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
 
The Deacon’s Trout
By Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)
 
From Norwood

HE was a curious trout. I believe he knew Sunday just as well as Deacon Marble did. At any rate, the deacon thought the trout meant to aggravate him. The deacon, you know, is a little waggish. He often tells about that trout. Says he: “One Sunday morning, just as I got along by the willows, I heard an awful splash, and not ten feet from shore I saw the trout, as long as my arm, just curving over like a bow and going down with something for breakfast. Gracious! says I, and I almost jumped out of the wagon. But my wife Polly, says she, ‘What on airth are you thinkin’ of, deacon? It’s Sabbath day, and you’re goin’ to meetin’! It’s a pretty business for a deacon!’ That sort o’ cooled me off. But I do say that, for about a minute, I wished I wasn’t a deacon. But ’twouldn’t make any difference, for I came down next day to mill on purpose, and I came down once or twice more, and nothin’ was to be seen, tho’ I tried him with the most temptin’ things. Wal, next Sunday I came along agin, and to save my life I couldn’t keep off worldly and wanderin’ thoughts. I tried to be sayin’ my catechism, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off the pond as we came up to the willows. I’d got along in the catechism, as smooth as the road, to the Fourth Commandment, and was sayin’ it out loud for Polly, and jist as I was sayin’: ‘What is required in the Fourth Commandment?’ I heard a splash, and there was the trout, and, afore I could think, I said: ‘Gracious, Polly, I must have that trout.’ She almost riz right up, ‘I knew you wa’n’t sayin’ your catechism hearty. Is this the way you answer the question about keepin’ the Lord’s day? I’m ashamed, Deacon Marble,’ says she. ‘You’d better change your road, and go to meetin’ on the road over the hill. If I was a deacon, I wouldn’t let a fish’s tail whisk the whole catechism out of my head;’ and I had to go to meetin’ on the hill road all the rest of the summer.”
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