" Ah! " said I, vainly endeavoring to appear unmoved, " where are we expected to have our first engagement ? "
"Just below here, my fren'," says Villiam, cutting off a lock of his hair for the attorney, "where a couple of rails are broken".
Too much affected to say.more, we went into the car reserved for officers and civilians, and took a seat together, with our hands interclasped. Thus we sat; and, while the train was waiting for a speculative surgeon to come aboard, an agent of a Yankee "Accident Insurance Company" introduced a street-minstrel with a harp, who played and sang this harmless bit of raillery.
Betsy Bacon, dearest one,
Lay your head upon my shoulder; Will you go and be a nun,
When your lover's hand is colder ?
Will his mangled last remains,
Win from you a tear of pity ?- Oh, that other things than trains,
Took us to a neighboring city !
Wildly gazed she in my face,
Crying, as she clung about me, " Bobby, in the name of grace,
Go away you sha'n't without me!
" Why, I thought you only meant, Just a business trip to make it;
Yet you seem on death intent; - Have you stole my heart to break it?
" Wherefore speak of death at all;
Aren't you coming back to-morrow ? Let me some physician call; -
What has crazed you, joy or sorrow?"
Betsy, darling-low I spoke - Don't you know by rail I'm going ?
Ev'ry train there's something broke, By the daily paper's showing.
'Tis as sure as sure can be That some accident will happen;
Likely the first bridge we see Will give way and let us slap in.
Or a train of freight well strike,
Or another train run into; Count on life, with death so like ? -
Well you know 'twould be a sin to!
Sadly droop'd her pretty head,
Like a lily rudely shaken; "If for life you care," she said,
" Stay at home, and save your Bacon ! "
O sudden Death! At any time thou seemest to us the most terrible of earthly ills, save when Mr. Tupper brings out a new book; but how supernaturally malignant dost thou appear when we have to buy the tickets for our own funeral, and die standing on our heads between two mutilated brakemen.
" Hum ! " says Villiam, thoughtfully, just as the train began to move; " are those the marbles of my childhood which mine eyes behold?"
I looked to the car floor, as be spoke, and beheld certain little figured glass balls, as they appeared to be, rolling loosely around; but, upon picking one up, I found it to be a human eye.
" Conductor," said I, calmly as I could, to a being attached to his watch by a large chain, who was waltzing solemnly down the aisle and doing the ticket trick, - "conductor," said I, "what mean these?"
"Why," says the conductor, pleasantly, "you see the cars haven't been swept out since that last little affair we had with the night express from Pinchtown." Here the affable conductor took up an eye, and says he, "If the crystal of that one wasn't broken, it would make a neat scarf-pin!"
Just at this moment, the engaging conductor quickly ascended to the top of the cat, and put his head through the ventilator, and all the gentlemen in the seats adjacent joined me in sitting upon Captain Villiam Brown.
For we had had a spirited skirmish with a milk train, and had killed two drovers and a lozenge-boy.
"You see," said the polite conductor, coming down, and continuing the conversation, "when you have eyes only, you can't do much else than use them for scarf-pins; but when you have a few good legs, five or six hands that have come off clean, and as many tops of heads as would fill a small basket, the directors let you sell them to the medical students, for the company, and pay a fair commission to you".
The really agreeable conductor now darted through the length of the car, and placed his head through the top of the door, and four fat women and the Provisional Governor went to bed upon Villiam and me.
For we had had a sharp time on the right with a broken bridge, and wounded twelve Mackerels and the baggage-master.
" It must be plain to everybody," observed the genial conductor, coming back with his collar-bone broken, and resuming the interview, " that the leg and hand business will hardly pay you sometimes ; for I have known whole weeks to pass without giving you anything more than a couple of dozen fingers, and a few poorly-executed knee-pans, which don't pay you for taking them to the medical college".
It was at this moment that the amiable conductor went very swiftly and stood upon his head behind the stove, and Villiam stretched himself at full length from a pink bonnet to a large " chignon".
For we had had a brilliant charge down a bank, and scalded three brakemen and a conductor.
" Some people might imagine," said the lively conductor, not minding his broken arms, and regaining the thread of his discourse, " that you might make something out of the feet and shoulder-blades you sometimes get ; but the feet are apt to be too much crushed to pay, and so many shoulder-blades are brought to market from the Western trains, on which a great many elderly maiden ladies travel, that they are a perfect drug".
Upon which the thoroughly fascinating conductor vanished magically behind the half of the car-floor which arose between him and us, and Villiam and I retired over the top of the water-cooler.
