Copyright
Kate Milner Rabb.

The wit and humor of America (Volume 2) online

. (page 3 of 24)
Online LibraryKate Milner RabbThe wit and humor of America (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"No; but that doesn't matter. I shall like it just as
well," replied Buddie.

"That doesn't follow, but this does," said the Donkey,
and once more he sang :

"A foolish Frog, one summer day,
While splashing round in careless way.
Observed a man
With large tin can,
And manner most suspicious.
'I think I know,' remarked the Frog,
'A safer place than on this log;
For when a man
Comes with a can
His object is malicious.'

Thus far the foolish Frog was wise;
But had he better used his eyes,

434



BERT LESTON TAYLOR

He would have seen,
Close by, a lean
Old Pike — his nose just showing.
Kersplash! The Pike made just one bite. . ,
The moral I need scarce recite:
Before you leap
Just take a peep
To see where you are going."

Buddie, however, clung to her former opinion. "I Hke
Sammy Patch the best," said she.

"That," rejoined the singer, "is a matter of taste, as the
donkey said to the horse who preferred hay to thistles.
Usually the public likes best the very piece the composer
himself cares least about. So wherever I go I hear, *Oh,
Professor, do sing us that beautiful song about Sammy
Patch,' And I can't poke my head inside the Thistle Club
but some donkey bawls out, 'Here's Bray! Now we'll
have a song. Sing us Sammy Patch, old fellow.' Really,
I've sung that song so many times I'm tired of the sound
of it."

"It must be nice to be such a favorite," said Buddie.

"Suppose we go up to the Corner and see what's stir-
ring," suggested the Donkey, with a yawn.

"Oh, are you going up to the Corner, too?" cried Bud-
die. "I am to meet the Rabbit there at two o'clock. I
hope it isn't late."

The Donkey glanced skyward.

"It isn't noon yet," said he.

"How do you tell time ?" inquired Buddie.

"By the way it flies. Time flies, you know. You can
tell a great many birds that way, too." As he spoke the
Donkey put his lute into one of his bags and took down
his sign.

"You can ride if you wish," he offered graciously.

"Thank you," said Buddie. And leaving the White

435



A TRAVELED DONKEY

Blackbird asleep on his perch, — for, as Buddie said, he
was having such a lovely nap it would be a pity to wake
him, — they set off through the wood.

It was bad traveling for a short distance, but presently
they came out on an old log-road; and along this the
Donkey ambled at an easy pace. On both sides grew
wild flowers in wonderful abundance, but, as Buddie no-
ticed, they were all of one kind — Enchanter's Nightshade.

Buddie had also noticed, when she climbed to her com-
fortable seat, a peculiar marking on the Donkey's broad
back. It was bronze in color, and in shape like a cross.

"Perhaps it's a strawberry mark," she thought, "and
he may not want to talk about it." But curiosity got the
better of her.

"Oh, that?" said the Donkey, carelessly, in reply to a
question. "That's a Victoria Cross. I served three
months with the British army in South Africa, and was
decorated for gallantry in leading a charge of the ambu-
lance corps. I shall have to ask you not to hang things
on my neck. It's all I can do to hold up my head."

"Oh, excuse me," said Buddie, untying the sign. Old
Saws Reset While You Wait.

"Hang it round your own neck," said the Donkey, and
Buddie did so.

"I often wonder," she said, "whether a horse doesn't
sometimes get tired holding his head out at the end of his
neck. And as for a giraffe, I don't see how he stands it."

"Well, a giraffe's neck runs out at a more convenient
angle," said the Donkey. "Still, it is tiresome without a
check-rein. You hear a great deal about a check-rein be-
ing a cruel invention, but, on the contrary, it's a great
blessing. Now, a nose-bag is a positive outrage, and the
more oats it contains the more pf an imposition it is.
People have the queerest ideas !"

436



SELECTING THE FACULTY]

BY BAYNARD RUST HALL

Our Board of Trustees, It will be remembered, had been
directed by the Legislature to procure, as the ordinance
called it, "Teachers for the commencement of the State
College at Woodville." That business, by the Board, was
committed to Dr. Sylvan and Robert Carlton — the most
learned gentleman of the body, and of — the New Pur-
chase. Our honorable Board will be more specially intro-
duced hereafter ; at present we shall bring forward certain
rejected candidates, that, like rejected prize essays, they
may be published, and thus have their revenge.

