They walked us around like they do when you are being initiated into a secret society, only they didn't sing, "Here comes the Lobster," and hit you with a dried bladder. The servants that were conducting us laffed. I had never seen an Englishman laff before, and it was the most interesting thing I saw in London. Most Englishmen look sorry about something, as though some dear friend died every day, and their faces seem to have grown that way. So when they laff it seems as though the wrinkles would stay there, unless they treated their faces with massage. They were laughing at dad's dislocated calf, and his scared appearance, as though he was going to receive the thirty-second degree, and didn't know whether they were going to throw him over a precipice or pull him up to the roof by the hind legs. We passed a big hall clock, and it struck just when we were near it, and of all the "Hark, from the tombs" sounds I ever heard, that clock took the cake. Dad thought it sounded like a death knell, and he would have welcomed the turning in of a fire alarm as a sound that meant life everlasting, beside that doleful sound.
After we had marched about three mile heats, and passed the chairs of the noble grand and the senior warden, and the exalted ruler, we came to a bronze door as big as the gate to a cemetery, and the grand conductor gave us a few instructions about how to back out fifteen feet from the presence of the king, when we were dismissed, and then he turned us over to a little man who was a grand chambermaid, I understood the fellow to say. The door opened, and we went in, and dad's misplaced calf was wobbling as though he had locomotor attacks-ye.
Well, there were a dozen or so fellows standing around, and they all had on some kind of uniforms, with gold badges on their breasts, and in the midst of them was a little, sawed-off fat fellow, not taller than five feet six, but a perfect picture of the cigar advertisements of America for a cigar named after the king. I expected to see a king as big as Long John Wentworth of Chicago, a great big fellow that could take a small man by the collar and throw him over a house, and I felt hurt at the small size of the king of Great Britain, but, gosh, he is just like a Yankee, when you get the formality shook off.
We bowed and dad made a courtesy like an old woman, and the king came forward with a smile that ought to be imitated by every Englishman. They all imitate his clothes and his hats and his shoes, but he seems to be the only Englishman that smiles. Maybe it is patented, and nobody has a right to smile without paying a royalty, but the good-natured smile of King Edward is worth more than stomach bitters, and the English ought to be allowed to copy it. There is no more solemn thing than a party of Englishmen together in America, unless it is a party of speculators that are short on wheat, or a gathering of defeated politicians when the election returns come in. But the king is as jolly as though he had not a note coming due at the bank, and you would think he was a good, common citizen, after working hours, at a round beer table, with two schooner loads in the hold and another schooner on the way, frothing over the top of the stein. That is the feeling I had for the king when he came up to us and greeted dad as the father of the bad boy and patted me on the shoulder and said: "And so you are the boy that has made more trouble than any boy in the world, and had more fun than anybody, and made them all stand around and wonder what was coming next. You're a wonder. Strange the American people never thought of killing you." I said yessir, and tried to look innocent, and then the king told dad to sit down, and for me to come and stand by his knee, and by ginger, when he patted me on the cheek, and his soft hand squeezed my hand, and he looked into my eyes with the most winning expression, I did not wonder that all the women were in love with him, and that all Englishmen would die for him.
He asked dad all about America, its institutions, the president, and everything, and dad was just so flustered that he couldn't say much, until the king said something about the war between the States, in which the southern states achieved a victory. I don't know whether the king said that just to wake dad up, 'cause dad had a grand army button on his coat, but dad choked up a little, and then began to explode, a little at a time, like a bunch of firecrackers, and finally he went off all in a bunch. Dad said: "Look a here, Mr. King, some one has got you all balled up about that war. I know, because I was in it, and now the north and the south are United, and can whip any country that wants to fight a champion, and will go out and get a reputation, by gosh!"
The king laughed at touching dad off, and asked dad what was the matter of America and Great Britain getting together and making all nations know when they had better keep their places, and quit talking about fighting. Dad said he never would consent to America and Great Britain getting together to fight any country until Ireland got justice and was ready to come into camp on an equality, and the king said he would answer for the Irishmen of Ireland if dad would pledge the Irishmen of America, 'cause we had about as many Irishmen in America as he had in Ireland, and dad said if the king would give Ireland what she asked for, he would see that the Irishmen in America would sing God Save the King.
I guess dad and the king would have settled the Irish question in about fifteen minutes, and signed a treaty, only a servant brought in a two-quart bottle of champagne, and dad and the king hadn't drank a quart apiece before dad started to sing "My Country Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Libertee," and the king sang "God Save the King," and, by thunder, it was the same tune, and tears came into dad's eyes, and the king took out his handkerchief and wiped his nose, and I bellered right out, and the king rose and offered a toast to America and everybody in it, and they swallered it, and dad said there was enough juice left in the bottle for one more round, and he proposed a toast to all the people of Great Britain, including the Irish and the king who loved them, and down she went, and they were standing up. And I told dad it was time to go.
Say, it was great, Uncle Ezra, and I wish you could have been there, and there had been another bottle. The only thing that happened to mar the reunion of dad and the king was when we were going out backwards, bowing. There was a little hassock back of me, and I kicked it back of dad, and when dad's heels struck it he went over backwards and struck on his golf pants, and dad said: "El, 'Ennery, I'ave broken my bloomink back, but who cares," and when the servants picked dad up and took him out in the hall and marched us to the entrance, dad got in the cab, gave the grand hailing sign of distress, started to sing God save something or other, and went to sleep in the cab, and I took him to the hotel.
The Bad Boy Writes of Ancient and Modern Highwaymen—They Get a Taste of High Life in London and Dad Tells the Story of the Picklemaker's Daughter.
London, England.—My Dear Old Skate: Well, if we are going to see any of the other countries on this side of the water before our return ticket expires, we have got to be getting a move on, and dad says in about a week we will be doing stunts in Paris that will bring about a revolution, and wind up the republic of France, and seat some nine-spot on the throne that Napoleon used to wear out his buckskin pants on.
Dad asked me tother day what I cared most to see in London, and I told him I wanted to visit Newgate prison, and the places made famous by the bold highwaymen of a century or two ago. He thought I was daffy, but when I told him how I had read "Claude Duval" and "Six-teen-String Jack" and all the highway literature, in the haymow, when dad thought I was weeding the garden, he confessed that he used to hunt those yellow covered books out of the manger when I was not reading them, and that he had read them all himself, when I thought he was studying for his campaign speeches, and so he said he would go with me. So we visited Homestead Heath, where Claude Duval used to ride "Black Bess," and hold up people who traveled at night in post chaises, and we found splendid spots where there had been more highway robbery going on than any place east of Missouri, but I was disgusted when I thought what chumps those old highway robbers were, compared to the American highway robbers and hold up men of the present day.
In Claude Duval's time he had a brace of flintlock pistols, which he had to examine the priming every time a victim showed up, and while he was polite when he robbed a duchess, he used to kill people all right, though if they had had cameras at that time the flash from the priming pan would have taken a flash-light picture of the robber, so he could have been identified when he rode off in the night to a roadside inn and filled up on beer, while he counted the ten shillings he had taken from the silk purse of the victim. Why, one of our American gangs that hold up a train, and get an express safe full of greenbacks, and shoots up a mess of railroad hands and passengers with Winchesters and automatic pistols, and blows up cars with dynamite and gets away and has to have a bookkeeper and a cashier to keep their bank accounts straight, could give those old Claude Duvals and Sixteen-String Jacks cards and spades.
But civilization, dad says, has done much for the highway robbery business, and he says we in America have arrived at absolute perfection. However, I was much interested in looking over the ground where my first heroes lived and died, and did business, and when we went to the prisons where they were confined, and were shown where Tyburn Tree stood, that so many of them were hung on, tears came to my eyes at the thought that I was on the sacred ground where my heroes croaked, and went to their deaths with smiles on their faces, and polite to the last. The guard who showed us around thought that dad and I were relatives of the deceased highwaymen, and when we went away he said to dad: "Call again, Mr. Duval. Always glad to serve any of the descendants of the heroes. What line of robbery are you in, Mr. Duval?" Dad was mad, but he told the guard he was now on the stock exchange, and so we maintained the reputation of the family.
Then we hired horses and took a horse back ride through Rotten Row, where everybody in London that has the price, rides a horse, and no carriages are allowed. Dad was an old cavalry man forty years ago, and he is stuck on his shape when he is on a horse, but he came near breaking up the horse back parade the day we went for the ride. The liveryman gave us two bob-tailed nags, a big one for dad and a small one for me, but they didn't have any army saddle for dad, and he had to ride on one of these little English saddles, such as jockeys ride races on, and dad is so big where he sits on a saddle that you couldn't see the saddle, and I guess they gave dad a hurdle jumper, because when we got right amongst the riders, men and women, his horse began to act up, and some one yelled, "Tally-ho," and that is something about fox hunting, not a coach, and the horse jumped a fence and dad rolled off over the bowsprit and went into a ditch of dirty water.
