"Well, I should smile," said the boy, as he looked in a small mirror on the counter, covered with fly specks. "A girl got mashed on me, and Ma says it is good for a boy who hasn't got no sister, to be in love with a girl, and so I kind of tumbled to myself and she don't go no where without I go with her. I take her to dancing school, and everywhere, and she loves me like a house afire. Say, was you ever in love? Makes a fellow feel queer, don't it? Well sir, the first time I went home with her I put my arm around her, and honest it scared me. It was just like when you take hold of the handles of a lectric battery, and you can't let go till the man turns the knob. Honest, I was just as weak as a cat. I thought she had needles in her belt and was going to take my arm away, but it was just like it was glued on. I asked her if she felt that way too, and she said she used to, but it was nothing when you got used to it. That made me mad. But she is older than me and knows more about it. When I was going to leave her at the gate, she kissed me, and that was worse than putting my arm around her. By gosh, I trembled all over just like I had chills, but I was as warm as toast. She wouldn't let go for much as a minute, and I was tired as though I had been carrying coal up stairs."
"I didn't want to go home at all, but she said it would be the best way for me to go home, and come again the next day, and the next morning I went to her house before any of them were up, and her Pa came out to let the cat in, and I asked him what time his girl got up, and he laffed and said I had got it bad, and that I had better go home and not be picked till I got ripe. Say, how much does it cost to get married?"
"Well, I should say you had got it bad," said the grocery man, as he set out a basket of beets. "Your getting in love will be a great thing for your Pa. You won't have any time to play any more jokes on him."
"O, I guess we can find time to keep Pa from being lonesome. Have you seen him this morning? You ought to have seen him last night. You see, my chum's Pa has got a setter dog stuffed. It is one that died two years ago, and he thought a great deal of it, and he had it stuffed, for a ornament.
"Well, my chum and me took the dog and put it on our front steps, and took some cotton and fastened it to the dog's mouth so it looked just like froth, and we got behind the door and waited for Pa to come home from the theatre. When Pa started to come up the steps I growled and Pa looked at the dog and said, "Mad dog, by crimus," and he started down the sidewalk, and my chum barked just like a dog, and I "Ki-yi'd" and growled like a dog that gets licked, and you ought to see Pa run. He went around in the alley and was going to get in the basement window, and my chum had a revolver with some blank cartridges, and we went down in the basement and when Pa was trying to open the window my chum began to fire towards Pa. Pa hollered that it was only him, and not a burglar, but after my chum fired four shots Pa run and climbed over the fence, and then we took the dog home and I stayed with my chum all night, and this morning Ma said Pa didn't get home till four o'clock and then a policeman came with him, and Pa talked about mad dogs and being taken for a burglar and nearly killed, and she said she was afraid Pa had took to drinking again, and she asked me if I heard any firing of guns, and I said no, and then she put a wet towel on Pa's head."
"You ought to be ashamed," said the grocery man "How does your Pa like your being in love with the girl? Does he seem to encourage you in it?"
"Oh, yes, she was up to our house to borry some tea, and Pa patted her on the cheek and hugged her and said she was a dear little daisy, and wanted her to sit in his lap, but when I wanted him to let me have fifty cents to buy her some ice cream he said that was all nonsense. He said: "Look at your Ma. Eating ice cream when she was a girl was what injured her health for life." I asked Ma about it, and she said Pa never laid out ten cents for ice cream or any luxury for her in all the five years he was sparking her. She says he took her to a circus once but he got free tickets for carrying water for the elephant. She says Pa was tighter than the bark to a tree. I tell you its going to be different with me. If there is anything that girl wants she is going to have it if I have to sell Ma's copper boiler to get the money, What is the use of having wealth if you hoard it up and don't enjoy it? This family will be run on different principles after this, you bet. Say, how much are those yellow wooden pocket combs in the show case? I've a good notion to buy them for her. How would one of them round mirrors, with a zinc cover, do for a present for a girl? There's nothing too good for her."
HIS PA FIGHTS HORNETS—THE OLD MAN LOOKS BAD—THE WOODS OF WAUWATOSA—THE OLD MAN TAKES A NAP—"HELEN DAMNATION"— "HELL IS OUT FOR NOON"—THE LIVER MEDICINE—ITS WONDERFUL EFFECTS—THE BAD BOY IS DRUNK!—GIVE ME A LEMON!—A SIGHT OF THE COMET!—THE HIRED GIRL'S RELIGION.
"Go away from here now," said the grocery man to the bad boy, as he came into the store and was going to draw some cider out of a barrel into a pint measure that had flies in it. "Get right out of this place, and don't let me see you around here until the health officer says you Pa has got over the small pox. I saw him this morning and his face is all covered with postules, and they will have him in the pest house before night. You git," and he picked up a butter tryer and went for the boy who took refuge behind a barrel of onions, and held up his hands as though Jesse James had drawn a bead on him.
"O, you go and chase yourself. That is not small pox Pa has got. He had a fight with a nest of hornets," said the boy.
"Hornets! Well, I'll be cussed," remarked the grocery man, as he put up the butter tryer, and handed the boy a slice of rotten muskmelon. "How in the world did he get into a nest of hornets? I hope you did not have anything to do with it."
The boy buried his face in the melon, until he looked as though a yellow gash had been cut from his mouth to his ears, and after swallowing the melon, he said: "Well, Pa says I was responsible, and he says that settles it, and I can go my way and he will go his. He said he was willing to overlook everything I had done to make his life unbearable, but steering him onto a nest of hornets, and then getting drunk, was too much, and I can go."
"What, you haven't been drunk," says the grocery man, "Great heavens, that will kill your poor old father."
"O, I guess it won't kill him very much. He has been getting drunk for twenty years, and he says he is healthier to-day than he ever was, since his liver has got to working again. You see, Monday was a regular Indian summer day, and Pa said he would take me and my chum out in the woods to gather hickory nuts, if we would be good. I said I would, and my chum said he would, and we got a couple of bags and went away out to Wauwatosa, in the woods. We clubbed the trees and got more nuts than anybody, and had a lunch, and Pa was just enjoying his relidgin first rate. While Pa was taking a nap under a tree, my chum and me looked around and found a hornets' nest on the lower limb of the tree we were sitting under, and my chum said it would be a good joke to get a pole and run it into the hornet's nest, and then run. Honest, I didn't think about Pa being under the tree, and I went into a field and got a hop pole, and put the small end up into the nest, and gouged the nest a couple of times, and when the boss hornet came out of the hole and looked sassy, and then looked back in the hole and whistled to the other hornets to come out and have a circus, and they began to come out, my chum and me run and climbed over a fence, and got behind a pile of hop poles that was stacked up."
"I guess the hornets saw my Pa just as quick as they got out of the nest, cause pretty soon we heard Pa call to 'Helen Damnation,' or some woman we didn't know, and then he took his coat, that he had been using for a pillow, and whipped around, and he slapped hisself on the shoulders, and then took the lunch basket and pounded around like he was crazy, and bime-by he started on a run towards town, holding his pants up, cause his suspenders was hanging down on his hips, and I never see a fat man run so, and fan himself with a basket. We could hear him yell, 'come on, boys. Hell is out for noon,' and he went over a hill, and we didn't see him any more. We waited till near dark because we was afraid to go after the bags of nuts till the hornets had gone to bed, and then we came home. The bags were awful heavy, and I think it was real mean in Pa to go off and leave us, and not help carry the bags."
"I swan," says the grocery man, "You are too mean to live. But what about your getting drunk?"
"O, I was going to tell you. Pa had a bottle of liver medicine in his coat pocket, and when he was whipping his hornets the bottle dropped out, and I picked it up to carry it home to him. My chum wanted to smell of the liver medicine, so he took out the cork and it smelled just like in front of a liquor store on East Water street, and my chum said his liver was bad, too, and he took a swaller, and he said he should think it was enough to cut a feller's liver up in slices, but it was good, and then I had a peculiar feeling in my liver, and my chum said his liver felt better after he took a swaller, and and so I took a swaller, and it was the offulest liver remedy I ever tasted. It scorched my throat just like the diptheria, but it beats diptheria, or sore throat, all to pieces, and my chum and me laffed, we was so tickled. Did you ever take liver medicine? You know how it makes you feel as if your liver had got on top of your lights, and like you wanted to jump and holler. Well, sir, honest that liver medicine made me dance a jig on the viaduct bridge, and an old soldier from the soldiers' home came along and asked us what was the matter, and we told him about our livers, and the liver medicine, and showed him the bottle, and he said he sposed he had the worst liver in the world, and said the doctors at the home, couldn't cure him. It's a mean boy that won't help a nold vetran cure his liver, so I told him to try Pa's liver remedy, and he took a regular cow swaller, and said, 'here's to your livers, boys.' He must have a liver bigger nor a cow's, and I guess it is better now.