None can tell us how plenty good things are till he
looks for them; and hence, to the great surprise of the
Committee, there seemed to be a sudden growth and a
large crop of persons even in and around Woodville,
either already qualified for the "Professorships," as we
named them in our publication, or who could "qualify"
by the time of election. As to the "chair" named also in
our publications, one very worthy and disinterested
schoolmaster offered, as a great collateral inducement for
his being elected, "to £itd his own chair!" — a vast saving
to the State, if the same chair I saw in Mr. Whackum's
school-room. For his chair there was one with a hickory
bottom; and doubtless he would have filled it, and even

437



SELECTING THE FACULTY

lapped over its edges, with equal dignity in the recitation
room of Big College.

The Committee had, at an early day, given an invita-
tion to the Rev. Charles Clarence, A. M., of New Jersey,
and his answer had been affirmative ; yet for political rea-
sons we had been obliged to invite competitors, or make
them, and we found and created "a right smart sprinkle."

Hopes of success were built on many things — for in-
stance, on poverty; a plea being entered that something
ought to be done for the poor fellow — on one's having
taught a common school all his bom days, who now
deserved to rise a peg — on political, or religious, or
fanatical partizan qualifications — and on pure patriotic
principles, such as a person's having been "born in a cane-
brake and rocked in a sugar trough." On the other hand,
a fat, dull-headed, and modest Englishman asked for a
place, because he had been born in Liverpool ! and had
seen the world beyond the woods and waters, too! And
another fussy, talkative, pragmatical little gentleman
rested his pretensions on his ability to draw and paint
maps ! — not projecting them in roundabout scientific pro-
cesses, but in that speedy and elegant style in which young
ladies copy maps at first chop boarding-schools ! Nay, so
transcendent seemed Mr. Merchator's claims, when his
show or sample maps were exhibited to us, that some in
our Board, and nearly everybody out of it, were confident
he would do for Professor of Mathematics and even
Principal.

But of all our unsuccessful candidates, we shall intro-
duce by name only two — Mr. James Jimmy, A. S. S., and
Mr. Solomon Rapid, A. to Z.

Mr. Jimmy, who aspired to the mathematical chair, was
master of a small school of all sexes, near Woodville. At
the first, he was kindly, yet honestly told, his knowledge

438



BAYNARD RUST HALL

was too limited and inaccurate ; yet, notwithstanding this,
and some almost rude repulses afterward, he persisted in
his application and his hopes. To give evidence of com-
petency, he once told me he was arranging a new spelling-
book, the publication of which would make him known
as a literary man, and be an unspeakable advantage to
"the rising generation." And this naturally brought on
the following colloquy about the work :

"Ah! indeed! Mr. Jimmy?"

"Yes, indeed, Mr. Carlton."

"On what new principle do you go, sir?"

"Why, sir, on the principles of nature and common
sense. I allow school-books for schools are all too power-
ful obstruse and hard-like to be understood without ex-
emplifying illustrations."

"Yes, but Mr. Jimmy, how is a child's spelling-book
to be made any plainer?"

"Why, sir, by clear expllfications of the words in one
column, by exemplifying illustrations in the other."

"I do not understand you, Mr. Jimmy, give me a
specimen — " ^

"Sir?"

"An example — "

"To be sure — here's a spes-a-example ; you see, for in-
stance, I put in the spelling-column, C-r-e-a-m, cream,
and here in the explification column, I put the exempli-
fying illustration — Unctious part of milk!"

We had asked, at our first interview, if our candidate
was an algebraist, and his reply was negative; but, "he
allowed he could 'qualify' by the time of election, as he
was powerful good at figures, and had cyphered clean
through every arithmetic he had ever seen, the rule of
promiscuous questions and all !" Hence, some weeks after,
as I was passing his door, on my way to a squirrel hunt,

439



SELECTING THE FACULTY

with a party of friends, Mr. Jimmy, hurrying out with
a slate in his hand, begged me to stop a moment, and thus
addressed me :

"Well, Mr. Carlton, this algebra is a most powerful
thing— ain't it?"

"Indeed it is, Mr. Jimmy — ^have you been looking into
it?"

"Looking into it ! I have been all through this here fust
part; and by election time, I allow I'll be ready for ex-
amination."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, sir ! but it is such a pretty thing ! Only to think of
cyphering by letters ! Why, sir, the sums come out, and
bring the answers exactly like figures. Jist stop a minute
— look here : a stands for 6, and b stands for 8, and c
stands for 4, and d stands for figure 10; now if I say
a plus b minus c equals d, it is all the same as if I said, 6 is
6 and 8 makes 14, and 4 subtracted, leaves 10! Why, sir,
I done a whole slate full of letters and signs ; and after-
ward, when I tried by figures, they every one of them
came out right and brung the answer ! I mean to cypher
by letters altogether."

