Cross Questions and Crooked Answers,” by Susanna Newbould, is a bit of silliness unusual in Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet; Newbould’s realistic portrait of these children no doubt was informed by knowledge of her own two girls and a boy.


http://www.merrycoz.org/cabinet/CROSS.xhtml
“Cross Questions and Crooked Answers,” by Susanna Newbould (from Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet, February 1856, pp. 66-68)

“Come in, Charley—glad to see you,” said Willie Love to his young friend Charles Dayton. “You’ve just come in time; we were going to have a game of cross questions. Will you join in the fun?”

“With pleasure,” answered Charles; “but I have not the least idea what will be required of me.”

“I’ll learn you in three minutes.”

“Willie,” exclaimed Sarah, “haven’t I told you that I would cut your acquaintance if you persisted in using that word ‘learn’ wrong.”

“Oh! excuse me, fair coz; I forgot. I’ll endeavor never to offend again. Well, Charley, I’ll teach you in a little less than no time. First we all sit down in a circle; then No. 1 asks No. 2 a question, in a whisper, which must be properly answered. No. 2 then questions No. 3, No. 4, and so on, until all have been questioned. Then No. 1—that’s me, I’m always No. 1, which accounts for my being in such good condition; everybody takes care of me, you know—well, No. 1 begins by saying, ‘the question was asked of me;’ then I give the question which my left hand neighbor propounded, and the answer which my right hand neighbor gave to my question. For instance, suppose you on my left should ask me what I should first do if I went to school,—I should answer, ‘say my lessons.’ Then I should ask the person on my right, what he would first do if preparing for a Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps he would reply, ‘make pumpkin pies:’ then I should say, ‘the question was asked me what I should first do if I went to school, and the answer was, I should make pumpkin pies.’ Do you see how it works?”

“Yes, I think I do; but let us try it.”

“Well, sit down close together, in a circle; uncle George, will you come?”

“Yes, if you like.”

“Oh! we do like, very much.”

“And will you come, mother?”

“If you wish it.”

“Of course we do; let’s see, how many are there of us—eight. Now let each one ask a question of the person on his right, and let it commence with ’what would you do,’ &c.”

“But, Willie, we can’t all ask questions at once!”

“No. But 1 can ask 2, 3 can ask 4, 5—6, 7—8, and so on. Now are we all ready?”

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p. 67

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll begin. The question was asked me what I should do in the event of my falling overboard, and the answer was—I should roll up my sleeves, and wash my hands.”

“An event devoutly to be wished for,” said Sarah.

“But for interrupting the game, Miss Sarah, I should administer suitable punishment. I must, however, at present treat your remark with silent contempt, and request No. 2 to proceed with his experience.”

No. 2. “The question was asked me what I should do if I were going to make cake, and the answer was, I should put my foot in it.”

Willie. “You won’t ask me to come to tea that evening, will you?”

No. 2. “I will if I get safely extricated from my perilous position.”

No. 3. “The question was asked me what I should do with a new shoe, and the answer was, I should have it boiled for dinner.”

Willie. “I hope I shall be out of town on that day.”

No. 4. “The question was asked me what I should do with a fine cauliflower, and the answer was, I should wear it in my bonnet.”

No. 5. “The question was asked me what I should do with an ostrich feather, and the answer was, I should clean my teeth with it.”

No. 6. “The question was asked me what I should do with a toothbrush, and the answer was, I should get a side-saddle fitted to it, and ride out every day.”

Uncle George. I hope you would lend your steed to our friend here who had his shoe boiled for dinner; he would need a little gentle exercise after such indigestible fare.”

No. 7. “The question was asked me what I should do with a pony, if anybody should make me a present of one, and the answer was, I should have him cut open and fried for breakfast.”

Mrs. Love. “My children seem to have acquired extraordinary culinary tastes.”

No. 8. “The question was asked me what I should do if any one gave me a large eel, and the answer was, I should take to swimming immediately.”

Willie. “Now wasn’t that all very funny? Let us try it again; and this time let every other one tell his experience, that we may not so easily get a clue to the right question. For instance; first, No. 1, then 3, 5, and 7; then 2, 4, 6, 8; shall we?”

No. 5. “Yes, I think that would be better.”

Willie. “Well, begin your questioning. Ready?”

No. 8. “No, I haven’t been questioned.”

Willie. “No. 7, I am afraid you are not attending to your duties; now

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p. 68

for it. The question was asked me what I should do with a pocket handkerchief, and the answer was, I should eat it.”

Sarah. “That accounts for the scarcity of that article; I thought they diminished every week!”

No. 3. “The question was asked me what I should do with a pen, and the answer was, I should poke the fire with it.”

No. 5. “The question was asked me what I should do with a tooth-pick, and the answer was, I should enclose it in a letter to the one I loved best.”

No. 7. “The question was asked me what I should do with half a ton of curled hair, and the answer was, I should let it boil gently for a long time.”

No. 2. “The question was asked me what I should do with a stick of candy, and the answer was, I should write a letter with it.”

No. 4. “The question was asked me what I should do with a poker, and the answer was, I should pick my teeth with it.”

No. 6. “The question was asked me what I should do with a sprig of forget-me-nots, and the answer was, I should stuff mattresses with it.”

No. 8. “The question was asked me what I should do with a piece of corned beef, and the answer was, I should put it in my pocket.”

Mrs. Love. “Willie, this is not a very intellectual game, is it?”

Willie. “No, aunt; but if it were, you know Sarah couldn’t join in it.”

(Considerable scuffling ensues, during which Sarah is seen brandishing the hearth brush, and Willie peeps out from behind the rocking chair, where he has taken refuge.)

Aunt Sue.

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