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- The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 3 - 3/8 -
CHAPTER III.--THE CONSCRIPT.
Philander Reed hadn't three hundred dollars, being a dead-broken Reed, so he must either become one of the noble Band who are Coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more, or skedaddle across the St. Lawrence River to the Canada Line. As his opinions had recently undergone a radical change, he chose the latter course, and was soon Afloat, afloat, on the swift rolling tide. "Row, brothers, row," he cried, "the stream runs fast, the Sergeant is near, and the Zamination's past, and I'm a able- bodied man."
Landing, he at once imprinted a conservative kiss on the Canada Line, and feelingly asked himself, "Who will care for Mother now? But I propose to stick it out on this Line if it takes all Summer."
CHAPTER IV.--THE MEETING.
It was evening, IT was. The Star of the Evening, Beautiful Star, shone brilliantly, adorning the sky with those "Neutral" tints which have characterized all British skies ever since this War broke out.
Philander sat on the Canada Line, playing with his Yard-stick, and perhaps about to take the measure of an unmade piece of calico; when Mabel, with a wild cry of joy, sprang from a small boat to his side. The meeting was too much. They divided a good square faint between them this time. At last Philander found his utterance, and said, "Do they think of me at Home, do they ever think of me?"
"No," she replied, "but they do at the recruiting office."
"Ha! 'tis well."
"Nay, dearest," Mabel pleaded, "come home and go to the war like a man! I will take your place in the Dry Goods store. True, a musket is a little heavier than a yardstick, but isn't it a rather more manly weapon?"
"I don't see it," was Philander's reply; "besides, this war isn't conducted accordin' to the Constitution and Union. When it is-- when it is, Mabeyuel, I will return and enlist as a Convalescent!"
"Then, sir," she said, with much American disgust in her countenance, "then, sir, farewell!"
"Farewell!" he said, "and When this Cruel War is Over, pray that we may meet again!"
"Nary!" cried Mabel, her eyes flashing warm fire,--"nary. None but the Brave deserve the Sanitary Fair! A man who will desert his country in its hour of trial would drop Faro checks into the Contribution Box on Sunday. I hain't got time to tarry--I hain't got time to stay!--but here's a gift at parting: a White Feather: wear it in your hat!" and She was Gone from his gaze, like a beautiful dream.
Stung with remorse and mosquitoes, this miserable young man, in a fit of frenzy, unsheathed his glittering dry-goods scissors, cut off four yards (good measure) of the Canada Line, and hanged himself on a Willow Tree. Requiescat in Tape. His stick drifted to My Country, 'tis of thee! And may be seen, in connection with many others, on the stage of any New York theatre every night.
The Canadians won't have any line pretty soon. The skedaddlers will steal it. Then the Canadians won't know whether they're in the United States or not, in which case they may be drafted.
Mabel married a Brigadier-General, and is happy.
3.5. A ROMANCE--ONLY A MECHANIC.
In a sumptuously furnished parlor in Fifth Avenue, New York, sat a proud and haughty belle. Her name was Isabel Sawtelle. Her father was a millionaire, and his ships, richly laden, ploughed many a sea.
By the side of Isabel Sawtelle sat a young man with a clear, beautiful eye, and a massive brow.
"I must go," he sed, "the foreman will wonder at my absence."
"The FOREMAN?" asked Isabel in a tone of surprise.
"Yes, the foreman of the shop where I work."
"Foreman--shop--WORK! What! do YOU work."
"Aye, Miss Sawtelle! I am a cooper!" and his eyes flashed with honest pride.
"What's that?" she asked; "it is something about barrels, isn't it!"
"It is!" he said, with a flashing nostril. "And hogsheads."
"Then go!" she said in a tone of disdain--"go AWAY!"
"Ha!" he cried, "you spurn me, then, because I am a mechanic. Well, be it so! though the time will come, Isabel Sawtelle," he added, and nothing could exceed his looks at this moment--"when you will bitterly remember the cooper you now so cruelly cast off? FAREWELL!"
