Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

Wit and Humor of America, The Vol 04

SPONSORED LINKS
<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'><SPAN name="Page_696" id="Page_696">[Pg 696]</SPAN></span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="IN_A_STATE_OF_SIN3" id="IN_A_STATE_OF_SIN3"></SPAN>IN A STATE OF SIN<SPAN name="FNanchor_3_3" id="FNanchor_3_3"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_3_3" class="fnanchor">[3]</SPAN></h2> <h3>BY OWEN WISTER</h3> <p>Judge and Mrs. Henry, Molly Wood, and two strangers, a lady and a gentleman, were the party which had been driving in the large three-seated wagon. They had seemed a merry party. But as I came within hearing of their talk, it was a fragment of the minister's sonority which reached me first:</p> <p>"... more opportunity for them to have the benefit of hearing frequent sermons," was the sentence I heard him bring to completion.</p> <p>"Yes, to be sure, sir." Judge Henry gave me (it almost seemed) additional warmth of welcome for arriving to break up the present discourse. "Let me introduce you to the Rev. Dr. Alexander MacBride. Doctor, another guest we have been hoping for about this time," was my host's cordial explanation to him of me. There remained the gentleman with his wife from New York, and to these I made my final bows. But I had not broken up the discourse.</p> <p>"We may be said to have met already." Dr. MacBride had fixed upon me his full, mastering eye; and it occurred to me that if they had policemen in heaven, he would be at least a centurion in the force. But he did not mean to be unpleasant; it was only that in a mind full of matters less worldly, pleasure was left out. "I observed your friend was a skilful horseman," he continued. "I was saying to Judge Henry that I could wish such skilful<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_697" id="Page_697">[Pg 697]</SPAN></span> horsemen might ride to a church upon the Sabbath. A church, that is, of right doctrine, where they would have opportunity to hear frequent sermons."</p> <p>"Yes," said Judge Henry, "yes. It would be a good thing."</p> <p>Mrs. Henry, with some murmur about the kitchen, here went into the house.</p> <p>"I was informed," Dr. MacBride held the rest of us, "before undertaking my journey that I should find a desolate and mainly godless country. But nobody gave me to understand that from Medicine Bow I was to drive three hundred miles and pass no church of any faith."</p> <p>The Judge explained that there had been a few a long way to the right and left of him. "Still," he conceded, "you are quite right. But don't forget that this is the newest part of a new world."</p> <p>"Judge," said his wife, coming to the door, "how can you keep them standing in the dust with your talking?"</p> <p>This most efficiently did break up the discourse. As our little party, with the smiles and the polite holdings back of new acquaintanceship, moved into the house, the Judge detained me behind all of them long enough to whisper dolorously, "He's going to stay a whole week."</p> <p>I had hopes that he would not stay a whole week when I presently learned of the crowded arrangements which our hosts, with many hospitable apologies, disclosed to us. They were delighted to have us, but they hadn't foreseen that we should all be simultaneous. The foreman's house had been prepared for two of us, and did we mind? The two of us were Dr. MacBride and myself; and I expected him to mind. But I wronged him grossly. It would be much better, he assured Mrs. Henry, than straw in a stable, which he had tried several times, and was quite ready for. So I saw that though he kept his vigorous<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_698" id="Page_698">[Pg 698]</SPAN></span> body clean when he could, he cared nothing for it in the face of his mission. How the foreman and his wife relished being turned out during a week for a missionary and myself was not my concern, although while he and I made ready for supper over there, it struck me as hard on them. The room with its two cots and furniture was as nice as possible; and we closed the door upon the adjoining room, which, however, seemed also untenanted.</p> <p>Mrs. Henry gave us a meal so good that I have remembered it, and her husband, the Judge, strove his best that we should eat it in merriment. He poured out his anecdotes like wine, and we should have quickly warmed to them; but Dr. MacBride sat among us, giving occasional heavy ha-ha's, which produced, as Miss Molly Wood whispered to me, a "dreadfully cavernous effect." Was it his sermon, we wondered, that he was thinking over? I told her of the copious sheaf of them I had seen him pull from his wallet over at the foreman's. "Goodness!" said she. "Then are we to hear one every evening?" This I doubted; he had probably been picking one out suitable for the occasion. "Putting his best foot foremost," was her comment; "I suppose they have best feet, like the rest of us." Then she grew delightfully sharp. "Do you know, when I first heard him I thought his voice was hearty. But if you listen, you'll find it's merely militant. He never really meets you with it. He's off on his hill watching the battle-field the whole time."</p> <p>"He will find a hardened pagan here."</p> <p>"Judge Henry?"</p> <p>"Oh, no! The wild man you're taming. He's brought you <i>Kenilworth</i> safe back."</p> <p>She was smooth. "Oh, as for taming him! But don't you find him intelligent?"</p> <p>Suddenly I somehow knew that she didn't want to tame<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_699" id="Page_699">[Pg 699]</SPAN></span> him. But what did she want to do? The thought of her had made him blush this afternoon. No thought of him made her blush this evening.