Folks said it was the enemy; thinks I, 'What can that be, sirs?'
They drew up on a level land, according to a plan, sirs;
The enemy began to point their guns at every man, sirs.
'Hello!' cried I. 'Don't fire this way; this field is full of people;'
But fire they did, and smoke rose up, high as a village steeple.
The bullets whistled past our ears, the smallarms made a rattle;
A cannon ball took off my leg, and left me hors du battle.
The infantry ran over me; behind, a pack of horsemen,
Who rolled me as they'd roll a log; I thought myself a lost man.
But when enough of fame was made, they stopped the agitation,
And sent me to the hospital to suffer amputation.
Now, friend, if e'er the road to wealth lies straight and free before ye,
Keep safe your legs and travel there, and shun the way to glory.
This glory is a famous road for those who love to tattle,
But quite another thing to those who' re shot in a battle."
THE GRAMMAR LESSON.
"Three little words you often see,
An article, a or cm, and the.
A noun's the name of anything,
As school or garden, hoop or swing.
Adjectives tell the kind of noun,
As great, small, pretty, white or brown.
Instead of nouns the pronoun stand,
His head, her face, my arm, your hand.
Verbs tell of something being done,
To read, write, count, sing, hop or run.
How things are done the adverbs tell,
As slowly, quickly, ill or well.
Conjunctions join the words together,
As men and women, wind or weather.
The preposition stands before
A noun, as in, or through, a door.
The interjection shows surprise,
As Oh! how pretty ! Ah! how wise !
The whole are called nine parts of speech
Which reading, writing, speaking teach."
CONK. There, my friends, is grammar in a nutshell.
"One day, studying grammar with a miss,
A question I thought I'd proffer her,
I asked her what kind of a noun was kiss,
She said it was both common and proper."
Did you ever hear the poem about the first laying of gaspipes in
"As I walked through London town
I saw a dark and busy throng,
T'was a strange, wild deed,
Yet a wilder wish of the departed soul, to lie among the troubled
number of busy men.
So says I, 'Old man, why diggest this grave in the heart of London
And the deep-toned voice of the digger replied: 'We're laying the
CONK (continues). Did you hear the story of the man who married
his servant? Of him a friend said, "He led a low menial to a hyme-
neal altar." Then this makes me think of the Irishman and his
BUCK. I hope this yarn will have more connection with the sub.
ject than the last I heard.
CONK. You are young yet. There is a subtle vein running through
all the minds of great men. You don't think that you can see all
the little nice parts that I can. As I was about to say, three Irishmen
had been to a wake. Coming home about midnight they saw the full
moon reflecting in the river. "It's a ball of silver," says one. "Let's
get it," says another. The bank of the river was too steep, so they
walked along until they saw a tree hanging over. They proposed to
make a human chain, Pat lowest, Mike next, Dennis at the top-
When the chain was formed Dennis cried out to Pat: "Are yez all
right below there?" "We's all right," says Pat. "Howld on a bit
until I sphit on me hands!" Was there ever anything more ridic-
ulous? Yet there are lots of men who want us to hold on until they
spit on their hands.
BUCK. A good story, but I don't see any connection.
CONK. Pine trees keep green all winter, don't they? Miss Susan,
can't you give us a story? Do you expect that I am to furnish all the
SUSAN JANE. Did you ever hear of Miss Mann? A friend called on
her; she was out. The furniture was dusty, so she wrote on the
table slut. A few days later she met Miss Mann in a friend's house.
She says to Ann (for that was her front name), "Ann, I called on
you the other day, but you were out." "Yes," says Ann, "I saw
CONK. That makes me think of the Waterman story. Near the
same place Mr. Waterman kept a lot of hogs. His neighbors were
quite anxious to know how many he had, so they could the better
form some opinion of his wealth. They got a half-witted fellow to go
and ask him. "Mr. Waterman, how many hogs you got?" "What
do you want to know for? " " People are all the while asking me, and
I don't know what to tell them." "You can tell them you don't
know, can't you?"
ALL. Good answer!
BUCK. Let me tell one. A very important man steps up to the
ticket office of the railroad. "What time does the railroad get in?"
Ticket agent: "Five minutes after the depot leaves."
CONK. Good ! Now, don't say any more that you can't tell a good
story. You see you can relieve me I don't like to do all the talk-
ing, and then people tire to hear one man do all the talking.
