October 19, 2008
Nevada's Online State News Journal
[From Fred Hart, The Sazerac Lying Club: A Nevada Book (1878).]
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN.
One day, while out in search of an item, I asked a fellow -citizen, "What's the news?" " Nothing startling," he replied. Nothing startling ! That man would never do for a newspaper reporter in a small interior town. Nothing startling, indeed ! Why, as he made the remark, two dogs were preparing to sign articles for a prize-fight right in front of his store ; a wagon loaded with wood could be seen in the distance, which was sure to pass his way during the day, if something did not break down. Two women, whom he knew to be mortal enemies, were approaching each other on the corner above ; a doctor was hurrying across the street, and a man who always kicks up a fuss and gets arrested when drunk was just entering the door of a saloon a block below. If that fellow -citizen had had the soul of a reporter within his bosom -- or in any other part of his body where a reporter's expansive soul can find lodgment -- he would have got out his jack-knife, picked up a chip, and, sitting down on the first convenient dry goods box, have whittled, and waited for something startling. Nothing came of all the incidents, however. The dogs signed a peace protocol and formed an alliance to bark at a passing horse ; the load of wood was delivered lower down the street, the women merely swept their skirts aside from each other as they passed, the doctor only wanted to borrow ten dollars of the man on the other side of the street, and the fellow who makes a noise when he gets drunk simply went into the saloon to inquire what time the Battle Mountain stage started.
It is such disappointments as these that sour the reportorial milk of human kindness, and force the country newspaper man to fill up his columns with incidents evolved from his own imagination -- incidents that are invariably tinged with the humor born of worldly wisdom, and the practical as opposed to the sentimental view of men, life, and things. I have before explained the origin of the Sazerac Lying Club ; and to the same want of "local" the following actual occurrences owe their appearance in print :
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A short time ago, a prominent citizen of Austin, criticising something which had appeared in the REVEILLE, complained that a majority of the characters introduced in our local sketches were people of rather a common order ; that the language employed in the dialogue was coarse, and only such as is in use among the lower classes. This, he urged, was likely to make people outside of Austin think that there were not any aristocratic residents here, and that the Austinites on the whole were rather a common crowd. We accepted the criticism gratefully and gracefully, and there and then resolved to watch out for any little domestic incident transpiring among the " Upper Ten " that could be worked into a sketch. We had not long to wait.
A gentleman residing in this city, through whose veins courses the blood of a long line of ancestors, entered the portals of his palatial mansion just as the glorious orb of day was sinking to rest behind the western hills. He was met on the threshold by the partner of his joys and sorrows, who greeted him with a kiss of welcome. He entered the house, and throwing his weary form upon the luxurious sofa in the drawing- room -- got right up again and howled.
The delicate fabric on which she had been engaged in embroidering the armorial bearings of her husband's noble house had three needles in it ; she had thrown it on the sofa in her haste to greet her lord, and he had sat down on all three of the needles.
Instead of saying, "Dearest, thou art careless," as the reader has a natural right to expect, he just stood up on his toes and cursed till the air was blue.
She, on her part, instead of putting her hands on his shoulders and gently pushing him down on the sofa and saying, "Be calm, thou light of me soul," which any person with a grain of sense must concede was the proper thing for her to do under the circumstances, in a tone more in sorrow than in anger, told him if he didn't " shut up this minnit," she would faint.
" Faint and be d___rowned ! " said he.
And then she called him an old brute and an unfeeling wretch, and told him he could go to the restaurant to get his supper ; for she wished she might fall nine thousand feet down a shaft if she cooked a mouthful for any such old nincompoop as him that night.
And he went down town after his supper, and as he stood up against the bar while his appetizer was being concocted, he said to the bar-keeper: "I put it to you, as a man and a brother, if a man jumps eight feet and howls like a coyote, just because he has sat down on three insignificant cambric needles, can he with truth and propriety be designated an " unfeeling wretch ?"
The bar-keeper said he thought not.
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 147
A Seared Citizen.
Mr. Thompson has just laid in his winter's wood, and a few evenings ago, on returning from his work in the mines, brought home some giant powder cartridges for the purpose of blasting up the big logs into stove size. He deposited the explosives on the kitchen table, intending to use them in the morning ; but after he had gone to bed the thought troubled him that he had not exercised sufficient caution ; and that he should have placed the dangerous articles in the cellar, or in some corner out of the way of " that boy Jim." But, being tired and sleepy, he felt a natural indisposition to get up and remove them to a place of absolute safety, and concluded to risk all chances for the night, and rise early in the morning so as to put them out of Jim's way before that mischievous young gentleman was out of bed.
Falling into a troubled sleep he had visions of explosions, saw the air filled with fragments of his house, his beloved daughter Clarissa sailing straight for the moon on a joint of stovepipe, the wife of his bosom shooting through the air carrying her severed head under her arm, and Jim -- the pride of his latter days -- sitting astride of the piano-stool, with the baby's arm in his hand, and grinning like a fiend as he put that innocent's thumb to his nose, and disappeared from view behind the summit of Lander Hill.
When he awoke in the morning it was with that sensation of weariness which usually follows a night of exciting dreams, and as he lay in bed in that drowsy condition, between sleep and awaking, which all of us have experienced at some time or other, Clarissa seated herself at the piano in the parlor to practice an operatic piece. Bracing her feet firmly on the pedals of the instrument, and fixing her eyes on the music, she raised both hands on high to get a good ready, and then came down with both fists on the keyboard with the vigor of a thousand music masters.
Crash ! Bang ! Rattletybang ! Crashytecrash !
The air of the opera swept through the house in a hurricane of noisy melody, and Thompson shot out of bed as if he had been blown from a cannon.
"Great heavens, Maria!" he screamed to his wife, "we're blowed hellwest and crooked ; quit your dog-goned snoring and say your prayers ; Jim's got hold of the giant powder and we'll all be blowed to a thousand fragments in sixteen seconds by the watch ! "
Maria merely turned over and yawned, and said : " Shut up, you cussed, excitable old fool ! It's only Clarissa practicing the uproar of Tra-vitroovatore, or some such stuff, on the pianner, and the instrument's all out of kilter owing to the dry climate."
The prominent citizen dressed himself and sadly wended his way to the nearest saloon to hunt up a man to tune the piano.
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Story of an Ear.
Just for a change he thought he would spend one evening at home. His astonished wife met him at the door and asked him if he had forgotten anything.
"No, pet," he replied, "I just thought I'd come home and keep you company to-night ; you must be lonesome sitting here all alone."
The wife was delighted ; it was almost a new experience to have her husband at home at night, and she thought that at last her appeals against pedro for the whisky had taken root in his heart. Placing another stick in the stove and giving the damper a turn, she rushed into the bedroom
and brought forth his slippers and dressing-gown, and turning over the pillow of the sofa, said :
" Here dear, lie down you must be tired and I'll get you a book, a new novel I've just borrowed from Mrs. Ginx, who borrowed it from Mrs. Smithers, whose aunt is well acquainted with the author's brother-in-law, and it's just perfectly splendid."
" Well, pet, after all there's no place like home," said the husband, as he stretched himself on the sofa, "bring along your book."
He was in a gracious mood, and after turning over a few of the leaves, said : "'S'pose I read aloud to you, sis ? "
" Oh, do, that's a dear, it'll be so nice."
Pretty soon he came to a paragraph something like this :
" Standing in the archway, with the brilliant light from the chandelier playing about her golden hair, she looked a picture of marvelous beauty. The proudly poised head set on the queenly neck ; her deep blue, liquid eye shining in tearful sympathy on the dyspeptic poodle that crouched moaning at her feet ; her tiny ear, looking like some creamy- white, pink-tinted shell of ocean -- "
" By the way, dear," said the husband, cutting short his reading, " that description reminds me of your ear ; you have an ear like a shell."
It was the first compliment she had received from him since the early days of their marriage, and a blush of pride suffused her face as she asked :
"What kind of a shell, darling?"
"An abalone shell," he replied.
She had never heard of an abalone shell, but did not want to display her ignorance ; so she silently made up her mind to hunt it out in the " Condensed Treatise of Conchology " that ornamented the center table. Next morning, as soon as her husband had left the house, conchology was in order. She found that it was described as a shell about the size of an ordinary wagon-wheel. She nursed her wrath during that day, and when her husband came home at night, she met him at the door with the towel- roller and now his ear is as big as an abalone shell, but it looks like a piece of pounded beef.