The horse went off across a field, and the policeman fished dad out of the ditch, and run him through a clothes wringer or something, and got him dried out, and sent him to the hotel in an express wagon, and I rode my horse back to the liveryman and told him what happened to dad, and they locked me up in a box stall until somebody found the horse, 'cause they thought dad was a horse thief, and they held me for ransom. But dad came around before night and paid my ransom, and we were released. Dad says Rotten Row is rotten, all right enough, and by ginger it is, 'cause he has not got the smell of that ditch off his clothes yet.
Now he has got a new idea, and that is to go to some country where there are bandits, different from the bandits here in London, and be captured and taken to the mountain fastnesses, and held for ransom until our government makes a fuss about it, and sends warships after-us. I tell dad it would be just our luck to have our government fail to try to get us, and the bandits might cut our heads off and stick them on a pole as a warning to people not to travel unless they had a ransom concealed about their clothes. But dad says he is out to see all the sights, and he is going to be ransomed before he gets home, if it takes every dollar our government has got. I think he is going to work the bandit racket when we get to Turkey, but, by ginger, he can leave me at a convent, because I don't want one of those crooked sabers run into me and turned around like a corkscrew. Dad says I can stay in a harem while he goes to the mountains with the bandits, and I don't know as I care, as they say a harem is the most interesting place in Turkey. You know the pictures we have studied in the old grocery, where a whole bunch of beautiful women are practicing using soap in a marble bath.
Well, don't you say anything to ma about it, but dad has got his foot in it clear up to the top button. It isn't anything scandalous, though there is a woman at the bottom of it. You see, we used to know a girl that left home to go out into the world and earn her own living. She elocuted some at private parties and sanitariums, to entertain people that were daffy, and were on the verge of getting permanent bats in their belfry, and after a few years she got on the stage, and made a bunch of money, and went abroad. And then she had married a titled person, and everybody supposed she was a duchess, or a countess, and ma wanted us to inquire about her when we got over here. Ma didn't want us to go and hunt her up to board with her, or anything, but just to get a glimpse of high life, and see if our poor little friend was doing herself proud in her new station in life.
Gee, but dad found her, and she ain't any more of a duchess than I am. Her husband is a younger son of a titled person, but there isn't money enough in the whole family to wad a gun, and our poor girl is working in a shop, or store, selling corsets to support a lazy, drunken husband and a whole mess of children, and while she is seven removes from a duchess, she does not rank with the woman who washes her mother's clothes at home. Gosh, but dad was hot when he found her, and after she told him about her situation in life he gave her a yellow-backed fifty-dollar bill, and came back to the hotel mad, and wanted to pack up and go somewhere else, where he didn't know any titled-persons.
That night a couple of dukes came around to the hotel to sell dad some stock in a diamond mine in South Africa, and they got to talking about how English society held over our crude American society, until dad got an addition to the mad he had when he called on our girl, and when one of the dukes said America was being helped socially by the marriage of American women to titled persons, dad got a hot box, like a stalled freight train.
Says dad, says he: "You Johnnies are a lot of confidence men, who live only to rope in rich American girls, so you can marry them and have their dads lift the mortgages on your ancestral estates, and put on tin roofs in place of the mortgages, 'cause a mortgage will not shed rain, and you get their money and spend it on other women." One of the dukes turned red like a lobster, and I think he is a lobster, anyway, and he was going to make dad stop talking, but the duke didn't know dad, and he continued. Says dad, says he: "I know a rich old man in the States, who made ten million dollars on pickles, or breakfast food, and he had a daughter that was so homely they couldn't keep a clock going in the house.
"She came over here and got exposed to a duke, and she had never been vaccinated, and the first her father knew she caught the duke, and came; home, and he followed her. Say, he didn't know enough to pound sand, and the old man got several doctors for her, but they couldn't break up the duke fever, and finally the old pickle citizen asked him how much the mortgage was, and how much they could live on, and he bought her the duke, and sent them off, and the duke covered his castle with building paper, so it would hold water, and they set up housekeeping with a hundred servants. Then the duke wanted a racing stable, after the baby came, and the old pickle man went over to see the baby, and it looked so much like the old man that he invested in a racing stable, and the servants bowed low to the old man and called him 'Your 'ighness,' and that settled the old pickle person, and he fell into the trap of building a townhouse in London.
"Then he went home and made some more pickles, and the daughter cabled him to come right over, as they had been invited to entertain the king and a lot of other face cards in the pack. And the old man thought it would be great to get in the king row himself, so he shoveled a lot of big bills into some packing trunks and went over to fix up for the king. The castle had to be redecorated for about six miles, up one corridor and down the other, but Old Pickles stood the raise, because he thought it would be worth the money to be on terms of intimacy with a king.
"Then when it was all ready, and the old man was going to stand at the front door and welcome the king, they made him go to his room, back about a half a mile in the rear of the castle, and for two weeks old Pickles had his meals brought to his room, and when it was over, and his sentence had expired, he was let out, and all he saw of the grand entertainment to the crowned heads was a ravine full of empty wine bottles, a case of jimjams for a son-in-law, a case of nervous prostration for a daughter, and hydrophobia for himself. My old pickle friend has got, at this date, three million good pickle dollars invested in your d—d island, and all he has to show for it is a sick daughter, neglected by a featherhead of a husband, who will only speak to old pickles when he wants more money, and a grandchild that may die teething at any time. You are a nice lot of ducks to talk to me about your English society being better than our American civilization. You get," and dad drove the dukes out.
I think they are going to have dad arrested for treason. But don't tell ma, 'cause she may think treason serious.
The Bay Boy Writes About Paris—Tells About the Trip Across the English Channel—Dad Feeds a Dog and Gets Arrested.
Paris, France.—My Dear Uncle Ezra: Dad is in an awful state here, and I do not know what to do with him. We struck this town all in a heap, and the people seemed to be paralyzed so they couldn't speak, except to make motions and make noises that we could not interpret. This is the first time dad and I have been in a place where nobody understood our language. Ordinarily we would take pleasure in teaching people to speak the English language, but in coming across the English channel dad and I both got something we never got on the water before. Ordinary seasickness is only an incident, that makes you wish you were dead—just temporary, but when it wears off you can enjoy your religion and victuals as well as ever, but the seasickness that the English channel gives you is a permanent investment, like government bonds that you cut coupons off of. I 'spect we shall be sick always now, and worse every other day, like chills and fever.
Say, a boat on the English channel does not roll, or pitch, at intervals, like a boat on ordinary water, but it does stunts like a broncho that has been poisoned by eating loco-weeds, and goes into the air and dives down under, and shakes itself like a black bass with a hook in its mouth, and rolls over like a trained dog, and sits up on its hind legs and begs, and then walks on its fore paws, and seems to jump through hoops, and dig for woodchucks, and all the time the water boils like 'pollinarius, full of bubbles, and it gives you the hiccups to look at it, and it flows every way at the same time, and the wind comes from the fourteen quarters at once, and blows hot if you are too hot and want a cool breeze, and if you are too cold, and want a warm breeze to keep you alive, it comes right from the north pole, and you just perish in your tracks.
Gee, but it is awful. When you get seasick on an ordinary ocean, you know where to locate the disease, and you know where to go for relief, and when you have got relieved you know that you are alive, but an English channel seasickness is as different from any other as an alcohol jag is different from a champagne drunk. This English channel seasickness begins on your toes, and you feel as though the toenails were being pulled out with pincers, and the veins in your legs seem to explode, your arms wilt like lettuce in front of a cheap grocery, your head seems to be struck with a pile-driver and telescoped down into your spine, and your stomach feels as though you had swallowed a telephone pole with all of the cross arms and wires and glass insulators, and you wish lightning would strike you. Gosh, but dad was hot when he found that he was sick that way, and when we got ashore he wanted to kill the first man he met.
He thinks that it is a crime for a man not to understand the English language, and when he tells what he wants, and the man he is talking to shrugs his shoulders and laughs, and brings him something else, he wants to pull his gun and begin to shoot up the town, and only for me he would have killed people before this, but now he takes it out in scowling at people who do not understand him. Dad seems to think that if he cannot make a man understand what he says, all he has to do is to swear at the man, but there is no universal language of profanity, so the more dad swears the more the nervous Frenchman smiles, and acts polite.
I think the French people are the politest folks I ever knew. If a Frenchman had to kick a person out of doors, he would wear a felt slipper, and after he had kicked you he would place his hand on his heart, and bow, and look so sorry, and hurt, that you would want to give him a tip.
