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shooting-distance, and just as the buck stuck his nose in
the drink I drew a bead upon his top-knot, and over he
tumbled, and splurged and bounded a while, when I came
up and relieved him by cutting his wizen — "

"Well, but what has that to do with an adventure f'^
said Riley.

"Hold on a bit, if you please, gentlemen; by Jove, it
had a great deal to do with it. For, while I was busy
skinning the hind-quarters of the buck, and stowing away
the kidney-fat in my hunting-shirt, I heard a noise like
the breaking of brush under a moccasin up 'the bottom.'
My dog heard it, and started up to reconnoiter, and I lost
no time in reloading my rifle. I had hardly got my prim-
ing out before my dog raised a howl and broke through



the brush toward me with his tail down, as he was not
used to doing unless there were wolves, painters (pan-
thers), or In j ins about.

"I picked up my knife, and took up my line of march
in a skulking- trot up the river. The frequent gullies on
the lower bank made it tedious traveling there, so I scrab-
bled up to the upper bank, which was pretty well covered
with buckeye and sycamore, and very little underbrush.
One peep below discovered to me three as big and strap-
ping red rascals, gentlemen, as you ever clapped your
eyes on! Yes, there they came, not above six hundred
yards in my rear, shouting and yelling like hounds, and
coming after me like all possessed."

"Well," said an old woodsman, sitting at the table,
"you took a tree, of course."

"Did I ? No, gentlemen, I took no tree just then, but
I took to my heels like sixty, and it was just as much as
my old dog could do to keep up with me. I run until the
whoops of my red-skins grew fainter and fainter behind
me, and, clean out of wind, I ventured to look behind me,
and there came one single red whelp, puffing and blowing,
not three hundred yards in my rear. He had got on to a
piece of bottom where the trees were small and scarce.
'Now,' thinks I, 'old fellow, I'll have you.' So I trotted
off at a pace sufficient to let my follower gain on me, and
when he had got just about near enough I wheeled and
fired, and down I brought him, dead as a door-nail, at a
hundred and twenty yards !"

"Then you skelp'd (scalped) him immediately?" said
the backwoodsman.

"Very clear of it, gentlemen ; for by the time I got my
rifle loaded, here came the other two red-skins, shouting
and whooping close on me, and away I broke again like
a quarter-horse. I was now about five miles from the



settlement, and it was getting- toward sunset. I ran till
my wind began to be pretty short, when I took a look
back, and there they came, snorting like mad buffaloes,
one about two or three hundred yards ahead of the other :
so I acted possum again until the foremost Injin got
pretty well up, and I wheeled and fired at the very mo-
ment he was 'drawing a bead' on me: he fell head over
stomach into the dirt, and up came the last one !"

"So you laid for him, and — " gasped several.

"No," continued the "member," "I didn't lay for him,
I hadn't time to load, so I laid my legs to ground and
started again. I heard every bound he made after me. I
ran and ran until the fire flew out of my eyes, and the old
dog's tongue hung out of his mouth a quarter of a yard

"Phe-e-e-e-w !" whistled somebody.

"Fact, gentlemen. Well, what I was to do I didn't
know : rifle empty, no big trees about, and a murdering
red Indian not three hundred yards in my rear ; and what
was worse, just then it occurred to me that I was not a
great ways from a big creek (now called Mill Creek),
and there I should be pinned at last.

"Just at this juncture, I struck my toe against a root,
and down I tumbled, and my old dog over me. Before I
could scrabble up—"

"The Indian fired !" gasped the old woodsman.

"He did, gentlemen, and I felt the ball strike me under
the shoulder; but that didn't seem to put any embargo
upon my locomotion, for as soon as I got up I took off
again, quite freshened by my fall ! I heard the red-skin
close behind me coming booming on, and every minute I
expected to have his tomahawk dashed into my head or

"Something kind of cool began to trickle down my legs
into my boots — "



*'BIood, eh ? for the shot the varmint gin you," said the
old woodsman, in a great state of excitement.

"I thought so," said the Senator; "but what do you
think it was ?"

Not being blood, we were all puzzled to know what the
blazes it could be ; when Riley observed, —

"I suppose you had — "

"Melted the deer-fat which I had stuck in the breast of
my hunting-shirt, and the grease was running down my
leg until my feet got so greasy that my heavy boots flew
off, and one, hitting the dog, nearly knocked his brains

We all grinned, which the "member" noticing, ob-
served, —

"I hope, gentlemen, no man here will presume to think
I'm exaggerating ?"

