Minor Paragraphs

“Who Breaks Pays.”—on 4. East

Calm now prevails in many a country burg,
Where o’er his beat the wily peeler plods;
The lamps are out in almost every shop,
Yet through the night the “click, click, click” is heard.
Behind a desk there sits a telegraphic gent,
Whose toil ne’er ends till the “Good-night” is sent.
His pen runs rambling like a straying steed,”
A halt, a dive, an oath—a word is lost, indeed.
What shall he do? Ask for the missing link? Not much.
Then head is scratched, and as the never-wearying,
Never-faltering hand keeps rattling wildly on,
The word comes back, like the dear
Memory of some forgotten thing, and in it goes.
Twenty words behind! Open the key, catch up,
Then close again, sign not, and reputation’s saved!
Is it? “Aye, there’s the rub,” as moony Hamlet says.
“I know that man—opens but never breaks;
Three marks for that;” thus Bish1 his vengeance takes.

Maguffinsville is, generally speaking, a quiet place. In fact it may be regarded as somewhat subdued and neutral tinted as a theater of life and bustle. The people of Maguffinsville, nevertheless, are much like their brethren elsewhere. They have their entrances and their exits, and in their time play many parts, as well as poker and other games of a precarious and worldly nature. One Saturday night they had a lottery up in Joe Hemmingway’s barn, the chiefest prize being a hunting-cased watch of really fine quality. There were also watch chains, keys, and other inexpensive trinkets in the bill, and a much larger congregation, it is to be regretted, was in attendance than would probably have been the case had the demonstration been of a more moral or æsthetic character. Mr. Warrington Jennison, who held several tickets, was present. He was in high spirits, and drank in the words of the man who was calling off the numbers as well as something contained in a railroad bottle, with much relish. It is a deplorable fact that humanity is prone to rejoice at the ill-success of others, and as chains, keys, and an occasional rolling-pin were distributed, as number after number was called, Mr. Jennison became so hilarious and talked so loudly about his number being 311, that it was not until he was persuaded with a cart stake that he would sit down. And then, when the clarion tones of the conductor of the scheme began with “No.311 draws the elegant gold watch,” Mr. Jennison again arose, and said, in his peculiar voice, he “should never desert Ophelia’s grave for forty thousand brothers.” “No.311,” repeated the man of fate, “draws the elegant gold watch”—and here he paused and surveyed the multitude. Mr. Jennison fairly blazed, and getting up on the chimes of a headless meal barrel, he swung his hat in ecstasy, in spite of all opposition. “The elegant gold watch—key,” said the heartless man; whereat Mr. Jennison closed up like a jack-knife, and sitting down suddenly in the meal barrel, he buried his ruby nose in his palpitating bosom, and tears bedewed his shirt.

A few months ago, as I was nearing the imposing structure known as “one-ninety-seven,” I noticed a healthy specimen of humanity, wearing a suit of fallish looking clothes which had evidently been “wet” a good deal, and had shrunk in consequence. It was a bitter, cold day, and as the object of my attention stood there shivering on the high stoop with his hands forced down to the deepest recesses of his pantaloon pockets, a thought flashed through my mind that it must be that Roman gentleman so well known to the fraternity at large—Mr. Hankus Gowanus. Meeting a friend just then, I said: “I never saw Hankus Gowanus in my life, but I’ll bet you a Knox hat that’s he.” I should have won the stake if my wager had been accepted. As we came up, Hankus placed a brawny hand on each of us, and said: “Well, Jim, how are things? Don’t know either of you by name, but if you work up-stairs you are all right, bet your life. Know me? Everybody knows me; Hankus Gowanus, old times rocks, Union Pacific Railroad, contemporaneous with Ed. Schermerhorn, Dan Murray, and other talent in the rough,” and he let go a lively stream of the salivary juice to give weight to his declaration. Mr. Gowanus informed us that he had dined with a wedding party at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and intended to go back to Ohio by the evening train. Discovering, from his breath, that whatever the merits of the ebibles had been, that there was no doubt about the abundance of the liquid comforts, we excused ourselves and got away. The next day I saw him leaning up against the steam pipes in the vestibule as I passed out to lunch. He looked very woe-begone, having evidently dined considerably since our last meeting; and, as I didn’t wish to embarrass him, I was preparing to give him a wide berth when I heard him bawling, “Hi, Jim! hi, Jim!” The customers leisurely writing at the little desks looked up, and a lady who was bargaining for a money transfer, uttered a little cry. I could do

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