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 149
This is a musical community. Through every night, far on into the small hours of the morning, may be heard the sweet squeak of the fiddle, the enchanting tones of a piano with a cold in its head, the dulcet strains of the accordeon and concertina, the harmonious melody of the hand-organ, and the thrilling tones of the bass drum, occasionally set off and elaborated by the martial strains given forth by a brass band. Singing is usually added to the charming collection of sounds, which, from the peculiar acoustic properties of the canon in which Austin is situated, can be heard throughout the town ; and in what should be the still hours of the night, voices can be heard trying to outscreech a Chinese bagpipe, to the tune of " Little sweetheart, come and kiss me," or, " Who will care for mother now," which tunes, by the way, don't harmonize very well with the bag pipe's tune, which is a mile and a half long, and only contains three notes. All this is very pleasant for people who have murdered whole families and can't sleep, and instead of soothing the savage breast it sets the Indians in the camps on the surrounding hills to howling as if every mother's son of them was laboring under an attack of the cramp colic. Then the cats and dogs add their voices to the melody, and unmusical people lie abed and listen, and wonder how many cases of murder and suicide will be reported next morning, and reflect how easy it would be for them to bring in a verdict of justifiable homicide if they happened to get on a jury to try a man for killing two or three of the musicians.
Turning Over a New Leaf.
A prominent citizen, who had fallen into the habit of lying in bed till a late hour in the morning, made up his mind to turn over a new leaf. He told his wife that it was a shame for a man in the prime of life to be wasting the most beautiful hours of the day in bed, and gave her injunctions to awaken him at six o clock the following morning, and to insist on his arising, and to be sure not to let him fall asleep again. Then he pictured in glowing colors the beauties of the morning how he would go forth from the house and take a morning walk among the sweet-smelling sagebrush, and drink in the pure and health-giving morning air, and listen to the music of the birds, and come home vigorous and refreshed, with that appetite for breakfast which only healthful exercise can give. Next morning his wife awakened him promptly on time.
" Thunderation, can't you let a fellow sleep?" he growled, as he turned over for another snooze.
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His wife was not to be discouraged, and persevered in her efforts to arouse him, reminding him of his directions given the evening before. After considerable yawning, and stretching, and growling, the citizen managed to get up and dress himself. Then he started out for his walk. When he got to the first saloon he concluded to go in and take a cocktail -- a man needed some little stimulant when he broke over old habits and got up so early. Just one cocktail, and not another drop before breakfast. When he got inside the saloon two men were engaged in an animated argument on the Eastern Question, in which he became so interested that he forgot all about his walk until it was time to go home to breakfast, and every time one or the other of the disputants would get the best of the argument, he would " treat the house." When the citizen got home the breakfast was cold, his legs unsteady, and his voice thick, and he spoke to his wife with a Russian accent. When she asked him how he had enjoyed his walk, and if he didn't know breakfast was cold, and what made him look and act so queerly, he said :
" Bin 'gaged in a nanimated scushion er Rooshin war and tookernextracocktailertwo."
His wife was surprised at the facility with which he had learned a foreign language, but expressed herself in effect that early rising and walks before breakfast were not as conducive to health as lying in bed till breakfast was ready.
Poker and Politics.
They were talking politics and playing bean poker -- twenty beans for a quarter. There were three of them, all Democrats, and for convenience we will call them Smith, Brown, and Robinson. Smith was dealer, and while he was giving out the cards, Brown and Robinson were discussing the overwhelming corruption among the officials of the land and shoving cards up their sleeves. The cards being dealt, Brown, who sat next to the dealer, passed, at the same time remarking :
"As I was sayin' , the fearful corruption which runs through every branch of the public service is horrifying to every true patriot ; the blush of shame mantles my cheek when I think of Grant, the President of the United States, lending himself to all kinds of thievery and jobbery, and surrounding himself with a horde of blood-sucking robbers what are draining the very life-blood of the people."
" It's perfectly awful -- I chip," chimed in Robinson, as he neatly disposed of his hand, and got four kings out of his sleeve.
"I pass out," said Smith.
" Just look at Belknap, and Babcock, and Blaine, and the rest of them
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fellows -- I raise you twenty beans," continued Brown, as he deftly got from his sleeve the four aces which were there concealed.
"Yes, and think of Bristow and them mules -- le's see: I call that raise, and go you twenty better," returned Robinson.
" That sizes my pile. Just go back a few years in this Administration, and ponder on the Credit Mobilyer, the back-pay steal, the risin' of the President's salary, and the use of money to carry elections in New York; such things as them were never heard of in Andrew Jackson's time or when the Democrats was in power. I call you -- what have you got?" said Brown.
" I've got pretty nigh an invincible -- here's two little pair of kings," said Robinson, as he laid his hand on the table.
"Oh, I can just rake them -- here's four bullets, 1 said Brown, as he reached for the pot.
" Great snakes! " exclaimed Robinson, " you're a nice pill to be talking about the corruptions of the Administration, ain't you ? If I couldn't play poker honester 'n you, I'd never talk about other folks. You and Mr. Smith continue the game while I go out and rustle some more soap."
Wanted a Puff.
" Throw your eye over that ! " shrieked a voice behind us. And then a chunk of rock was slammed down on the table on which we were writing, just barely missing the "funny-bone" of our arm. Our first thought was that it was one of those fellows come to inquire " who wrote that article," and we were about to reach for our trusty mitrailleuse, when the voice said: "How's that for richness?" and then we knew instinctively that it was a prospector come to display a specimen of a rich find. We picked up the piece of rock, scanned it carefully, and then asked our visitor where it came from. " You can say it's an entirely new deestrick," he replied, " never afore trod by the foot of a white man. I call it the Fortunate William. You see, I go by the name of Lucky Bill ; but that's too common and vulgar-like a name to slap onto a mine." The specimen was composed principally of granite, with here and there a speck of quartz, and looked as if it would assay about six bits a ton. " What do you think she'll go? I asked our visitor, as we concluded our examination of the specimen. We told him we were not a good judge of ore, and could not form an estimate of the value of the rock he exhibited. "Wal," said he, " I am a judge of ore ; I've prospected every camp from Arizony to Montany, and I can jest tell you that that air rock won't go a cent under ten thousand dollars to the ton." Then he told us the location of the district in which his ledge was situated, declared that the vein was a " well-con-
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fined ledge," sixteen feet wide by actual measurement, free-milling ore, wood and water plentiful, and that he honestly believed it to be the second Comstock ; and concluded by requesting us to " give her a h'ist in the paper," as he wanted to "attract the attention of capitalists." Then he unbuttoned his shirt, and, thrusting his hand under the bosom, rummaged around till he found a dilapidated cigar, which he handed to us, saying : " Thar, take that, and set her up as high as your language will go." We declined the cigar, (because it was such a poor one, and mashed besides) saying that we did not expect remuneration for representing to the world the mineral resources of Nevada, and particularly of this section. " All right," he said, as he returned the cigar to the place whence he had taken it ; " but I want you to understand that I ain't one of them ducks what wants editors to puff their mines for nothin' ; thar ain't nothin' mean about me, and if you want the cigar you're welcome to it." We again declined the proffered gift, and he left, after extracting from us a promise that we would " set her up high."
A Sunday-School Story.
" Yes, my boy, to be virtuous is to be happy. It gladdens your old father's heart and causes it to swell with pride when he beholds your name published in the REVEILLE as having attained the maximum figure awarded for deportment in your school. Keep on in the pursuit of knowledge ; refrain from the vile practice of playing hooky; do not allow the example of bad boys to induce you to throw spit-balls at your teacher ; never, never swear ; and you will grow up worthy of the name handed down to you by your Puritan ancestors. Bring me my slippers, my son, and I will hear you recite your lessons, and see what progress you have made."
Johnny stood one hundred in deportment on the last roll of honor of the Austin Public School, which shows that he is a very good boy ; and when he dropped a dozen tacks into his father's slippers, it was done in a fit of abstraction. He had worked out several abstruse mathematical problems on his slate since then, and his mind had been so absorbed that he forgot all about such a trivial matter as a few tacks in his father's slippers. He did not intend to be around when the old man put on the slippers, but the circumstance of the tacks having slipped his memory, he brought and laid them at his father's feet in all the confiding innocence of unsuspecting youth.
