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rejoined. " He saw you on the river yesterday evening."

ki Yes ; Tarbox and I were practising to exhibit to-day ;
but I could not do much with my dull old skates."

Wade breakfasted deliberately, as a holiday morning
allowed, and then walked down to the Foundry. There
would be no work done to-day, except by a small gang
keeping up the fires. The Superintendent wished only to
give his First Semi-Annual Report an hour's polishing,
before he joined all Dunderbunk on the ice.

It was a halcyon day, worthy of its motto, " Peace on
earth, good-will to men." The air was electric, the sun
overflowing with jolly shine, the river smooth and sheeny
from the hither bank to the snowy mountains opposite.

" I wish I were Rembrandt, to paint this grand shadowy
interior," thought Wade, as he entered the silent, deserted
Foundry. " With the gleam of the snow in my eyes, it
looks deliciously warm and chiaroscuro. When the men


are here and l fervet opus, the pot boils, I cannot stop
to see the picturesque."

He opened his office, took his Report and began to com-
plete it with ,s, ;s, and .s in the right places.

All at once the bell of the Works rang out loud and
clear. Presently the Superintendent became aware of a
tramp and a bustle in the building. By and by came a tap
at the office-door.

" Come in," said Wade, and enter young Perry Purtett.

Perry was a boy of fifteen, with hair the color of fresh
sawdust, white eyebrows, and an uncommonly wide-awake
look. Ringdove, his father's successor, could never teach
Perry the smirk, the grace, and the seductiveness of the
counter, so the boy had found his place in the finishing-shop
of the Foundry.

" Some of the hands would like to see you for half a
jiff, Mr. Wade," said he. " Will you come along, if you

There was a good deal of easy swagger about Perry, as
there is always in boys and men whose business is to watch
the lunging of steam-engines. Wade followed him. Perry
led the way with a jaunty air that said,

" Room here ! Out of the way, you lubberly bits of cast-
iron ! Be careful, now, you big derricks, or I '11 walk right
over you ! Room now for Me and My suite ! "

This pompous usher conducted the Superintendent to the
very spot in the main room of the Works where, six months
before, the Inaugural had been pronounced and the first
Veto spoken and enacted.

And there, as six months before, stood the Hands await-
ing their Head. But the aprons, the red shirts, and the
grime of working-days were off, and the whole were in holi-
day rig, as black and smooth and shiny from top to toe as
the members of a Congress of Undertakers.

Wade, following in the wake of Perry, took his stand


feeing the rank, and waited to see what he was summoned
for. He had not long to wait.

To the front stepped Mr. William Tarbox, foreman of the
finishing-shop, no longer a bhoy, but an erect, fine-looking
fellow, with no nitrate in his moustache, and his hat perma-
nently out of mourning for the late Mr. Poole.

" Gentlemen," said Bill, " I move that this meeting organ-
ize by appointing Mr. Smith Wheelright Chairman. As
many as are in favor of this motion, please to say, ' Ay.' "

" Ay ! " said the crowd, very loud and big. And then
every man looked at his neighbor a little abashed, as if he
himself had made all the noise.

" This is a free country," continues Bill. u Every woter
has a right to a fair shake. Contrary minds, * No.' "

No contrary minds. The crowd uttered a great silence.
Every man looked at his neighbor, surprised to find how
well they agreed.

" Unanimous I " Tarbox pronounced. " No fractious mi-
norities here, to block the wheels of legislation ! "

The crowd burst into a roar at this significant remark, and,
again abashed, dropped portcullis on its laughter, cutting off
the flanks and tail of the sound.

k - Mr. Purtett, will you please conduct the Chairman to
the Chair," says Bill, very stately.

" Make way here ! " cried Perry, with the manner of a
man seven feet high. " Step out now, Mr. Chairman ! "

He took a big, grizzled, docile-looking fellow patro-
nizingly by the arm, led him forward, and chaired him on
a large cylinder-head, in the rough, just hatched out of its

" Bang away with that, and sing out ' Silence ! ' " says the
knowing boy, handing Wheelright an iron bolt, and taking
his place beside him as prompter.

The docile Chairman obeyed. At his breaking silence by
hooting " Silence ! " the audience had another mighty bob-
tailed laugh.


" Say, ' Will some honorable member state the object of
this meeting?'" whispered the prompter.

" Will some honorable mumbler state the subject of this
'ere meetin' ? " says Chair, a little bashful and confused.

Bill Tarbox advanced, and, with a formal bow, began,

"Mr. Chan-man "

" Say, * Mr. Tarbox has the floor,' " piped Perry.

