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Wit and Humor of America, The Vol 04

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<SPAN name="Page_652" id="Page_652">[Pg 652]</SPAN></span></div></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="I_REMEMBER_I_REMEMBER" id="I_REMEMBER_I_REMEMBER"></SPAN>I REMEMBER, I REMEMBER</h2> <h3>BY PH&OElig;BE CARY</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I remember, I remember,<br /></span> <span class="i2">The house where I was wed,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And the little room from which that night,<br /></span> <span class="i2">My smiling bride was led.<br /></span> <span class="i0">She didn't come a wink too soon,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Nor make too long a stay;<br /></span> <span class="i0">But now I often wish her folks<br /></span> <span class="i2">Had kept the girl away!<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I remember, I remember,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Her dresses, red and white,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Her bonnets and her caps and cloaks,&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i2">They cost an awful sight!<br /></span> <span class="i0">The "corner lot" on which I built,<br /></span> <span class="i2">And where my brother met<br /></span> <span class="i0">At first my wife, one washing-day,&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i2">That man is single yet!<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I remember, I remember,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Where I was used to court,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And thought that all of married life<br /></span> <span class="i2">Was just such pleasant sport:&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i0">My spirit flew in feathers then,<br /></span> <span class="i2">No care was on my brow;<br /></span> <span class="i0">I scarce could wait to shut the gate,&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i2">I'm not so anxious now!<br /></span><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_653" id="Page_653">[Pg 653]</SPAN></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I remember, I remember,<br /></span> <span class="i2">My dear one's smile and sigh;<br /></span> <span class="i0">I used to think her tender heart<br /></span> <span class="i2">Was close against the sky.<br /></span> <span class="i0">It was a childish ignorance,<br /></span> <span class="i2">But now it soothes me not<br /></span> <span class="i0">To know I'm farther off from Heaven<br /></span> <span class="i2">Then when she wasn't got.<br /></span> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_654" id="Page_654">[Pg 654]</SPAN></span></div></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="THE_COUPON_BONDS" id="THE_COUPON_BONDS"></SPAN>THE COUPON BONDS</h2> <h3>BY J.T. TROWBRIDGE</h3> <p>(Mr. and Mrs. Ducklow have secretly purchased bonds with money that should have been given to their adopted son Reuben, who has sacrificed his health in serving his country as a soldier, and, going to visit Reuben on the morning of his return home, they hide the bonds under the carpet of the sitting-room, and leave the house in charge of Taddy, another adopted son.)</p> <hr style='width: 45%;' /> <p>Mr. Ducklow had scarcely turned the corner of the street, when, looking anxiously in the direction of his homestead, he saw a column of smoke. It was directly over the spot where he knew his house to be situated. He guessed at a glance what had happened. The frightful catastrophe he foreboded had befallen. Taddy had set the house afire.</p> <p>"Them bonds! them bonds!" he exclaimed, distractedly. He did not think so much of the house: house and furniture were insured; if they were burned the inconvenience would be great indeed, and at any other time the thought of such an event would have been a sufficient cause for trepidation; but now his chief, his only anxiety was the bonds. They were not insured. They would be a dead loss. And, what added sharpness to his pangs, they would be a loss which he must keep a secret, as he had kept their existence a secret,&mdash;a loss which he could not confess, and of which he could not complain. Had<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_655" id="Page_655">[Pg 655]</SPAN></span> he not just given his neighbors to understand that he had no such property? And his wife,&mdash;was she not at that very moment, if not serving up a lie upon the subject, at least paring the truth very thin indeed?</p> <p>"A man would think," observed Ferring, "that Ducklow had some o' them bonds on his hands, and got scaret, he took such a sudden start. He has, hasn't he, Mrs. Ducklow?"</p> <p>"Has what?" said Mrs. Ducklow, pretending ignorance.</p> <p>"Some o' them cowpon bonds. I rather guess he's got some."</p> <p>"You mean Gov'ment bonds? Ducklow got some? 'Tain't at all likely he'd spec'late in them without saying something to <i>me</i> about it. No, he couldn't have any without my knowing it, I'm sure."</p> <p>How demure, how innocent she looked, plying her knitting-needle, and stopping to take up a stitch! How little at that moment she knew of Ducklow's trouble and its terrible cause!</p> <p>Ducklow's first impulse was to drive on and endeavor at all hazards to snatch the bonds from the flames. His next was to return and alarm his neighbors and obtain their assistance. But a minute's delay might be fatal: so he drove on, screaming, "Fire! fire!" at the top of his voice.</p> <p>But the old mare was a slow-footed animal; and Ducklow had no whip. He reached forward and struck her with the reins.</p> <p>"Git up! git up!&mdash;Fire! fire!" screamed Ducklow. "Oh, them bonds! them bonds! Why didn't I give the money to Reuben? Fire! fire! fire!"</p> <p>By dint of screaming and slapping, he urged her from a trot into a gallop, which was scarcely an improvement<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_656" id="Page_656">[Pg 656]</SPAN></span> as to speed, and certainly not as to grace. It was like the gallop of an old cow. "Why don't ye go 'long?" he cried, despairingly.</p> <p>Slap! slap! He knocked his own hat off with the loose end of the reins. It fell under the wheels. He cast one look behind, to satisfy himself that it had been very thoroughly run over and crushed into the dirt, and left it to its fate.</p> <p>Slap! slap! "Fire! fire!" Canter, canter, canter! Neighbors looked out of their windows, and, recognizing Ducklow's wagon and old mare in such an astonishing plight, and Ducklow himself, without his hat, rising from his seat and reaching forward in wild attitudes, brandishing the reins, and at the same time rending the azure with yells, thought he must be insane.</p> <p>He drove to the top of the hill, and, looking beyond, in expectation of seeing his house wrapped in flames, discovered that the smoke proceeded from a brush-heap which his neighbor Atkins was burning in a field near by.</p> <p>The revulsion of feeling that ensued was almost too much for the excitable Ducklow. His strength went out of him. For a little while there seemed to be nothing left of him but tremor and cold sweat. Difficult as it had been to get the old mare in motion, it was now even more difficult to stop her.</p> <p>"Why, what has got into Ducklow's old mare? She's running away with him! Who ever heard of such a thing!" And Atkins, watching the ludicrous spectacle from his field, became almost as weak from laughter as Ducklow was from the effects of fear.</p> <p>At length Ducklow succeeded in checking the old mare's speed and in turning her about. It was necessary to drive back for his hat. By this time he could hear a chorus of shouts, "Fire! fire! fire!" over the hill. He had<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_657" id="Page_657">[Pg 657]</SPAN></span> aroused the neighbors as he passed, and now they were flocking to extinguish the flames.</p> <p>"A false alarm! a false alarm!" said Ducklow, looking marvelously sheepish, as he met them. "Nothing but Atkins's brush-heap!"</p> <p>"Seems to me you ought to have found that out 'fore you raised all creation with your yells!" said one hyperbolical fellow. "You looked like the Flying Dutchman! This your hat? I thought 'twas a dead cat in the road. No fire! no fire!"&mdash;turning back to his comrades,&mdash;"only one of Ducklow's jokes."</p> <p>Nevertheless, two or three boys there were who would not be convinced, but continued to leap up, swing their caps, and scream "Fire!" against all remonstrance. Ducklow did not wait to enter his explanations, but, turning the old mare about again, drove home amid the laughter of the by-standers and the screams of the misguided youngsters. As he approached the house, he met Taddy rushing wildly up the street.</p> <p>"Thaddeus! Thaddeus! Where ye goin', Thaddeus?"</p> <p>"Goin' to the fire!" cried Taddy.</p> <p>"There isn't any fire, boy."</p> <p>"Yes, there is! Didn't ye hear 'em? They've been yellin' like fury."</p> <p>"It's nothin' but Atkins's brush."</p> <p>"That all?" And Taddy appeared very much disappointed. "I thought there was goin' to be some fun. I wonder who was such a fool as to yell fire just for a darned old brush-heap!"</p> <p>Ducklow did not inform him.</p> <p>"I've got to drive over to town and get Reuben's trunk. You stand by the mare while I step in and brush my hat."