Bill Nye.

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and Ladder Company No. 1's building, but at
last he was secured, and after he had gone home
for the key, Mr. Butts ran swiftly down tha
street to awake the foreman, but after he had
dressed himself and inquired anxiously about
\he fire, he said that he was not foreman of the
company since the 2d of April.

Meantime the fire-fiend continued to rise up
erer and anon on his hind feet and lick up salt
barrel after salt barrel in close proximity to the
Palace rink, owned by our esteemed fellow-
citizen, Mr. Pendergast. Twice Mr. Pendsr-
gast was seen to shudder, after which he went


home and filled out a blank which he forwarded
to the insurance company.

Just as the to\vn seemed doomed the hook-
and-ladder company came rushing down the
street with their navy-blue hook-and-ladder
truck. It is indeed a beauty, being one of the
Excelsior noiseless hook-and-ladder factory's
best instruments, with tall red pails and rich
blue ladders.

Some delay ensued, as several of the officers
claimed that under a new by-law passed in Jan
uary they were permitted to ride on the truck
to fires. This having been objected to by a gen
tleman who had lived in Chicago for several
years, a copy of the by-laws was sent for and
the dispute summarily settled. The company
now donned its rubber overcoats with great
coolness and proceeded at once to deftly twist
tie tail of the fire-fiend.

It was a thrilling sight as James McDonald,
a brother of Terrance McDonald, Trombone,
Ind., rapidly ascended one of the ladders in the
full glare of the devouring element and fell off

Then a wild cheer rose to a height of about
nine feet, and all again became confused.

It was now past 11 o'clock, and several of the


members of the hook-and-ladder company who
had to get up early the next day in order to
catch a train excused themselves and went home
to seek much-needed rest.

Suddenly it was discovered that the brick liv
ery stables of Mr. McMichaels, a nephew of our
worthy assessor, was getting hot. Leaving the
Palace rink to its fate, the hook-and-ladder
company directed its attention to the brick
barn, and after numerous attempts at last suc
ceeded in getting its large iron prong fastened
on the second story window-sill, which waa
pulled out. The hook was again inserted but
not so effectively, bringing down this time an
armful of hay and part of an old horse blanket.
Another courageous jab was made with the iron
hook, which succeeded in pulling out about five
cents' worth of brick. This was greeted by a
wild burst of applause from the bystanders, dur
ing which the hook-and-ladder company fell
over each other and added to the horror of the
cene by a mad burst of pale-blue profanity.

It was not long before the stable was licked
up by the fire-fiend, .and the hook-and-laddei
company directed its attention toward the
undertaking, embalming, and ice-cream parlor*
of our highly-esteemed fellow-townsman, Mr.


A. Burlingame. The company succeed4 Jfc
pulling two stone window-sills out of this build
ing before It burned. Both times they wera
encored by the large and aristocratic audience.

Mr. Burlingame at once recognized the efforts
of the heroic firemen by tapping a keg of beei ,
which he distributed among them at twenty-five
tents per glass.

This morning a space forty-seven feet wide,
where but yesterday all was joy and prosperity
and beauty, is covered over with blackened
ruins. Mr. Pendergast is overcome by grief at
the loss of his rink, but assures us that if he is
successful in getting the full amount of his in-
surance he will take the money and build two
rinks, either one of which will be far more
Imposing than the one destroyed last evening.

A movement is on foot to give a literary and
musical entertainment atBurley'sHall to raise
funds for the purchase of new uniforms for the
"fire laddies," at which Mrs. Butts has consented
to sing "When the BobinsNest Again," and Miss
Mertie Stout will recite '"Ostler Joe," a selec
tion which never fails to offend the best people
everywhere. Twenty-five cents for each ofteno*.

QT Let there be a full house.

> no doubt > William, that I am
happy, but I cannot say that I am. I
will tell you my little reminiscence if
you don't mind, and you can judge for yourself."

These were the words of Big Steve, as we Bat
together one evening, watching the dealer alide
the cards out of his little tin photograph album,
while the crowd bought chips of the banker and
corded them up on the green table.

"You look on me as a great mauto inaugurate
a funeral, and wish that you had a miscellaneous
cemetery yourself to look back on ; but greatness
always has its drawbacks. We cannot be great
unless we pay the price. What we call genius is
after all only industry and perseverance.

