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Tin-Types Taken in the Streets of New York
by Lemuel Ely Quigg
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Five, seven, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes had passed since the hall clock had sounded the hour and Wobbles's temperature had risen to the degree which borders on apoplexy. What might have happened is dreadful to conjecture had not Dinks, the housekeeper, come to his relief with the sagacious counsel that he wait no longer, but boldly inform Miss Emily that dinner was served. Wobbles was just on the point of acting upon this advice when the library call rang, and he hurried to respond.

"You said this note was left here by a tall man, didn't you, Wobbles?" said Mr. Maddledock.

"Yezzur," said Wobbles.

"And he said he would call for an answer?"

"Yezzur, at seven be the clock, zur."

"But it's past seven, Wobbles?"

"Yezzur, most 'arf an howr, most 'arf."

"That will do, Wobbles—and yet, stay. Did you ask his name?"

"Yezzur. Hi did, zur, and 'e says, sezee, 'Chops,' sezee, 'you need more salt,' sezee, 'go back to the gridiron,' sezee."

"Well, that's curious," said Mr. Maddledock; "was he sober?"

"'E 'med be in cups, zur, but they be quiet uns."

"Yes—well, if he calls during dinner, Wobbles, you may show him into the office and stay with him, Wobbles, until I come."



"Yezzur, hexackly, zur, I see, zur. Dinner is served, zur, but Mr. Torbert be not come. Shall I tell Miss Emily?"

"Yes, to be sure. How absurd of Torbert! Why, it's quite late. When I go into the parlor, which will be in another minute, Wobbles you may announce dinner."

Wobbles bowed himself away and Mr. Maddledock sat himself down. He picked up the note to which he had just referred, and read it through carefully. Then he rubbed his eyeglass, stroked his nose reflectively, crumpled the note in his hand, and tossed it into the grate fire before him. He rose and stood watching it burn. "Only two things are possible," he said, quietly. "I must shoot him or pay him, and I don't feel entirely certain which I'd better do." Then he walked into the parlor.

"You're almost as bad as Mr. Torbert, father," said Miss Maddledock. "I've been waiting long enough for you, and now we'll all go to dinner."

"Torbert's late, is he?" said Mr. Maddledock, as if this were the first he had heard of it, bowing gravely to the others. "How's that, Linden?"

"I'm sure I can't account for it at all, sir," answered the young man. "We took breakfast together, and at that hour he was in full possession of his faculties. His watch was doing its accustomed duty, and there was no sign of any such condition in or about him as would suggest the possibility of preposterous behavior like this."

"Perhaps his business keeps him," said Miss Maddledock amiably.

"Ho, ho," chuckled Mrs. Throcton, in her jolly way, "if he depended on that to keep him, he'd be ill kept, indeed."

"Why, mamma," said Miss Throcton, reprovingly, "how can you?"

"And why not, Nancy, my child? Bless me! how perfectly absurd to think of Torbert, all jewels and bangs, with a business. I'll leave it to Mr. Linden if he ever earned a penny in his life."

"But that is not the test of having a business, dear Mrs. Throcton," Linden replied. "I know some wonderfully busy men, whose earnings wouldn't keep a pug dog."

"Now more than likely something's the matter with his clothes," remarked plump Miss Nancy, in tones of deep sympathy. "I've often been late because I couldn't get into mine."

"While we speculate the dinner cools," said Miss Maddledock suggestively. "Father, will you give your arm to Mrs. Throcton? Mr. Linden, there stands Miss Nancy. I will go alone and mourn for Mr. Torbert."

"Now, this is really too bad," said Linden, when they were seated at the table. "It is a form of social misconduct which goes right at the bottom of Torbert's character. When he comes I'll tell him the story of a friend of mine who never was late for dinner in his life, and who consequently—"

"Died!" interrupted Mrs. Throcton. "I know he did. Any man who never was late for dinner in his life must in the nature of things have had a short time to live."

"Come to think of it," said Linden, "he did die, and I never suspected why before. He was the last man in the world whom I should have thought the dread angel would want."

"Oh, you never can tell," Mrs. Throcton cheerily declared. "It's all luck, pure luck. This man died because it isn't in fate for any man who is never late to dinner to live long, but still living is all luck. If the 'dread angel,' as you call him, happens to look your way and fancies you, why, off you go—plunk! like a frog in the pond."

Mrs. Throcton had scarcely concluded this genial doctrine before the belated guest, all bows, smiles, and graceful attitudes, was rendering homage to Miss Maddledock.

"Sir!" she said, "you will kindly observe that my aspect is severe. You are indicted for—for—what is he indicted for, Mr. Linden?"

Linden was a lawyer, and he answered promptly: "For violating Section One of the Code of Prandial Procedure, which defines tardiness at dinner as a felony punishable by banishment from all social festivities at the house where offense is given, for a period of not less than two nor more than five years."

"You hear the—the—what are you, Mr. Linden—something horrid, aren't you?"

"He is, or his looks belie him," interjaculated Torbert.

"The prosecutor, your Honor," replied Linden, "prepared, with regard to this prisoner, to be as horrid as I look."

"May it please the Court," began Torbert, with mock gravity, "I find myself the victim of an unfortunate situation, and not a conscious and willing offender against the Prandial Code. Justice is all I ask. More I have no need for. Less I am confident your Honor never fails to render."

"Now, Mr. Prosecutor, where's my judicial temperament gone that you compliment me upon so often?" demanded Miss Maddledock, turning sharply to the lawyer. "I had it a moment ago, together with a frown; where have they gone?"

"They will return directly I call your Honor's attention to the flagrant nature of the prisoner's crime," said Linden—"a crime so utterly atrocious—"

"True, you do well to remind me. Justice you called for, sir. Very well. Justice you shall have. Go on!"

"Your Honor is most gracious. That part of the indictment which charges me with having an engagement to dine with your Honor at seven P. M. is admitted. I left my house in plenty of time, but—"

Mrs. Throcton (sotto voce).—Does the prisoner live in Harlem?

Miss Nancy.—Or in Hoboken?

The Court (with great dignity)—If the prisoner is going to put his trust in the saving grace of the elevated cars or the tardy ferry, the Court would prefer not to delay its consomme listening to such trivial excuses. The Court's soup is growing cold.

A roar of laughter greeted this observation, and Mr. Linden remarked, "The prosecutor feels it his duty to suggest that the prisoner enter a plea of guilty, and throw himself at once upon the Court's mercy."

"The distinguished assistants to the prosecutor," said Torbert, turning with an extravagant bow toward Mrs. Throcton and Miss Nancy, "think to throw contempt upon the defense by associating it with Harlem and Hoboken. Let them beware. Let them not tempt me to extremities. There are insults which even my forbearing spirit will not meekly endure. Had they said Hackensack—"

The Court—Well, what then?

"Then, your Honor, I should have objected; and had your Honor ruled against me, I should have been reluctantly compelled to demand an exception! But let me come at once to my defense. My offense, if offense it is, was caused by the necessity which was imposed upon me of unharnessing a man."

"What!"

"Of unharnessing a man, please your Honor! A man coming north and a horse going east endeavored to cross the street at a given point, at one and the same moment. It proved an impossibility, and they—er—intersected."

"Dreadful!" cried Miss Maddledock.

"It so impressed me, else I had not dared to risk your Honor's displeasure by pausing to unharness the man."

Mrs. Throcton, merry soul that she usually was, had grown quite serious when Torbert spoke of a collision and an accident. Her voice was earnest as she said, "Now, Mr. Torbert, stop your jesting right away and tell us what you mean."

"It was as I have said, and all done in a second," Torbert replied. "You never can tell just how a thing like that is done, you know. The horse was a runaway. It must have come some distance, for it had broken away from the vehicle to which it had been attached, and its torn harness was held upon it by only one or two feeble straps. The man was a tall, queer-looking fellow, rather seedily dressed, and possibly not quite sober. He had been walking just ahead of me for several blocks. I can't say what it was about him that first attracted my attention. Possibly it was a peculiarity in his walk."

Mr. Maddledock, who had not spoken a word since they sat down to dinner, now glanced up, and said, in an inquiring tone, "A peculiarity in his walk?"

"Yes," answered Torbert, dropping into his seat and picking up his oyster fork, "and I am somewhat at a loss to describe it. I don't think he was lame, or wooden-legged, or afflicted with any hip trouble. As I recall the step now, it seems to me that it was merely a habit. I think he took a long and then a short step, long and short, long and short."



"Um," said Mr. Maddledock.

"Just as he approached the crossing where the accident occurred he turned his head, and I don't think I ever saw a more Mephistophelean countenance. The only thing that broke the dark-angel shape of his face was his nose, and that, with slight alterations, would have made an excellent shepherd's crook."

Mr. Maddledock took up his wine-glass and drained it at a single quaff. "A shepherd's crook," he repeated; "an odd nose, truly."