</p> <p>Instead of applying himself at once to the restoration of his beaver, he hastened to the sitting-room, to see that the bonds were safe.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_658" id="Page_658">[Pg 658]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Heavens and 'arth!" said Ducklow.</p> <p>The chair, which had been carefully planted in the spot where they were concealed, had been removed. Three or four tacks had been taken out, and the carpet pushed from the wall. There was straw scattered about. Evidently Taddy had been interrupted, in the midst of his ransacking, by the alarm of fire. Indeed, he was even now creeping into the house to see what notice Ducklow would take of these evidences of his mischief.</p> <p>In great trepidation the farmer thrust in his hand here and there, and groped, until he found the envelope precisely where it had been placed the night before, with the tape tied around it, which his wife had put on to prevent its contents from slipping out and losing themselves. Great was the joy of Ducklow. Great also was the wrath of him when he turned and discovered Taddy.</p> <p>"Didn't I tell you to stand by the old mare?"</p> <p>"She won't stir," said Taddy, shrinking away again.</p> <p>"Come here!" And Ducklow grasped him by the collar.</p> <p>"What have you been doin'? Look at that!"</p> <p>"'Twan't me!" beginning to whimper and ram his fists into his eyes.</p> <p>"Don't tell me 'twan't you!" Ducklow shook him till his teeth chattered. "What was you pullin' up the carpet for?"</p> <p>"Lost a marble!" sniveled Taddy.</p> <p>"Lost a marble! Ye didn't lose it under the carpet, did ye? Look at all that straw pulled out!" shaking him again.</p> <p>"Didn't know but it might 'a' got under the carpet, marbles roll so," explained Taddy, as soon as he could get his breath.</p> <p>"Wal, sir,"&mdash;Ducklow administered a resounding box<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_659" id="Page_659">[Pg 659]</SPAN></span> on his ear,&mdash;"don't you do such a thing again, if you lose a million marbles!"</p> <p>"Hain't got a million!" Taddy wept, rubbing his cheek. "Hain't got but four! Won't ye buy me some to-day?"</p> <p>"Go to that mare, and don't you leave her again till I come, or I'll <i>marble</i> ye in a way you won't like."</p> <p>Understanding, by this somewhat equivocal form of expression, that flagellation was threatened, Taddy obeyed, still feeling his smarting and burning ear.</p> <p>Ducklow was in trouble. What should he do with the bonds? The floor was no place for them after what had happened; and he remembered too well the experience of yesterday to think for a moment of carrying them about his person. With unreasonable impatience, his mind reverted to Mrs. Ducklow.</p> <p>"Why ain't she to home? These women are forever a-gaddin'! I wish Reuben's trunk was in Jericho!"</p> <p>Thinking of the trunk reminded him of one in the garret, filled with old papers of all sorts,&mdash;newspapers, letters, bills of sale, children's writing-books,&mdash;accumulations of the past quarter of a century. Neither fire nor burglar nor ransacking youngster had ever molested those ancient records during all those five-and-twenty years. A bright thought struck him.</p> <p>"I'll slip the bonds down into that worthless heap o' rubbish, where no one 'ull ever think o' lookin' for 'em, and resk 'em."</p> <p>Having assured himself that Taddy was standing by the wagon, he paid a hasty visit to the trunk in the garret, and concealed the envelope, still bound in its band of tape, among the papers. He then drove away, giving Taddy a final charge to beware of setting anything afire.</p> <p>He had driven about half a mile, when he met a ped<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_660" id="Page_660">[Pg 660]</SPAN></span>dler. There was nothing unusual or alarming in such a circumstance, surely; but, as Ducklow kept on, it troubled him.</p> <p>"He'll stop to the house, now, most likely, and want to trade. Findin' nobody but Taddy, there's no knowin' what he'll be tempted to do. But I ain't a-goin' to worry. I'll defy anybody to find them bonds. Besides, she may be home by this time. I guess she'll hear of the fire-alarm and hurry home: it'll be jest like her. She'll be there, and trade with the peddler!" thought Ducklow, uneasily. Then a frightful fancy possessed him. "She has threatened two or three times to sell that old trunkful of papers. He'll offer a big price for 'em, and ten to one she'll let him have 'em. Why <i>didn't</i> I think on't? What a stupid blunderbuss I be!"</p> <p>As Ducklow thought of it, he felt almost certain that Mrs. Ducklow had returned home, and that she was bargaining with the peddler at that moment. He fancied her smilingly receiving bright tin-ware for the old papers; and he could see the tape-tied envelope going into the bag with the rest. The result was that he turned about and whipped his old mare home again in terrific haste, to catch the departing peddler.</p> <p>Arriving, he found the house as he had left it, and Taddy occupied in making a kite-frame.</p> <p>"Did that peddler stop here?"</p> <p>"I hain't seen no peddler."</p> <p>"And hain't yer Ma Ducklow been home, nuther?"</p> <p>"No."</p> <p>And, with a guilty look, Taddy put the kite-frame behind him.</p> <p>Ducklow considered. The peddler had turned up a cross-street: he would probably turn down again and stop at the house, after all: Mrs. Ducklow might by that time<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_661" id="Page_661">[Pg 661]</SPAN></span> be at home: then the sale of old papers would be very likely to take place. Ducklow thought of leaving word that he did not wish any old papers in the house to be sold, but feared lest the request might excite Taddy's suspicions.</p> <p>"I don't see no way but for me to take the bonds with me," thought he, with an inward groan.</p> <p>He accordingly went to the garret, took the envelope out of the trunk, and placed it in the breast-pocket of his overcoat, to which he pinned it, to prevent it by any chance from getting out. He used six large, strong pins for the purpose, and was afterwards sorry he did not use seven.</p> <p>"There's suthin' losin' out o' yer pocket!" bawled Taddy, as he was once more mounting the wagon.</p> <p>Quick as lightning, Ducklow clapped his hand to his breast. In doing so he loosed his hold of the wagon-box and fell, raking his shin badly on the wheel.</p> <p>"Yer side-pocket! It's one o' yer mittens!" said Taddy.</p> <p>"You rascal! How you scared me!"</p> <p>Seating himself in the wagon, Ducklow gently pulled up his trousers-leg to look at the bruised part.</p> <p>"Got anything in your boot-leg to-day, Pa Ducklow?" asked Taddy, innocently.</p> <p>"Yes,&mdash;a barked shin!&mdash;all on your account, too! Go and put that straw back, and fix the carpet; and don't ye let me hear ye speak of my boot-leg again, or I'll boot-leg ye!"</p> <p>So saying, Ducklow departed.</p> <p>Instead of repairing the mischief he had done in the sitting-room, Taddy devoted his time and talents to the more interesting occupation of constructing his kite-frame. He worked at that until Mr. Grantly, the minister, driving by, stopped to inquire how the folks were.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_662" id="Page_662">[Pg 662]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Ain't to home: may I ride?" cried Taddy, all in a breath.</p> <p>Mr. Grantly was an indulgent old gentleman, fond of children: so he said, "Jump in;" and in a minute Taddy had scrambled to a seat by his side.</p> <p>And now occurred a circumstance which Ducklow had foreseen. The alarm of fire had reached Reuben's; and, although the report of its falseness followed immediately, Mrs. Ducklow's inflammable fancy was so kindled by it that she could find no comfort in prolonging her visit.</p> <p>"Mr. Ducklow'll be going for the trunk, and I <i>must</i> go home and see to things, Taddy's <i>such</i> a fellow for mischief. I can foot it; I shan't mind it."</p> <p>And off she started, walking herself out of breath in anxiety.</p> <p>She reached the brow of the hill just in time to see a chaise drive away from her own door.</p> <p>"Who <i>can</i> that be? I wonder if Taddy's ther' to guard the house! If anything should happen to them bonds!"</p> <p>Out of breath as she was, she quickened her pace, and trudged on, flushed, perspiring, panting, until she reached the house.</p> <p>"Thaddeus!" she called.</p> <p>No Taddy answered. She went in. The house was deserted. And, lo! the carpet torn up, and the bonds abstracted!</p> <p>Mr. Ducklow never would have made such work, removing the bonds. Then somebody else must have taken them, she reasoned.</p> <p>"The man in the chaise!" she exclaimed, or rather made an effort to exclaim, succeeding only in bringing forth a hoarse, gasping sound. Fear dried up articulation. <i>Vox faucibus h&aelig;sit.</i><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_663" id="Page_663">[Pg 663]</SPAN></span></p> <p>And Taddy? He had disappeared, been murdered, perhaps,&mdash;or gagged and carried away by the man in the chaise.</p> <p>Mrs. Ducklow flew hither and thither (to use a favorite phrase of her own), "like a hen with her head cut off;" then rushed out of the house and up the street, screaming after the chaise,&mdash;</p> <p>"Murder! murder! Stop thief! stop thief!"