"When my father undertook to clean me out,
in our own St. Lawrence County home, I filled
his coat-tails full of bird-shot and fled. Father
afterwards said that he could have overlooked
it so far as the coat was concerned, but he didn't
want It shot to pieces while he had it on.


"Then I went to Kansas City and shot a ad
ored man. That was a good many years ago,
and you oonld kill a colored man then as you can
a Chinaman now, with impunity, or any other
weapon you can get your hands onto. Still the
colored man had friends and I had to go further
"West. I went to Nevada then, and lived under
a cloud and a nom de plume, as you fellers say.

"I really didn't want to thin out the population
of Nevada, but I had to protect myself. They
ay that after a feller has killed his man, he
has a thirst for blood and can't stop, but that
ain't BO. You *justifiable-homicide' a man and
get clear, and then you have to look out for
friends of the late lamented. You see them
everywhere. If your stomach gets out of order
you see the air full of vengeance, and you drink
too much and that don't help it. Then you kill
a man on suspicion that he is hollering you up,
and after that you shoot in an extemporaneous
way, that makes life in your neighborhood a lit
tle uncertain.

"That's the way it was with me. I've got
where I don't sleep good any more, and the fun
of life has kiad of pinched out, as we say in the
mines. It's a big thing to run a school-meeting
or an election, but it hardly pays me for the free


ipeetaetuar show I see when I 'm trying to sleep.
Tou know if you've ever killed a man"

"No, I never killed one right out," I said apd
ogetically. "I shot one once, but he gained
eventy-five pounds in less than six months."

"Well, if you ever had, you'd notice that h
always says or does something that you can re
member him by. He either says, *Oh, I am shot'I
or *You've killed me'! or something like that, in
a reproachful way, that you can wake up in the
night and hear most any time. If you kill him
dead, and he don't say a word, he will fall hard
on the ground, with a groan that will never stop.
I can shut my eyes and hear one now. After
you've done it, you always wish they'd showed a
little more fight. You could forgive 'em if they'd
cuss you, and holler, and have some style about
'em, but they won't. They just reel, and fall,
and groan. Do you know I can't eat a meal
unless my back is agin' the wall. I asked Wild
Bill once how he could stand it to turn his back
on the crowd and eat a big dinner. He said he
generally got drunk just before dinner, and
that helped him out.

"So you see, William, that if a man is a great
scholar, he is generally dyspeptic ; if he's a big
preacher, they tie a scandal to hia coat-tail, and


12 lie's an eminent murderer, he has Insomnia
and loss of appetite. I almost wish sometimes
that I had remained in obscurity. Its a big thing
to be a public man, with your name in the papers
and everybody afraid to collect a bill of you, for
fear you '11 let the glad sunlight into their thorax;
but when you can't eat nor sleep, and you're
liable to wake up with your bosom full of buck
shot, or your neck pulled out like a turkey-gob
bler's, and your tongue hanging out of your
mouth in a ludicrous manner, and your over
shoes failing to touch the ground by about ten
feet, you begin to look back on your childhood
and wish you could again be put there, sleepy
and sintatt, hungry and happy."

of Ffcd $I?irt,
of ty? Sioux

JT HAD been a day of triumph at Erastina.
Buffalo Bill, returning from Marlborougfa
House, had amused the populace with the
sports of an amphitheatre to an extent hitherto
unknown even in that luxurious city. A mighty
multitude of people from Perth Amboy and New
York had been present to watch the attack on
the Dead wood coach and view with bated breath
the conflict in the arena.

The shouts of revelry had died away. The
last loiterer had retired from the bleaching
boards and the lights in the palace of the cow
boy band were extinguished. The moon pierc
ing the tissue of fleecy clouds, tipped the dark
waters about Constable Hook with a wavy,
tremulous light. The dark-browed Roman sol
dier, wearing an umbrella belonging to Inare
Kiralfy, wabbled slowly homeward, th proud
possessor of a iarge rectangular " jag."


