My Sunday dinner was unexceptional
in point of quantity and quality,
and a bottle of my brother-in-law's
claret proved to be most excellent;
yet a certain uneasiness of
mind prevented my enjoying
the meal as thoroughly as
under other circumstances
I might have done. My uneasiness
came of a mingled sense of
responsibility and ignorance.
I felt that it was the proper
thing for me to see that my
nephews spent the day with
some sense of the requirements
and duties of the Sabbath;
but how I was to bring it
about, I hardly knew. The
boys were too small to have
to them, and they were too
lively to be kept quiet by
any ordinary means. After
a great deal of thought, I
determined to consult the
children themselves, and try
to learn what their parents'
custom had been.
I, "what do you do
Sundays when your papa and
mama are home? What do they
read to you,-what do they
"Oh, they swing us-lots!"
said Budge, with brightening
"An' zey takes us
to get jacks," observed
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed
"Hum-ye-es; I do remember
some such thing in my youthful
days. They grow where there's
plenty of mud, don't they?"
"Yes, an' there's
a brook there, an' ferns,
an' birch-bark, an' if you
don't look out you'll tumble
into the brook when you
go to get birch."
"An' we goes to Hawksnest
Rock," piped Toddie,
"an' papa carries us
up on his back when we gets
"An' he makes us whistles,"
I, rather hastily, "enough.
In the language of the poet
"'These earthly pleasures
I resign,' and I'm rather
astonished that your papa
hasn't taught you to do
likewise. Don't he ever
read to you?"
"Oh, yes," cried
Budge, clapping his hands,
as a happy thought struck
him. "He gets down
the Bible-the great big
Bible, you know-an' we all
lay on the floor, an' he
reads us stories out of
it. There's David, an' Noah,
an' when Christ was a little
boy, an' Joseph, an' turnbackPharo'sarmyhallelujah-"
repeated Budge. "Don't
you know how Moses held
out his cane over the Red
Sea, an' the water went
way up one side, an' way
up the other side, and all
the Isrulites went across?
It's just the same thing
I, "I suspect you of
having heard the Jubilee
"Oh, and papa and mama sings
us all those Jubilee songs-there's
'Swing Low,' an' 'Roll Jordan,'
an' 'Steal Away,' an' 'My Way's
Cloudy,' an' 'Get on Board, Childuns,'
an' lots. An' you can sing us every
one of 'em."
"An' papa takes us in the
woods, an' makesh us canes,"
"Yes," said Budge,
"and where there's new houses
buildin', he takes us up ladders."
"Has he any way of putting
an extension on the afternoon?"
"I don't know what that
is," said Budge, "but
he puts an India-rubber blanket
on the grass, and then we all
lie down an' make b'lieve we're
soldiers asleep. Only sometimes
when we wake up papa stays asleep,
an' mama won't let us wake him.
I don't think that's a very nice
"Well, I think Bible stories
are nicer than anything else,
Budge seemed somewhat in doubt.
"I think swingin' is nicer,"
said he-"oh, no;-let's get
some jacks-I'll tell you what!-make
us whistles, an' we can blow on
'em while we're goin' to get the
jacks. Toddie, dear, wouldn't
you like jacks and whistles?"
"Yesh-an' swingin'-an' birch-an'
wantsh to go to Hawksnesh Rock,"
"Let's have Bible stories
first," said I. "The
Lord mightn't like it if you didn't
learn anything good to-day."
"Well," said Budge,
with the regulation religious-matter-of-duty
face, "let's. I guess I like
'bout Joseph best."