"As I was saying, my son Ooch! Owch! Gewhilikens! Thunder'nlightnin ! Hellfire'nbrimstone ! What'nthunder'sthat ! "
"Did you step on a pin, sir?"
" Step on a pin ! I'll pin you, you young rapscallion of thundera-
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 153
tion, you ! Come out here in the wood-shed, and I'll show you what I stepped on."
Then Johnny's father took him out in the wood-shed and talked to him, and the boy in the next house took his fingers out of the jar of jam in the pantry, and remarked, " Jersey District and the Black Hills, ain't he a-catchin' it, though ? " And Johnny remarked that he " wouldn't never do it no more."
Moral -- The fact of a boy's name being on the roll of honor is not a sure sign that he is truly good.
A Toothache Cure.
Night before last, a prominent citizen was awakened from his peaceful slumbers by the pain of a raging tooth, and his sympathizing wife told him to go into the pantry and get some cloves, and put three or four of the spices in the hollow of the tooth. He tried to find the cloves in the dark, but the attempt was attended with unfortunate consequences. He knocked over a pan of dough which had been placed on a chair in the kitchen, and after he got his feet out of the sticky mass and was proceeding to the pantry, he suddenly sat down in a bucket of slops. He is a good-tempered man, but this circumstance ruffled him and wet the nether portion of his night garment. But he was determined to have those cloves. He got to the pantry, and, following his wife's directions, reached for the little crock in the right-hand corner of the third shelf. He was not discouraged because he pulled down a pitcher of yeast and a keg of brine. It is true, these liquids wet his hair and ran down his spinal column ; but he didn't mind that -- he had the crock. Then he reached down into it for those cloves, and his hand went into something soft ; he didn't know whether it was preserves, or mustard, or tar, or jelly, or mud, but it was something very sticky and soft ; and he called in a voice of suppressed emotion for his wife to bring a light. He called pretty loud, as he thought his wife was asleep ; but she answered the call promptly, and when she reached him with the lamp, her remarks were to the effect that he was a nice-looking object. She had not complimented him in many years of their married life, and her words touched him. " Yes," he said sadly, " I'm in a hellofafix."
After getting some of the jelly out of his hair, and the dough scraped off his legs, and thebrine washed out of his eyes, she said she guessed she'd just look for those cloves herself -- "a man couldn't be trusted to do anything." There was not a clove in the house, and when she went back into the bedroom to tell him he had better go to a dentist and have that grinder
154 THE SAZERAC LYING CLUB.
snaked out, he said the bitter experience of that night had cured his toothache.
There is no cure for pain equal to diverting the thoughts with pleasant experiences.
A man who looked as dilapidated as the last rose of last summer went into a Main Street saloon this forenoon, and, with confidence in human nature and himself depicted in his every movement, strutted to the bar and told the gentlemanly dispenser of stimulants to trot out some of his best whisky. The bar-keeper obeyed the order with alacrity. Millionaires in rags are sometimes to be found in a mining country, and the man of bottles and glasses had learned by experience never to despise a man because he wears a ragged coat. The stranger poured out and swallowed a glass of that best whisky. Then he went down into his pocket for a quarter, as the barkeeper and the bystanders supposed. But he didn't bring up anything but a piece of a pocket-handkerchief that looked as if it had spent seven years in the coal-bins at one of the Eureka smelting furnaces. Wiping his mouth and eyes with the rag, he drew a deep sigh, and said to the mixer of drinks :
"Have you heard about this terrible war in Europe?"
" Oh, that's too thin," replied the barkeeper, " hand out a quarter for that whisky, you old fraud."
" Patience, patience, my friend," he said, " can you tell me why I am like the barbarian Turk when he gets a Russian soldier in his power ? "
" No, I can't," snapped the exasperated purveyor of liquors.
" Well, I'll tell you. It's because I show no quarter."
The barkeeper reached under the counter for his trusty six-shooter ; but ere he could bring it to bear, the man who showed no quarter had vanished like the baseless fabric of a vision.
The War and Poker.
The hands were running small, and interest in the game was flagging, and a discussion on the Russo-Turkish war relieved the tedium of " ace- high " and single pairs, varied as occasion required by the utterance by the players of the technical terms of the game. It was Smith's deal, and as he dealt the cards from the pack he remarked that it was wonderful how the Turks had held their own at Plevna.
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 155
"Yes," said Brown, who was "next the dealer," "them Turks is fighters from the ground up ; I Chipka."
"And I pass," observed Jones, who was next in say.
" Speaking of Chipka Pass," observed Tompkins, who was last in say, " it did seem at first as if the Russians was goin to warm the Turks thar ; but you see the Turks was on their own dunghill, and that give 'em a big advantage. I have my redoubts about this hand, but will call you, and raise you five."
" I Pasha out," said Smith, as he threw his cards on the table.
The discussion was now narrowed down to Brown and Tompkins. Then the dealer asked Brown how many he would take, and he said be- Kars it was Tompkins, he wouldn't be mean, and would take one ; and when he was helped, Tompkins asked the dealer to reinforce his hand with four cards. Then Brown called up his reserves, and moved on the pot with five beans, and Tompkins remarked that he would raise the siege twenty.
"Ain't you Russian it?" asked Tompkins, as he put up the twenty, and raised Brown the size of his pile. Brown rallied, and met the charge, and then they showed down their hands ; and Tompkins had two pair of deuces, and Brown likewise had two pair, aces at the head, and when Tompkins took the pot prisoner Brown said he would have to go into winter quarters, cause he was " froze out."
" Suppose," he said to the bar-keeper, " suppose you had four hundred and twelve dollars twelve and a half cents, and, holding the position you do, drawing a stated salary and having free access to the money-drawer, you would have just the amount of idle capital represented by them figgers, wouldn't you ? Now when a man has idle capital what does he do with it ? Why, he invests it where it will earn something for itself, don't he ? Now, in casting about for some place to put it where it will do the most good, he naturally lights on a savings bank, as being something combining safety with profit, and he walks up to the cashier, planks down his soap and says, Give me a bank-book ! And he walks out, feeling that his idle capital is in a safe place and no longer idle, but producing something. Now this is what you would do with that supposable four hundred and twelve dollars and a half but being a bar-keeper you might invest it in a diamond pin, but we're supposing you don't want your capital to remain idle and the next morning you wake up and come down town and pick up the newspaper, and the first thing that strikes your eye is that your savings bank's busted, and the President's gone on a pleasure trip to the
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Sandwich Islands, and you're a ruined community. Now, the natural result of all this is that you're a victim of misplaced confidence, ain't it ! "
While the harangue detailed above was being delivered, the bar keeper stood pensively turning a towel around the inside of a glass, and answered never a word until the last question was put ; when he set down the glass on the bar, gave it a twirl with his fingers, and, looking the customer straight in the eye, said :
"My friend, you needn't unreel any more of that rope; I might as well tell you right here that if you expect to spar me out of a drink on that kind of lip, you're the worst victim of misplaced confidence between here and the north pole."
" I might a knowed it ; sweetness wasted on the desert air," was all the impecunious one said, as he turned sadly away and started out to " try the next house."
The Biggest Man in the State.
At a store in town, yesterday, a large lot of goods, consisting principally of heavy groceries, was being delivered on the sidewalk from a freight wagon, when a strapping young fellow, about six feet in height and muscled in proportion, came along and asked if they wanted help. The clerk, who was superintending the unloading, is rather a light-waisted looking individual -- delicate looking, in fact but has had considerable experience in handling groceries, and has got a knack of chucking around sacks of flour and barrels of sugar with a perfect looseness.
" Are you pretty stout ? " said he to the applicant for work.
" Stout! I'm the biggest man in the State -- why jest look at me ! "
" Yes, you look pretty stout," replied the clerk, " but you ll have to work with me. "
" Work with you ! " said the biggest man, and he curled his upper lip, and cast a glance of withering scorn at the slim proportions of the clerk, "work with you! Jest peel yourself and start in, till you see how quick I'll wear you out."
