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Title: Out of the Hurly-Burly - Or Life in an Odd Corner
Author: Clark, Charles Heber, 1841-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      file which includes the original 379 illustrations.
Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).



[Illustration: OUT
OF THE
HURLY-BURLY

OR

LIFE IN AN ODD
CORNER

MAX ADELER.]


OUT OF THE HURLY-BURLY

Or

Life in an Odd Corner

by

MAX ADELER

With Nearly Four Hundred Illustrations by
Arthur B. Frost, Fred. B. Schell, and Others



Philadelphia
David Mckay, Publisher
1022 Market Street

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
Charles Heber Clark,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.



DEDICATION.


I have resolved to dedicate this book to a humorist who has had too
little fame, to the most delicious, because the most unconscious,
humorist, to that widely-scattered and multitudinous comedian who may be
expressed in the concrete as


THE INTELLIGENT COMPOSITOR.

To his habit of perpetrating felicitous absurdities I am indebted for
"laughter that is worth a hundred groans." It was he who put into type
an article of mine which contained the remark, "Filtration is sometimes
accomplished with the assistance of albumen," and transformed it into
"Flirtation is sometimes accomplished with the resistance of aldermen."
It was he who caused me to misquote the poet's inquiry, so that I
propounded to the world the appalling conundrum, "Where are the dead,
the _varnished_ dead?" And it was his glorious tendency to make the
sublime convulsively ridiculous that rejected the line in a poem of
mine, which declared that a "comet swept o'er the heavens with its
trailing skirt," and substituted the idea that a "count slept in the
haymow in a traveling shirt." The kind of talent that is here displayed
deserves profound reverence. It is wonderful and awful; and thus I offer
it a token of my marveling respect.

[Illustration]

"Fun is the most conservative element of society, and it ought to be
cherished and encouraged by all lawful means. People never plot mischief
when they are merry. Laughter is an enemy to malice, a foe to scandal
and a friend to every virtue. It promotes good temper, enlivens the
heart and brightens the intellect."

[Illustration]



PREFACE.


It seems to be necessary to say a few words in reference to the contents
of this volume as I offer it to the public. Several of the incidents
related in the story have already appeared in print, and have been
copied in various newspapers throughout the country. Sometimes they have
been attributed to the author; but more frequently they have been given
either without any name attached to them, or they have been credited to
persons who probably never saw them. The best of the anecdotes have been
imitated, but none of them, I believe, are imitations. I make this
statement, so that if the reader should happen to encounter anything
that has a familiar appearance, he may understand that he has the
original and not a copy before him. But a very large portion of the
matter contained in the book is entirely new, and is now published for
the first time; while all the rest of it has been rewritten and
improved, so that it is as good as new.

If this little venture shall achieve popularity, I must attribute the
fact largely to the admirable pictures with which it has been adorned by
the artists whose names appear upon the title page. All of these
gentlemen have my hearty thanks for the efforts they have made to
accomplish the best results; but while I express my appreciation of the
beautiful landscapes of Mr. Schell, the admirable drawings of Mr.
Sheppard and the excellent designs of Mr. Bensell, I wish to direct
attention especially to the humorous pictures of Mr. Arthur B. Frost.
This artist makes his first appearance before the public in these pages.
These are the only drawings upon wood that he has ever executed, and
they are so nicely illustrative of the text, they display so much
originality and versatility, and they have such genial humor, with so
little extravagance and exaggeration, that they seem to me surely to
give promise of a prosperous career for the artist.

It is customary upon these occasions to say something of an apologetic
nature for the purpose of inducing the public to believe that the author
regards with humility the work of which he is really exceedingly
proud--something that will tend to soften the blows which are expected
from ferocious and cruel critics. But I believe I have nothing of this
kind to offer. If I thought the book required an apology, I would not
publish it. Any reviewer who does not like it is at liberty to say so;
and I am the more ready to accord him this permission because I am
impressed with the conviction that he will hit as hard as he wants to
whether I give him leave or withhold it. All I ask is that the volume
shall have fair play. If it is successful as an attempt to construct a
book of humor which will contribute to innocent popular amusement
without violating the laws that govern the construction and orthography
of the English language, and as an effort to give pleasure to sensible
grown people without offering entertainment to children and idiots, it
deserves commendation. If it is a failure in these respects, then it
ought to be suppressed, for it certainly has no mighty moral purpose,
and it is not designed to reform anything on earth but the personal
fortunes of the author.



  MAX ADELER.


  CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.
                                                                   PAGE

  The founder of New Castle--A search for quietness--Life in
  the city and in the village--Why the latter is
  preferable--Peculiarities of the village--A sleepy old
  town--We erect our family altar                                   25

  CHAPTER II.

  A very dangerous invention--The patent combination
  step-ladder--Domestic servants--Advertising for a
  girl--The peasant-girl of fact and fiction--A contrast             36

  CHAPTER III.

  The view upon the river--A magnificent panorama--Mr. and
  Mrs. Cooley--Matrimonial infelicities--The case of Mrs.
  Sawyer--A blighted life--A present--Our century plant and
  its peculiarities                                                  47

  CHAPTER IV.

  Judge Pitman--His experiment in the barn--A lesson in natural
  history--Catching the early train--One of the miseries
  of living in the village--Ball's lung exercise--Mr. Cooley's
  impertinence                                                       56

  CHAPTER V.

  A little love affair--Cowardice of Mr. Parker--Popular interest
  in amatory matters--The Magruder family--An event in its
  history--Remarkable experiments by Mrs. Magruder--An indignant
  husband--A question answered                                       68

  CHAPTER VI.

  The editor of our daily paper--The appearance and personal
  characteristics of Colonel Bangs--The affair with the
  tombstone--Art news--Colonel Bangs in the heat of a political
  campaign--Peculiar troubles of public singers--The phenomena
  of menageries--Extraordinary sagacity of the animals--The
  Wild Man of Afghanistan                                            84

  CHAPTER VII.

  The Battery and its peculiarities--A lovely scene--Swede and
  Dutchman two hundred years ago--Old names of the river--Indian
  names generally--Cooley's boy--His adventure in
  church--The long and the short of it--Mr. Cooley's dog and
  our troubles with it                                               99

  CHAPTER VIII.

  The _Morning Argus_ creates a sensation--A new editor--Mr.
  Slimmer the poet--An obituary department--Mr. Slimmer
  on death--Extraordinary scene in the sanctum of Colonel
  Bangs--Indignant advertisers--The colonel violently
  assaulted--Observations of the poet--The final
  catastrophe--Mysterious conduct of Bob Parker--The accident
  on Magruder's porch--Mrs. Adeler on the subject of obituary
  poetry in general                                                 113

  CHAPTER IX.

  The reason why I purchased a horse--A peculiar
  characteristic--Driving by the river--Our horse as a
  persecutor--He becomes a genuine nightmare--Experimenting with
  his tail--How our horse died--In relation to pirates--Mrs.
  Jones's bold corsair--A lamentable tale                           134

  CHAPTER X.

  A picturesque church--Some reflections upon church music--Bob
  Parker in the choir--Our undertaker--A gloomy man--Our
  experience with the hot-air furnaces--A series of accidents--Mr.
  Collamer's vocalism--An extraordinary mistake      152

  CHAPTER XI.

  A fishing excursion down the river--Difficulties of the voyage--A
  series of unfortunate incidents--Our return home, and how
  we were received--A letter upon the general subject of angling--The
  sorrows of the fishermen--Lieutenant Smiley--His
  recollections of Rev. Mr. Blodgett--A very remarkable missionary  164

  CHAPTER XII.

  How the plumber fixed my boiler--A vexatious business--How
  he didn't come to time, and what the ultimate result was--An
  accident; and the pathetic story of young Chubb--Reminiscences
  of General Chubb--The eccentricities of an absent-minded
  man--The rivals--Parker versus Smiley                             183

  CHAPTER XIII.

  An evil day--Flogging-time in New Castle--How the punishment
  is inflicted--A few remarks upon the general merits of
  the system--A singular judge--How George Washington
  Busby was sentenced--Emotions of the prisoner--A cruel infliction,
  and a code that ought to be reformed                              200

  CHAPTER XIV.

  A Delaware legend--A story of the old time--The Christmas
  play--A cruel accusation--The flight in the darkness along
  the river shore--The trial and the condemnation--St. Pillory's
  day seventy years ago--Flogging a woman--The deliverance          211

  CHAPTER XV.

  A very disagreeable predicament--Wild exultation of Parker--He
  makes an important announcement--An interview with
  the old man--The embarrassment of Mr. Sparks, and how he
  overcame it--A story of Bishop Potts--The miseries of too
  much consolidation--How Potts suffered, and what his end
  was                                                               237

  CHAPTER XVI.

  Old Fort Kasimir--Two centuries ago--The goblins of the lane--An
  outrage upon Pitman's cow--The judge discusses the
  subject of bitters--How Cooley came home--Turning off the
  gas--A frightful accident in the _Argus_ office--The terrible
  fate of Archibald Watson--How Mr. Bergner taught Sunday-school    255

  CHAPTER XVII.

  A dismal sort of day--A few able remarks about umbrellas--The
  umbrella in a humorous aspect--The calamity that befell
  Colonel Coombs--An ambitious but miserable monarch--The
  influence of umbrellas on the weather--An improved weather
  system--A little nonsense--Judge Pitman's views of weather
  of various kinds                                                  278

  CHAPTER XVIII.

  Trouble for the hero and heroine--A broken engagement and
  a forlorn damsel--Bob Parker's suffering--A formidable
  encounter--The peculiar conduct of a dumb animal--Cooley's
  boy and his home discipline--A story of an echo                   293

  CHAPTER XIX.

  A certificate concerning Pitman's hair--Unendurable persecution--A
  warning to men with bald-headed friends--An explanation--The
  slanderer discovered--Benjamin P. Gunn--A
  model life-insurance agent                                        306

  CHAPTER XX.

  A certain remarkable book--A few suggestions respecting
  Boston--Delusions of childhood--Bullying General Gage--Judge
  Pitman and the catechism--An extraordinary blunder--The
  facts in the case of Hillegass--A false alarm                     324

  CHAPTER XXI.

  Settling the business--Vindication of Mr. Bob Parker--A complete
  reconciliation--The great Cooley inquest--The uncertainty
  in regard to Thomas Cooley--A phenomenal coroner--The
  solution of the mystery                                           334

  CHAPTER XXII.

  An arrival--A present from a Congressman--Meditation upon
  his purpose--The patent-office report of the future--A plan
  for revolutionizing public documents and opening a new department
  in literature--Our trip to Salem--A tragical event--The
  last of Lieutenant Smiley                                         350

  CHAPTER XXIII.

  Pitman as a politician--He is nominated for the Legislature--How
  he was serenaded, and what the result was--I take a
  hand at politics--The story of my first political speech--My
  reception at Dover--Misery of a man with only one speech--The
  scene at the mass meeting--A frightful discomfiture               363

  CHAPTER XXIV.

  The wedding-day--Enormous excitement in the village--Preparations
  for the event--The conduct of Bob Parker--The
  ceremony at the church, and the company at Magruder's--A
  last look at some old friends--Departure of the bride and
  groom--Some uncommonly solemn reflections, and then--The
  end                                                               387

[Illustration]



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


  No.                                                              Page
  1.--FRONTISPIECE.
  2.--TITLE PAGE                                                      1
  3.--THE FOUNDER OF THE VILLAGE (_Initial Letter_)                  25
  4.--A PROFESSOR OF MUSIC                                           26
  5.--A DISGUSTED AGRICULTURIST                                      28
  6.--NEW CASTLE FROM THE RIVER (_Full Page_)                        32
  7.--THE REAL PEASANT-GIRL (_Initial Letter_)                       36
  8.--A DANGEROUS INVENTION                                          37
  9.--THE EARLY MORNING FIRE                                         39
  10.--THE IDEAL PEASANT-GIRL                                        42
  11.--UNSYMMETRICAL COLD BEEF                                       43
  12.--THE VIEW DOWN THE RIVER (_Full Page_)                         46
  13.--A FAMILY JAR (_Initial Letter_)                               47
  14.--A MUSICAL NAVIGATOR                                           48
  15.--THE NOCTURNAL DOG                                             49
  16.--MR. SAWYER'S NOSE                                             52
  17.--THE MAN WITH THE CENTURY PLANT                                53
  18.--A LIVELY VEGETABLE                                            54
  19.--JUDGE PITMAN'S BAG (_Initial Letter_)                         56
  20.--THE JUDGE INTRODUCES HIMSELF                                  57
  21.--PITMAN'S MUSICAL EXPERIMENT                                   59
  22.--THAT INFAMOUS EGG                                             60
  23.--THE DOG BY THE WAYSIDE                                        61
  24.--CATCHING THE TRAIN                                            61
  25.--HAULED IN                                                     62
  26.--MY LUNG EXERCISE                                              64
  27.--AN ALTERCATION WITH COOLEY                                    66
  28.--A FEMALE PROFESSOR (_Initial Letter_)                         68
  29.--THE LAMP TURNED LOW                                           68
  30.--STUDYING UP                                                   69
  31.--PARKER RELATING HIS WOES                                      69
  32.--MAGRUDER'S WOOING                                             72
  33.--A QUEER FEELING IN HIS HEAD                                   72
  34.--MAGRUDER TELLS HIS BROTHER                                    73
  35.--THE CLASS GOING UP                                            74
  36.--A SECRETED OBSERVER                                           74
  37.--A GENERAL ATTACK ON THE SUBJECT (_Full Page_)                 78
  38.--PEEPING THROUGH THE CRACK                                     79
  39.--A FURIOUS HUSBAND                                             80
  40.--AN ASININE BEING (_Initial Letter_)                           84
  41.--THE COLONEL'S BRAVERY                                         85
  42.--AN INTERVIEW WITH COOLEY                                      86
  43.--THAT TOMBSTONE                                                87
  44.--MR. MULLINS EXPLAINS                                          88
  45.--EXIT MURPHY                                                   89
  46.--A LATE CALL                                                   91
  47.--A CAPTIVE MAIDEN                                              91
  48.--EXCAVATING HER                                                92
  49.--HER FEET                                                      92
  50.--THAT ANTIQUARIAN                                              92
  51.--THE RAGING RHINOCEROS                                         94
  52.--THE KING OF BEASTS                                            94
  53.--THE RIVAL LOVERS                                              96
  54.--ON THE SETTEE                                                 96
  55.--SHE SAT ON HIM                                                97
  56.--TOO THIN                                                      97
  57.--THE WILD MAN                                                  98
  58.--THE FAT WOMAN                                                 98
  59.--THE BOY OF THE PERIOD (_Initial Letter_)                      99
  60.--THE BATTERY (_Full Page_)                                    102
  61.--AN ANCIENT WARRIOR                                           103
  62.--A RAID ON THE MELON-PATCH                                    105
  63.--COMMUNING WITH JONES'S BOY                                   106
  64.--HELD FAST                                                    107
  65.--THE SOLEMNITY OF JONES                                       107
  66.--TAKING HIM OUT                                               108
  67.--NOT MATCHED                                                  109
  68.--DOSING A CUR                                                 110
  69.--OVER THE FENCE AND BACK AGAIN                                110
  70.--MUCH TOO FAITHFUL                                            111
  71.--CRUELTY TO AN ANIMAL                                         112
  72.--REMOVING A MOUTHFUL                                          112
  73.--A PATRON OF THE "ARGUS" (_Initial Letter_)                   113
  74.--THE POET                                                     114
  75.--THE EDITOR EXPLAINING HIS VIEWS                              115
  76.--THE THROES OF COMPOSITION                                    116
  77.--A ROW OF READERS                                             117
  78.--TAKING A PEEP                                                117
  79.--THE SCENE IN THE SANCTUM                                     118
  80.--THAT MONKEY                                                  119
  81.--MRS. SMITH'S WOE                                             120
  82.--BARTHOLOMEW'S INDIGNANT FATHER                               122
  83.--MR. MCFADDEN                                                 124
  84.--THE EDITOR MEETS THE POET                                    126
  85.--THE COLONEL IN A TIGHT PLACE                                 127
  86.--GOING UP STAIRS                                              128
  87.--IN HIGHLAND COSTUME                                          130
  88.--WHY BOB STAYED                                               130
  89.--SAWING HIM OUT                                               131
  90.--MRS. ADELER'S VIEWS                                          132
  91.--BOB'S TROUSERS                                               133
  92.--THE NEW MAZEPPA (_Initial Letter_)                           134
  93.--COOLEY AT AN AUCTION                                         135
  94.--OUR URBANE HORSE                                             136
  95.--TRYING TO CATCH UP                                           138
  96.--KICKING                                                      139
  97.--A NIGHTMARE                                                  140
  98.--HAUNTED                                                      141
  99.--AN ARTIFICIAL TAIL                                           142
  100.--A DEMORALIZED HORSE                                         142
  101.--IT CAME OFF!                                                143
  102.--THE MELODRAMATIC FREEBOOTER                                 144
  103.--MRS. JONES'S PIRATE                                         145
  104.--SWEEPING THE HORIZON                                        146
  105.--THE WEEKLY WASH                                             146
  106.--HAILING THE "MARY JANE"                                     147
  107.--A GENERAL MASSACRE                                          147
  108.--THE PATERNAL JONES                                          148
  109.--SHE PUTS ON HER THINGS                                      148
  110.--SLAYING THE CAPTAIN                                         149
  111.--"FALSE! FALSE!"                                             150
  112.--MORE BUTCHERY                                               150
  113.--SUICIDE OF THE WIDOW                                        150
  114.--THE WRECK OF MRS. JONES                                     151
  115.--A CHORISTER (_Initial Letter_)                              152
  116.--THE SPIRE                                                   153
  117.--SINFUL GAMES                                                154
  118.--THE OLD CHURCH (_Full Page_)                                156
  119.--A CHINESE PRAYER                                            157
  120.--THE MINISTER AND I                                          157
  121.--IN THE PIPE                                                 158
  122.--BOB IN THE CHOIR                                            158
  123.--THE UNDERTAKER'S SIGN                                       159
  124.--A GLOOMY MAN                                                160
  125.--VERY WARM WORK                                              161
  126.--COLLAMER FALLS IN                                           161
  127.--THE CLERGYMAN                                               162
  128.--COLLAMER SINGS                                              162
  129.--HE ASKS A QUESTION                                          163
  130.--A RIBALD BOY                                                163
  131.--A FISHERMAN (_Initial Letter_)                              164
  132.--BRINGING 'EM HOME                                           164
  133.--PUSHING OFF                                                 165
  134.--WE CHANGE PLACES                                            165
  135.--COOLING OFF                                                 166
  136.--WAITING FOR BITES                                           166
  137.--ANCHOR GONE                                                 166
  138.--FIXING AN OAR                                               167
  139.--LOST HIM                                                    167
  140.--SAVED                                                       167
  141.--A TANGLE                                                    168
  142.--THE MAN WHO OWNED THE BOAT                                  168
  143.--A SUCCESSOR OF IZAAK WALTON                                 169
  144.--A DISHEARTENED DIGGER                                       170
  145.--TEARS                                                       171
  146.--WATCHING THE CORK                                           171
  147.--A NAKED HOOK                                                171
  148.--THE LAST MATCH                                              172
  149.--CAUGHT ON A LIMB                                            173
  150.--A PLAYFUL EEL                                               174
  151.--WRIGGLING                                                   174
  152.--PULLING IN                                                  175
  153.--THAT INFAMOUS BOY                                           175
  154.--A SOUTH SEA ISLANDER                                        177
  155.--MR. BLODGETT, MISSIONARY                                    177
  156.--GOING TO THE PICNIC                                         177
  157.--THE VESTRY MEETING                                          178
  158.--PUTTING THEM TO SLEEP                                       178
  159.--THE FUNERAL SERVICE                                         179
  160.--THE REMAINING WARDEN                                        179
  161.--GOING HOME                                                  180
  162.--HE PADDLED HIS OWN CANOE                                    180
  163.--SMASHING POOR MOTT                                          181
  164.--A FIJIAN                                                    182
  165.--OUR PLUMBER (_Initial Letter_)                              183
  166.--HE EXAMINES THE RANGE                                       184
  167.--I MEET HIM                                                  184
  168.--HOW HE GOES TO WILMINGTON                                   184
  169.--AN INDIGNANT ARTISAN                                        185
  170.--ON THE ASPARAGUS BED                                        185
  171.--THE CONDITION OF MY GRASS-PLOT                              186
  172.--AT THE FRONT GATE                                           186
  173.--A VIEW OF THE RUINS                                         187
  174.--WATCHING                                                    188
  175.--ONE OF THE ROBBERS                                          188
  176.--MR. NIPPERS ENTERS                                          188
  177.--I EXPOSTULATE WITH NIPPERS                                  189
  178.--MRS. COOLEY'S SERVANT                                       190
  179.--SHE SHAKES HENRY                                            190
  180.--BOB AS AN AUTHOR                                            191
  181.--YOUNG CHUBB                                                 191
  182.--MYSTERIOUS MUSIC                                            192
  183.--"WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?"                                      193
  184.--TRYING TO MAKE HIM DISGORGE                                 193
  185.--HENRY'S BROTHER TRIES PRESSURE                              194
  186.--EXIT WITH THE SEXTON                                        194
  187.--THE TOMB OF CHUBB                                           195
  188.--GENERAL CHUBB'S LEGS                                        196
  189.--THE INFLUENCE OF ART                                        197
  190.--THE GENERAL DIVES IN                                        197
  191.--THROUGH THE CANVAS                                          197
  192.--PILLORIED (_Initial Letter_)                                200
  193.--INFANT SPECTATORS                                           201
  194.--THE WHIPPING-POST                                           201
  195.--AN ANCIENT CUSTOM                                           202
  196.--THAT REMARKABLE JUDGE                                       204
  197.--GEORGE WASHINGTON BUSBY                                     205
  198.--THE JURY                                                    205
  199.--MATERNAL LOVE                                               206
  200.--MANHOOD'S TOIL                                              206
  201.--BUSBY WHISPERS TO THE TIPSTAFF                              207
  202.--MORE HOPEFUL STILL                                          207
  203.--HIS INFANT STEPS                                            208
  204.--BUSBY'S HEART GROWS LIGHTER                                 209
  205.--THE THUNDERBOLT FALLS                                       209
  206.--LEADING HIM OUT                                             210
  207.--WIELDING THE LASH (_Initial Letter_)                        211
  208.--HOB-NOBBING                                                 212
  209.--THE MAJOR IN A SULK                                         213
  210.--THE LOVERS                                                  215
  211.--"WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?"                                   217
  212.--THE FLIGHT BY THE RIVER                                     219
  213.--DICK CONFESSES                                              226
  214.--WEARING THE WOODEN COLLAR                                   228
  215.--A FLOGGING SEVENTY YEARS AGO (_Full Page_)                  230
  216.--PARDONED                                                    233
  217.--A BROKEN MAN                                                235
  218.--THE MARKET GREEN AND THE OLD CHURCH                         236
  219.--A JUVENILE MUSICIAN (_Initial Letter_)                      237
  220.--CAUGHT                                                      238
  221.--CAN'T REACH IT                                              238
  222.--CREEPING OUT                                                239
  223.--BACK AGAIN IN A HURRY                                       239
  224.--A MIGHTY UGLY SITUATION                                     240
  225.--LISTENING                                                   240
  226.--PARKER EXULTS                                               241
  227.--THE SECOND HORNPIPE                                         241
  228.--HE SURVEYS HER DWELLING                                     241
  229.--OLD SPARKS'S SACRED DUST                                    244
  230.--A CONSCIENTIOUS TOMBSTONE                                   244
  231.--BISHOP POTTS                                                246
  232.--A WARM WELCOME                                              246
  233.--A SURPRISE FOR THE BISHOP                                   247
  234.--THE BRIDE GOES HOME IN A ROW                                248
  235.--POTTS MEDITATES                                             249
  236.--WAVING FAREWELL                                             249
  237.--THE BISHOP IS CONFOUNDED                                    250
  238.--STARTING THE THIRD TIME                                     252
  239.--POTTS BECOMES HYSTERICAL                                    253
  240.--THE PERUVIAN MONK                                           253
  241.--THE MANIAC DOCTOR                                           253
  242.--BOB GIVES AN OPINION                                        254
  243.--POTTS'S CHILD                                               254
  244.--ON THE RAMPARTS (_Initial Letter_)                          255
  245.--THE SITE OF FORT KASIMIR (_Full Page_)                      258
  246.--MODERN WARRIORS                                             259
  247.--A DUTCH GOBLIN                                              260
  248.--PITMAN TELLS OF HIS GRIEFS                                  260
  249.--A TROUBLESOME COW                                           261
  250.--THAT SCANDALOUS BLIND-BOARD                                 261
  251.--THE TEMPERANCE SOCIETY MAKES AN INSPECTION                  262
  252.--"I'LL KNOCK THE STUFFIN' OUT O' HIM"                        262
  253.--THE JUDGE'S BITTERS ADVERTISEMENTS                          263
  254.--HE TAKES A TONIC                                            263
  255.--ANOTHER DOZEN                                               264
  256.--COOLEY'S ILLUMINATED NOSE                                   265
  257.--"OUT, BRIEF CANDLE"                                         266
  258.--"THERE WAS MRS. COOLEY A-WATCHIN'"                          266
  259.--DR. HOPKINS IS AMAZED                                       267
  260.--APPALLING INTELLIGENCE                                      268
  261.--THE COMMODORE'S TOMB                                        269
  262.--THE FALL OF SIMMS                                           270
  263.--"KNOCK 'EM WITH A POLE"                                     270
  264.--HIT BY AN APPLE                                             271
  265.--TIM KEYSER'S NOSE                                           272
  266.--"HE SLID AROUND SO QUICK"                                   272
  267.--"HE CUT AN OPENING IN THE ICE"                              273
  268.--THE PICKEREL BITES                                          273
  269.--"THE BETTER OF THE FIGHT"                                   274
  270.--"AND PULLED TIM KEYSER THROUGH"                             274
  271.--UNDER WATER                                                 275
  272.--AN AWFUL SNEEZE                                             275
  273.--HE FLOATS ASHORE                                            276
  274.--"HE VERY ROUNDLY SWORE"                                     276
  275.--AT DINNER                                                   277
  276.--A VERY WET TIME (_Initial Letter_)                          278
  277.--A DAMP FISHERMAN                                            279
  278.--FORLORN                                                     279
  279.--THE COMIC UMBRELLA                                          280
  280.--DELICATE WARRIORS                                           281
  281.--THE EXPERIMENT OF COOMBS                                    281
  282.--AN EMBARRASSED PANTHER                                      282
  283.--BRINGING HOME THE MONSTER                                   282
  284.--GETTING READY FOR ACTION                                    283
  285.--THE MEDICINE MAN DIES                                       283
  286.--COOLEY AWAITS THE SIMOOM                                    286
  287.--THE JUDGE ENJOYS THE WEATHER                                290
  288.--PERFECTLY SATISFIED                                         291
  289.--THE GENUINE WEATHER-GAUGE                                   292
  290.--"A FRIEND OF MAN" (_Initial Letter_)                        293
  291.--THE IMPETUOSITY OF BOB                                      296
  292.--A SOMNAMBULIST                                              297
  293.--A PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE                                     297
  294.--DREAMING OF MAGRUDER                                        297
  295.--UNDER THE BED                                               298
  296.--BOB IS AMAZED                                               298
  297.--HUNTING FOR HENRY                                           298
  298.--THE MYSTERY UNRAVELED                                       299
  299.--"PERFECTLY STILL"                                           300
  300.--THE CONSEQUENCES OF A SNEEZE                                301
  301.--THE DOG LEAVES                                              301
  302.--I SUDDENLY CLIMB THE FENCE                                  301
  303.--SOLD                                                        302
  304.--"COMMERE TO ME"                                             302
  305.--A VICTIM                                                    303
  306.--A HUMAN ECHO                                                304
  307.--IT WON'T ANSWER                                             304
  308.--AFTER THAT BOY                                              305
  309.--A BALD-HEADED PARTY (_Initial Letter_)                      306
  310.--A DELUGE OF LETTERS                                         308
  311.--MRS. SINGERLY'S POODLE                                      309
  312.--THE RALLY OF THE BALDHEADED                                 309
  313.--A MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION                                   310
  314.--BENJAMIN P. GUNN                                            313
  315.--A VISIT TO MRS. KEMPER                                      315
  316.--GUNN WAITS WITH THE DOCTOR                                  317
  317.--POUNDING ON THE PARTITION                                   317
  318.--UP THE STEEPLE                                              318
  319.--INTO THE CRATER                                             318
  320.--BENJAMIN IS EJECTED                                         319
  321.--PORTRAIT OF GUNN                                            319
  322.--ON THE WAR PATH                                             323
  323.--GENERAL GAGE AND THE BOY (_Initial Letter_)                 324
  324.--THE JUDGE IS PUZZLED                                        329
  325.--CATECHIZING HIM                                             329
  326.--THE DOCTORS AT HILLEGASS'S HOUSE                            330
  327.--HILLEGASS RECOVERS                                          331
  328.--THE JOKE ON THE CHIEF                                       332
  329.--A DELUGE                                                    332
  330.--THE COMBAT ON THE STAIRS                                    333
  331.--A FIREMAN                                                   333
  332.--THE BONE CONTROVERSY (_Initial Letter_)                     334
  333.--EXAMINING THE PREMISES                                      335
  334.--WE PROCEED CAREFULLY                                        336
  335.--AN EXPLOSION AT COOLEY'S                                    339
  336.--THE REMAINS SCATTER                                         340
  337.--"FOOLING WITH A GUN"                                        341
  338.--SELFRIDGE ARGUES WITH SMITH                                 342
  339.--THE RIVAL JURIES                                            343
  340.--COOLEY TURNS UP                                             344
  341.--"TOSSED THE LITTLE BABY"                                    348
  342.--THAT MUMMY                                                  349
  343.--A PATENT-OFFICE REPORT (_Initial Letter_)                   350
  344.--PUB. DOCS                                                   351
  345.--ALPHONSO LIES IN WAIT                                       353
  346.--LUCULLUS, THE SERENADER                                     353
  347.--DEATH OF ALPHONSO                                           354
  348.--LUCULLUS BREAKS JAIL                                        354
  349.--SMITH BOMBARDS THE ARTISTS                                  355
  350.--THE LOVERS FLOAT ASHORE                                     356
  351.--A PARTING SCENE                                             357
  352.--SMILEY IS INTOXICATED                                       358
  353.--"HE LEAPED INTO THE SEA"                                    360
  354.--BOB IS RESCUED                                              361
  355.--NURSING THE INVALID                                         362
  356.--TAIL-PIECE                                                  362
  357.--BEFORE THE MASS MEETING (_Initial Letter_)                  363
  358.--THE SERENADERS AT PITMAN'S                                  365
  359.--COOLEY ARGUES WITH DANIEL WEBSTER                           366
  360.--THE DISCOMFITED DRUMMER                                     367
  361.--THE KICKAPOO'S MISTAKE                                      369
  362.--A PATRIOTIC DUTCHMAN                                        370
  363.--COLLAPSED                                                   370
  364.--COMMODORE SCUDDER'S DOG                                     371
  365.--THE COMMITTEE WELCOMES ME                                   373
  366.--THE COLD-EYED DRUMMER                                       375
  367.--"GO, MARK HIM WELL"                                         376
  368.--MR. HOTCHKISS'S JOKE                                        379
  369.--THE DRUMMER GLARES AT ME                                    381
  370.--I RETREAT IN DESPAIR                                        386
  371.--A SOLEMN VOW                                                386
  372.--THE WAITER (_Initial Letter_)                               387
  373.--THE COLLARS IN HIS TRUNK                                    389
  374.--A SHIRT-BUTTON LOST                                         390
  375.--WAITING FOR THE BRIDE                                       390
  376.--AT THE RECEPTION                                            392
  377.--PITMAN EXPRESSES HIS VIEWS                                  394
  378.--"WE FLUNG A SHOE AFTER THEM"                                394
  379.--THE FINAL BOW                                               398



OUT OF THE HURLY-BURLY.

CHAPTER I.

    THE FOUNDER OF NEW CASTLE--A SEARCH FOR QUIETNESS--LIFE IN THE CITY
    AND THE VILLAGE--WHY THE LATTER IS PREFERABLE--PECULIARITIES OF THE
    VILLAGE--A SLEEPY OLD TOWN--WE ERECT OUR FAMILY ALTAR.


[Illustration]

If Peter Menuit had never been born, it is extremely probable that this
book would not have been written. Mr. Menuit, however, had nothing to do
with the construction of the volume, and his controlling purpose perhaps
was not to prepare the way for it. Peter Menuit was a Swede who in 1631
came sailing up the Delaware River in a queer old craft with bulging
sides and with stem and stern high in the air. Moved by some mysterious
impulse, he dropped his anchor near a certain verdant shore and landed.
Standing there, he surveyed the lovely scene that lay before him in the
woodland and the river, and then announced to his companions his
determination to remain upon that spot. He began to erect a town upon
the bank that went sloping downward to the sandy beach, and his only
claim to the immortality that has been allotted to him is that he
created what is now New Castle.

It would be pleasant, if it did not seem vain, to hope that New Castle
will base its aspirations to enduring fame upon the circumstance that
another humble personage came, two hundred years and more after Menuit's
arrival, to live in it and to tell, in a homely but amiable fashion, the
story of some of its good people, and to say something of a few of their
peculiarities, perplexities and adventures.

[Illustration]

We were in search of quietness. The city has many charms and many
conveniences as a place of residence; and there are those who, having
accustomed themselves to the methods of life that prevail among the
dense populations of the great towns, can hardly find happiness and
comfort elsewhere. But although the gregarious instinct is strong
in me, I cannot endure to be crowded. I love my fellow-man with
inexpressible affection, but oftentimes he seems more lovable when I
behold him at a distance. I yearn occasionally for human society, but
I prefer to have it only when I choose, not at all times and seasons
without intermission. In the city, however, it is impossible to secure
solitude when it is desired. If I live, as I must, in one of a row of
houses, the partition walls upon both sides are likely to be thin. It
is possible that I may have upon the one hand a professor of music
who gives, throughout the day, maddening lessons to muscular pupils
and practices scales himself with energetic persistency during the
night. Upon the other side there may be a family which cherishes two
or three infants and sustains a dog. As a faint whisper will penetrate
the almost diaphanous wall, the mildest as well as the most violent of
the nocturnal demonstrations of the children disturb my sleep; and when
these have ceased, the dog will probably become boisterous in the yard.

If there is not a boiler-making establishment in the street at the rear
of the house, there will be a saw-mill with a steam whistle, and it is
tolerably certain that my neighbor over the way will either have a
vociferous daughter who keeps the window open while she sings, or will
permit his boy to perform upon a drum. There is incessant noise in
street and yard and dwelling. There is perpetual, audible evidence of
the active existence of human beings. There is too much crowding and too
little opportunity for absolute withdrawal from the confusion and from
contact with the restless energy of human life.

It has always seemed to me that village life is the happiest and the
most comfortable, and that the busy city man who would establish his
home where he can have repose without inconvenience and discomfort
should place it amid the trees and flowers and by the grassy highway of
some pretty hamlet, where the noise of the world's greater commerce
never comes, and where isolation and companionship are both possible
without an effort. Such a home, planted judiciously in a half acre,
where children can romp and play and where one can cultivate a few
flowers and vegetables, mingling the sentimental heliotrope with the
practical cabbage, and the ornamental verbena with the useful onion, may
be made an earthly Paradise.

There must not be too much ground, for then it becomes a burden and a
care. There are few city men who have the agricultural impulse so strong
in them that they will find delight, after a day of mental labor and
excitement, in rasping a garden with a hoe in the hope of securing a
vegetable harvest. A very little exercise of that kind, in most cases,
suffices to moderate the horticultural enthusiasm of the inexperienced
citizen. It is pleasant enough to weed a few flowers or to toss a
spadeful or two of earth about the roots of the grapevine when you feel
disposed to such mild indulgence in exercise; but when the garden
presents tasks which must be performed no matter what the frame of mind
or the condition of the body, you are apt, for the first time, to have a
thorough comprehension of the meaning of the curse uttered against the
ground when Adam went forth from Eden. It is far better and cheaper to
hire a competent man to cultivate the little field; then in your leisure
moments you may set out the cabbage plants upside down and place poles
for the strawberry vines to clamber upon, knowing well that if evil is
done, it will be corrected on the morrow when the offender is far away,
and when the maledictions of the agricultural expert, muttered as he
relieves the vegetables from the jeopardy in which ignorance has placed
them, cannot reach your ears.

[Illustration]

I like a house not too old, but having outward comeliness, with
judicious arrangement of the interior, and all of those convenient
contrivances of the plumber, the furnace-maker and the bell-hanger which
make the merest mite of a modern dwelling incomparably superior in
comfort to the most stupendous of marble palaces in the ancient times. I
would have no neighbor's house within twenty yards upon either side; I
would have noble shade trees about the place, and I would esteem it a
most fortunate thing if through the foliage I could obtain constant
glimpses of some shining stream upon whose bosom ships come to and fro,
and on which I could sometimes find solace and exercise in rowing,
fishing and sailing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Village life is the best. It has all the advantages of residence in the
country without the unpleasant things which attend existence in a wholly
rural home. There is not the oftentimes oppressive solitude of the
country, nor is there the embarrassment that comes from the distance to
the station, to the shops and to the post-office. There are the city
blessings of the presence of other human beings, and of access to the
places where wants may be supplied, without the crowds, without the
mixed and villainous perfumes of the streets and without the immoderate
taxes. With the conveniences of a civilized community, a village may
have pure and healthful air, opportunity for parents and children to
amuse themselves out of doors, cheap fare, moderate rent, milk which
knows not the wiles of the city dealer, and a moral atmosphere in which
a family may grow up away from the temptations and the evil associations
which tend to corrupt the young in the great cities.

More than this, I like life in the village because it brings a man into
kindlier relations with his fellows than can be obtained elsewhere. In
the city I am jostled at every step by those who are strangers to me,
who know nothing of me, and who care nothing. In the village I am known
by every one, and I know all. If I have any title to respect, it is
admitted by the entire society of the place, and perhaps I may even win
something of affection if I am worthy of it.

In the country town, too, you may have your morals carefully looked
after. There are prying eyes and busy tongues, and you are so
conspicuous that unless you walk straightly, the little world around
you shall know of your slips and falls. You may quarrel with your wife
for ever in the city and few care to hear the miserable story; but in
the village the details of the conjugal contest are heralded about
before the day is spent.

The interest that is felt in you is amazing. The cost of your
establishment is as well known as if it were blazoned upon the walls.
You cannot impose upon the people with a pretence of splendor if you
have not the reality; one gossiping old woman who has discovered the
sham will make you an object of public scorn in an hour. The village
knows how your children are dressed and trained; how often you have
mutton and the extent of your indulgence in beef. The cost of your
carpets is a matter of common notoriety; your differences with your
servants are discussed at the sewing-circle, and the purchase of new
clothing for your family is a concern of public interest. The arrival of
your wife's winter bonnet actually creates excitement in the village
society, and you are certain, therefore, to get the full worth of your
investment in that article of dress, while the owner obtains unlimited
satisfaction; for winter bonnets are purchased for the benefit of other
people chiefly, not for the convenience and happiness of the wearers.

Every man is something of a hero-worshiper; and if in the city I find
it difficult to select an idol from among the many who thrust their
greatness upon me, I am not so embarrassed in the village. Here I will
probably find but one man who is revered as the embodiment of
the worshipful virtues. He has larger wealth than any of his
fellow-villagers; he lives in the most sumptuous house in the place; he
belongs to the oldest family, and his claim to superiority is admitted
almost without question by his reverent townsmen. It gives me joy to add
my voice to the chorus of admiration, and to feel humble in that
presence wherein my neighbors have humility. Sometimes, of course, I
cannot help perceiving that the object of this adoration is, after all,
a very pigmy of his kind. I am compelled to admit that his fortune seems
large only because mine and Jones's are small; that his house is a
palace only for the reason that it dwarfs my little cottage; that if
unassisted brains carried the day, and strutting was felonious, he would
certainly occupy a much less magnificent position. I know that in a
greater community he would be wholly insignificant. And yet I admit his
claim to profound respect. It pleases me to see him play his little
part, and to observe with what calm, luxurious confidence in his own
right and title to homage he passes through life. And I know, after all,
that the greater men, out in the busy hurly-burly of the world, are not
so very much greater. A good deal of their claim to superiority, too, is
a miserable sham; and doubtless, if we could see them as closely as we
see our village grandee, we should find that they also depend much upon
popular credulity for the stability of their reputations.

[Illustration: NEW CASTLE FROM THE RIVER.]

My pompous village nabob, too, is honest. I am sure of this. He helps to
conduct the government of the community, but he does his duty fairly and
he is a gentleman. I could love him for that alone, and for that feel a
deeper affection for life in his village. When I go to the city and
perceive what creatures wield the power there, when I watch the
trickery, the iniquity, the audacious infamy, of the cliques that
control the machinery of that great government, and when I look, as I do
sometimes, into the faces of those who are thus leagued for plunder and
power, only to see there vulgarity, ignorance, vice and general moral
filthiness, my soul is made sick. I can turn then with pleasure to the
simple methods with which our village is governed, and honestly give my
respect to the guileless old gentleman who presides over its destinies.

We wish for quietness, and in New Castle it can be obtained, I think, in
a particularly concentrated form. When Swede and Dutchman and Englishman
had done contending for possession of the place, there was peace until
the Revolution came, and with it ships of war and privateers, and such
hurrying of troops and supplies across from New Castle to Frenchtown,
from the Delaware to the Chesapeake, as kept the old town in a stir.
There was then an interval of repose until the second war with England,
when these busy scenes were re-enacted. Later in the century a mighty
stir was made by the construction of a railroad, one of the earliest in
the country, to Chesapeake Bay; then, as the excitement died away, the
old town gradually went to sleep, and for nearly forty years it
slumbered so soundly that there seemed to be a chance that it would
never wake again. But time achieves wonderful things, and perhaps the
day will come when the vicinity of the old town to the bay, the depth of
water at its shores and the facilities offered for manufacturing and
easy transportation, may make the village a great industrial centre,
with hundreds of mills and multitudes of working-people. But as we join
ourselves to the community there is no promise of such an awakening. We
have still the profound repose and the absence of change that make the
place so dear to those who have known it in their childhood. There are
the paved streets where the grass grows thickly; the ancient wharves
protruding into the stream, deserted but by the anglers and the naked
and wicked little boys who go in to swim; the tumbling stone ice-piers,
a little way out in the river; the old court-house, whose steeple is the
point upon which moves the twelve-mile radial line whose northern end
describes the semi-circular boundary of Delaware; the rickety town-hall,
the ancient churches and the grim old houses with moss-covered roofs,
the Battery, with its drooping willows and its glorious vista of river
and shore beyond, and the dense masses of foliage, shutting out the sky
here and there as one passes along the streets.

Into such a house as I have described, not far from the river, and with
our neighbors at a little more than arm's length, I have come with wife
and family, with household gods and domestic paraphernalia generally, to
begin the life which will supply the material wherewith to construct the
ensuing pages. It may perhaps turn out that the better part of that
existence will not be told, but perchance it may be that the events
related will be those which will possess for the reader greatest
interest and amusement.

[Illustration]



  CHAPTER II.

    A VERY DANGEROUS INVENTION--THE PATENT COMBINATION
    STEP-LADDER--DOMESTIC SERVANTS--ADVERTISING FOR A GIRL--THE
    PEASANT-GIRL OF FACT AND FICTION--A CONTRAST.


[Illustration]

A step-ladder is an almost indispensable article to persons who are
moving into a new house. Not only do the domestics find it extremely
convenient when they undertake to wash the windows, to remove the dust
from the door and window-frames, and to perform sundry other household
duties, but the lord of the castle will require it when he hangs his
pictures, when he fixes the curtains and when he yields to his wife's
entreaty for a hanging shelf or two in the cellar. I would, however,
warn my fellow-countrymen against the contrivance which is offered to
them under the name of the "Patent Combination Step-ladder." I purchased
one in the city just before we moved, because the dealer showed me how,
by the simple operation of a set of springs, the ladder could be
transformed into an ironing-table, and from that into a comfortable
settee for the kitchen, and finally back again into a step-ladder, just
as the owner desired. It seemed like getting the full worth of the
money expended to obtain a trio of such useful articles for a single
price, and the temptation to purchase was simply irresistible. But the
knowledge gained by a practical experience of the operation of the
machine enables me to affirm that there is no genuine economical
advantage in the use of this ingenious article.

[Illustration]

Upon the day of its arrival, the servant-girl mounted the ladder for the
purpose of removing the globes from the chandelier in the parlor, and
while she was engaged in the work the weight of her body unexpectedly
put the springs in motion, and the machine was suddenly converted into
an ironing-table, while the maid-servant was prostrated upon the floor
with a sprained ankle and amid the fragments of two shattered globes.

Then we decided that the apparatus should be used exclusively as an
ironing-table, and to this purpose it would probably have been devoted
permanently if it had suited. On the following Tuesday, however, while
half a dozen shirts were lying upon it ready to be ironed, some
one knocked against it accidentally. It gave two or three ominous
preliminary jerks, ground two shirts into rags, hurled the flat-iron
out into the yard, and after a few convulsive movements of the springs,
settled into repose in the shape of a step-ladder.

It became evident then that it could be used with greatest safety as a
settee, and it was placed in the kitchen in that shape. For a few days
it gave much satisfaction. But one night when the servant had company
the bench was perhaps overloaded, for it had another and most alarming
paroxysm; there was a trembling of the legs, a violent agitation of the
back, then a tremendous jump, and one of the visitors was hurled against
the range, while the machine turned several somersaults, jammed itself
halfway through the window-sash, and appeared once more in the
similitude of an ironing-table.

It has now attained to such a degree of sensitiveness that it goes
through the entire drill promptly and with celerity if any one comes
near it or coughs or sneezes close at hand. We have it stored away in
the garret, and sometimes in the middle of the night a rat will jar it,
or a current of air will pass through the room, and we can hear it
dancing over the floor and getting into service as a ladder, a bench and
a table fifteen or twenty times in quick succession.

The machine will be disposed of for a small fraction of the original
cost. It might be a valuable addition to the collection of some good
museum. I am convinced that it will shine with greater lustre as a
curiosity than as a household utensil.

Perhaps we may attribute to the fantastic capers of this step-ladder the
dissatisfaction expressed by the servant who came with us from the city;
at any rate, she gave us notice at the end of the first week that she
would not remain. She is the ninth that we have had within four months.
Mrs. Adeler said she was not sorry the woman intended to go, for she
was absolutely good for nothing; but I think a poor servant is better
than none at all. Life is gloomy enough without the misery which comes
from rising before daylight to fumble among the fires, and without
living upon short rations because one's wife has no time to attend to
the cooking.

[Illustration]

I am not sure, at any rate, that it would be a very great advantage to
have thoroughly good servants, for then women would be deprived of the
very evident pleasure they now take in discussing the shortcomings of
their domestics. The practice is so common that there must be supreme
consolation in the sympathy and in the relief to the overcharged
feelings that are permitted by such communion.

Place two women together under any circumstances, and it makes no
difference where the conversation starts from, for it will be perfectly
certain to work around to the hired-girl question before many minutes
have elapsed. I have seen an elderly housekeeper, with experience in
conducting the talk in the desired direction, break in upon a discussion
of Pythagoras and the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and
switch off the entire debate with such expedition that a careless
listener would for some moments have an indistinct impression that the
conversation referred to the inefficiency of Pythagoras as a washer and
ironer, and to the tendency of that heathen philosopher to take two
Thursdays out every week.

And when a woman has an unusually villainous servant, is it not
interesting to observe how she glories in the superior intensity of her
sufferings as compared with those of her neighbors, and to perceive how
she rejoices in her misery? A housewife who possesses a really good girl
is always in a condition of wretchedness upon such occasions, and is apt
to listen in envious silence while her companions unburden their souls
to each other.

Mrs. Adeler intimated that these accusations were slanderous, but she
ventured to observe that the practical question which required immediate
consideration was, How shall we get another girl?

"There is but one method, Mrs. A.: it is to advertise. Do not patronize
the establishments which, in bitter irony, are styled 'intelligence
offices.' An intelligence office is always remarkable for the dense
stupidity of everybody connected with it. But a single manifestation of
intelligence gleams through the intellectual darkness that enshrines the
souls of the beings who maintain such places. I refer to the singular
ability displayed in extracting two-dollar bills from persons who know
that they will get nothing for their money."

Mrs. Adeler admitted that it would perhaps be better to advertise.

"How would it answer to insert in the daily paper an advertisement
in which sarcasm is mingled with exaggeration in such a way that it
shall secure an unlimited number of applications, while we shall give
expression to the feeling of bitterness that is supposed to exist in the
bosom of every housekeeper?"

She said she thought she hardly caught the idea precisely.

"Suppose, for instance, we should publish something like this: 'Wanted:
a competent girl for general housework.' The most strenuous effort will
be made to give such a person complete satisfaction. If she is not
pleased with the furniture already in the kitchen, we are willing to
have the range silver plated, the floor laid in mosaic and the dresser
covered with pink plush. No objection will be made to breakage. The
domestic will be permitted at any time to disport in the china closet
with the axe. We consider hair in the breakfast-rolls an improvement;
and the more silver forks that are dropped into the drain, the more
serene is the happiness which reigns in the household. Our girl cannot
have Sunday out. She can go out every day but Sunday, and remain out
until midnight if she wishes to. If her relations suffer for want of
sugar, she can supply them with ours. We rather prefer a girl who
habitually blows out the gas, and who is impudent when complaint is made
because she soaks the mackerel in the tea-kettle. If she can sprinkle
hot coals over the floor now and then, and set the house afire, we will
rejoice the more, because it will give the fire-department healthful and
necessary exercise. Nobody will interfere if she woos the milkman, and
she will confer a favor if she will discuss family matters across the
fence with the girl who lives next door. Such a servant as this can have
a good home, the second-story front room and the whole of our income
with the exception of three dollars a week, which we must insist,
reluctantly, upon reserving for our own use.'

"How does that strike you, Mrs. Adeler?"

She said that it struck her as being particularly nonsensical. She hoped
I wouldn't put such stuff as that in the paper.

"Certainly not, Mrs. A. If I did, we should cause a general immigration
of the domestics of the country to New Castle. We will not precipitate
such a disaster."

The insertion of a less extended advertisement, couched in the usual
terms, secured a reply from a young woman named Catherine. And when
Catherine's objections to the size of the family, to the style of the
cooking-range, to the dimensions of the weekly wash and to sundry other
things had been overcome, she consented to accept the position.

"I hope she will suit," exclaimed Mrs. Adeler, with a sigh and an
intonation which implied doubt. "I do hope she will answer, but I am
afraid she won't, for according to her own confession she doesn't know
how to make bread or to iron shirts or to do anything."

"That is the reason why she demanded such exorbitant wages. Those
servants who are entirely ignorant always want the largest pay. If we
ever obtain a girl who understands her business in all its departments,
I cherish the conviction that she will work for us for nothing. The
wages of domestics are usually in inverse ratio to the merit of the
recipients. Did you ever reflect upon the difference between the real
and the ideal Irish maiden?"

Mrs. A. admitted that she had not considered the subject with any degree
of attention.

"The ideal peasant-girl lives only in fiction and upon the stage. We are
largely indebted to Mr. Boucicault for her existence, just as we are
under obligations to Mr. Fennimore Cooper for a purely sentimental
conception of the North American Indian. Have you ever seen the _Colleen
Bawn_?"

"What is that?" inquired Mrs. Adeler, as she bit off a piece of thread
from a spool.

"It is a play, a drama, my dear, by Mr. Dion Boucicault."

"You know I never go to theatres."

[Illustration]

"Well, in that and in many other of his dramas Mr. Boucicault has
drawn a particularly affecting portrait of the imaginary peasant-girl
of Ireland. She is, as depicted by him, a lovely young creature,
filled with tenderest sensibility, animated by loftiest impulses and
inspired perpetually by poetic enthusiasm. The conversation of this
fascinating being sparkles with wit; she overflows with generosity;
she has unutterable longings for a higher and nobler life; she loves
with intense and overpowering passion; she is capable of supreme
self-sacrifice; and she always wears clean clothing. If such charming
girls really existed in Ireland in large numbers, it would be the most
attractive spot in the world. It would be a particularly profitable
place for young bachelors to emigrate to. I think I should even go there
myself."

Mrs. Adeler said she would certainly accompany me if I did.

"But these persons have no actual existence. We know, from a painful
experience, what the peasant-girl of real life is, do we not? We know
that her appearance is not prepossessing; we are aware that her lofty
impulses do not lift her high enough to enable her to avoid impertinence
and to conquer her unnatural fondness for cooking wine. She will
withhold starch from the shirt collars and put it in the underclothing;
she will hold the baby by the leg, so that it is in perpetual peril of
apoplexy, and she will drink the milk. All of her visitors are her
cousins; and when they have spent a festive evening with her in the
kitchen, is it not curious to remark with what certainty we find low
tide in the sugar-box and an absence of symmetry about the cold beef?
The only evidence that I can discover of the existence in her soul of a
yearning for a higher life is that she nearly always wants Brussels
carpet in the kitchen, and this longing is peculiarly intense if, when
at the home of her childhood, she was accustomed to live in a mud-cabin
and to sleep with a pig."

[Illustration]

But I do not regret that Mr. Boucicault has not placed this person upon
the stage. It is, indeed, a matter for rejoicing that she is not
there. She plays such a part in the drama of domestic life that in
contemplation of the virtues of the fabulous being we find intense
relief.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: THE VIEW DOWN THE RIVER.]



CHAPTER III.

    THE VIEW UPON THE RIVER; A MAGNIFICENT PANORAMA--MR. AND MRS.
    COOLEY--MATRIMONIAL INFELICITIES--THE CASE OF MRS. SAWYER; A
    BLIGHTED LIFE--A PRESENT: OUR CENTURY PLANT AND ITS PECULIARITIES.


[Illustration]

We have a full view of the river from our chamber window, and it is a
magnificent spectacle that greets us as we rise in the morning and fling
the shutters wide open. The sun, in this early summer-time, has already
crept high above the horizon of the pine-covered shore opposite, and has
flooded the unruffled waters with its golden light until they are
transformed for us into a sea of flame. There comes a fleet of grimy
coal schooners moving upward with the tide, their dingy sails hanging
almost listless in the air; now they float, one by one, into the yellow
glory of the sunshine which bars the river from shore to shore. Yonder
is a tiny tug puffing valorously as it tows the great merchantman--home
from what distant land of wonders?--up to the wharves of the great city.
And look! there is another tug-boat going down stream, with a score of
canal-boats moving in huge mass slowly behind it. They come from far up
among the mountains of the Lehigh and the Schuylkill with their burdens
of coal, and they are bound for the Chesapeake. Those men lounging
lazily about upon the decks while the women are getting breakfast ready
spend their lives amid some of the wildest and noblest scenery in the
world. I would rather be a canal-boat captain, Mrs. Adeler, and through
all my existence float calmly and serenely amid those regions of beauty
and delight, without ever knowing what hurry is, than to be the greatest
and busiest of statesmen--that is, if one calling were as respectable
and lucrative as the other.

[Illustration]

That fellow upon the boat at the rear is playing upon his bugle. The
canal-boat bugler is not an artist, but he makes wonderful music
sometimes when he blows a blast up yonder in the heart of Pennsylvania,
and sets the wild echoes flying among the cañons of those mighty hills.
And even now it is not indifferent. Listen! The tones come to us
mellowed by the distance, and so indistinct that they have lost all but
the sweetness which makes them seem so like the sound of

    "Horns of Elfland, faintly blowing."