"Mr. Jimmy, my company is nearly out of sight — if
you can get along this way through simple and quadratic
equations by our meeting, your chance will not be so bad
— good morning, sir."

But our man of "letters" quit cyphering the new way,
and returned to plain figures long before reaching equa-
tions ; and so he could not become our professor. Yet
anxious to do us all the good in his power, after our col-
lege opened, he waited on me, a leading trustee, with a
proposal to board our students, and authorized me to pub-
lish — "as how Mr. James Jimmy will take strange stu-
dents — students not belonging to Woodville — to board, at

440



BAYNARD RUST HALL

one dollar a week, and find everything, washing included,
and will black their shoes three times a week to hoot, and
— give them their dog-zvood and cherry-bitters every
morning into tJie bargain!'^

The most extraordinary candidate, however, was Mr.
Solomon Rapid. He was now somewhat advanced into
the shaving age, and was ready to assume offices the most
opposite in character ; although justice compels us to say
Mr. Rapid was as fit for one thing as another. Deeming
it waste of time to prepare for any station till he was cer-
tain of obtaining it, he wisely demanded the place first,
and then set to work to become qualified for its duties,
being, I suspect, the very man, or some relation of his,
who is recorded as not knowing whether he could read
Greek, as he had never tried. And, besides, Mr. Solomon
Rapid contended that all offices, from president down to
fence-viewer, were open to every white American citizen ;
and that every republican had a blood-bought right to
seek any that struck his fancy ; and if the profits were less,
or the duties more onerous than had been anticipated, that
a man ought to resign and try another.

Naturally, therefore, Mr. Rapid thought he would like
to sit in our chair of languages, or have some employment
in the State college ; and hence he called for that purpose
on Dr. Sylvan, who, knowing the candidate's character,
maliciously sent him to me. Accordingly, the young gen-
tleman presented himself, and without ceremony, instantly
made known his business thus :

"I heerd, sir, you wanted somebody to teach the State
school, and I'm come to let you know I'm willing to take
the place."

"Yes, sir, we are going to elect a professor of lan-
guages who is to be the principal and a professor — "

"Well, I don't care which I take, but I'm willing to be

441



SELECTING THE FACULTY

the principal. I can teach si f ring, reading, writing, jog-
gerfee, surveying, grammur, spelling, definition, par-
sin—"

"Are you a linguist ?"

"Sir?"

"You, of course, understand the dead languages ?"

"Well, can't say I ever seed much of them, though I
have heerd tell of them ; but I can soon lam them — they
ain't more than a few of them I allow ?"

"Oh ! my dear sir, it is not possible — we— can't — "

"Well, I never seed what I couldn't larn about as smart
as anybody — "

"Mr. Rapid, I do not mean to question your abilities ;
but if you are now wholly unacquainted with the dead
languages, it is impossible for you or any other talented
man to learn them under four or five years.'*

"Pshoo ! foo ! I'll bet I larn one in three weeks ! Try
me, sir, — let's have the furst one furst — how many are
there?"

"Mr. Rapid, it is utterly impossible ; but if you insist,
I will loan you a Latin book — "

"That's your sort, let's have it, that's all I want, fair
play."

Accordingly, I handed him a copy of Historiae Sacrae,
with which he soon went away, saying, he "didn't allow
it would take long to git through Latin, if 'twas only sich
a thin patch of a book as that."

In a few weeks, to my no small surprise, Mr. Solomon
Rapid again presented himself; and drawing forth the
book began with a triumphant expression of countenance :

"Well, sir, I have done the Latin."

"Done the Latin !"

"Yes, I can read it as fast as English."

"Read it as fast as English ! !"

442



BAYNARD RUST HALL

"Yes, as fast as English — and I didn't find it hard at
all."

"May I try you on a page ?"

"Try away, try away; that's what I've come for."

"Please read here then, Mr. Rapid;" and in order to
give him a fair chance, I pointed to the first lines of the
first chapter, viz. : "In principio Deus creavit coelum et
terram intra sex dies ; primo die fecit lucem," etc,

"That, sir?" and then he read thus, "In prinspo duse
creevit kalelum et terrum intra sex dyes — primmo dye
fe-fe-sit looseum," etc.

"That will do, Mr. Rapid—"

"Ah! ha! I told you so."

"Yes, yes — but translate."

"Translate!" (eyebrows elevating.)'

"Yes, translate, render it."

"Render it ! ! how's that?" (forehead more wrinkled.)

"Why, yes, render it into English — give me the mean-
ing of it."

