Will L. Visscher always made a specialty of being a peaceable man. He would make most any sacrifice in order to secure general amnesty. I’ve known him to go around six blocks out of his way, to avoid a stormy interview with a belligerant dog. He was always very tender-hearted about dogs, especially the open-faced bulldog.
But he had a queer experience years ago, in St. Jo, Missouri. He had been city editor of the Kansas City Journal for some time, but one evening, while in the composing-room, the foreman told him that the place for the city editor was down stairs, in his office. He therefore ordered Visscher to go down there. Visscher said he would do so later on, after he got fatigued with the composing-room and wanted change of scene.
The foreman thereupon jumped on Mr. Visscher with a small pica wrought iron side stick. Visscher allowed that he was a peaceable man, but entered into the general chaos of double-leaded editorial, and hair and brass dashes, and dashes for liberty and heterogeneous “pi,” and foot-sticks and teeth, with great zeal. He succeeded in putting a large doric head on the foreman, and although he was a peaceable man, he went down to the office and got his discharge for disturbing the discipline of the office.
He went to St. Jo the same day, and celebrated his debut into the town by a little game of what is known as “draw.” He was fortunate in “filling his hand,” and while he was taking in the stakes, a young man from Arkansas, who was in the game, nipped a two-dollar note in a quiet kind of way, which, however, was detected by Mr. V., who mentioned the matter at the time. This maddened the Arkansas man, and later on he put one of his long arms around Mr. Visscher so as to pinion him, and then smote him across the brow with an instrument, known to science as “the brass knucks.” This irritated Mr. Visscher, and as soon as he had returned to consciousness he remarked that, although it was rather an up-hill job in Missouri, he was trying to be a peaceable man. He then broke the leg of a card-table over the head of the Arkansas man, and went to the doctor to get his own brow sewed on again.
While he was sitting in the doctor’s office a friend of the Arkansas man came in and asked him to please stand up while he knocked him down. Visscher opened a little dialogue with the man, and drew him into conversation till he could open a case of surgical instruments near by, then he took out one of those knives that the surgeons use in removing the viscera from the leading gentleman at a post mortem.
“Now,” said he, sharpening the knife on the stove-pipe and handing down a jar containing alcohol with a tumor in it, “I am a peaceful man and don’t want any fuss; but if you insist on a personal encounter, I will slice off fragments of your physiognomy at my leisure, and for twenty minutes I will fill this office with your favorite features. I make a specialty of being a peaceable man, remember; but if you’ll just say the word, I’ll put overcoat button-holes and eyelet-holes and crazy-quilts all over your system. If I’ve got to kill off the poker-players of St. Jo before I can have any fun, I guess I might as well begin on you as on any one I know.”
He then made a stab at the man and pinned his coat-tail to the door-frame. Fear loaned the bad man strength, and, splitting the coat-tail, he fled, taking little mementoes of the tumor-jar and shedding them in his flight.
When Mr. Visscher went up to the Herald office soon after to get a job, he was introduced casually to the foreman, who said:
“Ah, this is the young man who licks the foreman of the paper he works on, is it? I am glad to meet you, Mr. Visscher. I am looking for a white-eyed son of a sea-cook who goes around over Missouri thumping the foremen of our leading journals. Come out into the ante-room, Mr. Visscher, till I jar your back teeth loose and send you to the morgue in a gunny-sack.” Mr. Visscher repeated that he was trying to live in Missouri and be a peaceable man, but that if there was anything that he could do to make it pleasant for the foreman, he would cheerfully do it.
Mr. Visscher was a small man, but when he felt aggrieved about anything he was very harassing to his adversary. They “clinched” and threw each other back and forth across the hall with great vigor. When they stopped for breath, the foreman’s coat was pulled over his head and the bosom of Mr. Visscher’s shirt was hanging on the gas-jet. There were also two front teeth on the floor unaccounted for.
Visscher pinned on his shirt-bosom and said he was a peaceable man, but if the custom seemed to demand four fights in one day, he would try to conform to any local usage of the city. Wherever he went, he wanted to fall right into line and be one of the party.
When he got well he was employed on the Herald, and for four years edited the amnesty column of the paper successfully.