"Who is to do the
talking to-night?" asked Little Jack.
"Mr. Greenbush is the
next name on the list. But as I forgot to give him notice of the
fact at the proper time, I hardly think it would be fair to ask
him," said the President.
"What say you, Mr.
"Well, sir, so far as
I am concerned it makes but little difference about the notice. I am
not much of a talker, at best. But the little that I have to say can
be said one time as well as another," was his reply.
"Bravo," said Little
Jack, "that is the kind of stuff that orators and soldiers are made
of. Ready, always ready."
commenced by saying, "I do not, by any means, intend to make light
of religion or religious worship, in relating the following
incident, which occurred in one of the back townships:-
"The Methodists were
having a fellowship meeting. As was often the case in these
meetings, religious fever ran high, and many of the participants in
the service became somewhat demonstrative in their expressions and
"After awhile there
was a sort of short interval in the speaking. Near the door there
sat a tall, sharp-featured, rawboned man with a piercing black eye,
and a very prominent nose. He deliberately rose to his feet,
commencing to speak as soon as he began to get up, and at the same
time he took a large quid of well-chewed tobacco from his mouth, and
placing it in his hand started for the stove, which stood in the
middle of the room. He spoke with some difficulty until he emptied
his hand and his mouth into the fire. Then he said with emphasis, `Brethering
and sisters, I am glad to tell you what has been done for poor
unworthy me. When the Lord saved me, there was no patchwork about
it, glory be to His holy name.
I used to lie, and
swear and cheat, and get drunk and fight. My, how I would fight. I
wouldn't steal, for I thought that was mean. I wouldn't backbite my
neighbors, for I thought that was cowardly. But I would do almost
anything else that was bad. But the Lord took me in hand. He turned
me upside down and inside out. He converted me all through and
through. Now, you can take my word and you can trust me. Now, a
child can lead me. Now, I do not swear nor get drunk. Yes, bless the
Lord, I am converted and I know it.'
"The man went back to
his seat, while `Amen, bless the Lord,' could be heard in several
"I thought to myself
that it was a pity that his mouth was not converted too, so that it
would not hold such a pond of tobacco juice for his tongue to swim
"No doubt but the man
was sincere," said the President, "but as the light that shines on
the path of duty increases, it is likely the good brother will see
the propriety of letting the tobacco go along with the lying, and
the swearing, and the whiskey drinking, and the fighting. The path
of the just shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day."
"My next story will
be about a strange time-piece, or rather a novel way of keeping
account of the days of the week.
"A man went some
miles into the woods and commenced life alone. He put up his shanty
and began to clear off his land. Having no one to talk with, his
time passed without much change in the mode of spending it. What he
did one day he did the next, so that the exercise of each day was
only a repetition of the one that went before it. Being his own
cook, and having a good supply of provisions on hand, he had but
little intercourse with the outside world. He had been some time in
the bush. He thought one day that he would go out to the settlement
and see how things were going on in the neighborhood. He thought it
was Sunday; but when he came out to the house of his nearest
neighbour, he found them at work as on ordinary days. He was
surprised at this. He went into the field and asked the man if he
and his family did not keep the Sabbath. `Yes, to be sure we do,'
said he, `but this is Monday.'
"'You don't mean
that, do you?' said the other.
"'Yes, of course, I
mean it. Yesterday was the Sabbath.'
Well, if I have not
made a great mistake, you may call me a Dutchman,' said he. `Here I
have been working all day yesterday, supposing that it was Saturday.
And I have been doing the same for at least three Sabbaths. I have
lost track of the week. But it won't be so any more, I will see to
"The man went away to
a store and bought seven plates of different sizes. He took them
home, and named them for the seven days of the week. The largest one
he called Sunday, the next largest he called Monday, and so on down
to the smallest one, which he called Saturday. He put them in a
pile. He would use one plate each day, and next day he would take
another. When he got to the little one he knew that it was Saturday.
Then he would take the large one next day, which he knew was Sunday.
In this simple way he could always tell the day of the week, and he
no more worked on Sunday."
continued, "If I was going to give a name to my next little story, I
should call it, 'A Big Scare in a Berry Patch.' It was like this: A
man started one day to go to a neighbor's house some two miles from
his home. In going he passed a very large patch of black
thimbleberries. It was at the time when these were ripe. The bushes
were bending under their load of tempting fruit. Mr. Toothsome went
into the field to help himself. The bushes were tall and close
together. Mr. Toothsome had not been there long before he heard a
rustling among the briars. He concluded that he was not the only
berry-picker in the field. Being curious to know who or what was
there, he pushed his way through the thick bushes toward the noise.
Presently he found himself face to face with a large black bear. For
one or two minutes they eyed each other closely, both being
surprised at the unexpected meeting. Then the bear raised himself up
on his hind feet and prepared to give his interviewer the usual
"Mr. Toothsome was
not just ready to have his hones crushed in so rough a mill as a
bear's mouth. He turned and ran with the fleetness of a race-horse.