</p> <p>She waved her hands aloft in the air frantically. If she had trudged before, now she trotted, now she cantered; but, if the cantering of the old mare was fitly likened to that of a cow, to what thing, to what manner of motion under the sun, shall we liken the cantering of Mrs. Ducklow? It was original; it was unique; it was prodigious. Now, with her frantically waving hands, and all her undulating and flapping skirts, she seemed a species of huge, unwieldy bird, attempting to fly. Then she sank down into a heavy, dragging walk,&mdash;breath and strength all gone,&mdash;no voice left even to scream "murder!" Then, the awful realization of the loss of the bonds once more rushing over her, she started up again. "Half running, half flying, what progress she made!" Then Atkins's dog saw her, and, naturally mistaking her for a prodigy, came out at her, bristling up and bounding and barking terrifically.</p> <p>"Come here!" cried Atkins, following the dog. "What's the matter? What's to pay, Mrs. Ducklow?"</p> <p>Attempting to speak, the good woman could only pant and wheeze.</p> <p>"Robbed!" she at last managed to whisper, amid the yelpings of the cur that refused to be silenced.</p> <p>"Robbed? How? Who?"</p> <p>"The chaise. Ketch it."</p> <p>Her gestures expressed more than her words; and, At<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_664" id="Page_664">[Pg 664]</SPAN></span>kins's horse and wagon, with which he had been drawing out brush, being in the yard near-by, he ran to them, leaped to the seat, drove into the road, took Mrs. Ducklow aboard, and set out in vigorous pursuit of the slow two-wheeled vehicle.</p> <p>"Stop, you, sir! Stop, you, sir!" shrieked Mrs. Ducklow, having recovered her breath by the time they came up with the chaise.</p> <p>It stopped, and Mr. Grantly, the minister, put out his good-natured, surprised face.</p> <p>"You've robbed my house! You've took&mdash;"</p> <p>Mrs. Ducklow was going on in wild, accusatory accents, when she recognized the benign countenance.</p> <p>"What do you say? I have robbed you?" he exclaimed, very much astonished.</p> <p>"No, no! not you! You wouldn't do such a thing!" she stammered forth, while Atkins, who had laughed himself weak at Mr. Ducklow's plight earlier in the morning, now laughed himself into a side-ache at Mrs. Ducklow's ludicrous mistake. "But did you&mdash;did you stop at my house? Have you seen our Thaddeus?"</p> <p>"Here I be, Ma Ducklow!" piped a small voice; and Taddy, who had till then remained hidden, fearing punishment, peeped out of the chaise from behind the broad back of the minister.</p> <p>"Taddy! Taddy! how came the carpet&mdash;"</p> <p>"I pulled it up, huntin' for a marble," said Taddy, as she paused, overmastered by her emotions.</p> <p>"And the&mdash;the thing tied up in a brown wrapper?"</p> <p>"Pa Ducklow took it."</p> <p>"Ye sure?"</p> <p>"Yes; I seen him."</p> <p>"Oh, dear!" said Mrs. Ducklow, "I never was so beat! Mr. Grantly, I hope&mdash;excuse me&mdash;I didn't know what I<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_665" id="Page_665">[Pg 665]</SPAN></span> was about! Taddy, you notty boy, what did you leave the house for? Be ye quite sure yer Pa Ducklow&mdash;"</p> <p>Taddy replied that he was quite sure, as he climbed from the chaise into Atkins's wagon. The minister smilingly remarked that he hoped she would find no robbery had been committed, and went his way. Atkins, driving back, and setting her and Taddy down at the Ducklow gate, answered her embarrassed "Much obleeged to ye," with a sincere "Not at all," considering the fun he had had a sufficient compensation for his trouble. And thus ended the morning adventures, with the exception of an unimportant episode, in which Taddy, Mrs. Ducklow, and Mrs. Ducklow's rattan were the principal actors.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_666" id="Page_666">[Pg 666]</SPAN></span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="THE_SHOOTING-MATCH" id="THE_SHOOTING-MATCH"></SPAN>THE SHOOTING-MATCH</h2> <h3>BY A.B. LONGSTREET</h3> <p>Shooting-matches are probably nearly coeval with the colonization of Georgia. They are still common throughout the Southern States, though they are not as common as they were twenty-five or thirty years ago. Chance led me to one about a year ago. I was traveling in one of the northeastern counties, when I overtook a swarthy, bright-eyed, smirky little fellow, riding a small pony, and bearing on his shoulder a long, heavy rifle, which, judging from its looks, I should say had done service in Morgan's corps.</p> <p>"Good morning, sir!" said I, reining up my horse as I came beside him.</p> <p>"How goes it, stranger?" said he, with a tone of independence and self-confidence that awakened my curiosity to know a little of his character.</p> <p>"Going driving?" inquired I.</p> <p>"Not exactly," replied he, surveying my horse with a quizzical smile; "I haven't been a driving <i>by myself</i> for a year or two; and my nose has got so bad lately, I can't carry a cold trail <i>without hounds to help me</i>."</p> <p>Alone, and without hounds as he was, the question was rather a silly one; but it answered the purpose for which it was put, which was only to draw him into conversation, and I proceeded to make as decent a retreat as I could.</p> <p>"I didn't know," said I, "but that you were going to meet the huntsmen, or going to your stand."<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_667" id="Page_667">[Pg 667]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Ah, sure enough," rejoined he, "that <i>mout</i> be a bee, as the old woman said when she killed a wasp. It seems to me I ought to know you."</p> <p>"Well, if you <i>ought</i>, why <i>don't</i> you?"</p> <p>"What <i>mout</i> your name be?"</p> <p>"It <i>might</i> be anything," said I, with a borrowed wit, for I knew my man and knew what kind of conversation would please him most.</p> <p>"Well, what <i>is</i> it, then?"</p> <p>"It <i>is</i> Hall," said I; "but you know it might as well have been anything else."</p> <p>"Pretty digging!" said he. "I find you're not the fool I took you to be; so here's to a better acquaintance with you."</p> <p>"With all my heart," returned I; "but you must be as clever as I've been, and give me your name."</p> <p>"To be sure I will, my old coon; take it, take it, and welcome. Anything else about me you'd like to have?"</p> <p>"No," said I, "there's nothing else about you worth having."</p> <p>"Oh, yes there is, stranger! Do you see this?" holding up his ponderous rifle with an ease that astonished me. "If you will go with me to the shooting-match, and see me knock out the <i>bull's-eye</i> with her a few times, you'll agree the old <i>Soap-stick's</i> worth something when Billy Curlew puts his shoulder to her."</p> <p>This short sentence was replete with information to me. It taught me that my companion was <i>Billy Curlew</i>; that he was going to a <i>shooting-match</i>; that he called his rifle the <i>Soap-stick</i>, and that he was very confident of winning beef with her; or, which is nearly, but not quite the same thing, <i>driving the cross with her</i>.</p> <p>"Well," said I, "if the shooting-match is not too far out of my way, I'll go to it with pleasure."<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_668" id="Page_668">[Pg 668]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Unless your way lies through the woods from here," said Billy, "it'll not be much out of your way; for it's only a mile ahead of us, and there is no other road for you to take till you get there; and as that thing you're riding in ain't well suited to fast traveling among brushy knobs, I reckon you won't lose much by going by. I reckon you hardly ever was at a shooting-match, stranger, from the cut of your coat?"</p> <p>"Oh, yes," returned I, "many a time. I won beef at one when I was hardly old enough to hold a shot-gun off-hand."</p> <p>"<i>Children</i> don't go to shooting-matches about here," said he, with a smile of incredulity. "I never heard of but one that did, and he was a little <i>swinge</i> cat. He was born a shooting, and killed squirrels before he was weaned."</p> <p>"Nor did <i>I</i> ever hear of but one," replied I, "and that one was myself."</p> <p>"And where did you win beef so young, stranger?"</p> <p>"At Berry Adams's."</p> <p>"Why, stop, stranger, let me look at you good! Is your name <i>Lyman</i> Hall?"</p> <p>"The very same," said I.</p> <p>"Well, dang my buttons, if you ain't the very boy my daddy used to tell me about. I was too young to recollect you myself; but I've heard daddy talk about you many a time. I believe mammy's got a neck-handkerchief now that daddy won on your shooting at Collen Reid's store, when you were hardly knee high. Come along, Lyman, and I'll go my death upon you at the shooting-match, with the old Soap-stick at your shoulder."</p> <p>"Ah, Billy," said I, "the old Soap-stick will do much better at your own shoulder. It was my mother's notion that sent me to the shooting-match at Berry Adams's;<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_669" id="Page_669">[Pg 669]</SPAN></span> and, to tell the honest truth, it was altogether a chance shot that made me win beef; but that wasn't generally known; and most everybody believed that I was carried there on account of my skill in shooting; and my fame was spread far and wide, I well remember. I remember, too, perfectly well, your father's bet on me at the store. <i>He</i> was at the shooting-match, and nothing could make him believe but that I was a great shot with a rifle as well as a shot-gun. Bet he would on me, in spite of all I could say, though I assured him that I had never shot a rifle in my life. It so happened, too, that there were but two bullets, or, rather, a bullet and a half; and so confident was your father in my skill, that he made me shoot the half bullet; and, strange to tell, by another chance shot, I like to have drove the cross and won his bet."