That prosaic tooter floating there upon the river doubtless would be
surprised to learn that he is capable of such a suggestion; but he is.

Off there in the distance, emerging from the shadowy mantle of mist
that rests still upon the bosom of the stream to the south, comes
the steamboat from Salem, with its decks loaded down with rosy and
fragrant peaches, and with baskets of tomatoes and apples and potatoes
and berries, ready for the hungry thousands of the Quaker City. The
schooner lying there at the wharf is getting ready to move away, so
that the steamer may come in. You can hear the screech made by the
block as the tackle of the sail is drawn swiftly through it. Now she
swings out into the stream, and there, right athwart her bows, see that
fisherman rowing homeward with his net piled high in tangled meshes in
the bow of his boat. He has a hundred or two silver-scaled shiners at
his feet, I'll warrant you, and he is thinking rather of the price they
will bring than of the fact that his appearance in his rough batteau
gives an especially picturesque air to the beauty of that matchless
scene. I wish I was a painter. I would pay any price if I could fling
upon canvas that background of hazy gray, and place against it the fiery
splendor of the sunlit river, with steamer and ship and weather-beaten
sloop and fishing-boat drifting to and fro upon the golden tide.

There, too, is old Cooley, our next-door neighbor on the east. He is out
early this morning, walking about his garden, pulling up a weed here
and there, prowling among his strawberry vines and investigating the
condition of his early raspberries. That dog which trots behind him,
my dear, is the one that barked all night. I shall have to ask Cooley
to take him in the house after this. We had enough of that kind of
disturbance in the city; we do not want it here.

[Illustration]

"I don't like the Cooleys," remarked Mrs. A.

"Why not?"

"Because they quarrel with each other. Their girl told our girl that
'him and her don't hit it,' and that Mr. Cooley is continually having
angry disputes with his wife. She says that sometimes they even come to
blows. It is dreadful."

"It is indeed dreadful. Somebody ought to speak to Cooley about it. He
needs overhauling. Perhaps he is too ignorant a man to have perceived
the true road to happiness. Of course, Mrs. A., _you_ know the secret of
real happiness in married life?"

She said she had never thought much about it. She was happy, and it
seemed natural to be so. She thought it very strange that there should
ever be any other condition of things between man and wife.

"Mrs. Adeler, the secret of conjugal felicity is contained in this
formula: demonstrative affection and self-sacrifice. A man should not
only love his wife dearly, but he should tell her he loves her, and tell
her very often. And each should be willing to yield, not once or twice,
but constantly and as a practice, to the other. The man who never takes
the baby from his wife, who never offers to help her in her domestic
duties, who will sit idly by, indulging himself with repose while she
is overwhelmed with care and work among the children, or with other
matters, is a mean wretch who does not deserve to have a happy home. And
a wife who never holds up her husband's hands in his struggle with the
world, who displays no interest in his perplexities and trials, who has
never a word of cheer for him when he staggers under his heavy burden,
is not worthy the name of a wife. Selfishness, my dear, crushes out
love, and most of the couples who are living without affection for each
other, with cold and dead hearts, with ashes where there should be a
bright and holy flame, have destroyed themselves by caring too much for
themselves and too little for each other."

"To me," said Mrs. Adeler, "the saddest thing about such coldness and
indifference is that both the man and the woman must sometimes think of
the years when they loved each other."

"Yes, and can you imagine anything that would be more likely to give a
woman the heartache than such a recollection? When her husband comes
home and enters the house without a smile or a word of welcome; when
he growls at his meals, and finds fault with this and that domestic
arrangement; when he buries his nose in his newspaper after supper, and
never resurrects it excepting when he has a savage word of reproof for
one of his children, or when he goes out again to spend the evening and
leaves his wife alone, the picture which she brings up from the past
cannot be a very pleasant one.

"Indeed, my dear, the man's present conduct must fill the woman's
soul with bitter pain when she contrasts it with that which won her
affection. For there must have been a time when she looked forward
with joy to his coming, when he caressed her and covered her with
endearments, when he looked deep into her eyes and said that he
loved her, and when he said that he could have no happiness in this
world unless she loved him wholly and truly. When a man makes such a
declaration as that to a woman, he is a villain if he ever treats her
with anything but loving-kindness. And I take the liberty of doubting
whether he who leads a young girl into wedlock with such pledges, and
then acts in direct violation of them, ought not to be prosecuted for
obtaining valuable consideration upon false pretences. It is infinitely
worse, in my opinion, than stealing ordinary property."

Mrs. Adeler expressed the opinion that death at the stake might be
regarded as an appropriate punishment for criminals of this class.

"But there is a humorous side even to this melancholy business. Do you
remember the Sawyers, who used to live near us in the city? Well, before
Sawyer's marriage I was his most intimate friend; and when they returned
from their wedding-trip, of course I called upon them. Mrs. Sawyer
alone was at home, and after a brief discussion of the weather, the
conversation turned upon Sawyer. I had known him for many years, and I
took pleasure in making Mrs. Sawyer believe that he had as much virtue
as an omnibus load of patriarchs. Mrs. Sawyer assented joyously to it
all, but I thought I detected a shade of sadness on her face while she
spoke. I asked her if anything was the matter--if Sawyer's health was
not good.

"'Oh yes,' she said, 'very good indeed, and I love him dearly. He is the
best man in the world; but--but--'

"Then I assured Mrs. Sawyer that she might speak frankly to me, as
I was Sawyer's friend, and could probably smooth away any little
unpleasantness that might mar their happiness. She then said it was
nothing. It might seem foolish to speak of it; she knew it was not
her dear husband's fault, and she ought not to complain; but it was
hard, hard to submit when she reflected that there was but one thing
to prevent her being perfectly happy; yes, but one thing, 'for oh, Mr.
Adeler, I would ask for nothing more in this world if Ezekiel only had a
Roman nose!'

[Illustration]

"It is an awful thing, Mrs. Adeler, to think of two young lives being
made miserable for want of one Roman nose, isn't it?"

Mrs. A. gently intimated that she entertained a suspicion that I had
made up the story; and if I had not, why, then Mrs. Sawyer certainly was
a very foolish woman.

My wife's cousin, Bob Parker, came down a fortnight ago to stay a day or
two on his way to Cape May, with the intent to tarry at that
watering-place for a week or ten days, and then to return here to remain
with us for some time. Bob is a bright youth, witty in his own small
way, fond of using his tongue, and always overflowing with animal
spirits. He came partly to see us, but chiefly, I think, because he
cherishes a secret passion for a certain fair maid who abides here.

[Illustration]

He brought me a splendid present in the shape of an American agave, or
century plant. It was offered to him in Philadelphia by a man who
brought it to the store and wanted to sell it. The man said it had
belonged to his grandfather, and he consented to part with it only
because he was in extreme poverty. The man informed Bob that the plant
grew but half an inch in twenty years, and blossomed but once in a
century. The last time it bloomed, according to the information obtained
from the gray-haired grandsire of the man, was in 1776, and it would
therefore certainly burst out again in 1876. Patriotism and a desire to
have such a curiosity in the family combined to induce Mr. Parker to
purchase it at the price of fifty dollars.

I planted the phenomenon on the south side of the house, against the
wall. Two days afterward I called Bob's attention to the circumstance
that the agave had grown nearly three feet since it was placed in the
ground. This seemed somewhat strange after what the man said about
the growth of half an inch in two decades. But we concluded that the
surprising development must be due to the extraordinary fertility of the
soil, and Bob exulted as he thought how he had beaten the man by getting
a century plant so much larger and so much more valuable than he had
supposed. Bob said that the man would be wofully mad if he should call
and see that century plant of his grandfather's getting up out of the
ground so splendidly.

That afternoon we all went down to Cape May, and for two weeks we
remained there. Upon our return, Bob remarked, as we stepped from the
boat, that he wanted to go around the first thing and see how the plant
was coming on. He suggested gloomily that he should be bitterly
disappointed if it had perished from neglect during our absence.

[Illustration]

But it was not dead. We saw it as soon as we came near the house. It had
grown since our departure. It had a trunk as thick as my leg, and the
branches ran completely over three sides of the house; over the window
shutters, which were closed so tightly that we had to chop the century
plant away with a hatchet; over the roof, down the chimneys, which were
so filled with foliage that they wouldn't draw; and over the grapevine
arbor, in such a fashion that we had to cut away vines and all to get
rid of the intruder.

The roots, also, had thrown out shoots over every available square foot
of the yard, so that I had eight or ten thousand century plants in an
exceedingly thriving condition, while a branch had grown through the
open cellar window, and was getting along so finely that we could only
reach the coal-bin by tramping through a kind of an East Indian jungle.

Mr. Parker, after examining the vegetable carefully, observed:

"I'm kind of sorry I bought that century plant, Max. I have half an idea
that the man who sold it to me was a humorist, and that his
Revolutionary grandfather was an octogenarian fraud."

If anybody wants a good, strong, healthy century plant that will stand
any climate, and that is warranted to bloom in 1876, mine can be had for
a very reasonable price. This may be regarded as an unparalleled
opportunity for any young agriculturist who does not want to wait long
for his vegetables to grow.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV.

    JUDGE PITMAN--HIS EXPERIMENT IN THE BARN--A LESSON IN NATURAL
    HISTORY--CATCHING THE EARLY TRAIN--ONE OF THE MISERIES OF LIVING IN
    A VILLAGE--BALL'S LUNG EXERCISE--MR. COOLEY'S IMPERTINENCE.


[Illustration]

My next-door neighbor upon the west is Judge Pitman. I heard his name
mentioned before I became acquainted with him, and I fancied that
he was either a present occupant of the bench, or else that he had
gone into retirement after spending his active life in dispensing
justice and unraveling the tangles of the law. But it appears that he
has never occupied a judicial position, and that his title is purely
complimentary, having no relation whatever to the nature of his pursuits
either in the past or in the present. The judge, indeed, is merely the
owner of a couple of steam-tugs and one or two wood sloops which ply
upon the river and upon Chesapeake Bay. He spends most of his time
at home, living comfortably upon the receipts of a business which is
conducted by his hired men, and perhaps also upon the interest of a few
good investments in this and other places.

[Illustration]

A very brief acquaintance with the judge suffices to convince any one
that he has never presided in court. He is a rough, uneducated man, with
small respect for grammar, an irrepressible tendency to distort the
language, and very little information concerning subjects which are not
made familiar by the occurrences of every-day life. But he is hearty,
genial, sincere and honest, and I very soon learned to like him and to
find amusement in his quaint simplicity.

[Illustration]

My first interview with the judge was somewhat remarkable. I came home
early one afternoon for the purpose of training some roses and clematis
against my fence. While I was busily engaged with the work, the judge,
who had been digging potatoes in his garden, stuck his spade in the
earth and came to the fence. After looking at me in silence for a few
moments, he observed,

"Fine day, cap!"

The judge has the habit of conferring titles promiscuously and without
provocation, particularly upon strangers. To call me "cap." was his
method of expressing a desire for sociability.

"It _is_ a beautiful day," I observed, "but the country needs rain."

"It never makes no difference to me," replied the judge, "what kinder
weather there is; I'm allers satisfied. 'Twon't rain no sooner for
wishin' for it."

As there was no possibility of our having a controversy upon this point,
I merely replied, "That is true."

"How's yer pertaters comin' on?" inquired the judge.

"Very well, I believe. They're a little late, but they appear to be
thriving."

"Mine's doin' first rate," returned the judge. "I guannered them in the
spring, and I've bin a-hoein' at 'em and keepin' the weeds down putty
stiddy ever since. Mons'ous sight o' labor growin' good pertaters, cap."

"I should think so," I rejoined, "although I haven't had much practical
experience in that direction thus far."

"Cap.," observed the judge, after a brief interval of silence, "you're
one of them fellers that writes for the papers and magazines, a'n't
you?"

"Yes, I sometimes do work of that kind."

"Well, see here: I've got somethin' on my mind that's bin a-botherin' me
the wust kind for a week and more. You've read the 'Atlantic Monthly,'
haven't you?"

"Yes."

"Well, my daughter bought one of 'em, and I was a-readin' it the other
night, when I saw it stated that guanner could be influenced by music,
and that Professor Brown had made some git up and come to him when he
played a tune on the pianner."

I remembered, as the judge spoke, that the magazine in question did
contain a paragraph to the effect that the _iguana_ was susceptible of
such influence, and that Mrs. Brown had succeeded in taming one of these
animals, so that it would run to her at the sound of music. But I
permitted Mr. Pitman to continue without interruption.

[Illustration]

"Of course," said he, "I never really believed no such nonsense as
that, but it struck me as kinder sing'lar, and I thought I'd give the
old thing a trial, anyhow. So I got down my fiddle and went to the barn,
and put a bag of guanner in the middle of the floor and begun to rake
out a tune. First I played 'A Life on the Ocean Wave and a Home on the
Rollin' Deep' three or four times; and there that guanner sot, just as I
expected 'twould. Then I begun agin and sawed out a lot o' variations,
but still she didn't budge. Then I put on a fresh spurt and jammed in
a passel o' extra sharps and flats and exercises; and I played that
tune backward and sideways and cat-a-cornered. And I stirred in some
scales, and mixed the tune up with Old Hundred and Mary Blaine and some
Sunday-school songs, until I nearly fiddled my shirt off, and nary time
did that guanner bag git up off o' that floor. I knowed it wouldn't. I
knowed that feller wa'n't tellin' the truth. But, cap., don't it strike
you that a man who'd lie like that ought to have somethin' done to him?
It 'pears to me 's if a month or two in jail'd do that feller good."

The lesson in natural history which I proceeded to give to the judge
need not be repeated here. He acknowledged that the laugh was fairly
against him, and ended his affirmation of his new-born faith in the
integrity of the Atlantic Monthly by inviting me to climb over the fence
and taste some of his Bartlett pears. The judge and I have been steady
friends ever since.

I find that one of the most serious objections to living out of town
lies in the difficulty experienced in catching the early morning train
by which I must reach the city and my business. It is by no means a
pleasant matter, under any circumstances, to have one's movements
regulated by a timetable and to be obliged to rise to breakfast and to
leave home at a certain hour, no matter how strong the temptation to
delay may be. But sometimes the horrible punctuality of the train is
productive of absolute suffering. For instance: I look at my watch when
I get out of bed and find that I have apparently plenty of time, so I
dress leisurely, and sit down to the morning meal in a frame of mind
which is calm and serene. Just as I crack my first egg I hear the down
train from Wilmington. I start in alarm; and taking out my watch, I
compare it with the clock and find that it is eleven minutes slow, and
that I have only five minutes left in which to get to the dépôt.

[Illustration]

I endeavor to scoop the egg from the shell, but it burns my fingers, the
skin is tough, and after struggling with it for a moment, it mashes into
a hopeless mess. I drop it in disgust and seize a roll, while I scald my
tongue with a quick mouthful of coffee. Then I place the roll in my
mouth while my wife hands me my satchel and tells me she thinks she
hears the whistle. I plunge madly around looking for my umbrella, then
I kiss the family good-bye as well as I can with a mouth full of roll,
and dash toward the door.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Just as I get to the gate, I find that I have forgotten my duster
and the bundle my wife wanted me to take up to the city to her aunt.
Charging back, I snatch them up and tear down the gravel-walk in a
frenzy. I do not like to run through the village: it is undignified and
it attracts attention; but I walk furiously. I go faster and faster as I
get away from the main street. When half the distance is accomplished, I
actually do hear the whistle; there can be no doubt about it this time.
I long to run, but I know that if I do I will excite that abominable
speckled dog sitting by the sidewalk a little distance ahead of me. Then
I really see the train coming around the curve close by the dépôt, and
I feel that I _must_ make better time; and I do. The dog immediately
manifests an interest in my movements. He tears after me, and is
speedily joined by five or six other dogs, which frolic about my legs
and bark furiously. Sundry small boys, as I go plunging past, contribute
to the excitement by whistling with their fingers, and the men who are
at work upon the new meeting-house stop to look at me and exchange
jocular remarks with each other. I do feel ridiculous; but I must catch
that train at all hazards.

[Illustration]

I become desperate when I have to slacken my pace until two or three
women who are standing upon the sidewalk, discussing the infamous price
of butter, scatter to let me pass. I arrive within a few yards of the
station with my duster flying in the wind, with my coat tails in a
horizontal position, and with the speckled dog nipping my heels, just as
the train begins to move. I put on extra pressure, resolving to get the
train or perish, and I reach it just as the last car is going by. I
seize the hand-rail; I am jerked violently around, but finally, after a
desperate effort, I get upon the step with my knees, and am hauled in
by the brakeman, hot, dusty and mad, with my trousers torn across the
knees, my legs bruised and three ribs of my umbrella broken.

Just as I reach a comfortable seat in the car, the train stops, and then
backs up on the siding, where it remains for half an hour while the
engineer repairs a dislocated valve. The anger which burns in my bosom
as I reflect upon what now is proved to have been the folly of that
race is increased as I look out of the window and observe the speckled
dog engaged with his companions in an altercation over a bone. A man
who permits his dog to roam about the streets nipping the legs of every
one who happens to go at a more rapid gait than a walk, is unfit for
association with civilized beings. He ought to be placed on a desert
island in mid-ocean, and be compelled to stay there.

This will do as a picture of the experience of one morning--one
melancholy morning. Of course it is exceptional. Rather than endure such
agony of mind and discomfort of body frequently, I would move back to
the city, and abandon for ever my little paradise by the Delaware.

I hardly think I shall get along so well with my neighbor on the other
side, Cooley, as I do with Pitman. He is not only exceedingly
ill-natured, but he inclines to be impertinent. Several times he has
volunteered advice respecting the management of my garden and grounds,
and has displayed a disposition to be somewhat sarcastic when his plans
did not meet with my approval. I contrived, however, to avoid a breach
of our amicable relations until the other day, when his conduct became
absolutely unendurable.

I observed in the last number of Ball's _Journal of Health_ some
suggestions concerning a good method of exercising the lungs and
expanding the chest. They were to this effect:

    "Step out into the purest air you can find; stand perfectly erect,
    with the head up and the shoulders back, and then, fixing the lips
    as though you were going to whistle, draw the air, not through the
    nostrils, but through the lips, into the lungs. When the chest is
    about half full, gradually raise the arms, keeping them extended
    with the palms of the hands down, as you suck in the air, so as to
    bring them over the head just as the lungs are quite full. Then drop
    the thumbs inward, and after gently forcing the arms backward and
    the chest open, reverse the process by which you draw your breath
    till the lungs are empty. This process should be repeated three or
    four times immediately after bathing, and also several times through
    the day."

[Illustration]

This seemed reasonable, and I determined to give it a trial. For that
purpose I went out into the yard; and pinning the directions to a tree,
I stood in front of them where I could see them. Just as I began, Cooley
came out; and perceiving me, he placed his elbows upon the fence, rested
his chin upon his arms and watched me with a very peculiar smile upon
his face. I was exceedingly annoyed and somewhat embarrassed, but I was
determined that he should not have the gratification of driving me away
from my own ground. I made up my mind that I would continue the exercise
without appearing to notice him. In a few moments, however, he remarked:

"Training for a prize-fight, Adeler?"

I made no reply, but continued the exercise. When I had gone through the
programme once, I began again. As I arrived at that portion of it where
the instructions direct the arrangement of the lips, Mr. Cooley, by this
time somewhat incensed at my silence, observed,

"Whistle us a tune, Adeler. Give us something lively!"

As I paid no attention to this invitation, Cooley embraced the
opportunity afforded by the upward motion of my arms, in accordance with
the directions, to ask me if I was going to dive, and to offer to bring
me out a tub in case I cherished such a design.

Then I completed the exercise and went into the house without giving
Cooley any reason to suppose that I was aware of his presence. The next
day I performed the ceremony at the same place, at the same hour. On the
third day Cooley evidently expected me, for as soon as I appeared he
came up to the fence and assumed his old position. He had with him a
couple of friends, whom he must have summoned for the express purpose of
tormenting me. When I had gone through the movements once, Cooley said:

"See here, Adeler, I don't want to do you any harm, but let me advise
you as a friend to go to an asylum. I have known much worse cases than
yours to be cured. It isn't kind to your family for you to remain at
large. You're afflicted with only a mild form now; but if you don't do
something, you'll have a violent paroxysm some day, and smash things.
Now, take my advice, and put yourself under treatment."

Silence upon my part.

"How would you take it now," inquired Cooley, in a tone indicative of
yearning tenderness, "if I should get over the fence and chain you to
the pump while I go for the doctor? I really think you are getting
dangerous."

"Mr. Cooley," I said, "I wish you would attend to your own business.
I do not wish to quarrel with you, sir, but I will not have any
interference on your part with my affairs. If it will make you any
happier to learn what I am doing, I will tell you, seeing that you are
so much interested in the matter, that I am exercising, under medical
direction, for the benefit of my lungs."

"Exercising for the benefit of his lungs!" moaned Cooley. "His mind is
entirely gone."

"Yes, sir," I said, angrily, "I am exercising for the benefit of my
lungs, according to the directions of Dr. Ball, and I will thank you to
keep your tongue quiet about it."

[Illustration]

"He has them awfully bad," exclaimed Cooley, with a pathetic look.
"There is no such man as Dr. Ball, you know," he remarked, in a
confidential tone, to one of his companions.

"I wish you distinctly to understand that I will not tolerate this
impertinence much longer, sir," I exclaimed, indignantly. "What right
have you to interfere with me upon my own ground, you ruffian?"

"His intellect's completely shattered," said Cooley, with a mournful
shake of his head, to his companions. "Poor Mrs. Adeler! It will be a
terrible blow for her and for the children. My heart bleeds for them."

"Mr. Cooley," I said, "I want no more of this. I shall discontinue Dr.
Ball's exercise at this place for the present, but I will tell you
before I go that I consider you an insolent, unendurable idiot, and I
will repay you some day or other for your outrageous behavior to me."

"Sad, sad, indeed!" said Cooley to his friends. "Strange how he clings
to that fancy about a man named Ball, isn't it?"

One of Cooley's companions observed that the deranged were apt to get
such notions in their heads, and he supplemented this statement with the
remark, "This is a very interesting case--very."

[Illustration]

Then I went into the house, and from the window saw Cooley and his
companions walk away laughing. Not even the unpardonable insolence of
Cooley can disguise the fact that the affair has a certain comic aspect;
and when I became calmer, I confess that I appreciated this phase of the
occurrence with some keenness, even though I happened to occupy an
exceedingly unpleasant position as the victim of the joke. But I shall
be even with Cooley for this. I will devise a scheme for tormenting him
which will cause him to rue the day that he interfered with my pulmonary
gymnastics. Dr. Ball's recipe, however, I think I will toss into the
fire. I will expand my lungs by learning to sing or to play upon the
flute. My family can then participate in my enjoyment. A married man has
no right to be selfish in his pleasures.



CHAPTER V.

    A LITTLE LOVE AFFAIR--COWARDICE OF MR. PARKER--POPULAR
    INTEREST IN AMATORY MATTERS--THE MAGRUDER FAMILY--AN EVENT IN ITS
    HISTORY--REMARKABLE EXPERIMENTS BY MRS. MAGRUDER--AN INDIGNANT
    HUSBAND--A QUESTION ANSWERED.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Miss Bessie Magruder is the object upon which the affections of Mr. Bob
Parker are fixed at the present moment. He met her, I believe, while she
was attending school in the city last winter, and what with accompanying
her to matinees, taking her to church and lingering by her side in the
parlor oftentimes in the evening with the gas turned low, the heart of
Mr. Parker gradually was induced to throb only for the pretty maid from
New Castle. She has been very gracious to him during all the time that
he has devoted himself to her, and has seemed to like him so well that
there is really no reason for doubting that when the climax of the
little drama is reached and the question asked, she will droop her
eyelids, crimson her cheeks with blushes and whisper "Yes."

[Illustration]

But Mr. Parker's courage has not yet been quite equal to the
presentation of the proposition in a definite form. When I asked him the
other day, good-humoredly, if he had explained himself to Miss Magruder,
he told me confidentially that he had not. At least a dozen times he
had prepared the question in a graceful and effective form, and after
committing it to memory he had started out with a valiant determination
to declare his passion in that precise language the very moment he
should encounter Miss Magruder.

[Illustration]

"The words seem all right enough when I'm not with her," sighed Bob.
"The very way I wrote 'em out appears to express exactly what I want to
say, and as I go along the street I repeat 'em over and think to myself:
'By George, I'll do it now or die!' But as soon as I see her it seems
ridiculous to blurt out a speech like that the first thing. So we begin
to talk about something else, and then it seems 's if I couldn't break
right in abruptly on the conversation. Then I get to wondering how she'd
feel if she knew what I was thinking about. Then very likely somebody
comes in, and the chance is gone and I have to put it off. It worries me
nearly to death. I'll go down there some day soon and plump it right out
without saying another word first; I will, by George!"

[Illustration]

It is an odd circumstance that every man who finds himself in the
position occupied by Mr. Parker should entertain the conviction that he
is the first human being who ever suffered such embarrassment. Bob, my
dear boy, you are traveling an old, a very old road, and all those rough
and stony places whereupon you endure distress, and where your timid
feet stumble, have been passed for hundreds of centuries by love-sick
wayfarers who were as eager, as unwise and as cowardly as you!

It is very curious to observe how quickly the partiality of a young
man for a maid is perceived by their acquaintances, and with what zest
the gossiping tongues tell the tale. Women, of course, display deepest
interest and acutest perception in such matters. A movement made in
the direction of courtship by a young fellow sends a strong ripple
of excitement circling over the surface of the little world in which
they live; and there is something wonderful in the rapidity with which
the involved questions of suitability, social standing and financial
condition are considered and settled. It is soon perceived whether the
business is a serious one upon both sides; and as the two chief actors
proceed slowly toward the moment when their hearts shall be unfolded to
each other, sharp eyes are watching them, and though they think they are
keeping their secret very fast from their friends, every step of their
progress is perceived, and the gentle excitement of suspense increases
and intensifies day by day among the watchers until it culminates in the
formal announcement that they are engaged.

So they remain objects of general and tender consideration until that
other grand climax--the wedding--is at last attained; and the bride,
with her orange blossoms and her veil, with her satin, her silver-ware
and her sweetness, becomes the central figure of a happy festival whose
gayety is tempered by the solemn thoughts which will come concerning
that great unknown future whose threshold is being passed. And then,
when all this is over, when the lights are out, the wedding garments
folded away, the practical domestic life begun and the period of romance
passed, the interest which followed the pair from the first blossom of
their love expires, and, as far as sentiment is concerned, their day--a
time full of pleasant things, of grateful happiness in the present and
joyful expectation for the future--is done for ever. Thenceforward their
lives will be but prosy and dull to the world, however full to them the
years may be of serenity and peace.

I have been making some inquiries concerning the Magruder family, in
order to satisfy my wife that Bob's prospective relations are "the right
kind of people." The expression, I know, is vague; and now that we have
learned something of the Magruders, my inability to determine precisely
what qualifications are necessary in order to make people of the right
kind forbids the formation of a definite opinion upon my part concerning
them. But Mrs. Adeler will decide; women are always mistresses of such
subjects.

Mr. Magruder is apparently a man of leisure and of comparative wealth;
his social position is very good, and he has enough intelligence and
cultivation to enable him to get along comfortably in the society of
very respectable persons. Mrs. Magruder, it seems, is rather inclined to
emphasize herself. She is a physician, an enthusiast in the study and
practice of medical science, and a woman of such force that she succeeds
in keeping Mr. Magruder, if not precisely in a state of repression, at
least slightly in the background. He married her, according to report,
shortly after her graduation; and as he was at that time an earnest
advocate of the theory that women should practice medicine, a belief
prevails that he became attached to her while under her treatment. She
touched his heart, we may presume, by exciting activity in his liver. He
loved her, let us say, for the blisters she had spread, and demanded
her hand because he had observed the singular dexterity with which it
cut away tumors and tied up veins.

[Illustration]

But if what Dr. Tobias Jones, our family physician, tells me is true,
the sentiments of Magruder upon the subject of medical women have
undergone a radical change in consequence of an exuberance of enthusiasm
on the part of Mrs. Magruder. Dr. Jones entertains the regular
professional hatred for Mrs. Dr. Magruder, and so I have my private
doubts respecting the strict accuracy of his narrative.

[Illustration]

He said that a few years ago the Magruders lived in Philadelphia, and
Mrs. Magruder was a professor in the Woman's Medical College. At that
time Magruder was in business; and as he generally came home tired, he
had a habit of lying on the sitting-room sofa in the evening, for the
purpose of taking a nap. Several times when he did so, and Mrs. Magruder
had some friends with her down stairs, he noticed upon awaking that
there was a peculiar feeling of heaviness in his head and a queer smell
of drugs in the room. When he questioned Mrs. Magruder about it, she
invariably colored and looked confused, and said he must have eaten
something which disagreed with him.

[Illustration]

Ultimately the suspicions of Magruder were aroused. He suspected
something wrong. A horrible thought crossed his mind that Mrs. Magruder
intended to poison him for his skeleton--to sacrifice him so that she
could dangle his bones on a string before her class, and explain to the
seekers after medical truth the peculiarities of construction which
enabled the framework of her husband to move around in society.

So Magruder revealed his suspicions to his brother, and engaged him to
secrete himself in a closet in the room while he took his usual nap on a
certain evening upon the sofa.

[Illustration]

When that night arrived, Mrs. Magruder pretended to have the "sewing
circle" from the church in the parlor, while her husband went to sleep
in the sitting-room with that vigilant relative of his on guard. About
nine o'clock Mr. Magruder's brother was surprised to observe Mrs.
Magruder softly stealing up stairs, with the members of the "sewing
circle" following her noiselessly in single file. In her hand Mrs.
Magruder carried a volume. If her brother-in-law had conceived the idea
that the book might contain the tender strains of some sweet singer amid
whose glowing imagery this woman reveled with the ecstasy of a sensitive
nature, he would have been mistaken, for the work was entitled "Thompson
on the Nervous System;" while those lines traced in a delicate female
hand, upon the perfumed note-paper, and carried by Mrs. Magruder, so far
from embodying an expression of the gentlest and most sacred emotions of
her bosom, were merely a diagnosis of an aggravated case of fatty
degeneration of the heart.

[Illustration]

I give the story literally as I received it from that eminent
practitioner Jones.

When the whole party had entered the room, Mrs. Magruder closed the
door and applied chloroform to her husband's nose. As soon as he became
completely insensible, the sewing in the hands of the ladies was quickly
laid aside, and to Magruder's secreted brother was disclosed the
alarming fact that this was a class of students from the college.

If Dr. Jones is to be believed, Professor Magruder began her lecture
with some very able remarks upon the nervous system; and in order to
demonstrate her meaning more plainly, she attached a galvanic battery to
her husband's toes, so that she might make him wriggle before the class.
And he did wriggle. Mrs. Magruder gave him a dozen or two shocks and
poked him with a ruler to make him jump around, while the students stood
in a semi-circle, with note-books in their hands, and exclaimed, "How
very interesting!"

Magruder's brother thought it awful, but he was afraid to come out when
he reflected that they might want _two_ skeletons at the college.

Mrs. Magruder then said that she would pursue this branch of the
investigation no further at that moment, because Mr. Magruder's system
was somewhat debilitated in consequence of an overdose of chlorate of
potash which she had administered in his coffee upon the previous day
for the purpose of testing the strength of the drug.

Mrs. Magruder then proceeded to "quiz" the class concerning the general
construction of her husband. She said, for instance, that she had won
what was called the heart of Mr. Magruder, and she asked the students
what it was that she had really won.

"Why, the cardia, of course," said the class; "it is an azygous muscle
of an irregular pyramid shape, situated obliquely and a little to the
left side of the chest, and it rests on the diaphragm."

One fair young thing said that it didn't rest on the diaphragm.

Another one said she would bet a quart of paregoric it did, and until
the dispute was settled by the professor, Magruder's brother's hair
stood on end with fear lest they should go to probing around inside of
Magruder with a butcher-knife and a lantern, for the purpose of
determining the actual condition of affairs respecting his diaphragm.

Mrs. Magruder continued. She explained that when she accepted Mr.
Magruder he seized her hand, and she required the class to explain what
it was that Mr. Magruder actually had hold of.

The students replied that he held in his grip twenty-seven distinct
bones, among which might be mentioned the phalanges, the carpus and the
metacarpus.

The beautiful creature who was incredulous concerning the diaphragm
suggested that he also had hold of the deltoid. But the others
scornfully suggested that the deltoid was a muscle; they knew, because
they had dissected one that very morning. The discussion became so
exciting that thumb-lancets were drawn, and there seemed to be a
prospect of bloodshed, when the professor interfered and demanded of the
girl who had begun to cry about the deltoid what was the result when Mr.
Magruder kissed her.

"Why merely a contraction of the orbicularis oris muscle; thus," said
the student as she leaned over and kissed Mr. Magruder.

Magruder's brother, in the closet, thought maybe it wasn't so very
solemn for Magruder after all. He considered this portion of the
exercises in a certain sense soothing.

But all the students said it was perfectly scandalous. And the professor
herself, after informing the offender that hereafter when illustration
of any point in the lesson was needed it would be supplied by the
professor, ordered her to go to the foot of the class, and to learn
eighty new bones as a punishment.

"Do you hear me, miss?" demanded the professor, when she perceived that
that blooming contractor of the orbicularis oris did not budge.

"Yes," she said, "I am conscious of a vibration striking against the
membrana tympanum, and being transmitted through the labyrinth until it
agitates the auditory nerve, which conveys the impression to the brain."

"Correct," said the professor. "Then obey me, or I will call my biceps
and flexors and scapularis into action and put you in your place by
force."

[Illustration: "A GENERAL ATTACK ON THE SUBJECT."]

"Yes, and we will help her with our spinatus and infra-spiralis,"
exclaimed the rest of the class.

[Illustration]

Magruder's brother in the gloom of his closet did not comprehend the
character of these threats, but he had a vague idea that the life of
that lovely young saw-bones was menaced by firearms and other engines of
war of a peculiarly deadly description. He felt that the punishment was
too severe for the crime. Magruder himself, he was convinced, would have
regarded that orbicularis operation with courageous fortitude and heroic
composure.

Mrs. Magruder then proceeded to give the class practice in certain
operations in medical treatment. She vaccinated Magruder on the left
arm, while one of the students bled his right arm and showed her
companions how to tie up the vein. They applied leeches to his nose,
under the professor's instructions; they cupped him on the shoulder
blades; they exercised themselves in spreading mustard plasters on his
back; they timed his pulse; they held out his tongue with pincers and
examined it with a microscope, and two or three enthusiastic students
kept hovering around Magruder's leg with a saw and a carving-knife,
until Magruder's brother in retirement in the closet shuddered with
apprehension.

But the professor restrained these devotees of science; and when the
other exercises were ended, she informed the students that they would
devote a few moments in conclusion to study of the use of the
stomach-pump.

Dr. Jones continued: "I shall not enter into particulars concerning the
scene that then ensued. There is a certain want of poetry about the
operation of the weapon just named, a certain absence of dignity and
sentiment, which, I may say, render it impossible to describe it in a
manner which will elevate the soul and touch the moral sensibilities. It
will suffice to observe that as each member of the class attacked
Magruder with that murderous engine, Magruder's brother, timid as he
was, solemnly declared to himself that if the class would put away those
saws and things he would rush out and rescue his brother at the risk of
his life.

"He was saved the necessity of thus imperiling his safety. Magruder
began to revive. He turned over; he sat up; he stared wildly at the
company; he looked at his wife; then he sank back upon the sofa and said
to her, in a feeble voice:

'Henrietta, somehow or other I feel awfully hungry!'"

[Illustration]

"Hungry! Magruder's brother considered that, after that last performance
of the class, Magruder ought to have a relish for a couple of raw
buffaloes, at least. He emerged from the closet, and seizing a chair,
determined to tell the whole story. Mrs. Magruder and the class
screamed, but he proceeded. Then up rose Magruder and discussed the
subject with vehemence, while his brother brandished his chair and
joined in the chorus. Mrs. Magruder and the class cried, and said
Mr. Magruder was a brute, and he had no love for science. But Mr.
Magruder said that as for himself, 'hang science!' when a woman became
so infatuated with it as to chop up her husband to help it along. And
his brother said he ought to put in even stronger terms than that. What
followed upon the adjournment of the class is not known. But Magruder
seems somehow to have lost much of his interest in medicine, and since
then there has been a kind of coolness between him and the professor."

I shall repeat this extraordinary narrative to Mr. Parker. He ought
to be aware of the propensities of his prospective mother-in-law
beforehand, so that he may not encounter the dangers which attend
her devotion to her profession without realizing the fact of their
existence. Admitting that Jones adheres closely to truth in his
statement, we may very reasonably fear that Mrs. Magruder would not
hesitate to vivisect a mere son-in-law, or in an extreme case to remove
one of his legs. A mother-in-law with such dangerous proclivities ought
not to be accepted rashly or in haste. Prudence requires that she should
be meditated upon.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I want to ask you a question," observed Mr. Parker, as we sat out upon
the porch after tea with Mrs. Adeler. "I notice that you always say 'is
being done,' and not 'is doing.' Now, which is correct? I think you're
wrong. Some of those big guns who write upon such subjects think so too.
Grind us out an opinion."

"The subject has been much discussed, Bob, and a good many smart things
have been said in support of both theories. But I stick to 'is being
done,' first, because it is more common, and therefore handier, and
second, because it is the only form that is really available in all
cases. Suppose, for instance, you wished to express the idea that our
boy Agamemnon is enduring chastisement; you would say, 'Agamemnon is
being spanked,' not 'Agamemnon is spanking.' The difference may seem to
you very slight, but it would be a matter of considerable importance to
Agamemnon; and if a choice should be given him, it is probable that he
would suddenly select the latter form."

"Just so," exclaimed Mr. Parker.

"You say again, 'Captain Cook is being eaten.' Certainly this expresses
a very different fact from that which is conveyed by the form, 'Captain
Cook is eating.' I venture to say that Captain Cook would have insisted
upon the latter as by far the more agreeable of the two things."

"Precisely," said Mr. Parker.

"And equally diverse are the two ideas expressed by the phrases
'The mule is being kicked' and 'The mule is kicking.' But it is to
be admitted that there are occasions when the two forms indicate a
precisely similar act. You assert, I will say, that 'Hannah is hugging.'"

"Which would be a very improper thing for Hannah to do," suggested Mr.
P.

"Of course it would; but there is an extreme probability that you would
indicate Hannah's action under the circumstances if you should say,
'Hannah is being hugged.' It is in most cases a reciprocal act. Or
suppose I say, 'Jane is kissing'?"

"And her mother ought to know about it if she is," remarked Bob.

"It is nearly the same as if I should say, 'Jane is being kissed,' for
one performance in most cases presupposes the other. It will not,
however, be necessary for you to attempt to prove this fact by practice
anywhere in the neighborhood of the Magruder mansion. If you find it
necessary to explain to Miss Magruder my views of this grammatical
question, it will be better to confine your illustrations to the case of
Captain Cook. But you can safely continue to say, 'is being built.'
Nobody will object to that but a few superfine people who are so far
ahead of you in such matters that they will be tolerably sure to regard
you as an idiot whichever form you happen to use, while if you adopt the
other form in conversation with your unfastidious acquaintances, you
will be likely to confuse your meaning very often in such a manner as to
impress them with the conviction that your reason is dethroned."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI.

    THE EDITOR OF OUR DAILY PAPER--THE APPEARANCE AND PERSONAL
    CHARACTERISTICS OF COLONEL BANGS--THE AFFAIR WITH THE
    TOMBSTONE--ART NEWS--COLONEL BANGS IN THE HEAT OF A POLITICAL
    CAMPAIGN--PECULIAR TROUBLES OF PUBLIC SINGERS--THE PHENOMENA OF
    MENAGERIES--EXTRAORDINARY SAGACITY OF THE ANIMALS--THE WILD MAN OF
    AFGHANISTAN.


[Illustration]

The editor of our daily paper, _The Morning Argus_, is Col.
Bangs--Colonel Mortimer J. Bangs. The colonel is an exceedingly
important personage in the village, and he bears about him the air of a
man who is acutely conscious of the fact. The gait of the colonel, the
peculiar way in which he carries his head, the manner in which he swings
his cane, and the art he has of impressing any one he happens to address
with a feeling that he is performing an act of sublime condescension in
permitting himself to hold communication with an inferior being, combine
to excite in the vulgar mind a sentiment of awe. The eminent journalist
manifests in his entire bearing his confidence in the theory that upon
him devolves the responsibility of forming the public opinion of the
place; and there is a certain grandeur in the manner in which he conveys
to the public mind, through the public eye, the fact that while he
appreciates the difficulties of what seemed to be an almost superhuman
task, which would surely overwhelm men of smaller intellectual calibre,
the work presents itself to his mind as something not much more
formidable than pastime.

The appearance of Colonel Bangs is not only imposing, but sometimes
it inclines to be almost ferocious. The form in which he wears his
whiskers, added to the military nature of his title, would be likely to
give to timid strangers an idea not only that the colonel has a raging
and insatiable thirst for blood and an almost irresistible appetite
for the horrors of war, but that upon very slight provocation he would
suddenly grasp his sword, fling away the scabbard, and then proceed
to wade through slaughter to a throne and shut the gates of mercy on
mankind. But I rejoice to say that the colonel has not really such
murderous and revolutionary inclinations. His title was obtained in
those early years of peace when he led the inoffensive forces of the
militia upon parade, and marshaled them as they braved the perils of the
target-shooting excursion.

[Illustration]

I think I am warranted in saying that Colonel Bangs would never
voluntarily stand in the imminent deadly breach if there happened to be
a man there with a gun who wanted him to leave, and that he will never
seek the bubble reputation at the cannon's mouth unless the cannon
happens to be unloaded. Place Colonel Bangs in front of an empty cannon,
and for a proper consideration he would remain there for years without
the quiver of a muscle. Charge that piece of ordnance with powder and
ball, and not all the wealth of the world would induce him to stand
anywhere but in the rear of the artillery.

The _Argus_ has never appeared to me to be an especially brilliant
journal. To the intelligent and critical reader, indeed, the controlling
purpose of the colonel seems to be to endeavor to ascertain how near he
can bring the paper to imbecility without actually reaching that
condition; and it is surprising how close a shave he makes of it. When
we first came to the village, a gleam of intelligence now and then
appeared in the editorial columns of the _Argus_, and this phenomenon
was generally attributed to the circumstance that Colonel Bangs had
permitted his assistant editor to spread his views before the public. On
such occasions it was entertaining to observe in what manner the colonel
would assume the honors of the authorship of his assistant's articles.
Cooley, for instance, meeting him upon the street would observe:

[Illustration]

"That was an uncommonly good thing, colonel, which appeared in the
_Argus_ this morning on The Impending Struggle; whose was it?"

COLONEL BANGS (with an air of mingled surprise and indignation). "Whose
was it? Whose was that article? I suppose you are aware, sir, that _I_
am the editor of THE MORNING ARGUS!"

COOLEY. "Yes; but I thought perhaps--"

COLONEL (with grandeur). "No matter, sir, what you thought. When an
article appears in my own paper, Mr. Cooley, there is but a single
inference to be drawn. When I find myself unable to edit the _Argus_, I
will sell out, sir--I will sell out!"

COOLEY (calmly). "Well, but Murphy, your assistant, told me distinctly
that he wrote that editorial himself."

COLONEL (coming down). "Ah! yes, yes! that is partly true, now I
remember. I believe Murphy did scratch off the body of the article, but
I overhauled it; it was necessary for me to revise it, to touch it up,
to throw it into shape, as it were, before it went into type. Murphy
means well, and with a little guidance--just a l-e-e-t-l-e careful
training--he will do."

[Illustration]

But Murphy did not remain long. One of the colonel's little nephews
died, and a man who kept a marble-yard in Wilmington thought he might
obtain a gratuitous advertisement by giving to the afflicted uncle a
substantial expression of his sympathy. So he got up a gravestone for
the departed child. The design, cut upon the stone in bas-relief,
represented an angel carrying the little one in his arms and flying
away with it, while a woman sat weeping upon the ground. It was executed
in a most dreadful manner. The tombstone was sent to the colonel, with a
simple request that he would accept it. As he was absent, Mr. Murphy
determined to acknowledge the gift, although he had not the slightest
idea what it meant. So the next morning he burst out in the _Argus_ with
the following remarks:

  "ART NEWS.

[Illustration]

"We have received from the eminent sculptor, Mr. Felix Mullins of
Wilmington, a comic _bas-relief_ designed for an ornamental fireboard.
It represents an Irishman in his night-shirt running away with the
little god Cupid, while the Irishman's sweetheart demurely hangs her
head in the corner. Every true work of art tells its own story; and we
understand, as soon as we glance at this, that our Irish friend has been
coqueted with by the fair one, and is pretending to transfer his love to
other quarters. There is a lurking smile on the Irishman's lips which
expresses his mischievous intentions perfectly. We think it would have
been better, however, to have clothed him in something else than a
night-shirt, and to have smoothed down his hair. We have placed this
_chef d'oeuvre_ upon a shelf in our office, where it will undoubtedly
be admired by our friends when they call. We are glad to encourage such
progress in Delaware art."

This was painful. When the colonel returned next day, Mr. Mullins called
on him and explained the tombstone to him, and that very night Mr.
Murphy retired from the _Morning Argus_, and began to seek fresh fields
for the exercise of his talents.

[Illustration]

Colonel Bangs affords me most entertainment in the _Argus_ when an
election is approaching.

Your city editor often displays a certain amount of vehemence at such
times, but his wildest frenzy is calmness, is absolute slumberous repose
itself, when compared with the frantic enthusiasm manifested by Colonel
Bangs. The latter succeeds in getting up as much fury over a candidate
for constable as a city editor does over an aspirant for the Presidency.
He will turn out column after column of double-leaded type, in which he
will demonstrate with a marvelous profusion of adjectives that if you
should roll all the prophets, saints and martyrs into one, you would
have a much smaller amount of virtue than can be found in that one
humble man who wants to be constable. He will prove to you that unless
that particular person is elected, the entire fabric of American
institutions will totter to its base and become a bewildering and
hopeless ruin, while the merciless despots who grind enslaved millions
beneath their iron heels will greet the hideous and irreclaimable chaos
with fiendish laughter, and amid the remnants of a once proud republic
they will erect bastiles in which they will forge chains to fetter the
wrists of dismayed and heart-broken patriots. He will ask you to take
your choice between electing that man constable and witnessing the
annihilation of the proud work for which the Revolutionary patriots bled
and died.

The man who runs against the candidate of the _Argus_ will be proved to
be a moral and intellectual wreck, and it will be shown that all the
vices which have corrupted the race since the fall of man are
concentrated in that one individual. The day after election, if his man
wins, Colonel Bangs will decorate his paper with a whole array of
roosters and a menagerie of 'coons, and inform a breathless world that
the nation is once more saved. If he loses, he will omit any reference
to the frightful prophecies uttered during the campaign, keep his
roosters in the closet, and mildly assert that the opposition man is not
so bad, after all, and that the right party must triumph next time for
certain. Then Colonel Bangs will keep his enthusiasm cool for a year,
and during that period will rest his overwrought brain, while he edits
his paper with a pair of predatory shears and a dishonest paste-pot.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is extremely probable that we shall lose our servant-girl. She was
the victim of a very singular catastrophe a night or two since, in
consequence of which she has acquired a prejudice against the house of
Adeler. We were troubled with dampness in our cellar, and in order to
remove the difficulty we got a couple of men to come and dig the earth
out to the depth of twelve or fifteen inches and fill it in with a
cement-and-mortar floor. The material was, of course, very soft, and the
workmen laid boards upon the surface, so that access to the furnace and
the coal-bin was possible. That night, just after retiring, we heard a
woman screaming for help, but after listening at the open window, we
concluded that Cooley and his wife were engaged in an altercation, and
so we paid no more attention to the noise. Half an hour afterward there
was a violent ring at the front-door bell, and upon going to the window
again, I found Pitman standing upon the door-step below. When I spoke to
him, he said:

"Max" (the judge is inclined sometimes, especially during periods of
excitement, to be unnecessarily familiar), "there's somethin' wrong in
your cellar. There's a woman down there screechin' and carryin' on like
mad. Sounds 's if somebody's a-murderin' her."

[Illustration]

I dressed and descended; and securing the assistance of Pitman, so that
I would be better prepared in the event of burglars being discovered, I
lighted a lamp and we went into the cellar.

[Illustration]

There we found the maid-servant standing by the refrigerator, knee-deep
in the cement, and supporting herself with the handle of a broom, which
was also half submerged. In several places about her were air-holes
marking the spot where the milk-jug, the cold veal, the lima beans and
the silver-plated butter-dish had gone down. We procured some additional
boards, and while Pitman seized the sufferer by one arm I grasped the
other. It was for some time doubtful if she would come to the surface
without the use of more violent means, and I confess that I was half
inclined to regard with satisfaction the prospect that we would have to
blast her loose with gunpowder. After a desperate struggle, during which
the girl declared that she would be torn in pieces, Pitman and I
succeeded in getting her safely out, and she went up stairs with half a
barrel of cement on each leg, declaring that she would leave the house
in the morning.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

The cold veal is in there yet. Centuries hence some antiquarian will
perhaps grub about the spot whereon my cottage once stood, and will blow
that cold veal out in a petrified condition, and then present it to a
museum as the fossil remains of some unknown animal. Perhaps, too, he
will excavate the milk-jug and the butter-dish, and go about lecturing
upon them as utensils employed in bygone ages by a race of savages
called "the Adelers." I should like to be alive at the time to hear that
lecture. And I cannot avoid the thought that if our servant had been
completely buried in the cement, and thus carefully preserved until the
coming of that antiquarian, the lecture would be more interesting, and
the girl more useful than she is now. A fossilized domestic servant of
the present era would probably astonish the people of the twenty-eighth
century.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I see," said Mrs. Adeler, who was looking over the evening paper upon
the day following the accident, "that Mlle. Willson, the opera-singer,
has been robbed of ten thousand dollars' worth of diamonds in St. Louis.
What a dreadful loss!"

"Dreadful, indeed, Mrs. A. These singing women are very unfortunate.
They are constantly being robbed, or rolled over embankments in railway
cars, or subjected to deadly perils in some other form; and the
astonishing thing about it all is that these frightful things invariably
occur precisely at the times when public interest in the victims begins
to flag a little, and the accounts always appear in the papers of a
certain city just before the singers begin an engagement in that place.
It is very remarkable."

"You don't think this story is false, do you, and that all such
statements are untrue?"

"Certainly not. I only refer to the fact because it shows how very
wonderful coincidences often are. I have observed precisely the same
thing in connection with other contributors to popular entertainment.
But in these cases sometimes we may trace the effects directly to the
cause. Take menageries, for example. The peculiar manifestations which
frequently attend the movements of these collections of wild animals
through the land can be attributed only to the wonderful instinct of the
beasts. If I am to judge from the reports that appear occasionally in
the provincial newspapers, it invariably happens that the animals come
to the rescue of the menagerie people when the latter begin their
campaigns and are badly in want of advertisements for which they are
disinclined to pay."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"Regularly every season these ferocious beasts proceed to do something
to secure sensational allusions to themselves in the papers. If the
rhinoceros does not plunge through the side of the tent and prowl about
until he comes home with an entire Sunday-school class of small boys
impaled on his horn, the Nubian lion is perfectly certain to bite its
keeper in half and lunch upon his legs. If the elephant should neglect
to seize his attendant and fling him into the parquet circle, while at
the same time it crushes the hyena into jelly, the Bengal tiger is very
sure not to forget to tear half a dozen ribs out of the ticket agent,
and then to assimilate ten or twelve village children who are trying
to peep under the tent. Either the brass band, riding upon the den of
lions, finds the roof caving in, and at last is rescued with the loss
of the cymbal player and the operator upon the key bugle, and of a lot
of legs and arms snatched from the bass drummer and the man with the
triangle, or else there is a railroad accident which empties the cars
and permits kangaroos, panthers, blue-nose baboons and boa-constrictors
to roam about the country reducing the majorities of the afflicted
sections previous to the election."

"You may find hundreds of accounts of such accidents in the rural press
during the summer season; and whenever I read them, I am at a loss to
determine which is more wonderful, the remarkable sagacity and the
self-sacrificing devotion of these beasts, which perceive that something
must be done and straightway do it, or the childlike confidence, the
bland simplicity, of the editors who give gratuitous circulation to
these narratives."

"Talking about menageries," observed Mr. Bob Parker, "did I ever tell
you about Wylie and his love affair?"

"No."

"Wylie, you know, was the brother of the porter in our store; and when
he had nothing to do, he used to come around and sit in the cellar among
the boxes and bales, and we fellows would go down when we were at
leisure and hear him relate his adventures.

"One time, several years ago, he was awfully hard up and he accepted a
situation in a traveling show. They dressed him up in a fur shirt and
put grizzly bears' claws on his feet and daubed some stuff over his
face, and advertised him as 'The Wild Man of Afghanistan.' Then, when
the show was open, he would stand in a cage and scrouge up against the
bars and growl until he would scare the children nearly to death. The
fat woman used to sit near him during the exhibitions just outside the
cage, and by degrees he learned to love her. The keeper of the concern
himself, it appears, also cherished a tender feeling for the corpulent
young creature, and he became jealous of the Wild Man of Afghanistan."

"And the professor of avoirdupois--whom did she affect?"

"Well, when the visitors came, the keeper would procure a pole with a
nail in the end, and he would stir up the Wild Man and poke him. Then
he would ridicule the Wild Man's legs and deliver lectures upon the
manner in which he turned in his toes; and he sometimes read to the
audience chapters out of books of natural history to show that a being
with a skull of such a shape must necessarily be an idiot. Then he would
poke the Wild Man of Afghanistan a few more times with the pole and pass
on to the next cage with some remarks tending to prove that the monkeys
therein and the Wild Man were of the same general type."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"And all the time the fat woman would sit there and smile a cold and
disdainful smile, as if she believed it all, and hated such legs and
despised toes that turned in. At last the Wild Man of Afghanistan had
his revenge. One day when all hands were off duty, the keeper fell
asleep on the settee in the ticket-office adjoining the show-room. Then
Mr. Wylie threw a blanket over him and went for the fat woman. He led
her by the hand and asked her to be seated while he told her about his
love. Then she suddenly sat down on the keeper."

[Illustration]

"And killed him, I suppose, of course?"

[Illustration]

"Wylie informed me that you could have passed the remains under a closed
door without scraping the buttons of the waistcoat. They merely slid him
into a crack in the ground when they buried him, and the fat woman pined
away until she became thin and valueless. Then the Wild Man married her,
and began life again on a new basis."

[Illustration]

"Was Mr. Wylie what you might consider a man of veracity?"

"Certainly he was; and his story is undoubtedly true, because his toes
did turn in."

"That settles the matter. With such incontrovertible evidence as that at
hand, it would be folly to doubt the story. We will go quietly and
confidently to tea instead of discussing it."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VII.

    THE BATTERY AND ITS PECULIARITIES--A LOVELY SCENE--SWEDE AND
    DUTCHMAN TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO--OLD NAMES OF THE RIVER--INDIAN NAMES
    GENERALLY--COOLEY'S BOY--HIS ADVENTURE IN CHURCH--THE LONG AND THE
    SHORT OF IT--MR. COOLEY'S DOG AND OUR TROUBLES WITH IT.