" Mr. Tarbox has the floor," diapasoned the Chair.

" Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen " Bill began, and

u Say, ' Proceed, Sir ! ' " suggested Perry, which the
senior did, magnifying the boy's whisper a dozen times.

Again Bill began and stopped.

" Boys," said he, dropping grandiloquence, " when I
accepted the office of Orator of the Day at our primary,
and promised to bring forward our Resolutions in honor of
Mr. Wade with my best speech, I did n't think I was
going to have such a head of steam on that the waives
would get stuck and the piston jammed and I could n't
say a word.

" But," he continued, warming up, " when I think of the
Indian powwow we had in this very spot six months ago,
and what a mean bloat I was, going to the stub-tail dogs
with my hat over my eyes, and what a hard lot we were
all round, livin' on nothin' but argee whiskey, and rampin'
off on benders, instead of makin' good iron, and how the
Works was flat broke, and how Dunderbunk was full of
women crying over their husbands and mothers ashamed of
their sons, boys, when I think how things was, and see
how they are, and look at Mr. Wade standing there like
a "

Bill hesitated for a comparison.

" Like a thousand of brick," Perry Purtett suggested,
sotto voce.

The Chairman took this as a hint to himself


u Like a thousand of brick," he said, with the voice of a

Here the audience roared and cheered, and the Orator
got a fresh start.

" When you came, Mr. Wade," he resumed, " we was
about sick of putty-heads and sneaks that did n't know
enough or did n't dare to make us stand round and bone
IL. You walked in, b'ilin' over with grit. You took hold
as if you belonged here. You made things jump like a
two-headed tarrier. All we wanted was a live man, to say,
* Here, boys, all together now ! You Ve got your stint, and
I 've got mine. I 'm boss in this shop, but I can't do the
first thing, unless every man pulls his pound. Now, then,
my hand ism the throttle, grease the wheels, oil the waives,
poke the fires, hook on, and let 's yank her through with a

At this figure the meeting showed a tendency to cheer.
u Silence ! " Perry sternly suggested. " Silence ! " repeated
the Chair.

" Then," continued the Orator, " you was n't one of the
uneasy kind, always fussin' and cussin' round. You was n't
always spyin' to see we did n't take home a cross-tail or a
hundred-weight of cast-iron in our pants' pockets, or go to
swiggin' hot metal out of the ladles on the sly."

Here an enormous laugh requited Bill's joke. Perry
prompted, the Chair banged with his bolt and cried,

" Well, now, boys," Tarbox went on, " what has come ol
having one of the right sort to be boss ? Why, this. The
Works go ahead, stiddy as the North River. We work full
time and full-handed. We turn out stuff that no shop
needs to be ashamed of. Wages is on the nail. We have
a good time generally. How is that, boys, Mr. Chair-
man and Gentlemen?"

" That 's so ! " from everybody.


"And there's something better yet," Bill resumed.
" Dunderbunk used to be full of crying women. They 've
stopped crying now."

Here the whole assemblage, Chairman and all, burst into
an irrepressible cheer.

" But I 'm making my speech as long as a lightning-rod/'
said the speaker. " I '11 put on the brakes, short. I guess
Mr. Wade understands pretty well, now, how we feel ; and
if he don't, here it all is in shape, in this document, with
' Whereas ' at the top and ' Resolved ' entered along down
in five places. Mr. Purtett, will you hand the Resolutions
to the Superintendent?"

Perry advanced and did his office loftily, much to the
amusement of Wade and the workmen.

" Now," Bill resumed, " we wanted, besides, to make you
a little gift, Mr. Wade, to remember the day by. So we got
up a subscription, and every man put in his dime. Here 's
the present, hand 'em over, Perry !

" There, Sir, is THE BEST PAIR OF SKATES to be had in
York City, made for work, and no nonsense about 'em.
We Dunderbunk boys give 'em to you, one for all, and hope
you '11 like 'em and beat the world skating, as you do in all
the things we 've knowed you try.

" Now, boys," Bill perorated, " before I retire to the
shades of private life, I motion we give Three Cheers,
regular Toplifters, for Richard Wade ! "

" Hurrah ! Wade and Good Government ! " " Hurrah !
Wade and Prosperity ! " " Hurrah ! Wade and the Women's
Tears Dry ! "

Cheers like the shout of Achilles ! Wielding sledges is
good for the bellows, it appears. Toplifters! Why, the
moky black rafters overhead had to tug hard to hold the
roof on. Hurrah ! From eveiy corner of the vast build-
ing came back rattling echoes. The Works, the machinery,
the furnaces, the stuff, all had their voice to add to the


Magnificent music ! and our Anglo-Saxon is the on A y race
in the world civilized enough to join in singing it. We are
the only hurrahing people, the only brood hatched in a
" Hurrah's nest."

