lake Railroad, when suddenly
was a wild shriek of the iron-horse, a timid, scared cry of
child, and the rushing train was upon it. Spectators turned
in horror. The air was heavy, and the sun seemed to stop its
shining. Slowly the long freight train, loaded with its rich
freight of huckleberries, came to a halt. A glad cry went up
the assembly as the broad-shouldered engineer came out of the
grass with the crowing child in his arms. Then cheer on cheer
the air, and in the midst of it all, Mr. Nye appeared. He was
of the circumstance, and, as he wrung the hand of the
tears stood in his eyes. Then, reaching in his pocket, he drew
forth a card, and writing his autograph on it, he gave it to
astounded engineer, telling him to use it wisely and not
away. 'But are you not robbing yourself?' exclaimed the
and delighted engineer. 'No, oh no,' said the munificent
have others left.' And this is the man who asks our suffrages!
you vote for him or for Alick Meyerdinger, the purest
man that ever rapped with his honest knuckles on top of a bar
asked the boys to put a name to it.
I was pained to read this, for I had not at that time toyed much
with politics, but I went up stairs and practiced an hour or two on a
hollow laugh that I thought would hide the pain which seemed to tug at
my heart-strings. For the rest of the day I strolled about town bearing
a lurid campaign smile that looked about as joyous as the light-hearted
gambols of a tin horse.
I visited my groceryman, a man whom I felt that I could trust, and
who had honored me in the same way. He said that I ought to be indorsed
by my fellow-citizens. What! All of them? I exclaimed, with a choking
sensation, for I had once tried to be indorsed by one of my
fellow-citizens and was not entirely successful. No, said he, but
you ought to be ratified and indorsed by those who know you best and
love you most.
Well, said I, will you attend to that?
Yes, of course I will. You must not give up hope. Where do you buy
I told him the name of my butcher.
And do you owe him about the same that you do me?
I said I didn't think there could be $5 one way or the other.
Well, give me a memorandum of what you can call to mind that you
owe around town. I will see all these parties and we will get them
together and work up a strong and hearty home indorsement for you,
which will enable you to settle with all of us at par in the event of
I gave him a list.
That evening a load of lumber was deposited on my lawn, and a man
came in to borrow a few pounds of fence nails. I asked him what he
wanted to do, for I thought he was going to nail a campaign lie or
something. He said he was the man who was sent up to build a kind of
trussle in front of my house. What for? I asked, with eyes like a
startled fawn. Why, for the speakers to stand on, he said. It is a
kind of a combination racket. Something between a home indorsement and
a mass-meeting of creditors. You are to be surprised and gratified
to-morrow evening, as near as I can make out.
He then built a wobbly scaffold, one end of which was nailed to the
bay window of the house.
The next evening my heart swelled when I heard a campaign band
coming up the street, trying to see how little it could play and still
draw its salary. The band was followed by men with torches, and
speakers in carriages. A messenger was sent into the house to tell me
that I was about to be waited upon by my old friends and neighbors, who
desired to deliver to me their hearty indorsement, and a large
willow-covered two-gallon godspeed as a mark of esteem.
[Illustration: Mr. Nye, on behalf of this vast assemblage
(tremulo), I thank God that you are POOR!!! (Page 115)]
The spokesman, as soon as I had stepped out on my veranda, mounted
the improvised platform previously erected, and after a short and
debilitated solo and chorus by the band, said as follows, as near as I
can now recall his words:
SIR: We have read with pain the open and venomous attacks of the
foul and putrid press of our town, and come here to-night to vindicate
by our presence your utter innocence as a man, as a
fellow-citizen, as a neighbor, as a father, mother,
brother or sister.
No one could look down into your open face, and deep, earnest
lungs, and then doubt you as a man, as a fellow-citizen,
as a neighbor, as a father, mother, brother or sister. You
came to us a poor man, and staked your all on the growth of this town.
We like you because you are still poor. You can not be too poor to suit
us. It shows that you are not corrupt.
Mr. Nye, on behalf of this vast assemblage (tremulo), I thank God
that you are POOR!!!
He then drew from his pocket a little memorandum, and, holding it up
to a torch, so that he could see it better, said that Mr. Limberquid
would emit a few desultory remarks.
Mr. Limberquid, to whom I was at that time indebted for past favors
in the meat line, or, as you may say, the tenderloin, through no fault
of mine, then arose and said, in words and figures as follows, to wit:
SIR: I desire to say that we who know Mr. Nye best are here to say
that he certainly has one of the most charming wives in this territory.
What do we care for the vilifications of the pressa press, hired,
venial, corrupt, reeking in filth and oozy with the slime of its own
impaired circulation, snapping at the heels of its superiors, and
steeped in the reeking poison and pollution of its own shopworn and
We do not care a cuss! (Applause.) What do we care that homely men
grudge our candidate his symmetry of form and graceful upholstered
carriage? What do we care that calumny crawls out of its hole,
calumniates him a couple of times and then goes back? We are here
to-night to show by our presence that we like Mrs. Nye very much. She
is a good cook, and she would certainly do honor to this district as a
social leader, in case she should go to Cheyenne as the wife of our
assemblyman. I propose three cheers for her, fellow-citizens.
(Applause, cheers and throbs of base-drum.)
Mr. Sherrod then said:
FELLER-CITIZENS: We glory in the fact that WhatshisnameNye here,
is pore. We like him for the poverty he has made. Our idee in runnin'
of him fer the legislater, as I take it, is to not only run him along
in this here kind of hand-to-mouth poverty, but to kind of give him a
chance to accumulate poverty, and have some saved up fer a rainy day.
I kin call to mind how he looked when he come to this territory a
pore boy, and took off his coat and went right to work dealin' faro
nights, and earning his bread by the sweat of a sweat-board daytimes,
for Tom Dillon, acrost from the express office. And I say he is not a
clost man. He gives his money where folks don't git on to it. He don't
git out the band when he goes to do a kind act, but kind of sneaks
around to people who are in need, and offers to match 'em fer the
He's a feller of generous impulses, gentlemen, or at least I so
regard him, and I say here to-night, that if his other vitals was as
big and warm as his heart, he would live to deckorate the graves of
nations yet unborn.
Several people wept here, and wiped their eyes on their alabaster
hands. I then sent my maid around through the audience with a bucketful
of Salt Lake cider, and a dishpan full of doughnuts, to restore good
feeling. But I can not soon forget how proud I was when I felt the hot
tears and doughnut crumbs of my fellow-citizens raining down my back.
The band then played, See the Conquering Hero Comes, and yielding
to the pressing demands of the populi, I made a few irrelevant, but
low, passionate remarks, as follows:
FELLOW-CITIZENS AND MEMBERS OF THE BANDWe are not here, as I
understand it, solely to tickle our palates with the twisted doughnuts
of our pampered and sin-cursed civilization, but to unite and give our
pledges once more to the support of the best men. In this teacup of
foaming and impervious cider from the Valley of the Jordan I drink to
the success of the best men. Fellow-citizens and members of the band,
we owe our fealty to the old party. Let us cling to the old party as
long as there is any juice in it and vote for its candidates. Let us
give our suffrages to men of advanced thought who are loyal to their
party but poor. Gentlemen, I am what would be called a poor but brainy
man. When I am not otherwise engaged you will always find me engaged in
thought. I love the excitement of following an idea and chasing it up a
tree. It is a great pleasure for me to pursue the red-hot trail of a
thought or the intellectual spoor of an idea. But I do not allow this
habit to interfere with politics. Politics and thought are radically
different. Why should man think himself weak on these political matters
when there are men who have made it their business and life study to do
the thinking for the masses?
This is my platform. I believe that a candidate should be poor;
that he should be a thinker on other matters, but leave political
matters and nominations to professional political ganglia and molders
of primaries who have given their lives and the inner coating of their
stomachs to the advancement of political methods by which the old,
cumbersome and dangerous custom of defending our institutions with
drawn swords may be superseded by the modern and more attractive method
of doing so with overdrawn salaries.
Fellow-citizens and members of the band, in closing let me say that
you have seen me placed in the trying position of postmaster for the
past year. For that length of time I have stood between you and the
government at Washington. I have assisted in upholding the strong arm
of the government, and yet I have not allowed it to crush you. No man
here to-night can say that I have ever, by word or deed, revealed
outside the office the contents of a postal card addressed to a member
of my own party or held back or obstructed the progress of new and
startling seeds sent by our representative from the Agricultural
Department. I am in favor of a full and free interchange of interstate
red-eyed and pale beans, and I favor the early advancement and earnest
recognition of the merits of the highly offensive partisan. I thank
you, neighbors and band (husky and pianissimo), for this gratifying
little demonstration. Words seem empty and unavailing at this time.
Will you not accept the hospitality of my home? Neighbors, you are
welcome to these halls. Come in and look at the family album.
The meeting then became informal, and the chairman asked me as he
came down from his perch how I would be fixed by the first of the
month. I told him that I could not say, but hoped that money matters
would show less apathy by that time.
I have already taken up too much space, however, in this simple
recital, and I have only room to say that I was not elected, and that
of the seventy-five who came up to indorse me and then go home
exhilarated by my cheering doughnuts, forty voted for the other man,
thereby electing him by a plurality of everybody. Home indorsement,
hard-boiled eggs and hot tears of reconciliation can never fool me
again. They are as empty as the bass drum by which they are invariably
accompanied. A few years ago a majority of the voters of a
newly-fledged city in Wisconsin signed a petition asking a gentleman
named Bradshaw to run for the office of mayor. He said he did not want
it, but if a majority had signified in writing that they needed him
every hour, he would allow his name to be used. They then turned in and
defeated him by a handsome majority, thus showing that the average
patriotism of the present day has a string to it.
Who was the first to make the claim
That I would surely win the game,
But now that Dennis is my name?
Who stated that my chance was best,
And came and wept upon my breast,
Only to knock me galley West?
Who told me of the joy he felt,
While he upon my merits dwelt?
Who then turned in and took my pelt?
SUMMER BOARDERS AND OTHERS
We kep' summer boarders the past season, said Orlando McCusick, of
East Kortright, to me as we sat in the springhouse and drank cold milk
from a large yellow bowl with white stripes around it; we kep'
boarders from town all summer in the Catskills, and that is why I don't
figger on doing of it this year. You fellers that writes the pieces and
makes the pictures of us folks what keeps the boarders has got the
laugh on us as a general thing, but I would like to be interviewed a
little for the press, so's that I can be set right before the American
Well, if you will state the case fairly and honestly, I will try to
give you a chance.
In the first place, said Orlando, taking off his boot and removing
his jack-knife which had worked its way through his pocket and down his
leg, then squinting along the new tap with one eye to see how it was
wearing before he put it on, I did not know how healthy it was here
until I read in a railroad pamphlet, I guess you call it, where it says
that the relation of temperature to oxygen in a certain quantity of air
is of the highest importance. 'In a cubic foot,' it says, 'of air at
3,000 feet elevation, with a temperature of 32 degrees, there is as
much oxygen as in a like amount of air at sea level with a temperature
of 65 degrees. Another important fact that should not be lost sight
of,' this able feller says, 'by those affected by pulmonary diseases,
is that three or four times as much oxygen is consumed in activity as
in repose.' (Hence the hornet's nests introduced by me last season.)
'Then in climates made stimulating by increased electric tension and
cold, activity must be followed by an increased endosmose of oxygen.
So you decided to select and furnish endosmose of oxygen to
[Illustration: ... 'Three or four times as much oxygen is consumed
in activity as in repose.' (Hence the hornet's nests introduced by me
last season.) (Page 124)]
Yes. I went into it with no notions of making a pile of money, but
I argued that these folks would give anything for health. We folks are
apt to argy that people from town are all well off and liberal, and
that if they can come out and get all the buttermilk and straw rides
they want, and a little flush of color and a wood-tick on the back of
their necks, they don't reck a pesky reck what it costs. This is only
occasionly so. Ask any doctor you know of if the average man won't give
anything to save his life, and then when it's saved put his propity
into his womern's name. That's human. You know the good book says a
pure man from New York is the noblest work of God.
Well, when did this desire to endosmose your fellow-man first break
out on you?
About a year and a half ago it began to rankle in my mind. I read
up everything I could get hold of regarding the longevity and such
things to be had here. In the winter I sent in a fair, honest,
advertisement regarding my place, and, Judas H. Priest! before I could
say 'scat' in the spring, here came letters by the dozen, mostly from
school-teachers at first, that had a good command of language, but did
not come. I afterwards learned that these letters was frequently wrote
by folks that was not able to go into the country, so wrote these
letters for mental improvement, hoping also that some one in the
country might want them for the refinement they would engender in the
I took one young woman from town once, and allowed her 25 per cent.
off for her refining influence. Her name was Etiquette McCracken. She
knew very little in the first place, and had added to it a good deal by
storing up in her mind a lot of membranous theories and damaged facts
that ought to ben looked over and disinfected. She was the most
hopeless case I ever saw, Mr. Nye. She was a metropolitan ass. You know
that a town greenhorn is the greenest greenhorn in the world, because
he can't be showed anything. He knows it all. Well, Etiquette McCracken
very nigh paralyzed what few manners my children had. She pointed at
things at table, and said she wanted some o' that, and she had a sort
of a starved way of eating, and short breath, and seemed all the time
apprehensive. She probably et off the top of a flour barrel at home.
She came and stayed all summer at our house, with a wardrobe which was
in a shawl-strap wrapped up in a programme of one of them big theaters
on Bowery street. I guess she led a gay life in the city. She said she
did. She said if her set was at our house they would make it ring with
laughter. I said if they did I'd wring their cussed necks with
laughter. 'Why,' she says, 'don't you like merriment?' 'Yes,' I says,
'I like merriment well enough, but the cackle of a vacant mind rattling
around in a big farmhouse makes me a fiend, and unmans me, and I gnaw
up two or three people a day till I get over it,' I says.
Well, what became of Miss McCracken?
Oh, she went up to her room in September, dressed herself in a long
linen duster, did some laundry work, and the next day, with her little
shawl-strap, she lit out for the city, where she was engaged to marry a
very wealthy old man whose mind had been crowded out by an intellectual
tumor, but who had a kind heart and had pestered her to death for years
to marry him and inherit his wealth. I afterwards learned that in this
matter she had lied.
Did you meet any other pleasant people last season?
Yes. I met some blooded children from Several Hundred and Fifth
street. They come here so's they could get a breath of country air and
wear out their old cloze. Their mother said the poor things wanted to
get out of the mawlstrum of meetropolitan life. She said it was awful
where they lived. Just one round of gayety all the while. They come
down and salted my hens, and then took and turned in and chased a new
milch cow eight miles, with two of 'em holdin' of her by the tail, and
another on top of her with a pair of Buffalo Bill spurs and a false
face, yelling like a volunteer fire company. Then the old lady kicked
because we run short of milk. Said it was great if she couldn't have
milk when she come to the wilderness to live and paid her little old $3
a week just as regular as Saturday night come round.
