Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

face was quincier than ever, and, as he descended irom his steed, he shut one eye and expectorated.

“Now,” said the blacksmith, seating himself on the horse-block in front of his dwelling, and giving a blow on the ground with his strap that made the pebbles dance, “Where do you hail from ?

" From Punkington City, brother,” said Zephaniah. “ And whar are you going tu?” “ To Rapparoarer City.” “And what are you goin' for to du in that location ?” “ Goin' on Circuit." 6 What?“Lord's business, brother."

Colonel Quagg shook out the strap to its full length, and passed it through his horny hand.

"There was a brother of yours," he said, sententiously, “that went to Rapparoarer City on Lord's business last fall. He passed this edifice, he did. He met this strap close by here, and this strap made him see comets and dance like a shaking Quaker, and feel uncommon like a bob-tailed bull in fly-time.”

There was something so dreadfully suggestive in the position of a bob-tailed bull in fly-time, that Brother Zephaniah wriggled uneasily.

* And I du hope,” the Colonel continued, “ that you, brother, aren't of the same religion as this babe of

grace was, as met the strap as he was riding. That religion was the Grace-Walking religion, and that religion I always lick.”

Lick, brother?” “ Lick. With the strap. Dreadful."

“ Colonel Goliah Quagg,' said the minister, “for such, I know, is your name in the flesh. I am a preacher of the Grace-Walking connection. Humble, but faithful, I hope.”

# Then,' returned Colone, Quagg, making an ironical bow, “this is the strap with which I am going to lick you into sarse."

- Brother, brother,' the other cried, shaking his head, cast that cruel strap from out of thine hand. Close thine

[ocr errors]

hand, if thou wilt, upon the hammer of thy trade—the coulter of the plough--upon a pen—the rudder of a ship --the handle of a lantern to light men to peace, and love, and goodwill; but close it not upon sword of iron, or bludgeon of wood, or

Now, look you here,” the blacksmith said, impatiently, “ talk as long as you like; but talk while I am a-licking of you, for time is precious, and must not be thrown away, nohow, Lick you I must, and lick you I will bard.”

“ But, brother—but, Colonel, --"

“ Rot!” exclaimed the Colonel, “straps is waiting: Stubs and fences! I'll knock you into horse-shoes, and then into horse-nails, if you keep me waiting.”

“ Have you no merciful feelings?” asked Zephaniah, as if rorely troubled.

“Not a cent of 'em-Air you ready? will you take it fighting, or will you take it lying down? Some takes it fighting ; some takes it like lambs, lying down. Only make baste.'

“ Goliah Quagg," the minister responded, “I am a man of peace, and I would rather not take it at all.”

“You must," the Colonel roared, now fairly infuriated, “ Pickled alligators, you must. Hold hard, you coon! Hold hard, for I'm a-goin' to begin—now, once more, is it fighting, or is it quiet, you mean for to take it ? "

6 Well," said brother Zephaniah, “ you are hard upon me, Colonel, and that's true. It's fighting, or lying down, isn't it?”

Aye,” returned the Colonel, brandishing his strap. " Then, i'll take it fighting," the man of peace said, quietly.

Colonel Quagg halted for a moment, as if amazed at the audacity of the Grace-Walker. Then, with a wild baloo, he rushed upon him, very much as a bob-tailed bull does rush about under the aggravating influence of flies. His hand was upon the minister's collar, the strap that bad done so much execution in its time was swung high in the air, when—Stay! Can you imagine the rage, astonishment, and despair of a schoolmaster caned