"Then my liver begun to feel curus again, and my chum said his liver was getting torpid some more, and we both took another dose, and started home and we got generous, and give our nuts all away to some boys. Say, does liver medicine make a feller give away all he has got? We kept taking medicine every five blocks, and we locked arms and went down a back street and sung 'O it is a glorious thing to be a pirut king,' and when we got home my heart felt bigger nor a washtub and I thought p'raps my liver had gone to my head, and Pa came to the door with his face tied up in towels, and some yellow stuff on the towels that smelted like anarchy, and I slapped him on the shoulder and shouted, 'Hello, Gov., how's your liver,' and gave him the bottle, and it was empty, and he asked me if we had been drinking that medicine and he said he was ruined, and I told him he could get some more down to the saloon, and he took hold of my collar and I lammed him in the ear, and he bounced me up stairs, and then I turned pale, and had cramps, and I didn't remember any more till I woke up and the doctor was over me, and Pa and Ma looked scared, and the Doc. had a tin thing like you draw water out of a country cistern, only smaller, and Ma said if it hadn't been for the stomach pump she wouldn't have had any little boy, and I looked at the knobs on Pa's face and I laffed and asked Pa if he got into the hornets, too. Then the Doc. laffed, and Ma cried, and Pa swore, and I groaned, and got sick again, and then they let me go to sleep again, and this morning I had the offulest headache, and Pa's face looks like he had fell on a picket fence. When I got out I went to my chum's house to see if they had got him pumped out, and his Ma drove me out with a broom, and she says I will ruin every boy in the neighborhood. Pa says I was drunk and kicked him in the groin when he fired me up stairs, and I asked him how I could be drunk just taking medicine for my liver, and he said go to the devil, and I came over here. Say, give me a lemon to settle my stomach."
"But, look-a-here," says the grocery man, as he gave the boy a little dried up lemon, about as big as a prune, and told him he was a terror, "what is the matter of your eye winkers and your hair? They seem to be burned off."
"O, thunder, didn't Pa tell you about the comet exploding and burning us all? That was the worst thing since the flood, when Noar run the excursion boat from Kalamazoo to Mount Ararat. You see we had been reading about the comet, which is visible at four o'clock in the morning, and I heard Pa tell the hired girl to wake him and Ma up when she got up to set the pancakes and go to early mass so they could, see the comet. The hired girl is a Cathlick, and she don't make no fuss about it, but she has got more good, square relidgin than a dozen like Pa. It makes a good deal of difference how relidgin affects different people, don't it. Now Pa's relidgin makes him wild, and he wants to kick my pants, and pull my hair, but the hired girl's relidgin makes her want to hug me, if I am abused, and she puts anarchy on my bruises, and gives me pie. Pa wouldn't get up at four o'clock in the morning to go to early mass, unless he could take a fish pole along and some angel worms. The hired girl prays when no one sees her but God, but Pa wants to get a church full of sisterin', and pray loud, as though he was an auctioneer selling tin razors. Say, it beats all what a difference liver medicine has on two people, too. Now that hickory nut day, when me and my chum got full of Pa's liver medicine, I felt so good natured I gave my hickory nuts away to the children, and wanted to give my coat and pants to a poor tramp, but my chum, who ain't no bigger'n me, got on his ear and wanted to kick the socks off a little girl who was going home from school. It's queer, ain't it. Well, about the cornet. When I heard Pa tell the hired girl to wake him and Ma up, I told her to' wake me up about half an hour before she waked Pa up, and then I got my chum to stay with me, and we made a comet to play on Pa, you see my room is right over Pa's room, and I got two lengths of stove pipe and covered them all over with phosphorus, so they looked just as bright at as a comet. Then we got two Roman candles and a big sky rocket, and we were going to touch off the Roman candles and the sky rocket just as Pa and Ma got to looking at the comet. I didn't know that a sky rocket would kick back, did you? Well, you'd a dide to see that comet. We tied a piece of white rubber garden hose to the stove pipe for a tail and went to bed, and when the girl woke us up we laid for Pa and Ma. Pretty soon we heard Pa's window open, and I looked out, and Pa and Ma had their heads and half their bodies out of the window. They had their night shirts on and looked just like the pictures of Millerites waiting for the world to come to an end. Pa looked up and seed the stove pipe and he said:
"Hanner, for God's sake, look up there. That is the damest comet I ever see. It is as bright as day. See the tail of it. Now that is worth getting up to see."
"Just then my chum lit the two Roman candles and I touched off the rocket, and that's where my eye winkers went. The rocket busted the joints of the stove pipe, and they fell down on Pa, but Ma got her head inside before the comet struck, and wasn't hurt, but one length of stove pipe struck Pa endways on the neck and almost cut a biscuit out of him, and the fire and sparks just poured down in his hair, and burned his night shirt. Pa was scart. He thought the world was coming to an end, and the window came down on his back, and he began to sing, "Earth's but a desert drear, Heaven is my home." I see he was caught in the window, and I went down stairs to put out the fire on his night shirt, and put up the window to let him in, and he said, "My boy, your Ma and I are going to Heaven, but I fear you will go to the bad place," and I told him I would take my chances, and he better put on his pants if he was going anywhere that there would be liable to be ladies present, and when he got his head in Ma told him the world was not coming to an end, but somebody had been setting off fireworks, and she said she guessed it was their dear little boy, and when I saw Pa feeling under the bed for a bed slat I got up stairs pretty previous now, and don't you forget it, and Ma put cold cream on where the sparks burnt Pa's shirt, and Pa said another day wouldn't pass over his head before he had me in the Reform School. Well, if I go to the Reform School, somebody's got to pay attention, you can bet your liver. A boy can't have any fun these days without everybody thinks he is a heathen. What hurt did it do to play comet? It's a mean father that wont stand a little scorchin' in the interests of science."
The boy went out, scratching the place where his eye winkers were, and then the grocery man knew what it was that caused the fire engines to be out around at four o'clock in the morning, looking for a fire.
HIS PA GOES HUNTING. MUTILATED JAW—THE OLD MAN HAS TAKEN TO SWEARING AGAIN—OUT WEST DUCK SHOOTING—HIS COAT-TAIL SHOT OFF—SHOOTS AT A WILD GOOSE—THE GUN KICKS!—THROWS A CHAIR AT HIS SON—THE ASTONISHED SHE DEACON.
"What has your Pa got his jaw tied up for, and what makes his right eye so black and blue," asked the grocery man of the bad boy, as the boy came to bring some butter back that was strong enough to work on the street. "You haven't hurt your poor old Pa, have you?"
"O, his jaw is all right now. You ought to have seen him when the gun was engaged in kicking him," says the boy as he set the butter plate on the cheese box.
"Well, tell us about it. What had the gun against your Pa? I guess it was the son-of-a-gun that kicked him," said the grocery man, as he winked at a servant girl who came in with her apron over her head, after two cents worth of yeast.
"I'll tell you, if you will keep watch down street for Pa. He says he is dammed if he will stand this foolishness any longer."
"What, does your father swear, while he is on probation?"
"Swear! Well, I should cackle. You ought to have heard him when he come to, and spit out the loose teeth. You see, since Pa quit drinking he is a little nervous, and the doctor said he ought to go out somewhere and get bizness off his mind, and hunt ducks, and row a boat, and get strength, and Pa said shooting ducks was just in his hand, and for me to go and borrow a gun, and I could go along and carry game. So I got a gun at the gun store, and some cartridges, and we went away out west on the cars, more than fifty miles, and stayed two days. You ought to seen Pa. He was just like a boy that was sick, and couldn't go to school. When we got out by the lake he jumped up and cracked his heels together, and yelled. I thought he was crazy, but he was only cunning. First I scared him nearly to death by firing off the gun behind him, as we were going along the bank, and blowing off a piece of his coat-tail. I knew it wouldn't hurt him, but he turned pale and told me to lay down that gun, and he picked it up and carried it the rest of the way, and I was offul glad cause it was a heavy gun. His coat-tail smelled like when you burn a rag to make the air in the room stop smelling so, all the forenoon. You know Pa is a little near sighted but he don't believe it, so I got some of the wooden decoy ducks that the hunters use, and put them in the lake, and you ought to see Pa get down on his belly and crawl through the grass, to get up close to them.
"He shot twenty times at the wooden ducks, and wanted me to go in and fetch them out, but I told him I was no retriever dog. Then Pa was mad, and said all he brought me along for was to carry game, and I had come near shooting his hind leg off, and now I wouldn't carry ducks. While he was coaxing me to go in the cold water without my pants on, I heard some wild geese squawking, and then Pa heard them, and he was excited. He said you lay down behind the muskrat house, and I will get a goose. I told him he couldn't kill a goose with that fine shot, and I gave him a large cartridge the gun store man loaded for me, with a handful of powder in, and I told Pa it was a goose cartridge, and Pa put it in the gun. The geese came along, about a mile high, squawking, and Pa aimed at a dark cloud and fired. Well, I was offul scared, I thought I had killed him."