"He was an odd-looking fellow all over," Torbert continued, "odd and bad. I never was more disagreeably impressed with a human face in my life. Well, when we reached the corner we both heard the clatter of the horse's hoofs on the cobbles and looked up. He was coming on at a fearful rate, and people were shouting at him in a way that must have increased his frenzy. Quite a crowd had collected, and this fellow and I were jostled forward upon the crossing. I shouted to the crowd not to push us, and pressed back with all my strength. He was just ahead of me. He had two means of escape—to hold back as I had done, or to dash forward. He hesitated, and that second's pause was fatal. The horse plunged forward, struck him squarely, knocked him heavily upon the stones, and left him there, covered with the remnants of its harness, which having become caught in his coat, somehow or another, were drawn off its back."



"Terrible!" cried Miss Maddledock, "Was he much hurt?"

Mr. Maddledock leaned forward and bent his ear to catch the answer.

"I don't know how much, but certainly enough to make his recovery a matter of doubt."

Mr. Maddledock slightly frowned. "A—matter—of—doubt?" he repeated, pausing with singular emphasis on each word.

"Yes, of grave doubt," answered Torbert, "and dread too, for even if he gets well again, he must be maimed for life, and he was the sort of creature that ought not to have a deformity added to his general ugliness."

Emily Maddledock had been leaning her chin upon her hand with a thoughtful look in her face for several minutes. As Torbert paused, she said: "Your description of that man brings a face to my mind that I saw recently somewhere. I can't seem to remember about it clearly, though the face is very distinct."

"Indeed?" said Torbert. "Now, that's curious. If you've ever seen the beggar you ought to remember it. There's one other mark upon him that may serve to place him still more clearly before you. Directly over his left cheek-bone there is a long rectangular mole—"

"Yes! yes!" cried Emily. "I remember. Why, father—"

Mr. Maddledock had been sipping his wine. As Emily suddenly looked up and addressed him, he twirled the glass carelessly between his thumb and finger, remarking, as if this were the only feature of the story that at all impressed him, "A mole, did you say? What a monstrosity!"

"Um, well, is it?" Torbert replied. "Can't say I'd thought of that."

"Don't think of it!" sharply remarked Mrs. Throcton, as if annoyed at the interruption, "but go on."

"Several of us sprang forward from among the crowd and set at work trying to free him from the confining straps. How in the world they contrived to get around him and to tie him up as they did is a mystery. We cut them loose, lifted him up, and found him quite unconscious. Somebody thoughtfully rang for an ambulance. Before it came we carried him into a drug store close by and the druggist plied him with restoratives. I supposed he was dead, but the drug man said he wasn't. He had shown no sign of life, however, when the ambulance arrived. They took him off, and I, having made myself somewhat more presentable than I was, called a carriage and am here."

Then turning to Miss Maddledock he smilingly continued: "I now move, please your Honor, for the dismissal of the indictment against me on the ground that the evidence does not show any offense to have been committed."

"I think you'll have to grant the motion, Emily, my dear," said Mr. Maddledock, fixing his gray eyes upon his daughter in a way that always riveted hers upon him and drew her mind after them to the complete exclusion of everything except what he intended to say. "Mr. Torbert's defense strikes me as all we could demand. You remarked a moment ago that his description suggested a face to your mind, but you couldn't remember where you saw it."

"I know now," she said. "It was this very afternoon—"

"Exactly," said her father, interrupting rather adroitly than quickly. "It was while we were standing together at the parlor window."

Emily's face flushed, and had any one been looking at her intently he might have had his doubts whether or not that was the time. She did not answer, however, and before any one had begun the conversation anew, Wobbles entered with a card upon his tray which he delivered to Mr. Maddledock.

"Since your Honor is so indulgent," said Mr. Maddledock, as he glanced at the scrawl upon the bit of cardboard and bowed to his daughter, "and with the approval of the prosecutor, I am constrained to ask the Court's consent to a further violation of the Prandial Code. I don't know whether the punishment for leaving the table before the dinner is concluded is greater or less than for a tardy appearance, but I fear I must risk it."

"I suggest, in view of this prisoner's previous good character," said Linden, "that your Honor suspend the sentence."

Mr. Maddledock bowed himself out and walked directly to a little room just off the hall which he used as a private office. A timid young man was waiting for him.

"Well, sir?" said Mr. Maddledock.

"I am an orderly, sir, if you please, at the Bellevue Hospital. A man was brought there, this evening, sir, pretty well done up by a runaway. After he'd been fixed a bit he asked me for his coat, and when I fetched it he took out this bundle of papers and put them under his pillow. The doctors didn't bother him much, for they saw he was a goner, and when he asked if he could live they told him no. He didn't say no more, but when we was alone he asked me to take out the papers from under his pillow. I did it, and he asked me if he died to fetch them here and give them to you in your own hands, and said you'd give me ten dollars for my trouble. So as soon as I was off duty I fetched 'em, and here they are, sir."

"Yes," said Mr. Maddledock, adjusting his eyeglasses and examining them slowly one by one. "Yes. They appear to be all here. Ten dollars, did he say? Well, here it is. Good-night."

"Good-night, sir."

"And the man? Wait a bit. What became of him?"

"Oh, he's dead, sir. The horse done him up. He's dead and in the Morgue by this time. Good-night."

The orderly went out, and Mr. Maddledock stood quietly with the bundle of papers in his hands until he heard the click of the vestibule door. Then he struck a match and fired them one by one, watching each until it was entirely consumed.

"In the Morgue," he said, as the last pale flame flickered and died away. "Well, that's the best place for him. There's no doubt in my mind, not the least, but that that amiable horse saved me from being the central figure in a murder trial. What an odd world it is, to be sure!"



XI.

MR. WRANGLER.

On your way to the Cortlandt Street Ferry, which is on everybody's way to everywhere, and on the left-hand side of the street when you turn out of Broadway, and not very far from the ferry-house itself, there is a little old, low brick building which has stood there a good many years and is going to stand a good many more if Billy Warlock knows himself, and he thinks he does. You may talk about progress all you please, but Billy will soon give you to understand that the only kind of progress which will take that house from him, or him from it, is the progress toward the stars, and that, while he hopes to take it in the Lord's good time, he isn't ready for just yet. Billy Warlock owns that house and lives in it and does business there, and the great big heart that thumps in Billy's great big body and gives strength to Billy's great big arm, loves every individual square inch of brick and earth and planking and plaster in that old house from cellar to scuttle. Part with it! Speculate on it! Sacrifice it to progress! Well, scarcely. Not if you were to offer him its weight in solid gold. Not if its neighbor on one side were a Mills Building and its neighbor on the other an Equitable. Not if you were to build an elevated railroad around it and run ten trains per minute, day and night. So long as Billy Warlock can keep himself above ground, so long will that old house keep him company, and so long will his forges blow fiery sparks in the cellar, while he hammers and hums and hums and hammers on the anvil by his side.

It was just twelve years ago on Christmas Eve that Billy Warlock bought the smithy in the cellar of that little old house. Billy had been working for the man who owned it, and the man who owned it, being a little short of wind and a trifle weak in his legs, had decided to sell and retire. Billy had become the purchaser, and not without many qualms and doubts as to the wisdom of assuming such heavy responsibilities. Billy knew he was a good mechanic, and could put a tire on a wheel or a shoe on a horse as quickly and as well as the next man. But it took a good big pile of dollars, as Billy counted dollars, to get those forges, and before he turned them over to his late employer Billy scratched his head a good many times and did a power of thinking. But at last he let go the dollars, and laid his big fist on the biggest forge and blew a blast through the coals that made them glow brighter than ever they glowed before. For it was the master and not the man who sent the draught through them.

He bade the men good-night and wished them a Merry Christmas, closed the doors, locked them tight, and looked his property over. It was worth being proud of, make no mistake. It was all any man need wish for. It was well stocked and in prime condition. The house, in the cellar of which his smithy stood, was mainly let in lodgings. On the first floor, raised just far enough above the street to give his customers a fair passage out, there was a saloon and eating-room. Back of these were Billy's own rooms, two nice big rooms where his mother took care of him and cooked his meals and washed his clothes and aired his bed as only good old mothers can. Over this floor were two others, let, as I have said, in lodgings—to whom, who knows? Who ever knows to whom lodgings are let in this big, crowded city?

Billy finished his dinner and drew up his chair and one for his mother by the stove, and filled his huge mug with beer, and his huge pipe with tobacco, and talked it all over with his mother. She was a fine woman, was Billy's mother, and she drew a straight, steady rein over her big, burly, good-natured boy. She was Billy's best friend, and he knew it, and when she told him she would stand by and help him, and save for him and look out after him, Billy reached forth his brawny arm, and drew her over on his knee and danced her up and down, smoothing back her gray hair and kissing her old cheeks as if she were a baby.