"Tell us 'bout Bliaff,"
"Oh, no, Tod," remonstrated
Budge; "Joseph's coat was
just as bloody as Goliath's head
was." Then Budge turned to
me and explained that "all
Tod likes Goliath for is 'cause
when his head was cut off it was
all bloody." And then Toddie-the
airy sprite whom his mother described
as being irresistibly drawn to
whatever was beautiful-Toddie
glared upon me as a butcher's
apprentice might stare at a doomed
lamb, and remarked:
"Bliaff's head was all bluggy,
an' David's sword was all bluggy-bluggy
I hastily breathed a small prayer,
opened the Bible, turned to the
story of Joseph, and audibly condensed
it as I read:
"Joseph was a good little
boy whose papa loved him very
dearly. But his brothers didn't
like him. And they sold him, to
go to Egypt. And he was very smart,
and told the people what their
dreams meant, and he got to be
a great man. And his brothers
went to Egypt to buy corn, and
Joseph sold them some, and then
he let them know who he was. And
he sent them home to bring their
papa to Egypt, and then they all
lived there together."
"That's ain't it,"
remarked Toddie, with the air
of a man who felt himself to be
unjustly treated. "Is it,
"Oh, no," said Budge,
"you didn't read it good a
bit; I'll tell you how it is. Once
there was a little boy named Joseph,
an' he had eleven budders-they was
awful eleven budders. An' his papa
gave him a new coat, an' his budders
hadn't nothin' but their old jackets
to wear. An' one day he was carryin'
'em their dinner, an' they put him
in a deep, dark hole, but they didn't
put his nice new coat in-they killed
a kid, an' dipped the coat-just
think of doin' that to a nice new
coat-they dipped it in the kid's
blood, an' made it all bloody."
"All bluggy," echoed
Toddy, with ferocious emphasis.
"But there were some Ishmalites
comin' along that way, and the
awful eleven budders took him
out of the deep, dark hole, an'
sold him to the Ishmalites, and
they sold him away down in Egypt.
An' his poor old papa cried, an'
cried, 'cause he thought a big
lion ate Joseph up; but he wasn't
ate up a bit; but there wasn't
no post-office nor choo-choos,
nor stages in Egypt, an' there
wasn't any telegraphs, so Joseph
couldn't let his papa know where
he was; an' he got so smart an'
so good that the king of Egypt
let him sell all the corn an'
take care of the money; an' one
day some men came to buy some
corn, an' Joseph looked at 'em
an' there they was his own budders!
An' he scared 'em like everything;
I'd have slapped 'em all if I'd
been Joseph, but he just scared
'em, an' then he let 'em know
who he was, an' he kissed 'em
an' he didn't whip 'em, or make
'em go without their breakfast,
or stand in a corner, nor none
of them things; an' then he sent
'em back for their papa, an' when
he saw his papa comin', he ran
like everything, and gave him
a great big hug and a kiss. Joseph
was too big to ask his papa if
he'd brought him any candy, but
he was awful glad to see him.
An' the king gave Joseph's papa
a nice farm, an' they all had
real good times after that."
"And they dipped the coat
in the blood, an' made it all
bluggy," reiterated Toddie.
"Uncle Harry," said
Budge, "what do you think
my papa would do if he thought
I was all ate up by a lion? I
guess he'd cry awful, don't you?
Now tell us another story-oh,
I'll tell you-read us 'bout-"
"'Bout Bliaff," interrupted
"You tell me about him,
Toddie," said I.
"Why," said Toddie,
"Bliaff was a brate bid man,
an' Dave was brate little man,
an' Bliaff said, 'Come over here'n
an' I'll eat you up,' an' Dave
said, 'I ain't fyaid of you.'
So Dave put five little stones
in a sling an' asked de Lord to
help him, an' let ze sling go
bang into bequeen Bliaff's eyes
an' knocked him down dead, an'
Dave took Bliaff's sword an' sworded
Bliaff's head off, an' made it
all bluggy, an' Bliaff runned
away." This short narration
was accompanied by more spirited
and unexpected gestures than Mr.
Gough ever puts into a long lecture.
"I don't like 'bout Goliath
at all," remarked Budge.
"I'd like to hear 'bout Ferus."
"Ferus; don't you know?"
"Never heard of him, Budge."
Budge; "didn't you have no
papa when you was a little boy?"
"Yes, but he never told me
about any one named Ferus; there's
no such person named in Anthon's
Classical Dictionary, either. What
sort of a man was he?"