For we had- had a stirring affair with a broken tie, and rolled nine women and a quarter-master into one vignti-pede.
Captain Villiam Brown removed the cover of the water-cooler from his head, where it had rested like a helmet, and says he, -
" Who shall care for mother now ? "
" Cheer up, my blue and gold Achilles," said I, extricating my left thigh from the side of the car, and noticing with satisfaction that we had just run over a cow with safety; "cheer up, for we approach the place where awaits us the flower of chivalry ! "
" Ah!" says Villiam, taking his will from an inner pocket, and pinning it to his coat collar, so that it might be easily seen by those who should find the upper part of his body, - " ah ! " says he, softly, " train up a man in the way he should go, and he will not live to be old enough to depart from it. That is," says Villiam, explainingly, " if the train is on a railroad appertaining to the United States of America".
This sagacious remark of Villiam suggested to me that the " train up " in a man's case, like the " train up " in a child's, not unfrequently owed its mishaps to a misplaced switch; and I was about to convey the idea to Villiam, in the unstudied phraseology of our more serious comic journals, when we both went up like rockets into the air.
For we had had something of a brush with the exploding boiler of the locomotive, and had experienced what an un-grammatical person might denominate the last rose of summer.
" Hum! " says Villiam, from the top of a pine tree; " is this Chipmunk Court House ? "
" It must be, my bird of Mars," murmured I, from the upper branches of a horse-chestnut.
Here a dreadful groan burst from Provisional Governor Munchausen, who was seated on the chimney of a deserted house beside the track, and says he, " Do my spectacles relate a falsehood, or is that really a human being up yonder?"
It was the figure of the engaging conductor, impaled upon a lightning-rod surmounting a lofty flag-staff, and striking feebly out with his hands and feet, after the manner of a fly on a pin. As we gazed, there came down a soft voice of solicitation, and it said, " Tick-ets! "
" Ah! " says Villiam, " his name is Tickets ! "
Here the friendly conductor wriggled impatiently, and held down a hand toward us, and says he, - "TICK-ETS!"
After which, he immediately folded up, and we felt that his spirit had fled to its native depot.
Luckily for us, my boy, Captain Munchausen now arrived at the scene, from his native palace, to pick out a few remains of such friends as might have come on the train; and as we came down the trees, and noticed nearly all the Conic Section coming down from other trees around, he nodded the woollen stocking which served him as a cap, and says he, -
" Having been overpowered by superior numbers, I am prepared to be reconstructed, and accept the temporary protection of your armed ruffians".
Villiam endeavored to draw his good sword, Escalibar; but, finding that exquisitely tempered weapon too much bent to come out of the scabbard, he remembered the terrifying effect of the word " Sirrah! " as found in all our absorbing weekly journals of aristocratic romance, and says he, -
" Peace, sarah! "
Captain Munchausen superciliously thrust his hands into his pockets, quite forgetful that all his knuckles came visibly through in front, and says he, -
" Let the Union meeting proceed to organize, after the wishes of our noble President".
Hereupon the Provisional Governor at once mounted an inverted pail, and addressed the vast assemblage in the following speech,-
" Fellow-Citizens of Accomac,-Four years of heroic war and glorious self-sacrifice, for a wicked cause still dear to every freeman's heart, having failed for the present to attain our independence, let us rejoice at the restoration of the beloved old Union, under our noble President, and return to it full of forgiveness for the present! "
Here the meeting was for a moment disturbed, by Captain Munchausen's involuntary discharge of a pistol at a Mackerel corporal, who was accidentally looking at him like a conqueror; but order was quickly restored, by the arrest of the soldier, on a charge of stealing glances, and the meeting went on.
"I am appointed Provisional Governor, to secure your forgiveness by means of provisions; and while I would earnestly entreat you, fellow-citizens, never to cease cherishing the glory of that greatest and purest of patriots, Mr. Jefferson Davis, I would also implore you to stand by our noble President in his struggle with the reptiles of the North!"
Captain Munchausen merely turned away for a moment, to make a kick at a Mackerel passing by, and then says he,-
"The sunny South will receive you again as equals! Follow me with your vampyres to my chateau! "
As we followed him, through the shades of evening, I noticed that Captain Villiam Brown was deeply moved. 14*
"Ah ! " says Villiam, profoundly, "the sunny South is like the feather-bed of my early years, and grows larger from being well beaten".
And like woman, who is never farther from her conqueror's feet than when she yields to his arms!
Orpheus G. Kerr.