These boys picked on mine all summer because my boys was plain
little fellers with no underwear, but good impulses and a general
desire to lay low and eventually git there, understand. My boys is
considerable bleached as regards hair, and freckled as to features, and
they are not ready in conversation like a town boy, but they would no
more drive a dumb animal through the woods till it was all het up, or
take a new milch cow and scare the daylights out of her, and yell at
her and pull out her tail, and send her home with her pores all open,
than they'd be sent to the legislature without a crime.
A neighbor of mine that see these boys when they was scarin' my cow
to death said if they'd of been his'n he'd rather foller 'em to their
grave than seen 'em do that. That's putting of it rather strong, but I
believe I would myself.
We had a nice old man that come out here to attend church, he said.
He belonged to a big church in town, where it cost him so much that he
could hardly look his Maker in the face, he said. Last winter, he told
us, they sold the pews at auction, and he had an affection for one,
'specially 'cause he and his wife had set in it all their lives, and
now that she was dead he wanted it, as he wanted the roof that had been
over them all their married lives. So he went down when they auctioned
'em off, as it seems they do in those big churches, and the bidding
started moderate, but run up till they put a premium on his'n that
froze him out, and he had to take a cheap one where he couldn't hear
very well, and it made him sort of bitter. Then in May, he says, the
Palestine rash broke out among the preachers in New York, and most of
'em had to go to the Holy Land to get over it, because that is the only
thing you can do with the Palestine rash when it gets a hold on a
pastor. So he says to me, 'I come out here mostly to see if I could get
any information from the Throne of Grace.'
He was a rattlin' fine old feller, and told me a good deal about
one thing and another. He said he'd seen it stated in the paper that
salvation was free, but in New York he said it was pretty well
protected for an old-established industry.
He knew Deacon Decker pretty well. Deacon Decker was an old
playmate of Russell Sage, but didn't do so well as Russ did. He went
once to New York after he got along in years, and Sage knew him, but he
couldn't seem to place Sage. 'Why, Decker,' says Sage, 'don't you know
me?' Decker says, 'That's all right. You bet I know ye. You're one of
these fellows that knows everybody. There's another feller around the
corner that helps you to remember folks. I know ye. I read the papers.
Git out. Scat. Torment ye, I ain't in here to-day buyin' green goods,
nor yet to lift a freight bill for ye. So avaunt before I sick the
police on ye.'
Finally Russ identified himself, and shook dice with the deacon to
see which should buy the lunch at the dairy kitchen. This is a true
story, told me by an old neighbor of Deacon Decker's.
Deacon Decker once discovered a loose knot in his pew seat in
church, and while considering the plan of redemption, thoughtlessly
pushed with considerable force on this knot with his thumb. At first it
resisted the pressure, but finally it slipped out and was succeeded by
the deacon's thumb. No one saw it, so the deacon, slightly flushed,
gave it a stealthy wrench, but the knot-hole had a sharp conical
bottom, and the edge soon caught and secured the rapidly swelling thumb
of Deacon Decker.
During the closing prayer he worked at it with great diligence and
all the saliva he could spare, but it resisted. It was a sad sight.
Finally he gave it up, and said to himself the struggle was useless. He
tried to be resigned and wait till all had gone. He shook his head when
the plate was passed to him, and only bowed when the brethren passed
him on the way out. Some thought that maybe he was cursed with doubts,
but reckoned that they would pass away.
Finally he was missed outside. He was generally so chipper and so
cheery. So his wife was asked about him. 'Why, father's inside. I'll go
and get him. I never knew him to miss shaking hands with all the
So she went in and found Deacon Decker trying to interest himself
with a lesson leaf in one hand, while his other was concealed under his
hat. He could fool the neighbors, but he could not fool his wife, and
so she hustled around and told one or two, who told their wives, and
they all came back to see the deacon and make suggestions to him.
This little incident is true, and while it does not contain any
special moral, it goes to show that an honest man gathers no moss, and
also explains a large circular hole, and the tin patch over it, which
may still be seen in the pew where Deacon Decker used to sit.
THREE OPEN LETTERS
Colonel John L. Sullivan, at large:
DEAR SIRWill you permit me, without wishing to give you the
slightest offense, to challenge you to fight in France with bare
knuckles and police interference, between this and the close of
I have had no real good fight with anybody for some time, and should
be glad to co-operate with you in that direction, preferring, however,
to have it attended to in time so that I can go on with my fall
plowing. I should also like to be my own stake holder.
We shall have to fight at 135 pounds, because I can not train above
that figure without extra care and good feeding, while you could train
down to that, I judge, if you begin to go without food on receipt of
this challenge. I should ask that we fight under the rules of the
London prize ring, in the Opera House in Paris. If you decide to
accept, I will engage the house at once and put a few good reading
notices in the papers.
I should expect a forfeit of $5,000 to be put up, so that in case
you are in jail at the time, I may have something to reimburse me for
my trip to Paris and the general upheaval of my whole being which
arises from ocean travel.
I challenge you as a plain American citizen and an amateur,
partially to assert the rights of a simple tax-payer and partly to
secure for myself a name. I was, as a boy, the pride of my parents, and
they wanted me to amount to something. So far, the results have been
different. Will you not aid me, a poor struggler in the great race for
supremacy, to obtain that notice which the newspapers now so
reluctantly yield? You are said to be generous to a fault, especially
your own faults, and I plead with you now to share your great fame by
accepting my challenge and appearing with me in a mixed programme for
the evening, in which we will jointly amuse and instruct the people,
while at the same time it will give me a chance to become great in one
day, even if I am defeated.
I have often admired your scholarly and spiritual expressions, and
your modest life, and you will remember that at one time I asked you
for your autograph, and you told me to go where the worm dieth not and
the fire department is ineffectual. Will you not, I ask, aid a
struggler and panter for fame, who desires the eye of the public, even
if his own be italicised at the same time?
I must close this challenge, which is in the nature of an appeal to
one of America's best-known men. Will you accept my humble challenge,
so that I can go into training at once? We can leave the details of the
fight to the Mail and Express, if you will, and the championship
belt we can buy afterward. All I care for is the honor of being mixed
up with you in some way, and enough of the gate money to pay for arnica
and medical attendance.
Will you do it?
I know the audience would enjoy seeing us dressed for the fray, you
so strong and so wide, I so pensive and so flat busted about the chest.
Let us proceed at once, Colonel, to draw up the writings and begin to
train. You will never regret it, I am sure, and it will be the making
I do not know your address, but trust that this will reach you
through this book, for, as I write, you are on you way toward Canada,
with a requisition and the police reaching after you at every town.
I am glad to hear that you are not drinking any more, especially
while engaged in sleep. If you only confine your drinking to your
waking hours, you may live to be a very old man, and your great,
massive brain will continue to expand until your hat will not begin to
What do you think of Browning? I should like to converse with you on
the subject before the fight, and get your soul's best sentiments on
his style of intangible thought wave.
I will meet you at Havre or Calais, and agree with you how hard we
shall hit each other. I saw, at a low variety show the other day, two
pleasing comedians who welted each other over the stomach with canes,
and also pounded each other on the head with sufficient force to
explode percussion caps on the top of the skull, and yet without
injury. Do you not think that a prize-fight could be thus provided for?
I will see these men, if you say so, and learn their methods.
Remember, it is not the punishment of a prize-fight for which I
yearn, but the effulgent glory of meeting you in the ring, and having
the cables and the press associate my budding name with that of a man
who has done so much to make men bettera man whose name will go down
to posterity as that of one who sought to ameliorate and mellow and
desiccate his fellow-men.
I will now challenge you once more, with great respect, and beg
leave to remain, yours very truly,
Hon. Ferdinand de Lesseps, Paris, France:
DEAR SIRI have some shares in the canal which you have been
working on, and I am compelled to hypothecate them this summer, in
order to paint my house. You have great faith in the future of the
enterprise, and so I will give you the first chance on this stock of
mine. You have suffered so much in order to do this work that I want to
see the stock get into your hands. You deserve it. You shall have it.
Ferdie, if you will send me a post-office money order by return mail,
covering the par value of five hundred shares, I will lose the premium,
because I am a little pressed for money. The painters will be through
next week, and will want their pay.
As I say, I want to see you own the canal, for in fancy I can see
you as you toiled down there in the hot sun, floating your wheelbarrow
and your bonds down the valley with your perspiration. I can see you in
the morning, with hot, red hands and a tin dinner pail, going to your
toil, a large red cotton handkerchief sticking out of your hip pocket.
So I have decided that you ought to have control, if possible, of
this great water front; besides, you have a larger family than I have
to support. When I heard that you were the father of fifteen little
children, and that you were in the sere and yellow leaf, I said to
myself, a man with that many little mouths to feed, at the age of
eighty, shall have the first crack at my stock. And so, if you will
send the face value as soon as possible, I will say bong jaw, messue.
To the Seven Haired Sisters, 'Steenth Street, New York:
MESDAMES, MAMSELLES AND FELLOW-CITIZENSI write these few lines to
say that I am well and hope this will find you all enjoying the same
great blessing. How pleasant it is for sisters to dwell together in
unity and beloved by mankind. You must indeed have a good time standing
in the window day after day, pulling your long hair through your
fingers with pride. When I first saw you all thus engaged, for the
benefit of the public, I thought it was a candy pull.
I now write to say that the hair promoter which you sold me at the
time is not up to its work. It was a year ago that I bought it, and I
think that in a year something ought to show. It is a great nuisance
for a public man who is liable to come home late at night to have to
top-dress his head before he can retire. Your directions involve great
care and trouble to a man in my position, and still I have tried
faithfully to follow them. What is the result? Nothing but
disappointment, and not so very much of that.
You said, if you remember, that your father was a bald-headed
clergyman, but one day, with a wild shriek of Eureka! he discovered
this hair encourager, and for the rest of his life filled his high hat
with hair every time he put it on. You said that at first a fine growth
of down, like the inside of a mouse's ear, would be seen, after that
the blade, then the stalk, and the full corn in the ear. In a pig's
ear, I am now led to believe.
Fair, but false seven-haired sisters, I now bid you adieu. You have
lost in me a good, warm, true-hearted, and powerful friend. Ask me not
for my indorsement, or for my before and after taking pictures to use
in your circulars; I give my kind words and photographs hereafter to
the soap men. They are what they seem. You are not.
When a woman betrays me she must beware. And when seven of them do
so, it is that much worse. You fooled me with smiles and false
promises, and now it will be just as well for you to look out. I would
rather die than be betrayed. It is disagreeable. It sours one, and also
Here at this point our ways will diverge. The roads fork at this
place. I shall go on upward and onward hairless and cappy, also
careless and happy, to my goal in life. I do not know whether each or
either of you have provided yourselves with goals or not, but if not
you will do well now to select some. The world may smile upon you, and
gold pour into your coffers, but the day will come when you will have
to wrap the drapery of your hair about you and lie down to pleasant
dreams. Then will arise the thought, alas!Then You'll Remember Me.
I now close this letter, leaving you to the keen pangs of remorse
and the cruel jabs of unavailing regret. Some people are born bald,
others acquire baldness, whilst still others have baldness thrust upon
them with a paint brush. Some are bald on the outside of their heads,
others on the inside. But oh, girls, beware of baldness on the soul. I
ask you, even if you are the daughters of a clergyman, to think
seriously of what I have said.
THE DUBIOUS FUTURE
Without wishing to alarm the American people, or create a panic, I
desire briefly and seriously to discuss the great question, Whither
are we drifting, and what is to be the condition of the coming man? We
can not shut our eyes to the fact that mankind is passing through a
great era of change; even womankind is not built as she was a few brief
years ago. And is it not time, fellow citizens, that we pause to
consider what is to be the future of the American?
Food itself has been the subject of change both in the matter of
material and preparation. This must affect the consumer in such a way
as to some day bring about great differences. Take, for instance, the
oyster, one of our comparatively modern food and game fishes, and watch
the effects of science upon him. At one time the oyster browsed around
and ate what he could find in Neptune's back-yard, and we had to eat
him as we found him. Now we take a herd of oysters off the trail, all
run down, and feed them artificially till they swell up to a fancy
size, and bring a fancy price. Where will this all lead at last, I ask
as a careful scientist? Instead of eating apples, as Adam did, we work
the fruit up into apple-jack and pie, while even the simple oyster is
perverted, and instead of being allowed to fatten up in the fall on
acorns and ancient mariners, spurious flesh is put on his bones by the
artificial osmose and dialysis of our advanced civilization. How can
you make an oyster stout or train him down by making him jerk a health
lift so many hours every day, or cultivate his body at the expense of
his mind, without ultimately not only impairing the future usefulness
of the oyster himself, but at the same time affecting the future of the
human race who feed upon him?
I only use the oyster as an illustration, and I do not wish to cause
alarm, but I say that if we stimulate the oyster artificially and swell
him up by scientific means, we not only do so at the expense of his
better nature and keep him away from his family, but we are making our
mark on the future race of men. Oyster-fattening is now, of course, in
its infancy. Only a few years ago an effort was made at St. Louis to
fatten cove oysters while in the can, but the system was not well
understood, and those who had it in charge only succeeded in making the
can itself more plump. But now oysters are kept on ground feed and
given nothing to do for a few weeks, and even the older and overworked
sway-backed and rickety oysters of the dim and murky past are made to
fill out, and many of them have to put a gore in the waistband of their
shells. I only speak of the oyster incidentally, as one of the objects
toward which science has turned its attention, and I assert with the
utmost confidence that the time will come, unless science should get a
set-back, when the present hunting-case oyster will give place to the
open-face oyster, grafted on the octopus and big enough to feed a
hotel. Further than that, the oyster of the future will carry in a
hip-pocket a flask of vinegar, half a dozen lemons and two little
Japanese bottles, one of which will contain salt and the other pepper,
and there will be some way provided by which you can tell which is
which. But are we improving the oyster now? That is a question we may
well ask ourselves. Is this a healthy fat which we are putting on him,
or is it bloat? And what will be the result in the home-life of the
oyster? We take him from all domestic influences whatever in order to
make a swell of him by our modern methods, but do we improve his
condition morally, and what is to be the great final result on man?
The reader will see by the questions I ask that I am a true
scientist. Give me an overcoat pocket full of lower-case interrogation
marks and a medical report to run to, and I can speak on the matter of
science and advancement till Reason totters on her throne.
But food and oysters do not alone affect the great, pregnant future.
Our race is being tampered with not only by means of adulterations,
political combinations and climatic changes, but even our methods of
relaxation are productive of peculiar physical conditions,
malformations and some more things of the same kind.
