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"I beg your pardon, m'lady," was the reply, "but my poor wife ain't dead
moren' two weeks, and I ain't started lookin' at the wimmen yet!"


Tommy Tonkins was keen on baseball and particularly ambitious to make
his mark as a catcher. Any hint, however small, was welcomed if it
helped on his advance in his department of the game. When he began to
have trouble with his hands, and somebody suggested soaking them in salt
water to harden the skin, he quickly followed the advice.

Alas! a few days later Tommy had a misfortune. A long hit at the bottom
of the garden sent the ball crashing through a neighbor's sitting-room
window. It was the third Tommy had broken since the season began.

Mrs. Tonkins nearly wept in anger when Tommy broke the news.

"Yer father'll skin yer when 'e comes 'ome to-night," she said.

Poor Tommy, trembling, went outside to reflect. His thoughts traveled to
the strap hanging in the kitchen, and he eyed his hands ruefully.

"Ah!" he muttered, with a sigh. "I made a big mistake. I ought to 'ave
sat in that salt and water!"


A more kind-hearted and ingenuous soul never lived than Aunt Betsey, but
she was a poor housekeeper. On one occasion a neighbor who had run in
for a "back-door" call was horrified to see a mouse run across Aunt
Betsey's kitchen floor.

"Why on earth don't you set a trap, Betsey?" she asked.

"Well," replied Aunt Betsey. "I did have a trap set. But land, it was
such a fuss! Those mice kept getting into it!"


An Italian, having applied for citizenship, was being examined in the
naturalization court.

"Who is the President of the United States?"

"Mr. Wils'."

"Who is the Vice-President?"

"Mr. Marsh'."

"Could you be President?"



"Mister, you 'scuse, please. I vera busy worka da mine."


During the cross-examination of a young physician in a lawsuit, the
plaintiff's lawyer made disagreeable remarks about the witness's youth
and inexperience.

"You claim to be acquainted with the various symptoms attending
concussion of the brain?" asked the lawyer.

"I do."

"We will take a concrete case," continued the lawyer. "If my learned
friend, counsel for the defence, and myself were to bang our heads
together, would he get concussion of the brain?"

The young physician smiled. "The probabilities are," he replied, "that
the counsel for the defence would."


The admiration which Bob felt for his Aunt Margaret included all her

"I don't care much for plain teeth like mine, Aunt Margaret," said Bob,
one day, after a long silence, during which he had watched her in
laughing conversation with his mother. "I wish I had some copper-toed
ones like yours."


An American editor had a notice stuck up above his desk that read:
"Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy!" and this notice he always pointed out to
the new reporters.

One day the youngest member of the staff came in with his report of a
public meeting. The editor read it through, and came to the sentence:
"Three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine eyes were fixed upon the

"What do you mean by making a silly blunder like that?" he demanded,

"But it's not a blunder," protested the youngster. "There was a one-eyed
man in the audience!"


"Why did you strike this man?" asked the Judge sternly.

"He called me a liar, your honor," replied the accused.

"Is that true?" asked the Judge, turning to the man with the mussed-up

"Sure, it's true," said the accused, "I called him a liar because he is
one, and I can prove it."

"What have you got to say to that?" asked the Judge of the defendant.

"It's got nothing to do with the case, your honor," was the unexpected
reply. "Even if I am a liar I guess I've got a right to be sensitive
about it, ain't I?"


The evening lesson was from the Book of Job, and the minister had just
read, "Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out," when immediately
the church was in total darkness.

"Brethren," said the minister, with scarcely a moment's pause, "in view
of the sudden and startling fulfilment of this prophecy, we will spend a
few minutes in silent prayer for the electric lighting company."


A member of Congress and his wife had been to Baltimore one afternoon.
When they left the train at Washington, on their return, the wife
discovered that her umbrella, which had been entrusted to the care of
her husband, was missing.

"Where's my umbrella?" she demanded.

"I fear I have forgotten it, my dear," meekly answered the statesman.
"It must still be in the train."

"In the train!" snorted the lady. "And to think that the affairs of the
nation are entrusted to a man who doesn't know enough to take care of a
woman's umbrella!"


