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The man of the house finally took all the disabled umbrellas to the repairer's. Next morning on his way to his office, when he got up to leave the street car, he absentmindedly laid hold of the umbrella belonging to a woman beside him, for he was in the habit of carrying one. The woman cried "Stop thief!" rescued her umbrella and covered the man with shame and confusion.
That same day, he stopped at the repairer's, and received all eight of his umbrellas duly restored. As he entered a street car, with the unwrapped umbrellas tucked under his arm, he was horrified to behold glaring at him the lady of his morning adventure. Her voice came to him charged with a withering scorn:
"Huh! Had a good day, didn't you!"
* * *
The absentminded inventor perfected a parachute device. He was taken up in a balloon to make a test of the apparatus. Arrived at a height of a thousand feet, he climbed over the edge of the basket, and dropped out. He had fallen two hundred yards when he remarked to himself, in a tone of deep regret:
"Dear me! I've gone and forgotten my umbrella."
* * *
The professor, who was famous for the wool-gathering of his wits, returned home, and had his ring at the door answered by a new maid. The girl looked at him inquiringly:
"Um—ah—is Professor Johnson at home?" he asked, naming himself.
"No, sir," the maid replied, "but he is expected any moment now."
The professor turned away, the girl closed the door. Then the poor man sat down on the steps to wait for himself.
* * *
The clergyman, absorbed in thinking out a sermon, rounded a turn in the path and bumped into a cow. He swept off his hat with a flourish, exclaiming:
"I beg your pardon, madam."
Then he observed his error, and was greatly chagrined. Soon, however, again engaged with thoughts of the sermon, he collided with a lady at another bend of the path.
"Get out of the way, you brute!" he said.
* * *
The most absent-minded of clergymen was a Methodist minister who served several churches each Sunday, riding from one to another on horseback. One Sunday morning he went to the stable while still meditating on his sermon and attempted to saddle the horse. After a long period of toil, he aroused to the fact that he had put the saddle on himself, and had spent a full half hour in vain efforts to climb on his own back.
The Scotchman who ran a livery was asked by a tourist as to how many the carryall would hold.
"Fower generally," was the answer. "Likely sax, if they're weel aquaint."
The tragedian had just signed a contract to tour South Africa. He told a friend of it at the club. The friend shook his head dismally.
"The ostrich," he explained in a pitying tone, "lays an egg weighing anywhere from two to four pounds."
The editor of the local paper was unable to secure advertising from one of the business men of the town, who asserted stoutly that he himself never read ads., and didn't believe anyone else did.
"Will you advertise if I can convince you that folks read the ads.?" the editor asked.
"If you can show me!" was the sarcastic answer. "But you can't."
In the next issue of the paper, the editor ran a line of small type in an obscure corner. It read:
"What is Jenkins going to do about it?"
The business man, Jenkins, hastened to seek out the editor next day. He admitted that he was being pestered out of his wits by the curious. He agreed to stand by the editor's explanation in the forthcoming issue, and this was:
"Jenkins is going to advertise, of course."
Having once advertised, Jenkins advertises still.
There are as many aspects of grief as there are persons to mourn. A quality of pathetic and rather grisly humor is to be found in the incident of an English laborer, whose little son died. The vicar on calling to condole with the parents found the father pacing to and fro in the living-room with the tiny body in his arms. As the clergyman spoke phrases of sympathy, the father, with tears streaming down his cheeks, interrupted loudly:
"Oh, sir, you don't know how I loved that li'll faller. Yus, sir, if it worn't agin the law, I'd keep him, an' have him stuffed, that I would!"
The woman confessed to her crony:
"I'm growing old, and I know it. Nowadays, the policeman never takes me by the arm when he escorts me through the traffic."
The mother called in vain for her young son. Then she searched the ground floor, the first story, the second, and the attic—all in vain. Finally, she climbed to the trap door in the roof, pushed it open, and cried:
"John Henry, are you out there?"
An answer came clearly:
"No, mother. Have you looked in the cellar?"
The nurse at the front regarded the wounded soldier with a puzzled frown.
"Your face is perfectly familiar to me," she said, musingly. "But I can't quite place you somehow."
"Let bygones be bygones, mum," the soldier said weakly. "Yes, mum, I was a policeman."
The little boy, sent to the butcher shop, delivered himself of his message in these words:
"Ma says to send her another ox-tail, please, an' ma says the last one was very nice, an' ma says she wants another off the same ox!"
Little Willie came home in a sad state. He had a black eye and numerous scratches and contusions, and his clothes were a sight. His mother was horrified at the spectacle presented by her darling. There were tears in her eyes as she addressed him rebukingly:
"Oh, Willie, Willie! How often have I told you not to play with that naughty Peck boy!"
Little Willie regarded his mother with an expression of deepest disgust.
"Say, ma," he objected, "do I look as if I had been playing with anybody?"
The cross-eyed man at the ball bowed with courtly grace, and said:
"May I have the pleasure of this dance?"
Two wallflowers answered as with one voice:
The young man applied to the manager of the entertainment museum for employment as a freak, and the following dialogue occurred:
"Who are you?"
"I am Enoch, the egg king."
"What is your specialty?"
"I eat three dozen hen's eggs, two dozen duck eggs, and one dozen goose eggs, at a single setting."
"Do you know our program?"
"What is it?"
"We give four shows every day."
"Oh, yes, I understand that."
"And do you think you can do it?"
"I know I can."
"On Saturdays we give six shows."
"On holidays we usually give a performance every hour."
And now, at last, the young man showed signs of doubt.
"In that case, I must have one thing understood before I'd be willing to sign a contract."
"No matter what the rush of business is in the show, you've got to give me time to go to the hotel to eat my regular meals."
* * *
Daniel Webster was the guest at dinner of a solicitous hostess who insisted rather annoyingly that he was eating nothing at all, that he had no appetite, that he was not making out a meal. Finally, Webster wearied of her hospitable chatter, and addressed her in his most ponderous senatorial manner:
"Madam, permit me to assure you that I sometimes eat more than at other times, but never less."
* * *
It was shortly after Thanksgiving Day that someone asked the little boy to define the word appetite. His reply was prompt and enthusiastic:
"When you're eating you're 'appy; and when you get through you're tight—that's appetite!"
The distinguished actor had a large photograph of Wordsworth prominently displayed in his dressing-room. A friend regarded the picture with some surprise, and remarked:
"I see you are an admirer of Wordsworth."
"Who's Wordsworth?" demanded the actor.
"Why, that's his picture," was the answer, as the friend pointed. "That's Wordsworth, the poet."
The actor regarded the photograph with a new interest.
"Is that old file a poet?" he exclaimed in astonishment. "I got him for a study in wrinkles."
"Yes, ma'am," the old salt confided to the inquisitive lady, "I fell over the side of the ship, and a shark he come along and grabbed me by the leg."
"Merciful providence!" his hearer gasped. "And what did you do?"
"Let 'im 'ave the leg, o' course, ma'am. I never argues with sharks."
An American tourist and his wife, after their return from abroad, were telling of the wonders seen by them at the Louvre in Paris. The husband mentioned with enthusiasm a picture which represented Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, in connection with the eating of the forbidden fruit. The wife also waxed enthusiastic, and interjected a remark:
"Yes, we found the picture most interesting, most interesting indeed, because, you see, we know the anecdote."
* * *
The Yankee tourist described glowingly the statue of a beautiful woman which he had seen in an art museum abroad.
"And the way she stood, so up and coming, was grand. But," he added, with a tone of disgust, "those foreigners don't know how to spell. The name of the statue was Posish'—and it was some posish, believe me! and the dumb fools spelt it—'Psyche!'"
* * *
"Tell me, does your husband snore?"
"Oh, yes, indeed—so delightfully."
"Yes, really—he's so musical you know, his voice is baritone, he only snores operatic bits, mostly Aida."
* * *
The packer from Chicago admired a picture by Rosa Bonheur.
"How much is that?" he demanded. The dealer quoted the price as $5,000.
"Holy pig's feet!" the magnate spluttered. "For that money, I can buy live hogs and——"
His wife nudged him in the ribs, and whispered:
"Don't talk shop."
The sister spoke admiringly to the collegian who was calling on her after field day, at which she had been present.
"And how they did applaud when you broke that record!"
Her little brother, who overheard, sniffed indignantly.
"Pa didn't applaud me for the one I broke," he complained. "He licked me."
A woman lion-hunter entertained a dinner party of distinguished authors. These discoursed largely during the meal, and bored one another and more especially their host, who was not literary. To wake himself up, he excused himself from the table with a vague murmur about opening a window, and went out into the hall. He found the footman sound asleep in a chair. He shook the fellow, and exclaimed angrily:
"Wake up! You've been listening at the keyhole."
The visiting Englishman, with an eyeglass screwed to his eye, stared in fascinated horror at the ugliest infant he had ever seen, which was in its mother's arms opposite him in the street car. At last, his fixed gaze attracted the mother's attention, then excited her indignation.
"Rubber!" she piped wrathfully.
"Thank God!" exclaimed the Englishman. "I fancied it might be real."
* * *
The teacher had explained to the class that the Indian women are called squaws. Then she asked what name was given to the children?
"Porpoises," came one eager answer.
But a little girl whose father bred pigeons, called excitedly:
"Please, teacher, they're squabs!"
A gentleman strolling alongside a canal observed an old negro and a colored boy fishing. A moment later, a splash was heard. The boy had fallen into the water. The old darky, however, jumped in after the lad, and succeeded in getting him safely to the bank. There he stood the victim on his head to let the water drain out, and it was at this moment that the gentleman arrived on the scene with profuse expressions of admiration for the prompt rescue.
"It was noble of you," the gentleman declared rather rhetorically, "to plunge into the water in that way at the risk of your life to save the boy. I congratulate you on your brave display of heroic magnanimity."
The old colored man answered with an amiable grin:
"All right, boss. Ah doan know nuffin' 'bout magn'imity. But Ah jess had to git dat boy out de water. He had de bait in his pocket."
A patient complained to the doctor that his hair was coming out.
"Won't you give me something to keep it in?" he begged.
"Take this," the doctor said kindly, and he handed the patient a pill box.
On the way to the baptism, the baby somehow loosened the stopper of his bottle, with the result that the milk made a frightful mess over the christening robe. The mother was greatly shamed, but she was compelled to hand over the child in its mussed garments to the clergyman at the font.
"What name?" the clergyman whispered.
The agitated mother failed to understand, and thought that he complained of the baby's condition. So she offered explanation in the words:
"Nozzle come off—nozzle come off!"
The clergyman, puzzled, repeated his whisper:
"Nozzle come off—nozzle come off!" The woman insisted, almost in tears.
The clergyman gave it up, and continued the rite:
"Nozzlecomeoff Smithers, I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
* * *
The aged negro clergyman announced solemnly from the pulpit:
"Next Sabbath, dar will be a baptism in dis chu'ch, at half-pas' ten in de mawnin'. Dis baptism will be of two adults an' six adulteresses."
The old colored man left the Methodist Church and joined the Baptist. Soon afterward, he encountered his former pastor, who inquired the reason for his change of sect. The old man explained fully.
"Fust off, I was 'Piscopal, but I hain't learned, an' they done say the service so fast, I nebber could keep up, an' when I come out behin', dey all look, an' I'se 'shamed. So I jined the Methodis'. Very fine church, yes, suh. But dey done has 'Quiry meetin's. An', suh, us cullud folkses can't bear too much 'quirin' into. An' a man says to me, 'Why don't you jine de Baptis'? De Baptis', it's jest dip an' be done wid it! 'An' so I jined."
The teacher directed the class to write a brief account of a baseball game. All the pupils were busy during the allotted time, except one little boy, who sat motionless, and wrote never a word. The teacher gave him an additional five minutes, calling them off one by one. The fifth minute had almost elapsed when the youngster awoke to life, and scrawled a sentence. It ran thus:
Teacher: "In which of his battles was King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden slain?"
Pupil: "I'm pretty sure it was the last one."
The old trapper was chased by a grizzly. When he had thrown away everything he carried, and found, nevertheless, that the bear was gaining rapidly, he determined to make a stand. As he came into a small clearing, he faced about with his back to a stump, and got out and opened his clasp-knife. The bear halted a rod away, and sat on its haunches, surveying its victim gloatingly. The trapper, though not usually given to praying, now improved the interval to offer a petition.
"O God," he said aloud, with his eyes on the bear, "if you're on my side, let my knife git 'im quick in 'is vitals, an' if you're on 'is side, let 'im finish me fust off. But, O God, if you're nootral, you jist sit thar on that stump, an' you'll see the darndest bear fight you ever hearn tell on!"
* * *
The guide introduced a tourist in the Rocky Mountains to an old hunter who was reputed to have slain some hundreds of bears.
"This feller," the guide explained to the hunter, "would like to hear about some of the narrer escapes you've had from bears."
The old mountaineer regarded the tourist with a disapproving stare.
"Young man," he said, "if there's been any narrer escapes, the bears had 'em."
The father of a school boy in New York City wrote to the boy's teacher a letter of complaint. Possibly he welcomed the advent of prohibition—possibly not! Anyhow, the letter was as follows:
"Sir: Will you please for the future give my boy some eesier somes to do at nites. This is what he brought home to me three nites ago. If fore gallins of bere will fill thirty to pint bottles, how many pint and half bottles will nine gallins fill? Well, we tried and could make nothing of it all, and my boy cried and said he wouldn't go back to school without doing it. So, I had to go and buy a nine gallin' keg of bere, which I could ill afford to do, and then we went and borrowed a lot of wine and brandy bottles, beside a few we had by us. Well we emptied the keg into the bottles, and there was nineteen, and my boy put that down for an answer. I don't know whether it is rite or not, as we spilt some in doing it.
P.S.—Please let the next one be water as I am not able to buy any more bere."
* * *
The new soda clerk was a mystery, until he himself revealed his shameful past quite unconsciously by the question he put to the girl who had just asked for an egg-shake.
"Light or dark?" he asked mechanically.
The cultured maid servant announced to her mistress, wife of the profiteer:
"If you please, ma'am, there's a mendicant at the door."
The mistress sniffed contemptuously:
"Tell 'im there's nothin' to mend."
A woman visitor to the city entered a taxicab. No sooner was the door closed than the car leaped forward violently, and afterward went racing wildly along the street, narrowly missing collision with innumerable things. The passenger, naturally enough, was terrified. She thrust her head through the open window of the door, and shouted at the chauffeur:
"Please, be careful, sir! I'm nervous. This is the first time I ever rode in a taxi."
The driver yelled in reply, without turning his head:
"That's all right, ma'am. It's the first time I ever drove one!"
The cook, Nora, had announced her engagement to a frequenter at the kitchen, named Mike. But a year passed and nothing was heard of the nuptials. So, one day, the mistress inquired:
"When are you to be married, Nora?"
"Indade, an' it's niver at all, I'll be thinkin', mum," the cook answered sadly.
"Really? Why, what is the trouble?"
The reply was explicit:
"'Tis this, mum. I won't marry Mike when he's drunk, an' he won't marry me when he's sober."
* * *
The delinquent laggard swain had been telling of his ability as a presiding officer. The girl questioned him:
"What is the parliamentary phrase when you wish to call for a vote?"
The answer was given with proud certainty:
"Are you ready for the question?"
"Yes, dearest," the girl confessed shyly. "Go ahead."
What is the penalty for bigamy?
* * *
The man was weak and naturally unlucky, and so he got married three times inside of a year. He was convicted and sentenced for four years. He seemed greatly relieved. As the expiration of his term grew near, he wrote from the penitentiary to his lawyer, with the plaintive query:
"Will it be safe for me to come out?"
The little girl in the zoölogical park tossed bits of a bun to the stork, which gobbled them greedily, and bobbed its head toward her for more.
"What kind of a bird is it, mamma?" the child asked.
The mother read the placard, and answered that it was a stork.
"O-o-o-h!" the little girl cried, as her eyes rounded. "Of course, it recognized me!"
The philosopher, on being interrupted in his thoughts by the violent cackling of a hen that had just laid an egg, was led to express his appreciation of a kind Providence by which a fish while laying a million eggs to a hen's one, does so in a perfectly quiet and ladylike manner.
A shopkeeper with no conscience put by his door a box with a slit in the cover and a label reading, "For the Blind." A month later, the box disappeared. When some one inquired concerning it, the shopkeeper chuckled, and pointed to the window.
"I collected enough," he explained. "There's the new blind."
The sympathetic and inquisitive old lady at the seashore was delighted and thrilled by an old sailor's narrative of how he was washed overboard during a gale and was only rescued after having sunk for the third time.
"And, of course," she commented brightly, "after you sank the third time, your whole past life passed before your eyes."
"I presoom as how it did, mum," the sailor agreed. "But bein' as I had my eyes shut, I missed it."
The recruit complained to the sergeant that he'd got a splinter in his finger.
"Ye should have more sinse," was the harsh comment, "than to scratch your head."
The crowd in the car was packed suffocatingly close. The timid passenger thought of pickpockets, and thrust his hand into his pocket protectingly. He was startled to encounter the fist of a fat fellow-passenger.
"I caught you that time!" the fat man hissed.
"Thief yourself!" snorted the timid passenger. "Leggo!"
"Scoundrel!" shouted the fat man.
"Help! Stop thief!" the little fellow spluttered, trying to wrench his hand from the other's clasp. As the car halted, the tall man next the two disputants spoke sharply:
"I want to get off here, if you dubs will be good enough to take your hands out of my pocket."
* * *
During the Civil War, an old negro was deeply interested in the conflict, but showed no sign of wishing to take part in it. A white man questioned him one day:
"The men of the North and South are killing one another on your account. Why don't you pitch in and fight yourself?"
"Has you-all ever seen two dogs fightin' over a bone?" the negro demanded.
"Many times, of course," was the answer.
The old negro chuckled as he said:
"Did you ever see de bone fight?"
"Dat's all! I'se de bone."
The Southern Colonel at Saratoga Springs, in the days before prohibition, directed the colored waiter at his table in the hotel:
"You-all kin bring me a Kentucky breakfast."
"An' what is that, sir?" the waiter inquired doubtfully.
The Colonel explained:
"Bring me a big steak, a bulldog and a quart of Bourbon whiskey."
"But why do you order a bulldog?" asked the puzzled waiter.
"To eat the steak, suh!" snapped the Colonel.
The best illustration of the value of brief speech reckoned in dollars was given by Mark Twain. His story was that when he had listened for five minutes to the preacher telling of the heathen, he wept, and was going to contribute fifty dollars, after ten minutes more of the sermon, he reduced the amount of his prospective contribution to twenty-five dollars, after half an hour more of eloquence, he cut the sum to five dollars. At the end of an hour of oratory when the plate was passed, he stole two dollars.
A thriving baseball club is one of the features of a boy's organization connected with a prominent church. The team was recently challenged by a rival club. The pastor gave a special contribution of five dollars to the captain, with the direction that the money should be used to buy bats, balls, gloves, or anything else that might help to win the game. On the day of the game, the pastor was somewhat surprised to observe nothing new in the club's paraphernalia. He called the captain to him.
"I don't see any new bats, or balls, or gloves," he said.
"We haven't anything like that," the captain admitted.
"But I gave you five dollars to buy them," the pastor exclaimed.
"Well, you see," came the explanation, "you told us to spend it for bats, or balls, or gloves, or anything that we thought might help to win the game, so we gave it to the umpire."
Two ladies in a car disputed concerning the window, and at last called the conductor as referee.
"If this window is open," one declared, "I shall catch cold, and will probably die."
"If the window is shut," the other announced, "I shall certainly suffocate." The two glared at each other.
The conductor was at a loss, but he welcomed the words of a man with a red nose who sat near. These were:
"First, open the window, conductor. That will kill one. Next, shut it. That will kill the other. Then we can have peace."
A young couple that had received many valuable wedding presents established their home in a suburb. One morning they received in the mail two tickets for a popular show in the city, with a single line:
"Guess who sent them."
The pair had much amusement in trying to identify the donor, but failed in the effort. They duly attended the theatre, and had a delightful time. On their return home late at night, still trying to guess the identity of the unknown host, they found the house stripped of every article of value. And on the bare table in the dining-room was a piece of paper on which was written in the same hand as the enclosure with the tickets:
"Now you know!"
Jeanette was wearing a new frock when her dearest friend called.
"I look a perfect fright," she remarked, eager for praise.
The dearest friend was thinking of her own affairs, and answered absent-mindedly:
"Yes, you certainly do."
"Oh, you horrid thing!" Jeanette gasped. "I'll never—never speak to you again!"
In Bret Harte's Mary McGillup, there is a notable description of calmness in most trying circumstances.
"'I have the honor of addressing the celebrated Rebel spy, Miss McGillup?'" asked the vandal officer.
"In a moment I was perfectly calm. With the exception of slightly expectorating twice in the face of the minion I did not betray my agitation."
A Tennessee farmer went to town and bought a gallon jug of whiskey. He left it in the grocery store, and tagged it with a five of hearts from the deck in his pocket, on which he wrote his name. When he returned two hours later, the jug was gone. He demanded an explanation from the grocer.
"Simple enough," was the reply. "Jim Slocum come along with a six of hearts, an' jist nacherly took thet thar jug o' yourn."
The housemaid, tidying the stairs the morning after a reception, found lying there one of the solid silver teaspoons.
"My goodness gracious!" she exclaimed, as she retrieved the piece of silver. "Some one of the company had a hole in his pocket."
The small boy sat at the foot of a telegraph pole, with a tin can in his hands. The curious old gentleman gazed first at the lad and then at the can, much perplexed.
"Caterpillars!" he ejaculated. "What are you doing with them?"
"They climb trees and eat the leaves," the boy explained.
"And so," the boy continued proudly, "I'm foolin' this bunch by lettin' 'em climb the telegraph pole."
Clarence, aged eight, was a member of the Band of Mercy, of his Sunday School, which was a miniature society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. The badge was a small star, and Clarence wore this with as much pride as ever a policeman had in his shield. He displayed eagerness in the work, and grew somewhat unpopular with the other boys and girls by reason of his many rebukes for their harsh treatment of animals. But one morning his mother, on looking out of the window, observed to her horror that the erstwhile virtuous Clarence had the family cat by the tail, and was swinging it to and fro with every evidence of glee. In fact, it had been the wailing of the outraged beast that had caused the mother to look out.
"Why, Clarence!" she cried, aghast. "What are you doing to that poor cat? And you a member of the Band of Mercy!"
Little Clarence released the cat, but he showed no shame as he explained:
"I was—but I lost my star."
* * *
The teacher put a question to the class:
"What does a cat have that no other animal has?"
A number cried in unison:
But an objector raised the point that bears and skunks have fur. One pupil raised an eager hand:
"I know, teacher—whiskers!"
But another objector laughed scornfully.
"Haw-haw! My papa has whiskers!"
The suggester of whiskers defended her idea by declaring: "My papa ain't got whiskers."
"'Cause he can't!" the objector sneered. "Haw-haw! Your pa ain't no good. My pa says——"
The teacher rapped for order, and repeated her question. A little girl raised her hand, and at the teacher's nod spoke timidly.
* * *
The little girl returned from church deeply musing on the sermon, in which the preacher had declared that animals, lacking souls, could not go to heaven. As the result of her meditation, she presented a problem to the family at the dinner table, when she asked earnestly:
"If cats don't go to heaven, where do the angels get the strings for their harps?"
"Oh, mamma," questioned the child, "who's that?" He pointed to a nun who was passing.
"A Sister of Charity," was the answer.
"Which one," the boy persisted, "Faith or Hope?"
The Southern planter heard a commotion in his poultry house late at night. With shot gun in hand, he made his way to the door, flung it open and curtly ordered:
"Come out of there, you ornery thief!"
There was silence for a few seconds, except for the startled clucking of the fowls. Then a heavy bass voice boomed out of the darkness:
"Please, Colonel, dey ain't nobody here 'cept jes' us chickens!"
A shipwrecked traveler was washed up on a small island. He was terrified at thought of cannibals, and explored with the utmost stealth. Discovering a thin wisp of smoke above the scrub, he crawled toward it fearfully, in apprehension that it might be from the campfire of savages. But as he came close, a voice rang out sharply:
"Why in hell did you play that card?" The castaway, already on his knees, raised his hands in devout thanksgiving.
"Thank God!" he exclaimed brokenly. "They are Christians!"
A political boss wished to show his appreciation of the services of a colored man who possessed considerable influence. He suggested to the darky for a Christmas present the choice between a ton of coal and a jug of the best whiskey.
The colored man spoke to the point:
"Ah burns wood."
* * *
Santa Claus inserted an upright piano, a fur dolman, a Ford, and a few like knick-knacks in the Chicago girl's stocking. When he saw that it was not yet half filled, he withdrew to the roof, plumped down on the snow, and wept bitterly.
The young members of the family had been taught to be punctilious in contributing to the collection at church. One Sunday morning, when the boxes were being passed, James, aged six, ran his eye over those in the pew, and noticed that a guest of his sister had no coin in her hand. "Where is your money?" he whispered. She answered that she hadn't any. But James was equal to the emergency:
"Here, take mine," he directed. "That'll pay for you. I'll get under the seat."
Which he did.
* * *
The old negro attended a service in the Episcopal Church for the first time in his life. Someone asked him afterward how he had enjoyed the experience.
"Not much, shohly not much," he declared, shaking his head. "Dat ain't no church for me. No' suh! Dey wastes too much time readin' the minutes ob the previous meetin'."
The little boy was clad in an immaculate white suit for the lawn party, and his mother cautioned him strictly against soiling it. He was scrupulous in his obedience, but at last he approached her timidly, and said:
"Please, mother, may I sit on my pants?"
* * *
The mother catechised her young son just before the hour for the arrival of the music teacher.
"Have you washed your hands very carefully?"
"And have you washed your face thoroughly?"
"And were you particular to wash behind your ears?"
"On her side I did, mother."
The young man at the summer resort, who had become engaged to the pretty girl, received information that led him to question her:
"Is it true that since you came up here you've got engaged to Billy, Ed, George and Harry, as well as me?"
The young lady assumed an air of disdain.
"What is that to you?" she demanded.
"Just this," he replied gently. "If it's so, and you have no objection, we fellows will all chip in together to buy an engagement ring."
Isaac and Moses dined in a restaurant that was new to them, and were pained seriously by the amount of the check. Moses began to expostulate in a loud voice, but Isaac hushed him with a whisper:
"'Sh! I haf the spoons in my pocket."
"Would you like a lock of my hair?" asked the gallant old bachelor of the spinster who had been a belle a few decades past.
"Why don't you offer me the whole wig?" the maiden lady gibed, with a titter.
The bachelor retorted with icy disdain:
"You are very biting, madam, considering that your teeth are porcelain."
* * *
The young man, dancing with the girl to whom he had just been introduced, remarked with the best of intentions, but rather unfortunately:
"That's the new waltz. My sister was raving about it. I think it's pretty bad. I expect she danced it with somebody rather nice."
* * *
In former times, when royalties were more important, a lady at a court ball was intensely gratified when a prince selected her as a partner. She was almost overwhelmed with pride when he danced a second measure with her.
"Oh," she gushed, as she reposed blissfully in his arms, "your highness does me too great honor."
The prince answered coldly:
"But no, madam. Merely, my physician has directed me to perspire."
The widow was deep in suds over the family wash, when she saw her pastor coming up the path to the door. She gave directions to her young son to answer the bell, and to tell the clergyman that his mother had just gone down the street on an errand. Since the single ground floor room of the cottage offered no better hiding place against observation from the door, she crouched behind a clothes-horse hung with drying garments. When the boy had opened the door to the minister, and had duly delivered the message concerning his mother's absence, the reverend gentleman cast a sharp look toward the screen of drying clothes, and addressed the boy thus:
"Well, my lad, just tell your mother I called. And you might say to her that the next time she goes down the street, she should take her feet along."
"I suppose I must admit that I do have my faults," the husband remarked in a tone that was far from humble.
"Yes," the wife snapped, "and in your opinion your faults are better than other folks' virtues."
The child had been greatly impressed by her first experience in Sunday school. She pressed her hands to her breast, and said solemnly to her sister, two years older:
"When you hear something wite here, it is conscience whispering to you."
"It's no such thing," the sister jeered. "That's just wind on your tummie."
His companion bent over the dying man, to catch the last faintly whispered words. The utterance came with pitiful feebleness, yet with sufficient clearness:
"I am dying—yes. Go to Fannie. Tell her—I died—with her name—on my lips, that I—loved her—her alone—always ... And Jennie—tell Jennie—the same thing."
A zealous church member in a Kentucky village made an earnest effort to convert a particularly vicious old mountaineer named Jim, who was locally notorious for his godlessness. But the old man was hard-headed and stubborn, firmly rooted in his evil courses, so that he resisted the pious efforts in his behalf.
"Jim," the exhorter questioned sadly at last, "ain't you teched by the story of the Lord what died to save yer soul?"
"Humph!" Jim retorted contemptuously. "Air ye aimin' to tell me the Lord died to save me, when He ain't never seed me, ner knowed me?"
"Jim," the missionary explained with fervor, "it was a darn sight easier for the Lord to die fer ye jest because He never seed ye than if He knowed ye as well as we-alls do!"
The housewife gave the tramp a large piece of pie on condition that he should saw some wood. The tramp retired to the woodshed, but presently he reappeared at the back door of the house with the piece of pie still intact save for one mouthful bitten from the end.
"Madam," he said respectfully to the wondering woman, "if it's all the same to you, I'll eat the wood, and saw the pie."
The witness was obviously a rustic and quite new to the ways of a court-room. So, the judge directed him:
"Speak to the jury, sir—the men sitting behind you on the benches."
The witness turned, bowed clumsily and said:
The old farmer and his wife visited the menagerie. When they halted before the hippopotamus cage, he remarked admiringly:
"Darn'd curi's fish, ain't it, ma?"
"That ain't a fish," the wife announced. "That's a rep-tile."
It was thus that the argument began. It progressed to a point of such violence that the old lady began belaboring the husband with her umbrella. The old man dodged and ran, with the wife in pursuit. The trainer had just opened the door of the lions' cage, and the farmer popped in. He crowded in behind the largest lion and peered over its shoulder fearfully at his wife, who, on the other side of the bars, shook her umbrella furiously.
"Coward!" she shouted. "Coward!"
The colored man, passing through the market, saw a turtle for the first time, and surveyed it with great interest. The creature's head was withdrawn, but as the investigator fumbled about the shell, it shot forward and nipped his finger. With a howl of pain he stuck his finger in his mouth, and sucked it.
"What's the matter?" the fishmonger asked with a grin.
"Nothin'—jest nothin' a tall," the colored man answered thickly. "Ah was only wonderin' whether Ah had been bit or stung."
The child came to his mother in tears.
"Oh, mama," he confessed, "I broke a tile in the hearth."
"Never mind, dear," the mother consoled. "But how ever did you come to do it?"
"I was pounding it with father's watch?"
One foot in the grave, and the other slipping.
On Tuesday, a colored maid asked her mistress for permission to be absent on the coming Friday. She explained that she wished to attend the funeral of her fiancé. The mistress gave the required permission sympathetically.
"But you're not wearing mourning, Jenny," she remarked.
"Oh, no, ma'am," the girl replied. "You see, ma'am, he ain't dead yet. The hanging ain't till Friday."
When a certain officer of the governor's staff died, there were many applicants for the post, and some were indecently impatient. While the dead colonel was awaiting burial, one aspirant buttonholed the governor, asking:
"Would you object to my taking the place of the colonel?"
"Not at all," the governor replied tartly. "See the undertaker."
In the smoking-room of a theatre, between the acts, an amiable young man addressed an elderly gentleman who was seated beside him:
"The show is very good, don't you think?"
The old gentleman nodded approvingly, as he replied:
"Me, I always take the surface cars. Them elevated an' subway stairs ketches my breath."
"I said the show was a good one," exclaimed the young man, raising his voice.
Again, the elderly person nodded agreeably.
"They jump about a good deal," was his comment, "but they're on the ground, which the others ain't."
Now, the young man shouted:
"You're a little deaf, ain't you?"
At last the other understood.
"Yes, sir!" he announced proudly. "I'm as deef as a post." He chuckled contentedly. "Some folks thinks as that's a terrible affliction, but I don't. I kin always hear what I'm sayin' myself, an' that's interestin' enough for me."
* * *
An excellent old gentleman grew hard of hearing, and was beset with apprehension lest he become totally deaf. One day, as he rested on a park bench, another elderly citizen seated himself alongside. The apprehensive old gentleman saw that the new comer was talking rapidly, but his ears caught no faintest sound of the other's voice. He listened intently—in vain. He cupped a hand to his ear, but there was only silence. At last, in despair, he spoke his thought aloud:
"It's come at last! I know you've been talking all this while, but I haven't heard a single word."
The answer, given with a grin, was explicit and satisfying to the worried deaf man:
"I hain't been talkin'—jest a-chewin'."
The visitor to the poet's wife expressed her surprise that the man of genius had failed to dedicate any one of his volumes to the said wife. Whereupon, said wife became flustered, and declared tartly:
"I never thought of that. As soon as you are gone, I'll look through all his books, and if that's so, I never will forgive him!"
The schoolboy, after profound thought, wrote this definition of the word "spine," at his teacher's request.
"A spine is a long, limber bone. Your head sets on one end and you set on the other."
Phil May, the artist, when once down on his luck in Australia, took a job as waiter in a very low-class restaurant. An acquaintance came into the place to dine, and was aghast when he discovered the artist in his waiter.
"My God!" he whispered. "To find you in such a place as this."
Phil May smiled, as he retorted:
"Oh, but, you see, I don't eat here."
A woman in the mountains of Tennessee was seated in the doorway of the cabin, busily eating some pig's feet. A neighbor hurried up to tell of how her husband had become engaged in a saloon brawl and had been shot to death. The widow continued munching on a pig's foot in silence while she listened to the harrowing news. As the narrator paused, she spoke thickly from her crowded mouth:
"Jest wait till I finish this-here pig's trotter, an' ye'll hear some hollerin' as is hollerin'."
Some wasps built their nests during the week in a Scotch clergyman's best breeches. On the Sabbath as he warmed up to his preaching, the wasps, too, warmed up, with the result that presently the minister was leaping about like a jack in the box, and slapping his lower anatomy with great vigor, to the amazement of the congregation.
"Be calm, brethren," he shouted. "The word of God is in my mouth, but the De'il's in my breeches!"
The young lady, who was something of a food fadist, was on a visit to a coast fishing village. She questioned her host as to the general diet of the natives, and was told that they subsisted almost entirely on fish. The girl protested:
"But fish is a brain food, and these folks are really the most unintelligent-looking that I ever saw."
"Mebbe so," the host agreed. "And just think what they'd look like if they didn't eat fish!"
In an English school, the examiner asked one of the children to name the products of the Indian Empire. The child was well prepared, but very nervous.
"Please, sir," the answer ran, "India produces curries and pepper and rice and citron and chutney and—and——"
There was a long pause. Then, as the first child remained silent, a little girl raised her hand. The examiner nodded.
"Yes, you may name any other products of India."
"Please, sir," the child announced proudly, "India-gestion."
"Now, let me see," the impecunious man demanded as he buttonholed an acquaintance, "do I owe you anything?"
"Not a penny, my dear sir," was the genial reply. "You are going about paying your little debts?"
"No, I'm going about to see if I've overlooked anybody? Lend me ten till Saturday."
* * *
Ted had a habit of dropping in at the house next door on baking day, for the woman of that house had a deft way in the making of cookies, and Ted had no hesitation in enjoying her hospitality, even to the extent of asking for cookies if they were not promptly forthcoming.
When the boy's father learned of this, he gave Ted a lecture and a strict order never to ask for cookies at the neighbor's kitchen. So, when a few days later the father saw his son munching a cookie as he came away from the next house, he spoke sternly:
"Have you been begging cookies again?"
"Oh, no, I didn't beg any," Ted answered cheerfully. "I just said, this house smells as if it was full of cookies. But what's that to me?"
* * *
Sometimes the use of a diplomatic method defeats its own purpose, as in the case of the old fellow who was enthusiastic in praise of the busy lawyer from whose office he had just come, after a purely social call.
"That feller, for a busy man," he declared earnestly, "is one of the pleasantest chaps I ever did meet. Why, I dropped in on him jest to pass the time o' day this mornin', an' I hadn't been chattin' with 'im more'n five minutes before he'd told me three times to come and see 'im agin."
* * *
The lady of uncertain age simpered at the gentleman of about the same age who had offered her his seat in the car.
"Why should you be so kind to me?" she gurgled.
"My dear madam, because I myself have a mother and a wife and a daughter."
* * *
Diplomacy is shown inversely by the remark of the professor to the lady in this story.
At a reception the woman chatted for some time with the distinguished man of learning, and displayed such intelligence that one of the listeners complimented her.
"Oh, really," she said with a smile, "I've just been concealing my ignorance."
The professor spoke gallantly.
"Not at all, not at all, my dear madam! Quite the contrary, I do assure you."
We are more particular nowadays about cleanliness than were those of a past generation. Charles Lamb, during a whist game, remarked to his partner:
"Martin, if dirt were trumps, what a hand you'd have!"
* * *
The French aristocrats were not always conspicuously careful in their personal habits. A visitor to a Parisian grande dame remarked to her hostess:
"But how dirty your hands are."
The great lady regarded her hands doubtfully, as she replied:
"Oh, do you think so? Why, you ought to see my feet!"
Jimmy found much to criticise in his small sister. He felt forced to remonstrate with his mother.
"Don't you want Jenny to be a good wife like you when she grows up?" he demanded. His mother nodded assent.
"Then you better get busy, ma. You make me give into her all the time 'cause I'm bigger 'en she is. You're smaller 'en pa, but when he comes in, you bring him his slippers, and hand him the paper." Jimmie yanked his go-cart from baby Jennie, and disregarded her wail of anger as he continued:
"Got to dis'pline her, or she'll make an awful wife!"
The kindly and inquisitive old gentleman was interested in the messenger boy who sat on the steps of a house, and toyed delicately with a sandwich taken from its wrapper. With the top piece of bread carefully removed, the boy picked out and ate a few small pieces of the chicken. The puzzled observer questioned the lad:
"Now, sonny, why don't you eat your sandwich right down, instead of fussing with it like that?"
The answer was explicit:
"Dasn't! 'Tain't mine."
The court was listening to the testimony of the wife who sought a divorce.
"Tell me explicitly," the judge directed the woman, "what fault you have to find with your husband."
And the wife was explicit:
"He is a liar, a brute, a thief and a brainless fool!"