They went to work, and the way that clerk slung bags and boxes up to the eighth and ninth tiers, and kept the store truck on a keen jump, was a sight for sore eyes. The biggest man in the State weakened early in the action, and, with the perspiration pouring in streams from his brow, sat down on a ham and watched the clerk as he tossed things right and left.
"What's the matter?" said the clerk, "I hope you ain't tired already; I'm only a delicate, sickly sort of a cuss, and I ain't tired yet."
" Sick be damn'd ! " retorted the biggest man, " you're nuthin more nor less than a donkey engine. I can hold my own agi'n muscle ; but I'll be dog-goned if I can stand off steam."
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" Young man," said the clerk, in solemn tones, " remember that the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong ; and never again go around blowing that you're the biggest man in the State."
A Cure for Hiccoughs.
A young gentleman who attends the Austin public school had been told that a sudden shock or fright would cure the hiccoughs, and the other evening, while he was studying his lesson for the morrow by drawing a picture of the schoolmarmon his slate, his respected progenitor was seized with a fit of hiccoughs. The old gentleman was tilted back in his chair, with his feet resting on the top of the stove, and the young hopeful concluded to try the cure on him. Just as the old man was " rastling " with a heart-breaking hic, the boy jumped up and yelled " Fire ! " The old man was just getting out " cuh cuh ! " but he never got it out. He gave a jump which tilted over the chair, and in endeavoring to regain his lost equilibrium his feet flew up against a table, upsetting it and a student lamp which stood on it, and his head landed in the ashes on the stove hearth. The old lady, hearing the racket, came running in from the kitchen, and tripped over the old man's prostrate form, knocking down a what-not with a lot of glass and China ornaments. When that boy's father arose from the wreck, and shook the ashes and splinters of glass out of his hair and clothes, he was cured of the hiccoughs, but there was a look of sternness in his eye ; the boy says he knows it was a " stern " look -- feelingly " stern," as he can testify. He says fright is a splendid cure for the " hiccups " ; but that the " stern " look it occasions is three hundred thousand times worse than the " hiccups." He can't play tag now, as he says his mother has forbidden him, and he sits on the edge of the seat at school, and lies on his front when in bed, and silently murmurs that the old man can hiccup his consarned old head off before he will ever again try to cure him.
Reader, did you ever stop to mentally analyze the constituents of pork sausage ; or when that article has been set before you, crisp and smoking from the frying-pan, have you trusted to luck and the theory that " where ignorance is bliss, 'twere folly to be wise " ? Has it ever occurred to you that just about the time pork sausage begins to ripen, somebody's dog is missing? These are thoughts which should commend themselves
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to all, and questions which every head of a family should propound to himself about this time ; for pork sausage is in season. We know of no sure test to detect the presence of dog in sausage. One of the oldest expedients is to whistle to the sausage, and if it tries to wag itself, there is dog in it. But if the dog has been put into the sausage-cutter tail first, the vitality of that member has been affected, and the test won't work. Some persons rely on the presence of hair in the sausage as a means of detection ; but this is merely circumstantial evidence, and therefore entitled to but little weight. The most approved method of determining the exact constituents is laid down by Dr. Doggonimoff, chief surgeon of the Russian army in Bulgaria, in the following formula : Set a frying-pan on a hot fire and lay the sausage gently in it ; then prod each link suddenly with a fork to see if it will emit any bark. Let them fry till done brown, then dish up and cram them down your mother-in-law's throat, and if you have any in excess of her carrying capacity take them to some deep mining shaft and dump them in. If, when they strike the bottom, a yelp is heard, as if somebody had trod on a dog's tail, then there is canine in them, and the test has worked to a charm.
Why They Quit.
A certain gentleman of this city has long been paying attention to a young lady, the daughter of a well-to-do rancher in one of the adjacent valleys ; and his feelings were fully reciprocated by the lady, as she has frequently informed several of her. lady acquaintances that she felt " a little sweet on Jim."
The other day, Jim paid a visit to the ranch where his Dulcinea abideth, in accordance with an invitation to " come over and stop a few days." The roads were very muddy, and when our hero arrived at the ranch he looked like the last remnants of a cloud-burst. The lady sympathized with the woe-begone appearance of her admirer, feeling flattered that he should endure all this for her sake, and exerted herself to her utmost to make him comfortable, preparing an excellent supper, and giving up her own apartment, so that he might rest comfortably after the fatigues of the day. In the morning, before Jim was astir, the young lady requested the hired man to go into the room and get Jim's boots, and scrape off the mud, and make them look presentable against he should be ready to arise. The hired man did as directed, and brought what he supposed to be the boots into the kitchen, where the lady was preparing breakfast. Noticing a peculiar odor, the lady glanced at the man, when, horror! he was blacking -- not Jim's boots, but his socks. She ordered the man to return the pedal envelopes to the room, and sprinkled chloride of lime all over the house ; and
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when Jim arose he commenced to intently examine the thermometer, and wonder what had caused the weather to turn cold so suddenly. He ate his breakfast without appetite, saddled his horse, and came to town ; and now he says he don't go a cent on a girl whose warmth of affection is up to ninety-eight degrees at night and falls to zero in the morning.
Two men were shoveling snow from the roof ; they were absorbed in their work, and did not notice the people who passed over the sidewalk on which they were throwing the snow. First came along a little girl ; she tripped along gayly, humming to herself the words of that beautiful song, " Oh, how I love my teacher." Just as she got to " Oh, how I love my -- gracious ! " two shovelfuls of snow came kerchunk on her innocent head, and she sputtered and spit, and thought there was a snow-slide. Then there approached a lady fair. She was tied back and had overshoes on, and was saying to herself : " Twenty yards for the dress; fourteen for the overskirt ; six dozen buttons -- eight and eight's sixteen, and nine's thirty- three – no -- le's see -- Owch ! " A bushel or so of snow had been emptied down her back, and she wriggled and squirmed as though an army of fleas was making a forced march down her spine, and hurried home to change her clothes. The next was a pillar of the church -- a God-fearing man, who never allows his lips to utter guile. He got a shovelful of snow square in the face, but he only rolled his eyes heavenward, and remarked something about the place of future punishment, and uttered the name of his Saviour. Three or four small boys were buried up by the snow which descended from the roof by the shovelful, but that little matter is hardly worthy of mention. They will probably be found when the big thaw comes.
She was fixed up in her prettiest, and had just started out to make her calls, determined to let her lady friends know that other people could wear new bonnets as well as themselves. The man who was going to wet down the street with the hose turned on the water just as she passed his store. For a moment she did not know whether it was a cloud-burst or the second deluge; but when the man humbly said, "Excuse me, madam," her emotion found vent in words. " Excuse you ! " she said. " Yes, I'll excuse you when you go down in your clothes and bring up seventeen dollars for a new bonnet ; when you pay four dollars for this dress ; when you yield up eleven dollars and a quarter for this polonaise ; when it ceases raining down my spinal column; when you purchase me a box of bronchial
160 THE SAZERAC LYING CLUB.
troches and a bottle of cherry pectoral and six patent mustard-plasters ; when you recognize my claim to nine dollars damages for injury to my best and holiest feelings, then I'll excuse you." The man told her to make out a bill of items and he would settle it, if he had to sue her husband for his store bill to raise the money.
The price of fresh oysters in Austin is twelve and a half cents each. They were out walking, and she remarked that she had observed in the REVEILLE that there were fresh oysters in town.
" Do you read the papers carefully, my dear ? " he asked.
She said she read all the fashion news, and all the murders, and the recipes for making cup custard and "floating-island," and the divorce cases; but she would just like to know what all that had to do with oysters.
" Well, you see, my dear," said he, " there's a terrible contagion broke out among the oysters, and the newspapers are advising people not to eat them ; it appears that the bivalvular structure of the animal's diaphragm has become affected by a species of parasitical conglomeration, which, reacting on the vitality of the muscular forces of the alimentary canal, produces a paralysis of the oyster's nervous and digestive functions to such an extent as to render it unfit for human food."
She said he was the best husband in the world to be so careful of her health, and she would go home and tackle the cold pork and cabbage left from dinner, as she felt rather faint. He saw her home, and then went to the restaurant and had two dozen raw and a bottle of ale ; and as he planked the money on the counter in payment therefor, he remarked that fresh oysters were a necessary luxury, but it was like swallowing silver coin to eat them.