"Oh, certainly not ! Go on, Mr. ," we all chimed in.

"Well, the ground under my feet was soft, and, being
relieved of my heavy boots, I put off with double-quick
time, and, seeing the creek about half a mile off, I ven-
tured to look over my shoulder to see what kind of chance
there was to hold up and load. The red-skin was coming
jogging along, pretty well blowed out, about five hundred
yards in the rear. Thinks I, 'Here goes to load, anyhow.'
So at it I went : in went the powder, and, putting on my
patch, down went the ball about half-way, and off snapped
my ramrod !"

"Thunder and lightning!'* shouted the old woodsman,
who was worked up to the top-notch in the "member's"

"Good gracious! wasn't I in a pickle! There was the
red whelp within two hundred yards of me, pacing along
and loading up his riUe as he came! I jerked out the
broken ramrod, dashed it away, and started on, priming



up as I cantered off, determined to turn and give the red-
skin a blast, anyhow, as soon as I reached the creek.

"I was now within a hundred yards of the creek, could
see the smoke from the settlement chimneys. A few more
jumps, and I was by the creek. The Indian was close
upon me : he gave a whoop, and I raised my rifle : on he
came, knowing that I had broken my ramrod and my load
not down: another whoop! whoop! and he was within
fifty yards of me. I pulled trigger, and — "

"And killed himf" chuckled Riley.

"No, sir! I missed fire!"

"And the red-skin — " shouted the old woodsman, in a
frenzy of excitement.

"Fired and killed me!"

The screams and shouts that followed this finale
brought landlord Noble, servants and hostlers running
up stairs to see if the house was on fire !




There was quite a row of them on the mantel-piece.
They were all facing front, and it looked as if they had
come out of the wall behind, and were on their little stage
facing the audience. There was the bronze monk reading
a book by the light of a candle, who had a private opening
under his girdle, so that sometimes his head was thrown
violently back, and one looked down into him and found
him full of brimstone matches. Then the little boy lean-
ing against a greyhound; he was made of Parian, very
fine Parian, too, so that one would expect to find a glass
cover over him : but no, the glass cover stood over a cat
and a cat made of worsted, too : still it was a very old cat,
fifty years old in fact. There was another young person
there, young like the boy leaning on a greyhound, and she,
too, was of Parian : she was very fair in front, but behind
— ah, that is a secret which is not quite time yet to tell.
One other stood there, at least she seemed to stand, but
nobody could see her feet, for her dress was so very wide
and so finely flounced. She was the china girl that rose
out of a pen-wiper.

The fire in the grate below was of soft coal, and
flashed up and down, throwing little jets of flame up that
made very pretty foot-lights. So here was a stage, and
here were the actors, but where was the audience? Oh,
the Audience was in the arm-chair in front. He had a



special seat; he was a critic, and could get up when he
wanted to, when the play became tiresome, and go out,

"It is painful to say such things out loud," said the
Boy-leaning-against-a-greyhound, with a trembling voice,
"but we have been together so long, and these people
round us never will go away. Dear girl, will you ? — you
know." It was the Parian girl that he spoke to, but he did
not look at her ; he could not, he was leaning against the
greyhound ; he only looked at the Audience.

"I am not quite sure," she coughed. "If, now, you were
under a glass case."

"I am under a glass case," spoke up the Cat-made-of-
worsted. "Marry me. I am fifty years old. Marry me,
and live under a glass case."

"Shocking !" said she. "How can you ? Fifty years old,
too ! That would indeed be a match !"

"Marry!" muttered the bronze Monk-reading-a-book.
"A match! I am full of matches, but I don't marry.

"You stand up very straight, neighbor," said the Cat-

"I never bend," said the bronze Monk-reading-a-book.
"Life is earnest. I read a book by candle. I am never

The Cat-made-of-worsted grinned to himself.

"You've got a hinge in your back," said he, "they open
you in the middle ; your head flies back. How the blood
must run down. And then you're full of brimstone
matches. He ! he !" and the Cat-made-of-worsted grinned
out loud. The Boy-leaning-against-a-greyhound spoke
again, and sighed :

"I am of Parian, you know, and there is no one else
here of Parian except yourself."