"Tut, tut!" the judge remonstrated. "I suspect you would find difficulty in proving all your assertions."
"Prove it!" was the retort. "Why, everybody knows it."
"If you knew it," his honor demanded sarcastically, "why did you marry him?"
"I didn't know it before I married him."
The husband interrupted angrily:
"Yes, she did, too," he shouted. "She did so!"
A victim of chronic bronchitis called on a well-known physician to be examined. The doctor, after careful questioning, assured the patient that the ailment would respond readily to treatment.
"You're so sure," the sufferer inquired, "I suppose you must have had a great deal of experience with this disease."
The physician smiled wisely, and answered in a most confidential manner:
"Why, my dear sir, I've had bronchitis myself for more than fifteen years."
* * *
A well-to-do colored man suffered a serious illness, and showed no signs of improvement under treatment by a physician of his own race. So, presently, he dismissed this doctor and summoned a white man. The new physician made a careful examination of the patient, and then asked:
"Did that other doctor take your temperature?"
The sick man shook his head doubtfully.
"I dunno, suh," he declared, "I sartinly dunno. All I've missed so far is my watch."
* * *
A member of the faculty in a London medical college was appointed an honorary physician to the king. He proudly wrote a notice, on the blackboard in his class-room:
"Professor Jennings informs his students that he has been appointed honorary physician to His Majesty, King George."
When he returned to the class-room in the afternoon he found written below his notice this line:
"God save the King."
* * *
The Chinaman expressed his gratitude to that mighty physician Sing Lee, as follows:
"Me velly sick man. Me get Doctor Yuan Sin. Takee him medicine. Velly more sick. Me get Doctor Hang Shi. Takee him medicine. Velly bad—think me go die. Me callee Doctor Kai Kon. Him busy—no can come. Me get well."
* * *
The instructor in the Medical College exhibited a diagram.
"The subject here limps," he explained, "because one leg is shorter than the other." He addressed one of the students:
"Now, Mr. Snead, what would you do in such a case?"
Young Snead pondered earnestly and replied with conviction:
"I fancy, sir, that I should limp, too."
* * *
The physician turned from the telephone to his wife:
"I must hurry to Mrs. Jones' boy—he's sick."
"Is it serious?"
"Yes. I don't know what's the matter with him, but she has a book on what to do before the doctor comes. So I must hurry. Whatever it is, she mustn't do it."
In a former generation, when elaborate doctrines were deemed more important by Christian clergymen than they are to-day, they were prone to apply every utterance of the Bible to the demonstration of their own particular tenets. For example, one distinguished minister announced his text and introduced his sermon as follows:
"'So, Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he did eat at the King's table, and he was lame on both his feet.'
"My brethren, we are here taught the doctrine of human depravity.—Mephibosheth was lame. Also the doctrine of total depravity—he was lame on both his feet. Also the doctrine of justification—for he dwelt in Jerusalem. Fourth, the doctrine of adoption—'he did eat at the King's table.' Fifth, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints—for we read that 'he did eat at the King's table continually.'"
During the worst of the spy-scare period in London a man was brought into the police station, who declared indignantly that he was a well-known American citizen. But his captor denounced him as a German, and offered as proof the hotel register, which he had brought along. He pointed to the signature of the accused. It read:
The tramp was sitting with his back to a hedge by the wayside, munching at some scraps wrapped in a newspaper. A lady, out walking with her pet Pomeranian, strolled past. The little dog ran to the tramp, and tried to muzzle the food. The tramp smiled expansively on the lady.
"Shall I throw the leetle dog a bit, mum?" he asked.
The lady was gratified by this appearance of kindly interest in her pet, and murmured an assent. The tramp caught the dog by the nape of the neck and tossed it over the hedge, remarking:
"And if he comes back, mum, I might throw him a bit more."
* * *
Many a great man has been given credit as originator of this cynical sentiment:
"The more I see of men, the more I respect dogs."
The fox terrier regarded with curious interest the knot tied in the tail of the dachshund.
"What's the big idea?" he inquired.
"That," the dachshund answered, "is a knot my wife tied to make me remember an errand."
The fox terrier wagged his stump of tail thoughtfully.
"That," he remarked at last, "must be the reason I'm so forgetful."
* * *
During the siege of Paris in the Franco-German war, when everybody was starving, one aristocratic family had their pet dog served for dinner. The master of the house, when the meal was ended, surveyed the platter through tear-dimmed eyes, and spoke sadly:
"How Fido would have enjoyed these bones!"
* * *
The young clergyman during a parochial call noticed that the little daughter of the hostess was busy with her slate while eying him closely from time to time.
"And what are you doing, Clara?" he asked, with his most engaging smile.
"I'm drawing a picture of you," was the answer.
The clerical visitor sat very still to facilitate the work of the artist. But, presently, Clara shook her head in discouragement.
"I don't like it much," she confessed. "I guess I'll put a tail on it, and call it a dog."
* * *
The meditative Hollander delivered a monologue to his dog:
"You vas only a dog, but I vish I vas you. Ven you go your bed in, you shust turn round dree times and lie down; ven I go de bed in, I haf to lock up the blace, and vind up de clock, and put out de cat, and undress myself, and my vife vakes up and scolds, and den de baby vakes and cries and I haf to valk him de house around, and den maybe I get myself to bed in time to get up again.
"Ven you get up you shust stretch yourself, dig your neck a little, and you vas up. I haf to light de fire, put on de kiddle, scrap some vit my vife, and get myself breakfast. You be lays round all day and haf blenty of fun. I haf to vork all day and have blenty of drubble. Ven you die, you vas dead; ven I die, I haf to go somewhere again."
* * *
Some persons are born to have honor thrust upon them, and such is obviously the case of the actor named in this story.
The colored maid of an actress took out for exercise her mistress's dog, a splendid St. Bernard. A passer-by admired the animal, and inquired as to the breed. The maid said:
"I doan jes' zactly know mahself, but I dun hear my missis say he am a full-blood Sam Bernard."
After a trip abroad, a lady inquired of her colored washerwoman:
"Lucy, do you and your husband quarrel now the same as you used to?"
"No, indeed, ma'am," was the reply.
"That is good. I'm sure you're very glad of it, aren't you?"
"Ah sho'ly is."
"What caused you to stop quarreling, Lucy?" the lady asked.
The explanation was simple and sufficient:
* * *
The newly married pair quarreled seriously, so that the wife in a passion finally declared:
"I'm going home to my mother!"
The husband maintained his calm in the face of this calamity, and drew out his pocketbook.
"Here," he said, counting out some bills, "is the money for your railroad fare."
The wife took it, and counted it in her turn. Then she faced her husband scornfully:
"But that isn't enough for a return ticket."
* * *
The good wife, after she and her husband had retired for the night, discoursed for a long time with much eloquence. When she was interrupted by a snore from her spouse, she thumped the sleeper into wakefulness, and then remarked:
"John, do you know what I think of a man who will go to sleep while his own wife is a-talkin' to him?"
"Well, now, I believe as how I do, Martha," was the drowsily uttered response. "But don't let that stop you. Go right ahead, an' git it off your mind."
Small Jimmie discussed with his chief crony the minister's sermon which had dealt with the sheep and the goats.
"Me," he concluded, "I don't know which I am. Mother calls me her lamb, and father calls me kid."
* * *
Ability to look on two sides of a question is usually a virtue, but it may degenerate into a vice. Thus, a visitor found his bachelor friend glumly studying an evening waistcoat. When inquiry was made, this explanation was forthcoming:
"It's quite too soiled to wear, but really, it's not dirty enough to go to the laundry. I can't make up my mind just what I should do about it."
The new play was a failure. After the first act, many left the theatre; at the end of the second, most of the others started out. A cynical critic as he rose from his aisle seat raised a restraining hand.
"Wait!" he commanded loudly. "Women and children first!"
The group of dwellers at the seaside was discussing the subject of dreams and their significance. During a pause, one of the party turned to a little girl who had sat listening intently, and asked:
"Do you believe that dreams come true?"
"Of course, they do," the child replied firmly. "Last night I dreamed that I went paddling—and I had!"
"Oh, have you heard? Mrs. Blaunt died to-day while trying on a new dress."
"How sad! What was it trimmed with?"
* * *
The son of the house had been reading of an escaped lunatic.
"How do they catch lunatics?" he asked.
The father, who had just paid a number of bills, waxed sarcastic:
"With enormous straw hats, with little bits of ones, with silks and laces and feathers and jewelry, and so on and so on."
"I recall now," the mother spoke up, "I used to wear things of that sort until I married you."
It was nine o'clock in the morning, but this particular passenger on the platform of the trolley car still wore a much crumpled evening suit.
As the car swung swiftly around a curve this riotous liver was jolted off, and fell heavily on the cobble stones. The car stopped, and the conductor, running back, helped the unfortunate man to scramble to his feet. The bibulous passenger was severely shaken, but very dignified.
"Collision?" he demanded.
"No," the conductor answered.
"Off the track?" was the second inquiry.
"No," said the conductor again.
"Well!" was the indignant rejoinder. "If I'd known that, I wouldn't have got off."
* * *
The very convivial gentleman left his club happy, but somewhat dazed. On his homeward journey, made tackingly, he ran against the vertical iron rods that formed a circle of protection for the trunk of a tree growing by the curb. He made a tour around the barrier four times, carefully holding to one rod until he had a firm grasp on the next. Then, at last, he halted and leaned despairingly against the rock to which he held, and called aloud for succor:
"Hellup! hellup! Somebody let me out!"
* * *
The highly inebriated individual halted before a solitary tree, and regarded it as intently as he could, with the result that he saw two trees. His attempt to pass between these resulted in a near-concussion of the brain. He reeled back, but presently sighted carefully, and tried again, with the like result. When this had happened a half-dozen times, the unhappy man lifted up his voice and wept.
"Lost—Lost!" he sobbed. "Hopelessly lost in an impenetrable forest!"
* * *
The proprietor of the general store at the cross-roads had his place overrun by rats, and the damage was such that he offered a hundred dollars reward to anyone who would rid him of the pests. A disreputable-appearing person turned up one morning, and announced that he was a professional rat-killer.
"Get to work," the store-keeper urged.
"I must have a pound of cheese," the killer declared.
When this had been provided:
"Now give me a quart of whiskey."
Equipped with the whiskey, the professional spoke briskly:
"Now show me the cellar."
An hour elapsed, and then the rat-catcher galloped up the cellar stairs and leaped into the store. His face was red, the eyes glaring, and he shook his fists in defiance of the world at large, as he jumped high in air and shouted:
"Whoopee! I'm ready! bring on your rats!"
* * *
Two Southern gentlemen, who were of very convivial habits, chanced to meet on the street at nine o'clock in the morning after an evening's revel together. The major addressed the colonel with decorous solemnity:
"Colonel, how do you feel, suh?"
The colonel left nothing doubtful in the nature of his reply:
"Major," he declared tartly, "I feel like thunder, suh, as any Southern gentleman should, suh, at this hour of the morning!"
* * *
The old toper was asked if he had ever met a certain gentleman, also notorious for his bibulous habits.
"Know him!" was the reply. "I should say I do! Why, I got him so drunk one night it took three hotel porters to put me to bed."
* * *
A farmer, who indulged in sprees, was observed in his Sunday clothes throwing five bushels of corn on the ear into the pen where he kept half a dozen hogs, and he was heard to mutter:
"Thar, blast ye! if ye're prudent, that orter last ye."
* * *
A mouse chanced on a pool of whiskey that was the result of a raid by prohibition-enforcement agents. The mouse had had no previous acquaintance with liquor, but now, being thirsty, it took a sip of the strange fluid, and then retired into its hole to think. After some thought, it returned to the pool, and took a second sip of the whiskey. It then withdrew again to its hole, and thought. Presently, it issued and drew near the pool for the third time. Now, it took a big drink. Nor did it retreat to its hole. Instead, it climbed on a soap box, stood on its hind legs, bristled its whiskers, and squeaked:
"Now, bring on your cat!"
The owner of a hunting lodge in Scotland presented his gamekeeper with a fur cap, of the sort having ear flaps. When at the lodge the following year, the gentleman asked the gamekeeper how he liked the cap. The old man shook his head dolefully.
"I've nae worn it since the accident."
"What accident was that?" his employer demanded. "I've heard of none."
"A mon offered me a dram, and I heard naething of it."
* * *
The old farmer was driving home from town, after having imbibed rather freely. In descending a hill, the horse stumbled and fell, and either could not, or would not, get to its feet again. At last, the farmer spoke savagely:
"Dang yer hide, git up thar—or I'll drive smack over ye!"
* * *
Mrs. Smith addressed her neighbor, whose husband was notoriously brutal, and she spoke with a purr that was catty:
"You know, my dear, my husband is so indulgent!"
And the other woman retorted, quite as purringly:
"Oh, everybody knows that. What a pity he sometimes indulges too much!"
* * *
In the days before prohibition, a bibulous person issued from a saloon in a state of melancholy intoxication, and outside the door he encountered a teetotaler friend.
The friend exclaimed mournfully:
"Oh, John, I am so sorry to see you come out of such a place as that!"
The bibulous one wept sympathetically.
"Then," he declared huskily, "I'll go right back!" And he did.
* * *
When the Kentucky colonel was in the North, some one asked him if the Kentuckians were in fact very bibulous.
"No, suh," the colonel declared. "I don't reckon they're mo' than a dozen Bibles in the whole state."
* * *
The Irish gentleman encountered the lady who had been ill, and made gallant inquiries.
"I almost died," she explained. "I had ptomaine-poisoning."
"And is it so?" the Irishman gushed. And he added in a burst of confidence: "What with that, ma'am, and delirium tremens, a body these days don't know what he dare eat or drink."
The police physician was called to examine an unconscious prisoner, who had been arrested and brought to the station-house for drunkenness. After a short examination, the physician addressed the policeman who had made the arrest.
"This fellow is not suffering from the effects of alcohol. He has been drugged."
The policeman was greatly disturbed, and spoke falteringly:
"I'm thinkin', ye're right, sor. I drugged him all the way to the station."
The traveler was indignant at the slow speed of the train. He appealed to the conductor:
"Can't you go any faster than this?"
"Yes," was the serene reply, "but I have to stay aboard."
The Southerner in the North, while somewhat mellow, discoursed eloquently of conditions in his home state. He concluded in a burst of feeling:
"In that smiling land, suh, no gentleman is compelled to soil his hands with vulgar work. The preparing of the soil for the crops is done by our niggers, suh, and the sowing of the crops, and the reaping of the crops—all done by the niggers.... And the selling is done by the sheriff."
One Japanese bragged to another that he made a fan last twenty years by opening only a fourth section, and using this for five years, then the next section, and so on.
The other Japanese registered scorn.
"Wasteful!" he ejaculated. "I was better taught. I make a fan last a lifetime. I open it wide, and hold it under my nose quite motionless. Then I wave my head."
* * *
Wife:—"Women are not extravagant. A woman can dress smartly on a sum that would keep a man looking shabby."
Husband:—"That's right. What you dress on keeps me looking shabby."
In these days of difficulty in securing domestic servants, mistresses will accept almost any sort of help, but there are limits. A woman interrogated a husky girl in an employment office, who was a recent importation from Lapland. The dialogue was as follows:
"Can you do fancy cooking?"
"Can you do plain cooking?"
"Can you sew?"
"Can you do general housework?"
"Make the beds, wash the dishes?"
"Well," cried the woman in puzzled exasperation, "what can you do?"
"I milk reindeer."
The undertaker regarded the deceased in the coffin with severe disapproval, for the wig persisted in slipping back and revealing a perfectly bald pate. He addressed the widow in that cheerfully melancholy tone which is characteristic of undertakers during their professional public performance.
"Have you any glue?"
The widow wiped her eyes perfunctorily, and said that she had.
"Shall I heat it?" she asked. The undertaker nodded gloomily, and the relic departed on her errand. Presently, she returned with the glue-pot.
But the undertaker shook his head, and regarded her with the gently sad smile to which undertakers are addicted, as he whispered solemnly:
"I found a tack."
* * *
An engineer, who was engaged on railroad construction in Central America, explained to one of the natives living alongside the right of way the advantages that would come from realization of the projected line. To illustrate his point, he put the question:
"How long does it take you to carry your produce to market by muleback?"
"Three days, señor," was the answer.
"Then," said the engineer, "you can understand the benefit the road will be to you. You will be able to take your produce to market, and to return home on the same day."
"Very good, señor," the native agreed courteously.
"But, señor, what shall we do with the other two days?"
The farmer decided to give special attention to the development of his poultry yard, and he undertook the work carefully and systematically. His hired man, who had been with him for a number of years, was instructed, among other things, to write on each egg the date laid and the breed of the hen. After a month, the hired man resigned.
"I can't understand," the farmer declared, surprised and pained, "why you should want to leave."
"I'm through," the hired man asserted. "I've done the nastiest jobs, an' never kicked. But I draw the line on bein' secretary to a bunch o' hens."
The pessimist spoke mournfully to his friend:
"It is only to me that such misfortunes happen."
"What's the matter now?"
The pessimist answered dolefully:
"Don't you see that it is raining?"
A circus man was scouring the countryside in search of an elephant that had escaped from the menagerie and wandered off. He inquired of an Irishman working in a field to learn if the fellow had seen any strange animal thereabouts.
"Begorra, Oi hev thot!" was the vigorous answer. "There was an inju-rubber bull around here, pullin' carrots with its tail."
Some months after the elopement, an old friend met the bridegroom, and asked eagerly for details.
"What about her father? Did he catch you?"
"Just that!" quoth the bridegroom grimly. "Incidentally, I may add that the old boy is living with us still."
The darky's clothes were in the last stages of dilapidation, and he wore open work shoes, but his face was radiant, and he whistled merrily as he slouched along the street. A householder called from his porch:
"Sam, I have a job for you, if you want to earn a quarter."
The tattered colored man grinned happily as he shook his head.
"No, suh, thank yoh all de same, boss—I done got a quarter."
In an Irish cemetery stands a handsome monument with an inscription which runs thus:
"This monument is erected to the memory of James O'Flinn, who was accidentally shot by his brother as a mark of affection."
The prisoner, a darky, explained how it came about that he had been arrested for chicken-stealing:
"I didn't hab no trouble wiv de constable ner nobody. It would ab been all right if it hadn't been fer the women's love o' dress. My women folks, dey wasn't satisfied jes' to eat mos' all o' them chickens. Dey had to put de feathers in der hats, an' parade 'em as circumstantial evidence."
* * *
The smug satisfaction of the rustic in his clear perception and shrewd reasoning is illustrated by the dialogue between two farmers meeting on the road.
"Did you hear that old man Jones's house burned down last night?"
"I ain't a mite surprised. I was goin' past there in the evenin', an' when I saw the smoke a-comin' out all round under the eaves, I sez to myself, sez I, 'Where there's smoke there must be fire.' An' so it was!"
* * *
"Shall I leave the hall light burning, ma'am?" the servant asked.
"No," her mistress replied. "I think my husband won't get home until daylight. He kissed me goodbye before he went, and gave me twenty dollars for a new hat."
One of the New York churches is notorious for its exclusiveness. A colored man took a fancy to the church, and promptly told the minister that he wished to join. The clergyman sought to evade the issue by suggesting to the man that he reflect more carefully on the matter, and make it the subject of prayers for guidance. The following day, the darky encountered the minister.
"Ah done prayed, sah," he declared, beaming, "an' de Lawd he done sent me an answer las' night."
"And what was it?" queried the clergyman, somewhat at a loss. "What did the Lord say?"
"Well, sah, He done axed me what chu'ch Ah wanted to jine, an' Ah tole Him it was yourn. An' He says: 'Ho, ho, dat chu'ch!' says he. 'You can't git in dere. Ah know you can't—'cause Ah been tryin' to git in dat chu'ch fer ten years mahself an' Ah couldn't!'"
An Irishman on a scaffolding four stories high heard the noon whistle. But when he would have descended, he found that the ladder had been removed. One of his fellow workmen on the pavement below, to whom he called, explained that the foreman had carried off the ladder for another job.
"But how'll I get down?" Pat demanded.
Mike, on the pavement, suggested jumping as the only means. Pat's lunch was below, he was hungry, and he accepted the suggestion seriously.
"Will yez kitch me?" he demanded.
"Sure, an' I'll do that," Mike agreed.
Pat clapped his arms in imitation of a rooster, and crowed, to bolster up his courage, and leaped. He regained consciousness after a short interval, and feebly sat up on the pavement. He regarded Mike reproachfully.
"For why did yez not kitch me?" he asked, and the pain in bones sounded in his voice.
"Begorry," Mike replied sympathetically, "I was waiting for yez to bounce!"
The woman wrote a reference for her discharged cook as follows:
"Maggie Flynn has been employed by me for a month. She is an excellent cook, but I could not afford to make use of her services longer."
The husband, who was present, afterward expressed his surprise at the final clause.
"But it's true," the wife answered. "The dishes she smashed cost double her wages."
The baby pulled brother's hair until he yelled from the pain of it. The mother soothed the weeping boy:
"Of course, she doesn't know how badly it hurts." Then she left the room.
She hurried back presently on hearing frantic squalling from baby.
"What in the world is the matter with her?" she questioned anxiously.
"Nothin' 'tall," brother replied contentedly. "Only now she knows."
There was a chicken-stealing case before the court. The colored culprit pleaded guilty and was duly sentenced. But the circumstances of the case had provoked the curiosity of the judge, so that he questioned the darky as to how he had managed to take those chickens and carry them off from right under the window of the owner's house, and that with a savage dog loose in the yard. But the thief was not minded to explain. He said:
"Hit wouldn't be of no use, jedge, to try to 'splain dis ting to you-all. Ef you was to try it you more'n like as not would git yer hide full o' shot an' git no chickens, nuther. Ef you want to engage in any rascality, jedge, you better stick to de bench, whar you am familiar."
On her return home after an absence of a few hours, the mother was displeased to find that little Emma, who was ailing, had not taken her pill at the appointed time, although she had been carefully directed to do so.
"You were very naughty, Emma," the mother chided. "I told you to be sure and take that pill."
"But, mamma," the child pleaded in extenuation, "you didn't tell me where to take it to."
A rich and listless lady patron examined the handbags in a leading jeweler's shop in New York City. The clerk exhibited one bag five inches square, made of platinum and with one side almost covered with a setting of diamonds. This was offered at a price of $9,000.
But the lady surveyed the expensive bauble without enthusiasm. She turned it from side to side and over and over, regarding it with a critical eye and frowning disapprovingly. At last she voiced her comment:
"Rather pretty, but I don't like this side without diamonds. Honestly, the thing looks skimpy—decidedly skimpy!"
For $7,000 additional, the objectional skimpiness was corrected.
The burly man spoke lucidly to his gangling adversary:
"You're a nincompoop, a liar and hoss-thief."
The other man protested, with a whine in his voice:
"Sech talk ain't nice—and, anyhow, 'tain't fair twittin' on facts."
After years of endeavor in poverty, the inventor made a success, and came running home with pockets bulging real money. He joyously strewed thousand-dollar bills in his wife's lap, crying:
"Now, at last, my dear, you will be able to buy you some decent clothes."
"I'll do nothing of the kind," was the sharp retort. "I'll get the same kind the other women are wearing."
* * *
At the village store, the young farmer complained bitterly.
"Old Si Durfee wants me to be one of the pall-bearers once more at his wife's funeral. An' it's like this. Si had me fer pall-bearer when his first wife was buried. An' then agin fer his second. An' when Eliza died, she as was his third, he up an' axed me agin. An' now, I snum, it's the fourth time. An' ye know, a feller can't be the hull time a-takin' favors, an' not payin' 'em back."
The boy hurried home to his father with an announcement:
"Me and Joe Peck had a fight to-day."
The father nodded gravely.
"Mr. Peck has already called to see me about it."
The little boy's face brightened.
"Gee, pop! I hope you made out 's well 's I did!"
A very black little girl made her way into the presence of the lady of the house, and with much embarrassment, but very clearly, explained who she was, and what her mission:
"Please, mum, I'se Ophelia. I'se de washerwoman's little girl, an' mama, she sent me to say, would you please to len' her a dime. She got to pay some bills."
* * *
The successful financier snorted contemptuously.
"Money! pooh! there are a million ways of making money."
"But only one honest way," a listener declared.
"What way is that?" the financier demanded.
"Naturally, you wouldn't know," was the answer.
* * *
The eminent financier was discoursing.
"The true secret of success," he said, "is to find out what the people want."
"And the next thing," someone suggested, "is to give it to them."
The financier shook his head contemptuously.
"No—to corner it."
* * *
The eminent banker explained just how he started in business:
"I had nothing to do, and I rented an empty store, and put up a sign, Bank. As soon as I opened for business, a man dropped in, and made a deposit of two hundred dollars. The next day another man dropped in and deposited three hundred dollars. And so, sir, the third day, my confidence in the enterprise reached such a point that I put in fifty dollars of my own money."
"My pa, he's a financier," boasted one small boy to another.
"'Tain't much to brag of," the other sneered. "My pa an' uncle Jack are in jail, too."
The congressman from California was telling at dinner in the hotel of tuna fishing.
"Just run out in a small motor boat," he explained, "and anything less than a hundred pounds is poor sport."
The colored waiter was so excited that he interrupted:
"You say you go after hundred-pound fish in a little motor boat, suh?"
The congressman nodded.
"But," the darky protested, "ain't you scairt fer fear you'll ketch one?"
An eminent statesman was being driven rapidly by his chauffeur, when the car struck and killed a dog that leaped in front of it. At the statesman's order, the chauffeur stopped the car, and the great man got out and hurried back to where a woman was standing by the remains. The dead dog's mistress was deeply grieved, and more deeply angered. As the statesman attempted to address her placatingly, she turned on him wrathfully, and told him just what she thought, which was considerable and by no means agreeable. When, at last, she paused for breath, the culprit tried again to soothe her, saying:
"Madam, I shall be glad to replace your dog."
The woman drew herself up haughtily, surveyed the statesman with supreme scorn, and hissed:
"Sir, you flatter yourself!"
The debutante was alarmed over the prospect of being taken in to dinner by the distinguished statesman.
"Whatever can we talk about?" she demanded anxiously of her mother.
Afterward, in the drawing-room, she came to her mother with a radiant smile.
"He's fine," she exclaimed. "We weren't half way through the soup before we were chatting cozily about the fleas in Italian hotels."
The gentleman at the party, who was old enough to know better, turned to another guest, who had just paused beside him:
"Women are fickle. See that pretty woman by the window? She was smiling at me flirtatiously a few minutes ago and now she looks cold as an iceberg."
"I have only just arrived," the other man said. "She is my wife."
The breakfaster in the cheap restaurant tried to make conversation with the man beside him at the counter.
"Awful rainy spell—like the flood."
"The flood?" The tone was polite, but inquiring.
"The flood—Noah, the Ark, Mount Ararat."
The other bit off half a slice of bread, shook his head, and mumbled thickly:
"Hain't read to-day's paper yit."
Gilbert wrote a couplet concerning—
Such suggestion is all very well in a humorous ballad, but we do not look for anything of the sort in a serious romance of real life. Nevertheless, a Welsh newspaper of recent date carried the following paragraph:
"At —— Church, on Monday last, a very interesting wedding was solemnized, the contracting parties being Mr. Richard ——, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. ——, and a bouquet of pink carnations."
The old gentleman was lost in a London fog, so thick that he could hardly see his hand before his face. He became seriously alarmed when he found himself in a slimy alley. Then he heard footsteps approaching through the obscurity, and sighed with relief.
"Where am I going to?" he cried anxiously.
A voice replied weirdly from the darkness beyond:
"Into the river—I've just come out!"
A wise old Quaker woman once said that men were guilty of three most astonishing follies. The first was the climbing of trees to shake down the fruit, when if they would but wait, the fruit would fall of itself. The second was the going to war to kill one another, when if they would only wait, they must surely die naturally. The third was that they should run after women, when, if they did not do so, the women would surely run after them.
The Arctic explorer at a reception on his return gave an informal talk concerning his experiences. He explained that a point further north would have been reached, if the dogs had not given out at a critical time.
A lady, who had followed the explorer's remarks carefully, ventured a comment as the speaker paused:
"But I thought those Esquimaux dogs were actually tireless."
The explorer hesitated, and cleared his throat before answering.
"I spoke," he elucidated, "in a—er—culinary sense."
* * *
The young mother asked the man who supplied her with milk if he kept any calves, and smiled pleasedly when he said that he did.
"Then," she continued brightly, "bring me a pint of calf's milk every day. I think cow's milk is too strong for baby."
The highly efficient housewife bragged that she always rose early, and had every bed in the house made before anybody else in the house was up.
The master directed that the picture should be hung on the east wall; the mistress preferred the west wall.
The servant drove the nail where his master directed, but when he was left alone in the room he drove a nail in the other wall.
"That," he said to himself, "will save my lugging the steps up here again to-morrow, when he has come around to agreeing with her."
The foreman of a Southern mill, who was much troubled by the shiftlessness of his colored workers, called sharply to two of the men slouching past him.
"Hi, you! where are you going?"
"Well, suh, boss," one of them answered, "we is goin' to de mill wid dis-heah plank."
"Plank? What plank? Where's the plank?" the foreman demanded.
The colored spokesman looked inquiringly and somewhat surprisedly at his own empty hands and those of his companion, whom he addressed good-naturedly:
"Now, if dat don't beat all, George! If we hain't gone an' clean forgitted dat plank!"
* * *
Two men met on the city street in the evening, and had a number of drinks together. The one who lived in the suburbs became confidential, and exhibited a string tied around a finger.
"I don't dare to go home," he explained. "There's something my wife told me to do, without fail, and to make sure I wouldn't forget, she tied that string around my finger. But for the life of me I can't remember what the thing was I am to do. And I don't dare to go home!"
A few days later the two men met again, this time in the afternoon.
"Well," the one asked, "did you finally remember what that string was to remind you of?"
The other showed great gloom in his expression, as he replied:
"I didn't go home until the next night, just because I was scared, and then my wife told me what the string was for all right—she certainly did!" There was a note of pain in his voice. "The string was to remind me to be sure to come home early."
* * *
The clergyman drew near to the baptismal font, and directed that the candidates for baptism should now be presented. A woman in the congregation gave a gasp of dismay and turned to her husband, whom she addressed in a strenuous whisper:
"There! I just knew we'd forget something. John, you run right home as fast as you can, and fetch the baby."
The traveler wrote an indignant letter to the officials of the railroad company, giving full details as to why he had sat up in the smoking-room all night, instead of sleeping in his berth. He received in reply a letter from the company, which was so courteous and logical that he was greatly soothed. His mood changed for the worse, however, when he happened to glance at his own letter, which had been enclosed through error. On the margin was jotted in pencil:
"Send this guy the bed-bug letter."
* * *
A worker in the steel mills applied direct to Mr. Carnegie for a holiday in which to get married. The magnate inquired interestedly concerning the bride:
"Is she tall or short, slender or plump?"
The prospective bridegroom answered seriously:
"Well, sir, I'm free to say, that if I'd had the rollin' of her, I sure would have given her three or four more passes."
The hired man on a New England farm went on his first trip to the city. He returned wearing a scarf pin set with at least four carats bulk of radiance. The jewelry dazzled the rural belles, and excited the envy of the other young men. His employer bluntly asked if it was a real diamond.
"If it ain't," was the answer, "I was skun out o' half a dollar."
The kindly lady accosted the little boy on the beach, who stood with downcast head, and grinding his toes into the sand and looking very miserable and lonely indeed.
"Haven't you anybody to play with?" she inquired sympathetically.
The boy shook his head forlornly, as he explained:
"I have one friend—but I hate him!"
* * *
The clergyman on his vacation wrote a long letter concerning his traveling experiences to be circulated among the members of the congregation. The letter opened in this form:
"I will not address you as ladies and gentlemen, because I know you so well."
An American tourist in France found that he had a two hours' wait for his train at a junction, and set out to explore the neighborhood. He discovered at last that he was lost, and could not find his way back to the station. He therefore addressed a passer-by in the best French he could recollect from his college days, mispronouncing it with great emphasis. He voiced his request for information as follows:
"Pardonnez-moi. J'ai quitté ma train et maintenant je ne sais pas où le trouver encore. Est-ce que vous pouvez me montrer le route à la train?"
"Let's look for it together," said the stranger genially. "I don't speak French, either."
The traveler in the Blue Ridge Mountains made his toilet as best he could with the aid of the hand basin on its bench by the cabin door and the roller towel. He made use of his own comb and brush, tooth-brush, nail-file and whiskbroom. The small son of the cabin regarded his operations with rounded eyes, and at last broke forth:
"By cricky, mister, I wantta know! Be ye allus thet much trouble to yerself?"
It is quite possible to trap clergymen, as well as laymen, with the following question, because they are not always learned in the Old Testament.
"If David was the father of Solomon, and Joab was the son of Zeruiah, what relation was Zeruiah to Joab?"
Most persons give the answer that Zeruiah was the father of Joab, necessarily. That is not the correct answer. The trouble is that Zeruiah was a woman. And, of course, David and Solomon having nothing whatever to do with the case.
There has been much controversy for years as to the proper definition of the much abused word "gentleman." Finally, by a printer's error in prefixing un to an adverb, an old and rather mushy description of a gentleman has been given a novel twist and a pithy point. A contributor's letter to a metropolitan daily appeared as follows:
"Sir—I can recall no better description of a gentleman than this—
"'A gentleman is one who never gives offense unintentionally.'"
The airman, after many hours of thick weather, had lost his bearings completely. Then it cleared and he was able to make a landing. Naturally, he was anxious to know in what part of the world he had arrived. He put the question to the group of rustics that had promptly assembled. The answer was explicit:
"You've come down in Deacon Peck's north medder lot."
There was a haunted house down South which was carefully avoided by all the superstitious negroes. But a new arrival in the community, named Sam, bragged of his bravery as too superior to be shaken by any ghosts, and declared that, for the small sum of two dollars cash in hand paid, he would pass the night alone in the haunted house. A score of other darkies contributed, and the required amount was raised. It was not, however, to be delivered to the courageous Sam until his reappearance after the vigil. With this understanding the boaster betook himself to the haunted house for the night.
When a select committee sought for Sam next morning, no trace of him was found. Careful search for three days failed to discover the missing negro.
But on the fourth day Sam entered the village street, covered with mud and evidently worn with fatigue.
"Hi, dar, nigger!" one of the bystanders shouted. "Whar you-all been de las' foh days?"
And Sam answered simply:
"Ah's been comin' back."
The little boy was found by his mother with pencil and paper, making a sketch. When asked what he was doing, he answered promptly, and with considerable pride:
"I'm drawing a picture of God."
"But," gasped the shocked mother, "you cannot do that. No one has seen God. No one knows how God looks."
"Well," the little boy replied, complacently, "when I get through they will."
The clergyman was calling, when the youthful son and heir approached his mother proudly, and exhibited a dead rat. As she shrank in repugnance, he attempted to reassure her:
"Oh, it's dead all right, mama. We beat it and beat it and beat it, and it's deader 'n dead."
His eyes fell on the clergyman, and he felt that something more was due to that reverend presence. So he continued in a tone of solemnity:
"Yes, we beat it and beat it until—until God called it home!"
The eminent English Statesman Arbuthnot-Joyce plays golf so badly that he prefers a solitary round with only the caddy present. He had a new boy one day recently, and played as wretchedly as usual.
"I fancy I play the worst game in the world," he confessed to the caddy.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that, sir," was the consoling response. "From what the boys were saying about another gentleman who plays here, he must be worse even than you are."
"What's his name?" asked the statesman hopefully.
And the caddy replied:
The son and heir had just been confirmed. At the dinner table, following the church service, the father called on his son to say grace. The boy was greatly embarrassed by the demand. Moreover, he was tired, not only from the excitement of the special service through which he had passed, but also from walking to and from the church, four miles away, and, too, he was very hungry indeed and impatient to begin the meal. Despite his protest, however, the father insisted.
So, at last, the little man folded his hands with a pious air, closed his eyes tight, bent his head reverently, and spoke his prayer:
"O Lord, have mercy on these victuals. Amen!"
* * *
The new clergyman in the country parish, during his visit to an old lady of his flock, inquired if she accepted the doctrine of Falling from Grace. The good woman nodded vigorously.
"Yes, sir," she declared with pious zeal, "I believe in it, and, praise the Lord! I practise it!"
The passing lady mistakenly supposed that the woman shouting from a window down the street was calling to the little girl minding baby brother close by on the curb.
"Your mother is calling you," she said kindly.
The little girl corrected the lady:
"Her ain't a-callin' we. Us don't belong to she."
* * *
The teacher asked the little girl if she was going to the Maypole dance. "No, I ain't going," was the reply.
The teacher corrected the child:
"You must not say, 'I ain't going,' you must say, 'I am not going.'" And she added to impress the point: "I am not going. He is not going. We are not going. You are not going. They are not going. Now, dear, can you say all that?"
The little girl nodded and smiled brightly.
"Sure!" she replied. "They ain't nobody going."
* * *
The witness, in answer to the lawyer's question, said:
"Them hain't the boots what was stole."
The judge rebuked the witness sternly:
"Speak grammatic, young man—speak grammatic! You shouldn't ought to say, 'them boots what was stole,' you should ought to say, 'them boots as was stealed.'"
The auctioneer, offering the pasture lot for sale, waved his hand enthusiastically, pointed toward the rich expanse of herbage, and shouted:
"Now, then, how much am I offered for this field? Jest look at that grass, gentlemen. That's exactly the sort of grass Nebuchadnezzar would have given two hundred dollars an acre for."
An eminent doctor successfully attended a sick child. A few days later, the grateful mother called on the physician. After expressing her realization of the fact that his services had been of a sort that could not be fully paid for, she continued:
"But I hope you will accept as a token from me this purse which I myself have embroidered."
The physician replied very coldly to the effect that the fees of the physician must be paid in money, not merely in gratitude, and he added:
"Presents maintain friendship: they do not maintain a family."
"What is your fee?" the woman inquired.
"Two hundred dollars," was the answer.
The woman opened the purse, and took from it five $100 bills. She put back three, handed two to the discomfited physician, then took her departure.
At the wake, the bereaved husband displayed all the evidences of frantic grief. He cried aloud heart-rendingly, and tore his hair. The other mourners had to restrain him from leaping into the open coffin.
The next day, a friend who had been at the wake encountered the widower on the street and spoke sympathetically of the great woe displayed by the man.
"Did you go to the cemetery for the burying?" the stricken husband inquired anxiously, and when he was answered in the negative, continued proudly: "It's a pity ye weren't there. Ye ought to have seen the way I cut up."