A respectable-looking old gentleman, just arrived from the Eastern States, was around town to-day, trying to find a man named Smith. There are several members of the Smith family in Austin, so the old gentleman experienced some difficulty in finding the exact Smith he wanted, and we are not positive that he has found him yet. Probably possessed of the somewhat prevalent idea that boys know everything, the old gentleman accosted one, and addressing him as "my son," asked him if he knew anybody in this town by the name of Smith.
"Smith?" said the boy, "which Smith do you want? Le's see there's Big Smith and Little Smith, Three-fingered Smith, Bottle-nose
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Smith, Cockeye Smith, Six-toed Smith, San Joaquin Smith, Lying Smith, Mushhead Smith, Jumping Smith, Cherokee Smith, One-legged Smith, Fighting Smith, Red-headed Smith, Sugar-foot Smith, Bow-legged Smith, Squaw Smith, Drunken Smith, El Dorado Smith, Hungry Smith, and I don't know but maybe one or two more."
"My son," said the gentleman, "the Smith I am in search of possesses to his name none of the heathenish prefixes you have mentioned. His name is simply John Smith."
" All them fellows is named John," screeched the boy, as he drew his six-shooter and ran to the other side of the street to get a good shot at a passing Chinaman.
The old gentleman mused for a moment, and then walked into a blacksmith shop and asked to see a city directory.
He was seedy and battered, and he looked " powerful " dry. He entered a Main Street saloon, and approaching the bar, said to the barkeeper :
" It's a good ticket, ain't it ? "
"First rate," replied the bar-keeper.
" You betcher life, them's my men ; Hayes 'n' Wheeler for me. Rah for Hayes 'n' Wheeler! Set out some o' yer 'Publican whisky, barkeep! "
"My friend," replied the bar-keeper, "you're a little off; this is a Democratic house."
" Thunder ! " exclaimed the soaker ; " the Dimmycrats ain't got nobody to holler fur yit, and I'm as dry as a powder-horn, and not a cent twixt me and eternity."
" My friend," said the obliging barkeeper, " while differing with you in politics, I cannot resist your appeal -- help yourself to some of this"; and he set out a glass, and the bottle of lightning kept for the special use of "stiffs." The "stiff" poured out a glassful of the stuff, and emptied it into his throat; and when he got through coughing, and wiping his eyes on his coat-sleeve, said :
" I ain't got no money ; but if I was the Comstock ledge, I d bet my self ag'in a Lander Hill razor-blade that them, durned Black Republicans don't git away with the ensooin election."
An old lady of this city, whose daughter reads a great many dime novels, hearing some person conversing about the Centennial, said her Maria ought to know all about it, for she " just keeps the whole family busted buying them Tencent-ial novels."
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By a sort of freemasonry existing between natives of Missouri, they recognize each other as being from the same country " back thar." One of them came across the plains in forty-nine ; and the other is a grasshopper sufferer, and has just got through the blockade on the railroad ; but they know the same Jim Joneses, and Sal Smiths, and Nate Thompsons, and Si Perkinses, and Marier Tompkinses, and other Mary Annses, and Bills, and Jacks, and Sols, and Hi's. It was nine o'clock last night when they sat down by the stove in one of the principal saloons, and at two o'clock this afternoon they were still telling how Jim Jones married Mary Ann Perkins and had a whole raft of young uns, and how Jim "tu'k to drink," and stole horses, and died with snakes in his boots; and how Squar' Thompson he found a lead hill on his farm and sent his boys and girls to " collidge " ; and Marier this ran away with Bill that, and divers and sundry similar reminiscences. In vain the bar-keeper carried them glasses of water ; in vain were pictures of coffins held up to their gaze -- in vain spectators muttered that the worst death in the world is to be talked to death. They are still at it, and it is expected that by to-morrow morning the forty-niner will be found cold in death, with the grasshopper sufferer, prostrate and dying, whispering in the ear of the corpse.
The talking match mentioned in Saturday's paper continued until yesterday morning, when it was brought to an end by the merciful interposition of outsiders. The forty-niner fainted twice during the night, but was restored to consciousness by his head falling against the hot stove. The grasshopper sufferer never showed the least sign of weakness, and when the forty-niner was dragged off by force, the sufferer was muttering, * An' Si Wallace he got killed in the war, and Bill Pearce married the widder, and the oldest gal she run away with _______" but two stout men seized and held him, while several others bore the forty-niner from the scene.
A prominent citizen, as he calmly watched his hat wafted toward Emigrant Canon by the zephyrs, this afternoon, remarked :
" Thar goes my wife's new bunnit ! *
" Why, that ain't a bonnet," remarked a bystander.
"The blazes it ain't!" replied the citizen, "d' ye s'pose I'm a Rosschild and can buy my wife a bunnit and myself a hat both in the same month, and it two weeks to pay-day, yit ? "
It is evident that some woman in town won't get any new bonnet till pay-day.
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It is a well-known fact that caterpillars are numerous -- so numerous, in fact, that they are everywhere. They invade houses, crawl into the frying- pan and teakettle, play tag on the piano-cover, have games of hide and seek in gentlemen's pants, and run races on ladies striped stockings, taking a stripe for a race-course. Last evening he called on her. They sat on the porch and drank in the beauties of the gorgeous sunset. Their souls were in the far away, and she was saying how she wished to be transformed into a butterfly, to fly through ethereal space and bathe her wings in the golden-tinged moisture of yonder cloud. They might have sat thus in the gloaming, engaged in sweet converse, until the shadows of night darkened the earth, and none can tell how much romantic thought she would have spoken, had not their conversation been brought to an abrupt termination by her feeling something crawling up her leg. She made a wild grab at the costly merchandise which concealed her beauteous limbs ; and then, in tones of agony, exclaimed : " It's smashed ! " It was only a caterpillar, but she had to go in the house and wash her hands and put on a clean pair of stockings ; and the young man went home, more in sorrow than in anger, and wondered why a girl should think a butterfly such a beautiful object, and yet get sick and scared at the flattened body of a butterfly without wings.
The publisher of the National Protestant, a religious paper published in New York, has heard of the editor of the REVEILLE. He knows we are a Christian, and ever ready to lend a helping hand to the cause of religion. If he were not aware of this, he would not have made the very modest request embodied in a postal-card which we received from him this morning. He requests us to subscribe to his paper, canvass the town and rustle up other subscribers, and furnish his paper with contributions from our " able pen." The remuneration which we are to receive for these services is the reward of an approving conscience. We should like to oblige the publisher of the Protestant, but we are engaged in other work at present ; we are bending our energies to the propagation of the Gospel among the Shoshones, and are endeavoring to organize a tract society, and are devoting our fortune to the purchase of grub and clothes, so that we have neither time nor money to spare for the National Protestant.
To show the power of mind over matter no stronger argument is needed than that which we heard advanced by a boy this morning. Said he to another boy: "You needn't be puttin' on no airs if yer is got a boughten sled ; I'm in the third reader and you can't spell cat without spellin' of it with a " k. "
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The " Colonel " was warming his coat-tails by the stove at the Sazerac. his nose bore evidence of successful culture, and glowed with that rich ruby hue which only a steady and prolonged worship at the shrine of Bacchus can produce. There was a " dry " look about the corners of his mouth, which was readily noticed by the sympathizing bar-keeper, who good-naturedly asked the Colonel if he would not take a little stimulant.
" Certainly, certainly, sir," he replied promptly, as he briskly stepped up to the bar. Pouring out a tumbler level full of the fluid, he tossed it off, and as soon as he could regain his breath, assumed a deprecatory tone and thus addressed the bar-keeper :
" This, sir, is my sixty-fourth drink to-day. I must put on the brakes, or the first thing I know I shall degenerate into excess. Moderation, sir, moderation, the grand secret of health, has been the rule of my life. If I had but one more drink at this moment, Richard would be himself again."
The subsequent remarks of the bar-keeper indicated that, for all he cared, Richard might remain impersonal till the day of judgment.