</p> <p>"Now I know you're the very chap, for I heard daddy tell that very thing about the half bullet. Don't say anything about it, Lyman, and darn my old shoes, if I don't tare the lint off the boys with you at the shooting-match. They'll never 'spect such a looking man as you are of knowing anything about a rifle. I'll risk your <i>chance</i> shots."</p> <p>I soon discovered that the father had eaten sour grapes, and the son's teeth were on edge; for Billy was just as incorrigibly obstinate in his belief of my dexterity with a rifle as his father had been before him.</p> <p>We soon reached the place appointed for the shooting-match. It went by the name of Sims's Cross Roads, because here two roads intersected each other; and because, from the time that the first had been laid out, Archibald Sims had resided there. Archibald had been a justice of the peace in his day (and where is the man of his age in Georgia who has not?); consequently, he was called 'Squire Sims. It is the custom in this state, when a man<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_670" id="Page_670">[Pg 670]</SPAN></span> has once acquired a title, civil or military, to force it upon him as long as he lives; hence the countless number of titled personages who are introduced in these sketches.</p> <p>We stopped at the 'squire's door. Billy hastily dismounted, gave me the shake of the hand which he had been reluctantly reserving for a mile back, and, leading me up to the 'squire, thus introduced me: "Uncle Archy, this is Lyman Hall; and for all you see him in these fine clothes, he's a <i>swinge</i> cat; a darn sight cleverer fellow than he looks to be. Wait till you see him lift the old Soap-stick, and draw a bead upon the bull's-eye. You <i>gwine</i> to see fun here to-day. Don't say nothing about it."</p> <p>"Well, Mr. Swinge-cat," said the 'squire, "here's to a better acquaintance with you," offering me his hand.</p> <p>"How goes it, Uncle Archy?" said I, taking his hand warmly (for I am always free and easy with those who are so with me; and in this course I rarely fail to please). "How's the old woman?"</p> <p>"Egad," said the 'squire, chuckling, "there you're too hard for me; for she died two-and-twenty years ago, and I haven't heard a word from her since."</p> <p>"What! and you never married again?"</p> <p>"Never, as God's my judge!" (a solemn asseveration, truly, upon so light a subject.)</p> <p>"Well, that's not my fault."</p> <p>"No, nor it's not mine, <i>ni</i>ther," said the 'squire.</p> <p>Here we were interrupted by the cry of another Rancey Sniffle. "Hello, here! All you as wish to put in for the shoot'n'-match, come on here! for the putt'n' in's <i>riddy</i> to begin."</p> <p>About sixty persons, including mere spectators, had collected; the most of whom were more or less obedient to the call of Mealy Whitecotton, for that was the name of the self-constituted commander-in-chief. Some hastened<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_671" id="Page_671">[Pg 671]</SPAN></span> and some loitered, as they desired to be first or last on the list; for they shoot in the order in which their names are entered.</p> <p>The beef was not present, nor is it ever upon such occasions; but several of the company had seen it, who all concurred in the opinion that it was a good beef, and well worth the price that was set upon it&mdash;eleven dollars. A general inquiry ran around, in order to form some opinion as to the number of shots that would be taken; for, of course, the price of a shot is cheapened in proportion to the increase of that number. It was soon ascertained that not more than twenty persons would take chances; but these twenty agreed to take the number of shots, at twenty-five cents each.</p> <p>The competitors now began to give in their names; some for one, some for two, three, and a few for as many as four shots.</p> <p>Billy Curlew hung back to the last; and when the list was offered him, five shots remained undisposed of.</p> <p>"How many shots left?" inquired Billy.</p> <p>"Five," was the reply.</p> <p>"Well, I take 'em all. Put down four shots to me, and one to Lyman Hall, paid for by William Curlew."</p> <p>I was thunder-struck, not at his proposition to pay for my shot, because I knew that Billy meant it as a token of friendship, and he would have been hurt if I had refused to let him do me this favor; but at the unexpected announcement of my name as a competitor for beef, at least one hundred miles from the place of my residence. I was prepared for a challenge from Billy to some of his neighbors for a <i>private</i> match upon me; but not for this.</p> <p>I therefore protested against his putting in for me, and urged every reason to dissuade him from it that I could, without wounding his feelings.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_672" id="Page_672">[Pg 672]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Put it down!" said Billy, with the authority of an emperor, and with a look that spoke volumes intelligible to every by-stander. "Reckon I don't know what I'm about?" Then wheeling off, and muttering in an under, self-confident tone, "Dang old Roper," continued he, "if he don't knock that cross to the north corner of creation and back again before a cat can lick her foot."</p> <p>Had I been king of the cat tribe, they could not have regarded me with more curious attention than did the whole company from this moment. Every inch of me was examined with the nicest scrutiny; and some plainly expressed by their looks that they never would have taken me for such a bite. I saw no alternative but to throw myself upon a third chance shot; for though, by the rules of the sport, I would have been allowed to shoot by proxy, by all the rules of good breeding I was bound to shoot in person. It would have been unpardonable to disappoint the expectations which had been raised on me. Unfortunately, too, for me, the match differed in one respect from those which I had been in the habit of attending in my younger days. In olden times the contest was carried on chiefly with <i>shot-guns</i>, a generic term which, in those days, embraced three descriptions of firearms: <i>Indian-traders</i> (a long, cheap, but sometimes excellent kind of gun, that mother Britain used to send hither for traffic with the Indians), <i>the large musket</i>, and the <i>shot-gun</i>, properly so-called. Rifles were, however, always permitted to compete with them, under equitable restrictions. These were, that they should be fired off-hand, while the shot-guns were allowed a rest, the distance being equal; or that the distance should be one hundred yards for a rifle, to sixty for the shot-gun, the mode of firing being equal.</p> <p>But this was a match of rifles exclusively; and these are by far the most common at this time.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_673" id="Page_673">[Pg 673]</SPAN></span></p> <p>Most of the competitors fire at the same target; which is usually a board from nine inches to a foot wide, charred on one side as black as it can be made by fire, without impairing materially the uniformity of its surface; on the darkened side of which is <i>pegged</i> a square piece of white paper, which is larger or smaller, according to the distance at which it is to be placed from the marksmen. This is almost invariably sixty yards, and for it the paper is reduced to about two and a half inches square. Out of the center of it is cut a rhombus of about the width of an inch, measured diagonally; this is the <i>bull's-eye</i>, or <i>diamond</i>, as the marksmen choose to call it; in the center of this is the cross. But every man is permitted to fix his target to his own taste; and accordingly, some remove one-fourth of the paper, cutting from the center of the square to the two lower corners, so as to leave a large angle opening from the center downward; while others reduce the angle more or less: but it is rarely the case that all are not satisfied with one of these figures.</p> <p>The beef is divided into five prizes, or, as they are commonly termed, five <i>quarters</i>&mdash;the hide and tallow counting as one. For several years after the revolutionary war, a sixth was added: the <i>lead</i> which was shot in the match. This was the prize of the sixth best shot; and it used to be carefully extracted from the board or tree in which it was lodged, and afterward remoulded. But this grew out of the exigency of the times, and has, I believe, been long since abandoned everywhere.</p> <p>The three master shots and rivals were Moses Firmby, Larkin Spivey and Billy Curlew; to whom was added, upon this occasion, by common consent and with awful forebodings, your humble servant.</p> <p>The target was fixed at an elevation of about three feet from the ground; and the judges (Captain Turner and<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_674" id="Page_674">[Pg 674]</SPAN></span> 'Squire Porter) took their stands by it, joined by about half the spectators.