Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 In suspense
 Up the spout
 Saved by the enemy
 The Major on "the giraffe"
 Finding the magnetic pole
 A vacillating bear
 A lion to the rescue
 A little game of bluff
 A musical tyrant
 A leek for the Major
 The stiff necks
 Sketching a tartar
 Passing on
 The prophesy
 A poor imitation
 The grateful cat
 A selfish little nigger
 A bovine innovator
 Misguided by experience
 An endless chase
 A derivation or two
 How he got his rank
 The bottle insurance co. (unli...
 The Major's bridge
 Denounced by his parrot
 An agreeable surprise
 The ill-requited camel
 My own bugbear
 The porcupines
 A useful knot
 A bridge of sighs
 Caught by the cannibals
 The Ashus
 Chased by a hoop-snake
 A fire-balloon
 A pair of bright eyes
 An uninvited balloonist
 A two-legged steed
 How to lie
 Fishing for a lion
 A castle in the air
 Our chromo
 Heroes at bay
 The mongosling
 Side use of medicine
 An over-charge of powder
 Greedy Jack; or, the eater...
 A big blow
 Paudee and the great serpent
 Extremes meet
 The extinct (?) moa
 See-saw in the elephant pit
 The Major as a poet
 Hid in his side
 The catapult snake
 A misunderstanding
 Maternal love
 The "Howis Datforhi"
 A green man and a "green beast...
 The bye-bye
 Back Cover

Group Title: Hairbreadth escapes of Major Mendax : his perilous encounters, startling adventures, and daring exploits with Indians, cannibals, wild beasts, serpents, ballons, geysers, etc., etc., all over the world, in the bowels of the earth and above the clouds : a personal narrative
Title: Hairbreadth escapes of Major Mendax
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00065340/00001
 Material Information
Title: Hairbreadth escapes of Major Mendax his perilous encounters, startling adventures, and daring exploits with Indians, cannibals, wild beasts, serpents, ballons, geysers, etc., etc., all over the world, in the bowels of the earth and above the clouds : a personal narrative
Physical Description: 236 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Crofton, Francis Blake, 1841-1912
Hubbard Bros ( Publisher )
Publisher: Hubbard Brothers
Place of Publication: Philadelphia
Publication Date: c1889
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Snakes -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sailing -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Uncles -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1889
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Statement of Responsibility: by Francis Blake Crofton ; with spirited illustrations by Bennett.
General Note: On cover: The book for boys.
General Note: Title page printed in red and black.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00065340
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002391381
notis - ALZ6271
oclc - 70707288

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    List of Illustrations
        Page 11
        Page 12
    In suspense
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Up the spout
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
    Saved by the enemy
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    The Major on "the giraffe"
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Finding the magnetic pole
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    A vacillating bear
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    A lion to the rescue
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
    A little game of bluff
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    A musical tyrant
        Page 45
        Page 46
    A leek for the Major
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
    The stiff necks
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    Sketching a tartar
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    Passing on
        Page 62
        Page 63
    The prophesy
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    A poor imitation
        Page 69
        Page 70
    The grateful cat
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
    A selfish little nigger
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    A bovine innovator
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
    Misguided by experience
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
    An endless chase
        Page 87
        Page 88
    A derivation or two
        Page 89
        Page 90
    How he got his rank
        Page 91
        Page 92
    The bottle insurance co. (unlimited)
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
    The Major's bridge
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
    Denounced by his parrot
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
    An agreeable surprise
        Page 106
        Page 107
    The ill-requited camel
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
    My own bugbear
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
    The porcupines
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
    A useful knot
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
    A bridge of sighs
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
    Caught by the cannibals
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
    The Ashus
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Chased by a hoop-snake
        Page 131
        Page 132
    A fire-balloon
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    A pair of bright eyes
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
    An uninvited balloonist
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
    A two-legged steed
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    How to lie
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
    Fishing for a lion
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
    A castle in the air
        Page 166
        Page 167
    Our chromo
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
    Heroes at bay
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
    The mongosling
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
    Side use of medicine
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
    An over-charge of powder
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
    Greedy Jack; or, the eater eaten
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
    A big blow
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
    Paudee and the great serpent
        Page 198
        Page 199
    Extremes meet
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
    The extinct (?) moa
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
    See-saw in the elephant pit
        Page 209
        Page 210
    The Major as a poet
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
    Hid in his side
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
    The catapult snake
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
    A misunderstanding
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
    Maternal love
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
    The "Howis Datforhi"
        Page 231
        Page 232
    A green man and a "green beast"
        Page 233
        Page 234
    The bye-bye
        Page 235
        Page 236
    Back Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
Full Text

4 .', .- '" .


4 ----

~r- Tqt
"w "' T. ,' y t '
.4 J21;1;;, 9'LT

j g4 ,, -I4, '^ r ^--- t' f \t4 Z

;ii t Ito %;-m.&y .4

A-j 7 4 & s 2+ f. 7 '
:" -'t',%A,/? A'-... .-.-. '"^^' "" ..
FfCr^ --:^ ^

" +" ".j '' AThe Baldwin La-:' "
V' ," i .'; ' " ' '" "i r ,': -
.7. A ,. .. .. ...:... ... A ,

pi-rn m t t ", ;' W. '"'.B-d'.
.l h+' .' ', "t.4J f g ,E
-t PL .. 9=. '+'. ., ', IP r''- : -L:': ., +,.- .-.. - :, ~ -... -- : .. ....-: _
_ ~ ~ ~ ~ ac . ii;. -' --? \:--- --"+" #";f. .% .. .. -

--. -= .| p'".F.L. _, .,., ,. .:+- .2 o . : . .. --.-+- +- ,

',,/,' ...d I I
it i


(See pag
.... I .ll.'uI ., '. I
, b\ I I h
2I1~ ~ :, ,, ,,,, ....
-I ,1 -.. ,; I
!\ .. ..: .~; k .. .

'1 I 1 ,.9,' ',
i ., ,,'1 ,.. .
I'" I
i' I, '
IS $ I I I

,t It a
'i '' I 1
ji iI,, r ~5'r ,

, - -- .. ,

(See page 15.)









Copyright 1889, by -HUBBARD BROTHERS


















































































How TO LIE 157












































THE BYE-BYE -- -235





















" T is hard to believe," said Bill, looking up from his Travels in
I Iceland," that a hot spring can be teased into spouting before
its regular time by throwing in big stones or pieces of turf. Is it
true, uncle, what this book says of the Strokkr Geyser ?"
I cannot vouch," said the Major, for another traveler's tale.
But it happens that I am able to answer at least for the possibility of
that particular phenomenon, which, by the way, I have never heard
doubted before.
A pack of wolves once pursued me out in Dakota. They were
gaunt and hungry, as the wolves that chase travelers commonly are.
I shot one of the sleigh horses and cut the traces, as travelers i:n
such circumstances commonly do. Then I shot the other also. The
sleigh stopped. In my excitement I had overlooked the likelihood
of this. A dim hope, that my gift of a horse more than they could
have expected me to give might make me popular among the wolves,
soon died out. I found myself really as much mistaken as the
obnoxious Irish landlord who fancied he might prudently venture


back among the tenantry again, when they had bagged the second
younger brother whom he had left behind to act (and be acted upon)
in his stead.
The ungrateful wolves rushed on me from every side, their jaws
snapping like steel traps. Firing my revolver promiscuously, I made
for a queer looking hole that I saw close by. Narrow passes, I
knew, had sometimes been made good against incredible numbers.
I thought of Thermopyle, and resolved at any rate to die game.
If I did get into the hole in a decided hurry it was the hurry of
a soldier eager to anticipate the enemy in occupying an important
strategic point.
Down I fell perpendicularly-how many yards I cannot guess-
until the passage became rounder and narrower, enabling me to catch
a rocky ledge on either side with my hands and to plant my feet in
a little crevice below. Thus firmly braced, I acted as a prop to a
number of wolves that were forced into the chasm by the pressure of
their companions on the surface of the prairie. The two next to me
had caught each other in the dark and locked their jaws, fortunately
for me. Still I did not exactly view them as agreeable neighbors;
so I withdrew my right hand from the ledge it rested on, and shrank
beneath the left hand ledge, which was 'the broader of the two.
Their prop thus removed, the wolves fell down, one by one and
two by two, until I could see daylight above me. They struggled
hard to stop themselves, and I could hear their hopeless howls far
underneath, mingled with the plashing of water.
This latter sound, which apparently commenced after the first
wolf had fallen past me, grew louder and louder every moment. I
reached.my right hand out and grasped the opposite ledge, and peered
down into the abyss to see what was the matter. In a moment I
was struck by a rising stream of hot water and shot up to the open
air, high above the mouth of the chasm. To my surprise I did not


fall to the ground, but continued spinning around on the apex of the
huge fountain, like a barrel revolving on the toe of a gymnast in the
An instant's reflection-for I revolved mentally while I revolved
bodily on the spout--explained the situation. I had often seen a ball
dancing for hours on the jet of a fountain, and I was passively per-
forming the same feat. To make myself more like a ball I grasped
my feet with my hands, for my life depended upon the geyser's con,
tinuing to keep me up, as I was still surrounded by wolves.
After spinning some minutes I grew less afraid of falling. Look-
ing around from my high station, I began to pity the wolves. Every
now and then a plaintive howl rose from them. It may have been a
lament that the earth had usurped the traditional rights of the pack
and swallowed their departed brethren; but I fancied it expressed
a sentiment more immediately connected with myself. It seemed to
say "Alas! so near, and yet so far!" I soon found myself quite
entering into the feelings of the beasts-which I much preferred to
entering into their mouths. They were cold and hungry, and I was
warm and comfortable, for the water of this geyser was just pleas-
antly hot. Then my turning ar und and bobbing up and down must
have seemed a sort of mockery to them. And they must have ex-
perienced perpetual disappointments, expecting me to tumble down
every second moment, for in all probability they had never before
seen a ball supported by a jet of water.
After some ours the tantalized wolves were driven away by a
tribe of Indians who were passing by on the war-path. The savages
forgot their wonted self-control and gazed with unconcealed amaze-
ment at my performance on the spout. At last I stretched myself
and managed to wriggle off it and fall feet foremost to the ground.
I found myself venerated as a great magician, and was at once ap-
pointed head medicine-man to the tribe. I spent some weeks with


them under the unchristian name of Humming-top' and indeed I
felt just like one for the first half of the time.
I did not know there was any geyser in Dakota," said Bill.
Nor did I, said the Major, till then. Fat Bear, my kind host,
told me this one only played once in a generation or so. It was
probably roused into activity before its time by the fall of the wolves.
Now you know why I think your Icelandic story possible-that
a geyser may be made to spout prematurely by throwing things
into it.



" HAT a spout; murmured Little Bob reflectively.
Waterspout, did you say ? asked the Major, looking up
from his newspaper.
No," said Bob; I was thinking wizat a spout that one in Dakota
Please excuse me, said the Major; I really had no notion of
making a silly pun ; but the slightest thing always does remind me
of waterspouts ever since that awful day when I was down in the
Down in the Maelstrom, exclaimed both boys.
Down in the Maelstrom," repeated the Major, quietly and dis-
tinctly. I felt a natural curiosity to explore that whirlpool. Be-
sides, I thought that Poe's description of its interior needed to be
verified by some thoroughly reliable person. So I availed myself of


a friend's offer, and went with him in his yacht to see the midnight
sun off the north coast of Norway. Returning, he kindly agreed to
aid me in my project of exploring the Maelstrom.
We anchored the yacht a few miles away from the celebrated
whirlpool, outside the influence of its suction. I put off in a small
boat connected with the yacht by a stout rope. I had taken care to
provide a huge coil of bran new rope, and had seen by inspection
that every inch of it was sound. They paid it out from the yacht
as I increased my distance, and they were to cease doing so as soon
as my boat began to disappear down the outward incline of the
Maelstrom. Whenever I wanted to be pulled back I was to hold up
a flag.
I had little rowing to do, for I presently began to be drawn for-
ward with ever-increasing speed. The motion, which was exhilarat-
ing at first, soon grew alarming.
Strange phenomena, too, appeared in the sky. A cloud over-
head seemed dancing round and round, and another farther on
seemed imitating it. Anywhere else I would have continued gazing
at these novel spectacles. Then and there I fancied they were only
optical illusions, reflections of the mighty whirlpool underneath.
Soon I was too close to the yawning mouth of the Maelstrom to
spare another glance at clouds or horizon. The roar was growing
terrific, and the boat was travelling at lightning speed. The rope,
it flashed upon me, even now might fail to stand the strain when it
was drawn taut, I repented of my rashness in coming so far, and
hastily raised my flag.
They saw my signal in the yacht. In a few seconds I felt a
check, and the rushing water from behind began to dash over the
stern. Then, with a sound like a groan, the iron staple to which the
rope was fastened, was dragged out of the wood; and the boat
bounded down the outer slope of the whirlpool. Instinctively I


threw myself after the retiring rope, in a mad attempt to grasp it.
I only succeeded in placing myself a few yards behind the boat,
in whose wake I was sucked swiftly on to the abyss.
The boat, and I after it, described a few circles round the edge
of the chasm without any very perceptible descent. Then the boat
began to sink more rapidly, still following the circular eddy of the
whirlpool. After a while increasing darkness, added to my own
increasing dizziness, hid it from me, and I never saw it again.
I now began to look anxiously for Poe's reflex eddy which
carried his hero back to the light. But I saw no signs of it-it was
unfortunately taking a recess that day.
I had given up hope, and the roar from the mysterious depths
below had focused my failing senses. Suddenly the twisting tunnel
in which I was spirally descending was completely darkened from
above. The ocean had apparently closed over me. I was covered
with a seething and bubbling mass of waters. My limbs were nearly
dragged from their sockets by conflicting floods. I became uncon-
Then came a state of ecstacy. I seemed to breathe again and
be borne on water that was half air. I rather fancied I was dead,
but I was quite happy, nevertheless. My course was upward, in
swift but gentle curves. I felt like Iris floating up a rainbow.
Light glimmered and then flashed upon my eyes. A sunbeam
sparkled through a hollow pillar of water round which I was circling
upwards. It was like the electric light on a fountain in a transforma-
tion scene.
Was I dead ? I asked myself again; or would .I be rudely awak-
ened from a too blissful dream ? I mused complacently on all my
good actions in the world below. My musing was not long.
The upward movement ceased. For an instant I floated almost
horizontally upon a dense cloud. Then I was whirled downwards