* * *
The old woman in indigent circumstances was explaining to a visitor, who found her at breakfast, a long category of trials and tribulations.
"And," she concluded, "this very morning, I woke up at four o'clock, and cried and cried till breakfast time, and as soon as I finish my tea I'll begin again, and probably keep it up all day."
It was the bridegroom's third matrimonial undertaking, and the bride's second. When the clergyman on whom they had called for the ceremony entered the parlor, he found the couple comfortably seated. They made no effort to rise, so, as he opened the book to begin the service, he directed them, "Please, stand up."
The bridegroom looked at the bride, and the bride stared back at him, and then both regarded the clergyman, while the man voiced their decision in a tone that was quite polite, but very firm:
"We have ginerally sot."
* * *
It is a matter of common knowledge that there have been troublous times in Ireland before those of the present. In the days of the Land League, an Irish Judge told as true of an experience while he was holding court in one of the turbulent sections. When the jury entered the court-room at the beginning of the session, the bailiff directed them to take their accustomed places.... And every man of them walked forward into the dock.
The school girl from Avenue A, who had just learned that the notorious Gorgon sisters had snakes for hair, chewed her gum thoughtfully as she commented:
"Tough luck to have to get out and grab a mess of snakes any time you want an extry puff."
The rather ferocious-appearing husband who had taken his wife to the beach for a holiday scowled heavily at an amateur photographer, and rumbled in a threatening bass voice:
"What the blazes d'ye mean, photographin' my wife? I saw ye when ye done it."
The man addressed cringed, and replied placatingly:
"You're mistaken, really! I wouldn't think of doing such a thing."
"Ye wouldn't, eh?" the surly husband growled, still more savagely. "And why not? I'd like to know. She's the handsomest woman on the beach."
The colored man was condemned to be hanged, and was awaiting the time set for execution in a Mississippi jail. Since all other efforts had failed him, he addressed a letter to the governor, with a plea for executive clemency. The opening paragraph left no doubt as to his urgent need:
"Dear Boss: The white folks is got me in dis jail fixin' to hang me on Friday mornin' and here it is Wednesday already."
The convicted feudist was working for a pardon. It was reported to him that the opposing clan was pulling wires against him, and spreading false reports concerning him. He thereupon wrote a brief missive to the governor:
"Deer guvner, if youve heared wat ive heared youve heared youve heared a lie."
The clergyman in the following story probably did not mean exactly what he said, though, human nature being what it is, maybe it was true enough.
A parishioner meeting the parson in the street inquired:
"When do you expect to see Deacon Jones again?"
"Never, never again!" the minister declared solemnly. "The deacon is in heaven!"
The farmer found his new hired man very unsatisfactory. A neighbor who chanced along inquired:
"How's that new hand o' your'n?"
"Cuss the critter!" was the bitter reply. "He ain't a hand—he's a sore thumb."
* * *
A savage old boar got into a garden, and was doing much damage. When two men tried to drive it out, the animal charged. One of the two climbed a tree, the other dodged, and laid hold on the boar's tail. He hung on desperately, and man and beast raced wildly round and round the tree. Finally, the man shouted between gasps:
"For heaven's sake, Bill, climb down here, and help me leggo this ornery old hog!"
Many a mayor is a friend to the people—just like his honor in the following story.
A taxpayer entered the office of the water registrar in a small city, and explained himself and his business there as follows:
"My name is O'Rafferty. And my cellar is full of wather, and my hins will all be drowned intirely if it ain't fixed. And I'm here to inform yez that I'm wantin' it fixed."
It was explained to the complainant that the remedy for his need must be sought at the office of the mayor, and he therefore departed to interview that official.
After an interval of a few days, O'Rafferty made a second visit to the office of the registrar.
"Sure, and I've come agin to tell yez that my cellar is now fuller of water than ever it was before. And I'm tellin' yez that I want it fixed, and I'm a man that carries votes in my pocket."
The registrar again explained that he was powerless in the matter, and that the only recourse must be to the mayor.
"The mayor is ut!" O'Rafferty snorted. "Sure and didn't I see the mayor? I did thot! And what did the mayor say to me? Huh! he said, 'Mr. O'Rafferty, why don't you keep ducks?'"
The customer asked for fresh eggs, and the clerk in the London shop said:
"Them are fresh which has a hen on 'em."
"But I don't see any hen."
The clerk explained patiently.
"Not the fowl, mum, but the letter hen. Hen stands for noo-laid."
This is the dialogue between a little girl and a little boy:
"What are you bawling about, Jimmie?"
"I'm cryin' because maw has wented to heaven."
"That's silly. Maybe she hain't."
Little Alice questioned her mother concerning heaven, and seemed pleased to be assured that she would have wings and harp and crown.
"And candy, too, mamma?"
The mother shook her head.
"Anyhow," Alice declared, "I'm tickled we have such a fine doctor."
The woman, who had a turn-up nose and was somewhat self-conscious concerning it, bought a new pug dog, and petted it so fondly as to excite the jealousy of her little daughter.
"How do you like your new little brother?" she asked the child teasingly.
The girl replied, rather maliciously, perhaps:
"He looks just like his muvver."
Two men were talking together in the Public Library. One of them said:
"The dime novel has gone. I wonder where it's gone to?"
The other, who knew something of literature in its various phases, answered cynically:
"It's gone up to a dollar and ninety cents."
Mike, the hod-carrier, was still somewhat fuddled when he arose Monday morning, with the result that he put on his overalls wrong side to; with the further result, that he was careless while mounting the ladder later with a load of bricks, and fell to the ground. As he raised himself into a sitting position, a fellow workman asked solicitously:
"Are yez kilt intoirly, Mike?"
Mike, with drooping head, stared down dully at the seat of his overalls, and shook his head.
"No," he declared in a tone of awe, "I'm not kilt, but I'm terrible twisted."
* * *
A rustic visitor to the city made a desperate run for the ferry boat as it was leaving the slip. He made a mighty leap, and covered the intervening space, then fell sprawling to the deck, where he lay stunned for about two minutes. At last he sat up feebly, and stared dazedly over the wide expanse of water between boat and shore.
"Holy hop-toads!" he exclaimed in a tone of profound awe. "What a jump!"
A Kansas editor hit on the following gentle device for dunning delinquent subscribers to the paper:
"There is a little matter that some of our sub$cribers have seemingly forgotten entirely. Some of them have made us many promises, but have not kept them. To us it is a very important matter—it's necessary in our busness. We are very modest and don't like to speak about such remissness."
The faculty were arranging the order of examinations. It was agreed that the harder subjects should be placed first in the list. It was proposed that history should have the final place. The woman teacher of that subject protested:
"But it is certainly one of the easiest subjects," the head of the faculty declared.
The young woman shook her head, and spoke firmly:
"Not the way I teach it. Indeed, according to my method, it is a very difficult study, and most perplexing."
* * *
Down in Virginia, near Yorktown, lived an aged negro whose proud boast was that he had been the body servant of George Washington. As he was very old indeed, no one could disprove his claims, and he made the most of his historical pretentions. He was full of anecdotes concerning the Father of His Country, and exploited himself in every tale. His favorite narrative was of the capture of Lord Cornwallis by his master, which was as follows:
"Yassuh, it were right on dis yere road, jest over dar by de fo'ks. Gen'l Washin'ton, he knowed dat ole Co'nwallis, he gwine pass dis way, an' 'im an' me, we done hid behin' de bushes an' watched. Yassuh, an' when ole Co'nwallis, he come by, Gen'l Washin'ton, he jumped out at 'im, an' he grab 'im by de collah, an' he say, 'Yoh blame' ole rascal, dat de time what Ah done gone cotch ye!"
The professor and his wife were doubtful about returning to the farm on which they had passed the previous summer, because they had been somewhat annoyed by the proximity of the pigsty to the house. Finally, the professor wrote to the farmer and explained the objectionable feature. He received the following reply:
"We hain't had no hogs on the place since you was here last summer. Be sure to come."
The farmer, after seven years of effort on the stony farm, announced to all and sundry:
"Anyhow, I'm holdin' my own. I hadn't nothin' when I come here, an' I haven't nothin' now."
The young man had offered his heart and hand to the fair damsel.
"Before giving you my decision," she said sweetly, "I wish to ask you a question." Then, as he nodded assent: "Do you drink anything?"
The young man replied without an instant of hesitation and proudly:
And she fell into his arms.
One of our volunteers in the late war lost some of his first enthusiasm under the bitter experience of campaigning. One night at the front in France, while his company was stationed in a wood, a lieutenant discovered the recruit sitting on a log and weeping bitterly. The officer spoke roughly:
"Now, what are you bawling about, you big baby?"
"I wish I was in my daddy's barn!" replied the soldier in a plaintive voice.
"In your daddy's barn!" the astonished lieutenant exclaimed. "What for? What would you do if you were in your daddy's barn?"
"If I was in my daddy's barn," the youth explained huskily through a choking sob, "I'd go into the house mighty quick!"
The newly married pair were stopping in a hotel. The bride left the groom in their room while she went out on a brief shopping expedition. She returned in due time, and passed along the hotel corridor to the door, on which she tapped daintily.
"I'm back, honey—let me in," she murmured with wishful tenderness. But there was no answer vouchsafed to her plea. She knocked a little more firmly, and raised her voice somewhat to call again:
"Honey, honey—it's Susie! Let me in!"
Thereupon a very cold masculine voice sounded through the door:
"Madam, this is not a beehive; it's a bathroom!"
A certain man notorious for his slowness paid attention for two years to a young lady, without coming to the point. The girl's father thought it time for him to interfere. On the swain's next visit, the father interviewed him:
"Clinton, you've been settin' up with Nellie, an' takin' her to picnics, an' to church an' buggy-ridin', an' nothin's come of it. So, now, Clinton, I ask you, as man to man, what be your intentions?"
And Clinton responded unabashed:
"Well, answerin' you as man to man, I'll say there hain't no cause for you to ruffle your shirt. My intentions is honorable—but remote."
Little Mary, who had fallen ill, begged for a kitten. It was found that an operation was necessary for the child's cure, and that she must go to the hospital. The mother promised that if she would be very brave during this time of trial she should have the very finest kitten to be found.
As Mary was coming out from the influence of the anesthetic, the nurse heard her muttering, and stooping, heard these words:
"It's a bum way to get a cat."
The good wife apologized to her unexpected guests for serving the apple pie without cheese. The little boy of the family slipped quietly away from the table for a moment, and returned with a cube of cheese, which he laid on the guest's plate. The visitor smiled in recognition of the lad's thoughtfulness, popped the cheese into his mouth, and then remarked:
"You must have sharper eyes than your mother, sonny. Where did you find it?"
The boy replied with a flush of pride:
"In the rat-trap."
Two boys once thought to play a trick on Charles Darwin. They took the body of a centipede, the wings of a butterfly, the legs of a grasshopper and the head of a beetle, and glued these together to form a weird monster. With the composite creature in a box, they visited Darwin.
"Please, sir, will you tell us what sort of a bug this is?" the spokesman asked.
The naturalist gave a short glance at the exhibit and a long glance at the boys.
"Did it hum?" he inquired solemnly.
The boys replied enthusiastically, in one voice:
"Oh, yes, sir."
"Well, then," Darwin declared, "it is a humbug."
The little boy had been warned repeatedly against playing on the lawn when it was damp. Saturday evening, his father heard him recite a Scripture verse learned for the Sunday school.
"'Put off thy shoes from they feet, for the ground whereon thou standest is——'" He halted at a loss.
"Is what, my boy?" asked the father.
The slow suitor asked:
"Elizabeth, would you like to have a puppy?"
"Oh, Edward," the girl gushed, "how delightfully humble of you. Yes, dearest, I accept."
"That woman never turns away a hungry man."
"Ah, genuinely charitable!"
"Hardly that. She says, 'Are you so hungry you want to saw some wood for a dinner?' And the answer is, 'No.'"
An amateur sportsman spent the day with dog and gun, but brought home no game. A friend twitted him with his failure:
"Didn't you shoot anything at all?"
The honest fellow nodded miserably.
"I shot my dog."
"Why?" his questioner demanded. "Was he mad?"
The sportsman shook his head doubtfully.
"Not exactly mad," he asserted; "and not so darned tickled neither!"
The paying teller told mournfully of his experience with a strange woman who appeared at his wicket to have a check cashed.
"But, madam," he advised her, "you will have to get some one to introduce you before I can pay you the money on this check."
The woman stared at him disdainfully.
"Sir!" she said haughtily. "I wish you to understand that I am here strictly on business. I am not making a social call. I do not care to know you."
The foreigner, who prided himself on his mastery of colloquial expressions in English, was speaking of the serious illness of a distinguished statesman.
"It would be a great pity," he declared, "if such a splendid man should kick the ghost."
* * *
The old man told how his brother made a hazardous descent into a well by standing in the bucket while those above operated the windlass.
"And what happened?" one of the listeners asked as the aged narrator paused.
The old man stroked his beard, and spoke softly, in a tone of sorrowing reminiscence:
"He kicked the bucket."
Pat was set to work with the circular saw during his first day at the saw mill. The foreman gave careful instructions how to guard against injury, but no sooner was his back turned than he heard a howl from the novice, and, on turning, he saw that Pat had already lost a finger.
"Now, how did that happen?" the foreman demanded.
"Sure," was the explanation, "I was jist doin' like this when,—bejabers, there's another gone!"
An acquaintance encountered in the village inquired of Farmer Jones concerning his wife, who was seriously ill. That worthy scowled and spat, and finally answered in a tone of fretful dejection:
"Seems like Elmiry's falin' drefful slow. Dinged if I don't wish as how she'd git well, or somethin'."
The ice on the river was in perfect condition. A small boy, with his skates on his arm, knocked at the door of the Civil War veteran, who had lost a leg at Antietam. When the door was opened by the old man, the boy asked:
"Are you going out to-day, sir?"
"Well, no, I guess not, sonny," was the answer. "Why?"
"If you ain't," the boy suggested, "I thought I might like to borrow your wooden leg to play hockey."
The bashful suitor finally nerved himself to the supreme effort:
"Er—Jenny, do you—think—er—your mother might—er—seriously consider—er—becoming my—er-mother-in-law?"
A lawyer made his way to the edge of the excavation where a gang was working, and called the name of Timothy O'Toole.
"Who's wantin' me?" inquired a heavy voice.
"Mr. O'Toole," the lawyer asked, "did you come from Castlebar, County Mayo?"
"I did that."
"And your mother was named Bridget and your father Michael?"
"It is my duty, then," said the lawyer, "to inform you, Mr. O'Toole, that your Aunt Mary has died in Iowa, leaving you an estate of sixty thousand dollars."
There was a short silence below, and then a lively commotion.
"Are you coming, Mr. O'Toole?" the lawyer called down.
"In wan minute," was bellowed in answer. "I've just stopped to lick the foreman."
It required just six months of extremely riotous living for O'Toole to expend all of the sixty thousand dollars. His chief endeavor was to satisfy a huge inherited thirst.
Then he went back to his job. And there, presently, the lawyer sought him out again.
"It's your Uncle Patrick, this time, Mr. O'Toole," the lawyer explained. "He has died in Texas, and left you forty thousand dollars."
O'Toole leaned heavily on his pick, and shook his head in great weariness.
"I don't think I can take it," he declared. "I'm not as strong as I wance was, and I misdoubt me that I could go through all that money and live."
* * *
In a London theatre, a tragedy was being played. The aged king tottered to and fro on the stage as he declaimed:
"On which one of my two sons shall I bestow the crown?"
A voice came down from the gallery:
"Hi saye, guv'nor, myke it 'arf a crown apiece."
* * *
Said one Tommy to another:
"That's a snortin' pipe, Bill. Where'd you happen on it?"
"It was pussonal property of a Boche what tried to take me prisoner," was the answer. "Inherited it from him."
The sweet little girl had a violent tussle with her particular chum. Her mother reprimanded her, and concluded by saying:
"It was Satan who suggested to you the pulling of Jenny's hair."
"I shouldn't be surprised," the child replied musingly. "But," she added proudly, "kicking her in the shins was entirely my own idea."
The child sat by the road bawling loudly. A passer-by asked him what was the matter.
"My ma, she's gone and drowned the kittens," the boy wailed.
"Oh, isn't that too bad!" was the sympathetic response.
The child bawled the louder.
"An' ma she promised me that I could drown 'em."
A little girl four years old was alone in the nursery with the door closed and fastened when her little brother arrived and expressed a desire to come in. The following was the dialogue:
"I wants to tum in, Sissy."
"But you tan't tum in, Tom."
"But I wants to."
"Well, I'se in my nightie gown an' nurse says little boys mus'n't see little girls in their nightie gowns."
There was a period of silence during which the astonished little boy reflected on the mystery. It was ended by Sissy's calling out:
"You tan tum in now, Tom—I tooked it off."
* * *
The very young clergyman made his first parochial call. He tried to admire the baby, and asked how old it was.
"Just ten weeks old," the proud mother replied.
And the very young clergyman inquired interestedly:
"And is it your youngest?"
In the smoking car, one of the passengers had an empty coatsleeve. The sharer of his seat was of an inquisitive turn, and after a vain effort to restrain his curiosity, finally hemmed and hawed, and said:
"I beg pardon, sir, but I see you've lost an arm."
The one-armed man picked up the empty sleeve in his remaining hand, and felt of it with every evidence of astonishment.
"Bless my soul!" he exclaimed. "I do believe you're right."
* * *
The curiosity of the passenger was excited by the fact that his seatmate had his right arm in a sling, and the following dialogue occurred:
"You broke your arm, didn't you?"
"Well, yes, I did."
"Had an accident, I suppose?"
"Not exactly. I did it in trying to pat myself on the back."
"My land! On the back! Now, whatever did you want to pat yourself on the back for?"
"Just for minding my own business."
The man suffering from insomnia quite often makes a mistake in calling the doctor, when what he needs is the preacher.
The young wife greeted her husband tearfully on his return from the day's work.
"Oh, Willie, darling," she gasped, "I have been so insulted!"
"Insulted!" Willie exclaimed wrathfully. "Insulted by whom?"
"By your mother!" the wife declared, and sobbed aloud.
The husband was aghast, but inclined to be skeptical.
"By my mother, Ella? Why, dearest, that's nonsense. She's a hundred miles away."
"But she did," the wife insisted. "A letter came to you this morning, and it was addressed in your mother's writing, so, of course, I opened it."
"Oh, yes, of course," Willie agreed, without any enthusiasm.
"And it was written to you all the whole way through, every word of it, except——"
"Except the postscript," the wife flared. "That was the insult—that was to me." The tears flowed again. "It said: 'P. S.—Dear Ella, don't fail to give this letter to Willie. I want him to read it.'"
* * *
Tom Corwin was remarkable for the size of his mouth. He claimed that he had been insulted by a deacon of his church.
"When I stood up in the class meeting, to relate my experience," Corwin explained, "and opened my mouth, the Deacon rose up in front and said, 'Will some brother please close that window, and keep it closed!'"
The woman at the insurance office inquired as to the costs, amounts paid, etc.
"So," she concluded, "if I pay five dollars, you pay me a thousand if my house burns down. But do you ask questions about how the fire came to start?"
"We make careful investigation, of course," the agent replied.
The woman flounced toward the door disgustedly.
"Just as I thought," she called over her shoulder. "I knew there was a catch in it."
During a lecture, Artemas Ward once startled the crowd of listeners by announcing a fifteen-minute intermission. After contemplating the audience for a few minutes, he relieved their bewilderment by saying:
"Meanwhile, in order to pass the time, we will proceed with the lecture."
The profiteer, skimming over the advertisements in his morning paper, looked across the damask and silver and cut glass at his wife, and remarked enviously:
"These inventors make the money. Take cleaners, now, I'll bet that feller Vacuum has cleared millions."
The joke maker's association had a feast. They exploited their humorous abilities, and all made merry, save one glum guest. At last, they insisted that this melancholy person should contribute to the entertainment. He consented, in response to much urging, to offer a conundrum:
"What is the difference between me and a turkey?"
When none could guess the answer, the glum individual explained:
"I am alive. They stuff turkeys with chestnuts after they are dead."
The urchin was highly excited, and well he might be when we consider his explanation:
"They got twins up to sisters. One twin, he's a boy, an' one twin, she's a girl, an' so I'm a uncle an' a aunt."
* * *
The Southern lady interrogated her colored cook, Matilda, concerning a raid made on the chicken-house during the night.
"You sleep right close to the chicken-house, Matilda, and it seems to me you must have heard the noise when those thieves were stealing the chickens."
"Yes, ma'am," Matilda admitted, with an expression of grief on her dusky features. "I heerd de chickens holler, an' I heerd the voices ob de men."
"Then why didn't you go out and stop them?" the mistress demanded.
"Case, ma'am," she exclaimed, "I know'd my old fadder was dar, an' I wouldn't hab him know I'se los' confidence in him foh all de chickens in de world. If I had gone out dar an' kotched him, it would have broke his ole heart, an', besides, he would hab made me tote de chickens home foh him."
The bridegroom, who was in a horribly nervous condition, appealed to the clergyman in a loud whisper, at the close of the ceremony:
"Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?"
The clergyman might have replied:
"Not yet, but soon."
* * *
The young man addressed the old grouch:
"When a fellow has taken a girl to a show, and fed her candy, and given her supper, and taken her home in a taxi, shouldn't she let a fellow kiss her good-night?"
The old grouch snorted.
"Humph! He's already done more than enough for her."
The subject of kissing was debated with much earnestness for a half hour between the girl and her young man caller. The fellow insisted that it was always possible for a man to kiss a girl at will, whether she chose to permit it or not. The maiden was firm in maintaining that such was not the case. Finally, it was decided that the only solution of the question must be by a practical demonstration one way or the other. So, they tried it. They clinched, and the battle was on. After a lively tussle, they broke away. The girl had been kissed—ardently for a period of minutes. Her comment showed an undaunted spirit:
"Oh, well, you really didn't win fair. My foot slipped ... Let's try it again."
* * *
The tiny boy fell down and bumped his head. His Uncle Bill picked the child up, with the remark:
"Now I'll kiss it, and the pain will all be gone."
The youngster recovered his smiles under the treatment, and then, as he was set down, addressed his uncle eagerly:
"Come down in the kitchen—the cook has the toothache."
Some Scottish deacons were famous, if not notorious, for the readiness with which they could expound any passage of Scripture. It is recorded of a certain elder that as he read and commented on the thirty-fourth Psalm, he misread the sentence, "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." He carelessly read the last two words: "squeaking girls." But the astonishing phrase did not dismay him in the least, or cause him to hesitate in his exegesis. He expounded instantly and solemnly:
"It is evident from this passage, my brethren, that the Scripture does not absolutely forbid kissing, but, as in Christianity everything is to be done decently and in order, we are here encouraged by this passage to choose rather those girls that take it quietly, in preference to those that squeak under the operation."
Josh Billings said:
"Laff every time yu pheel tickled—and laff once in a while enny how."
The lawyer explained to the client his scale of prices:
"I charge five dollars for advising you as to just what the law permits you to do. For giving you advice as to the way you can safely do what the law forbids, my minimum fee is one hundred dollars."
There was a town jail, and there was a county jail. The fact was worth forty dollars to the lawyer who was approached by an old darky in behalf of a son languishing in duress. The lawyer surveyed the tattered client as he listened, and decided that he would be lucky to obtain a ten-dollar fee. He named that amount as necessary to secure the prisoner's release. Thereupon, the old colored man drew forth a large roll of bills, and peeled off a ten. The lawyer's greedy eyes popped.
"What jail is your son in?" he inquired craftily.
"In the county jail."
"In the county jail!" was the exclamation in a tone of dismay. "That's bad—very bad. It will cost you at least fifty dollars."
* * *
Some physicians direct their patients to lie always on the right side, declaring that it is injurious to the health to lie on both sides. Yet, lawyers as a class enjoy good health.
"What did you do last night?"
"I went to a slight-of-hand performance. Called on Laura Sears, and offered her my hand, and she slighted it."
"Did you give up anything during Lent?" one man asked another.
"Yes," was the reply, uttered with a heavy sigh. "I gave up fifty dollars for a new Easter bonnet."
The World War has incited veterans of the Civil War to new reminiscences of old happenings. One of these is based on the fact that furloughs were especially difficult to obtain when the Union army was in front of Petersburg, Virginia. But a certain Irishman was resolved to get a furlough in spite of the ban. He went to the colonel's tent, and was permitted to enter. He saluted, and delivered himself thus:
"Colonel, I've come to ax you to allow me the pleasure of a furlough for a visit home. I've been in the field now three years, an' never home yet to see me family. An' I jest had a letter from me wife wantin' av me to come home to see her an' the children."
The colonel shook his head decisively.
"No, Mike," he replied. "I'm sorry, but to tell the truth, I don't think you ought to go home. I've jest had a letter from your wife myself. She doesn't want you to come home. She writes me that you'd only get drunk, and disgrace her and the children. So you'd better stay right here until your term of service expires."
"All right, sir," Mike answered, quite cheerfully. He saluted and went to the door of the tent. Then he faced about.
"Colonel dear," he inquired in a wheedling voice, "would ye be after pardonin' me for a brief remark jist at this toime?"
"Yes, certainly," the officer assented.
"Ye won't git mad an' put me in the guard house for freein' me mind, so to spake?"
"No, indeed! Say what you wish to."
"Well, thin, Colonel darlint, I'm afther thinkin' thar are at the prisint moment in this tint two of the biggest liars in all the Army of the Potomic, an' sure I'm one av thim—I have no wife."
A certain famous preacher when preaching one Sunday in the summer time observed that many among the congregation ware drowsing. Suddenly, then, he paused, and afterward continued in a loud voice, relating an incident that had no connection whatever with his sermon. This was to the following effect:
"I was once riding along a country road. I came to the house of a farmer, and halted to observe one of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen. There was a sow with a litter of ten little pigs. This sow and each of her offspring had a long curved horn growing out of the forehead between the ears."
The clergyman again paused, and ran his eye over the congregation. Everybody was now wide-awake. He thereupon remarked:
"Behold how strange! A few minutes since, when I was telling you the truth, you went to sleep. But now when you have heard a whopping lie, you are all wide-awake."
The woman was strong-minded, and she was religious, and she was also afflicted with a very feminine fear of thunder storms. She was delivering an address at a religious convention when a tempest suddenly broke with din of thunder and flare of lightning. Above the noise of the elements, her voice was heard in shrill supplication:
"O Lord, take us under Thy protecting wings, for Thou knowest that feathers are splendid non-conductors."
The kindergarten teacher questioned her tiny pupil:
"Do you know, Jennie, what a panther is?"
"Yeth, ma'am," Jennie replied, beaming. "A panther ith a man who makes panth."
The class had been told by the teacher to write compositions in which they must not attempt any flights of fancy, but should only state what was really in them. The star production from this command was a composition written by a boy who was both sincere and painstaking. It ran as follows:
"I shall not attempt any flites of fancy, but wright just what is really in me. In me there is my stommick, lungs, liver, two apples, two cakes and my dinner."
The visitor from the city stopped in at the general store of the village, and inquired:
"Have you anything in the shape of automobile tires?"
"Yep," the store-keeper answered briskly, "life-preservers, invalid cushions, funeral wreaths, doughnuts, an' sich."
The mother came on her little son who was standing thoughtfully before the gooseberry bush in the garden. She noted that his expression was both puzzled and distressed.
"Why, what's the matter, little lamb?" she asked tenderly.
"I'm finkin, muvver," the boy answered.
"What about, little man?"
"Have gooseberries any legs, muvver?"
"Why, no! Of course not, dear."
The perplexity passed from the little boy's face, but the expression of trouble deepened, as he spoke again:
"Then, muvver, I fink I've swallowed a catapillar."
The two old Scotchmen played a round of seventeen holes without a word exchanged between them. As they came to the eighteenth green, Sandy surveyed the lie, and muttered:
Quoth Tammas, with a snarl:
The philosopher calmly defined the exact difference between life and love:
"Life is just one fool thing after another: love is just two fool things after each other."
The little girl came in tears to her mother.
"God doesn't love me," she sobbed.
"Of course, God loves you," the mother declared. "How did you ever come to get such an idea?"
"No," the child persisted, "He doesn't love me. I know—I tried Him with a daisy."
The pessimist quoted from his own experience at poker in illustration of the general cussedness of things:
"Frequent, I have sot in a poker game, and it sure is queer how things will turn out. I've sot hour after hour in them games, without ever takin' a pot. And then, 'long about four o'clock in the mornin', the luck'd turn—it'd take a turn for the worse."
"How did you find your steak?" asked the waiter of a patron in the very expensive restaurant.
"Just luck," the hungry man replied, sadly. "I happened to move that small piece of potato, and there it was!"
* * *
The new reporter wrote his concluding paragraph concerning the murder as follows:
"Fortunately for the deceased, he had deposited all of his money in the bank the day before. He lost practically nothing but his life."
* * *
The editor of the country paper went home to supper, smiling radiantly.
"Have you had some good luck?" his wife questioned.
"Luck! I should say so. Deacon Tracey, who hasn't paid his subscription for ten years, came in and stopped his paper."
The lunatic peered over the asylum wall, and saw a man fishing from the bank of the river that ran close by. It was raining hard, which cooled the fevered brow of the lunatic and enabled him to think with great clearness. In consequence, he called down to the drenched fisherman:
The man on the bank looked up, and shook his head glumly.
"How long you been there?" the lunatic next demanded.
"Three hours," was the answer.
The lunatic grinned hospitably, and called down an invitation:
The retired colonel, who had seen forty years of active service, gave his body servant, long his orderly, explicit instructions:
"Every morning, at five sharp, Sam, you are to wake me up, and say, 'Time for the parade, sir.'
"Then, I'll say, 'Damn the parade!' and turn over and go to sleep again."
The juryman petitioned the court to be excused, declaring:
"I owe a man twenty-five dollars that I borrowed, and as he is leaving town to-day for some years I want to catch him before he gets to the train and pay him the money."
"You are excused," the judge announced in a very cold voice. "I don't want anybody on the jury who can lie like you."
* * *
The tender young mother detected her baby boy in a deliberate lie. With tears in her eyes, and a catch in her voice, she sought to impress upon him the enormity of his offense.
"Do you know," she questioned severely, "what happens to little boys who tell falsehoods?"
The culprit shook his head in great distress, and the mother explained carefully:
"Why, a great big black man, with horns on his head and one eye in the center of his forehead, comes along and grabs the little boy who has told a falsehood, and flies with him up to the moon, and keeps him there sifting ashes all the rest of his life. You won't ever tell another falsehood, will you, darling? It's wicked!"
Mother's baby boy regarded the speaker with round-eyed admiration.
"Oh, ma," he gurgled, "what a whopper!"
"I wish I could know how many men will be made wretched when I get married," said the languishing coquette to her most intimate confidante.
"I'll tell you," came the catty answer, "if you'll tell me how many men you're going to marry."
The unhappy man explained the cause of his wretchedness:
"I've never made a speech in my life. But last night at the dinner at the club they insisted on my making some remarks, and I got up, and began like this:
"As I was sitting on my thought, a seat struck me."
It is told of Prince Herbert Bismarck that at a reception in the Royal Palace in Berlin he rudely jostled a high dignitary of the Italian church. In answer to the prelate's expression of annoyance, the Prince drew himself haughtily erect, and said, "I am Herbert Bismarck."
"Ah," replied the churchman, "that fact is perhaps an apology; certainly, it is a complete explanation."
* * *
The tenderfoot in the Western town asked for coffee and rolls at the lunch counter. He was served by the waitress, and there was no saucer for the cup.
"What about the saucer?" he asked.
The girl explained:
"We don't hand out saucers no more. We found, if we did, like's not, some low-brow would drift in an' drink out of the saucer, an' that ain't good fer trade. This here is a swell dump."
* * *
After treading rather heavily on her foot, the man in the street car made humble apology to the woman. She listened in grim silence, and, when he had made an end, spoke very much to the point:
"That's it! Walk all over a body's feet, an' then blat about how sorry you be. Well, I jest want you to understand that if I wasn't a puffick lady, I'd slap your dirty face!"
During the Saturday night revels in a frontier town, the scrawniest and skinniest beanpole-type citizen got shot in the leg. The only doctor in the town had done celebrating and gone to bed. A posse of citizens pounded on the doctor's door, until he thrust his head out of a window.
"Whazzamazzer?" he called down.
"Comea-runnin', Doc. Joe Jinks's been shot."
"In the laig."
"Some shootin'!" And the doctor slammed the window shut.
Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener.
* * *
The mild little husband was appealing to the court for protection from the large, bony belligerent and baleful female who was his wife.
"Let us begin at the beginning," said the judge. "Where did you first meet this woman who has thus abused you?"
The little man shuddered, and looked everywhere except at his wife as he replied:
"I never did, so to say, meet up with her. She jest naturally overtook me."
An African newspaper recently carried the following advertisement:
Small nicely furnished house, nice
locality, from August 1st, for
nearly married couple.
* * *
The solemn ceremony of marriage was being performed for the blushing young bride and the elderly gentleman who had been thrice widowed. There was a sound of loud sobs from the next room. The guests were startled, but a member of the bridegroom's family explained:
"That's only our Jane. She always cries when Pa is gettin' married."
* * *
The mistress was annoyed by the repeated calls of a certain negro on her colored cook.
"You told me," she protested to the cook, "that you had no man friends. But this fellow is in the kitchen all the time."
"Dat nigger, he hain't no friend o' mine," the cook declared scornfully. "Him, he's jes' my 'usban'."
* * *
Deacon Gibbs explained why he had at last decided to move into town in spite of the fact that he had always declared himself a lover of life in the country. But his explanation was clear and conclusive.
"My third wife, Mirandy, she don't like the country, an' what Mirandy she don't like, I jist nacherly hev to hate."
The wife suggested to her husband that he should pay back to her the dollar he had borrowed the week before.
"But," the husband protested indignantly, "I've already paid that dollar back to you twice! You can't expect me to pay it again!"
"Oh, very well," the wife retorted with a contemptuous sniff, "never mind, since you are as mean as that."
* * *
The very youthful son of a henpecked father was in a gloomy mood, rebellious against the conditions of his life. He announced a desperate purpose:
"I'm going to get married. I'm bossed by pa an ma, an' teacher, an' I ain't going to stan' for it. I'm going to get married right smack off. A married man ain't bossed by nobody 'cept his wife."
* * *
The woman was six feet tall and broad and brawny in proportion. The man was a short five feet, anemic and wobegone. The woman haled him before the justice of the peace with a demand that he marry her or go to jail.
"Did you promise to marry this lady?" the justice asked.
"Guilty, your honor," was the answer.
The justice turned to the woman: "Are you determined to marry this man?"
"I am!" she snapped.
"Join hands," the justice commended. When they had done so he raised his own right hand impressively and spoke solemnly:
"I pronounce you twain woman and husband."
A lady received a visit from a former maid three months after the girl had left to be married.
"And how do you like being married?" the lady inquired.
The bride replied with happy enthusiasm:
"Oh, it's fine, ma'am—getting married is! Yes'm, it's fine! but, land's sake, ma'am," she added suddenly, "ain't it tedious!"
* * *
The negro, after obtaining a marriage license, returned a week later to the bureau, and asked to have another name substituted for that of the lady.
"I done changed mah mind," he announced. The clerk remarked that the change would cost him another dollar and a half for a new license.
"Is that the law?" the colored man demanded in distress. The clerk nodded, and the applicant thought hard for a full minute:
"Gee!" he said at last. "Never mind, boss, this ole one will do. There ain't a dollar and a half difference in them niggers no how."
* * *
The New England widower was speaking to a friend confidentially a week after the burial of his deceased helpmate.
"I'm feelin' right pert," he admitted; "pearter'n I've felt afore in years. You see, she was a good wife. She was a good-lookin' woman, an' smart as they make 'em, an' a fine housekeeper, an' she always done her duty by me an' the children, an' she warn't sickly, an' I never hearn a cross word out o' her in all the thutty year we lived together. But dang it all! Somehow, I never did like Maria.... Yes, I'm feelin' pretty peart."
* * *
There were elaborate preparations in colored society for a certain wedding. The prospective bride had been maid to a lady who met the girl on the street a week after the time set for the ceremony and inquired concerning it:
"Did you have a big wedding, Martha?"
"'Deed ah did, missus, 'deed ah did, de most splendiferous occasion ob de season."
"Did you receive handsome presents?"
"Yes'm, yes'm, de hull house was jes' crowded wiv de gifts."
"And was your house nicely decorated?"
"Yes'm, yes'm. An' everybody done wear der very best, look jes' lak a white-folks' weddin', yes'm."
"And yourself, Martha, how did you look?"
"Ah was sutinly some scrumptious, yes'm. Ah done wore mah white bridal dress an' orange blossoms, yes'm. Ah was some kid."
"And the bridegroom, how did he appear?"
"De bridegroom? Aw, dat triflin', low-down houn' dawg, he didn't show up at all, but we had a magnificious occasion wivout him, jes' de same!"
Mrs. Rafferty stopped to address Mrs. Flannagan, who was standing at ease in the door of the tenement. She spoke with an air of fine pride:
"I'm afther havin' a letter from me boy. He tells me that fer meritorious condooct, his sintince will be reduced six months."
Mrs. Flannagan beamed appreciatively on hearing the glad tidings.
"Sure, now, an' what a comfort it must be t' yez, havin' a son what does ye such credit."
The raw recruit was on sentry duty. He had a piece of pie, which he had brought from the canteen, and proceeded to enjoy it. Just then, the colonel happened along, and scowled at the sentry, who paid no attention to him whatever.
"Do you know who I am?" the officer demanded.
The sentry shook his head. "Mebby, the veterinarian, or the barber, or mebby the colonel himself." The sentry laughed loudly at his own wit. But he wiltered as the officer sternly declared his identity.
"Oh good land!" the recruit cried out in consternation. "Please, hold this pie while I present arms."
It is related concerning a sofa, belonging to a man blessed (?) with seven daughters, all unmarried, which was sent to the upholsterer to be repaired, that, when taken apart, the following articles were discovered:
Forty-seven hairpins, three mustache combs, nineteen suspender buttons, thirteen needles, eight cigarettes, four photographs, two hundred and seventeen pins, some grains of coffee, a number of cloves, twenty-seven cuff-buttons, six pocket-knives, fifteen poker-chips, a vial of homeopathic medicine for the nerves, thirty-four lumps of chewing-gum, fifty-nine toothpicks, twenty-eight matches, fourteen button-hooks, two switches, a transformation and two plates of false teeth, which apparently had bitten each other.
