Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
 
Practical Jokes
By William Tappan Thompson (1812–1882)
 
From “Major Jones’s Courtship”

PINEVILLE, February 2    
  TO MR. THOMPSON:Dear Sir—Ever sense I writ my last letter to you, things is gone on jest as straight as a shingle, and the only thing what troubles me is, I’m fraid it’s all too good to last. It’s always been the way with me ever sense I can remember whenever I’m the happiest some cussed thing seems to turn up jest to upset all my calculations; and now, though the day is sot for the weddin, and the Stallinses is gettin every thing ready as fast as they can, I wouldn’t be surprised much if some bominable thing was to happen, some yeathquake or something, jest to bust it all up agin, though I should hate it monstrous.
  1
  Old Miss Stallins read that piece in the Miscellany about the mistake in parson Miller’s figers, and I do blieve she’s as glad about it as if she was shore she would live a whole thousand years more herself. She ses she hain’t got no objections to the weddin now, for me and Mary’ll have plenty of time to make a fortin for our children and rais ’em up as they ought to be. She ses she always wondered how Mr. Miller could cifer the thing out so straight, to the very day, without a single mistake, but now he’s made sich a terrible blunder of a whole thousand years, she ses she knows he aint no smarter nor other people, if he was raised at the North.  2
  It’s really surprisin how mazin poplar it does make a body to be engaged to be married to a butiful young lady. Sense the thing’s leaked out, everybody’s my pertickeler friend, and I can’t meet nobody wherever I go, but what wants to congratilate me on my good fortin, ’cept cousin Pete and two or three other fellers, who look sort o’ like they wanted to laugh and couldn’t. Almost every night Mary and me is invited to a party. Tother night we went to one to old Squire Rogerses, whar I got my dander up a little the worst I’ve had it for some time. I don’t blieve you have ever hearn of jest sich a dingd fool trick as they played on me. Ther was a good many young people thar, and as the Squire don’t allow dancin, they all played games and tricks, and sich foolishness to pass away the time, which to my notion is a bominable sight worse than dancin.  3
  Cousin Pete was thar splurgin about in the biggest, with his dandy-cut trowsers and big whiskers, and tried to take the shine off everybody else, jest as he always does. Well, bimeby he ses,  4
  “Spose we play brother Bob—let’s play brother Bob.”  5
  “Yes, let’s play that,” ses all of ’em, “won’t you be brother Bob, Majer?”  6
  “Who’s brother Bob?” ses I—for I didn’t know nothin about it, and that’s the way I come to be so bominably tuck in.  7
  “I’ll tell you,” ses he, “you and somebody else must set down in the chairs and be blindfolded, and the rest must all walk round and round you, and keep tappin you on the head with something till you guess who bob’d you.”  8
  “But how bob me?” ses I.  9
  “Why,” ses he, “when any one taps you, you must say, ‘Brother, I’m bob’d!’ and then they’ll ax, ‘Who bob’d you?’ and if you guess the right one, then they must take your place and be bob’d till they guess who bob’d ’em. If you’ll be blindfolded I will,” ses he, “jest for fun.”  10
  “Well,” ses I, “anything for fun.”  11
  Cousin Pete sot out two chairs into the middle of the room, back to back, and we sot down, and they tied a hankercher round my eyes tite as the mischief, so I couldn’t see to guess no more’n if I had no eyes at all. Then the boys and galls commenced walkin round us in a circle all giglin and laughin.  12
  I hadn’t sot thar no time before cawhalux! some one tuck me right side of the head with a dratted big book. The fire flew out o’ my eyes in big live coals, and I like to keeled over out of the chair. I felt my blood risin like a mill-tail, but they all laughed mightily at the fun, and after a while ses I,  13
  “Brother, I’m bob’d.”  14
  “Who bob’d you?” ses they.  15
  I guessed the biggest fisted feller in the room, but it wasn’t him.  16
  “No, no!” they all hollered, and round they went agin a-rompin and laughin and enjoyin the fun all to themselves while my head was singin like a teakettle.  17
  The next minit, spang went the book agin cousin Pete’s head.  18
  “Whew!” ses he, “brother, I’m bob’d?”  19
  “Who bob’d you?” ses they.  20
  But cousin Pete didn’t guess right nother, and the fust thing I know’d, whang they tuck me agin.  21
  I was dredful anxious to guess right, but it was no use, I missed it every time, and so did cousin Pete, and the harder they hit the louder they laughed. One time they hit me a great deal softlier than the rest.  22
  “Brother, I’m bob’d!” ses I.  23
  “Who bob’d you?” ses they.  24
  “Miss Mary Stallins,” ses I.  25
  “No, I never,” ses she, and they all roared out worse than ever.  26
  I begun to git monstrous tired of sich fun, which seemed so much like the boys and the frogs in the spellin book—for if it was fun to them it was death to me—and I don’t know what I would done if Mary hadn’t come up and untied the hankercher.  27