,W T

.f :
__ -- .o\ .. ;,. \
.- .. .. ,.,.. .. . ,
; .- .', -.
.. _
.._-__ _H BIEL.R~ A.. 'r ...hTR-P

_. ; ;- .- _- :- .- ... ... _! - ".



on a funnel of vaporous water, like that in which I had mounted to
the clouds. But I was on the outside now. I saw the sea below
and caught a glimpse of a vessel hundreds of yards beneath. In an-
other moment I was whirled behind the revolving column of water;
but I saw the vessel again every few seconds, and she seemed nearer
and larger every time. When she last became invisible I was hardly
higher than her topmast, and not much farther than a hundred
yards from her.
Just then I heard a loud boom, and the water that had buoyed
me up yielded beneath me. The liquid column fell, shattered from
its summit to its base. I descended in a cataclysm and struck the
When I came to my senses I was lying-"
(" So I should have supposed," whispered Bill.)
-on the deck of the yacht," the Major went on, unaware of his
nephew's rudeness. My friend Browne had wrapped me in hot
flannel and was pouring brandy down my throat.
That was a good shot of ours at the waterspout," he said. If
we had missed it, it would have burst upon us. There were two of
them: you went up one, I suppose, and came down the other. You
must have sunk pretty deep when that near spout burst; for you
were good ten minutes under water before we picked you up.
Halloa, what's that in your hand ?'
It was a pretty little shell from the bottom of the sea.
I should have thought waterspouts were rare visitors in those
latitudes," observed Bill, with a slight elevation of both eyebrows.
"Your opinion quite tallies with mine, said Major Mendax.
I never saw another thereabouts. And I was not sorry for their
absence, either; for waterspouts do not always give a fellow a lift
just when he wants one.




HOW the buffalo bull that hunted me by the banks of the
Treacherous River can have excused his behavior to his con-
science I haven't the ghost of an idea. I had neither teased him, nor
shot at him, nor challenged him to a race; and it certainly was not
my fault if any other animal had put him in a bad temper. I had, it
is true, just fired at a zebu; but I had not hit it, and, anyhow, the
zebu is only a distant and poor relation of the buffalo. However, I
thought it more prudent to run than to protest-especially as the
beast charged before I had time to reload.
I had rather the best of the running while we were in the small
jungle where the chase began; but when he ran me out into the
open I had not the shadow of a chance, unless I could manage to
reach the river before he did. It was two hundred yards away, and I
had hardly forty yards' start.
The heat was overpowering in the sun, and once I stumbled over
the root of a withered tree, losing several precious seconds. Some
fifty yards from the stream I saw that I must be overtaken; so I
stood stock-still until the buffalo was almost touching me and had
lowered his head for a toss. Then I took a standing jump to one
side, and halted once more. The impetus of his career had carried
him half way to the river before he could turn and rush at me again.
This time his speed was more moderate, and I barely managed to


avoid his horns. But before he could check himself I had got a
good start towards the river.
He was nearly up to me again when I reached the bank and
blindly took a header." Fortunately there was a deep pool at the
spot, and I kept under water half way across, in order to perplex the
bull. When my head emerged from the water I was delighted to see
him standing still upon the bank, uncertain what to do. Before his
mind was made up I had reached the other shore and clambered up
the bank.
The buffalo continued looking at me, now and then digging up
clouds of dust with his fore feet. I fondly hoped that I was out of
danger. But I had yet to learn how the stream I had just crossed
had gained its name of the Treacherous River.
When I tried to move on, I could not stir my feet. While I was
gazing at the angry but undecided bull, I had not felt them sinking;
and now I was above my ankles in a quicksand!
In my first horror I struggled wildly-which apparently made me,
sink faster and certainly tired me for nothing. Then I calmed
myself and attempted to think. I could expect no aid from the
savage natives, if any of them should come my way; and I knew my
own comrades had left the wagons on the spoor of a giraffe, in
the very opposite direction to mine. Yet I shouted and shouted,
till I grew fainter and fainter and the bull more and more excited.
After a while, though, my unanswered cries had another effect:
they forced me to fix my hopes upon the only creature that was
close enough to help me. I saw my way plainly enough now. I
would have to call my enemy to the rescue! The .horns of the
buffalo should save me from the horns of my dilemma-" when in
doubt, a toss up!"
I pulled my red hapkerchief out of my pocket-not an instant
too soon, for the quicksand was beginning to ingulf my coat-


ails. I waved the hated color up and down. The bull, already
furious at my shouting, flounced into the river and swam straight
at me.
I had now sunk to my waist; and I calculated that before he could
reach me, a few more inches of my body would have vanished in the
horrid luke-warm mud. He would, then, just have time to put his
horns under my arms; and this, indeed, would be his only way to
have a good, satisfactory toss. He ought to be able to take true
aim, because I could not possibly shrink; and I was glad to see
that the points of his horns were about the width of my arm-pits
When he came out of the water, I held my arms a little from my
sides, as -indeed I had to do to prevent my elbows entering the quick-
sand. This posture of my arms, I thought, would give him every
chance to get his horns under them; while to raise them higher
would expose them to almost certain dislocation, even if the beast
should kindly prefer tossing to goring me.
As he was floundering over the dozen feet of quicksand that
separated me from the water's edge, I had my eyes shut, and felt
like little Tell when his papa was aiming at the apple on his head.
The beast struck me as I hoped, the tips of his horns passing
under and out behind my arm-pits, without even tearing my clothes.
But his horns were not quite so wide apart towards their roots, and
they painfully compressed my upper ribs in front. Yet this was prob-
ably the saving of me, for, if the whole strain had fallen on my arms
alone, it would probably have wrenched them from their sockets.
As it was, you may guess that the neck muscles of an angry buffalo
could not jerk three quarters of a man's body out of a very tenacious
q ticksand in a second without nearly splitting him in two. But luckily
I :ame up whole.
From a buffalo's point of view the toss was far from a success.


With all his vast muscular exertion he only just threw me over his
shoulders and on to his own back. This effort, added to his greater
weight and the comparative smallness of his feet, had of course made
him sink much more rapidly than I had done. When I lit on his back,
his fore legs were covered and his hind legs nearly so, and in a few
moments his body was as steady as a log.
It would have been pleasanter for both parties had he been able to
pitch me right into the river. As it was, six feet or so of treacherous
sand lay between his hind-quarters and the water's edge. I hastily
walked along his slowly sinking carcass, balanced myself for a spring,
and barely cleared the intervening mud, flopping flat on the surface
of the stream in a pose which nearly took my breath away, and would
have shocked any professor of calisthenics.
As I came in sight of the wagons I saw my two companions re-
turning from their hunting. To my horror they instantly covered
me with their rifles, with the eagerness of naturalists about to bag a
new specimen. You see I had lost my hat and gun, and was wetter
and dirtier and a good deal taller than my old self.
Taller, Uncle ? cried little Bob, opening his eyes unusually wide,
" How was that? "
Why; owing to the way my ribs and joints were stretched in that
tug between the buffalo and the quicksand, of course. No wonder
the fellows couldn't guess who or what I was. I had to reason with
them several minutes, and to ask after their brothers and sisters,
before I could convince them that I was not some sort of a gorilla
or cannibal who had got inside my clothes and outside myself.




" AVE you seen my new book, Uncle ?" said little Bob, one
S evening. I've won the prize in composition."
Bravo! said the Major, looking at the book; that's more than
your uncle ever did.
Did you ever try ? asked Bob.
Once, said the Major, going over and taking an old paper out of
his desk. Here is the very essay. It was my earliest effort, added
he, gazing fondly at it.
Let us see it," cried Bill, laying hands upon the production, and
beginning to read:


No wonder the toper in the play sighed for a giraffe's neck, or that
Mr. Smith, when he saw the animal in the Park, should have ex-
claimed, Imagine two yards of sore throat "
The pains and pleasures of the camelopard are, indeed, intense be-
yond the ordinary lot. When he reaches a spring after a weary pil-
grimage in the desert, he enjoys himself hugely. The water gurgles
refreshingly down six feet of neck hose, making a miniature cataract.
He has been seen to smile a minute or two after swallowing a pecul-
iarly nice plantain, like a Scotchman laughing at a joke five minutes
after its utterance. The pleasant morsel seems to grow sweeter ac;
it goes down, and when it comes to the last few feet of windpipe, the


animal's keen enjoyment overcomes his sense of decorum at meals,
and he breaks into a chuckle.
On the other hand, when a disappointed giraffe gulps down his
bitterness at the triumph of a favored rival, the convulsive spasm
ripples painfully down till it reaches the uttermost end of his throat.
The death-rattle in the throat of a departing camelopard is like a
whole orchestra out of tune.
The song of the giraffe once heard is never forgotten. It probably
suggested to the poet the exquisite, idea of linked sweetness long
drawn out."
To see an unrepining giraffe swallowing bitter almonds which he
has mistaken for sweet ones, and attempting to cover his distress, is
a spectacle of patience and long-suffering, piteous as it is sublime.
In running matches a giraffe can always beat a horse of exactly
equal speed. At the winning post he has merely to stretch out his
head a few yards and win by a neck. A lion can get better time out
of a giraffe than the most skilful jockey.
The lazy and voluptuous monarch of the Nevva-washees, who does
not conceal his dislike for uncooked Baptist missionaries, fords the
swollen Niger in a palankeen suspended from the horns of two do-
mestic camelopards, and thus preserves his sacred person from con-
tact with the water. It has not yet been settled by naturalists
whether a giraffe, getting out of his depth, would swim with his neck
as an eel, or with his legs like another quadruped. No giraffe has
ever been seen out of his depth since the Flood.
It is not expensive to keep a tame camelopard. If you fence in a
narrow walk for him around the boundaries of your property, he will
graze upon the neighbors' trees and flowers. On a nutting expedi-
tion a well-educated giraffe is more useful than a crook. They have
not yet been utilized as fire-escapes in this country.
A camelopard never bows to acquaintances. He thinks it would


be lowering himself too much. A reader of character, judging from
the expression of his neck, would suppose that he was also of a far-
reaching disposition. But he is really an amiable beast, and lets in-
fants call him Neck-neck without resenting the familiarity. It is
well this is so, for a stiff-necked and unbending giraffe would be a
sad affliction to any menagerie. He would necessitate new doors in
every tent or building where he was exhibited. The innocent char-
acter of this animal has needlessly puzzled zoologists. His good
morals are plainly owing to the fact that the rest of his body is more
under control of the head than is the case with any other quadruped.
Indeed, he is the only four-footed beast whose head has proper facili-
ties for biting every rebellious member, and whose legislative depart-
ment is backed by suitable executive power.
c *
Why didn't they give you the prize, Uncle ? asked little Bob,
when the reading was over.
The virtuous examiner, answered the Major, thought the essay
too fanciful, and so, on moral grounds, he gave the premium to an-
other boy, who had cribbed his truthful essay from Buffon.