</p> <p>A great laugh from the rest of the company made me aware that the Judge had consummated his tale of the "Sole Survivor."</p> <p>"And so," he finished, "they all went off as mad as hops because it hadn't been a massacre." Mr. and Mrs. Ogden&mdash;they were the New Yorkers&mdash;gave this story much applause, and Dr. MacBride half a minute later laid his "ha-ha," like a heavy stone, upon the gaiety.</p> <p>"I'll never be able to stand seven sermons," said Miss Wood to me.</p> <hr style='width: 45%;' /> <p>"Do you often have these visitations?" Ogden inquired of Judge Henry. Our host was giving us whisky in his office, and Dr. MacBride, while we smoked apart from the ladies, had repaired to his quarters in the foreman's house previous to the service which he was shortly to hold.</p> <p>The Judge laughed. "They come now and then through the year. I like the bishop to come. And the men always like it. But I fear our friend will scarcely please them so well."</p> <p>"You don't mean they'll&mdash;"</p> <p>"Oh, no. They'll keep quiet. The fact is, they have a good deal better manners than he has, if he only knew it. They'll be able to bear him. But as for any good he'll do&mdash;"</p> <p>"I doubt if he knows a word of science," said I, musing about the Doctor.</p> <p>"Science! He doesn't know what Christianity is yet. I've entertained many guests, but none&mdash;The whole secret," broke off Judge Henry, "lies in the way you treat<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_700" id="Page_700">[Pg 700]</SPAN></span> people. As soon as you treat men as your brothers, they are ready to acknowledge you&mdash;if you deserve it&mdash;as their superior. That's the whole bottom of Christianity, and that's what our missionary will never know."</p> <hr style='width: 45%;' /> <p>Thunder sat imminent upon the missionary's brow. Many were to be at his mercy soon. But for us he had sunshine still. "I am truly sorry to be turning you upside down," he said importantly. "But it seems the best place for my service." He spoke of the table pushed back and the chairs gathered in the hall, where the storm would presently break upon the congregation. "Eight-thirty?" he inquired.</p> <p>This was the hour appointed, and it was only twenty minutes off. We threw the unsmoked fractions of our cigars away, and returned to offer our services to the ladies. This amused the ladies. They had done without us. All was ready in the hall.</p> <p>"We got the cook to help us," Mrs. Ogden told me, "so as not to disturb your cigars. In spite of the cow-boys, I still recognize my own country."</p> <p>"In the cook?" I rather densely asked.</p> <p>"Oh, no! I don't have a Chinaman. It's in the length of after-dinner cigars."</p> <p>"Had you been smoking," I returned, "you would have found them short this evening."</p> <p>"You make it worse," said the lady; "we have had nothing but Dr. MacBride."</p> <p>"We'll share him with you now," I exclaimed.</p> <p>"Has he announced his text? I've got one for him," said Molly Wood, joining us. She stood on tiptoe and spoke it comically in our ears. "'I said in my haste, All men are liars.'" This made us merry as we stood among the chairs in the congested hall.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_701" id="Page_701">[Pg 701]</SPAN></span></p> <p>I left the ladies, and sought the bunk house. I had heard the cheers, but I was curious also to see the men, and how they were taking it. There was but little for the eye. There was much noise in the room. They were getting ready to come to church,&mdash;brushing their hair, shaving, and making themselves clean, amid talk occasionally profane and continuously diverting.</p> <p>"Well, I'm a Christian, anyway," one declared.</p> <p>"I'm a Mormon, I guess," said another.</p> <p>"I belong to the Knights of Pythias," said a third.</p> <p>"I'm a Mohammedist," said a fourth; "I hope I ain't goin' to hear nothin' to shock me."</p> <p>What with my feelings at Scipio's discretion, and my human curiosity, I was not in that mood which best profits from a sermon. Yet even though my expectations had been cruelly left quivering in mid air, I was not sure how much I really wanted to "keep around." You will therefore understand how Dr. MacBride was able to make a prayer and to read Scripture without my being conscious of a word that he had uttered. It was when I saw him opening the manuscript of his sermon that I suddenly remembered I was sitting, so to speak, in church, and began once more to think of the preacher and his congregation. Our chairs were in the front line, of course; but, being next the wall, I could easily see the cow-boys behind me. They were perfectly decorous. If Mrs. Ogden had looked for pistols, dare-devil attitudes, and so forth, she must have been greatly disappointed. Except for their weather-beaten cheeks and eyes, they were simply American young men with mustaches and without, and might have been sitting, say, in Danbury, Connecticut. Even Trampas merged quietly with the general placidity. The Virginian did not, to be sure, look like Danbury, and his frame and his features showed out<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_702" id="Page_702">[Pg 702]</SPAN></span> of the mass; but his eyes were upon Dr. MacBride with a creamlike propriety.</p> <p>Our missionary did not choose Miss Wood's text. He made his selection from another of the Psalms; and when it came, I did not dare to look at anybody; I was much nearer unseemly conduct than the cow-boys. Dr. MacBride gave us his text sonorously, "'They are altogether become filthy; There is none of them that doeth good, no, not one.'" His eye showed us plainly that present company was not excepted from this. He repeated the text once more, then, launching upon his discourse, gave none of us a ray of hope.