BUCK. If that's so I'll tell you another. In early times, in our
town, there lived a family who had twins Carlo and Nathaniel. A
stranger came to town. He desired to see one of the gentlemen; they
were both out. He ask the colored janitor to describe them, so if he
should see them he would know them. This was the darkey's de-
scription: "Deys berry much alike, 'specially Carlo."
BORIOUS. That's good. Let me tell you one. In our town there
lived a crabbed old fellow. His colored servant described him thus:
"He's de most eben-tempered man you eber seed; he's mad as the
debbil all the time."
CONK. Good ! I did not know that we had such talent in our little
SUSAN JANE. Now it's my turn. In the University at Leipzig, one
day, the Professor ask the class the cause of the aurora borealis. It
passed from one to another; none knew. It finally came to the last
student, who replied: "Professor, I did know but I have forgotten."
"Well," said the Professor, "we are in a dilemma. The only man
who ever knew the cause of the aurora borealis has forgotten."
CONK. Good again ! I will have to look out for my laurels. Did
you ever hear of Daniel Webster going fishing in a small pond off in
the woods. Some one recommended the place to him. He met an
old farmer who owned the land, and asked his permission to fish
there; it was granted. Daniel went in and sat there patiently all
day; not a bite. Coming out he again met the old farmer and asked
him: "Do people fish there?" "Yes." "Do they ever catch any
thing?" "Not that I know of."
CONK. Now, Miss Susan, we'll hear from you again. I hope you
have a good one.
SUSAN JANE. There was an old lady who had the reputation of
being pious. She saw the minister coming. She ran and caught up
the Bible, and had it upside down, it seems. Just then the minister
entered, "And the Lord said unto Moses Good morning, Mr.
Smith." This same old lady, when she was reading and came to a
word that was too difficult for her, simply called it ligunm vitae
and passed on.
CONK. Smart old lady ! That reminds me of one of Chauncey
Depew's stories. He was going to Albany in the interest of the Van-
derbilt road. He did not go there as a suppliant, but to demand
justice and civility. To illustrate his errand he told them a story.
A whaling ship sailed years ago from New Bedford. After getting
on whaling grounds the mate, a young man, says, "Captain, there's
a whale off there." "Where?" asked the captain. "Off there"
(pointing). " I don't see it; seems as if you have mighty good
eyes." Seeing there was nothing to do, the captain said : "You
may take the boats and try." Late in the afternoon the mate
appeared with a 36-barrel sperm whale, which was a fine catch. The
captain now became facetious. "Mr. Jones, when we get back to
New Bedford the mayor of the town will come down with a brass
band, and they'll play ' Hail to the Chief.' " "Captain, look here,
all I want on board this vessel is civility, and that of the darndest
commonest kind! "
ALL. Good !
CONK. Yes, that is good. Now I'll sing you a nice little song.
"The first bird of spring
Began to sing,
But ere he had warbled a note
He fell from the limb.
Ah ! a dead bird was him,
The music had froze in his throat."
BUCK. That's about equal to Josh Billings' little poem, a winter
"Now gather around the kitchen fire,
Pile the chunks on higher and higher,
Take down your fiddle and choose your partner,
And shake 'er down in your cowhide shoes."
BOKIOUS. Did you ever hear of the man up in New Hampshire
who wanted to sell his house and lot, so he put up a sign which
read as follows: "For Sail." A young man came along. Seeing
the sign he stopped, and asked the farmer when the house and
lot would sail. "0, when some nice young man comes along and
raises the wind!"
CONK. Smart old man! Couldn't get ahead of him much. That
makes me think of the traveler in New Jersey. He came to a point
where there were two roads; a signboard on each pointed the way,
&c. Seeing a native hanging over the fence, he says, "Neighbor,
which of the two roads had I better take?" "Well, stranger, it
don't matter much which. You won't go very far on either before
you will wish you had taken the other."
Bomous. Another smart old man. We had better look out for
our laurels. Buck, your turn.
BUCK. I object.
CONK. I insist.
BUCK. Did you ever hear of the man who went to Heaven? See-
ing Peter at the gate he says to him, "Peter, I would have you under
stand that I am a self-made man." "Is that so?" said Peter.
"This is not the place you are looking for. What you want is a
CONK. That reminds me of the chalk story. An old man and his
son die. When they come to the outpost they are told to take a piece
of chalk, and on each round or step, as they ascended, to write the
name of some sin they had committed. For the young man it was
slow work; it was difficult for him to think of the omissions of
life. Not so with the old man. The young man's progress was slow.
