Wise children always choose a mother who was a shocking flirt in her maiden days, and so had several offers before she accepted their fortunate papa. The reason they do this is because every offer refused by their mother means another pantomime to them. You see you can’t trust to your father’s taking you to the pantomime, but you can trust to every one of the poor frenzied gentlemen for whom that lady has wept a delicious little tear on her lovely little cambric handkerchief. It is pretty (but dreadfully affecting) to see them on Boxing Night gathering together the babies of their old loves. Some knock at but one door and bring a hansom, but others go from street to street in private buses, and even wear false noses to conceal the sufferings you inflict upon them as you grow more and more like your sweet cruel mamma.
So I took David to the pantomime, and I hope you follow my reasoning, for I don’t. He went with the fairest anticipations, pausing on the threshold to peer through the hole in the little house called “Pay Here,” which he thought was Red Riding Hood’s residence, and asked politely whether he might see her, but they said she had gone to the wood, and it was quite true, for there she was in the wood gathering a stick for her grandmother’s fire. She sang a beautiful song about the Boys and their dashing ways, which flattered David considerably, but she forgot to take away the stick after all. Other parts of the play were not so nice, but David thought it all lovely, he really did.
Yet he left the place in tears. All the way home he sobbed in the darkest corner of the growler, and if I tried to comfort him he struck me.
The clown had done it, that man of whom he expected things so fair. He had asked in a loud voice of the middling funny gentleman (then in the middle of a song) whether he thought Joey would be long in coming, and when at last Joey did come he screamed out, “How do you do, Joey!” and went into convulsions of mirth.
Joey and his father were shadowing a pork-butcher’s shop, pocketing the sausages for which their family had such a fatal weakness, and so when the butcher engaged Joey as his assistant there was soon not a sausage left. However, this did not matter, for there was a box rather like an ice-cream machine, and you put chunks of pork in at one end and turned a handle, and they came out as sausages at the other end. Joey quite enjoyed doing this, and you could see that the sausages were excellent by the way he licked his fingers after touching them, but soon there were no more pieces of pork, and just then a dear little Irish terrier-dog came trotting down the street, so what did Joey do but pop it into the machine and it came out at the other end as sausages.
It was this callous act that turned all David’s mirth to woe, and drove us weeping to our growler.
Heaven knows I have no wish to defend this cruel deed, but as Joey told me afterward, it is very difficult to say what they will think funny and what barbarous. I was forced to admit to him that David had perceived only the joyous in the pokering of the policemen’s legs, and had called out heartily “Do it again!” every time Joey knocked the pantaloon down with one kick and helped him up with another.