"And the greyhound," said the Parian girl.



"Yes, and the greyhound," said he eagerly. "He be-
longs to me. Come, a glass case is nothing to it. We
could roam ; oh, we could roam !"

"I don't like roaming."

"Then we could stay at home, and lean against the

"No," said the Parian girl, "I don't like that."


"I have private reasons."


"No matter."

"I know," said the Cat-made-of-worsted. "I saw her
behind. She's hollow. She's stuffed with lamp-lighters.
He ! he !" and the Cat-made-of-worsted grinned again.

"I love you just as much," said the steadfast Boy-lean-
ing-against-a-greyhound, "and I don't believe the Cat."

"Go away," said the Parian girl, angrily. "You're all
hateful, I won't have you,"

"Ah!" sighed the Boy-leaning-against-a-greyhound.

"Ah !" came another sigh — it was from the China-girl-
rising-out-of-a-pen-wiper — "how I pity you!"

"Do you?" said he eagerly. "Do you? Then I love
you. Will you marry me ?"

"Ah!" said she; "but—"

"She can't!" said the Cat-made-of-worsted. "She
can't come to you. She hasn't got any legs. I know it.
I'm fifty years old. I never saw them."

"Never mind the Cat," said the Boy-leaning-against-

"But I do mind the Cat," said she, weeping. "I haven't.
It's all pen-wiper."

"Do I care?" said he.

"She has thoughts," said the bronze Monk-reading-a-
book. "That lasts longer than beauty. And she is solid



"And she has no hinge in her back," grinned the Cat-
made-of-worsted. "Come, neighbors, let us congratulate
them. You begin."

"Keep out of disagreeable company," said the bronze

"That is not congratulation; that is advice," said the
Cat-made-of- worsted. "Never mind, go on, my dear," —
to the Parian girl. "What ! nothing to say ? Then I'll say
it for you. 'Friends, may your love last as long as your
courtship.' Now I'll congratulate you."

But before he could speak, the Audience got up.

"You shall not say a word. It must end happily."

He went to the mantel-piece and took up the China-

"Why, she has legs after all," said he.

"They're false," said the Cat-made-of-worsted.
"They're false. I know it. I'm fifty years old. I never
saw true ones pn her."

The Audience paid no attention, but took up the Boy-

"Ha!" said the Cat-made-of-worsted. "Come. I like
this. He's hollow. They're all hollow. He ! he ! Neigh-
bor Monk, you're hollow. He! he !" and the Cat-made-of-
worsted never stopped grinning. The Audience lifted the
glass case from him and set it over the Boy-leaning-
against-a-greyhound and the China-girl-rising-out-of-a-

"Be happy !" said he.

"Happy !" said the Cat-made-of-worsted. "Happy !"

Still they were happy.




It is not easy, at the best, for two persons talking to-
gether to make the most of each other's thoughts, there
are so many of them.

[The company looked as if they wanted an explana-

When John and Thomas, for instance, are talking to-
gether, it is natural enough that among the six there
should be more or less confusion and misapprehension.

[Our landlady turned pale; — no doubt she thought
there was a screw loose in my intellects, — and that in-
volved the probable loss of a boarder. A severe-looking
person, who wears a Spanish cloak and a sad cheek, fluted
by the passions of the melodrama, whom I understand to
be the professional rufiian of the neighboring theater, al-
luded, with a certain lifting of the brow, drawing down
of the corners of the mouth and somewhat rasping voce
di petti, to Falstaff's nine men in buckram. Everybody
looked up. I believe the old gentleman opposite was
afraid I should seize the carving-knife; at any rate, he
slid it to one side, as it were carelessly.]

I think, I said, I can make it plain to Benjamin Frank-
lin here, that there are at least six personalities distinctly
to be recognized as taking part in that dialogue between
John and Thomas.

1. The real John; known only to his Maker.

2. John's ideal John; never the real one, and often
Three Johns ■{ very unlike him.

3. Thomas's ideal John; never the real John, nor
John's John, but often very unlike cither.



I I. The real Thomas.
Three Thomases -< 2. Thomas's ideal Thomas.
I 3. John's ideal Thomas.