[Illustration]

The closing hours of the long summer afternoon can be spent in no
pleasanter place than by the water's side. And after tea I like to
take my little group of Adelers out from the hot streets over the
grassy way which leads to the river shore, and to find a comfortable
loitering-place upon the Battery. That spot is adorned with a long row
of rugged old trees whose trunks are gashed and scarred by the penknives
of idlers. Their branches interlock overhead and form one great mass of
tender green foliage, here sweeping down almost to the earth, and there
hanging far out over the water, trembling and rustling in the breeze.
Beneath, there is a succession of hewn logs, suggesting the existence
of some sort of a wharf in the remote past, but now serving nicely for
seats for those who come here to spend a quiet hour. Around there is a
sod which grows lush and verdant, excepting where the tread of many feet
has worn a pathway backward to the village.

In front is as lovely a scene as any the eye can rest upon in this
portion of the world. Below us the rising and the ebbing tides hurl the
tiny ripples upon the pebbly beach, and the perpetual wash of the waves
makes that gentle and constant music which is among the most grateful of
the sounds of nature.

Away to the southward sweeps the Delaware shore line in a mighty curve
which gives the river here the breadth and magnificence of a great lake,
and at the end of the chord of the arc the steeples and the masts at
Delaware City rise in indistinct outline from the waves. To the left,
farther in the distance, old Fort Delaware lifts its battlements above
the surface of the stream. And see! A puff of white smoke rises close
by the flag-staff. And now a dull thud comes with softened cadence
across the wide interval. It is the sunset gun. Far, far beyond, a sail
glimmers with rosy light caught from the brilliant hues of the clouds
which make the western heavens glorious with their crimson drapery; and
while here as we gaze straight out through the bay there is naught in
the perspective but water and sky, to the right the low-lying land below
the island fortress seems, somehow, to be queerly suspended between
river and heaven, until as it recedes it grows more and more shadowy,
and at last melts away into the mist that creeps in from the ocean. It
is pure happiness to sit here beneath the trees and to look upon the
scene while the cool air pours in from the water and lifts into the
upper atmosphere the oppressive heat that has mantled the earth during
the day.

[Illustration: THE BATTERY]

I do not know why the place is called "the Battery." Perhaps a couple
of centuries ago the Swedes may have built here a breastwork with which
to menace their hated Dutch rivals who held the fort just below us
there upon the river bank. (We will walk over to the spot some day, Mrs.
Adeler.) And who can tell what strange old Northmen in jerkin and helmet
have marched up and down this very stretch of level sward, carrying
huge fire-lock muskets and swearing mighty oaths as they watched the
intruding Dutchman in his stronghold, caring little for the placid
loveliness of the view which the rolling tide of the majestic river ever
offered to their eyes!

[Illustration]

But some of those people could appreciate this beautiful panorama.
Some of them did not forget the grandeur of nature while their little
passions raged against the Dutchmen. It was Jasper Dankers who came here
from Sweden in 1676, and looked out from this Battery; returning home,
he wrote in his diary in this fashion:

"The town is situated upon a point which extends out with a sandy beach,
affording a good landing-place. It lies a little above the bay where the
river bends and runs south from there, so that you can see down the
river southwardly. The greater portion of it presents a beautiful view
in perspective, and enables you to see from a distance the ships come
out from the great bay and sail up the river."

The sandy beach is gone, and the ships which float upward from the bay
are not such craft as Dankers saw; but the stream has its ancient
majesty, and the wooded banks, I like to think, present to our eyes
nearly the same sweet picture that touched the soul of that old Swede
two long centuries ago.

Another thing has changed--yes, it has changed many times. The Indians,
Mrs. A., called the bay Poutaxat and the river Lenape Wihittuck. The
stream, too, was named the Arasapha, and also Mackerish Kitton--a title
pretty enough in its way, but oddly suggestive of mackerel and kittens.
But the Swedes came, and with that passion which burned in the bosoms of
all the early European immigrants for prefixing the word "new" to the
names of natural objects, they entitled the river New Swedeland Stream.
Then the Dutch obtained the mastery here, and it became the South River,
the Hudson being the North River, and finally the English obtained
possession, and called it Delaware.

What a pity it is that they didn't suffer one of the original titles to
remain! The Lenape would have been a beautiful name for the river--far
better than the Gallic compound that it bears now. The men who settled
this country seem to have had for Indian names the same intense dislike
that they entertained for the savages themselves, and as a rule they
rejected with scorn the soft, sweet syllables with which mountain and
forest and stream were crowned, substituting too often most barbarous
words therefor. Even Penn and his Quakers disdained the Indian names.
How much better Pennsylvania would have been treated if that grand old
State had been called Susquehanna or Juniata or Allegheny! And would it
not have been wiser if the city, instead of bringing its name from Asia,
had sought it among its own surroundings, and had grown to greatness as
Wissahickon or Wingohocking? The Indian names that still remain here and
there to designate a stream, a district or a town are the few distinctly
American words in existence. We have thrown away the others, although
they were a very precious part of the legacy which we received from the
race we have supplanted. One such word as Wyoming is worth an entire
volume of such names as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Maryland and
the like; and I have always wondered at the blundering folly of the man
who, with such musical syllables at hand ready to be used, dubbed the
town of Wilkes Barre with that particularly poor name.

While we were sitting by the river discussing these and other matters,
Cooley's boy, a thoroughly disagreeable urchin, who had been playing
with some other boys upon the wharf near by, tumbled into the water.
There was a terrible screaming among his companions, and a crowd quickly
gathered upon the pier. For a few moments it seemed as if the boy would
drown, for no one was disposed to leap in after him, and there was not a
boat within saving distance. But fortunately the current swept him
around to the front of the Battery, where the water is shallow, and
before he was seriously hurt he was safely landed in the mud that
stretches below the low-water mark. Then the excitement, which had been
so great as to attract about half the population of the village, died
away, and people who had just been filled with horror at the prospect of
a tragedy began to feel a sense of disappointment because their fears
had not been realized. I cannot of course say that I was sorry to see
the youngster once more upon dry land; but if fate had robbed us of him,
we should have accepted the dispensation without grievous complaint.

[Illustration]

We did not leave all the nuisances behind us in the city. Cooley's dog
and his boy are two very sore afflictions which make life even here very
much sadder than it ought to be in a place that pretends to be something
in the nature of an earthly paradise. The boy not only preys upon my
melon-patch and fruit trees and upon those of my neighbors, but he has
an extraordinary aptitude for creating a disturbance in whatever spot
he happens to be. Only last Sunday he caused such a terrible commotion
in church that the services had to be suspended for several minutes
until he could be removed. The interior of the edifice was painted and
varnished recently, and I suppose one of the workmen must have left a
clot of varnish upon the back of Cooley's pew, which is directly across
the aisle from mine. Cooley's boy was the only representative of the
family at church upon that day, and he amused himself during the earlier
portions of the service by kneeling upon the seat and communing with Dr.
Jones's boy, who occupied the pew immediately in the rear. Sometimes,
when young Cooley would resume a proper position, Jones's boy would stir
him up afresh by slyly pulling his hair, whereupon Cooley would wheel
about and menace Jones with his fist in a manner which betrayed utter
indifference to the proprieties of the place and the occasion, as well
as to the presence of the congregation. When Cooley finally sank into a
condition of repose, he placed his head, most unfortunately, directly
against the lump of undried varnish, while he amused himself by reading
the commandments and the other scriptural texts upon the wall behind the
pulpit.

[Illustration]

In a few moments he attempted to move, but the varnish had mingled with
his hair, and it held him securely. After making one or two desperate
but ineffectual efforts to release himself, he became very angry; and
supposing that Jones's boy was holding him, he shouted:

"Leg go o' my hair! Leg go o' my hair, I tell you!"

[Illustration]

The clergyman paused just as he was entering upon consideration of
"secondly," and the congregation looked around in amazement, in time to
perceive young Cooley, with his head against the back of the pew, aiming
dreadful blows over his shoulder with his fist at some unseen person
behind him. And with every thrust he exclaimed:

"I'll smash yer nose after church! I'll go for you, Bill Jones, when I
ketch you alone! Leg go o' my hair, I tell you, or I'll knock the
stuffin' out o' yer," etc., etc.

[Illustration]

Meanwhile, Jones's boy sat up at the very end of his pew, far away from
Cooley, and looked as solemn as if the sermon had made a deep impression
upon him. Then the sexton came running up, with the idea that the boy
had fallen asleep and had nightmare, while Mrs. Dr. Magruder sallied out
from her pew and over to Cooley's, convinced that he had a fit. When the
cause of the disturbance was ascertained, the sexton took out his
knife, and after sawing off enough of Cooley's hair to release him,
dragged him out of church. The victim retreated unwillingly, glancing
around at Jones's boy and shaking his fist at that urchin as if to
indicate that he cherished a deadly purpose against Jones.

[Illustration]

Then the sermon proceeded. I suppose a contest between the two boys has
been averted, for only yesterday I saw Jones and Cooley, the younger,
playing hop-scotch together in the street in apparent forgetfulness of
the sorrows of the sanctuary.

Judge Pitman tells me that one of the reasons why Cooley and his wife
disagree is that there is such a difference in their height. Cooley is
tall, and Mrs. Cooley is small. Mrs. Cooley told Mrs. Pitman, if the
judge is to be believed, that Cooley continually growled because she
could not keep step with him. They always start wrong, somehow, when
they go out together, and then, while he tries to catch step with her,
she endeavors to get in with him. After both have been shuffling about
over the pavement for several minutes in a perfectly absurd manner, they
go ahead out of step just as before.

[Illustration]

When Cooley tried to take short steps like hers, his gait was so
ridiculous as to excite remark; while if she tried to make such long
strides as his, people stopped and looked at her as if they thought she
was insane. Then she would strive to take two steps to his one, but she
found that two and a half of hers were equal to one of his; and when she
undertook to make that fractional number in order to keep up with him,
he would frown at her and say,

"Mrs. Cooley, if you are going to dance the polka mazourka upon the
public highway, I'm going home."

I do not receive this statement with implicit confidence in its
truthfulness. Pitman's imagination sometimes glows with unnatural heat,
and he may have embellished the original narrative of Mrs. Cooley.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

I shall probably never receive from any member of the Cooley family a
correct account of the causes of the unpleasant differences existing
therein, for we are on worse terms than ever with Cooley. His dog became
such an intolerable nuisance because of his nocturnal vociferation that
some practical humanitarian in the neighborhood poisoned him. Cooley
apparently cherished the conviction that I had killed the animal, and he
flung the carcass over the fence into my yard. I threw it back. Cooley
returned it. Both of us remained at home that day, and spent the morning
handing the inanimate brute to each other across the fence. At noon I
called my man to take my place, and Cooley hired a colored person to
relieve him. They kept it up until nightfall, by which time I suppose
the corpse must have worn away to a great extent, for at sundown my man
buried the tail by my rose-bush and came in the house, while Cooley's
representative resigned and went home.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

The departed brute left behind him but one pleasant recollection; and
when I recall it, I feel that he fully avenged my wrongs upon his
master. Cooley went out a week or two ago to swim in the creek, and he
took the dog with him to watch his clothing. While Cooley bathed the dog
slept; but when Cooley emerged from the water, the dog did not recognize
him in his nude condition, and it refused to let him come near his
garments. Whenever Cooley would attempt to seize a boot or a stocking
or a shirt, the dog flew at him with such ferocity that he dared not
attempt to dress himself. So he stood in the sun until he was almost
broiled; then he went into the water and remained there, dodging up and
down for the purpose of avoiding the people who passed occasionally
along the road. At last the dog went to sleep again, and Cooley,
creeping softly behind the brute, caught it suddenly by the tail and
flung it across the stream. Before the dog could recover its senses and
swim back, Cooley succeeded in getting some of his clothing on him, and
then the dog came sidling up to him looking as if it expected to be
rewarded for its extraordinary vigilance. The manner in which Cooley
kicked the faithful animal is said to have been simply dreadful.

[Illustration]

I should have entertained a positive affection for that dog if it had
not barked at night. But I am glad it is gone. We came here to have
quietness, and that was unattainable while Cooley's dog remained within
view of the moon.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VIII.

    THE MORNING ARGUS CREATES A SENSATION--A NEW EDITOR;
    MR. SLIMMER THE POET--AN OBITUARY DEPARTMENT--MR.
    SLIMMER ON DEATH--EXTRAORDINARY SCENE IN THE SANCTUM
    OF COLONEL BANGS--INDIGNANT ADVERTISERS--THE COLONEL
    VIOLENTLY ASSAILED--OBSERVATIONS OF THE POET--THE FINAL
    CATASTROPHE--MYSTERIOUS CONDUCT OF BOB PARKER--THE ACCIDENT ON
    MAGRUDER'S PORCH--MRS. ADELER ON THE SUBJECT OF OBITUARY POETRY IN
    GENERAL.


[Illustration]

A rather unusual sensation has been excited in the village by the
_Morning Argus_ within a day or two; and while most of the readers of
that wonderful sheet have thus been supplied with amusement, the soul of
the editor has been filled with gloom and wrath and despair. Colonel
Bangs recently determined to engage an assistant to take the place made
vacant by the retirement of the eminent art-critic, Mr. Murphy, and he
found in one of the lower counties of the State a person who appeared to
him to be suitable. The name of the new man is Slimmer. He has often
contributed to the _Argus_ verses of a distressing character, and I
suppose Bangs must have become acquainted with him through the medium of
the correspondence thus begun. No one in the world but Bangs would ever
have selected such a poet for an editorial position. But Bangs is
singular--he is exceptional. He never operates in accordance with any
known laws, and he is more than likely to do any given thing in such a
fashion as no other person could possibly have adopted for the purpose.
As the _Argus_ is also _sui generis_, perhaps Bangs does right to
conduct it in a peculiar manner. But he made a mistake when he employed
Mr. Slimmer.

[Illustration]

The colonel, in his own small way, is tolerably shrewd. He had observed
the disposition of persons who have been bereaved of their relatives
to give expression to their feelings in verse, and it occurred to him
that it might be profitable to use Slimmer's poetical talent in such a
way as to make the _Argus_ a very popular vehicle for the conveyance
to the public of notices of deaths. That kind of intelligence, he well
knew, is especially interesting to a very large class of readers, and he
believed that if he could offer to each advertiser a gratuitous verse
to accompany the obituary paragraph, the _Argus_ would not only attract
advertisements of that description from the country round about the
village, but it would secure a much larger circulation.

When Mr. Slimmer arrived, therefore, and entered upon the performance
of his duties, Colonel Bangs explained his theory to the poet, and
suggested that whenever a death-notice reached the office, he should
immediately write a rhyme or two which should express the sentiments
most suitable to the occasion.

"You understand, Mr. Slimmer," said the colonel, "that when the death
of an individual is announced I want you, as it were, to cheer the
members of the afflicted family with the resources of your noble art.
I wish you to throw yourself, you may say, into their situation, and to
give them, f'r instance, a few lines about the deceased which will seem
to be the expression of the emotion which agitates the breasts of the
bereaved."

"To lighten the gloom in a certain sense," said Mr. Slimmer, "and to--"

[Illustration]

"Precisely," exclaimed Colonel Bangs. "Lighten the gloom. Do not mourn
over the departed, but rather take a joyous view of death, which, after
all, Mr. Slimmer, is, as it were, but the entrance to a better life.
Therefore, I wish you to touch the heart-strings of the afflicted with a
tender hand, and to endeavor, f'r instance, to divert their minds from
contemplation of the horrors of the tomb."

"Refrain from despondency, I suppose, and lift their thoughts to--"

"Just so! And at the same time combine elevating sentiment with such
practical information as you can obtain from the advertisement. Throw a
glamour of poesy, f'r instance, over the commonplace details of the
every-day life of the deceased. People are fond of minute descriptions.
Some facts useful for this purpose may be obtained from the man who
brings the notice to the office; others you may perhaps be able to
supply from your imagination."

"I think I can do it first rate," said Mr. Slimmer.

"But, above all," continued the colonel, "try always to take a bright
view of the matter. Cause the sunshine of smiles, as it were, to burst
through the tempest of tears; and if we don't make the _Morning Argus_
hum around this town, it will be queer."

[Illustration]

Mr. Slimmer had charge of the editorial department the next day during
the absence of Colonel Bangs in Wilmington. Throughout the afternoon and
evening death-notices arrived; and when one would reach Mr. Slimmer's
desk, he would lock the door, place the fingers of his left hand among
his hair and agonize until he succeeded in completing a verse that
seemed to him to accord with his instructions.

The next morning Mr. Slimmer proceeded calmly to the office for the
purpose of embalming in sympathetic verse the memories of other departed
ones. As he came near to the establishment he observed a crowd of people
in front of it, struggling to get into the door. Ascending some steps
upon the other side of the street, he overlooked the crowd, and could
see within the office the clerks selling papers as fast as they could
handle them, while the mob pushed and yelled in frantic efforts to
obtain copies, the presses in the cellar meanwhile clanging furiously.
Standing upon the curbstone in front of the office there was a long row
of men, each of whom was engaged in reading _The Morning Argus_ with an
earnestness that Mr. Slimmer had never before seen displayed by the
patrons of that sheet. The bard concluded that either his poetry had
touched a sympathetic chord in the popular heart, or that an appalling
disaster had occurred in some quarter of the globe.

[Illustration]

He went around to the back of the office and ascended to the editorial
rooms. As he approached the sanctum, loud voices were heard within. Mr.
Slimmer determined to ascertain the cause before entering. He obtained a
chair, and placing it by the side door, he mounted and peeped over the
door through the transom. There sat Colonel Bangs, holding _The Morning
Argus_ in both hands, while the fringe which grew in a semicircle
around the edge of his bald head stood straight out, until he seemed to
resemble a gigantic gun-swab. Two or three persons stood in front of him
in threatening attitudes. Slimmer heard one of them say:

[Illustration]

"My name is McGlue, sir!--William McGlue! I am a brother of the late
Alexander McGlue. I picked up your paper this morning, and perceived in
it an outrageous insult to my deceased relative, and I have come around
to demand, sir, WHAT YOU MEAN by the following infamous language:

[Illustration]

  "'The death-angel smote Alexander McGlue,
    And gave him protracted repose;
  He wore a checked shirt and a Number Nine shoe,
    And he had a pink wart on his nose.
  No doubt he is happier dwelling in space
    Over there on the evergreen shore.
  His friends are informed that his funeral takes place
    Precisely at quarter-past four.'

"This is simply diabolical! My late brother had no wart on his nose,
sir. He had upon his nose neither a pink wart nor a green wart, nor a
cream-colored wart, nor a wart of any other color. It is a slander! It
is a gratuitous insult to my family, and I distinctly want you to say
_what do you mean_ by such conduct?"

"Really, sir," said Bangs, "it is a mistake. This is the horrible work
of a miscreant in whom I reposed perfect confidence. He shall be
punished by my own hand for this outrage. A pink wart! Awful!
sir--awful! The miserable scoundrel shall suffer for this--he shall,
indeed!"

"How could I know," murmured Mr. Slimmer to the foreman, who with him
was listening, "that the corpse hadn't a pink wart? I used to know a man
named McGlue, and _he_ had one, and I thought _all_ the McGlues had.
This comes of irregularities in families."

"And who," said another man, addressing the editor, "authorized you to
print this hideous stuff about my deceased son? Do you mean to say,
Bangs, that it was not with your authority that your low comedian
inserted with my advertisement the following scandalous burlesque?
Listen to this:

[Illustration]

  "'Willie had a purple monkey climbing on a yellow stick,
  And when he sucked the paint all off it made him deathly sick;
  And in his latest hours he clasped that monkey in his hand,
  And bade good-bye to earth and went into a better land.

  "'Oh! no more he'll shoot his sister with his little wooden gun;
  And no more he'll twist the pussy's tail and make her yowl, for fun.
  The pussy's tail now stands out straight; the gun is laid aside;
  The monkey doesn't jump around since little Willie died.'

"The atrocious character of this libel will appear when I say that my
son was twenty years old, and that he died of liver complaint."

"Infamous!--utterly infamous!" groaned the editor as he cast his eyes
over the lines. "And the wretch who did this still remains unpunished!
It is too much!"

"And yet," whispered Slimmer to the foreman, "he told me to lighten the
gloom and to cheer the afflicted family with the resources of my art;
and I certainly thought, that idea about the monkey would have that
effect, somehow. Bangs is ungrateful!"

Just then there was a knock at the door, and a woman entered, crying.

"Are you the editor?" she inquired of Colonel Bangs.

Bangs said he was.

[Illustration]

"W-w-well!" she said, in a voice broken by sobs, "wh-what d'you mean by
publishing this kind of poetry about m-my child? M-my name is Sm-Smith;
and wh-when I looked this m-morning for the notice of Johnny's d-death
in your paper, I saw this scandalous verse:

  "'Four doctors tackled Johnny Smith--
      They blistered and they bled him;
  With squills and anti-bilious pills
      And ipecac, they fed him.
  They stirred him up with calomel,
      And tried to move his liver;
  But all in vain--his little soul
      Was wafted o'er The River.'

"It's false! false! and mean! Johnny only had _one_ doctor. And they
d-didn't bl-bleed him and b-blister him. It's a wicked falsehood, and
you're a hard-hearted brute f-f-for printing it!"

"Madam, I shall go crazy!" exclaimed Bangs. "This is not my work. It is
the work of a villain whom I will slay with my own hand as soon as he
comes in. Madam, the miserable outcast shall die!"

"Strange! strange!" said Slimmer. "And this man told me to combine
elevating sentiment with practical information. If the information
concerning the squills and ipecac. is not practical, I have
misunderstood the use of that word. And if young Smith didn't have four
doctors, it was an outrage. He ought to have had them, and they ought
to have excited his liver. Thus it is that human life is sacrificed to
carelessness."

At this juncture the sheriff entered, his brow clothed with thunder. He
had a copy of _The Morning Argus_ in his hand. He approached the editor,
and pointing to a death-notice, said,

"Read that outrageous burlesque, and tell me the name of the writer, so
that I can chastise him."

The editor read as follows:

  "We have lost our little Hanner in a very painful manner,
      And we often asked, How can her harsh sufferings be borne?
  When her death was first reported, her aunt got up and snorted
      With the grief that she supported, for it made her feel forlorn.

  "She was such a little seraph that her father, who is sheriff,
      Really doesn't seem to care if he ne'er smiles in life again.
  She has gone, we hope, to heaven, at the early age of seven
      (Funeral starts off at eleven), where she'll nevermore have pain."

"As a consequence of this, I withdraw all the county advertising from
your paper. A man who could trifle in this manner with the feelings of a
parent is a savage and a scoundrel!"

As the sheriff went out, Colonel Bangs placed his head upon the table
and groaned.

"Really," Mr. Slimmer said, "that person must be deranged. I tried, in
his case, to put myself in his place, and to write as if I was one of
the family, according to instructions. The verses are beautiful. That
allusion to the grief of the aunt, particularly, seemed to me to be very
happy. It expresses violent emotion with a felicitous combination of
sweetness and force. These people have no soul--no appreciation of the
beautiful in art."

[Illustration]

While the poet mused, hurried steps were heard upon the stairs, and in a
moment a middle-aged man dashed in abruptly, and seizing the colonel's
scattered hair, bumped his prostrate head against the table three or
four times with considerable force. Having expended the violence of his
emotion in this manner, he held the editor's head down with one hand,
shaking it occasionally by way of emphasis, and with the other hand
seized the paper and said,

"You disgraceful old reprobate! You disgusting vampire! You hoary-headed
old ghoul! What d'you mean by putting such stuff as this in your paper
about my deceased son? What d'you mean by printing such awful doggerel
as this, you depraved and dissolute ink-slinger--you imbecile
quill-driver, you!

  "'Oh! bury Bartholomew out in the woods,
    In a beautiful hole in the ground,
  Where the bumble-bees buzz and the woodpeckers sing,
    And the straddle-bugs tumble around;
  So that, in winter, when the snow and the slush
    Have covered his last little bed,
  His brother Artemas can go out with Jane
    And visit the place with his sled.'

"I'll teach you to talk about straddle-bugs! I'll instruct you about
slush! I'll enlighten your insane old intellect on the subject of
singing woodpeckers! What do _you_ know about Jane and Artemas, you
wretched buccaneer, you despicable butcher of the English language? Go
out with a sled! I'll carry you out in a hearse before I'm done with
you, you deplorable lunatic!"

At the end of every phrase the visitor gave the editor's head a fresh
knock against the table. When the exercise was ended, Colonel Bangs
explained and apologized in the humblest manner, promising at the same
time to give his assailant a chance to flog Mr. Slimmer, who was
expected to arrive in a few moments.

"The treachery of this man," murmured the poet to the foreman, "is
dreadful. Didn't he desire me to throw a glamour of poesy over
commonplace details? But for that I should never have thought of
alluding to woodpeckers and bugs, and other children of Nature. The man
objects to the remarks about the sled. Can the idiot know that it was
necessary to have a rhyme for 'bed'? Can he suppose that I could write
poetry without rhymes? The man is a lunatic! He ought not to be at
large!"

[Illustration]

Hardly had the indignant and energetic parent of Bartholomew departed
when a man with red hair and a ferocious glare in his eyes entered,
carrying a club and accompanied by a savage-looking dog.

"I want to see the editor," he shouted.

A ghastly pallor overspread the colonel's face, and he said,

"The editor is not in."

"Well, when _will_ he be in, then?"

"Not for a week--for a month--for a year--for ever! He will never come
in any more!" screamed Bangs. "He has gone to South America, with the
intention to remain there during the rest of his life. He has departed.
He has fled. If you want to see him, you had better follow him to the
equator. He will be glad to see you. I would advise you, as a friend, to
take the next boat--to start at once."

"That is unfortunate," said the man; "I came all the way from Delaware
City for the purpose of battering him up a lot with this club."

"He will be sorry," said Bangs, sarcastically. "He will regret missing
you. I will write to him, and mention that you dropped in."

"My name is McFadden," said the man. "I came to break the head of the
man who wrote that obituary poetry about my wife. If you don't tell me
who perpetrated the following, I'll break _yours_ for you. Where's the
man who wrote this? Pay attention:

  "'Mrs. McFadden has gone from this life;
      She has left all its sorrows and cares;
  She caught the rheumatics in both of her legs
      While scrubbing the cellar and stairs.
  They put mustard-plasters upon her in vain;
      They bathed her with whisky and rum;
  But Thursday her spirit departed, and left
      Her body entirely numb.'"

"The man who held the late Mrs. McFadden up to the scorn of an
unsympathetic world in that shocking manner," said the editor, "is named
James B. Slimmer. He boards in Blank street, fourth door from the
corner. I would advise you to call on him and avenge Mrs. McFadden's
wrongs with an intermixture of club and dog-bites."

"And this," sighed the poet, outside the door, "is the man who told me
to divert McFadden's mind from contemplation of the horrors of the tomb.
It was this monster who counseled me to make the sunshine of McFadden's
smiles burst through the tempest of McFadden's tears. If that red-headed
monster couldn't smile over that allusion to whisky and rum, if those
remarks about the rheumatism in her legs could not divert his mind from
the horrors of the tomb, was it _my_ fault? McFadden grovels! He knows
no more about poetry than a mule knows about the Shorter Catechism."

The poet determined to leave before any more criticisms were made upon
his performances. He jumped down from his chair and crept softly toward
the back staircase.

The story told by the foreman relates that Colonel Bangs at the same
instant resolved to escape any further persecution, and he moved off in
the direction taken by the poet. The two met upon the landing, and the
colonel was about to begin his quarrel with Slimmer, when an enraged
old woman who had been groping her way up stairs suddenly plunged her
umbrella at Bangs, and held him in the corner while she handed a copy of
the _Argus_ to Slimmer, and pointing to a certain stanza, asked him to
read it aloud. He did so in a somewhat tremulous voice and with
frightened glances at the enraged colonel. The verse was as follows:

[Illustration]

  "Little Alexander's dead;
    Jam him in a coffin;
  Don't have as good a chance
    For a fun'ral often.
  Rush his body right around
    To the cemetery;
  Drop him in the sepulchre
    With his Uncle Jerry."

The colonel's assailant accompanied the recitation with such energetic
remarks as these:

"Oh, you willin! D'you hear that, you wretch? What d'you mean by writin'
of my grandson in that way? Take that, you serpint! Oh, you wiper,
you! tryin' to break a lone widder's heart with such scand'lus lies as
them! There, you willin! I kemmere to hammer you well with this here
umbreller, you owdacious wiper, you! Take that, and that, you wile,
indecent, disgustin' wagabone! When you know well enough that Aleck
never had no Uncle Jerry, and never had no uncle in no sepulchre anyhow,
you wile wretch, you!"

When Mr. Slimmer had concluded his portion of the entertainment, he left
the colonel in the hands of the enemy and fled. He has not been seen in
New Castle since that day, and it is supposed that he has returned to
Sussex county for the purpose of continuing in private his dalliance
with the Muses. Colonel Bangs appears to have abandoned the idea of
establishing a department of obituary poetry, and the _Argus_ has
resumed its accustomed aspect of dreariness.

[Illustration]

It may fairly boast, however, that once during its career it has
produced a profound impression upon the community.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Bob Parker came home at a very late hour last night; and when I
opened the front door to let him in, he muttered something to the effect
that he was "sorry for being out so late." Then he pushed by me suddenly
and went up stairs in a very odd fashion, keeping his face as much as
possible toward the door, where I remained standing, astonished at his
very strange behavior. When I closed the door and went to my room, it
occurred to me that something of a serious nature might have happened;
and impelled partly by curiosity and partly by a desire to be of
service, I knocked at Bob's door.

[Illustration]

"Anything the matter?" I inquired.

"Oh no. I was detained down town," replied Bob.

"I can't do anything for you, then?"

"No; I'll be in bed in a couple of minutes."

"You acted so peculiarly when you came in that I thought you might be
ill."

"I was never better in my life. I went up stairs that way because I was
tired."

"A very extraordinary effect of fatigue," I said.

"I say!" cried Bob, "don't say anything to your wife about it. There's
no use of getting up an excitement about nothing."

I went to bed convinced that something was wrong, and determined to
compel Bob to confess on the morrow what it was. After breakfast we sat
smoking together on the porch, and then I remarked:

"Bob, I wish you to tell me plainly what you meant by that extraordinary
caper on the stairs last night. I think I ought to know. I don't want to
meddle with your private affairs, but it seems to me only the proper
thing for you to give me a chance to advise you if you are in trouble of
any kind. And then you know I am occupying just now a sort of a parental
relation to you, and I want to overhaul you if you have been doing
anything wrong."

"I don't mind explaining the matter to you," replied Bob. "It don't
amount to much, anyhow, but it's a little rough on a fellow, and I'd
rather not have the whole town discussing it."

"Well?"

"You know old Magruder's? Well, I went around there last night to see
Bessie; and as it was a pleasant evening, we thought we would remain out
on the porch. She sat in a chair near the edge, and I placed myself at
her feet on one of the low wooden steps in front. We stayed there
talking about various things and having a pretty fair time, as a matter
of course, until about nine o'clock, when I said I thought I'd have to
go."

"You came home later, I think."

"Well, you know, some mutton-headed carpenter had been there during the
day mending the rustic chairs on the porch, and he must have put his
glue-pot down on the spot where I sat, for when I tried to rise I found
I couldn't budge."

"You and Cooley's boy seem to have a fondness for that particular kind
of adventure."

"Just so. And when I made an effort to get upon my feet, Bessie said,
'Don't be in a hurry; it's early yet,' and I told her I believed I would
stay a little while longer. So I sat there for about two hours, and
during the frightful gaps in the conversation I busied myself thinking
how I could get away without appearing ridiculous. It hurts a man's
chances if he makes himself ridiculous before a woman he is fond of. So
you see I didn't know whether to ask Bessie to go in the house while I
partially disrobed and went home in Highland costume, or whether to
give one terrific wrench and then proceed down the yard backward. I
couldn't make up my mind; and as midnight approached, Bessie, who was
dreadfully sleepy, said, at last, in utter despair, she would have to
excuse herself for the rest of the evening."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"Then, you understand, I was nearly frantic, and I asked her suddenly if
she thought her father would lend me his front steps for a few days. She
looked sort of scared, and went in after old Magruder. When he came
out, I made him stoop down while I explained the situation to him. He
laughed and hunted up a hatchet and saw, and cut away the surrounding
timber, so that I came home with only about a square foot of wood on my
trousers. Very good of the old man, wasn't it, to smash up his steps in
that manner? And the reason why I kind of sidled up stairs was that I
feared you'd see that wooden patch and want to know about it. That's
all. Queer sort of an affair, wasn't it?"

[Illustration]

Then Mr. Parker darted off for the purpose of overtaking Miss Magruder,
who at that moment happened to pass upon the other side of the street.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Mr. Parker disappeared, Mrs. Adeler came out upon the porch from the
hall, and placing her hand upon my shoulder, said,

"You are not going to publish that story of the attempt of the _Argus_
to establish a department of obituary poetry, are you?"

"Of course I am. Why shouldn't I?"

"Don't you fear it might perhaps give offence? There are some people,
you know, who think it right to accompany a notice of death with verses.
Besides, does it seem precisely proper to treat such a solemn subject as
death with so much levity?"

"My dear, the persons who use those ridiculous rhymes which sometimes
appear in the papers for the purpose of parading their grief before the
public cannot have very nice sensibilities."

[Illustration]

"Are you sure of that? At any rate, is it not possible that a verse
which appears to you and me very silly may be the attempt of some
bereaved mother to give in that forlorn fashion expression to her great
agony? I shouldn't like to ridicule even so wretched a cry from a
suffering heart."

"The suggestion is creditable to your goodness. But I would like to
retain the story of Slimmer's folly, and I'll tell you what I will do:
I will publish your opinions upon the subject, so that those who read
the narrative may understand that the family of Adeler is not wholly
careless of propriety." So here are the story and the protest; and those
to whom the former is offensive may find what consolation can be
obtained from the fact that the latter has been offered in advance of
any expression of opinion by indignant readers whose grief for the
departed tends to run into rhyme.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX.

    THE REASON WHY I PURCHASED A HORSE--A PECULIAR
    CHARACTERISTIC--DRIVING BY THE RIVER--OUR HORSE AS A PERSECUTOR--HE
    BECOMES A GENUINE NIGHTMARE--EXPERIMENTING WITH HIS TAIL--HOW OUR
    HORSE DIED--IN RELATION TO PIRATES--MRS. JONES'S BOLD CORSAIR--A
    LAMENTABLE TALE.


[Illustration]

It is probable that I should never have bought a horse if I had not been
strongly urged to do so by other persons. I do not care a great deal for
riding and driving; and if it ever did occur to me that it would,
perhaps, be a nice thing to have a horse of my own, I regarded the
necessary expense as much too great for the small amount of enjoyment
that could be obtained from the investment. It always seemed to me to be
much cheaper to hire a horse at a livery-stable if only an occasional
drive was desired; and I cling to that theory yet. But everybody else
seemed to think I ought to own a horse. Mrs. Adeler was especially
anxious about it. She insisted that we were doing very well in the
world, and she could not see the use of having means if we were to live
always as we did when we were poor. She said she often wanted to take a
little drive along the river-road in the evening with the children, and
she frequently wished to visit her friends in the country, but she
couldn't bear to go with a strange horse of which she knew nothing.

My friends used to say, "Adeler, I wonder you don't keep a horse and
take your family out sometimes;" and they hammered away at the theme
until I actually began to feel as if the public suspected me of being a
niggardly and cruel tyrant, who hugged my gold to my bosom and gloated
over the misery of my wife and children--gloated because they couldn't
have a horse. People used to come down from the city to see us, and
after examining the house and garden, they would remark, "Very
charming!--very charming, indeed! A little paradise, in fact; but,
Adeler, why don't you buy a horse?"

[Illustration]

I gradually grew nervous upon the subject, and was tolerably well
convinced that there would never be perfect happiness in my family until
I purchased a steed of some kind. At last, one day Cooley had a yellow
horse knocked down to him at one of those auction-sales which are known
in the rural districts as "V_an_dues." And when I saw Cooley drive past
the house, every afternoon, with that saffron brute, and his family in a
dearborn wagon, and observed how he looked in at us and smiled
superciliously, as if he was thinking, "There lives a miserable outcast
who has no horse and can't get one," I determined to purchase at once.

I have not had much experience with horses, but I found one whose
appearance and gait were fairly good, and I was particularly drawn
toward him because the man recommended him as being "urbane." I had
heard many descriptions of the points of a good horse, but this was the
first time I had ever met a horse whose most prominent characteristic
was urbanity. It seemed to me that the quality was an excellent one, and
I made a bargain on the spot and drove home.

[Illustration]

"Mrs. Adeler," I said, as I exhibited the purchase to her, "I do not
think this horse is very fast; I do not regard him as in the highest
sense beautiful; he may even be deficient in wind; his tail certainly is
short; and I think I can detect in his forelegs a tendency to spring too
far forward at the knees; but, Mrs. Adeler, the horse is urbane. The man
said that his urbanity amounted to a positive weakness, and that is why
I bought him. If a horse is not urbane, my dear, it is useless, no
matter what its merit in other respects."

She said that had been her opinion from early childhood.

"I do not care greatly, Mrs. Adeler, for excessive speed. Give me a
horse that can proceed with merely a tolerable degree of celerity and I
am content. I never could comprehend why a man whose horse can trot a
mile in two minutes and forty seconds should be made unhappy because
another man's horse trots the same distance one second sooner--that is,
of course, supposing that they are not running for money. One second of
time never makes any especial difference to me, even when I am in a
hurry. What I want in a horse is not swiftness, but urbanity. I would
rather have a kind-hearted horse, like ours, than the most rapid trotter
with a wicked disposition."

For a while I enjoyed having a horse, and I felt glad I had bought him.
It seemed very good to drive down by the river-bank upon a pleasant
evening, with the cool breeze blowing in from the water, and the country
around beautiful with the bright foliage of early autumn. There was a
sufficient compensation for the heat and wretchedness of the busy day in
that quiet journey over the level road and past the fragrant fields in
the early twilight; and as we came home amid the deepening shadows, we
could find pleasure in watching the schooners far off in the channel
flinging out their lights, and we could see the rays streaming across
the wide interval of rippling surface, and moving weirdly and strangely
with the motion of the water.

Sometimes, upon going out, we would overtake Cooley in his dearborn; and
then it was felicitous to observe how, when I touched my horse with the
whip, the animal put his head down, elevated his abbreviated tail to a
horizontal position and left Cooley far, far behind, flogging his tawny
horse with such fury as would surely have subjected him to the
reproaches of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals if
that excellent organization had been present. My horse could achieve a
tolerably rapid gait when he desired to do so. That fact made existence
in this world of anguish and tears seem even more sad to Cooley than it
had done previously. I feel sure that he would have given fabulous sums
if his horse could have trotted a mile in a minute--just once--when we
were upon the road together. I began to think that it was just as well,
after all, to have a progressive horse as a slow one.

[Illustration]

But when the novelty of the thing had passed, my old indisposition to
amusement of that kind gradually returned. I drove less frequently. One
day my man said to me:

"Mr. Adeler, that hoss is a-eatin' his head off, sir. If you don't take
him out, he'll be so wild that he'll bu'st the machine to flinders,
sir."

The threatened catastrophe seemed so alarming that I took him out,
although I had important work to do at home. The next day I wanted to
stay up in the city to go to a lecture; but that morning, early, the
horse again displayed an alarming amount of friskiness, and I felt as if
I must go down and exercise him. I drove him for three hours at a rapid
gait, and succeeded in working off at least the exuberance of his
spirits.

On the following Wednesday I came home in the afternoon, exhausted
with work, and intending to retire at an early hour. At half-past six
o'clock, Judge Pitman came in. He remarked:

[Illustration]

"Adeler, that horse of yourn'll certainly go crazy if you don't move him
around. Mind me. He kicks like a flintlock musket now if you come
within forty foot of the stable."

I went out and hitched up, and that night I drove twenty-four miles at a
frightful speed. Horses have, perhaps, gone farther and faster, but few
have been pushed forward with a smaller regard for consequences. Nothing
but a recollection of the cost of the horse restrained me from driving
him into the river and leaving him there.

By degrees the despicable brute became the curse of my existence. If I
desired to go on a journey, the restlessness of the horse had first to
be overcome. If I received an invitation to a party, the horse must be
exercised beforehand. If I had an important article to write, I must
roam around the country behind that horse for two or three hours,
holding him in with such force that my hands were made too unsteady for
penmanship. If I wanted to take a row on the river--an exercise of which
I am passionately fond--that detestable animal had to be danced up and
down the turnpike in order to keep him from kicking the stable to
pieces. And he was recommended to me as "urbane"!

He made my life unhappy. I became depressed and morose. Sometimes when,
amid a circle of friends, there was a provocation to laughter, and I
participated in the general hilarity, I would suddenly become conscious
of the fact that the horse was in active existence, and the mirth would
be extinguished in gloom. He mingled with my dreams. Visions of a
bob-tailed horse consuming spectral oats, and kicking with millions of
legs, disturbed my rest at night. I rushed with him over countless
leagues of shadowy road, and plunged with him over incomprehensible
precipices. He organized himself into hideous nightmare shapes, and
charged wildly over me as I slept, and filled all the air of that
mysterious slumber-land with the noise of his demoniac neighing.

[Illustration]

The reality was bad enough without the unreal nocturnal horrors. I might
have sold the brute, but my wife really wanted to have a horse, and I
wished to oblige her. But it was very wearing to hear about constantly
the feeling of responsibility which the animal engendered. I had to
choose between driving him continually and having the lives of the
members of my family imperiled when they took him out; and the
consciousness that whether there was sickness or business, storm or
earthquake, calamity or death, the horse must be driven, gradually
placed me in the position of a man who is haunted by some dreadful
spectre that clings to him and overshadows him for ever and for ever.

The perpetual nervous worry told upon me. I became thin. My clothing
hung loose upon me. I took up two inches in my waistcoat strap. The
appetite which enabled me to find enjoyment at the table deserted me.
The food seemed tasteless; and if in the midst of a meal the neigh of
the horse came eddying up through the air from the stable, I turned away
with a feeling of disgust, and felt as if I wanted to prod somebody with
the carving-knife.

[Illustration]

One day my wife said to me:

"Mr. Adeler, you know that I urged you strongly to buy that horse, and I
thought he would do, but--"

"But now you want to sell him! ha! ha!" I exclaimed, with delight. "Very
well, I'll send him to the auctioneer this very day."

"I wasn't going to say that," she remarked. "What I wanted to mention
was that nearly everybody in good circumstances about here drives a
pair, and I think we ought to get another horse; don't you, my dear?
It's so much nicer than having only one."

"Mrs. Adeler," I said, solemnly, "that one horse down there in the
stable has reduced me to a skeleton and made me utterly miserable. I
will do as you say if you insist upon it, but I tell you plainly that if
another horse is brought upon these premises I shall go mad."

"Don't speak in that manner, my dear."

"I tell you, Mrs. Adeler, that I shall go stark, staring mad! Take your
choice: go without the other horse or have a maniac husband."

She said, of course, she would do without the horse.

But the affliction was suddenly and unexpectedly removed My horse had a
singularly brief tail, and I thought it might be that some of his
violent demonstrations in the stable were induced by his inability to
switch off the flies which alighted upon sensitive portions of the body.
It occurred to me to get him up an artificial tail for home use, and I
procured a piece of thick rope for the purpose. There was, too, a
certain humorousness about the idea that pleased me; and as the amount
of jocularity which that horse had occasioned had, thus far, been
particularly small, the notion had peculiar attractiveness.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

I unraveled about eighteen inches of the rope and fastened the other end
to the horse's tail. This, I estimated, would enable him to switch a fly
off the very end of his nose when he had acquired a little practice.
Unfortunately, I neglected to speak to my man upon the subject; and when
he came to the stable that evening, he examined the rope and concluded
that I was trying experiments with some new kind of hitching-strap; so
he tied the horse to the stall by the artificial continuation. By
morning the feed-box was kicked into kindling-wood, and the horse was
standing on three legs, with the other leg caught in the hay-rack,
while he had chewed up two of the best boards in the side of the stable
in front of him.

Subsequently I explained the theory to the man and readjusted the rope.
But the patent tail annoyed the hostler so much while currying the horse
that he tied a stone to it to hold it still. The consequence was that in
a moment of unusual excitement the horse flung the stone around and
inflicted a severe wound upon the man's head. The man resigned next
morning.

[Illustration]

I then concluded to introduce an improvement. I purchased some
horse-hair and spliced it upon the tail so neatly that it had the
appearance of a natural growth. When the new man came, he attempted to
comb out the horse's tail, and the added portion came off in his hand.
He had profound confidence in his veterinary skill, and he imagined that
the occurrence indicated a diseased condition of the horse. So he
purchased some powders and gave the animal an enormous dose in a bucket
of warm "mash." In half an hour that pestilential horse was seized with
convulsions, during which he kicked out the stable-door, shattered the
stall to pieces, hammered four more boards out of the partition,
dislocated his off hind leg and expired in frightful agony.

He was more urbane after death than he had been during his life, and I
contemplated his remains without shedding a tear. He was sold to a
glue-man for eight dollars; and when he had departed, I felt that he
would fulfill a wiser and better purpose as a contributor to the
national stock of glue than as the unconscious persecutor of his former
owner.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Mrs. Adeler, do you feel any interest in the subject of pirates?"

She said the question was somewhat abrupt, but she thought she might
safely say she did not.

"I make the inquiry for the reason that I have just written a ballad
which has for its hero a certain bold corsair. This is the first
consequence of the death of our horse. In the exuberance of joy caused
by that catastrophe, I felt as if I would like to perpetrate something
which should be purely ridiculous, and accordingly I organized upon
paper this piratical narrative. You think the subject is an odd one? Not
so. I do not pretend to explain the fact, but it is true that by this
generation a pirate is regarded as a comic personage. Perhaps the reason
is that he has been so often presented to us in such a perfectly absurd
form in melodrama and in the cheap and trashy novels of the day. At any
rate, he is susceptible of humorous treatment, as you will perceive."

[Illustration]

"I have had a stronger impulse to write of buccaneers, too, because I am
in New Castle; for, somehow, I always associate those freebooting
individuals with this village. A certain ancestor of mine sailed away
from this town in 1813, in a brig commissioned as a privateer, and
played havoc with the ships of the enemy upon the Atlantic. In my
childhood I used to hear of his brave deeds, and, somehow, I conceived
the idea that he was a genuine pirate with a black flag, skull and
cross-bones, and a disagreeable habit of compelling his captives to walk
the plank. I was much more proud of him then, Mrs. Adeler, than I should
be now had he really been such a ruffian. But he was not. He was a
gallant sailor and a brave and honest gentleman, who served his country
faithfully on the ocean, and then held a post of honor as warden of the
port of Philadelphia until his death. But I never go to the river's side
in New Castle without involuntarily recalling that fine old man in the
character of an outlawed rover upon the high seas.

"Here, my dear, is the ballad. When I have read it to you, I will send
it to the _Argus_. Since Mr. Slimmer's retirement there has been a
dearth of poetry in the columns of that great organ."

  MRS. JONES'S PIRATE.

  A sanguinary pirate sailed upon the Spanish main
  In a rakish-looking schooner which was called the "Mary Jane."
  She carried lots of howitzers and deadly rifled guns,
  With shot and shell and powder and percussion caps in tons.

[Illustration]

  The pirate was a homely man, and short and grum and fat;
  He wore a wild and awful scowl beneath his slouching hat.
  Swords, pistols and stilettos were arranged around his thighs,
  And demoniacal glaring was quite common with his eyes.

  His heavy black moustaches curled away beneath his nose,
  And drooped in elegant festoons about his very toes.
  He hardly ever spoke at all; but when such was the case,
  His voice 'twas easy to perceive was quite a heavy bass.

  He was not a serious pirate; and despite his anxious cares,
  He rarely went to Sunday-school and seldom said his prayers.
  He worshiped lovely women, and his hope in life was this:
  To calm his wild, tumultuous soul with pure domestic bliss.

  When conversing with his shipmates, he very often swore
  That he longed to give up piracy and settle down on shore.
  He tired of blood and plunder; of the joys that they could bring;
  He sighed to win the love of some affectionate young thing.

[Illustration]

  One morning as the "Mary Jane" went bounding o'er the sea
  The pirate saw a merchant bark far off upon his lee.
  He ordered a pursuit, and spread all sail that he could spare,
  And then went down, in hopeful mood, to shave and curl his hair.

  He blacked his boots and pared his nails and tied a fresh cravat;
  He cleansed his teeth, pulled down his cuffs and polished up his hat;
  He dimmed with flour the radiance of his fiery red nose,
  For, hanging with that vessel's wash, _he saw some ladies' hose_.

[Illustration]

  Once more on deck, the stranger's hull he riddled with a ball,
  And yelled, "I say! what bark is that?" In answer to his call
  The skipper on the other boat replied in thunder tones:
  "This here's the bark Matilda, and her captain's name is Jones."

  The pirate told his bold corsairs to man the jolly-boats,
  To board the bark and seize the crew, and slit their tarry throats,
  And then to give his compliments to Captain Jones, and say
  He wished that he and Mrs. Jones would come and spend the day.

  They reached the bark, they killed the crew, they threw them in the
      sea,
  And then they sought the captain, who was mad as he could be,
  Because his wife--who saw the whole sad tragedy, it seems--
  Made all the ship vociferous with her outrageous screams.

[Illustration]

  But when the pirate's message came, she dried her streaming tears,
  And said, although she'd like to come, she had unpleasant fears
  That, his social status being very evidently low,
  She might meet some common people whom she wouldn't care to know.

[Illustration]

  Her husband's aged father, she admitted, dealt in bones,
  But the family descended from the famous Duke de Jones;
  And such blue-blooded people, that the rabble might be checked,
  Had to make their social circle excessively select.

[Illustration]

  Before she visited his ship she wanted him to say
  If the Smythes had recognized him in a social, friendly way;
  Did the Jonsons ever ask him 'round to their ancestral halls?
  Was he noticed by the Thomsons? Was he asked to Simms's balls?

  The pirate wrote that Thomson was his best and oldest friend,
  That he often stopped at Jonson's when he had a week to spend;
  As for the Smythes, they worried him with their incessant calls;
  His very legs were weary with the dance at Simms's balls.

[Illustration]

  (The scoundrel fibbed most shamelessly. In truth he only knew
  A lot of Smiths without a y--a most plebeian crew.
  His Johnsons used a vulgar h, his Thompsons spelled with p,
  His Simses had one m, and they were common as could be.)

  Then Mrs. Jones mussed up her hair and donned her best delaine,
  And went with Captain Jones aboard the schooner Mary Jane.
  The pirate won her heart at once by saying, with a smile,
  He never saw a woman dressed in such exquisite style.

  The pirate's claim to status she was very sure was just
  When she noticed how familiarly the Johnsons he discussed.
  Her aristocratic scruples then were quickly laid aside,
  And when the pirate sighed at her, reciproc'ly she sighed.

  No sooner was the newer love within her bosom born
  Than Jones was looked upon by her with hatred and with scorn.
  She said 'twas true his ancestor was famous Duke de Jones,
  But she shuddered to remember that his father dealt in bones.

[Illustration]

  So then they got at Captain Jones and hacked him with a sword,
  And chopped him into little bits and tossed him overboard.
  The chaplain read the service, and the captain of the bark
  Before his widow's weeping eyes was gobbled by a shark.

  The chaplain turned the prayer-book o'er; the bride took off her
      glove;
  They swore to honor, to obey, to cherish and to love.
  And, freighted full of happiness, across the ocean's foam
  The schooner glided rapidly toward the pirate's home.

  And when of ecstasy and joy their hearts could hold no more,
  That pirate dropped his anchor down and rowed his love ashore.
  And as they sauntered up the street he gave his bride a poke,
  And said, "In them there mansions live the friends of whom I spoke."

  She glanced her eye along the plates of brass upon each door,
  And then her anger rose as it had never done before.
  She said, "That Johnson has an h! that Thompson has a p!
  The Smith that spells without a y is not the Smith for me!"

  And darkly scowled she then upon that rover of the wave;
  "False! False!" she shrieked, and spoke of him as "Monster, traitor,
      slave!"
  And then she wept and tore her hair, and filled the air with groans,
  And cursed with bitterness the day she let them chop up Jones.

[Illustration]

  And when she'd spent on him at last the venom of her tongue,
  She seized her pongee parasol and stabbed him in the lung.
  A few more energetic jabs were at his heart required,
  And then this scand'lous buccaneer rolled over and expired.

[Illustration]

  Still brandishing her parasol she sought the pirate boat;
  She loaded up a gun and jammed her head into its throat;
  And fixing fast the trigger, with string tied to her toe,
  She breathed "Mother!" through the touch-hole, and kicked and let her
      go.

[Illustration]

  A snap, a fizz, a rumble; some stupendous roaring tones--
  And where upon earth's surface was the recent Mrs. Jones?
  Go ask the moaning winds, the sky, the mists, the murmuring sea;
  Go ask the fish, the coroner, the clams--but don't ask me.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER X.

    A PICTURESQUE CHURCH--SOME REFLECTIONS UPON CHURCH MUSIC--BOB
    PARKER IN THE CHOIR--OUR UNDERTAKER--A GLOOMY MAN--OUR EXPERIENCE
    WITH THE HOT-AIR FURNACES--A SERIES OF ACCIDENTS--MR. COLLAMER'S
    VOCALISM--AN EXTRAORDINARY MISTAKE.


[Illustration]

There are but few old villages in the United States that contain ancient
churches so picturesque in situation and in appearance as that which
stands in the centre of our town, the most conspicuous of its buildings.
The churchyard is filled with graves, for the people still cling to
that kindly usage which places the sacred dust of the departed in holy
ground. And so here, beneath the trees, and close to the shadow of the
sanctuary walls, villagers of all ages and generations lie reposing
in their final slumber, while from among them the snow-white spire
rises heavenward to point the way their souls have gone. There are
many of us who were not born here, and who are, as it were, almost
strangers in the town, who can wander down the narrow paths of the
yard, to out-of-the-way corners, where the headstones are gray with
age and sometimes covered with a film of moss, and read in the quaint
characters with which the marble is inscribed our own family names. Here
lies the mortal part of men and women who were dear to our grandsires;
of little children too, sometimes, whose departure brought sorrow to
the hearts of those who joined them in Paradise long, long before we
began to play our parts in the drama of existence. The lives that ended
in this quiet resting-place are full of deepest interest to us; they
have a controlling influence upon our destiny, and yet they are very
unreal to us. The figures which move by us as we try to summon up the
panorama of that past are indistinct and obscure. They are shadows
walking in the dusk, and we strive in vain to vest them with a semblance
of the personality which once was theirs. They should seem very near to
us their kindred, and yet, as we attempt to come closer to them, they
appear so remote, so far away in the dead years, that we hardly dare
to claim fellowship with them, or to speak of them as of our flesh and
blood.

[Illustration]

It makes no difference where the empty shell is cast when the spiritual
man is gone, but I reverence that human instinct which induces a man to
wish to be laid at the last by the side of his ancestors and near to
those whom he has loved in life. It is at least a beautiful sentiment
which demands that those who are with each other in immortality should
not be separated here on earth, but together should await the morning of
the resurrection.

