There was a rapid and impatient chorus of “Yes! yes!” and “Go on!”
“Well,” continued Jack, “when Billy sees Withholder kneelin’ thar with his head down, he gives a kind o’ joyous leap and claps his hoofs together, ez much ez to say, ‘I’m on in this scene,’ drops his own head, and jest lights out for the parson!”
“And butts him clean through the side scenes into the street,” interrupted a delighted auditor.
But Jack’s face never changed. “Ye think so?” he said gravely. “But thet’s jest whar ye slip up; and thet’s jest whar Billy slipped up!” he added slowly. “Mebbe ye’ve noticed, too, thet the parson’s built kinder solid about the head and shoulders. It mought hev be’n thet, or thet Billy didn’t get a fair start, but thet goat went down on his fore legs like a shot, and the parson gave one heave, and jest scooted him off the platform! Then the parson reckoned thet this yer ‘tablow’ had better be left out, as thar didn’t seem to be any other man who could play Jephthah, and it wasn’t dignified for him to take the part. But the parson allowed thet it might be a great moral lesson to Billy!”
And it was, for from that moment Billy never attempted to butt again. He performed with great docility later on in the Pet’s engagement at Skinnerstown; he played a distinguished role throughout the provinces; he had had the advantages of Art from “the Pet,” and of Simplicity from Polly, but only Rocky Canyon knew that his real education had come with his first rehearsal with the Reverend Mr. Withholder.
DICK SPINDLER’S FAMILY CHRISTMAS
There was surprise and sometimes disappointment in Rough and Ready, when it was known that Dick Spindler intended to give a “family” Christmas party at his own house. That he should take an early opportunity to celebrate his good fortune and show hospitality was only expected from the man who had just made a handsome “strike” on his claim; but that it should assume so conservative, old-fashioned, and respectable a form was quite unlooked-for by Rough and Ready, and was thought by some a trifle pretentious. There were not half-a-dozen families in Rough and Ready; nobody ever knew before that Spindler had any relations, and this “ringing in” of strangers to the settlement seemed to indicate at least a lack of public spirit. “He might,”