Only one of the three Johns is taxed ; only one can be
weighed on a platform-balance; but the other two are
just as important in the conversation. Let us suppose
the real John to be old, dull and ill-looking. But as the
Higher Powers have not conferred on men the gift of
seeing themselves in the true light, John very possibly
conceives himself to be youthful, witty, and fascinating,
and talks from the point of view of this ideal. Thomas,
again believes him to be an artful rogue, we will say;
therefore he is so far as Thomas's attitude in the con-
versation is concerned, an artful rogue, though really
simple and stupid. The same conditions, apply to the
three Thomases. It follows, that, until a man can be
found who knows himself as his Maker knows him, or
who sees himself as others see him, there must be at least
six persons engaged in every dialogue between two. Of
these, the least important, philosophically speaking, is the
one that we have called the real person. No wonder two
disputants often get angry, when there are six of them
talking and listening all at the same time.

[A very unphilosophical application of the above re-
marks was made by a young fellow, answering to the
name of John, who sits near me at table. A certain bas-
ket of peaches, a rare vegetable, little known to board-
ing houses, was on its way to me vid this unlettered
Johannes. Lie appropriated the three that remained in
the basket, remarking that there was just one apiece for
him. I convinced him that his practical inference was
hasty and illogical, but in the mean time he had eaten the



"Our Sumatra Correspondence

'This island is now tlie property of the Stamford fam-
ily, — having been won, it is said, in a raffle, by Sir

Stamford, during the stock-gambling mania of the South-
Sea Scheme. The history of this gentleman may be found
in an interesting series of questions (unfortunately not
yet answered) contained in the "Notes and Queries."
This island is entirely surrounded by the ocean, which
here contains a large amount of saline substance, crystal-
lizing in cubes remarkable for their symmetry, and fre-
quently displays on its surface, during calm weather, the
rainbow tints of the celebrated South- Sea bubbles. The
summers are oppressively hot, and the winters very prob-
ably cold ; but this fact can not be ascertained precisely,
as, for some peculiar reason, the mercury in these latitudes
never shrinks, as in more northern regions, and thus the
thermometer is rendered useless in winter.

"The principal vegetable productions of the island are
the pepper-tree and the bread-fruit tree. Pepper being
very abundantly produced, a benevolent society was or-
ganized in London during the last century for supplying
the natives with vinegar and oysters, as an addition to
that delightful condiment. [Note received from Dr.
D. P.] It is said, however, that, as the oysters were of
the kind called natives in England, the natives of Suma-
tra, in obedience to a natural instinct, refused to touch
them, and confined themselves entirely to the crew of the
vessel in which they were brought over. This informa-
tion was received from one of the oldest inhabitants, a
native himself, and exceedingly fond of missionaries. He
is said also to be very skilful in the cuisine peculiar to
the island.

"During the season of gathering the pepper, the per-



sons employed are subject to various incommodities, the
chief of which is violent and long-continued sternutation,
or sneezing. Such is the vehemence of these attacks, that
the unfortunate subjects of them are often driven back-
ward for great distances at immense speed, on the well-
known principle of the seolipile. Not being able to see
where they are going, these poor creatures dash them-
selves to pieces against the rocks or are precipitated over
the cliffs, and thus many valuable lives are lost annually.
As, during the whole pepper-harvest, they feed exclu-
sively on this stimulant, they become exceedingly irri-
table. The smallest injury is resented with ungovernable
rage. A young man suffering from the pepper-fever, as
it is called, cudgeled another most severely for appro-
priating a superannuated relative of trifling value, and
was only pacified by having a present made him of a pig
of that peculiar species of swine called the Peccavi by the
Catholic Jews, who, it is well known, abstain from swine's
flesh in imitation of the Mahometan Buddhists.

"The bread-tree grows abundantly. Its branches are
well known to Europe and America under the familiar
name of macaroni. The smaller twigs are called vermi-
celli. They have a decided animal flavor, as may be ob-
served in the soups containing them. Macaroni, being
tubular, is the favorite habitat of a very dangerous insect,
which is rendered peculiarly ferocious by being boiled.
The government of the island, therefore, never allows a
stick of it to be exported without being accompanied by
a piston with which its cavity may at any time be thor-
oughly swept out. These are commonly lost or stolen be-
fore the macaroni arrives among us. It therefore always
contains many of these insects, which, however, generally
die of old age in the shops, so that accidents from this
source are comparatively rare.



