图书图片
PDF
ePub

the dentist went to work, and in three days he invented an instrument which he was confident would pull anything. It was a combination of the lever, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, and screw. The castings were made, and the machine put up in the office, over an iron chair rendered perfectly stationary by iron rods going down into the foundations of the granite building. In a week old Byles returned; he was clamped into the iron chair, the forceps connected with the machine attached firmly to the tooth, and Tushmaker, stationing himself in the rear, took hold of a lever four feet in length. He turned it slightly. Old Byles gave a groan and lifted his right leg. Another turn, another groan, and up went the leg again.

"What do you raise your leg for?" asked the Doctor.

"I can't help it," said the patient.

"Well," rejoined Tushmaker, "that tooth is bound to come out now."

He turned the lever clear round with a sudden jerk, and snapped old Byles's head clean and clear from his shoulders, leaving a space of four inches between the severed parts!

They had a post-mortem examination-the roots of the tooth were found extending down the right side, through the right leg, and turning up in two prongs under the sole of the right foot!

"No wonder," said Tushmaker, "he raised his right leg." The jury thought so, too, but they found the roots much decayed; and five surgeons swearing that mortification would have ensued in a few months, Tushmaker was cleared on a verdict of "justifiable homicide."

He was a little shy of that instrument for some time afterward; but one day an old lady, feeble and flaccid, came in to have a tooth drawn, and thinking it would come out very easy, Tushmaker concluded, just by way of variety, to try the ma

chine. He did so, and at the first turn drew the old lady's skeleton completely and entirely from her body, leaving her a mass of quivering jelly in her chair! Tushmaker took her home in a pillow-case.

The woman lived seven years after that, and they called her the "India-Rubber Woman." She had suffered terribly with the rheumatism, but after this occurrence never had a pain in her bones. The dentist kept them in a glass case. After this, the machine was sold to the contractor of the Boston CustomHouse, and it was found that a child of three years of age could, by a single turn of the screw, raise a stone weighing twentythree tons. Smaller ones were made on the same principle and sold to the keepers of hotels and restaurants. They were used for boning turkeys. There is no moral to this story whatever, and it is possible that the circumstances may have become slightly exaggerated. Of course, there can be no doubt of the truth of the main incidents.

George William Curtis

Miss Minerva Tattle at Saratoga and Newport

NEWPORT, August.

It certainly is not papa's fault that he doesn't understand French; but he ought not to pretend to. It does put one in such uncomfortable situations occasionally. In fact, I think it would be quite as well if we could sometimes "sink the paternal," as Timon Croesus says. I suppose everybody has heard of the awful speech pa made in the parlor at Saratoga. My dearest friend, Tabby Dormouse, told me she had heard of it everywhere, and that it was ten times as absurd each time it was repeated. By the bye, Tabby is a dear creature, isn't she? It's so nice to have a spy in the enemy's camp, as it were, and to hear everything that everybody says about you. She is not handsome-poor, dear Tabby! There's no denying it, but she can't help it. I was obliged to tell young Downe so, quite decidedly, for I really think he had an idea she was goodlooking. The idea of Tabby Dormouse being handsome! But she is a useful little thing in her way; one of my intimates.

The true story is this.

Ma and I had persuaded pa to take us to Saratoga, for we heard the English party were to be there, and we were anxious they should see some good society, at least. It seems such a pity they shouldn't know what handsome dresses we really do have in this country! And I mentioned to some of the most English of our young men, that there might be something to be done at Saratoga. But they shrugged their shoulders, especially Timon Croesus and Gauche Boosey, and said

"Well, really, the fact is, Miss Tattle, all the Englishmen I have ever met are-in fact—a little snobbish.

However."

That was about what they said. But I thought, considering their fondness of the English model in dress and manner, that they might have been more willing to meet some genuine aristocracy. Yet, perhaps, that handsome Col. Abattew is right in saying with his grand military air,—

"The British aristocracy, madam,-the British aristocracy is vulgar."

Well, we all went up to Saratoga. But the distinguished strangers did not come. I held back that last muslin of mine, the yellow one, embroidered with the Alps, and a distant view of the isles of Greece worked on the flounces, until it was impossible to wait longer. I meant to wear it at dinner the first day they came, with the pearl necklace and the opal studs, and that heavy ruby necklace (it is a low-necked dress). The diningroom at the "United States" is so large that it shows off those dresses finely, and if the waiter doesn't let the soup or the gravy slip, and your neighbor (who is, like as not, what Tabby Dormouse, with her incapacity to pronounce the r, calls "some 'aw, 'uff man from the country") doesn't put the leg of his chair through the dress, and if you don't muss it sitting down-why, I should like to know a prettier place to wear a low-necked muslin, with jewels, than the dining-room of the "United States" at Saratoga.

I am as bad as dear Mrs. Potiphar about coming to the point of my story. But the truth is, that in such engrossing places as Saratoga and Newport, it is hardly possible to determine which is the pleasantest and most important thing among so many. I am so fond of that old, droll Kurz Pacha, that if I begin to talk about him I forget everything else. He says such nice things about people that nobody else would dare to say,

and that everybody is so glad to hear. He is invaluable in society. And yet one is never safe. People say he isn't gentlemanly; but when I see the style of man that is called gentlemanly, I am very glad he is not. All the solemn, pompous men who stand about like owls, and never speak, nor laugh, nor move, as if they really had any life or feeling, are called "gentlemanly." Whenever Tabby says of a new man-"But then he is so gentlemanly!" I understand at once. It is another case of the well-dressed wooden image. Good heavens! do you suppose Sir Philip Sidney, or the Chevalier Bayard, or Charles Fox, were "gentlemanly" in this way? Confectioners who undertake parties might furnish scores of such gentlemen, with hands and feet of any required size, and warranted to do nothing "ungentlemanly." For my part, I am inclined to think that a gentleman is something positive, not merely negative. And if sometimes my friend the Pacha says a rousing and wholesome truth, it is none the less gentlemanly because it cuts a little. He says it's very amusing to observe how coolly we play this little farce of life-how placidly people get entangled in a mesh at which they all rail, and how fiercely they frown upon anybody who steps out of the ring. "You tickle me and I'll tickle you; but, at all events, you tickle me," is the motto of the crowd.

“Allons!” says he, "who cares? lead off to the right and left -down the middle and up again. Smile all around, and bow gracefully to your partner; then carry your heavy heart to your chamber, and drown in your own tears. Cheerfully, cheerfully, my dear Miss Minerva. Saratoga until August, then Newport until the frost, the city afterward; and so an endless round of happiness."

And he steps off humming Il segreto per esser felice!

Well, we were all sitting in the great drawing-room at the "United States." We had been bowling in our morning

« 上一页继续 »