</p> <p>I had heard it all often before; but preached to cow-boys it took on a new glare of untimeliness, of grotesque obsoleteness&mdash;as if some one should say, "Let me persuade you to admire woman," and forthwith hold out her bleached bones to you. The cow-boys were told that not only they could do no good, but that if they did contrive to, it would not help them. Nay, more: not only honest deeds availed them nothing, but even if they accepted this especial creed which was being explained to them as necessary for salvation, still it might not save them. Their sin was indeed the cause of their damnation, yet, keeping from sin, they might nevertheless be lost. It had all been settled for them not only before they were born, but before Adam was shaped. Having told them this, he invited them to glorify the Creator of the scheme. Even if damned, they must praise the person who had made them expressly for damnation. That is what I heard him prove by logic to these cow-boys. Stone upon stone he built the black cellar of his theology, leaving out its beautiful park and the sunshine of its garden. He did not tell them the splendor of its past, the noble fortress for good that it had been, how its tonic had strengthened genera<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_703" id="Page_703">[Pg 703]</SPAN></span>tions of their fathers. No; wrath he spoke of, and never once of love. It was the bishop's way, I knew well, to hold cow-boys by homely talk of their special hardships and temptations. And when they fell he spoke to them of forgiveness and brought them encouragement. But Dr. MacBride never thought once of the lives of these waifs. Like himself, like all mankind, they were invisible dots in creation; like him, they were to feel as nothing, to be swept up in the potent heat of his faith. So he thrust out to them none of the sweet but all the bitter of his creed, naked and stern as iron. Dogma was his all in all, and poor humanity was nothing but flesh for its canons.</p> <p>Thus to kill what chance he had for being of use seemed to me more deplorable than it did evidently to them. Their attention merely wandered. Three hundred years ago they would have been frightened; but not in this electric day. I saw Scipio stifling a smile when it came to the doctrine of original sin. "We know of its truth," said Dr. MacBride, "from the severe troubles and distresses to which infants are liable, and from death passing upon them before they are capable of sinning." Yet I knew he was a good man; and I also knew that if a missionary is to be tactless, he might almost as well be bad.</p> <p>I said their attention wandered, but I forgot the Virginian. At first his attitude might have been mere propriety. One can look respectfully at a preacher and be internally breaking all the commandments. But even with the text I saw real attention light in the Virginian's eye. And keeping track of the concentration that grew on him with each minute made the sermon short for me. He missed nothing. Before the end his gaze at the preacher had become swerveless. Was he convert or critic? Convert was incredible. Thus was an hour passed before I had thought of time.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_704" id="Page_704">[Pg 704]</SPAN></span></p> <p>When it was over we took it variously. The preacher was genial and spoke of having now broken ground for the lessons that he hoped to instil. He discoursed for a while about trout-fishing and about the rumored uneasiness of the Indians northward where he was going. It was plain that his personal safety never gave him a thought. He soon bade us good night. The Ogdens shrugged their shoulders and were amused. That was their way of taking it. Dr. MacBride sat too heavily on the Judge's shoulders for him to shrug them. As a leading citizen in the Territory he kept open house for all comers. Policy and good nature made him bid welcome a wide variety of travelers. The cow-boy out of employment found bed and a meal for himself and his horse, and missionaries had before now been well received at Sunk Creek Ranch.</p> <p>"I suppose I'll have to take him fishing," said the Judge ruefully.</p> <p>"Yes, my dear," said his wife, "you will. And I shall have to make his tea for six days."</p> <p>"Otherwise," Ogden suggested, "it might be reported that you were enemies of religion."</p> <p>"That's about it," said the Judge. "I can get on with most people. But elephants depress me."</p> <p>So we named the Doctor "Jumbo," and I departed to my quarters.</p> <p>At the bunk house, the comments were similar but more highly salted. The men were going to bed. In spite of their outward decorum at the service, they had not liked to be told that they were "altogether become filthy." It was easy to call names; they could do that themselves. And they appealed to me, several speaking at once, like a concerted piece at the opera: "Say, do you believe babies go to hell?"&mdash;"Ah, of course he don't."&mdash;"There<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_705" id="Page_705">[Pg 705]</SPAN></span> ain't no hereafter, anyway."&mdash;"Ain't there?"&mdash;"Who told y'u?"&mdash;"Same man as told the preacher we were all a sifted set of sons-of-guns."&mdash;"Well, I'm going to stay a Mormon."&mdash;"Well, I'm going to quit fleeing from temptation."&mdash;"That's so! Better get it in the neck after a good time than a poor one." And so forth. Their wit was not extreme, yet I should like Dr. MacBride to have heard it. One fellow put his natural soul pretty well into words, "If I happened to learn what they had predestinated me to do, I'd do the other thing, just to show 'em!"</p> <p>And Trampas? And the Virginian? They were out of it. The Virginian had gone straight to his new abode. Trampas lay in his bed, not asleep, and sullen as ever.</p> <p>"He ain't got religion this trip," said Scipio to me.