O, but this tipping business is what is breaking dad's heart. I think if the servants would arrange a syndicate to rob dad of two or three dol lars a day, by pocket picking, or sneak thieving, he would overlook it, and say that as long as it was one of the customs of the country we should have to submit to it, but when he has paid his bill, with everything charged extra, and the servants line up and look appealingly, or mad, as the case may be, dad is the hardest man to loosen that ever was, but if they seem to look the other way, and not, apparently, care whether they get a cent or not, dad would go and hunt them up, and divide his roll with them. Dad is not what you would call a "tight wad," if you let him shed his money normally, when he feels the loosening coming on, but you try to work him by bowing and cringing, and his American spirit gets the better of him, and he looks upon the servant as pretty low down. I have told him that the tipping habit is just as bad in America as in France, but he says in America the servant acts as though he never had such a thought as getting a tip, and when you give him a quarter or other tip he looks puzzled, as though he did not just recall what he had done to merit such treatment, but finally puts the money in his pocket with an air as though he would accept it in trust, to be given to some deserving person at the first opportunity, and then he smiles, and gets away, and blows in the tip for something wet and strong.
I told dad if he would just ignore the servants, as though he did not understand that they expected a tip, that he would be all right, so when we got ready to move from the hotel to private rooms dad never gave any servant a tip. Well, I don't know what the servants did to our baggage, but they must have marked it with a smallpox sign, or something, for nobody would touch it for several hours, but finally a baggage man took it and started for our apartments, and got lost and didn't show up for two days, and when it was finally landed on the sidewalk nobody would carry it upstairs, and dad and I had to lug it up two flights, and I thought dad would have apoplexy.
We found a guide who could talk New Orleans English and he said it would cost three dollars to square it with the servants at the hotel, and have the boycott removed from our baggage, and dad paid it, and now he coughs up a tip every time he sees a servant look at him. He pays when he goes in a restaurant and when he comes out, and says he is cured of trying to reform the customs of anybody else's country.
We have engaged a guide to stay with us day and night. The guide took us out for a bat last night, and dad had the time of his life. Dad has drank a good deal of spiritous and malt liquors in his time, but I don't think he ever indulged much in champagne at three or four dollars a bottle at home. Maybe he has been saving himself up till he got over here, where champagne is cheap and it takes several quarts to make you see angels. The guide took us to one of these bullyvards, where there are tables out on the sidewalk, and you can eat and drink and look at the dukes and counts and dutchesses and things promenading up and down, flirting like sin, and we sat down to a table and ordered things to eat and drink, and dad looked like Uncle Sam, and felt his oats.
When he had drank a few thimblefuls of absinthe, and some champagne, and eat a plateful of frogs, he was just ripe for trouble. A woman and a man at an adjoining table had one of these white dogs that is sheared like a hedge fence, with spots of long hair left on in places, and dad coaxed the dog over to our table and began to feed him frogs' legs, and the woman began to talk French out loud, and look cross at dad, and the count that was with her came over to our table and looked at dad in a tone of voice that meant trouble, and said something sassy, and the guide said the man wanted to fight a duel because dad had contaminated the woman's dog, and dad got mad and offered to wipe out the whole place, and he got up with a champagne bottle and looked defiance at the count, and the waiters began to scatter, when the woman came up to dad and begged him not to hurt the count, and as she spoke broken English dad could understand her, and she looked so beautiful, and her eyes were filled with tears, and dad relented and said: "Don't cry, dear, I won't hurt the little runt." She was so glad dad was not going to kill the count that she threw herself into his arms and thanked dear America for producing such a grand citizen, such a brave man as dad, who could forego the pleasure of killing a poor, weak man who had insulted him, particularly as dad's wild Indian ancestry made it hard for him to refrain from blood.
Well, dad's face was a study, as he braced up and held that 150 pounds of white meat in his arms, with all the people looking on, and he seemed proud and heroic, and he stroked her hair and told her not to worry, and finally she hied herself away from dad and the count took her away, and they went up the bullyvard, and after all was quiet again dad said: "Hennery, let this be a lesson to you. When you are tempted to commit a rash act and avenge an insult in blood, stop and think of the sorrow and shame that will come to you if you draw your gun too quick, and have a widow on your hands as the result. Suppose I had killed that shrimp, the face of his widow would have haunted me always, and I would have wanted to die. Don't ever kill anybody, my boy, if you can settle a dispute by shaking the dice."
Well, dad ordered some more wine, and as he drank it, he allowed the populace to admire him and say things about the great American millionaire, who spent money like water and was too brave to fight. Then dad called for his check to pay his bill, and when he felt in his pocket for his roll of bills, he hadn't a nickel and the woman, when she was in his arms, weeding with one hand, had gone through dad's pockets with the other. Dad felt for his watch, to see what time it was, and his watch was gone, and the waiter was waiting for the money and dad tried to explain that he had been buncoed, and the head waiter came and begun to act sassy, and then they called a policeman to stay by us till the money was produced, and everybody at the other tables laughed, and dad turned blue, and I thought he would have a fit. Finally, the guide began to talk, and the result was that a policeman went home with us, and dad found money enough to pay the bill, but he talked language that caused the landlady to ask us to find a new place.
The next morning the guide showed up with an officer who had a warrant for dad for hugging a woman in a public cafe, and it seemed as though we were in for it, but the guide said he could settle the whole business by paying the officer $20, and dad paid it and I think the guide and the officer divided the money. Say, this is the greatest town we have struck yet for excitement, and I guess dad will not have a chance to think of his sickness.
This morning we went into a big department store, and, by gosh! we found the count that dad was going to fight was a floor-walker, and the countess was behind a counter selling soap. When dad saw the count leering at him, he put his hand on his pistol pocket and yelled a regular cowboy yell, and the count rushed down into the basement, the soap countess fainted, and the police took dad to the police station, and all day the guide and I have been trying to get him out on bail. If we get dad out of this we are going to put a muzzle on him. Well, if anyone asks you if I am having much of a time abroad, you can tell them the particulars.
P. S.—We got dad out for $20 and costs, and he says he will blow Paris up before night. We are going up to the top of the Eiffel tower this afternoon, to count our money, as dad dasscnt take out his pocketbook anywhere on the ground for fear of being robbed.
Yours full of frogs.
The Bad Boy's Second Letter from Paris—Dad Poses as a Mormon Bishop and Has to Be Rescued—They Climb the Eiffel Tower and the Old Man Gets Converted.
Paris, France.—Old Pardner in Crime: I got your letter, telling me about the political campaign that is raging at home, and when I read it to dad he wanted to go right out and fill up on campaign whisky and yell for his presidential candidate, but he couldn't find any whisky, so he has not tried to carry any precincts of Paris for our standard-bearer.
There is something queer about the liquor here. There is no regular campaign beverage. At home you can select a drink that is appropriate for any stage of a campaign. When the nominations are first made you are not excited and beer and cheese sandwiches seem to fit the case A little later, when the orators begin to come out into the open and shake their hair, you take cocktails and your eyes begin to resemble those of a caged rat, and you are ready to quarrel with an opponent. The next stage in the campaign is the whisky stage, and when you have got plenty of it the campaign may be said to be open, and you wear black eyes and lose your teeth, and you swear strange oaths and smell of kerosene, and only sleep in the morning. Then election comes and if your side wins you drink all kinds of things at once for a week, shout hoarsely and then go to the Keeley cure, but if your party loses you stay home and take a course of treatment for nervous prostration and say you will never mix up in another campaign.
Here in France it is different. The people have nervous prostration to start on, start a campaign on champagne, wind up on absinthe, and after the votes are counted go to an insane asylum. I do not know what first got dad to drink absinthe and I don't know what it is, but it looks like soap suds, tastes like seed cookies and smells like vermifuge. But it gets there just the same and the result of drinking it is about the same as the result of drinking anything in France—it makes you want to hug somebody.
At home when a man gets full of whisky, he wants to hug the man he drinks with and weep on his collar, and then hit him on the head with a bottle; but here every kind of drink puts the drinker in condition to want to hug. Dad says he never knew he had a brain until he learned to drink absinthe, but now he can close his eyes and see things worse than any mince pie nightmare, and when we go out among people he never sees a man at all, but when a woman passes along, dad's eyes begin to take turns winking at them and it is all I can do to keep him from proposing marriage to every woman he sees.