</p> <p>The first name on the catalogue was Mealy Whitecotton. Mealy stepped out, rifle in hand, and toed the mark. His rifle was about three inches longer than himself, and near enough his own thickness to make the remark of Darby Chislom, as he stepped out, tolerably appropriate: "Here comes the corn-stalk and the sucker!" said Darby.</p> <p>"Kiss my foot!" said Mealy. "The way I'll creep into that bull's-eye's a fact."</p> <p>"You'd better creep into your hind sight," said Darby. Mealy raised and fired.</p> <p>"A pretty good shot, Mealy!" said one.</p> <p>"Yes, a blamed good shot!" said a second.</p> <p>"Well done, Meal!" said a third.</p> <p>I was rejoiced when one of the company inquired, "Where is it?" for I could hardly believe they were founding these remarks upon the evidence of their senses.</p> <p>"Just on the right-hand side of the bull's-eye," was the reply.</p> <p>I looked with all the power of my eyes, but was unable to discover the least change in the surface of the paper. Their report, however, was true; so much keener is the vision of a practiced than an unpracticed eye.</p> <p>The next in order was Hiram Baugh. Hiram was like some race-horses which I have seen; he was too good not to contend for every prize, and too good for nothing ever to win one.</p> <p>"Gentlemen," said he, as he came to the mark, "I don't say that I'll win beef; but if my piece don't blow, I'll eat the paper, or be mighty apt to do it, if you'll b'lieve my racket. My powder are not good powder, gentlemen; I bought it <i>thum</i> (from) Zeb Daggett, and gin him three-quarters of a dollar a pound for it; but it are not what I<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_675" id="Page_675">[Pg 675]</SPAN></span> call good powder, gentlemen; but if old Buck-killer burns it clear, the boy you call Hiram Baugh eat's paper, or comes mighty near it."</p> <p>"Well, blaze away," said Mealy, "and be d&mdash;&mdash;d to you, and Zeb Daggett, and your powder, and Buck-killer, and your powder-horn and shot-pouch to boot! How long you gwine stand thar talking 'fore you shoot?"</p> <p>"Never mind," said Hiram, "I can talk a little and shoot a little, too, but that's nothin'. Here goes!"</p> <p>Hiram assumed the figure of a note of interrogation, took a long sight, and fired.</p> <p>"I've eat paper," said he, at the crack of the gun, without looking, or seeming to look, toward the target. "Buck-killer made a clear racket. Where am I, gentlemen?"</p> <p>"You're just between Mealy and the diamond," was the reply.</p> <p>"I said I'd eat paper, and I've done it; haven't I, gentlemen?"</p> <p>"And 'spose you have!" said Mealy, "what do that 'mount to? You'll not win beef, and never did."</p> <p>"Be that as it mout be, I've beat Meal 'Cotton mighty easy; and the boy you call Hiram Baugh are able to do it."</p> <p>"And what do that 'mount to? Who the devil an't able to beat Meal 'Cotton! I don't make no pretense of bein' nothin' great, no how; but you always makes out as if you were gwine to keep 'em makin' crosses for you constant, and then do nothin' but '<i>eat paper</i>' at last; and that's a long way from <i>eatin' beef</i>, 'cordin' to Meal 'Cotton's notions, as you call him."</p> <p>Simon Stow was now called on.</p> <p>"Oh, Lord!" exclaimed two or three: "now we have it. It'll take him as long to shoot as it would take 'Squire Dobbins to run round a <i>track</i> o' land."<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_676" id="Page_676">[Pg 676]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Good-by, boys," said Bob Martin.</p> <p>"Where are you going, Bob?"</p> <p>"Going to gather in my crop; I'll be back again though by the time Sime Stow shoots."</p> <p>Simon was used to all this, and therefore it did not disconcert him in the least. He went off and brought his own target, and set it up with his own hand.</p> <p>He then wiped out his rifle, rubbed the pan with his hat, drew a piece of tow through the touch-hole with his wiper, filled his charger with great care, poured the powder into the rifle with equal caution, shoved in with his finger the two or three vagrant grains that lodged round the mouth of his piece, took out a handful of bullets, looked them all over carefully, selected one without flaw or wrinkle, drew out his patching, found the most even part of it, sprung open the grease-box in the breech of his rifle; took up just so much grease, distributed it with great equality over the chosen part of his patching, laid it over the muzzle of his rifle, grease side down, placed his ball upon it, pressed it a little, then took it up and turned the neck a little more perpendicularly downward, placed his knife handle on it, just buried it in the mouth of the rifle, cut off the redundant patching just above the bullet, looked at it, and shook his head in token that he had cut off too much or too little, no one knew which, sent down the ball, measured the contents of his gun with his first and second fingers on the protruding part of the ramrod, shook his head again, to signify there was too much or too little powder, primed carefully, placed an arched piece of tin over the hind sight to shade it, took his place, got a friend to hold his hat over the foresight to shade it, took a very long sight, fired, and didn't even eat the paper.</p> <p>"My piece was badly <i>loadned</i>," said Simon, when he learned the place of his ball.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_677" id="Page_677">[Pg 677]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"Oh, you didn't take time," said Mealy. "No man can shoot that's in such a hurry as you is. I'd hardly got to sleep 'fore I heard the crack o' the gun."</p> <p>The next was Moses Firmby. He was a tall, slim man, of rather sallow complexion; and it is a singular fact, that though probably no part of the world is more healthy than the mountainous parts of Georgia, the mountaineers have not generally robust frames or fine complexions: they are, however, almost inexhaustible by toil.</p> <p>Moses kept us not long in suspense. His rifle was already charged, and he fixed it upon the target with a steadiness of nerve and aim that was astonishing to me and alarming to all the rest. A few seconds, and the report of his rifle broke the deathlike silence which prevailed.</p> <p>"No great harm done yet," said Spivey, manifestly relieved from anxiety by an event which seemed to me better calculated to produce despair. Firmby's ball had cut out the lower angle of the diamond, directly on a right line with the cross.</p> <p>Three or four followed him without bettering his shot; all of whom, however, with one exception, "eat the paper."</p> <p>It now came to Spivey's turn. There was nothing remarkable in his person or manner. He took his place, lowered his rifle slowly from a perpendicular until it came on a line with the mark, held it there like a vice for a moment and fired.</p> <p>"Pretty <i>sevigrous</i>, but nothing killing yet," said Billy Curlew, as he learned the place of Spivey's ball.</p> <p>Spivey's ball had just broken the upper angle of the diamond; beating Firmby about half its width.</p> <p>A few more shots, in which there was nothing remarkable, brought us to Billy Curlew. Billy stepped out with much confidence, and brought the Soap-stick to an order,<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_678" id="Page_678">[Pg 678]</SPAN></span> while he deliberately rolled up his shirt sleeves. Had I judged Billy's chance of success from the looks of his gun, I should have said it was hopeless. The stock of Soap-stick seemed to have been made with a case-knife; and had it been, the tool would have been but a poor apology for its clumsy appearance. An auger-hole in the breech served for a grease-box; a cotton string assisted a single screw in holding on the lock; and the thimbles were made, one of brass, one of iron, and one of tin.</p> <p>"Where's Lark Spivey's bullet?" called out Billy to the judges, as he finished rolling up his sleeves.</p> <p>"About three-quarters of an inch from the cross," was the reply.</p> <p>"Well, clear the way! the Soap-stick's coming, and she'll be along in there among 'em presently."</p> <p>Billy now planted himself astraddle, like an inverted V; shot forward his left hip, drew his body back to an angle of about forty-five degrees with the plane of the horizon, brought his cheek down close to the breech of old Soap-stick, and fixed her upon the mark with untrembling hand. His sight was long, and the swelling muscles of his left arm led me to believe that he was lessening his chance of success with every half second that he kept it burdened with his ponderous rifle; but it neither flagged nor wavered until Soap-stick made her report.</p> <p>"Where am I?" said Billy, as the smoke rose from before his eye.</p> <p>"You've jist touched the cross on the lower side," was the reply of one of the judges.</p> <p>"I was afraid I was drawing my bead a <i>leetle</i> too fine," said Billy. "Now, Lyman, you see what the Soap-stick can do. Take her, and show the boys how you used to do when you was a baby."</p> <p>I begged to reserve my shot to the last; pleading, rather<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_679" id="Page_679">[Pg 679]</SPAN></span> sophistically, that it was, in point of fact, one of the Billy's shots. My plea was rather indulged than sustained, and the marksmen who had taken more than one shot commenced the second round. This round was a manifest improvement upon the first. The cross was driven three times: once by Spivey, once by Firmby, and once by no less a personage than Mealy Whitecotton, whom chance seemed to favor for this time, merely that he might retaliate upon Hiram Baugh; and the bull's-eye was disfigured out of all shape.