</p> <p>"Did his new foreman get it?" I asked.</p> <p>"Huh! It would spoil him. You keep around, that's all. Keep around."</p> <p>Scipio was not to be probed; and I went, still baffled, to my repose.</p> <p>No light burned in the cabin as I approached its door.</p> <p>The Virginian's room was quiet and dark; and that Dr. MacBride slumbered was plainly audible to me, even before I entered. Go fishing with him! I thought, as I undressed. And I selfishly decided that the Judge might have this privilege entirely to himself. Sleep came to me fairly soon, in spite of the Doctor. I was wakened from it by my bed's being jolted&mdash;not a pleasant thing that night. I must have started. And it was the quiet voice of the Virginian that told me he was sorry to have accidentally disturbed me. This disturbed me a good deal more. But his steps did not go to the bunk house, as my sensational mind had suggested. He was not wearing much, and in the dimness he seemed taller than common.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_706" id="Page_706">[Pg 706]</SPAN></span> I next made out that he was bending over Dr. MacBride. The divine at last sprang upright.</p> <p>"I am armed," he said. "Take care. Who are you?"</p> <p>"You can lay down your gun, seh. I feel like my spirit was going to bear witness. I feel like I might get an enlightening."</p> <p>He was using some of the missionary's own language. The baffling I had been treated to by Scipio melted to nothing in this. Did living men petrify, I should have changed to mineral between the sheets. The Doctor got out of bed, lighted his lamp, and found a book; and the two retired into the Virginian's room, where I could hear the exhortations as I lay amazed. In time the Doctor returned, blew out his lamp, and settled himself. I had been very much awake, but was nearly gone to sleep again, when the door creaked and the Virginian stood by the Doctor's side.</p> <p>"Are you awake, seh?"</p> <p>"What? What's that? What is it?"</p> <p>"Excuse me, seh. The enemy is winning on me. I'm feeling less inward opposition to sin."</p> <p>The lamp was lighted, and I listened to some further exhortations. They must have taken half an hour. When the Doctor was in bed again, I thought that I heard him sigh. This upset my composure in the dark; but I lay face downward in the pillow, and the Doctor was soon again snoring. I envied him for a while his faculty of easy sleep. But I must have dropped off myself; for it was the lamp in my eyes that now waked me as he came back for the third time from the Virginian's room. Before blowing the light out he looked at his watch, and thereupon I inquired the hour of him.</p> <p>"Three," said he.</p> <p>I could not sleep any more now, and I lay watching the darkness.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_707" id="Page_707">[Pg 707]</SPAN></span></p> <p>"I'm afeard to be alone!" said the Virginian's voice presently in the next room. "I'm afeard." There was a short pause, and then he shouted very loud, "I'm losin' my desire afteh the sincere milk of the Word!"</p> <p>"What? What's that? What?" The Doctor's cot gave a great crack as he started up listening, and I put my face deep in the pillow.</p> <p>"I'm afeard! I'm afeard! Sin has quit being bitter in my belly."</p> <p>"Courage, my good man." The Doctor was out of bed with his lamp again, and the door shut behind him. Between them they made it long this time. I saw the window become gray; then the corners of the furniture grow visible; and outside, the dry chorus of the blackbirds began to fill the dawn. To these the sounds of chickens and impatient hoofs in the stable were added, and some cow wandered by loudly calling for her calf. Next, some one whistling passed near and grew distant. But although the cold hue that I lay staring at through the window warmed and changed, the Doctor continued working hard over his patient in the next room. Only a word here and there was distinct; but it was plain from the Virginian's fewer remarks that the sin in his belly was alarming him less. Yes, they made this time long. But it proved, indeed, the last one. And though some sort of catastrophe was bound to fall upon us, it was myself who precipitated the thing that did happen.</p> <p>Day was wholly come. I looked at my own watch, and it was six. I had been about seven hours in my bed, and the Doctor had been about seven hours out of his. The door opened, and he came in with his book and lamp. He seemed to be shivering a little, and I saw him cast a longing eye at his couch. But the Virginian followed him even as he blew out the now quite superfluous light. They<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_708" id="Page_708">[Pg 708]</SPAN></span> made a noticeable couple in their underclothes; the Virginian with his lean racehorse shanks running to a point at his ankle, and the Doctor with his stomach and his fat sedentary calves.</p> <p>"You'll be going to breakfast and the ladies, seh, pretty soon," said the Virginian, with a chastened voice. "But I'll worry through the day somehow without y'u. And to-night you can turn your wolf loose on me again."</p> <p>Once more it was no use. My face was deep in the pillow, but I made sounds as of a hen who has laid an egg. It broke on the Doctor with a total instantaneous smash, quite like an egg.