"j SHOULD like to have your yachting friend's account of that
I waterspout affair," remarked Bill. I'd like to know what he
took you for as you were coming down-an angel, or a merman, or
a whirling dervish ?"
Your curiosity can never be gratified, and your flippancy grieves
me, said the Major with emotion. Poor Browne is dead. He died
(or more strictly he departed) on that same voyage, a martyr to science.
After my descent of the Maelstrom we sailed into the Polar seas
to try and find the North Pole or the Magnetic Pole, whichever
came first. I had an idea of my own about the correct principle on
which to search for the latter.
Wishing to keep my idea to myself, I had a couple of large magnets
sewn into the lining of my fur coat. Of course I was prepared, when
I should feel the attraction growing too strong, to take off the coat
and, fastening it to the mast by a rope, to let it fly forwards as a
guide, and partial motor, to the Magnetic Pole.
It was a wonderfully open season in the Polar seas, and we had
got safely up into the eighties when one day we were alarmed by a
strange variation of the compass. The magnetic needle, which in
the morning had been pointing at N. N. W., went rapidly round till
it pointed almost due West. The Magnetic Pole was apparently on
our starboard beam.
This at least being my conclusion when the officer of the watch


called my attention to the phenomenon. I ran to get my fur coat,
which I had not worn that day owing to a singularly warm southern
breeze. The garment was not in my berth, and I could not find it
anywhere below.
While I was looking for it the sound of laughter called me on
deck, fully prepared for some nonsense on Browne's part. -Poor
fellow, he was too much given to fooling, and used to ask me once
or twice a day whether the waters of the Maelstrom were intoxicating.
There he was, sure enough, dressed in my overcoat, pacing up
and down and imitating my meditative walk.
The yacht had already been headed westward, in the presumed
direction of the Magnetic Pole. I noticed that Browne seemed to
feel increasing difficulty, each time he turned, in walking aft. This
could not be owing to the wind, which was blowing on the beam.
It must be the magnets, it struck me all at once.
"'Take care!' I shouted, as Browne rushing forwards caught
wildly at the jib-boom. There are mag--"
I was too late, the attraction was resistless now. Though he man-
aged to catch the boom with one hand, this only stayed his fate for
a moment. In another second he was soaring into the air in front
of the vessel. His skylarking in jest had ended in his skylarking in
While I was gazing after my friend, the master succeeded in put-
ting the yacht about with some difficulty. Fortunately for us there
was no magnetized iron on board, except the needles of the com-
passes; and these flew off their fixings and made violent efforts to
But how is it that Mr. Browne went up in the air-one would
have fancied he would have been dragged along the surface of the
water or the ice ?" said Bill.
One would have fancied so, and one would have fancied wrong,

i M i

'\ "... \ ''_
* ,,!,!is



for he left us like a bird, moving a little upwards if anything-which
clearly proves that the centre of attraction is nearer the top than the
bottom of the Pole.
But the Magnetic Pole isn't a pole at all cried Bill.
Isn't it ? said Major Mendax, Were you ever there ? "
No," said Bill; nor were you."
Well, not exactly," said the Major; but you see I had a friend
who was.
I often lie awake at night and muse upon the unsolved problems
of Browne's fate. Whether he reached the Pole alive; whether he
planted on it the British flag that he carried in his pocket or the
Stars and Stripes that he carried in my pocket; whether he froze
too stiff for the use of prudent white bears that have only their teeth
and claws to depend on for their living; whether he is balanced by
the two magnets on the top of the Pole ; or whether he stands forth
horizontally at right angles to it, on account of the nails in his boots
and their susceptibility to attraction-these are speculations of en-
trancing interest to me, knowing him as no one else ever did know him.
In all the excitement of his flight, he was alive to the grandeur of
his destiny as the discoverer or rediscoverer of the North Magnetic
Pole. His last words showed this. The corner of a light cloud had
just hidden him forever from us, when his voice reached us through
the still, crisp Polar air. He may have felt but he resisted the
temptation to exclaim Excelsior !'
Don't forget the E !' was what he cried ; and I understood him.
He did not wish to go down to posterity as an ordinary Brown.




H, uncle, you must tell us some stories! cried little Bob,
running over from grandmamma's corner; orandmamma
says you used to tell such stories before you went to Africa, and
she's afraid you'll tell more than ever now. I don't see why African
stories should frighten her-I love them."
My child, I never tell stories, said the Major.
One," whispered grandmamma.
But, resumed the Major, if you are good boys and don't interrupt,
I might tell you a few events of a highly moral kind.
Two," whispered grandmamma.
These adventures, continued the Major, in his dignified manner
teach that necessity is the mother of invention," that you should
" never say die," and sundry other morals. Most of them are ex-
periences of my own.
Three," whispered grandmamma.
One at a time is all I can manage-you mustn't bother me for
more, boys.
All serene," said bumptious Bill; out with Number One."


One morning, began the Major, my negro gardener came to me
in great alarm and stated that his twin sons, Mango and Chango,
had taken out his gun that morning, and had been missing ever
since. I at once loaded my rifle, loosed my Cuban lood-hound,
and followed the man to his hut. There I put the dog upon the
children's scent, following on horseback myself.
It turned out that the young scamps had gone on the trail of a
large bear, though they were only thirteen years old, and their father
had often warned them not to meddle with wild beasts. They began
their adventure by hunting the bear, but ended, as often happens,
in being hunted by the bear: for Bruin had turned upon them, and
chased them so hard that they were fain to drop the gun and take
to a tree.
It was a sycamore of peculiar shape, sending forth from its stem
many small, but only two large, branches. These two were some
thirty feet from the ground, and stretched almost horizontally in
opposite directions. They were as like each other as the twin
brothers themselves. Change took refuge on one of these, Mango
on the other.
The bear hugged the tree till he had climbed as far as the fork.
There he hesitated an instant, and then began to creep along the
branch which supported Chango. The beast advanced slowly and
gingerly, sinking his claws into the bark at every step, and not
depending too much upon his balancing powers.
Change's position was now far from pleasant. It was useless to
play the trick-well known to bear-hunters-of enticing the animal
out to a point where the branch would yield beneath its great weight,
for there was no higher branch within Chango's reach, by catching
which he could save himself from a deadly fall.
Three more steps, and the bear would be upon him or he would
be upon the ground. Brave as the boy was, his teeth chattered.


At this moment Mango, nerved to heroism by his brother's peril,
moved rapidly from the opposite limb of the tree. Stepping behind
the bear, he grasped with one hand a small higher bough, which
extended to where he stood, but not to where his brother lay ; with
the other hand he seized the animal firmly by its stumpy tail. The
bear turned to punish his rash assailant; but, angry as he was, he
turned cautiously. It was no easy task to right-about-face on a
branch which had already begun to tremble and sway beneath his
Change was saved, for the bear evidently had transferred his
animosity to Mango, whom he pursued, step by step, towards the
extremity of the other limb. But Chango was not the boy to
leave his brother and rescuer in the lurch. Waiting until the
enraged brute was well embarked upon Mango's branch, he pulled
its tail, as he had seen his brother do before. Again Bruin turned
awkwardly, and resumed the interrupted chase of Chango.
The twins continued their tactics with success. Whenever the
bear was well advanced on one limb and dangerously close to one
twin, the other twin would sally from the other limb and pull the
beast's tail. The silly animal always would yield to his latest im-
pulse of wrath, and suffer himself to be diverted from the enemy
who was almost in his clutches.
After two hours of disappointment he recognized his mistake. He
was now, for the tenth time, on Chango's branch, and very near Chango.
In vain Mango dragged at his hinder extremity: he kept grimly
on till Mango, forced to choose between letting go the brute's tail or
the higher branch which alone enabled him to keep his feet, let go
the former.
Chango could now retreat no further, and he was hardly a yard
beyond the bear's reach. The branch was swaying more than ever,
and the beast seemed quite aware that he might tax its strength too


far. After a pause, he advanced one of his fore-feet a quarter of a
yard. To increase the bear's difficulty in seizing him, the terrified
boy let himself down and swung with his hands from the bough.
He was hanging in suspense between two frightful deaths. His heart
was sinking, his fingers were relaxing.
Then the deep baying of a hound struck his ear, and his hands
again closed firmly on the branch. In a moment a blood-hound and
a horseman sprang through the underwood.
Change held on like grim death-held on till he heard the sharp
report of a rifle ringing through the air; held on till the falling carcass
of the bearpassed before his eyes; held on till I had climbed the tree,
crawled along the branch, and grasped his wearied wrists.
If that bear only had understood in time that a boy in the hand is
worth two in the bush, he might have lengthened his days and gone
down with honor to the grave.
But, uncle," observed Bill, my Natural History says that there is
only a single representative of the bear family in all Africa, and it in-
habits the Atlas Mountains, and is scarce there."
I never said I met more than one member of the family, did I ?
said the Major. And I don't wonder these bears are dying off, either,
if they are all equally wanting in decision of character.




IHAD adopted a little orphaned lion, and we grew to be quite fond
of each other. In the freshness and fervor of youth, when one
is most easily thrilled by poetry and hope, I had been deeply moved
by the noble rhyme:

"If I had a donkey what wouldn't go,
Wouldn't I wallop it? Oh, no! no!"

Acting on this merciful sentiment, I never walloped a vicious bull-
dog, like Emily Bronte; nor pitch-forked a bull, like certain big, bold
boys that I knew; nor forced reluctant bears to stand on their hind
legs and dance, as wandering Italians do. And I carried out the
same benevolent principle in the education of my lion. While he
was a cub, he was so funny and playful that I never thought of
correcting him at all. When he grew up, I was even more gentle
with him, for I shrank from lowering the self-respect of a full-grown
lion, unused to confinement or restraint, by inflicting the disgrace of
a whipping upon him.
The affection of the lion fully repaid me for this forbearance of
mine. Li," for I always called him by this short name, would let
me pull his mane and ride on his back, would eat out of my hand,
and give me his paw at the command, Shake hands." He accom-
panied me on my walks, and, when I went on my longer expeditions


he would go out day after day in the hope of meeting me returning,
and be sulky and restless all the time I was away. On more than
one occasion he proved a valuable ally to me.
Li was on the best of terms with my horses and dogs. He did
not indeed allow too much familiarity on the part of the latter, and
once, when a bloodhound rashly seized a bone that he had dropped,
he stunned the robber with a blow of his tail.
When Li was just four years old, I made a short journey into the
interior to trade with a chief who had captured a large lot of ostrich
feathers. As his character for honesty was not satisfactory, I
thought I would bargain that he should send the feathers and be
paid on delivery. By this plan I fancied I would secure, not only
the goods, but also my own safety, for he could get no pay before
my return home. I went accordingly without money, wagons or
attendants, mounted on a horse of most remarkable strength and
speed. But the chief had sold his feathers before my arrival, and,
seeing no profit in letting me go home, he treacherously dragged
me from my horse, as he was handing me some water in a
cocoa-nut. In a moment I was overpowered and bound by his
In vain I appealed to his better nature, reminding him that I had
never done him any harm; in vain I tried to arouse his covetous-
ness by promising him a splendid ransom. Unhappily I was par-
ticularly fat just then, and he had once tasted missionary.
It was past noon and I was respited to the evening, for the chief
had dined. Even if I could manage to cut my cords, I had no
earthly chance of escape, for my horse had galloped away when I
was seized. This action of the trusty and intelligent animal sur-
prised as well as disappointed me, for one night, when he had been
scared by a leopard and had broken his tether, he had come back to
my camp-fire in the morning, to carry his master home.


Evening came, and I was tied horizontally to two stakes and laid
upon a pile of fire-wood, which women and children were industri-
ously increasing every moment. The chief, with his wives and
invited guests, was lying on a slope close by me. I heard one
young woman smack her lips expectantly. Was she longing to
kiss me, or to eat me? The thought was seemingly a strange one
in my circumstances. But I had attained the calmness of despair.
I had forgiven all my enemies and nearly all my false friends.
At last the chief gave the signal to light the fire.
But a new actor now came upon the scene. My faithful horse
appeared at the head of the slope, and came down like a tornado
into the assembly, with something on his back. In another second
an angry lion bounded a dozen feet over the head of the galloping
horse, into the very midst of the cannibals. One roar burst from
his distended jaws, and it was the sweetest music I had ever heard.
It was not a long roar, for my Li wasted no time in noise. With
one paw he brained the treacherous chief; with a sweep of his tail
he floored his three nearest wives; while at the same moment he
snapt off the head of the young lady who had been smacking her
lips in such an unpleasant manner. Then he indulged in a long
and thunderous roar, which knocked down all the tribe that remained
standing, and put most of them into fits. He did the business pretty
thoroughly, did my Li.
Presently he came and tore the cords that bound me, and licked
my hands and face. He took a little skin off in his excitement, but
I forgave him.
Li had evidently been on the look-out for me as usual, and had
met my returning horse half-way. The two intelligent animals then
exchanged ideas, and decided on a charge of cavalry as the fastest
means of rescuing me.
What became of the lion afterwards ? asked Bob.


My poor Li died on the spot, answered the Major with emotion;
a cannibal's head stuck in his throat,

Slowly and sadly I laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory ;
I carved not a line and I raised not a stone,
But I left him alone in his glory."

Though the cannibals had not the slightest appetite remaining
now, I thought it only prudent to ride off at once. But in a few
days I returned with a party, and covered his grave with sods. We
marked the spot with a headstone bearing the words, HERE LIES
Li." There beirig a spring there, we contrived to make a little
fountain, to keep the grass green and mark the place.
Where is it ? asked Bill. I might like to visit it when I go
to Africa."
Ah, would you? Well, it is between Morocco and Timbuctoo,
inclined a little towards the sea. The fountain will guide you, and
you cannot mistake the place when you get there. The last time
I made a pilgrimage to it, I found a nest of centipedes under the
headstone and a leopard's den at the foot of the mound, while a
lonely viper was creeping mournfully over the grass. It is easy
enough to identify the spot; but the visiting of shrines in Africa has
its drawbacks.
And now, my dear boy, added the Major, if you ever feel a mean
temptation to poke wild beasts with sticks through the bars of their
cages, just remember the lion of Androclus and my own big Li.




