Read CHAPTER SIX of A Parody Outline of History, free online book, by Donald Ogden Stewart, on


In the Bedtime Story Manner of Thornton W. Burgess

“Just the day for a Whisky Rebellion,” said Aunt Polly and off she ran, lipperty-lipperty-lip, to get a few shooting rifles.

“Oh goody goody,” cried little Emily. “Now we can all shoot at those horrid Revenue Officers,” for the collectors of internal revenue were far from popular with these kindly Pennsylvania folk and Aunt Polly Pinkwood had often promised the children that if they were good some day they would be allowed to take a shot at a Revenue Officer.

Soon she returned, bearing in her arms a number of bright shiny new guns. The children crowded around in glee and soon all were supplied with weapons except little Frank who of course was too young to use a gun and was given a two-gallon jug of nice, old whisky to carry. Jed hitched up old Taylor, the faithful farm horse, and as quick as you could say Jack Robinson the little ones had piled into the old carryall. Round Mr. Sun was just peeping over the Purple Hills when the merry little party started on its way, singing and laughing at the prospect of the day’s sport.

“I bet I kill five Revenue Officers,” said little Edgar.

“Ha Ha Ha-you boaster, you,” laughed Aunt Polly. “You will be lucky if you kill two, for I fear they will be hard to find today.”

“Oh do you think so, Aunt Polly?” said little Elinor and she began to cry, for Elinor dearly loved to shoot.

“Hush dear,” said Miss Pinkwood with a kindly pat, for she loved her little charges and it hurt her to see them unhappy. “I was only joking. And now children I will tell you a story.”

“Oh goody goody,” cried they all. “Tell us a true story.”

“All right,” said Aunt Polly. “I shall tell you a true story,” and she began.

“Once there was a brave handsome man-”

“Mr. Welsbach,” cried the children with one voice, for it was well known in the neighborhood that Aunt Polly had long been sweet on Julius Welsbach, the popular superintendent of the Sabbath School and the best whisky maker for miles around.

“Hush children,” said Aunt Polly blushing in vexation. “Of course not. And if you interrupt me I shall not tell my story at all.” But she was not really angry.

“And one day this brave handsome man was out making whisky and he had just sampled some when he looked up and what do you suppose he saw?”

“Snakes,” cried little Elmer whose father had often had delirium tremens, greatly to the delight of his children.

“No, Elmer,” said Miss Pinkwood, “not snakes.”

“Pink lizards,” cried little Esther, Elmer’s sister.

“No,” said Aunt Polly, with a hearty laugh, “he saw a-stranger. And what do you suppose the stranger had?”

“A snoot full,” chorused the Schultz twins. “He was pie-eyed.”

“No,” replied Miss Pinkwood laughing merrily. “It was before noon. Guess again children. What did the stranger have?”

“Blind staggers,” suggested little Faith whose mother had recently been adjudged insane.

“Come children,” replied Aunt Polly. “You are not very wide awake this morning. The stranger had a gun. And when the brave handsome man offered the stranger a drink what do you suppose the stranger said?”

“I know,” cried little Prudence eagerly. “He said, ’Why yes I don’t care if I do.’ That’s what they all say.”

“No, Prudence,” replied Miss Pinkwood. “The stranger refused a drink.”

“Oh come now, Aunt Polly,” chorused the boys and girls. “You said you were going to tell us a true story.” And their little faces fell.

“Children,” said Miss Polly, “the stranger refused the drink because he was a Revenue Officer. And he pointed his gun at the brave handsome man and said he would have to go to jail because he had not paid the tax on his whisky. And the brave handsome man would have had to have gone to jail, too; but fortunately his brother came up just at the right time and-”

“Shot the Revenuer dead,” cried the children in glee.

“Yes children,” said Miss Polly. “He shot the Revenue Officer dead.”

“Oh goody goody,” cried all. “Now tell us another story. Tell us about the time your father killed a Revenue Officer with an ax.”

“Oh you don’t want to hear that again, do you children?” said Aunt Polly.

“Oh yes-yes-please,” they cried, and Aunt Polly was just going to begin when Jed the driver stopped his horses and said:

“This hilltop is as good a place to shoot from as I know of, Miss Pinkwood. You can see both roads, and nobody can see you.”

“Thank you, Jed,” said Aunt Polly giving him a kindly smile, and without more ado the children clambered out of the carryall and filled their guns with powder and bullets.

“I get first shot,” proudly announced Robert, the oldest boy, and somewhat of a bully.

“Robert!” said Aunt Polly severely, and she looked almost ready to cry, for Aunt Polly had tried hard to teach the boys to be true knights of chivalry and it hurt her to have Robert wish to shoot a Revenue Officer before the girls had had a chance. Robert had not meant to hurt Aunt Polly’s feelings but had only been thoughtless, and soon all was sunshine again as little Ellen the youngest made ready to fire the first shot.

The children waited patiently and soon they were rewarded by the sight of a Revenue Officer riding on horseback in the distant valley, as pretty a target as one could wish.

“Now do be careful, dear,” whispered Miss Pinkwood, “for if you miss, he may take alarm and be off.” But little Ellen did not miss. “Bang” went her gun and the little Merry Breezes echoed back and forth, “She got him. She got him”, and old Mother West Wind smiled down at the happy sport. Sure enough, when old Mr. Smoke had cleared away there was a nice dead Revenue Officer lying in the road. “Well done, Ellen,” said Miss Pinkwood, patting her little charge affectionately which caused the happy girl to coo with childish delight.

Mary had next shot and soon all were popping away in great glee. All the merry wood folk gathered near to watch the children at their sport. There was Johnny Chuck and Reddy Fox and Jimmy Skunk and Bobby Coon and oh everybody.

Soon round Mr. Sun was high in the Blue Sky and the children began to tire somewhat of their sport. “I’m as hungry as a bear,” said little Dick. “I’m as hungry as two bears,” said Emily. “Ha Ha Ha,” laughed Miss Pinkwood, “I know what will fix that,” and soon she had spread out a delicious repast. “Now children,” said Miss Pinkwood when all had washed their faces and hands, “while you were busy washing I prepared a surprise for you,” and from a large jug, before their delighted gaze, she poured out-what do you think? “Bronxes,” cried little Harriet. “Oh goody goody.” And sure enough Aunt Polly had prepared a jug of delicious Bronx cocktails which all pronounced excellent.

And after that there were sandwiches and olives and pie and good three year old whisky, too.

“That’s awfully smooth rye, Aunt Polly,” said little Prudence smacking her two red lips. “I think I’ll have another shot.”

“No dear,” said Miss Pinkwood, pleased by the compliment, but firm withal. “Not now. Perhaps on the way home, if there is any left,” for Aunt Polly knew that too much alcohol in the middle of the day is bad for growing children, and she had seen many a promising child spoiled by over-indulgent parents.

After lunch those children who could stand helped Aunt Polly to clear away the dishes and then all went sound asleep, as is the custom in Pennsylvania.

When they awoke round Mr. Sun was just sinking behind the Purple Hills and so, after taking a few more scattered shots at Revenue Officers, they piled once more into the carryall and drove back to town. And as they passed Mrs. Oliphant’s house (Aunt Polly’s sister) Aunt Flo Oliphant came out on the porch and waved her handkerchief at the merry party.

“Let’s give her a cheer,” said Fred.

“Agreed,” cried they all, and so twelve little throats united in three lusty “huzzahs” which made Auntie Flo very happy you may be sure.

And as they drove up before the Pinkwoods’ modest home twelve tired but happy children with one accord voted the Whisky Rebellion capital fun and Aunt Polly a brick.