Then, when the clock struck nine, she got up to wash the dishes, and Billy took his lantern to go down among his forges again. Not that he had anything particular to do, though there never was a time when Billy couldn't find something, but the novelty of owning a business was strong with him, and he wanted to hammer just for the fun of hammering. He descended into the cellar through a side-door which opened from the back hall upon a short ladder. The street doors were barred and bolted. He set his lantern on the ladder steps and lit an oil lamp that hung over his anvil, picked up his iron and his hammer, thrust the one into the coals and laid the other on his anvil, and blew away. Oh, what an arm that was of Billy's! How it made the bellows bulge and the wind roar up the great chimney! How the black coals reddened and flamed and blazed! How the iron glowed and whitened with the heat, and when Billy drew his great hammer down upon it with a hoarse grunt accompanying each blow as if to give it effectiveness, how the sparks scampered about in a furious effort to escape!



Billy was hammering and grunting at a great rate, and the forge fire was throwing upon the ceiling fantastic illuminations and causing a thousand still more fantastic shadows, when, wholly without preliminary warning or greeting, Billy felt a slight touch on his arm. It was a slight touch, as I said, but a cold one, a very cold one indeed. Billy turned swiftly around with his hammer in one hand and his red-hot iron in the other. Standing almost beside him, with the glare of the fire working a curiously weird effect upon one-half of him, while the other half was almost hidden in the dense shadow beyond, was a tall, spare, angular man with queer little snappy eyes that flashed like diamonds in the light of the forge. His hand was stretched out in a friendly way, and a bland smile stretched across his face, following the lines of his wide, extended lips.

"Aha!" he said cheerily, "how d'ye do? But I forgot! You don't know me and I don't know you. Awkward, eh? But soon fixed, soon fixed. My name's Wrangler, and yours is—er—what by the way, is yours?"

"Warlock," said Billy, laying down his iron and his hammer, and gazing amiably at the stranger—"Billy Warlock."

"Warlock," Mr. Wrangler repeated. "Exactly. Well, then, Warlock, Wrangler. Wrangler, Warlock. And now the formalities have been observed. I don't know how it is with you, Warlock, but I'm a great stickler for the formalities. 'Pon my life, I consider them the web upon which the social fabric hangs together. They're not to be dispensed with upon any account whatever. While I was abroad recently, the American Minister and I were walking along the Mall together. 'Ah,' he suddenly said, 'My dear Wrangler, here comes the Prince. Of course you know him.' Now, it so happened that H. R. H. and I had never met. I didn't have time to reply, for just as I was about to speak the Prince stopped us, and, after greeting the Minister, utterly regardless of the formalities, he told me that he hoped he saw me well. I gave him a look, Warlock, my boy, that he will never forget, and coldly replying, 'Sir, I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance,' I walked on. That afternoon the Minister sent me an apology, but for which damme if I'd ever have spoken to him again."



During this speech, to which Billy listened with great attention and some little awe, he examined Mr. Wrangler carefully. Mr. Wrangler's clothes were harmoniously seedy. In the degree of their wornness his hat was a match for his coat, and his coat a match for his trowsers, and his trowsers a match for his boots. Although the weather was desperately cold, and a heavy Christmas snow had fallen, he had on neither overcoat nor overshoes. He did not appear to notice Billy's inspecting glances, but having caught his breath, he went cheerily on.

"I am glad and proud to know you, Warlock, old fellow, and I want you to be glad and proud to know me. And you shall be; you shall be; 'gad you sha'n't be able to help it. And you'll find as you know me better that while you won't know any great good of me, you won't know any great harm."

Billy contemplated Mr. Wrangler for a few moments more, and then amiably replied: "Well, that's all right. What more could a man ask?"

"Precisely so," answered Mr. Wrangler, dusting off the anvil and sitting down upon it. "That, I take it, is quite enough. I have not broken in upon your privacy, Warlock, old fellow, without serious occasion. In fact, I'm troubled—sorely troubled."

"I'm sorry for that," said Billy.

"Of course you are, dear boy, and well you may be. The trouble I'm in is a sad one—sad and novel. Not that trouble in itself is a strange experience to me, for I've had my ups and downs. My life hasn't been one of unmixed gayety, I assure you, not by a long shot. But, you see, I have a habit of bowing to the inscrutable will of Providence. Some people experience a great deal of difficulty finding out what the inscrutable will of Providence is. That doesn't bother me in the least. Having ascertained what my own will is, I know the chances are ten to one that the Providential will is exactly the reverse. That is simple and direct enough, isn't it?"

Billy was very much interested in this glib but melancholy stranger, and he resolved, if it came in his way, that he would do the man a favor. So he turned his hammer with the handle to the ground, sat himself upon the head of it, and remarked: "It's right enough, Mr. Wrangler, to make the Lord's will yours. I try to do my best in that line too. But still, there is a point, you know, where it comes hard."

"True, dear boy, very true; and how much harder it is to find yourself in a situation which you did nothing to bring about, for which you are in no sense responsible, which is wholly in conflict with your own will, and to the best of your belief with the will of Providence also! This is my unparalleled situation at this particular moment, and it all comes of being the uncle of a little girl baby."

"No?" said Billy inquiringly, "you don't mean it?"

"I knew you'd be surprised," said Mr. Wrangler, edging up to the forge, which Billy had kept going at a gentle heat to warm their hands now and then. "It ought to be an occasion of unalloyed happiness to be the uncle of a little girl baby. But I was not intended for such a position. It was clearly a mistake to thrust me into it."

"I don't scarcely see how you could help it," said Billy.

"No, I couldn't, could I? It came upon me suddenly and without my knowing it. I had no time for preparation. My brother, who was one of the evils to which, under the will of Providence, I have bowed, called me to him recently, and without so much as a drop of brandy to break the force of the blow, he said: 'Cephas,' said he, 'you are the uncle of a little girl baby!'

"Pale and for a moment speechless, I leaned against the wall and shook with emotion. 'Courage, old man!' said he, 'bear up! bear up!' At first I refused to believe him. 'It is false, Orlando,' I said, 'it can't be so.' But he shook his head sadly. 'It is true, Cephas,' he replied, 'and I guess I ought to know.' That argument was of course conclusive. It admitted of no reply. I only asked him how could he so have wronged me. He said nothing in defense of himself. He could say nothing. He simply bent his head and cried for pardon."

"Well, well," said Billy, "this is queer. It seems to me like a big to-do over a very little matter."

Mr. Wrangler looked up with an expression of dismay. "Little!" he cried. "Little! May I ask, Mr. Warlock, if you have ever been the uncle of a little girl baby?"

"No," said Billy, "I never was."

"Ah, well, that explains it. Then you can't know the bitterness of that hour. You can't put yourself in my place. I forgave him. I told him with a sob that it was all right. Then, in the name of our mother, he implored me to do him a favor. The infant was in California. He had left it there to—er—learn the language, I reckon. He bade me go and fetch it. At first I hesitated—all but refused. But who can withstand an appeal made in the name of his mother? I pressed his hand in silent acquiescence and took the next train West. I found the child and folded it to my heart. I bought it a milk bottle with a fancy nozzle, a bull's eye, and a rattle. It wept, and I dried its tears. Then I brought it back with me. Fancy my feelings, Warlock; picture to yourself my lacerated, bleeding heart, when upon reaching town this afternoon I learned that my brother was dead! Yes, Warlock, old man, dead and buried and cold in his grave, and another party living in his flat. It was all in vain that the tears streamed from my eyes—all in vain that I begged him at least to take the child. I called him brother, kinsman, royal Wrangler, and bade him remember that this was a matter of honor between him and me. I begged him to think of the situation he had placed me in, for I feared the laugh of callous cynics as much as the cry of the innocent child, but the ungrateful dead answered not."

Mr. Wrangler paused and touched his handkerchief to his eyes, while Billy gazed at him in amazement, uncertain to what category of disease his case should be assigned. "I don't know as I ever heard a queerer tale than this," he said at length. "What did you do about it?"

"I'm doing now," answered Mr. Wrangler. "It is on a special mission that I'm seeking you. Warlock, dear boy, you don't happen to have a bottle of paregoric with you, do you, now?"

"Paregoric!" exclaimed Billy. "Why, is the child sick?"

"Hanged if I know!" Mr. Wrangler replied, with evident sincerity. "I'm not what you'd call a connoisseur in infantile disorders, but I guess she's sick. Anyhow, something's the matter. It may be malaria, or chills, or measles, or whooping-cough, or Bright's disease. But whatever it is, it keeps her very wakeful at night. It disturbs her rest sadly. That might, perhaps, be overlooked; but as an intimate consequence it also disturbs mine. At first I supposed it was because she did not get enough nourishment, so, as she wouldn't drink any more milk from her bottle, I bought a syringe, and filling it with milk, I played it down the little darling's throat."

"Great Scott!" cried Billy, "it's a wonder she didn't choke to death!"