"Meaning!!" (staring full in my face, his eyes like
saucers, and forehead wrinkled with the furrows of
eighty) — "Meaning!! I didn't know it had any mean-
ing. I thought it was a Dead language ! !"

Well, reader, I am glad you are not laughing at Mr.
Rapid ; for how should anything dead speak out so as to
be understood? And indeed, does not his definition suit
the vexed feelings of some young gentlemen attempting
to read Latin without any interlinear translation? and
who inwardly, cursing both book and teacher, blast their
souls "if they can make any sense out of it." The ancients
may yet speak in their own languages to a few; but to
most who boast the honor pf their acquaintance, they are
certainly dead in the sense of Solomon Rapid.

443



LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE

BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,

An' wash the cups and saucers up, an' brush the crumbs

away,
An' shoo the chickens ojff the porch, an' dust the hearth,

an' sweep.
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-

an'-keep ;
An' all us other childern, when the supper things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about.
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you
Don't

Watch
Out!

Onc't there was a little boy wouldn't say his pray'rs —

An' when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,

His mammy heerd him holler, an' his daddy heerd him

bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wasn't there at

all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole,

an' press.
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'wheres, I

guess ;

444



JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

But all they ever found was thist his pants an' round-
about !
An' the Gobble-uns'll git you
Ef you
Don't

Watch
Out!

An' one time a little girl 'ud alius laugh an' grin,

An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin ;

An' onc't when they was "company," an' ole folks was

there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care !
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They was two great big Black Things a-standin' by her

side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed

what she's about !
An' the Gobble-uns'll git you
Ef you
Don't

Watch
Out!

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lampwick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo !
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray.
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away, —
You better mind yer parents, and yer teachers fond and

dear.
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns'll git you
Ef you
Don't

Watch
Out!

445



HANS BREITMANN'S PARTY

BY CHARLES GODFREY LELAND

Hans Breitmann gife a barty,

Dey had biano-blayin ;
I felled in lofe mit a Merican frau,

Her name vas Madilda Yane.
She hat haar as prown ash a pretzel.

Her eyes vas himmel-plue,
Und ven dey looket indo mine,

Dey shplit mine heart in two.

Hans Breitmann gife a barty,

I vent dere you'll pe pound.
I valtzet mit Madilda Yane

Und vent shpinnen round und round.
De pootiest Fraeulein in de House,

She vayed 'pout dwo hoondred pound,
Und efery dime she gife a shoomp

She make de vindows sound.

Hans Breitmann gife a barty,

I dells you it cost him dear.
Dey rolled in more ash sefen kecks

Of foost-rate Lager Beer.
Und venefer dey knocks de shpicket in

De Deutschers gifes a cheer.
I dinks dat so vine a barty,

Nefer coom to a het dis year.
446



CHARLES GODFREY LELAND

Hans Breitmann gife a barty ;

Dere all vas Souse und B rouse,
Yen de sooper corned in, de gompany

Did make demselfs to house ;
Dey ate das Brot and Gensy broost,

De Bratwurst and Braten fine,
Und vash der Abendessen down

Mit four parrels of Ncckarwein.

Hans Breitmann gife a barty;

We all cot troonk ash bigs.
I poot mine mout to a parrel of bier

Und emptied it oop mit a schwigs.
Und denn I gissed Madilda Yane

Und she shlog me on de kop,
Und de gompany fited mit daple-lecks

Dill de coonshtable made oos shtop.

Hans Breitmann gife a barty —

Where ish dat barty now !
Where ish de lofely golden cloud

Dat float on de moundain's prow ?
Where ish de himmelstrahlende Stern-

De shtar of de shpirit's light ?
All goned a fay mit de Lager Beer —

Af ay in de ewigkeit !



447



ROLLO LEARNING TO READ

BY ROBERT J. BURDETTE

When Rollo was five years young, his father said to
him one evening :

"Rollo, put away your roller skates and bicycle, carry
that rowing machine out into the hall, and come to me.
It is time for you to learn to read."

Then Rollo's father opened the book which he had
sent home on a truck and talked to the little boy about it.
It was Bancroft's History of the United States, half com-
plete in twenty-three volumes. Rollo's father explained
to Rollo and Mary his system of education, with special
reference to Rollo's learning to read. His plan was that
Mary should teach Rollo fifteen hours a day for ten years,
and by that time Rollo would be half through the begin-
ning of the first volume, and would like it very much in-
deed.

Rollo was delighted at the prospect. He cried aloud :

"Oh, papa! thank you very much. When I read this
book clear through, all the way to the end of the last vol-
ume, may I have another little book to read ?"