"The gun just rared up and come down on his jaw, shoulder and everywhere, and he went over a log and struck on his shoulder, the gun flew out of his hands, and Pa he laid there on his neck, with his feet over the log, and that was the first time he didn't scold me since he got relidgin. I felt offul sorry, and got some dirty water in my hat and poured it down his neck, and laid him out, and pretty soon he opened his eyes and asked if any of the passengers got ashore alive. Then his eye swelled out so it looked like a blue door-knob, and pa felt of his jaw, and asked if the engineer and fireman jumped off, or if they went down with the engine. He seemed dazed, and then he saw the gun, and he said take the dam thing away, it is going to kick me again. Then he got his senses and wanted to know if he killed a goose, and I told him no, but he nearly broke one's jaw, and then he said the gun kicked him when it went off, and he laid down and the gun kept kicking him more than twenty times, when he was trying to sleep. He went back to the tavern where we were stopping and wouldn't touch the gun, but made me lug it. He told the tavern keeper that he fell over a wire fence, but I think he began to suspect, after he spit the loose teeth out, that the gun was loaded for bear. I suppose he will kill me some day. Don't you think he will?"
"Any coroner's jury would let him off and call it justifiable, if he should kill you. You must be a lunatic. Has your Pa talked much about it since you got back?" asked the grocery man.
"Not much. You see he can't talk much without breaking his jaw. But he was able to throw a chair at me. You see I thought I would joke him a little, cause when anybody feels bad a joke kind of livens em up, so we were talking about Pa's liver, and Ma said he seemed to be better since his liver had become more active, and I said, 'Pa, when you was a rolling over with the gun chasing you, and kicking you every round, your liver was active enough, cause it was on top half the time.' Then Pa throwed the chair at me. He says he believes I knew that cartridge was loaded. But you ought to seen the fun when an old she deacon of Pa's church called to collect some money to send to the heathens.
"Ma wasn't in, so Pa went to the parlor to stand her off, and when she see that Pa's face was tied up, and his eye was black, and his jaw cracked, she held up both hands and said, 'O, my dear brother, you have been drunk again. You have backslid. You will have to go back and commence your probation all over again, and Pa said, 'Damfido,' and the old she deacon screamed and went off without getting enough money to buy a deck of round cornered cards for the heathen. Say, what does 'damfido,' mean? Pa has some of the queerest expressions, since he joined the church."
HIS PA IS "NISHIATED"—ARE YOU A MASON?—NO HARM TO PLAY aT LODGE—WHY GOATS ARE KEPT IN STABLES—THE BAD BOY GETS THE GOAT UP STAIRS—THE GRAND BUMPER DEGREE—KYAN PEPPER ON THE GOAT'S BEARD—"BRING FORTH THE ROYAL BUMPER "—THE GOAT ON THE RAMPAGE.
"Say, are you a Mason, or a nodfellow, or anything?" asked the bad boy of the grocery man, as he went to the cinnamon bag on the shelf and took out a long stick of cinnamon bark to chew.
"Why, yes, of course I am, but what set you to thinking of that," asked the grocery man, as he went to the desk and charged the boy's father with a half a pound of cinnamon.
"Well, do the goats bunt when you nishiate a fresh candidate?"
"No, of course not. The goats are cheap ones, that have no life, and we muzzle them, and put pillows over their heads, so they can't hurt anybody," says the grocery man, as he winked at a brother Odd Fellow who was seated on a sugar barrel, looking mysterious, "But why do you ask?"
"O, nothin, only I wish me and my chum had muzzled our goat with a pillow. Pa would have enjoyed his becoming a member of our lodge better. You see, Pa had been telling us how much good the Masons and Odd Fellers did, and said we ought to try and grow up good so we could jine the lodges when we got big, and I asked Pa if it would do any hurt for us to have a play lodge in my room, and purtend to nishiate, and Pa said it wouldn't do any hurt. He said it would improve our minds and learn us to be men. So my chum and me borried a goat that lives in a livery stable. Say, did you know they keep a goat in a livery stable so the horses won't get sick? They get used to the smell of the goat, and after that nothing can make them sick but a glue factory. I wish my girl boarded in a livery stable, then she would get used to the smell. I went home with her from church Sunday night, and the smell of the goat on my clothes made her sick to her stummick, and she acted just like an excursion on the lake, and said if I didn't go and bury myself and take the smell out of me she wouldn't never go with me again. She was just as pale as a ghost, and the prespiration on her lip was just zif she had been hit by a street sprinkler. You see my chum and me had to carry the goat up to my room when Pa and Ma was out riding, and he blatted so we had to tie a handkerchief around his nose, and his feet made such a noise on the floor that we put some baby's socks on his feet. Gosh, how frowy a goat smells, don't it? I should think you Masons must have strong stummix, Why don't you have a skunk or a mule for a trade mark. Take a mule, and annoint it with limburg cheese and you could initiate and make a candidate smell just as bad as with a gosh darn mildewed goat.
"Well, my chum and me practiced with that goat until he could bunt the picture of a goat every time. We borried a buck beer sign from a saloon man and hung it on the back of a chair, and the goat would hit it every time. That night Pa wanted to know what we were doing up in my room, and I told him we were playing lodge, and improving our minds, and Pa said that was right, there was nothing that did boys of our age half so much good as to imitate men, and store by useful nollidge. Then my chum asked Pa if he didn't want to come up and take the grand bumper degree, and Pa laffed and said he didn't care if he did, just to encourage us boys in innocent pastime, that was so improving to our intellex.
"We had shut the goat up in a closet in my room, and he had got over blatting, so we took off the handkerchief, and he was eating some of my paper collars, and skate straps. We went up stairs, and told Pa to come up pretty soon and give three distinct raps, and when we asked him who comes there he must say, 'a pilgrim who wants to join your ancient order and ride the goat.' Ma wanted to come up too, but we told her if she come in it would break up the lodge, cause a woman couldn't keep a secret, and we didn't have any side saddle for the goat. Say, if you never tried it, the next time you nitiate a man in your Mason's lodge you sprinkle a little kyan pepper on the goat's beard just afore you turn him loose. You can get three times as much fun to the square inch of goat. You wouldn't think it was the same goat. Well, we got all fixed and Pa rapped, and we let him in and told him he must be blindfolded, and he got on his knees a laffing and I tied a towel around his eyes, and then I turned him around and made him get down on his hands also, and then his back was right towards the closet door, and I put the buck beer sign right against Pa's clothes. He was a laffing all the time, and said we boys were as full of fun as they made 'em, and we told him it was a solemn occasion, and we wouldn't permit no levity, and if he didn't stop laffing we couldn't give him the grand bumper degree."
"Then everything was ready, and my chum had his hand on the closet door, and some kyan pepper in his other hand, and I asked Pa in low bass tones if he felt as though he wanted to turn back, or if he had nerve enough to go ahead and take the degree. I warned him that it was full of dangers, as the goat was loaded for bear, and told him he yet had time to retrace his steps if he wanted to. He said he wanted the whole bizness, and we could go ahead with the menagerie. Then I said to Pa that if he had decided to go ahead, and not blame us for the consequences, to repeat after me the following: 'Bring forth the Royal Bumper and let him Bump.' Pa repeated the words, and my chum sprinkled the kyan pepper on the goat's moustache, and he sneezed once and looked sassy, and then he see the lager beer goat raring up, and he started for it, just like a cow catcher, and blatted. Pa is real fat, but he knew he got hit, and he grunted, and said, 'Hell's-fire, what you boys doin?'"
"And then the goat gave him another degree, and Pa pulled off the towel and got up and started for the stairs, and so did the goat, and Ma was at the bottom of the stairs listening, and when I looked over the banisters Pa and Ma and the goat were all in a heap, and Pa was yelling murder, and Ma was screaming fire, and the goat was blatting, and sneezing, and bunting, and the hired girl came into the hall and the goat took after her and she crossed herself just as the goat struck her and said, 'Howly mother, protect me!' and went down stairs the way we boys slide down hill, with both hands on herself, and the goat rared up and blatted, and Pa and Ma went into their room and shut the door, and then my chum and me opened the front door and drove the goat out. The minister, who comes to see Ma every three times a week, was just ringing the bell and the goat thought he wanted to be nishiated too, and gave him one, for luck, and then went down the sidewalk, blatting, and sneezing, and the minister came in the parlor and said he was stabbed, and then Pa came out of his room with his suspenders hanging down, and he didn't know the minister was there, and he said cuss words, and Ma cried and told Pa he would go to hell sure, and Pa said he didn't care, he would kill that kussid goat afore he went, and I told Pa the minister was in the parlor, and he and Ma went down and said the weather was propitious for a revival, and it seemed as though an outpouring of the spirit was about to be vouchsafed to His people, and none of them sot down but Ma, cause the goat didn't hit her, and while they were talking relidgin, with their mouths, and kussin the goat inwardly, my chum and me adjourned the lodge, and I went and stayed with him all night, and I haven't been home since. But I don't believe Pa will lick me, cause he said he would not hold us responsible for the consequences. He ordered the goat hisself, and we filled the order, don't you see? Well, I guess I will go and sneak in the back way, and find out from the hired girl how the land lays. She won't go back on me, cause the goat was not loaded for hired girls. She just happened to get in at the wrong time. Good bye, sir, Remember and give your goat kyan pepper in your lodge."