I thought I would break him of this woman foolishness, so I told everybody dad was a Mormon bishop, and had a grand palace at Salt Lake City, and owned millions of gold mines and tabernacles and wanted to marry a thousand women and take them to Utah and place them at the head of homes of their own, and he would just call once or twice a week and leave bags of gold for his wives to spend. A newspaper reporter, that could talk English, wrote a piece for a paper about dad wanting to marry a whole lot and he said life in Utah was better than a Turkish harem, cause the wives of a Mormon bishop did not have to be locked up and watched by unix, but could flirt and blow in money and go out to dances and have just as much fun as though they lived in Newport, and had got divorces from millionaires, and he said any woman who wanted to marry a Mormon bishop could meet dad on the bullyvard near a certain monument, on a certain day. I was on to it, with the reporter, and we hired a carriage and went to the bullyvard, just at the time the newspaper said and I put a big red badge on dad's breast, with the word "Bishop" on it, and dad had been drinking absinthe and he thought the badge was a kind of sign of nobility. Well, you'd adide to see the bunch of women that were there to meet dad. "What's the matter here?" said dad, as he saw the crowd of women, looking like they were there in answer to an advertisement for nurses. I told dad to stand up in the carriage, like Dowie does in Chicago, and hold out his hands and say: "Bless you, my children," and when dad got up to bless them, the reporter and I got out of the carriage, and the reporter, which could talk French, said for all the women who wanted to be Mormon wives to get into the carriage with the bishop and be sealed for life.
Well, sir, you'd a thought it was a remnant sale! More than a dozen got into the carriage with dad, and about 400 couldn't get in, but when the scared driver started up the horses, they all followed the carriage, and then the mounted police surrounded the whole bunch and moved them off towards the police station, and dad under the wagonload of females, each one trying to get the nearest to him, so as to be his favorite wife.
It got noised around that a foreign potent-ate had been arrested with his whole harem for conduct unbecoming to a potent-ate, and so when we got to the jail dad had to be rescued from his wives, and they were driven into a side street by the police, and dad was locked up to save his life. The reporter and I went to the jail to get him out, but we had to buy a new suit of clothes for him, as everything was torn off him in the Mormon rush.
Dad was a sight when we found him in jail, and he thought his bones were broken, and he wanted to know what was the cause of his sudden popularity with the fair sex, and I told him it all came from his looking so confounded distinguished, and his flirting with women. He said he would swear he never looked at one of those women in a tone of voice that would deceive a Sunday school teacher, and he felt as though he was being misunderstood in France. We told him the only way to get out of jail was to say he was a crowned head from Oshkosh, traveling incog, and when he began to stand on his dignity and demand that a messenger be sent for the president of France, to apologize for the treatment he had received, the jailer and police begged his pardon and we dressed him up in his new clothes and got him out, and we went to the Eiffel tower to get some fresh air.
I suppose you have seen pictures of the Eiffel tower, on the advertisements of breakfast food in your grocery, but you can form no idea of the height and magnificence of the tower by studying advertisements. You may think that the pictures you see of world events on your cans of baked beans and maple syrup and soap, give you the benefit of foreign travel, but it does not. You have got to see the real thing or you are not fit to even talk about what you think you have seen. You remember that Ferris wheel at the Chicago world's fair, and how we thought it was the greatest thing ever made of steel, so high that it made us dizzy to look to the top of it, and when we went up on the wheel we thought we could see the world, from Alaska to South Africa, and we marveled at the work of man and prayed that we be permitted to get down off that wheel alive, and not be spilled down through the rarified Chicago atmosphere and flattened on the pavement so thin we would have to be scraped up off the pavement with a case knife, like a buckwheat cake that sticks to the griddle.
You remember, old man, how you cried when our sentence to ride in the Ferris wheel expired, and the jailer of the wheel opened the cell and let us out, and you said no one would ever get you to ride again on anything that you couldn't jump out of if it balked, or you got wheels in your head and chunks of things came up to your Adam's apple and choked you. Well, cross my heart, if that Ferris wheel, that looked so big to us, would make a main spring for the Eiffel tower. The tower is higher than a kite, and when you get near it and try to look up to the top, you think it is a joke, and that really no one actually goes up to the top of it. You see some flies up around the top of it, and when the guide tells you the flies crawling around there are men and women, you think the guide has been drinking.
But dad and I and the guide paid our money, got into an elevator and began to go up. After the thing had been going up awhile dad said he wouldn't go up more than a mile or so at first, and asked the man to let him off at the 3,000-foot level, but the elevator man said dad had got to take all the degrees and dad said: "Let her went," and after an hour or so we got to the top.
Gee! but I thought dad would fall dead right there, when he looked off at Paris and the world beyond. The flies we had seen at the top before starting had changed to human beings, all looking pale and scared, and the human beings on the ground had changed into flies and bugs, for all you could see of a man on the ground was his feet with a flattened plug hat someway fastened on the ankles, and a woman looked like a spoonful of raspberry jam dropped on the pavement, or a splash of current jelly moving on the ground in a mysterious way. I do not know as the Eiffel tower was intended to act as a Keeley cure, but of the 50 people who went up with us, half of them were so full their back teeth were floating, including dad and the guide, but when we got to the top and they got a view of the awful height to which we had come, it seemed as though every man got sober at once, and their tongues seemed to cleave to the roof of their mouths. All they could do was to look off at the city and the view in the distance, and choke up, and look sorry about something.
I couldn't help thinking of what sort of a pulp a man would be if he fell off the top of the tower and struck a fat woman on the pavement, cause it seemed to me you couldn't tell which was fat woman and which was man. I never saw such a change in a man as there was in dad, after he got his second wind and got his voice working. He looked like a man who had made up his mind to lead a different life and begin right there.
There was a Salvation Army man and woman in the crowd and dad went up to them. He took out a five-dollar bill and put it in the tambourine of the lassie, and said to the man and woman: "Now, look a here, I want to join your church, and if you have got the facilities for giving me the degrees, you can sign me as a Christian right now. I have been a bad man, and never thought I needed the benefits of religious training, but since I got up here, so near Heaven, in an elevator which I will bet $10 will break and kill us all before we get down to Paris, I want you to prepare me for the hereafter quick."
Some of the other fellows laughed at dad, and the Salvation Army people looked as though dad was drunk, but he continued: "You can laugh and be jammed, but I'll never leave this place until I am a pious man, and you Salvation Army people have got to enlist me in your army, for I am scared plum to death. Go ahead and convert me, while we wait." The Salvation Army captain put his hand on dad's head, the girl held out the tambourine for another contribution, and dad felt a sweet peace come over him, and we went down in the elevator and took a hack to the hotel, and dad's lips worked as though in pain.
The Bad Boy's Dad and a Man from Dakota Frame Up a Scheme to Break the Bank, But They Go Broke—The Party in Trouble.
Monte Carlo.—Dear Uncle: I blush to write the name, Monte Carlo, at the head of a letter to anyone that is a Christian, or who believes in honesty and decency, and earning a living by the sweat of one's brow, for this place is the limit. If I should write anybody a letter from South Clark street, Chicago, the recipient would know I had gone wrong, and was located in the midst of a bad element, and the inference would be that I was the worst fakir, robber, hold-up man or assassin in the bunch.
The inference you must draw from the heading of this letter is that dad and I have taken all the degree of badness and are now winding up our career by taking the last degree, before passing in our chips and committing suicide. Do you know what this place is, old man? Monaco is a principality, about six miles square, ruled by a prince, and the whole business of the country, for it is a "country" the same as though it had a king, is gambling. They have all the different kinds of gambling, from chuck-a-luck at two bits to roulette at a million dollars a minute. What started dad to come to Monte Carlo is more than I know, unless it was a new American he has got acquainted with, a fellow from North Dakota, that dad met at a sort of dance that he did not take me to. It seems there is a place in Paris where they go to see men and women dance—one of those dances where they kick so high that their feet hit the gas fixtures.
Well, all I know about it is that one Wednesday night dad said he felt as though it was his duty to go to prayer meeting, so he could say when he got home that in all the frivolities of a trip abroad, even in wicked Paris, he never neglected his church duties. I never was stuck on going to prayer meeting, so dad let me stay at the hotel and play pool with the cash register boy in the barroom, and dad took a hymn book and went out, looking pious as I ever saw him.
My, what a difference there was in dad in the morning. I woke up about daylight, and dad came into the room with a strange man, with spinach on his chin, and they began to dance, like they had seen the people dance at the show where they had passed the evening. They were undressed, except their underclothes, which wore these combination suits, so when a man gets into them he is sealed up like a bologna, and he has to have help when he wants to get out to take a bath, and he has to have an outsider button him in with a button hook. Gee, I would rather be a sausage and done with it! Well, dad and this man from Dakota kicked high until dad caught by the ankle on a gas bracket, and the strange man got me up out of bed to help unloosen dad and get him down before he was black in the face. Finally we got dad down and then the two old codgers began to discuss a proposition to go to Monte Carlo to break the bank.
