" My fren'," says Villiam, perceptibly trembling, " has a junk-shop exploded anywhere? What is this horrible noise which mine ears behold? "
I told him, in hurried accents, that the great bell was ringing in honor of the Chevalier P. Penruthers, who came from his own baronial halls at Taikachor Court House to demand the hand of Lady Matilda Munchausen in marriage; and when I noticed what a keen expression of pain usurped those particular portions of his countenance where he had cut himself while shaving with the Munchausen family razor, I remembered that he himself had once cast fond eyes upon the heiress. Deeply affected by the thought, I tamed my bit of Smoked Glass to the road below, and there beheld a stately sight.
Mounted upon a spirited snuff-colored barb, whose knee-joints had been finely developed by the equestrian sports of the canal tow-path, was Pendragon Penruthers, Esquire. Attired in white kid gloves, a green bombazine overcoat, red flannel inexpressibles, and a unique, tall, square paper hat, marked " 7 lbs. Best Java Coffee," he recalled to mind all that I have ever read of chivalrous knighthood, and suggested some of the finest knightly portraitures of Sir Walter Scott. At the grand gate, a few slats at the bottom of which had been fractured the night before by the violent entrance of several pigs into the garden, stood that mirror of chivalry, Captain Munchausen, neatly wrapped in his window-curtain.
P. Penruthers wound a shrill blast upon the tin horn which he carried as a bugle, and I regret to say that my friend, Villiam, entirely misconstrued the knightly summons.
"Ah!" says Villiam, "that means fresh fish. Got any porgies ? " cries Villiam, in a pleasing voice.
"Hush ! " says I, greatly mortified, that is not a fish-horn. He winds his bugle as a summons. Be silent, and mark what follows." Captain Munchausen raised his right hand to the woollen stocking on his head, and says he, -
" Methinks, by our lady, thou blowest a keen blast, Sir Knight. Upon what high embassy comest thou to our ancient chateau ? "
Pendragon Penruthers, Esquire, did not dare bow in return, lest the motion should overthrow his steed, which was at that moment standing weakly upon three legs, and trying to scratch himself with the other; but he waved the clothes-pole, which he carried as a lance, and says he, -
" I come, sire, to lay my hand and heart, not to mention mortgages, at the feet of the Lady Matilda Munchausen; and to offer knightly gauge to any losel knight who would say me nay. Give her to me, sire, that my home in the Almshouse may be lonely no more".
"Sir Knight," responded Captain Munchausen, with emotion, " I know you for a member of an old and heavily mortgaged race. Let us break bread together before entering my halls. What, ho, seneschal! "
Here the aged colored seneschal of the chateau made his appearance, bearing a fresh hoe-cake on a dust-pan, and of this the two knights ate in token of amity. At the conclusion of the ceremonial, Captain Munchausen motioned for his noble guest to descend from his fiery charger, and leave the latter leaning up against the fence; and says he, -
" By my halidome, Sir Knight, you will find our ancient grass-plot occupied by a horde of military Vandals from the plebeian North, who are sent to reconstruct us; and the chateau is also defiled by the presence of two Yankee scorpions, who must also be endured for a time".
Mr. Penruthers scowled fiercely, and says he, " Do they bring any capital with them, sire? "
"One of them, at least, has a carpet-bag," returned Captain Munchausen, gloomily.
P. Penruthers laughed a low, blood-curdling laugh, and he hissed through his set teeth, -
" Then I may once more know what it is to wear a clean collar. Let us within".
As they passed in under the massive doorway, which would have been severely Gothic but for the three or four emaciated hens roosting on top of it, I turned to Villiam, and says I, -
"Well, my fellow-scorpion, what think you now of the manners and customs of the superior race ? "
Villiam thoughtfully brushed away an excited hen, which was striving to alight upon his head, under the impression that his hair was something to eat, and says he,-
" My fren', if Matilda Munchausen leads that nobleman to the altar, she'll find him the heaviest mortgage you ever heard of." After which malignant expression of disappointed affection, Villiam passionately withdrew from public notice, and resumed his toilet before the bottom of a tin pail which had been placed in his apartment as a mirror.
In about half an hour thereafter, the great bell of the chateau, which had been removed downstairs, rang hideously for dinner; and my friend and I repaired at once to the salle a manger, where we were introduced as Vandals to the knight from Taikachor Court House.
Then, haying taken seats on the inverted peach-baskets around the sumptuous table, and noticed that the missing leg of the latter had been replaced temporarily by an umbrella, we proceeded to discuss all the latest delicacies of the markets. Pendragon Penruthers, Esq., passed a tin plate marked " U. S." to Villiam, and says he,-
" Sir Vandal, permit me to help thee to some hoecake! and would, by'r lady, it might poison thee ! " And, simultaneously, he leaned across the groaning board, and took off my friend's clean collar.
"Hum!" says Villiam, throwing at him a cracker marked "U. S."; "if you do that again, my fren', I shall feel obliged to impeach you in the eye".
"Oh! " says Matilda Munchausen, sticking a fork into me, " how disgusting it is to have Northern reptiles at the same table with one! "
At this crisis, Loyola Munchausen made a pass at Villiam with the wash-hand basin, which served as a bread-tray, and says he, -
" If you can't conduct yourself properly at our wassail-board, Sir Vandal, it will be my painful duty, as a Provisional Governor, to fine you a couple of dollars".
" Ah! " says Villiam, cracking him on the head with the toasting-fork, "we don't wish to alienate the Southern Union element; but if you try to pour anything out of that teapot upon me, my fren', I'll call in my forces".
Here a lamentable outcry came through the windows from the direction of the grass-plot, and says I, -
"What means this?"
"It means, Sir Yankee," says Captain Munchausen, "that I have caused my seneschal to pour some scalding water from the ramparts upon your Vandals out there, in punishment for their having dared to look at our guest like conquerors".
Merely pausing long enough to hurl at him one of the halves of dice-boxes which served us as napkin-rings, Villiam flew from the feast to look after his scalded Mackerels; and I immediately followed him, with one of Matilda Munchausen's potatoes plastered against the back of my head.
My friend was condoling with one of our scorched military Vandals on the lawn, when I reached him, and says I,-
" Are you going back again, Villiam ? "
He shook his head sadly, and says he, -
" No, my fren'. It's dangerous for Northern Capital to dine with so many mortgages. Let us wait and take our dinner with the seneschal".
Yours, in waiting.
Orpheus C. Kerr.