No sound was heard save the low sob of some
retiring wave as it told its story to the smooth
pebbles of the beach, or the lower sob of some
gentleman who had just sought to bed down a
brand-new bucking bronco from Ogallalla and
decided to escape violently through the roof of
the tent ; then all was still as the breast when
the spirit has departed. Anon the smoke-tan
ned Cheyenne snore would steal in upon the
silence and then die away like the sough of
summer breeze. In the green-room of the am
phitheatre a little band of warriors had assem
bled. The foam of conflict yet lingered on their
lips, the scowl of battle yet hung upon their
brows, and the large knobs on their classic pro
files indicated that it had been a busy day with
them. The night wynd blew chill and the war
rior had added to his moss-agate ear-bobs a
heavy coat of maroon-colored roof paint.

There was an embarrassing silence of a little
spell and then Eed Shirt, fighting chief of the
Sioux Nation borrowed a chew of tobacco from
Aurelius Poor Doe, stepped forth and thus ad
dressed them :

WILD WEST : Ye call me chief, and ye do well
to call him chief who for two long years has


met in the arena every shape of man or beast
that the broad empire of Nebraska could fur
nish, and yet has never lowered his arm.

If there be one among you can say that
ever at grub dance or scalp german or on th
war-path my action did belie my tongue let bin*
stand forth and say it and I will send him home
with his daylights done up in the morning paper.
If there be three in all your company dare face
me on the bloody sands let them come on and I
will bore holes in the arena with them and
utilize them in fixing up a sickening spectacle.

And yet I was not al way thus, a hired butcher^
attacking a Deadwood coach, both afternoon
and evening, the savage chief of still more
savage men.

My ancestors came from Illinois. They dwelt
there in the vine-clad hills and citron groves of
the Sangamon at a time when the country was
overrun with Indians. Instead of paying to see
Indians, my ancestors would walk a longdis
tance over a poor road in order to get a shot at
a white man.

In Dakota my early life ran quiet as the clear
brook by which I babbled, and my boyhood was
one long, happy summer day. We bathed in the
oiled waters of the upper Missouri and ate the

luscious prickly pear in the land of the Dakotahs,
I did not then know what war was , but when
Sitting Bull told me of Marathon and Leuctra
and Bull Bun, and how at a fortified railroad
pass Imre Kiralfy had withstood the whole
Boman army, my cheek burned, I knew not why,
and I thought what a glorious thing it would be
to leave the reservation and go upon the war
path. But my mother kissed my throbbing
temples and bade me go soak my head and
think no more of those old tales and savage

That very night the entire regular army and
wife landed on our coasts. They tore down our
tepee, stampeded our stock, stole our grease
paints and played a mean trick on our dog.

To-day in the arena I killed a man in the
Black Hills coach, and when I undid his cinch,
behold I he was my friend. The same sweet
smile was on his face that I had noted when I
met him on my trip abroad. He knew me, smiled
faintly, made a few false motions and died. I
begged that I might bear away the body to my
tepee and express it to his country seat, near
Limerick, and upon my bended knees, amid the
dust and blood of the arena, I begged this pool
favor, and a Roman praetor from St.


answered : " Let the carrion rot. T here are no
noble men bnt Eomans and bananna men. Let
the show go on. Give us our money's worth.
Bring out the bobtail lion from Abyssinia and
the bucking bronco from Dead Man's Ranch.'*
And the assembled maids and matrons and th
rabble shouted in derision and told me to brace
up, and bade Johnnie git his gun, git his gun,
git his gun, and other vile flings which I do not
now recall. And so must you, fellow warriors,
and so must I, die like dogs. Ye stand here like
giants (K. Y. Giants) as ye are, but to-morrow
the fangs of the infuriated buffalo may sink into
your quivering flesh. To-night ye stand here In
the full flush of health and conscious rectitude,
but to-morrow some crank may shoot you from
the Dead wood coach.

Hark 1 Hear ye yon buffalo roaring in her
den ? 'Tis three days since she tasted flesh, but
to-morrow she will have warrior on toast, and
don't you forget it. And she will fling your
yertebne about her cage like the costly Etruscan
pitcher of a League nine.