[Illustration]

I like this old church for its simplicity; not only for the absence of
splendor in its adornment, but for the methods of worship of which it
approves. The choir, from its station in the organ-loft, never hurls
down upon the heads of the saints and sinners beneath any of those
surprising sounds which rural choirs so often emit, with a conviction
that they are achieving wonderful feats of vocalism, and no profane
fingers compel the pipes of the microscopic organ to recall to the mind
of the listener the music of the stage and the concert-room. From the
instrument come only harmonies round, sweet and full, melting in solemn
cadences from key to key and rolling down through the church, bringing
the souls of the worshipers into full accord with the spirit of the
place and the occasion, or else pouring forth some stately melody on
which the voices of the singers are upborne. The choir fulfills its
highest purpose by leading the people through the measures of those
grand old tunes, simple in construction but sublime in spirit, which
give to the language of the spiritual songs of the sanctuary a more
eloquent beauty than their own. I would rather hear such music as may be
found in "Federal Street," in "Old Hundred," in "Hursley" and in the
"Adeste Fideles," sung by an entire assembly of people who are in
earnest in their religion, than to listen to the most intricate fugue
worked out by a city choir of hired singers, or the most brilliant
anthem sung by a congregation of surpliced boys who quarrel with each
other and play wicked games during the prayers. Such tunes as these are
filled with solemn meaning which is revealed to him whose singing is
really an act of worship. There is more genuine religious fervor in
"Hursley" than in a library of ordinary oratorios. A church which
permits its choir to do all the singing might as well adopt the Chinese
fashion of employing a machine to do its praying. A congregation which
sits still while a quartette of vocalists overhead utters all the
praises, need not hesitate to offer its supplications by turning a brass
wheel with a crank. Our people do their singing and their praying for
themselves, and the choir merely takes care that the music is of a
fitting kind.

[Illustration: THE OLD CHURCH.]

[Illustration]

Miss Magruder sits in the organ-loft now that she is at home, and I
doubt not she contributes much to the sweetness of the strains which
float from out that somewhat narrow enclosure. Her presence, I observe,
ensures the regular attendance of young Mr. Parker at the church, and
last Sunday he even ventured to sit with the choir and to help with the
singing. I have never considered him a really good performer, although
he cherishes a conviction that he has an admirable voice, and such
acquaintance with the art of using it as would have given him eminence
if he had chosen the career of a public singer. After service I had
occasion to speak to the clergyman for a moment, and as soon as he saw
me he said:

"Mr. Adeler, did you notice anything about the organ or the choir to-day
that was peculiar?"

[Illustration]

"No; I do not think I did."

"It is very odd; but it seemed to me when they were singing the two last
hymns that something must be the matter with one of the pipes. There was
a sort of a rough, buzzing, rasping sound which I have never observed
before. The instrument must need repairing."

"I think I know what it was," remarked Mr. Campbell, the basso, who
stepped up at that moment.

"The valves a little worn, I suppose?" said the minister.

[Illustration]

"Well, no," replied Campbell; "the fact is that extraordinary noise was
produced by Mr. Parker, who was making a strenuous effort to sing bass.
He seemed to be laboring under a strong conviction that the composers
had made some mistakes in the tunes, which he proposed to correct as he
went along. Parker's singing is like homoeopathic medicine--a very
little of it is enough."

[Illustration]

Bob attributes the criticism of Campbell to professional jealousy, but
he will probably sit down stairs after this. He prefers not to waste his
talents upon provincial people who cannot appreciate genuine art. He
will content himself with walking home with the fair Magruder after
service.

There is one thing about the church with which I must find fault. I
have never been able to comprehend why it is customary throughout this
country, even in the large cities, to permit undertakers to decorate the
exteriors of churches with their advertisements, as ours is decorated by
our undertaker. In old times, when the sexton was the grave-digger and
general public functionary, it was well enough to give publicity to his
residence by posting its whereabouts in a public place. There were
oftentimes little offices which he had to perform for the congregation
and for the neighborhood, and it was necessary that he should be found
quickly. But the present fashion, which allows an undertaker--who has no
other connection with the church than that he sits in a pew occasionally
and goes to sleep during the sermon--to nail a tin sign, bearing a
picture of a gilt coffin, right by the church door, so that no man,
woman or child can enter that sanctuary without thinking of the grave,
is monstrous.

[Illustration]

It is very proper that the minds of the people should be turned to
contemplation of the certainty of death whenever they go to church. But
it is hardly necessary to disturb a man's reflections upon the necessity
of preparing for the grave by confronting him with an advertisement
which compels him to remember how much it is going to cost his relations
to put him there. Besides this, it makes the undertakers covetous, and
fills their gloomy souls with murderous wishes.

I have seen ours standing against the wall in the churchyard on a Sunday
morning with his hands in his pockets, glowering at the congregation as
they go in, eyeing and criticising the members, and muttering to
himself, "Splendid fit _he'd_ make in that mahogany coffin I've got at
home!" "There goes a man who ought to have died five years ago if _I'd_
been treated right!" "I'll souse that Thompson underground some of
these fine days!" "Those Mulligan girls _certainly_ can't give the old
man anything less than a four-hundred-dollar funeral when _he_ dies!"
"Healthiest looking congregation of its size _I ever_ saw!" etc., etc.

[Illustration]

If I were in authority in the church, I would suppress that gilded
advertisement and try to convert the owner of it. No man should be
permitted to waste his Sabbaths in vain longings for the interment of
his fellow-men.

They are very busy now at the church putting in new furnaces in order to
be prepared for the cold weather. New ones were introduced last winter,
I am told, but they were not entirely successful in operation. The first
time the fire was put in them was on Saturday morning, and on Sunday
the smoke was so dense in the church that nobody could see the
clergyman. The workman had put the stove-pipe into the hot-air flue.
Next Saturday night the fires were lighted, out on Sunday morning only
the air immediately under the roof was warm, and the congregation nearly
froze to death. The sexton was then instructed to make the fire on
Thursday, in order to give the church a chance to become thoroughly
heated. He did so, and early Sunday morning the furnaces were so choked
up with ashes that the fires went out, and again the thermometer in the
front pew marked zero.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Then the sexton received orders to make that fire on Thursday, and to
watch it carefully until church-time on the following Sabbath. He did
so, and both furnaces were in full blast at the appointed hour. That was
the only warm Sunday we had last winter. The mercury was up to eighty
degrees out of doors, while in the church everybody was in a profuse
perspiration, and the bellows-blower at the organ fainted twice. The
next Sunday the sexton tried to keep the fires low by pushing in the
dampers, and consequently the church was filled with coal-gas, and the
choir couldn't sing, nor could the minister preach without coughing
between his sentences.

[Illustration]

Subsequently the sexton removed one of the cast-iron registers in the
floor for the purpose of examining the hot-air flue. He left the hole
open while he went into the cellar for a moment, and just then old Mr.
Collamer came in to hunt for his gloves, which he thought he had left in
his pew. Of course he walked directly into the opening, and was dragged
out in a condition of asphyxia. That very day one of the furnaces burst
and nearly fired the church. The demand for heaters of another kind
seemed to be imperative.

[Illustration]

Old Collamer, by the way, is singularly unfortunate in his experiences
in the sanctuary. He is extremely deaf, and a few Sundays ago he made a
fearful blunder during the sermon. The clergyman had occasion to
introduce a quotation, and as it was quite long, he brought the volume
with him; and when the time came, he picked up the book and began to
read from it. We always sing the Old Hundred doxology after sermon at
our church, and Mr. Collamer, seeing the pastor with the book, thought
the time had come, so while the minister was reading; he opened his
hymn-book at the place. Just as the clergyman laid the volume down the
man sitting next to Mr. Collamer began to yawn, and Mr. Collamer,
thinking he was about to sing, immediately broke out into Old Hundred,
and roared it at the top of his voice. As the clergyman was just
beginning "secondly," and as there was of course perfect silence in the
church, the effect of Mr. Collamer's vociferation was very startling.
But the good old man failed to notice that anything was the matter, so
he kept right on and sang the verse through.

When he had finished, he observed that everybody else seemed to be
quiet, excepting a few who were laughing, so he leaned over and said out
loud to the man who yawned,

[Illustration]

"What's the matter with this congregation, anyhow? Why don't they go
home?"

The man turned scarlet, and the perspiration broke out all over him, for
he felt that the eyes of the congregation were upon him, and he knew
that he would have to yell to make Mr. Collamer hear. So he touched his
lips with his fingers as a sign for the old man to keep quiet. But Mr.
Collamer misunderstood the motion:

"Goin' to sing another hymn, hey? All right."

And he began to fumble his hymn-book again. Then the sexton hurried up
the aisle, and explained matters out loud to Mr. Collamer, and that
gentleman subsided, while the minister proceeded with his discourse. The
clergyman has written Mr. Collamer a note requesting him in the future
not to join in the sacred harmony. The effect is too appalling upon the
ribald boys in the back pews.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XI.

    A FISHING EXCURSION DOWN THE RIVER--DIFFICULTIES OF THE
    VOYAGE--A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS--OUR RETURN HOME, AND HOW
    WE WERE RECEIVED--A LETTER UPON THE GENERAL SUBJECT OF ANGLING--THE
    SORROWS OF THE FISHERMAN--LIEUTENANT SMILEY--HIS RECOLLECTIONS OF
    REV. MR. BLODGETT--A VERY REMARKABLE MISSIONARY.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]

It is said that there is good fishing in this vicinity. Several of my
neighbors who have been out lately have brought home large quantities of
fish of various kinds, together with glowing reports of the delightful
character of the sport. A craving to indulge in this form of amusement
was gradually excited in the mind of Mr. Bob Parker by the stories of
the anglers and by the display of their trophies, and he succeeded in
persuading me to assist in the organization of an expedition down the
river to the fishing-grounds. Yesterday was selected for the
undertaking. I hired a boat from a man at the wharf; and after packing a
generous luncheon in the fish-basket and securing a box full of bait,
we tossed our lines into the boat, together with a heavy stone which was
to serve as an anchor, and then we pushed out into the stream.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

It was early morning when we started, and to my dismay I found that the
tide was running up with remarkable velocity. As we had to pull four
miles down the river, this was a consideration of very great importance.
Mr. Parker is not an especially skillful oarsman, and before he had
fairly seated himself and dipped his blade in the water we had drifted
two hundred yards in the wrong direction. After very severe labor for
half an hour, we succeeded in getting three-quarters of a mile below the
town, and then Bob informed me that he thought he could row better with
my oar. Accordingly, I changed places with him, and during the time thus
expended the boat went back a third of the distance we had gained.
Another prolonged and terrible effort enabled us to proceed two miles
toward our destination, and then Parker observed that he must stop and
rest; he said he would die if he rowed another stroke. So we lay upon
our oars for a while, and embraced the opportunity to wipe away the
perspiration and to cool our blistered hands in the river. Parker then
asked me if I would mind changing places with him again. He said he was
now convinced that he had made a mistake in leaving his first position.
We fell back half a mile during this period; and when we finally reached
the grounds, the morning was far advanced. Bob was nearly worn out, and
he proposed that we give up the idea of catching fish and row ashore,
where we could lie down under the trees and begin operations upon the
luncheon.

[Illustration]

But as we had come to fish, I was determined to do so. I informed Bob
that I should be ashamed to go home without bringing any game. I should
be afraid to look in the face of the man who owned the boat when he
asked me what luck I had. So we tied a rope around the stone, and
tossing the stone overboard, we came to anchor. Our hooks were baited
and the lines were thrown out, and then Bob and I waited patiently for
bites.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

It required a great deal of patience, for the fish did not take the bait
with a remarkable degree of freedom. In fact, we only had a nibble or
two at first, and then even this manifestation of the presence of the
fish ceased. We were sitting with our backs to the shore, watching the
corks in front of us, when Bob suddenly uttered an exclamation. Upon
looking around, I found that we had drifted half a mile up stream and
out into the middle of the river, which is here nearly four miles wide.
The stone had dropped from the knot in the rope and released the boat.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Then we rowed back to shore and landed for the purpose of obtaining
another stone. We could not find one, so we pulled out again; and
sticking one of the oars in the mud, we fastened the boat to that. Then
Bob had a bite. He pulled up, and dragged to the surface of the water a
crab, which instantly let go and sidled under the boat. Then we each
caught a small sunfish, and with this our enthusiasm began to revive.
Just then the oar came out of the mud, slipped through the loop in the
cable and floated off. The prospect of having to take the boat home with
one oar seemed so appalling that I hastily threw off my coat and shoes
and swam after the fugitive oar. Meantime, the boat floated off, and I
reached it and was hauled in by Bob just as I had made up my mind to
give up and go to the bottom.

[Illustration]

We then fastened the oar down again, and I held it with one hand and my
fishing-line with the other. Suddenly each of us had a splendid bite,
and we both pulled in vigorously. The fish seemed to struggle violently
all the way to the surface; but when the hooks came into view, we found
that our lines were entangled, and that neither of us had a fish. The
next time Bob attempted to take in his line his hook caught upon the
bottom; and when, in a fit of exasperation, he tried to jerk it loose,
the cord snapped and the hopes of the fisherman were blasted for that
day. Then, as Bob tipped the boat while he washed his hands, the
bait-box fell overboard, and so matters came to a definite conclusion,
and we determined to quit.

[Illustration]

When we started for home, the tide had turned, and we did not reach town
until dark. The man who owned the craft had just telegraphed to Delaware
City for the purpose of ascertaining if two suspicious men had landed
there and attempted to sell a boat. He compelled me to pay half a day's
hire extra for staying out so late, together with the cost of the
telegram.

[Illustration]

I consider it beneath me to notice the unnecessary violence of his
language or the insolence of his criticisms upon our skill as fishermen.

This I could have borne with patience, but it was hard, very, very hard,
upon arriving home, to have Mrs. Adeler come to the door with a smile
upon her face and ask, "Where are the fish?" while she informed us that
she had asked the Magruders over to tea, and had depended upon us to
supply the principal dish, so that now she had not a thing in the house
that she could cook.

[Illustration]

"Mrs. Adeler, we return with two diminutive sunfish, one demoralized
ham-sandwich, two crimson noses and a thorough, sincere, whole-souled
and earnest disgust for the wretched business which some men choose to
regard in the light of amusement, No, Mrs. Adeler, we have no fish that
are worthy of the name, and hereafter when we wish to have some, we will
purchase them from the unhappy beings who catch them. A fisherman
deserves all the money he can get, my dear. I wouldn't be a professional
piscator for the mines of Golconda and the wealth of a nabob to boot."

       *       *       *       *       *

Our unfortunate experiences upon the river tempt me to refer in detail
to the ills to which amateur fishermen, as a class, are exposed. The
pleasures of angling have been said and sung by a vast multitude of
sentimental people reaching all the way from old Izaak Walton to Mr.
Prime; but the story of the suffering that too often accompanies the
sport has not yet been narrated with a sufficient amount of vigor. The
martyr fishermen have been too long kept in the background. The time has
come for them to have a hearing. I have chosen to present their
complaint in the somewhat singular form of a letter to Mr. Benjamin F.
Butler, because at the time of the negotiation of the Washington treaty
he manifested much indignation at the wrongs heaped upon American
fishermen by that instrument, and because he is a very suitable person
to figure in a remonstrance which has about it perhaps a slight flavor
of burlesque, even though it is a narrative of real misery.


THE SORROWS OF THE FISHERMAN.

DEAR GENERAL: I have given a great deal of reflection, lately, to the
fishery question, and I am convinced that your opposition to the fishery
clauses of the Washington treaty had a basis of sound common sense. The
treaty, in my opinion, wholly fails to consider in a spirit of wise
statesmanship the causes which move the fisherman to complaint, and
supplies no adequate means for securing their removal. Permit me to
suggest to you the propriety of urging upon the government the
reassembling of the joint high commission for the purpose of obtaining a
reconsideration of the fishery question with the new light which I
propose to shed upon it.

[Illustration]

My experience in fishing has convinced me that one of the most serious
of the primary obstacles to be overcome is the difficulty of procuring
worms. Perhaps you may have observed an enthusiastic fisherman in
pursuit of worms? The day is always warm, and his performance upon the
shovel conduces to profuse perspiration. He seems never to strike
precisely the spot where the worms frolic. He labors with tremendous
energy until he has excavated a couple of cellars and a rifle-pit, from
which he rescues but two or three worms, while all around him the earth
is perforated with holes, into which other vermicular creatures are
perceived to disappear before he can lay his hands on them. The alacrity
with which a worm draws himself into a hole in the ground, and dives
down apparently to the centre of the globe, when you want him, is a
constant source of aggravation to the fisherman. The fishery interests
suffer on account of it.

If a joint high commission would address itself in a conciliatory spirit
to the work of obtaining concerted action from the civilized nations of
the world upon the subject of the reformation of worms, blessed results
would undoubtedly accrue. I know a fisherman who could make a speech in
Congress on the subject of worms which would make that body weep the
rotunda full of tears.

[Illustration]

And even when bait has been secured, you are aware, perhaps, that the
fisherman will sit for hours upon the bank of the stream watching his
cork until he is nearly blinded, and until his head swims. At last, when
his patience is exhausted and he is convinced that there are no fish
about, he pulls up for the purpose of trying another spot, and finds
that some disreputable fish has sucked the bait off the hook an hour
before without making a perceptible nibble.

[Illustration]

Perhaps a clause in the treaty upon the general subject of nibbles might
be of service. I think a paragraph could be constructed on nibbles which
would create more amazement and produce a greater sensational effect in
diplomatic circles than anything that ever appeared in a treaty. The
introduction of the subject of nibbles to international law would give
that science refreshing variety and probably prevent devastating wars.

[Illustration]

It is another cause of suffering to the fisherman that when he has
thrown in again, and has waited an hour for a bite, and waited in vain,
he considers it safe to drop his rod for a moment, so that he can light
his pipe. It is a peculiar circumstance, I say, that just as he has
struck his last match he always gets the most vigorous bite of the whole
day. The cork pulls under in the most exciting manner several times, and
only floats up again permanently at the moment when the angler seizes
his rod in eager haste and finds that the fish is gone.

[Illustration]

It is this kind of thing that makes the fisherman feel as if he would be
relieved by the use of violent language. The British premier, I am sure,
will consent to the negotiation of another treaty if you will press this
matter on him. He must see at once that unless bites are arranged with a
greater regard for the feelings of the fisherman and for the sanctity of
the law against profane swearing, the fishery interests will languish
and the crop prove a humiliating failure.

I have often remarked, too, that when the fisherman has nearly landed a
fish, which drops off the hook just as it appears to be safe, he
collects all his energies for the next bite. He grasps the rod tightly
with both hands, he rises and plants his legs firmly upon the ground, he
watches the cork carefully, with his lips compressed and with fiery
determination gleaming from his eyes. The cork moves slightly. It goes
under; he has a good bite; he pulls up with frightful energy, determined
not to lose this one, and the next instant his line hits the limb of the
tree overhead, and winds around it as closely as if it was put there on
purpose to splice that limb, so as to make it perfectly secure
throughout the unending ages of eternity.

I always excuse the man for taking a gloomy view of life, and for saying
over with ardor and vehemence his entire reserve stock of objurgations
as he shins up the tree. But has the government no duty in the matter?
What is the use of joint high commissions if these things are to be
allowed? We have made the republic successful, we have fought mighty
battles, we have paid millions of indebtedness and we have given the
civilization of the world a tremendous impulse forward; now let us do
something for the disgusted fisherman who has to fumble around out on
that limb. Let us have a special treaty on that particular branch of the
subject.

[Illustration]

If something could be done in relation to eels, I think the government
of our beloved country would rest upon a foundation of greater stability
and have a more permanent hold upon popular affection. Perhaps you have
fished for eels? The eel gently pulls the cork under and lets go. You
pull up suddenly, and throw in again. The eel tenderly draws the cork
beneath the surface, and, wild with fury, you jerk out your line a
second time. This exhilarating exercise continues for some moments, and
you make up your mind that existence will be a burden, the world a
hollow sham, and groceries and marketing useless baubles, unless you
catch that eel. Finally you do hook him and draw him out. He is active,
playful and vivacious. He wriggles; he forms himself in quick succession
into S's, C's and Q's. He points to all the four quarters of the
compass at once. He swallows himself and spits himself out. He wraps
himself around your boot and shoots up your leg and covers your trowsers
with slime, and tangles your line into a mess by the side of which the
Gordian knot was the perfection of simplicity. When you get your foot
firmly on him, you find that he has swallowed the hook, and you have to
cut him completely open, from head to tail, to get the hook out, and
then, as likely as not, the eel will flip back into the water and
escape. I think eels rarely die.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

A joint high commission which would devote itself with philanthropic
ardor and untiring energy to a dispassionate consideration of the
subject of the immortality of eels might, perhaps, achieve important
results. Any settlement of the fishery question which overlooked the
hideous wickedness of eels would be a cruel mockery of human woe.

But for pure pathos, I can conceive of nothing that will equal the
anguish of the fisherman when he imagines he has a catfish upon his
hook. His cork is drawn slowly under the surface, and it goes down,
down, down, until it sinks completely out of sight. He is certain it is
a catfish--they always pull in this manner, he says; and he draws in his
line gently, while the fish tugs and pulls at the other end. Gradually,
v-e-r-y gradually, the fisherman pulls it in, in order to be sure to
keep the prey upon the hook. It is evidently a very large fish, and he
is determined to land it through the shallow water, so that it cannot
drop back and escape. Slowly it comes up, and just as the hook nears
the surface the angler gives a sudden jerk, and out comes a terrific
snag with a dozen branches and covered with mud. And meanwhile, during
all the fisherman's troubles, there is that infamous small boy sitting
on the opposite bank of the creek pulling up fish by the dozen with a
pin-hook and some wrapping twine.

[Illustration]

It would gratify me if the new treaty would devote one clause to a
definite settlement of the question of the bearing of snags upon the
miseries of mankind, and about eight stupendous clauses to a
determination of the fate that is deserved by that boy. My own
humanitarian tendencies incline me to urge that he should be summarily
shot. If a boy with a pin-hook is to be allowed thus to destroy the
peace of older American citizens, the sooner we ask some efficient and
reliable despot to come over here and break up the government and
trample on us, the happier we shall be.

[Illustration]

I commend the subject to your enlightened consideration, and ask for an
earnest appeal to the next Congress in behalf of suffering fishermen. If
we cannot obtain redress by peaceful means, let us have it by force. I
am ready to overturn the government, massacre the people, burn the
cities and carry desolation, devastation and death into every home in
the land, rather than to permit these outrages against justice longer
to continue and these unhappy men to endure further persecution.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are indications that the course of Bob Parker's true love will not
run entirely smooth. The officers stationed at Fort Delaware, below
here, come up to the village constantly upon social errands, and they
are exceedingly popular with the young ladies. Lieutenant Smiley is, I
think, the favorite; and as he has become a somewhat frequent visitor at
Magruder's, Bob's jealousy has been aroused. He hates Smiley with a
certain deadly hatred. Mr. Parker is not naturally warlike in his
tendencies, but I believe he would willingly engage in hostilities with
the lieutenant with an utterly reckless disregard of the consequences.

[Illustration]

Smiley comes to see us sometimes; and Bob, I fear, regards even this
family with gloom and suspicion because we receive the lieutenant
courteously. But he says very little upon the subject; for when he
begins to abuse Smiley, I always ask him why he does not propose to Miss
Magruder at once and thus relieve himself from his agony of
apprehension. Then he beats a retreat. He would rather face a regiment
of Smileys armed with Dahlgren guns than to discuss the subject of his
cowardice respecting the beautiful Magruder.

We like the lieutenant well enough, and we should like him better but
for his propensity for telling incredible stories. He was in the naval
service for eight or ten years; and when he undertakes to give accounts
of his adventures, he is very apt to introduce anecdotes of which
Munchausen would have been ashamed. It is one of Smiley's favorite
theories that he sojourned for a considerable period among the Fiji
Islands, and many of his narratives relate his experiences in that
region. There was a missionary meeting at the church a night or two ago,
and the lieutenant, having been defeated by Bob in his attempt to
escort Miss Magruder to her home, came to our house; and very naturally
he began the conversation with a story of missionary enterprise with
which he assumed to have become familiar during his visit to the South
Seas.

[Illustration]

"Mr. Adeler," he said, "I was very much interested in the proceedings at
that meeting to-night, but it seems to me that there is one defect in
the system of preparing men for the work of propagating the gospel among
the heathen."

[Illustration]

"What is that?"

"Why they ought to teach the science of mesmerism in the divinity
schools."

"I don't exactly understand the purpose of the--"

"Perhaps you never heard of the Rev. Mr. Blodgett, missionary to the
Fiji Islands? Well, he saved his life once merely by practicing
mesmerism. He has told me the story often."

"I should like to hear it."

[Illustration]

"It seems that Blodgett in his sinful youth had been a traveling
professor of mesmerism; but he had abandoned the business to go into the
ministry and to preach to the heathen in Fiji. Well, his church out
there got up a Sunday-school picnic, it appears; and when the people all
arrived upon the ground, they learned that the provisions had been
forgotten. A meeting of the vestry was called, and after a brief
consultation it was decided that the only thing which could be done to
meet the emergency was to barbecue the minister. The inducement to this
course was all the stronger because his salary was six months in
arrears, and the church was entirely out of funds. So they built a huge
fire; and seizing Blodgett, they began to strip him and to stick him
with forks.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"In order to save himself, he immediately mesmerized each member of the
vestry; and when they were all fixed, he called up the Sunday-school
scholars, class by class, and put them comfortably to sleep. Having them
all completely under his influence, he gave an entire class to each one
of the vestrymen, and assured them that the innocent children were the
most luscious kind of missionary. Thereupon the hypnotized vestry
immediately ate up the somnambulistic Sunday-school and picked the bones
clean. Blodgett was a very conscientious man in the performance of his
sacerdotal functions, so he read the funeral service over each class as
it disappeared."

[Illustration]

"Rather an excessive meal, I should say."

"Yes, but they are large eaters, the Fijians. You might say that their
appetites are, in a certain sense, robust."

"I should imagine that such was the case. But proceed."

[Illustration]

"Well, when the little ones were gone, Blodgett whispered to the
magnetized wardens that their fellow-vestrymen were also succulent
propagators of Christianity; whereupon the unconscious wardens fell upon
their colleagues, and in a few moments nearly the whole vestry was in
the process of assimilation. There remained now but the two wardens, and
Blodgett, having prevailed upon the younger and more vigorous of the two
to eat the other, then seized the slumbering body of his converted but
erring brother and stood it on its head in the fire. The Rev. Mr.
Blodgett went away alone from that picnic, and he went with a heavy
heart. When he got home, they asked where the rest of the folks were,
and he said they were enjoying themselves up there in the woods in their
own quiet, innocent way, but that he had to come away in order to visit
a sick friend who stood in need of his ministrations. And then he packed
his trunk and borrowed a canoe and paddled away to our ship, determined
to seek some sunnier clime, where the heathen rage less furiously, and
where the popular appetite for warm clergyman is not so intensely
vivid."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"That is a very remarkable narrative, lieutenant--very remarkable
indeed!"

"Yes. But poor Mott was not so lucky."

"Who was Mott?"

"Why the Rev. Peter Mott--he was a missionary engaged upon one of the
other islands. He knew nothing of mesmerism; and when his choir attacked
him upon the way home from church one day, he was unable to defend
himself, and they ate him."

"How painful!"

[Illustration]

"I had to carry the mournful news to Mrs. Mott, who lived in San
Francisco. When we reached that port, I called upon her and performed
the unpleasant duty. The manner in which she received the intelligence
was, I conceive, in every way extraordinary. She cried, of course, and I
offered her what consolation I could under the circumstances. I alluded
to the fact that all men must die at any rate, and dear Mott, let us
hope, had gone to a better world than this one of sorrow and trouble and
so forth.

[Illustration]

"Mrs. Mott in reply said, with a voice broken with sobs: 'It isn't
that--oh, it isn't that. I know he is better off; I'm sure he is
happier; but you know what a very particular man he was, and oh, Mr.
Smiley, I fear that those brutal savages boiled him with cabbage.' There
was no use trying to assuage her grief under such circumstances, so I
shook hands with her and left. But it was an odd idea. Mott with
cabbage! I thought as I came away that he would have tasted better with
the merest flavor of onion."

When Lieutenant Smiley bade us good-night, I said,

"Mrs. Adeler, what do you think of that young man?"

"I think," she said, "that he tells the most dreadful falsehoods I ever
listened to. It will be a burning shame if he succeeds in cutting out
Robert with Miss Magruder."

"Mrs. Adeler, he shall not do that. Bob shall have Miss Magruder at all
hazards. If he does not propose to her shortly, I shall go down and
broach the subject to her myself. We must defeat Smiley even if we have
to violate all the rules of propriety to achieve that result."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XII.

    HOW THE PLUMBER FIXED MY BOILER--A VEXATIOUS BUSINESS--HOW
    HE DIDN'T COME TO TIME, AND WHAT THE ULTIMATE RESULT WAS--AN
    ACCIDENT, AND THE PATHETIC STORY OF YOUNG CHUBB--REMINISCENCES OF
    GENERAL CHUBB--THE ECCENTRICITIES OF AN ABSENT-MINDED MAN--THE
    RIVALS--PARKER VERSUS SMILEY.


[Illustration]

We have had a great deal of trouble recently with our kitchen boiler,
which is built into the wall over the range. It sprang a leak a few
weeks ago, and the assistance of a plumber had to be invoked for the
purpose of repairing it. I sent for the plumber, and after examining the
boiler, he instructed the servant to let the fire go out that night, so
that he could begin operations early the next morning. His order was
obeyed, but in the morning the plumber failed to appear. We had a cold
and very uncomfortable breakfast, and on my way to the dépôt I overtook
the plumber going in the same direction. He said he was sorry to
disappoint me, but he was called suddenly out of town on imperative
business, and he would have to ask me to wait until the next morning,
when he would be promptly on hand with his men. So we had no fire in the
range upon that day, and the family breakfasted again upon cool viands
without being cheered with a view of the plumber. Upon calling at the
plumber's shop to ascertain why he had not fulfilled his promise, I was
informed by the clerk that he had returned, but that he was compelled to
go over to Wilmington. The man seemed so thoroughly in earnest in his
assertion that the plumber positively would attend to my boiler upon the
following morning that we permitted the range to remain untouched, and
for the third time we broke our fast with a frigid repast. But the
plumber and his assistants did not come.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

As it seemed to be wholly impossible to depend upon these faithless
artisans, our cook was instructed to bring the range into service again
without waiting longer for repairs, and to give the family a properly
prepared meal in the morning. While we were at breakfast there was a
knock at the gate, and presently we perceived the plumber and his men
coming up the yard with a general assortment of tools and materials. The
range at the moment of his entrance to the kitchen was red hot; and when
he realized the fact, he flung his tools on the floor and expressed his
indignation in the most violent and improper language, while his
attendant fiends sat around in the chairs and growled in sympathy with
their chief. When I appeared upon the scene, the plumber addressed me
with the air of a man who had suffered a great and irreparable wrong at
my hands, and he really displayed so much feeling that for a few moments
I had an indistinct consciousness that I had somehow been guilty of an
act of gross injustice to an unfortunate and persecuted fellow-being.
Before I could recover myself sufficiently to present my side of the
case with the force properly belonging to it, the plumbers marched into
the yard, where they tossed a quantity of machinery and tools and lead
pipe under the shed, and then left.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

We had no fire in the range the next morning, but the plumbers did not
come until four o'clock in the afternoon, and then they merely dumped a
cart load of lime-boxes and hoes upon the asparagus bed and went home.
An interval of four days elapsed before we heard of them again; and
meanwhile the cook twice nearly killed herself by stumbling over the
tools while going out into the shed in the dark. One morning, however,
the gang arrived before I had risen; and when I came down to breakfast,
I found that they had made a mortar bed on our best grass plot, and had
closed up the principal garden walk with a couple of wagon loads of
sand. I endured this patiently because it seemed to promise speedy
performance of the work. The plumbers, however, went away at about nine
o'clock, and the only reason we had for supposing they had not forgotten
us was that a man with a cart called in the afternoon and shot a
quantity of bricks down upon the pavement in such a position that nobody
could go in or out of the front gate. Two days afterward the plumbers
came and began to make a genuine effort to reach the boiler. It was
buried in the wall in such a manner that it was wholly inaccessible by
any other method than by the removal of the bricks from the outside. The
man who erected the house evidently was a party with the plumber to a
conspiracy to give the latter individual something to do. They labored
right valiantly at the wall, and by supper-time they had removed at
least twelve square feet of it, making a hole large enough to have
admitted a locomotive. Then they took out the old boiler and went away,
leaving a most discouraging mass of rubbish lying about the yard.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

That was the last we saw of them for more than a week. Whenever I went
after the plumber for the purpose of persuading him to hasten the work,
I learned that he had been summoned to Philadelphia as a witness in a
court case, or that he had gone to his aunt's funeral, or that he was
taking a holiday because it was his wife's birthday, or that he had a
sore eye. I have never been able to understand why the house was not
robbed. An entire brigade of burglars might have entered the cottage and
frolicked among its treasures without any difficulty. I did propose at
first that Bob and I should procure revolvers and take watch and watch
every night until the breach in the wall should be repaired; but Mr.
Parker did not regard the plan with enthusiasm, and it was abandoned. We
had to content ourselves with fastening the inner door of the kitchen as
securely as possible, and we were not molested. But we were nervous.
Mrs. Adeler, I think, assured me positively at least twice every night
that she heard robbers on the stairs, and entreated me not to go out
after them; and I never did.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Finally the men came and began to fill the hole with new bricks. That
evening the plumber walked into my parlor with mud and mortar on his
boots, and informed me that by an unfortunate mistake the hole left for
the boiler by the bricklayers was far too small, and he could not insert
the boiler without taking the wall down again.

[Illustration]

"Mr. Nippers," I said, "don't you think it would be a good idea for me
to engage you permanently to labor upon that boiler? From the manner in
which this business has been conducted, I infer that I can finally be
rid of annoyance about such matters by employing a perennial plumber to
live for ever in my back yard, and to spend the unending cycles of
eternity banging boilers and demolishing walls."

Mr. Nippers said, with apparent seriousness, that he thought it would be
a first-rate thing.

[Illustration]

"Mr. Nippers, I am going to ask a favor of you. I do not insist upon
compliance with my request. I know that I am at your mercy. Nippers, you
have me, and I submit patiently to my fate. But my family is suffering
from cold, we are exposed to the ravages of thieves, we are deprived of
the means of cooking our food properly, and we are made generally
uncomfortable by the condition of our kitchen. I ask you, therefore, as
a personal favor to a man who wishes you prosperity here and felicity
hereafter, and who means to settle your bill promptly, to fix that
boiler at once."

Mr. Nippers thereupon said that he always liked me, and he swore a
solemn oath that he would complete the job next day without fail. That
was on Tuesday. Neither Nippers nor his men came again until Saturday,
and then they put the boiler in its place and went away, leaving four or
five cart loads of ruins in the yard. On Sunday the boiler began to leak
as badly as ever, and I feel sure Nippers must have set the old one in
again, although when he called early Monday morning with a bill for
$237-84/100, which he wanted at once because he had a note to meet, he
declared upon his honor that the boiler was a new one, and that it
would not leak under a pressure of one thousand pounds to the square
inch.

I am going to buy a cooking stove, and defy Nippers and
the entire plumbing fraternity.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

Cooley's boy has been in trouble again. Yesterday morning Mrs. Adeler
heard loud screaming in Cooley's yard, and in a few moments a servant
came to say that Mrs. Cooley wished to see Mrs. Adeler at once. Mrs. A.
hurried over there, supposing that something terrible had happened. She
found Mrs. Cooley shaking her boy and crying, while the lad stood, the
picture of misery and fright, his eyes protruding from his head and his
hands holding his stomach. Mrs. Cooley explained in a voice broken with
sobs that Henry had been playing with a small "mouth organ," and had
accidentally swallowed it. The case was somewhat peculiar; and as Mrs.
Adeler was not familiar with the professional methods which are adopted
in such emergencies, she recommended simply a liberal use of mustard and
warm water. The application was ultimately successful, and the missing
musical instrument was surrendered by the boy. The incident is neither
interesting nor remarkable, and I certainly should not have mentioned it
but for the fact that it had a result which is perhaps worth chronicling
here.

[Illustration]

Last evening Bob came into the sitting-room and behaved in a manner
which led me to believe that he had something on his mind. I asked him
if anything was the matter. He said,

"Well, no; not exactly. The fact is I've been thinking about that
accident to Cooley's boy, and it kind of suggested something to me."

"What was the nature of the suggestion?"

[Illustration]

"I've jotted it down on paper. I've half a notion to send it to the
_Argus_ if you think it's good enough, and that's what I want to find
out. I want to hear your opinion of the story. I don't do much of this
sort of thing, and I'm kind of shy about it. Shall I read it?"

"Of course; let us hear it."

"I'm going to call it 'The Fate of Young Chubb.' I expect it'll make old
Cooley mad as fury when he sees it. It is founded upon the catastrophe
of which his boy was the victim."

       *       *       *       *       *

THE FATE OF YOUNG CHUBB.

[Illustration]

When Mr. Chubb, the elder, returned from Europe, he brought with him
from Geneva a miniature musical box, long and very narrow, and
altogether of hardly greater dimensions, say, than a large pocket-knife.
The instrument played four cheerful little tunes for the benefit of the
Chubb family, and they enjoyed it. Young Henry Chubb enjoyed it to such
an extent that, one day, just after the machine had been wound up ready
for action, he got to sucking the end of it, and in a moment of
inadvertence it slipped, and he swallowed it. The only immediate
consequence of the accident was that a harmonic stomach-ache was
organized upon the interior of Henry Chubb, and he experienced a
restlessness which he well knew would defy peppermint and paregoric.

Henry Chubb kept his secret in his own soul, and in his stomach also,
determined to hide his misery from his father, and to spare the rod to
the spoiled child--spoiled, at any rate, as far as his digestive
apparatus was concerned.

[Illustration]

But that evening, at the supper-table, Henry had eaten but one mouthful
of bread when strains of wild, mysterious music were suddenly wafted
from under the table. The family immediately made an effort to discover
whence the sounds came, although Henry Chubb sat there filled with agony
and remorse and bread and tunes, and desperately asserted his belief
that the music came from the cellar, where the servant-girl was
concealed with a harp. He well knew that Mary Ann was unfamiliar with
the harp. But he was frantic with anxiety to hide his guilt. Thus it is
that one crime leads to another.

[Illustration]

But he could not disguise the truth for ever, and that very night, while
the family was at prayers, Henry all at once began to hiccough, and the
music box started off without warning with "Way down upon the Suwanee
River," with variations. Whereupon the paternal Chubb arose from his
knees and grasped Henry kindly but firmly by his hair and shook him up
and inquired what he meant by such conduct. And Henry asserted that he
was practicing something for a Sunday-school celebration, which old
Chubb intimated was a singularly thin explanation. Then they tried to
get up that music box, and every time they would seize Henry by the legs
and shake him over the sofa cushion, or would pour some fresh variety of
emetic down his throat, the instrument within would give a fresh spurt,
and joyously grind out "Listen to the Mocking Bird" or "Thou'lt Never
Cease to Love."

[Illustration]

At last they were compelled to permit that musical box to remain within
the sepulchral recesses of young Chubb. To say that the unfortunate
victim of the disaster was made miserable by his condition would be to
express in the feeblest manner the state of his mind. The more music
there was in his stomach, the wilder and more completely chaotic became
the discord in his soul. As likely as not it would occur that while he
lay asleep in the middle of the night the works would begin to revolve,
and would play "Home, Sweet Home" for two or three hours, unless the peg
happened to slip, when the cylinder would switch back again to "Way down
upon the Suwanee River," and would rattle out that tune with variations
and fragments of the scales until Henry's brother would kick him out of
bed in wild despair, and sit on him in a vain effort to subdue the
serenade, which, however, invariably proceeded with fresh vigor when
subjected to unusual pressure.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

And when Henry Chubb went to church, it frequently occurred that, in the
very midst of the most solemn portion of the sermon, he would feel a
gentle disturbance under the lower button of his jacket; and presently,
when everything was hushed, the undigested engine would give a
preliminary buzz and then reel off "Listen to the Mocking Bird" and
"Thou'lt Never Cease to Love," and scales and exercises, until the
clergyman would stop and glare at Henry over his spectacles and whisper
to one of the deacons. Then the sexton would suddenly tack up the aisle
and clutch the unhappy Mr. Chubb by the collar and scud down the aisle
again to the accompaniment of "Home, Sweet Home," and then incarcerate
Henry in the upper portion of the steeple until after church.

But the end came at last, and the miserable boy found peace. One day
while he was sitting in school endeavoring to learn his multiplication
table to the tune of "Thou'lt Never Cease to Love," his gastric juice
triumphed. Something or other in the music box gave way all at once, the
springs were unrolled with alarming force, and Henry Chubb, as he felt
the fragments of the instrument hurled right and left among his vitals,
tumbled over on the floor and expired.

At the _post mortem_ examination they found several pieces of "Home,
Sweet Home" in his liver, while one of his lungs was severely torn by a
fragment of "Way down upon the Suwanee River." Small particles of
"Listen to the Mocking Bird" were removed from his heart and
breast-bone, and three brass pegs of "Thou'lt Never Cease to Love" were
found firmly driven into his fifth rib.

[Illustration]

They had no music at the funeral. They sifted the machinery out of him
and buried him quietly in the cemetery. Whenever the Chubbs buy musical
boxes now, they get them as large as a piano and chain them to the wall.

       *       *       *       *       *

While Bob was engaged in reading the account of the melodious misery of
the unhappy Chubb, Lieutenant Smiley came in, and the result was that
both became uneasy. Bob disliked to subject himself to the criticism of
a man whom he regarded as an enemy, and the lieutenant was so jealous of
Bob's success that he began instantly to try to think of something that
would enable him at least to maintain his reputation as a teller of
stories.

"That is very good indeed, Bob," I said. "Bangs will be only too glad to
publish it. It is very creditable. Put your name to it, however, if it
goes into the _Argus_, or the colonel will persuade the community that
he is the author of it."

"He will have to get a new brain-pan set in before he can write anything
as good," said Bob.

"It is a very amusing story," remarked Mrs. Adeler. "I had no idea that
you ever attempted such things. It is quite good, is it not,
lieutenant?"

"Oh, very good indeed," said Smiley. "V-e-r-y good. Quite an
achievement, in fact. Ha! ha! do you know that name 'Chubb' reminds me
of a very comical incident."

"Indeed?"

"Ha! yes! Old General Chubb was the actor in it. Perhaps you knew him,
Parker?"

"No, I didn't," growled Bob.

[Illustration]

"Well, he was a very eccentric old man. Deuced queer, you know, and the
most absent-minded person that ever lived. He had a wooden leg late in
his life, and I've often known him to put that leg on backward with the
toes pointing behind him, and then he would come jolting down the street
in the most extraordinary manner, with his good knee bending north and
his timber knee doubling up southwardly; and when I would meet him, he
would stop and growl because the authorities kept the pavements in such
bad repair that a man could hardly walk."

"I don't see anything very funny about that," said Bob, impolitely and
savagely.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"Well, one day a few months ago," continued Smiley, without noticing Mr.
Parker's ill-nature, "he sauntered into the studio of the celebrated
marine painter Hamilton, in Philadelphia. The artist was out at the
moment, but standing upon the floor was a large and very superb picture
of the sea-beach, with the surf rolling in upon it. The general stood
looking at it for a while, until his mind wandered off from the present,
and under the influence of the picture he was gradually impressed with a
vague notion that he was at the seashore. So, still gazing at the
painting, he slowly removed his clothes, and finally stood in a revery
without a stitch upon him. Then he clasped his nose with his fingers,
bent his neck forward and plunged head foremost into the surf. The
people on the floor below thought there was an earthquake. The artist
came rushing in, and found General Chubb with his head against the
washboard, one leg hanging from the ragged surf and the toes of his left
foot struggling among the ruins of the lighthouse. Hamilton has that
torn picture yet. He says that Chubb's dive is the highest tribute ever
paid to his genius."

As the lieutenant finished the narrative, Bob rose and left the room
with the suggestion, muttered as he passed me, that the story was tough.

"Mr. Parker don't seem well," remarked the lieutenant when Bob had gone.

"Oh yes, he is perfectly well. I imagine that he does not regard you
with precisely the same amount of enthusiastic admiration that he might
perhaps feel if you were not treading on his toes a little."

"Oh," laughed the lieutenant, "you refer, of course, to our relations
with the Magruders? I don't like to talk much about that matter, of
course; it is delicate, and you may think I am meddling with a business
in which I have no concern. But perhaps I may as well tell you frankly
that Parker has no earthly chance there--not the least in the world. The
young lady won't smile on him. I am as certain of that as I am of
death."

"You are positive of that, are you?"

"Yes, sir, you can rely upon my word. Parker might as well give it up.
By the way, I wonder if he has gone down there now?"

"Very likely."

"Well, I must say good-night, then; I promised to call there at
half-past eight, and it is time to be off."

So Lieutenant Smiley bade us adieu. Mrs. Adeler immediately asked:

"Do you believe what that man says?"

"Certainly not, my dear. I have as much faith as a dozen ordinary men,
but it would require a grand army to believe him. He is foolish enough
to hope to frighten Bob away. But Bob shall settle the matter to-morrow.
If he doesn't, we will disown him. The end of the campaign has come. Now
for victory or defeat!"

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIII.

    AN EVIL DAY--FLOGGING-TIME IN NEW CASTLE--HOW THE PUNISHMENT IS
    INFLICTED--A FEW REMARKS UPON THE GENERAL MERITS OF THE SYSTEM--A
    SINGULAR JUDGE--HOW GEORGE WASHINGTON BUSBY WAS SENTENCED--EMOTIONS
    OF THE PRISONER--A CRUEL INFLICTION, AND A CODE THAT OUGHT TO BE
    REFORMED.


[Illustration]

This is St. Pillory's Day. It is the day upon which humane and liberal
Delawarians hang their heads for shame at the insult offered to
civilization by the law of their State. That law this morning placed
half a dozen miserable creatures in the stocks, and then flogged them
upon their naked flesh with a cat-o'-nine-tails. It was no slight thing
to stand there wearing that wooden collar in this bitter November
weather, with the north-east wind blowing in fierce gusts from the broad
expanse of the river; and one poor wretch who endured that suffering was
so benumbed with cold that he could hardly climb down the ladder to the
ground. And when he had descended, they lashed his back until it was
covered with purple stripes. He had stolen some provisions, and he
looked as if he needed them, for he seemed hungry and forlorn and
utterly desperate with misery. It would have been a kindlier act of
Christian charity if society, instead of mutilating his body, had fed it
and clothed it properly, and placed him in some reformatory institution
where his soul could have been taken care of. But that is not the method
that prevails here.

[Illustration]

The gates of the prison yard were wide open when the punishment was
inflicted upon these offenders, and among the spectators were at least
two or three score children gathered to look upon the barbarous
spectacle. Nothing could induce me to permit mine to witness it. The
influence of such a scene is wholly brutalizing. The child that has seen
that sacrifice has lost some of the sweetness and tenderness of its
better nature.

[Illustration]

The whipping-post and pillory is a sturdy bit of timber a foot square.
Eight or nine feet from the ground it pierces a small platform, and five
feet above this there is a cross-piece which contains in each of its two
arms a hole for the neck and two holes for the wrists of the man who is
to be pilloried. The upper half of the arm lifts to admit the victim,
and then closes upon him, sometimes very tightly. It is fastened down
with a wedge-shaped key, shot into the centre-post. Beneath the platform
hangs a pair of handcuffs in which the wrists of those who are to be
flogged are placed. The whole machine looks like a gigantic cross. It is
black with age, covered with patches of green mold and moss, and
shrunken and split until the grain of the wood protrudes in ridges.

There was a time in the past when it stood, an instrument of cruel
torture, upon the public street. It was planted in the green just at the
end of the old market house, and there the criminals were lashed by the
sheriff. Any of the old men who have spent their lives in this place can
tell how, when they were boys, it was the custom for the urchins and the
loafers of the town to pelt any poor rogue who was pilloried with
whatever missiles happened to be at hand; and often the creatures thus
abused were taken down from the stocks and tied up to the post, there to
have their flesh lacerated with the leather thongs. They used to flog
women, too. They flogged women in the open street, with their garments
torn away from their bodies above the waist, and the gaping crowd
gathered about and witnessed without shame that dreadful spectacle.

[Illustration]

But that was more than half a century ago. Who shall say that we do not
advance in civilization? Who can assert that these people have not
acquired a higher sense of decency, when public opinion has compelled
the removal of this abominable relic of barbarism to the jail-yard, and
the performance of the penalty in another place than before the doors of
the temple where a God of mercy is worshiped? I hope that the day is not
far distant when the whipping-post and the infernal system that
sustains it will go down together, and when the people of this State
will learn that their first duty to a criminal is to strive to make him
a better man.

They say here, in apologizing for the institution, that the punishment
is not severe, because the sheriff never makes savage use of the lash.
But it is a terrible infliction, no matter how lightly the blows are
struck, for it is imposed in the presence of a multitude, and the
sufferer feels that he is for ever to be known among men as a thief. The
thongs do not always fall gently; the force of the lash depends upon the
will of the sheriff, who may kill a man with the number of blows which
in another case give no pain. I say that any law which places such
discretionary power in the hands of an executive officer who may be
bribed or frightened, or who may have some personal injury to avenge,
defeats the true end of justice. The court should fix the penalty
absolutely. They say here, also, that no man is ever flogged a second
time. That is untrue. The same men do return again and again. Some do
not; but where do they go? Why, to other communities, where they
perpetrate other crimes and become a burden upon other people. We have
no right to breed criminals and then to drive them into cities and towns
that have already enough of their own. We are under a sacred obligation
to place them in prisons supported by the money of the State, and there
to attempt to teach them arts by which they may earn their bread if they
will. In such a place a convict can be reached by those philanthropists
who realize what society owes to its criminal classes. But as he is
treated now, it is impossible that he should ever lift himself or be
lifted to a purer and better life.

Fallen angels in Delaware never rise again. Law clips their wings and
stamps upon them with its heel, and society shakes off the dust of its
feet upon them and curses them in their degradation. The gates of mercy
are shut upon them hopelessly and for ever, and they walk abroad with
the story of their shame blazoned upon them, as the women who wore the
Scarlet Letter in the old Puritan times in New England, that all the
world may read it. They know that their punishment has been fierce and
terrible and out of all proportion to their offence, and they curse
their oppressors and hate them with a bitter, unrelenting hatred. They
know they will not be allowed to reform, and that the law which should
have led them to a better future has cut them off from fellowship with
their race, robbed them of their humanity and made pariahs and outcasts
of them. They are turned to stone, and they come out of their prisons
confirmed, hopeless criminals.

[Illustration]

A certain judge who administered Delaware justice here once upon a time
(we will say it was a thousand years ago) was a very peculiar man in
certain of his methods. I do not know whether he was merely fond of
listening to the music of his own voice, as too many less reverend and
awful men are, or whether he really loved to torture the prisoners in
the dock, when he sentenced them, by keeping them in suspense respecting
his intentions, and by exciting hopes which he finally crushed. But he
had a way of assuming a mild and benevolent aspect as he addressed a
convicted man which was very reassuring to the unhappy wight, and then
he usually proceeded to deliver a few remarks which were so ingeniously
arranged, which expressed such tender and affectionate sympathy, which
were so highly charged with benevolence, so expressive, as it were, of a
passionate yearning for the welfare of the victim, that the latter at
last would be convinced that the judge was about to give him an
exceedingly light sentence. Just as he had gotten himself into a frame
of mind suitable to the unexpected brightness of his prospects, the
judge's custom was to bring his observations suddenly to an end, and to
hurl at the head of the convict, still with that philanthropic
expression upon his countenance, the most frightful penalty permitted by
the law.

On a certain day, while a certain historian was in court, he was engaged
in exercising a youth named Busby in this fashion. Busby, it appears,
was accused of stealing seventy-five cents' worth of old iron from
somebody, and the jury had found him guilty.

[Illustration]

Busby was ordered to stand up, and the judge, permitting a peculiarly
bland smile to play upon his features, gazed tenderly at the prisoner,
while he placed a small pinch of tobacco in his mouth; and then, drawing
a long breath, he began:

[Illustration]

"George Washington Busby, you have been found guilty by a jury of your
fellow-countrymen of an offence against society and against the peace
and dignity of the commonwealth of Delaware, and I have now to impose
upon you the penalties provided by the law. I am very, very sorry to see
you here, George, and it grieves my heart to be compelled to fulfill the
obligation devolving upon me as a judicial officer. Pause, I entreat
you, at this the very outset of your career, and reflect upon what you
are casting from you. You are a young man; you are, as it were, in the
very morning of your life; a bright and happy home is yours, and around
you are the kind parents and friends who have made you the child of
their prayers, who have guided your footsteps from infancy, who have
loved and cherished you and made for you mighty sacrifices.

[Illustration]

"You have a mother"--and here the judge's voice faltered and he wiped
away a tear--"a mother at whose knee you were taught to lisp your
earliest devotions, and who has watched over you and ministered to you
with that tender and fervent love that only a mother can feel. You have
a father who looked upon you with a heart swelling with pride, and who
gave to you the heritage of his honest name. Up to the time when,
yielding to the insidious wiles of the tempter, you committed this
crime, your character had been irreproachable, and it seemed as if the
brightest promises of your childhood were to have rich and beneficent
fulfillment. For you the vista of the future appeared serene and
beautiful; a pure and noble manhood seemed to await you, and all the
blessings which may be gained by an unspotted reputation, by persistent
energy and by earnest devotion to the right were to be yours."

[Illustration]

Here Busby began to feel considerably better. He was assured that such
a kind old man as that could not treat him with severity, and he
informed the tipstaff in a whisper that he calculated now on about sixty
days' imprisonment at the furthest.

[Illustration]

The judge shifted the quid in his cheek, blew his nose, and resumed:

"How difficult it is, then, for me to determine the precise measure of
your punishment! Knowing that the quality of mercy is not strained, and
that as we forgive so shall we be forgiven, how painful it is for me to
draw the line between undue leniency and the demands of outraged law!
Considering, I say, all these things, that are so much in your
favor--your youth, your happy home, where the holiest influences are
shed upon your path, where parental love covers you with its most
gracious benediction, where your devoted mother lies stricken with
anguish at the sin of her idolized son, where your aged father has his
gray hairs brought down in sorrow to the grave, where you have been
nurtured and admonished and taught to do right--"

[Illustration]

"Certainly he can't intend to give me more than one month," said Busby
to the tipstaff.

"Considering that this is your first offence; that your conduct hitherto
has been that of an honest young man, and that the lesson you have
learned from this bitter and terrible experience will sink deeply into
your heart; that you have opening out to you in the possible future a
life of usefulness and honor, with a prospect of redeeming this single
error and winning for yourself a respected name--"

"He can't decently give me more than twenty days after that," suggested
Busby.

The judge, after wiping the moisture from his eyes and borrowing a
morsel of tobacco from the prosecuting attorney, continued:

[Illustration]

"In view of all these extenuating circumstances, in view of the fact,
fully recognized by this court, that justice is not revengeful, but
exercises its highest prerogative in leading the fallen to reformation
and moral improvement--in view, I say, of the fact that you are in the
very spring-time of your existence, with the vista of the future opening
out with alluring brightness before you and giving promise of higher and
better things--in view of those sorrowing parents the child of whose
prayers you are; of that mother who guided your infant steps and cared
for you with the yearning tenderness of maternal love, of that venerable
father who looks upon you as the staff of his old age; considering, too,
that this is your first misstep from the path of duty--"

"Two weeks as sure as death!" exclaimed Mr. Busby, joyfully, to the
officer beside him.

"The path of duty," continued the judge, "and that up to the moment of
the commission of the deed you had been above suspicion and above
reproach,--in view of all this," remarked the judge, "I have thought it
my duty, minister of the law though I am, and bound though I am by my
oath to vindicate the insulted majesty of that law--"

"If he gives me more than one week, I will never trust signs again,"
murmured Busby.