IT seems that Pip, the wicked King of Lotoli, at first mistook me
for a missionary, owing doubtless to my innocent aspect. Now
Pip did not like missionaries, for they made him feel uneasy in his
mind. In order, therefore, to get rid of an unpleasant visitor and
amuse himself while doing so, he gave me a choice well calculated
to embarrass a divine-to win an eating, sleeping, or talking match,
or to die. A murder in his code of morals was a very slight offence,
and a little fun connected with it would not make it worse, and might
as well be enjoyed as not. His servile courtiers chuckled loudly at
what they called the richness of the idea.
Put more exactly, I was to outsleep the champion sleeper of the
tribe, outeat the champion eater, outtalk the most abusive of Pip's
wives, or be executed on the spot. I chose to sleep, and expressed
my choice promptly and smilingly, for this was part of my game.
Guess I can sleep some," I observed-" just a few, as we say in
New England. And with your Majesty's permission I'll put a little
wager on the event-my wagon-load of beads against your Majesty's
When I made this proposal, it occurred to Pip, as he afterwards
admitted, that I might not be a missionary after all and that he had
anyhow condemned me for an unproved offense. But his enlighten-


ment came too late to save me. His curiosity and covetousness were
aroused; and he thought he had a pretty soft thing."
Done! he said, promptly-" play or pay."
I had placed some reliance on a bottle of patent sleeping powder
that I had about me. I thought I might put myself to sleep with it,
and perhaps swallow some more as often as I awoke, without being
observed. But I abandoned the latter idea when I learned that my
competitor had slept ten days at a stretch. To keep myself asleep
ten days by the aid of drugs I should have to make my slum-
ber perpetual-" to die, to sleep no more," as Dr. Pangloss neatly
By the terms of the bet, then and there agreed upon, my com-
petitor and I were to be asleep in half an hour. This period he
employed in gorging himself to repletion.
I spent the first fifteen minutes in carrying a number of blankets
and a waterproof of tarpaulin from my wagon to the ring where our
sleep was to take place in public view. These preparations roused
the curiosity of the King.
What are those things for ? he asked through an interpreter.
"The weather is sultry and it is the dry season."
"Yes," I replied; but the rainy season begins in less than two
months. If I neglected these precautions I might be awakened by
rheumatic pains in six weeks or so."
I then rolled myself up in several blankets, with the tarpaulin
outside, and laid my head on a bundle of clothes under the shade
of an umbrella that I had planted in the ground. The King's eyes,
I noticed, were very wide open as I closed mine. Having taken a
dose of my sleeping powder, I was sound asleep in three minutes.
In a very short time I was awaked by a violent- shaking. The
umbrella was gone and the sun was streaming in my eyes. The
interpreter, who stood beside me, had applied this test to make sure


that I was really sleeping. He looked terribly hot, for. I had not
opened my eyes at once when I awoke. I thought a little more
exercise might do him good.
The King wants to know what you will take and cry quits," he
Pip evidently did not understand the great American game of
"Seeing it is His Gracious Majesty," I said, I will take the biggest
diamond and a free pass home, and call it off."
It is a go," said the interpreter; but mind this is your own
proposal, for His Majesty is very scrupulous about keeping his
He is willing to take the two biggest diamonds and a free pass,"
were the words in which he misrepresented my proposition to the
King; for this interpreter was an American freedman and had been
a colored member of the South Carolina legislature soon after the
war-and in that learned assembly he had picked up the following
poetical truth:
"One and one give us two-
One for me and one for you."

Before I left the capital of Lotoli I had to witness the execution
of my unhappy competitor. It was not only my extensive prepara-
tions that had made the King tremble for his diamonds, but also the
fact that his man could not come to time at the beginning of the
match. The more he tried to sleep the more he shivered, for at the
last moment Pip had very imprudently threatened to smother him if
he failed to win. It seldom pays to murder sleep.
Perhaps I ought to mention that the interpreter who was so fond
of simple addition and division nearly fell a victim to a similar mis-
conception of his character. For, before he took to politics he had
been a waiter in a Southern hotel and was ever afterwards given


to wearing a white and clerical looking tie, which he found as good
as an introduction to fresh and credulous strangers. Pip, who pos-
sessed a certain sense of humor, learning from its wearer that the
said article of dress was named a white choker observed that a mis-
sionary's garment should be true to its name and forthwith ordered
the new-comer to be throttled with his own cravat. But the profane
nature of the terms applied by the condemned man to his execu-
tioner entirely removed the King's suspicion as to his clerical char-
acter and procured him an immediate pardon.



"Oh, many a wicked smile he smole
And many a wink he wunk ;
And, oh, it was a fearful thing
To think the thoughts he thunk."

T HIS same King of the Lotolies practised some ingenious cruel-
ties. One day, as he was enjoying the gentle exercise of ad-
ministering the bastinado, he was struck by the great variety of tone
in the groans of his victims. So he commanded his carpenter to
construct wooden stocks, to confine (soles upwards) the feet of eight
captives who were in the habit of groaning promptly when hit by
the rod, and whose different notes of pain formed a complete
octave. He had a second frame constructed for eight more wretches
whose average groans ranged an octave higher. On this human
harp, as he observed with an inhuman chuckle, he intended to play
sole-stirring tunes.
He began to practice the national air, a very simple melody. He


tried with temporary success to regulate the length of the note by
the violence of the blow and hoped soon to be able to strike quavers,
crotchets, and all the other notes at will. At first indeed he signally
failed in bringing out the shorter notes, for the poor fellows, hitherto
accustomed to nothing but hard hits, howled loud and long on the
descent of every blow alike. Soon, however, the cries grew nearly
proportioned to the blows. But this was the case for a short time
only, for before the performance had satisfied King Pip the instru-
ment was hopelessly out of tune. Some of the animated notes
were sounding incessantly; others were insensible and did not sound
at all.
In vain the baffled tyrant replaced these injured notes by fresh
ones: in vain he tried new arrangements of the captives and the
lookers-on. He never could manage to produce the national air
without some discords.
At least I have invented foot-notes! said the unprincipled Pip.
Then he plied his rod rapidly all round and stalked away in a
little better humor, for a grand vocal finale was ringing in his ears.
-* *li
I have a rod in pickle for you," muttered an agile chief, scowl-
ing after the tyrant and with difficulty restraining his noble rage,
which was one day to burst out in open defiance. You've turned
the national air of Lotoli into a dirge; but you'll quaver for this
crotchet yet."
The indignant chief was Tehee. He had punned in bitter
mockery only, for he scorned the puns and other vices of that cor-
rupt court.




A MONG the barbarities invented by this tyrant of Lotoli was a
peculiarly wanton one of which I myself was the intended
victim. On my third visit to his capital, one of my narratives having
passed his limited experience and understanding, he rashly suspected
me of practising upon his credulity. And, in his resentment he
composed an execrable couplet which, being translated, runs thus:

Of all the liars neathh the sky
The very biggest one am I."

This jingle I was sentenced to recite aloud before Pip's ribald
court on an approaching high holiday. If I refused, it was politely
hinted to me through his Minister of the Interior (as Pip jocosely
named his head cook) that I might take my choice of being boiled
or roasted.
How to escape both the shame of yielding and the penalty of
refusing Having pondered long over this problem and seeing no
solution to it, I craved a private audience with the King. I thought
I would try the effect of humoring his strange delusion that I was
given to exaggeration.
Your majesty," I cried, bowing with whatever of grace I ha:l


acquired in African courts, I have gone to great lengths in the
pursuit of truth."
I should say so," said the unsympathetic Pip.
In my credulous childhood," I went on, I heard that truth lay
in a well, and I descended into a well and caught, not truth, but a
Perhaps Truth thought you could beat her at lying in a well
and kept away," observed the tyrant grinning at his own wit.
Again I heard that truth was in wine; but wine only made me
tell stories. I raved about truth, and my ravings were fictitious.
And whenever I did tell the truth people said I was telling lies.
What was I to do?
Besides, the pursuit of truth is ennobling. Is it well, 0 King,
to catch Truth and end the noble chase ? "
Pip smiled at this plea: he was smart'enough to see that it was
a fallacy.
An 'illicit process of the Major' ?" suggested Bill, who had
dipped into logic.
So I tried another line of argument. If your Majesty," I said,
" is pleased to assert that I am a liar, is not that enough ? Do your
subjects need my poor testimony to be convinced ? One seldom
likes a man who calls him a liar: will your Majesty force me to dis-
like myself ?"
The tyrant grinned again, but was inexorable. In fact he was
fond of hearing his own poetry recited (like two or three other
people), and I was to suffer for his vanity.
I was now thoroughly out of humor with myself. I had given
myself away in vain; and I felt like a victim of persecution who,
having renounced his belief in a moment of weakness, was going
to be burned after all. It was at this moment of despondency that
my good genius suggested a simple expedient.


Your word is law, 0 King, and to this law I bowv," I said.
" Promise me only one thing, that there shall be silence from the
beginning to the end of my recitation. I wish that no word should
interrupt the pointed and rhythmic verses that your Majesty has
been pleased to compose."
If any one speaks, your penalty is over, and he shall die," promised
His Majesty of Lotoli.
But if you speak yourself, great King ? "
In that case, also," said Pip, we shall excuse you the rest of your
A little later the court assembled to hear me spout the humili-
ating lines. A herald proclaimed the conditions I had obtained from
the King.
"' To repeat a King's words too hastily," said I, making my bow
to the audience, is irreverent and revolutionary. I shall therefore,
availing myself of his Majesty's gracious concession, utter his august
words with proper awe and deliberation."
Then, assuming an elocutionary attitude,
Of," I began in a loud voice.
All," I continued after one minute.
The," I went on, in two minutes more.
Liars," I added, when my watch showed that four more minutes
had gone by.
Neath," I said after pausing eight minutes.
The features of several bystanders were horribly contorted at
this time. They were struggling for their lives against a dreadful
temptation to laugh.
"The," I articulated sixteen minutes later.
I now saw anger working in the King's face and I feared that he
would repudiate his compact. Happily he was not trained in diplo-


macy and had not learned how a ruler's compact can be repudiated
quite respectably, for considerations of state."
Sky," I added in thirty-two minutes more.
Then Pip's forbearance ended. He started from his throne in a
towering passion, and would have broken the silence himself had not
one of his subjects rashly done so before him.
This reckless being was a philosopher, who owned a rude time-
piece, made by himself. In his zeal for science, like Archimedes, he
forgot about death.
Your majesty, he is pausing in geometrical progression and it
will take him over a month to get through," he exclaimed in the
same tone in which Archimedes exclaimed Eureka." Though the
wise man of Lotoli did not chuckle exactly like the Grecian sage.
Here was a scape-goat for my offence. Pip could vent his rage
on this self-offered victim without breaking his royal word.
Off with his head roared Pip.
This order and the philosopher were promptly executed.
To my surprise I was allowed to go without any direct permis-
sion from the King. At least, when I asked to be excused further
attendance at his court, the tyrant made no answer that I could hear
to my request, but only called me a name. Goliah! he shouted;
and it has puzzled me ever since to guess in what respect he thought
me like that giant.
I think I can tell the King's meaning," whispered Bill to his
brother: he said Goliah in two words, and the last of them ended
in r.
It was well for me that I went at once, for the King soon repented
of his hasty sentence and laid the blame on me. In fact the ebony
sage's worth began to be recognized by the whole tribe the moment
the recognition could do him no earthly good. The Lotolies often
wax enthusiastic at the death of their clever men. They did not,


indeed, raise a monument to this sage; but they held a feast in his
honor, which feast, sad to say, degenerated into an orgy. It is not
uncommon in Africa, as Dr. Johnson might have observed, but for
his silly prejudice against America, to.
See nations slowly rise and, meanly just
To buried merit, 'start upon a bust. '"


W HEN I next returned to Lotoli, I was hanged by that spite-
ful brute Pip. But my neck was not broken, nor had my
arms been pinioned; and so, when the spectators dispersed, I cut
myself down and walked off. I had not been a captive for six months
among the Stiff Necks in vain.
This singular tribe, whom I prefer to call by their nickname,
practice no industry but stealing. As a natural result many of them
die at the hands of the neighbors whom they rob. Among these
neighbors hanging is the prevailing form of capital punishment. But
the Stiff Necks usually elude the consequences of this penalty by
strengthening their necks through a systematic course of training.
Soon after birth their infants are subjected to the test of being
lifted by their heads, and those who give way under the strain are
deemed unfitted for the needs of existence. Those who survive the
Spartan ordeal are often slung on the backs of their nurses and
carried about by a string encircling their necks. The schools of the
Stiff Necks are models of good order. There the children stand in
rows on tiptoe, half suspended by ropes attached to the rafters.
Troublesome boys are promptly lifted off the ground, for the other
ends of the ropes, which move on pulleys, concentre at the teacher's


desk. The ordinary strain is not much felt by the children, who are
relieved from it every now and then, and are, besides, allowed a long
recess at noon to practise the precepts of their instructors, in stealing
their dinners. The boys are even occasionally hanged with weights,
increasing with their age, attached to their feet.
Nor are adults exempted from a similar discipline. I myself, for
they fondly hoped to make me one ot them, was obliged to undergo
a daily increasing strain upon my neck. I stood it, they said, un-
commonly well, for an outsider. In fact the natural strength of my
neck, seemed to show that, in spite of all the deaths I have escaped,
I was not born to be hanged.
Bowing is a minor exercise and strengthener of the neck among
these people. It is their only mode of greeting an acquaintance, of
bidding good-bye, and even of expressing thanks or veneration. I
had occasion to regret bitterly the prevalence of this custom.
I forget who it was that threw a doubt upon the boasted pain-
lessness of the guillotine, as compared with the gallows, by applying
galvanism to a cut-off head and finding the nerves acted for a number
of seconds. Reading of this experiment, I thought at the time that,
if a guillotined head could be instantly and hermetically rejoined to
the trunk, life might possibly be preserved. While I was with the
Stiff Necks 6ne of their chiefs was beheaded for treason, hanging of
course not being a serious punishment among them. I had now a
means of proving my theory, for was I not agent for a newly invented
patent Invisible Cement?
A second after the execution I had united the severed chief and
fitted his head accurately on its old stand. With a copious applica-
tion of the magic cement I exhausted the air between the lately
parted portions of the Stiff Neck, and this without interrupting the
course of the veins.
He drew a long breath and opened his eyes with an unutterable