</p> <p>He tried to speak calmly. "This is a disgrace. An infamous disgrace. Never in my life have I&mdash;" Words forsook him, and his face grew redder. "Never in my life&mdash;" He stopped again, because, at the sight of him being dignified in his red drawers, I was making the noise of a dozen hens. It was suddenly too much for the Virginian. He hastened into his room, and there sank on the floor with his head in his hands. The Doctor immediately slammed the door upon him, and this rendered me easily fit for a lunatic asylum. I cried into my pillow, and wondered if the Doctor would come and kill me. But he took no notice of me whatever. I could hear the Virginian's convulsions through the door, and also the Doctor furiously making his toilet within three feet of my head; and I lay quite still with my face the other way, for I was really afraid to look at him. When I heard him walk to the door in his boots, I ventured to peep; and there he was, going out with his bag in his hand. As I still continued to lie, weak and sore, and with a mind that had ceased all operation, the Virginian's door opened. He was clean and dressed and decent, but the devil still sported in his eye. I have never seen a creature more irresistibly handsome.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_709" id="Page_709">[Pg 709]</SPAN></span></p> <p>Then my mind worked again. "You've gone and done it," said I. "He's packed his valise. He'll not sleep here."</p> <p>The Virginian looked quickly out of the door. "Why, he's leavin' us!" he exclaimed. "Drivin' away right now in his little old buggy!" He turned to me, and our eyes met solemnly over this large fact. I thought that I perceived the faintest tincture of dismay in the features of Judge Henry's new, responsible, trusty foreman. This was the first act of his administration. Once again he looked out at the departing missionary. "Well," he vindictively stated, "I cert'nly ain't goin' to run afteh him." And he looked at me again.</p> <p>"Do you suppose the Judge knows?" I inquired.</p> <p>He shook his head. "The windo' shades is all down still oveh yondeh." He paused. "I don't care," he stated, quite as if he had been ten years old. Then he grinned guiltily. "I was mighty respectful to him all night."</p> <p>"Oh, yes, respectful! Especially when you invited him to turn his wolf loose."</p> <p>The Virginian gave a joyous gulp. He now came and sat down on the edge of my bed. "I spoke awful good English to him most of the time," said he. "I can, y'u know, when I cinch my attention tight on to it. Yes, I cert'nly spoke a lot o' good English. I didn't understand some of it myself!"</p> <p>He was now growing frankly pleased with his exploit. He had builded so much better than he knew. He got up and looked out across the crystal world of light. "The Doctor is at one-mile crossing," he said. "He'll get breakfast at the N-lazy-Y." Then he returned and sat again on my bed, and began to give me his real heart. "I never set up for being better than others. Not even to myself. My thoughts ain't apt to travel around making comparisons. And I shouldn't wonder if my memory took as much no<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_710" id="Page_710">[Pg 710]</SPAN></span>tice of the meannesses I have done as of&mdash;as of the other actions. But to have to sit like a dumb lamb and let a stranger tell y'u for an hour that yu're a hawg and a swine, just after you have acted in a way which them that know the facts would call pretty near white&mdash;"<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_711" id="Page_711">[Pg 711]</SPAN></span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="AN_APRIL_ARIA" id="AN_APRIL_ARIA"></SPAN>AN APRIL ARIA</h2> <h3>BY R.K. MUNKITTRICK</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Now, in the shimmer and sheen that dance on the leaf of the lily,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Causing the bud to explode, and gilding the poodle's chinchilla,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Gladys cavorts with the rake, and hitches the string to the lattice,<br /></span> <span class="i0">While with the trowel she digs, and gladdens the heart of the shanghai.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Now, while the vine twists about the ribs of the cast-iron Pallas,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And, on the zephyr afloat, the halcyon soul of the borax<br /></span> <span class="i0">Blends with the scent of the soap, the brush of the white-washer's flying<br /></span> <span class="i0">E'en as the chicken-hawk flies when ready to light on its quarry.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Out in the leaf-dappled wood the dainty hepatica's blowing,<br /></span> <span class="i0">While the fiend hammers the rug from Ispahan, Lynn, or Woonsocket,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And the grim furnace is out, and over the ash heap and bottles<br /></span> <span class="i0">Capers the "Billy" in glee, becanning his innermost Billy.<br /></span><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_712" id="Page_712">[Pg 712]</SPAN></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Now the blue pill is on tap, and likewise the sarsaparilla,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And on the fence and the barn, quite worthy of S. Botticelli,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Frisk the lithe leopard and gnu, in malachite, purple, and crimson,<br /></span> <span class="i0">That we may know at a glance the circus is out on the rampage.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Put then the flannels away and trot out the old linen duster,<br /></span> <span class="i0">Pack the bob-sled in the barn, and bring forth the baseball and racket,<br /></span> <span class="i0">For the spry Spring is on deck, performing her roseate breakdown<br /></span> <span class="i0">Unto the tune of the van that rattles and bangs on the cobbles.<br /></span> <span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_713" id="Page_713">[Pg 713]</SPAN></span></div></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="MEDITATIONS_OF_A_MARINER4" id="MEDITATIONS_OF_A_MARINER4"></SPAN>MEDITATIONS OF A MARINER<SPAN name="FNanchor_4_4" id="FNanchor_4_4"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_4_4" class="fnanchor">[4]</SPAN></h2> <h3>BY WALLACE IRWIN</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">A-watchin' how the sea behaves<br /></span> <span class="i2">For hours and hours I sit;<br /></span> <span class="i0">And I know the sea is full o' waves&mdash;<br /></span> <span class="i2">I've often noticed it.