Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.
Originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, February 22, 1890.
“I suppose,” said the landlady, furtively eyeing an ink-stain on the carpet and smoothing the ample wrinkles out of her ample gown with her ample hands, “I suppose, gentlemen, as you’re all good ‘Piskipalians.”
The doctor colored, and answered, “I frequently attend that church, and—yes, I may say that I am an Episcopalian.”
“Ever sense that Jumper sociable!” remarked the landlady, sarcastically.
“I myself feel strongly drawn to that excellent—would you call it religion? Or sect? Or—“
“Call it the Guilded Clique!” chuckled the landlady, to the Colonel’s no small confusion.
“I was brought up in the tenets of the church,” replied that languid young man. “I don’t know what the tenets were, but I was brought up in ‘em.”
“Then they was probably red flannels an’ diapers,” answered the landlady, absent-mindedly, while Tom turned to the photograph of Susan B. to enable him to regain his self-possession. For poor Susan has always possessed herself.
“Therefore,” says the landlady, with a smile of satisfaction, “you are all ‘Piskiples. Of course you’ll keep lent.”
The boarders looked at each other in surprise and uneasiness.
“I think I shall deny myself something,” remarked the colonel; “I shall either smoke nickle cigars instead of imported ones or take to a pipe. I haven’t dicided which.”
“And I,” said the doctor, cheerfully, “shall economise on horse feed. My mare has really had too liberal an allowance of oats lately. What shall you do, Tom?” and they all looked curiously at the dyed-in-the-wool Episcopalian.
“Oh, there is one course of denial which I always follow,” says this interesting youth. “I deny myself postage stamps and write to all my friends on postals. It’s inconvenient, ye know, but the lenten season must be duly observed.”
The landlady smiled an Act III, Scene III smile, for the climax was approaching, and led them without a word to the dinner table.
“Mrs. Bilkins,” said the colonel, when all were seated. “I am a little rushed today, as I have a client awaiting my return to renew a note. Please fetch on the dinner.”
“The dinner,” replied the landlady, trying to repress a fiendish look of triumph, “is on. This is ash We’nsday. Most landladys who has ‘Piskiple boarders has nothin’ but ashes for to eat today, but I ain’t that sort. Good ‘Piskiples, as ‘tends the Guild socials so reglar, mustn’t be starved, altho’ they should be incouraged in them tenements o’ the church as Mr. Tom were brought up in. So I’ve got some nice mush an’ milk for you, and if your conscience don’t prick you,--fall to an’ eat hearty!”
The boarders were conquered. They turned their hollow eyes and mouths and pink suffused brows upon the mush, and naught save the rattle of the spoons against the bowls broke the ominous silence which was the only thing that had reigned in Aberdeen since winter set in.
“I once knew a woman,” remarked the colonel at last, spitefully, “so mean that she put holes in her fried-cakes to economise.”
“Did she die a horrible death?” asked Tom.
The landlady was unmoved.
“And an old woman with whom I boarded chopped her hash so fine that she had to press the atmosphere over the platter to keep it from floating in the air.”
“That was in lent,” beamed the landlady, good-naturedly.
Here the doctor distinguished himself.
“One good thing about this season,” said he, “is that boarding house keepers never ask you for any money, because they know it’s lent!”
Mrs. Bilkins turned pale, and left the room abruptly, while the boarders made the best of their meagre fare and started for town in a brighter mood.
The landlady looked after them through the crack in the kitchen door.
“It’ll be a heap o’ savin’ just now, this lent business; but I’m afeared,” with a sigh that came from the darns on the heels of her socks, “I’m afeared they’ll more n’ make it up at Yeaster!”
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 11, 1920.
You all seemed to know what was wrong with the dear chap’s verses last week and the animal referred to in his last poem was a bear. This week he would like you to finish this
There once was silly old Auk
Who loved dearly to lecture and -----?
The seals fell asleep
When the subjects grew -----?
The away the old fellow would -----?
And what bird is made up from a figure and an airtight container for food?
[Answers next time.]
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