[Illustration]

"I say that although I am bound to administer justice with an impartial
hand, I feel it to be incumbent upon me in this particular instance, in
consequence of these extenuating circumstances, to mete it out so that,
while the law will be vindicated, you may be taught that it is not cruel
or unkind, but rather is capable of giving the first generous impulse to
reformation."

"He certainly means to let me off altogether," exclaimed Busby.

[Illustration]

"In view, then, of these mitigating circumstances of your youth, your
previous good character, your happy prospects, your afflicted parents
and your own sincere repentance, the sentence of the court is: That you,
George Washington Busby, the prisoner at the bar, do pay seventy-five
cents restitution money and the costs of this trial, and that on
Saturday next you be whipped with twenty lashes on the bare back, well
laid on; that you be imprisoned for six months in the county jail, and
that you wear a convict's jacket in public for one year after your
release. Sheriff, remove the prisoner from the court."

Then the judge beamed a mournful but sympathetic smile upon Busby,
secured the loan of another atom of tobacco, spat on the floor and
called up the next case.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Adeler, you laugh and say that I have indulged in gross
exaggeration in reproducing the sentence. Not so. I tell you that I
have known a boy of thirteen to have that condemnation, couched in
almost precisely those words, hurled at him from the bench of the New
Castle court-house because he stole a bit of iron said to be worth
seventy-five cents. And I was present among the spectators in the jail
yard when the sheriff lashed the lad until he writhed with pain. It
was infamous--utterly infamous. I cannot, perhaps, justly accuse the
judge who imposed the sentence upon the boy of indulging in the lecture
which has just been quoted. That, as I have said, may be attributed to
a magistrate who lived ten centuries ago. But the sentence is genuine,
and it was given recently. I do not blame the judge. He acted under the
authority of statutes which were created by other hands. But the law is
savagery itself, and the humane men of this State should sweep it from
existence.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIV.

    A DELAWARE LEGEND--A STORY OF THE OLD TIME--THE CHRISTMAS
    PLAY--A CRUEL ACCUSATION--THE FLIGHT IN THE DARKNESS ALONG THE RIVER
    SHORE--THE TRIAL AND THE CONDEMNATION--ST. PILLORY'S DAY SEVENTY
    YEARS AGO--FLOGGING A WOMAN--THE DELIVERANCE.


[Illustration]

While the scenes at the whipping-post on flogging-day are fresh in my
mind, I have written down the story of Mary Engle. It is a Delaware
legend, and the events of which it speaks occurred, I will say,
seventy-odd years ago, when they were in the habit of lashing women in
this very town of New Castle.

It was on Christmas day that a little party had assembled in the old
Newton mansion to participate in the festivities for which, at this
season of the year, it was famous all the country over. The house stood
upon the river bank, three miles and more from New Castle, and in that
day it was considered the greatest and handsomest building in the whole
neighborhood. A broad lawn swept away from it down to the water's edge,
and in summer-time this was covered with bright-colored flowers and
bounded by green hedges. Now the grass was bleached with the cold; the
hedges were brown and sere, and the huge old trees, stripped of their
foliage, moaned and creaked and shivered in the wind, rattling their
branches together as if seeking sympathy with each other in their
desolation.

Inside the mansion the scene was as cheerful as life and fun and high
spirits could make it.

[Illustration]

Old Major Newton, the lord and master of all the wide estates, was one
of the race of country gentlemen who introduced to this continent the
manners, habits and large hospitality of the better class of English
squires of his day. He was a mighty fox-hunter, as many a brush hung in
his dining-hall could attest. A believer in the free use of the good
things of life, his sideboard always contained a dozen decanters, from
which the coming, the remaining and the parting guests were expected to
follow the major's example in drinking deeply. His table was always
profusely supplied with good fare, and dining with him was the great
duty and pleasure of the day. He was a gentleman in education, and to
some extent in his tastes; but his manners partook of the coarseness of
his time, for he swore fierce oaths, and his temper was quick, terrible
and violent. His forty negro slaves were treated with indulgent kindness
while they obeyed him implicitly, but any attempt at insubordination
upon their part called down upon their heads a volley of oaths and that
savage punishment which the major considered necessary to discipline.

To-day the major had been out of spirits, and had not joined heartily in
the hilarity of the company, which, despite the gloom of the master,
made the old house ring with the merriment and laughter due to the
happiness of Christmas time.

At five o'clock dinner was done; and the ladies having withdrawn, the
cloth was removed, the wine and whisky and apple-toddy, and a half
dozen other beverages, were brought out, and the major, with his male
guests, began the serious work of the repast. The major sat at the head
of the table; Dr. Ricketts, a jolly bachelor of fifty, who neglected
medicine that he might better spend his fortune in a life of ease and
pleasure, presided at the lower end of the board, upon the flanks of
which sat a dozen gentlemen from the neighboring estates, among them Tom
Willitts, from the adjoining farm, and Dick Newton, the major's only
son.

[Illustration]

The conversation languished somewhat. The major was as gloomy as he had
been earlier in the day. Dick seemed to sympathize with his father. Tom
Willitts was impatient to have the drinking bout over, that he might go
to the parlor, where his thoughts already wandered, and where his
_fiancée_, Mary Engle, the fair governess in the major's family, awaited
him. The guests at last began to be depressed by the want of spirits in
their host; and if it had not been for Doctor Ricketts, there would have
been a dull time indeed. But the doctor was talkative, lively and wholly
indifferent to the taciturnity of his companions. His weakness was a
fondness for theorizing, and he rattled on from topic to topic, heedless
of anything but the portly goblet which he replenished time and again
from the decanter and the punch-bowl.

At last he exclaimed, in the hope of rousing his host from his apparent
despondency, "And now let's have a song from the major. Give us the
'Tally Ho!' Newton."

"I can't sing it to-day, gentlemen," said the major; "the fact is I am a
good deal out of sorts. I have met with a misfortune, and I--"

"Why, what's happened?" exclaimed the whole company.

"Why," said the major, with an oath, "I've lost my famous old diamond
brooch--a jewel, gentlemen, given to my father by George II.--a jewel
that I valued more than all the world beside. It was the reward given to
my father for a brave and gallant deed at the battle of Dettingen, and
its rare intrinsic value was trifling beside that which it possessed as
the evidence of my father's valor."

"How did you lose it, major?" asked the doctor.

"I went to my desk this morning, and found that the lock had been
picked, the inside drawer broken open and the brooch taken from its
box."

"Who could have done it?"

"I can't imagine," replied the major; "I don't think any of those
niggers would have done such a thing. I've searched them all, but it's
of no use, sir--no use; it's gone. But if I ever lay hands on the
scoundrel, I'll flay him alive--I will, indeed, even if it should be
Dick there;" and the old man gulped down a heavy draught of port, as if
to drown his grief.

"My theory about such crimes," said the doctor, "is that the persons
committing them are always more or less insane."

"Insane!" swore the major, fiercely. "If I catch the man who did this,
I'll fit him for a hospital!"

"We are all a little daft at times--when we are angry, in love, in
extreme want, or excited by intense passion of any kind," said the
doctor. "Extreme ignorance, being neglect of one's intellectual
faculties, is a kind of insanity, and so is the perversion of the moral
perceptions of those who are educated to a life of crime from their
childhood. My theory is that punishment should be so inflicted as to
restore reason, not merely to wreak vengeance."

"And my theory is that every vagabond who breaks the laws ought to be
flogged and imprisoned, so that he may know that society will not
tolerate crime. Hang your fine-spun theories about the beggars who prey
upon the community!" said the major, rising and kicking back his chair
ill-naturedly.

The doctor had nothing more to say, and the company withdrew to the
parlor.

There, gathered around the great fireplace, sat Mrs. Newton, her
daughters--both children--Mary Engle, their tutor, Mrs. Willitts and the
wives of the gentlemen who had come from the dinner-table.

[Illustration]

They rose as the men entered the room, and greeted them cordially. Tom
Willitts went quickly to Mary's side, and while the others engaged in
lively conversation he took her hand gently and, as was their privilege,
they walked slowly up the room and sat by the window alone, Mary's face
brightening as she thanked Tom heartily for the beautiful present he had
sent her the day before.

"Why don't you wear it now, Mary?" asked Tom.

"Do you want me to? I will get it and put it on, then, when I go to my
room," said Mary.

Mary Engle was the daughter of a widow in humble circumstances who
lived in the village. Talented and well-educated, she had determined no
longer to be a burden upon her mother, but to support herself. She had
chosen to become a governess in Major Newton's family. Young, beautiful
and of good social position, she was a valuable acquisition to that
household, and was a universal favorite, although the major could never
quite rid himself of the notion that, as she was a dependant and an
employé, he was conferring a favor upon her by permitting such intimate
relations to exist between her and his family. But he treated her
kindly, as all men must a pretty woman. She was a girl with whom any man
might have fallen in love upon first acquaintance. Dick Newton loved her
passionately before she had been in his father's house a month. But she
had chosen rather to favor Tom Willitts, a constant visitor at the
Newton mansion, and as fine a fellow as ever galloped across the country
with the hounds. Dick had not had time to propose before the game was up
and Tom called the prize his own. But Dick nursed his passion and
smothered his disappointment, while he swore that he would possess the
girl or involve her and her lover in common ruin with himself. Tom had
been engaged for three months before this Christmas day. He was to be
married in the coming spring.

There was to be a theatrical exhibition in the Newton mansion this
Christmas evening, in which the young people were to participate. A
temporary stage had been erected at one end of the long room, and at an
early hour seats were placed in front of the curtain, and the guests
took their places, conversing with much merriment and laughter until the
bell gave the signal for the performance to begin.

It was a little play--a brief comedy of only tolerable merit, and it
devolved upon Mary Engle to enter first.

She tripped in smiling, and began the recitation with a vivacity and
spirit that promised well for the excellence of her performance
throughout. Upon her throat she wore a diamond brooch which blazed and
flashed in the glare of the foot-lights.

There was an exclamation of surprise on the part of the gentlemen
present, and the sound startled Mary. She paused and looked around her
inquiringly. Just then Major Newton caught sight of the brooch. With an
ugly word upon his lips, he sprang from his seat and jumped upon the
stage.

"Where did you get that?" he demanded, fiercely, pointing at the
diamonds, his hand trembling violently.

[Illustration]

There was absolute silence in the room as Mary, pale and calm, replied:

"Why do you ask, sir?"

"Where did you get that, I say? It was stolen from me. You are a thief!"

In an instant she tore it from her dress and flung it upon the floor.

The major leaped toward it and picked it up quickly.

Mary covered her face with her hands, and the crimson of her cheeks
shone through her fingers.

"Where did you get it?" again demanded the major.

"I will not tell you, sir," said she, dragging down her hands with an
effort and clasping them in front of her.

"Then leave this house this instant, and leave it for ever!" said the
major, wild with passion.

Tom Willitts entered just as the last words were uttered. Mary seemed
fainting. He flew to her side as if to defend her against her enemy. He
did not know the cause of her trouble, but he glared at the major as if
he could slay him. But as he tried to place his arm around Mary, she
shrank away from him; and giving him one look of scorn and contempt and
hatred, she ran from the room.

From the room to the great door in the hall, which, with frantic
eagerness, she flung open, and then, without any covering upon her fair
head, hot with shame and disgrace, and maddened with insult, she fled
out into the cold and dark and desolate winter's night.

Scarcely heeding the direction, she reached the river's shore; and
choosing the hard sand for a pathway, she hurried along it. The tide
swept up in ceaseless ripples at her feet, the waves breaking upon the
icy fringe of the shore, each with a whisper that seemed to tell of her
dishonor. The wind rustled the sedges upon the banks and filled them
with voices that mocked her. The stars that lighted her upon her mad
journey twinkled through the frosty air with an intelligence they had
never before possessed. The lights, far out upon the river and in the
distant town, danced up and down in the darkness as if beckoning her to
come on to them and to destruction.

Her brain was in a whirl. At first she felt an impulse to end her misery
in the river. One plunge, and all this anguish and pain would be buried
beneath those restless waters. Then the hope of vindication flashed upon
her mind, and the awful sin and the cowardice of self-destruction rose
vividly before her. She would seek her home and the mother from whom she
should never have gone out. She would give up happiness and humanity,
and hide herself from the cold, heartless world for ever. She would have
no more to do with false friends and false lovers, but would shut
herself away from all this deceit and treachery and unkindness, and
nevermore trust any human being but her own dear mother.

And so, over the sandy beach, through mire and mud, through the high
grass and the reeds of the water's edge, tangled and dead, and full of
peril in the darkness, with her hair disheveled and tossed about by the
riotous wind, but with not a tear upon her white face, she struggled
onward through the night, until, exhausted with her journey, her wild
passion and her misery, she reached her mother's house, and entering,
clasped her arms about her mother's neck, and with a sob fell fainting
at her feet.

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

There was an end to merriment at the Newton mansion. When Mary ran from
the room, the company stood for a moment amazed and bewildered, while
the major, raging with passion, yet half ashamed of his furious conduct,
walked rapidly up and down the stage, attempting to explain the theft to
his guests and to justify his conduct. But Tom Willitts, shocked at the
cruel treatment he had received from Mary, yet filled with righteous
indignation at the major's violence, interrupted his first utterance.

"You are a coward and a brute, sir; and old as you are, I will make you
answer for your infamous treatment of that young girl."

And before the major could reply he dashed out to pursue Mary and give
her his protection. He sought her in vain upon the highway; and filled
with bitterness, and wondering why she had so scorned him, he trudged on
through the darkness, peering about him vainly for the poor girl for
whom he would have sacrificed his life.

"Perhaps it was merely a jest," suggested Mrs. Willitts. "I think Mary
wholly incapable of theft. She never could have intended seriously to
keep the brooch."

"A pretty serious jest," said the major, "to break into my desk three
days ago. It's the kind of humor that puts people in jail."

"My theory about the matter," said the doctor, "is this: She either was
made the victim of a pretty ugly practical joke, or else some one stole
the jewel from you and gave it to her to get her into trouble."

"I don't believe anything of the kind," said the major.

"It must be so. If she had stolen it, she certainly would not have worn
it in your presence this evening. It is absurd to suppose such a thing.
Taking this theory--"

"Hang theorizing!" exclaimed the major, seeing the force of this
suggestion, but more angry that he was driven to admit it to his own
mind. "She is a thief, and as sure as I live she shall either confess,
tell how she got the jewel or go to prison."

"And as sure as I live," said the doctor, grown indignant and serious,
"I will unravel this mystery and clear this innocent girl of this most
infamous and wicked imputation."

"Do it if you can!" said the major, and turned his back upon him
contemptuously.

The doctor left the house, and the company dispersed, eager gossips,
all of them, to tell the story far and wide throughout the community
before to-morrow's noon.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Mary had revived and told, in broken words, the story of her misery
and disgrace, her mother soothed and comforted her with the assurance
that she should never leave her again; and while she denounced Major
Newton's conduct bitterly, she said he would find that he had made a
mistake and would clear her of the charge.

"But he will not find it out, mother."

"Why? Where did you get the brooch, Mary?"

"Do not ask me, mother; I cannot, cannot tell you."

"Had you merely picked it up and put it on in jest?"

"No, no," said Mary, "it was given to me, I cannot tell by whom, and I
thought it was mine. It was cruel, cruel!" and her tears came again.

"And who was it that did so vile a thing?" asked her mother.

"Mother, I cannot tell even you that."

"But, Mary, this is foolish. You must not, for your own sake, for mine,
hide the name of this criminal."

"I will never, never tell. I will die first."

"Was it Tom Willitts?"

"You must not question me, mother," said Mary, firmly. "If the person
who betrayed me is cowardly enough to place me in such a position, and
then to stand coldly by and witness my shame, I am brave enough and true
enough to bear the burden. I would rather have this misery than his
conscience."

Tom Willitts knocked at the door.

"If it is Tom Willitts, mother," said Mary, rising, "tell him I will not
see him. Tell him never to come to this house again. Tell him," she
said, her eyes glowing with excitement, and stamping her foot upon the
floor, "tell him I hate him--hate him for a false, mean villain!" and
she fell back upon the chair in a wild passion of tears.

Mrs. Engle met Tom at the door. He was filled with anxiety and terror,
but he rejoiced that Mary was safe. Mrs. Engle told him that Mary
refused to see him. He was smitten with anguish, and begged for a single
word with her.

"Do you know anything about this wicked business, Mr. Willitts?" asked
Mrs. Engle, suspicious, because of Mary's words, that Tom was the
criminal.

"Upon my honor I do not. I heard Major Newton's language, and saw the
brooch upon the floor; and when Mary fled from me, I pursued her,
wondering what it all meant."

"She evidently suspects you of having been the cause of the trouble.
Prove that you were not. Until then she will not see you. I beg you, for
yourself and her, to tell the truth about this, if you know it, or at
least to persist till you discover it."

Tom went away distressed and confounded. She suspected him. No wonder,
then, she had spurned him so rudely. He thought the matter over, and
could arrive at no solution of the difficulty. He had sent her a
bracelet which she had promised to wear, but she had not worn it. It was
impossible that this brooch could have been substituted. No, his own
servant had given it to her, and brought her thanks in return. Besides,
who could be base enough to play such a dastardly trick upon a pretty
young girl? He could not master the situation; and in his trouble he
went the next morning to Dr. Ricketts.

The doctor was equally puzzled, but he was certain that there was foul
play somewhere. He had pledged himself to unravel the mystery, and he
began the work by visiting Mary. Alone, he went to her house. He found
it in strange commotion. Mrs. Engle was sitting upon the sofa, crying
bitterly; Mary, with pale, sad face, but with an air of determination,
confronted an obsequious man, who, with many apologies and a manner that
proved that he was ashamed of his business, extended a paper toward her,
and requested her to accompany him.

It was a constable with a warrant for her arrest.

Nearly five weary months were to pass before the cruel time of the
trial. Dr. Ricketts busied himself examining every one who could
possibly have been connected with the affair of the brooch, but with no
result but a deeper mystery. Tom's servant swore that he had given the
bracelet into Mary's own hand. Two of the house servants at Major
Newton's were present at the time, and they were certain the package was
not broken. Mary's thimble had been found under the broken desk in which
the brooch was kept, and the housemaid had discovered a chisel secreted
behind some books in the bookcase in her room.

The evidence, slight though it was, pointed to Mary as the criminal,
despite the absurdity of the supposition, in view of the manner in which
she had worn the jewel. Mary herself preserved an obstinate silence,
refusing to tell how or where or from whom she procured the fatal
brooch. The doctor was bewildered and confounded, and he at last gave up
his inquiries in despair, hoping for a gracious verdict from the jury at
the trial.

Through all the weary time Mary kept closely at home, secluded from
friends and acquaintances. Indeed, visitors were few in number now. She
was in humble circumstances, and she was in disgrace. Society always
accounts its members guilty until their innocence is proved. There were
people in the town who had been jealous of her beauty, her popularity,
her place in the affections of rich Tom Willitts, and these did not
hesitate to hint, with a sneer, that they had always doubted the
reported excellence of Mary Engle, and to assert their belief in her
guilt.

Tom Willitts was nearly crazed about her treatment of him and the
ignominy that was heaped upon her. With Dr. Ricketts and Dick Newton,
who professed intense anxiety to help solve the matter, he strove
valiantly to clear her of the charge, but without avail.

The day of the trial came. The court-room was crowded. Able lawyers on
both sides sparred with each other, as able lawyers do, but the heart of
the prosecuting attorney was evidently not with his work. His duty was
clear, however, and the evidence was overwhelming. The defence had
nothing to offer but Mary's good character and her appearance before the
company with the brooch upon her person.

The judge was compelled to instruct the jury against the prisoner. An
hour of anxious suspense, and they returned a verdict of "guilty."

Mrs. Engle began to sob violently. Mary drew her veil aside from a face
that was ashen white, but not a muscle quivered until the judge
pronounced the sentence:

"Costs of prosecution, a fine of one hundred dollars, twenty lashes upon
the bare back on the Saturday following, and imprisonment for one year."

Mary fell to the floor insensible, and Dr. Ricketts, raising her in his
arms, applied restoratives. She was removed to the jail to await her
punishment.

The doctor mounted his horse and sped away in hot haste forty miles to
Dover. He had influence with the governor. He would procure a pardon,
and then have Mary taken away from the scene of her tribulation--where
her suffering and disgrace would be forgotten, and she would be at
peace. He was unsuccessful. The governor was a just, not a merciful,
man. The law had been outraged. Twelve good men and true had said so.
If people committed crimes, they must submit to the penalty. Society
must be protected. The intelligence and social position of the criminal
only made the demands of justice more imperative. If he pardoned Mary
Engle, men would rightly say that the poor and friendless and weak were
punished, while the influential and rich escaped the law. He must do his
duty to Delaware and to her people. He could not grant the pardon.

But there was to be another appeal to executive mercy. It was the night
before the punishment. The doctor sat in his parlor, before the glowing
fire in the grate, and with his head resting upon his hand he thought
sadly of the pitiful scene he had witnessed in the jail from which he
had just come--of Mary, in the damp, narrow cell, bearing herself like a
heroine through all this terrible trial, and still keeping a secret
which the doctor felt certain would give her back her freedom and her
good name if it could be disclosed; of Mrs. Engle, full of despair and
terror, crying bitterly over the shame and disgrace that had come upon
her child, and which would be increased beyond endurance on the morrow.

As the doctor's kind old heart grew heavy with these thoughts, and from
the bewildering maze of circumstances he tried to evolve some theory
that promised salvation, Dick Newton entered.

He was haggard and pale, and his eyes were cast down to the floor.

"Why, Dick, what's the matter?" asked the doctor.

"Dr. Ricketts, I have come to make a shameful confession. I--"

"Well?" said the doctor, suspiciously and impatiently, as Dick's voice
faltered.

"I will not hesitate about it," said Dick, hurriedly; "I am afraid it is
even now too late. I stole the diamond brooch."

"What?" exclaimed the doctor, jumping to his feet in a frenzy of
indignant excitement.

[Illustration]

"I am the cause of all this trouble. It was my fault that Mary Engle was
accused and convicted, and it will be my fault if she is punished. Oh,
doctor, cannot something be done to save her? I never intended it should
go so far."

"You infamous scoundrel!" said the doctor, unable to restrain his scorn
and contempt; "why did you not say this before? Why did you permit all
this misery and shame to fall upon the defenceless head of a woman for
whom an honest man should have sacrificed his very life? How was this
villainy consummated? Tell me, quickly!"

The poor wretch sank upon his knees, and with a trembling voice
exclaimed,

"I loved her. I hated Tom Willitts. He sent her a bracelet. I knew it
would come. I broke open father's cabinet and took his brooch. With
threats and money I induced Tom's servant to lend me the box for a few
moments before he entered the house. I placed the brooch in it. She
thought it came from Tom, and she resolved to die rather than betray
him, although she thinks him the cause of her ruin. It was vile and mean
and wicked in me, but I thought Tom would be the victim, not she; and
when the trouble came, I could not endure the shame of exposure. But you
will save her now, doctor, will you not? I will fly--leave the
country--kill myself--anything to prevent this awful crime."

The miserable man burst into tears. Dr. Ricketts looked at him a moment
with eyes filled with pity and scorn, and then said,

"So my theory was right, after all. Come, sir, you will go to the
governor with me, and we will see if he will grant a pardon upon your
confession."

"What, to-night?" asked Dick.

"Yes, to-night--now; and it will be well for you and your victim if
fleet horses carry us to Dover and back before ten to-morrow morning."

In five minutes the pair were seated in a carriage, and through the
black night they sped onward, the one with his heart swelling with hope,
joy and humanity, the other cowering in the darkness, full of misery and
self-contempt, and of horrible forebodings of the future.

       *       *       *       *       *

Saturday morning--a cold, raw, gusty morning in May.

The town was in a small uproar. Men lounged on the porches of the
taverns, in front of which their horses were hitched, talking politics,
discussing crop prospects, the prices of grain, the latest news by coach
and schooner from Philadelphia. Inside the bar-room men were reading
newspapers a month old, drinking, swearing and debating with loud
voices.

But the attraction that morning was in another quarter. In the middle of
the market street there was a common--a strip of green sod twenty feet
wide fringed on either side with a row of trees. In the centre of this
stood the whipping-post and pillory.

The hour of ten tolled out from the steeple down the street. It was the
same bell that called the people together on Sunday to worship God and
to supplicate his mercy. It was a bell of various uses. It summoned the
saints to prayer and the sinners to punishment.

[Illustration]

At its earliest stroke the jailer issued from the prison with a
forlorn-looking white man in his clutches. He hurried his prisoner up
the ladder, and prepared to fasten him in the pillory. The boys below
collected in knots, and fingered the missiles in their hands. The jailer
descended. A boy lifted his hand and flung a rotten egg at the pilloried
wretch. It hit him squarely in the face, and the feculent contents
streamed down to his chin. That was the signal. Eggs, dead cats, mud,
stones, tufts of sod and a multitude of filthy things were showered upon
the prisoner, until the platform was covered with the _débris_. He
yelled with pain, and strove vainly to shake from his face the blood
that streamed forth from the cut skin and the filth that besmeared it.
The crowd hooted at him and laughed at his efforts, and called him vile
names, and jested with him about his wooden collar and cuffs, and no
human heart in all that assembly had any pity for him. For an hour he
stood there, enduring inconceivable torture. When the steeple clock
struck eleven, he was taken out in wretched plight, almost helpless and
sorely wounded. No more pillory that day. It was the turn of the
whipping-post now. There were two women to be whipped, one of them
white, the other black. We know who the white woman was.

The negro was to suffer first. She was dragged from the jail wild with
fright and apprehension. Around her legs a soiled skirt of calico
dangled. About her naked body, stripped for the sacrifice, a fragment of
carpet was hung. The jailer brought her by main force to the post
through the jeering crowd, and while she begged wildly, almost
incoherently, for mercy, promising vague, impossible things, the officer
of the law clasped the iron cuffs about her uplifted hands, so that
she was compelled to stand upon her toes to escape unendurable agony.
The blanket was torn from her shoulders, and with dilated eyes
glistening with terror, she turned her head half around to where the
sheriff stood, ready to execute the law.

[Illustration: A FLOGGING SEVENTY YEARS AGO.]

This virtuous officer felt the sharp thongs of his "cat" complacently as
he listened with dull ear to the incessant prayers of the woman; and
when the jailer said, "Forty lashes, sheriff," the cat was swung slowly
up, and the ends of the lashes touched the victim's back, bringing blood
at the first blow.

The crowd laughed and applauded. The sheriff accepted the applause with
the calm indifference of a man who feels the greatness of his office and
has confidence in his own skill.

As the lashes came thick and fast, the skin swelled up into thick purple
ridges, and then the blood spurted out in crimson streams, flowing down
upon the wretched skirt and staining it with a new and dreadful hue. The
woman's piercing screams rang out upon the air and filled some kind
hearts with tender pity. But as it was a "nigger," the tendency to human
kindness was smothered.

Beneath the blows she writhed and contorted and shrank forward, until at
last, faint with loss of blood, with terrible pain and nervous
exhaustion, she sank helplessly down and hung by her arms alone. At
first the sheriff thought he would postpone the rest of the punishment
until she recovered. But there were only five more lashes to be given,
and he concluded that it would be as well to finish up the job. They
were inflicted upon the insensible form, and then the jailer came
forward with a pair of shears. The sheriff took them coolly and clipped
away a portion of the woman's ears. Her hands were then unshackled; and
bleeding, mutilated, unconscious, she was carried into the prison.

Her agonized cries had penetrated those walls already and brought a
whiter hue to the pale cheeks of the woman who by this ignominy had
learned her sisterhood with the poor black. There were two other women
in the cell, Mrs. Engle and Mrs. Willitts. The former controlled herself
for her daughter's sake, but dared speak no word to her. Mrs. Willitts,
through her tears, tried to comfort Mary as with hesitating hands she
disrobed her for her torture:

"The day will come, Mary dear, when you will be vindicated, and these
wicked men will hide their heads with bitter shame and humiliation. But
bear up bravely, dear. Have good courage through it all. Perhaps it will
not be so hard. 'Though there be heaviness for a night, joy cometh in
the morning.' We will all be happy together yet some day."

Mary Engle stood there, speechless, statue-like, immovable, as they took
away her garments, and her fair white skin glistened in the dim light.

It was almost time. The black woman was being dragged through the door
to the next cell. The murmur of the crowd came up from the street. Mrs.
Willitts placed the blanket upon those ivory shoulders, and Mary,
turning to her mother, flung her arms about her and kissed her. In a
whisper she said,

"I shall die, mother. I will not live through it. I will never see you
again."

But there was not a tear in her eye. Wrapping the blanket tightly about
her, with the calmness of despair she prepared to step from the cell at
the call of the impatient jailer.

A great commotion in the streets. The noise of horse's hoofs. A din of
voices; then a wild cheer.

Dr. Ricketts dashed in, flourishing a paper in his hand.

"She is pardoned! pardoned!" he shouted; "go back! take her back!" he
said as the jailer laid his hand upon Mary. "See this!" and he flung the
paper open in his face.

The long agony was over, and the reaction was so great that Mary Engle,
hardly conscious of the good thing that had happened to her, and not
fully realizing the events by which her innocence was proved, stood
stupefied and bewildered. Then she felt faint, and laying her upon the
low bed, they told her all the story; and when the doctor said that Tom
was not a guilty man, she turned her face to the wall to hide the
blinding tears, and she muttered:

[Illustration]

"Thank God! thank God for that!"

As she came out of the prison doors, leaning on the doctor's arm, the
crowd, now largely increased, hailed her with a hurrah, but Mary drew
her veil over her face and shuddered as she thought how these very
people had assembled to see her flogged.

"It is my theory, my dear," said the doctor, "that human beings are
equally glad when their fellow-creatures get into trouble and when they
get out of it."

Back once again in her old home, Mary was besieged by friends whose
regard had suddenly assumed a violent form, and who were now eager to
congratulate her upon her vindication.

Tom Willitts came to the door and inquired for Mrs. Engle.

"Can I come in now?" he inquired, with a glow upon his face.

He did go in, and there, before them all, he clasped Mary in his arms,
while she begged him to forgive her for all the suffering she had caused
him.

But Tom wanted to be forgiven, too; and as both confessed guilt,
repentance and an earnest wish to be merciful, they were soon better
friends than ever.

"I used to love you," said Tom, "but now I worship you for your heroism
and your sacrifice for me."

There was another visitor. Old Major Newton entered the room, hat in
hand, and with bowed head. The lines in his face were deeper and harder
than usual, but he looked broken and sad.

He went up to Mary and said as he stood before her with downcast eyes:

"I have come to ask pardon for my brutality and cruelty. The injury
I did to you I can never atone for. I shall carry my remorse to the
grave. But if you have any word of pity for an old man whose son has
fled from home a scoundrel and a villain, and who stands before you
broken-hearted, ready to kiss your feet for your angelic goodness and
your noble self-sacrifice, say it, that I may at least have that comfort
in my desolation."

And Mary took the old man's hard hands in hers and spoke kind and
gentle words to him; and with tears coursing down his rough cheeks, he
kissed her dainty fingers and went out, and back to his forlorn and
wretched home.

[Illustration]

There was another Christmas night a few months later, and this time the
merry-making was going on in the Willitts mansion. There were two brides
there. Mary and Tom Willitts were busy helping the children with their
Christmas games, and keeping up the excitement as if no sorrow had ever
come across their path; while seated at the upper end of the room, Dr.
Ricketts and his wife (Mrs. Engle that had been), looking upon the
younger pair with pride and pleasure, touched only now and then with a
sad memory of the troubled times that were gone by for ever.

And when the games were all in full progress, Tom and his wife watched
them for a while, and then he drew her arm through his, and they went to
the porch and looked out upon the river beating up against the ice-bound
shore, just as it did on that night one year ago. But it had a different
language to Mary's ears now. It was full of music, but music that seemed
in a minor key, as the remembrance of that wild flight along the shore
came up vividly in her mind.

Neither spoke for a while, but each knew that the thoughts of the other
went over all the misery and terror of the past, only to rest satisfied
with the calm, sweet happiness of the present. Mary, clasping her
husband's arm tighter in her grasp, looked with unconscious eyes out
over the broad river, while her lips slowly repeated that grand old hymn
of comfort and hope:

  "There is a day of peace and rest
    For sorrow's dark and dreary night;
  Though grief may bide an evening guest,
    Yet joy shall come with morning light.

  "The light of smiles shall beam again
    From lids that now o'erflow with tears,
  And weary days of woe and pain
    Are earnests of serener years."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XV.

    A VERY DISAGREEABLE PREDICAMENT--WILD EXULTATION OF PARKER--HE
    MAKES AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT--AN INTERVIEW WITH THE OLD MAN--THE
    EMBARRASSMENT OF MR. SPARKS, AND HOW HE OVERCAME IT--A STORY OF
    BISHOP POTTS--THE MISERIES OF TOO MUCH MARRIAGE--HOW POTTS SUFFERED,
    AND WHAT HIS END WAS.


[Illustration]

Last evening, after waiting until eleven o'clock for Mr. Parker to come
home, I went to bed. I had hardly composed myself for slumber when I
thought I heard the door-bell ring; and supposing Bob had forgotten his
latch-key, I descended for the purpose of letting him in. When I opened
the door, no one was upon the porch; and although I was dressed simply
in a night-shirt, I stepped out just beyond the doorway for the purpose
of ascertaining if I could see any one who might have pulled the bell.
Just as I did so the wind banged the door shut, and as it closed it
caught a portion of my raiment which was fluttering about, and held it
fast. I was somewhat amused at first, and I laughed as I tried to pull
the muslin from the door; but after making very violent exertion for
that purpose, I discovered that the material would not slip through.
The garment was held so firmly that it could not possibly be removed.
Then I determined to reach over to the other side of the doorway and
pull the bell, in the hope that some one would hear it and come to my
assistance. But to my dismay I found that the doorway was so wide that
even with the most desperate effort I could not succeed in touching the
bell-knob with the tips of my fingers.

[Illustration]

Meantime, I was beginning to freeze, for the night was very cold, and my
legs and feet were wholly unprotected.

[Illustration]

At last a happy thought struck me. I might very easily creep out of the
shirt and leave it hanging in the door until I rang the bell, and then I
could slip back again and await the result. Accordingly, I began to
withdraw from the garment, and I had just freed myself from it and was
about to pull the bell when I heard some one coming down the street. As
the moon was shining brightly, I became panic-stricken, and hurried into
the garment again. In my confusion I got it on backward, and found
myself with my face to the wall; and then the person who was coming
turned down the street just above my house, and didn't pass, after all.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

I was afraid to try the experiment again, and I determined to shout for
help. I uttered one cry, and waited for a response. It was a desperately
cold night. I think the air must have been colder than it ever was
before in the history of this continent. I stamped my feet in order to
keep the blood in circulation, and then I shouted again for assistance.
The river lay white and glistening in the light of the moon, and so
clear was the atmosphere, so lustrous the radiance of the orb above,
that I could plainly distinguish the dark line of the Jersey shore. It
was a magnificent spectacle, and I should have enjoyed it intensely if I
had had my clothing on. Then I began to think how very odd it was that a
man's appreciation of the glorious majesty of nature should be dependent
upon his trousers! how strange it was that cold legs should prevent an
immortal soul from having felicity! Man is always prosaic when he is
uncomfortable. Even a slight indigestion is utterly destructive of
sentiment. I defy any man to enjoy the fruitiest poetry while his corns
hurt him, or to feel a genuine impulse of affection while he has a
severe cold in his head.

[Illustration]

Then I cried aloud again for help, and an immediate response came from
Cooley's new dog, which leaped over the fence and behaved as if it
meditated an assault upon my defenceless calves. I was relieved from
this dreadful situation by Bob, who came up the street whistling and
singing in an especially joyous manner. He was a little frightened, I
think, when he saw a figure in white upon the porch, and he paused for a
moment before opening the gate, but he entered when I called to him; and
unlocking the door with his key, he released me, and went up stairs
laughing heartily at my mishap.

[Illustration]

I was about to retire when I heard a series of extraordinary sounds in
Bob's room overhead, and I thought it worth while to go up and ascertain
what was going on. Standing outside the door, I could hear Bob chuckling
and making use of such exclamations as,

"Bul-l-_e-e-e_! Ha! ha! All right, my boy! All right! You've fixed that,
I guess! Bul-l-_e-e-e-e-e_!"

Then he seemed to be executing a hornpipe in his stockings upon the
carpet; and when this exercise was concluded, he continued the
conversation with himself in such tones as these:

"How _are_ YOU, Smiley! No chance, hadn't I? Couldn't make it, couldn't
I? I know a thing or two, I reckon. How _are_ YOU, Lieutenant
Smil-_e-e-e-e_! Ha! ha! I've settled your case, I guess, my boy! Bully
for you, Parker! You've straightened that out, anyhow. Yes, sir! Ha! ha!
Fol de rol de rol de rol," etc., etc. (second performance of the
hornpipe, accompanied by whistling and new expressions of intense
satisfaction).

[Illustration]

I went down stairs with a solemn conviction that Mr. Parker had
explained himself to Miss Magruder, and had received an answer from her
that was wholly satisfactory. I did not reveal the secret to Mrs.
Adeler, concluding that it would be better to permit Bob to do that
himself in the morning.

[Illustration]

Parker rose about two hours earlier than usual, and I entertain a
suspicion that he expended a portion of the time in going down the
street to examine the exterior of Mr. Magruder's house. It probably gave
him some satisfaction merely to view the tenement wherein his fair
enslaver reposed. He came to the breakfast-table with a radiant
countenance, and it was evident that he would be unable to contain the
news for many moments longer. In order to prepare the way for him, I
asked him:

[Illustration]

"Why were you so late last night, Bob?"

"Oh, I had some important business on hand. Big things have been
happening; I have some news to tell you."

"Another railroad accident?" I asked, carelessly, "or a riot in
Philadelphia?"

"Riot? no! Thunder!" exclaimed Bob; "nothing of that kind. It's
something more important. You know old Smiley--Fiji Island Smiley? Well,
I've floored him; I've laid him out flat; I've knocked him into
diminutive smithereens."

"Had a personal encounter with the lieutenant?" I asked, gravely.

"No, _sir_! better than that. I've cut him out down at Magruder's.
Bessie and I are engaged! What do you think of that, Max?"

"Think of it? Why, I congratulate you heartily. You have secured a
treasure."

"And I congratulate you, too," said Mrs. A. "Bessie is a very fine girl,
and will make you a good wife."

"That's what I think about it," observed Mr. Parker.

"I am very glad Lieutenant Smiley didn't succeed there," said Mrs. A.

"Smiley! Smiley!" exclaimed Bob, scornfully. "Why, he never had the
ghost of a chance. Bessie told me last night she despised him. She
wouldn't look at such a man as he is."

"Not while such men as you are around, at any rate, I suppose?"

"When are you going to speak to Bessie's father?" asked Mrs. Adeler.

A cloud suddenly passed over Bob's face, and he said:

"I don't know. I have to do it, I s'pose, but I hate it worse than I can
tell you. I believe I'd rather propose to a woman a dozen times than to
broach the matter to a stern parent once. It's all well enough to
express your feelings to a woman who loves you; but when you come to
explain the matter to a cold-blooded, matter-of-fact old man who is as
prosy as a boiled turnip, it seems kind of ridiculous."

"Why don't you speak to Mrs. Dr. Magruder, then? She is a power in that
family."

"No; I'll talk to Mr. Magruder. It's hard, but it has to be done. And
see here, Max, don't you poke fun at Mrs. Magruder. She's a first-rate
woman, and those things Dr. Jones told about her are the most rascally
kind of lies. If you'll excuse me, I'll go down and see the old man now.
I might as well settle the thing at once."

This evening, while we were waiting for tea, Bob made a report. The
paternal Magruder, it seems, had already considered the subject
carefully, and was not by any means as much surprised by Mr. Parker's
statement as the latter expected he would be. Bob was amazed to find
that although the old gentleman during the courtship had appeared wholly
unconscious of the fact that his daughter was particularly intimate with
the youth, yet somehow he seemed now to have had all the time a very
clear perception of the state of the case.

"I thought he would get excited and, maybe, show a little emotion," said
Bob, "but blame me if he didn't sit there and take it as coolly as if
such things happened to him every day. And you know, when I began to
tell him how much I thought of Bessie, he soused down on me and brought
me back to prose with a question about the size of my income. But it's
all right. He said he would be glad to have me a member of his family,
and then he called in Bessie, and gave us a kind of a blessing and
advised us not to be in a hurry about getting married."

"Very good advice, too. There is no need of haste. You ought to have
plenty of time to think the matter over."

"Think it over!" exclaimed Bob, indignantly. "Why, I _have_ thought it
over. You don't suppose I'd be such a fool as to engage myself to a girl
without thinking seriously about it?"

"Certainly not; but marriage is a very solemn thing, and it should be
undertaken advisedly. It is probable, I suppose, that you would never,
under any circumstances, marry any woman but Bessie Magruder?"

"Nev-er; no, never!"

"You don't believe in second marriages, then?"

"Certainly not."

"They _do_ get a man into trouble very often. Did I ever tell you about
old Sparks, of Pencadder Hundred?"

[Illustration]

"I think not," said Bob.

[Illustration]

"Well, old Sparks was married four times; and several years after the
death of his last wife they started a new cemetery up there at
Pencadder. Sparks bought a lot, and determined to remove his sacred dust
from the old graveyard. Somehow or other, in taking the remains over to
the cemetery in the wagon, they were hopelessly mixed together, so that
it was utterly impossible to tell which was which. Any other man than
Sparks would simply have taken the chances of having the reinterments
properly made. But he was an extremely conscientious man; and when the
sepulture was completed, he had a lot of new headstones set in, bearing
such inscriptions as these: 'Here lies Jane (and probably part of Susan)
Sparks;' 'Sacred to the memory of Maria (to say nothing of Jane and
Hannah) Sparks.'

  "'Stranger, pause and drop a tear,
  For Susan Sparks lies buried here;
  Mingled, in some perplexing manner,
  With Jane, Maria and portions of Hannah.'"

"Don't it seem a little bit rough," said Bob, "to bring in such a story
as that in connection with my engagement? I don't like it."

"Pardon me, Bob. Perhaps it was neither gracious nor in good taste, but
somehow I just happened to think of old Sparks at that moment, I am
sure, though, you won't object to another narrative which I am going to
read to you upon the subject of too frequent marriage. It is the story
of Bishop Potts. Do you feel like hearing it?"

"Well, no," said Bob, gloomily, "to tell you the truth, I don't; but I
suppose I will have to hear it, so go ahead."

"Yes, I am going to inflict it upon you whether you want it or not. A
man who is meditating matrimony, and is in a hurry, needs the influence
of a few 'awful examples' to induce him to proceed slowly. Here is the
story. The hero was a dignitary in the Mormon Church, and his sufferings
were the result of excessive marriage. The tale is entitled


  "BISHOP POTTS.

"Bishop Potts, of Salt Lake City, was the husband of three wives and the
father of fifteen interesting children. Early in the winter the bishop
determined that his little ones should have a good time on Christmas, so
he concluded to take a trip down to San Francisco to see what he could
find in the shape of toys with which to gratify and amuse them. The good
bishop packed his carpet-bag, embraced Mrs. Potts one by one and kissed
each of her affectionately, and started upon his journey.

[Illustration]

"He was gone a little more than a week, when he came back with fifteen
brass trumpets in his valise for his darlings. He got out of the train
at Salt Lake, thinking how joyous it would be at home on Christmas
morning when the fifteen trumpets should be in operation upon different
tunes at the same moment. But just as he entered the dépôt he saw a
group of women standing in the ladies' room apparently waiting for him.
As soon as he approached, the whole twenty of them rushed up, threw
their arms about his neck and kissed him, exclaiming:

[Illustration]

"'Oh, Theodore, we are so, _so_ glad you have come back! Welcome home!
Welcome, dear Theodore, to the bosom of your family!' and then the
entire score of them fell upon his neck and cried over his shirt front
and mussed him.

"The bishop seemed surprised and embarrassed. Struggling to disengage
himself, he blushed and said:

"'Really, ladies, this kind of thing is well enough--it is interesting
and all that; but there must be some kind of a--that is, an awkward sort
of a--excuse me, ladies, but there seems to be, as it were, a slight
misunderstanding about the--I am Bishop Potts.'

"'We know it, we know it, dear,' they exclaimed, in chorus, 'and we are
glad to see you safe at home. We have all been very well while you were
away, love.'

"'It gratifies me,' remarked the bishop, 'to learn that none of you have
been a prey to disease. I am filled with serenity when I contemplate the
fact; but really, I do not understand why you should rush into this
railway station and hug me because your livers are active and your
digestion good. The precedent is bad; it is dangerous!'

"'Oh, but we didn't!' they exclaimed, in chorus. 'We came here to
welcome you because you are our husband.'

"'Pardon me, but there must be some little--that is to say, as it were,
I should think not. Women, you have mistaken your man!'

[Illustration]

"'Oh no!' they shouted; 'we were married to you while you were away!'

"'What!' exclaimed the bishop; 'you don't mean to say that--'

"'Yes, love. Our husband, William Brown, died on Monday, and on
Thursday, Brigham had a vision in which he was directed to seal us to
you; and so he performed the ceremony at once by proxy.'

"'Th-th-th-th-under!' observed the bishop.

"'And we are all living with you now--we and the dear children.'

"'Children! children!' exclaimed Bishop Potts, turning pale; 'you don't
mean to say that there is a pack of children, too?'

"'Yes, love, but only one hundred and twenty-five, not counting the
eight twins and the triplet.'

"'Wha-wha-wha-what d'you say?' gasped the bishop, in a cold
perspiration; 'one hundred and twenty-five! One hundred and twenty-five
children and twenty more wives! It is too much--it is awful!' and the
bishop sat down and groaned, while the late Mrs. Brown, the bride, stood
around in a semicircle and fanned him with her bonnets, all except the
red-haired one, and she in her trepidation made a futile effort to fan
him with the coal-scuttle.

[Illustration]

"But after a while the bishop became reconciled to his new alliance,
knowing well that protests would be unavailing, so he walked home,
holding several of the little hands of the bride, while the red-haired
woman carried his umbrella and marched in front of the parade to remove
obstructions and to scare off small boys.

"When the bishop reached the house, he went around among the cradles
which filled the back parlor and the two second-story rooms, and
attempted with such earnestness to become acquainted with his new sons
and daughters that he set the whole one hundred and twenty-five and the
twins to crying, while his own original fifteen stood around and swelled
the volume of sound. Then the bishop went out and sat on the garden
fence to whittle a stick and solemnly think, while Mrs. Potts
distributed herself around and soothed the children. It occurred to the
bishop while he mused, out there on the fence, that he had not enough
trumpets to go around among the children as the family now stood; and
so, rather than seem to be partial, he determined to go back to San
Francisco for one hundred and forty-four more.

[Illustration]

"So the bishop repacked his carpet-bag, and began again to bid farewell
to his family. He tenderly kissed all of the Mrs. Potts who were at
home, and started for the dépôt, while Mrs. Potts stood at the various
windows and waved her handkerchiefs at him--all except the woman with
the warm hair, and she, in a fit of absent-mindedness, held one of the
twins by the leg and brandished it at Potts as he fled down the street
toward the railway station.

[Illustration]

"The bishop reached San Francisco, completed his purchases, and was just
about to get on the train with his one hundred and forty-four trumpets,
when a telegram was handed him. It contained information to the effect
that the auburn-haired Mrs. Potts had just had a daughter. This induced
the bishop to return to the city for the purpose of purchasing an
additional trumpet.

"On the following Saturday he returned home. As he approached his house
a swarm of young children flew out of the front gate and ran toward him,
shouting, 'There's pa! Here comes pa! Oh, pa, but we're glad to see
you! Hurrah for pa!' etc., etc.

"The bishop looked at the children as they flocked around him and clung
to his legs and coat, and was astonished to perceive that they were
neither his nor the late Brown's. He said, 'You youngsters have made a
mistake; I am not your father;' and the bishop smiled good-naturedly.

"'Oh yes, you are, though!' screamed the little ones, in chorus.

[Illustration]

"'But I say I am not,' said the bishop, severely, and frowning; 'you
ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Don't you know where little
story-tellers go? It is scandalous for you to violate the truth in this
manner. My name is Potts.'

"'Yes, we know it is,' exclaimed the children--'we know it is, and so is
ours; that is our name now, too, since the wedding.'

"'Since what wedding?' demanded the bishop, turning pale.

"'Why, ma's wedding, of course. She was married yesterday to you by Mr.
Young, and we are all living at your house now with our new little
brothers and sisters.'

"The bishop sat down on the nearest front-door step and wiped away a
tear. Then he asked,

"'Who was your father?'

"'Mr. Simpson,' said the crowd, 'and he died on Tuesday.'

"'And how many of his infernal old widows--I mean how many of your
mother--are there?'

"'Only twenty-seven,' replied the children, 'and there are only
sixty-four of us, and we are awful glad you have come home.'

"The bishop did not seem to be unusually glad; somehow, he failed to
share the enthusiasm of the occasion. There appeared to be, in a certain
sense, too much sameness about these surprises; so he sat there with his
hat pulled over his eyes and considered the situation. Finally, seeing
there was no help for it, he went up to the house, and forty-eight of
Mrs. Potts rushed up to him and told him how the prophet had another
vision, in which he was commanded to seal Simpson's widow to Potts.

"Then the bishop stumbled around among the cradles to his writing-desk.
He felt among the gum rings and rattles for his letter-paper, and then
he addressed a note to Brigham, asking him as a personal favor to keep
awake until after Christmas. 'The man must take me for a foundling
hospital,' he said. Then the bishop saw clearly enough that if he gave
presents to the other children, and not to the late Simpson's, the bride
would make things warm for him. So he started again for San Francisco
for sixty-four more trumpets, while Mrs. Potts gradually took leave of
him in the entry--all but the red-haired woman, who was up stairs, and
who had to be satisfied with screeching good-bye at the top of her
voice.

[Illustration]

"On his way home, after his last visit to San Francisco, the bishop sat
in the car by the side of a man who had left Salt Lake the day before.
The stranger was communicative. In the course of the conversation he
remarked to the bishop:

"'That was a mighty pretty little affair up there at the city on
Monday.'

"'What affair?' asked Potts.

"'Why, that wedding; McGrath's widow, you know--married by proxy.'

"'You don't say?' replied the bishop. 'I didn't know McGrath was dead.'

"'Yes; died on Sunday, and that night Brigham had a vision in which he
was ordered to seal her to the bishop.'

"'Bishop!' exclaimed Potts. 'Bishop! What bishop?'

"'Well, you see, there were fifteen of Mrs. McGrath and eighty-two
children, and they shoved the whole lot off on old Potts. Perhaps you
don't know him?'

"The bishop gave a wild shriek and writhed upon the floor as if he had a
fit. When he recovered, he leaped from the train and walked back to San
Francisco. He afterward took the first steamer for Peru, where he
entered a monastery and became a celibate.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"His carpet-bag was sent on to his family. It contained the balance of
the trumpets. On Christmas morning they were distributed, and in less
than an hour the entire two hundred and eight children were sick from
sucking the brass upon them. A doctor was called, and he seemed so much
interested in the family that Brigham divorced the whole concern from
old Potts and annexed it to the doctor, who immediately lost his reason,
and would have butchered the entire family if the red-haired woman and
the oldest boy had not marched him off to a lunatic asylum, where he
spent his time trying to arrive at an estimate of the number of his
children by ciphering with an impossible combination of the
multiplication table and algebra."

       *       *       *       *       *

"And now that that's over," said Bob, as I folded up the manuscript,
"will you please to tell me what the suffering of old Potts has to do
with my engagement?"

"Well, to tell the truth, nothing in particular. I thought perhaps you
might feel a sort of general interest in the mere subject of matrimony
just now; and at any rate, I wanted your opinion of the merit of the
story."

[Illustration]

"Well, I think it is a pretty poor story. The humor of the Mormon
business is stale, anyhow, and in your hands it becomes absolutely
dismal. I can write a better Mormon story than that myself, and I don't
even profess to be a scribbler."

Then Mr. Parker swaggered out with the air of a man whose opinions have
the weight of a judicial decision. I think he has acquired, since his
engagement, a much greater notion of his importance than he had before.
It is remarkable how a youth who has succeeded in a love affair
immediately begins to cherish the idea that his victory is attributable
to the fact that he possesses particularly brilliant qualities of some
kind. Bob was the humblest man in Delaware a week ago; to-day he walks
about with such an air as he might have had if he had just won the
battle of Waterloo.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVI.

    OLD FORT KASIMIR TWO CENTURIES AGO--THE GOBLINS OF THE LANE--AN
    OUTRAGE UPON PITMAN'S COW--THE JUDGE DISCUSSES THE SUBJECT OF
    BITTERS--HOW COOLEY CAME HOME--TURNING OFF THE GAS--A FRIGHTFUL
    ACCIDENT IN THE ARGUS OFFICE--THE TERRIBLE FATE OF ARCHIBALD
    WATSON--HOW MR. BERGNER TAUGHT SUNDAY-SCHOOL.


[Illustration]

When the people of our village are in the mood to reflect upon
antiquity, when they feel as if they would like to meditate upon the
heroic deeds that have been achieved in this kindly old place by the
mighty men of valor who swaggered and swore and fought here a hundred
years before the war of the Revolution was dreamed of, they turn from
the street down the gentle slope of the highway which runs by the river;
and when they have wandered on a brief distance beyond the present
confines of the town, they reach old Fort Lane. It is but a little
stretch of greensward, gashed by the wheels of vehicles and trodden by
the feet of wayfarers. It extends from the road eastward for a hundred
yards, and then it dips downward and ends upon the sandy beach of the
stream. Here, right upon the edge of the water, once stood brave old
Fort Kasimir, with its guns threatening destruction not only to
unfriendly vessels which sailed up the bay, but absolutely menacing the
very town itself. The village then was called New Stockholm. That was
the name given to it by the Swedes, who perceived what a superb site for
a city lay here, and who went to work and built a swarm of snug wooden
houses. It has had half a dozen other names since. When the Dutchmen
conquered it, they dubbed it Sandhoec, then New Amstel and then Fort
Kasimir. Afterward it was known as Grape Wine Point, then as
Delaware-town and finally as New Castle. But twenty years after the
Swedes had settled here, the Dutchmen at New York coveted the place and
the command of the river; and as an earnest of what they intended to do,
they came right here under the very noses of the villagers and built
Fort Kasimir.

I can imagine how the old Swedes in the village stood over there on the
Battery and glowered at the Dutchmen as they labored upon the fort; and
it is not difficult to conceive the terror and dismay that filled those
humble little homes in New Stockholm when the intruder placed his queer
brass cannon in the embrasures of the fort after its completion, and
when he would hurl a ball across the bows of a Swedish ship coming up to
the town, or would send a shot whistling over the roofs of the village
itself merely to gratify a grim humor. I would give a great deal, Mrs.
Adeler, to have but one day of that distant past recalled; to see New
Stockholm and its people as they were; to watch the Dutch chieftain and
his handful of men parading about in the fort in the panoply of war, and
boasting of the prowess that dared thus to defy the enemy upon his own
threshold. But, alas! look! not one vestige of the ancient battlements
remains. The grass has grown over the spot whereon they stood, and the
rolling river has long since buried beneath the sand of its shores
whatever timbers of the structure touched its waters. It would have
been forgotten, perhaps, but that Irving, with the humorous pen which
traced the history of the Knickerbockers, has given it immortality in
the lines that tell how the exasperated Swedes seized the fort and held
the Dutchmen prisoners, and how, when the news came to Manhattan island,
the Dutch sent forth a valiant army, which not only retook the fortress,
but carried away nearly all the villagers.