Johnny stood beside his mother as she made her selection from the
huckster's wagon, and the farmer told the boy to take a handful of
cherries, but the child shook his head.

"What's the matter? Don't you like them?" asked the huckster.

"Yes," replied Johnny.

"Then go ahead an' take some."

Johnny hesitated, whereupon the farmer put a generous handful in the
boy's cap. After the farmer had driven on, the mother asked:

"Why didn't you take the cherries when he told you to?"

"'Cause his hand was bigger'n mine."


A woman owning a house in Philadelphia before which a gang of workmen
were engaged in making street repairs was much interested in the work.

"And which is the foreman?" she asked of a big, burly Celt.

A proud smile came to the countenance of that individual as he replied:

"Oi am, mum."

"Really?" continued the lady.

"Oi kin prove it, mum," rejoined the Irishman. Then, turning to a
laborer at hand, he added, "Kelly, ye're fired!"


We had a new experience the other day (relates a writer in the _Atlantic
Monthly_) when we picked up two boatloads of survivors from the - - ,
torpedoed without warning. I will say they were pretty glad to see us
when we bore down on them. As we neared they began to paddle
frantically, as though fearful we should be snatched away from them at
the last moment. The crew were mostly Arabs and Lascars, and the first
mate, a typical comic magazine Irishman, delivered himself of the
following: "Sure, toward the last some o' thim haythen gits down on
their knees and starts calling on Allah: but I sez, sez I, 'Git up afore
I swat ye wid the ax handle, ye benighted haythen; sure if this boat
gits saved 't will be the Holy Virgin does it or none at all, at all!
Git up,'sez I."


For an hour the teacher had dealt with painful iteration on the part
played by carbohydrates, proteids, and fats, respectively, in the
upkeep of the human body. At the end of the lesson the usual test
questions were put, among them: "Can any girl tell me the three foods
required to keep the body in health?" There was silence till one maiden
held up her hand and replied: "Yer breakfast, yer dinner, and yer


A certain man whose previous record was of the best was charged with a
minor offense. Law and evidence were unquestionably on the side of the
defense, but when the arguments had been concluded a verdict of "guilty"
was given and a fine imposed.

The lawyer for the defense was sitting with his back toward the
magistrate. Without changing his position or rising to address the
court, he remarked:

"Judge, please fine me for contempt of court."

The magistrate inquired:

"What d'ye mean, sir? You haven't committed contempt."

"I have," came from the old lawyer. "It's silent."


London children certainly get some quaint views of life. An instance of
this recently occurred in an East End Sunday-school, where the teacher
was talking to her class about Solomon and his wisdom.

"When the Queen of Sheba came and laid jewels and fine raiment before
Solomon, what did he say?" she asked presently.

One small girl, who had evidently had experience in such matters,
promptly replied:

"'Ow much d'yer want for the lot?"


Quite recently a warship of the Atlantic Fleet found it necessary to
call for a few hours at a military port on the coast of Ireland. Tommy
Atkins, meeting a full-bearded Irish tar in the street a couple of hours
later, said:

"Pat, when are you going to place your whiskers on the reserve list?"

"When you place your tongue on the civil list," was the Irish sailor's


Although Alfred had arrived at the age of 21 years he showed no
inclinaton either to pursue his studies or in any way adapt himself to
his father's business.

"I don't know what I will ever make of that son of mine," bitterly
complained his father, a hustling business man.

"Maybe he hasn't found himself yet," consoled the confidential friend.
"Isn't he gifted in any way?"

"Gifted?" queried the father. "Well, I should say he is! He ain't got a
thing that wasn't given to him."


The time was registration day; the place was a a small town in Southern
Illinois. There was no girl. He was a gentleman of color, and the
registrar was having considerable trouble explaining the whys and
wherefors of the registration. At last Rastus showed a faint glimmer of

"Dis heyah registrashum fo' de draf' am a whole lot like 'lection
votin', ain't it?" he asked uncertainly.

"Yes," answered the kindly registrar.

Rastus scratched his head in troubled doubt. He was thinking deeply.
Presently his brow cleared and a smile spread over his face. He had
come to a decision.

"Den I votes for Julius Jackson ter be drafted," he said. "I nebah did
hab no use fo' dat niggah."