The hear, being unwilling to be cheated out of a wrestle, and not
unwilling to try a race, he started in pursuit as fast as his four
black footlifters could carry him. Mr. Toothsome headed towards the
neighbor's house, to which he had started to go. For a mile or more
the race kept on, until the loud barking of a dog told bruin that he
was coming dangerously near to where another bear had got into
serious trouble through taking too much liberty with the pigs. He
seemed to think that life, to him, was worth more than a dinner, and
he turned and ran in another direction. Mr. Toothsome got his friend
to load his gun and go with him on his homeward trip. In the soft
,round they could see the track of the man and the bear. Each of
them had covered more than his length at every jump. When asked why
he did not climb a tree, he answered, `The old robber was so close
upon me that I had no time to do so."'
"That reminds me,"
said the President, "of a young man that was chased by wolves."
"Tell us about it,"
said Mr. Greenbush, "and while you are doing so I will try and think
of some other incident of life in the backwoods."
"Well," said the
President, "it was customary then, as it is now, and I suppose will
always be, for young men sometimes to go courting. Not that they
went where lawyers talk, and juries get befogged, and judges give
doubtful decisions. Young men can learn mischief fast enough without
visiting such places. But, in plain English, they went to see the
"Well, the young man
of whom I speak had spent a part of the night with a sweetheart.
Some time during the `wee sma' hours' that the Scotchmen talk about,
he concluded to start for home.
"But a question now
presented itself to his mind. To go by the road would be about six
miles, but to go across lots he was within one and one-half miles of
home. Part of the way was clearing, and the rest of the way was
thick hemlock woods. But there was a footpath through the bush. The
full moon was shining very brightly, and out in the clearing it was
almost as light as day. The young man decided to no the nearest way.
"When he got to the
woods he found it darker than he had expected to find it. In the
middle of the woods he had to cross a large beaver-meadow.
"When he got nearly
over that he heard a rustling in the tall grass. On looking around,
he saw four or five wolves within a dozen yards of where he stood.
To take in the situation was but the work of a moment. It was to be
a race for life. But how many chances to lose in the race. A sprain
of the ankle, a stub of the toe, or a brush to strike him in the
eye, would be a very serious affair in a race like this. But there
was no time to speculate as to the chance of failure. Prompt action
was the only thing that could meet the case.
"He started for the
clearings at a rate of speed that would do credit to a
trotting-horse. The wolves were willing to try their speed and join
in the race. They were three or four rods behind at the start, but
slowly and steadily they lessened the distance. On and on the young
man went, feeling that every bound strengthened his cause, and gave
increasing hope of reaching home uneaten by the ferocious pack that
thirsted for his blood.
"Presently he glanced
his eye to the right. There he saw a wolf, among the streaks of
moonlight, within thirty feet of him. He looked to the left, and
there he saw another, about the same distance from him. Now, it was
evident that the wolves were closing in around him. He felt that a
very short time would decide whether or not he was to become
"A few rods more and
he would be to the fence. But could he get to it and get over it
before the brutes would have hold of him? Just then it occurred to
him that two large dons were within call. He called loudly for the
dogs, as he ran. They heard him, and responded to his call by coming
with all speed to the rescue.
"He came to the fence
at last, and, placing his hand on the top rail, he bounded over just
as a wolf was on each side of him, and another behind him, and only
a few feet from him.
"The dogs barked
through the fence at the wolves, but they were not willing to go in
among them. The wolves gave a howl of disappointment and ran off
into the forest; and the young man concluded that in future, so far
as that road was concerned, he would act in harmony with the old
saying, that `The farthest way round is the surest way home.'"
"Thank you, Mr.
President, for that interesting story. It has given me time to
think," said Mr. Greenbush, "and it is a better one than I could
"I will tell now of a
woman who killed a wild-cat with a water-pail.
"One of the families
in a new settlement had a lot of hens that roosted up in the loft of
the barn. Some-thin;, at length, bean to steal the hens from their
perch at, night. For some time this went on, until more than half
the flock had disappeared. No one ever got sight of the thief.
Whether it was owl or hawk, or something else, no one could tell. At
different times the owner of the barn had got up in the night and
gone out, when he thought that he heard a noise among the chickens;
but he could not find anything.
"One day the mistress
of the house took a large wooden pail and went to a spring, some
little distance from the house, to get some water. She was followed
by a medium-sized dog—a mixture of bull-dog and Scotch terrier—a
mixture of canine nature that is very hard to scare, and not easy to
"As the woman was
going along she saw, lying in the path before her, what she at first
took to be a wolf. But on further inspection she concluded that it
was not large enough for a wolf. But she had but little time to
speculate as to what it was that was intercepting her way.
"The dog had got his
eye on it, and determined to test the fighting qualities of the
stranger. In a moment the two were in a life or death struggle. The
woman watched them for a moment. She soon saw that with all his
pluck and activity, her don was getting the worst of it. He
evidently had got more than his match. She resolved to become a
participant in the contest. She had in her hand a heavy wooden pail,
with an iron hoop around the bottom of it, such as coopers used to
make. With this for a weapon, she went to the rescue of her dog.