[Illustration: THE SITE OF FORT KASIMIR.]

There was wild lamentation in the little community upon that day as the
unhappy people were torn from their homes and sent into exile; and
though the historian tells his tale sportively, the story always seemed
to me to be full of pathos.

[Illustration]

This place was thronged with strange figures, and it witnessed some very
sad scenes in that far-off time. And if the traditions of the
neighborhood may be believed, those tough old warriors even yet have not
bid farewell for ever to the spot. There is no more fighting here,
unless when some of the village urchins come out to have a tussle upon
the sward, and the chimneys of the town are unmolested by hostile shot.
But they do say that sometimes we may look upon the shadowy outline of
the ancient Hollanders who made this their battleground. The venturesome
wight who comes to old Fort Lane at certain seasons after nightfall may
see headless Dutchmen in strange and ghostly attire marching up and down
the shore, and he may hear the cry of sentinels, uttered in an unknown
tongue, borne past him on the wind. There are those who have listened to
the noise of cannon balls rolling in the dusk over floors which no
mortal eye can ever see, and often, when there is a tempest, the
booming of guns will be heard above the roar of the storm, and from
spectral ships floating upon the bosom of the river will come the
wailing voices of women and children who are still sorrowing for their
lost homes.

[Illustration]

I do not say that this is so, Mrs. Adeler; I merely assert the existence
of a popular theory to that effect. I have private doubts if the goblin
Dutchmen ever have been seen, and I know of no reason why, if a ghost of
that kind really comes back to earth, he should return without his head.

[Illustration]

Judge Pitman has a field that is bounded upon one side by the lane, and
in this enclosure we found, upon our visit to the historic spot, a
meditative cow with a blind-board upon her forehead. There was nothing
especially remarkable about the board, and yet it has caused a great
deal of trouble. In a recent interview with me the judge sought to
console himself for the misery created by that blind-board by relating
the story of his sorrow.

"Adeler," he said, "you know I j'ined the temp'rance society a couple o'
months ago, not because I was much afeared of gittin' drunk often, but
just to please the old woman. You know how women are--kinder insane on
the subject of drinkin'. Well, my cow had a way o' jumpin' the fence,
an' I couldn't do nothin' to stop her. She was the ornariest critter
that way that I ever see. So at last I got a blind-board an' hung it on
her horns. That stopped her. But you know she used to come jam up agin'
the fence an' stand there for hours; an' one day one o' them vagabone
advertisin' agents come along--one o' them fellers that daubs signs all
over the face of natur'--an' as soon as he seen that blind-board he went
for it."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"A patent medicine man, I suppose?"

"No, he was advertisin' some kind o' stomach bitters; and he painted on
that board the follerin': '_Take Brown's Bitters for your Stomach's
Sake. They make the Best Cocktails._'"

"The temperance society didn't like that, of course?"

"No, _sir_! The secretary happened to see it, and he brought out the
board of directors; and the fust thing I knowed, they hauled me up an'
wanted to expel me for circulatin' scand'lous information respectin'
bitters an' cocktails."

[Illustration]

"That was very unjust."

"Well, sir, I had the hardest time to make them fellers understand that
I was innercent, an' to git 'em to let up on me. But they did. Then I
turned the blind-board over; and now the first man I ketch placin' any
revolutionary sentiments on the frontispiece of that cow, why, down goes
his house; I'll knock the stuffin' out o' him; now mind _me_!"

[Illustration]

"I am usually not in favor of resort to violence judge; but I must say
that under the circumstances even such severity would be perfectly
justifiable."

"This bitters business is kinder fraudulent anyway," continued the
judge, meditatively. "I once had a very cur'ous experience drinkin' that
stuff. Last winter I read in one of the papers an advertisement which
said--But hold on; I'll read it to you. I've got 'em all. I kep' 'em as
a cur'osity. Let's see; where d' I put them things? Ah! yes; here they
are;" and the judge produced some newspaper cuttings from his
pocket-book. "Well, sir, I read in the _Argus_ this parergraph:

[Illustration]

    "'The excessive moisture and the extreme cold and continuous
    dampness of winter are peculiarly deleterious to the human system,
    and colds, consumption and death are very apt to ensue unless the
    body is braced by some stimulating tonic such as Blank's Bitters,
    which give tone to the stomach, purify the blood, promote digestion
    and increase the appetite. The Bitters are purely medicinal, and
    they contain no intoxicating element.'

[Illustration]

"I'd been kinder oneasy the winter afore about my health, and this
skeered me. So I drank them Bitters all through the cold weather; an'
when spring come, I was just about to knock off an' begin agin on water,
when I was wuss frightened than ever to see in the _Argus_ the
followin':

    "'The sudden changes of temperature which are characteristic
    of the spring, and the enervating influence of the increased heat,
    make the season one of peculiar danger to the human system, so that
    ague, fever and diseases resulting from impurities clogging the
    circulation of the blood can only be avoided by giving tone to the
    stomach and increasing the powers of that organ by a liberal use of
    Blank's Bitters.'

"I thought there wa'n't no use takin' any risks, so I begun agin; but I
made up my mind to stop drinkin' when summer come an' danger was over."

"Your confidence in those advertisements, judge, was something
wonderful."

"Jes so. Well, about the fust of June, while I was a-finishin' the last
bottle I had, I seen in the _Argus_ this one. Jes lissen to this:

    "'The violent heat of summer debilitates and weakens the human
    system so completely that, more easily than at any other time, it
    becomes a prey to the insidious diseases which prevail during what
    may fairly be called the sickly season. The sacrifice of human life
    during this dangerous period would be absolutely frightful had not
    Nature and Art offered a sure preventive in Blank's Bitters, which
    give tone to the stomach,' etc., etc.

[Illustration]

"This seemed like such a solemn warnin' that I hated to let it go; an'
so I bought a dozen more bottles an' took another turn. I begun to think
that some mistake 'd been made in gittin' up a climate for this yer
country, and it did seem astonishin' that Blank should be the only man
who knew how to correct the error. Howsomdever, I determined to quit in
the fall, when the sickly season was over, an' I was jes gittin' ready
to quit when the _Argus_ published another one of them notices. Here it
is:

    "'The miasmatic vapors with which the atmosphere is filled
    during the fall of the year break down the human system and destroy
    life with a frightful celerity which is characteristic of no other
    season, unless the stomach is strengthened by constant use of
    Blank's Bitters, which are a sure preventive of disease,' etc., etc.

"But they didn't fool me that time. No, sir. I took the chances with
those asthmatic vapors, and let old Blank rip. I j'ined the temperance
society, an' here I am, hearty as a buck."

"You look extremely well."

"But, Adeler, I never bore no grudge agin the bitters men for lyin'
until they spread their owdacious falsehoods on the blind-board of my
cow. Then it did 'pear 's if they was crowdin' me too hard."

"Judge, did you ever try to convert Cooley to temperance principles? It
seems to me that he would be a good subject to work upon."

"Well, no; I never said nothin' to him on the subject. I'm not a very
good hand at convertin' people; but I s'pose I ought ter tackle Cooley
too. He's bin a-carryin' on scand'lus lately, so I hear."

"Indeed! I hadn't heard of it."

"Yes, sir; comin' home o' nights with a load on, an' a-snortin' at that
poor little wife of his'n. By gracious, it's rough, isn't it? An' Mrs.
Cooley was tellin' my old woman that some of them fellers rubbed
Cooley's nose the other night with phos_phor_ous while he was asleep
down at the tavern; an' when he went home, it 'peared 's if he had a
locomotive headlight in front of him."

[Illustration]

"A very extraordinary proceeding, judge."

"Well, sir, when he got in the hall it was dark, an' he ketched a sight
o' that nose in the lookin'-glass on the hat-rack, an' he thought Mrs.
Cooley had left the gas burnin'. Then he tried to turn it off, an' after
fumblin' around among the umbrellers an' hat-pegs for a while for the
stop-cock, he concluded the light must come from a candle, an' he nearly
bu'sted his lungs tryin' to blow it out. Then he grabbed his hat an'
tried to jam her down over that candle; an' when he found he couldn't,
he got mad, picked up an umbreller an' hit a whack at it, which broke
the lookin'-glass all to flinders; an' there was Mrs. Cooley a-watchin'
that old lunatick all the time, an' afraid to tell him it was his own
nose. I tell you, Adeler, this yer rum drinkin' 's a fearful thing any
way you take it, now, ain't it?"

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

I am glad to say that the _Argus_ has been fully repaid for its attempts
to beguile the judge into the use of bitters. The _Argus_ is in complete
disgrace with all the people who attend our church. Some of the admirers
of Rev. Dr. Hopkins, the clergyman, gave him a gold-headed cane a few
days ago, and a reporter of the _Argus_ was invited to be present.
Nobody knows whether the reporter was temporarily insane, or whether the
foreman, in giving out the "copy," mixed it accidentally with an account
of a patent hog-killing machine which was tried in Wilmington on that
same day, but the appalling result was that the _Argus_ next morning
contained this somewhat obscure but very dreadful narrative:

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

"Several of Rev. Dr. Hopkins's friends called upon him yesterday, and
after a brief conversation the unsuspicious hog was seized by the hind
legs and slid along a beam until he reached the hot-water tank. His
friends explained the object of their visit, and presented him with a
very handsome gold-headed butcher, who grabbed him by the tail, swung
him around, slit his throat from ear to ear, and in less than a minute
the carcass was in the water. Thereupon he came forward and said that
there were times when the feelings overpowered one, and for that reason
he would not attempt to do more than thank those around him, for the
manner in which such a huge animal was cut into fragments was simply
astonishing. The doctor concluded his remarks, when the machine seized
him, and in less time than it takes to write it the hog was cut into
fragments and worked up into delicious sausage. The occasion will long
be remembered by the doctor's friends as one of the most delightful of
their lives. The best pieces can be procured for fifteen cents a pound;
and we are sure that those who have sat so long under his ministry will
rejoice that he has been treated so handsomely."

The _Argus_ lost at least sixty subscribers in consequence of this
misfortune, and on the following Sunday we had a very able and very
energetic sermon from Dr. Hopkins upon "The Evil Influence of a
Debauched Public Press." It would have made Colonel Bangs shiver to have
heard that discourse. Lieutenant Smiley came home with us after church,
and I am sorry to say he exulted over the sturdy blows given to the
colonel.

"I haven't any particular grudge against the man," he said, "but I don't
think he has treated me exactly fair. I sent him an article last
Tuesday, and he actually had the insolence to return me the manuscript
without offering a word of explanation."

"To what did the article refer?"

[Illustration]

"Why, it gave an account of a very singular thing that happened to a
friend of mine, the son of old Commodore Watson. Once, when the
commodore was about to go upon a voyage, he had a presentiment that
something would occur to him, and he made a will leaving his son
Archibald all his property on condition that, in case of his death,
Archibald would visit his tomb and pray at it once every year. Archibald
made a solemn vow that he would, and the commodore started upon his
journey. Well, sir, the fleet went to the Fiji Islands, and while there
the old man came ashore one day, and was captured by the natives. They
stripped him, laid him upon a gridiron, cooked him and ate him."

"That placed Archibald in a somewhat peculiar position?"

[Illustration]

"Imagine his feelings when he heard the news! How could he perform his
vow? How could he pray at the commodore's tomb? Would not the tomb, as
it were, be very apt to prey upon him, to snatch him up and assimilate
him? There seemed to be an imminent probability that it would. But he
went. That noble-hearted young man went out to the islands in search of
the savage that ate the commodore, and I have no doubt that he suffered
upon the same gridiron."[1]

[1] I have reasons for believing that Smiley did not construct this
story. I remember having seen it in a French newspaper long before I met
the lieutenant, and I am sure he borrowed it from that or some other
publication.

"You don't mean to say that Bangs declined to publish that narrative?"

"He did, and he offered no explanation of his refusal."

"He is certainly a very incompetent person to conduct a newspaper. A man
who would refuse to give such a story to a world which aches for
amusement is worse than a blockhead."

[Illustration]

"By the way," said the lieutenant, changing the subject suddenly, "I
hear Parker has taken a class in the Sunday-school. He is sly--monstrous
sly, sir. Miss Magruder teaches there, too. Parker seems to be
determined to have her, and I hope he may be successful, but I don't
think he will be, I'm sorry to say."

It was evident that Smiley had not heard the news, and I did not
enlighten him.

[Illustration]

"Some men have a fitness for that kind of work, and some haven't. There
was poor Bergner, a friend of mine. He took a class in a Sunday-school
at Carlisle while we were stationed there. The first Sunday he told the
scholars a story about a boy named Simms. Simms, he said, had climbed a
tree for the purpose of stealing apples, and he fell and killed himself.
'This,' said Bergner, 'conveys an impressive warning to the young. It
teaches an instructive lesson which I hope will be heeded by all you
boys. Bear in mind that if Simms had not gone into that tree he would
probably now be alive and well, and he might have grown up to be a
useful member of society. Remember this, boys,' said Bergner, 'and
resolve firmly now that when you wish to steal apples you will do so in
the only safe way, which is to stand on the ground and knock them down
with a pole.' A healthy moral lesson, wasn't it? Somebody told the
superintendent about it, and they asked Bergner to resign. Yes, a man
has to have a peculiar turn for that kind of thing to succeed in
teaching Sunday-school. I don't know how Parker will make out."

[Illustration]

Then the lieutenant shook hands and left in order to catch the last boat
for the fort.

"Mrs. Adeler," I said, as I lighted a fresh cigar, "we may regard it as
a particularly fortunate thing that Smiley is not entrusted with the
religious education of any number of American youth. Place the
Sunday-schools of this land in the hands of Smiley and others like him,
and in the next generation the country would be overrun with a race of
liars."

       *       *       *       *       *

I am not aware that Bob Parker has ever made any very serious attempt to
write poetry for the public. Of course since he has been in love with
the bewildering Magruder he has sometimes expressed his feelings in
verse. But fortunately these breathings of passion were not presented to
a cold and heartless world; they were reserved for the sympathetic
Magruder, who doubtless read them with delight and admiration, and
locked them up in her writing-desk with Bob's letters and other precious
souvenirs. This, of course, is all right. Every lover writes what he
considers poetry, and society permits such manifestations without
insisting upon the confinement of the offenders in lunatic asylums. Bob,
however, has constructed some verses which are not of a sentimental
kind. Judge Pitman's story of the illumination of Cooley's nose
suggested the idea which Bob has worked into rhyme and published in the
_Argus_. As the poet has not been permitted to shine to any great extent
in these pages as a literary person, it will perhaps be fair to
reproduce his poem in the chapter which contains the account of Cooley's
misfortune. Here it is:


TIM KEYSER'S NOSE.

  Tim Keyser lived in Wilmington;
    He had a monstrous nose,
  Which was a great deal redder than
    The very reddest rose,
  And was completely capable
    Of most terrific blows.

[Illustration]

  He wandered down one Christmas day
    To skate upon the creek,
  And there, upon the smoothest ice,
    He slid around so quick
  That people were amazed to see
    Him do it up so slick.

[Illustration]

  The exercise excited thirst;
    And so, to get a drink,
  He cut an opening in the ice
    And lay down on the brink.
  He said, "I'll dip my lips right in
    And suck it up, I think."

[Illustration]

  And while his nose was thus immersed
    Six inches in the stream,
  A very hungry pickerel was
    Attracted by its gleam;
  And darting up, he gave a snap,
    And Keyser gave a scream.

[Illustration]

  Tim Keyser then was well assured
    He had a splendid bite.
  To pull his victim up he jerked
    And tugged with all his might;
  But that disgusting pickerel had
    The better of the fight.

[Illustration]

  And just as Mr. Keyser thought
    His nose was cut in two,
  The pickerel gave its tail a twist
    And pulled Tim Keyser through,
  And he was scudding through the waves
    The first thing that he knew.

[Illustration]

  Then onward swam that savage fish
    With swiftness toward its nest,
  Still chewing Mr. Keyser's nose;
    While Mr. Keyser guessed
  What sort of policy would suit
    His circumstances best.

[Illustration]

  Just then his nose was tickled with
    A spear of grass close by;
  Then came an awful sneeze, which knocked
    The pickerel into pi,
  And blew its bones, the ice and waves
    Two hundred feet on high!

[Illustration]

  Tim Keyser swam up to the top
    A breath of air to take;
  And finding broken ice, he hooked
    His nose upon a cake,
  And gloried in a nose which could
    Such a concussion make.

[Illustration]

  And thus he drifted slowly on
    Until he reached the shore;
  And creeping out all dripping wet,
    He very roundly swore
  To use that crimson nose as bait
    For pickerel no more.

[Illustration]

  His Christmas turkey on that day
    He tackled with a vim,
  And thanked his stars as, shuddering,
    He thought upon his swim,
  That that wild pickerel had not
    Spent Christmas eating him!

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVII.

    A DISMAL SORT OF DAY--A FEW ABLE REMARKS ABOUT UMBRELLAS--THE
    UMBRELLA IN A HUMOROUS ASPECT--THE CALAMITY THAT BEFEL COLONEL
    COOMBS--AN AMBITIOUS BUT MISERABLE MONARCH-INFLUENCE OF UMBRELLAS ON
    THE WEATHER--AN IMPROVED WEATHER SYSTEM--A LITTLE NONSENSE--JUDGE
    PITMAN'S VIEWS OF WEATHER OF VARIOUS KINDS.


[Illustration]

It is difficult to imagine anything more dismal than a rainy day at New
Castle, particularly at this late period in the year. The river
especially is robbed of much of its attractiveness. The falling drops
obscure the view, so that the other shore is not visible through the
gray curtain of mist, and the few vessels that can be seen out in the
channel struggling upward with the tide or beating slowly downward to
the bay look so drenched and cold and utterly forlorn that one shivers
as he watches them, with their black sails and their dripping cordage,
and sees the moist sailors in tarpaulins and sea-boots hurrying over the
slippery decks. The grain schooner lying at the wharf has all her
hatches down, and there is about her no other sign of life than one
soaked vagabond, who sits upon the bowsprit angling in a most
melancholy fashion for fish which will not bite. He may be seeking for
his supper, poor, damp sinner! or he may be an infatuated being who
deceives himself with the notion that he is having sport. There is a
peculiar feeling of comfort on such a day to stand in a room where a
bright fire blazes in the grate, and from the window to watch this
solitary fisherman as the fitful gusts now and then blow the rain down
upon his head in sheets, and to observe the few people who remain upon
the streets hurrying by under their umbrellas, each anxious to reach a
place of shelter. The water pours in yellow torrents through the
gutter-ways, the carriages which go swiftly past have their leathern
aprons drawn high up in front of the drivers, the stripped branches of
the trees are black with moisture, and from each twig the drops trickle
to the earth; the water-spout upon the side of the house continues its
monotonous song all day long, drip, drip, drip, until the very sound
contributes to the gloominess of the time; there is desolation in the
yard and in the garden, where a few yellow corn-stalks and headless
trunks of cabbage remain from the summer's harvest to face the wintry
storms, and where the chickens gathered under the woodshed are standing
with ruffled feathers, hungry, damp and miserable, some on one leg and
some on two, and with an expression upon their faces that tells plainly
the story of their dejection at the poor prospect of having any dinner.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

It is a good time, Mrs. Adeler, to offer a few remarks upon that subject
of perennial interest, the weather, and especially to refer to some
facts in reference to that useful but uncertain implement, the umbrella.
I do not know why it is so, but by common agreement the umbrella has
been permitted to assume a comic aspect. No man, particularly no
journalist, can be considered as having wholly discharged his duty to
his fellow-creatures unless he has permitted himself to make some
jocular remarks concerning the exception of umbrellas from the laws
which govern other kinds of property. The amount of facetiousness that
has attended the presentation of that theory is already incalculably
great, and there is no reason for believing that it will not be
increased to an infinite extent throughout the coming ages. It is
perhaps a feeble idea upon which to erect so vast a structure; but if it
makes even a dismal sort of merriment, we should not complain. And then
reflect with what humorous effect the comic artists introduce the
excessive and corpulent umbrella to their pictures of nervous or
emphatic old ladies, and how much more convulsive the laughter becomes
at the theatre when the low-comedy man carries with him an umbrella of
that unwieldy description! It is universally admitted that an umbrella
with distended sides is funny; and if general consent is given to such a
proposition, the consequences are quite as satisfactory as if the
article in question was really plethoric with humor.

[Illustration]

There are occasions when the simple elevation of an umbrella is
grotesquely absurd, as when a group of British guardsmen sheltered
themselves in this fashion from the rain during a certain battle, to the
infinite disgust of Wellington, who ordered the tender warriors to put
their umbrellas down lest the service should be made ridiculous. It was
a Frenchman, Émile Girardin, I think, who brought an umbrella with him
to the dueling-ground, and insisted upon holding it over his head during
the combat. "I do not mind being killed," he said, "but I object
decidedly to getting wet." They gave him much credit for admirable
coolness; but I cherish a private opinion that he was scared, and hoped,
by making the affair ridiculous, to bring it to a conclusion without
burning powder; and he succeeded, for the combatants shook hands and
went away friends.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

And there was the case of Colonel Coombs--Coombs of Colorado. He had
heard that the most ferocious wild beast could be frightened and put to
flight if an umbrella should suddenly be opened in its face, and he
determined to test the matter at the earliest opportunity. One day,
while walking in the woods, Coombs perceived a panther crouching,
preparatory to making a spring at him. Coombs held his umbrella firmly
in his hand, and presenting it at the panther, unfurled it. The result
was not wholly satisfactory, for the next moment the animal leaped upon
the umbrella, flattened it out and began to lunch upon Coombs. Not only
did the beast eat that anxious inquirer after truth, but it swallowed
the hooked handle of the umbrella, which was held tightly in Coombs's
grasp, and for two or three weeks it wandered about with its nose buried
among the ribs of the umbrella. It was very handy when there was rain,
but it obstructed the animal's vision, and consequently it walked into
town and was killed.

[Illustration]

In some countries the umbrella is the symbol of dignity and power. One
of the magnates of Siam is proud to begin his list of titles with "Lord
of Thirty-seven Umbrellas." Conceive, if you can, the envy and hatred
with which that bloated aristocrat must be regarded by a man who is lord
of only fifteen umbrellas! Among certain African tribes the grandeur of
the individual increases with the size, and not with the number, of the
umbrellas. Did I ever tell you the story of the African chieftain who
determined to surpass all his rivals in this respect?

[Illustration]

He made up his mind to procure the largest umbrella in the world, and he
induced a trader to send his order to London for the article. Its ribs
were forty feet in length, and its handle was like a telegraph pole.
When it was distended, the effect was sublime. The machine resembled a
green gingham circus tent, and it was crowned with a ferule as large as
a barrel. When the umbrella arrived, there was great rejoicing in the
domestic circle of that dusky sovereign, and so impatient was the owner
to test its qualities that he fairly yearned for the arrival of a rainy
day. At last, one morning, he awoke to find that his opportunity had
come. The rain was pouring in torrents. Exultingly he called forth his
vassals, and the work of opening the umbrella began in the presence of
an awestricken multitude. Two entire days were consumed by the effort to
elevate the monster, and at the end of the second day, as the task was
done, the storm ceased, and there was a general clearing up. The
disappointed chieftain waited a day or two in vain for another shower,
and finally, sick at heart, he commanded the umbrella to be closed. The
work occupied precisely forty-eight hours, and just as the catch snapped
upon the handle a thunder-gust came up, and it rained furiously all day.
The frenzied monarch then consulted with his medicine man, and was
assured that there would certainly be rain on the following Wednesday.
The king therefore ordered the gingham giant up again. While the swarthy
myrmidons were struggling with it there were at least sixty or seventy
violent showers, but just as it was fairly open the clouds drifted away,
and the sun came out with terrific force. And it remained out. There was
not a drop of rain or so much as a fragment of cloud in the sky for two
hundred and seventy-three days, and the umbrella remained open during
all the time, while the potentate who owned it went dancing about daily
in an ecstasy of rage. At the end of the period he sought the medicine
man and slew him upon the spot. Then he ordered the umbrella down. The
very next morning after it was closed the rain began, and it has been
raining ever since.

Mrs. Adeler, that unfortunate savage thus became intimately familiar
with one of the most striking of meteorological phenomena.

The influence of the umbrella upon the weather is a subject that has
engaged the attention of millions of mankind. The precise laws by which
that influence is exerted and governed have not yet been defined, but
the fact of the existence of the influence is universally recognized. If
there seems to be a promise of rain in the morning when I leave home,
and I carry my umbrella with me, the sky clears before noon; but if I
neglect to take my umbrella, I will certainly be drenched. If I carry an
umbrella forty days in order to be prepared in case of sudden showers,
there will be perfect dryness during that period; but if I forget the
umbrella on the forty-first day, the floodgates of heaven will assuredly
be opened. Sometimes the conduct of the elements is peculiarly
aggravating. When I have been caught in town by a rain-storm and I had
no umbrella, I have sometimes darted through the shower to a store to
purchase one, but always, just as the man has given me the change, the
rain has stopped. And when I have kept one umbrella at the house and
another at the office, in order to be prepared at both ends of the line,
all the storms have begun and expended their fury while I was passing
between the two points.

This experience is not peculiar. It is that of every man who uses an
umbrella. I am persuaded, Mrs. Adeler, that the time will come when
science, having detected the character of the mysterious sympathy
existing between umbrellas and the weather, will be able to give to a
suffering world sunshine or rain as we want it. Whether we shall then
be any better off is another matter.

In the mean time, while we are waiting for science to penetrate the
hidden secrets of the umbrella, let me unfold to you a plan which I have
devised for the better management of the weather bureau at Washington. I
confided the scheme, once upon a time, to Old Probabilities himself,
through the medium of a newspaper at the capital, but he did not deign
to express an opinion concerning it. Perhaps it contained too much
levity to entitle it to the consideration of a man who meditates upon
the thunder and tries to trace the pathway of the cyclone. I have called
it


THE IMPROVED WEATHER SYSTEM.

The Probability man who meddles with our great American weather means
well, and tries conscientiously to do his best, but his system is
radically defective, and the consequence is that his conjectures are
despicably incorrect quite half the time. The inconvenience caused by
these mistakes, not only to the people generally, but to me personally,
is inconceivably great, and it is not to be endured any longer.

For instance, if I read in the morning that this Probability person
entertains a conviction that we shall have a clear day in my
neighborhood, I place confidence in his assurance. I remove the roof
from my house in order to dry the garret thoroughly, and I walk down
town with a new umbrella under my arm. Now, it is plainly evident that
if, after all, it does begin to rain, and I am obliged to unfurl that
umbrella and ruin it with the wet, and I am compelled, when I arrive at
home, to witness my family floating around in the dining-room upon a
raft constructed out of the clothes-horse and a few bed-slats and
pie-boards, the government for which Washington died is a failure.

Or suppose that our friend at the weather office asserts that a
thunder-storm is certain to strike my section of the country upon a
given day. I believe him. I bring out my lightning-rods and buckle them
to the chimneys and set them around on the roof and plant them out in
the yard and rivet them upon my hired girl; and I place my family safely
in feather beds in the middle of the room, and drink all the milk in the
neighborhood, and prevail upon the tax collector to go and stand an hour
or two under a tree where he will be almost certain to be struck by
lightning. And when all these arrangements are completed, so that I feel
equal to the promised emergency, suppose that thunder-storm does not
come? When I watch that tax collector sally out and begin to assess my
property, counting in all those lightning-rods at double their cost, is
there any reason to wonder that I sit down and sigh for some responsible
despot who will give us a Probability man who grasps the subject of the
weather, as it were, in a more comprehensive manner?

[Illustration]

But I lost all faith in him after his ill-treatment of Cooley. He said
that a cyclone would sweep over this district upon a certain morning,
and Cooley was so much alarmed at the prospect that he made elaborate
preparations to receive the storm. He arose before daybreak and went
into the middle of his garden, where he filled his pockets with pig
lead, fettered himself to the apple tree and fixed the preserving kettle
securely upon his head with a dog chain in order to preserve his hair.
Cooley stayed there until five o'clock in the afternoon waiting for the
simoom to swoop down upon him. But it was a failure--a disgraceful
failure. And when Cooley looked out from under the kettle in the
afternoon, he was surprised to observe that the fence was filled with
men and boys who were watching him with intense interest. Then the boys
began to whistle upon their fingers and to make unpleasant remarks, and
finally Cooley was obliged to cut loose and go into the house to avoid
arrest by a policeman upon a charge of lunacy.

Now, this is all wrong. The feelings of American citizens ought not to
be trifled with in such a manner, and I propose to arrange a plan by
which meteorological facts and conditions can be observed with something
like certainty.

The basis of my system is Corns. The marvelous accuracy with which
changes in the weather can be foretold by a man whose feet are decorated
with those excrescences is so well known that it is hardly worth while
to consider at length, at this particular crisis, the human corn in its
meteorological characteristics. It is quite certain, however, that it
will be impossible to expect the Probability being to walk around the
country once or twice every day for the purpose of submitting his corns
to the diverse atmospheric influences which exist between the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans. It would wear out any man. It will be better,
therefore, to have him kept stationary. I propose, in that event, that
he should buy up any available corn that is in the market in any given
State, and have it transplanted and grafted upon his own toe. Doubtless
there are patriotic citizens in every portion of the land who would be
willing to lay upon the altar of their beloved country their most
cherished corns.

The Probability official then might obtain, let us assume, one corn from
each State and a reliable bunion to represent each Territory. When these
were engrafted upon his feet in a healthful condition, each one would,
as a matter of course, be peculiarly susceptible to the atmospheric
influences which prevail in its native clime. All we have to do, then,
is to compel the weather man to wear exceptionally tight boots while he
is not attending to business, so that his barometers will acquire the
requisite amount of sensibility. Then I should have pipes laid from each
State to the office in Washington for the purpose of conveying the
different varieties of atmosphere to the foot of the Probability person.
Suppose, then, he desired to make a guess in regard to the weather in
Louisiana. I should have a man stationed at the end of the pipe in New
Orleans with a steam fan, and he could waft zephyrs, as it were, upon
the Louisiana corn, which would respond instantly, and we should have
the facts about the weather in that State with precision and accuracy.
When we admitted a new State, our friend could weld on a new corn; or if
the Mormons succeeded in procuring the admission of their Territory as a
State, we could plough up the Utah bunion and plant a corn, so as to
preserve the proprieties.

Of course this system of excrescences would be of no value as an
indicator of the movements of thunder-storms and hurricanes. But in
order to acquire information concerning the former, how would it do to
build up stacks of lightning-rods in every portion of every State, and
to connect each State group, if I may be allowed the expression, with a
wire which shall be permanently fastened to the arm or leg of the
Probability man in Washington? Because, in such a case, whenever a
thunder-gust appeared in any portion of the country, some one out of all
those bunches of lightning-rods would certainly be struck, and our
conjectural friend at the weather office would be likely to know about
it right soon.

As for hurricanes, I am in favor of putting an end to them at once,
instead of telegraphing around the country to warn people to look out
for them. When I reorganize the weather service, I shall have men
stationed everywhere with machines fixed up like the wind sails that are
used on shipboard for sending air into the hold. I should make the mouth
of each one a mile wide, construct it of stout canvas, and run the lower
end into a coal-mine, or a mammoth cave, or a volcano. Then, when a
tornado approached, I should place a man at each side of the sail, put
the men into balloons, send them up, and spread the sail directly across
the route of the approaching cyclone. When it arrived, it would strike
the sail, of course; there would be a momentary flapping and jerking
around, and in a minute or two I should have that hurricane comfortably
packed away in the volcano, suppose we say. A man would then be upon the
spot, of course, to drive a plug into the crater, so as to make
everything tight and snug, and one more nuisance is taken off the face
of the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Is that the whole of the article?" inquired Mrs. Adeler.

"Yes, that is all of it."

"Well, I am not surprised that no notice was taken of it. It is
perfectly nonsensical."

"I admit the fact, but still I shall not smother the article. It will
not do to take all the nonsense out of the world. While thousands of
learned fools are hard at work trying to stupefy mankind, we must be
permitted sometimes to indulge in absurdities of a less weighty kind in
order to counteract them."

And while we are discussing the weather, let me not forget to allude to
the most remarkable of Judge Pitman's peculiarities. He is the only man
in the world of whom I know anything who is always satisfied with the
weather. No matter what the condition of the atmosphere, he is contented
and happy, and willing to affirm that the state of things at any given
moment is the very best that could have been devised.

In summer, when the mercury bolted up among the nineties, the judge
would come to the front door with beads of perspiration standing out all
over his red face, and would look at the sky and say, "Splendid!
perfectly splendid! Noble weather for the poor and for the ice companies
and the washerwomen! I never saw sich magnificent weather for dryin'
clothes. They don't shake up any such climate as this in Italy. Gimme me
my umbreller, Harriet, while I sit out yer on the steps and enjoy it."

[Illustration]

In winter, when the mercury would creep down fifteen degrees below zero,
and the cold was nearly severe enough to freeze the inside of Vesuvius
solid to the centre of the globe, Pitman would sit out on my fence and
exclaim, "By gracious, Adeler! did you ever see sich weather as this? I
like an atmosphere that freezes up yer very marrer. It helps the coal
trade an' gives us good skeetin'. Don't talk of summer-time to me. Gimme
cold, and give it to me stiff."

When there was a drought, Pitman used to meet me in the street and
remark, "No rain yet, I see! Magnificent, isn't it? I want my weather
dry, I want it with the dampness left out. Moisture breeds fevers and
ague, an' ruins yer boots. If there's anything I despise, it's to carry
an umbreller. No rain for me, if you please."

When it rained for a week and flooded the country, the judge often
dropped in to see me and to observe, "I dunno how you feel about this
yer rain, Adeler, but it allers seems to me that the heavens never drop
no blessin's but when we have a long wet spell. It makes the corn jump
an' cleans the sewers an' keeps the springs from gittin' too dry. I
wouldn't give a cent to live in a climate where there was no rain. Put
me on the Nile, an' I'd die in a week. Soak me through an' through to
the inside of my bones, and I feel as if life was bright and beautiful,
an' sorrer of no account."

On a showery day, when the sun shone brightly at one moment and at the
next the rain poured in torrents, the judge has been known to stand at
the window and exclaim, "Harriet, if you'd've asked me how I liked the
weather, I'd've said, just as it is now. What I want is weather that is
streaked like a piece of fat an' lean bacon--a little shine an' a little
rain. Mix 'em up an' give us plenty of both, an' I'm yer man."

[Illustration]

The judge is always happy in a thunder-storm, and one day, after the
lightning had knocked down two of his best apple trees and splintered
them into fragments, and the wind had torn his chimney to pieces, I went
over to see him. He was standing by the prostrate trees, and he at once
remarked, "Did you ever know of a man havin' sich luck as this? I was
goin' to chop down them two trees to-morrer, an' as that chimney never
draw'd well, I had concluded to have it rebuilt. An' that gorgeous old
storm has fixed things just the way I want 'em. Put me in a
thunder-storm an' let the lightnin' play around me, an' I'm at home. I'd
rather have one storm that'd tear the bowels out of the American
continent than a dozen of yer little dribblin' waterin'-pot showers. If
I can't have a rippin' and roarin' storm, I don't want none."

They say here in the village, but I do not believe it, that one day the
judge was upon his roof fixing a shingle, when a tornado struck him,
lifted him off, carried him a quarter of a mile, and dashed him with
such terrible force against a fence that his leg was broken. As they
carried him home, he opened his eyes languidly and said, "Immortal
Moses! what a storm that was! When it does blow, it suits me if it blows
hard. I'd give both legs if we could have a squall like that every day.
I--I--" Then he fainted.

If contentment is happiness, then the life of Pitman is one
uninterrupted condition of bliss.



CHAPTER XVIII.

    TROUBLE FOR THE HERO AND HEROINE--A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT AND A
    FORLORN DAMSEL--BOB PARKER'S SUFFERING--A FORMIDABLE ENCOUNTER--THE
    PECULIAR CONDUCT OF A DUMB ANIMAL--COOLEY'S BOY AND HIS HOME
    DISCIPLINE--A STORY OF AN ECHO.


[Illustration]

We had been talking of asking the Magruders to come to take tea with us,
so that the two families, which were now to be brought into close
relations, might become better acquainted. But one evening, just as I
had settled myself for a comfortable perusal of the paper, Miss Magruder
was ushered into the room by the servant. It was plainly evident from
her appearance that she was in distress from some cause. We should have
guessed from her visit at such an hour unaccompanied by any one that all
was not right, even if her countenance had not manifested extreme
agitation. After the usual salutation she asked,

"Is Mr. Parker not at home?"

"He has not yet returned from the city," I said. "I suppose he has been
detained for some reason. It is probable that he will be here
presently."

"I wanted to see him," she said, hesitatingly. "I am afraid you'll
think it very queer for me to come here at such a strange time;
but--but"--and here her voice quavered a little--"but oh, something
dreadful has happened--something very, very dreadful."

Then the tears began to come into her pretty brown eyes, and the little
maid, after striving desperately to restrain them and to retain her
composure, buried her face in her hands and began to sob. There was a
woman by her side in a moment to comfort her and to seek her confidence;
but it was very awkward for me. I was not quite certain whether I ought
not to fly from the room and permit the two to be alone. But I remained
with mingled feelings of sympathy and curiosity, and with an indistinct
notion that the forlorn damsel before me regarded me as a flinty-hearted
brute because I didn't express violent indignation at her ill-treatment.
I should have done so if I had had any conception of the nature of the
wrong endured by her. At last, when she had obtained relief in a good
cry--and it is surprising how much better a troubled woman feels when
she has cried and wiped her weeping eyes--Bessie told us the story.

"Father came to me to-day," she said, "and told me that he had heard
some dreadful things about Robert; and he said he could not consent to
my marriage with such a man, and that our engagement must be broken
off."

"What kind of things?" indignantly demanded Mrs. Adeler, whose family
pride was aroused; "what did he hear?"

"Oh, something perfectly awful!" exclaimed Bessie, looking up with fresh
tears in her eyes. "He said Robert drank a great deal and that he was
very often intoxicated."

"What an outrageous falsehood!" exclaimed Mrs. Adeler.

"I told father it was," said Bessie; "but he said he knew it was true,
and, worse than that, that Robert not only kept very bad company in the
city, but that he was an atheist--that he only came to church in order
to deceive us."

If the late Mr. Fahrenheit had had to indicate the warmth of Mrs.
Adeler's indignation at this moment, he would have given 215° as the
figure. "I declare," she said, "that is the wickedest falsehood I ever
heard. I will call upon Mrs. Magruder to-morrow morning and tell her
so."

"And father insisted," said Bessie, "that I should write a formal note
to Robert, breaking our engagement and asking him to discontinue his
visits to our house. I did so, but I could not bear to have him think me
so heartless, and I felt as if I must come here and tell him about it
before the note reached him. Please don't think it strange that I came,
and don't let any one know it." Then Bessie began to sob again.

"Certainly, Bessie," I replied, "it was very proper for you to do as you
have done. Your father has been unjust to you and to Bob. Robert shall
see him and demand an explanation. But who do you suppose told your
father these things?"

"I have no idea. But it must have been somebody who was opposed to our
marriage, and who hated Robert. I can't believe that any one would have
invented such stories without a very malicious motive."

"Well, Bessie, the only thing we can do now is to permit the matter to
rest as it is until we have an opportunity to disprove these slanders.
Let me go home with you; and when Bob comes in, I will tell him all
about it. He shall call upon your father. I will do so myself to-morrow.
Bob has been unfairly used. He is as proper a youth as any in the land,
and worthy of the love of any woman."

Then I escorted Bessie to her home, and upon my way back I met Bob
coming in hot haste toward me. He arrived at the house just after our
departure; and a few words from Mrs. Adeler having placed him in command
of the situation, he started off at once with the hope to overtake us
and to have a few words with Bessie. He was breathless and in a
condition of frenzy. He at first insisted upon storming the castle of
the Magruders at once for the purpose of assailing the dragon that
guarded his fair lady. But I showed him that it would perhaps injure
Bessie if he should excite suspicion that she had visited him, and that
it would be ridiculous at any rate to attack old Magruder at that time
of night and while he was in such a state of excitement. It was finally
agreed that we should wait until morning, and that then I should first
visit Mr. Magruder and obtain an explanation from him, so that Bob could
go there afterward fully prepared to vindicate himself.

[Illustration]

"I'll bet anything," said Bob, as we walked home, "I know who is the
author of these slanders. It is Cooley. He don't like you or any of your
family, and he has taken this means of injuring us. If it is he, I'll
give him an aggravated case of assault and battery to settle. I'll
thrash him within an inch of his life."

"I don't believe Cooley did it," I replied. "It is not the kind of
business that he would care to trouble himself with. It is some one who
has an interest in separating you and Bessie."

"I don't know of any such person," said Bob.

"Perhaps Smiley did it."

"That may be," replied Bob; "he has little enough principle, but I
hardly think he would display so much malice. Besides, he knows very
well Bessie would not accept him under any circumstances."

"Well, let us wait patiently for further developments. It is not worth
while to denounce any one until we can ascertain who the offender is."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Bob had been delayed in the city by a visit to his parents, who were
going north for a week or two, and they consigned to his care his
younger brother, who came with him to our house to remain during the
absence of his father and mother. The boy was at the house when we
reached it; and when the time came for him to go to bed, it was arranged
that he should sleep with Bob. The consequences of this were somewhat
peculiar. The youngster, it appears, has a habit of walking in his
sleep, and he was so afraid that he would do so on this night, in a
strange house, that Bob tied a strong piece of twine about the lad's
waist and fastened the other end to his own body, so that he would be
roused by any attempt on the part of his brother to prowl about the
room. It turned out, however, that Bob was the restless one. According
to his own account, he got to dreaming of his troubles. He imagined that
he was engaged in a frightful combat with Mr. Magruder, and that, at the
last, that amiable old gentleman pursued him with a drawn dagger with
the intent to butcher him. In his alarm Bob pushed over to Henry's side
of the bed, and finally, as the visionary Magruder still appeared to be
thirsty for his blood, he climbed over Henry, got upon the floor and hid
himself beneath the bed. When the apparition of the sanguinary parent
disappeared, Bob, still soundly asleep, must have emerged from his
hiding-place upon the side of the bed opposite that at which he entered
it. At any rate, the cord ran from Henry's body beneath the bed clear
around until it connected with Bob. Early in the morning Bob moved over
suddenly toward his brother; and although he was more than half asleep,
he was amazed to see Henry drop over upon the floor. Bob instantly
jumped out after him, and as he did so, he was even more surprised to
perceive the child dart under the bed. He followed Henry; and at the
first movement in that direction, Henry shot up off the floor, and was
heard rolling swiftly across the mattress above, only to disappear again
over the side as Bob came once more to the surface. By this time both of
them were wide awake and able to comprehend the phenomenon. This is Mr.
Parker's version. It is probably exaggerated slightly. My private
impression is that Henry was pulled out upon the floor and under the
bed, and that the exercise ended immediately. Henry does not remember
the particulars with sufficient distinctness to be considered a
thoroughly reliable witness. His mind is clear upon only one point: he
is fully persuaded that he will not sleep in harness with Bob again.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon the day following Bessie's visit I called at Magruder's, in
accordance with my agreement with Bob. The servant said Mr. Magruder had
gone out, but that he would probably be home in a few moments. I
declined an invitation to go in the house. It was a fine day, and I
preferred to walk up and down the porch while waiting. When a
considerable time had elapsed and Magruder did not come, I threw myself
upon one of the chairs on the porch and began to read the _Argus_.

While I was sitting there Magruder's dog came bounding up the yard, and
when he saw me instantly manifested a desire to investigate me. I have
never liked Magruder's dog; he is very large, and he has an extremely
bad reputation. When he approached me, he looked at me savagely, and
growled in such a manner that cold chills began to run up and down my
back. Then the dog walked up and sniffed my legs with an earnestness of
purpose that I had never expected to see displayed by a dumb animal.
During this operation I maintained a condition of profound repose. No
man will ever know how quiet I was. It is doubtful if any human being
ever before became so thoroughly still until his immortal soul went to
the land of everlasting rest.

[Illustration]

When the ceremony was ended, the dog lay down close to the chair. As
soon as I felt certain that the animal was asleep, I thought I would go
home without seeing Mr. Magruder; but when I attempted to rise, the dog
leaped up and growled so fiercely that I sat down again at once. Then I
thought perhaps it would be better _not_ to go home. It occurred to me,
however, that it would be as well to call some one to remove the dog, in
case circumstances should make it desirable for me to depart. But at the
very first shout the animal jumped to his feet, gave a fiendish bark and
began to take a few more inquisitorial smells at my legs. And whenever I
shuffled my feet, or attempted to turn the _Argus_ over in order to
continue an article on to the following page, or made the slightest
movement, that infamous dog was up and at me. Once, when I was
positively compelled to sneeze, I thought, from the indignation
boisterously manifested by the dog, that my hour at last had come.

[Illustration]

Finally, Cooley's dog, which happened to be in the neighborhood, became
engaged in an angry controversy with another dog in the street in front
of me. Magruder's dog was wide awake in a moment; and after turning a
regretful glance at me, as if he knew he was deliberately and foolishly
throwing away a chance of obtaining several glorious bites, he dashed
down the walk and over the fence for the purpose of participating in the
discussion between his two friends.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

I did not actually run, because that would not have been dignified, and
the servant-girl, looking from the kitchen window, and not understanding
the nature of the emergency, might have suspected me of emotional
insanity. But I walked rapidly--very rapidly--to the rear fence of the
yard, and climbed over it. As I reached the top of the fence, I saw the
dog coming at full gallop down the yard. He was probably chagrined, but
I did not remain to see how he bore it. I went directly home. Mr. Parker
may manage his own love affairs in the future. I shall not approach Mr.
Magruder upon this disagreeable subject again. I have enough to do to
attend to my own business.

[Illustration]

When I reached home, I found Judge Pitman waiting for me. He came in for
the purpose of borrowing my axe for a few moments. As we went around to
the rear of the house to get it, the judge said:

"I reckon you don't use no terbacker, do you?"

"I smoke sometimes; that is all."

"Well, I was jist feelin' 's if I wanted a chaw, an' I thought p'rhaps
you might have one about you. Seein' Cooley over there on his porch put
me in mind of it."

"That is rather a singular circumstance. Why should a view of Cooley
suggest such a thing?"

[Illustration]

"'Tis kinder sing'lar; but you see," said the judge, "Cooley was
a-tellin' me yesterday mornin' about somethin' that occurred the day
before at his house. The old woman is opposed to his chawin', an' she
makes it stormy for him when he does. So he never uses no terbacker
'round home, an' he told her he'd given it up. The other day, just as he
was goin' in to supper, he pulled out his handkercher, an' out come a
plug of terbacker 'long with it. He didn't know it, but directly Mrs.
Cooley lit on it, an' she walked up to him an' wanted to know if it was
his. It was a little rough, you understand, but he had presence of mind
enough to turn to his boy and say, 'Great Heavens! is it possible
you've begun to chaw this ornary stuff? What d'you mean by sich conduct?
Haven't I told you often enough to let terbacker alone? Commere to me
this minute, you rascal!' Cooley licked him like the nation, an' then
threw the terbacker out the winder onto the porch, where he could git it
agin in the mornin'."

[Illustration]

"That was pretty severe treatment of the boy."

"An' Cooley says to me, 'By gracious, judge! s'pose'n my children had
all been girls! It makes an old father's heart glad when he thinks he
has a boy he can depend upon at sich times!' Healthy old parent, ain't
he?"

"The word 'healthy' hardly expresses with sufficient vigor the infamy of
his conduct."

"Cooley never did treat that there boy right," said the judge, as he
seated himself on the saw-horse in the woodshed and locked his hands
over one of his knees, evidently with the intention to have some
sociable conversation. "He never behaved like a father to him. He
brought up that there child to lie. That echo business, f'r instance; it
was scand'lus in him."

"To what do you refer?"

"Why, afore Cooley come yer to live he kep' a hotel up in the Lehigh
Valley--a fashionable kinder tavern, I reckon; an' there was another man
about two miles furder up who had a bigger hotel. You could stand on
this other man's porch an' make a splendid echo by whistlin' or
hollerin'. You could hear the noise agin a dozen times. Leastways,
Cooley told me so. Well, Cooley, you know, hated like pisin to be beaten
on that echo, an' so he kinder concluded to git one up for himself. He
made that there boy of his'n go over on the mountain across the river
an' hide among the bushes, an' then he would take people up on the roof
of the house and holler, an' the boy would holler back agin. He told
everybody that the echo could only be heard on the roof, an' he kep' the
trap door locked, so's nobody would find him out."

[Illustration]

"That was a poor kind of a swindle."

[Illustration]

"Yes, sir. Well, that boy, you 'bserve, gradually got rusty in the
business an' tired of it, an' sometimes he'd take another boy over with
him, an' they'd git to playin' an' forgit to answer. It was embarrassin'
for Cooley, an' the secret begun to leak out. But one day the whole
concern was bu'sted. Cooley took a lot of folks from the city, among 'em
some o' them newspaper people, an' for a while the boy worked all right,
But he had another feller with him, and he kep' a-repeatin' things that
nobody said. Cooley stood it for a while, though he was mad as fury; an'
at last, when somebody tried to start the echo, there was no answer.
They all thought it was mighty queer, but after callin' a good many
times, the boy come out in full view an' yelled back, 'I'm not a-goin'
to answer any more. Bill Johnson won't gimme my knife, an' I won't
holler till I git it; blamed if I do.' Cooley tells me that the manner
in which he sailed across the creek after that child was somethin'
awful to behold. But it knocked him, sir. It closed him up. Them
newspaper men started the thing on him, an' they run him so hard that he
had to quit. He sold out and come yer to live. But is it any wonder that
boy's spiled? Cooley'd spile a blessed young angel the way he goes on.
But I must say good-mornin'. Much obleeged for the axe. Good-bye."

And the judge went home meditating upon Cooley's unfitness for the
duties of a parent. I would like to know if that echo story is true. I
have no doubt the judge received it from Cooley, but it sounds as if the
latter ingenious gentleman might have wrenched it from his imagination.



CHAPTER XIX.

    THE CERTIFICATE CONCERNING PITMAN'S HAIR--UNENDURABLE
    PERSECUTION--A WARNING TO MEN WITH BALDHEADED FRIENDS--AN
    EXPLANATION--THE SLANDERER DISCOVERED--BENJAMIN P. GUNN--A MODEL
    LIFE INSURANCE AGENT.


[Illustration]

I have been the victim of a somewhat singular persecution for several
weeks past. When we came here to live, Judge Pitman was partially bald.
Somebody induced him to apply to his head a hair restorative made by a
Chicago man named Pulsifer. After using this liquid for a few months,
the judge was gratified to find that his hair had returned; and as he
naturally regarded the remedy with admiration, he concluded that it
would be simply fair to give expression to his feelings in some form. As
I happened to be familiar with all the facts of the case, the judge
induced me to draw up a certificate affirming them over my signature.
This he mailed to Pulsifer. I have not yet ceased to regret the weakness
which permitted me to stand sponsor for Judge Pitman's hair. Of course,
Pulsifer immediately inserted the certificate, with my name and
residence attached to it, in half the papers in the country, as a
displayed advertisement, beginning with the words, "HOPE FOR THE
BALDHEADED; THE MOST REMARKABLE CURE ON RECORD," in the largest capital
letters.

I have had faith in advertising since that time. And Pulsifer had
confidence in it too, for he wrote to me to know what I would take to
get him up a series of similar certificates of cures performed by his
other patent medicines. He had a corn-salve which dragged a little in
its sales, and he was prepared to offer me a commission if I would write
him a strong letter to the effect that six or eight frightful corns had
been eradicated from my feet with his admirable preparation. He was in a
position, also, to do something handsome if I could describe a few
miraculous cures that had been effected by his Rheumatic Lotion, or if I
would name certain ruined stomachs which had, as it were, been born
again through the influence of Pulsifer's Herb Bitters; and from the
manner in which he wrote, I think he would have taken me into
partnership if I had consented to write an assurance that his Ready
Relief had healed a bad leg of eighteen years' standing, and that I
could never feel that my duty was honorably performed until he sent me a
dozen bottles more for distribution among my friends whose legs were in
that defective and tiresome condition. I was obliged to decline
Pulsifer's generous offer.

I heard with singular promptness from other medical men. Fillemup &
Killem forwarded some of their Hair Tonic, with a request for me to try
it on any bald heads I happened to encounter, and report. Doser & Co.
sent on two packages of their Capillary Pills, with a suggestion to the
effect that if Pitman lost his hair again he would get it back finally
by following the enclosed directions. I also heard from Brown & Bromley,
the agents for Johnson's Scalp Awakener. They sent me twelve bottles for
distribution among my bald friends; then Smith & Smithson wrote to say
that a cask of their Vesuvian Wash for the hair would be delivered in my
cellar by the express company; and a man called on me from Jones, Butler
& Co. with a proposition to pump out my vinegar barrel, and fill it with
Balm of Peru for the gratuitous use of the afflicted in the vicinity.

[Illustration]

But this persecution was simply unalloyed felicity when compared with
the suffering that came in other forms. I will not attempt to give the
number of the letters I received. I cherish a conviction that the mail
received at our post-office doubled the first week after Judge Pitman's
cure was announced to a hairless world. I think every bald-headed man in
the Tropic of Cancer must have written to me at least twice upon the
subject of Pulsifer's Renovator and Pitman's hair. Persons dropped me a
line to inquire if Pitman's baldness was hereditary; and if so, if it
came from his father's or his mother's side. One man, a phrenologist,
sent on a plaster head mapped out into town-lots, with a suggestion that
I should ink over the bumps that had been barest and most fertile in the
case of Pitman. He said he had a little theory which he wanted to
demonstrate. A man in San Francisco wrote to inquire if my Pitman was
the same Pitman who came out to California in 1849 with a bald head; and
if he was, would I try to collect two dollars Pitman had borrowed from
him in that year? The superintendent of a Sunday-school in Vermont
forwarded eight pages of foolscap covered with an argument supporting
the theory that it was impious to attempt to force hair to grow upon a
head which had been made bald, because, although Elisha was bald, we
find no record in the Bible that he used renovator of any kind. He
warned Pitman to beware of Absalom's fate, and to avoid riding mules out
in the woods. A woman in Snyder county, Penna., sent me a poem inspired
by the incident, and entitled "Lines on the Return of Pitman's Hair." A
party in Kansas desired to know whether I thought Pulsifer's Renovator
could be used beneficially by a man who had been scalped. Two men in New
Jersey wrote, in a manner totally irrelevant to the subject, to inquire
if I could get each of them a good hired girl. I received a confidential
letter from a man who was willing to let me into a "good thing" if I had
five hundred dollars cash capital. Mrs. Singerly, of Frankford, related
that she had shaved her dog, and shaved him too close, and she would be
relieved if I would inform her if the Renovator would make hair grow on
a dog. A devoted mother in Rhode Island said her little boy had
accidentally drank a bottle of the stuff, and she would go mad unless I
could assure her that there was no danger of her child having his
stomach choked up with hair. And over eleven hundred boys inquired what
effect the Renovator would have on the growth of whiskers which betrayed
an inclination to stagnation.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

But the visitors were a more horrible torment. Bald men came to see me
in droves. They persecuted me at home and abroad. If I went to church,
the sexton would call me out during the prayers to see a man in the
vestibule who wished to ascertain if Pitman merely bathed his head or
rubbed the medicine in with a brush. When I went to a party, some
bald-headed miscreant would stop me in the midst of the dance to ask if
Pitman's hair began to grow in the full of the moon or when it was new.
While I was being shaved, some one would bolt into the shop and insist,
as the barber held me by the nose, upon knowing whether Pitman wore
ventilators in his hat. If I attended a wedding, as likely as not a
bare-headed outlaw would stand by me at the altar and ask if Pitman ever
slept in nightcaps; and more than once I was called out of bed at night
by wretches who wished to learn, before they left the town, if I thought
it hurt the hair to part it behind.