His complexion denoted him a full-blooded member of the race that inhabit that section of God's footstool " where Afric's sunny fountains roll down their golden sands," and the rest of his tout ensemble was that of an overloaded pack-mule. On his back a bundle of blankets, surmounted by two pairs of boots ; slung in front of him, a huge bundle ; on one side a carpet-sack and a frying-pan ; on the other a valise and a coffee-pot ; in his right hand a stick, and in his left a basket. Halting in front of the court house, he hailed a man sitting on the stoop of that building, and said : " Say, boss, which am de best hotel in dis hyar town ? " The person addressed told him that the International was reputed to be the best house of entertainment in Austin. With a grin that opened a cavern in his face, and made it look as if his head was splitting in two in the middle, the overladen man and brother resumed his line of march, saying, as he stepped forward : " Yer see, boss, I ain't 'bliged ter 'pend on dese hyar hotels ; if der commodations don't suit dis hyar chile, I travels so's I can organize myself inter a fust-class hotel at a moment's notice, wid an elevator, hot and cold water in every room, barber shop in de basement, and all de modern improvements."
A diminutive chap, about four years of age, walked into Sower's store, this morning, and inquired for a sled. A bystander asked him what he wanted with a sled, telling him there would be no snow this winter.
"How do you know?" asked the youngster, "you ain't God."
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 165
" What's the news up your way ? " asked a down-town woman of an Upper Austin woman in a Main Street store to-day.
" Oh, not a thing in the world," replied the one questioned ; "you see, we're awful quiet, peaceable people up our way, and of course I stay to home so much I don't know what's going on, anyhow, 'cause I have so much to do to tend to my children, and the sewing, and washing, and cooking ; but they do say that Mrs. Bustem has got a brand-new silk dress, and nobody knows how she got it, and her husband only a common chlorider, and hasn't had a crushing in four months, and his last rock didn't pay for milling ; and that Mrs. Gabble and Mrs. Tattle has had the worst kind of a fight, and when Mrs. Tattle made a grab at Mrs. Gabble's hair it was false, and all came out, and two-thirds of it was jute; and Mr. Squeezem chucked his wife out of doors 'cause she lammed the servant girl for letting him kiss her in the wood- shed ; and that Mr. Sinchem drew a six-sbooter on Mr. Bilkem for saying his wife said that his wife couldn't have no new bonnet this fall, cause her husband was poorer than Job's turkey, and couldn't pay ninety cents on the dollar if his creditors was to come down on him to-morrow and sell him out at forced sale. Oh, I tell you, we're awful peaceable people up our way ; only it's tedious living in a neighborhood where there ain't nothing going on."
In the REVEILLE reporter's wanderings about town last night, he heard a lady talking across the street to a neighbor, thus deliver herself on the subject of scandal :
" Of all the things I do hate in this world, it's a scandalizing woman. Now there's Mrs. Jingletongue, that everybody knows isn't a bit better than she ought to be, and whose two daughters cut up so shameful that no decent woman ought to speak to them, and whose husband gets drunk, and they do say he owes for the grenadine she puts on so many airs in over her betters. If I was to say mean things about people like she does, I would pull my tongue out by the roots, the nasty, scandalizing, stuck-up old cat."
A miner working in one of the mines of Lander Hill bought a new bedstead, the other day. His wife set it up in the bedroom, and the miner and the partner of his joys and sorrows occupied it last night for the first time. During the night he dreamed he was working in a drift, when suddenly he heard a timber snap. Looking up, he saw that the mine was caving in, and almost certain death staring him in the face. His only hope was to reach the shaft. Fear lent speed to his footsteps, and he
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reached the shaft in safety. Horror ! the cage was not there ! Behind him he heard the snapping of timbers and the rumble of great masses of falling earth and rocks, every second approaching nearer. If he could but ring down the cage he was safe, and grasping the bell-wire he gave a desperate pull. There was a piercing scream, a snapping and crashing and rumbling, and he felt himself going down, down till he stopped. The slats of the new bedstead had broken.
" Am I dead ? " asked the miner, hardly awake and conscious.
" I wish you were," said his wife, " you've pulled out every bit of hair I had in the world, and I'll have to go through life bald-headed ; for false hair is going out of fashion, and besides it's almost impossible to get a shade to match."
A prospector passed up Main Street this forenoon, and halted his outfit at the watering-trough in front of the REVEILLE office. Said outfit consisted of a little two-wheeled cart -- the body of the cart being composed of rough pine boards and a pony about as big as an ordinary sized jack- rabbit. At the end of the cart hung a blackened tin coffee-pot and a battered tin pail, and piled in the box were blankets, picks, shovels, and grub, the whole affair betokening that it was a prospector's. Approaching the owner of the horse and cart, we asked :
"Don't know," he replied, sententiously.
" Where are you from ? "
"Over yonder," he replied, pointing his finger toward the direction of Washoe County.
"Prospecting?" we asked.
" 'Spect so," he replied. Then glancing up at the sign in front of the REVEILLE office, he remarked :
"I d just like to see the shape of one of you newspaper fellers that could pump my true-inwardness dry."
We gave him up.
Some little girls were playing tag on Court Street last evening, when one of them, who had been "tagged" seven times in succession, got tired, and proposed to change and play house.
"What kind of house will we play?" asked another.
" Oh, play calling," replied the first speaker. " Mary, here, she can be Mrs. Brown, and set on the step, and me and Julia will call on her, and ask her how she is, and how her husband is, and if baby's got over the mea-
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sles, and tell her how nice she looks in her new wrapper, and hope it won't hurt her much when she has that tooth filled. And then we ll say, Good bye, Mrs. Brown ; come and see us some time or other, and bring the children and your sewing; and you're such a stranger, we don't see half enough of you. And then me and Julia, we'll curtsey, and walk off a piece, and I'll say to Julia, Did you ever see such a horrid old fright as she looks in that wrapper ?' and then Julia, she ll say, ' The idear of anybody having false teeth filled !' and then I'll say, 'Yes, and what a homely lot of dirty little children them young ones of her'n is.' Let's play it ; what do you say ? "
There was unanimous consent, and the play went on.
A man sat for an hour and a half in a Main Street saloon this morning, without saying a word to anybody, and then he arose, faced the bar keeper, spread his arms, struck an attitude, and said :
" Peace, white-robed Peace, again spreads her wings over distracted Eu--- "
But the bar-keeper interrupted him, and said :
" P. U. or S. U. ! You got a drink on the Silver Bill day before yesterday, played the Chinese question on me yesterday, want to ring in Peace in Europe to-day, and the chances are that to-morrow you'll be trying me on a disquisition on the non-existence of a material Hell. But it won't do ; I won't have it. More coin and less hyperbole is my motto from this on."
And then the man went into a corner and ruminated, and after a while he stealthily approached the bar-keeper, and whispered in his ear :
"P. U. or S. U. means put up or shut up, don't it ? "
" You couldn't have hit it nearer if you had guessed for a thousand years," said the barkeeper.
And then the man said this was a cruel and unfeeling world, where one's best and holiest feelings were trifled with to an extent that rendered life hardly worth the living.
We are in receipt from a friend in Virginia of a novel French contrivance, called the " Centennial Telegraph." It consists of two tin tubes, with one end covered with parchment, to which is secured a string connecting the two tubes. It is operated by one person placing the open end of one of the tubes close against his or her ear, and the party at the other end of the string places the open end of the other tube to his or her
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mouth, and whispers such words as are desired to be communicated to the party at the other end of the line. While the persons operating can distinctly hear and understand all that passes over the line, nobody else can hear a word that is said. The string which forms the telegraph line is about fifty feet in length, but can be shortened at will. This is a very useful invention, and supplies a want long felt by hen conventions and ladies sewing circles. By its means two ladies can sit in opposite corners of a room which is filled with company, and exchange their sentiments about the other women present, without those who are being talked about having the least idea of what is going on. It is a great improvement on whispering, which is often in danger of being overheard. It will also be found useful as a means of communication between husbands and servant girls.
