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- The Fiend's Delight - 5/22 -
It may be objected that this little tale is neither instructive nor amusing. I have never seen any stories of bright children that were. The Child's Provider.
Mr. Goboffle had a small child, no wife, a large dog, and a house. As he was unable to afford the expense of a nurse, he was accustomed to leave the child in the care of the dog, who was much attached to it, while absent at a distant restaurant for his meals, taking the precaution to lock them up together to prevent kidnapping. One day, while at his dinner, he crowded a large, hard-boiled potato down his neck, and it conducted him into eternity. His clay was taken to the Coroner's, and the great world went on, marrying and giving in marriage, lying, cheating, and praying, as if he had never existed.
Meantime the dog had, after several days of neglect, forced an egress through a window, and a neighbouring baker received a call from him daily. Walking gravely in, he would deposit a piece of silver, and receiving a roll and his change would march off homeward. As this was a rather unusual proceeding in a cur of his species, the baker one day followed him, and as the dog leaped joyously into the window of the deserted house, the man of dough approached and looked in. What was his surprise to see the dog deposit his bread calmly upon the floor and fall to tenderly licking the face of a beautiful child!
It is but fair to explain that there was nothing but the face remaining. But this dog did so love the child! Boys who Began Wrong.
Two little California boys were arrested at Reno for horse thieving. They had started from Surprise Valley with a cavalcade of thirty animals, and disposed of them leisurely along their line of march, until they were picked up at Reno, as above explained. I don't feel quite easy about those youths-away out there in Nevada without their Testaments! Where there are no Sunday School books boys are so apt to swear and chew tobacco and rob sluice-boxes; and once a boy begins to do that last he might as well sell out; he's bound to end by doing something bad! I knew a boy once who began by robbing sluice-boxes, and he went right on from bad to worse, until the last I heard of him he was in the State Legislature, elected by Democratic votes. You never saw anybody take on as his poor old mother did when she heard about it.
"Hank," said she to the boy's father, who was forging a bank note in the chimney corner, "this all comes o' not edgercatin' 'im when he was a baby. Ef he'd larnt spellin' and ciferin' he never could a-ben elected."
It pains me to state that old Hank didn't seem to get any thinner under the family disgrace, and his appetite never left him for a minute. The fact is, the old gentleman wanted to go to the United States Senate. A Kansas Incident.
An invalid wife in Leavenworth heard her husband make proposals of marriage to the nurse. The dying woman arose in bed, fixed her large black eyes for a moment upon the face of her heartless spouse with a reproachful intensity that must haunt him through life, and then fell back a corpse. The remorse of that widower, as he led the blushing nurse to the altar the next week, can be more easily imagined than described. Such reparation as was in his power he made. He buried the first wife decently and very deep down, laying a handsome and exceedingly heavy stone upon the sepulchre. He chiselled upon the stone the following simple and touching line: "She can't get back." Mr. Grile's Girl.
In a lecture about girls, Cady Stanton contrasted the buoyant spirit of young males with the dejected sickliness of immature women. This, she says, is because the latter are keenly sensitive to the fact that they have no aim in life. This is a sad, sad truth! No longer ago than last year the writer's youngest girl-Gloriana, a skin-milk blonde concern of fourteen-came pensively up to her father with big tears in her little eyes, and a forgotten morsel of buttered bread lying unchewed in her mouth.
"Papa," murmured the poor thing, "I'm gettin' awful pokey, and my clothes don't seem to set well in the back. My days are full of ungratified longin's, and my nights don't get any better. Papa, I think society needs turnin' inside out and scrapin'. I haven't got nothin' to aspire to-no aim; nor anything!"
The desolate creature spilled herself loosely into a cane-bottom chair, and her sorrow broke "like a great dyke broken."
The writer lifted her tenderly upon his knee and bit her softly on the neck.
"Gloriana," said he, "have you chewed up all that toffy in two days?"
A smothered sob was her frank confession.
"Now, see here, Glo," continued the parent, rather sternly, "don't let me hear any more about 'aspirations'-which are always adulterated with terra alba-nor 'aims'-which will give you the gripes like anything. You just take this two shilling-piece and invest every penny of it in lollipops!"
You should have seen the fair, bright smile crawl from one of that innocent's ears to the other-you should have marked that face sprinkle, all over with dimples-you ought to have beheld the tears of joy jump glittering into her eyes and spill all over her father's clean shirt that he hadn't had on more than fifteen minutes! Cady Stanton is impotent of evil in the Grile family so long as the price of sweets remains unchanged. His Railway.