</p> <p>The third and fourth rounds were shot. Billy discharged his last shot, which left the rights of parties thus: Billy Curlew first and fourth choice, Spivey second, Firmby third and Whitecotton fifth. Some of my readers may perhaps be curious to learn how a distinction comes to be made between several, all of whom drive the cross. The distinction is perfectly natural and equitable. Threads are stretched from the uneffaced parts of the once intersecting lines, by means of which the original position of the cross is precisely ascertained. Each bullet-hole being nicely pegged up as it is made, it is easy to ascertain its circumference. To this I believe they usually, if not invariably, measure, where none of the balls touch the cross; but if the cross be driven, they measure from it to the center of the bullet-hole. To make a draw shot, therefore, between two who drive the cross, it is necessary that the center of both balls should pass directly through the cross; a thing that very rarely happens.</p> <p><i>The Bite</i> alone remained to shoot. Billy wiped out his rifle carefully, loaded her to the top of his skill, and handed her to me. "Now," said he, "Lyman, draw a fine bead, but not too fine; for Soap-stick bears up her ball well. Take care and don't touch the trigger until you've got your bead; for she's spring-trigger'd and goes mighty<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_680" id="Page_680">[Pg 680]</SPAN></span> easy: but you hold her to the place you want her, and if she don't go there, dang old Roper."</p> <p>I took hold of Soap-stick, and lapsed immediately into the most hopeless despair. I am sure I never handled as heavy a gun in all my life. "Why, Billy," said I, "you little mortal, you! what do you use such a gun as this for?"</p> <p>"Look at the bull's-eye yonder!" said he.</p> <p>"True," said I, "but <i>I</i> can't shoot her; it is impossible."</p> <p>"Go 'long, you old coon!" said Billy; "I see what you're at;" intimating that all this was merely to make the coming shot the more remarkable. "Daddy's little boy don't shoot anything but the old Soap-stick here to-day, I know."</p> <p>The judges, I knew, were becoming impatient, and, withal, my situation was growing more embarrassing every second; so I e'en resolved to try the Soap-stick without further parley.</p> <p>I stepped out, and the most intense interest was excited all around me, and it flashed like electricity around the target, as I judged from the anxious gaze of all in that direction.</p> <p>Policy dictated that I should fire with a falling rifle, and I adopted this mode; determining to fire as soon as the sights came on a line with the diamond, <i>bead</i> or no <i>bead</i>. Accordingly, I commenced lowering old Soap-stick; but, in spite of all my muscular powers, she was strictly obedient to the laws of gravitation, and came down with a uniformly accelerated velocity. Before I could arrest her downward flight, she had not only passed the target, but was making rapid encroachments on my own toes.</p> <p>"Why, he's the weakest man in the arms I ever seed," said one, in a half whisper.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_681" id="Page_681">[Pg 681]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"It's only his fun," said Billy; "I know him."</p> <p>"It may be fun," said the other, "but it looks mightily like yearnest to a man up a tree."</p> <p>I now, of course, determined to reverse the mode of firing, and put forth all my physical energies to raise Soap-stick to the mark. The effort silenced Billy, and gave tongue to all his companions. I had just strength enough to master Soap-stick's obstinate proclivity, and, consequently, my nerves began to exhibit palpable signs of distress with her first imperceptible movement upward. A trembling commenced in my arms; increased, and extended rapidly to my body and lower extremities; so that, by the time that I had brought Soap-stick up to the mark, I was shaking from head to foot, exactly like a man under the continued action of a strong galvanic battery. In the meantime my friends gave vent to their feelings freely.</p> <p>"I swear poin' blank," said one, "that man can't shoot."</p> <p>"He used to shoot well," said another; "but can't now, nor never could."</p> <p>"You better git away from 'bout that mark!" bawled a third, "for I'll be dod darned if Broadcloth don't give some of you the dry gripes if you stand too close thare."</p> <p>"The stranger's got the peedoddles," said a fourth, with humorous gravity.</p> <p>"If he had bullets enough in his gun, he'd shoot a ring round the bull's-eye big as a spinning wheel," said a fifth.</p> <p>As soon as I found that Soap-stick was high enough (for I made no farther use of the sights than to ascertain this fact), I pulled trigger, and off she went. I have always found that the most creditable way of relieving myself of derision was to heighten it myself as much as possible. It is a good plan in all circles, but by far the best which can be adopted among the plain, rough farmers of the country. Accordingly, I brought old Soap-stick to an<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_682" id="Page_682">[Pg 682]</SPAN></span> order with an air of triumph; tipped Billy a wink, and observed, "Now, Billy, 's your time to make your fortune. Bet 'em two to one that I've knocked out the cross."</p> <p>"No, I'll be dod blamed if I do," said Billy; "but I'll bet you two to one that you hain't hit the plank."</p> <p>"Ah, Billy," said I, "I was joking about <i>betting</i>, for I never bet; nor would I have you to bet: indeed, I do not feel exactly right in shooting for beef; for it is a species of gaming at last: but I'll say this much: if that cross isn't knocked out, I'll never shoot for beef again as long as I live."</p> <p>"By dod," said Mealy Whitecotton, "you'll lose no great things at that."</p> <p>"Well," said I, "I reckon I know a little about wabbling. Is it possible, Billy, a man who shoots as well as you do, never practiced shooting with the double wabble? It's the greatest take in the world when you learn to drive the cross with it. Another sort for getting bets upon, to the drop-sight, with a single wabble! And the Soap-stick's the very yarn for it."</p> <p>"Tell you what, stranger," said one, "you're too hard for us all here. We never <i>hearn</i> o' that sort o' shoot'n' in these parts."</p> <p>"Well," returned I, "you've seen it now, and I'm the boy that can do it."</p> <p>The judges were now approaching with the target, and a singular combination of circumstances had kept all my party in utter ignorance of the result of my shot. Those about the target had been prepared by Billy Curlew for a great shot from me; their expectations had received assurance from the courtesy which had been extended to me; and nothing had happened to disappoint them but the single caution to them against the "dry gripes," which was as likely to have been given in irony as in earnest;<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_683" id="Page_683">[Pg 683]</SPAN></span> for my agonies under the weight of the Soap-stick were either imperceptible to them at the distance of sixty yards, or, being visible, were taken as the flourishes of an expert who wished to "astonish the natives." The other party did not think the direction of my ball worth the trouble of a question; or if they did, my airs and harangue had put the thought to flight before it was delivered. Consequently, they were all transfixed with astonishment when the judges presented the target to them, and gravely observed, "It's only second best, after all the fuss."</p> <p>"Second best!" exclaimed I, with uncontrollable transports.</p> <p>The whole of my party rushed to the target to have the evidence of their senses before they would believe the report; but most marvelous fortune decreed that it should be true. Their incredulity and astonishment were most fortunate for me; for they blinded my hearers to the real feelings with which the exclamation was uttered, and allowed me sufficient time to prepare myself for making the best use of what I had said before with a very different object.</p> <p>"Second best!" reiterated I, with an air of despondency, as the company turned from the target to me. "Second best, only? Here, Billy, my son, take the old Soap-stick; she's a good piece, but I'm getting too old and dim-sighted to shoot a rifle, especially with the drop-sight and double wabbles."</p> <p>"Why, good Lord a'mighty!" said Billy, with a look that baffles all description, "an't you <i>driv</i> the cross?"</p> <p>"Oh, driv the cross!" rejoined I, carelessly. "What's that! Just look where my ball is! I do believe in my soul its center is a full quarter of an inch from the cross. I wanted to lay the center of the bullet upon the cross, just as if you'd put it there with your fingers."