The venerable freedman scratched his" head, and says he: " I don't know, Mars'r, but I b'lieve it's to get up a new Consumption for de State".
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the scornful Southron, with horrible bitterness. " You mean Constitution, poor gorilla; and tell me now, thou sorry knave, what is a Constitution?"
"I don't know 'zactly, Mars'r Captain," says the aged negro, "and dat's a fac'. I 'spect, though, dat its some kind of canonderdrum out o' de Bible".
"And these," hissed the proud Confederacy through his set teeth, " these are the creatures who are to-ha ! ha!-rule the down-trodden South, while we, her mortgaged white sons, are dissss-feranchised!! Why, yonder losel military scopion, from the plebeian North, shall show more intelligence".
Here the disfranchised knight hailed one of our Mackerels, who chanced to be on guard near the porch, and says he, -
'"Tell us, thou reptile, what is a Constitution? "
" Consteechooshun is it, ye mane!" says the soldier, in a voice that had often reached the North Poll, " Sure, and its a bit av paper that every Amairikin citeezeh signs whin he declares his intintions".
At this moment Captain Munchausen was seized with a violent cough; and says he, "O -ah-yes, I see. But you can retire, sirrah".
" As for you, Satan," says he, making a pass at the aged seneschal with the oiled-silk umbrella-sheath, which he carried as a purse, " if you attempt to vote I'll discharge you".
But the seneschal, in return, made a pass at him with the dust-pan, and peevishly asked for his money again; whereupon the passionate knight called aloud for military aid from the United States; and, but for the prompt mediation of the Mackerel, the long expected War of Races must have commenced at the South.
Hark, though! The pewter spoon lias been hung upon its wire in the dish-pan, and the great bell of the chateau, thus reconstructed, rings a merry peal for the bridal. Let all political differences, my boy, be lost in the fragrant smoke of Hymen's torch, while I skip over intervening incidents and take you directly to the wedding.
Inasmuch as the principal sacred edifice of this financial metropolis was torn down, during the recent Federal car-nage, by our military Vandals (because some thirteen unconquerable Confederacies in spectacles occupied the turret with duck-guns, and created disturbances in our ranks), the only fashionable church now standing is composed of the body of an old Dry Dock omnibus, presented by wealthy Southern exiles in New York, with a steeple over the door-end formed successively of a cracker-box, a fish-keg, and a nine-shilling gothic clock. This stately triumph of Noah's Arkitechture is said to look much like the famous English church of St. Mary-Axe, but, as it is not quite so large, it is very properly called St. Mary-Hatchet; and here, in this cathedral, with a spacious blackberrying-ground around it, the marriage of P. Penruthers and M. Munchausen would have been solemnized, but for the high-handed conduct of a prominent church-officer. To speak plainly, it is the custom of the sexton of the cathedral to occupy the driver's seat of the former omnibus during the service, and, by means of the strap wound about his leg, permit none of the congregation to open the door and slip out while the collection is being taken up. When applied to by the brothers of the bride, this embittered official agreed to admit the party to the cathedral; but utterly refused to think of such a thing as letting them out again without a collection for his own benefit. This, of course, settled the matter, as the Rothschilds still mysteriously refrain from subscribing to the new Munchausen Loan; and it was decided that the ceremony should take place, according to the forms of the Ritualists, at the chateau.
Nowhere save at the South, at this particular period of Reconstruction, is a Ritualistic wedding seen in all its pomp. That is to say-nowhere else are so many Pom-peys present. As I gazed to-day at the row of sable retainers around the nobility and gentry at the wedding, and wondered whom they expected to collect their next quarter's wages from, it struck me that the Sheriffs writual had its element there. Thus do wordly thoughts intrude upon the most solemn scenes, and I merely mention it as an original discovery.
Captain Villiam Brown and I had been invited, on condition of lending clean collars, and furnishing a box of candles for the ceremony; and when we entered the saloon of the chateau and gazed through our pieces of Smoked Glass upon the scene, the brilliancy of the latter made us wink. The mangle, brought in from the kitchen and converted into a covered table by means of a white counterpane, bore some twenty burning tallow-candles in soda-water bottles. Above it trembled a tasteful canopy, made from the top of a sugar-barrel, draped with evergreens. Behind it, on the wall, hung a picture representing the arrest of one of the early Christians for debt. At the table stood the Ritual rector, in chasuble made of the stuff left over from the two large blue cotton umbrellas which Villiam and I had given to be made into a bridal-gown and hoop skirt for the lady of the chateau. To the right were a band of boy-choristers, from the local Orphan Asylum; on the left, a company of acolytes from the neighboring County House ; still farther to the left was the choir, composed of the Mackerel Brass Band with his night-key bugle, and the aged colored seneschal, with a large comb wrapped in paper; around the room sat the family and guests, on inverted peach-baskets; and, facing the table and rector, stood the lordly Pendragon Penruthers, Esquire, and his Southern bride!
You can form no idea of the knightly and chivalric aspect of this people, my boy, save in a courtly pageant like this. Yon at the North are chiefly familiar with Southern medical students, who, instead of using the ancient lance for artillery, use the modern lancet for ill artery; but, if you want to see what Chivalry really is, at the South, come gaze through my Smoked Glass at this scene of Ritualism.