expression of gratitude. He had been told that I was going to
attempt his restoration, and that his pardon would be granted if I
But the excess of his gratitude proved fatal to him. Before the
cement was hardened or his neck permanently united, he began
to bow his thanks after the manner of his tribe; and he nodded so very
vehemently that at the seventh nod he sent his head flying into my
face, in such a way that he almost succeeded in committing murder
and suicide at the same instant.
It was the most impolite piece of politeness I ever saw-to fling
back one's gift at one in this violent way.
This unfortunate finale, for which I was in no way responsible,
interfered disastrously with the sale of Mendax's Mend-neck,' as I
had thought of re-christening my cement. And, failing to induce
anybody to have himself executed by way of illustrating its efficacy
in a more satisfactory way, I gave up the idea of starting in business
as a joiner among the Stiff Necks."
Were the Stiff Necks cannibals ? inquired little Bob.
To some extent, answered the Major.
Then why did they keep you a prisoner instead of eating you ?"
asked Bill.
It was owing to an accident, said the Major. A foraging party
of the Stiff Necks surprised me very suddenly. Roused from my
sleep by their terrific yell, my opening eyes rested on the features
of Bigbone Bowza; the fiercest and most repulsive-looking man-
eater of the tribe.
My heart sank and my hair rose; and, being rather long at the
time, like Oscar Wilde's, my bristling locks lifted my straw hat
several inches from my skull. It was then that, to prevent my head-
gear tumbling off, I raised my hand instinctively, bending my head
unconsciously at the same time.


My seeming politeness at such a dreadful crisis quite charmed
Bowza. He could appreciate any civility in the shape of bowing.
Bowing to a Stiff Neck was like making the freemason's sign to one of
the initiated. Bowza bowed and I bowed back. He bowed again and
so did I. Then he jumped forwards and hugged me; and his friend-
ship, which began then, often afterwards took the same unpleasantly
demonstrative form. This kind of gush may be engaging in a nice
young woman; but it did not suit so well in Bowza.
It was his fondness for me that kept me so long a captive among
the Stiff Necks.
In consequence of my training among this strange people I had
not trembled for my own neck when Pip ordered me to be hanged.
But I did feel horribly afraid at first that he might have somebody
else hanged with me. For it was one of his ghastly refinements of
cruelty to string up two wretches face to face, and then promise to
release the one who should smile first. The brute could gaze at
their abortive effort. He never seemed to feel any presentiment of
his own approaching fate.

i Ik- : I

!/Ij II 1' ",

If ''! L*,,
g f

I q ve 4f
z _
f ., .,,,.,

I :' I-'- -,--

(,..,, r~l E '+ .
w ,, ,. ,, ,[ '
,i . ., ,' .. ,+ ,, .

_:~~ -P -'%'

: --_ ,,..
j +





W HEN I paid my respects to Pip some months later, the
sovereign of the Lotolies was startled and awed at the appari-
tion of a man whom he had seen hanged. My seemingly miraculous
preservation ensured me much respect and consideration at first.
But no one's life was safe in the long run at the court of so peppery
and whimsical a tyrant.
I had felt from the first a desire to take a sketch of Pip's peculiar
visage, and this desire grew stronger and stronger. But he always
refused to let me. He was dissatisfied with his nose and distrusted
every compliment paid to that feature. And he was right. Be.
neath his many vanities and sins was a layer of sound common sense.
I offered to sketch him with no nose, but he was not pleased with
that idea. I offered to sketch him with an average nose, but he said
it would be too thin."
His proboscis was indeed a remarkable one in quantity and quality.
It was large when I first saw him, and vice and gluttony had per-
ceptibly added to its size since my last visit. Its hues, too, were more
checkered and luxuriant than ever. It was more like some over-ripe
tuber than a. feature of a human being. In size and color and
shape, it in fact very much resembled the more sun-burned half
of a banana which I happened to have in my pocket on the eventful
occasion when I yielded to temptation and drew a portrait of Pip.
I adopted the bold design of sketching him in his sleep, during
his afternoon siesta. I had bribed the two guards whose turn it was
to watch outside His Majesty's hut. Plying my pencil rapidly, I had


soon outlined his features and made mental notes for their coloring.
But I bent over my drawing block once too often-to complete the
shading and append a title which occurred to me-" The Sleeping
When I looked up, Pip was awake and blinking spitefully at me.
It shall be roasting this time, to make sure," he muttered.
" Guards! "
But the guards did not stir: it was safer, they thought, to pretend
they had been drugged than to admit they had been bribed.
Guards!" repeated Pip in a tone that I feared might rouse the
inmates of the nearest huts.
There are moments when audacity is less dangerous than inaction
I seized Pip by his pampered proboscis with my right hand and pulled
and squeezed unmercifully.
High Treason! Revolution! Civil War!" roared the dismayed
monarch gutturally.
I gave his nose a final wrench, taking care at the same time to
cover his eyes with my left sleeve. In a second I had broken the
banana in my pocket and was flourishing its sun-burned end before
his eyes.
"Look at your fruity old snout! I cried. No one else shall
lose his life by sketching it."
He raised his hand some inches as if about to verify his loss. But
he dropt it with a shudder: he did not want to touch the sore spot,
having already had convincing proofs of his calamity. Then he
lifted up his voice and wept.
The guards, now thoroughly alarmed, were hurrying to the door.
Burn me," I cried, and out goes your proboscis through the
window. Pardon me, and your scent shop shall resume business and
pay one hundred cents on the dollar."
I mean," I added, seeing he did not understand my Transatlan-

,i '. I ,

'' 5(a` )


tic trope, I mean that the old prob. shall go on again, as sound and
firm as ever."
He naturally had faith in my healing powers.
I'll pardon you," he gasped.
And you'll excuse the guards too, for dozing? "
"The guards too," he groaned, to the great relief of the two
soldiers, who were now trembling at the door.
Then keep your eyes shut for fear of accidents; and on she
sticks," said I, winking at the astonished guards, and kneading vig-
orously at Pip's bloated and smarting snout.
I finished my surgical operations by emptying a water-skin upon
his kingly physiognomy, bidding him to feel his cobbled nose and
go to sleep in peace.
I did not fear he would break his promise and put us to death for
our offences of that afternoon, for I guessed he would not like to
publish the humiliation of his royal nose, and he knew we would not
speak of it unless driven to desperation. Yet I shrewdly suspected
that he would sooner or later find a pretext and a means for putting
us out of the way; and I was about to withdraw secretly from Lotoli,
taking with me the two guards whom I had led into danger, when
Tehee's rebellion changed all my plans.




O NE of the court games of Lotoli was known as "Passing On."
King Pip, who was fond of studying strange phases of
human nature, held the theory that strong passions could be passed
from man to man like an electric shock. In testing this theory he
invented the game.
He was sitting with his council in a complete circle, the highest
members on his right, the lowest on his left, when he abruptly gave
his fat Chief Councillor a ringing box on the ear. The Chief Coun-
cillor bit his lip and struck the giggling Second Councillor who was
on his right. The Second Councillor looked daggers at the Chief
Councillor, and avenged the insult he had received upon the Third
Councillor. The latter, flushed with wrath against his immediate
superiors, vented his wrath upon his immediate inferior.
As the blow was passed on to the right the indignation seemed
to pass on with it. The Chief Councillor had actually begun to en-
joy the grimaces of his juniors before the buffet had made a com-
plete round of the circle. When the second lowest struck the lowest
member of the board and the latter, having royalty on his right and a
superior on his left, could only dance with impotent rage, all the rest
regained their spirits and enjoyed the game thoroughly.
In fact so boisterous became their mirth that the unhappy junior,
seeing himself a public laughing-stock, suddenly ceased his buck-
jumps and fled howling to the bosom of his family. There he doubt-
less found a vent for his pent-up feelings in pounding his wives or


" shaking his mother" in a way that Scotty, the hero-of Buck Fan-
shaw's funeral would have deprecated.
The game had proved so very diverting to him that the enthusi-
astic King started another round of it then and there, by hitting the
now hilarious Chief Councillor upon his open mouth. This initiative,
which Bell's Life would call "shutting the potato-trap and the
American small boy would call mashing on the snoot," was pretty
generally followed in the second round, which round was played
with an ardor that rendered it intensely gratifying to Pip and the
So pleased was the tyrant with the success of his experiment that
he afterwards started the game every now and then in his court.
This he always did abruptly, generally when his parasites seemed
enjoying themselves most. So that it became a hard task for his
courtiers to display the needful appreciation of the royal jokes and
at the same time to avoid the too broad smile that would probably
suggest a rubber of Passing on to a monarch so fond of startling

He likes 'Passing on,' muttered the nimble Tehee to his two
fellow-conspirators at the close of a spirited game: "perhaps he
won't like Passing away' quite so much."
This was the day before the revolt.




AT last the cup of the cruelties of King Pip was quite full.
It was the annual custom or annual butchery at Lotoli.
The tyrant had feasted on horrors all the forenoon. Then he had
dined luxuriously in the open air, surrounded by some caged canni-
bals whom his warriors had captured in a raid. Their hungry faces,
he said, improved his appetite, just as the sound of rain on the roof
of his royal hut made him appreciate the dryness and comfort
The crowning attraction of the festival came last. The con-
quered rebel chieftains, Tookee, Hookee, and Tehee, were ushered
into the royal presence, stepping proudly and defiantly though they
were chained together. They had been sentenced to fight a huge
gorilla that had been provoked into pursuing a canoe on the Gaboon,
and then captured in a net and towed to shore half-drowned. Now
it was caged and ready to minister to the vengeance and amusement
of the King.
A choice of weapons had at first been offered to the three pris-
oners. But that very morning a famous soothsayer, a seventh son
of a seventh daughter and born with an odd number of toes, had
said ominously: The national weapon shall slay the great afe, and lhe
slayer shall die a king. In consequence of this alarming prediction
the superstitious despot forbade the use of the bow, for all his coun-
cillors agreed that it was the national weapon of the Lotolies. After
the rebels should have been slain, Pip purposed winding up the
sport, and securing himself for life upon the throne in accordance


with the prophesy, by shooting the gorilla with arrows from his
safe and comfortable seat above the walls of the arena.
Meanwhile he was in fine spirits and in a pleasurable state of ex-
pectancy, for he had never seen a gorilla killing a human being.
It would be a new sensation, and he expected to enjoy it as thoroughly
as Squeers enjoyed his first opportunity of thrashing a boy in a cab.
He had already rewarded the courtier to whose suggestion he owed
so agreeable a prospect.
Tookee, Hookee, and Tehee were finally only given three weapons
-a sword, an assegai and a lasso. They drew lots for first choice.
Hookee, who won, selected the assegai, thinking it m ig't be the national
weapon. For the same reason Tookee, who drew the second longest
lot, chose the sword, which was of native manufacture. The lasso only
remained for Tehee, and he had never used one in his life. They
were to encounter the gorilla one after the other.
Tookee, who was himself of royal blood, entered the arena deter-
mined not to give his cruel kinsman Pip the extra pleasure of seeing
him quail. He rushed straight towards the gorilla's cage, which was
not yet opened, evidently hoping to gain an advantage before the
brute could get out. But the door was pulled up from above a
moment too soon for the brave Tookee, and the huge ape bounded into
the open arena, beating an echoing note of defiance upon his ample
bosom. The undaunted chief lunged swiftly at the creature's heart
with such force that the worthless blade, encountering a rib, snapt in
two. One crushing blow on the forehead from his enemy, and Tookee
had died like a warrior of Lotoli.
Hookee had been dragged into the rebellion against his will and
had vainly begged the king to pardon him on that ground. However,
he entered the lists with some appearance of courage and brandishing
his assegai. But the fate of his friend had unmanned him a little
and destroyed his trust in his weapon. When the hideous brute re-


newed his deep, angry roar, Hookee trembled and fled, prodding
blindly behind him at his pursuer. But Hookee might as well have
tried to check a tornado with a paper fan. In a moment the gorilla
had broken the spear's shaft. In another moment he had felled
Hookee with a blow which was less effective than the one which
finished poor Tookee only because the latter chief had been advancing
gamely against the stroke, while Hookee was running away from it
as fast as his legs would carry him. He who fights and runs away
may live to fight another day."
Before the gorilla had time to make a sure end of his motionless
foe, Tehee bounded from the prisoner's door with the agility of a
harlequin and waved his hand gracefully to the audience. He carried
no lasso, and was armed only with an inspiration. His supple frame
glistened in the sun, having been freshly anointed and his new purple
bathing-drawers struck some of the spectators as showing too frivolous
a regard for style in one about to die. But the medicine-man who
had made the prophesy in the morning muttered Mumbo ", which
afterwards increased his credit very much; for mumbo was a learned
word, unknown to the Lotolies and which, as afterwards interpreted
by the soothsayer himself, meant appropriate." It was in fact a
cabalistic term whose meaning varied a good deal according to circum-
stances, making it quite handy for an anti-vernacular, highly oracular,
feather-his-nest old man.
Tehee answered the ape's angry challenge with a loud and defiant
Ethiopian chuckle, as the man and his deformed image rushed swiftly
at each other. Not a woman there but trembled and prayed for the
graceful and intrepid Tehee. At the decisive moment that active
chieftain projected himself into the air, in a horizontal posture and
headforemost, as a swimmer takes a header into the water off a spring-
board. In fact he converted himself into a human missile. His head
flew safely through the terrible arms of his surprised antagonist and


struck the gorilla full butt just under the breast bone. The great ape
fell without a groan, not because he felt no pain, but because he had
not a single breath left in his body. His mighty right hand, which had
fractured Tookee's skull, came down on Tehee only in a tremendous
spank, so that it broke ho bones, if it did detract somewhat from the
glory of the victory and remind the victor unpleasantly of his nursery
At this point in the proceedings Hookee opened both eyes. He had
half-opened one a few seconds earlier, but, the contest being then un-
decided, he had closed it again and resumed his judicious inaction.
Now he sprang fearlessly to his feet, and, picking up the head of his
broken assegai, buried it in the neck of the fallen gorilla. Then he
looked proudly and victoriously around the audience.
Stand against the wall," shouted Tehee to his posing comrade.
No sooner had Hookee wonderingly obeyed this mandate than the
aspiring Tehee bounded on his shoulders and, grasping the top of
the wall, drew himself up out of the arena. He snatched a sword
from the captain of Pip's body-guard and dealt a death-blow to that
cruel King. Then he seated himself upon the throne and nominated
a friend of his own captain of the guard.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