Cigarette smoking produces a flabby and endogenous condition of the
optic nerve, and constant listening at a telephone, always with the
same ear, decreases the power of the other ear till it finally just
stands around drawing its salary, but actually refusing to hear
anything. Carrying an eight-pound cane makes a man lopsided, and the
muscular and nervous strain that is necessary to retain a single
eyeglass in place and keep it out of the soup, year after year, draws
the mental stimulus that should go to the thinker itself, until at last
the mind wanders away and forgets to come back, or becomes atrophied,
and the great mental strain incident to the work of pounding sand or
coming in when it rains is more than it is equal to.
Playing billiards, accompanied by the vicious habit of pounding on
the floor with the butt of the cue ever and anon, produces at last
optical illusions, phantasmagoria and visions of pink spiders with
navy-blue abdomens. Base-ball is not alone highly injurious to the
umpire, but it also induces crooked fingers, bone spavin and hives
among habitual players. Jumping the rope induces heart disease. Poker
is unduly sedentary in its nature. Bicycling is highly injurious,
especially to skittish horses. Boating induces malaria. Lawn tennis can
not be played in the house. Archery is apt to be injurious to those who
stand around and watch the game, and pugilism is a relaxation that jars
heavily on some natures.
[Illustration: Playing billiards, accompanied by the vicious
habit of pounding on the floor with the butt of the cue ever and anon,
produces at last optical illusions (Page 149)]
Foot-ball produces what may be called the endogenous or ingrowing
toenail, stringhalt and mania. Copenhagen induces a melancholy, and the
game of bean bag is unduly exciting. Horse racing is too brief and
transitory as an outdoor game, requiring weeks and months for
preparation and lasting only long enough for a quick person to
ejaculate Scat! The pitcher's arm is a new disease, the outgrowth of
base-ball; the lawn-tennis elbow is another result of a popular
open-air amusement, and it begins to look as though the coming American
would hear with one overgrown telephonic ear, while the other will be
rudimentary only. He will have an abnormal base-ball arm with a
lawn-tennis elbow, a powerful foot-ball-kicking leg with the superior
toe driven back into the palm of his foot. He will have a highly
trained biceps muscle over his eye to retain his glass, and that eye
will be trained to shoot a curved glance over a high hat and witness
anything on the stage.
Other features grow abnormal, or shrink up from the lack of use, as
a result of our customs. For instance, the man whose business it is to
get along a crowded street with the utmost speed will have, finally, a
hard, sharp horn growing on each elbow, and a pair of spurs growing out
of each ankle. These will enable him to climb over a crowd and get
there early. Constant exposure to these weapons on the part of the
pedestrian will harden the walls of the thorax and abdomen until the
coming man will be an impervious man. The citizen who avails himself of
all modern methods of conveyance will ride from his door on the horse
car to the elevated station, where an elevator will elevate him to the
train and a revolving platform will swing him on board, or possibly the
street car will be lifted from the surface track to the elevated track,
and the passenger will retain his seat all the time. Then a man will
simply hang out a red card, like an express card, at his door, and a
combination car will call for him, take him to the nearest elevated
station, elevate him, car and all, to the track, take him where he
wants to go, and call for him at any hour of the night to bring him
home. He will do his exercising at home, chiefly taking artificial sea
baths, jerking a rowing machine or playing on a health lift till his
eyes hang out on his cheeks, and he need not do any walking whatever.
In that way the coming man will be over-developed above the legs, and
his lower limbs will look like the desolate stems of a frozen geranium.
Eccentricities of limb will be handed over like baldness from father to
son among the dwellers in the cities, where every advantage in the way
of rapid transit is to be had, until a metropolitan will be instantly
picked out by his able digestion and rudimentary legs, just as we now
detect the gentleman from the interior by his wild endeavors to
overtake an elevated train.
In fact, Mr. Edison has now perfected, or announced that he is on
the road to the perfection of, a machine which I may be pardoned for
calling a storage think-tank. This will enable a brainy man to sit at
home, and, with an electric motor and a perfected phonograph, he can
think into a tin dipper or funnel, which will, by the aid of
electricity and a new style of foil, record and preserve his ideas on a
sheet of soft metal, so that when any one says to him, A penny for
your thoughts, he can go to his valise and give him a piece of his
mind. Thus the man who has such wild and beautiful thoughts in the
night and never can hold on to them long enough to turn on the gas and
get his writing materials, can set this thing by the head of his bed,
and, when the poetic thought comes to him in the stilly night, he can
think into a hopper, and the genius of Franklin and Edison together
will enable him to fire it back at his friends in the morning while
they eat their pancakes and glucose syrup from Vermont, or he can mail
the sheet of tinfoil to absent friends, who may put it into their
phonographs and utilize it. In this way the world may harness the gray
matter of its best men, and it will be no uncommon thing to see a dozen
brainy men tied up in a row in the back office of an intellectual
syndicate, dropping pregnant thoughts into little electric coffee mills
for a couple of hours a day, after which they can put on their coats,
draw their pay, and go home.
All this will reduce the quantity of exercise, both mental and
physical. Two men with good brains could do the thinking for 60,000,000
of people and feel perfectly fresh and rested the next day. Take four
men, we will say, two to do the day thinking and two more to go on deck
at night, and see how much time the rest of the world would have to go
fishing. See how politics would become simplified. Conventions,
primaries, bargains and sales, campaign bitterness and
vituperationall might be wiped out. A pair of political thinkers
could furnish 100,000,000 of people with logical conclusions enough to
last them through the campaign and put an unbiased opinion into a man's
house each day for less than he now pays for gas. Just before election
you could go into your private office, throw in a large dose of
campaign whisky, light a campaign cigar, fasten your buttonhole to the
wall by an elastic band, so that there would be a gentle pull on it,
and turn the electricity on your mechanical thought supply. It would
save time and money, and the result would be the same as it is now.
This would only be the beginning, of course, and after a while every
qualified voter who did not feel like exerting himself so much, need
only give his name and proxy to the salaried thinker employed by the
National Think Retort and Supply Works. We talk a great deal about the
union of church and state, but that is not so dangerous, after all, as
the mixture of politics and independent thought. Will the coming voter
be an automatic, legless, hairless mollusk with an abnormal ear
constantly glued to the tube of a big tank full of symmetrical ideas
furnished by a national bureau of brains in the employ of the party in
EARNING A REWARD
Those were troublous times indeed. All-wool justice in the courts
was impossible. The vigilance committee, or Salvation army, as it
called itself, didn't make much fuss about its work, but we all knew
that the best citizens belonged to it, and were in good standing.
It was in those days that young Stewart was short-handed for a
sheep-herder, and had to take up with a sullen, hairy vagrant called by
the other boys, Esau. Esau hadn't been on the ranch a week before he
made trouble with the proprietor and got from Stewart the red-hot
blessing he deserved.
Then Esau got madder and skulked away down the valley among the
little sage brush hummocks and white alkali wasteland, to nurse his
wrath. When Stewart drove into the corral that night, Esau rose up from
behind an old sheep dip-tank, and without a word except what may have
growled around in his black heart, he leveled a Spencer rifle and shot
his young employer dead.
That was the tragedy of that week only. Others had occurred before
and others would probably occur again. Tragedy was getting too
prevalent for comfort. So as soon as a quick cayuse and a boy could get
down into town, the news spread and the authorities began in the
routine manner to set the old legal mill to running. Some one had to go
down to The Tivoli and find the prosecuting attorney, then a
messenger had to go to The Alhambra for the justice of the peace. The
prosecuting attorney was full, and the judge had just drawn one card
to complete a straight flush, and had succeeded.
So it took time to get square-toed justice ready and arm the sheriff
with the proper documents.
In the meantime the Salvation army was fully half way to Clugston's
ranch. They had started out, as they said, to see that Esau didn't get
away. They were also going to see that Esau was brought into town.
What happened after they got out there I only know from hearsay, for
I was not a member of the Salvation army at that time. But I learned
from one of those present, that they found Esau down in the sage brush
on the bottoms that lie between the abrupt corner of Sheep mountain and
the Little Laramie river. They captured him but he died soon after, as
it was told me, from the effects of opium taken with suicidal intent. I
remember seeing Esau the next morning, and I thought I noticed signs of
ropium, as there was a purple streak around the neck of the deceased,
together with other external phenomena not peculiar to opium.
But the grand difficulty with the Salvation army was that it didn't
want to bring Esau into town. A long, cold night ride with a person in
Esau's condition was disagreeable. Twenty miles of lonely road with a
deceased murderer in the bottom of the wagon is depressing. Those of my
readers who have tried it will agree with me that it is not calculated
to promote hilarity.
[Illustration: Mr. Whatley hadn't gone more than half a mile when
he heard the wild and disappointed yells of the Salvation army
So the Salvation army stopped at Whatley's ranch to get warm, hoping
that some one would steal the remains and elope with them. They stayed
some time and managed to give away the fact that there was a reward
of $5,000 out for Esau, dead or alive. The Salvation army even went so
far as to betray a good deal of hilarity over the easy way it had
nailed the reward or would as soon as said remains were delivered up
Mr. Whatley thought that the Salvation army was having a kind of
walk away, so he slipped out at the back door of the ranch, put Esau
into his own wagon and drove off to town. Remember, this is the way it
was told to me.
Mr. Whatley hadn't gone more than half a mile when he heard the wild
and disappointed yells of the Salvation army. He put the buckskin on
the back of his horse without mercy, urged on by the enraged shouts and
yells of his infuriated pursuers. He reached town about midnight, and
his pursuers disappeared. But what was he to do with Esau?
He drove around all over town trying to find the official who signed
for the deceased. He went from house to house like a vegetable vender,
seeking sadly for the party who would give him a $5,000 check for Esau.
Nothing could be more depressing than to wake up one man after another
out of a sound sleep, and invite him to come out to the buggy and
identify the remains. One man went out and looked at him. He said he
didn't know how others felt about it, but he allowed that anybody who
would pay $5,000 for such a remains as Esau's could not have very good
Gradually it crept through Mr. Whatley's wool that the Salvation
army had been working him, so he left Esau at the engine house and went
home. On his ranch he nailed up a large board, on which had been
painted in antique characters, with a paddle and tar, the following:
[finger right] Vigilance Committees, Salvation Armies,
Morgues, or young physicians who may have deceased people on
hands, are requested to refrain from conferring them on to the
[finger right] People who contemplate shuffling off their
own or other people's mortal coils will please not do so on
[finger right] The Salvation Army of the Rocky Mountains
is especially hereby warned to keep off the Grass! JAMES
A PLEA FOR JUSTICE
To the Honorable Mayor of New York:
SIRI suppose you are mayor of this whole town, and if so you are
the mayor of the hosspitals as well as of the municipality of New York.
I am a citizen of this place that has always been square towards every
man and paid my bills as they accrewed. I now ask you, in return for
same, to intervene and protect me in my rights. The millishy has never
been called out to suppress me. I have never been guilty of rebellyun
or open difyance off the law, and yet I am unable to get a square deal
and I write this brief note and enclose a two-cent stamp, to ascertain
whether, as mayor, you are for me or agin me.
[Illustration: ... I was in a large, cool hosspital which smelt
strong of some forrin substans. The hed doctor had been breathing on me
and so I come too (Page 163)]
Three years ago I entered your town from a westerly direction. I
done so quietly and I presume that few will remember the sircumstans,
yet such was so. I had not been here two weeks when I was run into,
knocked over and tromped onto by the bay team of a purse-proud producer
of beer. I was dashed to earth and knocked galley west on Broadway st.
looking north by sed horses and I was wrecked while peasably on my way
to my place of business. When I come to myself I was in a large, cool
hosspital which smelt strong of some forrin substans. The hed doctor
had been breathing on me and so I come too. When I looked around me I
decided to murmur Where am I at? which I did.
I soon learned that I was in a hosspital, and that kind friends had
removed one of my legs. I will not take up your time, sir, by touching
on my sufferings. Suphice it to say that I went foarth at last a
blasted man, with a cork leg that don't look no more like my own once
leg which I was torn away from, in spite of the Old Harry. It is too
late to repine over a wooden leg, unless it is a pine leg, but I come
to you, sir, to interfear on behalf of another matter which I will now
aprooch. Sorrows at that time come on me thick and fast. During that
fall I lost my wife and two dogs by deth. This was the third wife I
have been called on to bury. It has been my blessed privilidge to mourn
the loss of three as good wives as I ever shook a stick at. I have got
them all in one cool, roomy toom, with a verse on the door of same and
their address, so that they will not delay the resurrection. Under the
verse that was engraved on the slab, some low cuss has wrote three
verses of poetry with a chorus to each verse which winds up with the
Tit, tat, toe, three in a row.
But all this is only introductory. Sir, it has long been my heart's
desire that all my beloved dead should repose together. I have a large
lot in the semmetery, and last week a movement was placed on foot to
inter my late leg by the sides of my deceased wives. I applied to the
hosspital for said leg, having got a permit to bury same. I was
pleasant and corechus to the authoritis there, saying that my name was
Gray and I was there to procure my leg, whereupon a young meddicle cuss
said to the head ampitater:
Here's de man that wants to plant Gray's l-e-g in a churchyard.
He then laughed a hoarse laugh and went on preserving a polapus in a
big glass fruit can with alkohall in it. Wherever I went I met with a
general disposition to fool with a stricken and one-legged man. I went
from ward to ward, looking at suffering and smelling kloryform till I
was sick at heart. I was referred from Dan to Beersheby, from the
janiter up to the chief tongue inspector, and one place where I went
into they seemed to be picking bone splinters out from among a
gentleman's brains. I made bold to tell my business, but with small
This is the man I told you about, Doc, said a young man who was
filing and setting a small bone handsaw. This is that matter of Gray,
the man who wants his leg.
Damn your Gray matter, says this doctor, whereupon the rest bust
into ribald mirth.
I was insulted right and left for a whole forenoon, and came away
shocked and pained. Will you assist me? There is no reverence among
doctors any more and they have none of the finer feelings. Some asked
me if I had a check for my leg. Some said they thought it had escaped
from the hosspital and gone on the stage, and one feller said that this
hosspital would not be responsible for the legs of guests unless
deposited in the office safe. I like fun just as well as anybody, Mr.
Mayor, but I don't think any one should be youmerous over the cold dead
features of a leg from which I have been ruthlessly snatched.
I now beg, sir, to dror this hasty letter to an untimely end, hoping
that you will make it hot for this blooming hosspital and make them
fork over said leg. Yours, with kindest regards,
A. PITTSFIELD GRAY.
GRAINS OF TRUTH
A young friend has written to me as follows: Could you tell me
something of the location of the porcelain works in Sèvres, France, and
what the process is of making those beautiful things which come from
there? How is the name of the town pronounced? Can you tell me anything
of the history of Mme. Pompadour? Who was the Dauphin? Did you learn
anything of Louis XV whilst in France? What are your literary habits?