The Dakota man agreed that Americans had no right to be spending their own money doing Europe, when their genius was equal to the task of acquiring the money of the less intelligent foreigners. He said they could go to Monte Carlo and by a system of gambling which he had used successfully in the Black Hills they could carry away all the money they could pile into sacks. The man said he would guarantee to break the bank if dad would put his money against the Dakota man's experience as a gambler, and they would divide the proceeds equally. Dad bit like a bass. He said he had always had an element of adventure in his make-up, and had always liked to take chances, and from what he had heard of the fabulous sums won and lost at Monte Carlo he could see that if a syndicate could be formed that would win most of the time, he could see that there was more money in it than in any manufacturing enterprise, and he was willing to finance the scheme.
The Dakota man fairly hugged dad, and he told dad in confidence that they two could divide up money enough to make them richer than they ever dreamed of, and all the morning they discussed the plan, and made a list of things they would need to get away with the money. They provided themselves with canvas sacks to carry away the gold, and dad drew all his money out of the bank, and that evening we took a train for Monte Carlo. All the way here dad and his new friend chuckled over the sensation they would make among the gamblers, and I became real interested in the scheme. There was to be some fun besides the winning of the money, because they talked of going out in the park and on the terraces when they were tired of winning money, and seeing the poor devils who had gone broke commit suicide, as that is said to be one of the features of the place.
Well, we got a suite of rooms and the first day we looked over the place, and ate free banquets and saw how the people dressed, and just looked prosperous and showed money on the slightest provocation, and got the hang of things. Dad was to go in the big gambling room in the afternoon with his pockets fairly dropsical with money, and the Dakota man was to do the betting, and dad was to hold one of the canvas bags, and when it was full we were to take it to our room, and quit gambling for awhile, to give the bank a chance to raise more money. Dad insisted that his partner should lose a small bet once in awhile, so the bank should not get on to the fact that we had a cinch.
After luncheon we entered the big gambling room, in full-dress suits, and, by gosh! it was like a king's reception. There were hundreds of men and women, dressed for a party, and it did not seem like a gambling hell, except that there were, piles of gold as big as stoves, on all the tables, and the guests were provided with silver rakes, with long handles, to rake in the money. Dad said in a whisper to the Dakota man: "What is the use of taking the trouble to run a gold mine, and get all dirtied up digging dirty nuggets, when you can get nice, clean gold, all coined, ready to spend, by betting right?" And then dad turned to me and he said; "Hennery, don't let the sight of this wealth make you avaricious. Don't be purse-proud when you find that your poor father, after years of struggle against adversity, and the machinations of designing men, has got next to the Pierpont Morgan class and has money to buy railroads. Don't get excited when we begin to bag the money, but just act as though it was a regular thing with us to salt down our gold for winter, the same as we do our pork."
A count, or a duke, gave us nice seats, and rakes to haul in the money; a countess, with a low-necked dress, winked at dad when he reached into his pistol pocket and brought out a roll of bills and handed them to the Dakota man, who bought $500 worth of red chips, and when the man looked the roulette table over and put about a pint of chips on the red, dad choked up so he was almost black in the face, and began to perspire so I had to wipe my face with a handkerchief; the gambler rolled the wheel and when the ball stopped on the red, and dad did the raking and raked in a quart of chips, and dad shook hands with the Dakota man and said: "Pard, we have got 'em on the run," and reached for his sack to put in the first installment of acquired wealth, and the low-necked countess smiled a ravishing smile on dad, and dad looked as though he owned a brewery, and the Dakota man twisted his chin whiskers and acted like he was sorry for the Monte Carlo bank, I just got so faint with joy that I almost cried.
To think we had skinned along as economically as possible all our lives, and never made much money, and now, through this Dakota genius, and this Monte Carlo opportunity, we had wealth raking in by the bushel, made me feel great, and I wondered why more people had not found out this faraway place, where people could become rich and prosperous in a day, if they had the nerve. I tell you, old man, it was great, and I was going to cable you to sell out your grocery for what you could get at forced sale and come here with the money, gamble and become a millionaire.
Monte Carlo (the next day).—My Dear Uncle Ezra: I do not know how to write you the sequel to this tragedy. After our Dakota partner, with the Black Hills system of beating a roulette game, had won the first bet, he never guessed the right color again, and dad had no more use for the rake. Every time he bet and lost, he would reach out to dad for more money, and dad would reach into another pocket and dig up another roll, and the countess would laugh and dad had to act as though he enjoyed losing money.
It was about dark when dad had fished up the last hundred dollars and it was gone before dad could wink back to the countess, then the Dakota man looked at dad for more, and dad shook his head and said it was all off, and they looked it each other a minute, and then we all three got up and went out in the park to see the people who had gone broke commit suicide, but there was not a revolver shot and dad and the Dakota man sat down on a seat and I looked at the moon.
He would reach out to Dad for more money, and Dad would reach into another pocket and dig up another roll.
Dad looked at the Dakota man and said: "You started me in all right. What happened to your system?" The Dakota man was silent for a moment, and then he pointed to me and said: "That imp of yours crossed his fingers every time I bet, except the first time." Dad called me to him, and he said: "Hennery, let this be a lesson to you. Never to cross your fingers. You have ruined your dad," and he turned his pockets inside out, and hadn't change for a dollar note, and he gave me the empty sack to carry, and we went to our suite of rooms, knowing we would be fired out into the cold world.
It will take a week to get money from the states, and we may be sent to the work house, as we are broke, and haven't got the means even to commit suicide. Don't tell ma.
The Bad Boy and His Dad Have an Automobile Ride—They Run Over a Peasant—Climb "Glaziers"—Dad Falls Over a Precipice, But Is Rescued by the Guides After a Hard Time of It.
Geneva, Switzerland.—My Dear Old Man: By ginger, but I would like to be home now. I have had enough of foreign travel; I don't see what is the use of traveling, to see people of foreign countries, when you can go to any large city in America, and find more people belonging to any foreign country than you can find by going to that country, and they know a confounded sight more. Take the Russians in New York, the Norwegians of Minnesota, the Italians of Chicago, and the Germans of Milwaukee, and they can talk English, and you can find out all about their own countries by talking with them, but you go to their countries and the natives don't know that there is such a language as the United States language, and they laugh at you when you ask questions. I am sick of the whole business, and would give all I ever expect to be worth, to be home right now, with my skates sharp.
I would like to open the door of your old grocery, and take one long breath and die right there on the doorstep, rather than to live in luxury in any foreign country. Do you know, I sometimes go into a grocery store abroad, and smell around, in order to get my thoughts on dear old America, but nothing abroad smells as the same thing does in our country. If I could get one more smell of that keg of sauerkraut back of your counter, when it is ripe enough to pick, I think I would break right down and cry for joy. Of course I have smelled sauerkraut over here, but it all seems new and tame compared to yours. It may be the kraut here is not aged enough to be good, but yours is aged enough to vote and sticks to your clothes. Gee, but I just ache to get into your grocery and eat things, and smell smells, and then lay down on the counter with the cat with my head on a pile of wrapping paper and go to sleep and wake up in America, an American citizen, that no king or queen can tell to "hush up" and take off my hat when I want my hat on.
You may wonder how we got out of Monte Carlo, when we had lost every cent we had gambling. Well, we wondered about it all night, and had our breakfast sent up to our room, and had it charged, expecting that when the bill came in we would have to jump into the ocean, as we had no gun to kill ourselves with. Just after breakfast a duke, or something, came to our room, and dad said it was all off, and he called upon the Dakota man to make a speech on politics, while dad and I skipped out. We thought the duke, who was the manager of the hotel, would not understand the speech, and would think we were great people, who had got stranded.
The Dakota man started in on a democratic speech that he used to deliver in the campaign of '96, and in half an hour the duke held up his hands, and the Dakota man let up on the speech. Then the duke took out a roll of bills and said: "Ze shentlemen is what you call bust. Is it not so?" Dad said he could bet his life it was so. Then the duke handed the roll of bills to dad, and said it was a tribute from the prince of Monaco, and that we were his guests, and when our stay was at an end, automobiles would be furnished for us to go to Nice, where we could cable home for funds, and be happy.
Well, when the duke left us, dad said: "Wouldn't that skin you?" and he gave the Dakota man one of the bills to try on the bartender, and when he found the money was good we ordered an automobile and skipped out for Nice. The chauffeur could not understand English, so we talked over the situation and decided that the only way to be looked upon as genuine automobilists would be to wear goggles and look prosperous and mad at everybody. We took turns looking mad at everybody we passed on the road, and got it down so fine that people picked up rocks after we had-passed, and threw them at us, and then we knew that we were succeeding in being considered genuine, rich automobile tourists.
After we had succeeded for an hour or two in convincing the people that we were properly heartless and purse proud, dad said the only thing we needed to make the trip a success was to run over somebody. He said nearly all the American automobile tourists in Europe had killed somebody and had been obliged to settle and support a family or two in France or Italy, and they were prouder of it than they would be if they endowed a university, or built a church, and he said he trusted our chauffeur would not be too careful in running through the country, but would at least cripple some one.
