Pieces People Ask For/The Christening

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No, I won't forgive our parson — not down to my dyin' day.
He'd orter waited a minnit; that's what I'll allers say;
But to christen my boy, my baby, with such an orful name!
Why, where's the use o' talkin'? I tell you he was to blame.

You see, it happened in this way: There was father, an' Uncle Si,
An' mother, an' each one wantin' a finger in the pie,—
Euch with a name for baby, as ef I hadn't no voice;
But the more they talked an' argied, the more I stuck to my choice.

"Semanthy"—this was father—"you'd best take pattern by mother,
For she named thirteen children, 'thout any such fuss or bother:
As soon as she diskivered that family names was too few,
Why, she just fell back on the Bible, as perfessers air bound to do."

"Semanthy"—this was Reuben—"most any one else could see,
That, bein' as I'm his father, he orter be named for me.
You say my name's old-fashioned; well, I'm old-fashioned too:
Yet 'twarn't so long ago, nuther, that both of us suited you."

Then there was Uncle Silas: "Semanthy, I tell ye what:
Just name him Silas. I'll give him that hundred-acre lot.
I'll make out the deed to-morrer ; an' then, when I've gone to my rest,
There'll be a trifle o' money to help him feather his nest."

But the worst of all was mother. She says, so meek an’ mild,—
"I'd love to call him Jotham, after my oldest child;
He died on his second birthday. The others are grown-up men,
But Jotham is still my baby: he has never grown since then.
His hair was soft and curlin', eyes blue as blue could be,

An' this boy of yours, Semanthy, jest brings him back to me."

Well, it warn't no easy matter to keep on saying No,
An' disapp'intin' every one. Poor Rube he fretted so,
When I told him the name I'd chosen, that he fairly made me cry.
For I'd planned to name the darlin' Augustus Percival Guy.
Ah! that was a name worth hearin', so 'ristocratic an' grand!
He might 'a' held up his head then with the proudest in the land.
But now—Well, 'tisn't no wonder, when I look at that blessed child,
An' think of the name he's come to, that I can't be reconciled.

At last I coaxed up Reuben, an' a Sabbath mornin' came
When I took my boy to meetin' to git his Christian name.
Jest as proud as a peacock I stood a-waitin' there;
I couldn't hardly listen to the readin' nor the prayer,
For of half a dozen babies, mine was the finest of all;
An' they had sech common names too! But pride must have a fall.

"What will ye call him?" says Parson Brown, bendin' his head, to hear.
Then I handed a bit of paper up, with the names writ full an' clear.
But Uncle Si, 'stead of passin' it, jest reads it over slow,
With sech a wond'rin', puzzled face, as ef he didn't know.
The child was beginnin' to fidget, an' Rube was gittin' red,
So I kinder scowled at Uncle Si, and then I shook my head.
"The name?" says Parson Brown agin; "I'm 'feared I haven't caught it."
"Jee—hoshaphat!" says Uncle Si, out loud, before he thought it.

The parson—he's near-sighted—he couldn't understand,
Though I p'inted to the paper in Uncle Silas' hand.
But that word did the business ; an' before I got my breath
That boy was named Jehoshaphat. I felt a' most like death.
I couldn't keep from cry in' as I hurried down the aisle,
An' I fairly hated Widder Green when I see her kinder smile.
I've never, never called him by that name, an' never will,
An' I can't forgive old Parson Brown, though I bear him no ill-will.

E. T. Corbett, in Harper's.