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I began at the beginning and repeated all the lines. My friend's face lighted with interest. He said:
“Why, what a captivating jingle it is! It is almost music. It flows along so nicely. I have nearly caught the rhymes myself. Say them over just once more, and then I'll have them, sure."
I said them over. Then Mr. said them. He made one little mistake, which I corrected. The next time and the next he got them right. Now a great burden seemed to tumble from my shoulders. That torturing jingle departed out of my brain, and a grateful sense of rest and peace descended upon me. I was lighthearted enough to sing; and I did sing for half an hour, straight along, as we went jogging homeward. Then my freed tongue found blessed speech again, and the pent talk of many a weary hour began to gush and flow. It flowed on and on, joyously, jubilantly, until the fountain was empty and dry. As I wrung my friend's hand at parting, I said:
“Have n't we had a royal good time? But now I remember, you have n't said a word for two hours. Come, come, out with something!”
The Rev. Mr. turned a lack-lustre eye upon me, drew a deep sigh, and said, without animation, without apparent consciousness:
“Punch, brothers, punch with care! Punch in the presence of the passenjare!”
A pang shot through me as I said to myself, “Poor fellow, poor fellow! he has got it, now.”
I did not see Mr. for two or three days after that. Then, on Tuesday evening, he staggered into my presence and sank dejectedly into a seat. He was pale,
worn; he was a wreck. He lifted his faded eyes to my face and said:
“Ah, Mark, it was a ruinous investment that I made in those heartless rhymes. They have ridden me like a nightmare, day and night, hour after hour, to this very moment. Since I saw you I have suffered the torments of the lost. Saturday evening I had a sudden call, by telegraph, and took the night train for Boston. The occasion was the death of a valued old friend who had requested that I should preach his funeral sermon. I took my seat in the cars and set myself to framing the discourse. But I never got beyond the opening paragraph; for then the train started and the car-wheels began their 'clack-clack-clack-clack! clack-clack-clackclack!' and right away those odious rhymes fitted themselves to that accompaniment. For an hour I sat there and set a syllable of those rhymes to every separate and distinct clack the car-wheels made. Why, I was as fagged out, then, as if I had been chopping wood all day. My skull was splitting with headache. It seemed to me that I must go mad if I sat there any longer; so I undressed and went to bed. I stretched myself out in my berth, and — well, you know what the result was. The thing went right along, just the same. ‘Clack-clackclack, a blue trip slip, clack-clack-clack, for an eightcent fare; clack-clack-clack, a buff trip slip, clack-clackclack, for a six-cent fare'; and so on, and so on, and so on — 'punch, in the presence of the passenjare!' Sleep? Not a single wink! I was almost a lunatic when I got to Boston. Don't ask me about the funeral. I did the best I could, but every solemn individual sentence was meshed and tangled and woven in and out with ‘Punch,
brothers, punch with care, punch in the presence of the passenjare.' And the most distressing thing was that my delivery dropped into the undulating rhythm of those pulsing rhymes, and I could actually catch absentminded people nodding time to the swing of it with their stupid heads. And, Mark, you may believe it or not, but before I got through, the entire assemblage were placidly bobbing their heads in solemn unison, mourners, undertaker, and all. The moment I had finished, I fled to the anteroom in a state bordering on frenzy. Of course it would be my luck to find a sorrowing and aged maiden aunt of the deceased there, who had arrived from Springfield too late to get into the church. She began to sob, and said:
""Oh, oh, he is gone, he is gone, and I did n't see him before he died!'
“Yes! I said, 'he is gone, he is gone, he is gone oh, will this suffering never cease?'
“You loved him, then! Oh, you too loved him!'
“Oh - him! Yes — oh, yes, yes! Certainly tainly. Punch - punch — Oh, this misery will kill me!'
“Bless you! bless you, sir, for these sweet words! I, too, suffer in this dear loss. Were you present during his last moments?'
“Yes! I— whose last moments?'
- yes! I suppose so, I think so, I don't know! Oh, certainly — I was there there!'
“‘Oh, what a privilege! what a precious privilege!
- I was
And his last words - oh, tell me, tell me his last words! What did he say?'
“He said — he said — oh, my head, my head, my head! He said — he said — he never said anything but Punch, punch, punch in the presence of the passenjare! Oh, leave me, madam! In the name of all that is generous, leave me to my madness, my misery, my despair!
a buff trip slip for a six-cent fare, a pink trip slip for a three-cent fare — endu-rance can no fur-ther go!-PUNCH in the presence of the passenjare!”
My friend's hopeless eyes rested upon mine a pregnant minute, and then he said impressively:
“Mark, you do not say anything. You do not offer me any hope. But, ah me, it is just as well — it is just as well. You could not do me any good. The time has long gone by when words could comfort me. Something tells me that my tongue is doomed to wag forever to the jigger of that remorseless jingle. There -- there it is coming on me again: a blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare, a buff trip slip for a
Thus murmuring faint and fainter, my friend sank into a peaceful trance and forgot his sufferings in a blessed respite.
How did I finally save him from the asylum? I took him to a neighboring university and made him discharge the burden of his persecuting rhymes into the eager ears of the poor, unthinking students. How is it with them, now?. The result is too sad to tell.
Why did I write this article? It was for a worthy, even a noble, purpose. It was to warn you, reader, if you should come across those merciless rhymes, to avoid them – avoid them as you would a pestilence!
PÈRE ANTOINE'S DATE-PALM
A LEGEND OF NEW ORLEANS
BY THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
NEAR the levée, and not far from the old French Cathedral, in New Orleans, stands a fine date-palm, some thirty feet high, growing out in the open air as sturdily as if its roots were sucking sap from their native earth. Sir Charles Lyell, in his “Second Visit to the United States," mentions this exotic: —
“The tree is seventy or eighty years old; for Père Antoine, a Roman Catholic priest, who died about twenty years ago, told Mr. Bringier that he planted it himself, when he was young. In his will he provided that they who succeeded to this lot of ground should forfeit it, if they cut down the palm.”
Wishing to learn something of Père Antoine's history, Sir Charles Lyell made inquiries among the ancient Creole inhabitants of the faubourg. That the old priest, in his last days, became very much emaciated, that he walked about the streets like a mummy, that he gradually dried up, and finally blew away, was the meagre result of the tourist's investigations.
This is all that is generally known of Père Antoine. Miss Badeau's story clothes these bare facts.
When Père Antoine was a very young man, he had a friend whom he loved as he loved his eyes. Emile Jardin returned his passion, and the two, on account of their