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 again!'"

"I never see anybody so down on fighting as the old man, was, but somehow he never could break me from it."