[Illustration]

It became unendurable. I issued orders to the servants to admit to the
house no man with a bald head. But that very day a stranger obtained
admission to the parlor; and when I went down to see him, he stepped
softly around, closed all the doors mysteriously, and asked me, in a
whisper, if any one could hear us. Then he pulled off a wig; and handing
me a microscope, he requested me to examine his scalp and tell him if
there was any hope. I sent him over to see Pitman; and I gloat over the
fact that he bored Pitman for two hours with his baldness.

I am sorry now that I ever wrote anything upon the subject of his hair.
A bald Pitman, I know, is less fascinating than a Pitman with hair; but
rather than have suffered this misery, I would prefer a Pitman without
an eye-winker, or fuzz enough on him to make a camel's-hair pencil. But
I shall hardly give another certificate of cure in any event. If I
should see a patent-medicine man take a mummy which died the year Joseph
was sold into Egypt, and dose it until it kicked off its rags and danced
the polka mazourka while it whistled the tune, I would die at the stake
sooner than acknowledge the miracle on paper. Pitman's hair winds me up
as far as medical certificates are concerned.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bob has succeeded in obtaining from Mr. Magruder an explanation of the
interference of that stern parent with the progress of his love affair,
and we hope now to secure a happy adjustment of the difficulty.

"When I entered the room," said Bob, "the old man looked gloomy and
stiff, as if he regarded me as a totally depraved being, too far gone in
iniquity to be worth an effort to effect a reform. I went right at him.
I told him I had heard that some one had made certain charges against me
which were likely to hurt my reputation, and that it was because of
these that he had refused to permit me to marry his daughter.

"He said I had stated the case correctly. Then I asked him to give me
the name of the person who had made these accusations. He hesitated for
a few moments, and I then declared that the charges were false and
slanderous, and asserted that I had a right to know who the author of
them was.

"After thinking over the matter for a while, he said,

"'Well, Mr. Parker, I believe you have that right. I have thought lately
that I did not perhaps treat you very fairly in not bringing you face to
face in the first place with the man who accused you. But I almost
pledged myself to regard his statements as confidential; and as the
evidence seemed to be overwhelming against you, I concluded not to offer
you the opportunity. Mrs. Magruder takes a different view of the matter.
She thinks you should not be condemned without a hearing, and she
distrusts your accuser. His name is Smiley--Lieutenant Smiley.'

"Then the old man went on," said Bob, "and told me that Smiley had
sought a private interview with him, at which Smiley had declared that I
was not only a debauchee, but an atheist. He made this statement, he
told Mr. Magruder, with reluctance and regret, but he felt that as a
friend of the family he had a duty to perform which was imperative.
Smiley declared that he had frequently seen me under the influence of
liquor, and that I had often attacked him for professing to believe in
the Christian religion. A splendid old professor of religion he is!"
exclaimed Mr. Parker. "And then," continued Bob, "Mr. Magruder said
Smiley produced two letters, one from a man named Dewey who pretended to
be the pastor of a church in Philadelphia, from which he said I was
dismissed for expressing atheistical opinions, and the other from a
certain Samuel Stonebury, wherein Samuel gave me a dreadful character
for honesty and sobriety.

"Thereupon I informed Mr. Magruder that I knew of no clergyman named
Dewey, and that I didn't believe such a man existed in Philadelphia;
that I never belonged to any church, and certainly was never kicked out
of one because of my atheistical opinions, for I never entertained such
views. I informed him also that Mr. Stonebury was a youth who was once
employed in our store, and who was discharged because I discovered that
he had been stealing. How Smiley found him I can't imagine. They must
have had a natural tendency to gravitate toward each other as children
of the same old father of lies.

"Then Mr. Magruder said that if I could prove these facts he would not
only hand Bessie over to me again, but he would also make me a very
humble apology. I promised to accomplish these results, and to-morrow I
will set about the work. I have no doubt at all that Stonebury wrote the
letter signed 'Dewey,' and that Smiley suggested that playful little
dodge to him. I will move on Smiley's works when I meet him. He is the
wickedest kind of a scoundrel."

And so the case of Parker _versus_ Smiley stands at present. I should
have a higher respect for Magruder if he had acted more justly with Bob
in the first place. If Mrs. Magruder's instinct and common sense had not
induced her to regard Smiley with suspicion, I am afraid that Bob's
wrongs would never have been righted. The doctor is evidently the wiser
and better person of the two, and I am not surprised now that she keeps
her husband a little in the background.

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Some relatives of the Magruders named Kemper came to the village to live
a few weeks ago, and they rented a house not far from mine. We have a
life insurance agent in the town named Benjamin P. Gunn, and he is
decidedly the most enterprising and indefatigable of the fraternity of
which he is a member. He has already bored everybody in the county
nearly to death, and it is easy to imagine the delight he feels when a
new victim comes within his reach. The Kempers were hardly fixed in
their new home when Gunn, who had been awaiting with impatience a chance
to attack them, one morning called for the purpose of ascertaining if he
could induce Mr. Kemper to take out a policy of insurance upon his life.
In response to his summons Mrs. Kemper came into the parlor to see him.
The following conversation then ensued:

"I suppose," said Gunn, "Mr. Kemper has no insurance on his life?"

"No," said Mrs. Kemper.

"Well, I'd like to get him to take a policy in our company. It's the
safest in the world--the largest capital, smallest rates and biggest
dividends."

"Mr. Kemper don't take much interest in such things now," said Mrs. K.

"Well, madam, but he ought to, in common justice to you. No man knows
when he will die; and by paying a ridiculously small sum now, Mr. Kemper
can leave his family in affluence. I'd like to hand you, for him, a few
pamphlets containing statistics upon the subject; may I?"

"Of course, if you wish to."

"Don't you think he can be induced to insure?" asked Gunn.

"I hardly think so," replied Mrs. Kemper.

"He is in good health, I suppose? Has he complained lately of being
sick?"

"Not lately."

"May I ask if he has any considerable wealth?"

"Not a cent."

"Then, of course, he must insure. No poor man can afford to neglect
such an opportunity. I suppose he travels sometimes--goes about in
railroad cars and other dangerous places?"

"No, he keeps very quiet."

"Man of steady habits, I s'pose?"

"Very steady."

"He is the very man I want," said Gunn. "I know I can sell him a
policy."

"I don't think you can," replied Mrs. Kemper.

"Why? When will he be home? I'll call on him. I don't know of any reason
why I shouldn't insure him."

"I know," replied Mrs. K.

"Why?"

"He _has been dead twenty-seven years_!" said the widow.

[Illustration]

Then Mr. Gunn said "good-morning," and returned to his office. The widow
must have told the story to some one, probably to Magruder, for it was
soon known all over town, and those who had suffered from an excess of
Gunn gloried in his discomfiture. As this was the first time in his
career that he had ever been down, it is not surprising that several of
his enemies should improve the opportunity by giving him a few vigorous
kicks. The most venomous attack upon him, however, appeared in the
_Argus_. It came, I think, from that remarkable medical man Dr. Tobias
Jones, who dislikes Gunn because he employs a rival physician, Dr.
Brindley, to examine persons who apply for policies. He called the
article


  A LIFE INSURANCE AGENT.

His name was Benjamin P. Gunn, and he was the agent for a life insurance
company. He came around to my office fourteen times in one morning to
see if he could not persuade me to take out a policy. He used to waylay
me on the street, at church, in my own house, and bore me about that
policy. If I went to the opera, Gunn would buy the seat next to me, and
sit there the whole evening talking about sudden death and the
advantages of the ten-year plan. If I got into a railway car, Gunn would
come rushing in and sit by my side, and drag out a lot of mortality
tables and begin to explain how I could gouge a fortune out of his
company. If I sat down to dinner in a restaurant, up would come Gunn;
and seizing the chair next to me, he would tell a cheering anecdote
about a man who insured in his company for $50,000 only last week, and
was buried yesterday. If I attended the funeral of a departed friend,
and wept as they threw the earth upon his coffin, I would hear a
whisper; and turning around, there would be the indomitable Benjamin P.
Gunn, bursting to say, "Poor Smith! Knew him well. Insured for ten
thousand in our company. Widow left in comfortable circumstances. Let me
take your name. Shall I?"

He followed me everywhere, until at last I got so sick of Gunn's
persecutions that I left town suddenly one evening and hid myself in a
distant city, hoping to get rid of him. At the end of two weeks I
returned, reaching home at one o'clock in the morning. I had hardly got
into bed before there was a ring at the door-bell. I looked out, and
there was Gunn with another person. Mr. Gunn observed that he expected
my return, and thought he would call around about that insurance policy.
He said he had the doctor with him, and if I would come down he would
take my name and have me examined immediately. I was too indignant to
reply. I shut the window with a slam and went to bed again. After
breakfast in the morning I opened the front door, and there was Gunn
sitting on the steps with his doctor, waiting for me. He had been there
all night. As I came out they seized me and tried to undress me there on
the pavement in order to examine me. I retreated and locked myself up in
the garret, with orders to admit nobody to the house until I came down
stairs.

[Illustration]

But Gunn wouldn't be baffled. He actually rented the house next door and
stationed himself in the garret adjoining mine. When he got fixed, he
spent his time pounding on the partition and crying, "Hallo! I say! how
about that policy? Want to take it out now?" And then he would tell me
some more anecdotes about men who were cut off immediately after paying
the first premium. But I paid no attention to him and made no noise.
Then he was silent for a while.

[Illustration]

Suddenly the trap-door of my garret was wrenched off; and upon looking
up, I saw Gunn, with the doctor and a crowbar and a lot of death-rates,
coming down the ladder at me. I fled from the house to the Presbyterian
church close by, and paid the sexton twenty dollars to let me climb up
to the point of the steeple and sit astride of the ball. I promised him
twenty more if he would exclude everybody from that steeple for a week.
Once safely on the ball, three hundred feet from the earth, I made
myself comfortable with the thought that I had Gunn at a disadvantage,
and I determined to beat him finally if I had to stay there for a month.
About an hour afterward, while I was looking at the superb view to the
west, I heard a rustling sound upon the other side of the steeple. I
looked around, and there was Benjamin P. Gunn creeping up the side of
the spire in a balloon, in which was the doctor and the tabular
estimates of the losses of his company from the Tontine system. As soon
as Gunn reached the ball he threw his grappling-iron into the shingles
of the steeple, and asked me at what age my father died, and if any of
my aunts ever had consumption or liver complaint.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Without waiting to reply, I slid down the steeple to the ground and took
the first train for the Mississippi Valley. In two weeks I was in
Mexico. I determined to go to the interior and seek some wild spot in
some elevated region where no Gunn would ever dare to come. I mounted a
mule, and paid a guide to lead me to the summit of Popocatapetl. We
arrived at the foot of the mountain at noon. We toiled upward for about
four hours. Just before reaching the top I heard the sound of voices;
and upon rounding a point of rocks, whom should I see but Benjamin P.
Gunn, seated on the very edge of the crater, explaining the endowment
plan to his guide and stupefying him with a mortality table, while the
doctor had the other guide a few yards off, examining him to see if he
was healthy! Mr. Gunn arose and said he was glad to see me, because now
we could talk over that business about the policy without fear of
interruption. In a paroxysm of rage I pushed him backward into the
crater, and he fell a thousand feet below with a heavy thud. As he
struck the bottom I heard a voice screaming out something about
"non-forfeiture;" but there was a sudden convulsion of the mountain, a
cloud of smoke, and I heard no more.

[Illustration]

But on the following Thursday an eruption began, and the first thing
that was thrown out was Benjamin P. Gunn, scorched, with his hair singed
off and in a profuse perspiration, but still active and ready for
business. If I should be killed, I verily believe Gunn would commit
suicide in order that he might follow me into the next world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of course this is mere burlesque and it is hardly fair treatment of
Gunn. But I am gratified to learn that such ridicule does not hurt his
feelings. On the day the article appeared he called to see Colonel
Bangs. The colonel apprehended an assault; and rallying his clerks and
reporters around him, he seized a club and gave orders that Gunn should
be admitted. But Benjamin did not intend war. He grasped the colonel's
hand; and after thanking him for such a handsome gratuitous
advertisement, he pulled a schedule out of his pocket and argued with
Bangs until the latter in despair agreed to take out another policy for
ten thousand dollars in Gunn's company.

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

We do not regard Lieutenant Smiley as a very entertaining person at
present, and of course he is not quoted with enthusiasm. But during the
prevalence of the excitement created by the victory over Pitman's
baldness, Smiley related an anecdote bearing upon the subject of hair
which combined instruction with amusement in a remarkable degree, and it
may be profitable to reproduce it here as an illustration of the
demoralizing tendencies of the red man.

During the recent visit of a party of Indians to the East, one of the
number, Squatting Bear, was observed to behave himself in a very
remarkable and mysterious manner. He separated himself from his
companions on one occasion for several hours, and was then seen
returning dragging a huge Saratoga trunk behind him through the streets
with a string. When he reached his lodgings with the trunk, the other
Indians were puzzled. Some of them believed the trunk to be a model for
a new kind of wigwam with a Mansard roof, while others conceived the
idea that it was a patent bath-tub of some peculiar sort, and that
Squatting Bear, in a moment of mental aberration, had been seized with
an inexplicable and unprecedented desire to wash himself. The souls of
the savages burned with fiery indignation as they contemplated the
possibility of the adoption of this revolutionary, enervating and
demoralizing practice of the pale faces by the noble red man. But when
they questioned Squatting Bear and remonstrated with him, that
incomprehensible brave merely placed his copper-colored finger upon his
burnt-umber nose and winked solemnly with his right eye.

The trunk was carried through to the wigwam of Squatting Bear unopened,
and within the precincts of his home it was hidden finally from view,
and was soon entirely forgotten.

In the tribe the brave who killed the largest number of enemies in any
given year and secured the usual trophies of victory was entitled to
occupy the position as chief. Squatting Bear was known to have ardent
aspirations for the office, and he worked hard to win it. For a while
after his return he was always foremost in every fight; and when the
scalps were counted around the camp-fire, he invariably had secured the
greatest number. Gradually, however, certain of the braves were
impressed with the notion that Squatting's trophies sometimes did not
bear a very correct proportion to the ferocity of the contest or to the
number of the slain. Several times, after a brief skirmish in which ten
or fifteen men were killed, Squatting would come sidling home with as
many scalps as there were dead men; and at the same time the other
warriors would together have nearly as many more.

The braves thought it was queer, but they did not give the subject very
serious attention until after the massacre of a certain band of
emigrants which had passed close by the camp of the tribe. There were
just twenty persons in the company, and after the butchery several
Indians took the trouble to count the bodies and to keep tally with a
butcher-knife upon the side of a chip. That night, when the scalps were
numbered, each brave had one or two apiece, but Squatting Bear handed
out exactly forty-seven of the most beautiful bunches of human hair that
had ever been seen west of the Mississippi. The braves looked cross-eyed
at each other and cleared their throats. Two of their number stole out
to the battlefield for the purpose of counting the bodies again, and of
ascertaining if this had been a menagerie with a few double-headed
persons in the party.

Yes, there lay exactly twenty corpses, and, to make matters worse, one
of them was a bald-headed man who, for additional security to his scalp,
had run a skate-strap over his head and buckled it under his chin.

When they returned, the entire camp devoted itself to meditation and
calculation.

Twenty men killed and forty-seven scalps in the possession of a single
Indian, without counting those secured by other participants in the
contest! The more the warriors pondered over this fact, the more
perplexing it became. A brave, while eating his supper and reflecting
upon the problem, would suddenly imagine he saw his way clear, and he
would stop, with his mouth full of baked dog, and fix his eyes upon the
wall and think desperately hard. But the solution invariably eluded him.
Then all of them would glide behind their wigwams and perform abstruse
mathematical calculations upon their fingers, and they would get sticks
and jam the points into the sand and do hard sums out of their
aboriginal arithmetic. And they would tear around through the Indian
rule of three, and struggle through their own kind of vulgar fractions,
and wrestle with something that they believed to be a multiplication
table. But in vain. Forty-seven scalps off twenty heads! It seemed
incredible and impossible.

They tried it with algebra, and let the number of heads equal _x_ and
the number of scalps equal _y_, and they multiplied _x_ into _y_ and
subtracted every letter in the alphabet in succession from the result
until their brains reeled; but still the mystery remained unsolved.

At last a secret council was held, and it was determined that Squatting
Bear must have some powerful and wonderful charm which enabled him to
perform such miracles, and all hands agreed to investigate the matter
upon the first opportunity. So the next week there was another fight, in
which four persons were killed, and that night Squatting actually had
the audacity to rush out one hundred and eighty-seven scalps, and to ask
those benighted savages, sitting around their fire, to believe that he
had snatched all that hair from those four heads.

It was too much--much too much; they seized him and drove a white oak
stake through his bosom to hold him still, and then they proceeded to
his wigwam to ascertain how that scalp business was conducted by the
Bear family. They burst open the Saratoga trunk the first thing, and
there they found fifteen hundred wigs and a keg of red paint, purchased
by the disgraceful aboriginal while in Philadelphia.

That concluded his career. They buried him at once in the Saratoga
trunk, and the wigs with him; and ever since that time they have elected
annually a committee on scalps, whose business it is to examine every
hirsute trophy with a double-barreled microscope of nine hundred
diameters.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XX.

    A CERTAIN REMARKABLE BOOK--A FEW SUGGESTIONS RESPECTING
    BOSTON--DELUSIONS OF CHILDHOOD--BULLYING GENERAL GAGE--JUDGE PITMAN
    AND THE CATECHISM--AN EXTRAORDINARY BLUNDER--THE FACTS IN THE CASE
    OF HILLEGASS--A FALSE ALARM.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]

While I was helping one of my youngsters a night or two ago to master a
tough little problem in his arithmetic, I picked up the history that he
had been studying, and as he went off to bed with the other tiny
travelers up the hill of knowledge, I looked through the volume. It was
Goodrich's History of the United States, for the use of beginners; and
it had a very familiar appearance. I gained my first glimpse of the past
from this very book; and not only could I remember the text as I turned
over the leaves, but the absurd pictures of General Washington and the
surrender of Cornwallis, the impossible portraits of John Smith and
Benjamin Franklin, and the unnatural illustration of the manner in which
the Pilgrim Fathers landed, seemed like respectable old acquaintances
whom I had known and admired in happier days.

The man who can find one of the books that he studied when he was a
child at school will experience a pleasant sensation if he will open it
and look over its pages. It will recall some delightful memories, and
bring him very close again to the almost forgotten time when that
wretched little book was to him the mightiest literary achievement in
existence. For this reason I love Goodrich's History; and I will
continue to regard it with affection even though my judgment may not
give it approval as a work of very remarkable excellence.

When Mrs. Adeler descended, after tucking the weary scholars comfortably
in bed, I directed her attention to these facts, and to some of the
peculiarities of Goodrich's effort:

"This little book, Mrs. A., first unlocked for me the door of history.
It is a history of the United States; and as it was written by a man who
lived in Boston and believed in Boston, it is hardly necessary to say
that in my childhood I obtained from the volume the impression that our
beloved native land consisted chiefly of Boston. I do not wish to revile
that city. It is in many respects a model municipality. It is, I think,
better governed than any other large community in the land, it has
greater intellectual force than any of our cities, and its people have a
stronger and more demonstrative civic pride. In Boston the best men are
usually at the front, and the conduct of public affairs is not
entrusted, as it is in Philadelphia and other cities, to black-guardly
politicians whom a respectable man would not admit to his house, and who
maintain themselves in power by fraudulent elections and by stealing the
people's money. Every Boston man believes in the greatness of his city,
and is proud of it. That is an excellent condition of public sentiment,
and we may pardon it even if it does sometimes produce results that are
slightly ridiculous.

"Goodrich was what might be called an excessive Boston man, and his
little history is very apt, unintentionally, to convey erroneous
impressions to the infant mind. In my early boyhood, being completely
saturated with Goodrich, I entertained an indistinct idea that the eye
of Columbus rested upon Boston long before any other object appeared
above the horizon, and somehow I cherished a conviction that the natives
who greeted him and bowed down at his feet were men who inhabited Bunker
Hill Monument and disported themselves perpetually among the chambers of
Faneuil Hall. I never doubted that every important event in our annals,
from the landing of those unpleasant old Puritans of the Mayflower down
to the election of Andrew Jackson, occurred in Boston, and was
attributable entirely to the remarkable superiority of the people of
that city. I scoffed at the theory that John Smith was in Virginia at
the time of his salvation by Pocahontas, and I was even disposed to
regard the account of the signing of the Declaration of Independence at
Philadelphia as a sort of an insignificant 'side show' which should have
been alluded to briefly in a foot-note. I honestly believed that the one
great mistake of George Washington's life was that he was born elsewhere
than in Boston, and I felt that, however hard such retribution might
appear, he deserved to be considered a little less great on account of
that error.

"As for the war of the Revolution, I could not doubt, while I maintained
my faith in Goodrich, that it was begun by the high-spirited citizens of
Boston in consequence of the wrongs inflicted upon them by that daring
and impious monarch King George III. It was equally clear that the
conflict was carried on only by the people of Boston, and that the
victory was won at last because of the valor displayed by the citizens
of that community.

"In my opinion, and apparently in the opinion of Goodrich, the leading
event of the war was that related in chapter eighty-five. The story
occupies the whole chapter. The historian evidently intended that the
youthful mind, while meditating upon the most important episode of the
dreadful struggle, should not be disturbed by minor matters. Chapter
eighty-five relates that certain British soldiers demolished snow hills
that had been constructed by some boys upon Boston Common, a hallowed
spot which Goodrich taught me to regard as the pivotal point of the
universe. The boys determined to call upon General Gage, and to protest
against this brutal outrage committed by the hireling butchers of a
bloated despot. Now listen while I read the account of that interview as
it is given by Goodrich:

    "General Gage asked why so many children had called upon him.
    'We come, sir,' said the tallest boy, 'to demand satisfaction,'
    'What!' said the general; 'have your fathers been teaching you
    rebellion, and sent you to exhibit it here?' 'Nobody sent us, sir,'
    answered the boy, while his cheek reddened and his eye flashed. 'We
    have never injured nor insulted your troops; but they have trodden
    down our snow hills and broken the ice on our skating ground. We
    complained, and they called us young rebels, and told us to help
    ourselves if we could. We told the captain of this, and he laughed
    at us. Yesterday our works were destroyed the third time, and we
    will bear it no longer.' General Gage looked at them a moment in
    silent admiration, and then said to an officer at his side, 'The
    very children here draw in a love of liberty with the air they
    breathe.'

"The story of this event, which shaped the destinies of a great nation
and gave liberty to a continent, I learned by heart. Many and many a
night have I lain awake wishing that Philadelphians would organize
another war with Great Britain, so that British soldiers could come over
and batter down a snow hill that I would build in Independence Square. I
felt certain that I should go at once, in such an event, to see the
general, and should overwhelm him with another outburst of fiery
indignation. It seemed rather hard that Philadelphia boys should never
have a chance to surpass the boys of Boston. But still I could not help
admiring those young braves and regarding them as the real authors of
American independence. I was well assured that if that 'tallest boy' had
not entered the general's room and flashed his eye at Gage all would
have been lost; the country would have been ground beneath the iron heel
of the oppressor, and Americans would have been worse than slaves.
Perhaps it did me no harm to believe all this; but it seems to me that
we might as well instruct children properly to begin with. Therefore I
shall give our boy, Agamemnon, some private lessons in history to
supplement the wisdom of Goodrich."

Just as I had concluded my remarks, Judge Pitman came in to ask me to
let him look at the evening paper which I had brought with me from the
city. I explained to him the nature of the subject that had been
considered, and the judge, as usual, had something to say about it.

"Do you know," he observed, "that them school-books that they make
now-a-days is perfectly bewilderin' to a man like me? When I went to
school, we learned nothin' but readin', writin' and arithmetic. But
now--well, they've got clear past me. I could no more rassle with the
learnin' they have at the schools now than a babe unborn."

"To what special department of learning do you refer?" I inquired.

"Oh, all of 'em, all of 'em. I had a very cur'ous experience with one o'
them books once," said the judge, with a laugh. "Some years ago I took a
notion to jine the church, an' they give me the catechism to learn afore
I could git in. When I got home, I laid the book away on the shelf, an'
didn't go for it for two or three days. When I was ready to study it up,
I reached down what I thought was the catechism, an' I was kinder
surprised to see that it was called 'Familiar Science.' You understand
it was a book my daughter had been learnin' at school. But I knowed no
better. I never paid no 'tention to religion afore; an' although it
struck me as sorter queer that a catechism should have such questions
and answers in it, I thought the church people that give me the book
must know what was right, so I said nothin' an' went to work at it."

[Illustration]

"How did you succeed?"

[Illustration]

"Oh, putty good. I learned three or four pages by heart, an' I thought
that was 'bout enough. So after while the minister an' the rest come
'round an' begun examinin' me. I noticed that the questions kinder
didn't fit in, but I did my best; an' when they'd ask me about the
Scripters, I'd jam in somethin' about carbonic acid gas, an' when they
inquired about the whole duty of man, I desp'rately give 'em somethin'
relatin' to the functions of lightnin'-rods."

"You must have astonished them."

"You never seen men wuss bewildered," replied the judge; "but I think I
really skeered 'em when they asked me about Solomon's temple, an' I lit
out with an answer referrin' to smoky chimneys. They thought I was
insane. But when I pulled out the book an' showed it to 'em, the
preacher laughed an' told me about the mistake. Then we hunted up the
catechism an' got the thing straight. The church folks had the laugh on
me for a while, but I didn't mind it. An' it _was_ pretty fair for a
joke, wasn't it?"

"Excellent."

"But I got a better one on at least one of them fellers. Doctor Brindley
was on the examinin' committee, an' he run me harder than any of 'em
about it. Well, sir--Do you know old Hillegass?"

"No; I never heard of him."

[Illustration]

"He lives out yer on the Wilmington road. Well, sir, some time afore
that Hillegass was putty near dead. He was the wust case I ever seen.
Broken down, thin an' pale, with no appetite, his lungs weak, his liver
good for nothin', his legs full of rheumatics, his heart affected an'
his head achin' with neuralger, I really believe that man was the
sickest human bein' that ever breathed the breath of life. All the
doctors in the country had a shy at him one time an' another; an' as he
kep' a-gettin' wuss an' wuss, they made him mad, an' he wouldn't pay
their bills."

"He was not much to blame for that."

"Certainly not. Well, one day them doctors met, an' after talkin' the
thing over they agreed not to go to Hillegass's again unless he settled
up, you understand. They said, 'Now we'll let Hillegass die; we've
fooled with him long enough. He's either got to pay or perish. No more
Hillegass for us unless we see some cash.' So for about a year they let
him alone; an' whenever one of 'em would drive past the house, he would
pull up for a minute, look to see if there was crape on the door, an'
then go on, shakin' his head an' sayin', 'Poor Hillegass! the stingy old
fool's not long for this world.'"

"Did he die?"

[Illustration]

"Die! One day Dr. Brindley felt kinder sorry for Hillegass, an' he
weakened on his resolution. So he called at the house to see how he was
gittin' on. As he went in the yard he seen a stoutish man liftin' a
bar'l of flour in a waggin. When the man got the bar'l in, he seen the
doctor an' come for'ard. The doctor thought he knew the scar on the
man's nose, but he couldn't believe it. Howsomedever, it _was_ old
Hillegass, well an' hearty as a buck, an' able to h'ist the roof off the
barn if he'd a mind to. You understand that I had a very soft thing on
Brindley jes' then; an' he never seemed to take no furder interest in
the catechism business when he met me. An' they don't encourage doctors
much out that way now; no, sir. They trust to luck an' natur', which in
my opinion is the best way, anyhow."

"A great many remarkable things seem to have happened in this place," I
said.

"Yes," responded the judge. "You'd hardly think it of such a quiet town
as this 'pears to be; but somehow there's 'most always somethin' lively
goin' on. There was that fuss 'round at Dr. Hopkins's a couple o' year
ago; did you hear 'bout that?"

"Not that I know of."

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

"Well, we'd jes' got a new fire-engine in the town, an' the men that run
her thought they'd play a little joke on the chief of the department by
rushin' 'round to his house an' pretendin' it was afire. By a most
unfort'nit circumstance, the chief moved out of the house that mornin',
and Dr. Hopkins--the preacher, you know--moved in. Them fellers come
a-peltin' 'round with the engine, an' they run up their ladders an'
begun a-playin' on the roof in a manner that skeered the Hopkinses
nearly to death. But the other fire company thought there really was a
fire, an' they come out with their engine an' begun to squirt on the
house. The others tried to explain how it was, but the new-comers
wouldn't believe 'em, an' they kep' a-pourin' water into the winders an'
a carryin' on like mad. So at last they got up a fight, an' they fought
all over the house an' on the stairs an' up an' down the entries, until
Dr. Hopkins was putty near insane; an' when they went home, he counted
up about two hundred dollars damages, which them fellers had to pay.
Yes, it is astonishin' how they used to keep things a-movin' in this
town. An' now I really must be goin'. I'll send back the paper the fust
thing in the mornin', for certain."

[Illustration]

The judge then went home; and just as he passed out of the door Bob
Parker came in with a radiant countenance. He had succeeded in obtaining
the evidence that was needed for his vindication.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXI.

    SETTLING THE BUSINESS--VINDICATION OF MR. BOB PARKER--A
    COMPLETE RECONCILIATION--THE GREAT COOLEY INQUEST--THE UNCERTAINTY
    IN REGARD TO THOMAS COOLEY--A PHENOMENAL CORONER--PROFITABLE
    INVESTIGATIONS--HOW THE PEOPLE PROSPERED--THE SOLUTION OF THE
    MYSTERY.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]

Mr. Parker had good reason for exultation. He had in his possession
testimony which exposed and completely defeated the wretched little
conspiracy organized against him by Smiley.

"It was a very easy thing to settle this business," said Bob. "I
explained the matter to the members of our firm, and they not only gave
me a letter containing very strong expressions of confidence in me and
denouncing Stonebury as a wholly untrustworthy and disreputable person,
but they insisted that I should make Stonebury confess. Accordingly, a
member of the firm accompanied me while I hunted him up. We found that
he had a clerkship in one of the municipal offices, and we called to see
him. He turned absolutely white when he saw me, and looked as if he
would like to beat a retreat. But we went at him, and threatened that
if he did not acknowledge in writing that he had maligned me we would
prosecute him for the theft committed while he was engaged at the store,
and have him ousted from his present position.

"He came down at once, and began to excuse his conduct upon the ground
that Smiley had compelled him to do as he did. Then he made a written
confession that his statements concerning me were lies, and that he was
the real author of the letter which professed to come from Rev. Dr.
Dewey. Here it is--here are both letters; and I propose to enlighten the
Magruder intellect with them this very night."

"Wouldn't it be better to wait until to-morrow? It is rather late now."

"No, sir. I intend to settle the affair finally and for ever before I go
to bed. I have been waiting long enough. Now I am going to enjoy my
victory without further delay. Let's go around there at once."

[Illustration]

So Bob and I started for the Magruder mansion; and when we reached the
street, he strode along at such a rapid gait that I could hardly keep up
with him. As we approached the house I ventured to suggest that the dog
might perhaps be at large, in which event I thought I would rather
remain in the drug store on the other side of the street until he
returned.

"I would go into the house," exclaimed Bob, "if there were a million
bloodhounds tearing around the front yard."

"Well, I believe I wouldn't. I have less enthusiasm than you. I am
growing old and cautious. A much smaller quantity of bloodhound would
restrain what little impetuosity I have. Only one vigorous bloodhound
stationed in that yard and betraying a disposition to exclude me would
dampen my ardor. I should go home at once."

"Magruder's dog won't bite," said Bob. "He knows me well, and we needn't
be a bit afraid of him."

"Very well, I will run the risk; but if any accident occurs, I shall
blame you for it. I would rather you should lose your lady-love than
that I should be deprived of the use of my legs."

"And, of course, I wouldn't. But come along, and never mind the dog."

[Illustration]

As we entered the gate the dog was there, and he followed us upon the
porch, still manifesting intense eagerness to sniff our trowsers. It is
remarkable with what carefulness and steadiness a man walks under such
circumstances. I would not have made a sudden jump or a quick movement
of any kind for a valuable consideration.

When we entered the house, Mr. Magruder met us, and we went with him
into the library, where Mrs. Magruder was sitting with a book in her
hand. We obtained a glimpse of Bessie as she vanished through the other
door into the next room; and Bob seemed to feel a little disappointed
that she had not remained. Mr. Magruder began the conversation:

"Well, Mr. Parker, I trust you have been successful in your efforts?"

"Yes, sir," replied Bob. "I have accomplished all that I hoped for. I
have, I think, procured evidence which will vindicate me completely and
prove that I have been grossly slandered."

"I hope this is the case," said Mr. Magruder. "What is the nature of
your--"

"Here are two letters. This one is from one of my employers. The other
is written by Samuel Stonebury, a man whose name at least is known to
you."

Magruder took the papers and read them aloud, so that his wife might
obtain the information supplied by them. Then, as he slowly folded them
up, he said:

"Mr. Parker, this does indeed seem to be conclusive. I blame myself very
much for having reposed confidence in Smiley and in his villainous
friend, but more than all because I treated you as if you were guilty
before I heard you in your own defence. I owe you a very humble apology,
sir, and I now make it. I hope you will forgive me;" and Magruder
extended his hand.

"I believed in you from the first," said Mrs. Magruder.

"And I thank you for it," replied Bob.

"I suppose Bessie might as well come in now, my dear," said Mr.
Magruder.

"Certainly," replied his wife, and she called Bessie.

Bessie had evidently been listening upon the other side of the door, for
she entered instantly, with her smiling face rosy with blushes. Bob
merely took her hand, and stood by her looking as if he would like to
indulge in a tenderer demonstration. Then I announced my intention to go
home, and as I did so Bob said he believed he would stay a little
longer. Mr. and Mrs. Magruder came out with me into the hall to say
good-bye, and as the library-door closed I thought I heard the sound of
a kiss. I hope the old people went into the parlor or retired to bed
after my departure. There had been a cruel separation of the two lovers,
and a good deal of genuine suffering, at least upon Bessie's part, and
it was but fair that they should have a chance to enjoy to the very
utmost, without the intrusion of another person, the bliss of that
reunion.

Upon the day following this reconciliation Smiley was in town, and he
called at Magruder's. The old gentleman saw him coming, and met him at
the door. In reply to Smiley's salutation Magruder looked sternly at
him, and after telling him that his villainy had been exposed, the
indignant man ordered the lieutenant to leave his house and never to
enter it again. Smiley turned upon his heel and slunk away. We have
probably seen the last of him; and just as he has disappeared we have
learned that he is likely to be cashiered from the army for bad conduct.
His brother officers at the fort have discovered his true character just
as it has been revealed to us.

       *       *       *       *       *

This rambling narrative would not deserve to be received as a faithful
record of events that have occurred in our neighborhood if it should
fail to include an account of the extraordinary circumstances attending
what is known here as "The Great Cooley Inquest." The story of that
remarkable business must be given even if it shall be introduced with
abruptness.

My neighbor William Cooley had a brother named Thomas, who lived at a
place called Vandyke, in New Castle county. Thomas Cooley was in some
respects a very remarkable man. He was gifted with genius, but it was
genius of an impracticable kind. He was an inventor, and during the
later years of his life he devoted all his time to the work of
constructing surprising machines which would never do anything when they
were constructed.

Down at the patent-office they got so at last that when a new model and
specifications would come along from Cooley, the commissioner and clerks
would grant him a patent on the spot, for they knew, from a rich and
generous experience, that when Cooley invented anything it was perfectly
certain to be unlike any other contrivance ever conceived by the mind of
fallen man; and they were aware, at any rate, that nobody who was sane
enough to be at large would ever want to interfere with Cooley's
exclusive right to pin together such a bewildering and useless lot of
cranks and axles and wheels. I think Cooley had about two hundred
patents of various kinds; and besides the machines and dodges thus
protected by the law, he owned scores of others which were never heard
of in Washington or anywhere else but at Cooley's home.

[Illustration]

Cooley had a kind of "den" of his own in the garret. He used to shut
himself up in this for hours together while he perfected his inventions
or conducted his chemical investigations. His last idea was that he
could put together a compound which would rule gunpowder out of the
market, and make the destruction of armies and navies comparatively
easy. And so, for a time, Mrs. Cooley, while bustling about in the
vicinity of the den, instead of hearing the buzz and hum of wheels and
the click of the hammer, would sniff terrific smells, evolved by the
irrepressible Cooley from the contents of his laboratory. And one day
there came a fearful explosion. The roof was torn off and reduced to
splinters, and Thomas Cooley had disappeared.

Vandyke, as I have said, is in New Castle county, Delaware, but it is
also close to the boundary line between Delaware and the counties of
Cecil and Kent, in Maryland.

And so it was not surprising when, a few minutes after the explosion,
persons in all three of the counties perceived fragments of a
demoralized and disintegrated human being tumbling from the air. The
pieces of the unhappy victim of the disaster were unevenly distributed
between New Castle, Cecil and Kent. The first named got twelve of the
fragments. There were persons who thought Cooley might have showed even
greater partiality for his own county, but I do not blame him; he was in
a measure controlled by circumstances.

[Illustration]

I think the friends of the coroner complained with greatest bitterness.
He was an enthusiastic coroner. He had been known, when one of Dr.
Tobias Jones's relatives returned from Egypt with a mummy embalmed
fifteen hundred years before the Christian era, to seize that ancient
subject of Pharaoh and summon a jury, and sit upon it, and brood over it
and think. And it is rumored that he put that jury up to bringing in a
verdict, "The death of the deceased ensued from cause or causes unknown,
at the hands of persons also unknown." His enemies at the next election
openly asserted that he charged the county with the usual fee, with
compound interest from the time of Moses.

So of course when Thomas Cooley went up, _he_ wasn't sorry; and the more
Cooley was scattered over New Castle county, the more serene and affable
the coroner felt. When he had selected his jury and looked around him a
little in order to command the situation, he perceived that Cooley had
put into his hands a tolerably good thing. The coroner spent the next
three days holding an inquest upon each of the twelve fragments of the
deceased. He empaneled a new jury every time, and then proceeded
cautiously and deliberately in each case.

There was by no means complete unanimity of opinion. The first jury
decided that "the deceased met his death by being struck by something
sudden." The second one advanced the theory that "Thomas Cooley was
surreptitiously and insidiously blowed apart." The others threw out
suggestions respecting the probability that the trouble came from
Cooley's well-known weakness for flying machines, or from his being
lifted out and cut up by some kind of a hurricane. Once the jury decided
not to bring in a verdict, but merely to pass resolutions of regret.

And the coroner would sit there over the particular piece of Cooley in
question, and smile and permit these manifestations of generous feeling
to have full play. It didn't perplex _him_ that all the verdicts
differed. "Truth," he remarked to a friend, "is well enough. But as
Cooley is certainly dead, what's the odds if we can't agree as to what
killed him? Let us collect our fees and yield with Christian resignation
to destiny."

It was always interesting to me to hear that coroner converse upon the
subject of resignation. He would rather have died than to have resigned
while any of the Cooleys were in town inventing explosive compounds.

The Cecil county coroner discovered six pieces of the deceased within
his jurisdiction, but his pride would not permit him to yield the
supremacy in such a matter to his rival over the line. The New Castle
man had twelve inquests, and so would he, with more besides. And his
juries used to go out and consult and come in after a while with a
majority report, declaring, perhaps, that deceased was killed by fooling
with some sort of a gun, and a minority report insisting that he had
been murdered and dissected by a medical student or students unknown.

[Illustration]

And then the coroner would disband the inquest and drum up a fresh jury,
which would also disagree, until out of those six fractions of poor old
Cooley the coroner got thirty-seven deliberations, with the attendant
fees. And every time the doctors would testify that _post-mortem_
examinations revealed the fact that the inside of the deceased was
crammed with fragments of the Latin language; and invariably the jurors
would sit there and try to look as if they understood those terms,
although a dim impression prevailed most of the time that the physicians
were indulging recklessly in profanity.

And when a relative of Cooley's testified before the thirty-seventh jury
that "Thomas Cooley was a man of marked idiosyncrasies, and his brain
was always excited by his irresistible fondness for chimeras of various
kinds," the jury looked solemn and immediately brought in a verdict that
"death was caused by idiosyncrasies forming on his brain in consequence
of excessive indulgence in chimeras, thus supplying an awful warning to
the young to refrain from the use of that and other intoxicating
beverages."

[Illustration]

Only two pieces fell in Kent county, but the coroner was animated by
even greater professional enthusiasm than his neighbors across the
border. He spent the entire season over as much of Cooley as he could
reach. All his juries but one disagreed, and he had eighty-four. The
sixth would have been unanimous but for an obstinate man named
Selfridge. All the others were for a verdict of mysterious butchery, but
Selfridge insisted upon attributing the disaster to nitro-glycerine. So
earnest was he that he fought over the subject with a fellow-juryman
named Smith; and he held Smith down and remonstrated with him, and
showed him the matter in different lights, and bit his nose to convince
Smith that the nitro-glycerine hypothesis was correct. And when the
jury was dismissed, Selfridge, true to his solemn convictions, carried
the war into the papers, and published an obituary poem entitled "A
Monody on the Death of Thomas Cooley," in which he presented his views
in this fashion:

  "When Cooley got his glycerine all properly adjusted,
  He knocked it unexpectedly, and suddenly it busted;
  And when it reached old Thomas C., he got up quick and dusted,
  And left his wife and family disheartened and disgusted."

[Illustration]

It was discovered that one of the bones of the deceased had fallen
directly across the boundary line between Cecil and Kent. As soon as the
fact was reported, the coroner of Kent rallied a jury upon his end; and
just as the proceedings were about to begin, the Cecil coroner arrived
with a jury for the purpose of attending to his share of the work. While
the authorities of Kent mused at one end of the bone, the jurymen of
Cecil reflected at the other end, and the result was that each brought
in an entirely different verdict. But they were unanimous on the
question of the collection of fees.

In all there were thirteen or fourteen conflicting verdicts rendered,
and so some uncertainty prevailed as to the precise cause of Cooley's
death. Men's minds were unsettled, and their conclusions were
demoralized, in the presence of so much official authority of an
indecisive kind. But nobody mourned over these differences. They were a
blessing for the people of the counties. Almost every man in the
neighborhood had had a turn at Cooley's remains, and some of them had
served on the juries six or seven times. The farmers all bought new
mowing-machines that spring with their fees. The doctors collected more
money for _post-mortem_ examinations than they would have done in a time
of an epidemic of small-pox and sudden death. People fixed up their
houses and paid off mortgages and laid in their pork and started grocery
stores and gave hops out of the profits of Cooley's explosion. And there
were men who cherished a wish that Cooley could be put together again
and exploded once a mouth for the next decade. But that of course was
impossible.

[Illustration]

One day, when the tide of prosperity was at its height, the widow Cooley
perceived a wagon driving up to her door. The man within the vehicle
dismounted, and unloaded four pieces of iron pipe sixty feet long.
Presently another wagon arrived, and this driver also unloaded the same
quantity of pipe. Then a third driver arrived and did the same thing.
Then a fourth came, and Mrs. Cooley saw a man in it with a queer-looking
object by him. It proved to be Thomas Cooley himself. Thomas had been up
to the city at a machine-shop getting up a working model of a new kind
of a patent duplex elliptic artesian pump; and now he was home again.
The remains scattered over the counties were--so Cooley said--merely a
lot of beef with which he had been trying to make a new kind of patent
portable soup and an improved imperishable army sausage; and the
explosion, he thought, must have been caused by spontaneous combustion.

Thomas Cooley would have been happy, after all, but for one
thing--everybody outside of his own family refused to recognize him as a
living man. If he was willing to move about in the community in the
character of an unburied corpse, the people would agree not to interfere
and not to insist upon his burial; but that was as far as they could go
conscientiously. Their duty to society, their obligations to the law,
compelled them to reject the idea that he was anything more than
inanimate remains. He was officially dead. The fact had been declared
under oath by hundreds of jurymen, and it was registered in the records
of two States and three counties. The testimony was overwhelmingly
against him. To admit that he was still alive would be dangerous, it
would be revolutionary. The foundations of society would be shaken, the
majesty of the law would suffer insult, the fabric of republican
government would be undermined. If a being who was legally only a mere
cadaver was to be permitted to strut out into daylight, and to urge
incendiary theories about the condition of his vital spark, nothing
would be safe; there would be no guarantee that the cemeteries would not
unload, and that all of the departed would not be crowding out and
wanting to vote. Besides, if it was admitted that Cooley was yet
alive, all the money that had been earned by the jurymen, all the fees
that had been charged by the coroners, would have to be returned to the
county treasuries. The people were aghast at the thought. The coroners
entered into a solemn compact to persist in ignoring Cooley or to regard
him merely as an absurd and very indelicate goblin who had behaved in a
manner wholly unworthy of a ghost with gentlemanly instincts. They
declared publicly that they could not admit that Cooley was alive unless
there should be a general resurrection in the States of Delaware and
Maryland, and until that time arrived, they considered that the best
thing Cooley could do would be to select a sepulchre somewhere and creep
into it and behave.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not know that I can find a better place than this to insert a
bundle of rhymes which I have at hand. The wholesale slaughter in which
the hero and heroine indulge seems to entitle the poem to association
with the three coroners above mentioned. And I may venture to remark
that not one of the officials in question will read the lines without a
feeling of profound regret that such magnificent opportunities for
inquests are hardly likely to be presented in Maryland and Delaware. Our
New Castle coroner would accumulate millions in the shape of fees if he
could have the privilege of summoning juries to investigate such a
butchery as this.


A HINDOO LEGEND.

  There was a Hindoo maiden once on India's coral strand
  Who had some forty suitors for her coffee-colored hand.
  Her father was a Brahmin of aristocratic caste
  Who much internal revenue in dry goods had amassed.

  These lovers thought it would be nice the dusky maid to wed,
  And spend the rupees lavishly when her papa was dead.
  But she turned up her nose at them--a very pretty pug--
  Because clandestinely she loved an elegant young Thug.

  This Thug, in his profession, was a very active man;
  He strangled eighty men the year to practice he began.
  But as the maiden's father had no taste for art at all,
  He foolishly disliked the Thug, and wouldn't let him call.

  And then she loved him better still, as always is the case,
  And so she met him daily at a certain trysting-place.
  Hand in hand amid the verdant fields deliciously they strayed,
  Now culling flowers, now strangling little children as they played.

  And this young Thug, one afternoon, he kissed the maid and said,
  "It really seems to me, my dear, high time that we should wed.
  And as your guardians to me so seriously object,
  'Twould be as well to kill them; I can do it, I expect."

  Then said the lovely maiden, with a sweet, confiding smile:
  "I go for chopping of them up in most effectual style.
  And as my marriage simply on my papa's death depends,
  Why, just for fun we'll butcher all my relatives and friends."

  The Thug procured a hatchet, and the maiden got a knife;
  They cut and slashed the Brahmin till he was bereft of life;
  Then they seized the loving mother, though she desperately fought,
  And crunched her aged bones beneath the car of Juggernaut.

  A consecrated lasso, thrown with admirable skill,
  Swiftly roped her brother in and choked him 'gainst his will.
  Her sister's fair young form was hooked upon the sacred swing;
  And flying 'round until she died, she screamed like everything.

  The maiden jabbed the knife into the colored coachman's brain,
  And stabbed her uncle William and her aunt Matilda Jane.
  The Thug he steeped his hatchet in the chambermaiden's gore,
  And with a skewer pinned the cook against the cellar door.

  The maiden cut her grandpa up in little tiny bits,
  And scared her grandma so she died in epileptic fits.
  The dry nurse with the clothes-line was serenely strangled, while
  They tossed the little baby to the sacred crocodile.

[Illustration]

  And when the fuss was over, said the maiden to the Thug:
  "You'd better have a hole within the cemetery dug;
  And let the undertaker take extraordinary pains
  To decently inter this lot of mangled-up remains."

  And when the usual bitter tears were at the funeral shed,
  The lovers to the temple went, in order to be wed.
  The priest had barbecued a man that day for sacrifice;
  They cooked him with the cracklin' on; with gravy brown and nice.

  The chief priest asked the maiden, when the services began,
  If her papa had said she might annex this fine young man?
  "Oh no," she said, "my loving wish he foolishly withstood,
  So him and all the family we slaughtered in cold blood."

  "You shock me!" said the pious priest; "your conduct makes me sad;
  You never learned at Sunday-school to be so awful bad.
  I've told you often, when you killed a person anywhere,
  To bring the body to that old nine-headed idol there;

  "The great Vishnu is suffering for victims every day,
  And here you go and cut them up and throw the bones away!
  Extravagance is sinful; I must really put it down;
  I've half a mind to pull the string and make the idol frown.

  "I must punish you with rigor; and I order that you two
  Instead of getting married shall severest penance do."
  So on a piece of paper then he scribbled a brief word;
  The lovers as they left, of course, felt perfectly absurd.

  The Thug then read the order o'er, and bursting into tears,
  He said, "This paper realizes my unpleasant fears.
  Upon my word, my sweetest one, it really chills my blood;
  I've got to suffocate you in the Ganges' holy mud."

  And so he sadly led her down unto the river's bank,
  And like a stone into the cold, religious slime she sank.
  And there she stuck the livelong day, and all the following night.
  Until an alligator came and ate her at a bite.

  The Thug he felt exceeding hurt at her untimely fate,
  But his, though not so dreadful, was not nice, at any rate.
  The priest, in his fierce anger, had condemned him, it appears,
  To stand alone upon one leg for forty-seven years!

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXII.

    AN ARRIVAL--A PRESENT FROM A CONGRESSMAN--MEDITATIONS UPON
    HIS PURPOSE--THE PATENT OFFICE REPORT OF THE FUTURE--A PLAN FOR
    REVOLUTIONIZING PUBLIC DOCUMENTS AND OPENING A NEW DEPARTMENT OF
    LITERATURE--OUR TRIP TO SALEM--A TRAGICAL INCIDENT--THE LAST OF
    LIEUTENANT SMILEY.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]

A very mysterious package came to me through the post-office yesterday.
I brought it home unopened, and, as is usual in such cases, we began to
speculate upon the nature of the contents before we broke the seals.
Everybody has a disposition to dally for a while with a letter or a
package from an unknown source. Mrs. Adeler felt the parcel carefully,
and said she was sure it was something from her aunt--something for the
baby, probably. Bob imagined that it was an infernal machine forwarded
by the revengeful Stonebury, and he insisted that I should put it to
soak in a bucket of water for a few hours before removing the wrapper.
The children were hopeful that some benign fairy had adopted this method
of supplying the Adeler family with supernatural confectionery; and for
my part, I had no doubt that some one of my friends among the publishers
had sent me half a dozen of the latest books.

We opened the bundle gradually. When the outside casing was torn away,
another envelope remained, and as this was slowly removed the excitement
and curiosity reached an almost painful degree of intensity. At last all
the papers were taken off, and I lifted from among them a large black
volume. It was only a patent-office report sent to me by that
incorruptible statesman and devoted patriot, the Congressman from our
State.

[Illustration]

I have endeavored to conjecture why he should have selected me as the
object of such a demonstration. Certainly he did not expect me to read
the report. He knows that I, as a man of at least ordinary intelligence,
would endure torture first. I cannot think that he hoped to purchase my
vote by such a cheap expedient. Congressmen do, I believe, still cherish
the theory that the present of a patent-office report to a constituent
secures for the donor the fealty of the recipient; but it is a delusion.
Such a gift fills the soul of an unoffending man with gloomy and
murderous thoughts. Every one feels at times as if he would like to
butcher some of his fellow-men; and my appetite for slaughter only
becomes keen when I meet a Congressman who has sent me a patent-office
report. Neither can I accept the suggestion that my representative was
deceived by the supposition that I would be grateful for such an
intimation that an eminent man, even amid the oppressive cares of State,
has not forgotten so humble a worm as I. He knows me well; and although
I am aware that there is in Washington a prevalent theory that a wild
thrill of exultation agitates the heart of a constituent when he
receives a public document or a flatulent oration from a lawmaker, my
Congressman is better informed. He would not insult me in such a manner.
I can only account for his conduct upon the theory that he misdirected
the volume, which he intended for some one else, or upon the supposition
that he has heard me speak of the necessity for the occasional
bombardment of Cooley's dog at night, and he conceived that he would be
helping a good cause by supplying me with a new and formidable missile.
I have never attacked a dog with a patent-office report, but I can
imagine that the animal might readily be slain with such a weapon. A
projectile should have ponderosity; and a patent-office report has more
of that quality to the cubic inch than any other object with which I am
familiar. Still, I do not care to tax the treasury of the United States
for material with which to assail Cooley's dog. I would rather endure
the nocturnal ululations, and have the money applied to the liquidation
of the national debt.

It is, however, apparent that Congressmen will never surrender the
patent-office report; and if this is admitted, it seems to me that the
man who succeeds in infusing into those volumes such an amount of
interest that people will be induced to read them will have a right to
be regarded as a great public benefactor. I suppose no human being ever
did read one of them. It is tolerably certain that any man who would
deliberately undertake to peruse one from beginning to end would be
regarded as a person who ought not to be at large. His friends would be
justified in placing him in an asylum. I think I can suggest a method by
which a reform can be effected. It is to take the material that comes to
hand each year and to work it up into a continuous story, which may be
filled in with tragedy and sentiment and humor.

For instance, if a man came prowling around the patent-office with an
improvement in hayrakes, I should name that man Alphonso and start him
off in the story as the abandoned villain; Alphonso lying in wait, as it
were, behind a dark corner, for the purpose of scooping his rival with
that improved hay-rake. And then the hero would be a man, suppose we
say, who desired an extension of a patent on accordeons. I should call
such a person Lucullus, and plant him, with a working model of the
accordeon, under the window of the boarding-house where the heroine,
Amelia, who would be a woman who had applied for a patent on a new kind
of red flannel frills, lay sleeping under the soothing influence of the
tunes squeezed from the accordeon of Lucullus.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

In the midst of the serenade, let us suppose, in comes a man who has
just got out some extraordinary kind of a fowling-piece about which he
wants to interview the head of the department. I should make this being
Amelia's father and call him Smith, because that name is full of poetry
and sweetness and wild, unearthly music. Then, while Lucullus was
mashing out delicious strains, I might make Alphonso rush on Smith with
his hay-rake, thinking he was Lucullus, and in the fight which would
perhaps ensue Smith might blow out Alphonso's brains somehow on the spot
by a single discharge, we might assume, of Smith's extraordinary
fowling-piece, while Lucullus could be arrested upon the suit of the
composer who had a copyright on the tune with which he solaced Amelia.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

If any ingenious undertaker should haunt the patent-office at this
crisis of the story with a species of metallic coffin, I might lay
Alphonso away comfortably in one of them and have a funeral, or I might
add a thrill of interest to the narrative by resuscitating him with
vegetable pills, in case any benefactor of the race should call to
secure his rights as the sole manufacturer of such articles. In the mean
time, Lucullus, languishing in jail, could very readily burst his
fetters and regain his liberty, provided some man of inventive talent
called on the commissioner to take out searches, say, on some kind of a
revertible crowbar.