It is with a great, bounding joy that I impart the desired
information. Sèvres is a small village just outside of St. Cloud
(pronounced San Cloo). It is given up to the manufacture of porcelain.
You go to St. Cloud by rail or river, and then drive over to Sèvres by
diligence or voiture. Some go one way and some go the other. I rode up
on the Seine, aboard of a little, noiseless, low-pressure steamer about
the size of a sewing machine. It was called the Silvoo Play, I think.
The fare was thirty centimesor, say, three cents. After paying my
fare and finding that I still had money left, I lunched at St. Cloud in
the open air at a trifling expense. I then took a bottle of milk from
my pocket and quenched my thirst. Traveling through France, one finds
that the water is especially bad, tasting of the Dauphin at times, and
dangerous in the extreme. I advise those, therefore, who wish to be
well whilst doing the Continent, to carry, especially in France, as I
did, a large, thick-set bottle of milk, or kumiss, with which to take
the wire edge off one's whistle whilst being yanked through the Louvre.
St. Cloud is seven miles west of the center of Paris and almost ten
miles by rail on the road to Versaillespronounced Vairsi. St. Cloud
belongs to the Canton of Sèvres and the arrondissement of Versailles.
An arrondissement is not anything reprehensible. It is all right. You,
yourself, could belong to an arrondissement if you lived in France.
St. Cloud is on the beautiful hill slope, looking down the valley of
the Seine, with Paris in the distance. It is peaceful and quiet and
beautiful. Everything is peaceful in Paris when there is no revolution
on the carpet. The steam cars run safely and do not make so much noise
as ours do. The steam whistle does not have such a hold on people as it
does here. The adjutant-general at the depot blows a little tin bugle,
the admiral of the train returns the salute, the adjutant-general says
Allons! and the train starts off like a somewhat leisurely young man
who is going to the depot to meet his wife's mother.
One does not realize what a Fourth of July racket we live in and
employ in our business till he has been the guest of a monarchy of
Europe between whose toes the timothy and clover have sprung up to a
great height. And yet it is a pleasing change, and I shall be glad when
we as a republic have passed the blow-hard period, laid aside the
ear-splitting steam whistle, settled down to good, permanent
institutions, and taken on the restful, sootheful, Boston air which
comes with time and the quiet self-congratulation that one is born in a
Bible land and with Gospel privileges, and where the right to worship
in a strictly high-church manner is open to all.
The Palace of St. Cloud was once the residence of Napoleon I in
summer-time. He used to go out there for the heated term, and folding
his arms across his stomach, have thought after thought regarding the
future of France. Yet he very likely never had an idea that some day it
would be a thrifty republic, engaged in growing green peas, or pulling
a soiled dove out of the Seine, now and then, to add to the attractions
of her justly celebrated morgue.
Louis XVIII also put up at the Palace in St. Cloud several summers.
He spelled it palais, which shows that he had very poor early English
advantages, or that he was, as I have always suspected, a native of
Quebec. Charles X also changed the bedding somewhat, and moved in
during his reign. He also added a new iron sink and a place in the barn
for washing buggies. Louis Philippe spent his summers here for a number
of years, and wrote weekly letters to the Paris papers, signed Uno,
in which he urged the taxpayers to show more veneration for their royal
nibs. Napoleon III occupied the palais in summer during his lifetime,
availing himself finally of the use of Mr. Bright's justly celebrated
disease and dying at the dawn of better institutions for beautiful but
I visited the palais (pronounced pallay), which was burned by the
Prussians in 1870. The grounds occupy 960 acres, which I offered to buy
and fit up, but probably I did not deal with responsible parties. This
part of France reminds me very much of North Carolina. I mean, of
course, the natural features. Man has done more for France, it seems to
me, than for the Tar Heel State, and the cities of Asheville and Paris
are widely different. The police of Paris rarely get together in front
of the court-house to pitch horseshoes or dwell on the outlook for the
And yet the same blue, ozonic sky, if I may be allowed to coin a
word, the same soft, restful, dolce frumenti air of gentle, genial
health, and of cark destroying, magnetic balm to the congested soul,
the inflamed nerve and the festering brain, are present in Asheville
that one finds in the quiet drives of San Cloo with the successful
squirt of the mighty fountains of Vairsi and the dark and whispering
forests of Fon-taine-bloo.
The palais at San Cloo presents a rather dejected appearance since
it was burned, and the scorched walls are bare, save where here and
there a warped and wilted water pipe festoons the blackened and
blistered wreck of what was once so grand and so gay.
San Cloo has a normal school for the training of male teachers only.
I visited it, but for some cause I did not make a hit in my address to
the pupils until I began to speak in their own national tongue. Then
the closest attention was paid to what I said, and the keenest delight
was manifest on every radiant face. The president, who spoke some
English, shook hands with me as we parted, and I asked him how the
students took my remarks. He said: They shall all the time keep the
thinknesswhat you shall call the recollectof monsieur's speech in
preserves, so that they shall forget it not continualle. We shall all
the time say we have not witness something like it since the time we
come here, and have not so much enjoy ourselves since the grand
assassination by the guillotine. Come next winter and be with us for
one week. Some of us will remain in the hall each time.
At San Cloo I hired of a quiet young fellow about thirty-five years
of age, who kept a very neat livery stable there, a sort of victoria
and a big Percheron horse, with fetlock whiskers that reminded me of
the Sutherland sisters. As I was in no hurry I sat on an iron settee in
the cool court of the livery stable, and with my arm resting on the
shoulder of the proprietor I spoke of the crops and asked if generally
people about there regarded the farmer movement as in any way
threatening to the other two great parties. He did not seem to know,
and so I watched the coachman who was to drive me, as he changed his
clothes in order to give me my money's worth in grandeur.
One thing I liked about France was that the people were willing, at
a slight advance on the regular price, to treat a very ordinary man
with unusual respect and esteem. This surprised and delighted me beyond
measure, and I often told people there that I did not begrudge the
additional expense. The coachman was also hostler, and when the
carriage was ready he altered his attire by removing a coarse, gray
shirt or tunic and putting on a long, olive green coachman's coat, with
erect linen collar and cuffs sewed into the collar and sleeves. He wore
a high hat that was much better than mine, as is frequently the case
with coachmen and their employers. My coachman now gives me his silk
hat when he gets through with it in the spring and fall, so I am better
dressed than I used to be.
But we were going to say a word regarding the porcelain works at
Sèvres. It is a modern building and is under government control. The
museum is filled with the most beautiful china dishes and funny
business that one could well imagine. Besides, the pottery ever since
its construction has retained its models, and they, of course, are
worthy of a day's study. The Sèvres blue is said to be a little bit
bluer than anything else in the known world except the man who starts a
nonpareil paper in a pica town.
I was careful not to break any of these vases and things, and thus
endeared myself to the foreman of the place. All employes are uniformed
and extremely deferential to recognized ability. Practically, for half
a day, I owned the place.
A cattle friend of mine who was looking for a dynasty whose tail he
could twist while in Europe, and who used often to say over our glass
of vin ordinaire (which I have since learned is not the best brand at
all), that nothing would tickle him more than to have a little deal
with a crowned head and get him in the door, accidentally broke a blue
crock out there at Sèvres which wouldn't hold over a gallon, and it
took the best part of a car load of cows to pay for it, he told me.
The process of making the Sèvres ware is not yet published in book
form, especially the method of coloring and enameling. It is a secret
possessed by duly authorized artists. The name of the town is
Mme. Pompadour is said to have been the natural daughter of a
butcher, which I regard as being more to her own credit than though she
had been an artificial one. Her name was Jeanne Antoinette Poisson Le
Normand d'Etioles, Marchioness de Pompadour, and her name is yet used
by the authorities of Versailles as a fire escape, so I am told.
She was the mistress of Louis XV, who never allowed her to put her
hands in dishwater during the entire time she visited at his house.
D'Etioles was her first husband, but she left him for a gay but rather
reprehensible life at court, where she was terribly talked about,
though she is said not to have cared a cent.
She developed into a marvelous politician, and early seeing that the
French people were largely governed by the literary lights of that
time, she began to cultivate the acquaintance of the magazine writers,
and tried to join the Authors' Club.
She then became prominent by originating a method of doing up the
hair, which has since grown popular among people whose hair has not,
like my own, been already done up.
This style of Mme. Pompadour's was at once popular with the young
men who ran the throttles of the soda fountains of that time, and is
still well spoken of. A young friend of mine trained his hair up from
his forehead in that way once and could not get it down again. During
his funeral his hair, which had been glued down by the undertaker,
became surprised at something said by the clergyman and pushed out the
end of his casket.
The king tired in a few years of Mme. Pompadour and wished that he
had not encouraged her to run away from her husband. She, however,
retained her hold upon the blasé and alcoholic monarch by her wonderful
versatility and genius.
When all her talents as an artiste and politician palled upon his
old rum-soaked and emaciated brain, and ennui, like a mighty canker,
ate away large corners of his moth-eaten soul, she would sit in the
gloaming and sing to him, Hard Times, Hard Times, Come Again No More,
meantime accompanying herself on the harpsichord or the sackbut or
whatever they played in those days. Then she instituted theatricals,
giving, through the aid of the nobility, a very good version of Peck's
Bad Boy and Lend Me Five Centimes.
She finally lost her influence over Looey the XV, and as he got to
be an old man the thought suddenly occurred to him to reform, and so he
had Mme. Pompadour beheaded at the age of forty-two years. This little
story should teach us that no matter how gifted we are, or how high we
may wear our hair, our ambitions must be tempered by honor and
integrity; also that pride goeth before destruction and a haughty
spirit before a plunk.
A SCAMPER THROUGH THE PARK
Last week Colonel Bill Root, formerly Duke of Council Bluffs, paid
me a visit, and as I desired to show him Central Park, I took him to
Fifty-Eighth street and hired a carriage, my own team being at my
country place. I also engaged the services of a dark-eyed historical
student, who is said to know more about Central Park than any other man
in New York, having driven through it, as he has, for years. He was a
plain, sad man, with a mustache which was mostly whiskers. He dressed
carelessly in a négligé suit of neutral-tinted clothes, including a
pair of trousers which seemed to fit him in that shy and reluctant
manner which characterized the fit of the late lamented Jumbo's clothes
after he had been indifferently taxidermed.
Colonel Root and I called him Governor, and thereby secured
knowledge which could not be obtained from books. Colonel Root is
himself no kindergarten savant, being the author and discoverer of a
method of breaking up a sitting-hen by first calling her away from her
deep-seated passion, tying a red-flannel rag around her leg, and then
still further turning her attention from her wild yearning to hatch out
a flock of suburban villas by sitting on a white front-door knob. This
he does by deftly inserting the hen into a joint of stove-pipe and then
cementing both ends of the same. Colonel Root is also the discoverer of
a cipher which shows that Julius Cæsar's dying words were: Et tu
Brute. Verily the tail goeth with the hide.
After a while the driver paused. Colonel Root asked him why he
I wanted to call your attention, said the Governor, to the
Casino, a place where you can provide for the inner man or any other
man. You can here secure soft-shell crabs, boiled lobster, low-neck
clams, Hamburger steaks, chicken salad, miscellaneous soups, lobster
salad with machine-oil on it, Neapolitan ice-cream, Santa Cruz rum,
Cincinnati Sec, pie, tooth-picks, and finger-bowls.
[Illustration: Said the Governor as he swung around with his feet
over in our part of the carriage and asked me for a light (Page
How far does the waiter have to go to get these things cooked?
inquired Colonel Root, looking at his valuable watch.
That, said the Governor, as he swung around with his feet over in
our part of the carriage and asked me for a light, depends on how you
approach him. If you slip a half dollar up his coat-sleeve without his
knowledge he will get your twenty-five cent meal cooked somewhere near
by, but otherwise I have known him to go away and come back with gray
side-whiskers and cobwebs on the pie instead of the wine.
We went in and told the proprietor to see that our driver had what
he wanted. He did not want much, aside from a whisky sour, a plate of
terrapin, a pint of Mr. Pommery's secretary's beverage, and a baked
duck. We had a little calves' liver and custard pie. Then we visited
And who in creation was Cleopatra? asked Colonel Root.
Cleopatra, said the driver, was a goodlooking Queen of Egypt. She
was eighteen years old when her father left the throne, as it was
screwed down to the dais, and died. He left the kingdom to Cleopatra,
in partnership with Ptolemy, her brother. Ptolemy, in 51 B. C.,
deprived her of the throne, leaving Cleopatra nothing but the tidy. She
appealed to Julius Cæsar, who hired a man to embalm Ptolemy, and
restored Egypt to his sister, who was as likely a girl as Julius had
ever met with. She accompanied him to Rome in 46 B. C., and remained
there a couple of years. When Cæsar was assassinated by a delegation of
Roman tax-payers who desired a change, Cleopatra went back and began to
reign over Egypt again. She also attracted the attention of Antony. He
thought so much of her that he would frequently stay away from a battle
and deny himself the joys of being split open with a dull stab-knife in
order to hang around home and hold Cleopatra's hand, and, though she
was a widow practically, she was the Amélie Rives style of widow, and
he said that it had to be an all-fired good battle that could make him
put on his iron ulster and fight all day on the salary he was getting.
She pizened herself thirty years before Christ, at the age of
thirty-nine years, rather than ride around Rome in a gingham dress as a
captive of Augustus. She died right in haying time, and Augustus said
he'd ruther of lost the best horse in Rome. This is her needle. It was
brought to New York mostly by water, and looks well here in the park.
She was said to be as likely a queen as ever jerked a sceptre over
Egypt or any other place. Everybody that saw her reign said that the
country never had a magneticker queen.
As we rode swiftly along, the slight, girlish figure of a
middle-aged woman might have been seen striving hurriedly to cross the
driveway. She screamed and beckoned to a park policeman, who rushed
leisurely in and caught her by the arm, rescuing her from the cruel
feet of our mad chargers, and then led her to a seat. As we paused to
ask the policeman if the lady had been injured, he came up to the side
of the carriage and whispered to me behind his hand: That woman I have
rescued between thirty and forty times this year, and it is only the
first of July. Every pleasant day she comes here to be rescued. One
day, when business was a little dull and we didn't have any teams on
the drive, and time seemed to hang heavy on her hands, she told me her
sad history. Before she was eighteen years of age she had been
disappointed in love and prevented from marrying her heart's choice,
owing to the fact that the idea of the union did not occur to him. He
was not, in fact, a union man. Time passed on, from time to time, glad
spring, and bobolinks, and light underwear succeeded stern winter,
frost, and heavy flannels, and yet he cometh not, she sayed. No one had
ever caught her in his great strong arms in a quick embrace that seemed
to scrunch her whole being. Summer came and went. The dews on the
upland succeeded the frost on the pumpkin. The grand ratification of
the partridge ushered in the wail of the turtle dove and the brief
plunk of the muskrat in the gloaming. And yet no man had ever dast to
come right out and pay attention to her or keep company with her. She
had an emotional nature that just seemed to get up on its hind feet and
pant for recognition and love. She could have almost loved a well-to-do
man who had, perhaps, sinned a few times, but even the tough and erring
went elsewhere to repent. One day she came to town to do some trading.
