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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Edward Waterman Townsend (1855–1942)

’Er Grace, de Duchess of Fadden

From “Chimmie Fadden”

“I WAS goin’ t’ tell ye ’bout our weddin’ journey, wot de Duchess an’ me took when wese was married. Say, it was up t’ de limit an’ near outter sight.

“We started like wese was just goin’ ’cross de Harlem, only it was in a car wot has bunks in it, wid a coon t’ let down de bunks an’ make up de beds.

“Dere was a lot er mugs an’ womin an’ kids in de car, an’ I was t’inkin’ where dey was all goin’ t’ sleep, when de Duchess tole me ’bout de bunks. I taut if wese was all goin’ t’ sleep like in de cars when ye come home on de late train from Coney Island, wese might as well stopped t’ home an’ saved our boodle.

“Say, de train wasn’t outter de depot before all de folks in de car was dead onto us, an’ kinder givin’ us de laugh, an’ I says to de Duchess, I says, ‘Wot t’ell?’ I says, ‘wot t’ell?’ like dat, ’cause I was feelin’ like I was a farmer; but I oughtn’t feel like a farmer, ’cause I had on me best close, an’ de Duchess—say, ye otter seed de Duchess! she was a wonder! Dere wasn’t a woman in de car was dressed like ’er. Sure!

“When I asked ’er why was all de folks pipin’ us off so, she said because I had me arm ’round ’er waist an’ was jollyin’ ’er so.

“Say, dat give me a fit, an’ I says t’ ’er, says I, ‘Duchess,’ I says out loud, so dat a dude in de next seat could hear me wot had lost half of ’is eyeglasses an’ was pipin’ us off wid only one glass up t’ ’is eye; I says: ‘Duchess, if I feels like puttin’ me arm ’round yer waist, I’ll put it dere if I has t’ t’ump every dude in de car,’ an’ t’ show I was makin’ no bluff I gives ’er a kiss as square as ever ye seed.

“Say, dat dude must ’a’ lost somet’n’ outter de car, fer ’e turned an’ looked outter de window, an’ ’e never looked nowhere else till ’e went t’ bed.

“De Duchess she made a bluff at kickin’, but she wasn’t kickin’ very hard, fer wot I says an’ does goes wid de Duchess, ’cept ’bout boodle. She runs de money end. Sure! I ain’t in it when it comes t’ de boodle, but in all de odder games I’m a dead easy winner.

“Well, we went ridin’ along, an’ ridin’ along, till I kinder taut we’d be runnin’ inter de Pacific Ocean if we didn’t pull up; an’ den de coon comes up an’ says do we want de bert’ made up.

“I don’t know wot it was dat made de Duchess so mad, but I taut she’d slug dat coon—de porter dey calls ’im—’cause ’e asks us first, before any of de odder folks, would we have our bunk made up. Say, I didn’t see no ’casion fer a scrap, so I says to de porter, says I, ‘Seein’ as how dere ain’t no tee-a-ter t’ go to,’ I says, ‘an’ dere ain’t no more meals t’ eat, an’ I fergot t’ order de band ’round t’ play, youse may as well get busy an’ make up de bunk,’ I says t’ ’im, like dat, I says. See?

“Den all de folks dey laughed fit t’ kill deirselfs, ’cept dat dude, who was lookin’ out of ’is window like ’e hadn’t found wot ’e’d lost yet. De Duchess she laughed, too, an’ said I was a little beast, only she didn’t say it like she had ’er mad on.

“Well, de next mornin’ wese was in Niag’ra, an’ we got in a ’bus wot took us to de hotel wot Mr. Burton, Miss Fannie’s felly, told me t’ go to.

“When we got t’ de hotel de mug tells me t’ register our names on a big book wot was in de office, an’ den I near had a fit, fer de Duchess has de craziest name ye ever seed, an’ I never could spell it in a t’ousand years. But I t’inks t’ meself, I t’inks, ‘Wot t’ell!’ I t’inks, ‘I’ll make a grand bluff an’ dey’ll never tumble,’ so I braces up t’ de register an’ writes, ‘Duchess,’ bold as a writin’ teacher, an’ den I writes ‘Hortense,’ ’cause I can spell dat straight, an’ den I was stuck; so I just writes ‘La V—’ bold, an’ scriggled a lot er dinky letters clear ’cross de page, an’ on de next line I writes me name clear as print.

“De mug behind de counter, wot was de hotel clerk, ’e turns de book ’round an’ ’e near has a fit, an’ begins scrapin’ an’ bowin’ an’ says perlite as a actor, ’e says: ‘How long will de Duchess Orton La-um-t’ra-ra stay here?’ ’e says, like dat, ‘De Duchess Orton La-um-t’ra-ra.’ See? Makin’ a bluff at de last name ’cause ’e couldn’t read me writin’. See? ‘De Duchess,’ I says as perlite as ’im, ’cause I wasn’t onto ’is game, so I played light, says I, ‘De Duchess leaves dis evenin’,’ I says.

“‘Sorry she can’t stay longer,’ ’e says; ‘’spose she’s hurr’in’ on t’ Chicago, like de rest. Where is ’er suite?’ says ’e.