We were sitting where we could watch all his movements. He came up the street with an unsteady gait, his legs now and again acting contrary, one foot trying hard to cross the path of the other. At last he reached a railing that stood by an open cellar-way, and here was a haven of rest for his weary and Fourth-of-July-racked soul. He grasped the railing to steady himself ; then gradually his head sunk down on the rail, and there was a bending of the knee-joints. Slowly, carefully, he slid down the cellar stairs ; the bottom step was reached ; one long drawn sigh, ending in a deep bass snore, and, away from the gaze of men and the City Marshal, the tired soul was at rest a rest so perfect that all the firecrackers on earth could not have recalled him to the scenes of unrest of the day after the Fourth. He was there this morning, lying on his back, with the bright sun shining on his upturned face, and several blue-bottle flies sipping the sweetness from his parted lips. Reader, that man was once a little boy, and went fishing on Sunday, and robbed orchards and birds nests, just like many and many another innocent boy; and had it not been for the demon of whisky, he might have grown up to be a member of the Legislature.
A tall, gaunt-looking individual, who at first and last glance would be taken to belong to the noble brotherhood of bull-punchers, walked up to the bar in a Main Street saloon, this forenoon, and laying down a smooth quarter, called for whisky. The bar-keeper set out the bottle, and the customer, crossing his legs, placing the forefinger of his left hand firmly on his coin, and grasping the neck of the bottle with his right hand, asked :
"Is this here stuff strained?"
"Strained!" said the bar-keeper, with an astonished look, "strained of what?"
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 169
"Look a here, mister," returned the ox-manager, "I ve got an ajid mother back in Missoury ; I cum out here to make a stake for the old gal, and I hain't got it yit. Besides, I was brought up relijus, and my old marm told me never to die till I was perpared to face the music. I ain't perpared to die ; and what I want to know is, if the snakes is strained out of them air whisky."
The bar-keeper assured him that the snakes were strained out, and he poured the glass level full and threw down the liquid as if it was mother's milk.
Now that the ground is covered with snow, the boy and his sled are as inseparable as a young lady and her newest beau. If the baby swallows concentrated lye, or runs a clothes-pin up its nose, and Johnny's mother says, " Run, quick, Johnny, and bring the doctor before that clothes-pin gets into the baby's brain," he has to drag his sled out of the woodshed and slide on it to the doctor's office ; and if he should get spilled over a bank and delayed, the baby is liable to die before the doctor can reach it. If there is company at dinner, and it is suddenly discovered that " there ain't a bit of butter in the house," and Tommy is dispatched to the store to get some, with an injunction to " hurry up," he must, of course, haul it home on his sled ; and if he happens to meet another boy he is sure to have a race, in the excitement of which he forgets all about the butter, and either comes home with it distributed on the seat of his pants, or it has slid off the sled into the snow. Of course, Johnny or Tommy gets licked for these little misfortunes ; but the licking diminishes not his love for his sled, which is part of himself so long as the snow stays on the ground.
Music, besides having power to soothe the savage breast, has the quality to make a sleepy man get up and howl, and wish he was deaf. For instance : Last night the air was just running over with music. Piano, violin, French horn, guitar, Chinese fiddle, flute, Chinese bagpipes, accordeon, violoncello, hand-organ, toot-horn, musical box, bass-drum, and harmonica, and vocal renditions of "Pull down the Blind," "Hear me, Norma," "The Piute Death-Song," [by the Medicine Man] "Lannigan's Ball," the "Slave's Lament," "I wish she was my Mother-in-Law," operatic selections, and " Old Dog Tray," all being banged, and scraped, and pounded, and ground, and tooted, and howled simultaneously, and shedding harmony on the air thicker than the buzzing of flies round a fat infant. The acoustic properties of the canon in which this town is built are such that sound is carried to a great distance very distinctly ; and a man lying in his bunk in his
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cabin on the summit of Lander Hill could take in every note of the grand musical combination in question. Too much music hath charms to make a man savage.
He caught pedro a good many times during the night, and was a " little off " when he got home ; but he felt good he felt poetical. As he entered the bed-room some familiar lines came into his head, and on the impulse he commenced to recite. Said he :
" Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, some boundless contiguity of ---"
At this point he was interrupted by his wife, who remarked :
" I should think you belong to lodges enough ; here you are a Mason, and an Odd Fellow, and a Knight of Pythias, and a Red Man, and an Ancient Hibernian, and a Pioneer, and an Irish-American, and a Fireman, and if you join any more lodges there won't be nights enough in the week to go around. And riding them goats, and climbing them greased poles, and sleeping in them coffins unsettles your nerves, and you come home excited every blessed night."
He thought he was getting off pretty easy, and promised her he would not join any more lodges.
County Assessor Spires discovered a mouse in his office in the court house, yesterday. Instead of getting up on top of his high desk-stool and gathering his skirts about his ankles and screaming, he took down the assessment-roll and let it drop on the mouse. As this was only a one- hundred-and-forty-two quire book, it merely stunned the animal ; and as it lay on the floor unconscious, he pounded it on the head with the bullion- tax book and Vol. 1 of the Compiled Laws. Then he went out and got a broom and shovel to remove the corpse, and just got back to the office in time to see the mouse's tail disappearing in a hole in the base-board. The remarks addressed to the retreating mouse can be found in almost any orthodox prayer-book, but not connected in the exact sequence in which Spires framed the words.
A gentleman having charge of a mine in this vicinity recently invited a friend to visit and inspect the mine. They descended the shaft and passed through various workings, the superintendent explaining matters as they went along, till they came to the bonanza of the mine.
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" Here, you see," said the superintendent, " is where we first struck it. We run that cross-cut from yonder drift through solid granite, without a streak of quartz, as you saw ; then we encountered a small seam of vein-matter, and sunk that little winze ; here we are ; now look ; here's the foot-wall ; there's the hanging-wall, and here we have our ore. The streak's kind of narrow right here, but we ll go up this chute in a minute, and ---- "
He thought his friend was listening very intently, and was surprised that a stranger to mining matters should take such a deep interest ; for during the entire explanation the friend had not said a word. Turning around, he saw that his friend was not with him ; and retracing his steps to look for him, he found him stretched out on the bottom of a drift, fast asleep, and snoring the tune of Old Hundred, as if he were practicing for the bass in the opening chorus at the Centennial.
There is no doubt that the Germans, as a class, are a very enterprising people. In most cases they come to this country poor, and by dint of hard work, perseverance, and economy, establish themselves in business, which with good management gradually expands, till in the course of a few years they are wealthy and influential citizens. As their wealth increases, they engage in new and more extensive enterprises, always using their capital to advantage, and making every dollar of it count. We are reminded of this by the fact that a German gentleman of this city, who was born in the region of the historical Black Forest, and who came to Austin poor, and by industry and economy has accumulated as much as three hundred dollars, is about to return to the land of his birth, with the intention of purchasing the Black Forest and opening a lager-beer garden therein. We do not care to mention names in this connection, as it is advisable that Bismarck and Bill Three should not be made aware of the gentleman's intention till the purchase is completed.
Before they were married he used to tell her that she was the sunshine of his life, the one bright star of his existence. The scene shifts. They are married. The sunshine of his life and the bright star of his existence leaves a pail of water standing in the middle of the kitchen floor. Tableau : All is dark in the kitchen ; he moves cautiously, to avoid contact with the stove; a wild crash, as of a bursting torrent; he staggers to his feet, rubs his shin, groans, and utters some Scripture quotations. A flash of light breaks upon the scene ; she comes, clad in robes of white, and bearing a candle. She speaks :
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" You ornery old fool, you ll catch your death of cold standing there, as wet as a dish-rag."
The sunshine of his life has gone out, the bright star of his existence has faded, and he mournfully asks :
" Was there ever a woman that had as much sense as a yaller dog ? "
Curtain falls, while he puts on dry clothes and anoints his shins.
A little boy who lives in this city spent a few weeks on a ranch last summer, where he witnessed the branding of a number of cattle. The operation seems to have greatly impressed him, and he has been continually talking about it ever since his return from the ranch. A few days since his mother smelt something. The odor seemed to come from the kitchen, and on entering that department of the domestic economy, she beheld her beloved son engaged in the operation of branding the family cat with the kitchen poker. He had the cat securely tied, and with the red-hot poker was endeavoring to trace his full name on its body. Had he not been interrupted but been allowed to carry out his original design, the name would have gone clear around the cat, longitudinally, and its hide would have been pretty much all brand. The lady released the cat from the torture, and took her hopeful son into a bed-room to talk to him about the wickedness of cruelty to dumb animals ; and when she got through with him he thought he had been branded, and wondered whether the cat wished it had a soft pillow on its chair, like he did.
