Author of John Dough and the Cherub, The Treasure of Karnak, and The Visitors from Oz. etc.
Originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, July 7, 1890.
"I see by the papers," said our landlady, as she took a speck out of the milk-pitcher with her thumb, "that the church folks is to have a conwention to obleege folks to observe the Sabbath."
"So I see," replied the colonel, turning his beefsteak over to find a vulnerable point of attack.
"Well," she continued, "I've observed the Sabbath ever since I've been in this 'ere town, an' what I've observed ain't any credit to it. I hope they'll pass a law as'll make every man go to church or to jail, that's what I hope!"
"My dear Mrs. Bilkins," retorted Tom, "this is a free country, and I'd like to see any pack of religious fanatics oblige me to attend church when I don't want to go!"
Mrs. Bilkins put on her gold-rimmed "specs" and stared long and indignantly at the audacious speaker.
"I see how it is," she remarked, at length, "you want to go down to the post-office every Sunday mornin', with the other heathen men-folks, an' open an' read your mail, an' loaf in the drugstores, an' smoke bad cigars an' talk politics! As if that couldn't be done on week days! I'm ashamed o' you, young man!"
"I don't suppose," broke in the doctor, reflectively, "that there's anything wrong in what you have mentioned. And as far as this convention is concerned, they will find it difficult to restrict the personal liberty of people who are not religiously inclined."
"Don't you fool yourself," snapped our landlady, beginning to get angry. "You fellers can buck agin' politics all you want to, but you'll find it harder to buck agin' religion. There was a feller in our town down east as didn't want the church bells to ring on Sunday mornin' cause it waked him up outer his beauty sleep; an' so he complained agin' 'em as a nuisance, an' the other heathen men in the town backed him up, 'an made the a'thorities pass a law as no church bells should be ringed. Well, them church people, as had been as meek and quiet as Moses so long as they could jingle the bells and try to down the noise o' the rival churches, these same folks became roarin' lions o' indignation. They went to that 'ere complainer's house and' fetched him away, an' carried him up inter the church tower, an' tied the bell-rope around his neck.
" 'Now,' says they, 'what have you got to say?'
" 'Jest this,' says he, 'you're a set o' rabid fanatics, an' your religion ain't skin deep.'
" 'Then,' says they, 'as we can't ring the chruch bells, we'll ring your neck. Pull him up, sexton!'
" 'Hol' up,' yells the victim, 'I ain't werry pertic'lar about them bells. You can ring 'em for all I care. It's better to be kep' awake Sunday mornin' than be killed entirely.'
"So they let him off, an' the church bells in that town hes been ringin' ever sence."
"But these people in South Dakota are not content to ring their bells," said the colonel, "they want to oblige us to attend church whether we want to or not."
"Well, why shouldn't they?" she replied, "it don't hurt none to go to church, an' it's good discipline. It makes us appreciate our blessin's a good deal harder. A pusson as never goes to church can't realize the fun there is in stayin' away, an' somebody's got to support these ministers what is gittin' thicker an' thicker every day, or else they'll be obleeged to work fer a livin', an' religion will be at a standstill. An' that ain't all this conwention orter do. They orter obleege the sexton ter search every woman's pocket fer gum an' candy, and to arrest every man what puts buttons in the conterbushun box. Them is needed reforms. I tell you, people has lost all respect fer religion, now'days, an' if they won't be pius o' their own accord, it must be druv inter 'em by the iron hammer o' the Law. A close Sunday observance would mean to you boarders a clean shirt ev'ry Sabbath mornin, a sermon as 'ud teach you that life [is] not an empty dream, but is full o' ups an' downs--more downs nor ups--cold pork an' beans fer dinner, Sunday-school, an' prayer meetin' in the arternoon, more serious thoughts an' achin' backs in the evenin', an' a good night's rest. No politics, no cigars, no turkey dinner, no flirtin' or visitin' with pritty gals, no rest. An' then, if you didn't feel on Monday mornin' that this 'ere is a glorious existence six days in the week, the law could be repealed; but I expect, arter you'd tried it awhile, you'd think as Shakespeare did, or else it were Ella Wheeler Wilcox or Ed. Lowe or Billy Carleton'I don't know which an' I don't care--but this is what he thunk, an' I agree wi' him--
'To appreciate heaven well
It's well fer a man ter hav
Jest fifteen minits o' hell.' "
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 6, 1919.
A Shower of Riddles
The deep-sea riddles were not too hard for you, it seems. You went after them like regular pearl divers. The answers were:
1. C. 2. Whale. 3. Well. 4. Skate. 5. Bay. 6. Spring. 7. Hammerhead. 8. Flounder. 9. Brook.
The Forgetful Poet was talking to the raven and the crow the other day and they've asked him a riddle, which he hopes you'll answer so they can't crow over him. They want to know how many combs he can name, and the poor fellow has only got two so far. Now do send him a list, won't you? He wants to know, besides, how many fathers one little boy can have, not counting stepfathers, of course. That sounds awfully easy, but look out!
If I walk out
With my cane
The sun goes in--
It's sure to ______
If I carry an ______
The sun comes out
To tease a ______
[Answers next time.]
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