James, 4 years old, had been naughty to the point of evoking a whipping
from his long-suffering mother, and all day long a desire for revenge
rankled in his little bosom.

At length bedtime came, and, kneeling beside her, he implored a blessing
on each member of the family individually, his mother alone being
conspicuous by her absence. Then, rising from his devout posture, the
little suppliant fixed a keenly triumphant look upon her face, saying,
as he turned to climb into bed:

"I s'pose you noticed you wasn't in it."


Little Willie - in small boy stories the central figure is nearly always
named Little Willie - came running into the house, stuttering in his

"Mommer," he panted, "do you know Archie Sloan's neck?"

"Do I know what?" asked his mother.

"Do you know Archie Sloan's neck?" repeated her offspring.

"I know Archie Sloan," answered the puzzled parent; "so I suppose I must
know his neck. Why?"

"Well," said Willie, "he just now fell into the back-water up to it."


"The Kaiser and Hindenburg," said Edsell Ford, son of Henry Ford, "and
the crown prince and the other German big-wigs can never mention the war
without saying that it was forced upon them, that they are fighting in
defense of the fatherland, that their enemies are to blame for all the
bloodshed, and so forth.

"The way the Germans insist on this defense talk of theirs, in season
and out of season," he went on, "reminds me of the colored preacher who
always preached on infant baptism.

"A deputation waited on him one evening and asked him if he wouldn't
please drop infant baptism for a time. He said he'd try to meet the
deputation's wishes and the following Sunday he announced as his text,
'Adam, Where Art Thou?'

"This text, brethern and sistern,' said the preacher, 'can be divided
into fo' heads. Fust, every man is somewhar. Second, most men is whar
they hain't got no business to be. Third, you'd better watch out or
that's whar you'll be yourself. Fo'th, infant baptism. And now, brethern
and sistern, I guess we might as well pass up the first three heads and
come immediately to the fo'th - infant baptism.'"


Here is a story of the late Lord Haversham's schooldays. Glancing
through his pocket-book, his mother saw a number of entries of small
sums, ranging from 2s. 6d. to 5s., against which were the letters "P.G."
Thinking this must mean the Propagation of the Gospel, she asked her son
why he did not give a lump sum and a larger amount to so deserving a

"That is not for the Propagation of the Gospel," he replied. "When I
cannot remember exactly on what I spend the money I put 'P.G.,' which
means 'Probably grub.'"


A Connecticut farmer was asked to assist at the funeral of his
neighbor's third wife and, as he had attended the funerals of the two
others, his wife was surprised when he declined the invitation. On being
pressed to give his reason he said, with some hesitation:

"You see, Mary, it makes a chap feel a bit awkward to be always
accepting other folks's civilities when he never has anything of the
same sort of his own to ask them back to."


Here is a story our wounded boys have brought back from the front about
Sir Douglas Haig.

Sir Douglas was, some few weeks ago, in a great hurry to get to a
certain place. He found his car, but the chauffeur was missing. So Sir
Douglas got in the car and drove off by himself. Then the driver
appeared and saw the car disappearing in the distance.

"Great Scot!" cried the driver, "there's 'Aig a-driving my car!"

"Well, get even with him," said a Tommy, standing by, "and go and fight
one of 'is battles for him."


A judge presiding over a court in Washington, D.C., was administering
the oath to a boy of tender years, and to him put the following

"Have you ever taken the oath? Do you know how to swear, my boy?"

Whereupon the lad responded: "Yes, sir. I am your caddie at the Chevy
Chase Club."


Alderman Curran, of New York City, worked his way through Yale College.
During his course he was kept very busy by the various jobs he did to
help with his expenses. On graduation he went to New York, and was even
busier than he had been in New Haven.

After some months of life in New York, a friend met him and said,
"Henry, what are you doing?"

"I have three jobs," replied Mr. Curran, "I am studying law, I am a
newspaper reporter, and I am selling life insurance."

"How do you manage to get it all in?" said the friend.

"Oh," replied Mr Curran, "that's easy enough. They're only eight-hour


A quaint story is told to exemplify the pride that every man should take
in the work by which he makes a living.