A prominent citizen of Austin, who is suffering with a severe cold, was advised to put a mustard plaster on his breast. He was not much posted on mustard plasters, but he knows a good deal more about the properties of mustard now than he used to. He bought a bottle of mustard, mixed the contents with water, spread the mixture on a pocket-handkerchief, got into bed, and laid the plaster on his breast. In a few moments he fell asleep and slept soundly for a couple of hours, when his slumbers were disturbed with horrid dreams of fires and coal-oil explosions. He dreamed that while kindling a fire with coal-oil, the can exploded and set fire to his breast, and in the midst of his agony he woke up to find that it wasn't only a dream -- there was considerable reality about it. He made a wild grab at the plaster, and flung it across the room ; and yesterday he was going around with his spine arched up like a Reese River cow's in a snow-storm, so as to keep his undershirt from rubbing against his breast, and ever and anon he was heard to mutter, " Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth."
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There can be no doubt that the exhortations of Moody and Sankey are extremely powerful, and that the means used by them for the conversion of sinners are effectual; for they have actually converted a bull- whacker. The convert is a man who drove an ox-team in this section for many years, who has just returned from a visit to his friends in the East, having left this place last fall for that purpose. We met him on the street this morning, and among other sights which he related having seen, he mentioned Moody and Sankey.
"Did they convert you?" we asked, jokingly, not for a moment supposing that a bullwhacker could be converted.
" You bet your life they did," he replied. " When first I went to hear them I went for the fun of the thing, but when I heard the preaching and singing it made an impression on me ; I began to consider that I had a soul to save ; I went every day to hear them, and before three days had passed, I wish I may be damn'd eternally if they hadn't made a Christian of me."
A seedy customer entered a restaurant this morning, and ordered "the best in the house"; and after finishing a hearty meal, told the proprietor of the establishment to " charge it." The indignant proprietor said never a word, but his actions talked louder than any words could speak ; one lunge of his strong right foot, and the customer landed on the sidewalk. Turning around, and facing the hash-dealer, he said :
" My friend, Seligman used to go to school with my brother; and when your action in excluding me from your house is made public, it will raise a storm of indignation that will convulse this broad land, and threaten a social revolution."
He commenced quickening his steps, when the proprietor called out :
"Jim, fetch that stomach-pump here, quick."
And in the twinkling of an eye his form had vanished into the dim distance.
A prominent citizen, desiring to beautify the yard in front of his- residence, procured some slips from some trees on the premises of a friend,, and planted them. The directions given were to attach each slip to a potato and plant it in rich soil. These directions were followed, but the result was, that the slips died and the potatoes flourished like a green bay tree. The potato vines are now in blossom in the midst of a luxurious growth of alfalfa, and are much admired by visitors to the gentleman's residence, few of whom suspect their real character. When ladies ask, " What kind of plants are these ? " the answer is, " Solanum tuberosum? which is botany for potato ; and the fair inquirers elevate their eyebrows
174 THE SAZERAC LYING CLUB.
and say, " How beautiful ! Never saw anything like it before ; must be of tropical origin." And then the host says, " Certainly; it is very generally cultivated in Ireland and other tropical countries."
In addition to the ordinary games played by boys in other places, the boys of this city have a game created by their surroundings, and therefore peculiar to this and other communities where the conditions are similar. When marbles are out of season, when it is no longer top-time, when kites have lost their charm, when there is no snow for sledding, and the weather is too hot to play tag or horse, then the little boys play mining. Under a bank on one of the upper streets, last evening, we observed a number of little fellows engaged in this play. With bits of wood they were digging an incline into the bank, and when they came to a piece of rock they separated it from the earth and put it in one of those thin wooden boxes used for packing strawberries, and when this was full the smallest boy would carry it off a piece and empty it on the dump. In reply to the question, "What are you all doing here? the little carman said: "Dittin' out wock for de mill."
A gentleman who runs a ranch not many miles from Austin was in town last Sunday, and during the day indulged in divers and sundry games of " pedro " for the drinks, and when evening came he was feeling pretty comfortable, but somewhat oblivious. As the church-bells commenced to ring for divine worship, our rancher concluded that going to church and hearing a sermon would be a good way to taper off; and accordingly he made his way to the sacred edifice, entered, and seated himself in a pew. During the sermon the minister gave a glowing description of heaven and its delights, describing it as a city paved with gold -- its ways covered with beautiful foliage, and the air redolent with the perfume of orange blossoms ; but in the midst of the description, the congregation were startled by our rancher, who, nudging his next neighbor and winking knowingly, whispered in a whisper that was heard throughout the church, " I've been there ; that's Californy."
A fellow-citizen hunted all over the house for his spectacles. He kept on repeating to himself, "Don't let your angry passions rise"; then he kicked over the rocking-chair, and said "dammit." That didn't bring the spectacles; so he went into the kitchen, and told his wife she had "better
LIFE IN A MINING TOWN. 175
keep an eye on them brats, and not let them be packing off everything useful there was in the house." "A man couldn't even call his soul his own" in that domicile, he said, and here " them cussed young-ones " had carried off his spectacles, and perhaps even now had started a Lick Observatory with them in the back-yard.
" Why, you old fool," replied his patient and loving wife, " there's your spectacles right on top of your clumsy old nose."
" Well ! I wish I may be transplanted into glory," was all he said, or words to that effect.
She was from the country, and she went into a Main Street store and asked to look at some stockings.
"What number, ma am?" inquired the polite clerk.
" Only one pair this time," she answered, " but if I like them I may buy some more next time I come in."
"I mean, what number do you wear?" explained he of the yard stick.
" What number do I wear ! Young man, ain't you ashamed of yourself to ask such a question ? Do you suppose jest 'cause I live in the country that I go scooting around with one stocking ? The number I wear is two, of course. Do you think I'm a heathen, and do I hobble around like a woman with only one leg ? "
Then the clerk managed to make her understand that he wanted to know the size of the stockings she required, and she said she guessed about eleven inches would do for the foot, and as to the rest it didn't matter much.
In a certain restaurant in this city, the proprietor has refrained from putting up the stove, his idea being to freeze out the flies. The temperature of the room don't appear to have as much effect on the flies as it does on the human patrons of the restaurant ; and at the breakfast hour this morning numerous shivering individuals sat at the tables with their forms encased in blanket overcoats, their feet in Arctic overshoes, and their hands in seal-skin gloves. When the waiter went around among the boarders to get their orders, one man said, "Bring me a blanket on toast " ; another said he would take some flannel cakes for his feet ; a third wanted a broiled buffalo robe ; and still another called for a red pepper smothered in coals. But one man was reasonable. Said he : "Bring me anything and every thing you've got ; I owe seven months board, and I'll bet another month's that no freeze-out game can't win with me."
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"Do you take trade dollars at par?" asked a stranger of a bar-keeper in a Main Street saloon this morning.
" Certainly ; take anything," replied the accommodating tumbler- slinger.
" Well, then, give me some whisky," said the stranger.
The bar-keeper set out the bottle and glass, and the stranger poured out and swallowed his drink, and started for the door.
"Hold on there, where's that trade dollar?" said the bar-keeper.
" Oh, I haven't got any trade-dollars," replied the stranger, " I only asked if you took them at par for information."
A shade of sadness stole over the bar-keeper's face as he discovered that somebody had borrowed the pick-handle he keeps under the bar for such emergencies and the soda-water bottle that swished through the air only came within about six feet of where the stranger had stood the moment before.
One of the County Commissioners having sent a supply of provisions to an " indigent," was shortly after accosted by the individual with :
" You sent coffee, but not an ounce of sugar."
"Sugar!" exclaimed the county dad, "what in blazes do you want to do with sugar ?"
" Sweeten my coffee, of course/ replied the indigent, " how in thunder do you suppose I'm going to drink coffee without sugar ? "" My friend," returned the Commissioner, " you don't appear to be aware that Rothschild, and A. T. Stewart, and the Marquis of Lome, and Boss Tweed, and Flood & O'Brien, and Dives, and Julius Caesar, and Billy Sharon, all got rich by economy on the sugar question. Had any of these men indulged in sugar in their coffee, there wouldn't one of them have a slick quarter to-day. Economy is wealth, my friend, and if you can't drink coffee without sugar, you ll have to do without coffee."