"Why, once there was a man,
an' his name was Ferus-Offerus,
an' he went about fightin' for
kings, but when any king got afraid
of anybody, he wouldn't fight
for him no more. An' one day he
couldn't find no kings that wasn't
afraid of nobody. An' the people
told him the Lord was the biggest
king in the world, an' he wasn't
afraid of nobody or nothing. An'
he asked 'em where he could find
the Lord, an' they said he was
way up in heaven so nobody couldn't
see him but the angels, but he
liked folks to work for him instead
of fight. So Ferus wanted to know
what kind of work he could do,
an' the people said there was
a river not far off, where there
wasn't no ferry-boats, cos the
water run so fast, an' they guessed
if he'd carry folks across, the
Lord would like it. So Ferus went
there, an' he cut him a good,
strong cane, an' whenever anybody
wanted to go across the river
he'd carry 'em on his back.
"One night he was sittin'
in his little house by the fire,
an' smokin' his pipe an' readin'
the paper, an' 'twas rainin' an'
blowin' an' hailin' an' stormin',
an' he was so glad there wasn't
anybody wantin' to go 'cross the
river, when he heard somebody
call one 'Ferus!' An' he looked
out the window, but he couldn't
see nobody, so he sat down again.
Then somebody called 'Ferus!'
again, and he opened the door
again, an' there was a little
bit of a boy, 'bout as big as
Toddie. An' Ferus said, 'Hello,
young fellow, does your mother
know you're out?' An' the little
boy said, 'I want to go 'cross
the river.'-'Well,' says Ferus,
'you're a mighty little fellow
to be travelin' alone, but hop
up.' So the little boy jumped
up on Ferus's back, and Ferus
walked into the water. Oh, my-wasn't
it cold? An' every step he took
that little boy got heavier, so
Ferus nearly tumbled down an'
they liked to both got drownded.
An' when they got across the river
Ferus said, 'Well, you are the
heaviest small fry I ever carried,'
and he turned around to look at
him, an' 'twasn't no little boy
at all-'twas a big man-'twas Christ.
An' Christ said, 'Ferus, I heard
you was tryin' to work for me,
so I thought I'd come down an'
see you, an' not let you know
who I was. An' now you shall have
a new name; you shall be called
Christofferus, cos that means
Christ-carrier.' An' everybody
called him Christofferus after
that, an' when he died they called
him Saint Christopher, cos Saint
is what they called good people
when they're dead."
Budge himself had the face of
a rapt saint as he told this story,
but my contemplation of his countenance
was suddenly arrested by Toddie,
who, disapproving of the unexciting
nature of his brother's recital,
had strayed into the garden, investigated
a hornet's nest, been stung, and
set up a piercing shriek. He ran
in to me, and as I hastily picked
him up, he sobbed:
"Want to be wocked. Want
'Toddie one boy day.'"
I rocked him violently, and petted
him tenderly, but again he sobbed:
"Want 'Toddie one boy day.'"
"What does the child mean?"
"He wants you to sing to
him about 'Charley boy one day,'"
said Budge. "He always wants
mama to sing that when he's hurt,
an' then he stops crying."
"I don't know it,"
said I. "Won't 'Roll, Jordan,'
"I'll tell you how it goes,"
said Budge, and forthwith the youth
sang the following song, a line
at a time, I following him in words
"Where is my little bastik
Said Charley boy one day;
"I guess some little boy
Has taken it away.
"An' kittie, too-where ish
Oh, dear, what I shall do?
I wish I could my bastik find,
An' little kittie, too.
"I'll go to mamma's room
Perhaps she may be there;
For kittie likes to take a nap
In mamma's easy chair.
"O mamma, mamma, come an'
See what a little heap!
Here's kittie in the bastik here,
All cuddled down to sleep."
Where the applicability of this
poem to my nephew's peculiar trouble
appeared, I could not see, but
as I finished it, his sobs gave
place to a sigh of relief.
"Toddie," said I, "do
you love your Uncle Harry?"
"Esh, I do love you."
"Then tell me how that ridiculous
song comforts you?"