She had priced seven dollars and fifty cents' worth of goods, and was
just crossing Broadway to price some more, when the gay equipage of a
wealthy humorist, with silver chains on the neck-yoke and foam-flecks
acrost the bosom of the nigh hoss, came plunging down the street.
The red nostrils of the spirited brutes were above her. Their hot
breath scorched the back of her neck and swayed the red-flannel pompon
on her bonnet. Every one on Broadway held his breath, with the
exception of a man on the front stoop of the Castor House, whose breath
had got beyond his control. Every one was horrified and turned away
with a shudder, which rattled the telegraph wires for two blocks.
Just then a strong, brave policeman rushed in and knocked down both
horses and the driver, together with his salary. He caught the woman up
as though she had been no more than a feather's weight. He bore her
away to the post-office pavement, where it is still the custom to carry
people who are run over and mangled. He then sought to put her down,
but, like a bad oyster, she would not be put down. She still clung
about his neck, like the old party who got acquainted with Sinbad the
Sailor, though, of course, in a different manner. It took quite a while
to shake her off. The next day she came back and was almost killed at
the same crossing. It went on that way until the policeman had his beat
changed to another part of town. Finally, she came up here to get her
summer rescuing done. I do it when it falls to my lot, but my heart is
not in the work. Sometimes the horrible thought comes over me that I
may be too late. Several times I have tried to be too late, but I
haven't the heart to do it.
He then walked to a sparrow that refused to keep off the grass and
brained it with his club.
HINTS TO THE TRAVELER
Every thinkful student has doubtless noticed that when he enters the
office, or autograph department, of an American inn, a lithe and alert
male person seizes his valise or traveling-bag with much earnestness.
He then conveys it to some sequestered spot and does not again return.
He is the porter of the hotel or inn. He may be a modest porter just
starting out, or he may be a swollen and purse-proud porter with silver
in his hair and also in his pocket.
I speak of the porter and his humble lot in order to show the
average American boy who may read these lines that humor is not the
only thing in America which yields large dividends on a very small
capital. To be a porter does not require great genius, or education, or
intellectual versatility; and yet, well attended to, the business is
remunerative in the extreme and often brings excellent returns. It
shows that any American boy who does faithfully and well the work
assigned to him may become well-to-do and prosperous.
Recently I shook hands with a conductor on the Milwaukee and St.
Paul Railroad, who is the president of a bank. There is a general
impression in the public mind that conductors all die poor, but here is
Jerry, as everybody calls him, a man of forty-five years of age,
perhaps, with a long head of whiskers and the pleasant position of
president of a bank. As he thoughtfully slams the doors from car to
car, collecting fares on children who are no longer young and whose
parents seek to conceal them under the seats, or as he goes from
passenger to passenger sticking large blue checks in their new silk
hats, and otherwise taking advantage of people, he is sustained and
soothed by the blessed thought that he has done the best he could, and
that some day when the summons comes to lay aside his loud-smelling
lantern and make his last run, he will leave his dear ones provided
for. Perhaps I ought to add that during all these years of Jerry's
prosperity the road has also managed to keep the wolf from the door. I
mention it because it is so rare for the conductor and the road to make
money at the same time.
I knew a conductor on the Union Pacific railroad, some years ago,
who used to make a great deal of money, but he did not invest wisely,
and so to-day is not the president of a bank. He made a great deal of
money in one way or another while on his run, but the man with whom he
was wont to play poker in the evening is now the president of the bank.
The conductor is in the purée.
It was in Minneapolis that Mr. Cleveland was once injudicious. He
and his wife were pained to read the following report of their
conversation in the paper on the day after their visit to the flour
Yes, I like the town pretty well, but the people, some of 'em, are
too blamed fresh.
Do you think so, Grover? I thought they were very nice, indeed, but
still I think I like St. Paul the best. It is so old and respectable.
Oh, yes, respectability is good enough in its place, but it can be
overdone. I like Washington, where respectability is not made a hobby.
But are you not enjoying yourself here, honey?
No, I am not. To tell you the truth, I am very unhappy. I'm so
scared for fear I'll say something about the place that will be used
against me by the St. Paul folks, that I most wish I was dead, and
everybody wants to show me the new bridge and the waterworks, and speak
of 'our great and phenomenal growth,' and show me the population
statistics, and the school-house, and the Washburn residence, and Doc
Ames and Ole Forgerson, and the saw-mill, and the boom, and then walk
me up into the thirteenth story of a flour mill and pour corn meal down
my back, and show me the wonderful increase of the city debt and the
sewerage, and the West Hotel, and the glorious ozone and things here,
that it makes me tired. And I have to look happy and shake hands and
say it knocks St. Paul silly, while I don't think so at all, and I wish
I could do something besides be president for a couple of weeks, and
quit lying almost entirely, except when I go a-fishing.
But don't you think the people here are very cordial, dawling?
Yes, they're too cordial for me altogether. Instead of talking
about the wonderful hit I have made as a president and calling
attention to my remarkable administration, they talk about the flour
output and the electric plant and other crops here, and allude
feelingly to 'number one hard' and chintz bugs and other flora and
fauna of this country, which, to be honest with you, I do not and never
did give a damn for.
Well, I beg your pardon, dear, and I oughtn't to speak that way
before you, but if you knew how much better I feel now you would not
speak so harshly to me. It is indeed hard to be ever gay and joyous
before the great masses who as a general thing, do not know enough to
pound sand, but who are still vested with the divine right of suffrage,
and so must be treated gently, and loved and smiled at till it makes me
Mr. Cleveland was greatly annoyed by the publication of this
conversation, and could not understand it until this fall, when a
Minneapolis man told him that the pale, haughty coachman who drove the
presidential carriage was a reporter. He could handle a team with one
hand and remember things with the other.
And so I say that as a president we can not be too careful what we
say. I hope that the little boys and girls who read this, and who may
hereafter become presidents or wives of presidents, will bear this in
mind, and always have a kind word for one and all, whether they feel
that way or not.
But I started out to speak of porters and not reporters. I carry
with me, this year, a small, sorrel bag, weighing a little over twenty
ounces. It contains a slight bottle of horse medicine and a powder rag.
Sometimes it also contains a costly robe de nuit, when I do not forget
and leave said robe in a sleeping car or hotel. I am not overdrawing
this matter, however, when I say honestly that the shrill cry of fire
at night in most any hotel in the United States would now bring to the
fire-escape from one to six employes of said hotel wearing these costly
vestments with my brief but imperishable name engraven on the bosom.
This little traveling bag, which is not larger than a man's hand, is
rudely pulled out of my grasp as I enter an inn, and it has cost me $29
to get it back again from the porter. Besides, I have paid $8.35 for
new handles to replace those that have been torn off in frantic
scuffles between the porter and myself to see which would get away with
Yesterday I was talking with a reformed lecturer about this
peculiarity of the porters. He said he used to lecture a great deal at
moderate prices throughout the country, and after ten years of earnest
toil he was enabled to retire with a rich experience and $9 in money.
He lectured on phrenology and took his meals with the chairman of the
lecture committee. In Ouray, Colorado, the baggageman allowed his trunk
to fall from a great height, and so the lid was knocked off and the
bust which the professor used in his lecture was busted. He therefore
had to borrow a bald-headed man to act as bust for him in the evening.
After the close of the lecture the professor found that the bust had
stolen the gross receipts from his coat tail pocket while he was
lecturing. The only improbable feature about this story is the
implication that a bald-headed man would commit a crime.
But still he did not become soured. He pressed on and lectured to
the gentle janitors of the land in piercing tones. He was always kind
to every one, even when people criticised his lecture and went away
before he got through. He forgave them and paid his bills just the same
as he did when people liked him.
Once a newspaper man did him a great wrong by saying that the
lecture was decayed, and that the professor would endear himself to
every one if some night at his hotel, instead of blowing out the gas
and turning off his brains as he usually did, he would just turn off
the gas and blow out his brains. But the professor did not go to the
newspaper man's office and shoot holes in his person. He spoke kindly
to him always, and once when the two met in a barber shop, and it was
doubtful which was next, as they came in from opposite ends of the
room, the professor gently yielded the chair to the man who had done
him the great wrong, and while the barber was shaving him eleven tons
of ceiling peeled off and fell on the editor who had been so cruel and
so rude, and when they gathered up the debris, a day or two afterward,
it was almost impossible to tell which was ceiling and which was
[Illustration: He therefore had to borrow a bald-headed man to
act as bust for him in the evening (Page 194)]
So it is always best to deal gently with the erring, especially if
you think it will be fatal to them.
The reformed lecturer also spoke of a discovery he made, which I had
never heard of before. He began, during the closing years of his tour,
to notice mysterious marks on his trunk, made with chalk generally, and
so, during his leisure hours, he investigated them and their cause and
effect. He found that they were the symbols of the Independent Order of
Porters and Baggage Bursters. He discovered that it was a species of
language by which one porter informed the next, without the expense of
telegraphing, what style of man owned the trunk and the prospects for
touching him, as one might say.
The professor gave me a few of these signs from an old note-book,
together with his own interpretation after years of close study. I
reproduce them here, because I know they will interest the reader as
they did me.
This trunk, if handled gently and then carefully unstrapped in the
owner's room, so as to open comfortably without bursting the wall or
giving the owner vertigo, is good for a quarter.
This man is a good, kind-hearted man generally, but will sometimes
escape. Better not let him have his hand baggage till he puts up.
This trunk belongs to a woman who may possibly thank you if you
handle the baggage gently and will weep if you knock the lid off. Kind
words can never die. (N. B. Nyether can they procure groceries.)
This trunk belongs to a traveling man who weighs 211 pounds. If you
have no respect for the blamed old fire-proof safe itself, please
respect it for its gentle owner's sake. He can not bear to have his
trunk harshly treated, and he might so far forget himself as to kill
you. It is better to be alive and poor than it is to be wealthy and
dead. It is better to do a kind act for a fellow-being than it is to
leave a desirable widow for some one else to marry.
If you will knock the top off this trunk you will discover the
clothing of a mean man. In case you can not knock the lid entirely off,
burst it open a little so that the great, restless, seething traveling
public can see how many hotel napkins and towels and cakes of soap he
This is the trunk of a young girl, and contains the poor but honest
garb she wore when she ran away from home. Also the gay clothes she
bought after a wicked ambition had poisoned her simple heart. They are
the gaudy garments and flashy trappings for which she exchanged her
honest laugh and her bright and beautiful youth. Handle gently the poor
little trunk, as you would touch her sad little history, for her father
is in the second-class coach, weeping softly into his coarse red
handkerchief, and she, herself, is going home on the same train in her
cheap little coffin in the baggage car to meet her sorrowing mother,
who will go up into the garret many rainy afternoons in the days to
come, to cry over this poor little trunk and no one will know about it.
It will be a secret known only to her sorrowing heart and to God.
A MEDIEVAL DISCOVERER
Galilei, commonly called Galileo, was born at Pisa on the 14th day
of February, 1564. He was the man who discovered some of the
fundamental principles governing the movements, habits, and personal
peculiarities of the earth. He discovered things with marvelous
fluency. Born as he was, at a time when the rotary motion of the earth
was still in its infancy and astronomy was taught only in a crude way,
Galileo started in to make a few discoveries and advance some theories
of which he was very fond.
He was the son of a musician and learned to play several instruments
himself, but not in such a way as to arouse the jealousy of the great
musicians of his day. They came and heard him play a few selections,
and then they went home contented with their own music. Galileo played
for several years in a band at Pisa, and people who heard him said that
his manner of gazing out over the Pisan hills with a far-away look in
his eye after playing a selection, while he gently up-ended his alto
horn and worked the mud-valve as he poured out about a pint of moist
melody that had accumulated in the flues of the instrument, was simply
At the age of twenty Galileo began to discover. His first
discoveries were, of course, clumsy and poorly made, but very soon he
commenced to turn out neat and durable discoveries that would stand for
It was at this time that he noticed the swinging of a lamp in a
church, and, observing that the oscillations were of equal duration, he
inferred that this principle might be utilized in the exact measurement
of time. From this little accident, years after, came the clock, one of
the most useful of man's dumb friends. And yet there are people who
will read this little incident and still hesitate about going to
[Illustration: It was at this time that he noticed the swinging
of a lamp in a church, and observing that the oscillations were of
equal duration (Page 202)]
Galileo also invented the thermometer, the microscope and the
proportional compass. He seemed to invent things not for the money to
be obtained in that way, but solely for the joy of being first on the
ground. He was a man of infinite genius and perseverance. He was also
very fair in his treatment of other inventors. Though he did not
personally invent the rotary motion of the earth, he heartily indorsed
it and said it was a good thing. He also came out in a card in which he
said that he believed it to be a good thing, and that he hoped some day
to see it applied to the other planets.
He was also the inventor of a telescope that had a magnifying power
of thirty times. He presented this to the Venetian senate, and it was
used in making appropriations for river and harbor improvements.
By telescopic investigation Galileo discovered the presence of
microbes in the moon, but was unable to do anything for it. I have
spoken of Mr. Galileo, informally calling him by his first name, all
the way through this article, for I feel so thoroughly acquainted with
him, though there was such a striking difference in our ages, that I
think I am justified in using his given name while talking of him.
Galileo also sat up nights and visited with Venus through a long
telescope which he had made himself from an old bamboo fishing-rod.
But astronomy is a very enervating branch of science. Galileo
frequently came down to breakfast with red, heavy eyes, eyes that were
swollen full of unshed tears. Still he persevered. Day after day he
worked and toiled. Year after year he went on with his task till he had
worked out in his own mind the satellites of Jupiter and placed a small
tin tag on each one, so that he would know it readily when he saw it
again. Then he began to look up Saturn's rings and investigate the
freckles on the sun. He did not stop at trifles, but went bravely on
till everybody came for miles to look at him and get him to write
something funny in their autograph albums. It was not an unusual thing
for Galileo to get up in the morning, after a wearisome night with a
fretful, new-born star, to find his front yard full of albums. Some of
them were little red albums with floral decorations on them, while
others were the large plush and alligator albums of the affluent. Some
were new and had the price-mark still on them, while others were old,
foundered albums, with a droop in the back and little flecks of egg and
gravy on the title-page. All came with a request for Galileo to write
a little, witty, characteristic sentiment in them.