<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_684" id="Page_684">[Pg 684]</SPAN></span></p> <p>Several received this palaver with a contemptuous but very appropriate curl of the nose; and Mealy Whitecotton offered to bet a half pint "that I couldn't do the like again with no sort o' wabbles, he didn't care what." But I had already fortified myself on this quarter of my morality. A decided majority, however, were clearly of opinion that I was serious; and they regarded me as one of the wonders of the world. Billy increased the majority by now coming out fully with my history, as he had received it from his father; to which I listened with quite as much astonishment as any other one of his hearers. He begged me to go home with him for the night, or, as he expressed it, "to go home with him and swap lies that night, and it shouldn't cost me a cent;" the true reading of which is, that if I would go home with him, and give him the pleasure of an evening's chat about old times, his house should be as free to me as my own. But I could not accept his hospitality without retracing five or six miles of the road which I had already passed, and therefore I declined it.</p> <p>"Well, if you won't go, what must I tell the old woman for you, for she'll be mighty glad to hear from the boy that won the silk handkerchief for her, and I expect she'll lick me for not bringing you home with me."</p> <p>"Tell her," said I, "that I send her a quarter of beef which I won, as I did the handkerchief, by nothing in the world but mere good luck."</p> <p>"Hold your jaw, Lyman!" said Billy; "I an't a gwine to tell the old woman any such lies; for she's a reg'lar built Meth'dist."</p> <p>As I turned to depart, "Stop a minute, stranger!" said one: then lowering his voice to a confidential but distinctly audible tone, "What you offering for?" continued he. I assured him I was not a candidate for anything; that I had accidentally fallen in with Billy Curlew, who<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_685" id="Page_685">[Pg 685]</SPAN></span> begged me to come with him to the shooting-match, and, as it lay right on my road, I had stopped. "Oh," said he, with a conciliatory nod, "if you're up for anything, you needn't be mealy-mouthed about it 'fore us boys; for we'll all go in for you here up to the handle."</p> <p>"Yes," said Billy, "dang old Roper if we don't go our death for you, no matter who offers. If ever you come out for anything, Lyman, jist let the boys of Upper Hogthief know it, and they'll go for you to the hilt, against creation, tit or no tit, that's the <i>tatur</i>."</p> <p>I thanked them, kindly, but repeated my assurances. The reader will not suppose that the district took its name from the character of the inhabitants. In almost every county in the state there is some spot or district which bears a contemptuous appellation, usually derived from local rivalships, or from a single accidental circumstance.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_686" id="Page_686">[Pg 686]</SPAN></span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="DESOLATION1" id="DESOLATION1"></SPAN>DESOLATION<SPAN name="FNanchor_1_1" id="FNanchor_1_1"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_1_1" class="fnanchor">[1]</SPAN></h2> <h3>BY TOM MASSON</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Somewhat back from the village street<br /></span> <span class="i0">Stands the old-fashioned country seat.<br /></span> <span class="i0">Across its antique portico<br /></span> <span class="i0">Tall poplar trees their shadows throw.<br /></span> <span class="i0">And there throughout the livelong day,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Jemima plays the pi-a-na.<br /></span> <span class="i12">Do, re, mi,<br /></span> <span class="i12">Mi, re, do.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">In the front parlor, there it stands,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And there Jemima plies her hands,<br /></span> <span class="i0">While her papa beneath his cloak,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Mutters and groans: "This is no joke!"<br /></span> <span class="i0">And swears to himself and sighs, alas!<br /></span> <span class="i0">With sorrowful voice to all who pass.<br /></span> <span class="i12">Do, re, mi,<br /></span> <span class="i12">Mi, re, do.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Through days of death and days of birth<br /></span> <span class="i0">She plays as if she owned the earth.<br /></span> <span class="i0">Through every swift vicissitude<br /></span> <span class="i0">She drums as if it did her good,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And still she sits from morn till night<br /></span> <span class="i0">And plunks away with main and might,<br /></span> <span class="i12">Do, re, mi,<br /></span> <span class="i12">Mi, re, do.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_687" id="Page_687">[Pg 687]</SPAN></span><span class="i0">In that mansion used to be<br /></span> <span class="i0">Free-hearted hospitality;<br /></span> <span class="i0">But that was many years before<br /></span> <span class="i0">Jemima monkeyed with the score.<br /></span> <span class="i0">When she began her daily plunk,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Into their graves the neighbors sunk.<br /></span> <span class="i12">Do, re, mi,<br /></span> <span class="i12">Mi, re, do.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">To other worlds they've long since fled,<br /></span> <span class="i0">All thankful that they're safely dead.<br /></span> <span class="i0">They stood the racket while alive<br /></span> <span class="i0">Until Jemima rose at five.<br /></span> <span class="i0">And then they laid their burdens down,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And one and all they skipped the town.<br /></span> <span class="i12">Do, re, mi,<br /></span> <span class="i12">Mi, re, do.<br /></span> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_688" id="Page_688">[Pg 688]</SPAN></span></div></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="CRANKIDOXOLOGY2" id="CRANKIDOXOLOGY2"></SPAN>CRANKIDOXOLOGY<SPAN name="FNanchor_2_2" id="FNanchor_2_2"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_2_2" class="fnanchor">[2]</SPAN></h2> <h3>BY WALLACE IRWIN</h3> <h3>(<i>Being a Mental Attitude from Bernard Pshaw</i>)</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">It's wrong to be thoroughly human,<br /></span> <span class="i2">It's stupid alone to be good,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And why should the "virtuous" woman<br /></span> <span class="i2">Continue to do as she should?<br /></span> <span class="i2">(It's stupid to do as you should!)<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For I'd rather be famous than pleasant,<br /></span> <span class="i2">I'd rather be rude than polite;<br /></span> <span class="i4">It's easy to sneer<br /></span> <span class="i4">When you're witty and queer,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And I'd rather be Clever than Right.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I'm bored by mere Shakespeare and Milton,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Though Hubbard compels me to rave;<br /></span> <span class="i0">If <i>I</i> should lay laurels to wilt on<br /></span> <span class="i2">That foggy Shakespearean grave,<br /></span> <span class="i2">How William would squirm in his grave!<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For I'd rather be Pshaw than be Shakespeare,<br /></span> <span class="i2">I'd rather be Candid than Wise;<br /></span> <span class="i4">And the way I amuse<br /></span> <span class="i4">Is to roundly abuse<br /></span> <span class="i0">The Public I feign to despise.<br /></span> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_689" id="Page_689">[Pg 689]</SPAN></span></div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I'm a Socialist, loving my brother<br /></span> <span class="i2">In quite an original way,<br /></span> <span class="i0">With my maxim, "Detest One Another"&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i2">Though, faith, I don't mean what I say.<br /></span> <span class="i2">(It's beastly to mean what you say!)<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For I'm fonder of talk than of Husbands,<br /></span> <span class="i2">And I'm fonder of fads than of Wives,<br /></span> <span class="i4">So I say unto you,<br /></span> <span class="i4">If you don't as you do<br /></span> <span class="i0">You will do as you don't all your lives.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">My "Candida's" ruddy as coral,<br /></span> <span class="i2">With thoughts quite too awfully plain&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i0">If folks would just call me Immoral<br /></span> <span class="i2">I'd feel that I'd not lived in vain.<br /></span> <span class="i2">(It's nasty, this living in vain!)<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For I'd rather be Martyred than Married,<br /></span> <span class="i2">I'd rather be tempted than tamed,<br /></span> <span class="i4">And if <i>I</i> had my way<br /></span> <span class="i4">(At least, so I say)<br /></span> <span class="i0">All Babes would be labeled, "Unclaimed."<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I'm an epigrammatical Moses,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Whose humorous tablets of stone<br /></span> <span class="i0">Condemn affectations and poses&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i2">Excepting a few of my own.<br /></span> <span class="i2">(I dote on a few of my own.)<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For my method of booming the market<br /></span> <span class="i2">When Managers ask for a play<br /></span> <span class="i4">Is to say on a bluff,<br /></span> <span class="i4">"I'm so fond of my stuff<br /></span> <span class="i0">That I don't want it acted&mdash;go 'way!"