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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 8
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Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 8 Post by :Javier Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :3122

Click below to download : Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 8 (Format : PDF)

Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 8

CHAPTER VIII

"Say, Uncle Ike, don't you think the Fourth of July is sort of played out?" asked the red-headed boy, as he came to Uncle Ike's room on the morning of the 5th, by appointment, to demonstrate to the old man that he had not been quite killed by the celebration of the great day. "It seems to me we don't have half as many accidents and fires as we used to," and the boy counted off to the uncle the dozen injuries he had received by burns, and dug into his eye with a soiled handkerchief in search of some gravel from a torpedo.

"Oh, I don't know," said Uncle Ike, as he lighted the old pipe and began to look over the boy's injuries. "The Fourth is carrying on business at the old stand, apparently. Your injuries are in the right places, on the left hand, principally, and the gravel is in the left eye. That is right. Always keep the right hand and the right eye in good shape, so you can sight a gun and pull a trigger, either in shooting ducks or Filipinos. You see, our country is growing, and we are celebrating the Fourth from Alaska to Porto Rico, and from London to Luzon, so we can't celebrate so very much in any one place. I expect by another Fourth Queen Victoria will be yelling for the glorious Fourth, Emperor William will be touching off dynamite firecrackers, Russia will be eating Roman candies, and Aguinaldo will be touching off nigger-chasers and drinking red lemonade. This is a great country, boy, and don't you forget it."

"Well, you may be right," said the boy, as he poured some witch-hazel on a rag around his thumb, "but it looks to me as though the troops in the Philippines will be climbing aboard transports protected by the fleet, with Aguinaldo slaughtering the boys in the hospitals and looting Manila, if the President does not get a move onto himself and send another army out there to be victorious some more. The way it is now, we shall not have troops enough there to bury the dead. The boys have been debating at school the Philippine question, and it was decided unanimously that the President is up against a tough proposition, and if he does not stop looking at the political side of that war and send troops enough to eat up those shirtless soldiers, who can live on six grains of rice and two grains of quinine a day, we are going to be whipped out of our boots. That's what us boys think."

"Well, you boys don't want to think too much, or you are liable to have brain fever," said the old man, as he realized that there was mutiny brewing among the school children. "What you fellows want the President to do? Haven't we whipped the negroes everywhere, and taken village after village, and burned them, and--and--chased them--and----"

"Sure!" said the boy, as he saw that his uncle was at a loss to defend the policy of his government. "We have had regular foot races with them, and burned the huts of the helpless, and taken villages, and then didn't have troops to hold them, and when we went out of a village on one street, the niggers came in on another, and shot into our pants. We swim rivers and take towns with as brave work as ever was done, and become so exhausted we have to lay down in the mud and have a fit, and the niggers climb trees like monkeys, eat cocoanuts and chatter at us. Say, Uncle Ike, do you know us boys are getting tired of this business, and we are getting up a petition to the President to get a trained nurse to put Alger to sleep and run the war department herself."

(Illustration: We are going to have the petition 071)

"We are going to have the petition signed by seven million American boys. Why, if those niggers could go off in the woods and shoot at a mark for a week, and get so they could hit anything, our boys would all be dead in a month. The trouble is the niggers just pull up a gun and touch it off like a girl does a firecracker. She lights the tip end of the tail of a firecracker, and throws it, and you forget all about it, and when her firecracker has ceased to interest you, and you don't know where it is, it goes off in your coat collar, or down the waistband of your pants. A Filipino shoots the way a trained monkey touches off a syphon of seltzer water. He knows it will squirt if he touches the thumbpiece, but it is as liable to hit him in the face, or wet his feet as anything. Some day those niggers will learn how to shoot, and when Funston attempts to swim a river he will get a bullet through the head, and Lawton and MacArthur, who stand up in plain sight and let them practice will wish they hadn't. We boys have decided to support the President until he conquers those people, if that is what he is trying to do, but, by gosh, if he does not wake up and quit looking pleasant, and seeming to hope that Filipino shower is going to blow over, we feel that he will wake up some morning and find that a nigger tornado has struck his brave boys at Manila, and they will be in the cyclone cellars waiting for somebody to come and dig them out. Don't you think so, Uncle Ike?"

"I say, boy," said Uncle Ike, as he lighted up the pipe, after letting it go out while listening to the war talk of the excited boy, "do you think you could arrange your affairs so as to leave here by tomorrow evening and take the limited for Washington? Would you accept the vacancy in the office of secretary of war? I know this offer comes sudden to you, and that you will have no time to consult your debating society as to whether you ought to accept the position, but when you reflect that the country is in a critical situation, and needs a man of blood and iron to steer the craft through among the rocks, I feel that you cannot refuse. The ideas you express are so near like those that General Jackson would express if he were alive, that I feel the country would be blessed if you were in a position to brace up the President. Now go wash your face, and I will wire the President that you will be there day after tomorrow morning. But if you go there thinking, as many people seem to think, that the President's backbone is made of banana pulp, and that he is not alive to the situation, you will make a mistake. There are chumps like you all over this country that wonder why they have not been selected to run this country, who think the commander-in-chief is running ward politics instead of the affairs of the country. Of course, a President gets under obligations to different elements in a campaign, and finds it necessary to surround himself with a cabinet, a few members of which are not worth powder to blow them up, but if they were all weak and vicious on the make, and political ciphers, and the President himself is all right, the country will not go very far wrong. What you boys want to do is to debate less on questions you do not understand, and saw more wood. Let the grown people run things a while longer, and you boys prepare to take the burden a quarter of a century hence," and the old man got up and put his arm around the boy and felt of his head to see if he could find any soft spot.

"Well, I was only joshin' any way, Uncle Ike," said the boy, as he put both arms around the old man, and felt in his uncle's pistol pocket to discover something that was eatable. "But, Uncle Ike, I am serious now. I have got in love with a girl, and she is mashed on another boy, and I am having more trouble than McKinley. You know that quarter you gave me yesterday? I saved 20 cents of it to treat her to ice-cream soda; and when I went to find her, she was coming out of the drug store with the other boy, and I found out they had been sitting on stools at the soda fountain all the forenoon, drinking all the different kinds of soda, until he had to hold her down for fear she would go up like a balloon, from the soda bubbles that she had concealed about her person. I have not decided whether to kill my rival, or go and enlist and go to the Philippines and break her heart. What did you do under such circumstances, Uncle, when you used to get in love?"

"I used to take castor oil," said Uncle Ike, as he looked at the forlorn-looking boy, "but you don't need to. Just you take off those tan shoes and put on black shoes, and change your luck. I never knew it to fail, when a boy first put on tan shoes and a high collar. He is bound to get in love before night. Take off those shoes, and you can go out in the world and look everybody in the face and never get in love. It is the same as being vaccinated," and the old man looked sober and serious, and the boy went to work to change his shoes, with a bright hope for the future lighting up his face.

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CHAPTER V"Here, what you up to, you young heathen?" said Uncle Ike, as a pair of small boxing gloves, about as big as goslings, struck him in the solar plexus and all the way down his stomach, and he noticed a red streak rushing about the room, side-stepping and clucking. "You are a nice looking Sunday-school scholar, you are, dancing around as though you were in the prize ring. Who taught you that foolishness, and what are you trying to do?" and the old man cornered the red-headed boy between the bookcase and the center-table, and took him across his knee,
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