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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 68, 2 March 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
JUD BROWNIN’S ACCOUNT OF RUBENSTEIN’S PLAYING.
“ Jud, they say you heard Rubenstcin play when you were in New York ? ” “ I did in the cool.” “ Well, tell us all about it.” “ What! me 1 I might’s well tell you about *he creation of the world.” ‘ ‘ Como, now ; no mock modesty ’ Go ahead. ” , , . . “Well, sir, he had the blamedest, biggest, catty-cornerdest planner you ever laid eyes on ; somethin’ like a distracted billiard table on three logs. The lid was heisted, and mighty well it was. _ If it hadn’t been, he’d a tore the intire insides clean out, and scattered ’em to the four winds of heaven. ”
“ Played well, did he ? ” “ You bet he did ; but don’t interrupt me. When he first sat down ho ’peared to keer mighty little ’bout playin’, and wish’t he hadn’t come. He twecdleeedled a little on the trible, twoodleoodled some on the bass —just foolin and boxin’ the thing’s jaws for bein’ in his wav. And I says to the man settin’ next to me, s’l, ‘ What sort of fool playin’ is that ? ’ And he says, ‘ Hush !’ > But presently his hands began one ’nother up and down the beys, like a pass el of rats scamperin through a garret very swift. Parts of it was swee+, though, and reminded me of a sugar squirrel turnin’ the wheel of a candy cage. “ ‘ Now,’ I says to my neighbor, ‘ he s a showin’ off. He thinks he’s a doin’ of it, but he ain’t got no ide, no plan of nothin’. If he’d play a tune of some kind or other I’d—- “ But my neighbor says ‘ Heigh,’ very impatient. “ I was just about to git up and go home, bein’ tired of that foolishness, when I heard a little bird waking up away off in the woods, and callin’ sleepylike to his mate, I looked up and I see that Rubin was beginnin’ to take some interest in his business, and I set down agin. It was the peep of day. The light came faint from the east, the breeze blowed gentle and fresh, some birds waked up in the orchard, and then some more in the trees, near the house, and all begun singin’ together. People began to stir, and the gal opened the shutters. Just then the first beam of the sun fell upon the blossoms a leetle more, and it touched the roses on the bushes, and the next thing it was the broad day ; the sun fairly blazed, the birds sang like they’d split their throats ; all the leaves was movin’ and flashin’ diamonds of dew, and the whole wide world was bright and happy as a king. Seemed to me like there was a good breakfast in every house in the laud, and not a sick child or woman anywhere. It was a fine mornin’. “And I says to my neighbor, ‘That’s music, that is.’” “ But he glanced at me like he’d like to cut my throat. “ Presently the wind turned ; and it began to thicken up and a kind of thick grey mist came over things; I got low spirited directly. Then a silver rain began to fall. I could see the drops touch the ground, some flashed up like long pearl ear-rings, and the rest rolled away like rubies. It was pretty but melancholy. Then the pearls gathered themselves into long strands and necklaces, and then they melted into thin silver streams running between golden gravel, and then the streams joined each other at the bottom of the hill, and made a brook that flowed silent, except that you could kinder see music, especially when the bushes on the bank moved as the music went along down the valley. I could smell the flowers in the meadow. But the sun didn’t shine, nor the birds sing ; it was a foggy day, but not cold. The most curious thing was a little white angel boy : like you see in pictures, that run ahead of the music brook, and led it on and on, away out of the world, where no man ever was —I never was, certain. I could see the boy just as plain as I see you. Then the moonlight came, without any sunset, and shone on the graveyards, where some few ghosts lifted their hands and went over the wall, and between the black sharp-top trees splendid marble houses rose up, with fine ladies in the lift-up windows, and men that loved ’em, but never got a-nigh ’em, and played on guitars under the trees, and made me that miserable that I could a-cried, because I wanted to love somebody, I don’t know who, better than the men with the guitars did. Then the sun went down, it got dark, the wind moaned and wept like a lost child for its dead mother, and I could a-got up there and then and preached a better sermon than any I ever listened to, there wasn’t a thing in the world left to live for, not a blame thing, and yet I didn’t want the music to stop one bit. It w'as happier to be a miserable than to be be happy without being miserable. I couldn’t understand it, I hung my head and pulled out my hankerchief, and blowed my nose well to keep from cryin’. My eyes is weak anyway ; I didn’t want anybody to be a gazin’ at me a snivlin’ and it’s nobody’s business what I do with my nose. It’s mine. But some several glared at me as mad as Tucker. Then, all of a sudden, old Ruben changed his tune. He rip’d and rar’d, he tip’d and tar’d, and he charged like the grand entry into a circus, ’Feared to me that all the gas in the house was turned on at once, things got so bright, and I hilt up my head, ready to look any man in the face, and not afear’d of nothin’. It was a circus, and a brass band, and a big ball, all goin’ on at the same time. He lit into them keys like a thousand of bricks, he gave ’em no rest, day or night ; he set every livin’ joint in me a-goin’, and not bein’ able to stand it no longer, I jumpt up on my seat, and jest hollered — “ Go it my Rube !” “Every blamed man, -woman, and child in the house riz on me, and shouted, ‘ Put him out! Put him out !” 1 “ ‘Put your great grandmother’s grizzly grey greenish cat into the middle of next month !’ I says, ‘ Tech me, if you dare ! I paid my money, and you jest come anigh me. ’ ” With that several policemen ran up, and I had to simmer down. But I would a’ fit any fool that laid hands on me, for I was bound to hear Rube out or die.