As the boy went away, and skipped over the back fence, the grocery man said to his brother odd fellow,
"If that boy don't beat the devil then I never saw one that did. The old man ought to have him sent to a lunatic asylum."
HIS GIRL GOES BACK ON HIM—THE GROCERY MAN IS AFRAID—BUT THE BAD BOY IS A WRECK!—"MY GIRL, HAS SHOOK ME!"—THE BAD BOY'S HEART IS BROKEN—STILL HE ENJOYS A BIT OF FUN—COD- LIVER OIL ON THE PANCAKES—THE HIRED GIRLS MADE VICTIMS—THE BAD BOY VOWS VENGEANCE ON HIS GIRL AND THE TELEGRAPH MESSENGER.
"Now you git right away from here," said the grocery man to the bad boy, as he came in with a hungry look on his face, and a wild light in his eye. "I am afraid of you. I wouldn't be surprised to see you go off half cocked and blow us all up. I think you are a devil. You may have a billy goat, or a shot gun or a bottle of poison concealed about you. Condemn you, the police ought to muzzle you. You will kill somebody yet. Here take a handful of prunes and go off somewhere and enjoy yourself, and keep away from here," and the grocery man went on sorting potatoes, and watching the haggard face of the boy. "What ails you anyway?" he added, as the boy refused the prunes, and seemed to be sick to the stomach.
"O, I am a wreck," said the boy, as he grated his teeth, and looked wicked. "You see before you a shadow. I have drank of the sweets of life, and now only the dregs remain. I look back at the happiness of the past two weeks, during which I have been permitted to gaze into the fond blue eyes of my loved one, and carry her rubbers to school for her to wear home when it rained, to hear the sweet words that fell from her lips as she lovingly told me I was a terror, and as I think it is all over, and that I shall never again place my arm around her waist, I feel as if the world had been kicked off its base and was whirling through space, liable to be knocked into a cocked hat, and I don't care a darn. My girl has shook me."
"Sho! You don't say so," says the grocery man as he threw a rotten potato into a basket of good ones that were going to the orphan asylum. "Well, she showed sense. You would have blown her up, or broken her neck, or something. But don't feel bad. You will soon find another girl that will discount her, and you will forget this one."
"Never!" said the the boy, as he nibbled at a piece of codfish that he had picked off. "I shall never allow my affections to become entwined about another piece of calico. It unmans me, sir. Henceforth I am a hater of the whole girl race. From this out I shall harbor revenge in my heart, and no girl can cross my path and live. I want to grow up to become a he school ma'am, or a he milliner, or something, where I can. grind girls into the dust under the heel of a terrible despotism, and make them sue for mercy. To think that girl, on whom I have lavished my heart's best love and over thirty cents, in the past two weeks, could let the smell of a goat on my clothes come between us, and break off, an acquaintance that seemed to be the forerunner of a happy future, and say "ta-ta" to me, and go off to dancing school with a telegraph messenger boy who wears a sleeping car porter uniform, is too much, and my heart is broken. I will lay for that messenger some night, when he is delivering a message in our ward, and I will make him think lightning has struck the wire and run in on his bench. O, you don't know anything about the woe there is in this world. You never loved many people, did you?"
The grocery man admitted he never loved very hard, but he knew a little something about it from-an aunt of his, who got mashed on a Chicago drummer. "But your father must be having a rest while your whole mind is occupied with your love affair," said he.
"Yes," says the boy, with a vacant look, "I take no interest in the pleasure of the chase any more, though I did have a little quiet fun this morning at the breakfast table. You see Pa is the contrariest man ever was. If I complain that anything at the table don't taste good, Pa says it is all right. This morning I took the syrup pitcher and emptied out the white syrup and put in some cod liver oil that Ma is taking for her cough. I put some on my pancakes and pretended to taste of it, and I told Pa the syrup was sour and not fit to eat. Pa was mad in a second, and he poured out some on his pancakes, and said I was getting too confounded particular. He said the syrup was good enough for him, and he sopped his pancakes in it and fired some down his neck. He is a gaul durned hypocrite, that's what he is. I could see by his face that the cod liver oil was nearly killing him, but he said that syrup was all right, and if I didn't eat mine he would break my back, and by gosh, I had to eat it, and Pa said he guessed he hadn't got much appetite, and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut.
"I like to dide, and that is one thing, I think, that makes this disappointment in love harder to bear. But I felt sorry for Ma. Ma ain't got a very strong stummick, and when she got some of that cod liver oil in her mouth she went right up stairs, sicker'n a horse, and Pa had to help her, and she had noo-ralgia all the morning. I eat pickles to take the taste out of my mouth, and then I laid for the hired girls. They eat too much syrup, anyway, and when they got on to that cod liver oil, and swallowed a lot of it, one of them, a nirish girl, she got up from the table and put her hand on her corset, and said, "howly Jaysus," and went out in the kitchen, as pale as Ma is when she has powder on her face, and the other girl who is Dutch, she swallowed a pancake and said, "Mine Gott, vas de matter from me," and she went out and leaned on the coal bin, then they talked Irish and Dutch, and got clubs, and started to look for me, and I thought I would come over here.
"The whole family is sick, but it is not from love, like my illness, and they will get over it, while I shall fill an early grave, but not till I have made that girl and the telegraph messenger wish they were dead. Pa and I are going to Chicago next week, and I'll bet we'll have some fun. Pa says I need a change of air, and I think he is going to try and lose me. It's a cold day when I get left anywhere that I can't find my way back, Well, good bye, old rotten potatoes."
HE AND HIS PA IN CHICAGO—NOTHING LIKE TRAVELING TO GIVE TONE—LAUGHING IN THE WRONG PLACE—A DIABOLICAL PLOT—HIS PA ARRESTED AS A KIDNAPPER—THE NUMBERS ON THE DOORS CHANGED— THE WRONG ROOM—"NOTHIN THE MAZZER WITH ME, PET!"—THE TELL- TALE HAT.
"What is this I hear about your Pa's being arrested in Chicago," said the grocery man to the bad boy, as he came in with a can for kerosene and a jug for vinegar.
"Well, it was true, but the police let him go after they hit him a few licks and took him to the station," said the boy, as he got the vinegar into the kerosene can, and the kerosene in the jug. "You see, Pa and me went down there to stay over night, and have fun. Ma said she druther we would be away then not when they were cleaning house, and Pa thought it would do me good to travel, and sort of get tone, and he thought maybe I'd be better, and not play jokes, but I guess it is born in me. Do you know I actually think of mean things to do when I am in the most solemn places. They took me to a funeral once; and I got to thinking what a stampede there would be if the corpse would come to life and sit up in the coffin, and I snickered right out, and Pa took me out doors and kicked my pants. I don't think he orter kicked me for it, cause I didn't think of it a purpose. Such things have occurred, and I have read about them, and a poor boy ought to be allowed to think, hadn't he?"
"Yes, but what about his being arrested. Never mind the funeral," said the grocery man, as he took his knife and picked some of the lead out of the weights on the scales.