The raw Irishman was told by the farmer for whom he worked that the pumpkins in the corn patch were mule's eggs, which only needed someone to sit on them to hatch. Pat was ambitious to own a mule, and, selecting a large pumpkin, he sat on it industriously every moment he could steal from his work. Came a day when he grew impatient, and determined to hasten the hatching. He stamped on the pumpkin. As it broke open, a startled rabbit broke from its cover in an adjacent corn shock and scurried across the field. Pat chased it, shouting:
"Hi, thar! Stop! don't yez know your own father?"
* * *
The meek-looking gentleman arose hastily and offered his seat in the car to the self-assertive woman who had entered and glared at him. She gave him no thanks as she seated herself, but she spoke in a heavy voice that filled the whole car:
"What are you standing up there for? Come here, and sit on my lap."
The modest man turned scarlet as he huskily faltered:
"I fear, madam, that I am not worthy of such an honor."
"How dare you!" the woman boomed. "You know perfectly well I was speaking to my niece behind you."
* * *
The little man was perfectly harmless, but the lady sitting next to him in the car was a spinster, and suspicious of all males. So, since they were somewhat crowded on the seat, she pushed the umbrella between her knee and his and held it firmly as a barrier. A shower came up, and the woman when she left the car, put up the umbrella. As she did so, she perceived that the little man had followed her. She had guessed that he was a masher, now she knew it. She walked quickly down the side street, and the man pursued through the driving rain. She ran up the steps of her home, and rang the bell. When she heard the servant coming to the door, feeling herself safe at last, she faced about and addressed her pursuer angrily:
"How dare you follow me! How dare you! What do you want, anyhow?"
The drenched little man at the foot of the steps spoke pleadingly:
"If you please, ma'am, I want my umbrella."
* * *
The traveling salesman instructed the porter that he must leave the train at Cleveland, where he was due at three o'clock in the morning. He explained that violence might be necessary because he did not wake easily. He emphasized his instructions with a generous tip.
The drummer awoke at six in the morning, with Cleveland far behind. In a rage, he sought the porter. The colored man was in a highly disheveled state and his face was bruised badly. His eyes popped at sight of the furious traveling man, who allowed no opportunity for explanations or excuses. He did all the talking, and did it forcibly. When at last the outraged salesman went away, the porter shook his head dismally, and muttered:
"Now, Ah shohly wonder who-all Ah done put off at Cleveland."
* * *
The assistant minister announced to the congregation that a special baptismal service would be held the following Sunday at three o'clock in the afternoon, and that any infants to receive the rite should be brought to the church at that time.
The old clergyman, who was deaf, thought that his assistant was speaking of the new hymnals, and he added a bit of information:
"Anyone not already provided can obtain them in the vestry for a dollar, or with red backs and speckled edges for one dollar and a half."
* * *
The child went with her mother on a visit in New Jersey. At bedtime, the little girl was nervous over the strangeness of her surroundings, but the mother comforted her, saying:
"Remember, dear, God's angels are all about you."
A little later, a cry from the child called the mother back into the room.
"The angels are buzzing all around just dreadful, mama, and they bite!"
* * *
The new clergyman was coming to call, and the mother gave Emma some instructions:
"If he asks your name, say Emma Jane; if he asks how old you are, say you are eight years old; if he asks who made you, say God made me."
It is a fact that the clergyman did ask just those three questions in that order, to the first two of which Emma replied correctly. But it is also a fact that when the minister propounded the third query, as to her origin, the child hesitated, and then said:
"Mama did tell me the man's name, but I've gone and forgotten it."
* * *
The editor of a country newspaper betook himself to a party at the house of a neighbor, where, only a few weeks earlier, a baby had been added to the family. On the editor's arrival at the house, he was met at the door by his hostess, a woman who suffered to some extent from deafness. After the usual exchange of greetings, the editor inquired concerning the health of the baby. The hostess had a severe cold, and she now misunderstood the visitor's inquiry concerning the baby, thinking that he was solicitous on her account. So she explained to the aghast editor who had asked about the baby that, although she usually had one every winter, this was the very worst one she had ever had, it kept her awake at night a great deal, and at first confined her to her bed. Having explained thus far, the good lady noticed the flabbergasted air of her guest. She continued sympathetically; saying that she could tell by his looks and the way he acted that he was going to have one just like hers. Then she insisted that, as a precautionary measure for the sake of his condition, he should come in out of the draft and sit down and stay quiet.
A Texas lad, lacking a team of horses or oxen or mules for his ploughing, engaged his sister to direct the plough, while he yoked himself to a steer for the pulling. The steer promptly ran away, and the lad had no choice but to run too. They came shortly into the village and went tearing down the street. And as he raced wildly, the young man shouted:
"Here we come—darn our fool souls! Somebody head us off!"
A babu, or native clerk, in India, who prided himself on his mastery of the English tongue and skill in its idioms, sent the following telegram in announcement of his mother's death:
"Regret to announce that hand which rocked the cradle has kicked the bucket."
A British journalist, in an article on Sir Henry Irving for a London weekly wrote:
"I was his guest regularly at all Lyceum first nights for a whole quarter of a century.... He delighted in the company of third-rate people."
The disreputable-looking panhandler picked out an elderly gentleman of most benevolent aspect and made a plea for a small financial contribution. When he had finished his narrative of misery and woe the elderly gentleman replied benignantly:
"My good friend, I have no money, but I can give you some good advice."
The tramp spat contemptuously, and uttered an oath of disgust.
"If you hain't got no money," he jeered, "I reckon your advice ain't worth hearin'."
A well-known millionaire entertained Edward Everett Hale with other guests at a dinner. The host was not only hospitable, but wished every one to know his liberality. During the meal, he extolled the various viands, and did not hesitate to give their value in dollars and cents. In speaking of some very beautiful grapes served, which had been grown on his estate, he wearied the company by a careful calculation as to just how much a stem of them had cost him. Doctor Hale grinned pleasantly as he extended his empty plate, with the request:
"I'll thank you to cut me off about $1.87 worth more, please."
The wives of the savage chief questioned the wife of the missionary:
"And you never let your husband beat you?"
"Certainly not," the Christian lady replied. "Why, he wouldn't dare to try such a thing!"
The oldest wife nodded understandingly.
"It is plain enough why the foreign devil has only one wife."
The son of the house addressed his mother wistfully.
"I'm going to have a little sister some day, ain't I?"
"Why, dear, do you want one?"
The child nodded seriously.
"Yes, mama, I do. It gets kin' o' tiresome teasin' the cat."
The more-or-less-religious woman was deeply shocked when the new neighbors sent over on Sunday morning to borrow her lawn-mower.
"The very idea," she exclaimed to her maid, "of cutting grass on the Sabbath! Shameful! Certainly, they can't have it. Tell them we haven't any lawn-mower."
The visitor from another state talked so much concerning the size and fierceness of New Jersey mosquitoes that his host became somewhat peeved.
"Funny!" the guest remarked. "You haven't your porch screened."
"No," the host snapped; "we're using mouse-traps."
* * *
A visitor in the South complained bitterly concerning the plague of mosquitoes. An aged negro who listened respectfully explained a method by which the pests might be endured. But this was in the days before prohibition.
"My old Marse George, suh, he done managed them animiles sholy splendiferous. Always when he come home nights, he so completely intoxicated he don't care a cuss foh all the skeeters in the hull creation. In the mawnin, when Marse George done git up, the skeeters so completely intoxicated they don't care a cuss foh Marse George, ner nobody!"
Two men walking along Avenue A in New York City observed a dingy saloon, in the window of which was a framed sign, reading:
"Ici on parle français."
"I don't believe anybody talks French in that dump," one of the observers remarked.
To settle the matter, they entered, and ordered ginger ale of a red-headed barkeeper who was unmistakably Irish.
One of the men addressed the barkeeper:
"Fait beau temps, monsieur."
The barkeeper scowled.
"Come agin!" he demanded.
It was soon demonstrated that French was a language unknown to the establishment.
The visitor then inquired as to the reason for the sign in the window, explaining that it meant, "French is spoken here."
The Irish barkeeper cursed heartily.
"I bought it off a sheeny," he explained, "for six bits. He tould me it was Latin for, 'God Bless Our Home.'"
Artemas Ward said:
"When I am sad, I sing, and then others are sad with me."
* * *
The optimistic pessimist explained why he always dined in restaurants where music was provided.
"Because it works two ways: sometimes the music helps to make me forget the food, and sometimes the food helps to make me forget the music."
* * *
The young man, who was interested in natural history, was sitting on the porch one June evening with his best girl, who was interested in music. The rhythmic shrilling of the insects pulsed on the air, and from the village church down the street came the sounds of choir practise. The young man gave his attention to the former, the girl to the latter; and presently she spoke eagerly:
"Oh, don't it sound grand!"
The young man nodded, and answered:
"Yes, indeed! and it's interesting to think that they do it all with their hind legs."
* * *
The boy violinist, played at a private musical, rendering a difficult concerto, which contained some particularly long rests for the soloist: During one of these intervals, a kindly dowager leaned toward the performer, and whispered loudly:
"Why don't you play something that you know, my boy?"
* * *
The apoplectic and grumpy old gentleman in the crowded restaurant was compelled to sit, much against his will, next to the orchestra. His stare at the leader as the jazz selection came to an end. The annoyed patron snorted, and then asked:
"Would you be so kind as to play something by request?"
The leader bowed again and beamed.
"Certainly," he replied; "anything you like, sir."
"Then," snapped the patron, "please be good enough to play a game of checkers while I finish my meal."
The Japanese are remarkably tidy in the matter of floors. They even remove their shoes at the doorway. A Japanese student in New York was continually distressed by the dirty hallways of the building in which he lived. In the autumn, the janitor placed a notice at the entrance, which read:
"Please wipe your feet."
The Japanese wrote beneath in pencil:
"On going out."
It was a late hour when the hostess at the reception requested the eminent basso to sing.
"It is too late, madam," he protested. "I should disturb your neighbors."
"Not at all," declared the lady, beaming. "Besides, they poisoned our dog last week."
The older sister rebuked the younger when putting her to bed for being cross and ill tempered throughout the day. After she had been neatly tucked in, the little one commented:
"It's temper when it's me an' nerves when it's you."
"And you say you have the same nightmare every night," the doctor inquired. "What is it?"
The suffering man answered:
"I dream that I'm married."
"Ah, hum!" the physician grunted perfunctorily. "To whom?"
"To my wife," the patient explained. "That's what makes it a nightmare."
The inn-keeper was inclined to take advantage of a particular guest who did not scrutinize the bills rendered. When the clerk mentioned the fact that this guest had complained of a nightmare, the host brightened, and marked down an item of ten dollars charge for livery.
The young son of a mountaineer family in North Carolina had visited for the first time in the town twelve miles from home, and had eaten his mid-day meal there. Questioned on his return as to the repast, he described it with enthusiasm, except in one particular:
"They done had something they called gravee. But hit looked like sop, an' hit tasted like sop, an' I believe in my soul 'twar sop!"
* * *
When his daughter returned from the girls' college, the farmer regarded her critically, and then demanded:
"Ain't you a lot fatter than you was?"
"Yes, dad," the girl admitted. "I weigh one hundred and forty pounds stripped for 'gym.'"
The father stared for a moment in horrified amazement, then shouted:
"Who in thunder is Jim?"
* * *
On an occasion when a distinguished critic was to deliver a lecture on the poet Keats in a small town, the president of the local literary society was prevented by illness from introducing the speaker, and the mayor, who was more popular than learned, was asked to officiate. The amiable gentleman introduced the stranger with his accustomed eloquence, and concluded a few happy remarks of a general character with this observation:
"And now, my friends, we shall soon all know what I personally have often wondered—what are Keats!"
* * *
During the scarcity of labor, a new clerk, who knew nothing of the business, was taken on by a furniture house. His mistakes were so bad that the proprietor was compelled to watch him closely, and to fire him after the following episode.
A lady customer asked to see some chiffoniers. The clerk led her to the display of bassinettes, which was an unfortunate error since the lady was an old maid. She accepted his apology, however, and then remarked:
"Where are your sideboards?"
The clerk blushed furiously, as he replied:
"Why—er—I shaved them off last week."
* * *
The lady who had some culture, but not too much, was describing the adventure of her husband, who had been in Messina at the time of the earthquake.
"It was awful," she declared, in tense tones. "When Jim went to bed, everything was perfectly quiet. And then, when he woke up, all of a sudden, there beside him was a yawning abbess!"
One of the two girls in the subway was glancing at a newspaper.
"I see," she remarked presently to her companion, "that Mr. So and so, the octogenarian, is dead. Now, what on earth is an octogenarian anyhow?"
"I'm sure I haven't the faintest idea," the other girl replied. "But they're an awful sickly lot. You never hear of one but he's dying."
* * *
A story is told of an office-seeker in Washington who asserted to an inquirer that he had never heard of Mark Twain.
"What? Never heard of Tom Sawyer?"
"Nope, never heard of him."
"Nor Huck Finn?"
"Nope, never heard of him neither."
"Nor Puddin'head Wilson?"
"Oh, Lord, yes!" the office-seeker exclaimed. "Why, I voted for him."
And then he added sadly:
"An' that's all the good it done me."
* * *
The aged caretaker of the Episcopal church confided to a crony that he was uncertain as to just what he was:
"I used to be the janitor, years ago. Then we had a parson who named me the sextant. And Doctor Smith, he called me a virgin. And our young man, he says I'm the sacrilege."
The old mountaineer and his wife arrived at a railway station, and for the first time in their lives beheld a train of cars, which was standing there. The husband looked the engine over very carefully, and shook his head.
"Well, what do you think of it, father?" asked the old lady.
"She'll never start," was the firm answer: "she'll never start."
The conductor waved, the bell rang, the locomotive puffed, the train moved slowly at first, then faster. It was disappearing in the distance when the wife inquired slyly:
"Well, pa, what do you think of it now?"
The old man shook his head more violently than before.
"She'll never stop," he asserted; "she'll never stop!"
The great pugilist was superstitious and fond of lobster. When the waiter served one with a claw missing, he protested. The waiter explained that this lobster had been worsted in a fight with another in the kitchen. The great pugilist pushed back his plate.
"Carry him off," he commanded, "and bring me the winner."
The sergeant rebuked the private angrily:
"Jenkins, why haven't you shaved this morning?"
"Why, ain't I shaved?" the private exclaimed, apparently greatly surprised.
"No, you ain't," the sergeant snapped. "And I want to know the reason why."
"Well, now, I guess it must be this way," Jenkins suggested. "There was a dozen of us usin' the same bit of lookin' glass, an' I swan I must have shaved somebody else."
The day laborer was of a cheerful disposition that naturally inclined to seek out the good in every situation. He was a genuine optimist. Thus, after tramping the three miles from home to begin the day's work on the ditch, he discovered that he had been careless, and explained to a fellow laborer:
"I've gone and done it now! I left my lunch at home."
Then, suddenly he beamed happily, as he added:
"And it's a good thing I did, for the matter of that, because I left my teeth at home, too."
* * *
The optimist fell from the top story of a skyscraper. As he passed the fourth story, he was overheard muttering:
"So far, so good!"
John B. Gough was fond of telling of a laird and his servant Sandy. The two were on their way home on horseback late at night, and both were much muddled by drink. At a ford where the bank was steep, the laird fell head first into the creek. He scrambled up, and shouted to his servant:
"Hold on, Sandy! Something fell off—I heard it splash!"
Sandy climbed down from the saddle, and waded about blindly in the shallow water, with groping hands. At last, he seized on the laird.
"Why, it's yerself, mon, as fell oof!"
"No, Sandy," the master declared stoutly. "It can't be me—here I am." Then he, added: "But if it is me, get me back on the horse."
Sandy helped the laird to the horse, and boosted him up astride. In the dark, the rider was faced the wrong way to.
"Gie me the reins," the master ordered.
Sandy felt about the horse's rump, and, then cried out, clutching the tail:
"It waur the horse's head as fell off—nothin' left but the mane!"
"Gie me the mane, then," the laird directed stolidly. "I must een hae something to hold on."
So, presently, when he had the tail firmly grasped in both hands, and Sandy had mounted, the procession began to move. Whereat, the laird shouted in dismay:
"Haud on, Sandy! It's gaein' the wrang way!"
Tiny Clara heard her mother say that a neighboring lady had a new baby. The tot puzzled over the matter, and at last sought additional information:
"Oh, mumsy, what is she going to do with her old one?"
The amiable old lady was overheard talking to herself as she left the church along with the crowd that had attended the services:
"If everybody else would only do as I do, and stay quietly in their seats till everyone else has gone out, there would not be such a crush at the doors."
* * *
Two friends from Ireland on a tour occupied the same bedchamber in a country inn. During the night a fearful storm raged. John spoke of it in the morning while the two men were dressing.
"Did it rain?" Dennis asked in surprise.
"Rain!" John exclaimed. "It was a deluge, and the lightnin' was blindin' and the thunder was deafenin'. Sure, I never heard the like."
"For the love of Hivvin!" Dennis cried out. "Why didn't yez waken me? Didn't yez know I never can slape whin it thunders!"
Burdette quotes as follows a year's statistics of parochial work, as compiled by a young curate:
"Preached 104 sermons, 18 mortuary discourses, solemnized 21 hymeneal ceremonies, delivered 17 lectures, of which 16 were on secular and all the rest on religious subjects; made 39 addresses, of which all but 27 were on matters most nearly touching the vital religious concerns of the church, read aloud in church 156 chapters of the Bible, 149 of which were very long ones; made pastoral calls, 312; took tea on such occasions, 312 times; distributed 804 tracts; visited the sick several times; sat on the platform at temperance and other public meetings 47 times; had the headache Sabbath mornings, and so was compelled to appear in a condition of physical pain, nervous prostration and bodily distress that utterly unfitted him for public preaching, 104 times; picnics attended, 10; dinners, 37; suffered from attacks of malignant dyspepsia, 37 times; read 748 hymns; instructed the choir in regard to the selection of tunes, 1 time; had severe cold, 104 times; sore throat, 104 times; malaria, 104 times; wrote 3120 pages of sermons; declined invitations to tea, 1 time; started the tune in prayer meeting, 2 times; started the wrong tune, 2 times; sung hymns that nobody else knew, 2 times; received into church membership, 3; dismissed by letter, 49; expelled, 16; lost, strayed, or stolen, 137."
The Scotchman returned to his native town, Peebles, after a first visit to London. He told the neighbors enthusiastically of his many wonderful experiences in the metropolis. There was, however, no weakening in his local loyalty, for at the end he cried out proudly:
"But, for real pleasure, gi'e me Peebles!"
* * *
There is no doubting the strong patriotism of the schoolboy who is the hero of this tale, although he may have been weak on history. During an examination in general history, he was asked:
"Who was the first man?"
He answered proudly, even enthusiastically, without any hesitation:
"George Washington, first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts——"
But the teacher interrupted ruthlessly:
"Wrong! Adam was the first man."
The boy sniffed disgustedly.
"Oh!" he retorted. "I didn't know you were talking about foreigners."
* * *
The troops had been marching through a sea of mud for hours, when at last they were lined up for inspection before a general. In the evolution, a young cavalryman who had enlisted was thrown from his horse into the muck, from which he emerged in a dreadful state, though uninjured except in his feelings. The general himself, who had witnessed the incident, rode up, and preserving his gravity with some effort inquired of the trooper if he had suffered any hurt from the fall.
"Naw," was the disgusted reply. "But if I ever love a country agin, you can kick me!"
The mourning widow caused a tender sentiment to be chiseled on the headstone of her husband's grave. The exact wording was as follows:
"Thou are at rest, until we meet again."
The father was telling at the table of a row between two men in which he had interfered. One had swung a shovel aloft, shouting, "I'll knock your brains out!"
"It was at this moment," the head of the family explained, "that I stepped in between them."
Little Johnnie had been listening, round-eyed with excitement. Now, he burst forth:
"I guess he couldn't knock any brains out of you, could he, pa?"
The usual details in administration of the pension laws are not amusing, but occasionally even here a bit of humor creeps in to relieve the tedium. Thus, John Smith, claimant under Invalid Original No. 98,325,423, based his application for succor upon an "injury to leg due to the kick of a vicious horse" in the service and line of duty, etc.
This was formally insufficient, and the bureau advised to claimant to this effect, directing him to state: "which leg was injured by the alleged kick of a vicious horse."
The reply came promptly:
The energetic New England woman addressed her hired girl in a discouraged tone:
"Here it is Monday morning and to-morrow will be Tuesday, and the next day Wednesday—the whole week half gone, and nothing done yit!"
* * *
The old man shook his head dolefully in response to an inquiry concerning his health.
"It isn't what it ought to be," he declared. "I find my strength is failing. It used to be I could walk around the block every morning. But now lately, somehow, when I'm only half way round, I feel so tired I have to turn and come back."
* * *
The visitor remarked affably to the man of the house:
"Your family is wonderfully talented. One son plays the cornet, two daughters play the piano and the guitar, and your wife plays the banjo, and the other children play ukuleles. As the father of such musical geniuses, you must be something yourself, aren't you?"
"Yes," was the answer, "I am a pessimist."
"I hear that Mrs. Brewster hasn't paid her servants any wages for a number of months," remarked one lady to another in a suburban town.
"Why does she keep such a number of them then?" was the pertinent inquiry.
"Oh, Mrs. Brewster tells everyone she regards it as her solemn duty to employ as many as possible when times are so hard."
Little Willie questioned his grandmother with an appearance of great seriousness:
"Ain't Rotterdam the name of a city, Gramma?"
"Don't say 'ain't', Willie," the old lady corrected. "Yes, Rotterdam is the name of a city. Why?"
"It ain't swearin' to say it, is it Gramma?"
"Don't say 'ain't', Willie. No, it isn't swearing to say Rotterdam. Why?"
"Cause if sister keeps on eatin' so much candy, she'll Rotterdam head off."
The teacher explained to her young pupils some facts concerning various organs of the body, including the eye as the organ of sight, the ear as the organ of hearing, and the like. Then she asked the pupils to repeat to her what they had learned. There was a short silence, which was broken by a bright little boy, who spoke as follows:
"I see with my eye organ, I hear with my ear organ, I smell with my nose organ, I eat with my mouth organ, and I feel with my hand organ."
The new maid was talkative, and related some of her experiences in service.
"You seem to have had a good many situations," was the lady's comment as the girl paused. "How many different mistresses have you had, all told?"
"Fifteen, all told," the maid declared promptly; "yes mum, all told eggzactly what I thought of them."
"No, suh," the ancient negro asserted, with a melancholy shaking of his bald head, "dar hain't no trustin' a 'possum. Once on a time, suh, I done watched de hole of a 'possum all night long. An' at las', suh, de 'possum done come out of his hole. An' what yoh t'ink de ole scallywog done did? Well, suh, he done come out, an' when he done come out, he was a polecat!"
The plumber at many dollars a day could afford a little persiflage with the cook in the kitchen where he was theoretically repairing the sink. The cook was plain-featured, but any diversion was welcome to speed the hours for which he drew pay. He made a strong impression on the cook, and when he took his departure, she simpered, and said coyly:
"Thursday is my evenin' off, an' we might go to the movies."
The plumber snorted indignantly.
"What!" he demanded. "On me own time?"
The evil effects of decadent verse is unintentionally told in the following extract from a Hindu's letter to the authorities requesting aid in behalf of his invalid father, who leads sickly life, and is going from bad to perhaps, but not too well; for an extract from the petition calls on the government "to look after my old faher, who leads sickly life, and is going from bad to verse every day."
A couple from Boston spent a winter in Augusta, Georgia. During the period of their visit, they became fond of an old colored woman, and even invited her to visit their home at their expense. In due time after their return to Boston, the visitor was entertained. Every courtesy was extended to the old colored woman, and she even had her meals with the host and hostess. One day at dinner, the host remarked, with a certain smug satisfaction in his own democratic hospitality:
"I imagine that, during all the time you were a slave, your master never invited you to eat at his table."
"No, suh, dat he didn't," replied the old darky. "My master was a genl'man. He never let no nigger set at table 'long side o' him."
* * *
The kindly old lady chanced to be present at the feeding of the lions in the zoo. Presently, she remarked to the keeper:
"Isn't that a very small piece of meat to give to the lions?"
The man answered very respectfully, but firmly:
"It may seem like a very small piece of meat to you, mum, but it seems like a big piece of meat to the lions, mum."
Tommy Atkins and a doughboy sat in a poker game together somewhere in France. The Britisher held a full house, the American four of a kind.
"I raise you two pounds," quoth Tommy.
The Yankee did not hesitate.
"I ain't exactly onto your currency curves, but I'll bump it up four tons."
The little girl in the car was a pest. She crossed the aisle to devote herself to a dignified fat man, to his great annoyance. She asked innumerable questions, and, incidentally, counted aloud his vest buttons to learn whether he was rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief. The mother regarded the child's efforts as highly entertaining. The fat man leaned forward and addressed the lady very courteously:
"Madam, what do you call this dear little child?"
"Ethel," the beaming mother replied.
"Please call her then," the fat man requested.
* * *
Johnny, who was to be the guest at a neighbor's for the noonday meal, was carefully admonished by his mother to remember his manners, and to speak in complimentary terms of the food served him. He heeded the instruction, and did the best he could under stress of embarrassment.
After he had tasted the soup, he remarked as boldly as he could contrive:
"This is pretty good soup—what there is of it."
He was greatly disconcerted to observe that his remark caused a frown on the face of his hostess. He hastened to speak again in an effort to correct any bad impression from his previous speech:
"And there's plenty of it—such as it is."
* * *
On Johnnie's return from the birthday party, his mother expressed the hope that he had behaved politely at the luncheon table, and properly said, "Yes, if you please" and "No, thank you," when anything was offered him.
Johnnie shook his head seriously.
"I guess I didn't say, 'No, thank you.' I ate everything there was."
* * *
The teacher used as an illustration of bad grammar, for correction by the class, the following sentence:
"The horse and cow is in the pasture."
A manly little fellow raised his hand, and at the teacher's nod said:
"Please, sir, ladies should come first."
The man sitting in the street car addressed the woman standing before him:
"You must excuse my not giving you my seat—I'm a member of the Sit Still Club."
"Certainly, sir," the woman replied. "And please excuse my staring—I belong to the Stand and Stare Club."
She proved it so well that the man at last sheepishly got to his feet.
"I guess, ma'am," he mumbled, "I'll resign from my club and join yours."
The little boy interrupted his father's reading of the paper with a petition.
"Please, Daddy, tell me the story about the Forty Thieves."
The father, aroused from his absorption in political news and comment on the campaign, regarded his son thoughtfully for a moment, and then shook his head.
"No," he answered decisively, "you must wait until you're a little older, my son. You're too young to understand politics."
Someone asked a darky from Richmond who was visiting in the North as to the population of the city.
"Ah don't edzakly know, suh," was the reply, "but I opine 'bout a hundred an' twenty-five thousan', countin' de whites."
It is human nature to take an interest in the affairs of others. The fact has been amply demonstrated by innumerable postmasters and postmistresses who have profited from their contact with the communities' correspondence. That the postman, too, is likely to be well informed is shown in a quotation by Punch of a local letter-carrier's apology to a lady on his round:
"I'm sorry, Ma'am, I seem to have lost your postcard; but it only said Muriel thanked you for the parcel and so did John, and they were both very well, and the children are happy, and she'll give your message to Margery. That'll be your other daughter, I'm thinkin'?"
One negro workman was overheard talking to another:
"I'se yoh frien'. I jest tole the fohman, when he say dat nigger Sam ain't fit to feed to de dawgs, why, I done spoke right up, an' tole him yoh shohly is!"
The Dutchman still retained a strong accent, although he had been in the country forty years, and was a churchwarden. When the rector complained that a certain parishioner had called him a perfect ass, and asked advice, the reply, though well intentioned, sounded ambiguous:
"All you should do vill pe youst to bray for him, as usual."
A Scotch missionary in the Far East suffered ill fortune in his marriages, for two wives in succession yielded to the trying climate and died. The missionary had depended on the Board at home to select his previous mates, and he wrote for a third. When due time had elapsed, he journeyed to the seaport to meet the steamer by which his new mate should arrive. At the appointed hour, as the boat drew in, he stood on the dock anxiously waiting. Among the few passengers to descend the gangplank, it was easy for him to select the one destined for him. At sight of her, he shuddered slightly, and a groan burst from his lips.
"Freckles," he muttered despairingly, "and red headed, and with squint—for the third time!—and after all my prayers!"
* * *
Charles had attained the age of five when he attended a football game for the first time. It cannot be doubted that he was profoundly impressed by the excitement on the gridiron, for at bedtime his mother was horrified to hear him utter his nightly prayer thus:
"God bless papa! God bless mama! God bless Charlie! Rah! Rah! Rah!"
* * *
At the request of his wife, the husband opened a can of peaches. When he finally reappeared, the wife asked demurely:
"What did you use to open that can, Jim?"
"Can-opener, of course," the husband grunted. "What d'ye think I opened it with?"
"From the language I heard, I thought perhaps you were opening it with prayer."
* * *
The newspaper report of the special Sunday services contained the following impressive description of the prayer:
"The most eloquent prayer ever addressed to a Boston audience."
* * *
The New York Sun published the following:
The toys had been reluctantly laid aside and in her dainty nightie the little girl, scarcely more than a baby, knelt at her mother's knee.
The eyes, which all day long are alight with mischief, were reverently closed, and as she haltingly uttered the words of the old, yet ever young child's prayer her rapt face, raised occasionally from her dimpled hands, took on an expression almost seraphic in its innocent purity.
With a fervent "Amen" she ended her supplication, then jumped up, eyes dancing, and exclaimed:
"Now let's say 'Little Jack Horner sat in the corner.' I knows it better, Muvver."
* * *
A little boy was asked if he prayed when he attended church, and he answered that he always did. On being questioned as to the nature of his prayer, he explained that he always repeated it when the others in the congregation made their silent prayer just before the sermon, and he added further:
"I just say the little prayer mother taught me—'Now I lay me down to sleep.'"
A prayer showing a ghastly confusion of metaphors is on record as having been offered extemporaneously in behalf of Queen Adelaide during the reign of that sovereign. The words as quoted were these:
"O Lord, save thy servant, our Sovereign Lady, the Queen. Grant that as she grows an old woman, she may become a new man. Strengthen her with Thy blessing that she may live a pure virgin, bringing her sons and daughters to the glory of God. And give her grace that she may go before her people like a he-goat upon the mountains."
* * *
As the boat was sinking, the skipper lifted his voice to ask:
"Does anybody know how to pray?"
One man spoke confidently in answer:
"Yes, Captain, I do."
The captain nodded.
"That's all right then," he declared. "You go ahead and pray. The rest of us will put on life-belts. They're one short."
A colored deacon who was the leader in a congregation down South, wrote to the bishop to explain the need of a minister for the church. He concluded his appeal as follows:
"Send us a Bishop to preach. If you can't send us a Bishop, send us a Sliding Elder. If you can't send a Sliding Elder, send us a Stationary Preacher. If you can't spare him, send us a Circus Eider. If you can't spare him, send us a Locust Preacher. And if you can't send a Locust Preacher, send us an Exhauster."
When the colored couple were being married by the clergyman, and the words, "love, honor and obey" were spoken, the bridegroom interrupted:
"Read that again, suh! read it once moh, so's de lady kin ketch de full solemnity ob de meanin'. I'se been married befoh."
* * *
The lawyer for the defense, in the damage suit, asked the witness who had seen the plaintive struck by the automobile, how far the victim was thrown by the impact.
"Fifteen feet, six and three-quarter inches," was the instant response.
"You seem to be very exact in your figures," exclaimed the lawyer sarcastically. "How does that happen?"
"I guessed some fool lawyer would ask me," the witness answered, "and I measured the distance."
The playwright rushed up to the critic at the club.
"I've had a terrible misfortune," he announced. "My little three-year-old boy got at my new play, and tore it all to pieces."
"Extraordinary that a child so young should be able to read," said the critic.
Ikey saw his friend Jakey in the smoking-car when he entered, and sat down in the same seat.
"How was that fire in your place last week, Jakey?" he inquired.
Jakey started nervously.
"Sh!" he whispered. "It vas next week."
The small boy was directed to soak his feet in salt water to toughen them. He considered the matter thoughtfully, and then remarked to himself:
"It's pretty near time for me to ket a lickin', I guess I'd better sit in it."
* * *
The two scrub women met and chattered to this effect:
Mrs. Riley—Och, Missus O'Rafferty, I hear yez be worrukin' noight an' day.
Mrs. O'Rafferty—Yis, Oi'm under bonds to kape the pace for pullin' the hair o' that blaggard Missus Murphy; an' the Judge tould me as if Oi touched her again he'd foine me tin dollars.
Mrs. Riley—An' yez is worrukin' so hard so's to kape outen mischief.
Mrs. O'Rafferty (hissing viciously between her teeth)—No! Oi'm savin' oop the foine.
* * *
The father entered the room where Clara, his daughter, was entertaining her young man.
"What is it, popper?" the young lady inquired.
Her father held out the umbrella which he carried.
"This is for John," he explained. "It looks as if it might rain before morning."
The little boy was greatly elated when informed by his mother that the liveliness of her hair as she combed it was caused by electricity.
"Oh, my!" he exclaimed. "Ain't we a wonderful family! Mama has electricity on her head, and grandma has gas on her stomach."
* * *
Pride often has no better basis in fact than the self-congratulation of little Raymond in the following story:
Raymond came home from a session of the Sunday School fairly swollen with importance. He explained the cause to his mother.
"The superintendent said something awful nice about me this morning in his prayer."
"And what did he say, dear?" the mother inquired, concealing her astonishment.
The boy quoted glibly and sincerely.
"He said, 'O Lord, we thank thee for our food and Raymond.'"
A stranger rang the door-bell. Little eight-year-old Willie Jones opened the door.
"Is Mr. Jones in?" the caller inquired.
Little Willie answered with formal politeness:
"I'm Mr. Jones. Or did you wish to see old Mr. Jones?"
The society matron explained the necessity for immediate reform in conditions at the State Penitentiary:
"Nowadays, there are such a number of our very best people who are being indicted and tried and convicted and sent to serve their sentences in the prison that we really must make their surroundings there more pleasant and elegant."
The tenderfoot in the mining town was watching a poker game for heavy stakes, when he saw the dealer give himself four aces from the bottom of the deck. He whispered the fact in shocked surprise to a citizen beside him. The latter looked astonished.
"What of it?" he drawled. "Wasn't it his deal?"
The Southern darky is usually willing enough, but painfully dilatory in accomplishment. The foreman of a quarry called to Zeb, the general utility man, and directed him to go across the road to the blacksmith shop and bring back a drill which had been left there for sharpening. Zeb shuffled out of sight, and after a lapse of half an hour, shuffled back lazily into view. The indignant foreman called to him sharply:
"Here, you Zeb! Where've you been all this time?"
The darky grinned placatingly.
"Why, boss," he explained, "I hain't been—I'se gwine!"
The longshoreman was indulging in a fit of temper, which he interpreted in a burst of language that shocked the lady passing by. She regarded him reprovingly, as she demanded:
"My man, where did you learn such awful language?"
"Where did I learn it?" the longshoreman repeated. "Huh! I didn't learn it, it's a gift."
* * *
The deacon carried a chain to the blacksmith to have a link welded. When he returned to the shop a few hours later, he saw the chain lying on the floor, and picked it up. It was just next to red hot, and the deacon dropped it with the ejaculation:
"Hell!" Then he added hastily: "I like to have said."
The wife of the profiteer discoursed largely on the luxuries of the new country estate.
"And, of course," she vouchsafed, "we have all the usual animals—horses, cows, sheep, pigs, hens, and so forth."
"Oh, hens!" the listener gushed. "Then you'll have fresh eggs."
"Really, I'm not sure. The hens can work, if they like, but of course in our position, it's quite unnecessary—er, perhaps not quite suitable, you know."
* * *
The advertisement offered for fifty cents a recipe by which to whiten the hands and soften them. Girls who sent the money received the following directions:
"Soak the hands three times a day in dish water while mother rests."
* * *
"Are you sure this handbag is genuine crocodile skin?" the woman asked the shopkeeper.
"Absolutely," was the reply. "I shot that crocodile myself."
"But it is badly soiled."
"Well, yes, of course. That's where it hit the ground, when it fell out of the tree."
* * *
Customer: "But if it costs twenty dollars to make these watches, and you sell them for twenty dollars, where does your profit come in?"
Shopkeeper: "That comes from repairing them."
The cottager was crippled by rheumatism, and the kindly clergyman taught him his letters, and put him through the primer and into the Bible. On his return after a vacation, the clergyman met the cottager's wife.
"How does John get along with his reading of the Bible?" he asked.
"Oh, bless your reverence," she replied proudly, "'e's out of the Bible and into the newspaper long ago."
* * *
The kindly clergyman, newly come to the parish, was at great pains to teach an illiterate old man, crippled with rheumatism, his letters so that he could read the Bible. On the clergyman's return after a short absence from the parish, he met the old man's wife.
"And how is Thomas making out with reading his Bible?"
"Bless you, sir," the wife declared proudly, "he's out of the Bible and into the newspaper long ago."
* * *
The physician advised his patient to eat a hearty dinner at night, without any worry over the ability to digest it. The patient, however, protested:
"But the other time when I came to see you, you insisted I must eat only a very light supper in the evening."
The physician nodded, smiling complacently.
"Yes, of course—that shows what great progress the science of medicine is making."
The objector to prohibition spoke bitterly:
"Water has killed more folks than liquor ever did."
"You are raving," declared the defender of the Eighteenth Amendment. "How do you make that out?"
"Well, to begin with, there was the Flood."
The wife complained to her husband that the chauffeur was very drunk indeed, and must be discharged instantly.
"Discharged—nothing!" the husband retorted joyously. "When he's sobered off, I'll have him take me out and show me where he got it."
The woman teacher in a New York School was interested in the announcement by a little girl pupil that she had a new baby brother.
"And what is the baby's name?" the teacher asked.
"Aaron," was the answer.
A few days later, the teacher inquired concerning Aaron, but the little girl regarded her in perplexity.
"Aaron?" she repeated.
"Your baby brother," the teacher prompted.
Understanding dawned on the child's face.
"Oh, Aaron!" she exclaimed. "That was a mistake. It's Moses. He's very well, ma'am, thank you. Pa an' ma, they found we had an Aaron."
