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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 23
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Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 23 Post by :Javier Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :2370

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Peck's Uncle Ike And The Red Headed Boy - Chapter 23

CHAPTER XXIII

It was Sunday afternoon, and Uncle Ike had been to church with the red-headed boy, and they had listened to a sermon on patriotism, and the minister had expressed himself on the subject of the Philippines, and the duty the President owed to civilization to keep on killing those negroes until they learned better than to kick at having a strange race of people boss them around, and Uncle Ike had walked home along the bank of the lake, and breathed the free air that was his because his ancestors had conquered it from England, and he couldn't help having a little sympathy for those Filipinos who had been bought from a country that didn't own them, by a country that had no use for them, and wished it could get rid of them honorably, without hurting the political party that was acting as overseer over them. He didn't want to seem disloyal to a country that he loved and had fought to preserve, but when he thought of those poor, ignorant people, trying to learn what freedom meant, and what there was in it for them, studying the constitution of the United States to find out how to be good and great, and dodging bullets, he felt as though he wished he knew just what the Savior of Man would do in the matter if He had been elected President. He had left the red-headed boy at Sunday-school, and now they were both back home, waiting for the dinner bell to ring. The boy was studying some pamphlet he had brought home, and looking mighty serious.

"Any great problem been presented to you at Sunday-school that you are unable to solve?" said Uncle Ike, as he walked by the boy and tried to stroke the corrugated lines out of his forehead, and patted him on the head. "For if there is anything you are in doubt about, all you got to do is to let your Uncle Ike be umpire, and he will straighten it out for you."

"Thank you, awfully," said the boy, as he dropped his book, walked up to the old man, and looked him squarely in the face. "You are the man I have been looking for. Uncle Ike, suppose a man should haul off, without provocation, and smash you on the side of the face, a regular stinger, that would jar your head until you could see stars, what would you do?"

(Illustration: I would give him one on the nose with my left hand 203)

"Oh, say, that is an easy one," said the old man, as he filled the pipe and lighted it, and threw the match in the grate. "Do you know what I would do? I would give him one on the nose with my left hand, and when he was off his guard I would paste him one under the ear, or on the point of the jaw, and then I would stand over him and count ten, and if he came to, I would give him some more, and when he had got enough, I would say to him: 'Now, when you feel that way again, and want to enjoy yourself, you come right to me, for I don't have any too much exercise, anyway.' But why do you ask? You knew all the time what I would do if a man hit me," and the old man walked around the room as though he would like to see someone hit him.

"That's what I feared," said the boy, as the twinkles played around his eyes. "You see, among the verses in the Sunday-school lesson was this one, 'If they smite you on one cheek, turn the other cheek, also,' and I thought I would like to get the opinion of an expert as to how to go about it, to turn the other cheek the right way."

"Say, here, you don't take advantage of an old man that way," said Uncle Ike, as the boy began laughing. "When you ask questions like that you want to read the verse first, and give a man a chance. 'Course, if they smite you on one cheek, you want to do just what the Bible says. Some of you kids make me tired," and the old man wished dinner was ready, so they could change the subject.

"I told my teacher I didn't see how a fellow could turn the other cheek, also, and maintain his standing in society, but she said it was the way to do, and then the Sunday-school superintendent came along, and she asked him about it. He belongs to the athletic club of the Y. M. C. A., and I have seen him box with soft gloves, and he said it was right to turn the other cheek, but I noticed he smiled, and then the minister visited our class, and the teacher asked him to impress on us boys the idea of turning the other cheek. He looked pious, and said you must turn the other cheek when smote, as it showed a meek and forgiving disposition, but I know the minister is a boxer, also, and I heard that he almost jarred the head off a tramp last summer for sassing him, so I am worried as to what it is best to do, in a case of smoting. The teacher, you know her, the pretty girl that let you hold her hand so long at the picnic, when you was introduced to her, and you told her you used to know her mother when she was a girl, and used to go with her, and all that rot, she told me I better talk it over with you, Uncle Ike, and see what you thought about it. So you honestly think it is best for a boy to grow up letting people get in the habit of smiting, so to see him turn his other cheek, and get another bat on that cheek, eh? Don't you think a boy that takes that kind of medicine, without making up a face, ought to say, 'Thank you, ever so much,' and always wear pinafores, and stay in the kindergarten, and if he ever grows up and goes into business he better become a he-milliner, or a manicure, say? It's up to you, now, Uncle Ike, and I am ready to listen, and to follow your advice, and be a boy or a girl, just as you say, but I don't know any girl in my set that would let anybody smite her much, without pulling hair a little, at least."