"No," replied his father, "that may not be; because
you will never get to the last volume pf this one. For as
fast as you read one volume, the author of this history,
or his heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns, will
write another as an appendix. So even though you should
live to be a very old man, like the boy preacher, this his-
tory will always be twenty-three volumes ahead of you.

448



ROBERT J. BURDETTE

Now, Mary and Rollo, this will be a hard task (pro-
nounced tawsk) for both of you, and Mary must remem-
ber that Rollo is a very little boy, and must be very pa-
tient and gentle."

The next morning after the one preceding it, Mary
began the first lesson. In the beginning she was so gentle
and patient that her mother went away and cried, because
she feared her dear little daughter was becoming too
good for this sinful world, and might soon spread her
wings and fly away and be an angel.

But in the space of a short time, the novelty of the ex-
pedition wore off, and Mary resumed running her temper
— which was of the old-fashioned, low-pressure kind, just
forward of the fire-box — on its old schedule. When she
pointed to "A" for the seventh time, and Rollo said "W,"
she tore the page out by the roots, hit her little brother
such a whack over the head with the big book that it set
his birthday back six weeks, slapped him twice, and was
just going to bite him, when her mother came in. Mary
told her that Rollo had fallen down stairs and torn his
book and raised that dreadful lump on his head. This
time Mary's mother restrained her emotion, and Mary
cried. But it was not because she feared her mother was
pining away. Oh, no ; it was her mother's rugged health
and virile strength that grieved Mary, as long as the
seance lasted, which was during the entire performance.

That evening Rollo's father taught Rollo his lesson and
made Mary sit by and observe his methods, because, he
said, that would be normal instruction for her. He said :

**Mary, you must learn to control your temper and curb
your impatience if you want to wear low-neck dresses,
and teach school. You must be sweet and patient, or you
will never succeed as a teacher. Now, Rollo, what is this
letter?"

449



ROLLO LEARNING TO READ

"I dunno," said Rollo, resolutely.

"That is A," said his father, sweetly.

"Huh," replied Rollo, "I knowed that."

"Then why did you not say so?" replied his father, so
sweetly that Jonas, the hired boy, sitting in the corner,
licked his chops.

Rollo's father went on with the lesson :

"What is this, Rollo?"

"I dunno," said Rollo, hesitatingly.

"Sure?" asked his father. "You do not know what it
is?"

"Nuck," said Rollo.

"It is A," said his father.

"A what?" asked Rollo.

"A nothing," replied his father, "it is just A. Now,
what is it?"

"Just A," said Rollo.

"Do not be flip, my son," said Mr. Holliday, "but at-
tend to your lesson. What letter is this ?"

"I dunno," said Rollo.

"Don't fib to me," said his father, gently, "you said a
minute ago that you knew. That is N."

"Yes, sir," replied Rollo, meekly. Rollo, although he
was a little boy, was no slouch, if he did wear bibs; he
knew where he lived without looking at the door-plate.
When it came time to be meek, there was no boy this side
of the planet Mars who could be meeker, on shorter no-
tice. So he said, "Yes, sir," with that subdued and well
pleased alacrity of a boy who has just been asked to guess
the answer to the conundrum, "Will you have another
piece of pie?"

"Well," said his father, rather suddenly, "what is it?"

"M," said Rollo, confidently.

"N !" yelled his father, in three-line Gothic.

450



ROBERT J. BURDETTE

"N," echoed Rollo, in lower case nonpareil.

"B-a-n," said his father, "what does that spell?"

"Cat ?" suggested Rollo, a trifle uncertainly.

"Cat?" snapped his father, with a sarcastic inflection,
"b-a-n, cat ! Where were you raised ? Ban ! B-a-n — Ban 1
Say it ! Say it, or I'll get at you with a skate-strap I"

"B-a-m, band," said Rollo, who was beginning to wish
that he had a rain-check and could come back and see the
remaining innings some other day.

"Ba-a-a-an!" shouted his father, "B-a-n, Ban, Ban,
Ban ! Now say Ban !"

"Ban," said Rollo, with a little gasp.

"That's right," his father said, in an encouraging tone ;
"you will learn to read one of these years if you give your
mind to it. All he needs, you see, Mary, is a teacher who
doesn't lose patience with him the first time he makes a
mistake. Now, Rollo, how do you spell, B-a-n — Ban ?"

Rollo started out timidly on c-a — then changed to d-o,
— and finally compromised on h-e-n.

Mr. Holiday made a pass at him with Volume I, but



Online LibraryKate Milner RabbThe wit and humor of America (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 24)