"Is it?" asked Mr. Wrangler innocently. "Well, to tell the truth, she did come dev'lish near it, and so I inferred that I hadn't correctly diagnosed the case. After she had got done coughing her spirits seemed more than ever depressed. I went to bed in the vain hope that her supply of tears would in time become exhausted. As the hours drew along and that hope died away, I concluded she must have headache. I had one, and I thought it only natural that she should, too. The question was, what remedy should I apply? In a happy moment paregoric occurred to me. I seemed indistinctly to remember that when I was a child paregoric did the business. How fortunate one is, dear boy, in such moments as that to have the memories of his boyhood to fall back on. I got up, dressed, and went out to hunt a drug-store. Unfortunately, the only two I came across were closed. I returned disconsolate, but as I entered I heard the sound of your hammer and saw the glimmer of the lantern on your ladder. I descended hither. I looked upon you and said: 'Here is a friend.' Warlock, old fellow, find me some paregoric!"

"I don't know much about babies, Mr. Wrangler," said Billy, slowly and rather sternly, "for I never had one, and I never was throwed with 'em. But I think the chances is that you'll kill your'n before morning."

Mr. Wrangler was standing in the shadows where Billy couldn't see him very well, but his snappy little eyes were shining in a way that Billy didn't like.

"How old is the baby?" asked Billy.

"I haven't an idea—not one," answered Mr. Wrangler, laughing merrily, as if his not knowing were a monstrous joke. "But she can walk and talk."

"And you trying to feed her on milk in a bottle?" exclaimed Billy. "How'd you like to be fed on iron filings? I rather think they'd make a good diet for you!" Billy was indignant, and he fetched his hammer down on a log that lay near with a blow that split it through and through. Mr. Wrangler stepped back into the shadows still further, and his little eyes glowed in the darkness like a cat's.

"Ha! ha!" he laughed; "good, very good. But you mustn't make fun of me, old fellow. It isn't fair, now, really."

"Where is the child, anyhow?"

"Upstairs."

"Here, in this house?"

"Precisely."

"Come on, then; take me to her, and let's see what the matter is."

"That's a good fellow!" cried Mr. Wrangler. "As soon as I saw you I knew you would prove to be my deliverer. Come."

The forge fire had now gone out, and directing Mr. Wrangler to stand on top of the ladder, Billy took the lantern, blew out the hanging lamp, and both ascended from the smithy into the hall of the house. Billy locked the door behind him and followed Mr. Wrangler upstairs into the third story. They paused before the hall bedroom and bent forward to listen. Not a sound broke the night's stillness, and softly Mr. Wrangler turned the key and opened the door. Billy moved noiselessly ahead and lit the dull gas.

Upon the bed, with one hand under her cheek and the other one, small and dotted with dimples, resting lightly on her plump neck, lay as pretty a child as he had ever seen. Her eyes were closed, for she was sleeping heavily, as if repose had come to her only when her little frame was utterly worn out. A great mass of thick, tangled curls clustered on the pillow about her head. A dark line down her flushed cheek marked the course of the tears she had been shedding, and the pillow that supported her was still wet with them.

Billy stooped down and kissed her parted lips and her white forehead, while Mr. Wrangler, leaning jauntily against the door, hummed in low strains a melodious lullaby.

"Nothing ails this child," said Billy, when the sound of Mr. Wrangler's voice had died away. "Nothing at all."



"Warlock, dear boy," replied Wrangler, "I think you told me you had never been an uncle. The man who has not drank the bitter waters of an uncle's experience for himself is—pardon me, but I must say it—wholly incompetent to speak as to the woes of childhood. How often have you wooed sleep amid the wailings of an infant voice? I'm disappointed in you, Warlock!"

"Don't talk so loud, you'll waken her."

"Spare us that. Let me have my hat and stick. I'll get that paregoric if I have to commit burglary!" and Mr. Wrangler started back as if fully prepared to carry out his threat.

"Be quiet," said Billy, "and look here. My rooms are downstairs where I live with my mother. It's too cold in here for the child. That's one thing that ails her. I'll take her down with me, and when she's had her breakfast in the morning, you can come for her."

Mr. Wrangler seized Billy's hand and shook it fervently. "Dear boy," he said, "you're the kind of a friend to have. Take her and give her a good night's rest."

Billy leaned over the bed, lifted the soundly sleeping child tenderly in his big arms and, followed by Mr. Wrangler, he carried her down to his own room and deposited her upon the bed. Then he turned to Wrangler.

"You'll come for her in the morning, you know?" he said.



"Certainly, old fellow. Good-night, I must get some sleep."

"Good-night," said Billy, "and a Merry Christmas to you."

Mr. Wrangler waved his hand with a grand farewell flourish, blew a kiss toward the little form upon the bed, and passed out into the hall. He waited there an instant, as if undecided what course to pursue. Then he ran upstairs to the hall room, hurriedly crowded his personal effects that lay scattered around the room into his valise, and ran down again into the street. The front door closed with a sharp bang behind him, and he quickly disappeared in the snowy night.

Billy could not help confessing to a sense of relief when his curious new acquaintance left him. Not that he felt any definite fear of Mr. Wrangler. The human being had yet to be born of whom Billy Warlock was afraid. But there was a something about Mr. Wrangler that he didn't fancy. "It's them eyes," said Billy "and he don't make no noise when he walks." His own bed being occupied by the child, he piled a lot of blankets on the floor, stretched himself upon them, and was soon asleep.

The Christmas sun was peeping obliquely into Billy's room and making, with the aid of his shaving-glass, all sorts of fantastic colors on the wall, when a slight tug at the blankets which covered him moved him to start, turn over, open his eyes, stare blankly before him, shut them, open them again, rub them desperately, and finally gaze with awakened consciousness up at the object which had disturbed his slumbers. She was leaning half over the bed, her little fat arms, shoulders, and throat all bare, her bright, tangled hair knotted in bewildering confusion all about her head, and her big blue eyes looking down upon him with a curious interest. How long she had been awake he could only conjecture, but evidently her patience had at last been exhausted, and she had set about premeditatedly to arouse him. Billy was charmed by the little-picture above him, and smiled a cheery greeting. She smiled too, right merrily, and said, "What's your name?"

"Billy," said he. "What's yours?"

The smile straightway faded from her face like the color from a withered blossom, and she glanced hurriedly and anxiously around the room.

"Where's the black man!" she whispered.

"The black man!" cried Billy. "What black man, my dear?"

"Don't you know him? He's had me ever so long."

Billy was puzzled. "A black man had you?" he repeated. "Why you don't mean your uncle, do you?"

"Yes," she said, "that's him, and he says if I don't call him 'uncle' he'll cut off my big toe!"

Billy Warlock jumped upon his feet like a shot. "The devil he did!" he cried. "I'll punch his head for that!"

"And his knife has got six cutters in it!"

"I guess he was only funning," said Billy. "He didn't mean it."

"That's what he said," she insisted.

"Yes, my dear, but he didn't mean it. He was joking."

"That's what he said!" Her accent was very positive, and she added as if conning it over, "His knife had six cutters."

Billy felt himself somewhat at a loss to deal with this well-formed impression, so he contented himself with the remark, "But you haven't told me what your name is yet?"

She rose upon her knees in the bed and leaned over toward him. "My really name is Lotchen."

"Lotchen what?"

"That's all—just Lotchen."

"Where's your mother, Lotchen?"

"I don't know; do you?"

"There's something queer about this business," said Billy to himself. "And if that Wrangler man don't make it plain he'll find hisself in trouble. What is your father's name, Lotchen?" he inquired aloud.

"Who's that?"

"Your father. Haven't you a father?"

"I don't know. The black man says he can turn me into a toothpick if he wants to."

Billy doubled up his fist and looked at it grimly.

"Well, he won't want to," he said. "Don't you be afraid. I'll take care of you."

"Oh, will you?"

"For a little while, anyhow."

"How long?"

"Well, till you get your breakfast."

"Where's he gone?"

"Who?"

"The black man."

"He's upstairs in his room. You can go to him after breakfast."

"I don't want to go. I'm afraid of his knife. I sit and hold on my big toe all day. Have you got a knife, too?" She looked at him with an expression he could not understand. Perhaps her natural trust in mankind had been somewhat shaken.

"My knife wont hurt you," he said. Lotchen crawled to the edge of the bed, leaned over and put her two hands on his, and said, "Then let's you and me run away from the black man."

Billy looked much amused. "No," he replied, "we won't do that, Lotchen; but I shouldn't wonder if he was to run away from us. Don't your uncle love you?"

"He loves his nose better," she replied.

"His which?"

"His nose. He's all the time rubbing it up and down."

"But don't he love you, too?"

"No."

"What makes you think that?"

"'Cause I'm afraid of him."

"When did you see him first, Lotchen?"

"Oh, ever so long. He's had me, you know."

"Yes, I know that. What's he been doing with you?"