Uncle Ike had been thinking pretty hard, as the boy talked, had let his pipe go out, and his face had taken on a serious look, a look also of pride as he listened to the boy, but he was trying to think how to steer him right on that turning the other cheek also business. He fumbled for the tobacco bag, and as he emptied some tobacco into the pipe, his hand was unsteady, and he spilled a good deal on the floor, and he had to scratch two or three matches on his pants before he could get one that wouldn't break off, or go out. Finally he got the pipe lighted, and he puffed a long time, and looked at himself in the big mirror over the mantel, to see if he was looking his best, and finally he said:

"I'll tell you, my boy, I don't think they are turning the other cheek also when smote, as much as they used to. The theory is all right, and if everybody would do so, there would not be any trouble, and all would be peace. I suppose that verse in the Bible was written when the Jews were trying to get along without having scraps all the time. There were people there, Jew-baiters, I suppose, who just laid for them, and knowing them to be opposed to a fight, they would smash them, and on the advice of leaders they would turn the other cheek, and go home with a black eye. I don't suppose I could write a Bible half as good as the old one, but I think if that verse had been changed a little, so the Jews would have stood up for their rights, and everlastingly lambasted anybody that came around jarring them on the cheeks, and been brought up to fight their way through, from Jerusalem to France, things would have been different. But, as I say, things have changed a good deal since Bible times. I think, now, if I was a boy, growing up to take my place in the business world, I might try to forget that verse, or think of it as we do of the Golden Rule, or the 'love one another' verse. You may try as hard as you like and you can't love your neighbor as yourself, unless he, or she, as the case may be, is a lovable person, and loves back. There can be no arbitrary rules that will bind you against what you think is right. Suppose your neighbor is a horsethief, or a liar, who belongs to another political party, and backbites, and steals your wood, and kicks your dog, and puts up jobs on you, how you going to love that neighbor as yourself? Two or three thousand years ago maybe these things would have been all right, when they didn't have any newspapers, and trolley cars, and there was no business except selling fish, and no money but coppers. I'll tell you how I shall bring up my boys, when I have any, and that is to keep their cheeks away from the smoter who smotes. Be on your guard, and if a boy tries to smite you on one cheek, you duck, and side-step, and smile at him, and keep your hands up so if he makes a feint to smite you on one cheek, just stand him off, and maybe he will think that you are onto his smiting on the cheek business yourself, and are no chicken, that is going to keep cheeks for other people to smite, and he may quit, and you can laugh over it, and consider the incident closed. But if he gets gay, and it seems to be his day to smite cheeks, and he acts as though he had picked you out for a soft mark, and rushes in to do you up, if I ever hear of your running, or putting your hands down, and letting him biff you, one, two, on both cheeks, and you come home here crying, with the nosebleed, and your eye blacked, and you haven't done a thing to that cheek smiter, I will warm your jacket so you will think there is a hornets' nest in it, hear me?" and the old man looked cross and sassy. "No, sir; you just let him search for your cheeks, and if he won't quit, you finally give him your left in the neck, and side-step, and keep out of his way, and if he wants more, find a place where there is an opening, and jab him until he quits looking for cheeks to smite, and other cheeks to turn also. I don't know as it is right, but turning the other cheek also has gone out of style, and nobody is doing it that has got any gravel in their crop. Don't let me ever catch you fighting, that is, bringing on a fight, but don't you ever let anybody use you to practice that verse on, because your minister or your Sunday-school superintendent wouldn't allow anybody to smite them without getting hurt."

"Well, I like that," said the boy, getting up and starting for the dining room. "I will do just as you say, Uncle Ike, and try to avoid trouble. But what shall I tell that blue-eyed teacher you advised me--the one, you know, that you was so sweet on at the picnic?"

"Oh, tell her I told you to try and grow up to be a regular thoroughbred, like your Uncle Ike, and only turn the other cheek to girls, see! And tell her I never squeezed anybody's hand at a picnic, unless they commenced it, by gosh!" and the old man took the red-headed boy in his arms and carried him bodily into the dining room, and there was a smile on his good old face that was good to look upon.

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