An Autumn Episode

No pent up Utica could contract the powers of Mr. Tip McClosky. A man of his genius could scarcely be expected to confine himself to any one line of business, or to any one locality, and he did not. In a metaphorical sense he chased the roebuck o’er the plain, but ever fresh and free remained. Some of his pilgrimages were voluntary, others were inspired by circumstances over which he had no control, while a fitting regard for the prejudices of officials often prompted him to surrender lucrative situations with telegraph companies, and turn his attention temporarily to other pursuits. Arriving one day in Plainfield, Conn., he said something to the station agent about having had trouble in getting through the Union lines, and adding that the walking from Washington was rather monotonous, asked for employment as a waiter in the railroad restaurant. His appearance was against him, and he was put off on the pretext that there were no vacancies. He then applied for work to a master mechanic who was superintending the laying of a new track near by, but was again refused. Not at all abashed, he returned to the depot, murmuring:

“More human, more divine than we,
In truth half human, half divine
Is woman, when good stars agree
To temper, with their rays benign,
The hour of her nativity.”

Reaching the platform he paced up and down awhile, and finally said: “I wish I wasn’t quite so unprepossessing at this time; I would call in and see the telegraph girl. But, pshaw! ‘Worth makes the man, the want of it the fellow,’ Pope says. And old Polonius said to Laertes, ‘Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy—neat but not gaudy.’ Egad, that’s me. Costly as my purse can buy—been out of funds for three months—trunk in Chattanooga. Cheer up, Tip, my boy, and make your devoir to the lady.”

His address at this time had a dash about it that invariably captivated the female heart. If one of the fair sex met him during his periods of seediness, and elevated her sensitive nose at first, it mattered little. Given a hearing he speedily dissipated all depreciating thoughts from his hearers’ minds, and beguiled them to the last degree with tales of moving accident by flood and field, with bits of reminiscence, telegraphic and otherwise, or characteristic stories of his celebrated peers, all of whom he knew personally, and whose history he was wont to touch upon in a manner most droll and winning.

The lady operator at Plainfield that September afternoon listened to Tip’s easy flow of words, and at the end of a ten minutes’ conversation through the little window, he had enshrouded himself in a halo of glory, which toned down his faded dress and sunburned features to a degree that gained him admission to the office. Once in, he insisted on the operator giving her entire attention to her needle-work, while he did the business. “The idea of a robust operator like me,” he said, “sitting here idling away my time when there is work to be done, and no one else but a lady to do it, is absurd.”

And she smilingly surrendered her chair to the “gentle gentleman,” somehow much handsomer than he looked, and sat and sewed the afternoon away in a little rocker in the opposite corner.

From that moment Tip gained an admirer for all time. An inferior operator herself, his entertainer regarded a perfect sound reader as a rara avis, and when she had been to Worcester or Norwich, and had seen male operators receive press reports, she had returned home and been despondent for a week from thinking what a lamentable incompetent she was. But she had never seen any one in Worcester or Norwich whose telegraphic ability could compare with Tip’s. He told everybody who essayed to send to him to rush things. “Trying to get my hand in,” he said. “Been traveling extensively—taking views a- foot—and am rusty.” Meantime he paid the most knightly attention to his vis-a-vis. “Talk right along, my little friend,” he would say; “it don’t make the slightest difference to me, even if I am receiving. Got used to that long ago. Learned the business that way from old Dad Sullivan in Savannah, Ga. He’s dead, now; a wonderful operator, and one of Nature’s noblemen. Green be the turf above him.” And the pretty copies Tip took as he went on chatting and telling stories, and the merry jingle of his nervous “i, i, o, k., Mc,” quickly established his reputation, as he established it everywhere.

In many a bright pair of feminine eyes you were a great hero that afternoon, Mr. Tip McClosky, as you sat there relaying New York business for all the girls on that Hartford and Providence wire—business

  By PanEris using Melati.

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