"Makes me feel good, an'
all nicey," replied Toddie.
"Wouldn't you feel just
as good if I sang, 'Plunged in
a gulf of dark despair?'"
"No, don't like dokdishpairs;
if a dokdishpair done anyfing
to me, I'd knock it right down
With this extremely lucid remark,
our conversation on this particular
subject ended; but I wondered,
during a few uneasy moments, whether
the temporary mental aberration
which had once afflicted Helen's
grandfather and mine was not reappearing
in this, his youngest descendant.
My wondering was cut short by
Budge, who remarked, in a confident
"Now, Uncle Harry, we'll
have the whistles, I guess."
I acted upon the suggestion, and
led the way to the woods. I had
not had occasion to seek a hickory
sapling before for years; not since
the war, in fact, when I learned
how hot a fire small hickory sticks
would make. I had not sought wood
for whistles since-gracious, nearly
a quarter of a century ago! The
dissimilar associations called up
by these recollections threatened
to put me in a frame of mind which
might have resulted in a bad poem,
had not my nephews kept up a lively
succession of questions such as
no one but children can ask. The
whistles completed, I was marched,
with music, to the place where the
"Jacks" grew. It was just
such a place as boys instinctively
delight in-low, damp, and boggy,
with a brook hiding treacherously
away under overhanging ferns and
grasses. The children knew by sight
the plant which bore the "Jacks,"
and every discovery was announced
by a piercing shriek of delight.
At first I looked hurriedly toward
the brook as each yell clove the
air; but, as I became accustomed
to it, my attention was diverted
by some exquisite ferns. Suddenly,
however, a succession of shrieks
announced that something was wrong,
and across a large fern I saw a
small face in a great deal of agony.
Budge was hurrying to the relief
of his brother, and was soon as
deeply imbedded as Toddie was in
the rich black mud, at the bottom
of the brook. I dashed to the rescue,
stood astride the brook, and offered
a hand to each boy, when a treacherous
tuft of grass gave way, and, with
a glorious splash, I went in myself.
This accident turned Toddie's sorrow
to laughter, but I can't say I made
light of my misfortune on that account.
To fall into clean water is not
pleasant, even when one is trout-fishing;
but to be clad in white pants, and
suddenly drop nearly knee-deep in
the lap of mother Earth is quite
a different thing. I hastily picked
up the children, and threw them
upon the bank, and then wrathfully
strode out myself, and tried to
shake myself as I have seen a Newfoundland
dog do. The shake was not a success-it
caused my trouser-leg to flap dismally
about my ankles, and sent the streams
of loathsome ooze trickling down
into my shoes. My hat, of drab felt,
had fallen off by the brookside,
and been plentifully spattered as
I got out. I looked at my youngest
nephew with speechless indignation.
"Uncle Harry," said
Budge, "'twas real good of
the Lord to let you be with us,
else Toddie might have been drownded."
"Yes," said I, "and
I shouldn't have much-"
"Ocken Hawwy," cried
Toddie, running impetuously toward
me, pulling me down, and patting
my cheek with his muddy black
hand, "I loves you for takin'
me out de water."
"I accept your apology,"
said I, "but let's hurry
home." There was but one
residence to pass, and that, thank
fortune, was so densely screened
by shrubbery that the inmates
could not see the road. To be
sure, we were on a favorite driving
road, but we could reach home
in five minutes, and we might
dodge into the woods if we heard
a carriage coming. Ha! There came
a carriage already, and we-was
there ever a sorrier-looking group?
There were ladies in the carriage,
too-could it be-of course it was-did
the evil spirit, which guided
those children always, send an
attendant for Miss Mayton before
he began operations? There she
was, anyway-cool, neat, dainty,
trying to look collected, but
severely flushed by the attempt.
It was of no use to drop my eyes,
for she had already recognized
me; so I turned to her a face
which I think must have been just
the one-unless more defiant-that
I carried into two or three cavalry
"You seem to have been having
a real good time together,"
said she, with a conventional
smile, as the carriage passed.
"Remember, you're all going
to call on me to-morrow afternoon."