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A short story by George V. Hobart

John Henry On Amateur Photography

Title:     John Henry On Amateur Photography
Author: George V. Hobart [More Titles by Hobart]

Peaches, my wife, acquired the amateur photography bug last week, and it was really surprising how quickly she laid the foundation of a domestic Rogue's Gallery.

She bought a camera and went after everybody and everything in the neighborhood.

She took about eight million views of our country home before she discovered that the camera wasn't loaded properly, which was tough on Peaches but good for the bungalow.

Like everything else in this world picture pinching from still life depends entirely on the point of view.

If your point of view is all right it's an easy matter to make a four dollar dog-house look like the villa of a Wall Street broker at Newport.

Ten minutes after my wife had brought the camera home she had me set up as a statue all over the lawn, and she was snapping at me like a Spitz doggie at a peddler.

I sat for two hundred and nineteen pictures that forenoon, so I suppose if she snapped like a Spitz I must have looked like a Setter.

Anyway, before I was through setting I felt like a hen, but when she tried to coax me to climb up on a limb of a tree and stay there till she got a picture of me looking like an owl, I swore softly in three languages, fell over the back fence, and ran for my life.

When I rubbershoed it back that afternoon my wife was busy developing her crimes.

The proper and up-to-date caper in connection with taking snap shots these days is to buy a developing outfit and upset the household from pit to dome while you are squeezing out pictures of every dearly beloved friend that crosses your pathway.

My wife selected a spare room on the top floor where she could await developments.

A half hour later ghostly noises; began to come from that room and mysterious whisperings fell out of the window and bumped over the lawn.

When I reached the front door I found that the gardener had left, the waitress was leaving, the baby had discharged the nurses and the nurse was telephoning for a policeman.

"Where is Mrs. Henry?" I asked Mary, the nurse.

"She is still developing," said Mary.

"What has she developed?" I inquired.

"Up to the present time she has developed the cook's temper and she has developed the baby's appetite, and a couple of bill collectors developed a pain in the neck when they couldn't see her; and if things go on in this way I think this will soon develop into a foolish house!" said Mary, the nurse.

A half hour later while I was hiding under the hammock on the front porch, not daring to breathe above a whisper for fear I would get my picture taken again, my wife rushed out exclaiming, "Oh, joy! Oh, joy! John, I have developed two pictures!"

I wish you could have seen the expression on Peaches' face.

In order to develop the films a picturesque assortment of drugs and chemicals have to be used.

Well, my wife had used them.

A silent little stream of wood alcohol was trickling down over her left ear into her Psyche knot, and on the end of her nose about six grains of bichloride of potash was sending out signals of distress to some spirits of turpentine which was burning on the top of her right eyebrow.

Something dark and lingering like iodine had given her chin the double cross and her apron looked like the remnants of a porous plaster.

Her right hand had red, white, green, purple and magenta marks all over it, and her left hand looked like the Fourth of July.

"John!" she yelled; "here it is! My goodness, I am so excited! See what a fine picture of you I took!"

She handed me the picture, but all I could see was a wood-shed with the door wide open.

"A good picture of the woodshed," I said; "but whose woodshed is it?"

"A wood-shed!" exclaimed my wife; "why, that is your face, John. And where you think the door is open is only your mouth!"

I looked crestfallen and then I looked at the picture again, but my better nature asserted itself and I made no attempt to strike this defenceless woman.

Then she handed me another picture and said, "John, here is one I took of you and little Peaches!"

Little Peaches is the name of our baby.

We call her Little Peaches because that's what she is.

I looked at the picture and then I said to big Peaches, "All I can see is Theodore, our colored gardener, walking across lots with a sack of flour on his back!"

"John, you are so stupid," said my wife. "How can you expect to see what it is when you are holding the picture upside down?"

I turned the picture around, and then I was quite agreeably surprised.

"It's immense!" I shouted. "It's the real thing, all right! Why this is aces! I suppose it is called 'Moonlight On Lake Champlain?' Did this one come with the camera or did you draw it from memory?"

"The idea of such a thing," my wife snapped; "can't you see that you're holding the picture the wrong way. Turn it around and you will see yourself and Little Peaches!"

I gave the thing another turn. "Gee whiz!" I said, "now I have it! Oh, the limit! You wished to surprise me with a picture of the sunset at Governor's Island. How lovely it is. See, over here in this corner there's a bunch of soldiers listening to what's cooking for supper, and over here is the smoke from the gun that sets the sun--I like it!"

Then my wife grabbed the picture out of my hands and burst into speech.

When the exercises were over I inquired casually, "Where, my dear, where are the other 21,219 pictures you snapped to-day?"

"Only these two came out good because, don't you see, I'm an amateur yet," was her come back.

Then she looked lovingly at the result of her days work and began to peel some bicarbonate of magnesia off her knuckles with the nut cracker.

"Only two out of 21,219--I think you ought to call it a long shot instead of a snap shot," I whispered, after I had dodged behind a tree on the lawn.

She went in the house without saying a word and I took out my pocketbook and looked at it wistfully.

[The end]
George V. Hobart's short story: John Henry On Amateur Photography