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

Edward Waterman Townsend (1855–1942)

The Horse Show

From “Chimmie Fadden and Mr. Paul”

TO de Horse Show was we? I wonder! You couldn’t lose us. Say, Duchess don’t know a New Jersey steer from a Kentucky torrowbred, but you couldn’t keep her from de Horse Show wit’ bayonets.

“Let us go,” she says to me, “an’ see is New York getting more civilized.”

“On your way!” I says. “It is de most civilized village dis side de Harlem,” I says. “In de driving class for trotters, in de hackney class, in four-in-hands, tandems, in all de signs of civilization an’ refinement,” I says, pinching some of Mr. Paul’s woids, “New York is a strawberry fer fair,” I says.

“Truly,” says Duchess, “de entry-list is lovely,” she says. “I was hearing Miss Fannie tell,” she says, “of one entry of amyt’ist-colored clot’ an’ lustrous panne velvet, wit’ Persian ’broideries.”

“Dat must be a monkey,” I says. “It’s no horse.”

“Anoder entry,” says Duchess, not listening to me woids of wisdom, “is a blouse bodice, slightly gadered on de shoulders an’ at de belt, bote front an’ back. Let us hasten,” she says, “to de Horse Show.”

“Sure,” I says. “Let us get a move on. De hunter class is shooting ’round de ring, an’ de high-jumper class is near out of sight.”

“It opens in a V-shape, wit’ all its edges bound wit’ Persian lamb,” says Duchess.

“On your way!” I says. “To de woods wit’ you! Do you t’ink it is a country fair? Dere is no lambs at de Horse Show,” I says, “barring de bunch dat opens wine in de wine-room.”

Well, little Miss Fannie fell off her bike an’ bumped her conk one day, so of course Miss Fannie, Mr. Burton, and Whiskers wanted no Horse Show dat night, an’ Duchess got de tickets fer de box. I wored one of Mr. Burton’s dress suits, an’ it fitted me so dudey I had a yard of pants to roll up at de bottom. But Duchess was in it for style up to de limit. She had a dress Miss Fannie give her, an’, honest, a strawberry was a turnip alongside her!

When we floats to de box Duchess h’ists a lornyet to her peeper, and takes a peep at folks around us wit’ such a look on her I felt like giving away brownstone fronts on de Avenoo. I was watching Mr. Paul in de ring, driving his four-in-hand like he does everyt’ing else—as if it was so easy it made him tired—an’ when he swung around by us he takes a peep at our box, looking for Whiskers, I s’pose. He seen me, tips me a solemn wink, an’ when he wins de foist prize he strolls over to us, wit’ his hands in his pockets. He leans over de box, an’ says, “Hortense”—what is Duchess’s name—“you is lookin’ like a bunch of fleur-de-lis dis evening.”

“Merci, M’sieu,” says Duchess, passing him out a bow dat paralized de mugs rubbering to see who Mr. Paul was talking to. “Tell me, M’sieu Paul,” she says, “why all de big space in de center is toined into a stable? If de loidies was let to promenade dere, dey could show deir gowns twice as well. Is dere not stalls enough in New York fer de horses,” she says, “wit’out wasting good space on ’em here?”

“Madam Fadden,” says Mr. Paul—I always dies when I hears Duchess called Mrs. Fadden—“you has wisdom as well as wit. Having a pull here,” he says, “I shall arrange next year to put de horses in de boxes an’ de loidies in de ring.”

He gives me a wink to folley him, an’ says, “Chames, would you like a glass of wine at de Waldorf?”

“I’d radder have a glass of beer on de Bow’ry. I’m not proud. What’s doing?”

“Dere is a young gent here,” he says, “who has notting but boodle to boin, and is looking for a fire.”

“I has a match,” I says.

“So I recalled,” says Mr. Paul. “Me young fren comes from Philadelphia,” he says, “but I wishes him no harm on dat account. His brudder wired me to see dat de youngster had a good time, but not too good.”

“What’s doing?” I says ag’in.

“I shall present him to you and Hortense,” says Mr. Paul, “and I suspect he’ll not quite catch your names. But if he heard you call Hortense ‘Duchess,’ de plot would t’icken so you couldn’t stir it wit’ a golf club.”

Well, pretty soon Mr. Paul chases up to de box wit’ a nice Willie in tow. “Madam de Tarumsky,” says Mr. Paul, “I begs to present me fren Mr. Rittenhouse,” he says, and Duchess passes out a coy glance to Ritty. “Mr. Fahdaning,” says Mr. Paul to me, “shake hands wit’ me fren,” he says.

