by Bill Nye

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<h2>Favored a Higher Fine</h2><p style=

Will Taylor, the son of the present American Consul at Marseilles, was a good deal like other boys while at school in his old home, at Hudson, Wis. One day he called his father into the library, and said:

“Pa, I don’t like to tell you, but the teacher and I have had trouble.”

“What’s the matter now?”

“Well, I cut one of the desks a little with my knife, and the teacher says I’ve got to pay a dollar or take a lickin’.”

“Well, why don’t you take the licking and say nothing more about it? I can stand considerable physical pain, so long as it visits our family in that form. Of course, it is not pleasant to be flogged, but you have broken a rule of the school, and I guess you’ll have to stand it. I presume that the teacher will in wrath remember mercy, and avoid disabling you so that you can’t get your coat on any more.”

“But, pa, I feel mighty bad about it already, and if you’d pay my fine I’d never do it again. I know a good deal more about it now, and I will never do it again. A dollar ain’t much to you, pa, but it’s a heap to a boy that hasn’t got a cent. If I could make a dollar as easy as you can, pa, I’d never let my little boy get flogged that way just to save a dollar. If I had a little feller that got licked bekuz I didn’t put up for him, I’d hate the sight of money always. I’d feel as if every dollar in my pocket had been taken out of my little kid’s back.”

“Well, now, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a dollar to save you from punishment this time, but if anything of this kind ever occurs again I’ll hold you while the teacher licks you, and then I’ll get the teacher to hold you while I lick you. That’s the way I feel about that. If you want to go around whittling up our educational institutions you can do so; but you will have to purchase them afterward yourself. I don’t propose to buy any more damaged school furniture. You probably grasp my meaning, do you not? I send you to school to acquire an education, not to acquire liabilities, so that you can come around and make an assessment on me. I feel a great interest in you, Willie, but I do not feel as though it should be an assessable interest. I want to go on, of course, and improve the property, but when I pay my dues on it I want to know that it goes toward development work. I don’t want my assessments to go toward the purchase of a school-desk with American hieroglyphics carved on it.

“I hope that you will bear this in your mind, my son, and beware. It will be greatly to your interest to beware. If I were in your place I would put in a large portion of my time in the beware business.”

The boy took the dollar and went thoughtfully away to school, and no more was ever said about the matter until Mr. Taylor learned casually several months later that the Spartan youth had received the walloping and filed away the dollar for future reference. The boy was afterward heard to say that he favored a much heavier fine in cases of that kind. One whipping was sufficient, he said, but he favored a fine of $5. It ought to be severe enough to make it an object.

“I Spy.”

Dear reader, do you remember the boy of your school who did the heavy falling through the ice and was always about to break his neck, but managed to live through it all? Do you call to mind the youth who never allowed anybody else to fall out of a tree and break his collar bone when he could attend to it himself? Every school has to secure the services of such a boy before it can succeed, and so our school had one. When I entered the school I saw at a glance that the board had neglected to provide itself with a boy whose duty it was to nearly kill himself every few days in order to keep up the interest so I applied for the position. I secured it without any trouble whatever. The board understood at once from my bearing that I would succeed. And I did not betray the trust they had reposed in me.

Before the first term was over I had tried to climb two trees at once and been carried home on a stretcher; been pulled out of the river with my lungs full of water, and artificial respiration resorted to; been jerked around over the north half of the county by a fractious horse whose halter I had tied to my leg, and which leg is now three inches longer than the other; together with various other little early eccentricities which I cannot at this moment call to mind. My parents at last got so that along about 2 o’clock P.M. they would look anxiously out of the window and say, “Isn’t it about time for the boys to get here with William’s remains? They generally get here before 2 o’clock.”

One day five or six of us were playing “I spy” around our barn. Every body knows how to play “I spy.” One shuts his eyes and counts 100, for instance, while the others hide. Then he must find the rest and say “I spy” so-and-so and touch the “goal” before they do. If anybody beats him to the goal the victim has to “blind” over again.

Well, I knew the ground pretty well, and could drop twenty feet out of the barn window and strike on a pile of straw so as to land near the goal, touch it, and let the crowd in free without getting found out. I did this several times and got the blinder, James Bang, pretty mad. After a boy has counted 500 or 600, and worked hard to gather in the crowd, only to get jeered and laughed at by the boys, he loses his temper. It was so with James Cicero Bang. I knew that he almost hated me, and yet I went on. Finally, in the fifth ballot, I saw a good chance to slide down and let the crowd in again as I had done on former occasions. I slipped out of the window and down the side of the barn about two feet, when I was detained unavoidably. There was a “batten” on the barn that was loose at the upper end. I think I was wearing my father’s vest on that day, as he was away from home, and I frequently wore his clothes when he was absent. Anyhow the vest was too large, and when I slid down that loose board ran up between the vest and my person in such a way as to suspend me about eighteen feet from the ground, in a prominent but very uncomfortable position.

