AFTER Mr. James T. F-lds's paper upon the Poet Laureate had been read, the Quizzical Club did not meet for several weeks. It was thought, on the whole, not best They were afraid lest the poet should return unexpectedly; besides, Mr. F-lds's shocking revelation had produced an unwonted feeling of depression. But at last an event occurred which stirred the club to its very depths. Charles Shirts, that emissary of evil, had actually been tendered a dinner (think of it!) in Boston, the home of the Poncas and the Daily Evening Tramp. A meeting was immediately called by the chairman, Mr. Alson Broncott; the President of Haverford College was expelled from the club for his offensive remarks at that dinner; and the club unanimously decided to hold an anti-Shirts gathering. The editor of the Tramp said that she would bear all expenses, if every member of the club would send in a year's subscription to her paper; whereat George Fr-nc-s
Train suggested that they had better hire a club undertaker at once, - a form of statement which very nearly disturbed the harmony of the meeting. But the editor smiled so prettily upon every one that she finally carried the day, and even pacified George F. T.
THE DINNER.The company gathered promptly at six o'clock in the parlors of the Brunswick, and fifteen minutes later filed into the elegant dining-hall. A full list of the guests (including M-ses K-ng, 1881) will be published in the next Resister. Governor Short, the eminent translator of TYBILS, the great Ponca epic, was invited to preside. On his right sat Miss Dark Eyes, on his left the editor of the Tramp; while Mr. Shirts (in effigy) held the position of honor opposite. After ample justice had been done to the excellent menu, the chairman called the company to order, and after an address of welcome, called upon Miss Dark Eyes for an account of her grievances. Miss Dark Eyes said : -
"Me hatee Shirts. He one bad man. He drive us to Boston. We no likee dat. Me hatee Shirts. He one bad man."
At the conclusion of this simple and affecting tale, there was not a dry eye in the room. As soon as the chairman could speak, he called upon their guest from over the water, the distinguished scientist, Mr. H-xley; who, leering facetiously at the Reverend Joseph C-k, arose with some difficulty and addressed the assembly : -
" 'Friends, I come not here to talk.' [Applause.] I know a good deal about the sun and the moon; I can understand how, in the course of a few millions of years, the earth will go to the dogs [groans]; I can understand the books which my friend Mr. C-k has written [prolonged cheering]; but I can't understand Mr. Shirts's Indian policy. I tell you, gentlemen, that in him are evolution, and protoplasm, and Darwinism complete." [Laughter and applause.]
"We have with us," continued the chairman, "a distinguished senator from New York, who, I know, will address us in a speech replete with sound arguments. I call upon Mr. C-nkling." The senator then rose and said : -
"Gentlemen, doubtless you feel flattered by my presence among you. I hate Hays; I hate Shirts; I intend to run Jimmy G. That is all." [Faint applause.]
The chairman looked disappointed as the honorable senator sat down; and so, somewhat dejectedly, he called upon Mr. Algernon Charles Sw-nburne as an antidote, who immediately read the following beautiful poem : -
In the time of the roses, sophistical Shirts
(Oh, that ruby-red roses should languish!)
Contrived for the Poncas - that's where the shoe hurts -
The most inexcusable anguish.
For the violets were dead as a herring, and so
From their sad smoking homes the sweet Poncas must go.
But that is too thin in
Unclean German linen!
There were kisses unnumbered; their lips, as if glued,
Stuck together like candy in summer:
The dusk cheek o' the maid like a red rose was hued,
Like the bloom on the nose of a bummer!
There were tears sown with kisses, and eyes reaped with tears,
There were sundering embraces through shadow-kissed years,
And they wist of the sin in
The foul German linen!
They came to dear Boston, the home of the Tramp,
Where ten dollars are roses a dozen;
The drizzling March rain on their ulsters hung damp,
And a terrible pickle each was in!
God wot there were wailings and rose-leaves and dew;
But the storm made the Boston philanthropists few,
Who were never yet seen in
Public with soiled linen!
Mr. Swinburne had no sooner sat down, amid rapturous applause, than the "Sweet Singer of Michigan" arose. "I have here," said she, "a few verses, composed during a recent visit to my sister, Queen Victoria, which I will read :" -
Here comes a horrid naughty man,
His name, they say, is Shirts;
And he will trick you if he can:
He's growing worse and worse.
O Poncas, I will write to Kirkwood
Who carries lots of dog;
And he will grant you liberty
To live in Ponkapog.
And yet the moon said -
At this point Miss Moore was kindly but firmly requested to resume her seat. She burst into tears, and was led out the room by Mr. Walk-in Miller. The health of the Tramp was then drunk with great applause by all who were able to do so; and the charming editor responded as follows : -
"It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Quizzical Club in behalf of the paper we all love. You all know what the Tramp is and has been, - the organ of stalwartism, the friend of those great statesmen, Logan and Cameron. WE took away from Hayes the prospect of a second term; WE have inaugurated J. G.; and, if you remember, WE seated our honored chairman [applause] in the gubernatorial chair. 'The Union must and shall be preserved,' the poet says. We condemn secession, and we refuse to place any confidence in those who lately sought to destroy the national government." [Prolonged applause.]