**The fruit of the bread-tree consists principally of hot
rolls. The buttered-muffin variety is supposed to be a
hybrid with a cocoanut palm, the cream found on the
milk pf the cocoanut exuding from the hybrid in the
shape of butter, just as the ripe fruit is splitting-, so as to
fit it for the tea-table, where it is commonly served up
with cold—"

— There, — I don't want to read any more of it. You see
that many of these statements are highly improbable. —
No, I shall not mention the paper. — No, neither of them
wrote it, though it reminds me of the style of these popu-
lar writers. I think the fellow that wrote it must have
been reading some of their stories, and got them mixed
up with his history and geography. I don't suppose he
lies ; he sells it to the editor, who knows how many squares
off "Sumatra" is. The editor, who sells it to the public —
by the way, the papers have been very civil — haven't they ?
— to the — the — what d'ye call it? — "Northern Maga-
zine," — ;isn't it? — got up by some of these Come-outers,
down East, as an organ for their local peculiarities.

It is a very dangerous thing for a literary man to in-
dulge his love for the ridiculous. People laugh zvith him
just so long as he amuses them ; but if he attempts to be
serious, they must still have their laugh, and so they
laugh at him. There is in addition, however, a deeper
reason for this than would at first appear. Do you know
that you feel a little superior to every man who makes
you laugh, whether by making faces or verses ? Are you
aware that you have a pleasant sense of patronizing him,
when you condescend so far as to let him turn somersets,
literal or literary, for your royal delight? Now if a man
can only be allowed to stand on a dais, or raised platform,
and look down on his neighbor who is exerting his talent



for him, ph, it is all right ! — first-rate performance ! — and
all the rest of the fine phrases. But if all at once the per-
former asks the gentleman to come upon the floor, and,
stepping upon the platform, begins to talk down at him, —
ah, that wasn't in the program !

I have never forgotten what happened when Sydney-
Smith — who, as everybody knows, was an exceedingly
sensible man, and a gentleman, every inch of him — ven-
tured to preach a sermon on the Duties of Royalty. The
"Quarterly," "so savage and tartly," came down upon
him in the most contemptuous style, as "a joker of jokes,"
a "diner-out of the first water" in one of his own phrases ;
sneering at him, insulting him, as nothing but a toady of
a court, sneaking behind the anonymous, would ever have
been mean enough to do to a man of his position and
genius, or to any decent person even. — If I were giving
advice to a young fellow of talent, with two or three
facets to his mind, I would tell him by all means to keep
his wit in the background until after he had made a repu-
tation by his more solid qualities. And so to an actor:
Hamlet first and Bob Logic afterward, if you like; but
don't think, as they say poor Liston used to, that people
will be ready to allow that you can do anything great with
Macheth's dagger after flourishing about with Paul Pry's
umbrella. Do you know, too, that the majority of men
look upon all who challenge their attention, — for a while,
at least, — as beggars, and nuisances ? They always try to
get off as cheaply as they can; and the cheapest of all
things they can give a literary man — pardon the forlorn
pleasantry ! — is the funny-hont. That is all very well so
far as it goes, but satisfies no man, and makes a good
many angry, as I told you on a former occasion.

Oh, indeed, no! — I am not ashamed to make you
laugh, occasionally. I think I could read you something



I have in my desk that would probably make you smile.
Perhaps I will read it one of these days, if you are patient
with me when I am sentimental and reflective; not just
now. The ludicrous has its place in the universe ; it is not
a human invention, but one of the Divine ideas, illustrated
in the practical jokes as kittens and monkeys long before
Aristophanes or Shakespeare, How curious it is that we
always consider solemnity and the absence of all gay sur-
prises and encounter of wits as essential to the idea of
the future life of those whom we thus deprive of half
their faculties and then called blessed! There are not a
few who, even in this life, seem to be preparing them-
selves for that smileless eternity to which they look for-
ward, by banishing all gaiety from their hearts and all
joyousness from their countenances. I meet one such in
the street not unfrequently, a person of intelligence and
education, but who gives me (and all that he passes) such
a rayless and chilling look of recognition, — something as
if he were one of Heaven's assessors, come down to
"doom" every acquaintance he met, — that I have some-
times begun to sneeze on the spot, and gone home with a

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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbThe wit and humor of America (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 24)