  “Let’s play something else,” ses she, and her face was as red as fire, and she looked sort o’ mad out of her eyes.  28
  I seed ther was something wrong in a minit.  29
  Well, they all went on playin “pawns,” and “’pon honor,” and “Here we go round the gooseberry bush,” and “Oh, sister Feby, how merry we be,” and sich tom fooleries till they played all they knowed, and while they was playin Mary told me all about the trick cousin Pete played on me.  30
  It was the most oudacious take in I ever heard of. Do you think the cuss didn’t set right down behind me, and never blindfolded himself at all, and hit me every lick himself, now and then hitttin his knee with the book, to make me blieve he was bob’d too! My head was a-buzzin with the licks when she told me how he done me, and I do blieve if it hadn’t been for her I’d gin cousin Pete sich a lickin right thar in that room as he never had before in his born days. Blazes! but I was mad at fust. But Mary begged me not to raise no fuss about it, now it was all over, and she would fix him for his smartness. I hadn’t no sort of a idee how she gwine to do it, but I know’d she was a match for cousin Pete any time, so I jest let her go ahed.  31
  Well, she tuck the bominable fool off to one side and whispered to him like she was gwine to let him into a grate secret. She told him about a new play what she learned down to Macon when she was at the college, called “Interduction to the King and Queen,” what she sed was a grate deal funnier than “Brother Bob,” and got him to help to git ’em all to play it.  32
  After she and him made it all up, cousin Pete put out three chairs close together in a row for a throne, and Mary she put a sheet over ’em to make ’em look a little grand. Bill Byers was to be King and Mary was to be Queen.  33
  “Now, you must all come in tother room,” ses cousin Pete, “only them what belongs to the court, and then you must come in and be interduced, one at a time.”  34
  “I aint gwine,” ses Tom Stallins, “for ther’s some trick in it.”  35
  “No ther ain’t,” ses cousin Pete, “I’ll give you my word ther ain’t no trick—only a little fun.”  36
  “Well,” ses I, “I’s had fun enough for one night.”  37
  Mary looked at me and kind o’ winked, and ses she, “You’re one of the court you know, Majer; but jest go out till the court is sumonsed before the throne.”  38
  Well, we all went out, and bimeby Bill Byers called out the names of all the lords and ladys what belonged to the court, and we all went in and tuck chairs on both sides of the throne.  39
  Cousin Pete was to be the fust one interduced, and Sam Rogers was to be the usher, the feller what interduced the company. Well, bimeby the door opened and in come cousin Pete, bowin and scrapin, and twistin and rigglein and puttin on more dandy airs than a French dancin master—he beat Crotchett all to smash. The King sot on one side of the throne and the Queen on tother, leavin room in the middle for some one else. Sam was so full of laugh at cousin Pete’s anticks that he couldn’t hardly speak.  40
  “Doctor Peter Jones,” ses he, “I interduce you to ther Majestys the King and Queen.”  41
  Cousin Pete scraped about a while and then drapt on one knee, right before ’em.  42
  “Rise, gallant knight,” ses Bill Byers, “rise, we dub you knight of the royal bath.”  43
  Cousin Pete got up and bowed and scraped a few more times, and went to set down between ’em, but they ris up jest as he went to set down, and the fust thing he knowed, kerslosh he went, rite into a big tub mor’n half full of cold water, with nothing but his head and heels stickin out.  44
  He tried to kiss Mary as he was takin his seat, and if you could jest seed him as he went into that tub with his arms reached out to her, and his mouth sot for a kiss, I do believe you’d laughed more’n you ever did before in your life. The fellers was all so ’spicious that some trick was gwine to be played, that they left the dore open, and when the thing tuck place they all run in shoutin and laughin like they would bust ther sides.  45
  Pete got out as quick as he could, and I never seed a feller so wilted down in all my life. He was mad as a hornet, and sed it was a d—d mean trick to sarve ennybody so, specially in cold weather. And he went right off home by himself to dry.  46
  Mary made the niggers take out the middle chair what was covered by the sheet, and put the tub of water in its place when we was all in tother room. Pete didn’t have no suspicion that the trick was gwine to turn out that way. He thought the queen was gwine to sentence every feller what didn’t kiss her as he sot down, to do something that would make fun for the rest, and he was jest gwine to open the game.  47
  I felt perfectly satisfied after that, and I don’t think cousin Pete will be quite so fond of funny tricks the next time….
Your friend, till death,
JOS. JONES.    
  48
 
 
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