The expression on her face was so blank that Billy saw, whatever Mr. Wrangler might intend, she knew nothing more than that she was being "had" under circumstances that caused her constant fright. He did not question her further, but went into the kitchen where his mother was getting the griddle hot for the buckwheat cakes and the spider hot for the sausages, and he told her of Wrangler and the child. She went in to see Lotchen, and snuggled the little one up to her close and tight, and told her she should have a merry Christmas and she mustn't be afraid of anybody, for her Billy, that is, Billy's mother's Billy, could whip anybody on earth, she didn't care who he was, and nobody should frighten this dear little soul; and the old lady began now to express her ideas in that strange language which is hidden from the wise and prudent but revealed unto grandmammas and babes. "B'essings!" she said, "b'essings on 'e dear heart an' e' 'ittie body, wiv 'e 'ittie youn' nose, an' 'e ittie b'u' eyes, an' 'e ittie youn' cheeks, an' e' ittie youn' evysing, an' nobody s'all bozzer her at all, not 'e 'east ittie bit, 'tause s'e was a sweet ittie fwing, and Billy, wiz him big fist an' him date big arm, Billy dust take 'e b'ack mans an' all 'e uzzer mans wot bozzer zis ittie soul an' 'e frow 'em yite in 'e Norf Yiver, yite in, not carin' 'tall bout 'e ice, but dus' frow 'em in an' yet 'em det out e' bes' way zay tan. B'ess ittie heart!"

Then Lotchen smiled and put up her pretty face to be kissed, which she didn't have to do twice before it was kissed by them both, and Billy who hadn't slung hammers all his life for nothing, rolled up his shirt-sleeves and doubled up his fists, and sparred away at the air as if to suggest what would happen to any one who laid as much as his little finger on her.

All through the breakfast Billy kept his eyes on that round, pretty face, and wondered what he should say and do when the "black man" came to get her. He began to grow moody and sullen as the buckwheat cakes disappeared, and when thirty of them had been disposed of Billy felt himself ready to meet Mr. Wrangler. He had some questions he desired to ask Mr. Wrangler, and the oftener he thought them over the more he felt his fingers itch to close themselves around Mr. Wrangler's long and scraggy neck. He waited an hour, two hours, but no Mr. Wrangler came, and at last Billy concluded to mount the stairs and to interview Mr. Wrangler in the hall bedroom.

He told Lotchen to go into his room, where she had spent the night, and on her assuring him that she wasn't afraid, he locked her in and stowed the key away in his pocket. Then he shot upstairs to the hall bedroom. He knocked, but no answer came. He opened the door. The room was empty. The bed was just as he had left it the night before with the impression upon it of the little form he had carried away. It had evidently been without a tenant during the night. All that Christmas Day he waited and watched for Mr. Wrangler, but he waited and watched in vain.

* * * * *

Two days afterward an express wagon drew up before the smithy, and a box was delivered to Billy marked with his name. It contained a liberal supply of child's clothing, which Lotchen recognized as hers. Little by little Billy and his mother drew from her fragments of her history. She remembered a big house by the water, and a little bed of lilies-of-the-valley under a couple of pear-trees. She remembered a colored man named Pete, but there was no response in her memory to the words "father" and "mother," and the only woman who appeared to be impressed on her mind was one who called her "Lassie" and gave her horrid stuff from a bottle in a wooden spoon.

Days and weeks and years went on, and Billy Warlock's purse grew plumper and his heart grew lighter with each of them. His smithy in the cellar grew in dimensions and gradually he absorbed the little old house over it. The saloon disappeared, and the room it had occupied became a parlor for Lotchen. The lodgers went out one by one until the whole house was Billy's dwelling.

One day when she was nearly fourteen years old, Billy received a letter that worried him a good deal. It was dated at the Newcastle Jail in Delaware. It read:

MY DEAR WARLOCK:

It seems to be definitely settled about my being an error of judgment. You can see by the enclosed newspaper clipping that I ought not to have been involved in the scheme of the creation. You needn't mention it to anybody else. I forget what name you knew me by, but I think it was

CEPHAS WRANGLER.



The newspaper clipping contained these words:

Nothing, therefore, remains for the Court but to pronounce the sentence which a jury, almost wholly of your own selection, has adjudged your fitting doom. The crime you have committed is the most dreadful known to the law. For it there is but one penalty, the requisition of your life in forfeit for the one you have taken. The sentence of the Court is that you be conducted hence to the prison from which you came, and that you be confined there until Friday, the 18th day of March, following, and that you then, between the hours of 7 and 11 in the morning, be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on you!

This is all that Billy Warlock knows or cares to know of the circumstances under which Lotchen became his child. He never made the slightest effort to discover more. It didn't interest him, and he didn't wish it to interest her. She was his child, and that was enough—at least, it was enough for several years. The precise moment at which it ceased to be enough is not fixed in Billy's mind, but last Christmas, when Lotchen found a gold watch in her stocking, and when she came and put her arms around his neck and kissed him, which she hadn't done very often of late, and when she whispered that she wished she had something to give him, Billy turned his eyes to the floor and stuck his big fists in his trowsers pockets, and did a power of thinking. He knew then, if he had not fully known it before, that for her to be his child was not enough. So he said very solemnly, "Are you sure you mean that, Lotchen? Now, don't answer without you know, for you might have something you wouldn't want to give me, and if I was to ask for it and you was to look hesitatin', I—well I don't know what I should do."

"I don't have to think, Billy," Lotchen answered promptly, "for I've been thinking a great deal and wondering whether you—"

She stopped there short, and her face—her pretty face, her dear, round, dimpled face, her truthful, honest, womanly face—got very red, and she jumped up and ran out of the room.

After that last Christmas, Billy and Lotchen talked and walked with each other on a different footing from that on which their intercourse had previously been conducted. He said nothing to her, nor she to him, that referred to their interrupted conversation until October came, and then one day he said: "Lotchen, is my Christmas gift ready?" and he held out his hand to her—both hands—and smiled.

"Yes, Billy," she answered.

And on next Tuesday morning, Christmas morning, when the bells are ringing merrily and all the world is glad, Billy Warlock, as I said at the very beginning of my story, dressed in his big frock coat and the whitest of snowy neckties, will—but you know the rest, so what's the use of my telling it?



MR. CINCH.

In the construction of Mr. Cinch nature had been generous, not to say prodigal, of materials, but certainly a wiser discretion might have been exercised in using them. The centre of Mr. Cinch's gravity was much too far above his waist. All the rest of him appeared to have been fitted out at the expense of his legs, which, unable to endure so oppressive a burden, had spread.

To say that the shape of his legs was a source of unhappiness to Mr. Cinch would be a feeble and inadequate expression of his feelings. "Them bow-legs" was a phrase into which he poured a degree of self-contempt altogether pitiful. They were, of course, homely to look at and not in the least serviceable. Unaided by his stout hickory stick, they could not transport Mr. Cinch across the room. But there was no evidence that their shape or size was due on their part to any motive of malice or of indolence, and it seemed quite unreasonable that he should feel toward them so harshly.

His disgust for them did not, indeed, originate with himself. It is entirely probable that he would never have thought of despising them as he did but for Mrs. Cinch. That excellent lady, with all her many virtues, could never forgive those legs. Their degeneration, as she regarded it, had not begun when she married Mr. Cinch. He was then a slight young man and his legs were unexceptionable in size and shape. They had become bowed and insufficient within comparatively recent years, and she had never felt quite able to accept Mr. Cinch's assurances that he was not at fault in the matter.

Let it not be thought that this excellent couple were wanting toward each other in those sweet graces which so beautify the marriage relation. They had lived and loved together nearly a quarter of a century, and had shared in those years their full measure of joys and sorrows. But Mrs. Cinch was not without her humors, and when she was entertaining an acid humor she could not get her husband's unfortunate legs out of her mind.

No matter what may have been the subject that had originally vexed her, it was the invariable experience that those legs became the focus to which her excited wrath was drawn, and then, indeed, it must be owned, she was exceedingly hard to deal with. She would recall in bitter phrases the fact that he had married her with other and honester legs, and she would plainly intimate that in substituting these he had acted in an unfair and unmanly way.

This was naturally distressing to Mr. Cinch. He keenly felt the injustice of the insinuation, but at the same time his mind was filled with a supreme loathing of his legs, and he was only deterred from going to a hospital and from having them straightway taken off by the reflection that an entirely legless husband was not likely to be more satisfactory, upon the whole, than one whose legs were bowed.

It was from a domestic scene such as these sentences have indicated that Mr. Cinch issued one morning recently, and passing out through his hallway into the street as fast as he could wobble, he tumbled into his waiting coupe and hurried down to business. Mr. Cinch was the keeper of a livery-stable, an establishment held in much esteem by the public and the trade, and yielding an abundant revenue. His business was one of the largest of its kind in New York, a fact which, with many others equally important, was set forth in unmistakable phrases upon Mr. Cinch's business cards, copiously illustrated with cuts of prancing horses and handsome vehicles and of the extensive premises in which they were kept.