Two street sweepers, seated on a curbstone, were discussing a comrade
who had died the day before.

"Bill certainly was a good sweeper," said one.

"Y-e-s," conceded the other thoughtfully. "But don't you think he was a
little weak around the lamp-posts?"


His face was pinched and drawn. With faltering footsteps he wended his
way among the bustling Christmas crowd.

"Kind sir," he suddenly exclaimed, "will you not give me a loaf of bread
for my wife and little ones?" The stranger regarded him not unkindly.
"Far be it from me," he rejoined, "to take advantage of your
destitution. Keep your wife and little ones; I do not want them."


A "Tommy," lying in a hospital, had beside him a watch of curious and
foreign design. The attending doctor was interested.

"Where did your watch come from?" he asked.

"A German give it me," he answered.

A little piqued, the doctor inquired how the foe had come to convey this
token of esteem and affection.

"E 'ad to," was the laconic reply.


A well-known banker in a downtown restaurant was eating mush and milk.

"What's the matter?" inquired a friend.

"Got dyspepsia."

"Don't you enjoy your meals?"

"Enjoy my meals?" snorted the indignant dyspeptic. "My meals are merely
guide-posts to take medicine before or after."


The quick wit of a traveling salesman, who has since become a well-known
proprietor, was severely tested one day. He sent in his card by the
office-boy to the manager of a large concern, whose inner office was
separated from the waiting-room by a ground-glass partition. When the
boy handed his card to the manager the salesman saw him impatiently tear
it in half and throw it in the wastebasket; the boy came out and told
the caller that he could not see the chief. The salesman told the boy to
go back and get him his card; the boy brought out five cents, with the
message that his card was torn up. Then the salesman took out another
card and sent the boy back, saying: "Tell your boss I sell two cards for
five cents."

He got his interview and sold a large bill of goods.


"Fore!" yelled the golfer, ready to play. But the woman on the course
paid no attention.

"Fore!" he shouted again with no effect.

"Ah," suggested his opponent in disgust, "try her once with 'three


It was in a churchyard. The morning sun shone brightly and the dew was
still on the grass.

"Ah, this is the weather that makes things spring up," remarked a
passer-by casually to an old gentleman seated on a bench.

"Hush!" replied the old gentleman. "I've got three wives buried here."


They gave the old lady the only unoccupied room in the hotel - one with a
private bath adjoining. The next morning, when the guest was ready to
check out, the clerk asked:

"Did you have a good night's rest?"

"Well, no, I didn't," she replied. "The room was all right, and the bed
was pretty good; but I couldn't sleep very much, for I was afraid
someone would want to take a bath, and the only way to it was through my


An Ohio man was having a lot of trouble piloting a one-tent show through
the Middle West. He lost a number of valuable animals by accident and
otherwise. Therefore, it was with a sympathetic mien that one of the
keepers undertook the task of breaking the news of another disaster. He
began thus:

"Mr. Smith, you remember that laughin' hyena in cage nine?"

"Remember the laughing hyena?" demanded the owner, angrily. "What the
deuce are you driving at?"

"Only this, Mr. Smith: he ain't got nothing to laugh at this morning."


Two pals, both recently wedded, were comparing the merits of their

"Ah, yes," said George, who was still very much in love, "my little
woman is an angel! She couldn't tell a lie to save her life!"

"Lucky bounder!" said Samuel, sighing. "My wife can tell a lie the
minute I get it out of my mouth!"


The worried countenance of the bridegroom disturbed the best man.
Tiptoeing up the aisle, he whispered:

"What's the matter, Jock? Hae ye lost the ring?"

"No," blurted out the unhappy Jock, "the ring's safe eno'. But, mon,
I've lost ma enthusiasm."


A story illustrative of the changes in methods of warfare comes from a
soldier in France who took a German officer prisoner. The soldier said
to the officer: "Give up your sword!" But the officer shook his head and
answered: "I have no sword to give up. But won't my vitriol spray, my
oil projector, or my gas cylinder do as well?"


It was just after a rainstorm and two men were walking down the street
behind a young woman who was holding her skirt rather high. After an
argument as to the merits of the case, one of the men stepped forward
and said: "Pardon, me, miss, but aren't you holding your skirt rather

"Haven't I a perfect right?" she snapped.