Well, just before we got to Nice, and darkness was settling down on the road, the chauffeur blew his horn, there was a scream that would raise hair on Horace Greeley's head, the automobile stopped, and there was a bundle of dusty old clothes, with an old woman done up in them, and we jumped out and lifted her up, and there we were, the woman in a faint, the peasants gathering around us with scythes and rakes and clubs, demanding our lives. The bloody-faced woman was taken into a home, the crowd held us, until finally a doctor came, and after examining the woman said she might live, but it would be a tight squeeze. We wanted to go on, but we didn't want to be cut open with a scythe, so finally a man, who said he was the husband of the woman, came out with a gun, dad got down on his knees and tried to say a prayer, the Dakota man held up both hands like it was a stage being held up, and I cried.
Finally the chauffeur said, in broken English, that the husband would settle for $400, because he could pay the funeral expenses, get another wife for half the money and have some thing left to lay up for Christmas. As the man's gun was pointed at dad, he quit praying and gave up the money and agreed to send $50 a month for 11 years, until the oldest child was of age.
Well, we got away alive, got into Nice, and the chauffeur started back and we cabled home for money to be sent to Geneva, Switzerland. But, say; you have not heard the sequel. A story that has a sequel is always the best, and I hope to die if the police of Nice didn't tell us that we were buncoed by that old woman and that the chauffeur was in the scheme and got part of dad's money. The way they do it is to wait till dark, and then roll the woman in the dust and put some red ink on her face, and she pretends to be run over, and the doctor is hired by the month, and they average $500 a night, playing that game on automobile tourists from America. After the woman is run over every night, and the money is collected, and the victims have been allowed to go on their way, the whole community gathers at the house of the injured woman and they have a celebration and a dance, and probably our chauffeur got back to the house that night in time to enjoy the celebration. I suppose thousands of Americans are paying money for killing people that never got a scratch.
Say, we think in America that we have plenty of ways to rob the tenderfoot, but they give us cards and spades and little casino and beat us every time. Dad wanted to hire a hack and go back and finish that old woman with an ax, because he said he had a corpse coming to him, but the police told him he could be arrested for thinking murder, and that he was a dangerous man, and that they would give him 12 hours to get out of France, and so we bought tickets for Switzerland, though what we came here for I don't know, only dad said it was a republic like America and he wanted to breathe the free air of mountains in the home of the Switzerkase.
Well, anybody can have Switzerland if they want it. I will sell my interest cheap. The first three days we were here everybody wanted us to go out on the lake, said to be the most beautiful lake in the world, and we sailed on it, and rowed on it, and looked down into the clear water where it is said you can see a corpse on the bottom of the lake 100 feet down. We hadn't lost any corpse, except the corpse of that old woman we run over at Nice, but we wanted to get the worth of our money, so we kept looking for days, but the search for a corpse becomes tame after awhile, and we gave it up. All we saw in the bottom of the lake was a cow, but no man can weep properly over the remains of a cow, and dad said they could go to the deuce with their corpses, and we just camped at the hotel till our money came. Say, that lake they talk so much about is no better than lakes all over Wisconsin, and there are no black bass or muskellunges in it.
The tourists here are just daffy about climbing mountains and glaziers, and they talk about it all the time, and I could see dad's finish. They told him that no American that ever visited Switzerland would be recognized when he got home if he had not climbed the glaziers, so dad arranged for a trip up into the sky. We went 100 miles or so on the cars, passing along valleys where all the cows wear tea bells, and it sounds like chimes in the distance. It is beautiful in Switzerland, but the cheese is something awful. A piece of native Swiss cheese would break up a family.
At night we arrived at a station where we hired guides and clothes, and things, and the next morning we started. Dad wanted me to stay at the station a couple of days, while he was gone, and play with the goats, but I told him if there were any places in the mountains or glaziers any more dangerous than Paris or Monte Carlo, I wanted to visit them, so he let me go. Well, we were rigged up for discovering the north pole, and had alpenstocks to push ourselves up with, and the guides had ropes to pull us up when we got to places where we couldn't climb. I could get along all right, but they had dad on a rope most of the time pulling him until his tongue run out and his face turned blue. But dad was game, and don't you forget it.
Before noon we got on top of a glazier, which is the ice of a frozen river, that moves all the time, sliding towards the sea.
There was nothing but a hard winter, in summer, to the experience, and we would have gone back the same night, only dad slipped down a crevice about 100 feet with the rope on him, and the two guides couldn't pull him up, and we had to send a lunch down to him on the rope and one of the guides had to go back to the village for help to get dad up. Well, sir, I think dad was nearer dead than he ever was before, but they sent down a bottle of brandy, and when he drank some of it the snow began to melt and he was warm enough to use bad language.
He yelled to me that this was the limit and wanted to know how long they were going to keep him there. I yelled to him that one of the guides had gone for help to pull him out, and he said for them to order a yoke of oxen. I told him that probably he would have to remain there until spring opened and that I was going back to America and leave him there, and he better pray.
I don't know whether dad prayed, down there in the bowels of the mountains, but he didn't pray when help came, and they finally hauled him up. His breath was gone, but he gave those guides some language that would set them to thinking if they could have understood him, and finally we started down the mountain. They kept the rope on dad and every little while he would slip and slide 100 feet or so down the mountain on his pants, and the snow would go up his trousers legs clear to his collar, and the exercise made him so hot that the steam came out of his clothes, and he looked like a locomotive wrecked in a snow bank blowing off steam.
It became dark and I expected we would be killed, but before midnight we got to the station and changed our clothes and paid off the guides and took a train back. Dad said to me, as we got on the cars: "Now, Hennery, I have done this glazier stunt, just to show you that a brave man, whatever his age, is equal to anything they can propose in Europe, but by ginger, this settles it, and now I want to go where things come easier. I am now going to Turkey and see how the Turks worry along. Are you with me?" "You bet your life," says I.
Dad Plays He Is an Anarchist—They Give Alms to the Beggars and the Bad Boy Ducks a Gondolier and His Dad in the Grand Canal.
Venice, Italy.—My Dear Old Chumireno: Dad couldn't get out of Switzerland quick enough after he got thawed out the day after we climbed the glaziers. We found that almost all the tourists in Geneva were there because they did not want to go home and say they had not visited Switzerland, so they just jumped from one place to another. The people who stay there any length of time are like the foreign residents of Mexico, who are wanted for something they have done at home, that is against the law. There are more anarchists in Geneva than anything else, and they look hairy and wild eyed, and they plot to kill kings and drink beer out of two quart jars.
When we found that more attention was paid to men suspected of crime in their own countries, and men who were believed to be plotting to assassinate kings, dad said it would be a good joke if a story should get out that he was suspected of being connected with a syndicate that wanted to assassinate some one, so I told a fellow that I got acquainted with that the fussy old man that tried to ride a glazier without any saddle or stirrup was wanted for attempting to blow up the president of the United States by selling him baled hay soaked in a solution of dynamite and nitro-glycerine.
Say, they will believe anything in Switzerland. It wasn't two hours before long-haired people were inviting dad to dinners, and the same night he was taken to a den where a lot of anarchists were reveling, and dad reveled till almost morning. When he came back to the hotel he said his hosts got all the money he had with him, through some game he didn't understand, but he under stood it was to go into a fund to support deserving anarchists and dynamiters. He said when they found out he was a suspected assassin nothing was too good for him. He said they wanted to know how he expected to kill a president by soaking baled hay in explosives, and dad said it came to him suddenly to tell them that the president rode on horseback a good deal, and he thought if a horse was filled with baled hay, and nitro-glycerine and the president spurred the horse and the horse jumped in the air and came down kerchunk on an asphalt pavement, the horse would explode, and when the rider came down covered with sausage covers and horse meat, he would be dead, or would want to be. Dad said the anarchists went into executive session and took up a collection to send a man to Berlin to fill the emperor's saddle horse with cut feed like dad suggested.
Well, the anarchist story was too much for Switzerland, and the next morning dad was told by a policeman that he had to get out of the country quick, and it didn't take us 15 minutes to pack up, and here we are in Venice.
Well, say, old friend, this is the place where you ought to be, because nobody works here, that is, nobody but gondoliers. We have been here several days, and I have not seen a soul doing anything except begging, or selling things that nobody seems to want. If anybody buys anything but onions, it is for curiosity, or for souvenirs, and yet the whole population sits around in the sun and watches the strangers from other lands price things and go away without buying, and then everybody looks mad, as though they would like to jab a knife into the stranger. The plazas and the places near the canal are filled with hucksters and beggars, and you never saw beggars so mutilated and sore and disgusting. I never supposed human beings could be so deformed, without taking an ax to them, and it is so pitiful to see them that you can't help shedding your money.