The parson's daughter spoke pleasantly, but with a hint of rebuke, to one of her father's humble parishioners:
"Good morning, Giles. I haven't noticed you in church for the last few weeks."
"No, miss," the man answered. "I've been oop at Noocaste a-visitin' my old 'aunts. And strange, miss, ain't it, I don't see no change in 'em since I was a child like?"
The parson's daughter was duly impressed.
"What wonderful old ladies they must be!"
But the man shook his head, and explained with remarkable clearness:
"I didn't say 'arnts', miss. I said 'awnts'—'aunts where I used to wander in my childhood days like."
Shopper:—"Are these eggs fresh?"
Apprentice:—"Yes, ma'am, they be."
Shopper:—"How long since they were laid?"
Apprentice:—"'Tain't ten minutes, ma'am—I know, I laid them eggs there myself."
The indignant householder held up before the policeman the dead cat that had been lying by the curb three days.
"What am I to do with this?" he demanded.
"Take it to headquarters," was the serene reply. "If nobody claims it within a reasonable time, it's your property."
The babu explained with great politeness the complete failure of a young American member of the shooting party in India to bag any game:
"The sahib shot divinely but it is true that Providence was all merciful to the birds."
Sandy MacTavish was a guest at a christening party in the home of a fellow Scot whose hospitality was limited only by the capacity of the company. The evening was hardly half spent when Sandy got to his feet, and made the round of his fellow guests, bidding each of them a very affectionate farewell. The host came bustling up, much concerned.
"But, Sandy, mon," he protested, "Ye're nae goin' yet, with the evenin' just started?"
"Nay," declared the prudent MacTavish, "I'm no' goin' yet. But I'm tellin' ye good-night while I know ye all."
* * *
The young man, who was notorious for the reckless driving of his car, was at his home in the country, when he received a telephone call, and a woman's voice asked if he intended to go motoring that afternoon.
"No, not this afternoon," he replied. "But why do you ask? Who are you?"
"That doesn't matter," came the voice over the wire. "It's only that I wish to send my little girl down the street on an errand."
The school teacher, after writing to the mother of a refractory pupil, received this note in reply:
"Dear miss, you writ me about whippin my boy i hereby give you permission to lick him eny time it is necessary to lern him lessuns hes jist like his paw you have to lern him with a club please pound nolej into him i want him to git it don't pay no attenshun to his paw either i'll handle him."
* * *
The little boy dashed wildly around the corner, and collided with the benevolent old gentleman, who inquired the cause of such haste.
"I gotta git home fer maw to spank me," the boy panted.
"Bless my soul!" exclaimed the old gentleman, "I can't understand your being in such a hurry to be spanked."
"I ain't. But if I don't git there 'fore paw, he'll gimme the lickin'."
* * *
The little lad sat on the curb howling lustily. A passer-by halted to ask what was the matter. The boy explained between howls that his father had given him a licking. The sympathizer attempted consolation:
"But you must be a little man, and not cry about it. All fathers have to punish their children sometimes."
The lad ceased howling long enough to snort contemptuously, and to explain:
"Huh! my paw ain't like other boys' paws. He plays the bass drum in the band!"
"What is your name?" demanded the judge of the prisoner in the Municipal Court.
"Locke Smith," was the answer, and the man made a bolt for the door.
He was seized by an officer and hauled back.
"Ten dollars or ten days," said the magistrate.
"I'll take the ten dollars," announced the prisoner.
Finally, he paid the fine, but he added explicit information as to his opinion of the judge. Then he leaped for the door again, only to be caught and brought back a second time.
The judge, after fining the prisoner another ten dollars, admonished him severely, in these words:
"If your language had been more chaste and refined, you would not have been chased and refined."
* * *
A member of the Lambs' Club had a reputation for lack of hospitality in the matter of buying drinks for others. On one occasion, two actors entered the bar, and found this fellow alone at the rail. They invited him to drink, and, as he accepted, he announced proudly:
"I'm writing my autobiography."
"With the accent on the 'bi'?" One of the newcomers suggested sarcastically.
"No," his friend corrected, "with the accent on the 'auto'."
* * *
The stallion that had been driven in from the plains was a magnificent creature, but so fierce that no man dared approach closely. Then the amiable lunatic appeared on the scene. He took a halter, and went toward the dangerous beast. And as he went, he muttered softly:
"So, bossy; so bossy; so bossy."
The stallion stood quietly and allowed the halter to be slipped over his head without offering any resistance.
The horse was cowed.
* * *
When Mr. Choate was ambassador to the Court of St. James, he was present at a function where his plain evening dress contrasted sharply with the uniforms of the other men. At a late hour, an Austrian diplomat approach him, as he stood near the door, obviously taking him for a servant, and said:
"Call me a cab."
Choate answered affably:
"You're a cab, sir."
The diplomat indignantly went to the host and explained that a servant had insulted him. He pointed to Choate. Explanations ensued, and the diplomat was introduced to the American, to whom he apologized.
"That's all right," declared Choate, smiling. "If you had been better-looking, I'd have called you a hansom cab."
The humorist offered his latest invention in the way of a puzzle to the assembly of guests in the drawing-room:
"Can you name an animal that has eyes and cannot see; legs and cannot walk, but can jump as high as the Woolworth Building?"
Everybody racked his brains during a period of deep silence, and racked in vain. Finally, they gave it up and demanded the solution. The inventor of the puzzle beamed.
"The answer," he said, "is a wooden horse. It has eyes and cannot see, and legs and cannot walk."
"Yes," the company agreed. "But how does it jump as high as the Woolworth Building?"
"The Woolworth Building," the humorist explained, "can't jump."
The applicant for the position of cook explained to the lady why she had left her last place:
"To tell the truth, mum, I just couldn't stand the way the master and the mistress was always quarreling."
"That must have been unpleasant," the lady agreed.
"Yis, mum," the cook declared, "they was at it all the time. When it wasn't me an' him, it was me an' her."
It was a rule of the club that anyone asking a question which he himself could not answer must pay a fine. One of the members presented a question as to why a ground-squirrel in digging left no dirt around the entrance to its hole. He was finally called on for the answer, and explained that of course the squirrel began at the bottom and dug upward.
"Excellent!" a listener laughed. "But how does the squirrel manage to reach the bottom?"
"That," said the other with a grin, "is your question."
A railroad was opened through a remote region, and on the first run over the line, the engineer overtook a country boy riding his horse along the road bed. The engineer whistled, and the boy whipped. The train was forced to a crawl with the cowcatcher fairly nipping at the horse's heels. Finally, the engineer leaned from the cab window and shouted:
"You dum fool, why dont ye git offen the track?"
The fleeting boy screamed an answer:
"No, sirree! Ye'd ketch me in a jiffy on thet-thar ploughed ground."
The office telephone was out of order. An employee of the company was sent to make repairs. After a period of labor, he suggested to the gentleman occupying the office the calling up of some one over the wire in order to test the working of the instrument. The gentleman obligingly called for the number of his own home in the suburbs. When the connection was made, he called into the transmitter:
"Maria!" and after a pause, "Maria!" and again "Maria!" There followed a few seconds of waiting, and he repeated his call in a peremptory tone, "Maria!"
The electric storm that had been gathering broke at this moment. A bolt of lightning hit the telephone wires. The gentleman was hurled violently under his desk. Presently, he crawled forth in a dazed condition, and regarded the repair man plaintively.
"That's her!" he declared. "The telephone works fine."
Abe Jones was a colored man who made a living by chicken-stealing. He was converted at a camp meeting. When the elder was receiving testimonies from the mourners' bench, he at last called on Abe:
"Brother," he exhorted, "won't you tell the congregation now what the Lord has done for you?"
Abe got to his feet awkwardly, and mumbled his response in a tone tinged with bitterness:
"It looks as though the Lawd done ruint me."
The Southern lady saw old 'Rastus setting out with his fishing tackle for a day on the river, and she deemed it a fitting time to rebuke him for his notorious idleness, since she and everybody else knew that the entire family was supported by the industry of 'Rastus' old wife as a washerwoman.
"'Rastus," she said severely, "do you think it's right to leave your wife hard at work over the washtub while you pass your time fishing?"
"Yassum, ma'am," replied the old darky earnestly. "It's all right. Mah wife don' need any watchin'. She'll wuk jes' as hard as if I was dah."
"When the Devil was sick, the Devil a monk would be: When the Devil was well, the devil a monk was he."
The little girl had been naughty in school. By way of punishment, she was directed by the teacher to remain in her seat after the session until she had written an original composition containing not less than fifty words. In a surprisingly short space of time, she offered the following, and was duly excused:
"I lost my kitty, and I went out and called, Come, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty."
The physician, afer an examination, addressed the wife of the sick man in a tone of grave finality:
"I am afraid your husband is beyond help. I can hold out no hope of his recovery."
This candor was offensive to the patient, who protested with what violence was permitted by a very scanty breath:
"Here, hold on! What are you gittin' at? I ain't a-goin' to snuff out!"
The wife interposed in a soothing voice:
"You leave it to the doctor, dearie—he knows best."
At a reception given by the Daughters of the Revolution in New York City appeared a woman from one of the Latin-American States. She wore a large number of decorations and insignia. It was explained that she was a Daughter of all two hundred and thirty-eight revolutions in her own country.
A very tidy young man was distressed by his wife's carelessness in attire at home. He was especially annoyed by a torn skirt, which his wife was forever pinning and never mending. Being a tidy man, he had acquired some skill with a needle in his bachelor days. With the intention of administering a rebuke to his wife, he set to work on the skirt during her absence and sewed it up neatly. When, on her return home, he showed her what he had done, she was touched and kissed him tenderly. Soon she left the room, to return with an armful of garments.
"Here are some more for you, darling," she announced happily. "Don't hurry. Just do them whenever you have time."
The little boy put a serious question to his mother:
"Please, mama, tell me: If I'm a good boy, and I die, and go to heaven, will God give me a nice ickle devil to play with?"
* * *
The teacher directed the class to compose fiction narrative. The most interesting story submitted ran as follows:
"A poor young man fell in love with the daughter of a rich lady who kept a candy store. The poor young man could not marry the rich candy lady's daughter because he had not money enough to buy any furniture.
"A wicked man offered to give the young man twenty-five dollars if he would become a drunkard. The young man wanted the money very much, so he could marry the rich candy lady's daughter, but when he got to the saloon he turned to the wicked man and said, 'I will not become a drunkard even for twenty-five dollars. Get from behind me, Satan.'
"On his way home he found a pocketbook containing a million dollars in gold. Then the young lady consented to marry him. They had a beautiful wedding, and the next day they had twins. Thus you see that Virtue has its own reward."
Noah Webster, the maker of the dictionary, carried his exact knowledge as to the meaning of words into ordinary speech. A story told of him—which is, of course, untrue—illustrates the point.
Noah's wife entered the kitchen, to find him kissing the cook.
"Why, Noah," she exclaimed, "I am surprised!"
The lexicographer regarded his wife disapprovingly, and rebuked her:
"You are astonished—I am surprised."
"Come over here!" called a friend to an intoxicated citizen whom he saw across the street.
The man addressed blinked and shook his head.
"Come over there?" he called back. "Why, it's all I can do to stay where I am."
* * *
Amos Perkins was hired in the spring to shoot muskrats, which were overrunning the mill dam. An acquaintance paused to chat one day with Amos, who was sitting at ease on the bank of the stream, his gun safely out of reach.
"I hear the muskrats are undermining the dam," the acquaintance said.
"So they be, so they be!" Amos agreed.
"Hi! there goes one!" cried the visitor, pointing. "Shoot! Why don't you shoot, man?"
Amos spat tobacco juice emphatically, and answered: "Huh! think I want to lose my job?"
* * *
The disgruntled fisherman at the club lifted his voice and complained loudly. He protested against the base trickery of his two companions on the trip.
"It was agreed," he explained, "before we started, that the one who caught the first fish must stand treat to a supper. Now, you'd hardly believe it, but it's a fact that when we got to fishing, both those fellows deliberately refused to pull in their lines when they had bites, just so I'd be stuck."
"That was a mean trick," one of the auditors asserted sympathetically. "How much did the supper cost you?"
The grouchy fisherman relaxed slightly.
"Oh," he explained, "it wasn't as bad as that. You see, I didn't have any bait on my hook."
* * *
A G. A. R. veteran told to some members of the American Legion the story of a private in the Civil War, who during the first battle of Bull Run found a post hole into which he lowered himself, so that only his eyes were above the level of the ground. An officer, noting this display of cowardice, darted to the spot, and with a threatening gesture of his sword, shouted fiercely, "get out of that hole!"
But the skulker did not come out. On the contrary, he put his thumb to his nose and waggled his fingers insultingly.
"Not on your life," he retorted. "Hunt a hole for yourself. This belongs to me."
* * *
The woman hesitated over buying the silver service.
"Of course," she said, "I take your word for it that it's solid silver, but somehow it doesn't look it."
"A great advantage, ma'am," the shopkeeper declared suavely. "That service can be left right out in plain sight, and no burglar will look at it twice."
It is a matter of uncommon knowledge that personal perfection is a most trying thing to live with. In the United States recently, a woman sued for divorce, alleging in the complaint against her husband that he had no faults. It was probably a subtle subconscious realization of the unpleasantness, even the unendurableness, of perfection in the domestic companionship that caused the obvious misprint in the following extract from a Scotch editorial concerning the new divorce legislation:
"But the Bill creates new grounds for the dissolution of the marriage bond, which are unknown to the law of Scotland. Cruelty, incurable sanity, or habitual drunkenness are proposed as separate grounds of divorce."
The noted story-teller at a dinner party related an anecdote, and was at first gratified by the hearty laughter of an old lady among the guests, and later a little suspicious, as her mirth continued. As he stared at her, puzzled, she spoke in explanation:
"Oh, that story is such a favorite of mine: the first time I heard it I laughed so hard that I kicked the foot-board off my crib."
* * *
The ponderous judge interrupted the eloquent lawyer harshly:
"All you say goes in at one ear and out at the other."
"What is to prevent it?" was the retort.
A servant, who indulged in sprees during which he spent all his money, was advised by his master to save against a rainy day. A week later, the master inquired if any saving had been accomplished.
"Oh, yes, indeed, sir," the servant responded. "But, you see, sir, it rained yesterday, and it all went."
Cooks' tourists travel exactly according to schedule. The following conversation was overheard in Rome between a mother and daughter:
"Is this Rome, ma?"
"What day of the week is it, Matilda?"
"Tuesday. What of it?"
"If it's Tuesday, it must be Rome."
* * *
The man about to take a train was worried by the station clocks. There was twenty minutes difference between the one in the office and the one in the waiting-room. Finally, he questioned a porter. That worthy made a careful survey of the two clocks, and shook his head doubtfully. Then, he brightened suddenly, and said:
"It don't make a single mite of difference about the clocks. The train goes at four-ten, no matter what."
On the first morning of the voyage, the vessel ran into a nasty choppy sea, which steadily grew worse. There were twenty-five passengers at the captain's table for dinner, and he addressed them in an amiable welcoming speech:
"I hope that all twenty-five of you will have a pleasant trip." The soup appeared, and he continued: "I sincerely hope that this little assembly of twenty-four will thoroughly enjoy the voyage. I look upon these twenty-two smiling faces as a father upon his family, for I am responsible for the safety of this group of seventeen. And now I ask that all fourteen of you join me in drinking to a merry trip. Indeed, I believe that we eight are most congenial, and I applaud the good fortune that brought these three persons to my table. You and I, my dear sir, are—— Here, steward, clear away all those dishes, and bring me the fish."
* * *
The pair on their honeymoon were crossing the Channel, and the movement of the waves seemed to be going on right inside the bride. In a fleeting moment of internal calm she murmured pathetically to the bridegroom in whose arms she was clasped:
"Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, do you love me?"
"My darling!" he affirmed. "You know I love you with all my heart and soul—I worship you, I adore you, my precious oontsy-woontsy!"
The boat reeled, and a sickening pang thrilled through all the foundations of the bride's being.
"O dear, O dear!" she gasped. "I hoped that might help a little, but it didn't—not a bit!"
* * *
The seasick voyager on the ocean bowed humbly over the rail and made libation to Neptune. The kindly old gentleman who stood near remarked sympathetically:
"You have a weak stomach."
The victim paused in his distressing occupation to snort indignantly:
"Weak? Humph! I guess I can throw as far as anybody on this ship."
* * *
The wife of the seasick passenger was about to leave the stateroom for dinner. She inquired of her husband solicitously:
"George, shall I have the steward bring some dinner to you here?"
"No," was the reply, haltingly given between groans.
"But I wish, my dear, you would ask him to take it on deck and throw it over the rail for me."
* * *
The moralizing gentleman at the club remarked ponderously:
"If there is anything in a man, travel will bring it out."
One who had just landed from a rough crossing agreed bitterly:
"Especially ocean travel."
Once upon a time a coach was held up by a road-agent. The driver explained to the robber that his only passenger was a man, who was asleep inside. The highwayman insisted that the traveler be awakened. "I want to go through his pockets!" he declared fiercely, with an oath.
The bishop, when aroused, made gentle protests.
"You surely would not rob a poor bishop!" he exclaimed. "I have no money worth your attention, and I am engaged on my duties as a bishop."
The robber hesitated.
"A bishop, eh?" he said thoughtfully. "Of what church?"
"The hell you are! That's the church I belong to! So long!... Driver, larrup them mules!"
* * *
A Scotch Presbyterian clergyman tells the story of a parishioner who formed a secession with a few others unable to accept the doctrines of the church. But when the clergyman asked this man if he and the others worshiped together, the answer was:
"No. The fact is, I found that they accepted certain points to which I could not agree, so I withdrew from communion with them."
"So, then," the clergyman continued, "I suppose you and your wife carry on your devotions together at home."
"No, not exactly," the man admitted. "I found that our views on certain doctrines are not in harmony. So, there has been a division between us. Now, she worships in the northeast corner of the room and I in the southwest."
The old lady was very aristocratic, but somewhat prim and precise. Nevertheless, when the company had been telling of college pranks, she relaxed slightly, and told of a lark that had caused excitement in Cambridge when she was a girl there. This was to the effect that two maidens of social standing were smuggled into the second-story room of a Harvard student for a gay supper. The affair was wholly innocent, but secrecy was imperative, to avoid scandal. The meal was hardly begun when a thunderous knock of authority came on the door. The young men acted swiftly in the emergency. Silently, one of the girls was lowered to the ground from the window by a rope knotted under her arms. The second girl was then lowered, but the rope broke when the descent was hardly half completed.
The old lady had related the incident with increasing animation, and at this critical point in the narrative she burst forth:
"And I declare, when that rope broke, I just knew I was going to be killed, sure!"
The aged colored clergyman, who made up in enthusiasm what he lacked in education, preached a sermon on the verse of the Psalm, "Awake, Psaltery and Harp! I myself will awake right early." The explanation of the words, which preceded the exhortation, was as follows:
"Awake, Peasel Tree an' Ha'ap, I myself will awake airly. Dis yere Sam was wrote by de prophet Moses. Moses was mighty fond o' playin' on de ha'ap all de day long, an' at night when he went to bed he'd hang up de ha'ap on de limb ob a Peasel tree what grew on de outside o' de window, an' in de mawnin', when de sun would get up an' shine in his face, he'd jump out o' bed, an' exclaim, 'Wake, Peasel Tree an' Ha'ap! I myself will awake airly!'"
Cousin Willie, aged ten, came for a visit to Johnnie, aged twelve. Johnnie's mother directed him to take the visitor out to play with his boy friends in the neighborhood.
"And be sure to have lots of fun," she added.
On the return of the boys, Willie, the guest, appeared somewhat downcast, but Johnnie was radiant.
"Did you have a good time?" his mother asked.
"Bully!" Johnnie answered.
"And lots of fun?"
"But Willie doesn't look very happy," Johnnie's mother said doubtfully.
"Well, you see," Johnnie answered, beaming, "the rest of us, we had our fun with Willie."
The little girl was deeply impressed by the clergyman's sermon as to the separation of the sheep and the goats. That night after she had gone to bed, she was heard sobbing, and the mother went to her, to ask what was the matter.
"It's about the goats!" Jenny confessed at last. "I'm so afraid I am a goat, and so I'll never go to heaven. Oh, I'm so afraid I'm a goat!"
"My dear," the mother assured her weeping child. "You're a sweet little lamb. If you were to die to-night, you would go straight to heaven." Her words were successful in quieting the little girl, and she slept.
But the following night Jenny was found crying again in her bed, and when her mother appeared she wailed:
"I'm afraid about the goats."
"But mother has told you that you are a little lamb, and that you must never worry over being a goat."
Jenny, however, was by no means comforted, and continued her sobs.
"Yes, mamma," she declared sadly, "I know that. But I'm afraid—awful afraid you're a goat!"
The shiftless man, who preferred reading to labor, closed the book on French history, which he had been perusing with great interest, and addressed his wife.
"Do you know, Mary," he asked impressively, "what I would have done if I had been in Napoleon's place?"
"Certainly!" the wife snapped. "You'd have settled right down on a farm in Corsica, and let it run itself."
The new member of the club listened with solemn interest to the various stories that were told in the smoking room. They were good stories, and obviously lies, and each of them was a bigger lie than any that had gone before. Finally, the company insisted that the new member should relate a tale. He refused at first, but under pressure yielded, and gave a vivid account of a shipwreck at sea during one of his voyages. He described the stress of the terrible situation with such power that his hearers were deeply impressed. He reached the point in his account where only the captain and himself and half a dozen others were left aboard the doomed vessel, after the last of the boats had been lowered.
"And then," he concluded, "a vast wave came hurtling down on us. It was so huge that it shut out all the sky. It crashed over the already sinking ship in a torrent of irresistible force. Under that dreadful blow the laboring vessel sank, and all those left on board of her were drowned."
The narrator paused and there was a period of tense silence. But presently someone asked:
"And you—what became of you?"
"Oh, I," was the reply, "why I was drowned with the rest of them."
The business man's wife, who had called at his office, regarded the pretty young stenographer with a baleful eye.
"You told me that your typewriter was an old maid," she accused.
The husband, at a loss, faltered in his reply, but at last contrived:
"Yes, but she's sick to-day, and sent her grandchild in her place."
A traveler in the South chatted with an aged negro, whom he met in the road.
"And I suppose you were once a slave?" he remarked.
"Yes, suh," the old colored man answered.
"And, so, after the war, you gained your freedom," the gentleman continued.
But the ancient one shook his head sadly.
"No, suh," he declared with great emphasis. "Not perzactly, suh. I didn't git mah freedom, suh, after de war—I done got married!"
An argument arose among a number of British officers during their time of service in the Dardanelles, and wagers were made among them. The question at issue was as to which smells the louder, a goat or a Turk. The colonel was made arbiter. He sat judicially in his tent, and a goat was brought in. The colonel fainted. After the officer had been revived, and was deemed able to continue his duty as referee, a Turk was brought into the tent. The goat fainted.
The somewhat unpleasant person, who was a social worker, completed her call on a dweller in the tenement district, and rose to depart. The unwilling hostess shook her head at the visitor's promise to come again.
"And excuse me if I don't return the call," she vouchsafed. "Myself, I've got no time to go slummin'."
* * *
The philanthropic hostess entertained a party of children from the slums at her home. She addressed one particularly pretty and intelligent-looking little girl, who listened shyly. She urged the child to speak without embarrassment. The little one complied, aspiring:
"How many children have you?"
"Six," the hostess answered, in surprise.
"What a big family! You must be sure to look after them properly, and be very careful to keep them clean."
"I'll try to, certainly," the lady declared, much amused.
"Has your husband got a job?" the girl demanded crisply.
"Well, no," the hostess admitted.
"How unfortunate! You know you must keep out of debt."
"Really, you must not be impertinent," was the reproof.
"No, ma'am," the child responded simply, "mother said I must talk like a lady, and that's the way the ladies talk when they come to see us."
Back in those days when corporal punishment was permitted to teachers, a minor teacher named Miss Bings complained to one of her superiors, Miss Manners, that she had spanked one particular boy, Thomas, until she could spank him no more for physical fatigue.
"When you want him spanked again, send him to me," Miss Manners said.
Next morning, Thomas came into the presence of Miss Manners, displaying an air that was downcast. The teacher regarded him with suspicion.
"Did you come from Miss Bings?" she asked sharply.
"Yes, ma'am," Thomas admitted.
"I thought as much!" On the instant, she skillfully inverted the youngster over her lap, and whacked him in a most spirited manner. This duty done, as the wailings of the boy died away, she demanded sternly:
"And now what have you to say?"
"Please, ma'am," Thomas answered brokenly, "Miss Bings wants the scissors!"
In the business college, the instructor addressed the new class concerning the merits of shorthand. In his remarks, he included this statement:
"It is a matter of record that it took the poet Gray seven years to write his famous poem, 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard.' Had he been proficient in stenography, he could have done it in seven minutes. We have had students who have written it in that length of time."
* * *
The young lady interested in botany inquired of the gentleman who had been traveling in the South.
"What sort of a plant is the Virginia creeper?"
"That is not a plant," was the answer, given wearily; "it's a railroad."
Some time before Mr. Taft became President of the United States, he took an extended trip in the mountains of West Virginia. On one occasion, he was conveyed along the mountain roads in a buggy driven by a native of the region. As they came to a small stream, Mr. Taft, without any particular interest, inquired concerning the brook's name. So far as he could understand, the answer was:
"This here are Swum-swum Crick."
"What?" Mr. Taft demanded.
In the repetition, the words sounded like:
"This here are Swoovel Crick."
The questioner was so puzzled that he asked the mountaineer how the name of the Creek was spelled.
The native spat tobacco juice reflectively over the wheel, and then spoke judicially:
"Waal, some spells it one way, an' some spells it another way; but in my jedgmint thar are no propeer way."
* * *
The clerk of the court directed the witness to spell his name. The man started his reply thus:
"O double t, i double u, e double l, double u, double——"
The clerk interrupted:
"Please, begin again."
The witness complied glibly:
"O double t, i double u, e double l, double u, double o——"
The clerk groaned. The judge himself intervened: "What is your name?"
"Your Honor, it is Ottiwell Wood. I spell it: O double t, i double u, e double l, double u, double o, d."
The old colored mammy took advantage of a wedding announcement to question her mistress, who remained a spinster still though approaching middle age.
"When is you gwine to git married, missy?"
"I don't know, mammy," was the thoughtful reply. "Really, I don't think I'll ever get married."
A note of sadness in the speaker's voice moved the old woman to attempt philosophical consolation:
"Well, they do say as how ole maids am the happies' kind after they quits strugglin'."
The faithful old employee asked for a day off. The request was granted, with an inquiry as to what he intended to do on his holiday.
"I think," came the cautious answer, "I shall go to my wife's funeral. She died the other day."
A few weeks later, the request for a day off was repeated.
"And what are you going to do this time?" the employer asked.
"I think, mebbe, I'll get married."
"What! So soon after burying your wife?"
The faithful old employee smiled tolerantly, as he answered:
"Oh, well, I was never one to hold spite."
In the party out after reed birds was a tyro at the sport. When at last he saw one of the birds walking about, he plumped down on his stomach, and took aim. A companion called to him sharply:
"You're not going to shoot the bird while it's walking?"
"No," was the firm response; "I'll wait till it stops."
The teacher talked on the four seasons, telling how in the spring the new life comes to the earth, with the growth of grasses and leaves and flowers, how this life matures in summer, and so on, and so on. Then she called on the class to repeat the information she had given. She asked one little boy about spring.
"What do we find in the spring, George?"
George seemed very reluctant to answer, but when the teacher insisted he at last said:
"Why, ma'am, there's a frog, an' a lizard, an' a snake, an' a dead cat, but I didn't put the cat there. It was another boy."
On the occasion of a most interesting family event, Mr. Peedle, who desired a son, paced the drawing-room in extreme agitation, until at last the doctor appeared in the doorway.
"Oh, oh, tell me," he gasped, "what is it—a boy or a girl?"
"Tr-tr-tr—" the physician began stammeringly.
"Triplets! Merciful providence!"
"Qu-qu-qu—" spluttered the doctor.
Peedle paled some more.
"Quadruplets!" he moaned.
"N-n-no!" the physician snapped. "Qu-qu-quite the contrary. Tr-tr-try to take it qu-quietly. It's a girl."
Two old friends met, and immediately found that they were equally devoted to motoring. After a discussion of their various cars, one bethought himself to ask concerning the other's wife, whom he had never seen. That lady was described by her husband, as follows:
"Nineteen-six model, limousine so to say, heavy tread, runs on low."
The young lady worker for the Sunday school called on the newly wedded pair.
"I am endeavoring to secure new scholars," she explained. "Won't you send your children?"
When she was informed that there were no children in the family as yet, she continued brightly:
"But won't you please send them when you do have them?"
* * *
The Sunday-school teacher examined his new class.
"Who made the world?" he demanded. Nobody seemed to know. He repeated the question somewhat sternly. As the silence persisted, he frowned and spoke with increased severity:
"Children, I must know who made the world!"
Then, at last, a small boy piped up in much agitation:
"Oh, sir, please, sir, it wasn't me!"
It is told of Mrs. Gladstone that a number of ladies in her drawing-room once became engaged in earnest discussion of a difficult problem. It chanced that at the time the great prime minister was in his study upstairs. As the argument in the drawing-room became hopelessly involved, a devout lady of the company took advantage of a lull to say:
"Ah, well, there is One above Who knows it all."
Mrs. Gladstone beamed.
"Yes," she said proudly. "And William will be down directly to tell us all about it."
The superstitious sporting editor of the paper condemned the "Horse Fair" by Rosa Bonheur.
"Just look at those white horses!" he exclaimed disgustedly. "And not a red-headed girl in sight."
The passionate lover wrote to his inamorata as follows:
"Adored of my soul:—If you love me, wear a red rose in your corsage to-night at the opera. If my devotion to you is hopeless, wear a white rose."
She wore a yellow rose.
The eminent politicians of opposing parties met on a train, and during their chat discovered that they agreed concerning primaries.
"It is the first time," said one, "that we have ever agreed on a matter of public policy."
"That is so," the other assented. "The fact leads me to suspect that I am wrong, after all in this matter of the primaries."
A tramp devised a new scheme for working on the sympathy of the housewife. After ringing the front door bell, he got on his knees, and began nibbling at the grass of the lawn. Presently the woman opened the door, and, in surprise at sight of him on all fours, asked what he was doing there.
The tramp got to his feet shakily, and made an eloquent clutch at his stomach as he explained:
"Dear madam, I am so hungry that like Nebuchadnezzar I just had to take to eatin' grass."
"Well, well, now ain't that too bad!" the woman cried. "You go right into the back yard—the grass there is longer."
The senator from Utah was able to disarm by flattery the resentment of a woman at a reception in Washington, who upbraided him for that plurality of wives so dear to Mormon precept and practice.
"Alas, madam," the senator declared with a touch of sadness in his voice, "we are compelled in Utah to marry a number of wives."
His fair antagonist was frankly surprised.
"What do you mean?" she demanded.
The senator explained suavely:
"We have to seek there in several women the splendid qualities that here are to be found in one."
Many a man who has suffered from tongue-lashings at home will be moved to profound sympathy for the victim described as follows in a local news item of a country paper:
"Alice Jardine, a married woman, was charged with unlawfully wounding her husband, Charles Jardine, a laborer, by striking him with a pair of tongues."
The victim of the Klu Klux Klan plucked some feathers from his neck with one hand, while he picked gingerly at the tar on his legs with the other.
"The excitement," he murmured, "rose to a terrible pitch, but it soon came down."
A noted humorist once spent a few weeks with a tribe of western Indians. On his return, he was asked concerning his experiences. One question was:
"Did you ever taste any dog-feast stew?"
"Yes," was the melancholy reply. "I tasted it twice—once when it went down, and once when it came up."
* * *
It's all a matter of taste, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow.
The master of the house was hungry at breakfast, and swallowed a good part of his bacon before he tasted it. Then he took time to protest violently to his wife against the flavor of the food. The good lady offered no apology, but rang for the servant. When the latter appeared, the mistress asked a question that was little calculated to soothe her husband.
"Maggie," she inquired serenely, "what did you do with the bacon we poisoned for the rats?"
The kind lady stopped to tell the sobbing little girl not to cry, and she offered as a convincing argument:
"You know it makes little girls homely."
The child stared belligerently at the benevolent lady, and then remarked:
"You must have cried an awful lot when you was young."
"Please tell me, James," directed the young lady teacher, "where shingles were first used?"
"I could, ma'am," little Jimmie replied in great embarrassment, "but I'd rather not."
When the bishop was entertained at an English country house, the butler coached carefully the new boy who was to carry up the jug of hot water for shaving in the morning.
"When you knock," the butler explained, "and he asks, 'Who's there?' then you must say, 'It's the boy, my Lord.'"
The lad, in much nervous trepidation, duly carried up the hot water, but in answer to the bishop's query as to who was at the door, he announced:
"It's the Lord, my boy!"
The butler overheard and was horrified. He hammered into the youth's consciousness, the fact that a bishop must be addressed as my lord. Finally, he was satisfied that the boy understood, and permitted him to assist in serving the dinner that night. The youngster was sent to the bishop to offer a plate of cheese. With shaking knees, he presented the dish to the prelate, and faltered:
"My God, will you have some cheese?"
* * *
The master of the house returned from business somewhat early. He did not find his wife about, and so called downstairs to the cook:
"Bridget, do you know anything of my wife's whereabouts?"
"No, sor," Bridget answered, "Sure, I know nothin' but I'm thinkin', sor, it's likely they're in the wash."
Paul Smith, the famous hotel-keeper in the Adirondacks, told of a law suit that he had with a man named Jones in Malone.
"It was this way: I sat in the courtroom before the case opened with my witnesses around me. Then Jones bustled in. He stopped abruptly, and looked my witnesses over carefully. Presently he turned to me.
"'Paul,' he asked, 'are those your witnesses?'
"'They are,' I replied.
"'Then you win,' he exclaimed. 'I've had them witnesses twice myself.'"
* * *
The grateful woman on the farm in Arkansas wrote to the vendors of the patent medicine:
"Four weeks ago I was so run down that I could not spank the baby. After taking three bottles of your Elegant Elixir I am now able to thrash my husband in addition to my other housework. God bless you!"
* * *
In one of the most desolate areas of Montana, a claim was taken by a man from Iowa. The nearest neighbor, from twenty miles away, visited the homesteader's shack, and introduced himself.
"Where did you come from?" the visitor inquired presently, and when he had been told:
"I can't understand why anybody should want to get out of that civilized country to come and live in this lonesomeness."
"Fact was," the man from Iowa explained somberly, "I didn't exactly like it down there any more. You see, it was this way. They got to telling things about me. Why, they even said I was a liar and hoss thief, and no better than I ought to be. And, by Jemima, I jest pulled out and went right away from them scandalous folks."
"Well, I swan!" the visitor exclaimed indignantly. "You can bet I wouldn't leave a place for any reason like that. I'd make them prove what they said."
The homesteader sighed dismally as he answered:
"That's jest the trouble—they did prove it!"
The mother, who was a believer in strict discipline, sternly addressed her little daughter, who sat wofully shrinking in the dentist's chair as the ogre approached forceps in hand:
"Now, Letty, if you cry, I'll never take you to the dentist's again."
A Scotchman was questioned by a friend:
"Mac, I hear ye have fallen in love wi' bonny Kate McAllister."
"Weel, Sanders," Mac replied, "I was near—veera near—doin' it, but the bit lassy had nae siller, so I said to meaself, 'Mac, be a mon.' And I was a mon, and noo I jist pass her by."
* * *
The thrifty housewife regarded her dying husband with stern disapproval as he moaned and tossed restlessly from side to side.
"William Henry," she rebuked him, "you jest needn't kick and squirm so, and wear them best sheets all out, even if you be a-dyin'."
The ardent lover heard the clock strike the hours—first nine, then ten, then eleven. At the sound of twelve strokes, he burst forth passionately:
"How fleet are the hours in your presence, my beloved!"
"Don't be silly!" the girl chided. "That's pa setting the clock."
The prize bull-dog attacked a farmer, who defended himself with a pitchfork, and in doing so killed the dog. The owner was greatly distressed, and reproached the farmer.
"Why didn't you use the other end of the fork," he demanded, "and just beat him off, without killing him?"
"I would have," the farmer answered, "if he had come at me with the other end."
The native pointed with pride to two doddering ancients hobbling painfully down the village street, and informed the stranger:
"Them fellers is the Dusenbury twins—ninety-eight year old!" The visitor was duly impressed, and asked to what the pair of venerable citizens attributed their long life.
"It's kind o' which and t' other," the native confessed. "Obadiah declares its all along o' his chewin' an' smokin' an' snuffin' day in an' day out, fer nigh onto a hundred year; an' Ebenezer declares he has his health becase he never touched the filthy weed."
The little girl who had observed certain details in the toilette preparations of her elders, was observed by her mother at work over her most elaborate doll in a somewhat strange manner.
"Whatever are you trying to do with your doll, Mary?" the mother asked.
"I'm just going to put her to bed, mummy," the child replied seriously. "I've taken off her hair, but I can't get her teeth out."
An old lady in the London parish of the famous Doctor Gill made a nuisance of herself by constant interference in the affairs of others. As a gossip she was notorious. It appeared to her that the neckbands worn by the Doctor were longer than was fitting. She therefore took occasion to visit the clergyman, and harangued him at length on the sinfulness of pride. Then she exhibited a pair of scissors, and suggested that she should cut down the offending neckbands to a size fitting her ideas of propriety. The Doctor listened patiently to her exhortation, and at the end offered her the neckbands on which to work her will. She triumphantly trimmed them to her taste, and returned the shorn remnants to the minister.
"And now," said the Doctor, "you must do me a good turn also."
"That I will, Doctor," the woman declared heartily. "What can it be?"
"Well," the clergyman explained, "you have something about you which is a deal too long and which causes me and many others such trouble, that I should like to see it shorter."
"Indeed, dear Doctor, I shall not hesitate to gratify you. What is it? See, here are the scissors! Use them as you please."
"Come, then," said the Doctor, "good sister, put out your tongue."
The Italian workman in the West was warned to look out for rattlesnakes. He was assured, however, that a snake would never strike until after sounding the rattles. One day, while seated on a log, eating his lunch, the Italian saw a rattlesnake coiled ready to strike. He lifted his legs carefully, with the intention of darting away on the other side of the log the moment the rattles should sound their warning. But just as his feet cleared the top of the log, the snake struck out and its fangs were buried in the wood only the fraction of an inch below the Italian's trousers. The frightened man fled madly, but he took breath to shriek over his shoulder:
"Son of a gun! Why you no ringa da bell?"