If ye are brutes, then stand here like fat oxen
waiting for the butcher's knife. If ye are men,
arise and follow me. We will beat down th
guard, overpower the ticket-chopper and cut for


the tall timber. "We will go through Ellum
Park, Port Bichmond, Tower Hill, West Brigh
ton, Sailors' Snug Harbor and New Brighton
like a colored revival through a watermelon
patch, beat down the walls of the Circus Maxi-
mus, tear the mosquito bars from the windows
of Nero's palace, capture the Eoman ballet and
light out for Europe.
O comrades I warriors I ! gladiators 1 1 1
If we be men, let us die like men, beneath th
blue sky, don't you know, and by the still waters,
according to Gunter, in the presence of the
nobility, rather than be stepped on by a spoiled
bronco, surrounded by low tradesmen from New

Co, tJ?? poor $l?i

can be nothing more pathetic than to
watch the decay of a race, even though it
be a scrub race. To watch the decay of the
Indian race, has been with me, for many years ?
a passion, and the mof e the Indian has decayed
the more reckless I have been in studying his

The Indian race for over two hundred years
has been a race against Time, and I need hardly
add that Time is away ahead as I pen these lines.

I dislike to speak of myself so much, but I
have been identified with the Indians more or
less for fifteen years. In 1876 1 was detailed by
a San Francisco paper to attend the Custer mas
sacre and write it up, but not knowing where
the massacre was to be held I missed my way and
wandered for days in an opposite direction.
When I afterwards heard how successful the
massacre was, ,and fully realized what I hud
missed, my mortification knew no bounds, but I
might have been even more so if I had been


successful. We never know what is best for .

But the Indian is on the wane, whatever that
is. He is disappearing from the face of the
earth, and we find no better illustration of this
sad fact than the gradual fading away of the
Shinnecock Indians near the extremity of Long

In company with The World artist, who is
paid a large salary to hold me up to ridicule in
these columns, I went out the other day to
Southampton and visited the surviving mem
bers of this great tribe.

Neither of us knows the meaning of fear. If
we had been ordered by the United States
Government to wipe out the whole Shinnecock
tribe we would have taken a damp towel and
done it.

The Shinnecock tribe now consists of James
Bunn and another man. But they are neither
of them pure-blooded Shinnecock Indians. One-
Legged Dave, an old whaler, who, as the gifted
reader has no doubt already guessed, has but
one leg, having lost the other in going over a
reef many years ago, is a pure-blooded Indian*
but not a pure-blooded Shinnecock. Most of
these Indians are now mixed up with the negro
race by marriage and are not considered warlike.


The Shinnecocks "have not t>een rasn enougn to
break out since they bad the measles some years
ago, but we will let that pass.

There ure now about 150 Shinnecocks on th
reservation, the most of whom are negroes.
They live together in peace and hominy, trying
most of the time to ascertain what the wild
waves are saying in regard to flsh.

There is an air of gentle, all-pervading peso*
which hangs over the Shinnecock hills and that
had its effect even upon my tumultuous and
aggressive nature, wooing me to repose. I could
rest there all this summer and then, after a good
night's sleep, I could go right at it again in the
morning. Kest at Southampton does not seem
to fatigue one as it does elsewhere.

The Shinnecock Indian has united his own
repose of manner with the calm and haughtj
distrust of industry peculiar to the negro, and
the result is something that approaches nearer
to the idea of eternal rest than anything I have
ever seen. The air seems to be saturated with
it and the moonlight is soaked full of calm. It
would be a good place in which to wander
through the gloaming and pour a gallon or so of
low, passionate yearnimr into the ear of a loved


As a friend of mine, who is the teacher of
modern languages and calisthenics in an educa
tional institution, once said, "the air seems
filled with that delicious dolce farina for "which
those regions is noted for." I use his language
because I do not know now how I could add to
it in any way.

We visited Mr. James Bunn at his home on
Huckleberry avenue, saw the City Hall and Cus
tom House and obtained a front view of it,
secured a picture of the residence of the Street
Commissioner and then I talked with Mr. Bunn
while the artist got a marine view of his face.

Mr. Bunn was for forty years a whaler, but
had abandoned the habit now, as there is so little
demand among the restaurants for whales, and
also because there are fewer whales. I ascer
tained from him that the whale at this season
of the year does not readily rise to the fly, but
bites the harpoon greedily during the middle of
the day.

Mr. Bunn also gave us a great deal of other
Information, among other things informing us
of the fact that the white men had been up to
their old tricks and were trying to steal portions
of the reservation that had not been nailed
down. He did not say whether it was the same


man who is trying to steal the old Southampton
graveyard or not.