Silence restored, the Chairman, prompted by Perry, said,
" Gentlemen, ]NIr. Wade has the floor for a few remarks."

Of course Wade had to speak, and did. He would not
have been an American in America else. But his heart
was too full to say more than a few hearty and earnest
words of good feeling.

" Now, men," he closed, " I want to get away on the rivei
and see if my skates will go as they look ; so I '11 end bj
proposing three cheers for Smith Wheelwright, our Chair-
man, three for our Orator, Tarbox, three for Old Dunder-
bunk, Works, Men, Women, and Children ; and one big
cheer for Old Father Iron, as rousing a cheer as ever was

So they gave their three times three with enormous en-
thusiasm. The roof shook, the furnaces rattled, Perry
Purtett banged with, the Chairman's hammer, the great
echoes thundered through the Foundry.

And when they ended with one gigantic cheer for IRON,
tough and true, the weapon, the tool, and the engine of all
civilization, it seemed as if the uproar would never cease
until Father Iron himself heard the call in his smithy away
under the magnetic pole, and came clanking up to return
thanks in person.



OF all the plays that are played by this playful world on
its play-days, there is no play like Skating.

To prepare a board for the moves of this game of games,
a panel for the drawings of this Fine Art, a stage for the


entrechats and pirouettes of its graceful adepts, Zero, magi-
cal artificer, had been, for the last two nights, sliding at full
speed up and down the North River.

We have heard of Midas, whose touch made gold, and of
the virgin under whose feet sprang roses ; but Zero's heels
and toes were armed with more precious influences. They
left a diamond way, where they slid, a hundred and fifty
miles of diamond, half a mile wide and six inches thick.

Diamond can only reflect sunlight ; ice can contain it.
Zero's product, finer even than diamond, was filled, at the
rate of a million to the square foot, with bubbles im-
measurably little, and yet every one big enough to comprise
the entire sun in small, but without alteration or abridg-
ment. When the sun rose, each of these wonderful cells
was ready to catch the tip of a sunbeam and house it in a
shining abode.

Besides this, Zero had inlaid his work, all along shore,
vith exquisite marquetry of leaves, brown and evergreen,
of sprays and twigs, reeds and grasses. No parquet in any
palace from Fontainebleau to St. Petersburg could show
such delicate patterns, or could gleam so brightly, though
polished with all the wax in Christendom.

On this fine pavement, all the way from Cohoes to Spuy-
ten Duyvil, Jubilee was sliding without friction, the Christ-
mas morning of these adventures.

Navigation was closed. Navigators had leisure. The
sloops and schooners were frozen in along shore, the tugs
and barges were laid up in basins, the floating palaces were
down at New York, deodorizing their bar-rooms, regilding
their bridal chambers, and enlarging their spittoon accom-
modations alow and aloft, for next summer. All the pop-
ulation was out on the ice, skating, sliding, sledding, slipping,
tumbling, to its heart's content.

One person out of every Dunderbunk family was of
course at home, roasting Christmas turkey. The rest were


already at high jinks on Zero's Christmas present, when
Wade and the men came down from the meeting.

Wade buckled on his new skates in a jiffy. He stamped
to settle himself, and then flung off half a dozen circles on
the right leg, half a dozen with the left, and the same with
either leg backwards.

The ice, traced with these white peripheries, showed like
a blackboard where a school has been chalking diagrams of
Euclid, to point at with the "slow unyielding finger" of

" Hurrah ! " cries Wade, halting in front of the men, who,
some on the Foundry wharf, some on the deck of our first
acquaintance at Dunderbunk, the tug " I. Anibuster," were
putting on their skates or watching him. "Hurrah! the
skates are perfection ! Are you ready, Bill ? "

"Yes," says Tarbox, whizzing off rings, as exact as
Giotto's autograph.

" Xow, then," Wade said, " we '11 give Dunderbunk a
laugh, as we practised last night."

They got under full headway, Wade backwards, Bill for-
wards, holding hands. When they were near enough to the
merry throng out in the stream, both dropped into a sitting
posture, with the left knee bent, and each with his right leg
stretched out parallel to the ice and fitting compactly by the
other man's lep;. In this queer figure they rushed through
the laughing crowd.