The appearance of the coupe as it rolled into the stable fetched from the inner office Mr. Cinch's manager, a bald-headed young man, with red eyes and a hopeful soul, who dexterously assisted his employer to alight, and aided him into the main office and into the huge arm-chair, so placed as to command a fair view of the entire establishment. From this arm-chair, Mr. Cinch rarely moved throughout the live-long day.

"Well, Bob," said Mr. Cinch, so soon as he had caught his breath, "how's things going?"

"Fair to middlin', sir, fair to middlin'. The regulars is 'bout the same, but the casuals is light."

"Well, a man can't always have things the way he wants 'em, Bob; ef he could there wouldn't be as much trouble as they is."

"No, sir, that's very true, sir, nor so much fun, neither, come to think of it."

"How do you make that out, Bob?"

"Well, sir, ef everybody could have whatever they wanted, there wouldn't be much excitement going on. They'd get tired o' wanting before long fearful that the time 'ud come when they wouldn't be nothin' to want."

Mr. Cinch was quite impressed with the force of this philosophy. Bob's views on men and things often entertained Mr. Cinch. He had a good deal of respect for Bob. Bob's circumstances had denied him many of those early advantages which are so useful in cultivating the habit of profound thought, and yet, to his greater credit, it must be said that he not infrequently performed a deal of subtle cogitation. In this he pleased Mr. Cinch, who was by no means all a man of beef and brawn. Mr. Cinch had read a considerable quantity of poetry and was a subscriber to a scientific periodical. He had a decided tendency toward occult speculation, and had reached that point in his orthodoxy where he believed there were a good many more things that we don't know than that we do.

He had turned over Bob's remark once or twice in his mind, and was about to say something by way of rejoinder when the office door was opened and a young woman entered, observing that she wished to pay her bill.

She was a tall, well-dressed, stoutly built young woman, with large, strong features, and an abundant supply of blonde hair, partially covered with a sombre brown bonnet. Her eyes were big and blue, and her voice quite pleasant to hear.

"This way, miss," said Bob, from his high stool behind the desk. "What name, please?"

"Frances Emiline Beeks."

"Beeks, miss? Yes, miss. Let's see—BA to BE, Barker, Becker, Beech, Beeks! Frances Emiline Beeks. Eighty-seven dollars and fifty cents, if you please."

"That seems like a good deal of money," observed Miss Beeks.

"Well, now, it is, miss," said Bob. "But you use a kerridge a good deal, miss, mostly every day and sometimes oftener. You've called more this month than ever. Why don't you keep a hoss, miss? That ud be the cheapest."

"It certainly would if my bills are to run up like this. However, I'm too busy now to talk about it. Let me have your pen while I fill out this check. There—is that right?"

"Yes, miss, thank you. I think that sorrel would suit you nicely. He's only—"

"Well, I'll think it over. Good-morning!"

Miss Beeks went out and Mr. Cinch, who had been regarding her over his glasses, inquired, "Who's the young woman, Bob?"

"I don't know, sir, hardly," said Bob, "but I think she's some kind of a doctor."

"She seems to be makin' pretty good bills."

"And they gets better all the time. Whatever she doctors, it's a good business, for she pays her bill the day after she gets it every time."

"What makes you think she doctors?"

"She said so, as near as I could make out. She come in here one day last month—it was when I had that staving big bile on my elbow, you remember?"

"Yes."

"Well, I was settin' here huggin' that bile, and it was just thumpin'. Seemed to me 's if they was a whole bag o' carpet-tacks stuck in that arm. I was so used up I couldn't walk around, and so stuck full of pain I couldn't set still. Well, 's I said, she come in and ordered a coach, and while it was being fetched around she give me a look and she says, 'What's the matter?' I says 'I got a bile.'

"'A what?' says she.

"'A bile,' says I.

"'Oh, no,' says she.

"'Well, if you don't think so,' says I, 'look there,' says I, and I prodooced the bile, which 'peared to me to be pretty good evidence.

"She looked at it and then says, as cool as you please, 'Well, what of it?'



"'Don't you call that a bile?' says I, 'and if you don't think it hurts you'd better.' You see, bein' nearly crazy with the hurts of it, and her so unconcernin', I thought she was workin' a guy on me. But she says, 'I see what you call a bile, and maybe you think it hurts, but I know it don't. Why, what is it?' says she; 'it's nothing but a little lump of red flesh. It don't hurt. It can't hurt. How can it? Flesh don't live any more than wood or stone, and if it don't live, how can it feel? It's you that feels and hurts, and you have made yourself believe it's this little lump of red flesh, and you've gone and painted it and greased it and wrapped it up and fooled with it when there's nothing the matter with it, and everything the matter with you.' That's what she said, looking me dead in the eyes."

Mr. Cinch had grown very much interested in Bob's account of this peculiar conversation. As Bob went on he had screwed around in his arm-chair, and had drawn his brow into a reflective knot.

"I don't know as I understand what that means, Bob," he observed, cautiously.

"It took me a good while to get it through me," replied the manager, "but I think I see what she was driving at. She means that a man's body is just like any other matter and don't make feelings, and that's it's his soul that does the feeling, and that when his soul feels bad he says he has a bile or the colic or the rheumatism, and begins to put on plasters and take pills when he ought not to do anything of the kind, but ought to talk to her and get her to cure his soul. That's the way she give it to me, anyhow. She talked here for half an hour. She said that it was silly to set your feelings down to this or that place in your body. She said she could talk to me awhile about the—er, let's see, gravity, no, yes, gravi—oh, I know! about the gravitation of the soul, and my feelings would get good and the bile go down."

"Oh, rats!" remarked Mr. Cinch.

"Well, I don't know, sir," replied Bob, doubtfully. "I don't know but what I think there is something in it?"

"Stuff! Bob, how kin there be? Do you mean that she made out 'at she could cure anything by just talking to you?"

"Not exactly; no sir. Her p'int is that what we call biles or malaria, or—"

"Bow-legs, mebbe," put in Mr. Cinch both jocosely and ruefully.

"Yes, sir, bow-legs."

"What!"

"Bow-legs, too—why not? Just as easy bow-legs as biles."

"Well, go on."

"All such things, she says, is appearances. Our souls being sick, they look through our eyes in a sorter cock-eyed way and see something they call a bile or a pair of bow-legs. The bile and the bow-legs aint really there, you know; we only think so, which is just as bad as if they was there. If we was to go to her and get our souls well, we'd look out of our eyes straight and wouldn't see no bile or bow-legs. Neither would nobody else. This is the best explaining I can do, sir. I understands it pretty well, but I can't talk it. She's a daisy talker, though. She can talk like a dictionary."

"Bob," said Mr. Cinch, solemnly, "do you mean to tell me that this young woman can talk me into believing that I aint got bow-legs?"

Bob hesitated. He looked at Mr. Cinch long and seriously. Mr. Cinch took up his walking-stick and slowly lifted himself upon his feet.

"Look at them legs, Bob. You can shove a prize punkin through 'em without touching. Can this young woman make me believe them legs is straight? If she can, Bob, if she can, she don't need to buy no hoss, nor pay no coach-hire any more."

The responsibility of this awful moment was too much for Bob. "If I was you," he said discreetly, "I'd talk to her about it the next time she comes in."



Mr. Cinch made no reply, but he continued for several minutes to look ruefully down where he believed his legs to be, and then he resumed his chair. Bob returned to his accounts and a heavy tide of business flowed in to engage their attention. Business was always well done in Mr. Cinch's office, and it suffered that morning no more than on any other morning, and yet there was a certain influence in the room which seemed to be affecting both him and Bob. They talked together less than usual and in addressing others were short and sharp. When Bob got off his stool and said he was going to luncheon he broke a silence which might almost be called ominous.

He was not long gone, but upon his return the office was empty. It was so unusual a circumstance for Mr. Cinch to go out that Bob wondered not a little what had happened. His wonderment increased as the afternoon drew along and Mr. Cinch did not return. Nobody could tell where or when he had gone or in what manner his departure had been effected. He had not made use of his coupe or any other vehicle. No scrap of writing could be found that threw the least light upon so startling a proceeding, nor did any one turn up with whom a message had been left.

Evening approached and numerous misgivings entered Bob's mind. He knew that Mr. Cinch's domestic life was not without moments of bitterness, and he was satisfied that one of them had preceded his appearance at the office that morning. The vague suspicions that crept into his head were strengthened when, just before 6 o'clock, a messenger came from Mrs. Cinch loaded with inquiries. Mr. Cinch's life was as regular as the movements of the stars. He had gone home at 4:30 P.M. for twenty years. Bob was really alarmed. He made a careful search throughout the stables. That failing to give him the slightest clew, he went to see Mrs. Cinch.

When he told that excellent woman that her husband had disappeared, she precipitately swooned away. The unhappy incident of the morning was still fresh in her repentant mind, and she could have no doubt that her over-worried lord had sought in the North River the peace of mind she had denied him in his home. Bob could not comfort her. He could only apply a wet towel to her heated temples and beg her to be calm. This he did with praiseworthy diligence during the greater part of the evening, and when he left it was with the understanding that, if the missing man were not seen or heard from by the next morning, he would notify the police and have them send out a general alarm.