<br /></span><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_690" id="Page_690">[Pg 690]</SPAN></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I'm the club-ladies' Topic of Topics,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Where solemn discussions are spent<br /></span> <span class="i0">In struggles as hot as the tropics,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Attempting to find what I meant.<br /></span> <span class="i1">(<i>I</i> never can tell what I meant!)<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For it's fun to make bosh of the Gospel,<br /></span> <span class="i2">And it's sport to make gospel of Bosh,<br /></span> <span class="i4">While divorc&eacute;es hurrah<br /></span> <span class="i4">For the Sayings of Pshaw<br /></span> <span class="i0">And his sub-psychological Josh.<br /></span> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_691" id="Page_691">[Pg 691]</SPAN></span></div></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="MY_HONEY_MY_LOVE" id="MY_HONEY_MY_LOVE"></SPAN>MY HONEY, MY LOVE</h2> <h3>BY JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Hit's a mighty fur ways up de Far'well Lane,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">You may ax Mister Crow, you may ax Mr. Crane,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Dey'll make you a bow, en dey'll tell you de same,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Hit's a mighty fur ways fer ter go in de night,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0"><i>My honey, my love, my heart's delight</i>&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i14"><i>My honey, my love!</i><br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Mister Mink, he creeps twel he wake up de snipe,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Mister Bull-Frog holler, Come alight my pipe!<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">En de Pa'tridge ax, Ain't yo' peas ripe?<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Better not walk erlong dar much atter night,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0"><i>My honey, my love, my heart's delight</i>&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i14"><i>My honey, my love!</i><br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">De Bully-Bat fly mighty close ter de groun',<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Mister Fox, he coax 'er, Do come down!<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_692" id="Page_692">[Pg 692]</SPAN></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Mister Coon, he rack all 'roun' en 'roun',<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">In de darkes' night, oh, de nigger, he's a sight!<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0"><i>My honey, my love, my heart's delight</i>&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i14"><i>My honey, my love!</i><br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Oh, flee, Miss Nancy, flee ter my knee,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">'Lev'n big, fat coons liv' in one tree,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Oh, ladies all, won't you marry me?<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Tu'n lef, tu'n right, we'll dance all night,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0"><i>My honey, my love, my heart's delight</i>&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i14"><i>My honey, my love!</i><br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">De big Owl holler en cry fer his mate,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Oh, don't stay long! Oh, don't stay late!<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Hit ain't so mighty fur ter de Good-by Gate,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0">Whar we all got ter go w'en we sing out de night,<br /></span> <span class="i14">My honey, my love!<br /></span> <span class="i0"><i>My honey, my love, my heart's delight</i>&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i14"><i>My honey, my love!</i><br /></span> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_693" id="Page_693">[Pg 693]</SPAN></span></div></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="THE_GRAND_OPERA" id="THE_GRAND_OPERA"></SPAN>THE GRAND OPERA</h2> <h3>BY BILLY BAXTER</h3> <p>Well, I decided to get into my class, so I started for the smoking-room. I hadn't gone three feet till some woman held me up and began telling me how she adored Grand Opera. I didn't even reply. I fled madly, and remained hidden in the tall grasses of the smoking-room until it was time to go home. Jim, should any one ever tell you that Grand Opera is all right, he is either trying to even up or he is not a true friend. I was over in New York with the family last winter, and they made me go with them to <i>Die Walkure</i> at the Metropolitan Opera House. When I got the tickets I asked the man's advice as to the best location. He said that all true lovers of music occupied the dress-circle and balconies, and that he had some good center dress-circle seats at three bones per. Here's a tip, Jim. If the box man ever hands you that true-lover game, just reach in through the little hole and soak him in the solar for me. It's coming to him. I'll give you my word of honor we were a quarter of a mile from the stage. We went up in an elevator, were shown to our seats, and who was right behind us but my old pal, Bud Hathaway, from Chicago. Bud had his two sisters with him, and he gave me one sad look, which said plainer than words, "So you're up against it, too, eh!" We introduced all hands around, and about nine o'clock the curtain went up. After we had waited fully ten minutes, out came a big, fat, greasy looking Dago<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_694" id="Page_694">[Pg 694]</SPAN></span> with nothing on but a bear robe. He went over to the side of the stage and sat down on a bum rock. It was plainly to be seen, even from my true lovers' seat, that his bearlets was sorer than a dog about something. Presently in came a woman, and none of the true lovers seemed to know who she was. Some said it was Melba, others Nordica. Bud and I decided that it was May Irwin. We were mistaken, though, as Irwin has this woman lashed to the mast at any time or place. As soon as Mike the Dago espied the dame it was all off. He rushed and drove a straight-arm jab, which had it reached would have given him the purse. But shifty Sadie wasn't there. She ducked, side-stepped, and landed a clever half-arm hook, which seemed to stun the big fellow. They clinched, and swayed back and forth, growling continually, while the orchestra played this trembly Eliza-crossing-the-ice music. Jim, I'm not swelling this a bit. On the level, it happened just as I write it. All of a sudden some one seemed to win. They broke away, and ran wildly to the front of the stage with their arms outstretched, yelling to beat three of a kind. The band cut loose something fierce. The leader tore out about $9.00 worth of hair, and acted generally as though he had bats in his belfry. I thought sure the place would be pinched. It reminded me of Thirsty Thornton's dance-hall out in Merrill, Wisconsin, when the Silent Swede used to start a general survival of the fittest every time Mamie the Mink danced twice in succession with the young fellow from Albany, whose father owned the big mill up Rough River. Of course, this audience was perfectly orderly, and showed no intention whatever of cutting in, and there were no chairs or glasses in the air, but I am forced to admit that the opera had Thornton's faded for noise. I asked Bud what the trouble was, and he answered that I could search<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_695" id="Page_695">[Pg 695]</SPAN></span> him. The audience apparently went wild. Everybody said "Simply sublime!" "Isn't it grand?" "Perfectly superb!" "Bravo!" etc.; not because they really enjoyed it, but merely because they thought it was the proper thing to do. After that for three solid hours Rough House Mike and Shifty Sadie seemed to be apologizing to the audience for their disgraceful street brawl, which was honestly the only good thing in the show. Along about twelve o'clock I thought I would talk over old times with Bud, but when I turned his way I found my tired and trusty comrade "Asleep at the Switch."</p> <p>At the finish, the woman next to me, who seemed to be on, said that the main lady was dying. After it was too late, Mike seemed kind of sorry. He must have give her the knife or the drops, because there wasn't a minute that he could look in on her according to the rules. He laid her out on the bum rock, they set off a lot of red fire for some unknown reason, and the curtain dropped at 12:25. Never again for my money. Far be it from me knocking, but any time I want noise I'll take to a boiler-shop or a Union Station, where I can understand what's coming off. I'm for a good-mother show. Do you remember <i>The White Slave</i>, Jim? Well, that's me. Wasn't it immense where the main lady spurned the leering villain's gold and exclaimed with flashing eye, "Rags are royal raiment when worn for virtue's sake." Great! <i>The White Slave</i> had <i>Die Walkure</i> beaten to a pulp, and they don't get to you for three cases gate-money, either.<span class='pagenum'>
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