. . . .
Years rolled on. Isabel Sawtelle married a miserable aristocrat, who recently died of delirium tremens. Her father failed, and is now a raving maniac, and wants to bite little children. All her brothers (except one) were sent to the penitentiary for burglary, and her mother peddles clams that are stolen for her by little George, her only son that has his freedom. Isabel's sister Bianca rides an immoral spotted horse in the circus, HER husband having long since been hanged for murdering his own uncle on his mother's side. Thus we see that it is always best to marry a mechanic.
3.6. ROBERTO THE ROVER:--A TALE OF SEA AND SHORE.
Our story opens in the early part of the year 17--. France was rocking wildly from centre to circumference. The arch despot and unscrupulous man, Richard the III., was trembling like an aspen leaf upon his throne. He had been successful, through the valuable aid of Richelieu and Sir. Wm. Donn, in destroying the Orleans Dysentery, but still he trembled? O'Mulligan, the snake-eater of Ireland, and Schnappsgoot of Holland, a retired dealer in gin and sardines, had united their forces--some nineteen men and a brace of bull pups in all--and were overtly at work, their object being to oust the tyrant. O'Mulligan was a young man between fifty-three years of age and was chiefly distinguished for being the son of his aunt on his great grandfather's side. Schnappsgoot was a man of liberal education, having passed three weeks at Oberlin College. He was a man of great hardihood, also, and would frequently read an entire column of "railway matters" in the "Cleveland Herald" without shrieking with agony.
CHAPTER II.--THE KING.
The tyrant Richard the III. (late Mr. Gloster) sat upon his throne in the Palace d' St. Cloud. He was dressed in his best clothes, and gorgeous trappings surrounded him everywhere. Courtiers, in glittering and golden armor, stood ready at his beck. He sat moodily for a while, when suddenly his sword flashed from its silver scabbard, and he shouted--
"Slaves, some wine, ho!"
The words had scarcely escaped his lips ere a bucket of champagne and a hoe were placed before him.
As the king raised the bucket to his lips, a deep voice near by, proceeding from the mouth of the noble Count Staghisnibs, cried-- "Drink hearty, old feller."
"Reports traveling on lightning-wings, whisper of strange goings on and cuttings up throughout this kingdom. Knowest thou aught of these things, most noble Hellitysplit?" and the king drew from the upper pocket of his gold-faced vest a paper of John Anderson's solace and proceeded to take a chaw.
"Treason stalks monster-like throughout unhappy France, my liege!" said the noble Hellitysplit. "The ranks of the P.Q.R.'s are daily swelling, and the G.R.J.A.'s are constantly on the increase. Already the peasantry scout at cat-fish, and demand pickled salmon for their noonday repasts. But, my liege," and the brave Hellitysplit eyes flashed fire, "myself and sword are at thy command?"
"Bully for you, Count," said the king. "But soft: methinks report--perchance unjustly--hast spoken suspiciously of thee, most Royal d'Sardine? How is this? Is it a newspaper yarn? WHAT'S UP?"
D'Sardine meekly approached the throne, knelt at the king's feet, and said: "Most patient, gray, and red-headed skinner; my very approved skin-plaster: that I've been asked to drink by the P.Q.R.'s, it is most true, true I have imbibed sundry mugs of lager with them. The very head and front of my offending hath this extent, no more."
"'Tis well!" said the King, rising and looking fiercely around. "Hadst thou proved false I would with my own good sword have cut off yer head, and spilled your ber-lud all over the floor! If I wouldn't, blow me!"
CHAPTER III.--THE ROVER.
Thrilling as the scenes depicted in the preceding chapter indubitably were, those of this are decidedly THRILLINGER. Again are we in the mighty presence of the King, and again is he surrounded by splendour and gorgeously-mailed courtiers. A sea-faring man stands before him. It is Roberto the Rover, disguised as a common sailor.
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