This, indeed, had to be done. Mr. Cinch had disappeared. His affairs were all right, his fortune untouched and no motive anywhere apparent why he should have taken so reckless a step. The police could get no trace of him. Fat and bow-legged men were encountered here, there and everywhere, were seized and sharply questioned, but from none of these incidents of the search was the slightest hope extracted. Two days passed, and still another, but the mystery continued to be dark and impenetrable and Mrs. Cinch was wrapped in an envelope of grief.

* * * * *

Bob's story about Miss Beeks and her novel views had profoundly impressed Mr. Cinch, and being so constituted that when he got hold of an idea he had to give himself up to its consideration, Miss Beeks and the possible effect of her conversation upon his legs kept revolving before his eyes all the morning. He was not able to form any very definite idea of what she might be expected to do, but he thought it quite within the possibilities for her to improve the situation. The notion that in ailments of all kinds there was a large element of imagination had occurred to him frequently when listening to Mrs. Cinch's accounts of her numerous physical tribulations, and he was by no means sure that his legs were as bad as they had been represented. He thought it might well be that he had obtained an exaggerated notion of their deformity, and if Miss Beeks merely succeeded in convincing him of that the gain would be something. He picked up the address-book during the morning and ascertained that she lived in a large apartment-house in Broadway, distant from his stables less than a block. While Bob was at luncheon he got upon his feet, went to the door and looked down the street at the big flat. An irresistible desire to go and talk the matter over with Miss Beeks took possession of him, and almost before he knew it he was seated in a little reception-room waiting for the appearance of the remarkable young woman who professed to be able to talk away a boil.

She did not keep him waiting long, and when she held out her hand and wished him "Good-morning," he was quite captivated with her cheery voice and smile.

Mr. Cinch proceeded directly to business. First he took from his pocket-book one of his large and profusely illustrated business cards and delivered it with something of pride by way of introduction. Then he remarked that he had heard of her and of her way of doctoring and he thought he'd just drop around and see what she could do in his case.

"Why, what ails you?" she asked. "You look very comfortable."

"So I be," replied Mr. Cinch, much gratified, "but it's all along of my legs."

"And what of them?"

"Well you see, they're bowed, and—"

"Don't say what I see, Mr. Cinch. We see with our minds and only through our eyes. My mind is healthy, and as I see your legs there's nothing the matter with them."

"You don't say so!"

"To be sure I do. At the same time if you say your legs are bowed, there is, of course, trouble somewhere."

"Of course," assented Mr. Cinch.

"The question is, where? Some people would say, in the legs. They would try to make you believe that your legs, mere combinations of flesh and blood, could go off by themselves and get bowed, or knock-kneed, or long or short, or slim or fat, or gouty, or palsied, or paralyzed, or rheumatic, or shriveled or anything else just as they wanted to and all of their own option, as though they were a living soul with a living will and not simply so many square inches of inanimate matter. Now, Mr. Cinch, that's all nonsense. Don't you believe a word of it!"



"Well, now," replied the old man slowly, "I never thought of it that-away. It don't seem as if they could go and get bowed all of themselves. But," and he looked down toward them dubiously, "they do 'pear to be bowed, now, don't they?"

"Maybe they do. We'll come to that presently. But first let me prove that, if they are bowed, they didn't do it. Suppose you were to have them cut off at your hips, would they go on and bow more?"

"Why, no."

"Of course not," said the Scientist, triumphantly. "That shows they didn't bow themselves. Then who did bow them? I'll tell you. You have done it, Mr. Cinch, you, yourself."

"Mebbe I did, mebbe I did. I won't deny it. But this I will say—that I didn't go for to do it."

"Perhaps not. But, consciously or unconsciously, your mind became—well, for want of a better word, sick. In that sick condition it began to look around for a place in your body to reflect its trouble upon. It chose your legs, and straightway your eyes, prompted by your diseased mind, began to tell you that your legs were bowed."

"Well, really!" cried Mr. Cinch, "how very plain you make it."

"It's plain enough to such as will see. Matter, Mr. Cinch, does not act. Matter has no will. It doesn't feel, or get tired, or wear out or do any of the things attributed to it by thoughtless people. Matter is inanimate and takes form only as the mind, the soul, the Vital Force, wills that it shall. It responds to the soul. Therefore, if your legs are bowed, your mind is at fault."

"What a very uncomfortable thing your mind must be!" said Mr. Cinch. "It's 'most as well not to have none!"

"Better," exclaimed the Scientist, earnestly, "if it is to be out of harmony with the Mind Universal. And now we come to the real point. The thing to cure is the thing that is sick. The bowness of your legs is the reflection of your bowed mind. Straighten your mind and your legs will be as straight as your walking-stick. Shut your eyes, Mr. Cinch, and think only of what I say. Nothing is real except the ideal. The corporeal realm of created being corresponds precisely to the condition of the ideal. Do you see the point?"

"Sorter," replied Mr. Cinch, feebly, "but I b'lieve I could see it better if I was to open my eyes."

"No, no, no!" cried the Scientist. "It is highly necessary to keep them shut and turned inwards."

"I don't b'lieve I can come that, mum," Mr. Cinch rejoined, apologetically. "My eyes is getting a bit old."

"Sink them far into your soul! Look there to find your bad and ugly ideals! Give me your hand, Mr. Cinch. Thus, with our hands clasped, will our spiritual understandings commune. Together we will pursue our investigations into the recesses of your ethereal nature, and with the clean new broom of inspired reason, will we sweep away the dusty cobwebs of bad ideals!"

Mr. Cinch heaved a huge sigh! But he shut his eyes vigorously, and received into his big hard fist the Scientist's little white one, and murmured, "All right, mum; whip up lively."

"Our bodies are but ghosts," said the Scientist, "combinations of symbols. The combinations change as the soul that they symbolize changes. I look at your body and it tells me of your soul. I see a soul full of doubt and darkness, and the doubt and darkness are symbolized in the curved and ugly form of your legs. Brush away the doubt! Dispel the darkness! Aspire toward the Life of the Spirit, and as your aspirations are tenacious they will draw your legs into the shape which, like the spirit it typifies, will be all beauty. Does your soul respond, Mr. Cinch?"

"Well, mum, I dunno. I'm trying hard, but—"

"Ah, there is unbelief there. I see it—a black mountain-cloud of unbelief. Faith, Mr. Cinch, is the ethical law of gravitation. You already feel its influence. It draws you to the Spiritual Center of Essence. Your soul still walks in the shadow, but toward the light. You are being drawn away from the doubt. Don't you feel yourself being drawn, Mr. Cinch?"

"I b'lieve I do, mum; I really b'lieve I do. That left leg give a kinder twitch just as you spoke."

"Of course it did! Of course it did! You are in the sea of Infinite Thought, floating, floating like a chip on the water. The evil ways of falsehood, doubt and unbelief are trying to beat you away from the Current of Truth,—but no! it shall not be! I will stand by to fight them back, and to urge on those other waves that will bear you into the current. One is approaching now—the Wave of Harmony. It touches you gently, lifts you on its crystal bosom, and, ere it leaves to do the same duty to another floating chip, it moves you many paces nearer to the current. And now, as you rest, another comes. Lo, it is intercepted by the discordant ripples of suspicion, and a struggle ensues! But, look! Oh, prythee look! From the white caps of conflict the wave, larger, purer than ever, emerges, and comes on apace. It is the Wave of Joy! It moves quickly! It takes you upon its sparkling crest! Whence the diamond lights of happiness flash! Merrily flash! It heaves you swiftly on! On! On! Ah! Yes! Nearer! Nearer still! One more impulse and you are there! It lifts its glittering form again! And NOW!—Oh, Mr. Cinch! you are in the Current! the CURRENT! Do you not feel its swift influence? The Current of Truth! Brightly, joyously, swiftly does this Spiritual Gulf Stream bear you toward the Great Central Calm! Ah!—ah!"

The Scientist was evidently in a great state of excitement. Her voice had risen to a keen soprano key, and her eyes sparkled wildly. When she had finally succeeded in getting Mr. Cinch into the Current, she fell back in her chair, quite exhausted.

Neither spoke for several minutes, and then Miss Beeks finally said: "Open your eyes, Mr. Cinch!" The old man looked at her with evident curiosity. "You talk beautiful," he said, earnestly, "and I really think I feel better!"



"Don't say 'feel,' Mr. Cinch. Cultivate thought and not sensation. I know you are better and that means, of course, that the supposititious curvature of your limbs, never real, is less apparent. You must put yourself under my treatment from this moment. The advantage gained already must not be lost. You must not go home, or to business, or out of this room until your mind is thoroughly healed. You must not get out of the Current until you are safely in the Calm Centre."