“He had changed his tune again. He hopt-light ladies, and tip-toed fine from eened to eened of the key-board. He played soft, and low, and solemn I heard the church bells over the hills. The candles in Heaven were lit one by one ; I saw the stars rise. The great organ of ei ernity began to play from the world’s end to the world’s end ; and the angels went to prayers. . . . Then the music changed to water, full of feeling that couldn’t be thought, and began to drop—drip, drop, drip, drop—clear and sweet, like tears of joy failin’ into a lake of glory. It was as sweet as a sweetheart sweetened with white sugar, mixed with powdered silver and seed diamonds. It was too sweet. I tell you the audience cheered. Rubin, he kinder bowed, like he wanted to say, ‘Much obleeged, but I’d rather you wouldn’t interrup’ me. “He stopped a minute or two to fetch breath. Then he got mad. He runs his fingers through his hair, he shoved up his sleeve, he opened his coattails a leetle further, he drug up his stool, he leaned over, and, sir, he just went for that old planner. He slapt her face, he boxed her face, he pulled her nose, he pinched her ears, and he scratched her cheek till she fairly yelled. He knockt her down, and stampt on her shameful. She bellowed like a bull, she bleated like a ca I f, she howled like a hound, she squealed like a pig, she shrieked like a '
rat, and then he wouldn’t let her up. He ran a quarter stretch down the low grounds of the bass, till he got clean into the bowels of the earth, and you heard thunder galloping after thunder, thro' the hollows and caves of perdition ; then he fox-chased his right hand with his left till he got away out of the treble into the clouds, wlxar the notes was finer than the pints of cambric needles, and you couldn’t hear nothin’ but the shadders of ’em. And then be wouldn’t let the old planner go. He for’ard two’d, he cross’t over first gentleman, he cross’t over first lady, he balanced two pards, lie cliassade right and left, back to your places, he all hands’d aroun’, ladies to the right, promenade all, in and out here and there”, back and forth, perpetual motion, doubled and twisted and turned and tacked and tangled into forty ’leven thousand double bow knots.
“By jings ! it was a mystery. And then he wouldn’t let the old planner go. He fetch’t up his right wing, he fetch’t up his left wing, he fetch’t up his center, he fetch’t up his reserves. He fired by file, he fired by platoons, by company, by regiments, and by brigades. He opened bis cannon, siege guns down thar, Napoleons here, twelve-pounders yonder, big guns, little guns, middle-size guns, round shot, shells," shrapnels, grape, canister, mines, and magazines, every livin’ bomb and battery a-going at the same time. The house trembled, the lights danced, the walls slink, the floor came up, the ceilin’ came down, the sky split, the ground rockt —heaven and earth, creation, sweet potatoes, Moses, nineponces, tenpenny nails, my Mary Ann, hallelujah, Sampson in a simnion tree, Jerrossal’m. Tump Thomson in a tumbler cart, roodle-oodle-oodle-oodle ruddle-uddle-uddle-uddle — raddle-addle-addle-addle-addle riddle-iddle-iddle-iddle-iddle reetle-eetle-eetle-eetle -r-r-r-lang ! per lang ! p-r-r-r-r----lang Bang ! “With that bang! he lifted himself bodily into the ar’, and he come down with his knees, his ten fingers, his ten toes, his elbows, and his nose, striking every single, solitary key on that planner at the same time. The thing busted and went off into seventeen hundred and fiftyseven thousand five hundred and fortytwo hemi-demi-semiquavers, and I know’d no mo’. “ When I came too, I were under ground about twenty foot, in a place they call Oyster Bay, treatin’ a Yankee that I never laid eyes on before, and never expect to see agin. Day was a breakin by the time I got to the St. Nicholas Hotel, and I pledge you my word I did not know my time. The man asked me the number of my room, and I told him, ‘ Hot music on the half shell for two. ’ I piutedly did. ”
THE COFISHING OF THE SEXES,
There can be no question that appearances were terribly against the Rev. Mr. Hopper, and that the public was justified in believing for a lime that he was guilty. _ Now that the truth of the matter has come (o light, it is seen that Mr. Hopper has been a most unfortunate, but entirely innocent, man. His case is probably without a parallel, and he deserves the warmest sympathy, since he has clearly been the victim of a curious and painful accident. The cofishing of the sexes has all the objectionable features and none of the advantages of the coeducation of the sexes. A young man and a young woman can derive neither pleasure nor profit from fishing together, providing they really fish. Of course, many who have gone forth to a secluded stream, ostensibly to fish, have remained to flirt; but in such cases fishing was made a dishonest and indefensible pretext for flirting. To seriously fish involves the use of bait, and bait cannot be combined with sentiment, A young man may sit on the bank of a stream in company with the object of his affections, but if either or both are intent