"We went down on the cars, and Pa had a headache, because he had been out all night electioneering for the prohibition ticket, and he was cross, and scolded me, and once he pulled my ear cause I asked him if he knew the girl he was winking at in a seat across the aisle. I didn't enjoy myself much, and some men were talking about kidnapping children, and it gave me an ijee, and just before I got to Chicago I went after a drink of water at the other end of the car, and I saw a man who looked as though he wouldn't stand any fooling, and I whispered to him and told him that the bald-headed man I was sitting with was taking me away from my home in Milwaukee, and I mistrusted he was going to make a thief or a pickpocket of me. I said 's-h-h-h,' and told him not to say anything or the man would maul me. Then I went back to the seat and asked Pa to buy me a gold watch, and he looked mad and cuffed me on the ear. The man that I whispered too got talking with some other men, and when we got off the cars at Chicago a policeman came up to Pa and took him by the neck and said, 'Mr. Kidnapper, I guess we will run you in.' Pa was mad and tried to jerk away, and the cop choked him, and another cop came along and helped, and the passengers crowded around and wanted to lynch Pa, and Pa wanted to know what they meant, and they asked him where he stole the kid, and he said I was his kid, and asked me if I wasn't, and I looked scarred, as though I was afraid to say no, and I said 'Y-e-s S-e-r, I guess so.' Then the police said the poor boy was scart, and they would take us both to the station, and they made Pa walk spry, and when he held back they jerked him along. He was offul mad and said he would make somebody smart for this, and I hoped it wouldn't be me. At the station they charged Pa with kidnapping a boy from Milwaukee, and he said it was a lie, and I was his boy, and I said of course I was, and the boss asked who told the cops Pa was a kidnapper, and they said 'damfino,' and then the boss told Pa he could go, but not to let it occur again, and Pa and me went away. I looked so sorry for Pa that he never tumbled to me, that I was to blame. We walked around town all day, and went to the stores, and at night Pa was offul tired, and he put me to bed in the tavern and he went out to walk around and get rested. I was not tired, and I walked all around the hotel. I thought Pa had gone to a theatre, and that made me mad, and I thought I would play a joke on him. Our room was 210 and the next was 212, and there was a old maid with a scotch terrier occupied 212. I saw her twice and she called me names, cause she thought I wanted to steal her dog. That made me mad at her, and so I took my jack knife and drew the tacks out of the tin thing that the numbers were painted on, and put the old maid's number on our door and our number on her door, and then I went to bed. I tried to keep awake, so as to help Pa if he had any difficulty, but I guess I got asleep, but woke up when the dog barked. If the dog had not woke me up, the woman's scream would, and if that hadn't, Pa would. You see, Pa came home from the theatre about 'leven, and he had been drinking. He says everybody drinks when they go to Chicago, even the minister. Pa looked at the numbers on the doors all along the hall till he found 210, and walked right in and pulled off his coat and threw it on the lounge where the dog was. The old maid was asleep, but the dog barked, and Pa said, 'That cussed boy has bought a dog.' and he kicked the dog, and then the old maid said, 'what is the matter pet?'"
"Pa laffed and said, 'Nothin the mazzer with me, pet,' and then you ought to have heard the yelling. The old maid covered her head and kicked and yelled, and the dog snarled and bit Pa on the pants, and Pa had his vest off and his suspenders unbuttoned, and he got scared and took his coat and vest and went out in the hall, and I opened our door and told Pa he was in the wrong room, and he said he guessed he knowed it, and he came in our room and I locked the door, and then the bell boy, and the porter, and the clerk came up to see what ailed the old maid, and she said a burglar got in the room, and they found Pa's hat on the lounge, and they took it and told her to be quiet and they would find the burglar. Pa was so scared that he sweat like everything, and the bed was offul warm, and he pretended to go to sleep, but he was wondering how he could get his hat back. In the morning I told him it would be hard work to explain it to Ma how he happened to get into the wrong room, and he said it wasn't necessary to say anything about it to Ma. Then he gave me five dollars to go out and buy him a new hat, and he said I might keep the change if I would not mention it when I got home, and I got him one for ten shillings, and we took the eight o'clock train in the morning and came home, and I spose the Chicago detectives are trying to fit Pa's hat onto a burglar. Pa seemed offully relieved when we got across the state line into Wisconsin. But you'd a dide to see him come out of that old lady's room with his coat and vest on his arm, and his suspenders hanging down, looking scart. He dassent lick me any more or I'll tell Ma where Pa left his hat."
HIS PA IS DISCOURAGED. "I AIN'T NO JONER!"—THE STORY OP THE ANCIENT PROPHET—THE SUNDAY SCHOOL FOLKS GO BACK ON THE BAD BOY—CAGED CATS—A COMMITTEE MEETING—A REMARKABLE CAT- ASTROPHE!—"THAT BOY BEATS HELL!"—BASTING THE BAD BOY—THE HOT-WATER-IN-THE SPONGE TRICK.
"Say, you leave here mighty quick," said the grocery man to the bad boy, as he came in, with his arm in a sling, and backed up againt the stove to get warm. "Everything has gone wrong since you got to coming here, and I think you are a regular Jonah. I find sand in my sugar, kerosene in the butter, the codfish is all picked off, and there is something wrong every time you come here. Now you leave."
"I aint no Joner," said the boy as he wiped his nose on his coat sleeve, and reached into a barrel for a snow apple. "I never swallered no whale. Say, do you believe that story about Joner being in the whale's belly, all night? I don't. The minister was telling about it at Sunday school last Sunday, and asked me what I thought Joner was doing while he was in there, and I told him I interpreted the story this way, that the whale was fixed up inside with upper and lower berths, like a sleeping car, and Joner had a lower berth, and the porter made up the berth as soon as Joner came in with his satchel, and Joner pulled off his boots and gave them to the porter to black, and put his watch under the pillow and turned in. The boys in Sunday school all laffed, and the minister said I was a bigger fool than Pa was, and that was useless. If you go back on me, now, I won't have a friend, except my chum and a dog, and I swear, by my halidom, that I never put no sand in your sugar, or kerosene in your butter. I admit the picking off of the codfish, but you can charge it to Pa, the same as you did the eggs that I pushed my chum over into last summer, though I thought you did wrong in charging Christmas prices for dog days' eggs. When my chum's Ma scraped his pants she said there was not an egg represented on there that was less than two years old. The Sunday school folks have all gone back on me, since I put kyan pepper on the stove, when they were singing 'Little Drops of Water,' and they all had to go out doors and air themselves, but I didn't mean to let the pepper drop on the stove. I was just holding it over the stove to warm it, when my chum hit the funny bone of my elbow. Pa says I am a terror to cats. Every time Pa says anything, it gives me a new idea. I tell you Pa has got a great brain, but sometimes he don't have it with him. When he said I was a terror to cats I thought what fun there is in cats, and me and my chum went to stealing cats right off, and before night we had eleven cats caged. We had one in a canary bird cage, three in Pa's old hat boxes, three in Ma's band box, four in valises, two in a trunk, and the rest in a closet up stairs."
"That night Pa said he wanted me to stay home because the committee that is going to get up a noyster supper in the church was going to meet at our house, and they might want to send me on errands. I asked him if my chum couldn't stay too, 'cause he is the healthiest infant to run after errands that ever was, and Pa said he could stay, but we must remember that there musn't be no monkey business going on. I told him there shouldn't be no monkey business, but I didn't promise nothing about cats. Well, sir, you'd a dide. The committee was in the library by the back stairs, and me and my chum got the cat boxes all together, at the top of the stairs, and we took them all out and put them in a clothes basket, and just as the minister was speaking, and telling what a great good was done by these oyster sociables, in bringing the young people together, and taking their minds from the wickedness of the world, and turning their thoughts into different channels, one of the old torn cats in the basket gave a 'purmeow' that sounded like the wail of a lost soul, or a challenge to battle, I told my chum that we couldn't hold the bread-board over the clothes basket much longer, when two or three cats began to yowl, and the minister stopped talking and Pa told Ma to open the stair door and tell the hired girl to see what was the matter up there. She thought our cat had got shut up in the storm door, and she opened the stair door to yell to the girl, and then I pushed the clothes basket, cats and all down the back stairs. Well, sir, I suppose no committee for a noyster supper, was ever more astonished. I heard ma fall over a willow rocking chair, and say, 'scat,' and I heard Pa say, 'well, I'm dam'd,' and a girl that sings in the choir say, 'Heavens, I am stabbed,' then my chum and me ran to the front of the house and come down the front stairs looking as innocent as could be, and we went in the library, and I was just going to tell Pa if there was any errands he wanted run my chum and me was just aching to run them, when a yellow cat without any tail was walking over the minister, and Pa was throwing a hassock at two cats that were clawing each other under the piano, and Ma was trying to get her frizzes back on her head, and the choir girl was standing on the lounge with her dress pulled up, trying to scare cats with her striped stockings, and the minister was holding his hands up, and I guess he was asking a blessing on the cats, and my chum opened the front door and all the cats went out. Pa and Ma looked at me and I said it wasn't me, and the minister wanted to know how so much cat hair got on my coat and vest, and I said a cat met me in the hall and kicked me, and Ma cried, and Pa said that boy beats hell, and the minister said I would be all right if I had been properly brought up, and then Ma was mad, and the committee broke up. Well, to tell the honest truth Pa basted me, and yanked me around until I had to have my arm in a sling, but what's the use of making such a fuss about a few cats. Ma said she never wanted to have my company again, cause I spoiled everything. But I got even with Pa for basting me, this morning, and I dassent go home. You see Ma has got a great big bath sponge as big as a chair cushion, and this morning I took the sponge and filled it with warm water, and took the feather cushion out of the chair Pa sits in at the table, and put the sponge in its place, and covered it over with the cushion cover, and when we all got set down to the table Pa came in and sat down on it to ask a blessing. He started in by closing his eyes and placing his hands up in front of him like a letter V, and then he began to ask that the food we were about to partake off be blessed, and then he was going on to ask that 'all of us be made to see the error of our ways, when he began to hitch around, and he opened one eye and looked at me, and I looked as pious as a boy can look when he knows the pancakes are getting cold, and Pa he kind of sighed and said 'Amen' sort of snappish, and he got up and told Ma he didn't feel well, and she would have to take his place and pass around the sassidge and potatoes, and he looked kind of scart and went out with his hand on his pistol pocket, as though he would like to shoot, and Ma she got up and went around and sat in Pa's chair. The sponge didn't hold more than half a pail full of water, and I didn't want to play no joke on Ma, cause the cats nearly broke her up, but she sat down and was just going to help me, when she rung the bell and called the hired girl, and said she felt as though her neuralgia was coming on, and she would go to her room, and told the girl to sit down and help Hennery. The girl sat down and poured me out some coffee, and then she said. 'Howly Saint Patrick, but I blave those pancakes are burning,' and she went out in the kitchen. I drank my coffee, and then took the big sponge out of the chair and put the cushion in the place of it, and then I put the sponge in the bath room, and I went up to Pa and Ma's room, and asked them if I should go after the doctor, and Pa had changed his clothes and got on his Sunday pants, and he said, 'never mind the doctor, I guess we will pull through,' and for me to get out and go to the devil, and I came over here. Say, there is no harm in a little warm water, is there? Well, I'd like to know what Pa and Ma and the hired girl thought. I am the only real healthy one there is in our family."