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">For on the deck each starry night<br /></span> <span class="i2">The wild waves and the tame<br /></span> <span class="i0">I counts and knows 'em all by sight<br /></span> <span class="i2">And some of 'em by name.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">And then I thinks a cove like me<br /></span> <span class="i2">Ain't got no right to roam;<br /></span> <span class="i0">For I'm homesick when I puts to sea<br /></span> <span class="i2">And seasick when I'm home.<br /></span> </div></div> <p><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_714" id="Page_714">[Pg 714]</SPAN></span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="VICTORY5" id="VICTORY5"></SPAN>VICTORY<SPAN name="FNanchor_5_5" id="FNanchor_5_5"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_5_5" class="fnanchor">[5]</SPAN></h2> <h3>BY TOM MASSON</h3> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I turned to the dictionary<br /></span> <span class="i2">For a word I couldn't spell,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And closed the book when I found it<br /></span> <span class="i2">And dipped my pen in the well.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Then I thought to myself, "How was it?"<br /></span> <span class="i2">With a sense of inward pain,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And still 'twas a little doubtful,<br /></span> <span class="i2">So I turned to the book again.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">This time I remarked, "How easy!"<br /></span> <span class="i2">As I muttered each letter o'er,<br /></span> <span class="i0">But when I got to the inkwell<br /></span> <span class="i2">'Twas gone, as it went before.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">Then I grabbed that dictionary<br /></span> <span class="i2">And I sped its pages through,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And under my nose I put it<br /></span> <span class="i2">With that doubtful word in view.<br /></span> </div><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">I held it down with my body<br /></span> <span class="i2">While I gripped that pen quite fast,<br /></span> <span class="i0">And I howled, as I traced each letter:<br /></span> <span class="i2">"I've got you now, <i>at last</i>!"<br /></span> </div></div> <p><span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_715" id="Page_715">[Pg 715]</SPAN></span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2><SPAN name="THE_FAMILY_HORSE" id="THE_FAMILY_HORSE"></SPAN>THE FAMILY HORSE</h2> <h3>BY FREDERICK S. COZZENS</h3> <p>I have bought me a horse. As I had obtained some skill in the <i>man&egrave;ge</i> during my younger days, it was a matter of consideration to have a saddle-horse. It surprised me to find good saddle-horses very abundant soon after my consultation with the stage proprietor upon this topic. There were strange saddle-horses to sell almost every day. One man was very candid about his horse: he told me, if his horse had a blemish, he wouldn't wait to be asked about it; he would tell it right out; and, if a man didn't want him then, he needn't take him. He also proposed to put him on trial for sixty days, giving his note for the amount paid him for the horse, to be taken up in case the animal were returned. I asked him what were the principal defects of the horse. He said he'd been fired once, because they thought he was spavined; but there was no more spavin to him than there was to a fresh-laid egg&mdash;he was as sound as a dollar. I asked him if he would just state what were the defects of the horse. He answered, that he once had the pink-eye, and added, "now that's honest." I thought so, but proceeded to question him closely. I asked him if he had the bots. He said, not a bot. I asked him if he would go. He said he would go till he dropped down dead; just touch him with a whip, and he'll jump out of his hide. I inquired how old he was. He answered, just eight years, exactly&mdash;some<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_716" id="Page_716">[Pg 716]</SPAN></span> men, he said, wanted to make their horses younger than they be; he was willing to speak right out, and own up he was eight years. I asked him if there were any other objections. He said no, except that he was inclined to be a little gay; "but," he added, "he is so kind, a child can drive him with a thread." I asked him if he was a good family horse. He replied that no lady that ever drew rein over him would be willing to part with him. Then I asked him his price. He answered that no man could have bought him for one hundred dollars a month ago, but now he was willing to sell him for seventy-five, on account of having a note to pay. This seemed such a very low price, I was about saying I would take him, when Mrs. Sparrowgrass whispered that I had better <i>see the horse first</i>. I confess I was a little afraid of losing my bargain by it, but, out of deference to Mrs. S., I did ask to see the horse before I bought him. He said he would fetch him down. "No man," he added, "ought to buy a horse unless he's saw him." When the horse came down, it struck me that, whatever his qualities might be, his personal appearance was against him. One of his fore legs was shaped like the handle of our punch-ladle, and the remaining three legs, about the fetlock, were slightly bunchy. Besides, he had no tail to brag of; and his back had a very hollow sweep from