Galileo was the author of the hydrostatic paradox and other
sketches. He was a great reader and a fluent penman. One time he was
absent from home, lecturing in Venice for the benefit of the United
Aggregation of Mutual Admirers, and did not return for two weeks, so
that when he got back he found the front room full of autograph albums.
It is said that he then demonstrated his great fluency and readiness as
a thinker and writer. He waded through the entire lot in two days with
only two men from West Pisa to assist him. Galileo came out of it fresh
and youthful, and all of the following night he was closeted with
another inventor, a wicker-covered microscope, and a bologna sausage.
The investigations were carried on for two weeks, after which Galileo
went out to the inebriate asylum and discovered some new styles of
Galileo was the author of a little work called I Discarsi e
Dimas-Trazioni Matematiche Intorus a Due Muove Scienze. It was a neat
little book, of about the medium height, and sold well on the trains,
for the Pisan newsboys on the cars were very affable, as they are now,
and when they came and leaned an armful of these books on a passenger's
leg and poured into his ear a long tale about the wonderful beauty of
the work, and then pulled in the name of the book from the rear of the
last car, where it had been hanging on behind, the passenger would most
always buy it and enough of the name to wrap it up in.
He also discovered the isochronism of the pendulum. He saw that the
pendulum at certain seasons of the year looked yellow under the eyes,
and that it drooped and did not enter into its work with the old zest.
He began to study the case with the aid of his new bamboo telescope and
a wicker-covered microscope. As a result, in ten days he had the
pendulum on its feet again.
Galileo was inclined to be liberal in his religious views, more
especially in the matter of the Scriptures, claiming that there were
passages in the Bible which did not literally mean what the translator
said they did. This was where Galileo missed it. So long as he
discovered stars and isochronisms and such things as that, he
succeeded, but when he began to fool with other people's religious
beliefs he got into trouble. He was forced to fly from Pisa, we are
told by the historian, and we are assured at the same time that
Galileo, who had always been far, far ahead of all competitors in other
things, was equally successful as a fleer.
Galileo received but sixty scudi per year as his salary while at
Pisa, and a part of that he took in town orders, worth only sixty cents
on the scudi.
HOW TO PICK OUT A BIRTHPLACE
Every American youth has been told repeatedly by his parents and his
teachers that he must be a good boy and an exemplary young man in order
to become the president of the United States. There is nothing new in
this statement, and I do not print it because I regard it in the light
of a scoop. But I desire to go a trifle further, and call the
attention of the American youth to the fact that he must begin at a
much earlier date to prepare himself for the presidency than has been
generally taught. He must not only acquire all the knowledge within
reach, and guard his moral character night and day through life, or at
least up to the time of his election, but he must be a self-made man,
and he should also use the utmost care and discretion in the selection
of his birthplace.
A boy may thoughtlessly select the wrong state, or even a foreign
country, as the site for his birthplace, and then the most exemplary
life will not avail him. But hardest of all, perhaps, for one who
aspires to the highest office within the gift of the people, is the
selection of a house in which to be born. For this reason I have
selected a few specimen birthplaces for the guidance of those who may
be ignorant of the points which should be possessed by a birthplace.
Take, for instance, the residence of Andrew Jackson. No one has ever
retained a stronger hold upon the tendrils of the Democratic heart than
Andrew Jackson. His name appears more frequently to-day in papers for
which he never subscribed than that of any other president who has
Andrew Jackson was a poor boy, whose father was a farm laborer and
died before Andrew's birth, thus leaving the boy perfectly free to
choose the site of his birthplace.
He did not care much about books, but felt confident at the start
that he had chosen a good place to be born at, and therefore could not
be defeated in his race for the presidency. Here in this house A.
Jackson first saw the light, and here his excellency sent up his first
Democratic whoop. Here, on the back stoop, was where he was sent
sorrowing at night to wash his chapped feet with soft soap before his
mother would allow him to go to bed. Here Andrew turned the grindstone
in the shed, while a large, heavy neighbor got on and rode for an hour
or two. Here the future president sprouted potatoes in the dark and
noisome cellar, while other boys, who cared nothing for the presidency,
drowned out woodchucks and sucked eggs in open defiance of the pulpit
and press of the country.
[Illustration: Here Andrew turned the grindstone in the shed,
while a large, heavy neighbor got on and rode for an hour or two
And yet, what a quiet, peaceful, unostentatious home, with its
little windows opening out upon the snow in winter and upon bare ground
in summer. How peaceful it looks! Who would believe that up in the dark
corner of the gable end it harbors a large iron-gray hornets' nest with
brocaded hornets in it? And still it is so quiet that, on hot summer
afternoons, while the bees are buzzing around the petunias and the
regular breathing of the sandy-colored shoat in the back lot shows that
all nature is hushed and drugged into a deep and oppressive repose, the
old hen, lulled into a sense of false security, walks into the setting
room, eats the seeds out of several everlasting flowers, samples a few
varnished acorns on an ornamental photograph frame in the corner, and
then goes out to the kitchen, where she steps into the dough that is
set behind the stove to raise.
Here in this quiet home, far from the enervating poussé café and
carte blanche, where he had pork rind tied on the outside of his neck
for sore throat, and where pepper, New Orleans molasses and vinegar,
together with other groceries calculated to discourage illness, were
put inside, he laid the foundation of his future greatness.
Later on, the fever of ambition came upon him, and he taught school
where the big girls snickered at him and the big boys went so far away
at noon that they couldn't hear the bell and were glad of it, and came
back an hour late with water in both ears and crawfish in their
After that he learned to be a saddler, fought in the Revolutionary
War, afterward writing it up for the papers in a graphic way, showing
how it happened that most everybody was killed but himself.
Here the reader is given an excellent view of the birthplace of
The artist has very wisely left out of the picture several people
who sought to hand themselves down to posterity by being photographed
in various careless attitudes in the foreground.
In this house Mr. Lincoln determined to establish for himself a
birthplace and to remain for eight years afterwards. In fancy, the
reader can see little Abraham running about the humble cot, preceded by
his pale, straw-colored Kentucky dog, or perhaps standing in the
branch, with the soothing mud squirting gently up between his dimpled
Here a great heart first learned to beat in unison with all
humanity. Late one night, after the janitor had retired, he pulled the
latch-string of this humble place and asked if the proprietor objected
to children. Learning that he did not, the little emancipator deposited
on the desk a small parcel consisting of several rectangular cotton
garments done up in a shawl-strap, and asked for a room with a bath.
Our next illustration shows the birthplace of President Garfield. He
was born plainly at Orange, Cuyahoga county, Ohio. Here he spent his
childhood in preparing for the presidency, lying on his stomach for
hours by the light of a pine-knot, studying all about the tariff, and
ascertaining how many would remain if William had seven apples and gave
three to Henry and two to Jane. He soon afterward went to work on a
canal as boatswain of a mule. It was here he learned that profanity
could be carried to excess. He very early found that by coupling the
mule to the boat by the use of a cistern pole, instead of coming into
direct contact with the accursed yet buoyant end of the animal, he
could bring with him a better record to the class-meeting than
otherwise. He then taught school, and was beloved by all as a tutor.
Many of his pupils grew up to be ornaments to society, and said they
had never seen tuting that could equal that of their old tutor.
Mr. Garfield availed himself of the above birthplace on the 19th of
November, A. D. 1831. He then utilized it as a residence.
Here we are given a fine view of the birthplace of President
Cleveland. It is a plain structure, containing windows through which
those who are inside may look out, while those who are on the outside
may readily look in.
Under this roof the idea first came to Mr. Cleveland that some day
he might fill the presidential chair to overflowing. If the reader will
go around to the door of the shed on the other side of the house, he
will see little Grover just coming out and wiping his mouth with the
back of his hand.
On the door of the barn can be seen the following legend, scratched
on its surface with a nail:
I druther be born lucky than blong to a nold Ristocratic fambly.
S. G. C.
Here we have an excellent view of Mr. Harrison's birthplace from the
main road. It hardly seems possible that a man who now lives in a large
house, with a spare room to it, gas in all parts of it, and wool
carpets on the floor, should have once lived in such a plain structure
as this. It shows that America is the place for the poor boy. Here he
can rise to a great height by his own powers. Little did Bennie think
at one time that people would some day come from all quarters of the
United States to see him and take him kindly by the hand and say that
they were well acquainted with his folks when they were poor.
These various birthplaces prove to us what style is best calculated
for a presidential candidate. They demonstrate that poverty is no
drawback, and that frequently it is a good stimulant for the right kind
of a boy. I once knew a poor boy whose clothes did not fit him very
well when he was little, and now that he is grown up it is the same
That poor boy was myself. But I can not close this research without
saying that the boys alone can not claim the glory in America. The
girls are entitled to recognition.
Permit me, therefore, to present the birthplace of Belva A.
Lockwood. I do not speak of it because I desire to treat the matter
lightly, but to call attention to little Belva's sagacity in selecting
the same style of birthplace as that chosen by other presidential
candidates. She very truly said in the course of a conversation with
the writer: My theory as to the selection of a birthplace is, first be
sure you are right and then go ahead.
We should learn from all the above that a humble origin does not
prevent a successful career. Had Abraham Lincoln been wealthy, he would
have been taught, perhaps, a style of elocution and gesture that would
have taken first rate at a parlor entertainment, and yet he might never
have made his Gettysburg speech. While he was president he never looked
at his own hard hands and knotted knuckles that he was not reminded of
his toiling neighbors, whose honest sweat and loyal blood had made this
mighty republic a source of glory and not of shame forever.
So, in the future, whether it be a Grover, a Benjamin, or a Belva,
may the President of the United States be ever ready to remove the
cotton from his ears at the first cry of the oppressed and deserving
Once when in New York I observed a middle-aged man remove his coat
at the corner of Fulton street and Broadway and wipe the shoulders
thereof with a large red handkerchief of the Thurman brand. There was a
dash of mud in his whiskers and a crick in his back. He had just sought
to cross Broadway, and the disappointed ambulance had gone up street to
answer another call. He was a plain man with a limited vocabulary, but
he spoke feelingly. I asked him if I could be of any service to him,
and he said No, not especially, unless I would be kind enough to go up
under the back of his vest and see if I could find the end of his
suspender. I did that and then held his coat for him while he got in it
again. He afterward walked down the east side of Broadway with me.
[Illustration: A man that crosses Broadway for a year can be
mayor of Boston, but my idee is that he's a heap more likely to be
mayor of New Jerusalem (Page 220)]
That's twice I've tried to git acrost to take the Cortlandt street
ferry boat sence one o'clock, and hed to give it up both times, he
said, after he had secured his breath.
So you don't live in town?
No, sir, I don't, and there won't be anybody else livin' in town,
either, if they let them crazy teamsters run things. Look at my coat!
I've wiped the noses of seventy-nine single horses and eleven double
teams sence one o'clock, and my vitals is all a perfect jell. I bet if
I was hauled up right now to be postmortumed the rear breadths of my
liver would be a sight to behold.
Why didn't you get a policeman to escort you across?
Why, condemb it, I did futher up the street, and when I left him
the policeman reckoned his collar-bone was broke. It's a blamed
outrage, I think. They say that a man that crosses Broadway for a year
can be mayor of Boston, but my idee is that he's a heap more likely to
be mayor of the New Jerusalem.
Where do you live, anyway?
Well, I live near Pittsburg, P. A., where business is active enough
to suit 'most anybody, 'specially when a man tries to blow out a
natural-gast well, but we make our teamsters subservient to the
Constitution of the United States. We don't allow this Juggernaut
business the way you fellers do. There a man would drive clear round
the block ruther than to kill a child, say nuthin of a grown person.
Here the hubs and fellers of these big drays and trucks are mussed up
all the time with the fragments of your best people. Look at me. What
encouragement is there for a man to come here and trade? Folks that
live here tell me that they do most of their business by telephone in
the daytime, and then do their runnin' around at night, but I've got
apast that. Time was when I could run around nights and then mow all
day, but I can't do it now. People that leads a suddentary life, I
s'pose, demands excitement, and at night they will have their fun; but
take a man like mehe wants to transact his business in the daytime by
word o' mouth, and then go to bed. He don't want to go home at 3
o'clock with a plug hat full of digestive organs that he never can
possibly put back just where they was before.
No, I don't want to run down a big city like New York and nuther do
I want to be run down myself. They tell me I can go up town on this
side and take the boat so as to get to Jersey City that way, and I'm
going to do it ruther than to go home with a neck yoke run through me.
Folks say that Jurden is a hard road to travel, but I'm positive that a
man would get jerked up and fined for driving as fast there as they do
on Broadway; and then another thing, I s'pose there's a good deal less
traffic over the road.
He then went down Wall street to the Hanover Square station and I
saw him no more.
MY TRIP TO DIXIE
I once took quite a long railway trip into the South in search of my
health. I called my physicians together, and they decided by a rising
vote that I ought to go to a warmer clime, or I should enjoy very poor
health all winter. So I decided to go in search of my health, if I died
on the trail.
I bought tickets at Cincinnati of a pale, sallow liar, who is just
beginning to work his way up to the forty-ninth degree in the Order of
Ananias. He will surely be heard from again some day, as he has the
elements that go to make up a successful prevaricator.
He said that I could go through from Cincinnati to Asheville, North
Carolina, with only one easy change of cars, and in about twenty-three
hours. It took me twice that time, and I had to change cars three times
in the dead of night.
The southern railroad is not in a flourishing condition. It ought to
go somewhere for its health. Anyway, it ought to go somewhere, which at
present it does not. According to the old Latin proverb, I presume we
should say nothing but good of the dead, but I am here to say that the
railroad that knocked my spine loose last week, and compelled me to
carry lunch baskets and large Norman two-year-old gripsacks through the
gloaming, till my arms hung down to the ground, does not deserve to be
treated well, even after death.
I do not feel any antipathy toward the South, for I did not take any
part in the war, remaining in Canada during the whole time, and so I
can not now be accused of offensive partisanship. I have always avoided
anything that would look like a settled conviction in any of these
matters, retaining always a fair, unpartisan and neutral idiocy in
relation to all national affairs, so that I might be regarded as a good
civil service reformer, and perhaps at some time hold an office.
To further illustrate how fair-minded I am in these matters, I may
say I have patiently read all the war articles written by both sides,
and I have not tried to dodge the foot-notes or the marginal
references, or the war maps or the memoranda. I have read all these
things until I can't tell who was victorious, and if that is not a fair
and impartial way to look at the war, I don't know how to proceed in
order to eradicate my prejudices.
But a railroad is not a political or sectional matter, and it ought
not to be a local matter unless the train stays at one end of the line
all the time. This road, however, is the one that discharged its
engineer some years ago, and when he took his time-check he said he
would now go to work for a sure-enough road with real iron rails to it,
instead of two streaks of rust on a right of way.