HE BECOMES A DRUGGIST—"I HAVE GONE INTO BUSINESS!"—A NEW ROSE GERANIUM PERFUME—THE BAD BOY IN A DRUGGIST'S STORE— PRACTICING ON HIS PA—AN EXPLOSION—THE SEIDLETZ POWDER—HIS PA'S FREQUENT PAINS—POUNDING INDIA-RUBBER—CURING A WART.
"Whew! What is that smells so about this store? It seems as though everything had turned frowy," said the grocery man to his clerk, in the presence of the bad boy, who was standing with his back to the stove, his coat tails parted with his hands, and a cigarette in his mouth.
"May be it is me that smells frowy," said the boy as he put his thumbs in the armholes of his vest, and spit at the keyhole in the door. "I have gone into business."
"By thunder, I believe it is you," said the grocery man, as he went up to the boy, snuffed a couple of times, and then held his hand to his nose. "The board of health will kerosene you, if they ever smell that smell, and send you to the glue factory. What business you gone into to make you smell so rank?"
"Well, you see Pa began to think it was time I learned a trade, or a perfession, and he saw a sign in a drug store window, 'boy wanted,' and as he had a boy he didn't want, he went to the druggist and got a job for me. This smell on me will go off in a few weeks. You know I wanted to try all the perfumery in the store, and after I had got about forty different extracts on my clothes, another boy that worked there he fixed up a bottle of benzine and assafety and brimstone, and a whole lot of other horrid stuff, and labeled it 'rose geranium,' and I guess I just wallered in it. It is awful, aint it? It kerflummixed Ma when I went into the dining-room the first night that I got home from the store, and broke Pa all up, He said I reminded him of the time that they had a litter of skunks under the barn. The air seemed fixed around where I am, and everybody seems to know who fixed it. A girl came in the store yesterday to buy a satchet, and there wasn't anybody there but me, and I didn't know what it was, and I took down everything in the store pretty near, before I found it, and then I wouldn't have found it only the proprietor came in. The girl asked the proprietor if there wasn't a good deal of sewer-gas in the store, and he told me to go out and shake myself. I think the girl was mad at me because I got a nursing bottle out of the show case, with a rubber muzzle, and asked her if that was what she wanted. Well, she told me a satchet was something for the stummick, and I thought a nursing bottle was the nearest thing to it."
"I should think you would drive all the customers away from the store," said the grocery man, as he opened the door to let the fresh air in.
"I don't know but I will, but I am hired for a month on trial, and I shall stay. You see, I shan't practice on anybody but Pa for a spell. I made up my mind to that when I gave a woman some salts instead of powdered borax, and she came back mad. Pa seems to want to encourage me, and is willing to take anything that I ask him to, He had a sore throat and wanted something for it, and the boss drugger told me to put some tannin and chlorate of potash in a mortar, and grind it, and I let Pa pound it with the mortar, and while he was pounding I dropped in a couple of drops of sulphuric acid, and it exploded and blowed Pa's hat clear across the store, and Pa was whiter than a sheet. He said he guessed his throat was all right, and he wouldn't come near me again that day. The next day Pa came in and I was laying for him. I took a white seidletz powder and a blue one, and dissolved them in separate glasses, and when Pa came in I asked him if he didn't want some lemonade, and he said he did, and I gave him the sour one and he drank it. He said it was too sour, and then I gave him the other glass, that looked like water, to take the taste out of his mouth, and he drank it. Well, sir, when those two powders got together in Pa's stummick, and began to siz and steam, and foam, Pa pretty near choked to death, and the suds came out of his nostrils, and his eyes stuck out, and as soon as he could get his breath he yelled 'fire,' and said he was poisoned, and called for a doctor, but I thought as long as we had a doctor right in the family there was no use of hiring one, so I got a stomach pump, and I would have had him baled out in no time, only the proprietor came in and told me to go and wash some bottles, and he gave Pa a drink of brandy, and Pa said he felt better."
"Pa has learned where we keep the liquor, and he comes in two or three times a day with a pain in his stomach. They play awful mean tricks on a boy in a drug store. The first day they put a chunk of something sort of blue into a mortar, and told me to pulverize it, and then made it up into two grain pills. Well, sir, I pounded that chunk all the forenoon, and it never pulverized at all, and the boss told me to hurry up, as the woman was waiting for the pills, and I mauled it till I was nearly dead, and when it was time to go to supper the boss came and looked in the mortar, and took out the chunk, and said, 'You dum fool, you have been pounding all day on a chunk of India rubber, instead of blue mass!' Well, how did I know? But I will get even with them if I stay there long enough, and don't you forget it. If you have a prescription you want filled you can come down to the store and I will put it up for you myself, and then you will be sure you get what you pay for.
"Yes, said the grocery man, as he cut off a piece of limberg cheese and put on the stove, to purify the air in the room, "I should laugh to see myself taking any medicine you put up. You will kill some one yet, by giving them poison instead of quinine. But what has your Pa got his nose tied up for? He looks as though he had had a fight."
"O, that was from my treatment. He had a wart on his nose. You know that wart. You remember how the minister told him if other peoples business had a button-hole in it, Pa could button the wart in the button-hole, as he always had his nose there. Well, I told Pa I could cure that wart with caustic, and he said he would give five dollars if I could cure it, so I took a stick of caustic and burned the wart off, but I guess I burned down into the nose a little, for it swelled up as big as a lobster. Pa says he would rather have a whole nest of warts than such a nose, but it will be all right in a year or two."
HE QUITS THE DRUG BUSINESS. HE HAS DISSOLVED WITH THE DRUGGER—THE OLD LADY AND THE GIN—THE BAD BOY IGNOMINIOUSLY FIRED—HOW HE DOSED HIS PA's BRANDY—THE BAD BOY AS "HAWTY AS A DOOK"—HE GETS EVEN WITH HIS GIRL—THE BAD BOY WANTS A QUIET PLACE—THE OLD MAN THREATENS THE PARSON.
"What are you loafing around here for," says the grocery man to the bad boy one day this week. "It is after nine o'clock, and I should think you would want to be down to the drug store. How do you know but there may be somebody dying for a dose of pills?"
"O, darn the drug store. I have got sick of that business, and I have dissolved with the drugger. I have resigned. The policy of the store did not meet with my approval, and I have stepped out and am waiting for them to come and tender me a better position at an increased salary," said the boy, as he threw a cigar stub into a barrel of prunes and lit a fresh one.
"Resigned, eh?" said the grocery man as he fished out the cigar stub and charged the boy's father with two pounds of prunes, "didn't you and the boss agree?"
"Not exactly, I gave an old lady some gin when she asked for camphor and water, and she made a show of herself. I thought I would fool her, but she knew mighty well what it was, and she drank about half a pint of gin, and got to tipping over bottles and kegs of paint, and when the drug man came in with his wife, the old woman threw her arms around his neck and called him her darling, and when he pushed her away, and told her she was drunk, she picked up a bottle of citrate of magnesia and pointed it at him, and the cork came out like a pistol, and he thought he was shot, and his wife fainted away, and the police came and took the old gin refrigerator away, and then the drug man told me to face the door, and when I wasn't looking he kicked me four times, and I landed in the street, and he said if I ever came in sight of the store again he would kill me dead. That is the way I resigned. I tell you, they will send for me again. They never can run that store without me.