So thought the medicine-man. Before the soldiers had decided
how to act he started to his feet:
Tehee hath overcome the gorilla with the national weapon,"
he cried, and he shall die a King. The headis the national weapon
of the African and of the ram. Long live the great King Tehee! "
Long live King Tehee!" echoed the late Pip's Carolinian inter-
preter; and in his enthusiasm, forgetting he no longer wore such an
article, he raised his hand to toss his hat into the air. He chucked


up a wisp of his wool instead, and the expression of his face was not
blissful when he felt his mistake. A few minutes later he was
arrested on a charge of tearing his hair in spite and mortification at
the change of dynasties; and he lost his valuable post of interpreter
in consequence.
Long live Tehee!" shouted the spectators with one accord dazed
at his audacity.
Your Majesty will remember that I said' Mumbo,' that is to say,
'fit and meet'-the moment I saw your Majesty enter the arena clad
in purple, which is the royal color."
We shall not forget it," answered King Tehee; and we here-
with appoint you our Prime Minister. The design of your seal of
office shall be a serpent embracing an owl with the motto Mumbo,'
which, I believe, means 'fit and meet.' "
Tehee was not ungrateful, but he was a wee bit satirical.
There was one incident of the revolution at Lotoli that I did not
choose to look at. The starving cannibals who had been forced to
witness Pip's dining were uncaged and, after kissing the feet of
their liberator, were allowed to eat their tormentor, Pip. Old Mumbo
said this was poetic justice, but I could not see the poetical part of
it myself.
Next morning the gallant Tookee was buried with great pomp,
Tehee himself being the chief mourner.
He was a splendid fellow," sighed Hookee, strutting home from
the funeral with the mien of a hero; but he wanted discretion or
he might have lived to see the glorious victory that WE won."




HASTY imitation is risky, observed the Major to Bob, whose
ears had been boxed that morning for mimicking, in front
of the French teacher, a grimace which Bill had been making safely
behind the back of that fiery foreigner. It was rather hard lines for
Bob: he was only mimicking Bill, while Bill, who escaped, was
mimicking the teacher. Bill, indeed, had bravely hastened to take
the blame; but Bob had already taken the box, for the Frenchman
was impulsive.
"So it is, uncle," assented Bob. Do you know that the baby
poked the fire to-day with your new walking-stick? The little beg-
gar had just seen me raking the ashes with the poker."
You recollect Barnum's monkey," chimed in Bill, which saw
the cook plucking a chicken and then went and plucked every
feather out of his master's pet parrot-which led the bare bird to
observe ironically, on Barnum's return, We've been having quite a
lively time.' "
According to my recollection of the story, said the Major, you
have garbled your quotation from the parrot, as compilers sometimes
garble hymns, in the interests of orthodoxy. Anyhow I was only
alluding to the risk of rash imitation to the imitator himself as in
Bob's case; and I was going to illustrate my remark by a little inci-
I had a large nondescript dog, named Growler, having, I fancy, a
slight strain of two or three fierce breeds. Growler had a bad habit
of worrying cattle. It particularly pleased him to secure a hold upon


the tail of an ill-tempered bull, belonging to a neighbor, and to take a
long ride, or rather a long swing. It was almost impossible to call
Growler away from his malicious pastime; and, not being a chudo or
a matador, I shrunk from taking any part in a bull-fight, especially
on the side of a bull that might possibly misinterpret my kindness.
Before I managed to reform Growler by flogging administered after
his offences, I witnessed several encounters which I was powerless
to stop. On these occasions the bull exhausted all the antics of im-
potent rage. He flounced around, he pawed the ground, he bellowed,
he even horned the hedge. He once shook off Growler by rolling,
and once by dashing him against a tree. But the. dog promptly
manceuvred for a fresh grip and, having regained his position, held it
till his zest or his muscles gave out.
On one occasion there was another witness to the bull-baiting in
the shape of a small cur dog. This little animal had been highly
excited at the spectacle and thought it would be fine fun to play the
same game. So one day it sneaked behind the bull, as the latter
was sleepily chewing the cud, and fastened its teeth in his tail. But
the bull's tail, though too weak to wag my large dog, was more than
strong enough to wag this tiny cur. The muscular power, too, of
the bull's caudal appendage had, thanks to Growler, been increased
by repeated exercise. The powerful brute started to his feet and
flicked his tail up with a jerk that sent the hapless cur flying high
into the air, to be caught neatly on the horns of the animal he had
reckoned upon worrying with impunity. After the second toss the
little dog lit upon the safe side of the fence with an imperceptible tail
and hardly breath enough to squeak.
It was his first and last game of pitch and toss. Head and tail-
he had lost on each. The bull-dozed cur hobbled home on three legs,
fully resolved never again to ape the amusements of aristocratic dogs
until he could do the thing thoroughly.




How do you think you'd like a little African hunting, Bill?
asked the Major. You'd be old enough in a few years.
I'm not particularly eager for adventures, uncle, I can assure you.
I'm afraid I don't possess your presence of-imagination. Two men
of resources would be too much to expect in one family, you know.
On the whole, I'd rather stay safely at home with our tame cat than
visit its wild relations in Africa."
But one is not always safe with a domestic cat, said the Major;
I never was in greater danger than I was from my black cat,
Why, Buster seems awfully fond of you cried Bill.
So he is now; and he has good reason to be. But two years
Story!" called Bill to little Bob, who had been reading.
Two years ago, went on the Major, I was obliged to shoot a strange
dog which had shown signs of madness. The next morning, while I
was in the stable taking a look at my nag, I heard a most unearthly
catcall from an unoccupied stall. I knew Buster to be capable of a
vast variety of tones, but I never expected such a grave-yard growl as
that from him. But there he was, perched on the rack, glaring at


me with red eyes and posing for a spring. There was no mistaking
his condition. He was mad-stark, raving mad.
Now, a rabid cat is an uglier customer than a, rabid dog, on account
of its greater agility and its claws. It seems nearly impossible to
avoid a scratch in a battle with one, when a person has neither stick,
nor knife, nor missile with him; and one scratch may be fatal. To
try to throttle a mad cat would be suicidal, and to hit at it would be
almost as dangerous. My only chance, I saw at a glance, lay in my
skill in catchi ng. If I could avoid Buster's spring, and grasp his tail
from behind before he reached the ground, I should be master of the
He did not keep me many seconds in suspense. With one com-
pound yell he burst, all claws, upon his foe." I dodged, and caught
his tail. Then I whirled him round and round by that clawless member
until he became quite familiar with the nature of centrifugal force. Of
course he found it impossible to turn upon me. A cat can wag its tail
but its tail can not wag a cat-as Dundreary observed about another
quadruped. My only danger was that he might leave his tail behind
and fly off like a slung shot and then attack me afresh. Even that,
however, would give me a valuable start.
I had whirled him round for some minutes, and had passed through
the stable door and out into the yard, before I had at all decided
what to do with my captive. It is one thing to catch a Tartar and
another thing to dispose of him. A glimpse of a pond which adorned
my little place, however, settled his fate. Here was the very oppor-
tunity I had wanted, to try my cure for hydrophobia. I had always
held, with other good temperance people, that, if you can only force
any creature having an aversion to water to drink that healthy fluid,
you are bound to cure him of his complaint. The difficulty, I knew
was that the throats of rabid beings are said to contract at the sight
or sound of water. But I reflected that Buster forsome minutes had


been powerless to bite or scratch or even to miaul, in consequence
of the rush of blood to his head. His position, in fact, had been
sadly tantalizing-so near, and yet so far. The moment he was
freed from this mortifying constraint, he would doubtless start a new
series of squalls and bites. In these contortions of rage, I reasoned,
he would swallow some water, if any rabid animal could.
With such beneficent intentions, I let him fly into the pond. My
idea proved correct. He sank for a full minute, and then came up
an altered being. The lurid light had left his eyes, and the light
of other days had taken its place. He was rounder than before, and
could not walk fast, and looked ashamed. But he was grateful, and
rubbed himself against me.
Ever afterwards he has drunk nothing but water, and has never
been known to hanker after forbidden dairy milk. Even when the
cream has disappeared we never dream of suspecting Buster since
his reformation. He is, in fact, the most amiable and docile cat.
He jumps through my arms, stands on his hind legs, and pulls the
bell rope when I tell him. H-e has even tried his best to help me
in the feather business.
In what way? asked Bill.
By killing your aunt's canaries and laying their bodies at my
Uncle," said little Bob reflectively, I sometimes think of dodges
when they are too late; but you are always ready with yours."
My motto is Toujours pret," observed the Major.
"' Toujours prate,' you mean," said Bill.
"Toujours pret," persisted the unsuspicious Major: I fancied
,' prete" was feminine."
So it is," said Bill; but still I think Toujours prate might be
a better motto for my respected uncle."
Oh, I see! laughed the Major, clapping with his thumb-nails,
One for Bill-AT LAST!




RE the stories we hear of big snakes founded on fact, Uncle ?"
Asked Bob.
Why of course, you little villain. They are just as true as that I
was twelve years in Africa.
But I thought no such big snakes had been discovered, except
in ancient times," said Bill.
They may have been discovered lots of times, rejoined the
Major, but they have a bad habit of swallowing their discoverers.
In ancient times it was different, for, some big snakes having impru-
dently swallowed men in armor and died of indigestion, the rest
were scared of eating human beings. To-day I believe serpents pre-
fer negroes to us whites because we wear too much clothes; just as
we prefer eating our oranges peeled. And this quite accounts for
the fact that I have been able to report more first-class snakes than
any of the negroes among whom I lived, though there is no telling"
how many big serpents they may have discovered.
I once came on a negro boy who had just had the misfortune of
discovering a python. When I first saw him he had begun to explore
the interior of the reptile. I had fancied serpents always crushed the
bones of their prey;, but this one had excused the little nigger this

Iti1 :

F I'M 4I'

p p



part of the performance, seeing he was so small and tender. The
snake had commenced with his feet and had already got outside his
legs when I came up. The little cuss wanted me to take him out
at once; but I thought I would let him go down to his arm-pits at
least, in the. interests of science.
Besides, I was at the time African correspondent to The Telegram"
which the sarcastic newsboys called The Tell-a-cram. My correspond-
ence had been declined by another American paper The Daily News.
The editor thought I was too fanciful or too realistic or not realistic
enough (I quite forget which) for his journal, which diurnally treated
its readers to the minute horrors of a true hanging and which the
sarcastic newsboys called The Daily Noose. But I cherished no
vindictive feelings against the News." Indeed I generally carried
some copies of it about me, as a safeguard against wild beasts. There
were some things in the news columns of that paper that no living
creature could swallow.
Here was a chance for an interview that might never occur again,
and so I got out my note-book and invited the little Ethiopian to
report his sensations at every stage of the proceedings. But the ugly
young beggar wouldn't give me the first bit of information. He only
shook and shook and roared and roared, and called out Save me !
Save me!"
I begged him to let me record his feelings for the benefit of educa-
tion. I told him the doctors would like very much to know whether
he was in much pain, and, if so, whether it became greater or less as
he went further down. I tried to flatter him by saying that his remarks
would appear in The Telegram" and be read before the Zoological
Society. But it was no use-the young scamp was too blamed
selfish. He only went on, Oh, save me, boss! Save me now!"
I explained to him that the python was already half torpid and
that, as it could not possibly bite me, I could cut it in two whenever


I chose. But he never heeded or stopped his cries:-" Save me now,
boss. Do! "
Finding a certain sameness about these remarks of his, I cut the
interview and the snake short at once. As I bisected the reptile, it
gave the youngster an extra squeeze and ran its fangs into him ; but
he soon recovered from the injury and felt better than he ever did
in his life.
In fact the little coward never had the chills afterwards. He shivered
so much when he was inside the snake that he shook out all the
shakes that were in his system.



