The Tongue-Destroying French Language

I am going to rest myself by writing a few pages in the language spoken in the United States, for I am tired of the infernal lingo of this God-forsaken country and feel like talking in my own mother tongue and on some other subject than the Exposition. I have very foolishly tried to talk a little of this tongue-destroying French, but my teeth are so loose now that I am going to let them tighten up again before I try it any more.

Day before yesterday it was very warm, and I asked two or three friends to step into a big drug store on the Rue de la Sitting Bull, to get a glass of soda. (I don’t remember the names of these streets, so in some cases I give them Wyoming names.) I think the man who kept the place probably came from Canada. Most all the people in Paris are Canadians. He came forward, and had a slight attack of delirium tremens, and said:

“Ze vooly voo a la boomerang?”

I patted the soda fountain and said:

“No, not so bad as that, if you please. Just squeeze a little of your truck into a tumbler, and flavor it to suit the boys. As for myself, I will take about two fingers of bug juice in mine to sweeten my breath.”

But he didn’t understand me. His parents had neglected his education, no doubt, and got him a job in a drug store. So I said:

“Look here, you frog-hunting, red-headed Communist, I will give you just five minutes to fix up my beverage, and if you will put a little tangle-foot into it I will pay you; otherwise I will pick up a pound weight and paralyze you. Now, you understand. Flavor it with spirituous frumenti, old rye, benzine—bay rum—anything! Parley voo, e pluribus unum, sic semper go braugh! Do you understand that?

But he didn’t understand it, so I had to kill him. I am having him stuffed. The taxidermist who is doing the job lives down on the Rue de la Crazy Woman’s Fork. I think that is the name of the Rue that he lives on.

Paris is quite an old town. It is older and wickeder than Cheyenne, I think, but I may be prejudiced against the place. It is very warm here this summer, and there are a good many odors that I don’t know the names of. It is a great national congress of rare imported smells. I have detected and catalogued 1,350 out of a possible 1,400.

I have not enjoyed the Exposition so much as I thought I was going to; partly because it has been so infernally hot, and partly because I have been a little homesick. I was very homesick on board ship; very homesick indeed. About all the amusement that we had crossing the wide waste of waters was to go and lean over the ship’s railing by the hour, and telescope the duodenum into the æsophagus. I used to stand that way and look down into the dark green depths of old ocean, and wonder what mysterious secrets were hidden beneath the green, cold waves and the wide rushing waste of swirling, foamy waters. I learned to love this weird picture at last, and used to go out on deck every morning and swap my breakfast to this priceless panorama for the privilege of watching it all day.

I can’t say that I hanker very much for a life on the ocean wave. I am trying to arrange it so as to go home by land. I think I can make up for the additional expense in food. I bought more condemned sustenance, and turned it over to the Atlantic ocean for inspection, than I have eaten since I came here.


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