"As it is getting late," remarked the chairman, blushing like a school-boy at the complimentary remarks of the editor, "we cannot hope to hear from all our honored guests; but before we break up I desire to call upon Mr. Walt Wh-tm-n for the poem which he has kindly prepared for the occasion. It will be published in the next Harper's, with thirty-five pre-Raffaelite illustrations, many of them portraits of - of ourselves."
We give Mr. Wh-tm-n's poem entire : -
TO THE PONCAS.
O, injured Poncas!
O, Shirt-less Poncas, and happy in being Shirt-less,
since the monster has gone out of office!
I hate Shirts;
The Poncas hate Shirts;
So does the Tramp;
So do Governor Short, and Senators Hawes and Door.
Let us call for clean Shirts.
Who are the Poncas, and wherefore?
Sweet are the Poncas as the fields in summer,
Sweet as molasses, or as first love;
So is Dark Eyes.
I love dark eyes -
Blue also, and gray.
C. Shirts is an infinite rascal.
Mr. Wh-tm-n was vigorously applauded throughout; and then, after the effigy of the secretary had been thrown down and torn to pieces amidst shouts of laughter, the club adjourned sine die.
ADMISSIONS OF MR. TAUGENICHTS.I.
Cave Canem. Beware of dog.
I ADMIT I oughtn't to have done it; I knew it would make him angry. But then he shouldn't have taken me to call on her, even though I did ask him. The case was as follows: Lardy felt obliged to me; I had given him so many dinners at Parker's, and had taken him so often to the theatre. So he took me to call on Carolinda Wiggleson. I was just recovering from my passion for Adelinda Higginsworth, and was consequently in a very sensitive and susceptible condition. On entering the room I succeeded by a clever move in giving Lardy a place next to Carolinda's grandmother, and so I had his duck all to myself. I perceived a bookcase at the end of the room, and said I was so much interested in literature. Consequently we walked across, and she showed me Hawthorne's "Marble Faun," which she had herself illustrated. "Yes," said I, "Rome is a great financial and commercial metropolis, and is also the city of the soul. Miss Wiggleson, are you intense?" I saw she was affected, for she drew out her pocket-handkerchief, and then, ashamed to wipe away the tear that glistened in her eye, she began to dust a volume. I waxed eloquent. "Speaking of antiquities, Miss Wiggleson, have you ever heard the story about George Washington?" A shade passed over her face. Perhaps she doesn't like anecdotes, thought I. "About the pear-tree?" said she. "No, indeed. This is a new and original story. He was at dinner, and having occasion to blow his venerable nose, he excited a great commotion among the ladies. One of these, bending tenderly toward him (Martha wasn't looking): 'Have you a cold, Georgie dear?' This remark so touched him that he gave her the handkerchief at once. It is now to be seen at the Loan Exhibition in Washington." I suppose I told this story with unwonted fervor, for, as I bent tenderly toward her (Lardy was looking), she burst into a flood of tears, and handed me the dripping pocket-hand-kerchief. This I surreptitiously wrung in a corner, and bestowed in my coat-pocket. Before I left that evening she had appointed the day for our marriage, and I had made an eternal enemy of Lardy. As we marmaladed out to Cambridge that evening, he wouldn't say a word to me. His eye, usually so chipper, wore a dark and sullen look that meant - revenge.
On my next appearance at Suite 16, Hotel Br-nsw-ck, Miss Wiggleson was out. She had left, however, a note for me : -
"MY DEAR MR. TAUGENICHTS : -
I am placed in a very awkward position. I find that I have a previous engagement. Would you excuse me? Perhaps another time -- "
I read no more, but with a shriek of "Vichy straight," fell senseless on the floor.
Quid loquor, out ubi sum? quae mentem insania mutat.
I feel - I feel - I don't know how I feel.
It may be easily imagined that I did not soon recover from this shock. Some of my friends advised me to plunge into the "vortex of Harvard;" but I did not know where it was.