As hard hearted as dad is, he coughed up over $40 the first day, just giving to beggars, and he thought he had got them all bought up, and that they would let him alone, but the next day when he showed up there were ten beggars where there was one the day before, and they followed him everywhere, and all the loafers in the plazas laughed and acted as if they would catch the cripples when dad got out of sight and rob the beggars. Dad thinks the way the people live is by dividing with beggars. A man who has a deformity, or a sore that you can see half a block away, seems to be considered rich here, like a man in America who owns stock in great corporations. These beggars pay more taxes than the dukes and things who live in style.
I suppose dad never studied geography, so he didn't know how Venice was situated, so he told me to go out and order a hack the first morning we were here, and we would go and see the town. When I told dad there were no hacks, no horses and no roads in Venice, he said I was crazy in my head and wanted me to take some medicine and stay in bed for a few days, but I convinced him, when we got outdoors, that everything run by water, and when I showed him the canal and the gondolas, he remembered all about Venice, and picked out a gondalier that looked like one dad saw at the world's fair, and we hired him because he talked English. All the English the gondolier could use were the words "you bet your life," and "you're dam right," but dad took him because it seemed so homelike, and we have been riding in gondolas every day.
On the water you can get away from the beggars. This is an ideal existence. You just get in the gondola, under a canopy, and the gondolier does the work, and you glide along between build ings and wonder who lives there, and when they wake up, as all day long the blinds are closed, and everybody seems to be dead. But at night, when the canals are lighted, and the moon shines, the people put on their dress clothes and sit on verandas, or eat and drink, and talk Eyetalian, and ride in gondolas, and play guitars, and smoke cigarettes, and talk love. It is so warm you can wear your summer pants, and the water smells of clams that died long ago. It is just as though Chicago was flooded by the bursting of the sewers, and people had to go around State street, and all the cross streets, and Michigan avenue, in fishing boats, with three feet of water on top of the pavements. Imagine the people of Chicago taking gondolas and riding along the streets, landing at the stores and hotels, just as they do now from carriages.
We had been riding in gondolas for two days, getting around in the mud when the tide was out, and going to sleep and waiting for the tide to come in, when it seemed to me that dad needed some excitement, and last night I gave it to him.
We were out in our gondola, and the moon was shining, and the electric lights made the canal near the Rialto bridge as light as day. The Rialto bridge crosses the Grand canal, and has been the meeting place for lovers for thousands of years. It is a grand structure, of carved marble, but it wouldn't hold up a threshing machine engine half as well as an iron bridge. Well, the canal was filled with thousands of gondolas, loaded with the flower of Venetian society, and the music just made you want to fall in love. Dad said if he didn't fall in love, or something, before morning, he would quit the place. I made up my mind he should fall into something, so I began by telling dad it seemed strange to me that nobody but Eyetalians could run a gondola. Dad said he could run a gondola as well as any foreigner, and I told him he couldn't run a gondola for shucks, and he said he would show me, so he got out of the hen house where we were seated, and went back on to the pointed end of the gondola, and grabbed the pole or paddle from the gondolier, and said: "Now, Garibaldi, you go inside the pup tent with Hennery, and let me punt this ark around awhile."
Garibaldi thought dad was crazy, but he gave up the pole, and just then, when they were both on the extreme point of the gondola, and she was wabbling some, I peeked out through the curtains and thought the fruit was about ripe enough to pick, so I threw myself over to one side of the gondola, and, by gosh, if dad and Garibaldi didn't both go overboard with a splash, and one yell in the English language, and one in Eye-talian, and I rushed out of the cabin and such a sight you never saw.
Dad retained the paddle, and had his head out of water, but nothing showed above the water, where Garibaldi was except a red patch on his black pants. Dad was yelling for help, and finally the gondolier got his head out of the water, and said something that sounded like grinding a butcher knife on a grindstone, and I yelled, too, and the gondolas began to gather around us, and the two men were rescued. The gondolier had been gondoling all his life and he had never been in the water before, and they thought it would strike in and kill him, so they wrapped him up in blankets and put him aboard his canoe, and he looked at me as though I was to blame. They got a boat hook fastened in dad's pants and landed him in the gondola, and he dripped all the way to our hotel, and he smelled like a fish market.
I asked Garibaldi, on the way to the hotel, if he was counting his beads when he was down under the water with nothing but his pants out of the water, and he said: "You're dam right," but I don't think he knew the meaning of the words, because he probably wouldn't swear in the presence of death. Dad just sat and shivered all the way to the hotel, but when we got to our room I asked him what his idea was in jumping overboard right there before folks, with his best clothes on, and he said it was all Garibaldi's fault, that just as dad was getting a good grip on the paddle, the gondolier heaved a long sigh, and the onions in his breath paralyzed dad so he fell overboard.
"Then you don't blame your little boy, do you?" says I, and dad looked at me as he was hanging his wet shirt on a chair. "Course not; you were asleep in the cabin. But say, if I ever hear that you did tip that gondola, it will go hard with you," but I just looked innocent, and dad went on drying his shirt by a charcoal brazier and never suspected me. But I am getting the worst of it, for dad and his clothes smell so much like a clam bake that it makes me sick.
Well, old friend, you ought to close up your grocery and come over here and go to Vesuvius and Pompeii with us, where we can dry our clothes by the volcano, and dig in the city that was buried in hot ashes 2,000 years ago. They say you can dig up mummies there that are dead ringers for you, old man.
O, come on, and have fun with us.
The Bad Boy Writes from Naples—Dad Sees Vesuvius and Calls the Servants to Put Out the Fire—They Have Trouble with a "Dago" in Pompeii.
Naples, Italy.—Dear Old Partner in Crime: Well, sir, we have struck a place that reminds us of home, and your old grocery store. The day we got here dad and I took a walk into the poorer districts, where they throw all the slops and refuse in the streets, and where nobody ever seems to clean up anything and burn it. The odor was something that you cannot describe without a demonstration, and after we had turned pale and started to go away, dad said the smell reminded him of something at home, and finally he remembered your old grocery in the sauerkraut season, early in the morning, before you had aired out the place. Your ears must have burned when we were talking about you.
If you want to get an idea of Naples, at its worst, go down into your cellar and round up all the codfish, onions, kraut, limburger cheese, kerosene, rotten potatoes, and everything that is dead, put it all in a bushel basket, and just before the Health officers come to pull your place, get down on your knees and put your head down in the basket, and let some one sit on your head all the forenoon, and you will have just such a half day as dad and I had in the poor quarter of Naples, and it will not cost you half as much as it did us, unless, after you have enjoyed yourself in your cellar with your head in the basket, you decide to have a run of sickness and hire a doctor who will charge you the price of a trip to Europe.
Well, sir, Naples is a dandy, in its clean part. The bay of Naples is a dead ringer for Milwaukee bay, in shape and beauty, but Milwaukee lacks Vesuvius and Pompeii, for suburbs, and she lacks the customary highwaymen to hold you up. Every man, woman and child we have met makes a living out of the tourists, and nobody that I have seen works at any other business.
We woke up the first morning and dad looked out the window and saw Vesuvius belching forth flame and lava and stone fences, and wanted to turn in a fire alarm, but I told him that that fire had been raging ever since the Christian era, and was not one of these incendiary barn burnings, but he opened the window and yelled fire, and the porters and chambermaids came running to our room, with buckets of water, and wanted to know where the fire was. Dad pointed out of the window towards Vesuvius and said: "Some hired girl has been starting a fire with kerosene, in that shanty on the knoll out there, and the whole ranch will burn if you don't turn out the fire department, you gosh blasted lazy devils. Get a move on and help carry out the furniture."
Well, they calmed dad, and then I had to go to work and post dad up on the geography he had forgotten, and finally he remembered seeing a picture of a volcano or burning mountain in his geography 50 years ago, but he told me he never believed there was a volcano in the world, but that he always thought they put those pictures in geographies to make them sell. How a man can attain the prominence and position in the business world that dad has, and not know any more than he does, is what beats me.
Of course, you know, having kept a grocery since the war, and having had opportunities to study history, by the pictures on the soap boxes and insurance calendars, that Nero, the Roman tyrant, after Rome was burned, while he fiddled for a dance in a barn, got so accustomed to fire and brimstone that he retired to Naples and touched off Vesuvius, just so he could look at it. But Vesuvius, about 2,000 years ago, got to burning way down in its bowels, and the fire got beyond control, and I suppose now the fire is away down in the center of the earth, and you know when you get down in the earth below the crust, on which we live and raise potatoes, everything is melted, like iron in a foundry, and Vesuvius is the spigot through which the fluid comes to the surface. You see, don't you?
Just imagine that this earth is a barrel of beer, which you can understand better than anything else, and it is being shaken up by being hauled around on wagons and cars, and is straining to get out, then a bartender drives a spigot into the bung, turns the thumb piece, and the pent-up beer comes out foaming and squirting, and there you are.