An old negro, who had almost attained the century mark, nearly blind, almost completely disabled, without friends, relations, or money, felt himself about to die, and stealthily made his way into a farmer's barn, where he burrowed into the haymow. But the farmer had observed the man's entrance, and after getting his shotgun, he hurried to the barn.
"I got you!" he cried savagely. "Dog gone you! I got you!"
The moribund derelict thrust his black face from the mow, and showed his toothless gums in a grin, as he answered:
"An' a great git you got!"
The colored man was before the court, accused of horse-stealing. The prosecuting attorney read the indictment sternly, and then asked:
"Are you guilty, or not guilty?"
The prisoner wriggled perplexedly, and then grinned propitiatingly as he said:
"Now, suh, boss, ain't dat perzakly de ting we'se done gwine diskiver in dis-yere trial?"
When the domestic event was due, the prospective father, being ordered out of the house, celebrated the occasion with many friends in a number of saloons. He celebrated so well that the clock was striking three in the morning when he entered the house. A nurse hurried to him, and undid some wrappings that revealed three tiny faces. The father stared reproachfully at the clock in the hall, and then, again regarding his group of children, spoke earnestly:
"Oi'm not superstitious, but Oi thank hivin Oi didn't come home at twelve!"
The little girl evidently appreciated the fact that all men and women are liars, for Punch records the following as the dialogue between her and her mother when she had been caught in a fib:
Mother: "It is very naughty to tell untruths, Kitty. Those who do so, never go to heaven."
Kitty: "Don't you ever tell an untruth, Mummy?"
Mother: "No, dear—never."
Kitty: "Well, you'll be fearfully lonely, won't you, with only George Washington?"
The woman lecturing on dress reform was greatly shocked when she read the report as published in the local paper. The writer had been innocent enough, for his concluding sentence was:
"The lady lecturer on dress wore nothing that was remarkable."
But the merry compositor inserted a period, which was left undisturbed by the proofreader, so that the published statement ran:
"The lady lecturer on dress wore nothing. That was remarkable."
* * *
The poet, in a fine frenzy, dashed off a line that was really superb:
"See the pale martyr in his sheet of fire."
The devilish compositor so tangled the words that, when the poem was published, this line read:
"See the pale martyr with his shirt on fire."
* * *
The critic, in his review of the burlesque, wrote:
"The ladies of Prince Charming's household troops filled their parts to perfection."
The compositor, in his haste, read an n for the r in the word parts, and the sentence, thus changed, radically in its significance, duly appeared in the morning paper.
An American girl who married a Bavarian baron enjoyed playing Lady Bountiful among the tenants on her husband's estate. On the death of the wife of one of the cottagers, she called to condole with the bereaved widower. She uttered her formal expressions of sympathy with him in his grief over the loss of his wife, and she was then much disconcerted by his terse optimistic comment:
"But it's a good thing, your ladyship, that it wasn't the cow."
Wives are to be had for the asking; cows are not.
The fair penitent explained to the confessor how greatly she was grieved by an accusing conscience. She bewailed the fact that she was sadly given over to personal vanity. She added that on this very morning she had gazed into her mirror and had yielded to the temptation of thinking herself beautiful.
"Is that all, my daughter?" the priest demanded.
"Then, my daughter," the confessor bade her, "go in peace, for to be mistaken is not to sin."
That celebrated statue, the Winged Victory, has suffered during the centuries to the extent of losing its head and other less vital parts. When the Irish tourist was confronted by this battered figure in the museum, and his guide had explained that this was the famous statue of victory, he surveyed the marble form with keen interest.
"Victory, is ut?" he said, "Thin, begorra, Oi'd loike to see the other fellow."
A report has come from Mexico concerning the doings of three revolutionary soldiers who visited a ranch, which was the property of an American spinster andher two nieces. The girls are pretty and charming, but the aunt is somewhat elderly and much faded, though evidently of a dauntless spirit. The three soldiers looked over the property and the three women, and then declared that they were tired of fighting, and had decided to marry the women and make their home on the ranch.
The two girls were greatly distressed and terrified, but even in their misery they were unselfish.
"We are but two helpless women," they said in effect, "and if we must, we bow to our cruel fate. But please—oh, please—spare our dear auntie. Do not marry her."
At this point, their old-maid relation spoke up for herself:
"Now, now, you girls—you mind your own business. War is war."
* * *
"How do countries come to go to war?" the little boy inquired, looking up from his book.
"For various reasons," explained the father. "Now, there was Germany and Russia. They went to war because the Russians mobilized."
"Not at all, my dear," the wife interrupted. "It was because the Austrians—"
"Tut, tut, my love!" the husband remonstrated. "Don't you suppose I know?"
"Certainly not—you are all wrong. It was because—"
"Mrs. Perkins, I tell you it was because—"
"Benjamin, you ought to know better, you have boggled—"
"Your opinion, madam, has not been requested in this matter."
"Shut up! I won't have my child mistaught by an ignoramus."
"Don't you dare, you impudent—"
"And don't you dare bristle at me, or I'll—"
"Oh, never mind!" the little boy intervened. "I think I know now how wars begin."
* * *
At our entry into the World War, a popular young man enlisted and before setting forth for camp in his uniform made a round of farewell calls. The girl who first received him made an insistent demand:
"You'll think of me every single minute when you're in those stupid old trenches!"
"Every minute," he agreed solemnly.
"And you'll kiss my picture every night."
"Twice a night," he vowed, with the girl's pretty head on the shoulder of the new uniform coat.
"And you'll write me long, long letters?" she pleaded.
"I'll write every spare minute," he assured her, "and if I haven't any spare minutes, I'll take 'em anyhow."
After a tender interval punctuated with similar ardent promises, he went away from there, and called on another girl. In fact, he called on ten separate and distinct pretty girls, and each of them was tender and sought his promises, which he gave freely and ardently and when it was all done with, he communed with himself somewhat sadly.
"I do hope," he said wearily, "there won't be much fighting to do over there—for I'm going to be awfully busy."
The old colored attendant at the court house had a formula for addressing the judge:
"What's the news this mawnin', Jedge?"
And the judge's habitual reply was to the effect that there was no news in particular.
But one morning, in answer to the usual query, there came a variation:
"Our country has declared war against Spain." The darky scratched his head thoughtfully, then rolled his eyes to squint at the cloudless blue of the sky, and finally remarked in a pleased tone:
"They shohly done picked a fine day fer it."
At the time when petroleum began to be used instead of whale oil for burning in lamps, a kindly old lady was deeply perturbed by the change.
"What," she wanted to know, "will the poor whales do now?"
An elderly man was on his way home by train from a session of three days at a convention of his political party. (This was antedating the era of prohibition.) The man's personal preferences had been gratified in the nominations at the convention, and he had celebrated in a way only too common in the bibulous period of our history. His absorption in other things and of other things had led him to neglect shaving throughout the three days. Now, as he chanced to move his hand over his chin, it encountered the long growth of white bristles, and he was aroused to a realization of his neglect. To determine just how badly he needed a shave, the elderly gentleman opened his handbag, and fumbled in it for a mirror. In his confused condition, he seized on a silver-backed hair-brush of the same set, pulled it forth, and held it up to his face with the bristles toward him. He studied these with great care, groaned and muttered:
"I look worse than I thought for. Whatever will Sarah Ann say!"
One of the ladies assembled at the club was describing the wedding she had just attended:
"And then, just as Frank and the widow started up the aisle to the altar, every light in the church went out."
The listeners exclaimed over the catastrophe.
"And what did the couple do then?" someone questioned.
"Kept on going. The widow knew the way."
* * *
A widow visited a spiritualistic medium, who satisfactorily produced the deceased husband for a domestic chat.
"Dear John," the widow questioned eagerly, "are you happy now?"
"I am very happy," the spook assured her.
"Happier than you were on earth with me?" the widow continued, greatly impressed.
"Yes," John asserted, "I am far happier now than I was on earth with you."
"Oh, do tell me, John," the widow cried rapturously, "what is it like in heaven?"
"Heaven!" the answer snapped. "I ain't in heaven!"
During the parade at the last encampment of the G.A.R., a woman in the crowd of spectators made herself not only conspicuous, but rather a nuisance by the way she carried on. She waved a flag with such vigor as to endanger the bystanders and yelled to deafen them. An annoyed man in the crowd after politely requesting her to moderate her enthusiasm, quite without effect, bluntly told her to shut up.
"Shut up yourself!" she retorted in high indignation. "If you had buried two husbands who had served in the war, you would be hurrahing, too."
A young skeptic in the congregation once interrupted Billy Sunday with the question:
"Who was Cain's wife?"
The Evangelist answered in all seriousness:
"I honor every seeker after knowledge of the truth. But I have a word of warning for this questioner. Don't risk losing salvation by too much inquiring after other men's wives."
The old sea captain was surrounded at the tea party, to which his wife had dragged him, much against his will, by a group of women pestering him for a story from his adventures. Finally, at the end of his patience, he began.
"Once, I was shipwrecked on the coast of South America, and there I came across a tribe of wild women, who had no tongues."
"Mercy!" exclaimed all the fair listeners with one voice. "But they couldn't talk."
"That," snapped the old sea captain, "was what made them wild."
It's a wise child that goes out of the room to laugh when the old man mashes his thumb.
A cynic, considering the fact that women was the last thing made by God, asserts that the product shows both His experience and His fatigue.
The following extract is from the diary of a New England woman who lived in the eighteenth century:
"We had roast pork for dinner and the Doctor, who carved, held up a rib on his fork, and said: 'Here, ladies, is what Mother Eve was made of.'"
"'Yes,' said sister Patty, 'and it is from very much the same kind of critter'."
* * *
The little girl reported at home what she had learned at Sunday School concerning the creation of Adam and Eve:
"The teacher told us how God made the first man and the first woman. He made the man first. But the man was very lonely with nobody to talk to him. So God put the man to sleep. And while the man was asleep, God took out his brains, and made a woman of them."
During the agitation in behalf of woman's suffrage, an ardent advocate pleaded with a tired-looking married woman, and said:
"Just think! Wouldn't you love to go with your husband to the voting place, and there cast your vote along with his?"
The woman shook her head decisively and she answered:
"For goodness sake! If there's one single thing that a man's able to do by himself, let him do it."
Oldest Inhabitant: "I never expected to live till the end of the War, Ma'am; but now I'm hoping to be spared to see the beginning of the next one."
* * *
"That's Betty Grant's new maid."
"She's much smarter than her mistress."
"Well, they can't both afford to dress like that."
* * *
Father: "Don't know the French for cat, and you had a French nurse for years!"
Hopeful: "But, Dad, we hadn't got a cat when Adele was with us."
* * *
Betty (after flash of lightning): "Count quickly, Jenny! Make it as far away as you possibly can."
* * *
Employer: "John, I wish you wouldn't whistle at your work."
Boy: "I wasn't working, Sir; only whistling."
* * *
Mistress: "Oh, Jane, how did you break that vase?"
Maid: "I'm very sorry, Mum; I was accidentally dusting."
* * *
Little Girl (in foreground): "Mother, I suppose the bridegroom must come to his wedding."
* * *
Mistress: "I hope you're doing what you can to economise the food."
Cook: "Oh, yes'm. We've put the cat on milk-an'-water."
* * *
Raw Hand (at sea for first time and observing steamer's red and green lights): "'Ere's some lights on the starboard side, Sir."
Officer: "Well, what is it?"
R. H.: "Looks to me like a drug store, Sir."
* * *
"Can you play bridge to-night?"
"Sorry. Going to hear some Wagner."
"What—do you like the stuff?"
"Frankly, no; but I've heard on the best authority that his music's very much better than it sounds."
* * *
Master: "But, Jenkins, the name of the complaint is not pewmonia. Surely, you've heard me again and again say 'pneumonia'?"
Man: "Well, Sir, I 'ave; but I didn't like to correct you."
* * *
Successful Poultry Farmer: "You'd be surprised what a difference these incubators make. We can hatch out two or three hundred chicks every week."
Champion Dog Breeder: "Good gracious! How ever do you manage to find names for them all?"
* * *
Small Boy (who has been promised a visit to the Zoo to-morrow): "I hope we shall have a better day for it than Noah had."
Mother: "Oh, Mary, why do you wipe your mouth with the back of your hand?"
Mary: "'Cos it's so much cleaner than the front."
* * *
Mother (to child who has been naughty): "Aren't you rather ashamed of yourself?"
Child: "Well, Mother, I wasn't. But now that you've suggested it I am."
* * *
Belated Traveller (surprised by a bull when taking a short cut to the station): "By jove! I believe I shall catch that train after all."
* * *
Mother: "Why, what's the matter, darling?"
Small daughter (tearfully): "Oh, Mums, I do so want to give this worm to my hen."
Mother: "Then why don't you?"
Small daughter (with renewed wails): "'C-cos I'm so afraid the worm won't like it."
* * *
"Does God make lions, Mother?"
"But isn't he frightened to?"
* * *
"Excuse me, officer, but have you seen any pickpockets about here with a handkerchief marked 'Susan'?"
Mrs. Green to Mrs. Jones (who is gazing at an aeroplane): "My word! I shouldn't care for one of them flying things to settle on me."
* * *
The Woman: "Jazz stockings are the latest thing, dear. Here's a picture of a girl with them on."
The Man: "What appalling rot! Er—after you with the paper."
* * *
Small Invalid (to visitor): "I've had a lot of diseases in my time—measles—whooping-cough—influenza—tonsilitis—but (modestly) I haven't had dropsy yet."
Lady: "And why did your last mistress——"
Applicant (loftily): "Excuse me, Madam!"
Lady: "Well—er—your last employer——"
Applicant: "I beg your pardon, Madam!"
Lady: "Well, then, your last—er—pray what do you call those in whose service you are engaged?"
Applicant: "Clients, Madam."
* * *
Small Girl: "I wonder how old Joan is?"
Small Boy: "I bet she won't see four again."
* * *
Mother: "Well, dear, has Jack kissed you under the mistletoe?"
Mary (demurely): "Yes, Mummy."
Mother: "And did you enjoy it?"
Mary: "Yes, thank you, Mummy; but (very demurely) I struggled."
* * *
"Mollie, you haven't said your prayers."
"I'm going to say them in bed to-night."
"Oh, Mollie, that isn't etiquette."
* * *
Applicant for Situation: "And 'ow long did yer last cook oblige yer?"
"George, will you go and speak to cook? I bought some tripe for dinner and—she's still looking at it through her lorgnette."
* * *
"I hear you've taken up golf. What do you go round in?"
"Well, usually in a sweater."
* * *
Small Boy (walking round links with his father): "Daddy, here's a ball for you."
Father: "Where did you get that from?"
Small Boy: "It's a lost ball, Daddy."
Father: "Are you sure it's a lost ball?"
Small Boy: "Yes, Daddy; they're still looking for it."
* * *
Small Boy (toying with dull blanc-mange): "Please may I have an ice instead of finishing this—'cos I feel sick?"
Wife (habitué of the Ring, gazing after stranger who has knocked her husband down): "That was a lovely upper-cut he gave you, George. I wonder who he is?"
* * *
Lady: "I've just been making my side ache over your latest book."
Author (delighted): "Oh, really. Did you find it so amusing?"
Lady: "Well, the fact is I went to sleep on the top of it."
* * *
Employer (inspecting a very inflated bill for work): "Look here—how did you get at this amount?"
Odd Jobs Man: "Well, Sir, didn't know how you'd prefer me to charge it up, so I just charged by time."
Employer: "Oh, really! I thought you must have been charging by eternity."
* * *
Tourist: "Have you any cold meat?"
Waiter: "Well, we have some that's nearly cold, Sir."
* * *
Lady: "If you please, Cook, may we have steak and onions for lunch to-day?"
Cook: "You can have steak, but I'm afraid I can't let you have onions. You see, I'm going out this afternoon, and onions always make my eyes so red."
* * *
Small Boy (on being told by cousin that she is engaged to be married): "Oh! (long pause) and what did your husband say when he engaged you?"
* * *
Master: "But why do you want to get married, Jones?"
Butler: "Well, Sir, I don't want my name to die out."
* * *
Artist (in desperation): "That, Sir, I consider the finest in my exhibition. You can have it for half the catalogue price."
The Visitor: "Bless my soul! You don't say so. By the way, what is the price of the catalogue?"
* * *
"Well, Mollie, how do you like your new teacher?"
"I half like her, and I half don't like her. But I think I half don't like her most."
* * *
"Please, Mr. Grafto, the gentleman on the next floor presents his compliments and says, seeing as how you can foretell the future, would you be so good as to let him know how long it will be before your bath stops overflowing through his ceiling?"
* * *
Old Lady (interrogating her chauffeur's small boy): "Well, my little man, and do you know who I am?"
Small Boy: "Yes, you're the old lady what goes for rides in my daddy's car."
* * *
Parent: "I should like you to have 'good' in your report, and not always 'fair.'"
Young Hopeful: "I daresay you would, Dad. But, you see, I'm an ordinary boy of ordinary parents, and that's an ordinary report."
* * *
Optimist: "Cheer up, old man. Things aren't as bad as they seem."
Pessimist: "No, but they seem so."
Genial Uncle: "Well, old chap, we've not done anything together for a long time. How about the Zoo next Sunday, eh?"
Small Boy: "Thanks very much. I can't say off-hand, but I'll ring you up."
* * *
Little Girl (to Bride at wedding reception): "You don't look nearly as tired as I should have thought."
Bride: "Don't I, dear? But why did you think I should look tired?"
Little Girl: "Well, I heard Mummy say to Dad that you'd been running after Mr. Goldmore for months and months."
"I say—come and dance. This is a toppin' fox-trot they're playin'."
"Thanks—but I'm only waltzing this evening. We're still in mourning, you know."
* * *
Specialist (to patient suffering from insomnia): "And did you try my plan of counting sheep coming through a gate?"
Patient: "Well, I counted up to a hundred and twenty thousand and thirty-nine, and then it was time to get up."
* * *
Neighbor (bearer of message, to billiard enthusiast): "You're wanted at 'ome, Charlie. Yer wife's just presented yer with another rebate off yer income-tax."
* * *
Joan (whose mother has just bought her a pair of woolen gloves): "Oh, Mummy, I wish you had got kid. I hate this kind; they make my sweets so hairy."
* * *
Lady (to applicant for situation as cook): "Have you been accustomed to have a kitchen-maid under you?"
Cook: "In these days we never speak of having people 'under us.' But I have had colleagues."
* * *
Father: "Look here, Billy, Mr. Smith called at the office this morning about your fight with his boy yesterday."
Son: "Did he? I hope you got on as well as I did."
* * *
Artist (condescendingly): "I did this last summer. It really isn't much good."
Candid Friend: "No, it certainly isn't. But who told you?"
Mrs. Profiteer: "Is this a pedigree dog?"
Dealer: "Pedigree? I should just think 'e is, Mum. Why, if the animal could only talk 'e wouldn't speak to either of us."
* * *
Small Bridesmaid (loudly, in middle of ceremony): "Mummie, are we all getting married?"
* * *
Small Girl: "To-day's my mummy's wedding-day."
Smaller Girl (with air of superiority): "My mummy was married years ago."
* * *
"Wot's a minimum wage, Albert?"
"Wot yer gets for goin' to yer work. If yer wants ter make a bit more yer does a bit o' work for it."
* * *
Office Boy (anxious to go to football match): "May I have the afternoon off, Sir? My grand——"
Employer: "Oh, yes, I've heard that before. Your grandmother died last week."
Office Boy: "Yes, Sir; but—my grandfather's getting married again this afternoon."
* * *
Minister's Wife: "My husband was asking only this morning why you weren't in the habit of attending church."
Latest Inhabitant: "Well, you see, it does so cut into one's Sundays."
* * *
"Two mistakes here, waiter—one in your favor, one in mine."
"In your favor, Sir? Where?"
* * *
Mistress: "Oh, cook, be sure and put plenty of nuts in the cake."
Cook: "You don't catch me crackin' no more nuts to-day. I've very near broke me jaw already."
* * *
Gushing Lady: "Yes, she's married to a lawyer, and a good honest fellow too."
* * *
Mother: "Augustus, you naughty boy, you've been smoking. Do you feel very bad, dear?"
Augustus: "Thank you—I'm only dying."
* * *
New Butler: "At what time, Sir, would you wish to dine as a rule?"
Profiteer: "What time do the best people dine?"
New Butler: "At different times, Sir."
Profiteer: "Very well. Then I, too, will dine at different times."
* * *
Fond Mamma: "I sometimes think, Percy, you don't treat your dear father with quite the proper respect."
Young Hopeful; "Well, Ma, I never liked the man."
* * *
Playful Hostess: "Couldn't you manage one more éclair?"
Serious Little Boy: "No, fanks, I've no more room."
Playful Hostess: "If I picked you up by the heels and shook you, would that help?"
Serious Little Boy (after deep thought): "No, fanks, that would make the space at the wrong end."
* * *
Vicar's Wife: "What are you children doing in daddy's study?"
Ethel: "It's a great secret, Mummy. We're giving daddy a new bible for his birthday."
Vicar's Wife: "Oh—and what are you writing in it?"
Ethel: "Well, you see, we thought we'd better copy what daddy's friends put in the books they give him, so we're writing, 'With the author's compliments.'"
George: "I proposed to that girl and would have married her if it hadn't been for something she said."
Fred: "What did she say?"
She: "Well! Let us change the subject. I've done nothing but talk about myself all evening."
He: "I'm sure we couldn't find anything better."
She: "Very well, then! Suppose you talk about me for a while."
* * *
"I say, Taxi, I've only got enough change to pay the exact fare. D'you mind taking a cheque for the tip?"
"Who was the originator of the idea that a husband and wife are one?"
"I give it up; but it strikes me he might have saved a lot of argument if he had said which one."
* * *
He: "I never knew until to-day that the Rev. Dr. Preachly married an actress."
She: "Oh, yes! It is she who rehearses him in those beautiful extempore sermons he preaches."
He: "But if you will allow me to——"
She: "Oh! I know what you are going to say, but you're quite mistaken and I can prove it."
Eloping Bride: "Oh, Jack! I can't help wondering what father will say when he gets our letter."
Bridegroom: "It can't make any difference to our happiness, darling—so long as he doesn't do it when we get back."
He (dejectedly): "I'm sure I don't see why our parents won't give their consent. I consider their conduct is little short of cruel."
She: "Oh, Jack! How can you expect old fogies like they are to know anything about love?"
Wife: "I'm afraid you'll think me rather extravagant, dear, but I spent ten dollars to-day on a boat, and a train, and a fire-engine, and a box of soldiers, and some nine pins for Freddie's birthday. By the way, what are you going to buy him?"
"What is it, dear?"
"It seems to me that a 'silly question' is something that you don't know the answer to."
Julia: "Fanny married a very wealthy man, you know. She tells me she has absolutely nothing to wish for."
Gertrude: "Oh, Julia! What a dreadful state to be in."
Mrs. Lynks: "Jack, I have made up my mind to fine you ten cents every time you swear."
Mr. Lynks: "That's a bargain, if you'll give me ten cents every time you envy me for being able to."
"Do you miss your husband as much as when he first went away?"
"No, I am becoming reconciled. You see he sent me a power of attorney."
She: "When one is really thirsty, there is nothing so good as pure, cold water."
He: "I guess I have never been really thirsty."
"Well! we've missed that confounded train. What time will the next one be here?"
"If the engine doesn't break down, and the track doesn't spread, and they don't run into any cows, and the up-freight isn't behind time, and the swing bridge isn't open, it ought to be here in about two hours."
* * *
The Count: "I weesh to marry your daughtaire, saire! I am vorth one hundred thousand dollaire."
The Millionaire: "But I thought you were a bankrupt."
The Count: "I mean zat I am vorth zat moch to you."
* * *
"I suppose your landlord asks a lot for the rent of this place?"
"A lot! He asks me for it nearly every week."
* * *
Mother (to little girl who had been sent to the hen-house for eggs): "Well, dear, were there no eggs?"
Little Girl: "No, mummie, only the one the hens use for a pattern."
* * *
"It's funny that you should be so tall. Your brother, the artist, is short, isn't he?"
He (absently): "Yes, usually."
* * *
Urchin (contemptuously): "Huh! Yer mother takes in washin'!"
Neighbor: "Well, yer didn't s'pose she'd leave it hangin' aht overnight unless your farver was in prison, did yer?"
"His versatility is something extraordinary."
"I had an idea he was rather stupid."
"That's just it. I never met a man who could make more different kinds of a fool of himself."
* * *
Poetic Bridegroom: "I could sit here forever, gazing into your eyes, and listening to the wash of the ocean."
Practical Bride: "Oh! That reminds me, darling, we have not paid our laundry bill yet."
George: "Why don't Jack and Laura make up?"
Kate: "'Sh! They'd like to, but unfortunately they can't remember what they quarreled about."
Elsie: "When is my birthday, Mother?"
Her Mother: "On the thirty-first of this month, dear."
Elsie: "Oh! Mother! Supposing this month had had only thirty days, where would I have been?"
She: "I'm surprised at Jane's staying out in the boat all this time with a comparative stranger. A woman of thirty is old enough to know better."
He: "Aren't you afraid she is too old to know better?"
* * *
"I shall never find anyone else like you. You see, you're so different from other girls."
"Oh, but you'll find lots of other girls different from other girls."
"You know you should love your neighbor as yourself."
"But the trouble is, when I try to do that, I always end by hating myself."
* * *
Pupil: "What I want to know is, am I a bass or a baritone?"
Teacher: "No—you're not."
"Oh! Are you really a mind-reader?"
"Yes! I am."
"Then I hope you aren't offended. I didn't mean what I thought about you."
The Child: "Mother! Did you buy a ticket for me?"
The Mother: "No, dear! They don't charge for little boys."
The Child: "Is that 'cos we're too little to reach the straps?"
She: "The Burrowes are having their wooden wedding next week. What can we give them?"
"We might send them a receipt for some of the money he owes me."
First Voter: "So Mr. Jones has been elected. You voted for him, of course?"
Second Voter: "No, I voted for the other man. You see, Mr. Jones supported Woman's Suffrage, which I abhor."
"I'm so glad to see you. And how did you enjoy your visit to the South?"
"Oh, not very much! There wasn't a soul where I was staying except intimate friends."
* * *
She: "Oh! Jack! Are you perfectly certain that you love me?"
He: "My darling! You don't suppose that I have lived for thirty years without knowing love when I feel it."
"What! You don't mean to tell me they are engaged! Why! They never met until a week ago."
"I know it. But they happened, while out rowing together, to get caught in a thunder storm."
"She is one of the most remarkable women I ever met."
"In what way?"
"She can keep silence in four different languages."
She: "I'm so glad we're engaged."
He: "But you knew all the time that I loved you, didn't you?"
She: "Yes, dear, I knew it, but you didn't."
"Well, what are you sneering about? You don't seem to have much faith in my good resolutions."
"I was just wondering if you had taken the paving contract for the next world."
Mrs. Bargain: "Oh, Ethel! I have just talked Edward into giving me the money for a new hat."
Mr. Bargain: "Which I shall enter in my accounts as 'Hush Money.'"
The Mistress: "Oh, Jane, if I had known who sent those flowers I would have returned them unopened."
The Maid: "Shure, Miss, couldn't ye take a few out, and sind the rist back unopened?"
He: "My train goes in fifteen minutes. Can you not give me one ray of hope before I leave you forever?"
She: "Er—that clock is half an hour fast."
Miss Hen: "I demand an explanation! You told me that your name was plain 'Mr. Rooster,' and that poet just now addressed you as 'Chanticleer'!"
* * *
Lady (to prospective daily housemaid): "The hours will be from nine to six-thirty, with an hour and a half off for dinner."
D. H.: "For luncheon, I suppose you mean. And I should have to leave at six, as I always dine at my club and have to dress first."
"They say that she was his stenographer before marriage."
"She has evidently reversed the order of things."
"She does the dictating now."
Young Husband: "I see that sugar has gone down two points."
Young Wife: "Has it? I'll get a couple of pounds to-day, then."
* * *
Best Man (seeing couple off on honeymoon): "Here you are—just a few magazines to help pass away the time."
* * *
Hostess (to small guest, who is casting lingering glances at the cakes): "I don't think you can eat any more of those cakes, can you, John?"
John: "No, I don't think I can. But may I stroke them?"
* * *
Mr. Househunter: "I don't care for those flats we looked at to-day. The rooms are too narrow, and the ceilings are too low."
Mrs. Househunter: "But they are cheap, dear; and you and I are neither very wide nor very high."
The Leading Woman: "How does Garrette rank as an actor?"
The Comedian: "He doesn't—he is."
Chimmie: "Dat's McCorker de heavy-weight—me cousin used ter go ter school wid'm."
Billie: "Dat ain't nuthin'—me brudder had t'ree front teet' knocked out by'm onct."
The Wife: "I have not been able to wear my new hat yet on account of the weather."
The Husband: "Humph! And I suppose by the time it clears up the fashion will have changed."
* * *
The Reporter: "I beg pardon, but would you be kind enough to tell me what blow you will knock Fitzmuggins out with to-morrow night?"
Sledge-hammer Mike: "De solar plexus."
The Reporter: "And er—if you get beaten, what will your—er—weak spot have been?"
"This theory about fish being brain food is all nonsense."
"Why do you say so?"
"Because the greatest number of fish are eaten by the very people who are idiots enough to sit out all day waiting for them to bite."
The Man of Theory: "The great secret of happiness lies in being content with one's lot."
The Man of Practice: "But it has to be a whole lot."
He: "There is nothing like experience after all. She is our greatest teacher."
She: "And there is no holding back her salary, either."
* * *
"And are you a good needlewoman and renovator, and willing to be useful?"
"Madam, I am afraid there is some misunderstanding. I am a lady's maid—not a useful maid."
Customer to Palmist: "Five dollars fee? Er—would you have any objection to waiting until I get some of the money you say is coming to me?"
* * *
Betty: "Mummy, does God send us our food?"
Mother: "Yes, dear; of course He does."
Betty: "But what a price!"
The Summer Girl: "It pains me to be compelled to say so, but I really cannot become engaged to you."
The Summer Man: "Well—er—could you manage to be a sister to me for a couple of weeks?"
He: "Crowded, were you? I thought you went early to avoid the rush."
She: "So I did; but about five thousand other people did the same thing."
She: "Have you heard anything about the woman's Reform Club?"
"Yes, its object seems to be to reform everything except the Club and everybody except the members."
"Yes, dear, I'm going out to-night. I've been asked to take supper with an old comrade in arms."
"By the way, darling, how many men did your regiment muster?"
* * *
"Phwat's the matter wid yez, Regan? Yez look hurted."
"Faith! Lasht noight Oi tould Casey phwat Oi thought av him, an' ut appears he thought worse av me."
"What a lot of suffering these ambulance surgeons must witness."
"Yes, indeed! Almost every time they go out they run over some one."
* * *
"He's a nice little horse (I saw him myself) and the dealer says I may have him for a song. Would you advise me to buy him?"
"That depends upon your eye for a horse and his ear for music."
Freddie (aged six): "Mother, you know that lovely purse you gave me for my birfday?"
His Mother: "Yes, dear! What of it?"
Freddie: "It makes me feel orful to think of it just lyin' in the drawer 'ithout a cent in its stummick."
"I sincerely regret our misunderstanding, Florence, and am quite ready to be friends again."
"Misunderstanding, indeed! If you had any feeling you'd call it a quarrel."
Flora: "I think that Maud has been awfully mean to you. If I were you I'd get even with her."
Dora: "Getting even with her won't satisfy me. I'm going to get uneven with her."
Old Gentleman: "Well, children! and what are you learning at school?"
Small Boy: "Oh, she's learning to make paper dolls and I'm learning to knock spots out of Willie Jones."
He: "I understand that she fairly threw herself at him."
She: "Yes! They met in an automobile collision."
She: "They say that he fairly worships the ground she walks on."
He: "That's saying a good deal when you consider what a golf fiend she is."
"The way those people flaunt their money fairly makes me ill."
"Sour grapes always did have that effect."
Mrs. Storme: "How is your Debating Society getting along?"
Mrs. Karn: "Very well. We have forty members, and we all agree beautifully."
* * *
"Why are they not speaking?"
"They quarreled about which loved the other the more."
"And now each is afraid to give in for fear of offending the other."
"I really believe he married her only because he wanted a good housekeeper."
"And now I suppose he wishes he could give her a month's warning."
She: "I never saw a married couple who got on so well together as Mr. and Mrs. Rigby."
He: "Humph! I know! Each of them does exactly as she likes."
Elsie: "Mummy! if I wuz a fairy I'd change every-fing into cake, an' eat it all up."
Mother: "I'm afraid such a lot of cake would make you sick."
Elsie: "Oh! but I'd change myself into a Nelephant first."
"I want to buy you something useful for your birthday. What can you suggest?"
"Oh! I think a really useful diamond ring would do as well as anything."
"Afraid you're going to have insomnia? What are the symptoms?"
Mrs. Bizzy: "I am so sorry to hear that your wife has been throwing the crockery at you again, Casey. Where did she hit you?"
Casey: "Faith, Ma'am! That's what Oi do be afther complainin' av. 'Twas a whole set av dishes broke to pieces an' she niver hit me wanst."
"What is the use of quarreling, my dear girl? Let us forgive and forget."
"That is just the trouble. I am always forgiving, and you are always forgetting."
Miss Bizzy: "I am glad to hear that you are married, O'Brien, and hope that you and Bridget don't have many differences of opinion."
O'Brien: "Faith, ma'am, we have a good many, but Oi don't let her know about them."
Cholly Lyttlebrayne: "Yes, the doctors saved my life, but it cost me over a thousand dollars."
Miss Thotless: "Oh! Mr. Lyttlebrayne, what extravagance!"
Flora: "I'm writing to tell Jack that I didn't mean what I said in my last letter."
Dora: "What did you say in your last letter?"
Flora: "That I didn't mean what I said in the one before."
The Husband: "Why is it that women always say, 'I'll be ready in two seconds'?"
The Wife: "Humph! and why is it that men always say, 'Oh! I'm ready now'?"
* * *
Madge: "Have you given Jack your final answer yet?"
Mabel: "Not yet—but I have given him my final 'No.'"
First Lady (effusively): "I am more than charmed to see you, my dear Mrs.—er—um—."
Second Lady (more effusively): "How lovely of you! So am I delighted. I do hope we'll meet again very, very soon, my dearest Mrs.—um—er—."
Prospective Bride: "I am glad I decided to be married in a traveling dress—a wedding dress costs such a lot."
Dressmaker: "Yes, miss, and the next time you wanted to wear it, it would be out of fashion."
"Papa, the Earl wants me to send him a photograph to show to his parents."
"I thought he had dozens of your photos."
"Yes, but he wants a photo of your certified check."
She: "Oh! there's no use of my giving you any hope, because I cannot believe in love in a cottage."
He: "But I've known cases of love in a four-room flat, with steam-heat and all improvements."
The Tabby-Cat: "I am just heart-broken! I had six of the loveliest kittens, and they went and gave one away!"
The Parrot: "Wasn't it too bad of them—to go and break the set?"
First Burglar: "Say, Bill, de doctor what fixed de leg I broke doin' dat second-story job didn't do a t'ing but soak me fifty plunks!"
Second Burglar: "Oh, say, wasn't that robbery?"
The Wife: "Really, my dear, you are awfully extravagant. Our neighbor, Mr. Flint, is just twice as self-denying as you are."
The Husband: "But he has just twice as much money to be self-denying with."
* * *
"Jacky, dear, your hands are frightfully dirty."
"Not 'frightfully,' mummy. A lot of that's shading."
* * *
The Ant: "Well, we've struck!"
The Gnat: "What for?"
The Ant: "Longer hours."
* * *
Effie: "George and I have been down-stairs in the dining-room, Mr. Mitcham. We've been playing Husband and Wife!"
Mr. Mitcham: "How did you do that, my dear?"
Effie: "Why, Georgy sat at one end of the table, and I sat at the other; and Georgy said, 'This food isn't fit to eat!' and I said, 'It's all you'll get!' and Georgy said, 'Damn!' and I got up and left the room!"
She: "I am sorry to hear that they have separated. Is there no chance of their becoming reconciled?"
He: "Oh, they seem to be quite reconciled."
* * *
He: "By the bye, talking of old times, do you remember that occasion when I made such an awful ass of myself?"
* * *
Jones (who is of an inquiring mind): "Ain't you getting tired of hearing people say, 'That is the beautiful Miss Belsize!'?"
Miss Belsize (a professional beauty): "Oh, no. I'm getting tired of hearing people say, 'Is that the beautiful Miss Belsize?'"
* * *
Mrs. Montague Smart (suddenly, to bashful youth, who has not opened his lips since he was introduced to her a quarter of an hour ago): "And now let us talk of something else!"
* * *
Mamma: "It's very late, Emily. Has anybody taken you down to supper?"
Fair Debutante (who has a fine healthy appetite): "Oh, yes, Mamma—several people!"
* * *
Guest: "Well, good-bye, Old Man!—and you've really got a very nice little place here!"
Host: "Yes; but it's rather bare, just now. I hope the trees will have grown a good bit before you're back, Old Man!"
* * *
She: "No! I can't give you another dance. But I'll introduce you to the prettiest girl in the room!"
He: "But I don't want to dance with the prettiest girl in the room. I want to dance with you!"
* * *
"I warn you, Sir! The discourtesy of this bank is beyond all limits. One word more and I—I withdraw my overdraft."
* * *
Wife (at upper window): "Where you bin this hour of the night?"
"I've bin at me union, considerin' this 'ere strike."
"Well—you can stay down there an' consider this 'ere lock-out."
* * *
Motor-Launch Officer (who has rung for full-speed without result): "What's the matter?"
Voice-from below: "One of the cylinders is missing, Sir."
Commander: "Well, look sharp and find the bally thing—we want to get on."
* * *
Mother: "Did you remember to pray for everybody, dear?"
Daughter: "Well, Mummy, I prayed for you, but Jack prayed for Daddy. He's looking after him just now."
Wife: "Two bottles of ginger ale, dear?"
He: "Why, yes. Have you forgotten that this is the anniversary of our wedding-day?"
* * *
First Flapper: "The cheek of that conductor! He glared at me as if I hadn't paid any fare."
Second Flapper: "And what did you do?"
First Flapper: "I just glared back at him—as if I had!"
