In our early home there was a vicious cat that would invade the milk-pans, and we, the boys, chased her with hoes and rakes, always hitting the place where she had been just before, till one day father came out with a plain stick of oven-wood, and with one little clip back of the ear put an end to all of her nine lives. You see everything depends upon the style of the stroke, and not upon the elaborateness of the weapon. The most valuable things you try to take will behave like the bay mare; but what you cannot overcome by coarse persuasion, or reach at full run, you can catch with apostolic guile. Learn the first-rate art of doing secular or Christian work, and then it matters not whether your weapon be a basin or a pail.
Our first and last cigar.
The time had come in our boyhood which we thought demanded of us a capacity to smoke. The old people of the household could abide neither the sight nor the smell of the Virginia weed. When ministers came there, not by positive injunction but by a sort of instinct as to what would be safest, they whiffed their pipe on the back steps. If the house could not stand sanctified smoke, you may know how little chance there was for adolescent cigar-puffing.
By some rare good fortune which put in our hands three cents, we found access to a tobacco store. As the lid of the long, narrow, fragrant box opened, and for the first time we own a cigar, our feelings of elation, manliness, superiority and anticipation can scarcely be imagined, save by those who have had the same sensation. Our first ride on horseback, though we fell off before we got to the barn, and our first pair of new boots (real squeakers) we had thought could never be surpassed in interest; but when we put the cigar to our lips, and stuck the lucifer match to the end of the weed, and commenced to pull with an energy that brought every facial muscle to its utmost tension, our satisfaction with this world was so great, our temptation was never to want to leave it.
The cigar did not burn well. It required an amount of suction that tasked our determination to the utmost. You see that our worldly means had limited us to a quality that cost only three cents. But we had been taught that nothing great was accomplished without effort, and so we puffed away. Indeed, we had heard our older brothers in their Latin lessons say, Omnia vincet labor; which translated means, If you want to make anything go, you must scratch for it.
With these sentiments we passed down the village street and out toward our country home. Our head did not feel exactly right, and the street began to rock from side to side, so that it was uncertain to us which side of the street we were on. So we crossed over, but found ourself on the same side that we were on before we crossed over. Indeed, we imagined that we were on both sides at the same time, and several fast teams driving between. We met another boy, who asked us why we looked so pale, and we told him we did not look pale, but that he was pale himself.