All night long, except when we were changing cars, we rattled along
over wobbling trestles and third mortgages. The cars were graded from
third-class down. The road itself was not graded at all.
They have the same old air in these coaches that they started out
with. Different people, with various styles of breath, have used this
air and then returned it. They are using the same air that they did
before the war. It is not, strictly speaking, a national air. It is
more of a languid air, with dark circles around its eyes.
At one place where I had an engagement to change cars, we had a wait
of four hours, and I reclined on a hair-cloth lounge at the hotel, with
the intention of sleeping a part of the time.
Dear, patient reader, did you every try to ride a refractory
hair-cloth lounge all night, bare back? Did you ever get aboard a
short, old-fashioned, black, hair-cloth lounge, with a disposition to
I was told that this was a kind, family lounge that would not shy or
make trouble anywhere, but I had only just closed my dark-red and
mournful eyes in sleep when this lounge gently humped itself, and shed
me as it would its smooth, dark hair in the spring, tra la.
The floor caught me in its great strong arms and I vaulted back upon
the polished bosom of the hair-cloth lounge. It was made for a man
about fifty-three inches in length, and so I had to sleep with my feet
in my pistol pockets and my nose in my bosom up to the second joint.
I got so that I could rise off the floor and climb on the lounge
without waking up. It grew to be second nature to me. I did it just as
a man who is hungry in his sleep bites off large fragments of the air
and eats it involuntarily and smacks his lips and snorts. So I arose
and deposited myself again and again on that old swayback but
frolicsome wreck without waking. But I couldn't get aboard softly
enough to avoid waking the lounge. It would yawn and rumble inside and
rise and fall like the deep rolling sea, till at last I gave up trying
to sleep on it any more, and curled up on the floor.
[Illustration: I bought tickets at Cincinnati of a pale, sallow
liar, who is just beginning to work his way up to the forty-ninth
degree in the Order of Ananias (Page 222)]
The hair-cloth lounge, in various conditions of decrepitude, maybe
found all through this region. Its true inwardness is composed of
spiral springs which have gnawed through the cloth in many instances.
These springs have lost none of their old elasticity of spirits, and
cordially corkscrew themselves into the affections of the man who sits
down on them. If anything could make me thoroughly attached to the
South it would be one of these spiral springs bored into my person
about a foot. But that is the only way to remain on a hair-cloth chair
or sofa. No man ever successfully sat on one of them for any length of
time unless he had a strong pair of pantaloons and a spiral spring
twisted into him for some distance.
In private houses hair-cloth sofas may be found in a domesticated
state, with a pair of dark, reserved chairs, waiting for some one to
come and fall off them. In hotels they go in larger flocks, and graze
together in the parlor.
THE THOUGHT CLOTHIER
General Dado has been sharply criticisedroundly abused, evenfor
making a claim against the Grant estate for alleged assistance in
preparing the Memoirs that have added to that estate some
half-million of dollars. The Philadelphia Bulletin says:There
is no mark of contempt so strong that it ought not to be fixed on so
shameless and unblushing an ingrate. And it is thisthe man's
ingratitudethat most offends. General Grant's unswerving loyalty to
Dado, his zeal in giving places to him so long as he had them to give,
and in soliciting others to give them when it was no longer in his own
power to do so, was an offense in the nostrils of most Americans. His
intimacy with Dado was one of the causes of Grant's being in bad odor,
as it were, at a certain period of his career; and the present
unpleasantness is a part of the penalty for taking such a man into his
bosom. The claimant is getting the worst of it, however, and we are
tempted to overlook his ingratitude for the sake of the following skit
called forth by his appearance as a thinker and clothier of thoughts.
There is something slightly pathetic in the delayed statement that
some of General Grant's best thoughts were supplied by General Adam
Dado. While it is a great credit to any man to do the meditating,
pondering, and word-painting necessary for a book which can attain such
a sale as Grant's Memoirs, it shows a condition of affairs which
every literary man or woman must sadly deplore. Who of us is now safe?
While the warrior, as a warrior, has nothing to do but continue
victorious through life, he can not safely write a book for posterity.
Literature is at all times more or less hazardous under present
copyright regulations, but it becomes doubly so when our estates have
to reimburse some silent thinker who thought things for us while
amanuensing in our employ. Even though we may have told him not to
think thoughts for us, even though we asked him as a special favor to
avoid putting his own clothing on our poor, little, shivering, naked
facts, there is no law which can prevent his making that claim after we
And how can a court of law or an intelligent jury judge such a
matter? A great man thinks a thought in the presence of two amanuenses,
provided I am right in spelling the plural in that way. He thinks a
thought, I say, surrounded by those two gentlemen and an improved
typewriter. He gives utterance to the thought and dies. One of the
amanuensisters then states to the jury that he thought it himself, and
that his comrade clothed it. The estate is then asked to pay so much
per think for the thoughts and so much at war prices for clothing the
ideas. Who is able, unless it be an intelligent jury, to arrive at the
The first question to ask ourselves is this: Was General Grant in
the habit of calling in a thinker whenever he wanted anything done in
that line? He says distinctly in his letter that he was not. He could
not do it. It was impracticable. Supposing in the crash of battle and
in the moment of victory your short, hard thinker has his head shot off
and it falls in a pumpkin orchard, where there is naturally more or
less delay in identifying it, what can you do? Suppose that you were
the president of the United States, and your think-supply got
snow-bound at Newark in a vestibule train, and congress were waiting
for you to veto a bill. You could not think the thought in the first
place, and even if you could you would hate to send it to congress
until it was properly clothed. I am told that nothing shocks congress
so much as the sudden appearance in its midst of a naked and new-born
But General Dado has the advantage over General Grant in one
respect. He can not be injured much. Otherwise the case is against him.
But the matter will be watched with careful interest by literary people
generally, and especially by soldiers and magazines with a war history.
It is a warning to those who think their thoughts in unguarded moments
while stenographers may be near to take them down and claim them
afterwards. It is also a warning to people who thoughtlessly expose
naked facts in the presence of word-painters and thought-clothiers, who
may decorate and outfit these children of the brain and charge it up to
Is the time coming when general dealers in apparel and gents'
furnishing goods for the use of bare facts, and men who attend to the
costuming, draping, and swaddling of nude ideas, will compete so
closely with each other that, before a think has its eyes fairly open,
one of these gentlemen will slap a suit of clothes on it, with a
Waterbury watch in each pocket, and have a boy half way to the office
with the bill?
A RUBBER ESOPHAGUS.
Puget Sound is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sheets of water
in the world. Its bosom is as unruffled as that of an angel who is
opposed to ruffles on general principles.
To say that real estate was once active at certain places on its
shores is just simply about as powerful as the remark made by the
frontiersman who came home from his haying one afternoon and found that
the Indians had burned up his buildings, massacred his wife, driven off
his milch cows and killed his children. He looked over the bloody scene
and then said to himself with great feeling; This, it seems to me, is
I once drove about Seattle for two days with a real estate man, not
buying, but just riding and enjoying the scenery while we allowed
prices gently to advance and our whiskers to grow. Finally I asked him
if he knew of a real snap, as Herbert Spencer would call it, within
the reach of a poor man. He said that there was a bargain out towards
Lake Washington, and if I wanted to see it we could go out there. I
said I should like to see it, for, if really desirable, I might buy
some outside property. We drove quite awhile through the primeval
forest, and after baiting our team and eating some lunch which we had
with us, we resumed our journey, scaring up a bear on the way, which I
was assured, however, was a tame bear. At last we tied the team, and,
walking over the ridge, we found a lot facing west, seventy-three feet
front, which could be had then at $1,500. I don't suppose you could get
it at that price now, for it is within a stone's throw of the power
house and cable running from the city to Lake Washington.
A friend of mine once told me how he lost a trade in Spokane Falls.
He had the refusal for a week of a twenty-four-foot business lot at
$500. He thought and worried and prayed over it, and wrote home about
it, and finally decided to take it. On the last day of grace he counted
up his money and finding that he had just the amount, he went over to
the agent's office with it to close the trade.
Have you the currency with you to make the trade all cash? asked
Yes, sir, I have the whole $500 in currency, said my friend,
drawing himself up to his full height and putting his cigar back a
little further in his cheek.
Five hundred dollars! exclaimed the agent with a low, gurgling
laugh; the lot is $500 per front foot. I didn't suppose you were
Pan-American ass enough to think you could get a business lot in
Spokane for $500. You can't get a load of sand for your children to
play in at that rate.
Once as my train passed a little red depot I saw a young squaw
leaning up against the building, and crying. As we moved along I saw a
plain black coffina cheap affair of pine, daubed with walnut stain to
make it look still cheaper, I presume. I had never seen an Indianeven
a squawweeping before, and so the picture remained with me a long
time, and may for a long time yet to come.
I've never been a pronounced friend of the Indian, as those who know
me best will agree. I have claimed that though he was first to locate
in this country, he did not develop the lead or do assessment work
even, so the thing was open to re-location. The white man has gone on
and found mineral in many places, made a big output, and is still
working day and night shifts, while the Indian is shiftless day and
night, so far as I have observed.
But when we see the poor devils buying our coffins for their dead,
even though they may go very hungry for days afterwards, and, as they
fade away forever as a people, striving to conform to our customs and
wear suspenders and join in prayer, common humanity leads us to think
solemnly of their melancholy end.
On that trip I met with a medical and surgical curiosity while on
the cars. It consisted of a young man who was compelled to take his
nourishment through a rubber tube which led directly into his stomach
through his side. I had heard of something like it and in my extensive
medical library had read of cases resembling it, but not entirely the
same. The conductor, who had shown me a great many little courtesies
already, invited me into the baggage car, where he had the young man,
in order that I might see him.
The subject was a German about twenty years of age, of dark
complexion and phlegmatic temperament. He stood probably about five
feet four inches high in his stocking feet and did not attract me as a
person of prominence until the conductor informed me that he ate
through the side of his vest.
It seems that about two years ago the boy had some little gastric
disturbance resulting from eating a nocturnal watermelon or callow
cucumber. As I understand it, he, in an unguarded moment, called a
physician who aimed to be his own worst enemy, but who contrived to
work in the public on the same basis, using no favoritism whatever. He
was a doctor who has since gone into the gibbering industry in
So it happened that on the day he was called to the bedside of this
plain, juvenile colic, the enemy he had taken into his mouth the
evening before had, as a matter of fact, rifled his pseudo-brains, and
being bitterly disappointed in them, had no doubt failed to return
Therefore Doc, as he was affectionately called by the widowers
throughout the neighborhood, was entirely unfit to prescribe. He did
so, however, just the same. That kind of a doctor is generally willing
to rush in where angels fear to tread. He cheerfully prescribed for the
boy, and, in fact, filled the prescription himself. The principal
ingredient of this compound was carbolic acid. A man who can, by
mistake, administer carbolic acid and not even smell it, must do his
thinking by means of a sort of intellectual wart.
But he did it, anyhow.
So, after great suffering, the young fellow lost the use of his
entire esophagus, the lining coming off as a result of this liquid
holocaust, and then afterwards growing together again.
The parents now decided to change physicians. So after giving Doc
a cow and settling up with him, another physician was called in. He
said there was no way to reach the stomach but from the exterior, and,
although hazardous, it might save the patient's life. Speedy action
must be taken, however, as the young man was already getting up quite
I can imagine Old Man Gastric waiting there patiently, day after
day, every little while looking at his watch, wondering, and singing:
We are waiting, waiting, waiting,
Finally, as he sits near the cardial orifice, where the sign has
been recently put up,
THE ELEVATOR IS NOT RUNNING,
a light bursts through the walls of his house and he hears voices.
Hastily throwing one of the coats of the stomach over his shoulders, he
springs to his feet just in time to catch about a nickel's worth of
warm beef tea down the back of his neck.
The patient now wears about two feet of inch hose, one end of which
is introduced into the upper and anterior lobe of the stomach. The
other he has embellished with a plain cork stopper. I asked him if he
would join me in a drink of water from the ice-cooler, and he said he
would, under the circumstances. He said that he had just taken one, but
would not mind taking one more with me. He then removed the stopper
from his new Goodyear esophagus, inserted a neat little tin funnel,
with which he was able to introduce the water. It gently settled down
and disappeared in his depths, and then, putting away the garden hose,
he accepted a dollar and gave me a history of the case as I have set it
forth above, or substantially so, at least.
I could not help thinking of him afterward. I tried to imagine him
on his way to Europe over a stormy sea; the surprise of his stomach
when it found itself frustrated and beaten at its own game, and all
that. Then I thought of him as the honored guest of some great
corporation or club, and at the banquet, when the president, in a few
well-chosen words, apparently born of the moment but really wearing
trousers, says, Gentlemen, we have with us this evening, etc., etc.;
and then rising, all the members join in a toast to the guest. Touching
his glass to theirs, and then gracefully unreeling his garden hose, he
takes from his pocket the small funnel, and, gently sipping the
generous wine through his tin pharynx, he begins his well-digested
Nature did not do much for this poor lad, but science has stepped in
and made him a man of mark. He went to bed unknown. He awoke to find
himself noted. He went to sleep with ordinary tastes. He arose with no
taste at all. Thus, through the medical treatment of a typhoid idiot,
for a disease which was in no way malignant, or, as I might say,
therapeutic, he became a man of parts and stands next to the nobility
of Europe, not having to work.
Afterward, in Paris, I saw on the street a man who played the
trombone by means of a bullet-hole in his trachea, but I do not think
it elevated me and spurred me on to nobler endeavor and made a better
man of me, as did this simple-hearted young gentleman who made a living
by eating publicly through a tin horn, and who actually earned his
bread by eating it. I hope that the medical fraternity will make his
case a study and try to do better next time. That is the only moral I
can think of in connection with this story.
ADVICE TO A SON
MY DEAR SON: I just came here to New York on business, and thought I
would write to you a few lines, as I have a little time that is not
taken up. I came here on a train from Chicago the other day. Before I
started, I got a lower berth in a sleeping car, but when I went to put
my sachel in it, before I left Chicago, there were two women and a
little girl there, and so I told the porter I would wait until they
moved before I put my baggage in the section, for of course I thought
they were just sitting there for a minute to rest.
Hours rolled by and they did not move. I kept on sitting in the
smoking-room, but they stayed. By and by the porter came and asked me
if I had lower four. I said yesI paid for it, but I couldn't really
say I had it in my possession. He then said that two ladies and a
little girl had upper four, and asked if I would mind swapping with
them. I said that I would do so, for I didn't see how a whole family
circle could climb up into the upper berth and remain there, and I
would rather give them the lower one than spend the night picking up
different members of the family and replacing them in the home nest
after they had fallen out.