"You certainly have, Miss, and a peach of a left," he replied.











A soldier in the English Army wrote home: "They put me in barracks; they
took away my clothes and put me in khaki; they took away my name and
made me 'No. 575'; they took me to church, where I'd never been before,
and they made me listen to a sermon for forty minutes. Then the parson
said: 'No. 575. Art thou weary, art thou languid?' and I got seven days
in the guardhouse because I answered that I certainly was."


A famous jockey was taken suddenly ill, and the trainer advised him to
visit a doctor in the town.

"He'll put you right in a jiffy," he said.

The same evening he found Benjamin lying curled up in the stables,
kicking his legs about in agony.

"Hello, Benny! Haven't you been to the doctor?"


"Well, didn't he do you any good?"

"I didn't go in. When I got to his house there was a brass plate on his
door - 'Dr. Kurem. Ten to one' - I wasn't going to monkey with a long shot
like that!"


Here is a story of a London "nut" who had mounted guard for the first

The colonel had just given him a wigging because of the state of his
equipment. A little later the colonel passed his post. The nut did not
salute. The indignant colonel turned and passed again. The nut ignored

"Why in the qualified blazes don't you salute?" the colonel roared.

"Ah," said the nut, softly, "I fawncied you were vexed with me."


Pat walked into the post-office. After getting into the telephone-box he
called a wrong number. As there was no such number, the switch-attendant
did not answer him. Pat shouted again, but received no answer.

The lady of the post-office opened the door and told him to shout a
little louder, which he did, but still no answer.

Again she said he would have to speak louder. Pat got angry at this,
and, turning to the lady, said:

"Begorra, if I could shout any louder I wouldn't use your bloomin' ould
telephone at all!"


Some people are always optimists:

"Beanborough," said a friend of that gentleman, "always looks on the
bright side of things."


"Well, the other day I went with him to buy a pair of shoes. He didn't
try them on at the store, and when he got home he found that a nail was
sticking right up through the heel of one."

"Did he take them back?"

"Not much. He said that he supposed the nail was put there intentionally
to keep the foot from sliding forward in the shoe."


1 German equals 10 unkultured foreigners.

2 soldiers equal 10 civilians.

3 officers equal 12 privates.

4 treaties equal 8 scraps of paper.

5 poisoned wells equal 1 strategic retreat.

6 iron crosses equal 1 ruined cathedral.

7 Zeppelin raids equal 7 demonstrations of frightfulness.

8 eggs equal 8 hearty meals (common people).

9 eggs equal 1 appetizer (aristocracy).

10 deported Belgians equal 10 unmarked graves.

11 torpedoed neutrals equal 11 disavowals.

12 Gotts equal 1 Kaiser.


"I thought you were preaching, Uncle Bob," said the Colonel, to whom the
elderly Negro had applied for a job.

"Yessah, Ah wuz," replied Uncle; "but Ah guess Ah ain't smaht enough to
expound de Scriptures. Ah almost stahved to deff tryin' to explain de
true meanin' uv de line what says 'De Gospel am free,' Dem fool niggahs
thought dat it meant dat Ah wuzn't to git no salary."


A gentleman from Vermont was traveling west in a Pullman when a group of
men from Topeka, Kansas, boarded the train and began to praise their
city to the Vermonter, telling him of the wide streets and beautiful
avenues. Finally the Vermonter became tired and said the only thing that
would improve their city would be to make it a seaport.

The enthusiastic Westerners laughed at him and asked how they could make
it a seaport being so far from the ocean.

The Vermonter replied that it would be a very easy task.

"The only thing that you will have to do," said he, "is to lay a
two-inch pipe from your city to the Gulf of Mexico. Then if you fellows
can suck as hard as you can blow you will have it a seaport inside half
an hour."


"Hey, kid!" yelled the game warden, appearing suddenly above the young
fisherman. "You are fishing for trout. Don't you know they ain't in

"Sure," replied the youth, "but when it's the season for trout they
ain't around, and when it ain't the season there's lots of 'em. If the

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Online LibraryUnknownBest Short Stories → online text (page 5 of 11)