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

George Wilbur Peck (1840–1916)

Peck’s Bad Boy

“SAY, are you a Mason, or a Nodfellow, or anything?” asked the bad boy of the grocery man, as he went to the cinnamon bag on the shelf and took out a long stick of cinnamon bark to chew.

“Why, yes, of course I am; but what set you to thinking of that?” asked the grocery man, as he went to the desk and charged the boy’s father with a half-pound of cinnamon.

“Well, do the goats bunt when you nishiate a fresh candidate?”

“No, of course not. The goats are cheap ones that have no life, and we muzzle them, and put pillows over their heads so they can’t hurt anybody,” said the grocery man, as he winked at a brother Oddfellow who was seated on a sugar barrel, looking mysterious. “But why do you ask?”

“Oh, nothin’, only I wish me and my chum had muzzled our goat with a pillow! Pa would have enjoyed his becoming a member of our lodge better. You see, Pa had been telling us how much good the Masons and Oddfellers did, and said we ought to try and grow up good so we could jine the lodges when we got big; and I asked Pa if it would do any hurt for us to have a play lodge in my room, and purtend to nishiate, and Pa said it wouldn’t do any hurt. He said it would improve our minds and learn us to be men. So my chum and me borried a goat that lives in a livery stable. Say, did you know they keep a goat in a livery stable so the horses won’t get sick? They get used to the smell of the goat, and after that nothing can make them sick but a glue factory. You see, my chum and me had to carry the goat up to my room when Ma and Pa was out riding, and he blatted so we had to tie a handkerchief around his nose, and his feet made such a noise on the floor that we put some baby’s socks on his hoofs.

“Well, my chum and me practised with that goat until he could bunt the picture of a goat every time. We borried a bock-beer sign from a saloon man and hung it on the back of a chair, and the goat would hit it every time. That night Pa wanted to know what we were doing up in my room, and I told him we were playing lodge, and improving our minds; and Pa said that was right, there was nothing that did boys of our age half so much good as to imitate men, and store by useful nollidge. Then my chum asked Pa if he didn’t want to come up and take the grand bumper degree, and Pa laffed and said he didn’t care if he did, just to encourage us boys in innocent pastime that was so improving to our intellex. We had shut the goat up in a closet in my room, and he had got over blatting; so we took off the handkerchief and he was eating some of my paper collars and skate straps. We went up-stairs and told Pa to come up pretty soon and give three distinct raps, and when we asked him who comes there he must say, ‘A pilgrim, who wants to join your ancient order and ride the goat.’ Ma wanted to come up, too, but we told her if she come in it would break up the lodge, ’cause a woman couldn’t keep a secret, and we didn’t have any side-saddle for the goat. Say, if you never tried it, the next time you nishiate a man in your Mason’s lodge you sprinkle a little kyan pepper on the goat’s beard just before you turn him loose. You can get three times as much fun to the square inch of goat. You wouldn’t think it was the same goat. Well, we got all fixed, and Pa rapped, and we let him in and told him he must be blindfolded, and he got on his knees a-laffing, and I tied a towel around his eyes, and then I turned him around and made him get down on his hands also, and then his back was right toward the closet sign, and I put the bock-beer sign right against Pa’s clothes. He was a-laffing all the time, and said we boys were as full of fun as they made ’em, and we told him it was a solemn occasion, and we wouldn’t permit no levity, and if he didn’t stop laffing we couldn’t give him the grand bumper degree. Then everything was ready, and my chum had his hand on the closet door, and some kyan pepper in his other hand, and I asked Pa in low bass tones if he felt as though he wanted to turn back, or if he had nerve enough to go ahead and take the degree. I warned him that it was full of dangers, as the goat was loaded for bear, and told him he yet had time to retrace his steps if he wanted to. He said he wanted the whole bizness, and we could go ahead with the menagerie. Then I said to Pa that if he had decided to go ahead, and not blame us for the consequences, to repeat after me the following: ‘Bring forth the Royal Bumper and let him Bump.’

“Pa repeated the words, and my chum sprinkled the kyan pepper on the goat’s mustache, and he sneezed once and looked sassy, and then he see the lager-beer goat rearing up, and he started for it just like a crow-catcher, and blatted. Pa is real fat, but he knew he got hit, and he grunted and said, ‘What you boys doin’?’ and then the goat gave him another degree, and Pa pulled off the towel and got up and started for the stairs, and so did the goat; and Ma was at the bottom of the stairs listening, and when I looked over the banisters Pa and Ma and the goat were all in a heap, and Pa was yelling murder, and Ma was screaming fire, and the goat was blatting and sneezing and bunting, and the hired girl came into the hall and the goat took after her, and she crossed herself just as the goat struck her and said, ‘Howly mother, protect me!’ and went down-stairs the way we boys slide down-hill, with both hands on herself, and the goat reared up and blatted, and Pa and Ma went into their room and shut the door, and then my chum and me opened the front door and drove the goat out. The minister, who comes to see Ma every three times a week, was just ringing the bell, and the goat thought he wanted to be nishiated, too, and gave him one for luck, and then went down the sidewalk, blatting and sneezing, and the minister came in the parlor and said he was stabbed, and then Pa came out of his room with his suspenders hanging down, and he didn’t know the minister was there, and he said cuss words, and Ma cried and told Pa he would go to the bad place sure, and Pa said he didn’t care, he would kill that kussid goat afore he went, and I told Pa the minister was in the parlor, and he and Ma went down and said the weather was propitious for a revival, and it seemed as though an outpouring of the spirit was about to be vouchsafed, and none of them sot down but Ma, cause the goat didn’t hit her, and while they were talking religin with their mouths, and kussin’ the goat inwardly, my chum and me adjourned the lodge, and I went and stayed with him all night, and I haven’t been home since. But I don’t believe Pa will lick me, ’cause he said he would not hold us responsible for the consequences. He ordered the goat hisself, and we filled the order, don’t you see? Well, I guess I will go and sneak in the back way, and find out from the hired girl how the land lays. She won’t go back on me, ’cause the goat was not loaded for hired girls. She just happened to get in at the wrong time. Good-by, sir. Remember and give your goat kyan pepper in your lodge.”