I remember it quite distinctly. James C. Bang came around where he could see me. He said: “I spy Billy Nye and touch the goal before him.” No one came to remove the barn. No one came to sympathize with me in my great sorrow and isolation. Every little while James C. Bang would come around the corner and say: “Oh, I see ye. You needn’t think you’re out of sight up there. I can see you real plain. You better come down and blind. I can see ye up there!”

I tried to unbutton my vest and get down there and lick James, but it was of no use. It was a very trying time. I can remember how I tried to kick myself loose, but failed. Sometimes I would kick the barn and sometimes I would kick a large hole in the horizon. Finally I was rescued by a neighbor who said he didn’t want to see a good barn kicked into chaos just to save a long-legged boy that wasn’t worth over six bits.

It affords me great pleasure to add that while I am looked up to and madly loved by every one that does not know me, Jas. C. Bang is brevet president of a fractured bank, taking a lonely bridal tour by himself in Europe and waiting for the depositors to die of old age.

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they most generally get there with both feet. (Adapted from the French by permission.)

Mark Anthony.

Marcus Antonius, commonly called Mark Antony, was a celebrated Roman general and successful politician, who was born in 83 B.C. His grandfather, on his mother’s side, was L. Julius Caesar, and it is thought that to Mark’s sagacity in his selection of a mother, much of his subsequent success was due.

Young Antony was rather gay and festive during his early years, and led a life that in any city but Rome would have occasioned talk. He got into a great many youthful scrapes, and nothing seemed to please him better than to repeatedly bring his father’s gray hairs down in sorrow to the grave. Debauchery was a matter to which he gave much thought, and many a time he was found consuming the midnight oil while pursuing his studies in this line.

At that time Rome was well provided for in the debauchery department, and Mr. Antony became a thorough student of the entire curriculum.

About 57 B.C. he obtained command of the cavalry of Gambinino in Syria and Egypt. He also acted as legate for Caesar in Gaul about 52 B.C., as nearly as I can recall the year. I do not know exactly what a legate is, but it had something to do with the Roman ballet, I understand, and commanded a good salary.

He was also elected, in 50, B.C., as Argus and Tribune–acting as Tribune at night and Argus during the day time, I presume, or he may have been elected Tribune and ex-officio Argus. He was more successful as Tribune than he was in the Argus business.

Early in 49, B.C., he fled to Caesar’s camp, and the following year was appointed commander-in-chief. He commanded the left wing of the army at the battle of Pharsalia, and years afterward used to be passionately fond of describing it and explaining how he saved the day, and how everybody else was surprised but him, and how he was awakened by hearing one of the enemy’s troops, across the river, stealthily pulling on his pantaloons.

Antony married Fulvia, the widow of a successful demagogue named P. Clodius. This marriage could hardly be regarded as a success. It would have been better for the widow if she had remained Mrs. P. Clodius, for Mark Antony was one of those old-fashioned Romans who favored the utmost latitude among men, but heartily enjoyed seeing an unfaithful woman burned at the stake. In those days the Roman girl had nothing to do but live a pure and blameless life, so that she could marry a shattered Roman rake who had succeeded in shunning a blameless life himself, and at last, when he was sick of all kinds of depravity and needed a good, careful wife to take care of him, would come with his dappled, sin-sick soul and shattered constitution, and his vast acquisitions of debts, and ask to be loved by a noble young woman. Nothing pleased a blase Roman so well as to have a young and beautiful girl, with eyes like liquid night, to take the job of reforming him. I frequently get up in the night to congratulate myself that I was not born, 2,000 years ago, a Roman girl.

The historian continues to say, that though Mr. Antony continued to live a life of licentious lawlessness, that occasioned talk even in Rome, he was singularly successful in politics.

He was very successful at funerals, also, and his off-hand obituary works were sought for far and wide. His impromptu remarks at the grave of Caesar, as afterward reported by Mr. Shakespeare, from memory, attracted general notice and made the funeral a highly enjoyable affair. After this no assassination could be regarded as a success, unless Mark Antony could be secured to come and deliver his justly celebrated eulogy.