* * *
Mollie (who has been naughty and condemned to "no toast"): "Oh, Mummy! Anything but that! I'd rather have a hard smack—anywhere you like."
Lady (to doctor, who has volunteered to treat her pet dog): "And if you find you can't cure him, Doctor, will you please put him out of pain?—and of course you must charge me just as for an ordinary patient."
* * *
Governess: "Well, Mollie, what are little girls made of?"
Mollie: "Sugar and spice and all that's nice."
Governess: "And what are little boys made of?"
Mollie: "Snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails. I told Bobbie that yesterday, and he could hardly believe it."
* * *
"I say, dear old bean, will you lend me your motor-bike?"
"Of course. Why ask?"
"Well, I couldn't find the beastly thing."
* * *
Irate Parent: "While you stood at the gate bidding my daughter good-night, did it ever dawn upon you—"
The Suitor: "Certainly not, sir! I never stayed as late as that."
* * *
Wife: "My dear, we've simply got to change our family doctor. He's so absent-minded. Why, this afternoon he was examining me with his stethoscope, and while he was listening he called out suddenly, 'Halloa! Who is it speaking?'"
* * *
Mrs. Goodheart: "I am soliciting for the poor. What do you do with your cast-off clothing?"
Mr. Hardup: "I hang them up carefully and go to bed. Then I put them on again in the morning."
* * *
"What's the matter, little boy?" said the kindhearted man. "Are you lost?"
"No," was the manful answer; "I ain't lost; I'm here. But I'd like to know where father and mother have wandered to."
* * *
Helen's elder sister: "You know, all the stars are worlds like ours."
Helen: "Well, I shouldn't like to live on one—it would be so horrid when it twinkled."
* * *
"Can I 'ave the arternoon off to see a bloke abaht a job fer my missis?"
"You'll be back in the morning, I suppose?"
"Yus—if she don't get it."
* * *
Child: "Mother, I have been good to-day—so patient with Nurse."
* * *
The schoolmaster was explaining what to do in case of fire. The pupils listened with respectful attention until he came to his final instruction.
"Above all things," he said, "if your clothing catches fire, remain cool."
* * *
Wife: "Yes, dear. I thought I'd buy you something you'd never think of buying for yourself."
Husband (as he gazes with horror at the canary-colored socks): "Yes, dear, and you have succeeded."
* * *
Podger (to new acquaintance): "I wonder if that fat old girl is really trying to flirt with me?"
Cooler: "I can easily find out by asking her—she is my wife."
* * *
Young Husband: "It seems to me, my dear, that there is something wrong with this cake."
The Bride (smiling triumphantly): "That shows what you know about it. The cookery book says it's perfectly delicious."
* * *
Wife (referring to guest): "He's a most attractive man; is he married?"
Husband: "I dunno. He's a reserved chap—keeps all his troubles to himself!"
* * *
Questioning a class, an inspector asked:
"If you were to say to me, 'You was here yesterday,' would that be right?"
"No, sir," was the reply.
"And why not?"
"Please, sir, because you wasn't."
* * *
Salesman: "Another advantage of this machine, madam, is that it is fool-proof."
Sweet Thing (placidly): "No doubt, to the ordinary kind. But you don't know my husband."
* * *
The Stage Manager: "Now then, we're all ready, run up the curtain."
The New Hand: "Wot yer talkin' about—'run up the curtain'—think I'm a bloomin' squirrel?"
* * *
Old Gentleman (to new gardener): "Why do you always pull your barrow instead of pushing it?"
The Gardener: "'Cause I 'ates the sight of the blooming thing."
* * *
"My dear, you're not going to the links to-day?"
"Oh, yes, Auntie. I shall try and put in a round."
"But it's pouring! Why, I wouldn't send a dog out to golf in such weather."
* * *
Lady (who has purchased a ready-made dress): "Tiresome this dress is. The fasteners come undone as quick as you do them up."
Cook (acting as lady's-maid): "Yes'm, they do. That's why I wouldn't have it myself when I tried it on at the shop the other day."
Waitress: "He ain't no good, Lil—he's one of these fellers wot chooses the price first an' then runs his fingers along the bill o' fare to see wot he gets for it."
* * *
Penelope: "What made George and Alice break their engagement?"
Clarissa: "He complained that she was too 'Effeminate' for the present day."
* * *
"Some wise person once said that silence was golden, did he not?"
"I believe so. Why?"
"I was just thinking how extravagant some women are."
"That gentleman who is being introduced to Miss Binks is a free thinker."
"Which is he, a bachelor or a widower?"
* * *
John: "Yew wait here, Mirandy, while I buy your ticket."
Mirandy: "Daon't yew dew it, John; yew can't say fer sure that the train'll show up—I don't never believe in payin' fer a thing 'til I git it."
* * *
The Wife: "Oh, you needn't sneer! I mean every word I say."
"I'm not sneering, my dear. I'm just thinking what a lot you must mean."
* * *
The Escort: Who's that fellow who seems to know you?
The Lady: Only a second cousin once removed.
The Escort: Hm! Well, he looks as if he wanted removing again.
* * *
Voice (far off): Cuc-koo! Cuc-koo! Cuc-koo!
Satiated Camper: All right, all right! Who's arguing about it?
Micky Bryan and Patsy Kelly had been schoolmates together, but they had drifted apart in after life. They met one day, and the conversation turned on athletics.
"Did ye ivir meet my bruther Dennis?" asked Pat. "He has just won a gold medal in a foot race."
"Bedad," replied Mike. "Sure, an' thot's foine. But did I ivir tell ye about my uncle at Ballycluna?"
"I don't remember," replied Pat.
"Well," said Mike, "he's got a gold medal for five miles, an' one for ten miles, two sets of carvers for cycling, a silver medal for swimming, two cups for wrestling, an' badges for boxing an' rowing!"
"Begorra," said Pat, "he must have bin a wonderful athlete, indade!"
"Shure, an' he's no athlete at all—at all," came the reply. "He kapes the pawnshop!"
The motor car was driven by a determined young woman, who had knocked down a man without injuring him much.
She did not try to get away. Instead, she stopped the car, descended to the solid earth and faced him manfully.
"I'm sorry it happened," she said grudgingly, "but it was all your fault. You must have been walking carelessly. I'm an experienced driver. I've been driving a car for seven years."
"Well," replied her victim angrily, "I'm not a novice myself. I've been walking for fifty-seven years."
* * *
Lady (to pedlar): "No, thank you, we never buy anything at the door."
Pedlar: "Then I've just the thing for you, Madam. You will, I am sure, appreciate these tasteful little 'No Pedlars' notices."
* * *
There is a lot to be said for the cheap car, we read. Yes; but it is just as well not to say it when there are women and children around.
* * *
Mother: It is rude to whisper, Humphrey.
Humphrey (aged five): Well, I was saying what a funny nose that man's got. So you see it would have been much ruder if I'd said it aloud.
* * *
She (pouting): You don't value my kisses as you used to.
He: Value them? Why, before we were married I used to expect a dozen in payment for a box of candy, and now I consider only one of them sufficient payment for a new dress.
The son of the family was home on his first vacation since he had attained to the dignity of college prefect. He and his father were discussing affairs of the day, and finally the boy remarked: "Say, Guv, I hope when I am as old as you are, I'll know more than you do."
"I'll go you one better, my boy," the father replied. "I hope that when you are that old you will know as much as you think you do now."
An old Scotchwoman, who had resisted all entreaties of her friends to have her photo taken, was at last induced to employ the services of a local artist in order to send her likeness to a son in America. On receiving the first impression she failed to recognise the figure thereon depicted as herself; so, card in hand, she set out for the artist's studio to ask if there was no mistake.
"Is that me?" she queried.
"Yes, madam," replied the artist.
"And is it like me?" she again asked.
"Yes, madam; it's a speaking likeness."
"Aweel!" she said, resignedly, "it's a humblin' sicht."
* * *
Dollie: Yes, Miss Fethers is a pretty girl, but she doesn't wear very well.
Pollie (kindly): I know, but the poor thing wears the best she has, I suppose.
A woman who had visited every department of one of the big London shops and worried the majority of the salesmen without spending a penny, so exasperated one of them that he ventured to make a mild protest. "Madam," he asked, "are you shopping here?"
The lady looked surprised, but not by any means annoyed. "Certainly!" she replied. "What else should I be doing?"
For a moment the salesman hesitated; then he blurted out, "Well, madam, I thought perhaps you were taking an inventory!"
* * *
Officer (to sailor who has rescued him from drowning): Thank you, Smith. To-morrow I will thank you before all the crew at retreat.
Sailor: Don't do that, sir, they'll half kill me!
* * *
Steward: Can I do anything for you, sir?
Passenger (faintly): You might present my compliments to the chief engineer and ask him if there is any hope of the boilers blowing up.
* * *
Lady (to box office manager): Can you tell me what they are playing to-morrow night?
* * *
Box Office Manager: "You Never Can Tell," Madam.
Lady: Don't they even let you know?
* * *
Village Idiot: Beg pardon, mam, seeing you're painting the church, I thought I'd better tell you the clock is ten minutes fast.
* * *
Employer (rebuking employee for slackness): Have you any idea of the meaning of "Esprit de Corps"?
Stenographer: No, I haven't, and if it's anything vulgar I don't want to.
* * *
Sympathetic Lady: What's the matter with your hand, my little man?
Boy: Sawed the top of my finger off.
Sympathetic Lady: Dear, dear, how did you do that?
Blinks, after inviting his friend, Jinks, who has just returned from abroad, to dinner, is telling him what a fine memory his little son Bobby has.
"And do you suppose he will remember me?" said Jinks.
"Remember you? Why, he remembers every face that he ever saw."
An hour later they entered the house, and after Jinks had shaken hands with Mrs. Blinks, he calls Bobby over to him.
"And do you remember me, my little man?"
"Course I do. You're the same man that pa brought home last summer, and ma was so wild about it that she didn't speak to pa for a whole week."
"The man that argues with a woman is a fool," said Mr. Gadspur.
"I agree with you," said Mr. Twobble.
"And if he expects to have the last word he's an even bigger fool."
"Quite so, quite so. What did you and the 'Missus' quarrel about this morning?"
"Well, Alice," said a Southern woman to a coloured girl formerly in her employ, "I hear that you have married."
"Yassum, Ah done got me a husband now."
"Is he a good provider, Alice?"
"Yassum. He's powerful good provider, but Ah's powerful skeered he's gwine git catched at it."
Mother: "What! Have you been fighting again, Johnnie? Good little boys don't fight."
Johnnie: "Yes, I know that. I thought he was a good little boy, but after I hit him once, I found he wasn't."
Little Willie looked up from the paper he had been reading, and inquired of his father:
* * *
"Dad, who was Mozart?"
"Good gracious, boy! You don't know that!" indignantly returned his parent. "Go and read your Shakespeare."
"The chief objection we have to the man who 'knows it all,'" remarked the Observer of Events and Things, "is that he insists that everyone he knows shall know it all, too."
"Did your watch stop when it dropped on the floor?" asked one man of his friend.
"Sure," was the answer. "Did you think it would go through?"
Real Estate Agent: "This tobacco plantation is a bargain. I don't see why you hesitate. What are you worrying about?"
Prospective, but Inexperienced, Purchaser: "I was just wondering whether I should plant cigars or cigarettes."
"What's this new conference they're going to have in America?"
"Oh, they're going to make peace among the Allies."
It was a case of attempted murder, in which the prisoner was accused of having fired twice at his intended victim. One of the witnesses for the prosecution was being severely cross-examined by the defending counsel.
"You say that you heard both shots fired?" he asked sternly.
"How near were you to the scene of the affair?"
"At the time the first shot was fired I was about twenty feet from the prisoner."
"Twenty feet. Humph! Now tell the court how far you were off when you heard the second shot."
"Well, sir," replied the witness slowly, "I didn't exactly measure the distance; but, speaking approximately, I should say about half a mile."
She: "And what would you be now if it weren't for my money?"
He: "A bachelor."
Lily: "Harold proposed to me last night while turning the music for me at the piano."
Edith: "Ah, I see, dear; you played right into his hands!"
Pat was a simple country yokel who had never strayed from the outskirts of his native village, and because he stood in a railway station for the first time of his life, his amazement was great.
The vastness of his surroundings completely dazzled him, but when the 3.30 express dashed through the station, that did it. He kept his eyes glued on the tunnel through which it had disappeared, staring after it as though some kind of miracle had happened. He remained like this for several minutes, much to the amusement of the onlookers, until at length an inquisitive porter asked him what he was staring at.
"Oi was just thinkun'," he said, pulling himself together, "what a terribal smash there'd 'a' bin if he'd 'a' missed the 'ole!"
* * *
Breathless Visitor: Doctor, can you help me? My name is Jones——
Doctor: No, I'm sorry; I simply can't do anything for that.
Magistrate: "Can't this case be settled out of court?"
Mulligan: "Sure, sure; that's what we were trying to do, your honor, when the police interfered."
* * *
An old darky visited a doctor and received instructions as to what he should do. Shaking his head, he was about to leave the office, when the doctor called out "Hey, there, uncle, you forgot to pay me." "Pay you fo' what, boss?" "For my advice." "Nossuh, boss," said Rastus, shuffling out. "I'se compluntated it from all angles and decided not to take it."
* * *
An airman had been taking up passengers for short trips, and by the time his last trip came was absolutely fed up by being asked silly questions. He told his passengers, two ladies, that on no account were they to speak to him; that he could not talk and give his attention to his machine, and that they must keep silent. Up they went, and the airman quite enjoyed himself. He looped the loop and practiced all sorts of stunts to his own satisfaction with no interruption from his passengers until he felt a touch on his arm. "What is it?" he said impatiently. "I'm so sorry to trouble you," said a voice behind, "and I know I oughtn't to speak. I do apologize sincerely, but I can't help it. I thought perhaps you ought to know Annie's gone."
* * *
Chloe: I sho' mighter knowed I gwine have bad luck if I do dat washin' on Friday.
Daphne: What bad luck done come to you?
Chloe: I sen' home dat pink silk petticoat wid de filly aidge what I was gwine keep out to wear to chu'ch on Sunday.
* * *
The professor was deeply absorbed in some scientific subject when the nurse announced the arrival of a boy. "What—who?" stammered the professor absently. "Why interrupt me—isn't my wife at home?"
Everything that could be done to make the great unemployed meeting a success had been accomplished. A large hall, and a good speaker had been engaged.
When the latter arrived he seemed in a crabby frame of mind. Looking round, he beckoned the chairman.
"I should like to have a glass of water on my table, if you please," he said.
"To drink?" was the chairman's idiotic question.
"Oh, no," was the sarcastic retort, "when I've been speaking half-an-hour I do a high dive."
* * *
Sandy had gone to the station to see his cousin off.
"Mac," he said, "ye micht like to leave me a bob or twa tae drink ye a safe journey."
"Mon, I canna," was the reply. "A' my spare cash I gie tae my auld mither."
"That's strange! Your mither said you niver gave her anything!"
"Well, if I dinna gie my auld mither anything, what sort of chance d'ye think you've got?"
Husband: "What was that you were playing, my dear?"
Wife: "Did you like it?"
"It was lovely—the melody divine, the harmony exquisite!"
"It is the very thing I played last evening, and you said it was horrid."
"Well, the steak was burnt last evening."
Mistress: "Don't call them jugs, Mary; they're ewers."
Maid: "Oh, thank you, ma'am. And are all them little basins mine, too?"
A gentleman who was walking through a public gallery, where a number of artists were at work, overheard the following amusing conversation between a big, heavy-looking man, who was painting on a large picture, and a weak-looking little cripple, who, limping over to where he sat, looked over his shoulder for a few minutes, and said timidly:
"I beg your pardon, sir, may I ask what medium you paint with?"
"Brains," shouted the other in a voice of thunder.
"Oh, indeed! That accounts for its fogginess," which caused a roar of laughter.
Just before the service the clergyman was called into the vestibule by a young couple, who asked that he should marry them. He answered he had not time then, but that if they would wait until after the sermon he would be glad to do so. Accordingly, just before the end of the service, he announced:
"Will those who wish to be married to-day please come forward?"
Thirteen women and one man quickly stepped up.
Neighbour: "I hear that you had an actor employed on your farm."
Farmer: "Yes, and he's a fairly good actor, too. Why, I thought he was working the last week he was here."
A tourist was chatting with the proprietor of the village inn.
"This place boasts of a choral society, doesn't it?" he asked.
The innkeeper looked pained.
"We don't boast about it," he replied, in low, sad tones. "We endure it with all the calm resignation we can!"
* * *
The swain and his swainess had just encountered a bulldog that looked as if his bite might be quite as bad as his bark. "Why, Percy," she exclaimed as he started a strategic retreat, "you always swore you would face death for me." "I would," he flung back over his shoulder, "but that darn dog ain't dead."
* * *
Wife (enthusiastically): I saw the most gorgeous chiffonier to-day, dear. But, of course, I know we can not afford——
Hubby (resignedly): When have they promised to deliver it?
Lawyer: "When I was a boy my highest ambition was to be a pirate."
Client: "You're in luck. It isn't every man who can realise the dreams of his youth."
Elder sister: "Oh, you fancy yourself very wise, I dare say; but I could give you a wrinkle or two."
Younger sister: "No doubt—and never miss them."
The boy who had "made good" in town asked his old mother to come to London. He gave the old lady the best room in the hotel—one with a private bath adjoining. The next morning the boy asked:
"Did you have a good night's rest?"
"Well, no, I didn't," she replied. "The room was all right, and the bed was pretty. But I couldn't sleep very much, for I was afraid someone would want to take a bath, and the only way to it was through my room!"
The shaded lights, music in the distance, sweet perfumes from the costly flowers about them—everything was just right for a proposal, and Timkins decided to chance his luck. She was pretty, which was good, and also, he believed, an heiress, which was better.
"Are you not afraid that someone will marry you for your money?" he asked gently.
"Oh! dear, no," smiled the girl. "Such an idea never entered my head!"
"Ah! Miss Liscombe," he sighed, "in your sweet innocence you do not dream how coldly, cruelly mercenary some men are!"
"Perhaps I don't," replied the girl calmly.
"I would not for a moment have such a terrible fate befall you," he said passionately. "You are too good—too beautiful. The man who wins you should love you for yourself alone."
"He'll have to," the girl remarked. "It's my cousin Jennie who has the money—not I. You seem to have got us mixed. I haven't a penny myself."
"Oh—er!" stammered the young man, "what pleasant weather we are having, aren't we?"
The best man noticed that one of the wedding guests, a gloomy-looking young man, did not seem to be enjoying himself. He was wandering about as though he had lost his last friend. The best man took it upon himself to cheer him up.
"Er—have you kissed the bride?" he asked by way of introduction.
"Not lately," replied the gloomy one, with a faraway expression.
* * *
"Why did you take Meyerbeer off the dinner card?"
"People kept thinking it was something to drink."
* * *
A well-known admiral—a stickler for uniform—stopped opposite a very portly sailor whose medal-ribbon was an inch or so too low down. Fixing the man with his eye, the admiral asked: "Did you get that medal for eating, my man?" On the man replying "No, sir," the admiral rapped out: "Then why the deuce do you wear it on your stomach?"
* * *
First Little Girl: What's your last name, Annie?
Second Little Girl: Don't know yet; I ain't married.
* * *
Kloseman: I didn't see you in church last Sunday.
Keen: Don't doubt it. I took up the collection.
* * *
A Southern family had a coal-black cook named Sarah, and when her husband was killed in an accident Sarah appeared on the day of the funeral dressed in a sable outfit except in one respect. "Why, Sarah," said her mistress, "what made you get white gloves?" Sarah drew herself up and said in tones of dignity, "Don't you s'pose I wants dem niggahs to see dat I'se got on gloves?"
* * *
Dad (sternly): Where were you last night?
Son: Oh, just riding around with some of the boys.
Dad: Well, tell 'em not to leave their hairpins in the car.
* * *
Said the guest, upon approaching his host's home in the suburb, "Ah, there are some of your family on the veranda. The girl in short dresses is your daughter, the young man in riding breeches is your son, and the woman in the teagown is your charming wife." Said the host: "No, you are all wrong. The girl in the short dresses is my grandmother, the young fellow in riding breeches is my wife, and the woman in the teagown is my ten-year-old daughter, who likes to dress up in her great-grandmother's dresses."
* * *
A bumptious young American farmer went to England to learn his business, but where he went he pretended that it was far easier to teach the farmers than to learn anything from them. "I've got an idea," he said one day to a grizzled old Northumbrian agriculturist, "for a new kind of fertilizer which will be ten thousand times as effective as any that has ever been tried. Condensed fertilizer—that's what it is. Enough for an acre of ground would go in one of my waistcoat pockets." "I don't doubt it, young gentleman," said the veteran of the soil. "What is more, you'll be able to put the crop into the other waistcoat pocket."
* * *
Weary Willie slouched into the pawnshop. "How much will you give me for this overcoat?" he asked, producing a faded but neatly mended garment. Isaac looked at it critically. "Four dollars," he said.
"Why," cried Weary Willie, "that coat's worth ten dollars if it's worth a penny.'"
"I wouldn't give you ten dollars for two like that," sniffed Isaac. "Four dollars or nothing."
"Are you sure that's all it's worth?" asked Weary Willie.
"Four dollars," repeated Isaac.
"Well, here's yer four dollars," said Weary Willie. "This overcoat was hangin' outside yer shop, and I was wonderin' how much it was really worth."
"I'm not quite sure about your washing-machine. Will you demonstrate it again?"
"No, madam. We only do one week's washing."
Mrs. de Vere: "I suppose now that you have been abroad, you have your own views of foreign life!"
* * *
Mrs. Profiteer: "No, we ain't got no views. We didn't take no camera; it's so common."
Proprietor: "What made that customer walk out? Did you offend him?"
Assistant: "I don't know. He said he wanted a hat to suit his head and I showed him a soft hat."
Old Job: "The best way to get the most out of life is to fall in love with a great problem or a beautiful woman!"
Old Steve: "Why not choose the latter and get both?"
* * *
He (just introduced): What a very homely person that gentleman near the piano is, Mrs. Black!
She: Isn't he? That is Mr. Black.
He: How true it is, Mrs. Black, that the homely men always get the prettiest wives!
* * *
A customer entered the small-town barber shop. "How soon can you cut my hair?" he asked of the proprietor, who was seated in an easy chair, perusing the pages of a novel.
"Bill," said the barber, addressing his errand boy, "run over and tell the editor if he's done editin' the paper I'd like my scissors."
* * *
Pompous Publisher (to aspiring novice in literature): I have been reading your manuscript, my dear lady, and there is much in it, I think—ahem!—very good. But there are parts somewhat vague. Now, you should always write so that the most ignorant can understand.
Youthful Authoress (wishing to show herself most ready to accept advice): Oh, yes, I'm sure. But, tell me, which are the parts that have given you trouble?
First Stenog. (reading): "Think of those Spaniards going 3,000 miles on a galleon!"
Second Stenog.: "Aw, forget it. Yuh can't believe all yuh hear about them foreign cars."
* * *
A group of tourists were looking over the inferno of Vesuvius in full eruption. "Ain't this just like hell?" ejaculated a Yank.
"Ah, zese Americans," exclaimed a Frenchman, "where have zey not been?"
* * *
"Lay down, pup. Lay down. That's a good doggie. Lay down, I tell you."
"Mister, you'll have to say, 'Lie down,' he's a Boston terrier."
* * *
Lady: Well, what do you want?
Tramp: Leddy, believe me, I'm no ordinary beggar. I was at the front——
Lady (with interest): Really——
Tramp: Yes, ma'am; but I couldn't make anybody hear, so I came round to the back.
* * *
"The doctor has ordered her to the seashore. Now they're having a consultation."
* * *
"You discharged your office boy?"
"Yes," said Dr. Dubwaite. "He never did anything but stand around and look wise."
"I guess you've seen the last of him."
"I don't know about that. He may turn up here some day as an efficiency expert."
* * *
"But why don't you think he will propose soon?"
"Well, he gave me a box of stationery yesterday with my initials on it—such a lot, so I know it's all over between us."
Mother: "Hush! You two children are always quarrelling. Why can't you agree once in a while?"
Georgia: "We do agree, mamma. Edith wants the largest apple and so do I."
* * *
She: Jack is in love with you.
She: That's what I said when I heard it.
Her: How dared you!
* * *
Professor (endeavoring to impress on class the definition of cynic): Young man, what would you call a man who pretends to know everything?
Senior: A professor!
* * *
A young lady who was inspecting bicycles, said to the clerk:
"What's the name of this wheel?"
"That is the Belvedere," answered the salesman.
He was rewarded by a stony glance and the icy question:
"Can you recommend the Belva?"
* * *
"What this country needs is more production."
"What this country needs," replied Farmer Corntassel, with a slight trace of irritation, "is less talk about what it needs and more enthusiasm about deliverin' the goods."
"Is this stuff guaranteed to make a rabbit slap a bulldog in the face?"
"My dear sir," said the bootlegger, with a pained expression. "This stuff will make a tenant snap his fingers under his landlord's nose."
* * *
"If a man has a beautiful stenographer, do you suppose that will cause him to take more interest in his business?" asked Mr. Piglatch.
"I don't know whether he will take more interest in his business," said Mr. Peckton, thoughtfully, "but his wife will."
A tramp entered a baker's, shivering piteously.
"A loaf, please, mum," he said, placing the money on the counter. The woman gave him one. As he took it, he said with shaking voice:
"Where's the nearest hospital, mum, please?"
"The nearest hospital!" she ejaculated.
"Yes, mum, I'm feeling bad. I believe I'm sickening for something; the scarlet fever, I think."
"What!" she shrieked. "Get out of my shop."
He turned to obey.
"Here, take your money back," she said. He did so; and, offering the bread, said humbly:
"You'll take yer loaf, won't yer, mum?"
"Get out of my shop."
He crawled out, and with bowed head went around the corner. Presently, another mountain of misery joined him.
"Well, Bill?" he said.
"Right oh! 'Enery," came the answer. "It worked a treat. Now you do it fer a bit o' bacon, and then we can have lunch."
Nurse: "You were very naughty in church, Guy. Do you know where little boys and girls go to who don't put their pennies in the collection box?"
Guy: "Yes, nurse; to the pictures."
The druggist danced and chortled till the bottles danced on the shelves.
"What's up?" asked the soda clerk. "Have you been taking something?"
"No. But do you remember when our water pipes were frozen last winter?"
"Yes, but what—"
"Well, the plumber who fixed them has just come in to have a prescription filled."
A wealthy gentleman has a brother who is hard of hearing, while he himself is remarkable for having a very prominent nose.
Once, this gentleman dined at a friend's house, where he sat between two young ladies who talked to him very loudly, rather to his annoyance.
Finally one of them shouted a commonplace remark and then said in an ordinary tone to the other:
"Did you ever see such an ugly nose?"
"Pardon me, ladies," said the gentleman. "It is my brother who is deaf."
* * *
A candidate for Congress from a certain Western state was never shy about telling the voters why they should send him to Washington. "I am a practical farmer," he said, boastfully, at one meeting. "I can plow, reap, milk cows, shoe a horse—in fact, I should like you to tell me one thing about a farm which I can not do." Then, in the impressive silence, a voice asked from the back of the hall: "Can you lay an egg?"
* * *
Doctor: "You are a great deal better this morning, I see. You followed my directions, and that prescription did the business—what, you haven't taken any of it?"
Patient: "No; it says on the label, 'Keep the bottle tightly corked.'"
* * *
"And about the salary?" said the movie star.
"Well," said the manager, "suppose we call it $5,000 a week."
"Of course, you understand that the $5,000 is merely what we call it—you will get $500."
* * *
Prospective Employer: I suppose you have some experience of live stock?
Applicant for Post: Well, I ain't ever looked after 'orses, nor milked cows, and never 'andled poultry; but I've bred canaries.
* * *
A Scotchman had been presented with a pint flask of rare old Scotch whiskey. He was walking briskly along the road toward home, when along came a Ford which he did not sidestep quite in time. It threw him down and hurt his leg quite badly. He got up and limped down the road. Suddenly he noticed that something warm and wet was trickling down his leg.
"Oh, Lord," he groaned, "I hope that's blood!"
* * *
Mr. Graham: "Do you know, Miss F., if I had my way, I'd put every woman in jail!"
Miss F.: "Why, Mr. Graham, I'm surprised. I didn't know you felt that way about us! What sort of a nation do you think this would be, if you put all the women in jail?"
Mr. Graham: "Stag-nation, of course!"
* * *
Sister: "Hubby received an anonymous letter this morning informing him of something I did before we were married."
Brother: "Well, the best thing you can do is to confess."
Sister: "I know it, but he won't let me read the letter and I don't know what to confess."
* * *
"I'd like to see the man who could persuade me to promise to love, honour and obey him," said Miss Wellontheway.
"I don't blame you," remarked the newly-made bride.
* * *
"Huh! Yuh talks 'bout sassiety like yuh knows so much 'bout it. Niggah, I bet dey don' eben have evenin' dresses whah yuh come frum."
"Zat so? Dey's doin' well to have evenin's whah yuh come frum."
* * *
Second-story Worker: "Hullo, Bill, I see you got a new overcoat. What did it cost you?"
Burglar: "Six months. I never wears cheap clothes!"
* * *
The sweet young thing was being shown through the boiler shop.
"What's that thing?" she asked, pointing with a dainty parasol.
"That's an engine boiler," said the guide.
"And why do they boil engines?" she inquired.
"To make the engine tender," replied the resourceful guide.
* * *
He was a Scot, with the usual characteristics of his race. Wishing to know his fate, he telegraphed a proposal of marriage to the girl of his choice. After waiting all day at the telegraph office he received the affirmative answer late at night.
"Well, if I were you," said the operator, "I'd think twice before I married the girl who kept me waiting for an answer so long."
"Na, Na?" said the Scot. "The girl for me is the girl who waits for the night rates."
Wifey: "Henry, do you think me an angel?"
Hubby: "Why, certainly, my dear. I'm very enthusiastic. I think all women are angels!"
"You needn't be so enthusiastic as all that!"
Dobb: "What's that piece of cord tied around your finger for?"
Botham: "My wife put it there to remind me to post her letter."
"And did you post it?"
"No; she forgot to give it to me!"
A certain country vicar who used to distribute books to his parishioners as reading material, one day, deciding to surprise them, gave them each a Bible neatly wrapped up in brown paper. A few days later he called round on each of his flock, and the first place he called at was the village butcher's.
"Well, Mr. Simson," he said, "how did you like that little book I gave you the other day?"
Simson was rather taken aback at the query, for, truth to tell, the little book still remained in its brown paper wrapping somewhere under the counter.
"Splendid!" lied Simson bravely, "but," he added, in a burst of confidence, "it ended like they all end."
"Oh!" exclaimed the vicar, "in what way?"
And Simson, thinking he was on safe ground, replied, "Why, they lived happy ever after."
* * *
"Your wife looks stunning to-night. Her gown is a poem."
"What do you mean, poem?" replied the struggling author. "That gown is two poems and a short story."
The Senator was back home, looking after his political fences, and asked the minister about some of his old acquaintances.
"How is old Mr. Jones?" he inquired. "Will I be likely to see him to-day?"
"You'll never see Mr. Jones again," said the minister. "He has gone to heaven."
"I know I'm old, but I'm crazy about you," stated Mr. Moneybags. "When I go I'll leave all my fortune to you if you'll have me."
"Have you any bad habits?" asked Miss Goldielocks, thoughtfully.
"Only that I walk in my sleep, if you could call that a bad habit."
"You dear old thing. Of course I'll marry you. And we'll have our honeymoon on the top floor of some tall hotel, won't we?"
There was a distinct air of chastened resignation about him, as he penned the following note:
"Dear Miss Brown,—I return herewith your kind note in which you accept my offer of marriage. I would draw your attention to the fact that it begins 'Dear George.' I do not know who George is, but my name, as you will remember, is Thomas."
A Protestant Episcopal clergyman was walking down a city street wearing the garb of his profession. He was seen by two Irish boys.
"Good morning, Father," said one of the boys.
"Hush, he ain't no father," said the other, "he's got a wife and two kids."
John Willie (pleadingly): "Why can't we be married right away, Elsie?"
Elsie (coyly): "Oh, I can't bear to leave father alone just now."
John Willie (earnestly): "But, my darling, he has had you such a very long time."
Elsie (freezingly): "Sir!"
"You are a little goose!" remarked a young M.D. playfully to the girl he was engaged to marry.
"Of course I am," was the laughing response; "haven't I got a quack?"
* * *
A Northern man in an optician's shop in Nashville overheard an amusing conversation between the proprietor of the establishment and an aged darkey who was just leaving the place with a pair of new spectacles. As the old fellow neared the door his eye lighted upon an extraordinary-looking instrument conspicuously placed upon a counter. The venerable negro paused for several moments to gaze in open-mouthed wonder at this thing, the like of which he had never seen before. After a long struggle with his curiosity he was vanquished. Turning to the optician, he asked: "What is it, boss?" "That is an opthalmometer," replied the optician in his gravest manner. "Sho," muttered the old man to himself, as he backed out of the door, his eyes still fastened upon the curious-looking thing on the counter. "Sho, dat's what I was afeared it was!"
* * *
In many of the rural districts of the United States where money does not circulate with great rapidity services are paid for "in kind." Farmers, for example, will give potatoes, eggs, etc., in payment for debts. A young surgeon who had occasion to operate in one of these districts hopefully approached the husband of the patient and asked for his fee, which amounted to $100. "Doc," said the old man, "I haven't much ready cash on hand. Suppose you let me pay you in kind." "Well, I guess that will be all right," replied the young doctor, cheerfully. "What do you deal in?" "Horseradish, doc," answered the old man.
* * *
The ferryboat was well on her way when a violent storm arose. The ferryman and his mate, both Highlanders, held a consultation, and after a short debate the ferryman turned to his passengers and remarked, anxiously: "We'll just tak' your tuppences now, for we dinna ken what micht come over us."
* * *
"Lend me ten, Tom."
"I think not."
"You've no doubt of my character, have you?"
"Well, why won't you, then?"
"Because I have no doubt of your character."
* * *
Officer (drilling recruits): Hey, you, in case of fire, what do you do?
Recruit: I yell.
Officer: Yell what?
Recruit: Why, what do you suppose? Cease firing.
* * *
Doctor (at door, to butler): Tell your master the doctor is here.
Butler: The master is in great pain, sir. He is receiving nobody.
* * *
Young Woman (holding out hand): Will you please tell me how to pronounce the name of the stone in this ring? Is it turkoise or turkwoise?
Jeweler (after inspecting it): The correct pronunciation is "glass."
* * *
Once, in a rush season, an office boy was kept working overtime for several nights. He didn't like it, and growled to his boss: "You've kept me workin' every night till 9 o'clock for three nights runnin' now, and I'm worn out, Mr. Brown. I ain't no machine. I can't go forever." His boss gave a hard laugh. "Wrong!" he said. "Wrong, my boy. You go forever next pay day."
* * *
The bellboy of the Welcome Hotel has invented an ingenious system of calling sleepy guests. The other night a man left instructions that he wished to be called early. Next morning he was disturbed by a loud tattoo upon the door. "Well?" he demanded sharply. "I've got a message for you, sir." Yawning until he strained his face, the guest jumped out of bed and unlocked the door. The bellboy handed him an envelope and then went away quickly. The guest opened the envelope, and took out a slip of paper bearing the words: "It's time to get up."
* * *
A negro was brought before a justice of the peace. He was suspected of stealing. There were no witnesses, but appearances were against him. The following dialogue took place:
"You've stolen no chickens?"
"Have you stolen any geese?"
The man was discharged. As he stepped out of the dock he stopped before the justice and said with a broad grin, "Fo' de Lawd, squire, if you'd said ducks you'd 'a' had me."
* * *
A little boy, the youngest member of a large family, was taken to see his married sister's new baby. He seemed more interested in the contents of the baby's basket than in the baby, and after examining the pretty trifles, picked up a powder-puff. Much surprised at his discovery, and looking rather shocked, he said, "Isn't she rather young for that sort of thing?"
"I can read my husband like a book."
"Then be careful to stick to your own library, my dear."
* * *
"I took that pretty girl from the store home the other night, and stole a kiss."
"What did she say?"
"Will that be all?"
Merchant: Look here, that safe you sold me last month you said was a burglar-proof safe, and I found it cracked this morning and rifled of its contents.
Agent: Well, isn't that proof that you've had a burglar?
The new vicar was paying a visit amongst the patients in the local hospital. When he entered Ward No. 2, he came across a pale-looking man lying in a cot, heavily swathed in bandages. There he stopped, and after administering a few words of comfort to the unfortunate sufferer, he remarked in cheering tones:
"Never mind, my man, you'll soon be all right. Keep on smiling; that's the way in the world."
"I shall never smile again," replied the youth, sadly.
"Nonsense!" ejaculated the vicar.
"There ain't no nonsense about it!" exclaimed the other, heatedly. "It's through smiling at another chap's girl that I'm here now."
Screen Actress: I have a certificate from my doctor saying that I cannot act to-day.
Manager: Why did you go to all that trouble? I could have given you a certificate saying that you never could act.
He was a stout man, and his feet were big in proportion. He wore stout boots, too, with broad, square, sensibly-shaped toes; and when he came into the boot shop to buy another pair, he found he had some difficulty in getting what he wanted.
A dozen, two dozen, three dozen pairs were brought and shown him.
"No, no! Square toes—must have square toes," he insisted.
"But, sir, everybody is wearing shoes with pointed toes. They are fashionable this season."
"I'm sorry," said the stout man gravely, as he got up and prepared to leave the shop. "I'm very sorry to have troubled you, I'm sure. But, you see, I'm still wearing my last season's feet!"
It was company field training. The captain saw a young soldier trying to cook his breakfast with a badly-made fire. Going to him, he showed him how to make a quick-cooking fire, saying: "Look at the time you are wasting. When I was in the Himalayas I often had to hunt my breakfast. I used to go about two miles in the jungle, shoot my food, skin or pluck it, then cook and eat it, and return to the camp under half an hour." Then he unwisely added, "Of course, you will have heard of the Himalayas?"
"Yes, sir," replied the young soldier, "and also of Ananias and George Washington."
* * *
Mr. Goodsole: "Well, what do you want?"
Benny the Bum: "I wanna know kin I borry a red lantern off'n you? I find I gotta sleep in the street to-night an' I'll harfta warn the traffic to drive aroun' me."