"And thereby hangs a tale."-SHAKESPEARE.

I WAS fairly parched .with thirst as I reached the top of a sandy
ridge and saw with delight a stream winding through an expanse
of luxuriant vegetation. Stately palms stood singly or in small clusters,
the papyrus floated on the bosom of a lakelet close by, and every
here and there between me and the horizon a tall tamarind or a huge
baobab dwarfed the neighboring laburnums and cassavas. Never had
an oasis burst so suddenly on my sight. On one side of the ridge was
a desert, on the other a paradise.
My horse was not so tired as I was. He had managed to drink
the last water we found, which had been a little too brackish for me,
So he carried me at an easy gallop to the borders of the fertile tract.
A broad and very regular trail, as if made by the feet of many ani-
mals, appeared to encircle the oasis.


While I was wondering at this, I heard a monosyllabic sound on
the right, then another on the left, then faint echoes in the distance,
as if some curious watchword were being passed along a line of sen-
tries posted at long intervals on either side.
The challenge on the right sounded like Boo "-the answer on
the left like Moo." Two buffaloes now came in view, cantering
along the trodden track from either side, and I fancied I saw others
some hundred yards or so behind these. The first two came on
without pause or hesitation. I never had seen such presumption on
the part of a buffalo before ; and not liking it now that I did see it,
I raised my double-barreled rifle and bowled them over one after the
I had scarcely reloaded when a second pair of buffaloes galloped
up and I was forced to give them a similar salute. Then a third
brace charged, and I repeated the dose. Others were visible behind
them at regular intervals. The thing, though curious, was threaten-
ing to become monotonous.
But the moo which had passed along the line of outposts had
finally reached the reserve force: and now a. dense herd of beasts
swept down the slope in front of me. A large bull brought up the
rear, and now and then a commanding bellow issued from his throat;
but his forces maintained the strictest silence. There was quite a
variety of tone in his boos." Sometimes they seemed to cheer or
request, sometimes to warn or threaten.
But what surprised me most was that the buffalo commander
appeared to carry the mark of supremacy on his tail. At all events
there was a long extension to that supple section of his body, thinner
and more pliant than the tail itself. It was both useful and orna-
mental. It streamed like a royal standard from the upraised tail of
its possessor; and it descended like a herdsmen's whip on stragglers.


But these observations are slightly premature, being based chiefly on
what I saw at much closer quarters.
Gazing on this very odd spectacle, I had quite forgot the single
buffaloes advancing on my right and left flank. They were within
a few feet of me on either side when a sudden bound of my horse
barely saved me from this pressing danger. The two bulls had no
time to check their rash career, and came full butt upon each other
with a loud crash. As they dropped to earth, each cast at his fellow
a look of reproach, such as Cesar cast at Brutus when he felt his
friend's dagger; and the dying moo of each seemed to express the
sentiment, You, too, you brute!"
Unchecked by the fate of their comrades, the other animals still
advanced on both flanks-with better discipline than judgment, for
they were bound to fall singly so long as they were unsupported
and my ammunition held out. Several more had fallen before the
charge of the main herd called imperatively for my attention. It
looked like the shadow of a dark cloud crossing the plain, and the
front rank was now barely a hundred yards off.
I had often seen a stampede of American bisons, and I admit that
their shaggy manes, tossing in the wind, make them look more im-
posing. But the bisons' course was always away from the hunter,
not towards him, which decidedly lessens the terrors of the situation.
Besides, the impressiveness of those spectacles was further decreased
by the little circumstance that I had only seen them in pictures.
But these buffaloes were mooing and moving creatures; not a mere
herd either, but a regiment, obeying a despot who urged his braves
on to glory by frequent applications of the puzzling article upon his
I gazed on and on, trying to solve the mystery of that appendage.
It looked thick for a whip and narrow for a flag. At last I hit it, as
I fancied. It was a single stripe with a lonely star at the'end-a fit-


ting standard for thefirst State in the Union of Independent Buffa-
As the forest of horns approached nearer, I boldly determined not
to stir an inch from where I sat! If my horse fled, that would be
his weakness, not mine; I merely let the reins fall upon his neck,
which led him to suppose that I would not mind it very much if he
did play the coward. But, of course, I am not responsible for the
inferences of a quadruped.
The dastardly animal did carry me off safely, but not before the
herd was unpleasantly close, so close that I was able to identify the
boss buffalo and the bit of rope on his tail!
Yes, this bovine chief was only Bumbo, my runaway domestic buf-
falo. He had always been of a dodgy and aspiring character, but it
was as much by chance as by smartness that he gained his high posi-
tion in the herd. When he ran away his driver had tried to lasso
him; but the lasso had fallen short and only caught the beast's up-
raised tail. At the first strain the rope snapped, just behind a
knot by which two separate pieces had been patched together. So,
Bumbo got away with the seeming encumbrance of a noted exten-
sion of his tail.
Now Bumbo was not the kind of buffalo to kick against the inevit-
able, but rather to try and make the best of everything. The exten-
sion had its drawbacks, sometimes (until he learned to look out for
these dangers) catching in brambles and pulling him down on his
haunches. But he soon discovered its uses, too. After half an hour's
journey he was assaulted by a wild buffalo, who scorned and scoffed
at the rope on Bumbo's tail, which by the by, Bumbo at first carried
trailing along the ground in a way that was far from stylish. To the
untamed beast it seemed a badge of slavery.
Hardly, however, had the foreheads of the two joined in battle
when the wild bull felt a sharp pain behind. Glancing round to


see his new enemy, he exposed his left side to Bumbo, who planted
his sharp horns 'beneath the foreleg of the foe and laid him, wounded.
in the dust. It was Bumbo's despised appendage-which he had
knowingly flicked round to the enemy's flank--that caused this diver-
sion in his favor and won him an easy victory.
Bumbo knew a good thing when he saw it. He followed the
beaten buffalo to its herd. He challenged and defeated the strong-
est bulls in it by the aid of his artificial tail. Standing on the defen-
sive at first, he would bring it into play at what invariably proved to
be the turning point of the struggle. It is disastrous for a buffalo to
change front in presence of the enemy.
The adventurous Bumbo resolved to make a full use of the only
artificial weapon ever owned by a buffalo. He practised with it until
he could flick a tsetse fly off a friend's back three yards away. He
went on practising until he made it an effectual means of repression;
until in fact it served him to point a moral as well as to adorn his
Vast schemes of ambition now filled his mind. He would use his
extension as a herder's whip to discipline his buffaloes. He would
introduce something like a human system. He would choose and
hold a grassy territory for his kind. He would mark the confines of
the land of Moo, guard them by patrols, and organize a state militia.
-His subjects should have no fear and own no master save himself.
The strength and numbers of the buffaloes, aided by organization,
kept this land of Moo safe and inviolate from every beast of the desert.
Only creatures of other elements trespassed with impunity on the
domains of Bumbo. The great crocodile lifted his snout and roared
or grunted as of yore, and vultures still scented carcasses and flocked
from invisible heights to devour them. Bumbo, like a wise ruler, did
not show his weakness by resenting the presence of intruders whom


he could not reach. On the contrary, he pretended to welcome them
and proclaimed them royal scavengers.
How did you find out all this, uncle?"
A very natural question indeed, my dear Bill, said the Major.
A native happened to have witnessed the first battle of Bumbo after
his escape from his driver, and I inferred the rest from my own obser-
vation; for I thought it quite worth while to spend a few days in a
padded buffalo's skin, studying the manners and customs of Moo. I
got off working with the other buffaloes by being lame; but it was
work enough pretending to chew the cud for hours at a stretch.
A few of the beasts seemed disposed to be sociable and mooed kindly
in my ears, probably inquiring after my health. But they hardly ex-
pected an answer: I looked a sick and shrivelled buffalo, not fit to
say boo to a goose.
Whether the semi-civilized buffaloes of Moo would have introduced
other modern improvements, and whether the aspiring Bumbo would
have rested content with defending his kingdom without enlarging
it, would be interesting to know. But I considered it dangerous to
wait and see. Here were beasts encroaching on the aristocracy of
man, and uniting his superior system with their superior strength.
The spread of education among cattle would unfit them for humble
toil. There were strikers enough already in the world, I thought.
What would become of us, if horses and oxen should begin to waste
their time on aspirations and cheap literature, and to join trades-unions
and secret societies ?
Such a reform had to be nipped in the bud; and I soon returned
with an army of a hundred negroes and two Gatling guns. We slew
old Bumbo and routed his host. I was sorry it had to be done, for
this Peter the Great of buffaloes made a gallant resistance.
I had made preparations to combine profit with philanthropy, and
canned nearly halfa million pounds of pressed beef upon the spot.



I ONCE started for a certain inland village with a load of mirrors
to barter for ostrich feathers. The idea seemed a promising one,
for on my last trip a rich negro had given me a very high price for
my pocket looking-glass, and I had always found Africans as vain of
their style of beauty as we are of ours. Yet I was doomed to return
featherless and mirrorless.
The very last day of our journey we encountered a simoom, to
describe which would make my story too long. I swallowed enough
sand to satisfy an ostrich, and pecks of dust got underneath the cover
of the wagon and overlaid the mirrors. We had to halt at a river to
polish our goods and wash ourselves before entering the Buctoo
village to which we were journeying.
We ranged the mirrors along the bank, and, wading into the
stream, dashed water over them. While I was thus washing the
large toilet glass which I designed for the Buctoo chief, one of my
negroes-who was a very undemonstrative man-stopped working
and gazed fixedly at me.
What are you gaping at? I cried.
He pointed calmly at my legs.
A large crocodile had swum noiselessly behind me and was at that
moment opening his snout with a view to amputating one of my
nether limbs. I started to one side, but I was too late. The water
retarded my flight, and, besides, Leviathan is not such a slow or un-
wieldly creature as he appears to be. In a few seconds the brute's


long jaws protruded before me, one on each side of my right leg. I
saw them closing on the endangered limb. Then I saw them open-
ing with a jerk; and to my amazement the beast rushed furiously at
the largest mirror.
He had seen what he thought a strange crocodile catching a man
on the bank of his own river. This bold poaching on his preserves
could not be allowed for an instant. The defiant trespasser on his
domain had to be chastised. Such encroachments on his riparian
rights should be nipped in the bud, if he knew how-and he rather
guessed he did. Though he had barely made his mark on me, yet
business had to be attended to before pleasure. Besides, he objected
to violent exercise after meals. Hence my reprieve.
He crunched the mirror into small bits, and then smiled for a
moment, fondly imagining that he had swallowed his vanished an-
tagonist in the shortest time yet reported. But catching sight of the
fancied intruder in another glass, he charged at it, more furious than
before. He smashed all my glasses before he stopped, except one.
This was a mirror that magnified and distorted objects. I brought it
thinking some one of the Buctoos might have a taste for caricatures
and give an extra price for it. In this glass the crocodile saw his
own open jaws much larger than life, and his own hideousness in-
creased tenfold; and he sensibly concluded not to tackle any such
reptile as that.
Flopping back into the river in dismay, he saw me standing on the
bank at a safe distance. Then he sorrowed vainly over his lost op-
portunity. He had abandoned a substance for a shadow, and could
not avoid musing desolately on what might have been.
I could hardly believe at first that my leg was on my body, much
less that it was only slightly scratched. Indeed I had begun to hop
away on my left foot, and had not attempted to use my right leg at
all until the shallow water through which I was hopping tripped me


up. However, the very moment I was out of danger I proved con-
clusively that the limb was quite sound and strong, by kicking
the undemonstrative nigger who had stared at the crocodile coming
to eat me, as quietly as he would have stared at a wild beast feeding
in a cage.
As the negroes turned our lightened wagon homewards, I cocked
my gun and looked revengefully towards the reptile that had de-
stroyed my goods. He was floating despondently down the stream,
quite regardless of another crocodile which was swimming fiercely
at him.
No more fights with phantoms for me to-day," thought the dazed
and disheartened animal.
And while he was thus musing, his enemy (who was a sad reality)
secured a deadly grip upon him, and took him down to his quiet
dining-room at the bottom of the river.




