30. BEE LINE
[He knew how to escape from more than one kind of fire.]
A soldier on guard in South Carolina during the war was questioned as to his knowledge of his duties.
“You know your duty here, do you, sentinel?”
“Well, now, suppose they should open on you with shells and musketry, what would you do?”
“Form a line, sir.”
“What! one man form a line?”
“Yes, sir; form a bee-line for camp, sir.”
[“Take the good the Gods provide.”]
At Raglan Castle, said Mr. Ganthony, the ventriloquist, I gave an entertainment in the open air, and throwing my voice up into the ivy-covered ruins, said: “What are you doing there?”
To my amazement a boy answered: “I climbed up ‘ere this mornin’ just to see the folk and ‘ear the music; I won’t do no harm.”
I replied: “Very well, stay there, and don’t let any one see you, do you hear?”
The reply came: “Yes, muster, I ‘ear.”
This got me thunders of applause. I made up my mind to risk it, so I bowed, and the boy never showed himself.
32. A SLIGHT MISTAKE
[Orders should be strictly obeyed.]
A celebrated German physician, according to a London paper, was once called upon to treat an aristocratic lady, the sole cause of whose complaint was high living and lack of exercise. But it would never have done to tell her so. So his medical advice was:
“Arise at five o clock, take a walk in the park for one hour, then drink a cup of tea, then walk another hour, and take a cup of chocolate. Take breakfast at eight.”
Her condition improved visibly, until one fine morning the carriage of the baroness was seen to approach the physician’s residence at lightning speed. The patient dashed up to the doctor’s house, and on his appearing on the scene she gasped out:
“O doctor! I took the chocolate first!”
“Then drive home as fast as you can,” directed the astute disciple of Æsculapius, rapidly writing a prescription, “and take this emetic. The tea must be underneath.”
The grateful patient complied. She is still improving.
33. PRESENCE OF MIND
[A fine story to illustrate the value (money value) of presence of mind.]
A witty person whom Bismarck was commissioned by the Emperor to decorate with the Iron Cross of the first class, discomfited the Chancellor’s attempt to chaff him. “I am authorized,” said Bismarck, “to offer you one hundred thalers instead of the cross.” “How much is the cross worth?” asked the soldier. “Three thalers.” “Very well, then, your highness, I’ll take the cross and ninety-seven thalers.” Bismarck was so surprised and pleased by the ready shrewdness of the reply that he gave the man both the cross and the money.
34. JOKE ON A DUDE
[A good story for one who has some power of personation, for the dudes get little sympathy.]
A crowded car ran down the other evening. Within was a full-blown, eye-glassed, drab-gaitered dude, apparently satisfied that he was jammed in among an admiring community. On the rear platform a cheery young mechanic was twitting the conductor and occasionally making a remark to a fresh passenger. Everybody took it in good part as a case of inoffensive high spirits, all but the dude, who evinced a strong disgust.
When the young man called out to an old gentleman, “Sit out here, guvinor, on the back piazza,” or to another, “Don’t crowd there; stay where the breezes blow,” the dude looked daggers, and at last, grabbing the conductor’s elbow and indicating the young man by a nod of the head, evidently entered a protest. Every one saw it. So did the young man, and he gathered his wits together like a streak to finish that dude. He did it all with an imperturbable good humor and seriousness which would carry conviction to the most doubting.
“Well, I never!” he began, poking his head inside the doorway with an air of comic surprise. “Jes’ to see you a-sitting there, dressed up like that. Catch on to them gaiters, will you? Ain’t you got the nerve to go up and down Broadway fixed up like that, and your poor father and mother workin’ hard at home? Ain’t you ‘shamed o’ yourself, and your father a honest, hard-workin’ driver, and your mother a decent, respectable washwoman? Y’ ain’t no good, or you wouldn’t have gev up your place, and I think I’ll go look after it myself and put a decent man in it.”
He stepped off the car as if bent on doing this at once, and the dude, unable to resist the ridicule of the situation or defend the attack, hastily stepped off after him.