Love and Lightning

C. Gregory Jones had been courting a girl by wire for about three years, and had corresponded with her by mail until an engagement of marriage had been finally settled between them, “sight unseen,” it being inconvenient for them to meet, on account of the distance, she being located some four hundred miles away from him.

“What could be expected when we note their common labors,
What when we consider that the two had long been neighbors,
Not so near that they had met, but near enough—’Tis true,
Little distances may lend enchantment to a view.”

In the same office with Jones there worked a stylish youth by the name of John Birdsong, and so partial was the fair telegrapher to Jones that whenever he went to dinner, and she was compelled to work the wire with Birdsong, they invariably quarrelled about something or other, and became, in the course of time, as cordial enemies as she and Jones were friends. Bird-song lost no opportunity to wound her feelings, and she often told him that if she ever laid eyes on him she would tell him to his face what she thought of him in such terse and vigorous English as to leave no doubt in his mind about the position he occupied in her estimation. Thus matters stood, when one day Jones attired himself in gorgeous plumage to go and see his own true love, and left on the evening train. He arrived in due time, and they were mutually pleased with each other. I will not stop to dwell on the subject of their billing and cooing—there was no end to it, it is safe to assume. But his furlough ran along like the wind, and all too soon came the sad hour of parting. He was to return by the midnight train, and they had long since closed the little office at the depot and adjourned to the old farm house—her father’s residence—in the suburbs of the village. It was a beautiful moonlight night in the early September, and the scene out of doors upon which they had long been gazing, talking of their happiness and the prospect of quick coming nuptials, meantime, had wrought them up to the sublimest pitch of ecstatic bliss. Younor I, reader dear, will never know the half they said that night; no, indeed. As the last hour of Jones’ stay was wearing on, the joy of his soul arose and lighted a lamp. She then went and brought from an adjoining room his natty light overcoat and glossy beaver. She sat the latter on the table while she assisted him on with his coat her hands leaning lovingly on his shoulders, and, then, while he was settling himself into his coat she went and took up the hat and stood looking into it, waiting to pass it to him. Her sweet face flushed, her eyes downcast, she looked almost heavenly in his eyes, and he said: “Ah! darling, you are more beautiful than Phyrne, and —”

At that moment the hat sped across the room and she fell to attacking her lover in the choicest epithets of abuse that ever fell from a pretty woman’s lips. He tried to soothe her, but she would not answer any questions, and Jones hearing his train whistle, and knowing he must positively return home that night, went and picked up the shako and ran mournfully to the depot, and she sat weeping as if her heart would break in the old room which had witnessed so many scenes of love and devotion between them. Probably no man was ever more wretched than Jones as the night express rumbled out of the quiet village and sped onward. But he was a philosophic young man, withal, so he went into the smoking car, lighted a cigar, and began to think the matter over. The more he thought about it, the more he was puzzled. He pictured her standing there, pretty and patient, holding his hat, and suddenly he said to himself: “I wonder if there is anything about that hat which disturbed the girl?” and he took it off and looked at it. It had a great dint on the side of it, to be sure, but that wasn’t there when she had it. Then he looked inside and he grew pale, for there in capital letters appeared the unhappy name—John Birdsong. It all came to him then; he had borrowed Birdsong’s new fall tile, at the last moment, to make his tout ensemble altogether irresistible, and he knew very well, Birdsong had often told her, when she and he had indulged in a difference, that if she didn’t behave better he would come down some day, tell her he was Jones, and let her say “pretty things” to him.

I will not weary you with the details of the explanations which followed, or the conciliation afterward. Ours is an age in which people clamor for results, not means, so let me conclude by stating that Birdsong helped to bring the matter to a happy settlement, and finally stood up with Jones at the wedding in the same old parlor where his hat had gone skurrying from an angry hand. And if you ever pass Jones’ house and see a five-year old boy swinging on a gate, who looks like his father and speaks like the

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