A merchant in a Wisconsin town who had a Swedish clerk sent him out to do some collecting. When he returned from an unsuccessful trip he reported:
"Yim Yonson say he vill pay ven he sells his hogs. Yim Olson he vill pay ven he sell his wheat and Bill Pack say he vill pay in Yanuary."
"Well," said the boss, "that's the first time Bill ever set a date to pay. Did he really say he would pay in January?"
"Vell, aye tank so," said the clerk, "he said it bane a dam cold day ven you get that money. Aye tank that bane in Yanuary."
Sandy had been photographed, and as he was looking intently at his "picter" Ian MacPherson came along.
"What's that ye hev there?" he asked.
"My photygraph," replied Sandy, showing it proudly. "Whit d'ye think o' it?"
"Man, it's fine!" exclaimed Ian, in great admiration. "It's just like ye, tae. An' whit micht the like o' they cost?"
"I dinna' ken," replied Sandy. "I hinna' paid yet."
"Mon," said Ian, more firmly than ever. "It's awful like ye."
"And did you say you preferred charges against this man?" asked the Judge, looking over his gold-rimmed spectacles.
"No, Your Honour," was the quick reply of the man to whom money was owed; "I prefer the cash!"
"Wot was the last card Oi dealt ye, Moike?"
"Oi knew ut! Oi saw ye spit on yer hands before ye picked it up."
* * *
During the period after the university examinations, when an unusually large number of students flunked, one of the boys went to his professor, and said: "I don't think this is fair, sir; I don't think I should have a zero on this examination."
"I know it," replied the professor, "but we do not have any mark lower than that."
* * *
The long-suffering professor smothered his wrath and went down into the cellar. "Are you the plumber?" he inquired of a grimy-looking person who was tinkering with the pipes.
"Yes, guv'nor," he answered.
"Been in the trade long?"
"'Bout a year, guv'nor."
"Ever made any mistakes?"
"Bless yer, no, guv'nor."
"Oh, then, I suppose it is quite all right. I imagined you had connected up the wrong pipes, for the chandelier in the drawing-room is spraying like a fountain, and the bathroom tap is on fire."
* * *
A bright little newsie entered a business office and, approaching a glum-looking man at one of the desks, began with an ingratiating smile: "I'm selling thimbles to raise enough money to——"
"Out with you," interrupted the man.
"Wouldn't you like to look at some nice thimbles?"
"I should say not!"
"They're fine, and I'd like to make a sale," the boy continued.
Turning in his chair to fully face the lad, the grouch caustically inquired: "What 'n seven kinds of blue blazes do you think I want with a thimble?"
Edging toward the door to make a safe getaway, the boy answered: "Use it for a hat."
* * *
The lady was waiting to buy a ticket at the picture show when a stranger bumped her shoulder. She glared at him, feeling it was done intentionally.
"Well," he growled, "don't eat me up."
"You are in no danger, sir," she said. "I am a Jewess."
* * *
Sam, on board the transport, had just been issued his first pair of hobnails. "One thing suah," he ruminated. "If Ah falls overboard, Ah suttinly will go down at 'tenshun."
Actor: "Are these poor relations of yours blood relations?"
Fulpurse: "Yes; they are ever bleeding me."
* * *
There had been a collision near Euston Station between a timber-cart and a cab.
The cart-driver said, with mock sympathy: "Oh, well, you can't help it! You're doin' yer bit, you an' yer 'orse and yer blankety cabs all over age!"
"You're doin' yer bit, too, ain't yer?" was the cabby's rejoinder, "a'carrying of two lots o' wood—one in yer cart an' the other under yer blinkin' 'at!"
A parsimonious farmer notorious for the small rations he doled out to his employees, said to a farmhand eating his breakfast,
"Jock, there's a fly in yer parritch."
"That disna' matter," replied Jock gloomily, "it'll no' droon."
The farmer stared at him. "What do ye mean?" he asked angrily; "that's as much as sayin' ye hav'na' enough mulk."
"Oh," replied Jock still more gloomily, "there's mair than enough for all the parritch I have."
Mrs. Newlywed: "What does that inscription mean on that ring you gave me, Archie?"
Mr. Newlywed: "'Faithful to the last,' my dear!"
Mrs. Newlywed: "Oh! how could you? You always said I was the first."
Angus, a mason, was slipping out of the yard to get a "refresher" during working hours, when he suddenly ran into the boss.
"Hallo!" said the boss, pleasantly, "were you looking for me?"
"Ay," answered Angus, "I wis looking for ye, but I didna' want tae see ye."
"Ever get any nice butter?" queried old Grumpy.
"Supply in every day," replied his provision merchant suavely.
"Then why in thunder don't you sell it?" asked Grumpy.
First Theatrical Manager: "Do you have any trouble with the girl who is playing the flapper in your new show?"
Second Theatrical Manager: "No; if she attempts to be skittish I just threaten to publish the photographs of her two sons who are lieutenants in the army."
A man, who is the father of a year-old youngster, met his pastor on Sunday afternoon.
"Why weren't you at church this morning?" was the first question of the spiritual adviser.
"I couldn't come," was the answer. "I had to stop at home and mind the baby; our nurse is ill."
"That's no excuse," said the pastor.
"It isn't? Well, next Sunday I'll bring him to church with me and see how you like it."
It was visiting day at the prison and the uplifters were on deck.
"My good man," said one kindly lady, "I hope that since you have come here you have had time for meditation and have decided to correct your faults."
"I have that, mum," replied the prisoner in heartfelt tones. "Believe me, the next job I pull, this baby wears gloves."
Irate Motorist: "Say, this darned car won't climb a hill! You said it was a fine machine!"
Dealer: "I said: 'On the level it's a good car.'"
It was while on manœuvres in rural England, and a soldier was being tried for the shooting of a chicken on prohibited ground.
"Look here, my man," said the commanding officer to the farmer who brought the accusation, "are you quite certain that this is the man who shot your bird? Will you swear to him?"
"No, I won't do that," replied the farmer, "but I will say he's the man I suspect o' doing it."
"That's not enough to convict a man," retorted the C. O., considerably nettled. "What raised your suspicions?"
"Well," replied the sturdy yeoman, "it was this way—I see 'im on my property with a gun; then I heerd the gun go off; then I see 'im putting the chicken in his knapsack; and it didn't seem sense nohow to think the bird committed suicide."
"That fellow Jones is a hard-headed cuss," remarked Brown.
"That so?" asked Smith.
"Yes," replied Brown. "Why, he could read a patent medicine almanac and not have a solitary symptom of some disease."
Mrs. Muggins: "It's raining, and Mrs. Goodsoul wants to go home, and I have no umbrella to lend her except my new guinea one. Can't I let her have yours?"
Mr. Muggins: "Hardly! The only umbrella I have got has her husband's name on the handle."
It was a very wet night, so Bill and his sweetheart decided to visit the picture palace.
On the way she evidently was annoyed with her lover, for she turned to him, and said, angrily, "Aw wish tha would gie up sucking thi teeth; it's so rude when people are about!"
"Don't thee talk so silly," he replied in aggrieved tones. "It's my rubber 'eel pads that's causing that noise!"
Mrs. Murphy is very fat, and the other day, laden with parcels and packages, she was trying to mount the steps of a Dublin tramcar. Helplessly looking on, stood the conductor, a diminutive little chap.
Mrs. Murphy, having reached the platform, said, with a glance of withering scorn: "If ye was half a man ye would have helped me up."
The little conductor calmly replied: "Shure, ma'am, if ye was half a woman I would!"
"Yes," proudly announced the ex-captain, who is manager of a new seaside hotel, "all our employees are former Service men, every one of them. The reception clerk is an old infantry man, the waiters have all been non-coms., the chef was a mess-sergeant, the house doctor was a base hospital surgeon, the house-detective was an intelligence man; even the pages were cadets."
"And have you any former military police?" he was asked.
"Yes," he replied joyously. "When there's a good stiff wind blowing we set them to clean the outsides of the windows on the eighth floor!"
"You tell me," said the judge, "that this is the person who knocked you down with his motor-car. Could you swear to the man?"
"I did," returned the complainant, eagerly, "but he only swore back at me and drove on."
"Ma," exclaimed young Teddie, bursting into the house, "Mrs. Johnson said she would give me a penny if I told her what you said about her!"
"I never heard of such a thing!" answered his mother indignantly. "You're a very good boy not to have told! I wouldn't have her think I even mentioned her. Here's an apple, sonny, for being such a wise little lad!"
"I should think I am, ma! When she showed me the penny I told her that what you said was something awful, and worth sixpence at least!"
"Rather absent-minded, isn't he?"
"Extremely so. Why, the other night when he got home he knew there was something he wanted to do, but he couldn't remember what it was until he had sat up over an hour trying to think."
"And did he finally remember it?"
"Yes, he discovered that he wanted to go to bed early."
Architect: "Have you any suggestions for the study, Mr. Quickrich?"
Quickrich: "Only that it must be brown. Great thinkers, I understand, are generally found in a brown study."
Coming to a river with which he was unfamiliar, a traveller asked a youngster if it was deep.
"No," replied the boy, and the rider started to cross, but soon found that he and his horse had to swim for their lives.
When the traveller reached the other side he turned and shouted: "I thought you said it wasn't deep?"
"It isn't," was the reply; "it only takes grandfather's ducks up to their middles!"
"Look here," began the youth, as he entered a butcher's shop, and displayed two lovely-looking black-and-blue eyes, "you have fresh beef for sale?"
"I have," responded the butcher.
"And fresh beef is good for black eyes, is it not?"
"Very well. I have the eyes, you have the beef. Do you think you can sell me a pound or so without asking how I got ornamented?"
"I'll do my best, sir."
The butcher cut off the meat, and received his money without another look at his customer. At the last moment, however, the old Adam proved too strong for him.
"Look here," he said, handing back the cash, "I'll make you a present of the beef. Now tell me all about the fight."
* * *
"Do you know anything about palmistry, Herbert?" she asked.
"Oh, not much," he answered, "although I had an experience last night which might be considered a remarkable example of palmistry. I happened to glance at the hand of a friend, and I immediately predicted he would presently become the possessor of a considerable amount of money. Before he left the room he had a nice little sum handed to him."
"And you foretold that from his hand?"
"Yes, it had four aces in it."
* * *
Young Harold was late for Sunday-school and the minister inquired the cause. "I was going fishing, but father wouldn't let me," announced the lad.
"That's the right kind of a father to have," replied the reverend gentleman. "Did he explain the reason why he would not let you go?"
"Yes, sir. He said there wasn't bait enough for two."
* * *
"My good man, you had better take the trolley car home."
"Sh' no ushe! My wife wouldn't let me—hic—keep it in th' house."
* * *
Mrs. Newlywed: "Oh, Jack, you left the kitchen door open and the draught has shut my cookery book, so that now I haven't the faintest idea what it is I'm cooking."
* * *
"Goin' in that house over there?" said the first tramp.
"I tried that house last week. I ain't goin' there any more," replied Tramp No. 2.
"'Fraid on account of the dog?"
"Me trousers are."
"Trousers are what?"
"Frayed on account of the dog."
"Bobby," said the lady in the tramcar, severely, "why don't you get up and give your seat to your father? Doesn't it pain you to see him reaching for the strap?"
"Not in a car," said Bobby. "It does at home."
They had had their usual altercation over the breakfast table, and hubby exclaimed:
"What would you do if I were one of those husbands who get up cross in the morning, bang the things about, and kick because the coffee is cold?"
"Why," replied his wife, "I should make it hot for you!"
Prison Visitor: "Am I right in presuming that it was your passion for strong drink that brought you here?"
Prisoner: "I don't think you can know this place, guv'nor. It's the last place on earth I'd come to if I was looking for anything to drink."
"Papa," said Little Horatio, "can you explain philosophy to me?"
"Of course I can," answered his proud parent.
"Natural philosophy, my son, is the science of cause and reason. Now, for instance, you see the steam coming out of that kettle, but you don't know why, or for what reason it does so, and——"
"Oh! but I do, papa," chirped little Horatio knowingly. "The reason the steam comes out of the kettle is so that ma can open your letters without you knowing it."
She had only been married a month, when her friend called to see how she was getting on.
"We're getting on fine!" exclaimed the young wife. "We have a joint account in the bank; it's such fun to pay bills by cheque."
"What do you mean by joint account?" asked the caller. "Do you put in equal sums?"
"Oh! I don't put in anything," was the explanation. "Tom puts it in, and I draw it out!"
O'Grady: "And why do you want to sell your nightshirt?"
Pat: "Shure, and what good is it to me now whin oive me new job av night watchman an' slape in the day toimes?"
"Rastus," said the judge sternly, "you're plain no-account and shiftless, and for this fight I'm going to send you away for a year at hard labour."
"Please, Jedge," interrupted Mrs. Rastus from the rear of the court room, "will yo' Honah jes' split dat sentence? Don't send him away from home, but let dat hard labour stand."
Farmer Brown was an old-fashioned farmer. He firmly believed in that quaint and worn-out saying, "Early to bed, early to rise." He couldn't get along at all with the modern type of farmhands. So, after thinking matters over, Brown decided to reform.
After many trials he secured a strapping, big fellow, and resolved to keep that hand at any cost. Accordingly, the first morning he waited until four o'clock before he called him for breakfast.
"Get out of there quick if you want anything to eat."
"Thanks very much," said the new hand, "but I never eat anything just before going to sleep."
This conversation was overheard in the corridor of the offices of a large firm. Needless to say, the speakers were lady clerks—
"He's given me such a fearful telling-off," said one; "just because I couldn't find him his copy of 'Who's Who.'"
"Pooh! Don't cry, you little silly. You've got to manage him. When you've been here six weeks, like I have, you'll jolly well tell him to buy a copy of 'Where's Which,' and find his old 'Who's Who' himself!"
The skipper was examining an ambitious gob who wanted to be a gunner's mate.
"How much does a six-pound shell weigh?" he asked.
"I don't know," the gob confessed.
"Well, what time does the twelve o'clock train leave?"
"All right, then, how much does a six-pound shell weigh?"
"Ah," said the youthful mariner, a great light dawning on him. "Twelve pounds."
* * *
The two flappers at the Strand seemed barely in their 'teens, yet their conversation stamped them as seasoned film fans. They were discussing titles of pictures in general, and the tiny blonde expressed regret that the recent German importations had had their titles changed for American consumption. "If they had only called that picture 'Du Barry' instead of 'Passion,' think what a hit it would have made!"
Her bobbed-hair companion tossed her head and scoffed: "Don't you believe it. There's millions of folks never heard of Du Barry, but every one knows about passion."
* * *
"We will take as our text this morning," announced the absent-minded clergyman, consulting his memorandum, "the sixth and seventh verses of the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs." Never suspecting that his vivacious son and heir had found the memorandum in his study on the previous night, and, knowing that his papa had composed a sermon celebrating the increased severity of dry law enforcement, had diabolically changed the chapter and verse numerals to indicate a very different text, the absent-minded clergyman turned to the place and read aloud these words of Solomon: "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his past poverty, and remember his misery no more."
* * *
"You don't mean to say it cost you $7000 to have your family tree looked up?"
"No; $2000 to have it looked up and $5000 to have it hushed up."
* * *
The Aristocrat (returning to school): My ancestors came over with William the Conqueror.
The New Girl: That's nothing! My father came over in the same boat with Mary Pickford!
* * *
It was Judgment Day, and throngs of people were crowding around the Pearly Gates trying to convince St. Peter that they were entitled to enter Heaven. To the first applicant St. Peter said, "What kind of a car do you own?"
"A Packard," was the reply.
"All right," said St. Peter, "you go over there with the Presbyterians."
The next in line testified that he owned a Buick, and was told to stand over with the Congregationalists. Behind him was the owner of a Dodge, who was ordered to stand with the Baptists. Finally a meek little individual came along.
"What kind of a car do you own?" was the question.
"A Ford," was the answer.
"You just think you own a car. You go over there with the Christian Scientists."
* * *
The Housewife: My goodness! I don't believe you've washed yourself for a year.
The Hobo: Just about that. You see, I only washes before I eats.
* * *
The Professor: A diamond is the hardest known substance, inasmuch as it will cut glass.
The Cynic: Glass! My dear sir, a diamond will even make an impression on a woman's heart.
* * *
Boss: What do you mean by such language? Are you the manager here or am I?
Jones: I know I'm not the manager.
The Boss: Very well, then, if you're not the manager, why do you talk like a blamed idiot?
* * *
"Pa, what's an actor?"
"An actor, my boy, is a person who can walk to the side of a stage, peer into the wings at a group of other actors waiting for their cues, a number of bored stage hands, and a lot of theatrical odds and ends, and exclaim, 'What a lovely view there is from this window!"'
* * *
"Is she making a rich marriage?"
"I should hope to tell you; he is a butcher who has been arrested three times for profiteering."
* * *
A pompous Scottish laird met a farmer one morning, and observed:
"Well, Sandy, you're getting very bent. Why don't you stand up straight, like me?"
"Eh, mon," replied Sandy, "d'ye see yon field of corn?"
"I do," said the laird.
"Ah, weel," said Sandy, "ye'll notice that the full heids hang down, an' that the empty yins stand up."
"Miss Smith—Belinda," sighed the young man, passionately, "there is something I want to tell you—something that I——"
"What is it?" asked the girl, as she leaned back in her chair, with a bored expression on her face.
The young man drew a long breath, and his face turned to dull purple. "It is a question which is very near to any heart," he said awkwardly. "Could you—do you think you could ever marry a man like me?"
"Oh, yes," replied Belinda, quite calmly, "that is, if he wasn't too much like you!"
A Chinaman entered a jeweller's in Liverpool and asked to be shown some "welly good watches." The proprietor, a Jew, being absent, the prospective customer was attended to by his daughter, who got out three watches, marked respectively £5, £4, and £3 10s., and laid them in a row on the counter.
The Chink, after looking very closely at them, called the attention of the Jewess to a watch on a shelf behind her; as she turned to obtain the watch he placed the higher-priced watch, in the place of the lower-priced one, and, not caring for the watch now shown him, said: "Me no likee that; I takee cheapee watch," paid £3 10s., and departed.
Soon the girl discovered the deception, and told her father on his return.
"Never mind, my tear," said he, with a smile; "dose vatches cost all de same brice—two pound; but vat a scoundrel dat Chinaman must be!"
"Are all flowers popular?" asked the teacher.
"No, ma'am," replied one of the bright little girls.
"What flowers are not popular?"
"He hit me on de koko, yer honour."
"Yes, yer honour."
"Why don't you speak the English language?"
"I do, yer honour. I never wuz out of dis country in me life."
"Now, children," said the Sunday-school teacher, "I have told you the story of Jonah and the whale. Willie, you may tell me what this story teaches."
"Yes'm," said Willie, the bright-eyed son ef the pastor; "it teaches that you can't keep a good man down."
A tourist at an hotel in Ireland asked the girl who waited at the table if he could have some poached eggs.
"We haven't any eggs, sorr," she replied; then, after a moment's reflection, "but I think I could get ye some poached salmon."
The maiden of, er—forty or so, was much upset.
Quoth she to a younger friend:
"Kate talks so outrageously. Yesterday she actually told me I was nothing but a hopeless old maid."
"That's pretty frank!" exclaimed the friend.
"Yes; wasn't it unladylike of her?"
"It certainly was rude," agreed the other. "Still, it's better than having her tell lies about you."
"Did your late employer give you a testimonial, Jack?"
"Yes, Tom. But the way employers look at it when I apply for a job make one think there's something wrong with it."
"What does it say, then?"
"Why, he said I was one of the best men his firm had ever turned out."
"Darling," he asked, as he drew his fiancée closer to him, "am I the first man you have ever kissed?"
"William," replied the American girl, somewhat testily, "before we go any further I would like to ask you a few questions. You are, no doubt, fully aware that my father is a millionaire something like ten times over, aren't you?"
"You understand, no doubt, that when he dies all of his vast fortune will be left to me?"
"You know that I have a quarter of a million dollars in cash in my name at the bank?"
"And own two and a half million dollars' worth of property?"
"That my diamonds are insured to the value of a quarter of a million dollars?"
"My horses and motor-cars are worth seventy-five thousand dollars?"
"Then, for goodness' sake, talk sense! What difference would it make to you if I had been kissed by a thousand men before I met you?"
During an exciting game of football a player had two fingers of his right hand badly smashed, and on his way home from the ground he dropped into the doctor's to have them attended to.
"Doctor," he asked, anxiously. "When this hand of mine heals, will I be able to play the piano?"
"Certainly you will," the doctor assured him.
"Then you're a wonder, doctor. I never could before."
"I don't know whether I like these photos or not," said the young woman. "They seem rather indistinct."
"But, you must remember, madam," said the wily photographer, "that your face is not at all plain."
Uncle Tom arrived at the station with the goat he was to ship north, but the freight agent was having difficulty in billing him.
"What's this goat's destination, Uncle?" he asked.
"I say, what's his destination? Where's he going?"
Uncle Tom searched carefully for the tag. A bit of frayed cord was all that remained.
"Dat ornery goat!" he exploded wrathfully. "Yo' know, suh, dat iggorant goat done completely et up his destination."
Tommy: "What's an echo, pa?"
Pa: "An echo, my son, is the only thing that can deprive a woman of the last word."
* * *
"Why is it you never get to the office on time in the morning?" demanded the boss angrily.
"It's like this, boss," explained the tardy one; "you kept telling me not to watch the clock during office hours, and I got so I didn't watch it at home either."
One day a teacher was having a first-grade class in physiology. She asked them if they knew that there was a burning fire in the body all of the time. One little girl spoke up and said:
"Yes'm; when it is a cold day, I can see the smoke."
* * *
Bolshie Tubthumper: Yaas, there didn't ought to be no poor. We all ought to be wealthy, and the wealthy starvin' like us!
* * *
Sunday School Teacher: Now, Alfred, if you are always kind and polite to your playmates, what will be the result?
Alfred: They'll think they can lick me!
A man and his eldest son went to have their photographs taken together, and the photographer said to the young man, "It will make a better picture if you put your hand on your father's shoulder."
"H'm," said the father, "it would make a more natural picture if he put it in my pocket."
A Londoner was telling funny stories to a party of commercial men.
An old Scotsman, sitting in a corner seat, apparently took not the smallest notice, and no matter how loud the laughter, went on quietly reading his paper. This exasperated the story-teller, until at last he said: "I think it would take an inch auger to put a joke into a Scotsman's head."
A voice from behind the paper replied: "Ay, man, but it wid need tae hae a finer point than ony o' yer stories, a'm thinking!"
The MacTavish was not a mean man. No; he just knew the value of money.
So, when the MacTavish developed a sore throat he meditated fearfully upon the expenditure of a doctor's fee. As an alternative he hung about for a day and a half outside the local doctor's establishment. Finally he managed to catch the great man.
"Say, doctor! Hoo's beez-ness wi' ye the noo?"
"Oh, feyr, feyr!"
"A s'pose ye've a deal o' prescribin' tae dae fer coolds an' sair throats?"
"An' what dae ye gin'rally gie fer a sair throat?"
"Naethin'," replied the canny old doctor, "I dinna' want a sair throat."
What true friendship consists in depends on the temperament of the man who has a friend. It is related that at the funeral of Mr. Scroggs, who died extremely poor, the usually cold-blooded Squire Tightfist was much affected.
"You thought a great deal of him, I suppose?" some one asked him.
"Thought a great deal of him? I should think I did. There was a true friend. He never asked me to lend him a cent, though I knew well enough he was starving to death."
He was one of the few remaining old-time darkies. He had finished the odd jobs for which he had been employed, and, hat in hand, appeared at the back door.
"How much is it, uncle?" he was asked.
"Yo' say how much? Jest whatever yo' say, missus."
"Oh, but I would rather you'd say how much," the lady of the house replied.
"Yas, ma'am! But, ma'am, Ah'd rather hab de seventy-five cents yo 'would gimme dan de fifty cents Ah'd charge yo'."
Minister: Would you care to join us in the new missionary movement?
Miss Ala Mode: I'm crazy to try it. Is it anything like the fox trot?
He: Do you think your father would be willing to help me in the future?
She: Well, I heard him say he felt like kicking you into the middle of next week.
* * *
"Daughter," said the old man, sternly, "I positively forbid you marrying this young scapegrace! He is an inveterate poker player!"
"But, papa," tearfully protested Alicia Hortense, "poker playing is not such an awful habit. Why, at your own club——"
"That's where I got my information, daughter. I'll have no daughter of mine bringing home a man that I can't beat with a flush, a full house, and fours."
* * *
"I think, Lucille, I'll take one of the children to the park with me. Which one do you think would go best with this dress?"
Mr. and Mrs. Smith had been invited to a friend's for tea, and the time had arrived for preparing for the visit. "Come along, dearie," said Mr. Smith to her three-year-old son, "and have your face washed."
"Don't want to be washed," came the reply.
"But," said mother, "you don't want to be a dirty boy, do you? I want my little boy to have a nice, clean face for the ladies to kiss."
Upon this persuasion he gave way, and was washed. A few minutes later he stood watching his father washing. "Ha, ha, daddy!" he cried, "I know why you're washing!"
"Which weeds are the easiest to kill?" asked young Flickers of Farmer Sassfras, as he watched that good man at his work.
"Widow's weeds," replied the farmer. "You have only to say 'Wilt thou?' and they wilt."
Muriel, aged four, was taken by her governess to have tea with an aunt. Presently she began to eat a piece of very rich cake.
"Oh, I just love this chocolate cake!" she exclaimed. "It's awfully nice."
"Muriel, dear," corrected her governess, "it is wrong to say you 'love' cake, and I've frequently pointed out that 'just' is wrongly used in such a sentence. Again, 'awfully' is quite wrong, 'very' would be more correct, dear. Now repeat your remark, please."
Muriel obediently repeated: "I like chocolate cake; it is very good."
"That's better, dear," said the governess, approvingly.
"But it sounds as if I was talking about bread," protested the little girl.
An English mother was visiting her son at college.
"Well, dear," she said, "what languages did you decide to take?"
"I have decided to take Pictish, mother," he replied.
"Pictish?" said the puzzled lady. "Why Pictish?"
"Only five words of it remain," he said.
A small boy was playing with an iron hoop in the street, when suddenly it bounced through the railings and broke the kitchen window of one of the areas. The lady of the house waited with anger in her eyes for the appearance of the hoop's owner. He arrived.
"Please, I've broken your window," he said, "and father's come to mend it."
Sure enough the boy was followed by a man, who at once set to work, while the boy, taking his hoop, ran off. The window finished, the man said:
"That'll be three shillings, mum."
"Three shillings!" gasped the woman. "But your son broke it. The little fellow with the hoop. You're his father, aren't you?"
The man shook his head.
"Never seen him before," he said. "He came round to my place and said his mother wanted her window mended. You're his mother, aren't you?"
And the good woman could only shake her head; for once words failed her.
It was the usual domestic storm.
"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" moaned wifey in tears. "I wish I'd taken poor mother's advice, and never married you!"
Hubby, the strong, silent man, swung round on her quickly, and at last found voice.
"Did your mother try to stop you marrying me?" he demanded.
Wifey nodded violently.
A look of deep remorse crossed hubby's face.
"Great Scott," he cried, in broken tones, "how I wronged that woman!"
Two negroes were working in a coal-bin in a Mississippi town, one down in the bin throwing out the coal and the other wielding a shovel. The one inside picked up a large lump and heaving it carelessly into the air, struck the other a resounding blow on the head.
As soon as the victim had recovered from his momentary daze he walked over to the edge of the bin and, peering down at his mate, said:
"Nigger, how come you don't watch where you throws dat coal? You done hit me smack on de haid."
The other one looked surprised.
"Did I hit you?"
"You sho' did," came the answer. "And I jes' wants to tell you, I've been promising the debil a man a long time, and you certainly does resemble my promise."
* * *
"And would you love me as much if father lost all his money?"
"Of course I would, darling."
* * *
"Why do you object to children in your apartment house?"
"As a matter of kindness. People who are raising families can't be expected to pay the rentals I require."
A good story is told of a pawky old Scot, who like many others, finds himself rather short of cash just now. His account was £60 over drawn, and the banker rang him up on the telephone to tell him about it, and to suggest that he had better bring it down a bit or clear it altogether.
"Oh, aye," replied the pawky one. "I'm £60 short am I? Will ye just look up an' tell me hoo my account stood in June?"
"Oh," the banker said, "you were all right then; you had £250 to your credit."
"Aye, an' did I ring you up in June?" was the caustic rejoinder.
* * *
The newly-elected president of a banking institution was being introduced to the employees. He singled out one of the men in the cashier's cage, questioning him in detail about his work, etc. "I have been here forty years," said the cashier's assistant, with conscious pride, "and in all that time I only made one slight mistake."
"Good," replied the president. "Let me congratulate you. But hereafter be more careful."
* * *
First Sailor (searching vainly for his ship after a few hours' leave): "But she was 'ere when we went ashore, wasn't she?"
Second Sailor: "It's them blokes at Washington. They've started scrappin' the fleet, an' begun on us."
The tourist from the East had stopped to change tires in a desolate region of the far South. "I suppose," he remarked to a native onlooker, "that even in these isolated parts the bare necessities of life have risen tremendously in price?"
"Y'er right, stranger," replied the native, "and it ain't worth drinkin' when ye get it."
Irate Golfer: "You must take your children away from here, madam; this is no place for them."
Mother: "Now don't you worry—they can't 'ear nothin' new—their father was a sergeant-major, 'e was!"
The Client: "I bought and paid for two dozen glass decanters that were advertised at $16 a dozen, f. o. b., and when they were delivered they were empty."
The Lawyer: "Well, what do you expect?"
The Client: "Full of booze. Isn't that what f. o. b. means?"
* * *
During a conversation between an Irishman and a Jew, the Irishman asked how it was that the Jews were so wise.
"Because," said the Jew, "we eat a certain kind of fish;" and he offered to sell one for ten dollars.
After paying his money, the Irishman received a small dried fish. He bit into it, then exclaimed: "Why, this is only a smoked herring."
"See?" said the Jew. "You are getting wise already."
* * *
"Yes," said the old man to his visitor, "I am proud of my girls and would like to see them comfortably married, and as I have made a little money they will not go penniless to their husbands. There is Mary, twenty-five years old, and a really good girl. I shall give her $1000 when she marries. Then comes Bet, who won't see thirty-five again. I shall give her $3000, and the man who takes Eliza, who is forty, will have $5000 with her." The young man reflected a moment and then asked, "You haven't one about fifty, have you?"
* * *
"Mary," said the mistress, "did you ask every one for cards to-day, as I told you, when they called?"
"Yes'm. One fellow he wouldn't give me no card, but I swiped his hat an' shoved him off th' steps. Here's his name on th' sweat band."
* * *
"He proposed to me last night, mother. What shall I do?"
"But, my dear daughter, you've only known him three weeks."
"I know that, mother, but on the other hand if I delay in accepting him he might find out some things about me he won't like, too."
* * *
"Would you marry a man to reform him?"
"What does he do?"
"Marry him, girlie, and find out where he gets it. We need him badly in our set."
* * *
"I would like to have a globe of the earth."
"What size, madam?"
"Life-size, of course."
* * *
Wife: "George, is that you?"
George: "Why certainly! Who else you 'shpecting at this timernight?"
* * *
She (tenderly): "And are mine the only lips you have kissed?"
He: "Yes, and they are the sweetest of all."
* * *
Jazz: "My girl told me she weighed 120 the other night."
Jazz: "Yeh; she was in an evening gown."
* * *
Mrs. Newlywed (on her first day's shopping): "I want two pieces of steak and—and about half a pint of gravy."
* * *
Farmer: "Would you like to buy a jug of cider?"
Tourist: "Well—er—is it ambitious and willing to work?"
* * *
Papa: "Why did you permit young Gaybird to kiss you in the parlor last night?"
Daughter: "Because I was afraid he'd catch cold in the hall."
* * *
"It was a case of love at first sight when I met Jack."
"Then why didn't you marry him?"
"I met him again so often."
* * *
Interviewer: "What sort of girls make the best show-girls?"
Stage Manager: "Those who have the most to show, of course."
* * *
She: "What do you mean by kissing me? What do you mean?"
She: "Then don't you dare do it again. I won't have any man kissing me unless he means business, d'ye hear?"
* * *
Foreman: "'Ow is it that little feller always carries two planks to your one?"
Laborer: "'Cos 'e's too blinkin' lazy to go back fer the other one."
* * *
Lady (in box): "Can you look over my shoulders?"
Sailor: "I've just been looking over both of them, an' by gosh they are great."
* * *
"How times have changed!"
"Imagine Rosa Bonheur painting a flock of Ford tractors."
* * *
Sailor Bill: "These New York gals seem to be wearin' sort o' light canvas."
Sailor Dan: "Yes—you seldom see a full-rigged skirt, or anything."
* * *
Tramp: "Would you please 'elp a pore man whose wife is out o' work?"
* * *
"I 'ear your 'usband 'as turned Bolshie."
"Well, not absolootly; but 'e 'as a lenin' that way."
* * *
A popular Oklahoma City salesman recently married, and was accompanied by his wife as he entered the dining-room of a Texas hotel famed for its excellent cuisine. His order was served promptly, but the fried chicken he had been telling his wife so much about was not in evidence.
"Where is my chicken?" he asked somewhat irritably.
The dusky waiter, leaning over and bringing his mouth in close proximity to the salesman's ear, replied:
"Ef youse mean de li'l gal with blue eyes an' fluffy hair, she doan' wo'k heah no mo'."
* * *
"Do you really believe in heredity?"
"Most certainly I do. That is how I came into all my money."
* * *
An attorney of Los Angeles advertised for a chauffeur. Some twenty-odd responded and were being questioned as to qualifications, efficiency, and whether married or single. Finally, turning to a negro chap, he said:
"How about you, George, are you married?"
Quickly the negro responded: "Naw-sir, boss, naw-sir. Ah makes mah own livin'."
* * *
A boy and his mother were taking in the circus. Looking at the hippopotamus, he said: "Ma, ain't that the ugliest damn thing you ever saw?"
"Bill," said his ma, "didn't I tell you never to say 'ain't.'"
* * *
"Vell, Ikey, my poy," said Sol to his son, "I've made my vill and left it all to you."
"That's very good of you, father," remarked Ike, eyeing him suspiciously. "But, bless you, it cost a lot of money for the lawyer and fees and things!"
"Vell?" said Ike more suspiciously. "Vell, it ain't fair I should pay all dot, is it? So I'll shust take it off from your next month's salary."
* * *
Mr. McNab (after having his lease read over to him): "I will not sign that; I have na' been able tae keep Ten Commandments for a mansion in Heaven, an' I'm no' gaun tae tackle about a hundred for twa rooms in the High Street."
* * *
"Come, Dorothy," said her father impatiently, "throw your doll on the bed and hurry or we shall be late."
"Daddy, how can you?" reproved the child. "I isn't' that kind of a muvver."
* * *
"You say you doted on your last mistress?"
"Yes, mum. I certainly did."
"Then why did you leave her?"
"We couldn't continue to be friends on my wages, mum."
* * *
"What's the matter with Smith? Got lumbago or spinal curvature or something?"
"No; he has to walk that way to fit some shirts his wife made for him."
* * *
"James, have you whispered to-day without permission?"
"Leroy, should James have said wunst?"
"No'm; he should have said twict."
* * *
"It appears to be your record, Mary," said the magistrate, "that you have already been convicted thirty-five times of stealing."
"I guess that's right, your honor," answered Mary. "No woman is perfect."
* * *
"That you, dearie? I'm detained at the office on very important business and I may not be home until late. Don't sit up for me."
"I won't, dearie. You'll come home as early as you can, won't you? And John, dear——"
"Yes; what is it?"
"Please don't draw to any inside straights."
* * *
The City Nephew: "I'm glad to see Aunt Hetty dresses her hair sensibly instead of wearing those silly puffs over the ears."
Uncle Talltimber: "She tried 'em once an' they got tangled up with the telephone receiver an' she missed more'n half the gossip goin' on over our twenty-party line."
* * *
"Ethel," said the bishop, "you seem to be a bright little girl; can you repeat a verse from the Bible?"
"I'll say I can."
"Well, my dear, let us have it."
"The Lord is my shepherd—I should worry."
* * *
Wishing to give his Scotch steward a treat a man invited him to London, and on the night after his arrival took him to a hotel to dine. During the early part of the dinner the steward was noticed to help himself very liberally to the champagne, glass after glass of the wine disappearing. Still he seemed very downhearted and morose. Presently he was heard to remark, "Well, I hope they'll not be very long wi' the whisky, as I dinna get on verra weel wi' these mineral waters."
* * *
An astronomer was entertaining a Scotch friend. He showed his visitor the moon through a telescope and asked him what he thought of the satellite.
"It's a' richt," replied the Scot, who was an enthusiastic golfer, "but it's awfu' fu' o' bunkers."
* * *
"What are you doing, Marjory?"
"I'se writing a letter to Lily Smif."
"But, darling, you don't know how to write."
"That's no diff'ence, mamma; Lily don't know how to read."
* * *
"What sort of an appearing man is he?"
"Little dried-up feller," replied the gaunt Missourian, "that looks like he always ett at the second table."
* * *
"Did you hear about the awful trouble that has befallen Mrs. Talkalot?"
"Don't tell me she has lost her voice."
"No, her husband has lost his hearing."
* * *
Two darky boys in a Southern city met on the street, each wearing a new suit. One asked:
"Nigger, how much do they set you back for dem clo's?"
"Fo'ty dollahs," was the response.
"Yes, sah; fo'ty dollahs."
"Look at me," said the first. "I'se got on a suit w'at's mos' perzactly like yourn, and I don't pay but ten dollahs fuh mine. Somebody shore flimflammed you."
* * *
The possessor of the forty-dollar suit took hold of one of the coat sleeves of the ten-dollar suit and pulled on it. It stretched. Then straightening up he said:
"See here, boy, the fust big rain yo' gets ketched out in dat coat of yourn is gwine to say, 'Good-by, nigger, f'om now on I'se gwine to be yo' vest.'"
* * *
"Do you think I shall live until I'm ninety, doctor?"
"How old are you now?"
"Do you drink, gamble, smoke, or have you any vices of any kind?"
"No. I don't drink, I never gamble, I loathe smoking; in fact, I haven't any vices."
"Well, good heavens, what do you want to live another fifty years for?"
* * *
"I say, Madge, it's bitterly cold. Hadn't you better put something on your chest?"
"Don't worry, old thing. I've powdered it three times."
* * *
Father: "Well, son, you certainly made a fool of yourself! That girl robbed you of every cent you had."
Son: "Well, dad, you have to hand it to me for picking them clever."
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