* * * * *

It was the fourth day after her husband's strange disappearance, and Mrs. Cinch was seated in the back parlor of her desolate house, receiving spiritual consolation from an elderly clerical gentleman. "Oh, sir," she was saying, "he was such a good man, so gentle and easy to get along with. He had no harsh words, no matter how much he had to bear. And I'm fearful it was a good deal, Mr. Groaner, I'm fearful it was a good deal."

Mr. Groaner sighed with much feeling, and said she must not repine, adding in a comforting way that the world was full of sorrow.

"Yes," said Mrs. Cinch, as though greatly consoled by that fact, "I know it. We all have our burdens and I s'pose we need 'em."

"Indeed we do, Sister Cinch," Mr. Groaner replied, "but for our burdens we should grow vain and worldly."

This disastrous result being in Mrs. Cinch's case rendered less menacing through the supposed death of her partner, the good man proceeded to show her the necessity of "bearing up," and of counting all things good, and of drawing from these mournful visitations the valuable lesson that earthly affections are empty and void. Much had been accomplished toward reconciling her to the unhappy situation when a familiar click was heard in the front door latch.

Mrs. Cinch started.

The click was repeated and then the door was flung open, and a heavy footfall sounded in the hallway.

"William!" cried Mrs. Cinch. "It's William, Brother Groaner! Help me up! Help me to run and meet him! William, my dear, good, sweet, bow-legged old William! O, Brother Groaner, I shall go crazy with happiness! Hear his old feet, stuck on them dear bow-legs of his, making a sound that I'd know 'mong ten thousand! Come along, Brother Groaner, come long."

They got into the hall with as much speed as possible, and there, coming toward them was Mr. Cinch, his round face lighted with a peaceful smile. He paused, and there was something in his manner and attitude that caused them to pause as well. He brought his pudgy feet closely together and straightened his figure to its loftiest possibility, as if to call attention to its perfect beauty.

"Maria, my dear," he said, in deep, low tones, "I float in the Calm Centre of Infinite Truth."

A look of profound alarm came upon Mrs. Cinch's face, and she glanced at the Rev. Mr. Groaner. He shook his head sadly.

Mr. Cinch observed the dubious looks and he hastened to dispel them.

"I am in harmony with the Universal Mind," he said. "Look at them legs!"

They looked. "Yes, William," answered Mrs. Cinch, profoundly disturbed, "I see them legs, and dear, sweet, precious old legs they are, William, and if I ever said they wasn't, I told a story and goodness knows I've suffered enough for it in the last three days and nights. I love them cunning old legs, William, better'n all the rest of you put together, and I don't care where you're floating nor what you're in harmony with, I only just know you're back again with the same beautiful, chubby, round old legs you took away, and I'm downright crying happy, and the rounder they gets the more I'll love them!"

And, unable longer to restrain herself, the good old lady rushed upon him and hugged him black and blue.

Mr. Cinch may still be floating in the Calm Centre of Infinite Truth, or he may not. He may still be in harmony with the Universal Mind or he may not. He hasn't mentioned lately. But this is sure truth—that wherever he floats, Mrs. Cinch is floating with him, and whatever else he may be in harmony with he is certainly in harmony with her. He wobbles and toddles up and down just as he used to do, but never a word does he hear to the prejudice of his legs. And whether they be as crooked as a ram's horn or as straight as a rifle-barrel, he can't see them and she won't—so what's the odds, anyhow?



XIII.

GRANDMOTHER CRUNCHER.

Tony Scollop's great point was enterprise. When he looked at anything it was always with the query running through his mind, how can this be turned to account? The beauty of utility was the beauty which Tony's eyes detected and which his heart valued.

There may be a want of true and pure sentiment in this way of considering the world and its contents, but Tony's lot had been cast in a sphere where necessity encroaches upon sentiment. Bread was dear and babies cheap in the tenement where Tony was born, and his character was greatly affected by this circumstance.

And yet Tony was not unmindful of the fact that sentiment is a powerful stimulant. As such, he prized it. His acute perception disclosed to him that people would pay freely to have their sentiments fed, and Tony was willing to do almost anything not specifically mentioned in the Criminal Code, for pay. It had been early impressed upon his mind that the profitable sentiments of a great proportion of mankind were reached through their curiosity. This lesson was first enforced upon Tony by a Monkey.

The monkey was a particularly clever knave. He was in the retinue consisting, besides himself, of a woman, two babies, a hand-organ and a tin-cup, appertaining to a dusky Neapolitan who infested the tenement district in which Tony's boyhood was spent. That monkey had on several occasions seduced a penny from Tony's unwilling hand. Thereby he had earned Tony's respect and had caused Tony's reflections to dwell upon him. That monkey had a large place in the circumstances which led Tony to go into the dime-museum business.

As a dime-museum manager, to which exalted station Tony finally arose and in which he was now engaged, he was a remarkable success. He seemed to have found just the field for his talents. They led him into a great variety of speculations, but from one and all he emerged plethoric with dimes. His museum had grown until it now occupied the three floors of one of the largest buildings in the Bowery.

It was in the very height of his great career, when his enterprise was most conspicuous, his curiosities most numerous, his patronage most extensive, and his self-appreciation most complete and complacent, that he was called upon to face a singular emergency.

A gentleman in Hoboken had boiled his mother-in-law. It is of no moment now why he had boiled his mother-in-law, though at the time the consideration of this question had filled columns upon columns of the daily newspapers. There had been a controversy between the gentleman and his mother-in-law, prolonged and distracting, and the long and short of a very painful conjunction of circumstances is that the gentleman had felt himself reduced to the necessity of doing something serious to his mother-in-law, and, thus moved, he had boiled her. It would have been wiser, doubtless, had he taken some other course, though that is a matter of judgment into which I refrain from going. The only fact needful to be mentioned here is that the event had taken up a vast amount of space in the papers, which had printed large maps of the room wherein the boiling had occurred, together with striking pictures of the gentleman, the mother-in-law, the kettle in which the boiling had been done, the cat which usually slept in the kettle, and other important accessories of the event.

Among these was the gentleman's grand-mother, a venerable lady living in Wisconsin, who, upon being informed that her grandson was in jail for boiling his mother-in-law, had come on to Hoboken to comfort him. She was met at the depot by a considerable company of reporters, and by Mr. Tony Scollop, who, with an enterprise all his own, provided a coach for her, went with her to the jail, remained during the sad interview that took place with her unhappy grandson, and gave her a gorgeous bouquet with which to assuage her grief. He took her to a hotel, and did not leave her until she had signed a ten weeks' contract to appear in his dime museum. These, with many other facts illustrative of Tony's generosity and gentle sympathy, appeared in many of the newspapers the next day.

Whatever may have been their general effect, there were bosoms in which they produced disagreeable sensations, and among these was the bosom of Billy O'Fake, the Wild Man from Borneo. Indeed Mr. O'Fake was positively angry when he saw that Grandmother Cruncher was to be exhibited from the same platform with himself. He stuck his pipe in his mouth, his hat on his head, and his feet on the footboard of his bed, and said emphatically that he be domned if he'd shtand the loikes av this gran'mother business any more at all. It had gone the laste bit too fur, an', bedad, he'd lay the hull matter before the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Animated Frakes that blissid marnin'!

The more Mr. O'Fake thought it over the more outraged his feelings became. At last, unable longer to contain himself, he strode from his room, descended into the Bowery, passed into East Broadway, and clambered aloft to the fifth story of a rickety flat. There he knocked loudly at a door and responded in something of violent haste to the invitation to enter.

Seated in one corner of the room, over a small, red-hot stove, was a queer-looking little man. There was a tin plate on the stove from which the odor of melting cheese arose, and mingling with the odor of burning tobacco, contributed from the little man's pipe, burdened the atmosphere with dense and by no means delightful fumes. The little man had a fork in one hand and a mug of beer in the other and he was snatching the cheese from the plate, shoving it into his mouth and washing it down with the beer at a rate and with a disregard of heat and cold that were wonderful to observe.



He was anything but a pretty little man. His head was big and his body small and his legs very short and very thick. He sat upon a keg, the top of which he quite amply covered, but his feet came scarcely half-way to the floor. His gray eyes twinkled from holes sunk far into his head, and twinkled so brightly that you had to look at them, but so sharply that you wouldn't if you could have helped it. He peeked quickly at Mr. O'Fake, and cried in a shrill voice:

"Hi! hi! Billy! Come in an' sit down!"

"Sit, is it? Where?" said Billy.

"Vhere?" repeated the queer little man. "If I vos to tell you vhere, Billy, your hingenuity vouldn't be drored out. Von o' the uses of hexperience, Billy, is to dror hout the hingenuity. You're lookin' summat doleful, Billy. Cheer hup, me boy, cheer hup! I'd like to inwite you to this 'ere feast, but there's honly von 'elp o' cheese left, an' honly von svaller of beer. But pull hout yer pipe an'—vot's on yer mind, Billy?"

Mr. O'Fake was standing with his back against the door, his arms folded, his hat on the side of his head, and an ominous expression on his face.

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