After a while he saw the old man coming down. "Pa, where are
you going?" " I am going down for more chalk !"
SUSAN JANE. I'd like to contribute one. Up in New Hampshire,
where they take summer boarders, there was a guest who had a false
eye. One day he took it out to wash; the old lady saw him do it,
so she went to her husband. "Nathan, I knows that people have
false hair, and they have false teeth, but Nathan, do they have false
CONK. Good, always good; good taste; no rude insinuations, no
slang like well, I won't mention his name; he holds a high office.
But did you ever hear about the man who, trying to shoot a crow, set
his barn afire? A neighbor came along and asked him if he hit
the crow. "Well, I don't see any great point to your doings."
"You're the point," said the man. There's a little story that con-
tains what they call cheek, more than any other one I ever heard.
There were two men brothers, one a thrifty farmer, the other a
lazy tramp sort of a man, who was too lazy to cut his own wood, so
at night he would help himself from his brother's wood pile. The
latter missed the wood. One moonlight night he sat up to watch.
About midnight the brother came around with his wheelbarrow.
The watcher, hearing a noise, opened the window, and saw his brother
at his wood pile. " You're a nice man to come and steal my wood
while I sleep." "Yes," says the brother, "I suppose you'd see me
break my back trying to get this log on before you'd come down
and help me." If that aint cheek then I don't know what cheek is.
BUCK. Did you see that joke in the paper the other day the uncle
complimenting his nephew?
"William, you're a nice big boy."
"I may be big, but I am not nice."
"Why, there's nothing that Charley likes better than to be called
"I can lick Charley with one hand tied behind me."
CONK. That makes me think of the story that a friend of mine
told me, about his experience in a Bowery theatre. One night a
large man was sitting in a front seat, with his hat on. A typical
Bowery man came in with his lady, both finely dressed. The man
with the lady asked the other to remove his hat, so his lady could
see. The man refused, so the one with the lady stepped behind him,
taking hold of the rim of his hat, the while saying, "If you won't
take it off, put it further on!" and so he crowded the man's beaver
down over his eyes and ears. The other got up and left in disgust.
"If you won't take it off, put it further on put it further on! " I
can hear the man crying it now.
BUCK. Good! Where do you pick up so many?
CONK. By keeping my eyes and ears open. Then, when I hear a
good thing, I know enough to retain it. Perhaps you never heard of
the man who stole a sheep. The people of the town said so much
about it that he left and went where the people didn't know him.
He had not been there long before it was reported that he stole two
sheep, so he moved to another town. He was not there long before
he heard that he had stolen three sheep. So it went; to every place
he moved they added sheep. He concluded to go back to his old
town, where they knew he only stole one sheep.
SUSAN JANE. Wise man ! When you steal anything, just bear it
in mind. Awhile ago I met a little Virginia girl. At our house of
an afternoon the ladies of the neighborhood meet. She came in; see-
ing only women, she said, "If any one should come in now, they'd
think us poor folks." "How's that?" "There are no men here," she
replied. It seems that down in Virginia, at her prosperous home,
she had been in the habit of seeing a number of men about the house.
This to her mind indicated prosperity; where there were only women
she thought the place must be poor.
CONK. That's a compliment for us men.
SUSAN JANE. For some men. Modern society has lifted up women;
they are not like the ancients, or even like those of the mediaeval ages.
CONK. That's so; we have lifted the woman up, and she lifts the
men up. In America this plan comes to the front. Some years ago
there lived in a Rhode Island town a man by the name of Beany
Daniels. He would put his hat over an eel hole, to make people think
that he had drowned himself; then he would go and hide for a few
days. At night, when the boys and girls were sliding, he'd take his
sled and go there. As he slid he'd sing:
"Some folks think Beany Daniels dead,
But here he comes himself a sliding on his sled."
BUCK. Why do you wear that sign in your hat, "Headquarters" ?
CONK. If one's hat aint headquarters, I'd like to know what it is.
A big head, like Daniel Pratt' s, would only think of such a thing.
"Lives there a man, lean or fat,
Who has never heard of Daniel Pratt?"
SUSAN JANE. What nonsense ! You men are all fools. I'd like to
see an intelligent one among you.
CONK. That's fine ! Daniel Webster was a great man, and so was
Henry Clay; but, said a man from our town, "we have a greater, a
greater than Daniel Webster and a Henry Clay." "Yes, a nutmeg
SUSAN JANE. More nonsense ! What connection is there between
CONK. You don't seem to understand that
"A little nonsense, now and then,
Is relished by the wisest men."