James is about seventy-five years old and his
father once lived in a wigwam on the Shimn-
coek Hills. Mr. Bunn saya that the country has
changed very much in the past 250 years and
that I would hardly know the place if I could
have seen it at first. During that time he says
two other houses have been built and he has
reshingled the L of his barn with hay.

He told us the thrilling story of the Spanish
Sylph and how she was wrecked many years ago
on the coast near his house, and how the Span
ish dollars burst out of her gaping side and fell
with a low, mellow plunk into the raging main.

Now and then the sea has given up one of
these "sand-dollars" as the years went by, and
not over two years ago one was found along the
shore near by. What I blame the Shinnecock
Indiana for is their fatal yearning to subsist
solely on this precarious income.

But with the decline of the whaling industry,
due somewhat to the great popularity of natural
and acquired gas as a lubricant, together with
the cheap methods of picking up electricity and
preserving it for illuminating purposes, and ftlao
to the fact that whales are more skittish thftu


they used to be, the Shinnecock whaler Is lft
high and dry.

It is, indeed, a pathetic picture. Here om tfce
stem and rock-bound coast, where their ances
tors greeted Columbus and other excursionist*
as they landed on the new dock and at once had
their pictures taken in a group for the illustra
tion on the greenbacks, now the surviving relic
of a brave people, with bowed heads and frosting
locks, are waiting a few days only for the long,
dark night of merciful oblivion.

So he walks in the night-time, all through the
long fly time, he walks by the sorrowful sea, and
he yearns to wake never, but lie there forever in
the arms of the sheltering sea, to lie in the lap
of the sea.

At least that is my idea of the way the 8&in-
necock feels about it.

The Indian race, wherever we find it, gives us
a wonderful illustration of the great, inherent
power of rum as a human leveler. The Indian
has, perhaps, greater powers of endurance than
the white man, and enters into the great *n-
equal fight with rum almost hilariously, but he
loses his presence of mind and forgets to can a
cab at the proper moment. This is a matter
that has never been fully understood even by


ihe pale face, and of course the Indian is a per
fect child in the great conflict with rum. The
result ia that the Indian is passing away under
our very eyes, and the time will soon come when
the Indian agent will have to seek some other
healthful, outdoor exercise.

So the consumptive Shinnecock, the author of
"Shinny on Your Own Ground and Other
Games," is soon to live only in the flea-bitten
records of a great nation. Once he wrote pieces
for the boys to speak in school, and contributed
largely to McGuffy's and Sander's periodicals,
but now you never hear of an Indian who is a
good extemporaneous public speaker, or who can
write for sour apples.

He no longer makes the statement that he is
an aged hemlock, that his limbs are withered
and his trunk attached by the constable. He
has ceased to tell through the columns of the
Fifth Header how swift he used to be as a war
rior and that the war-path is now overgrown
with grass. He very seldom writes anything for
the papers except over the signature of Veritas,
and the able young stenographer who used to
report his speeches at the council fire seems to
have moved away.

Two hundred and fifty years ago the Shinne-


eeck Hills were covered by a dense forest, but in
that brief period, as if by magic, two and one-
half acres of that ground have been cleared,
which is an average of an entire acre for every
hundred years. When we stop to consider that
very little of this work was done by the women
and that the men have to attend to the cleaning
of the whales in order to prepare them for the
table, and also write their contributions for the
school-books and sign treaties with the White
Father at Washington, we are forced to admit
that had the Indian's life been spared for a few
thousand years more he would have been alive
at the end of that time.

So they wander on together, waiting for the
final summons. Waiting for the pip or measles,
and their cough is dry and hacking as they cough
along together towards the large and wide here

They have lived so near Manhattan, where
refinement is so plenty, where the joy they jerk
from barley every other day but Sunday gives
the town a reddish color, that the Shinnecock is
dying, dying with his cowhide boots on, dying
with his hectic flush on, while the church bells
chime in Brooklyn and New Yorkers go to
Jersey, go to get their fire-water, go to get their


red-eyed bug-juice, go to get their cooking

Far away at Minnehaha, in the land of the
Dakota, where the cyclone feels BO kinky, rising
on its active hind-feet, with its tail up o'er the
dash-board, blowing babies through the grind
stone without injuring the babies, where the
cyclone and the whopper journey on in joy to
gether there refinement and f rumenti, with the

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Online LibraryBill NyeBill Nye's sparks → online text (page 8 of 9)