“‘Oh, ’er suite is kinder chasin’ deirselfs,’ I says, careless like.

“‘Bein’ entertained by de Committee of One Hundred?’ ’e says.

“Say, I taut first ’e might be stringin’ me, but ’e was perlite all de time, so I just lit a cigarette an’ looked knowin’ till I could get onto ’is game.

“Den ’e yells out, ‘Front! Show de Duchess up t’ Parlor One,’ an’ all de kids in buttons near breaks deir necks yankin’ me baggage up-stairs an’ chasin’ after de Duchess t’ fetch ’er up-stairs; an’ de clerk says t’ me: ‘Will ’er Grace breakfast in ’er room?’

“‘Wot Grace?’ says I.

“‘De Duchess,’ says ’e.

“‘Cert,’ says I. ‘She’ll breakfast here, an’ so will I.’

“‘You’re ’er American coorior, I ’spose?’ says ’e, an’ I says ’e was a clever young man t’ find it out, dough wot t’ell ’e’d found out I couldn’t tumble to.

“Den all de mugs in de office began sneakin’ up t’ de register an’ lookin’ at wot I’d writ dere, an’ dey was all near havin’ a fit over it. I was ’fraid somebody would ask me t’ spell de name out, so I chased meself up-stairs, an’, holy gee! dere was de Duchess in de swellest rooms in de house, wid a gang of servants settin’ de table, an’ puttin’ flowers in de room, an’ bowin’, an’ askin’ wot t’ell could dey do fer ’er Grace.

“Say, de Duchess is a dead sport, an’ she was just lookin’ grand an’ sayin’ nottin’, but when I comes in she takes me in de nex’ room an’ asks wot game I’d been up to. I told ’er de whole game from de start, an’ when I wus done she taut a while, an’ den she nearly dies laughin’, an’ says she tumbled t’ de whole racket. She said de clerk had mistook ’er for one er dem for’n queens wot was goin’ to Chicago, where dey is havin’ a big blowout for Columbus, er somet’n’.

“‘But why didn’t ye put me name down on de register proper?’ she says.

“‘I couldn’t spell your dinky name,’ I says.

“Den she yelled murder wid laughin’, and near rolled off ’er chair. ‘Me name is Mrs. Fadden,’ says she. ‘Can’t ye spell dat?”

“Say, I’m a farmer if I ever taut er dat before. It just knocked me silly t’ t’ink er de Duchess bein’ named Fadden.

“‘Hortense Fadden is me name,’ says she, givin’ me a kiss.

“I was fer goin’ down t’ de office an’ fixin’ t’ings all right, but de Duchess said not t’ be in a hurry ’bout it.

“Well, we had breakfast. Say, ye never seed such a breakfast in all yer life! It was wot de Duchess called ‘Dey shunay au la foorshet,’ but it was up t’ de limit, just as hard, if it did have a dago name. De funny t’ing ’bout it was dat we had de coffee at de end ’stid er at de fust. I s’pose I’ll have t’ learn dose dago tricks now.

“When wese was done de clerk come up an’ says would ’er Grace like t’ ride t’ de Falls, an’ de Duchess made a bluff at not knowin’ wot ’e said, an’ I made a bluff at tellin’ ’er in for’n talk. I just let out a lot er lingo, an’ de Duchess—say, she is a sport, sure—she jabbered back widout winkin’, an’ I says t’ de clerk dat de Duchess would go t’ de Falls when de carriage was ready.

“Den de clerk said, ‘De carriage waits, yer Grace,’ an’ backed out er de room like ’is pants was tore behind.

“Say, I ain’t stringin’ ye a little bit. When we went downstairs dere was a Victoria wid four horses waitin’, an’ de mayor, or some big mug of de town, got in wid us, an’ a lot more chased along behind in carriages.

“I was gettin’ rattled, but de Duchess gave me a nudge t’ brace; an’ I braced. Eberyt’ing de mug wid us said I pretended to say in dago t’ de Duchess, an’ I was t’inkin’ wot t’ell I’d do if ’e should ring in some dago of ’is own, but ’e never. De Duchess would jaw back in ’er for’n talk, an’ I’d make a bluff at tellin’ de mug wot she said, an’ I jollied ’im ’till de seat wasn’t big enough t’ hold him.

“Well, dey took us everywhere, an’ down a dinky slide railroad wot’s worse dan de razzle-dazzle at Coney Island, an’ blowed us off t’ wine an’ speeches, an’ when we got back de Duchess told me t’ give de big mug a invite t’ dinner wid us.

“I was near crazy wid all de jawin’ an’ de drinkin’ an’ seein’ de mug kiss de Duchess’s hand when ’e backed out.

“After dinner it was train time, an’ I chased down t’ de office an’ asks wot’s de bill.

“Say, wot do ye t’ink? Dat clerk says dere was no bill; dat de Government paid de whole shot. Sure!

“I says de Government is a dead sport, an’ I tipped all de kids an’ drivers wot took us t’ de train, an’ den away we goes.

“Well, when we was on de car de Duchess says, ‘Chames, wot do ye t’ink of yer wife?’ says she.

“‘Duchess,’ says I, ‘a Bow’ry boy and a French maid is hard t’ beat,’ I says. See?”