Crutch, The Page

I. Chips

The Honourable Jeems Bee, of Texas, sitting in his committee-room half an hour before the convening of Congress, waiting for his negro familiar to compound a julep, was suddenly confronted by a small boy on crutches.

“A letter!” exclaimed Mr. Bee, “with the frank of Reybold on it—that Yankeest of Pennsylvania Whigs! Yer’s familiarity! Wants me to appoint one U—U—U, what?”

“Uriel Basil,” said the small boy on crutches, with a clear, bold, but rather sensitive voice.

“Uriel Basil, a page in the House of Representatives, bein’ an infirm, deservin’ boy, willin’ to work to support his mother. Infirm boy wants to be a page, on the recommendation of a Whig, to a Dimmycratic committee. I say, gen’lemen, what do you think of that, heigh?”

This last addressed to some other members of the committee, who had meantime entered.

“Infum boy will make a spry page,” said the Hon. Box Izard, of Arkansaw.

“Harder to get infum page than the Speaker’s eye,” said the orator, Pontotoc Bibb, of Georgia.

“Harder to get both than a ’pintment in these crowded times on a opposition recommendation when all ole Virginny is yaw to be tuk care of,” said Hon. Fitzchew Smy, of the Old Dominion.

The small boy standing up on crutches, with large hazel eyes swimming and wistful, so far from being cut down by these criticisms, stood straighter, and only his narrow little chest showed feeling as it breathed quickly under his brown jacket.

“I can run as fast as anybody,” he said impetuously. “My sister says so. You try me!”

“Who’s yo’ sister, bub?”


“Who’s Joyce?”

“Joyce Basil—Miss Joyce Basil to you, gentlemen. My mother keep boarders. Mr. Reybold boards there. I think it’s hard, when a little boy from the South wants to work, that the only body to help him find it is a Northern man. Don’t you?”

“Good hit!” cried Jeroboam Coffee, Esq., of Alabama. “That boy would run if he could!”

“Gentlemen,” said another member of the committee, the youthful abstractionist from South Carolina, who was reputed to be a great poet on the stump, the Hon. Lowndes Cleburn—“gentlemen, that boy puts the thing on its igeel merits and brings it home to us. I’ll ju my juty in this issue. Abe, wha’s my julep?”

“Gentlemen,” said the Chairman of the Committee, Jeems Bee, “it ’pears to me that there’s a social p’int right here. Reybold, bein’ the only Whig on the Lake and Bayou Committee, ought to have something if he sees fit to ask for it. That’s courtesy! We, of all men, gentlemen, can’t afford to forget it.”

“No, by durn!” cried Fitzchew Smy.

“You’re right, Bee!” cried Box Izard. “You give it a constitutional set.”

“Reybold,” continued Jeems Bee, thus encouraged, “Reybold is (to speak out) no genius! He never will rise to the summits of usefulness. He lacks the air, the swing, the pose, as the sculptors say; he won’t

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