[ocr errors]

by his pupil ; of the Emperor of China sentenced to be bambooed by a Hong Kong coolie; of a butler kicked by a footpage; of a Southern planter cow-bided by one of his own niggers; of a policeman ordered to " move on" by an apple-woman; of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army desired to “stand at ease” by a drummer? If you can imagine anything of that sort—but only if you can-you may be able to form some idea of how Colonel Quagg felt when a storm of blows, hard, welldirected, and incessant, began to fall on his head, on his breast, on his face, on his shoulders, on his arms, on his legs—all over his body—so rapidly that he felt he was being hit everywhere at once; when he found his strap would hit nowhere on the body of his opponent; but that he himself was hit everywhere. Sledgehammers! Sledgehammers were nothing to the fists of the Grace-Walking Brother. A bob-tailed bull in fly-time was an animal to be envied in comparison to the Colonel. He danced with all the vigour of a nigger toeing and heeling a hornpipe. He saw more comets than Tycho Brahe or Erra Pater ever dreamed of. He felt that he was all nose, and that a horribly swollen one. Then, that he had swallowed all his teeth. Then, that he had five hundred eyes, and then none at all. Then that his ribs went in, and his blood came out.' Then his legs failed under him, and he fell down all of a heap. The tall brother went down a-top of him, and continued pounding away at his body, singing all the while the little hymn beginning :

We are marching through the gracious ground,"

66

quite softly to himself.

“Hold hard ! ” gasped the, Colonel at last faintly. “You don't mean murder, do you? You won't hit a man when he's down, much more, will you, brother?”

• By no means," answered Zephaniah, bringing down his fist nevertheless with a tremendous “bash" upon the Colonel's pose, as if there were a fly there, and he wanted to kill it. “But you've took it fighting, Colonel, and you may as well now take it like a lamb, lying down."

or You

“But I'm broke, I tell you,” groaned the vanquished blacksmith.

“Oh! you give in, then?”
“Aye," murmured Colonel Quagg, "I cave in.”

Speak louder, I'm hard of hearing."
“ Yes !” repeated the Colonel, with a groan.

"I du cave in, for I'm beat, whittled clean away to the small end o' nothing-chawed up—cornered.”

“ You must promise me one little thing, Colonel Goliah Quagg," said the Reverend Sockdolloger, without, however, removing his knees from the Colonel's chest. must promise before I leave off hammering of your body, never to ill-treat by word or deed any of our peopleministers, elders, deacons, or brethren."

“ I'll promise. Only let me up. You're choking of me.”

"Not to rile, lick, or molest any other peaceable critturs as are coming or going past your way upon Lord's business."

“I promise," muttered the Colonel.

“ Likewise," concluded Zephaniah, playfully knocking away one of his adversary's loose teeth, you must promise to give up drinking rum, which is a delusion and ā snare, and bad for the innards, besides being on the trunk line to perdition. And finally, you must promise to come to our next camp meeting, clean shaved, and with a contrite heart."

“No," cried the almost expiring Colonel, “I won't; not for all the tobacco in Virginny!

“ You won't, brother ? ” asked Zephaniah, persuasively raising his fist,

“No, I'm darned if I du."

“Then," said the Grace-Walker, meekly, “I must sing you another little hymn."

immediately afterwards Colonel Quagg’s tortures reeommenced. He struggled, he roared, he entreated, but in vain. All he could see were the long man's arms whirling about like the sails of a windmill. All he could feel was the deadly pain of the blows on his already bideously bruised face and body. All he could hear was

[ocr errors]

1

the snuffling voice of his tormentor singing, with an occasional stammer, a verse of a little hymn, commencing

“ I'm going home to bliss above

Will you go, will you go?
To live in mercy, peace, and love-

Will you go, will you go ?” He could stand it no longer. He threw out his arms and groaned. “Spare my life, and I'll promise anything."

*

Colonel Quagg has left off rum and parson-licking, and is now, as Elder Quagg, one of the burning and shining lights among the Grace-Walking Brethren.

Abridged from “Dutch Pictures," and printed by kind permission of the Author, and Messrs. Chatto & Windus.

BECALMED.

BY SAMUEL K. COWAN, M.A. It was as calm as calm could be;

A death-still night in June;
A silver sail on a silver sea,

Under a silver moon.
No least low air the still sea stirred:

But all on the dreaming deep
The white ship lay, like a white sea-bird,

With folded wings, asleep.
For a long, long month not a breath of air;

For a month not a drop of rain ;
And the gaunt crew watched in wild despair,

With a fever in throat and brain.

And they saw the shore, like a dim cloud, stand

On the far horizon sea;
It was only a day's short sail to the land,

And the haven where they would be.

« AnteriorContinuar »