"I guess they will worry along without you," said the grocery man. "How does your Pa take your being fired out? I should think it would brake him all up."
"O, I think Pa rather likes it. At first he thought he had a soft snap with me in the drug store, cause he has got to drinking again, like a fish, and he has gone back on the church entirely; but after I had put a few things in his brandy he concluded it was cheaper to buy it, and he is now patronizing a barrel house down by the river.
"One day I put some Castile soap in a drink of brandy, and Pa leaned over the back fence more than an hour, with his finger down his throat. The man that collects the ashes from the alley asked Pa if he had lost anything, and Pa said he was only 'sugaring off.' I don't know what that is. When Pa felt better he came in and wanted a little whiskey to take the taste out of his mouth, and I gave him some, with about a teaspoonful of pulverized alum in it. Well, sir, you'd a dide. Pa's mouth and throat was so puckered up that he couldn't talk. I don't think that drugman will make anything by firing me out, because I shall turn all the trade that I control to another store. Why, sir, sometimes there were eight and nine girls in the store all at wonct, on account of my being there. They came to have me put extracts on their handkerchiefs, and to eat gum drops—he will lose all that trade now. My girl that went back on me for the telegraph messenger boy, she came with the rest of the girls, but she found, that I could be as 'hawty as a dook.' I got even with her, though. I pretended I wasn't mad, and when she wanted me to put some perfumery op her handkerchief I said all right, and I put on a little geranium and white rose, and then I got some tincture of assafety, and sprinkled it on her dress and cloak when she went out. That is about the worst smelling stuff that ever was, and I was glad when she went out and met the telgraph boy on the corner. They went off together; but he came back pretty soon, about the homesickest boy you ever saw, and he told my chum he would never go with that girl again because she smelled like spoiled oysters or sewer gas. Her folks noticed it, and made her go and wash her feet and soak herself, and her brother told my chum it didn't do any good, she smelled just like a glue factory, and my chum—the darn fool—told her brother that it was me who perfumed her, and he hit me in the eye with a frozen fish, down by the fish store, and that's what made my eye black; but I know how to cure a black eye. I have not been in a drug store eight days, and not know how to cure a black eye; and I guess I learned that girl not to go back on a boy 'cause he smelled like a goat.
"Well, what was it about your leaving the wrong medicine at houses? The policeman in this ward told me you come pretty near killing several people by leaving the wrong medicine."
"The way of it was this. There was about a dozen different kinds of medicine to leave at different places, and I was in a hurry to go to the roller skating rink, so I got my chum to help me, and we just took the numbers of the houses, and when we rung the bell we would hand out the first package we come to, and I understand there was a good deal of complaint. One old maid who ordered powder for her face, her ticket drew some worm lozengers, and she kicked awfully, and a widow who was going to be married, she ordered a celluloid comb and brush, and she got a nursing bottle with a rubber nozzle, and a toothing ring, and she made quite a fuss; but the woman who was weaning her baby and wanted the nursing bottle, she got the comb and brush and some blue pills, and she never made any fuss at all. It makes a good deal of difference, I notice, whether a person gets a better thing than they ordered or not. But the drug business is too lively for me. I have got to have a quiet place, and I guess I will be a cash boy in a store. Pa says he thinks I was cut out for a bunko steerer, and I may look for that kind of a job. Pa he is a terror since he got to drinking again. He came home the other day, when the minister was calling on Ma, and just cause the minister was sitting on the sofa with Ma, and had his hand on her shoulder, where she said the pain was when the rheumatiz came on, Pa was mad and told the minister he would kick his liver clear around on the other side if he caught him there again, and Ma felt awful about it. After the minister had gone away, Ma told Pa he had got no feeling at all, and Pa said he had got enough feeling for one family, and he didn't want no sky-sharp to help him. He said he could cure all the rheumatiz there was around his house, and then he went down town and didn't get home till most breakfast time. Ma says she thinks I am responsible for Pa's falling into bad ways again, and now I am going to cure him. You watch me, and see if I don't have Pa in the church in less than a week, praying and singing, and going home with the choir singers, just as pious as ever. I am going to get a boy that writes a woman's hand to write to Pa, and—but I must not give it away. But you just watch Pa, that's all. Well, I must go and saw some wood. It is coming down a good deal, from a drug clerk to sawing wood, but I will get on top yet, and don't you forget it."
HIS PA KILLS HIM—A GENIUS AT WHISTLING—A FUR-LINED CLOAK A SURE CURE FOR CONSUMPTION—ANOTHER LETTER SENT TO THE OLD MAN—HE RESOLVES ON IMMEDIATE PUNISHMENT—THE BLADDER-BUFFER THE EXPLOSION—A TRAGIC SCENE—HIS PA VOWS TO REFORM.
"For heaven's sake dry up that whistling," said the grocery man to the bad boy, as he sat on a bag of peanuts, whistling and filling his pockets. "There is no sense in such whistling. What do you whistle for, anyway?"
"I am practicing my profession," said the boy, as he got up and stretched himself, and cut off a slice of cheese, and took a few crackers. "I have always been a good whistler, and I have decided to turn my talent to account. I am going to hire an office and put out a sign, 'Boy furnished to whistle for lost dogs.' You see there are dogs lost every day, and any man would give half a dollar to a boy to find his dog. I can hire out to whistle for dogs, and can go around whistling and enjoying myself, and make money, Don't you think it is a good scheme?" asked the boy of the grocery man.
"Naw," said the grocery man, as he charged the cheese to the boy's father, and picked up his cigar stub, which he had left on the counter, and which the boy had rubbed on the kerosene barrel, "No, sir, that whistle would scare any dog that heard it. Say, what was your Pa running after the doctor in his shirt sleeves for last Sunday morning? He looked scared. Was your Ma sick again?"
"O, no, Ma is healthy enough, now she has got a new fur lined cloak. She played consumption on Pa, and coughed so she liked to raise her lights and liver, and made Pa believe she couldn't live, and got the doctor to prescribe a fur lined circular, and Pa went and got one, and Ma has improved awfully. Her cough is all gone, and she can walk ten miles. I was the one that was sick. You see, I wanted to get Pa into the church again, and get him to stop drinking, so I got a boy to write a letter to him, in a female hand, and sign the name of a choir singer Pa was mashed on, and tell him she was yearning for him to come back to the church, and that the church seemed a blank without his smiling face, and benevolent heart, and to please come back for her sake. Pa got the letters Saturday night and he seemed tickled, but I guess he dreamed about it all night, and Sunday morning he was mad, and he took me by the ear and said I couldn't come no 'Daisy' business on him the second time. He said he knew I wrote the letter, and for me to go up to the store room and prepare for the almightiest licking a boy ever had, and he went down stairs and broke up an apple barrel and got a stave to whip me with. Well, I had to think mighty quick, but I was enough for him. I got a dried bladder in my room, one that me and my chum got to the slotter house, and blowed it partly up, so it would be sort of flat-like, and I put it down inside the back part of my pants, right about where Pa hits when he punishes me. I knowed when the barrel stave hit the bladder it would explode. Well, Pa he came up and found me crying. I can cry just as easy as you can turn on the water at a faucet, and Pa took off his coat and looked sorry. I was afraid he would give up whipping me when he see me cry, and I wanted the bladder experiment to go on, so I looked kind of hard, as if I was defying him to do his worst, and then he took me by the neck and laid me across a trunk. I didn't dare struggle much for fear the bladder would loose itself, and Pa said, 'Now Hennery, I am going to break you of this damfoolishness, or I will break your back,' and he spit on his hands and brought the barrel stave down on my best pants. Well, you'd a dide if you had heard the explosion. It almost knocked me off the trunk. It sounded like firing a firecracker away down cellar in a barrel, and Pa looked scared. I rolled off the trunk, on the floor, and put some flour on my face, to make me look pale, and then I kind of kicked my legs like a fellow who is dying on the stage, after being stabbed with a piece of lath, and groaned, and said, 'Pa you have killed me, but I forgive you,' and then rolled around, and frothed at the mouth, cause I had a piece of soap in my mouth to make foam. Well, Pa, was all broke up. He said, 'Great God, what have I done? I have broke his spinal column. O, my poor boy, do not die?' I kept chewing the soap and foaming at the mouth, and I drew my legs up and kicked them out, and clutched my hair, and rolled my eyes, and then kicked Pa in the stummick as he bent over me, and knocked his breath out of him, and then my limbs began to get rigid, and I said, 'Too late, Pa, I die at the hand of an assassin. Go for a doctor.'"
"Pa throwed his coat over me, and started down stairs on a run, 'I have murdered my brave boy,' and he told Ma to go up stairs and stay with me, cause I had fallen off a trunk and ruptured a blood vessel, and he went after a doctor. When he went out the front door, I sat up and lit a cigarette, and Ma came up and I told her all about how I fooled Pa, and if she would take on and cry, when Pa got back, I would get him to go to church again, and swear off drinking and she said she would.