I says notting for a while, for Ritty struck such a gait I was out of de running. But when he’d asked Duchess about de loidies in all de boxes, say, you should heard de pedigree she give some of ’em! Police!—I saw me opening, and jumps in wit’, “Duchess,” I says, and at de woid little Ritty near fell out de box, “me dear Duchess,” I says, “je suis fatigué,” I says, “and I has a toist on me like a dry pump.”

“Let us go home,” says Duchess, tumbling quick, for she’s furder from being a farmer dan de Bronx is from de Battery, “let us go home an’ have a boid an’ a bottle,” she says.

“Is it not part of de Horse Show, your Grace,” says Ritty, “to have de boid at de Waldorf?”

“To be sure,” she says. “When one has seen de animals perform, one goes to see ’em feed.”

“Good!” says Ritty. “Your Grace has quite de wit. May I have de pleasure of showing your Grace an’ Mr. Fahdaning de animals at feed?”

“You’re on,” I says.

“Vous êtes très-aimable!” says Duchess, fetching him a smile dat stunned him.

Well, we hikes out of de Garden, flags a carriage, an’ rolls to Mr. Waldorf’s inn, where a million odder dry-an’-hungries was headed. All tables what wasn’t filled had chairs toined up; but Duchess gives de boss waiter a line of for’n talk, an’ he hustled a table for us like we was rolling cigarettes in coupons.

“What would your Grace fancy to eat?” asks Ritty.

“Notting at all,” says Duchess, giving me heart failure. “Not a t’ing, me dear M’sieu Wittenwouse, unless it was a mere glass of wine, a bit of terrapin, a broiled lobster”—she passes me out a ghost of a wink at dat—“a broiled live lobster, a reed-boid or two, and a biscuit Tortoni. Notting else—really notting!”

Listen: Ritty has de making of a dead-game sport, for fair. He asks for de private wine list, an’ orders a quart dat costs an X per bot. He has de boned terrapin sent in cold an’ cooks it himself on a chafing-dish, an’ all de time was telling us what a warm proposition Philadelphia is.

Well, I kep’ de bottle from getting stuck in de cooler, an’, by de time we was feeding, de plug was out of anodder X raise bottle, an’ we was de cheerfulest woikers in de dining-room. Ritty was “your Grac”-ing Duchess till folks at odder tables was rubbering us to beat a windmill.

When Ritty put up de price—an’ de size of de meal ticket never jarred him—Duchess tips me de wink to fly de coop, an’ we bucks de center till we made a touch-down in Toity-fort Street. Just den Perkins, our butler, who was having his night off, comes along, an’ when he sees me an’ Duchess wit’ de swell Willie, he gives us de ha-ha. “Chames,” he says, “you’d better go home; your master wants you.”

“Fellow!” I says. “On your way, fellow!” I says.

“Who is he?” says Ritty. “Shall I t’rash him?”

“He is a drunken butler I had to discharge last week,” I says.

It was a long-shot bluff, but it went, for Perky was so mad he couldn’t speak.

We waltzes up de Avenoo, an’ stops at de swellest house in it, where a goil Duchess knows is a maid. “Sorry,” says Duchess to Ritty, “dat I can’t ask you in to smoke a cigarette, but de house is all tored up by decorators—I can’t even get in by de front entrance.”

Den she rings de bell at de soivants’ door. Has she a noive? What! Ritty says bon soir, says he has de time of his life, chases—an’ we calls on de help!

A few days after dat de loidy what lives in dat house says to Miss Fannie, “Don’t your husband’s walley call your maid ‘Duchess’?”

“Yes,” says Miss Fannie. “What mischief has dey been doing now?”

“Notting very bad,” says de loidy, wit’ a laugh, “but if your maid is fond of flowers an’ candy, send her to my house. About a ton of ’em comes every day from Philadelphia, addressed to de ‘Duchess de Tarumsky.’ I refused to take ’em in, but my maid receives ’em, an’ says she knows who dey is for.”

Miss Fannie told Duchess, she told me, an’ I told Mr. Paul. He looked tautful a while, and den says, “I will call on de loidy, an’ square you an’ Hortense, Chames. But de next time I puts your foot on de Philadelphia end of de social ladder, don’t try to stretch it to New York; nor,” he says, “put your foot tru it.”