I shall never forget our first meeting. It occurred several years ago on the occasion of my returning to No. 145 Broadway for the ever-so-manieth time. He attracted my attention the first night I worked in the office, and when I had cleared my hooks I went over and stood near where he was sitting—at the Chicago duplex. He was an outre figure at that time. The month was December and the weather was very chilly, not to say frigid, but my hero was still glorious in a very light colored pair of pantaloons which, worn without suspenders, ceased their endeavors to reach his vest considerably below the proper meeting place. Between his vest and pantaloons his shirt protrouded like the balloon stay-sail of some clipper yacht. I saw all this as I approached from behind, but it was not until I walked around and faced him that I noticed that he wore his vest open, thereby displaying, unintentionally, I doubt not, one of the most immaculate shirts I had ever seen. His natty picadilly collar, too, kept in its place by a cravat as blue as an Italian sky, was as spotless and as bravely ironed and glossed as the plaited bosom below. All this was surmounted by a rather large head, covered with light brown hair; the face was smoothly shaven, the eyes bright and clear, the nose a little retrousse, and the mouth frank and suggestive of more comic individuality than force of character. Most of the men in the office were strangers, and I addressed one at random, who was working the Cincinnati wire, asking who the attractive-looking little fellow was who was working the Chicago duplex.

“Why, don’t you know him? That’s little old Statistics. We call him Stis, for short.”

My informant went on receiving, and I walked thoughtfully back to the Chicago desk and spoke with Charlie Bennett, who was sending, watching Stis meantime over the top of the table. As I stood listening to Bennett’s pretty sending there came an interruption on his side so sharp and ringing that I involuntarily stepped back. Charlie laughed, and said:

“The old box won’t stay balanced to-night, and worries the old boy. Did you get that?”

“I got nothing,” I replied.

“Lay for him next time. That is bk—bk—bk. He can say it thirty-five times in three seconds”—and as he began sending again the thing went out of adjustmennt and I stooped down and listened to a song of bk—bk—so pert and nervous, and quick and clear, that I was astounded. Then followed some observation in an ordinary gait, very little of which was intelligible to me. It was a story of “cases,” “centuries,” “savey,” “tumble,” “snide,” etc., with an allusion to “Melican man,” and “his abdominous nibs,” followed by the admonition “don’t give it awee.”

As all this was jingling merrily under my nose, my eyes rested in comfort on the face which surmounted that immaculate shirt and the tie like the Ægean Sea. As I stood staring, the hand which was making the music stopped, and looking me full in the eye, Statistics closed one beaming optic and accomplished a wink, so familiar, so full of comical suggestiveness and a hundred other indefinable qualities, that he enslaved me then and there, and made me his friend forever.

Who shall define the subtle potency of a wink? You may meet your next door neighbor three mornings in a week, and do the customary “good morning,” but you and he are very unlikely to build up a friendship. You may be journeying by train from New York to San Francisco, or by steamer to Liverpool, and on your way make many charming acquaintances. Arriving at your destination addresses will be exchanged and solemn promises made that future meetings shall be frequent. But those acquaintances are seldom, if ever, renewed. Let loose in the busy world again, you conclude that after all old friends are best, and your new ones are gradually ignored and finally forgotten. The barriers of formality are objectionable qualities in social ethics, and it is to those with whom we stand face to face shorn of all shams and false pretences that our hearts cleave with growing faith and fondness. The process of friend-making is a dull one, and as we grow older we cultivate strange people under an increasing protest. But the man who under sympathetic conditions eclipses his left orb of sight, vaults high above all forms and empty ceremonies, and somehow takes a short cut, as it were, to the seat of our affections. But do not understand me as being an advocate of winking by the indiscriminate multitude. Not at all. Sometimes I

  By PanEris using Melati.

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