I had a bad cold, and though I knew that sleeping in the upper berth
would add to it, I did not murmur. But little did I realize that they
would hold the whole thing all of two days, and fill it full of broken
crackers and banana peels, and leave me to ride backward in the
smoking-room from Chicago to New York, after I had paid five dollars
for a seat and lower berth.
Woman is a poor, frail vessel, Henry, but she manages to arrive at
her destination all right. She buys an upper berth and then swaps it
with an old man for his lower berth, giving to boot a half-smothered
sob and two scalding tears. Then she says Thank you, if she feels
like it at the end of the road, though these women did not. I have
pneuemonia in its early stages, but I have done a kind act, which I
shall probably have to do over again when I return.
If you ever become the parent of a daughter, Henry, and you like her
pretty well, I hope you will teach her to acknowledge a courtesy,
instead of looking upon the earth and the fullness thereof as a
partnership property, owned jointly by herself and the Lord.
A woman who has traveled a good deal is generally polite, and knows
how to treat her fellow passengers and the porter, but people who are
making their first or second trip, I notice, most generally betray the
fact by tramping all over the other passengers.
Another mistake, Henry, which I hope you will not make, is that of
taking very small children to travel. Children should remain at home
until they are at least two or three days old, otherwise they are
troublesome to their parents and also bother the other passengers.
There ought to be a law, too, that would prevent parents from taking
larger children who should be in the reform school. Some parents seem
to think that what their children do is funny, when, instead of humor,
it is really felony. It does not entirely set matters right, for
instance, when a child has torn off a gentleman's ear, merely to make
the child return it to the owner, for you can never put an ear back in
its place after it has been torn off and stepped on, in such a way as
to make it look the same as it did at first.
I heard a mother say on the train that her little boy never was
quite himself while traveling, because he wasn't well. She feared it
was the change in the water that made him sick. He had then drank a
whole ice-water tank empty, and was waiting impatiently till we got to
Pittsburg, so that he could drink out of the hydrant.
Queer people also ride on the elevated trains here in New York. It
is a singular experience to a stranger to ride on these cars. It made
me ill at first, but after awhile I got so mad that I forgot about it.
For instance, at places like Fourteenth street, and Twenty-third
street, and Park Place, there are generally several people who want to
get aboard a little before the passengers get off. Two or three times I
was carried by because the guards wouldn't enforce the rule, and I had
a good deal of trouble, till I took an old pair of Mexican spurs out of
my trunk and strapped them on my elbows. After that I could stroll
along Broadway, or get off a train when I got ready, and have some
The gates on the elevated trains get shet rather sudden sometimes,
and once they shet in a part of a man, I was told, and left the rest of
him on the outside, so that after a while he fell off over the trestle,
because there was more of him on the outside than on the inside, and he
didn't seem to balance somehow. It was rare sport for the guards to
watch the man scraping along the side of the road and sweeping off the
right of way.
One day, when I was on board, there was a crowd at one of the
stations, and an old man and a little girl tried to get on. She was
looking out for the old man, and seemed to kind of steer him on the
platform. Just as he stepped on the train, the guard shut the gate and
left the little girl outside. She looked so scart and pitiful, as the
train left her, that I'll never forget it to my dying day, and as we
left the platform I saw her wring her poor little hands, and I heard
her cry, Oh, mister, let me go with him. My poor grandpa is blind.
Sure enough, the old man groped around almost crazy on that swaying
train, without knowing where he was, and feeling through the empty air
for the gentle hand of the little girl who had been left behind. Two or
three of us took care of the old man and got him off at the next
station, where we waited till she came; but it was the most touching
thing I ever saw outside of a book.
Another day the cars were full till you couldn't seem to get even an
umbrella into the aisle, I thought, but yet the guards told people to
step along lively, and encouraged them by prodding and pinching till
most everybody was fighting mad.
Then a pale girl, with a bundle of sewing in her hand, and a hollow
cough that made everybody look that way, got into the aisle. She could
just barely get hold of the strap, and that was all. She wore a poor,
black cotton jersey, and when she reached up so high, the jersey part
would not stay where it belonged, and at the waist seemed to throw off
all responsibility. She realized it, and bit her lips, and two red
spots came on her pale face, and the tears came into her eyes, but she
couldn't let go of her bundle, and she couldn't let go of the strap,
for already the train threw her against a soiled man on one side and a
tough on the other. It was pitiful enough, so that men who had their
seats began to read advertisements and other things with their papers
wrong side up, in order to seem thoroughly engrossed in their business.
But two pretty young men, with real good clothes, and white, soft
hands, had a great deal of fun over it, and every time the train would
lurch and throw the poor girl's jersey a little more out of plumb, they
would jab each other in the ribs, and laugh very hearty. I felt sorry
that I wasn't young again, so that I could go over there and kick both
of them. Henry, if I thought you would do a thing like that, or allow
it done on the same block where you happened to be, I would give my
estate to a charitable object, and refuse to recognize you in Paradise.
Just then an oldish man of a chunky build, and with an eye as black
as the driven tomcat, reached through the crowded aisle with his
umbrella and touched the girl. She looked around, and he told her to
come and take his seat. As she squeezed through, and he rose to seat
her, a large man with black whiskers gently dropped into the vacant
seat with a sigh of relief, and began to read a two-year-old paper with
much earnestness, just as if he hadn't noticed the whole performance.
The stout man was thunderstruck. He said:
Excuse me, sir; I didn't leave my seat.
Yes, you did, says the black-whiskered pachyderm. You can't
expect to keep a seat here and leave it too.
Well, but I rose to put this young lady in it, and I must ask you
to be kind enough to let her have it.
Excuse me, said the microbe, with a little chuckle of cussedness,
you will have to take your chances, and wait for a vacant seat, same
as I did.
That was all the conversation there was, but just then the short fat
man ran his thumb down inside the shirt collar of the yellow fever
germ, and jerked him so high that I could see the nails on the bottoms
of his boots. Then, with the other hand, he socked the young lady into
his seat, and took hold of a strap, where he hung on white and mad, but
After that there was a loud hurrah, and general enthusiasm and hand
clapping, and cries of Good! Good! and in the midst of it the
sporadic hog and the two refined young men got off the train.
As the black and white Poland swine went out the door I noticed that
there was blood on the back of his neck, and later on I saw the short,
stout old gentleman remove a large mole or birthmark, which he really
had no use for, from under his thumb nail.
On a Harlem train, as they call it, I saw a drunken young man in one
of the seats yesterday. He wasn't noisy, but he felt pretty fair. Next
to him was a real good young man, who seemed to feel his superiority a
great deal. Very soon the car got jammed full, and an old lady, poorly
dressed, but a mighty good, motherly old woman, I'll bet a hundred
dollars, got in. Her husband asked the good young man if he would
kindly give his wife a seat. He did not apparently hear at all, but got
all wrapped up in his paper, just as every man in a car does when he is
ashamed of himself. But the inebriated young man heard, and so he said:
Here, mister, take my seat for the old lady; any seat is good
enough for me. Whereupon he sat down in the lap of the good young man,
and so remained till he got to his station.
This is a good town to study human nature in, Henry, and you would
do well to come here before your vacation is over, just to see what
kind of people the Lord allows to encumber the earth. It will show you
how many human brutes there are loose in the world who don't try any
longer to appear decent when they think their identity is swallowed up
in the multitude of a great city. There are just as selfish folks in
the smaller towns, but they are afraid to give themselves up to it,
because somebody in the crowd would be sure to recognize them. Here a
man has the advantage of a perpetual nom de plume, and he is
tempted to see how pusillanimous he can be even when he is just here on
a visit. I'm going home next week, before I completely wreck my
I left your mother pretty comfortable at home, but I haven't heard
from her since I left.
THE AUTOMATIC BELL BOY
Little did B. Franklin wot when he baited his pin hook with a good
conductor and tapped the low browed and bellowing storm nimbus with his
buoyant kite, thus crudely acquiring a pickle jar of electricity, that
the little start he then made would be the egg from which inventors and
scientists would hatch out the system which now not only encircles the
globe with messages swifter than the flight of Phoebus, but that anon
the light of day would be filtered through a cloud of cables loaded
with destruction sufficient for a whole army, and the air be filled
with death-dealing, dangling wires.
Little did he know that he was bottling an agent which has since
pulled out the stopper with its teeth and grown till it overspreads the
sky, planting its bare, bleak telegraph poles along every highway,
carrying day messages by night and night messages when it gets ready,
filling the air with its rusty wingsprovided, of course, that such
agents wear wingsand with the harsh, metallic, ghoulish laughter of
the signal-key, all the while resting one foot on the neck of the
sender and one on the neck of the recipient, defying aggregated
humanity to do its worst, and commanding all civilization, in terse,
well-chosen terms, to either fish, cut bait or go ashore.
Could Benjamin have known all this at the time, possibly he might
have considered it wisdom to go in when it rained.
I am not an old fogy, though I may have that appearance, and I
rejoice to see the world move on. One by one I have laid aside my own
encumbering prejudices in order to keep up with the procession. Have I
not gradually adopted everything that would in any way enhance my
opportunities for advancement, even through tedious evolution, from the
paper collar up to the finger bowl, eyether, and nyether?
This should convince the reader that I am not seeking to clog the
wheels of progress. I simply look with apprehension upon any great
centralization of wealth or power in the hands of any one man who not
only does as he pleases with said wealth and power, but who, as I am
informed, does not read my timely suggestions as to how he shall use
To return, however, to the subject of electricity. I have recently
sought to fathom the style and motif of a new system which is to
be introduced into private residences, hotels, and police headquarters.
In private houses it will be used as a burglar's welcome. In hotels it
will take the mental strain off the bell-boy, relieving him also of a
portion of his burdensome salary at the same time. In the police
department it will do almost everything but eat peanuts from the corner
I saw this system on exhibition in a large room, with the signals or
boxes on one side and the annunciator or central station on the other.
By walking from one to the other, a distance in all of thirty or forty
miles, I was enabled to get a slight idea of the principle.
[Illustration: In hotels it will take the mental strain off the
bell-boy, relieving him also of a portion of his burdensome salary at
the same time (Page 256)]
It is certainly a very intelligent system. I never felt my own
inferiority any more than I did in the presence of this wonderful
invention. It is able to do nearly anything, it seems to me, and the
main drawback appears to be its great versatility, on account of which
it is so complex that in order to become at all intimate with it a
policeman ought to put in two years at Yale and at least a year at
Leipsic. An extended course of study would perfect him in this line,
but he would not then be content to act as a policeman. He would aspire
to be a scientist, with dandruff on his coat collar and a far-away look
in his eye.
Then, again, take the hotel scheme, for instance. We go to a dial
which is marked Room 32. There we find that by treating it in a certain
way it will announce to the clerk that Room 32 wants a fire, ice-water,
pens, ink, paper, lemons, towels, fire-escape, Milwaukee Sec,
pillow-shams, a copy of this book, menu, croton frappé, carriage,
laundry, physician, sleeping-car ticket, berth-mark for same, Halford
sauce, hot flat-iron for ironing trousers, baggage, blotter, tidy for
chair, or any of those things. In fact, I have not given half the list
on this barometer because I could not remember them, though I may have
added others which are not there. The message arrives at the office,
but the clerk is engaged in conversation with a lady. He does not jump
when the alarm sounds, but continues the dialogue. Another guest wires
the office that he would like a copy of the Congressional Record. The message is filed away automatically, and the thrilling
conversation goes on. Then No. 7-5/8 asks to have his mail sent up. No.
25 wants to know what time the 'bus leaves the house for the train
going East, and whether that train will connect at Alliance, Ohio, with
a tide-water train for Cleveland in time to catch the Lake Shore train
which will bring him into New York at 7:30, and whether all those
trains are reported on time or not, and if not will the office kindly
state why? Other guests also manifest morbid curiosity through their
transmitters, but the clerk does not get excited, for he knows that all
these remarks are filed away in the large black walnut box at the back
of the office. When he gets ready, provided he has been through a
course of study in this brand of business, he takes one room at a time,
and addressing a pale young Banister Polisher by the name of Front,
he begins to scatter to their destinations, baggage, towels, morning
papers, time-tables, etc., all over the house.
It is also supposed to be a great time-saver. For instance, No. 8
wants to know the correct time. He moves an indicator around like the
combination on a safe, reads a few pages of instructions, and then
pushes a button, perhaps. Instead of ringing for a boy and having to
wait some time for him, then asking him to obtain the correct time at
the office and come back with the information, conversing with various
people on his way and expecting compensation for it, the guest can ask
the office and receive the answer without getting out of bed. You leave
a call for a certain hour, and at that time your own private gong will
make it so disagreeable for you that you will be glad to rise. Again,
if you wish to know the amount of your bill, you go through certain
exercises with the large barometer in your room; and, supposing you
have been at the house two days and have had a fire in your room three
times, and your bill is therefore $132.18, the answer will come back
and be announced on your gong as follows: One, pause, three, pause, two, pause, one, pause, eight. When there
is a cipher in the amount I do not know what the method is, but by
using due care in making up the bill this need not occur.
For police and fire purposes the system shows a wonderful degree of
intelligence, not only as a speedy means of conveying calls for the
fire department, health department, department of street cleaning,
department of interior and good of the order, but it furnishes also a
method of transmitting emergency calls, so that no citizenno matter
how poor or unknownneed go without an emergency. The citizen has only
to turn the crank of the little iron marten-house till the gong ceases
to ring, then push on the Citizens' button, and he can have fun with
most any emergency he likes. Should he decide, however, to shrink from
the emergency before it arrives, he can go away from there, or secrete
himself and watch the surprise of the ambulance driver or the fire
department when no mangled remains or forked fire fiend is found in
This system is also supposed to keep its eye peeled for policemen
and inform the central station where each patrolman is all the time;
also as to his temperature, pulse, perspiration and breath. It keeps a
record of this at the main office on a ticker of its own, and the
information may be published in the society columns of the papers in
the morning. It enables a citizen to use his own discretion about
sounding an alarm. He has only to be a citizen. He need not be a
tax-payer or a vox populi. Should he be a citizen, or declare his
intention to become such, or even though he be a voter only, without
any notion of ever being a citizen, he can help himself to the fire
department or anything else by ringing up the central station.
Electricity and spiritualism have arrived at that stage of
perfection where a coil of copper wire and a can of credulity will
accomplish a great deal. The time is coming when even more surprising
wonders will be worked, and with electric wires, the rapid transit
trains, and the English sparrows all under the ground, the dawn of a
better and brighter day will be ushered in. The car-driver and the
truck-man will then lie down together, Boston will not rise up against
London, he that heretofore slag shall go forth no more for to slug, and
the czar will put aside his tailor-made boiler-iron underwear and
fearlessly canvass the nihilist wards in the interest of George Kennan
and reform, nit.