Juvenile Pugilists by S. C. Clemens
YES, I've had a good many fights in my time,"
said old John Parky, tenderly manipulating
his dismantled nose, "and it's kind of queer, too, for
when I was a boy the old man was always telling me
better. He was a good man and hated fighting.
When I would come home with my nose bleeding or
with my face scratched up, he used to call me out in
the woodshed, and in a sorrowful and discouraged
way say, 'So, Johnny, you've had another fight,
hey? How many times have I got to tell ye how
disgraceful and wicked it is for boys to fight? It was
only yesterday that I talked to you an hour about the
sin of fighting, and here you've been at it again.
Who was it with this time? With Tommy Kelly,
hey? Don't you know any better than to fight a boy
that weighs twenty pounds more than you do, besides
being two years older? Ain't you got a spark of
sense about ye? I can see plainly that you are
determined to break your poor father's heart by your
reckless conduct. What ails your finger? Tommy
bit it? Drat the little fool! Didn't ye know enough
to keep your finger out of his mouth? Was trying
to jerk his cheek off, hey? Won't you never learn to
quit foolin' 'round a boy's mouth with yer fingers?
You're bound to disgrace us all by such wretched
behaviour. You're determined never to be nobody.
Did you ever hear of Isaac Watts—that wrote, "Let
dogs delight to bark and bite"—sticking his fingers
in a boy's mouth to get 'em bit, like a fool? I'm
clean discouraged with ye. Why didn't ye go for his
nose, the way Jonathan Edwards, and George Washington,
and Daniel Webster used to do, when they
was boys? Couldn't 'cause he had ye down? That's
a purty story to tell me. It does beat all that you
can't learn how Socrates and William Penn used to
gouge when they was under, after the hours and
hours I've spent in telling you about those great
men! It seems to me sometimes as if I should have
to give you up in despair. It's an awful trial to me
to have a boy that don't pay any attention to good
example, nor to what I say. What! You pulled
out three or four handfuls of his hair? H'm! Did
he squirm any? Now if you'd a give him one or two
in the eye—but as I've told ye many a time, fighting
is poor business. Won't you—for your father's sake—won't
you promise to try and remember that?
H'm! Johnny, how did it—ahem—which licked?"
"'You licked him? Sho! Really? Well, now,
I hadn't any idea you could lick that Tommy Kelly!
I don't believe John Bunyan, at ten years old, could
have done it. Johnny, my boy, you can't think how
I hate to have you fighting every day or two. I
wouldn't have had him lick you for five, no, not for
ten dollars! Now, sonny, go right in and wash up,
and tell your mother to put a rag on your finger.
And, Johnny, don't let me hear of your fighting
"I never see anybody so down on fighting as the
old man, was, but somehow he never could break me