Then the interest of the story would be sustained, and a few more
machines of various kinds could be worked in, if, for instance, I should
cause this escaped convict of mine to ascertain that the musical
composer had won the heart of Amelia, in the absence of her lover, by
offering to bring her flannel frills into market, and to allow her a
royalty, we will assume, of ten cents a frill. When Lucullus hears of
this, I should induce him to try to obtain the influence of Amelia's
parents in his behalf by propitiating old Mr. Smith with the latest
variety of bunion plaster for which a patent was wanted, while Mrs.
Smith could be appeased either with a gingham umbrella with an
improvement of six or seven extra ribs, or else a lot of galvanized gum
rings, if any inventor brought such things around, for her
grandchildren.

[Illustration]

Then, for the sake of breaking the monotony of these intrigues, we could
have a little more of the revivified Alphonso. I could very readily fill
the heart of that reanimated corpse with baffled rage, and cause him to
sell to old Smith one of McBride's improved hydraulic rams. Smith could
be depicted as an infatuated being who placed that ram down in the
meadow and caused it to force water up to his house. And Alphonso, of
course, with malignant hatred in his soul, would meddle with the
machine, and fumble around until he spoiled it, so that Smith could not
stop it, and it would continue to pump until the Smiths had a cascade
flowing from their attic window. Mrs. Smith, in her despair, might
impale herself on a variety of reversible toasting-fork, and die
mingling the inventor's name with maledictions and groans, while Smith,
in the anguish of his soul, could live in the barn, from whence he could
use an ingenious kind of breech-loading gun--patent applied for--to
perforate artists who came around to sketch the falls.

In the mean time, Lucullus might come to the rescue with a suction pump
and save the Smith mansion, only to find that Amelia had flown with the
composer, and had gone to sea in a ship with a patent copper bottom, and
a kind of a binnacle for which an extension had been granted by Congress
on the 26th of February. It would then be well, perhaps, to have that
copper-bottomed ship attacked by pirates, and after a bloody
hand-to-hand contest, in which the composer could sink the pirate craft
with the model of a gunpowder pile-driver which he has in the cabin, the
enraged corsairs should swarm upon the deck of the other ship for the
purpose of putting the whole party to the sword. And, of course, at this
painful crisis it would be singularly happy to cause it to turn out that
the chief pirate is our old friend Alphonso, who had sold out his
interest in his hay-rake, discontinued his speculations in hydraulic
rams and become a rover upon the seas.

[Illustration]

The composer, it would seem, would then be in a particularly tight
place; and if the commissioner of patents had any romance in his soul,
he would permit me to cause that pirate to toss the musician overboard.
Amelia would then tear herself from the pirate's loathsome embrace and
plunge in after him. The two would float ashore on a liferaft, if any
applications of that kind happened to be presented to the department.
When they got to land, Amelia would shiver with cold until her jaws
rattled, and the painful truth would be disclosed to her lover that she
wore teeth which were attached to one of the gutta-percha plates about
which there was a controversy in the courts.

[Illustration]

Then, if we seemed to be approaching the end of the report, I think I
would cause the composer to shriek "False! false!" or to use some
exciting language of that kind, and to tear out his hair and wring his
nose and fly off with a broken heart and a blasted life to join the
pirates and to play melancholy airs in a minor key, expressive of
delusive dreams, for ever and for ever, upon some kind of a
double-barreled flute with a copyright on it.

Thus even the prosaic material of which the patent-office reports are
constructed could be made to yield entertainment and instruction, and
afford a basis of succulent and suggestive fact for a superstructure of
pathetic and blood-curdling fiction. The advantages of adopting such a
method in constructing these documents would be especially marked in the
case of Congressmen. The member who now sends a patent-office report to
one of his constituents is regarded by that man as a kind of moral ruin
who ought to be put in some place where it would be impossible for him
to destroy the happiness and poison the peace of unoffending families.
But when a competent novelist prepares those reports, when he throws
over them the glamour of his fancy, when he adorns them with his
graceful rhetoric, and gives a certain intense human interest to all the
hay-rakes and gum rings and suction pumps which now fill the leaden
pages, these reports will be sought after; their tone will be changed;
children will cry for them; Sunday-schools will offer them as rewards,
and the intelligent American voter whose mind craves healthy literature
will elect to Congress the man who will promise to send him the greatest
number of copies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is the story of a tragical event of which I was a witness, and
which has created a profound impression upon the people of this
community.

[Illustration]

An aunt of Bessie Magruder's lives at Salem; and as she had never seen
Bob, she invited him and his betrothed to visit her one day last week,
coupling the invitation with a request that we and the elder Magruders
would come at the same time and take dinner with her. When the boat from
up the river arrived at New Castle, the entire party of us went aboard.
As the steamer shot across the water to Delaware City, Bob and Bessie
wandered away by themselves, while the rest of us passed the time
pleasantly in conversation. At Delaware City we came out of the cabin to
watch the people as they passed over the gangway. To our surprise and
vexation, Lieutenant Smiley appeared among them. As he pressed forward
in the throng some one jostled him roughly, when he uttered a fierce
oath and aimed a blow at the offender. It missed the mark, and he
plunged forward heavily. He would have fallen had not one of the boat's
crew caught him in his arms. We saw then that he was intoxicated.

I watched Bob as he looked at the wretched man. His face flushed with
indignation as he recalled the injury done to him by Smiley, and he
looked as if he would have found intense satisfaction in an attempt to
give the lieutenant a thrashing on the spot. But he did not contemplate
such a performance, and Bessie clung tightly to his arm, half afraid
that he might have a sudden and irresistible impulse to revenge, and
half afraid lest Smiley might make some shocking demonstration against
the party in that public place. As he staggered past us he recognized
us; and, brutalized as he was with liquor, he seemed to feel the shame
of his condition and the infamy of his past conduct. He went away to the
other side of the boat and concealed himself from view.

When the vessel left the wharf and proceeded down the bay, past the
fort, we walked about the lower deck, looking at the scenery and at the
shipping which thronged the water. No one of us perceived Smiley or knew
that he was near us. We had, indeed, suffered ourselves to forget the
scene we had just witnessed, and we were speaking of other matters. As I
stood by the railing with my wife and the Magruders, Bob and Bessie came
out from the cabin, and Bob had just spoken one word, when a man came
with a hurried and uneven step to the gangway. It was Smiley. He had
been sitting in the corner behind one of the beams of the boat, with his
hat pulled over his eyes. The rail at the gangway swings aside to admit
of passage to and from the wharf. Now it opened out upon the water.
Smiley paused for one moment, with his fingers clenched upon it; then he
flung it wide open, and leaped forward into the sea.

A cry of horror came from the lips of those who saw him make the plunge,
and instantly the steamer resounded with screams for help. Before any of
us could recover from the paralysis of terror occasioned by the act,
Smiley rose to the surface far away from the boat, and with a shriek so
awful, so full of agony and despair, that it chilled the blood of those
who heard it, he threw up his arms and sank. In a second Bob tossed off
his coat, and before I could restrain him he leaped into the water. He
rose instantly, and struck out boldly in the direction in which Smiley
had been seen.

[Illustration]

Bessie almost fainted in her father's arms, and Mrs. Adeler was white
with fear. The next moment the steamer stopped, and an attempt was made
to lower the boat. The operation required time; and meanwhile, Bob, who
is a good swimmer, gallantly cleft his way through the waves. I think
Smiley never rose again. For as I entered the lifeboat I could see
Bob turning about and endeavoring to swim toward the steamer. He was a
long way from us, for the vessel had gone far before her headway could
be overcome. Our boatmen pulled with desperate energy lest the brave
fellow should be unable to sustain himself; and as I stood in the stern
and watched him with eager eyes, I could see that he gave signs of being
in distress. It was heavy work in the water, with his clothing on, and
the sea was rough. We were within a hundred yards of him when he sank,
and I felt my heart grow sick as I saw him dragged beneath the waves.

But as we reached the spot one of the men, who was leaning over the
side, uttered an exclamation; and extending his arms, he pulled the
lad's head and shoulders above the surface. A moment later he was in the
boat, but insensible. As we turned about to seek the steamer, we rubbed
his hands and his temples and strove to bring him back to life, and we
seemed to have partial success.

[Illustration]

But when we reached the vessel and placed him upon the cushions in the
cabin, we committed him to better hands than ours. Mrs. Magruder's
medical skill then was of the highest service. She cared for the poor
lad with a motherly tenderness which was as admirable as her art. In a
brief while he revived; and though suffering greatly, he seemed sure of
life. It would have made him blush, even in his weakness, to have heard
the praises heaped upon him for his splendid courage; we rejoiced at
them, but we rejoiced more to think how he had avenged himself upon his
enemy by an act of sublime self-sacrifice.

[Illustration]

And so, as he came back to consciousness, we neared our journey's end;
and while we carried Bob from the boat to the carriage and placed him
among his loving friends, we shuddered to think how the wretched man who
had wrought so much evil was even now sweeping past us in the embrace of
that swift current to burial beneath the rolling billows of the sea.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXIII.

    PITMAN AS A POLITICIAN--HE IS NOMINATED FOR THE LEGISLATURE--HOW
    HE WAS SERENADED, AND WHAT THE RESULT WAS--I TAKE A HAND AT
    POLITICS--THE STORY OF MY FIRST POLITICAL SPEECH--MY RECEPTION AT
    DOVER--MISERY OF A MAN WITH ONLY ONE SPEECH--THE SCENE AT THE MASS
    MEETING--A FRIGHTFUL DISCOMFITURE.


[Illustration]

Some of the friends of Judge Pitman induced him, just before the last
election, to permit himself to be nominated for the State Legislature,
and accordingly he was presented to the people of this community as a
candidate. Of course he was not selected because of his fitness for the
position. The party managers knew him to be a very popular man; and as
the success of the party is the only thing they care for, they chose
Pitman as the person most likely to secure that result. I cannot say
that I disapproved of the selection. For some reason, it appears to be
entirely impossible for American citizens who live in any of the Middle
States to find educated and intelligent men who are willing to represent
them in the Legislatures. Those bodies are composed for the most part of
men whose solitary purpose is plunder. They are legislators simply
because it pays better to blackmail railroad companies and to accept
bribes from people who want votes for rascally measures than it does to
pick pockets. They have the instincts and the principles of a
pickpocket, but their ambition is greater. They do not steal
handkerchiefs and watches, because they can filch fabulous sums of money
from the public treasury and from villains who want to do dirty work
under the color of the law. They know enough to enable them, with the
assistance of party rings, to have themselves counted in at
election-time, and to devise new and dexterous schemes of dishonesty;
but in other and rather more desirable of the qualifications of
law-makers they are deficient. They occupy the most important place in
republican governments without knowing what republicanism means, and
they create laws for the communities without having any knowledge of the
science of law or the slightest acquaintance with the needs and
requirements of the people for whom they act. The average American
legislator is both ignorant and dishonest. Judge Pitman is ignorant, but
he is honest; and as his election would secure at least a very important
half of a fitting legislator, I supported him.

My other neighbor, Cooley, was the chairman of the committee to whose
care was consigned the management of the campaign in which Judge Pitman
played so prominent a part; and Cooley conducted the business with even
an excess of enthusiasm. Just after the nomination of Pitman, Cooley
called on him to say that a number of his friends had declared their
intention to offer him a serenade. Cooley informed the judge that some
refreshment must be given to the serenaders, but he, as the chairman of
the committee, would attend to that; the judge need not make
preparations of any kind. Accordingly, on the following evening a brass
band, accompanied by a score or two politicians, entered Pitman's
front yard, and for half an hour there was some very good music. Then
the judge came out upon the porch and made a better speech than I had
expected to hear from him. He concluded by asking the company to enter
his house. Cooley was there with a wagon-load of meat and drink,
including, of course, a large quantity of rum of the most impressive
kinds. The judge, with the fear of the temperance society present in his
mind, protested against the liquor; but Cooley demonstrated to him that
he would be defeated and the party ruined if it was excluded, and so
Pitman reluctantly permitted it to be placed upon his table. Besides, as
Cooley had been so very liberal in undertaking to make this provision at
his own cost, the judge disliked to hurt his feelings by refusing to
permit the use of that which Cooley evidently considered the most
important portion of it.

[Illustration]

The guests remained at the banquet until four o'clock the next morning,
the politicians meanwhile making speeches and the band playing
occasionally in the dining-room in a most uproarious manner. We could
hear the noise at my house during the night, and sleep was possible only
with the windows closed.

At four o'clock my door-bell rang violently; and upon descending to
ascertain the cause of a visit at such an unseemly hour, I encountered
Judge Pitman. He was nearly frantic with indignation.

"Adeler," he said, "them fellers is a-carryin' on scand'lus over yer at
my house. They're all drunk as owls; an' when I want 'em to go home,
they laugh an' swear an' cheer an' smash the furniture an' bu'st things
generally. Mrs. Pitman's 'bout skeered to death. Can't you come over an'
help me clear them out?"

"Why don't you call a couple of policemen? You hunt up two or three
officers while I dress myself, and we will see if we can't adjourn the
meeting."

[Illustration]

By the time I was ready Pitman arrived with one policeman, and we
proceeded to his house. As we entered, the leader of the band was
sitting upon the stairs, infamously drunk, with the handle of his
umbrella in his mouth, vainly endeavoring to play a tune by fumbling his
fingers among the ribs. Mr. Cooley was in a corner of the parlor
supporting himself by the wall while he endeavored to discuss the
question of the tariff with Pitman's plaster bust of Daniel Webster, and
to correct Daniel's view of the local option law. Another politician was
sitting upon the carpet crying because, so he informed us, his wife's
maiden name was McCarthy, and just as the policeman was removing him a
combat occurred between the bass drummer and a man from Wilmington,
during which the drummer was hurled against the pier glass and then
dragged out to bleed upon the rug. The house was finally cleared of the
company just as the church clock struck six, and then Pitman went to bed
with sentiments of complete disgust for politics and politicians.

[Illustration]

But he remained a candidate of the party. He had promised to run, and he
determined to go through with the business.

"That serenade was rough enough without anythin' wuss," said the judge
to me a day or two afterward; "but I did think Cooley was a-rubbin' it
in 'most too hard when he come over yesterday with a bill for the
refreshments which he wanted me to pay."

"Why, I thought he agreed to supply the supper?"

"So he did. But now he says that of course he was only actin' for me.
'The candidate,' he says, 'always foots all the bills.' I'll foot this
one, an' then I'll foot Cooley if he ever brings them ruffians to my
house agin. I expect nothin' else but the temperance society will shut
down on me for that riot we had t'other night."

"I hope not; but I should think that affair would have made you sorry
that you ever undertook this business."

"So it does," replied the judge, "but I never back down when I go into a
thing. I'm goin' to run for the Legislatur'; and if I'm elected, I'm
goin' to serve my country honestly until my time's up. Then I'm comin'
home, an' goin' to stay home. And what's more, I'll stir up that
Legislatur' while I'm in it. You mind me!"

The result of the contest was that the judge was elected by a large
majority, and he will sit in the next Assembly.

I played a peculiar part in the campaign; and although the narrative of
my experience as an amateur politician is not a particularly grateful
one to me, it might as well be given, if for no other reason, because it
will serve to warn others against the fate that befel me.

I had for some time entertained a strong conviction that nature designed
me for an orator. I was assured that I possessed the gift of eloquence
which enables great speakers to sway the passions of the multitude, and
I felt that I needed but the opportunity to reveal this fact to the
world. Accordingly, at the beginning of the political campaign of which
I speak I sent my name to one of the executive committees of the State,
in Wilmington, with the request that it might be written down with the
names of the speakers who could be called upon whenever important
meetings were held. I waited impatiently all through the campaign for a
summons to appear and electrify the people. It did not come, and I was
almost in despair. But on the day before the election I received from
the chairman a brief note, saying that I had been announced to speak at
Dover that evening before a great mass meeting, and requesting me to
take the early afternoon train, so that I might report to the local
chairman in Dover before nightfall. The pleasure with which this summons
was received was in some measure marred by the fact that I had not a
speech ready, and the time was so short that elaborate preparation was
impossible. But I determined to throw into some sort of shape the ideas
and arguments which would readily occur to the mind of a man familiar
with the ordinary political questions of the day and with the merits of
the candidates, and to trust to the inspiration of the occasion for the
power to present them forcibly and eloquently.

Of course it was plain that anything like an attempt at gorgeousness in
such a speech would be foolish, so I concluded to speak plainly and
directly to the point, and to enliven my argument with some amusing
campaign stories. In order to fix my points firmly in my mind and to
ensure their presentation in their proper order, they were numbered and
committed to memory, each argument and its accompanying anecdote being
associated with a particular arithmetical figure. The synopsis, if it
may be called by that name, presented an appearance something like the
following, excepting that it contained a specification of the points of
the speech which need not be reproduced here.

    THE SPEECH.

    1. Exordium, concluding with Scott's famous lines, "Breathes
    there a man with soul so dead," etc.

    2. Arguments, introducing a narrative of the facts in the case
    of Hotchkiss, who was locked out upon the roof of his house all
    night. (See particulars farther on.) The design of the story is to
    give a striking picture of the manner in which the opposition party
    will be left out in the cold by the election. (Make this strong, and
    pause for cheers.)

[Illustration]

    3. Arguments, followed by the story of the Kickapoo Indian who
    saw a locomotive approaching upon the plains, and thinking it was
    a superior breed of buffalo, determined to capture it, so that
    he could take the first prize at the Kickapoo agricultural fair.
    He tied his lasso to his waist and threw the other end over the
    smoke-stack. The locomotive did not stop; but when the engineer
    arrived at the next station, he went out and cut the string by which
    a small bit of copper-colored meat was tied to his smoke-stack. This
    is to illustrate the folly of the attempt of conservatism to check
    the onward career of pure and enlightened liberalism toward perfect
    civilization, etc., etc.

[Illustration]

    4. Arguments, and then the anecdote of that Dutchman in Berks
    county, Pa., who on the 10th of October, 1866, was observed to go
    out into his yard and raise the American flag; then he got his
    gun and fired a salute seventeen or eighteen times, after which
    he consumed six packs of fire-crackers and gave three cheers for
    the Union. He enjoyed himself in this manner nearly all day, while
    his neighbors gathered around outside and placed their elbows upon
    the fence, watching him and wondering what on earth he meant. A
    peddler who came along stopped and had an interview with him. To his
    surprise, he found that the German agriculturist was celebrating the
    Fourth of July, 1859. He did not know that it was any later in the
    century, for he had been keeping his time on a notched stick; and
    having been sick a great deal, he had gotten the thing in a dreadful
    tangle. When he learned that he was seven Fourths in arrears, he was
    depressed; but he sent out and bought a box of fire-crackers and a
    barrel of gunpowder, and spent a week catching up.

[Illustration]

    (Tell this vivaciously, and make the point that none but a
    member of the other party could forget the glorious anniversary of
    our country's birth, and say that the whole party will have to do up
    a lot of back patriotism some day, if it desires to catch up with
    the people whose devotion to the country is encouraged and kept
    active by our side.)

    5. Arguments, supplemented with the narrative of a confiding man
    who had such child-like faith in a patent fire-extinguisher which he
    had purchased that he set fire to his house merely to have the fun
    of putting it out. The fire burned furiously, but the extinguisher
    gave only two or three imbecile squirts and then collapsed, and
    in two hours his residence was in ashes. Go on to say that our
    enemies have applied the torch of anarchy to the edifice of this
    government, but that there is an extinguisher which will not only
    _not_ collapse, but will subdue the flames and quench the incendiary
    organization, and that extinguisher is our party. (Allow time for
    applause here.)

[Illustration]

    6. Arguments, introducing the story of the Sussex county farmer
    who was discouraged because his wife was perfidious. Before he was
    married she vowed over and over again that she could chop four
    cords of wood a day, but after the ceremony the farmer found he was
    deceived. The treacherous woman could not chop more than two cords
    and a half, and so the dream of the husband was dissipated, and he
    demanded a divorce as the only balm for the wounds which lacerated
    his heart. Let this serve to illustrate the point that our political
    enemies have deceived us with promises to reduce the debt, to
    institute reforms, etc., etc., none of which they have kept, and now
    we must have the government separated from them by such a divorce
    as will be decreed to-morrow, etc., etc.

    7. Peroration, working in if possible the story of Commodore
    Scudder's dog, which, while out with its master one day, pointed at
    some partridges. The commodore was about to fire, but he suddenly
    received orders to go off on a three years' cruise, so he dropped
    his gun, left the dog standing there and went right to sea. When he
    returned, three years later, he went back to the field, and there
    was his gun, there was the skeleton of the dog still standing and
    pointing just as he had left it, and a little farther on were the
    skeletons of the partridges. Show how our adversaries in their
    relations to the negro question resemble that dog. We came away
    years ago and left them pointing at the negro question, and we come
    back now to find that they are at it yet. Work this in carefully,
    and conclude in such a manner as to excite frantic applause.

It was not much of a speech, I know. Some of the arguments were weak,
and several of the stories failed to fit into their places comfortably.
But mass meetings do not criticise closely, and I was persuaded I should
make a good impression, provoking laughter and perhaps exciting
enthusiasm. The only time that could be procured for study of the speech
was that consumed by the journey. So when the train started I took my
notes from my pocket and learned them by heart. Then came the task of
enlarging them, in my mind, into a speech. This was accomplished
satisfactorily. I suppose that speech was repeated at least ten times
between New Castle and Dover until at last I had it at my tongue's end.
In the cars the seat next to mine was occupied by a colored gentleman,
who seemed to be a little nervous when he perceived that I was muttering
something continually; and he was actually alarmed once or twice when in
exciting passages I would forget myself and gesticulate violently in his
direction. Finally, when I came to the conclusion and was repeating to
myself the exhortation, "Strike for your altars and your fires," etc.,
etc., I emphasized the language by striking fiercely at the floor with
the ferule of my umbrella. It hit something soft. I think it was the
corn of my colored friend, for he leaped up hurriedly, and ejaculating
"Gosh!" went up and stood by the water-cooler during the rest of the
journey, looking at me as if he thought it was dangerous for such a
maniac to be at large.

When the train arrived at Dover, I was gratified to find the chairman of
the local committee and eighteen of his fellow-citizens waiting for me
with carriages and a brass band. As I stepped from the car the band
played "See, the Conquering Hero comes!" I marched into the waiting-room
of the dépôt, followed by the committee and the band. The chairman and
his friends formed a semi-circle and stared at me. I learned afterward
that they had received information from Wilmington that I was one of the
most remarkable orators in the State. It was impossible not to perceive
that they regarded me already with enthusiastic admiration; and my heart
sank a little as I reflected upon the possibility of failure.

[Illustration]

Then the music ceased, and the chairman proposed "three cheers for our
eloquent visitor." The devoted beings around him cheered lustily. The
chairman thereupon came forward and welcomed me in the following terms:

"My dear sir, it is with unfeigned satisfaction that I have--may I say
the exalted honor?--of welcoming you to the city of Dover. You come,
sir, at a moment when the heart of every true patriot beats high with
hope for a glorious triumph over the enemies of our cherished
institutions; you come, sir, at a time when our great party, the true
representative of American principles and the guardian of our liberties,
bends to grapple with the deadly foe of our country; at a time, sir,
when the American eagle--proud bird, which soars, as we would, to the
sun--screams forth its defiance of treason, and when the banner of the
free, the glorious emblem of our nationality, waves us onward to
victory; you come, sir, to animate with your eloquence the hearts of our
fellow-citizens; to inspire with your glowing language the souls of
those who shrink from performing their duty in this contest; to depict
in words of burning, scathing power the shame, the disgrace, the
irretrievable ruin, which will befall our land if its enemies are
victorious, and to hold up those enemies, as you well know how, to the
scorn and contempt of all honest men. We give you a hearty welcome,
then, and assure you that Dover will respond nobly to your appeal,
giving to-morrow such a vote for justice, truth and the rights of man
that the conservative wolf will shrink back in dismay to his lair.
Welcome, sir, thrice welcome, to our city!"

I stood looking at this man throughout his speech with a conviction,
constantly growing stronger, that I should be obliged to reply to him at
some length. The contemplation of such a thing, I need hardly say,
filled me with horror. I had never made a speech of the kind that would
be required in my life, and I felt positively certain that I could not
accomplish the task now. I had half a mind to hurl at the heads of this
chairman and his attendant fiends the entire oration prepared for the
evening; but that seemed so dreadfully inappropriate that the idea was
abandoned. And besides, what would I say at the mass meeting? The
comfort of the situation was not, by any means, improved by the fact
that these persons entertained the belief that I was an experienced
speaker who would probably throw off a dozen brilliant things in as
many sentences. It was exceedingly embarrassing; and when the chairman
concluded his remarks, the cold perspiration stood upon my forehead and
my knees trembled.

Happily, the leader of the band desired to make himself conspicuous, so
he embraced the opportunity afforded by the pause to give us some
startling variations of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

[Illustration]

As we stood there listening to the music, I observed that the energetic
gentleman who played upon the drum and cymbals was looking at me with
what seemed to be a scornful smile. He had a peculiarly cold eye, and as
he fixed it upon me I felt that the frigid optic pierced through and
through my assumption of ease and perceived what a miserable sham it was
for me to stand there pretending to be an orator. I quailed before that
eye. Its glance humiliated me; and I did not feel more pleasantly when,
as the band dashed into the final quavers which bring up suggestions of
"the land of the free and the home of the brave," I saw the scorn which
erst flashed from that eye change to a look of wild exultation. The
cymbal man knew that my hour had come. He gave a final clash with his
brasses and paused. I had to begin. Bowing to the chairman, I said,

"Mr. Chairman and fellow-citizens, there are times--times--there are
times, fellow-citizens, when--times when--when the heart--there are
times, I say, Mr. Chairman and fellow-citizens, when the heart--the
heart of--of--" It wouldn't do. I stuck fast, and could not get out
another word.

The cold-eyed man seemed ready to play triumphal strains upon his drum
and to smash out a pæan upon his cymbals. In the frenzy and desperation
of the moment, I determined to take the poetry from my exordium and to
jam it into the present speech, whether it was appropriate or not. I
began again:

[Illustration]

"There are times, I say, fellow-citizens and Mr. Chairman, when the
heart inquires if there breathes a man with soul so dead, who never to
himself hath said, 'This is my own, my native land'--whose heart has
ne'er within him burned as home his footsteps he hath turned from
wanderings on a foreign shore? If such there breathe, go, mark him
well!" (Here I pointed to the street, and one of the committee, who
seemed not to comprehend the thing exactly, rushed to the window and
looked out, as if he intended to call a policeman to arrest the wretch
referred to.) "For him no minstrel raptures swell." (Here the leader of
the band bowed, as if he had a vague idea that this was a compliment
ingeniously worked into the speech for his benefit; but the cold-eyed
man had a sneering smile which seemed to say, "It won't do, my man, it
won't do. I can't be bought off in that manner.") "High though his
titles, proud his name, boundless his wealth as wish can claim; despite
these titles, power and pelf, the wretch, concentred all in self,
living, shall forfeit fair renown, and doubly dying shall go down to the
vile dust from whence he sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung."

I stopped. There was embarrassing silence for a moment, as if everybody
thought I had something more to say. But I put on my hat and shouldered
my umbrella to assure them that the affair was ended. Then it began to
be apparent that the company failed to grasp the purpose of my remarks.
One man evidently thought I was complaining of something that happened
to me while I was upon the train, for he took me aside and asked me in a
confidential whisper if it wouldn't be better for him to see the
conductor about it.

Another man inquired if the governor was the man referred to.

I said, "No; the remarks were of a poetical nature; they were quoted."

The man seemed surprised, and asked where I got them from.

"From _Marmion_."

He considered a moment, and then said,

"Don't know him. Philadelphia man, I reckon?"

The occasion was too sad for words. I took the chairman's arm and we
marched out to the carriages, the cold-eyed man thumping his drum as if
his feeling of animosity for me would kill him if it did not find
vigorous expression of that kind.

We entered the carriages and formed a procession, the band, on foot,
leading the way and playing "Hail to the Chief." I rode with the
chairman, who insisted that I should carry the American flag in my hand.
As we passed up the street the crowd cheered us vehemently several
times, and the chairman said he thought it would be better if I would
rise occasionally and bow in response. I did so, remarking, at the last,
that it was rather singular such a reception should be given to a
complete stranger.

The chairman said he had been thinking of that, and it had occurred to
him just at that moment that perhaps the populace had mistaken the
character of the parade.

"You see," said he, "there is a circus in town, and I am a little bit
afraid the people are impressed with the idea that this is the showman's
procession, and that you are the Aërial King. That monarch is a man of
about your build, and he wears whiskers."

The Aërial King achieved distinction and a throne by leaping into the
air and turning two backward somersaults before alighting, and also by
standing poised upon one toe on a wire while he balanced a pole upon his
nose. I had no desire to share the sceptre with that man, or to rob him
of any of his renown, so I furled the flag of my beloved country, pulled
my hat over my eyes and refused to bow again.

It was supper-time when we reached the hotel, and as soon as we entered,
the chairman invited us into one of the parlors, where an elaborate
repast had been prepared for the whole party. We went into the room,
keeping step with a march played by the band, which was placed in the
corner. When supper was over, it was with dismay that I saw the
irrepressible chairman rise and propose a toast, to which he called upon
one of the company to respond. I knew my turn would come presently, and
there seemed to be no choice between the sacrifice of my great speech to
this paltry occasion and utter ruin and disgrace. It appeared to me that
the chairman must have guessed that I had but one speech, and that he
had determined to force me to deliver it prematurely, so that I might be
overwhelmed with mortification at the mass meeting. But I made up my
mind to cling desperately to the solitary oration, no matter how much
pressure was brought to bear to deprive me of it. So I resolved that if
the chairman called upon me I would tell my number two story, giving the
arguments, and omitting all of it from my speech in the evening.

He did call. When two or three men had spoken, the chairman offered the
toast, "The orator of the evening," and it was received with applause.
The chairman said: "It is with peculiar pleasure that I offer this
sentiment. It gives to my eloquent young friend an opportunity which
could not be obtained amid the embarrassments of the dépôt to offer,
without restraint, such an exhibition of his powers as would prove to
the company that the art which enabled Webster and Clay to win the
admiration of an entranced world was not lost--that it found a master
interpreter in the gentleman who sits before me."

This was severe. The cold-eyed child of the Muses sitting with the band
looked as if he felt really and thoroughly glad in the inmost recesses
of his soul for the first time in his life.

I rose, and said: "Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am too much fatigued to
make a speech, and I wish to save my voice for to-night; so I will tell
you a story of a man I used to know whose name was Hotchkiss. He lived
up at New Castle, and one night he thought he would have a little
innocent fun scaring his wife by dropping a loose brick or two down the
chimney into the fireplace in her room. So he slipped softly out of bed;
and dressed in his night-shirt, he stole up stairs and crept out upon
the roof. Mr. Hotchkiss dropped nineteen bricks down that chimney, Mr.
Chairman and gentlemen, each one with an emphatic slam, but his wife
didn't scream once."

[Illustration]

Everybody seemed to think this was the end of the story; so there was a
roar of laughter, although I had not reached the humorous part or the
real point of the anecdote, which describes how Hotchkiss gave it up
and tried to go down stairs, but was surprised to find that Mrs.
Hotchkiss, who had been watching all the time, had retreated fastening
the trap-door, so that he spent the next four hours upon the comb of the
roof with his trailing garments of the night fluttering in the evening
breeze. But they all laughed and began to talk; and the leader of the
band, considering that his turn must have come, struck out into "Hail
Columbia," while the man with the cymbals seemed animated with fiendish
glee.

I tried to explain to the chairman that it was all wrong, that the
affair was terribly mixed.

He said he thought himself that it seemed so somehow, and he offered to
explain the matter to the company and to give me a chance to tell the
story over again properly.

I intimated, gloomily, that if he undertook such a thing I would blow
out his brains with the very first horse-pistol I could lay my hands
upon.

He said perhaps, then, it would be better not to do.

       *       *       *       *       *

The proceedings at the mass meeting were to begin at eight o'clock. At
half-past seven I went to the telegraph office, and sent the following
despatch to the Wilmington papers, fearing the office might be closed
when the meeting adjourned:

"DOVER, ---- --, 18--: A tremendous mass meeting was held here to-night.
The utmost enthusiasm was displayed by the crowd. Effective speeches
were made by several prominent gentlemen, among them the eloquent young
orator Mr. Max Adeler, whose spirited remarks, interspersed with
sparkling anecdote, provoked uproarious applause. Dover is good for five
hundred majority, and perhaps a thousand."

At eight o'clock a very large crowd really did assemble in front of the
porch of one of the hotels. The speakers were placed upon the balcony,
which was but a few feet above the pavement, and there was also a number
of persons connected with the various political clubs of the town. I
felt somewhat nervous; but I was tolerably certain I could speak my
piece acceptably, even with the poetry torn out of the introduction and
the number two story sacrificed. I took a seat upon the porch and waited
while the band played a spirited air or two. It grieved me to perceive
that the band stood directly in front of us upon the pavement, the
cold-eyed drummer occupying a favorable position for staring at me.

[Illustration]

The chairman began with a short speech in which he went over almost
precisely the ground covered by my introduction; and as that portion of
my oration was already reduced to a fragment by the use of the verses, I
quietly resolved to begin, when my turn came, with point number two.

The chairman introduced to the crowd Mr. Keyser, who was received with
cheers. He was a ready speaker, and he began, to my deep regret, by
telling in capital style my story number three, after which he used up
some of my number six arguments, and concluded with the remark that it
was not his purpose to occupy the attention of the meeting for any
length of time, because the executive committee in Wilmington had sent
an eloquent orator who was now upon the platform and would present the
cause of the party in a manner which he could not hope to approach.

Mr. Keyser then sat down, and Mr. Schwartz was introduced. Mr. Schwartz
observed that it was hardly worth while for him to attempt to make
anything like a speech, because the gentleman from New Castle had come
down on purpose to discuss the issues of the campaign, and the
audience, of course, was anxious to hear him. Mr. Schwartz would only
tell a little story which seemed to illustrate a point he wished to
make, and he thereupon related my anecdote number seven, making it
appear that he was the bosom friend of Commodore Scudder and an
acquaintance of the man who made the gun. The point illustrated I was
shocked to find was almost precisely that which I had attached to my
story number seven. The situation began to have a serious appearance.
Here, at one fell swoop, two of my best stories and three of my sets of
arguments were swept off into utter uselessness.

When Schwartz withdrew, a man named Krumbauer was brought forward.
Krumbauer was a German, and the chairman announced that he would speak
in that language for the benefit of those persons in the audience to
whom the tongue was pleasantly familiar. Krumbauer went ahead, and the
crowd received his remarks with roars of laughter. After one
particularly exuberant outburst of merriment, I asked the man who sat
next to me, and who seemed deeply interested in the story,

"What was that little joke of Krumbauer's? It must have been first
rate."

"So it was," he said. "It was about a Dutchman up in Berks county,
Penna., who got mixed up in his dates."

"What dates?" I gasped, in awful apprehension.

"Why, his Fourths of July, you know. Got seven or eight years in arrears
and tried to make them all up at once. Good, wasn't it?"

"Good? I should think so; ha! ha! My very best story, as I'm a sinner!"

It was awfully bad. I could have strangled Krumbauer and then chopped
him into bits. The ground seemed slipping away beneath me; there was the
merest skeleton of a speech left. But I determined to take that and do
my best, trusting to luck for a happy result.

But my turn had not yet come. Mr. Wilson was dragged out next, and I
thought I perceived a demoniac smile steal over the countenance of the
cymbal player as Wilson said he was too hoarse to say much; he would
leave the heavy work for the brilliant young orator who was here from
New Castle. He would skim rapidly over the ground and then retire. He
did. Wilson rapidly skimmed all the cream off of my arguments numbers
two, five and six, and wound up by offering the whole of my number four
argument. My hair fairly stood on end when Wilson bowed and left the
stand. What on earth was I to do now? Not an argument left to stand
upon; all my anecdotes gone but two, and my mind in such a condition of
frenzied bewilderment that it seemed as if there was not another
available argument or suggestion or hint or anecdote remaining in the
entire universe. In an agony of despair, I turned to the man next to me
and asked him if I would have to follow Wilson.

He said it was his turn now.

"And what are you going to say?" I demanded, suspiciously.

"Oh, nothing," he replied--"nothing at all. I want to leave room for
you. I'll just tell a little story or so, to amuse them, and then sit
down."

"What story, for instance?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing, nothing; only a little yarn I happen to remember about a
farmer who married a woman who said she could cut four cords of wood,
when she couldn't."

My worst fears were realized. I turned to the man next to me, and said,
with suppressed emotion,

"May I ask your name, my friend?"

He said his name was Gumbs.

"May I inquire what your Christian name is?"

He said it was William Henry.

"Well, William Henry Gumbs," I exclaimed, "gaze at me! Do I look like a
man who would slay a human being in cold blood?"

"Hm-m-m, n-no; you don't," he replied, with an air of critical
consideration.

"But I AM!" said I, fiercely--"I AM; and I tell you now that if you
undertake to relate that anecdote about the farmer's wife I will blow
you into eternity without a moment's warning; I will, by George!"

Mr. Gumbs instantly jumped up, placed his hand on the railing of the
porch, and got over suddenly into the crowd. He stood there pointing me
out to the bystanders, and doubtless advancing the theory that I was an
original kind of a lunatic, who might be expected to have at any moment
a fit which would be interesting when studied from a distance.

The chairman looked around, intending to call upon my friend Mr. Gumbs;
but not perceiving him, he came to me and said:

"Now is your chance, sir; splendid opportunity; crowd worked up to just
the proper pitch. We have paved the way for you; go in and do your
best."

"Oh yes; but hold on for a few moments, will you? I can't speak now; the
fact is I am not quite ready. Run out some other man."

"Haven't got another man. Kept you for the last purposely, and the crowd
is waiting. Come ahead and pitch in, and give it to 'em hot and heavy."

It was very easy for him to say "give it to them," but I had nothing to
give. Beautifully they paved the way for me! Nicely they had worked up
the crowd to the proper pitch! Here I was in a condition of frantic
despair, with a crowd of one thousand people expecting a brilliant
oration from me who had not a thing in my mind but a beggarly story
about a fire-extinguisher and a worse one about a farmer's wife. I
groaned in spirit and wished I had been born far away in some distant
clime among savages who knew not of mass meetings, and whose language
contained such a small number of words that speech-making was
impossible.

But the chairman was determined. He seized me by the arm and fairly
dragged me to the front. He introduced me to the crowd in flattering,
and I may say outrageously ridiculous, terms, and then whispering in my
ear, "Hit 'em hard, old fellow, hit 'em hard," he sat down.

The crowd received me with three hearty cheers. As I heard them I began
to feel dizzy. The audience seemed to swim around and to increase
tenfold in size. By a resolute effort I recovered my self-possession
partially, and determined to begin. I could not think of anything but
the two stories, and I resolved to tell them as well as I could. I said,

"Fellow-citizens: It is so late now that I will not attempt to make a
speech to you." (Cries of "Yes!" "Go ahead!" "Never mind the time!"
etc., etc.) Elevating my voice, I repeated: "I say it is so late now
that I can't make a speech as I intended on account of its being so late
that the speech which I intended to make would keep you here too late if
I made it as I intended to. So I will tell you a story about a man who
bought a patent fire-extinguisher which was warranted to split four
cords of wood a day; so he set fire to his house to try her, and--No, it
was his wife who was warranted to split four cords of wood--I got it
wrong; and when the flames obtained full headway, he found she could
only split two cords and a half, and it made him--What I mean is that
the farmer, when he bought the exting--courted her, that is, she said
she could set fire to the house, and when he tried her, she collapsed
the first time--the extinguisher did, and he wanted a divorce
because his house--Oh, hang it, fellow-citizens, you understand that
this man, or farmer, rather, bought a--I should say courted a--that is,
a fire-ex--" (Desperately.) "Fellow-citizens! IF ANY MAN SHOOTS THE
AMERICAN FLAG, PULL HIM DOWN UPON THE SPOT; BUT AS FOR ME, GIVE ME
LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!"

[Illustration]

As I shouted this out at the top of my voice, in an ecstasy of
confusion, a wild, tumultuous yell of laughter came up from the crowd. I
paused for a second beneath the spell of that cold eye in the band, and
then, dashing through the throng at the back of the porch, I rushed down
the street to the dépôt, with the shouts of the crowd and the uproarious
music of the band ringing in my ears. I got upon a freight train, gave
the engineer five dollars to take me along on the locomotive, and spent
the night riding to New Castle.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXIV.

    THE WEDDING-DAY--ENORMOUS EXCITEMENT IN THE
    VILLAGE--PREPARATIONS FOR THE EVENT--THE CONDUCT OF BOB PARKER--THE
    CEREMONY AT THE CHURCH AND THE COMPANY AT MAGRUDER'S--A LAST LOOK AT
    SOME OLD FRIENDS--DEPARTURE OF THE BRIDE AND GROOM--SOME UNCOMMONLY
    SOLEMN REFLECTIONS, AND THEN THE END.


[Illustration]

Yesterday was the day of the wedding.

I suppose no one can hope to describe accurately the sensation that is
created by such an event in a little community like ours. It has
supplied the ladies of the village with material for discussion for
several weeks past, and the extraordinary interest manifested in it has
constantly grown stronger until it culminated in a blaze of excitement
which made calmness upon the part of any New Castilian upon the great
day a wholly impossible condition. My own wife has introduced the
subject in her conversation with me at every available opportunity; and
when I have grown weary of hearing about the preparations for the
wedding, about the purchases made by the Magruders for Bessie, about the
presents given to the bride by her friends, about the future prospects
of the pair, and about other matrimonial things innumerable, the
excellent partner of my joys, still with unabated enthusiasm, has turned
from so dull a listener, and seizing her bonnet and shawl, has darted
off to visit Mrs. Jones or Mrs. Hopkins, and has found them eager to
participate in conversation upon these subjects. During the past month
this sympathetic woman has called at Magruder's at least three times a
day to ascertain the latest facts respecting the situation, and to give
advice and assistance to the busy workers who have been preparing the
multitude of articles which a girl must have before she is married.
Every woman in the village was familiar, long ago, with the minutest
details of the arrangements, and all of them were so deeply absorbed in
the preparations and in contemplation of the approaching catastrophe
that they cared for nothing else. If there had been revolutions, if
thrones had tottered to their fall, if hurricanes had swept over the
land and the nations had been stricken by the scourge, I verily believe
that these devoted women of New Castle would have regarded these
calamities with steadfast composure, and would have excluded them from a
place in the social debates wherein the wedding of Bessie Magruder was
the one great subject of discussion.

There is nothing more intense in nature than the interest felt by a
woman in the marriage of another woman. The fanatic fury of a Hindoo
devotee is mere icy indifference in comparison to it.

It was entertaining to watch Bob Parker upon the evening before the
wedding and upon the morning of the great day itself. He had everything
ready a week before the time, and upon the last night of his bachelor
life he had nothing to do but to sit at home with us and think. And so,
while I read my book and while Mrs. Adeler finished the bonnet that she
had made for the occasion from old material (the dexterous economy of
that woman, by the way, is simply phenomenal), Bob fidgeted about. He
pretended to read the paper; he threw himself upon the lounge and
counterfeited sleep; he darted suddenly up stairs to see if he had put a
sufficient number of collars in his trunk; he darted down again and
tried on his new hat for the fiftieth time; he stood by the fire and
expressed his fear, often repeated during the day, that there would be
rain on the morrow; he tried to wind up his watch four times, and he
examined his pocket-book over and over again to ascertain if the ring
was safe. At a ridiculously early hour he said he was tired and must go
to bed; but when I ascended the stairs about midnight, I could hear him
still moving about. He was nervous, excited and anxious.

[Illustration]

Before daylight dawned Bob was out of bed and down stairs smoking and
guessing at the weather. When we descended, he was in extreme agitation
lest the man should not come with the bouquets. When the flowers did
arrive, they looked so much like business that he immediately flew up to
his room and put on his wedding suit.

Then we had to wait nearly two hours for the carriages, and Bob was
harassed by doubts as to the correctness of the appearance of his
neck-tie. Three times Mrs. Adeler applied thread and needle to that
article of adornment, and at last Bob threw it away and assumed
another. He seemed to have a strong conviction that the eyes of the
entire assembly would be concentrated upon that white tie. Then he put
on his gloves and sat, flushed and uncomfortable in his new clothing,
waiting for the moment of his departure. Presently he discovered that he
had lost one of his gold shirt buttons; and after a very long and very
warm search for it, he thought he felt it in his boot. I procured a
boot-jack for him; and when the button was found, he had to remove his
gloves again in order to pull his boot on. He was beginning to be
acutely miserable when, at last, the carriages arrived. Then Mrs. Adeler
came down; and when I had buttoned her gloves with a hair-pin and
criticised the appearance of her dress, we went out to the street and
drove away.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

When we reached Magruder's, the doorway was surrounded by quite a throng
of persons. The excitement had reached even the lower classes, and a
crowd composed of slatternly women with babies in their arms, of truant
servant-girls, of unclean children, of idle men and noisy boys, stood
upon the pavement waiting for the bride to come out. As we descended
from the carriages, Bob was the chief object of interest, and while the
women eyed him with admiration the boys made very unpleasant remarks
concerning his clothing, particularly his "claw-hammer coat," When we
entered the house, Bob ascended to some mysterious region above to wait
for Bessie, while we examined the bridal gifts and conversed with
the paternal Magruder, who was plainly uncomfortable in his wedding
garments.

Then the bride descended amid exclamations of admiration from the
servants and their friends, who were collected in a knot at the rear of
the hall. She did look very sweet and pretty, that little maiden, in her
lovely white dress, with orange blossoms in her dark hair, with a
radiant light in her brown eyes and with a faint glow warming her cheek.
Bob Parker had good reason to feel proud as he led the fair girl to the
altar; and he was proud, despite his trepidation.

And when our salutations were over, when the satins and silks were all
arranged and the bridesmaids and groomsmen were ready, we marched
through the critical assembly outside the door and drove swiftly to the
church. At the gate we found, awaiting the wedding party, another throng
of spectators, among them that gloomy undertaker, with his chin hooked
upon the wall, and his mind still brooding over his wrongs.

Then we heard the organ playing the Coronation March, and as the bridal
party entered the church and swept up the aisle the Wedding March burst
forth. There was a fluttering and a turning of heads in the pews; then
silence, and then the ceremony began. Bob was pale as a ghost, and his
replies could hardly be heard, but Bessie spoke with perfect
distinctness. It is strange that women on these occasions should always
be more composed than men.

And when the solemn words were said, Bob kissed his wife gallantly, and
then, as the organ uttered Mendelssohn's lovely melody "I waited for the
Lord," the two turned about and in the aisle met hosts of friends eager
to congratulate them. At any other time Bob might have been mortified
that he was a person of secondary importance. It was the bride that the
people looked at, and not the groom. But now he was too happy and too
ready to forget himself He was too glad to have his wife greeted warmly
to think of any other thing. By the time the church porch was reached
every woman present had the details of Bessie's costume fixed indelibly
in her mind, ready for description and explanation to her friends; and
while the bell in the steeple rang out a merry peal, we returned to the
Magruder mansion, where, in the company of friends, we passed the few
hours before the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Parker.

Rev. Dr. Hopkins was there, beaming at the guests through his gold
spectacles, and making himself very comfortable with the oysters and
terrapin and chicken salad. He even had a smile for Colonel Bangs, who
was discussing with Mr. Magruder the probable effect upon the railway
interests of the country of an article in the _Argus_ of that morning
upon "Our Grinding Monopolies." It was interesting to listen to the
colonel.

[Illustration]

"I tell you," said he, with vehemence, "the time has come for the
overthrow of these gigantic railroad corporations; the time has come for
a free press to open its batteries upon the monopolies which are
trampling the rights of the people beneath their feet. There will be a
bitter fight, sir, mark me; it will be a battle to the death. But the
_Argus_ enters the lists boldly and without fear. The article of to-day
unsheaths the sword; it warns the railway tyrants that the battle has
begun."

"I am sure it will alarm them," said Mr. Magruder. "And you, I suppose,
are willing to give up everything for the cause? How about your annual
free pass to Philadelphia?"

"Oh, ah! as for that," exclaimed the colonel, "you perhaps observed that
I expressly excepted our own road and complimented its officers. A man
must not go to extremes in these matters, Magruder. And then there's the
advertising, you know! No, sir; we must proceed, as it were, cautiously
at first. Precipitate action might ruin everything."

Dr. Tobias Jones also had overcome his professional animosity to Mrs.
Magruder, and he was not only present, but he was conversing pleasantly
with that lady, probably upon the subjects of bilious fever and
aneurisms. Benjamin P. Gunn was there, bustling around among the guests
and paying especial attention to Bob. When I saw Gunn in earnest
conversation with the groom and caught the words, "in favor of your
wife, you know," I became aware of the fact that Benjamin was improving
the festive hour with an attempt to do a bit of business. Even Judge
Pitman was present, for Mr. Magruder liked the old man and was in a
gracious mood upon that day. I welcomed the judge heartily when, dressed
in a swallow-tail coat of a surprising pattern, he came up to me and
said,

"Splendid send-off for them young folks, ain't it? I tell you, they
didn't do things this way when me an' Harriet consolidated! We lived
down yer in Kent; an' when we were married by the squire, I give him
fifty cents an' then went out an' borrowed a waggin so's me an' Harriet
could take a little drive. We come up yer to New Cassel an' stayed two
days at the tavern, an' then drove back an' begun work agin, jes' 's if
nothin' oncommon had happened."

[Illustration]

"It was not the custom then, I suppose, to make a display on such
occasions?"

"No, _sir_! People hadn't no money to git up sich fodderin' as this yer.
They had to go slower. Still," mused the judge, "it's all right--it's
all right. Gittin' married's a big event; an' if you kin make a fuss
over it, you ought to. If my daughter ever tries it, I'll give her the
best I kin buy. A weddin' like this is nice all 'round, but the wimmen
in partickler is amazin' fond of sich things. If you'll excuse me, I
believe I'll try another fried oyster."

[Illustration]

There was another exciting time when Bessie, at last, came down in her
traveling dress and stood with Bob ready to depart. While the cabman
carried the trunks to the carriage, Bessie said her farewells. There was
a good-bye for mother, uttered with tears in the eyes of both of them, a
tender adieu to father, kisses for the women and a shake of the hand for
the men, and then they entered the carriage. We flung an old shoe or two
after them and waved our hands; and Cooley's boy gave them a parting
salute with a stone that shivered the carriage window. We watched them
as they went down the street, and saw, now and then, a handkerchief
fluttered toward us; then they turned a corner and disappeared.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a little lonely in the cottage upon that evening with Bob no
longer a member of the family. We shall miss him, with his sprightliness
and fun; and we shall half incline to regret that the little drama we
have watched so long with eager interest is ended, even though the
prince, after all his suffering, has found the princess and wedded her,
and though at last they have gone "across the hills and far away" beyond
"the utmost purple rim of that new world, which is the old."

We sat in the old room in silence for a while, both looking at the fire
and both thinking, not so much of the events of the day as of the
promise of the future for those two voyagers into the golden regions of
delight. Then Mrs. Adeler said, with half a sigh:

"I do hope they will be happy!"

"And so do I; and I really believe they will be, for both of them have
sweet tempers and good common sense; those are the qualities that are
likely to ensure the felicity of married folks."

"But it is a great risk for Bob to run; and for Bessie too, for that
matter."

"So it is; but it is a risk that may fairly be taken when the judgment
gives approval to the choice of the heart. Lovers do not bother
themselves, however, a great deal with the possibilities of the future.
They have only sunshine now, and it seems as if so clear a sky could
never breed cloud and storm. It is a happy thing for them, as well as
for the rest of us, that no human ingenuity can lift the veil that
shuts from our eyes the mysteries of the years to come. Think what a
journey it is that began to-day! Separate and apart they have come thus
far; but now they are to travel during all their lives together, over
rough places as well as where the way is smooth. The power of each over
the happiness of the other is infinite. He can make her wholly
miserable, and she can utterly destroy his peace. A violent
demonstration is not required. A little indifference at first, a harsh
word, then a growing coldness, then neglect, and for ever afterward
complete separation of heart and soul and feeling, though outwardly they
seem united.

"And even if they should be as happy as the most blessed of us, it is
well that their imaginations should throw about the future a glamour
which will hide the reality. A tried and well-proved love will hardly
bear the shock when misfortune and poverty come; it sometimes permits an
almost fatal display of ill-temper when there are sleepless nights with
sick and peevish children, when the soul is vexed with the cares of
business, with the smaller trials of life, and with the myriad petty
annoyances that are encountered in the path of every man. There are few
of us who are heroes among the troubles of common life. Perhaps we bear
the heavy blows courageously enough; but we cry out when we are stung by
the pigmy arrows that are shot at us every day, at home and in the
world. The truly great man is he who is patient and forbearing beneath
small vexations. The real hero is he who bears the burden of his life,
with its swarm of minor troubles, with calm, sweet evenness of temper
and with steadfast courage. The peevish and the irritable are the
enemies of peace in this world. Our lad and lass, we may hope, will find
a place for themselves among those who wisely choose the better part.

"And now, Mrs. Adeler, would it not be well to close our record, as the
hero and the heroine depart? It is the custom, in the novel and upon
the stage, to end the story when the knight and the lady who have loved
and suffered through all the pages and all the acts are made man and
wife. We have not done much with our pair; but it is enough that we have
told a simple story of an old passion in still another form, and that we
have given the chronicles of the village with what quality of humor we
could infuse into them, but without malice or vulgarity and without
irreverence. I have no patience with those who seek to find amusement by
committing these faults. There is matter enough in harmless things for
sportiveness; and rather than try to excite mirth by hurting the
feelings of my neighbors, by stooping to coarseness, or by speaking with
levity of things that are sacred, I would consent to write only books
that should be as solemn as tragedy itself. We have had some strange
experiences since the record began, and we should be very dull indeed if
we had not learned something from them. Of one thing we are completely
convinced: it is that a man who is made miserable because his neighbors
will not do as he wishes them to do had better not come to this or any
other village with the intent to be made happy. The man who voluntarily
becomes a hermit is a fool. A man of sense must necessarily desire to
live with his fellows and to enjoy their society, their sympathy and the
comforts that can be obtained with their assistance. He can have these
only by making sacrifices for them. He must not only give up some of his
natural rights as an individual, but he must make up his mind to endure
patiently disagreeable things that are done by his neighbors. He may
flee from the city to escape the professor of music who hammers a piano
ceaselessly, but in his new home he will certainly find a compensating
nuisance of some kind. Until all men learn to think and act alike, he
will find everywhere in the world those who are fond of the things that
he hates, and who will do things that he thinks should be left undone.
The man, therefore, who comes to the village in pursuit of perfect peace
and quiet of course will not find them. He will encounter the
disagreeable practices and peculiarities of other people precisely as he
did in the city; he will be called upon to endure annoyances as
aggravating as any of those from which he has flown. He can have
comparative contentment and repose in either place only by determining
to have them despite his neighbors. It is probable that men will always
have in this world sharp corners and rough surfaces with which they will
jag and tear each other as they roll onward in the swift current of
life. Perhaps we shall have smoothness and evenness when we enter
Paradise. I hope so, at any rate. And meantime let us all stop growling
about evils which cannot be cured.

"And now I will conclude our meek little story. Perhaps regretfully I
will close the door through which the public has been suffered to peep
in upon the movements of our quiet life at home and in the village, and
thus will end the spectacle. That life will continue, but it shall be
sacred to ourselves, and the events that give it interest shall go
unrecorded."

[Illustration]



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Variant spelling and hyphenation were retained.

Punctuation was normalized without comment.

Spelling changes:

Page 183, "aleak" changed to read "a leak".

Page 198, "cetan" changed to read "certain".

Page 262, "advertisment" changed to read "advertisement".]





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