Swinging the pail above her head, she brought it down with all force
upon the bead of the wild-cat. With the blow she broke in his skull,
and left him dead upon the ground. The dog was badly scratched up.
The cat was a very bid; one—enough to whip almost any dog. But there
was no more hen-stealing after the woman killed the big wild-cat
with a water-pail.
"Now, Mr. President,
I think that I have done my share for to-night," said Greenbush.
"Who comes next on
the list?" inquired Little Jack. "Mr. Root comes next, and is the
last one on the roll," said the President.
"Mr: Root will be on
hand to-morrow night, if all be well."
Next evening, after
the supper table was set away, the men gathered around the fire to
listen to what "Boss Root," as they called him, had to say.
Mr. Root commenced by
saying: "You all know that I have not always lived in Canada. But I
was in Canada at one time when I would have been glad to be out of
it; and when the time came for me to leave it, I soon made tracks
for home. I refer now to the time of the war. At the battle of
Lundy's Lane I witnessed an exhibition of pluck that lifted the
Canadian militia to a high place in my estimation.
"I was in a regiment
of Americans, who were commanded by Colonel Scott (now General
"As we came around a
small rise of ground, we came upon a company of Canadians that
seemed to be cut off from the rest of the Canadian forces. They were
huddled together as if they were consulting what to do. Colonel
Scott called to them to surrender. The answer that came from them
was a short, emphatic `Never!' Then the colonel asked for an officer
to step forward for a parley. They said, 'We have no officers left.'
'Where are your
officers?' inquired Colonel Scott. "'They are among the killed,
wounded, and missing,' said the men.
"Well,' said the
colonel, `you see you are not half as numerous as we are, and you
are without officers. Don't you think it would be better to
surrender than to be shot like dogs?'
'We won't surrender,
and we won't be shot like dogs,' they answered.
"'What are you going
to do, then?' inquired the colonel.
"'We are going to do
what we have been doing—tight the Yankees,' was their reply.
"Colonel Scott turned
to some of his officers to ask for advice: Just then we saw a lot of
British red-coats coming in quick time on our flank. We had enough
to do to take care of ourselves then. I don't know what became of
the men that had no officers, or whether they did any more fighting
or not that day.
"But the conclusion
that we all came to was this, It is going to be hard work to conquer
such men as these. And we did not conquer them very much," said Mr.
Root, with characteristic honesty.
"Well, that story is
well told, if it is by an American," said the President. "But you
know the Americans, as a rule, are brave men, and such can
appreciate bravery, even though it be found in an enemy."
"That is true," said
Dusticoat, " there are no braver men in the world than Hin ;lismen.
And there is no country in the world where bravery is more honored
than it is in Hingland."
"You mean Hingland
without the haitch, don't you Mr. Dusty?" said Little Jack.
"Look 'ee here," said
Dusticoat, testily, "if 'ee was as big as I am 'ee would get some of
the himpudence shaken out on "Never mind, he is more funny than
impudent," said the President. " Now for a story from Air. Root."
"I will tell of a sad
affair that took place during the war, and in which a man was
killed, and his young wife made a widow.
"A young farmer, who
was a Mennonite, and hence a non-combatant, was living with his wife
on a farm along one of the most public roads in the country. One day
he left his borne to go and carry a part of a pig to his sister, who
lived a dozen miles from his place. He was on a very fine horse, and
one that was quick and active.
He went on all right
for a number of miles. Then he was met by a company of Indians. They
were of the Canadian Indians, and were under arms under the British.
They were only half-civilized, and they made but little difference
between friends and foes, so far as robbery and plunder were
"They stopped him and
took hold of his horse. Then they tried to take the meat from him.
To this he objected, and held on to the article with a determined
grasp. The Indians kept him thus for some time. A woman, standing in
the door of her house, saw the whole transaction.
"Knowing the man, she
called to him in the German tongue, which he understood, and advised
him to let them have the meat.
"But he still refused
to do so.
"After a while they
seemed to give up. They let go of the horse and stepped back. They
talked a little in their own language. He could not understand them.
Then the head Indian motioned to the man to go on. He put spurs to
his horse and it bounded away with all its might. But he had not
gone more than half-a-dozen jumps when eleven bullets brought the
retreating horseman dead to the ground.
"The Indians took not
only the meat, but the horse also. They went away, and left their
victim lying in the road where he had fallen."
"These Indians were
dangerous customers at anytime," said the President; "but in the
war-time they paid but little regard to the rights of property or
the value of life."
"Is it not a very
wrong thing for Christian nations to employ such savages in
civilized warfare?" asked one of the men.
"It seems like it,"
said the President. "But we must not forget that there is no
Christianity in war. That can originate only in the savage part of
man's nature. These Indians being in a state of savagery, war is
almost their normal condition. And the difference between killing
men on the battle-field or killing them off the battle-field is so
small that the eye of Christianity can't detect it, and the Gospel
never describes it."