Instead of beer, Vesuvius is loaded with lava, that runs like molasses, and when it is cold it is indigestible as a cold buckwheat cake, and you can make it up into jewelry, that looks like maple sugar and smells like a fire in a garbage crematory. Besides the lava there are stones as big as a house that are thrown up by the sea-sickness of the earth, as it heaves and pants, and then the ashes that come out of the crater at times would make you think that what they need there is to have a chimney sweep go down and brush out the flues.
To get an idea of what a nuisance the ashes from the crater are to the cities on the plain below, you remember the time you were out in your back yard splitting boxes for kindling wood and my chum and I threw a pail of ashes over the fence, and accidentally it went all over you, about four inches thick. That time you got mad and threw cucumbers at us, when we ran down the alley. Keep that in your mind and you can understand the destruction of Pompeii, when Vesuvius, thousands of years ago, coughed up hot ashes and covered the town 40 feet deep with hot stuff, and killed every living thing, and petrified and preserved the whole business, and made a prairie on top of a town, and everybody eventually forgot that there had ever been a town there, for about 2,000 years. If my chum and I had not run out of ashes we would have buried you so deep in your back yard that you would have been petrified with your hatchet, and when they excavated the premises a thousand years later they would have found your remains and put you in a museum.
Well, a couple of hundred years ago a peasant was sinking a well down in the ashes, and he struck a petrified barroom, with a bartender standing behind the bar in the act of serving some whisky 2,000 years old, and the peasant located a claim there, and the authorities took possession of the prairie and have been digging the town out ever since, looking for more of that 2,000-year-old whisky.
When I told dad about what they were finding at the ruins of Pompeii, and how you were liable to find gold and diamonds and petrified women, he wanted to go and dig in the ashes, as he said it would be more exciting than raking over the dumping grounds in Chicago for tin cans and lumps of coal, and so we hired a hack and went to the buried town, but dad insisted on carrying an umbrella, so if Vesuvius belched any more ashes he could protect himself. Gee, but from what I have seen at that old ruin, a man would need an umbrella made of corrugated iron to keep from being buried.
Well, when we got to Pompeii dad was for going right where they were digging, but I got him to look over the streets and houses that had been uncovered first, and he was paralyzed to think that a town could be covered with ashes all these thousands of years, and then be uncovered and find a town that would compare, in many respects, with cities of the present day, with residences complete with sculpture, paintings and cut marble that would skin Chicago to a finish.
We went through residences that looked as rich as the Vanderbilt houses in New York, baths that you could take a plunge and a swim in, if they had the water, paintings that would take a premium at any horse show to-day, pavements that would shame the pavements of London and Paris, and petrified women that you couldn't tell from a low-necked party in Washington, except that the ashes had eaten the clothes off. I guess most of the people in Pompeii got away when the ashes began to rain down, for they must have seen that it wasn't going to be a light shower, but a deluge, 'cause they never have found many corpses. They must have run to Naples, and maybe they are running yet, and you may see some of them at your grocery, and if you do see anybody covered with ashes, looking for a job, give them some crackers and cheese and charge it to dad, for they must be hungry by this time.
Say, do you know that some of those refugees from Pompeii went off in such a hurry that they left bread baking in the ovens, and meat cooking in the pots? It seems the most wonderful thing to me of anything I ever saw. We went all through the streets and houses and saw ballrooms that beat anything in San Francisco, and when we went into a building occupied by the officers in charge of the excavations, and dad saw a telephone and an electric light, he thought those things had been dug up, too, and he claimed that the men who were receiving millions of dollars in royalties on telephones and electric lights were frauds who were infringing on Pompeii patents 2,000 years old, and he wouldn't believe me when I told him that telephones and electric lights were not dug up; he said then he wouldn't believe anything was dug up, but that the whole thing was a put-up job to rob tourists. But when we got to a locality where the dagoes were digging the ashes away from a house and were uncovering a parlor, where rich things were being discovered, he saw that it was all right.
I suppose I never ought to have played such a thing on dad, but I told him that anybody who saw a thing first when it came out of the ashes could grab it and keep it, and just as I told him a workman threw out a shovel full of ashes, just as you would throw out dirt digging for angle worms, and there was a little silver urn with a lot of coins in it, and you could not hold dad. He grabbed for it, the workman grabbed for it, and they went down together in the ashes, and the man rolled dad over and he was a sight, but the workman got the silver urn, and dad wanted to fight.
Finally a man with a uniform on came along and was going to arrest dad, but they finally compromised by the man offering to sell the silver urn and the gold coins to dad for a hundred dollars, if he would promise not to open it up until he got out of Italy, and dad paid the money and wrapped the urn up in a Chicago paper, and we took our hack and went back to Naples on a gallop.
Dad could hardly wait till we got to the hotel before opening up his prize, but he held out until we got to our room, when he unwrapped the urn to count his ancient gold coins. Well, you'd a-died to see dad's face when he opened that can. It was an old tomato can that had been wrought out with a hammer so it looked like hammered silver, and when he emptied the gold coins out on the table there was a lot of brass tags that looked like dog license tags, and baggage checks and brass buttons. I had to throw water on dad to bring him to, and then he swore he would kill the dago that sold him the treasure from the ruins of Pompeii. It was a great blow to dad, and he has bought a dirk knife to kill the dago. To-morrow we take in Vesuvius, and when we come down from the crater we go to Pompeii and kill the dago in his tracks. Dad may cause Vesuvius to belch again with hot ashes, and cover the ruins of Pompeii, but if he can't turn on the ashes, the knife will do the business.
The Bad Boy and His Dad Climb Vesuvius—A Chicago Lady Joins the Party and Causes Trouble.
Naples, Italy.—Siegnor ze Grocerino: I guess that will make you stand without hitching for a little while. Say, I am getting so full of dead languages, and foreign palaver, that I shall have to have an operation on my tongue when I get home before I can speel the United States language again so you can make head or tail of it. You see, I don't stay long enough in a country to acquire its language, but I get a few words into my system, so now my English is so mixed with French words, Italian garlic and German throat trouble that I cannot understand myself unless I look in a glass and watch the motions of my lips. Dad has not picked up a word of any foreign language, and says he should consider himself a traitor to his country if he tried to talk anything but English. He did get so he could order a glass of beer by holding up his finger and saying "ein," but he found later that just holding up his finger without saying "ein" would bring the beer all the same so he cut out the language entirely and works his finger until it needs a rest.
When I used to study my geography at the little red schoolhouse, and look at the picture of the volcano Vesuvius, and read about how it would throw up red-hot lava, and ashes, and rocks as big as a house, and wipe out cities, it looked so terrible to me that I was glad when we got through with the volcano lesson, and got to Greenland's icy mountains, where there was no danger except being frozen to death, or made sick by eating blubber sliced off of whales.
Then I never expected to be right on the very top of that volcano, throwing stones down in the lava, and sailing chips down the streams of hot stuff, just as I sailed chips on ice water at home-when the streets were flooded by spring rains. Say, there is no more danger on Vesuvius than there is in a toboggan slide, or shooting the chutes at home. I thought we would have to hire dagoes to carry us up to the top, and be robbed and held up, and may be murdered, but it is just as easy as going up in the elevator of a skyscraper, and no more terrifying than sitting on a 50-cent seat in a baseball park at home and witnessing the "Destruction of Pompeii" by a fireworks display
The crater looks sort of creepy, like a big cauldron kettle boiling soap on a farm, only it is bigger, and down in the earth's bowels you can well believe there is trouble, and if you believe in a hell, you can get it, illustrated proper, but the rivulets of lava that flow out of the wrinkles around the mouth of the crater are no more appalling than making fudges over a gas stove. When the lava cools you would swear it was fudges, only you can't eat the lava and get indigestion as you can eating fudges.
It was hard work to get dad to go up on the volcano, because he said he knew he would fall into it, and get his clothes burned, and he said he couldn't climb clear to the top, on account of his breath being short, but when I told him he could ride up on a trolley car, and have the volcano brought right to him, he weakened, and one morning we left Naples early and before two hours had passed we were on a little cogwheel railroad going up, and dad was looking down on the scenery, expecting every minute the cogs would slip and we would cut loose and go down all in a heap and be plastered all over the vineyards and big trees and be killed.
I don't know what makes dad so nervous, but he wanted a woman from Chicago, who was on the car with us, to hold his hand all the way up, but she said she was no nurse in a home for the aged, and she said she would cuff dad if he didn't let go of her. I told her she better not get dad mad if she knew what was good for her, for he was a regular Bluebeard, and wouldn't take no slack from no Chicago female, 'cause he had buried nine wives already. So she held his hand, and I guess she thinks she will be my stepmother, but I bet she don't.