But we must get up off this log, for the ante are crawling over us, and the bull-frogs croak as though the night were coming on. The evening star hangs its lantern at the door of the night to light the tired day to rest. The wild roses in the thicket are breathing vespers at an altar cushioned with moss, while the fire-flies are kindling their dim lamps in the cathedral of the woods. The evening dew on strings of fern is counting its beads in prayer. The “Whip-poor-will” takes up its notes of complaint, making us wonder on our way home what “Will” it was that in boyhood maltreated the ancestors of this species of birds, whether William Wordsworth, or William Cowper, or William Shakspeare, so that the feathered descendants keep through all the forests, year after year, demanding for the cruel perpetrator a sound threshing, forgetting the Bryant that praised them and the Tennyson that petted them and the Jean Ingelow who throws them crumbs, in their anxiety to have some one whip poor Will.
Wiseman, Heavyasbricks and Quizzle.
We had muffins that night. Indeed, we always had either muffins or waffles when Governor Wiseman was at tea. The reason for this choice of food was that a muffin or a waffle seemed just suited to the size of Wiseman’s paragraphs of conversation. In other words, a muffin lasted him about as long as any one subject of discourse; and when the muffin was done, the subject was done.
We never knew why he was called governor, for he certainly never ruled over any State, but perhaps it was his wise look that got him the name. He never laughed; had his round spectacles far down on the end of his nose, so that he could see as far into his plate as any man that ever sat at our tea-table. When he talked, the conversation was all on his side. He considered himself oracular on most subjects. You had but to ask him a question, and without lifting his head, his eye vibrating from fork to muffin, he would go on till he had said all he knew on that theme. We did not invite him to our house more than once in about three months, for too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
At the same sitting we always had our young friend Fred Quizzle. He did not know much, but he was mighty in asking questions. So when we had Governor Wiseman, the well, we had Quizzle, the pump.
Fred was long and thin and jerky, and you never knew just where he would put his foot. Indeed, he was not certain himself. He was thoroughly illogical, and the question he asked would sometimes seem quite foreign to the subject being discoursed upon. His legs were crooked and reminded you of interrogation points, and his arms were interrogations, and his neck was an interrogation, while his eyes had a very inquisitive look.