Then all Dunderbunk formed a ring, agog for a grand
show of


The world loves to see Great Artists, and expects them
to do their duty.

It is hard to treat of this Fine Art by the Art of Fu>e
Writing. Its eloquent motions must be seen.

To skate Fine Art, you must have . Body J"id s, Soul.


each of the First Order ; otherwise you will never get out
of coarse art and skating in one syllable. So much for
yourself, the motive power. And your machinery, your
smooth-bottomed rockers, the same shape stem and stern,
this must be as perfect as the man it moves, and who
moves it.

Now suppose you wish to skate so that critics will say,
" See ! this athlete does his work as Church paints, as Dar-
ley draws, as Palmer chisels, as Whittier strikes the lyre,
and Longfellow the dulcimer ; he is as terse as Emerson, as
clever as Holmes, as graceful as Curtis ; he is as calm as
Seward, as keen as Phillips, as stalwart as Beecher ; he is
Garabaldi, he is Kit Carson, he is Blondin ; he is as com-
plete as the steamboat Metropolis, as Steers's yacht, as
Singer's sewing-machine, as Colt's revolver, as the steam-
plough, as Civilization." You wish to be so ranked among
the people and tilings that lead the age ; consider the
qualities you must have, and while you consider, keep your
eye on Richard Wade, for he has them all in perfection.

First, of your physical qualities. You must have lungs,
not bellows ; and an active heart, not an assortment of slug-
gish auricles and ventricles. You must have legs, not shanks
Their shape is unimportant, except that they must not inter-
fere at the knee. You must have muscles, not flabbiness ;
sinews like wire ; nerves like sunbeams ; and a thin layer
of flesh to cushion the gable-ends, where you will strike, if
you tumble, which, once for all be it said, you must never
do. You must be all momentum, and no inertia. You must
be one part grace, one force, one agility, and the rest caout-
chouc, Manilla hemp, and watch-spring. Your machine,
your body, must be thoroughly obedient. It must go just sc
far and no farther. You have got to be as unerring as a
planet holding its own, emphatically, between forces centrip-
etal and centrifugal. Your aplomb must be as absolute as
the pounce of a falcon.


So much for a few of the physical qualities necessary to
be a Great Artist in Skating. See Wade, how he shows

Now for the moral and intellectual. Pluck is the first ;
it always is the first quality. Then enthusiasm. Then pa-
tience. Then pertinacity. Then a fine aesthetic faculty,
in short, good taste. Then an orderly and submissive mind,
that can consent to act in accordance with the laws of Art.
Circumstances, too, must have been reasonably favorable.
That well-known sceptic, the King of tropical Bantam,
could not skate, because he had never seen ice and doubted
even the existence of solid water. Widdrington, after the
Battle of Chevy Chace, could not have skated, because
he had no l^gs, poor fellow !

But granted the ice and the legs, then if you begin in the
elastic days of youth, when cold does not sting, tumbles do
not bruise, and duckings do not wet ; if you have pluck and
ardor enough to try everything ; if you work slowly ahead
and stick to it ; if you -have good taste and a lively inven-
tion ; if you are a man, and not a lubber ; then, in fine,
you may become a Great Skater, just as with equal power
and equal pains you may put your grip on any kind of

The technology of skating is imperfect. Few of the great
feats, the Big Things, have admitted names. If I attempted
to catalogue Wade's achievements, this chapter might be-
come an unintelligible rhapsody. A sheet of paper and a
pen-point cannot supply the place of a sheet of ice and a
skate-edge. Geometry must have its diagrams, Anatomy
its corpus to carve. Skating also refuses to be spiritualized
into a Science ; it remains an Art, and cannot be expressed
in a formula.

Skating has its Little Go, its Great Go, its Baccalau
reate, its M. A., its F. S. D. (Doctor of Frantic Skipping),
its A. G. D. (Doctor of Airy Gliding), its N. T. D. (Doctor


of No Tumbles), and finally its highest degree, U. P. (Un-
approachable Podographer).

Wade was U. P.

There were a hundred of Dunderbunkers who had passed
their Little Go and could skate forward and backward easily.
A half-hundred, perhaps, were through the Great Go ; these
could do outer edge freely. A dozen had taken the Bacca-
laureate, and were proudly repeating the pirouettes and
spread-eagles of that degree. A few could cross their feet,
on the edge, forward and backward, and shift edge on the
same foot, and so were Magistri Arlis.