SUSAN JANE. Bah ! You men are all fools. I'd like to meet a good,
CONK. You have met me. The trouble with you is, you don't
appreciate good things, not even good things to eat. You ordered tea
and toast, when on the menu there were lots of good things, like tad-
pole stew, huckleberry chowder, &c.
SUSAN JANE. Huckleberry chowder? Whoever heard of such a
CONK. Where did you come from ? From the land of Nod, I guess.
Did you ever hear of the egg story? Bishop Potter was visiting his
friend, Mrs. Jones, sister of Susan.
SUSAN JANE. A fib ! When you tell a story you most always say
Jones. Why don't you think of some original name?
CONK. Jones is handy. Mrs. Jones was boiling eggs for breakfast.
As she boiled the eggs she sang, "I would not live always." The
Bishop thought it was just splendid, so he went out in the kitchen and
joined her in singing. She sang two verses, then stopped. "Why
not sing the third? "O that would make them hard ! "
SUSAN JANE. A novel way to boil eggs, by singing a hymn !
CONK. That's so. That makes me think of what they said of the
girls at church they were piously singing of the "hims!"
SUSAN JANE. How you men folks like to slander the women ! It
is well known that the young men only go to church to see the young
CONK Perhaps you are right ; young men are soft, but I wasn't
that way. The young girls all loved soft men when I was young,
and do now.
SUSAN JANE. With a broomstick, I guess ! By the way, did you
hear the story about the young American girl in Italy one winter ? At
the same hotel were stopping an English lady and her daughter. One
day the old lady said to her daughter, " Don't talk so loud; they'll
take you for one of those horrid American girls." The American
girl was up on the next landing and heard it. "I guess not with
those feet," she said.
CONK. Good for the Yankee girl ! She is the kind of a girl I'd
like to marry. Now let me sing you the original song that I wrote :
"Brown, the buster,
Rode all the way with General Custer,
On the road to Anacosta.
He wore his linen duster,
But there come a miserable old huxter,
And stole his linen duster,
And sold it to a mean old buxter,
So he had no linen duster.
His eyes they lost their luster,
But a gypsy by the name of Fuster,
For him got back his linen duster.
So again he proudly rode with General Custer,
On the road to Anacosta."
This ends my story about Mr. Buster.
SUSAN JANE. Pity you couldn't find some more words to rhyme
CONK. I tried mighty hard to ; consulted the book on rhymes, but
it was no go.
BUCK. How about Augusta and Ajusta?
CONK. I'll remember it and put them in.
SUSAN JANE. You might add so' wester and box the compass.
BUCK. Did you ever hear of the man up in Boston ? It was very
slippery; he fell down. His friend, the minister, was standing near.
The latter says, "The wicked stand in slippery places." "Perhaps
you can, but confound me if I can."
CONK. Good ! Boston is a great town the town of the holy cod-
fish. I was in the coijrt the other day, and an old darkey was testi-
fying in a case of chicken stealing. It was plain that he did not
know anything about the case, but he was perfectly willing to go on
the stand. Judge: "Mr. Small, were you there, and do you know
anything about the case?" Small: "Yes, sir, I was thar and knows
all about it. De victim am innercent as a new-born calf." Judge:
"Go on." Small: "I and Miranda war sitting on de veranda one
still moonlight night. Says Miranda, ' I wish we had a nice water-
melon ! ' So I goes into de garden and gets one. Just then a man
rode by, stopped, and asked where was 1006 Pipestone avenue. I's
tell him, and he went on. Then thar came a small boy who had the
audacity to ask for a piece of melon. Miranda says, 'It's very hot.'
I agreed with her." Judge: "Come to the point." Small: "I'se
coining, Judge. Well, thar was a fire, and de engines w r ent by in a
hurry. De fire, it seems, was in neighbor Jones' woodshed, whar
he keeps his chickens, De defendant whar thar, recovering de
chickens. As he was going home an effiacious policeman came along
and arrested him. I expostulated, but it made no difference. My
friend Sam was locked up for de night." Judge: "What next?"