his high haunches to his low shoulder-blades. I was much pleased, however, with the fondness and pride manifested by his owner, as he held up, by both sides of the bridle, the rather longish head of his horse, surmounting a neck shaped like a pea-pod, and said, in a sort of triumphant voice, "three-quarters blood!" Mrs. Sparrowgrass flushed up a little when she asked me if I intended to purchase <i>that</i> horse, and added, that, if I did, she would never want to ride. So I told the man he would not suit<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_717" id="Page_717">[Pg 717]</SPAN></span> me. He answered by suddenly throwing himself upon his stomach across the backbone of his horse, and then, by turning round as on a pivot, got up a-straddle of him; then he gave his horse a kick in the ribs that caused him to jump out with all his legs, like a frog, and then off went the spoon-legged animal with a gait that was not a trot, nor yet precisely pacing. He rode around our grass plot twice, and then pulled his horse's head up like the cock of a musket. "That," said he, "is <i>time</i>." I replied that he did seem to go pretty fast. "Pretty fast!" said his owner. "Well, do you know Mr. &mdash;&mdash;?" mentioning one of the richest men in our village. I replied that I was acquainted with him. "Well," said he, "you know his horse?" I replied that I had no personal acquaintance with him. "Well," said he, "he's the fastest horse in the county&mdash;jist so&mdash;I'm willin' to admit it. But do you know I offered to put my horse agin' his to trot? I had no money to put up, or rayther, to spare; but I offered to trot him, horse agin' horse, and the winner to take both horses, and I tell you&mdash;<i>he wouldn't do it!</i>"</p> <p>Mrs. Sparrowgrass got a little nervous, and twitched me by the skirt of the coat "Dear," said she, "let him go." I assured her that I would not buy the horse, and told the man firmly I would not buy him. He said, very well&mdash;if he didn't suit 'twas no use to keep a-talkin': but he added, he'd be down agin' with another horse, next morning, that belonged to his brother; and if he didn't suit me, then I didn't want a horse. With this remark he rode off....</p> <p>"It rains very hard," said Mrs. Sparrowgrass, looking out of the window next morning. Sure enough, the rain was sweeping broadcast over the country, and the four Sparrowgrassii were flattening a quartet of noses against the window-panes, believing most faithfully the man<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_718" id="Page_718">[Pg 718]</SPAN></span> would bring the horse that belonged to his brother, in spite of the elements. It was hoping against hope; no man having a horse to sell will trot him out in a rainstorm, unless he intend to sell him at a bargain&mdash;but childhood is so credulous! The succeeding morning was bright, however, and down came the horse. He had been very cleverly groomed, and looked pleasant under the saddle. The man led him back and forth before the door. "There, 'squire, 's as good a hos as ever stood on iron." Mrs. Sparrowgrass asked me what he meant by that. I replied, it was a figurative way of expressing, in horse-talk, that he was as good a horse as ever stood in shoe-leather. "He's a handsome hos, 'squire," said the man. I replied that he did seem to be a good-looking animal; but, said I, "he does not quite come up to the description of a horse I have read." "Whose hos was it?" said he. I replied it was the horse of Adonis. He said he didn't know him; but, he added, "there is so many hosses stolen, that the descriptions are stuck up now pretty common." To put him at his ease (for he seemed to think I suspected him of having stolen the horse), I told him the description I meant had been written some hundreds of years ago by Shakespeare, and repeated it:</p> <div class="poem"><div class="stanza"> <span class="i0">"Round-hooft, short-joynted, fetlocks shag and long,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Broad breast, full eyes, small head, and nostrils wide,<br /></span> <span class="i0">High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong,<br /></span> <span class="i2">Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide."<br /></span> </div></div> <p>"'Squire," said he, "that will do for a song, but it ain't no p'ints of a good hos. Trotters nowadays go in all shapes, big heads and little heads, big eyes and little eyes, short ears or long ears, thick tail and no tail; so as they have sound legs, good l'in, good barrel, and good stifle, and wind, 'squire, and speed well, they'll fetch a price.<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_719" id="Page_719">[Pg 719]</SPAN></span> Now, this animal is what I call a hos, 'squire; he's got the p'ints, he's stylish, he's close-ribbed, a free goer, kind in harness&mdash;single or double&mdash;a good feeder." I asked him if being a good feeder was a desirable quality. He replied it was; "of course," said he, "if your hos is off his feed, he ain't good for nothin'. But what's the use," he added, "of me tellin' you the p'ints of a good hos? You're a hos man, 'squire: you know&mdash;" "It seems to me," said I, "there is something the matter with that left eye." "No, <i>sir</i>" said he, and with that he pulled down the horse's head, and, rapidly crooking his forefinger at the suspected organ, said, "see thar&mdash;don't wink a bit." "But he should wink," I replied. "Not onless his eye are weak," he said. To satisfy myself, I asked the man to let me take the bridle. He did so, and as soon as I took hold of it, the horse started off in a remarkable retrograde movement, dragging me with him into my best bed of hybrid roses. Finding we were trampling down all the best plants, that had cost at auction from three-and-sixpence to seven shillings apiece, and