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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 156 pages of information about Cobwebs from an Empty Skull.

Let us to-day rejoice that the old order of things has for ever passed away; let us be thankful that our lot has been cast in more wholesome days than those in which John Smith chalked out the better destinies of a savage race, and Tupper sang divine philosophy to inattentive ears.  And yet let us keep green the memory of whatever there was of good—­if any—­in the dark pre-Smithian ages, when men cherished quaint superstitions and rode on the backs of “horses”—­when they passed over the seas instead of under them—­when science had not yet dawned to chase away the shadows of imagination—­and when the cabalistic letters A.D., which from habit we still affix to the numerals designating the age of the world, had perhaps a known signification.

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SUNDERED HEARTS.

Deidrick Schwackenheimer was a lusty young goatherd.  He stood six feet two in his sabots, and there was not an ounce of superfluous bone or brain in his composition.  If he had a fault, it was a tendency to sleep more than was strictly necessary.  The nature of his calling fostered this weakness:  after being turned into some neighbour’s pasture, his animals would not require looking after until the owner of the soil turned them out again.  Their guardian naturally devoted the interval to slumber.  Nor was there danger of oversleeping:  the pitchfork of the irate husbandman always roused him at the proper moment.

At nightfall Deidrick would marshal his flock and drive it homeward to the milking-yard.  Here he was met by the fair young Katrina Buttersprecht, the daughter of his employer, who relieved the tense udders of their daily secretion.  One evening after the milking, Deidrick, who had for years been nourishing a secret passion for Katrina, was smitten with an idea.  Why should she not be his wife?  He went and fetched a stool into the yard, led her tenderly to it, seated her, and asked her why.  The girl thought a moment, and then was at some pains to explain.  She was too young.  Her old father required all her care.  Her little brother would cry.  She was engaged to Max Manglewurzzle.  She amplified considerably, but these were the essential points of objection.  She set them before him seriatim with perfect frankness, and without mental reservation.  When she had done, her lover, with that instinctive sense of honour characteristic of the true goatherd, made no attempt to alter her decision.  Indeed, he had nodded a heart-broken assent to each separate proposition, and at the conclusion of the last was fast asleep.  The next morning he jocundly drove his goats afield and appeared the same as usual, except that he slept a good deal more, and thought of Katrina a good deal less.

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