Small: "Der next day I'se went afishing and caught more fish than
could swim in dis room; took them home and Miranda fried them;
what we couldn't eat we gave to de rich folks. (It is always well,
you know, to keep on de side of de rich folks. ) About this time a
book agent came 'round and wanted to sell me a story all about
Daniel in de lions' den, Christopher Columbus going fishing, Daniel
Webster playing Hamlet; fine work, full of fine stories." Judge:
" Wh at has that to do with the case ? " Small :" Heaps ! This book
tells about chickens, too, how to raise 'em, how to cook 'em, and all
that; a fine book." Judge: "If you don't come to the point and tell
us something about the case, we'll fine you for contempt of court."
Small: "Judge, let me tell my story in my own way. Sam is a
mighty good young man; he never stole a chicken. At the peril of
his life he rushed into de burning shed and rescued those chickens;
now he has to be treated as a common thief. It's a shame, sir!"
Judge: " Sergeant-at-arms, take this man in charge; lock him up."
Small: "Judge, you'se cruel. Sam Jones is a nice young man; any
girl ought to be proud to get him." Judge: "Take him out ! " Then
I left. They asked me to go bail for Jones, but I kindly refused.
That makes me think. When I was down on the Mississippi I was
telling a young man about a powerful tugboat on the river. I said
the cylinders are from four to five feet in diameter. The young man,
having no conception of size, reported me as saying that the cylinders
were forty-five feet in diameter a pretty good-sized cylinder. But
I've got a snake story that overlaps anything and everything you
ever heard. A few years ago I went gunning down in the old North
State, up in the mountain region. We came across a desolate cabin,
so made it our headquarters for a few days, so long as we stayed
there. One evening the rest went out for wood and water; I was
alone in the cabin; the door was shut. Pretty soon I heard a thud,
and a streak of darkness went round and round that room; and out
the way it came. It was an immense snake, three or four yards
long. I was a little scared. When the boys came I told them.
They laughed; said I'd been drinking; but when they saw the hole
in the door they were puzzled. It was a fresh cut, and as nice as an
auger could make. We went outside, but could see nothing. The
next day I saw the snake and shot him. He had the most peculiar
thing over his head you ever saw a sort of hood that could be
thrown back and forth; the end was like fine saw teeth, whereby he
made the hole. I was intending to take it to Washington and pre-
sent it as a specimen to the Smithsonian, but the next day, when we
were off hunting, another party came there. They had dogs, and
they tore the snake all to pieces. What a loss ! I would not have
had that happen for all the pleasure of a hunting trip in the old
SUSAN JANE. That will do for a snake story. I did not know that
you were such such such a liar !
CONK. That's the truth; if necessary, my friends will swear to it
a rare specimen of snake. Susan, do you take snuff ?
SUSAN JANE. Me take snuff! Why do you ask that?
CONK. I thought if you did it might remind you of the French-
man and the Spaniard who were dining together. The Spaniard,
liking pepper, thought everybody else did, so he drew the plate of
meat over to him and peppered it well. After he was through the
Frenchman took the plate. Taking out his snuff box he covered it
with snuff, the while remarking, ''You liked de pepper, I liked de
snuff." I don't think that there was much of that meal eaten. But,
Susie, do you ride a bicycle?
SUSAN JANE. No, I don't, and, more, I don't like to see women
CONK. Did you ever hear of the Indian's comment on the great
wheel? He said: "The white man heap lazy; he sits down to walk."
Now, I call that ingenious that is, my introduction of this story,
for when I started in with snuff I planned to have it lead up to the
SUSAN JANE. O you're an ingenious man as ingenious as you are
conceited ! Don't say any more about women.
CONK. Who has reflected on women? I admire them at a dis-
tance. I like to see them throw stones at one another. We couldn't
get on without the women; they make our lives so pleasant.
SUSAN JANE. More flattery ! If you think so much of women, why
don't you get married?
CONK. I would if I could; get one like you to love. Will you take
me, Miss Susie?
SUSAN JANE. I'll think over it, and give you an answer in about
forty years !
CONK. All right; don't forget it. In forty years you are to be
mine. You are about twenty now; forty and twenty is only eighty;
I'll then be eighty-four.
SUSAN JANE. Eighty-four! You mean one hundred and four.
CONK. Anything to please.
"O the days when I was hard up,
Not many years ago,
The days when I was hard up,
I never shall forget,
The days when I was hard up,
I may be hard up yet."
BUCK. You seem very happy.
CONK. What is the use of being otherwise?
" What is the use of sighs,
Or the use of cries,
When one has enough for his byes,
And even tries
His mother's pumpkin pies,
And never tells any lies,
And don't mind the flies.
There are plenty of gyes,
Enough to fill ye eyes,