that the more I pulled, the more he backed, I finally let him have his own way, and jammed him stern-foremost into our largest climbing rose that had been all summer prickling itself, in order to look as much like a vegetable porcupine as possible. This unexpected bit of satire in his rear changed his retrograde movement to a sidelong bound, by which he flirted off half the pots on the balusters, upsetting my gladioluses and tuberoses in the pod, and leaving great splashes of mould, geraniums, and red pottery in the gravel walk. By this time his owner had managed to give him two pretty severe cuts with the whip, which made him unmanageable, so I let him go. We had a pleasant time catching him again, when he got among the Lima-bean poles; but his owner led him back with<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_720" id="Page_720">[Pg 720]</SPAN></span> a very self-satisfied expression. "Playful, ain't he, 'squire?" I replied that I thought he was, and asked him if it was usual for his horse to play such pranks. He said it was not "You see, 'squire, he feels his oats, and hain't been out of the stable for a month. Use him, and he's as kind as a kitten." With that he put his foot in the stirrup, and mounted. The animal really looked very well as he moved around the grass-plot, and, as Mrs. Sparrowgrass seemed to fancy him, I took a written guarantee that he was sound, and bought him. What I gave for him is a secret; I have not even told Mrs. Sparrowgrass....</p> <p>We had passed Chicken Island, and the famous house with the stone gable and the one stone chimney, in which General Washington slept, as he made it a point to sleep in every old stone house in Westchester County, and had gone pretty far on the road, past the cemetery, when Mrs. Sparrowgrass said suddenly, "Dear, what is the matter with your horse?" As I had been telling the children all the stories about the river on the way, I managed to get my head pretty well inside of the carriage, and, at the time she spoke, was keeping a lookout in front with my back. The remark of Mrs. Sparrowgrass induced me to turn about, and I found the new horse behaving in a most unaccountable manner. He was going down hill with his nose almost to the ground, running the wagon first on this side and then on the other. I thought of the remark made by the man, and turning again to Mrs. Sparrowgrass, said, "Playful, isn't he?" The next moment I heard something breaking away in front, and then the rockaway gave a lurch and stood still. Upon examination I found the new horse had tumbled down, broken one shaft, gotten the other through the check-rein so as to bring his head up with a round turn, and besides<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_721" id="Page_721">[Pg 721]</SPAN></span> had managed to put one of the traces in a single hitch around his off hind leg. So soon as I had taken all the young ones and Mrs. Sparrowgrass out of the rockaway, I set to work to liberate the horse, who was choking very fast with the check-rein. It is unpleasant to get your fishing-line in a tangle when you are in a hurry for bites, but I never saw fishing-line in such a tangle as that harness. However, I set to work with a pen-knife, and cut him out in such a way as to make getting home by our conveyance impossible. When he got up, he was the sleepiest-looking horse I ever saw. "Mrs. Sparrowgrass," said I, "won't you stay here with the children until I go to the nearest farm-house?" Mrs. Sparrowgrass replied that she would. Then I took the horse with me to get him out of the way of the children, and went in search of assistance. The first thing the new horse did when he got about a quarter of a mile from the scene of the accident was to tumble down a bank. Fortunately the bank was not over four feet high, but as I went with him, my trousers were rent in a grievous place. While I was getting the new horse on his feet again, I saw a colored person approaching, who came to my assistance. The first thing he did was to pull out a large jack-knife, and the next thing he did was to open the new horse's mouth and run the blade two or three times inside the new horse's gums. Then the new horse commenced bleeding. "Dah, sah," said the man, shutting up his jack-knife, "ef 't hadn't been for dat yer, your hos would a' bin a goner." "What was the matter with him?" said I. "Oh, he's only jis got de blind-staggers, das all. Say," said he, before I was half indignant enough at the man who had sold me such an animal, "say, ain't your name Sparrowgrass?" I replied that my name was Sparrowgrass. "Oh," said he, "I knows<span class='pagenum'><SPAN name="Page_722" id="Page_722">[Pg 722]</SPAN></span> you, I brung some fowls once down to you place. I heerd about you and your hos. Dats de hos dats got de heaves so bad, heh! heh! You better sell dat hoss." I determined to take his advice, and employed him to lead my purchase to the nearest place where he would be cared for. Then I went back to the rockaway, but met Mrs. Sparrowgrass and the children on the road coming to meet me. She had left a man in charge of the rockaway. When we got to the rockaway we found the man missing, also the whip and one cushion. We got another person to take charge of the rockaway, and had a pleasant walk home by moonlight. I think a moonlight night delicious, upon the Hudson.</p> <p>Does any person want a horse at a low price? A good stylish-looking animal, close-ribbed, good loin, and good stifle, sound legs, with only the heaves and blind-staggers, and a slight defect in one of his eyes? If at any time he slips his bridle and gets away, you can always approach him by getting on his left side. I will also engage to give a written guarantee that he is sound and kind, signed by the brother of his former owner.<span class='pagenum'>
SPONSORED LINKS