FOWL PLAY, OR
A STORY OF A BAKER AND THE CHOOKS
Jjraw up your chairs whilst we tell you the story of the dakers who waxed fat at "the ex- pense of their neighbour. In Ahbeet Street. Chicago, America, two blalherskiting mouse hearted brothers named McGreegor, carry on business as lightweight bakers and con- fectioners. After rucntioning the name| it is perhaps superfluous to relate that the brothers are Scotch-aye, vera Scootch. They were bom in the Highlands, and their Pa was one of the most daring and notorious cattle thieves in Scotland, a line of speculation (or pecula- tion) which ultimately brought him to the gallows. 'Twas a miserable ending to a .proud Highlander who considered himself no small pedigreed pumpkin, owing to the fact that he could trace his descent in a direct line to the impenitent thief who died upon the cross. And as that ancient projenitor died, so lived the bold McGreegors. This thieving playful- ness on the patt of Dad rapidly developed in the boys, who, failing cattle, devoted all their spare moments to bagging neighbour's cocks and hens. Upon arrival in Chicago they set up in business alongside the leading newspaper office, first assuring themselves that the resident proprietor kept fowls. The sequel, however, will show that the unfortu- nate proprietor didn't keep them-he only tried to. The Highland brothers set to work. Christmas holidays came along, and with the festive season came an increased appetite for feathered small-goods. These same brothers possess a soul above a Christmas joint of local
beef or mutton, and are noted in'Chicago as two very consistent appetite ticklers, but be- yond paying for "whusky" they don't-if they can help it-pay for anything except eggs and Chinese vegetables. So bifihly de- veloped wet« their counnjuidisuif propensities f- time they would erm turn up their noses at a
rib-roast of Wrights Creek prime. But to proceed. The aforesaid newspaper proprietor was not a particularly active personage, and the McGreegors (plucky fellows) set to work gleefully, fortified by the knowledge that any midnight or daylight roost-lifting could not possibly entail a hiding from the crippled scribe next door. And how did they operate! Mortification of a limb is nothing to thc mortification of the soul experienced by that helpless newspaper man as he lay in bed and heard the Scotchmen putting in regular inter \"als of pullet neck-work. Five in one week was, in all conscience, slightly more than a fair thing. Fancy the joy of buying com for fowls under those circumstances ? Months of " chook chooking," nest cleaning, broody hen attentions, and all that sort of thing, and all for thc pleasure of capon-lining the
stomachs of two thieves. But the end was
near. Suddenly one summers night the resi- dents of Chicago were aroused from their porcine reveries by the sounds of bloody en- counter. Those bakers, grown bold by fre quent hauls, commenced their last nights work earlier than usual, without calculating that a burly matter-of-fact auctioneer brother was at hand. The farewell " squark squark " of two neck-wrung spring chickens echoed far and wide. A mild protest from a lady witness resulted in a coarse consignment, but when a man arrived upon the scene the de- tected thief was in queer street. Failing to quickly recognise his opponent, the principal offender dashed in a volley of abuse, followed by a goat-like rush. The lowered head was warmly .and affectionately greeted with a sweet one, two, three, with a "going, going gone," result. Griffo never did better work. A cry for mercy rent the air. This appeal was evidently made without much hope of success, as the bullying chook-lifter played far further safety by simultaneously falling flat on his bingey and roaring lustily for the police. There he lay with a sort ol Lucifer- like determination " never to rise again.'' A sturdy boot application on that portion of his anatomy sometimes covered with a cou tail, induced him to get up and slink home, a line of retreat which, under thc shelter of his brother, he performed with the ability of Napoleon.
And as they bore him off the scene
With marks of fist and boot, . The lady folks felt.very keen
To raise a " good-bye " hoot.
. The next proceeding'was short and dece ' «re. The iron : and old : Un shanty. ; which - sheltered the papennan's roosting hens, was
built on neutral territory by a former occupier of the scribe's residence. Morally and every other ly it belonged to that scribe, and was a favorite roost for his poultry, which alone occupied it, the Scotch bakers having openly admitted (a fact they could not hide) that they did not own a hen or rooster of any des- cription. Well, just by way of settling the troubles a short-shift gang got to work with crowbars and axes and levelled tte mansion to the ground, where it now lies is all the resplendency of its ruins. Where were the bold McGreegors while this act of demolition went on ?- Alas, that we should have to dis- close the fact that thc brothers were hidden
under Mary Janes* bed, where they lay quiet but (loyal to their breeding) still shaking. The incident hom first to last was scream- ingly funny. A local poet (and a clever one al that) who happened to be present during (he obsequies of those two fowls, on the spot got rid of the following Byronic effort :
I was resting ia the evening heat, and softly
fell the dew ;
Wine and women troubled sot j I was at
peace, and through
The banyans moved God's breath of heaven,
And all was peace !
Thro' the silver silence rang a chook-note
shrill and clear ;
Told of brutes and barratry, told of awful fear; Told me that a flour-faced thing was sneak-
ing very near :
Seeking fluff and grease !
Trembling for myself I ran-saw ensilhouetted One who struck in silence-one who swore
and fretted, -
Otheis too who liked the row-aided and
Having heavenly times.
What cared I for the danger then ! with my-
self I pied
To have mercy on the stricken, spare his
He had learned that night a lesson ere he
bled to bed.
To eschew tow] crimes !
Then, as though the world were heaving,
throbbing with the pulse of war,
Carne a cyclone hurled from heaven, hurtling
o'er the sea-swept shore ;
Took the fowl house off it's hinges, ripped it
. ? * off for efeiwoie,**
Rent all ways asunder.
Looking backward, I bethought me, how one
hams thc growth of things !
Trace it-eggs and fluffy balls-straddling
chooks all legs and wings;
Neighbours-flour-and the air with the sound
of battle rings,
Bash and Blood and Thunder.
An episodic whisky followed, after which McGreegor's blood was wrung out of the: auctioneer's shirt and coat and all was well.
And then the mighty slaughterer found out' that during the battle he had dropped sixt chillings. . VolaBteers with a lantern soon recovered the spoil, »sich was temporarily placed upon the verandah table. Robbery must b* infectious, as before long that' six shillings disappeared. "Hang
it all " remarked the bruiser " its
bad enough to be dragged in for a row, but
by gad its playing low down when you charge ? me six- shillings for the privilege.'-' The
visiting poet (than whom no man is more i intimately acquainted sith Cairns) then dashed off the following :
He said it fell out of his breeches, j
He proved we had gone for a rob- | He started with oceans of riches ' V
And found himself left with three bob. I He said it was mc, and the other,.
Who found jt in fear of our life- ' But by gad I believe 'twas his brother,
Or brother-in-law, or bis wife.
Another little nip helped'everyone to re- concile themselves to the bruiser's loss, after which we discovered that : in putting the bakers nose out of joint he had sprained his thnmb. A visit to the chemist ensued, and i joy once mote ruled supreme. Sulky Bert here remarked that he felt keenly for the.f.iwls. He sorrowfully exclaimed,'
Picture theil feeliogi when next they visit
their little home and find it non est." Some- body else suggested that as a precautionary measure it would be well to bang the tails of the fowls. V That's unnecessary," replied another " since the Auctioneer banged the bakers head." This sort of thing went on for some time,, but our readers have probably had more than a surfeit 'ere this. Suffice it that those bakers are about to be placed Ia the hands of the Chicago police on two charges of fowl language and fowl-stealing. "Itis thought hythe cognoscenti that on the former charge'they will be discharged; as any- one" continually handling fowls must in time become masters of thelanguage.