The writer remembers, as if it were but yesterday, when he edited the Hang Tree Herald. For six months he devoted his best talent to advocating the construction of a railway between that place and Jayhawk, thirty miles distant. The route presented every inducement. There would be no grading required, and not a single curve would be necessary. As it lay through an uninhabited alkali flat, the right of way could be easily obtained. As neither terminus had other than pack-mule communication with civilization, the rolling stock and other material must necessarily be constructed at Hang Tree, because the people at the other end didn't know enough to do it, and hadn't any blacksmith. The benefit to our place was indisputable; it constituted the most seductive charm of the scheme. After six months of conscientious lying, the company was incorporated, and the first shovelful of alkali turned up and preserved in a museum, when suddenly the devil put it into the head of one of the Directors to inquire publicly what the road was designed to carry. It is needless to say the question was never satisfactorily answered, and the most daring enterprise of the age was knocked perfectly cold. That very night a deputation of stockholders waited upon the editor of the Herald and prescribed a change of climate. They afterward said the change did them good. Mr. Gish Makes a Present.
In the season for making presents my friend Stockdoddle Gish, Esq., thought he would so far waive his superiority to the insignificant portion of mankind outside his own waistcoat as to follow one of its customs. Mr. Gish has a friend-a delicate female of the shrinking sort-whom he favours with his esteem as a sort of equivalent for the respect she accords him when he browbeats her. Our hero numbers among the blessings which his merit has extorted from niggardly Nature a gaunt meathound, between whose head and body there exists about the same proportion as between those of a catfish, which he also resembles in the matter of mouth. As to sides, this precious pup is not dissimilar to a crockery crate loosely covered with a wet sheet. In appetite he is liberal and cosmopolitan, loving a dried sheepskin as well in proportion to its weight as a kettle of soap. The village which Mr. Gish honours by his residence has for some years been kept upon the dizzy verge of financial ruin by the maintenance of this animal.
The reader will have already surmised that it was this beast which our hero selected to testify his toleration of his lady friend. There never was a greater mistake. Mr. Gish merely presented her a sheaf of assorted angle-worms, neatly bound with a pink ribbon tied into a simple knot. The dog is an heirloom and will descend to the Gishes of the next generation, in the direct line of inheritance. A Cow-County Pleasantry.
About the most ludicrous incident that I remember occurred one day in an ordinarily solemn village in the cow-counties. A worthy matron, who had been absent looking after a vagrom cow, returned home, and pushing against the door found it obstructed by some heavy substance, which, upon examination, proved to be her husband. He had been slaughtered by some roving joker, who had wrought upon him with a pick-handle. To one of his ears was pinned a scrap of greasy paper, upon which were scrambled the following sentiments in pencil- tracks:
"The inqulosed boddy is that uv old Burker. Step litely, stranger, fer yer lize the mortil part uv wat you mus be sum da. Thers arrest for the weery! If Burker heddenta wurkt agin me fer Corner I wuddenta bed to sit on him. Ov setch is the kingum of hevvun! You don't want to moov this boddy til ime summuns to hold a ninquest. Orl flesh are gras!"
The ridiculous part of the story is that the lady did not wait to summon the Coroner, but took charge of the remains herself; and in dragging them toward the bed she exploded into her face a shotgun, which had been cunningly contrived to discharge by a string connected with the body. Thus was she punished for an infraction of the law. The next day the particulars were told me by the facetious Coroner himself, whose jury had just rendered a verdict of accidental drowning in both cases. I don't know when I have enjoyed a heartier laugh. The Optimist, and What He Died Of.
One summer evening, while strolling with considerable difficulty over Russian Hill, San Francisco, Mr. Grile espied a man standing upon the extreme summit, with a pensive brow and a suit of clothes which seemed to have been handed down through a long line of ancestors from a remote Jew peddler. Mr. Grile respectfully saluted; a man who has any clothes at all is to him an object of veneration. The stranger opened the conversation:
"My son," said he, in a tone suggestive of strangulation by the Sheriff, "do you behold this wonderful city, its wharves crowded with the shipping of all nations?"
Mr. Grile beheld with amazement.
"Twenty-one years ago-alas! it used to be but twenty," and he wiped away a tear--"you might have bought the whole dern thing for a Mexican ounce."
Mr. Grile hastened to proffer a paper of tobacco, which disappeared like a wisp of oats drawn into a threshing machine.
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