About 43, B.C., Antony, Octavius and Lepidus formed a co-partnership under the firm name and style of Antony, Octavius & Co., for the purpose of doing a general, all-round triumvirate business and dealing in Roman republican pelts. The firm succeeded in making republicanism extremely odious, and for years a republican hardly dared to go out after dark to feed the horse, lest he be jumped on by a myrmidon and assassinated. It was about this time that Cicero had a misunderstanding with Mark’s myrmidons and went home packed in ice.

Mark Antony, when the firm of Antony, Octavius & Co. settled up its affairs, received as his share the Asiatic provinces and Egypt. It was at this time that he met Cleopatra at an Egyptian sociable and fell in love with her. Falling in love with fair women and speaking pieces over new-made graves seemed to be Mark’s normal condition. He got into a quarrel with Octavius and settled it by marrying Octavia, Octavius’ sister, but this was not a love match, for he at once returned to Cleopatra, the author of Cleopatra’s needle and other works.

This love for Cleopatra was no doubt the cause of his final overthrow, for he frequently went over to see her when he should have been at home killing invaders. He ceased to care about slashing around in carnage, and preferred to turn Cleopatra’s music for her while she knocked out the teeth of her old upright piano and sang to him in a low, passionate, vox humana tone.

So, at last, the great cemetery declaimer and long distance assassin, Mark Antony, was driven out of his vast dominions after a big naval defeat at Actium, in September, 31 B.C., retreated to Alexandria, called for more reinforcements and didn’t get them. Deserted by his fleet, and reduced to a hand-me-down suit of clothes and a two-year-old plug hat, he wrote a poetic wail addressed to Cleopatra and sent it to the Alexandria papers; then, closing the door and hanging up his pantaloons on a nail so as to reduce the sag in the knees, he blew out the gas and climbed over the high board fence which stands forever between the sombre present and the dark blue, mysterious ultimatum.


Preface  •  Directions  •  My School Days  •  Recollections of Noah Webster  •  To Her Majesty  •  Habits of a Literary Man  •  A Father’s Letter  •  Archimedes  •  Anatomy  •  Mr. Sweeney’s Cat  •  The Heyday of Life  •  They Fell  •  Second Letter to the President  •  Milling in Pompeii  •  Broncho Sam  •  How Evolution Evolves  •  Hours With Great Men  •  Concerning Coroners  •  Down East Rum  •  Railway Etiquette  •  B. Franklin, Deceased  •  Life Insurance as a Health Restorer  •  The Opium Habit  •  More Paternal Correspondence  •  Twombley’s Tale  •  On Cyclones  •  The Arabian Language  •  Verona  •  A Great Upheaval  •  The Weeping Woman  •  The Crops  •  Literary Freaks  •  A Father’s Advice to His Son  •  Eccentricity in Lunch  •  Insomnia in Domestic Animals  •  Along Lake Superior  •  I Tried Milling  •  Our Forefathers  •  Preventing a Scandal  •  About Portraits  •  The Old South  •  Knights of the Pen  •  The Wild Cow  •  Spinal Meningitis  •  Skimming the Milky Way  •  A Thrilling Experience  •  Catching a Buffalo  •  John Adams  •  Bunker Hill  •  A Lumber Camp  •  My Lecture Abroad  •  The Miner at Home  •  An Operatic Entertainment  •  Dogs and Dog Days  •  Christopher Columbus  •  Accepting the Laramie Postoffice  •  A Journalistic Tenderfoot  •  The Amateur Carpenter  •  The Average Hen  •  Woodtick William’s Story  •  In Washington  •  My Experience as an Agriculturist  •  A New Autograph Album  •  A Resign  •  My Mine  •  Mush and Melody  •  The Blase Young Man  •  History of Babylon  •  Lovely Horrors  •  The Bite of a Mad Dog  •  Arnold Winkelreid  •  Murray and the Mormons  •  About Geology  •  A Wallula Night  •  Flying Machines  •  Asking for a Pass  •  Words About Washington  •  The Board of Trade  •  Stirring Incidents at a Fire  •  The Little Barefoot Boy  •  Favored a Higher Fine  •  Man Overbored  •  Picnic Incidents  •  Nero  •  Squaw Jim  •  Squaw Jim’s Religion  •  One Kind of Fool  •  John Adams’ Diary  •  The Approaching Humorist  •  What We Eat  •  Care of House Plants  •  A Peaceable Man

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