" HY does a dog run round after his tail when you hit it with
a stone, Uncle? asked little Bob.
Generally, said the Major, I fancy it is to bite the fly that has
bitten him, as he imagines. In the case of a sane dog with a short
tail the motive, of course, can only be idle curiosity-to see what in-
sect has hurt him.
A bee or not a bee ? that is the question, perhaps in the dog's
mind," suggested Bill.
Other animals have the same habits, said Major Mendax, as
I once discovered much to my disadvantage.
The deer in our neighborhood had been thinned by a series of
hunting expeditions, and wild beasts, being short of prey, sometimes
came right up to our trading settlement. One day a large striped
hyena, made bold by hunger, attacked me on a lonely path. I was
walking home from a friend's house, and, fearing no danger by broad
daylight in a settled district, I was quite unarmed. There was no
tree nearer than my own garden, which was fully three hundred
yards away, and I was bound to be overtaken before I got there.
To make matters apparently worse, I stepped on a small round
stone, and stumbled. When I had recovered my upright position
the hyena was only a few yards from me, snarling like an angry dog.
Instinctively I picked up the little stone and threw it. It just missed
his head, but it hit his tail plump. He turned round with a jerk, and


snapped at his tail, and, failing to catch it, waltzed fiercely after it, to
the music of his growls.
I did not care the least whether his head or tail won the race.
" Heads I win, tails you lose, old fellow," I thought as I was running
I suppose he went on running after his tail while you ran three
hundred yards," drawled Bill, ironically.
You are a little hasty in drawing your conclusions, my young
man, said the Major. The beast realized his error after a few
dozen turns, and before I had run fifty yards. But he was groggy
and giddy then. His head felt, queer and so did his.stomach; and
his movements grew like those of a landsman pacing the deck of a
rolling steamer. After a few erratic steps he abandoned the chase,
for his nose, etc., turned up at the very idea of food. Then the
sickly animal dropt on his haunches. and sent forth sounds of dis-
tress that reminded me unpleasantly of a passenger imploring a slow
steward to make haste.
The people who couldn't find the morals in my former tales per-
haps couldn't see the great truth that underlies this story either, if I
did not write it on a blackboard or print it in large type. It is this:




" HAVE known several other curiously fitting names," observed
S a disagreeable guest in the middle of an after-dinner chat. In
the last war between Russia and Turkey, Admiral Popoff was very
'appropriately placed in charge of the torpedo defences in the Black
Sea. And--"
No doubt, said the Major, you have noticed the double appro-
priateness in the name of Robinson Crusoe's man Friday-be-
cause he was rescued on the sixth day of the week, and was so very
nearly fried, eh ?
By the bye," asked the interrupted philologist in an ominously
genial tone, what is the origin of your own surname, Mendax? "
When I was a small boy, answered the Major, 'I carried a
hatchet, like truthful little George, and I never denied cutting
a cherry tree. I suppose my ancestors had a similar leaning toward
hatchets, which would account for our family name and-veracity.
It is true that my brother, after he struck oil and "located in Fifth
Avenue, adopted a spliced battle-axe at his crest, and traced us back
to a bloodthirsty Warrior, who mended a broken axe during the
battle of Hastings, and performed prodigies of valor with the re-
paired weapon. And in this way brother is fully sustained by the
heralds, who have made him out a very pretty pedigree. But the


inventiveness of a herald, I suppose, is sometimes freshened by a
check. For my part, anyhow, I prefer the humble hatchet of peace
-and truth-to the ensanguined axe of war-and heraldry.
But in either case, you see, an axe is at the root of our genealogical
tree, though we have dropped the final aristocratic e.
But take off the last aristocratic e, said his rude acquaintance,
" and your name means something very different in Latin-having
no connection whatever with an axe or a hatchet, either."
But I am not- a Latin, retorted the Major, and have no connection
whatever with that race; and besides, any Latin scholar can tell
you that ;zdax is a false derivation for my name.
Then perhaps pursued the disagreeable guest, the name was
first assumed in prophetic anticipation of the 'hatchet throwing of
some mendacious descendant."



" Y ERE you a major in the army ? asked the same disagree-
V V able guest.
No, said the Major.
Or in the militia? "
Or in the volunteers ? "
No, my inquisitive friend, nor in the marines either, replied the
Major. I got my title before I left America. I won it in a Western
store, the resort of men skilled with the pistol and the long bow. In
the winter evenings they chiefly displayed their skill with the latter
arm. A friendly rivalry sprang up among these gifted men. And
so one evening they agreed to organize a corps on the competitive
system. This occurred, as luck would have it, on the only evening
that I ventured timorously among these redoubted Western roman-
cists. Each competitor-there being ten entries-was to have one
shot. He who fired highest, or in other words told the tallest story,
was to be Colonel; the next, Major; the two next, Captains; the
next, Doctor; the four next, Lieutenants. The loser was to be
dubbed Private and to pay the shot". It had been proposed to
have two Privates, but this was voted down: it was too large a pro-
portion of men to officers to suit in that portion of the United
States. As it was, our one Private cloaked his humble military rank
under the civilian title of Professor; and two of our Lieutenants
promoted themselves.


The boys spread themselves on the evening of the competi-
tion, and most of them were said to have beaten their record. Even
the Private's story was so tall that the storekeeper, proud of enter-
taining so much genius, refused to take anybody's money, and in-
sisted upon setting them up himself. But I was a stranger, and
the boys out of mere hospitality voted my narrative the second best
and saluted me as Major"; and the title has stuck to me ever
Won't you let us hear your narrative, Major? asked another
It was not exactly original, said the Major-modesty prevented
my offering any concoction of my own to such a company. It was
an ingenious slander invented by a teetotal blue-nose deacon who
was far too pious a man to smile while he was telling it to me-for
the day was Sunday.
The Colonel's story must have been something worth hearing,"
observed the disagreeable guest.
I calculate it was, said the Major.
How is it that so great a genius is unknown to fame ?"
Well, you see, that story finished him. Men are never satisfied.
Another evening, I believe, he tried to add something to it, and.it
choked him.
Would you mind telling us the Colonel's story ? asked the dis-
agreeable guest.
Do you want me to choke too ? said the Major indignantly. If I
do sometimes tell stories, I always draw the line at falsehoods !
I must admit," said his unpleasant acquaintance with an amiable
smile, that you do confine yourself pretty strictly to one side of the



OU didn't have too much money when you started for Africa-
[ eh, Major Mendax? asked the same objectionable friend
next day, winking at some men whom he had invited to meet the
Only a few dollars, after taking my passage for Lisbon.
And how did you manage then, to start your feather business,
Major? "
Oh, I started a syndicate, answered the Major, and the syndicate
started me.
Besides, he resumed, after a moment's reflection, I was not
nearly so poor when I disembarked as when I embarked. 1 had got
myself appointed agent for an insurance company that allowed its
policy holders to travel wherever they liked. This company per-
mitted me to keep a percentage of the premiums paid me. It had
occurred to me long ago that there were great and neglected oppor-
tunities for securing new policies on board ocean steamers. The
uncertainty of human life is so painfully apparent to landsmen in
a rising sea. Besides, an agent, I thought, could win the sympathies
and confidence of timorous passengers by divers small attentions and
cheerful words; and then there are sickly moments when people
would gladly pay a premium to be let alone.
There were some thirty saloon passengers, besides myself, on board
the SS. Three Kings. Among these was an unusually fat New


England merchant, a man of substance in every sense. Before we
had left the harbor I began considerately suggesting remedies for
Don't think of it, my dear sir," said I, and you will never have
it. That's certain. Some silly people fancy every queer sensation
must be nausea. Now a queer sensation may be caused by the smell
of the ship, by depression of spirits at leaving home, or by mere ner-
vousness. You may possibly feel a strange feeling yourself."
He had not seemed particularly cheered by the conversation.
Though he took no notice of my last suggestion, yet a moment
afterwards he drew from his pocket what I thought to be a flask and
applied it to what I thought to be his mouth.
I'm mighty fond of smelling salts, mister," he said, unguardedly
smacking his lips.
So am I, very," I exclaimed. Please give us a smell."
I regret to say, stranger, that the perfume has kind of evanesced."
I am sorry for that, for it smelled good-I like it preserved in
rye. As I was saying before," I went on, if you do feel at all queer,
you have only to keep your spirits up-"
"The trouble is to keep them down," he said to himself, as I
guessed from the character of his smile-his faint and final smile.
And be a little particular about your diet," I continued. If I
were you, I would not eat fat pork, or suet-dumpling, or sausages,
or plum-pudding, or marrow, or-"
He evidently had not needed my friendly warning against these
edibles, for their mere mention seemed distasteful to him, and he left
me abruptly before I had nearly ended my prohibited list, or index
I found my truant some minutes later, lying on the hurricane-
deck, feeling a little uneasy," he admitted now.
I lay down beside him.


At this touching mark of sympathy he groaned.
Are you not afraid of catching cold ? he asked.
The good Samaritan never thought about catching cold," I said,
smiling benevolently. I trust you don't think me too selfish to
run some little risk to soothe a suffering fellow-creature. It struck
me that I might set your mind at ease and that mental repose might
be a solace, if not an antidote, to bodily sickness. If you felt that
you had done your duty, that you had left no wife or children unin-
sured against-"
I have no relations," he murmured.
Still a policy for fifty thousand dollars in favor of some deserving
charity could hardly fail to comfort you."
I have willed all my fortune to charities."
This might have discouraged an ordinary man, but I was an in-
surance agent. But there is the President of the United States, "
I persisted, ruining himself in dispensing our country's hospitali-
ties on a wretched 50,000o a year. And sinking afterwards into a
poverty as honorable to himself as it is dishonorable to the public.
What a noble work to provide a retiring pension for the Fathers of
one's Country, and to rebuke our national penuriousness in this
matter. A trifling payment of $1ooo a year, beginning now-"
"Are you an insurance agent ? he gasped, in' the tone of little
Red Riding-hood asking her acting grandmamma if he was a wolf.
I owned the soft impeachment.
Here is the $10oo-draw me out a policy."
In whose favor? I inquired.
In anybody's: in your own, if you will only leave me."
For the President of the United States," I said proudly, I scorn
to profit from my benevolence towards an afflicted fellow-man to the
extent of a single cent-beyond my usual commission."
I regret to say that the policy which I there and then drew out


lapsed the very next year from non-payment of the premium, and
that the ex-Presidents have continued unprovided for ever since.
Among the passengers was a white-tied exhorter. He was not an
ordained minister but he represented that he represented a certain
missionary society, which society, he constantly reminded us, was in
urgent need of funds. He was one of those people who are
always worried about their neighbor's faults and never worried about
their own. He was fond of singing hymns loudly and nasally at the
piano in the saloon, especially when two worldlings were playing
backgammon, game which he strongly denounced because it in-
volved the use of dice. I offered to give this apostle one dollar,
after I had examined his vouchers as a collecting agent for the
society; but he never came to me for the subscription.
A few evenings before I made that offer, the quasi-reverend
gentleman gave the passengers a rousing address upon the sad
state of unconverted negroes. He ended by commenting upon the
uncertainty of our life, which he illustrated by some borrowed similes
and some alarming sea stories which were undoubtedly original. He
urged us to lay up lasting riches by subscribing to African missions.
He seemed about pass to his hat round when I grasped his ex-
tended hand.
On behalf of your hearers," I said, I thank you, sir, for the
impressive picture you have drawn of the precariousness of human
existence. And I sincerely hope and trust that all persons present
will take the obvious moral, and insure their lives."
But the audience dispersed. I cannot tell whether they were afraid of
him or of me, or whether they took my remarks for the benediction;
but the way they scattered was quite disheartening. For some days
after this incident the weather was calm and business dull. At last
the glass fell, the wind rose, and I doubled my attentions to a certain
middle-aged widow who was supposed to be comfortably off.


'.' Is there any danger? she asked, as the breeze freshened.
None at present, madam; but it is always well to be prepared
I presume your children are provided for ? "
I have none," she sighed; and I echoed her sigh, for children are
the best arguments for insurance men.
I went sadly away to my stateroom, leaving her sitting by the
bulwarks and holding on to them. My barometer, I found, was rising
slightly, although the sea as yet showed no signs of abating. Putting
certain articles in my pocket, I returned to the widow as a forlorn
hope. Even childless, she seemed the most promising passenger on
"Oh," she cried, grasping my arm as the steamer shipped a few
bucketfuls of water forwards; "I'm sure we are going down."
"Not so bad as that. I expect the breeze will die out before
Oh, I shall never sleep in this awful storm."
When one's mind is at peace, one's body can rest under the most
untoward circumstances."
I have forgiven all my enemies," she observed.
But is there no one you have injured yourself, madam ?"
Only a girl who was once engaged to my late husband; if it was
an injury to supplant her."
Would not an insurance policy on your life, drawn in her favor,
make you feel more at ease ? "
How could a policy written now reach her, if anything happened
to the ship ? "
Do you see these bottles ? said I, taking a crimson bottle from
each pocket. "They are conspicuous, you observe, and can be seen far
away at sea. I would enclose a copy of the policy in each. To cork
and launch them would be my last official act on board.
Weeks after we had gone to pieces your peace-offering would be


wafted on the waves to her whom you supplanted. The Bottle Insur-
ance Company, I am proud to say, has never yet failed to take up its
floating obligations."
A policy was written, and the premium paid. The widow went
to sleep at peace with all the world, but woke next morning in a less
enviable frame of mind, for it was calm and she seemed out of humor
with herself and me.
She actually wanted me to alter the life-policy in favor of her un-
successful rival into an endowment policy in her own favor.



W E haven't heard a story for a week," cried Bob, who had been
staying with his cousins.
And it may be many weeks before you hear another from me,'
said the Major, for I am off to-morrow.
Well, Uncle," said Bill, we both hope you may be back sooner
than you expect, and that meantime you will not expose yourself
to such terrific dangers as you faced in Africa. And now we are all
attention for the valedictory."
Seating himself, the Major began:
It was during the season when I was using chromos as a means
of barter, and my wagon was loaded with them. Being in want of
game, I had left my wagon and servants by a stream whose
course I continued to follow for fear of losing myself. Before long I
started two fine birds like pheasants, and brought down one with each
barrel of my fowling-piece.
The ground was pretty open, but I had not seen a lioness which

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs