The Fate of
Young Chubb by
When Mr. Chubb, the elder, returned from Europe, he brought with him
from Geneva, a miniature musical-box, long and very narrow, and
altogether of hardly greater dimensions, say, then a large pocket-
knife. The instrument played four cheerful little tunes, for the
benefit of the Chubb family, and they enjoyed it. Young Henry Chubb
enjoyed it to such an extent that one day, just after the machine had
been wound up ready for action he got to sucking the end of it, and in
a moment of inadvertence it slipped, and he swallowed it. The only
immediate consequence of the accident was that a harmonic stomach-ache
was organized upon the interior of Henry Chubb and he experienced a
restlessness which he well knew would defy the soothing tendencies of
peppermint and make a mockery of paregoric.
And Henry Chubb kept his secret in his own soul and in his stomach,
also determined to hide his misery from his father, and to spare the
rod to the spoiled child—spoiled, at any rate, as far as his digestive
apparatus was concerned.
But that evening, at the supper table, Henry had eaten but one mouthful
of bread, when strains of wild, mysterious music were suddenly wafted
from under the table. The family immediately made an effort to discover
whence the sounds came, although Henry Chubb set there filled with
agony and remorse and bread and tunes, and desperately asserted his
belief that the music came from the cellar where the hired girl was
concealed with a harp. He well knew that Mary Ann was unfamiliar with
the harp, but he was frantic with anxiety to hide his guilt. Thus it is
that one crime leads to another.
But he could not disguise the truth forever, and that very night, while
the family was at prayers, Henry all at once began to hiccup, and the
musicbox started off without warning, with "way down on the Swanee
River," with variations. Whereupon the paternal Chubb arose from his
knees and grasped Henry kindly but firmly by his hair and shook him up,
and inquired what he meant by such conduct.
And Henry asserted that he was practicing something for a Sunday-school
celebration, which old Chubb intimated was a singularly thin
Then they tried to get up that music-box, and every time they would
seize Henry by the leg and shake him over the sofa-cushion, or would
pour some fresh variety of emetic down his throat, the instrument would
give some fresh sport, and joyously grind out "Listen to the Mocking
Bird," or "Thou'lt Never Cease to love."
At last, they were compelled to permit that musical box to remain
within the sepulchral recesses of the epigastrium of young Chubb. To
say that the unfortunate victim of the disaster was made miserable by
his condition, would be to express in the feeblest manner the state of
his mind. The more music there was in his stomach, the wilder and more
chaotic became the discord in his soul. As likely as not, it would
occur that while he lay asleep in bed in the middle of the night, the
works would begin to revolve, and would play "Home, Sweet Home," for
two or three hours, unless the peg happened to slip, when the cylinder
would switch back again to "way down upon the Swanee River" and would
rattle out that tune with variations and fragments of the scales, until
Henry's brother would kick him out of bed in wild despair, and sit on
him in a vain effort to subdue the serenade, which, how ever,
invariably proceeded with fresh vigor when subjected to unusual
And when Henry Chubb went to church it frequently occurred that, in the
very midst of the most solemn portion of the sermon, he would feel a
gentle disturbance under the lower button of his jacket, and presently,
when everything was hushed, the undigested engine would give a
preliminary buzz, and then reel off "Listen to the Mocking Bird," and
"Thou'lt Never Cease to Love," and scales and exercises, until the
clergyman would stop and glare at Henry over his spectacles, and
whisper to one of the deacons.
Then the sexton would suddenly tack up the aisle and clutch the unhappy
Mr. Chubb by the collar, and scud down the aisle again to the
accompaniment of "Home Sweet Home," and then incarcerate Henry in the
upper portion of the steeple until after church. But the end came at
last, and the miserable boy found peace. One day, while he was sitting
in school, endeavoring to learn his multiplication table to the tune of
"Thou'lt Cease to Love," his gastric juice triumphed. Something or
other in the music-box gave way all at once, the springs were unrolled
with alarming force, and Henry Chubb, as he felt the fragments of the
instruments hurled right and left among his vitals, tumbled over on the
floor and expired.
At the post-mortem examination they found several pieces of "Home,
Sweet Home" in his liver, while one of his lungs was severely torn by a
fragment of "Way down upon the Swanee river."
Particles of "Listen to the Mocking Bird" were removed from his heart
and breast-bone, and three brass pegs of "Thou'lt Never Cease to Love"
were found firmly driven into his fifth rib.
They had no music at the funeral. They lifted the machinery out of him
and buried him quietly in the cemetery. Whenever the Chubbs buy musical
boxes now, they get them as large as a piano, and chain them to the