TROTTY'S LECTURE BUREAU
(Not a Trotty Story, but a Trotty Scrap. Told for Trotty's Friends.)
BY ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS
"OUR peoples do," said Trotty. That was reason sufficient to Trotty's mind for doing anything; and whether "our peoples" were three times as big as Trotty and thirty times as wise, or not, was a matter of not the slightest consequence in this young gentleman's view of things.
"Our peoples have a lecture bureau," urged Totty. "I want the spare - 'oom bureau, mamma, vat's got a marble top. Nita said it better have a marble top, and Nate, he said he'd just as lieve play int' the spare-'oom as out the tool-house. My lecture is wroten and ready," argued Trotty, persuasively. "I wrotened it on some old ongvellopes I found in you' table-drawer while you'd gone to meeting!"
This final argument did not have exactly the effect Trotty had anticipated. He not only did not get a marble lecture bureau on that occasion, but his very MS. was unceremoniously taken away from him, and an old French grammar serenely offered to him instead, -- this not five minutes before the advertised hour of one's lecture, was, as any one will see, an interference with free speech difficult for calmer minds than Trotty's to tolerate.
"Trotty," said his mother, with some solemnity, "I cannot yet bring my mind to let you take your papa's love-letters."
"Poo' dear dead papa!" interrupted Trotty, softly; "but I didn't know he wroten his letters in you' table-drawer."
"Papa's love-letters for a lyceum bureau!" proceeded mamma. "You may have the French grammar, and there's an old bureau out in the tool-house with two casters off. That will do for a lecture bureau.. Don't tumble off. Give me back the letters. Send Nate down-stairs, and now run away!"
So Trotty sent Nate down-stairs and ran away and the boys told Nita abou tthe bureau, and she said she'd rather have had the marble-top, but this would do; so Trotty climbed upon the bureau, and Nate and Nita sat down upon a wheelbarrow, and they shut the door of the tool-house, and Trotty opened the French grammar and delivered the openinng lecture of the course as follows:
"MY LECTURE BUREAU
"LECTURE THE FIRST: WOMAN'S SUFFERINGS.
"My subject, gentlemen and a few ladies, is woman's sufferings. Conjugation the first.
"Vis lecture bureau is a little rickety, and I'll be oblighed to you, ladies and gentleman, if Nate wouldn't just sit giggling. You can't laugh, too, unless you have four casters. It isn't very safe.
"Woman's sufferings. Hem! Ho -- haw -- hem! Woman's sufferings, my friends, is an awful subject, -- a norful subject. It has been wroten on. It has been lectured to. I've heard ministers pray to it, and my brother Max makes fun of it. [Pause.]
"I never heard it lectured at on such a rickety old bureau as this.
"My brethren, women should never vote! -- should nev-er vote, gentlemen and ladies. Vey don't know enough. Vey aint strong enough. Vey can-not go to war, ladies and gentlemen!
"My papa went to war. But he died. But he wasn't a woman.
"My friends, I tell you girls aint grown to vote. They wear dresses. They can't play base-ball. Once I knew a girl tried to spin a top, but she couldn't. It wasn't Nita; she needn't fink. Nita was married to me. She knows better. Brethren, I tell you vis on purposely, -- women can-not vote, I tell you!
"My friends, vis is a solemn subject. Let me say a few words to you as a momentum of this matter. My brother Max, he gave me a nold bad cent once as a momentum of him, but I frew it down the well, you'd better fink! My brother Max says if women should vote, vis country would go to --
"If the gentleman in vis audience don't stop frowing paper balls at vis lecture bureau, I will never assume this subject without four casters!
"Brethren, 'If the donkey of my brother should carry the pink silk umbrella of my sister-in-law' -- oh, hum! -- could woman leave her baby crying in the cradle, I ax you?
"Vat about the donkey is printed in the book, but I don't seem to stand very straight without jiggling, and ven you hit you' head against the cobwebs on top, I fink this lecture is most frough.
"Gentlemen, I appeal to you! If -- oh -- well -- if 'the hat of my father-in-law is in the cage of the monkey of my great-grandmother,' ven, I'd like to know, when woman should voted, if vis country would not go to smash, sir! I ax you, fellow-citizens and hearers, in the irregular declension and indicative case, if -- I ax you if -- ladies and brethren and fellow-gentlemen, whether vis country ---- "
Thee was a pause, and then a noise. It was a solemn pause. It was a dreadful noise. What, under the depressing circumstance pictured by the lecturer, will become of the courntry, I cannot say. But what became of the bureau is quite clear. If the country does not go to smash, that lecture bureau did.
Trotty says it was Nate, Nate says it was Nita. Nita says Trotty stood on one foot too long. Perhaps that one foot was the trouble. At all events, in the midst of an impressive gesture with the left sole of the other, over went bureau -- lecturer -- the monkey of his great-grandmother -- the hat of his father-in-law -- and woman's sufferings in one stupendous whole upon the tool-house floor.
Nate picked him up. Nita jumped up and down and cried. The poor little lecturer was dusty and crumpled, and there was blood about his face from somewhere -- nobody knew where. All the bureau drawers had tumbled out. Nate thought they'd better shut him in one till he got better. But Nita thought they'd better call his mother.
So his mother came out and picked him up, and washed him off, and dusted him off, and tied him up, and kissed him up, and then they found he was about as good as new, and nothing much the worse for the lecture bureau.
"I fink," said Trotty, with the air of a martyr who had narrowly escaped translation, "if I'd had a tumbler lemonade and a zhinger-snap, I wouldn't care as much 'bout woman's sufferings without the casters."
So Trotty and Nate and Nita had a litter tumbler of lemonade and a ginger-snap all around, in the dining-room, and mamma locked the tool-house door upon the ruins of Trotty's lecture bureau."
--St. Nicholas, May, 1877.
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Transcribed by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-century girls' series webpage. Please do not use on other sites without permission