Wade, U. P., added to these an indefinite list of combina-
tions and fresh contrivances. He spun spirals slow, and
spirals neck or nothing. He pivoted on one toe, with the
other foot cutting rings, inner and outer edge, forward and
back. He skated on one foot better than the M. A.s could
on both. He ran on his toes ; he slid on his heels ; he cut
up shines like a sunbeam on a bender ; he swung, light as
if he could fly, if he pleased, like a wing-footed Mercury ;
he glided, as if will, not muscle, moved him ; he tore about
in frenzies ; his pivotal leg stoou firm, his balance leg flapped
like a graceful pinion ; he turned somersets ; he jumped,
whirling backward as he went, over a platoon of boys laid
flat on the ice; the last boy winced, and thought he was
amputated; but Wade flew over, and the boy still holds
together as well as most boys. Besides this, he could write
his name, with a flourish at the end, like the rubrica of a
Spanish hidalgo. He could podograph any letter, and mul-
titudes of ingenious curlicues which might pass for the
alphabets of the unknown tongues. He could not tumble.

It was Fine Art.

Bill Tarbox sometimes pressed the champion hard. But
Bill stopped just short of Fine Art, in High Artisanship.

How Dunderbunk cheered this wondrous display ! How
delighted the whole population was to believe they possessed


the best skater on the North River ! How they struggled
to imitate ! How they tumbled, some on their backs, some
on their faces, some with dignity like the dying Caesar, some
rebelliously like a cat thrown out of a garret, some limp as
an ancient acrobate ! How they laughed at themselves and
at each other !

" It 's all in the new skates," says Wade, apologizing for
his unapproachable power and finish.

" It 's suthin' in the man," says Smith Wheelwright.

" Now chase me, everybody," said Wade.

And, for a quarter of an hour, he dodged the merry crowd,
until, at last, breathless, he let himself be touched by pretty
Belle Purtett, rosiest of all the Dunderbunk bevy of rosy
maidens onthe ice.

" He rayther beats Bosting," says Captain Isaac Ambus-
ter to Smith Wheelwright. " It 's so cold there that they
can skate all the year round ; but he beats them, all the

The Captain was sitting in a queer little bowl of a skiff
on the deck of his tug, and rocking it like a cradle, as he

" Bosting 's always hard to beat in anything," rejoined the
ex-Chairman. But if Bosting is to be beat, here 's the
man to do it."

And now, perhaps, gentle reader, you think I have said
enough in behalf of a limited fraternity, the Skaters.

The next chapter, then, shall take up the cause of the
Lovers, a more numerous body, and we will see whether
True Love, which never makes " smooth running," can help
its ^regress by a skate-blade.




CHRISTMAS noon at Dunderbunk, every skater was in
galloping glee, as the electric air and the sparkling
sun and the glinting ice had a right to expect they all
should be.

Belle Purtett, skating simply and well, had never looked
so pretty and graceful. So thought Bill Tarbox.

He had not spoken to her, nor she to him, for more than
six months. The poor fellow was ashamed of himself and
penitent for his past bad courses. And so, though he longed
to have his old flame recognize him again, and though he
was bitterly jealous and miserably afraid he should lose
her, he had kept away and consumed his heart like a true
despairing lover.

But to-day Bill was a lion, only second to Wade, the
unapproachable lion-in-chief. Bill was reinstated in public
esteem, and had won back his standing in the Foundry. He
had to-day made a speech which Perry Purtett gave every-
body to understand "none of Senator Bill Seward's could
hold the tallow to." Getting up the meeting and present-
ing Wade with the skates was Bill's own scheme, and it
had turned out an eminent success. Everything began to
look bright to him. His past life drifted out of his mind
like the rowdy tales he used to read in the Sunday news-

He had watched Belle Purtett all the morning, and saw
that she distinguished nobody with her smiles, not even that
coq du village, Ringdove. He also observed that she was
furtively watching him.

By and by she sailed out of the crowd, and went off a
little way to practise.

" Now," said he to himself, "sail in, Bill Tarbox ! "


Belle heard the sharp strokes of a powerful skater coming
after her. Her heart divined who this might be. She sped
away like the swift Camilla, and her modest drapery showed
just enough and " ne quid nimis " of her ankles.

Bill admired the grace and the ankles immensely. But
his hopes sank a little at the flight, for he thought she
perceived his chase and meant to drop him. Bill had not
had a classical education, and knew nothing of Galatea in
the Eclogue, how she did not hide until she saw her
swain was looking fondly after.

" She. wants to get away," he thought. " But she sha'n't,
no, not if I have to follow her to Albany."

He struck out mightily. Presently the swift Camilla let

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 29 of 66)