Far away in the desolate wilds of South America, where roams the disconsolate tapir, and the melancholy hyenas come trooping home at eventide; where the kangaroo leaps in demoniac exultation, and the boa-constrictor, after coiling himself tenderly but firmly around the waist of the intruder, gazes with embarrassing familiarity into his eyes, - in this forsaken region, far from civilization, with its weary load of unrest, its perpetual strivings after the unattainable, and its ceaseless Knock at the fast-closed gate of the empyrean, and all that --. But what am I saying, or where am I? Of course - I forgot - I am in South America; but this madness unseats my reason. I was wandering alone, and mourning for Carolinda. "O maiden," said I, "light of my more than pagan darkness, esoteric - or shall I say exoteric? - influence, which in conjunction with the centripetal - or shall I say centrifugal? - forces --
My meditations were at this point interrupted by a loud cry of "Yang, yang!" and suddenly before my affrighted gaze there stood the form of an aboriginal and autochthonous native. Of course I was scared perfectly indigo, the more so as he poured forth a torrent of unintelligible sounds, among which I barely distinguished the familiar syllables of Lardy and Linda. When I did recognize these, however, I leave the reader to imagine what feelings I experienced. All that impotent rage and hate mingled with love, all that blighted hope and the consciousness of personal injury combined with everlasting affection, could put into the heart of mortal man was depicted in my countenance. I fell at the feet of the brutal wild man, and implored him to restore me to my Linda. "Linda," said he, - his face wore a far-away, dreamy expression; his heart beat violently against his waistcoat pocket, and caused his watch-chain to swing to and fro, - "Linda," said he; then suddenly recollecting himself : -
"Will you ride to her to-day?
Will you ride to her to-day?
Will you ride to her to-day?
Will you ride to her -- "
I could bear this no longer. Rising to my full height, I adjusted my left heel against my right calf. I cocked my eye, and held to it an imaginary eye-glass, Then with an air of tremendous importance I remarked, -
"I should assume a cachinnatory expression." Truly the Harvard man is lord of the universe! This uncouth and unlettered savage at once changed his whole demeanor. He forthwith produced a horse eleven hands high, 1 which he bestrode. He then vaulted through the woods. I laid hands on a vagrant hyena and did likewise. He swam over lakes; I also swam over lakes. He bounded-over torrents; I also bounded over torrents. He scaled cliffs; I also scaled cliffs. At last we stopped before the door of a wigwam. In the darkness within I could just discern a female form. I sprang from my hyena, and, rushing-into the hut, fell into the arms of - Carolinda? no - Adelinda Higginsworth.
I told you so.
I need not relate the events of succeeding months. It seemed best to me, on the whole, to marry Adelinda. I didn't want to; but she put it through with maidenly tact. We took the steamboat Hippolyta to Boston, and went at once to Hotel Br-nsw-ck. We were shown, - how can I say it! - we were shown to Suite 16. Adelinda went into the next room to unpack her trunk, and I was left alone, the prey of conflicting emotions. Being torn in different directions, I could not breathe freely. I rose, and paced quickly up and down the room. Suddenly I espied a scrap of paper in the corner. I went for it at once. It was a mere fragment, old and yellow; but I thought I recognized the handwriting, and in places it was blistered - with tears? It ran as follows : -
" -- a man of such a character. I felt it my duty to expose him to you. I hope you will reconsider your determination, and reciprocate the affection of your devoted
LARDY.""O monstrous villany!" I exclaimed, as I rushed frantically from the room. I knew that Miss Wiggleson, or rather Mrs. Dah, was at P - rk - r's and my flying steps bore me quickly up Beacon Street. Adelinda fluttered after me breathless, her hand upon my shoulder, a la Francesca di Rimini. As we passed Spruce Street, whom should we see coming toward us but Lardy and Carolinda! I could not restrain my passion.
"Villanous wretch!" I cried, "by what infamous demon were you impelled to tear from my arms the adorable Carolinda! What form of rapacity possesses the man who will wrench from me the light of my eyes and the sole object of my affections!" At this point my violent declamation attracted attention in the Somerset Club, and a waiter came rushing out with a carving-knife in his hand. Lardy, who had been overcome by my eloquence, fell forward into his arms, and was accidentally pierced by this weapon. Adelinda, who, it appears, had always cherished a secret passion for Lardy, rushing to sustain him, was herself transfixed by the steel protruding from his back. At this, Carolinda, with a shout of joy, threw herself into my arms, and, assuming the famous posture of Mary Anderson, exclaimed, "My husband!"
Again I leave the reader to determine my feeling. They were a riddle even to myself, and were but partially expressed by the waiter's remark, "Well, I never did!"
The H-r-ld next morning contained the following announcement : -
SCENES IN HIGH LIFE!!
A Man and a Woman Killed by a Carving Knife!!!
The Happy Pair leave to-day for New Orleans!!!!
I received an invitation from Barnum, and a flattering testimonial, signed by two hundred citizens of note, urging me to go lecturing round the country; but we preferred quiet, and retired to live happily thenceforth in the aristocratic seclusion of our country seat in Virginia.
1 It has been suggested to me that eleven hands is short measurement for a horse. Perhaps the gentleman rode a hobby. I prefer the other point of view, that is to say. I maintain that he used a pony, though of which kind I confess I cannot determine, whether to expedite mental processes or to cheer the heart.