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The next moment the door opened, and a big fat woman and a small thin boy came into the room.
She gave her dress a shake, snatched the boy's hat off, and then, looking at me, she inquired
" Is the head-writer in ?”
him?" she asked. I nodded.
Oh, dear !” she exclaimed, as she sat down on a chair and fanned herself with her handkerchief; “I like to have never got upstairs."
I smiled and nodded. “You see that boy thar?” she inquired after a while. “Your son, I suppose?” I answered; "nice-looking lad."
“Yes, he's smart as a fox. There isn't a thing he don't know. Why, he isn't but eight, and he composes poetry, writes letters, and plays tunes on the fiddle !” “You ought to be proud of him,” I said.
Wall, we kinder hope he'll turn out well,” she answered. “Come up here, John Quincy, and speak that piece about that boy who stood on the busted deck.”
“I won't !” replied the boy in a positive tone.
“He's a little bashful, you see,” giving me an apologetical smile. “He's rid fourteen miles this morning, and he doesn't feel well, anyhow; I shouldn't wonder if he was troubled with worums.
“Worms be blowed!” replied John Quincy, chewing away at his hat.
“He's awful skeard when he's among strangers,” she went on; “but he'll git over it in a short time. What I cum in for was to see if you wouldn't take him and make a head-writer of him.”
“I don't want to be a durned old bald-headed headwriter !” said John Quincy, picking his teeth with my scissors.
" You see my
“The young never knows what's good for 'em,” she went
“He wants to be a preacher, or a great lawyer, or a big doctor ; but he seems to take to writing, and we thought we'd make a head-writer of him. I don't sopose he'd earn over five or six dollars and board a week for the first year, but I've bin told that Gen'ral Jackson didn't get half that when he begun.”
Madam,” I commenced, as she stopped for breath, “I'd like to take the boy. He looks as smart as a steel trap, and no doubt he'll turn out a great man.” “Then you'll take him?” If
you agree as to terms." "What is them ter-ums?”
is out?” “ Yes.”
"Well, your son can never become a great writer unless you put his left eye out. If you will think back
will remember that you never saw a great writer whose left eye was not out. This is a matter of economy. A one-eyed writer only needs half as much light as a man with two eyes, and he isn't half so apt to discover hair-pins in his butter, and buttons in his oyster soup. The best way to put his eye out is to jab a red-hot needle into it.”
“Good grashus !” she exclaimed.
“And you observe that I am bald-headed? You may think that my baldness results from scalp disease, but such is not the case. When a head-writer is bothered to get an idea he scratches his head. Scratching the hair wouldn't do any good; it's the scalp he must agitate. The hair is therefore pulled out with a pair of pincers, in order that a man can get right down to the scalp at once, and save time.”
“Can that be possible?”
“ All this is strictly true, madam. You also observe that one of my legs is shorter than the other. Without an explanation on my part you would attribute this to some accident. Such is not the case. Every head-writer is located in the fourth storey of the office, and his left leg is shortened three inches to enable him to run up and down stairs. You will have to have a doctor unjoint your son's leg at the hip, saw it off to the proper length, and then hook it back in its place
“ Did I ever hear the likes !” she exclaimed.
“And you also observe, madam, that two of my front teeth are gone. You might think they decayed, but such was not the case. They were knocked out with a crowbar in order to enable me to spit ten feet. According to a law enacted at the last Session of Congress, any head-writer who can't spit ten feet is not entitled to receive Congressional reports free of postage."
“Can it be so ?” she said, her eyes growing larger every moment. And you
notice my corpulent build ?” I went on; "you might think this the result of high-living, but it is not. Every head-writer of any prominence has one of these big stomachs on him. They are all members of a secret society, and they tell each other outside of the lodge-room in this way: I am naturally very tall and thin, but I had to conform to the rules. They cut a hole in my chest and filled me out by stuffing in dry Indian meal. It took two bushels and a peck, and then it lacked a little, and they had to fill up with oatmeal. Now then, madam, you see what your son must go through with, and I leave you to judge whether you will have him learn the head-writer's trade or not. I like the looks of the boy very much, and if you desire to
"I guess we'll go hum !” she exclaimed, lifting herself off the chair. “I kinder want him to be a head-writer, and yit I think I ought to have a little more talk with his father, who wants him to git to be boss in a saw-mill. I'm 'bleged to you, and if we conclude to have him
“Yes, bring him right in, day or night. The first thing will be to unhinge his left leg and—!"
But they were out in the hall, and I heard John Quincy remark: “Head-writer be blowed!”
C. B. Lewis (“M Quad”).
PELEG W. PONDER; OR, THE POLITICIAN
WITHOUT A SIDE.
embarrassing sort of thing—but the truth must be told—if not at all times, at least sometimes; and truth now compels the declaration that Peleg W. Ponder, whose character is here portrayed, let him travel in any way, cannot arrive at a conclusion. He never had one of his own. He scarcely knows a conclusion, even if he should chance to see one belonging to other people, and, as for reaching a result, he would never be able to do it, if he could stretch like a giraffe. Results are beyond his compass. And his misfortune is, perhaps, hereditary, his mother's name having been Mrs. Perplexity Ponder, whose earthly career came to an end while she was in dubitation as to which of the various physicians of the place should be called in. If there had been only one doctor in the town, Perplexity Ponder might have been saved. But there was many—and what could Perplexity do in such a case ?
Ponder's father was run over by a waggon, as he stood debating with himself, in the middle of the road, whether he should escape forward or retreat backward. There were two methods of extrication, and between them both old Ponder became a victim. How then could their worthy son, Peleg, be expected to arrive at a conclusion ? He never does.
Yet, for one's general comfort and particular happiness, there does not appear to be any faculty more desirable than the power of “making up the mind.” Right or wrong, it saves a deal of wear and tear; and it prevents an infinite variety of trouble. Commend us to the individual who chooses upon propositions like a nutcracker-whose promptness of will has a sledge-hammer way with it, and hits nails continually on the head. Genius may be brilliant-talent commanding ! but what is genius, or what is talent, if it lack that which we may call the clinching faculty—if it hesitates, veers, and futters—suffers opportunities to pass, and stumbles at occasion ? To reason well is much, no doubt, but reason loses the race if it sits in meditation on the fence when competition rushes by.
Under the best of circumstances, something must be left