upon fishing, he feels that to use the language of romance and sentiment at a time when he is constantly liable to be interrupted with the request, i ‘O do please put another wotm on my hook,” is impossible. There was once an affectionate pair who fished for thiee consecutive hours in the waters of the Hudson, near West Point, and neither made the slightest allusion to bait; but they afterwards confessed—one to the other—that their fishing-tackle was so disposed that, while their lines were in the water, the hooks were cunningly made to rest on dry land. Of course this was not genuine fishing, and it involved a deplorable amount of calculated deceit. When the Rev. Mr. Hopper was compelled almost by force to join a bi-sexual fishing party made up of the boaidcrs at the Squonpigyank House, in the charming Long Island village boasiing the musical Indian name of Wassichoguebunk, he knew perfectly well that he should not derive the slightest pleasure from the affair. He did not, however, foresee drat he would be assigned as instructor in fishing and inspector of hooks to a widow lady whom he regarded with much dislike on account of her godly ways and her inordinate tendency to gudr. Could he have forseen this he would have refused to go fishing, no matter how peis'stently the demand might have been made upon him. It was not until the party reached the fishing ground—or rather water—that-he discovered that his partner was to be the gushing widow, and that he was doomed to spend the next two hours with her alone. Mr. Hopper always accepted what was inevitable with a good degree of composure, and accordingly he baited the widow s hooks for two hooks weie attached to her line—and nerved himself to endure her conversation. The rest of the party had wandered up and down the river, and the wagon which had brought them had been sent back, with instructions to return at a fixed hour. There was every reason to suppose that Mr. Hopper would have to endure the pains of fishing from 2 o’clock until 5 o’clock, and dismal as the prospect seemed to him, he now knows that it would have been far better had the fishing lasted till dark, instead of coming, as it did, to an abrupt end. The widow bad fished for ab«ut half an hour without success, when she remarked that she must really throw her hooks further. She therefore held the rod over her shoulder and prepared to give a mighty sweep to the line. She was a muscular woman, and she would have made a splendid cast had it not been for a trifling accident. The line swept between herself and the Rev. Mr. Hopper, and as one of the two hooks caught the unhappy man in the ear, the other caught the widow by the nose.
After the first shrieks were over, Mr. Hopper undertook to release himself and his companion. They were united by a bond not more than a foot in length, and every movement was extremely painful to both of them. The first impulse of Mr. Hopper was to cut the line, but he found that he had forgotten his penknife, and that the line was of the strongest cat-gut, and cculd not be broken. There was nothing to be done but to return to the village in search of scissors band a surgeon, and accordingly the wretched pair arose and started for Wassichoguebunk. They had not gone ten yards when it became evident that they must maintain the closest proximity under penalty of lasing a nose or an ear. Mr Hopper was forced to either keep his ear within six inches of the widow’s nose or undergo, and inflict upon her, the most exquisite torment. It was excessively difficult to maintain just this distance between nose and ear, and when the widow finally suggested that it would be better were she to keep her head on Mr. Hopper’s shoulder, he was forced to admit that she was right. This position involved the placing of Air. Hopper’s arm round his companion’s waist, for they both comprehended that if this was not done, the position could not possibly be maintained. It was, therefore, in this close contiguity that the pair entered the village and sought the shelter of the Squonpigyank House, and the oldest inhabitant of Wassichoguebunk agree that so much enthusiasm on the part of the local small-boys was never before known. No sooner was Mr. Hopper released and the hook extraacted from bis ear than he hurriedly left the town, to avoid the jeers and sneers of the wicked. This was unwise, for it gave the scandal time to grow to enormous proportions. It was soon said that Mr. Hopper had paraded through the streets with his arm around an intoxicated "widow s waist, kissing her at
frequent intervals, and loudly singing “Whoa! Emma!” The result was the notorious ecclesiastical trial which has just closed, and which, contrary to expectations, proved the complete innocence of the accused, Mr,
Hooper will never go fishing with a lady again. In fact, he has taken a solemn vow of total abstinence from fishing tackle, widows, and villages with Indian names, which every one who knows his character is certain that he will keep. ________
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 68, 2 March 1880
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