"So when Pa and the doc. came back, Ma was sitting on a velocipede I used to ride, which was in the store-room, and she had her apron over her face, and she just more than bellowed. Pa he was pale, and he told the doc. he was just a playing with me with a little piece of board, and he heard something crack, and he guessed my spine got broke falling off the trunk. The doctor wanted to feel where my spine was broke, but I opened my eyes and had a vacant kind of stare, like a woman who leads a dog by a string, and looked as though my mind was wandering, and I told the doctor there was no use setting my spine, as it was broke in several places, and I wouldn't let him feel of the dried bladder. I told Pa I was going to die, and I wanted him to promise me two things on my dying bed. He cried and said he would, and I told him to promise me he would quit drinking, and attend church regular, and he said he would never drink another drop, and would go to church every Sunday. I made him get down on his knees beside me and swear it, and the doc. witnessed it, and Ma said she was so glad, and Ma called the doctor out in in the hall and told him the joke, and the doc. came in and told Pa he was afraid Pa's presence would excite the patient, and for him to put on his coat and go out and walk around the block, or go to church, and Ma and he would remove me to another room, and do all that was possible to make my last hours pleasant. Pa he cried, and said he would put on his plug hat and go to church, and he kissed me, and got flour on his nose, and I came near laughing right out, to see the white flour on his red nose, when I thought how the people in church would laugh at Pa. But he went out feeling mighty bad, and then I got up and pulled the bladder out of my pants, and Ma and the doc. laughed awful. When Pa got back from church and asked for me, Ma said that I had gone down town. She said the doctor found my spine was only uncoupled and he coupled it together, and I was all right. Pa said it was 'almighty strange, cause I heard the spine break, when I struck him with the barrel stave.' Pa was nervous all the afternoon, and Ma thinks he suspects that we played it on him. Say, you don't think there is any harm in playing it on an old man a little for a good cause, do you?"
The grocery man said he supposed, in the interest of reform it was all right, but if it was his boy that played such tricks he would take an ax to him, and the boy went out, apparently encouraged, saying he hadn't seen the old man since the day before, and he was almost afraid to meet him.
HIS PA MORTIFIED—SEARCHING FOR SEWER GAS—THE POWERFUL ODOR OF LIMBERGER CHEESE AT CHURCH—THE AFTER MEETING—FUMIGATING THE HOUSE—THE BAD BOY RESOLVES TO BOARD AT AN HOTEL.
"What was the health officer doing over to your house this morning?" said the grocery man to the bad boy, as the youth was firing frozen potatoes at the man who collects garbage in the alley.
"O, they are searching for sewer gas and such things, and they have got plumbers and other society experts till you can't rest, and I came away for fear they would find the sewer gas and warm my jacket. Say, do you think it is right, when anything smells awfully, to always lay it to a boy?"
"Well, in nine cases out of ten they would hit it right, but what do you think is the trouble over to your house, honest?"
"S-h-h! Now don't breathe a word of it to a living soul, or I am a dead boy. You see I was over to the dairy fair at the exposition building Saturday night, and when they were breaking up, me and my chum helped to carry boxes of cheese and firkins of butter, and a cheese-man gave each of us a piece of limberger cheese, wrapped up in tin foil. Sunday morning I opened my piece, and it made me tired. O, it was the offulest smell I ever heard of, except the smell when they found a tramp who hung himself in the woods on the Whitefish Bay road, and had been dead three weeks. It was just like a old back number funeral. Pa and Ma were just getting ready to go to church, and I cut off a piece of cheese and put it in the inside pocket of Pa's vest, and I put another in the lining of Ma's muff, and they went to church. I went down to church, too, and sat on a back seat with my chum, looking just as pious as though I was taking up a collection. The church was pretty warm, and by the time they got up to sing the first hymn Pa's cheese began to smell a match against Ma's cheese."
"Pa held one side of the hymn book and Ma held the other, and Pa he always sings for all that is out, and when he braced himself and sang "Just as I am," Ma thought Pa's voice was tinctured a little with biliousness and she looked at him, and hunched him and told him to stop singing and breathe through his nose, cause his breath was enough to stop a clock. Pa stopped singing and turned around kind of cross towards Ma, and then he smelled Ma's cheese, and He turned his head the other way and said, 'whew,' and they didn't sing any more, but they looked at each other as though they smelled frowy. When they sat down they sat as far apart as they could get, and Pa sat next to a woman who used to be a nurse in a hospital, and when she smelled Pa's cheese she looked at him as though she thought he had the small pox, and she held her handkerchief to her nose. The man in the other end of the pew, that Ma sat near, he was a stranger from Racine, who belongs to our church, and he looked at Ma sort of queer, and after the minister prayed, and they got up to sing again, the man took his hat and went out, and when he came by me he said something in a whisper about a female glue factory.
"Well, sir, before the sermon was over everybody in that part of the church had their handkerchiefs to their noses, and they looked at Pa and Ma scandalous, and the two ushers they come around in the pews looking for a dog, and when the minister got over his sermon, and wiped the perspiration off his face, he said he would like to have the trustees of the church stay after meeting, as there was some business of importance to transact. He said the question of proper ventilation and sewerage for the church would be brought up, and that he presumed the congregation had noticed this morning that the church was unusually full of sewer gas. He said he had spoken of the matter before, and expected it would be attended to before this. He said he was a meek and humble follower of the lamb, and was willing to cast his lot wherever the Master decided, but he would be blessed if he would preach any longer in a church that smelled like a bone boiling establishment. He said religion was a good thing, but no person could enjoy religion as well in a fat rending establishment as he could in a flower garden, and as far as he was concerned he had got enough. Everybody looked at everybody else, and Pa looked at Ma as though he knew where the sewer gas came from, and Ma looked at Pa real mad, and me and my chum lit out, and I went home and distributed my cheese all around. I put a slice in Ma's bureau drawer, down under her underclothes, and a piece in the spare room, under the bed, and a piece in the bath-room, in the soap dish, and a slice in the album on the parlor table, and a piece in the library in a book, and I went to the dining room and put some under the table, and dropped a piece under the range in the kitchen. I tell you the house was loaded for bear. Ma came home from church first, and when I asked where Pa was, she said she hoped he had gone to walk around a block to air hisself. Pa came home to dinner, and when he got a smell of the house he opened all the doors, and Ma put a comfortable around her shoulders and told Pa he was a disgrace to civilization. She tried to get Pa to drink some carbolic acid. Pa finally convinced Ma it was not him, and then they decided it was the house that smelled so, as well as the church, and all Sunday afternoon they went visiting, and this morning Pa went down to the health office and got the inspector of nuisances to come up to the house, and when he smelled around a spell he said there was dead rats in the main sewer pipe, and they sent for plumbers, and Ma went out to a neighbors to borry some fresh air, and when the plumbers began to dig up the floor in the basement I came over here. If they find any of that limberg cheese it will go hard with me. The hired girls have both quit, and Ma says she is going to break up keeping house and board. That is just into my hand, I want to board at a hotel, where you can have a bill-of-fare and tooth picks, and billiards, and everything. Well I guess I will go over to the house and stand in the back door and listen to the mocking bird. If you see me come flying out of the alley with my coat tail full of boots you can bet they have discovered the sewer gas."
HIS PA BROKE UP—THE BAD BOY DON'T THINK THE GROCER FIT FOH HEAVEN—HE IS VERY SEVERE ON HIS OLD FRIEND—THE NEED OF A NEW REVISED EDITION—THE BAD BOY TURNS REVISER—HIS PA REACHES FOR THE POKER—A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE—THE SLED SLEWED!—HIS PA UNDER THE MULES.
"Well, I guess I will go to hell. I will see you later," said the bad boy to the grocery man, as he held a cracker under the faucet of the syrup keg, and then sat down on a soap box by the stove and proceeded to make a lunch, while the grocery man charged the boy's father with a gallon of syrup and a pound of crackers.
"What do you mean, you profane wretch, talking about meeting me later in Hades," said the indignant grocery man. "I expect to pass by the hot place where you are sizzling, and go to the realms of bliss, where there is one continued round of hap-hiness, and angels playing on golden harps, and singing hymns of praise."
"Why, Pa says I will surely go to hell, and I thought you would probably be there, as it costs something to get to heaven, and you can get to the other place for nothing. Say, you would be a healthy delegate to go to heaven, with a lot of girl angels, wouldn't you, smelling of frowy butter, as you always do, and kerosene, and herring, and bar soap, and cheese, and rotten potatoes. Say, an angel wouldn't stay on the same golden street with you, without holding her handkerchief to her nose, and you couldn't get in there, anyway, cause you would want to pay your entrance fee out of the store.