With some account of their ways, innocent, crafty, angelic, impish, witching and impulsive; also a partial record of their actions during ten days of their existence
By JOHN HABBERTON
The first cause, so far as it can be determined, of the existence of this book may be found in the following letter, written by my only married sister, and received by me, Harry Burton, salesman of white goods, bachelor, aged twenty-eight, and received just as I was trying to decide where I should Spend a fortnight's vacation:—
"HILLCREST, June 15, 1875.
"DEAR HARRY:—Remembering that you are always complaining that you never have a chance to read, and knowing that you won't get it this summer, if you spend your vacation among people of your own set, I write to ask you to come up here. I admit that I am not wholly disinterested in inviting you. The truth is, Tom and I are invited to spend a fortnight with my old schoolmate, Alice Wayne, who, you know, is the dearest girl in the world, though you DIDN'T obey me and marry her before Frank Wayne appeared. Well, we're dying to go, for Alice and Frank live in splendid style; but as they haven't included our children in their invitation, and have no children of their own, we must leave Budge and Toddie at home. I've no doubt they'll be perfectly safe, for my girl is a jewel, and devoted to the children, but I would feel a great deal easier if there was a man in the house. Besides, there's the silver, and burglars are less likely to break into a house where there's a savage-looking man. (Never mind about thanking me for the compliment.) If YOU'LL only come up, my mind will be completely at rest. The children won't give you the slightest trouble; they're the best children in the world—everybody says so.
"Tom has plenty of cigars, I know, for the money I should have had for a new suit went to pay his cigar-man. He has some new claret, too, that HE goes into ecstasies over, though I can't tell it from the vilest black ink, except by the color. Our horses are in splendid condition, and so is the garden—you see I don't forget your old passion for flowers. And, last and best, there never were so many handsome girls at Hillcrest as there are among the summer boarders already here; the girls you already are acquainted with here will see that you meet all the newer acquisitions.
"Reply by telegraph right away.
"Of course you'll say 'Yes.'
"In great haste, your loving
P. S. You shall have our own chamber; it catches every breeze, and commands the finest views. The children's room communicates with it; so, if anything SHOULD happen to the darlings at night, you'd be sure to hear them."
"Just the thing!" I ejaculated. Five minutes later I had telegraphed Helen my acceptance of her invitation, and had mentally selected books enough to busy me during a dozen vacations. Without sharing Helen's belief that her boys were the best ones in the world, I knew them well enough to feel assured that they would not give me any annoyance. There were two of them, since Baby Phil died last fall; Budge, the elder, was five years of age, and had generally, during my flying visits to Helen, worn a shy, serious, meditative, noble face, with great, pure, penetrating eyes, that made me almost fear their stare. Tom declared he was a born philanthropist or prophet, and Helen made so free with Miss Muloch's lines as to sing:—
"Ah, the day that THOU goest a-wooing, Budgie, my boy!"
Toddie had seen but three summers, and was a happy little know-nothing, with a head full of tangled yellow hair, and a very pretty fancy for finding out sunbeams and dancing in them. I had long envied Tom his horses, his garden, his house and his location, and the idea of controlling them for a fortnight was particularly delightful. Tom's taste in cigars and claret I had always respected, while the lady inhabitants of Hillcrest were, according to my memory, much like those of every other suburban village, the fairest of their sex.
Three days later I made the hour and a half trip between New York and Hillcrest, and hired a hackman to drive me over to Tom's. Half a mile from my brother-in-law's residence, our horses shied violently, and the driver, after talking freely to them, turned to me and remarked:—
"That was one of the 'Imps.'"
"What was?" I asked.
"That little cuss that scared the hosses. There he is, now, holdin' up that piece of brushwood. 'Twould be just like his cheek, now, to ask me to let him ride. Here he comes, runnin'. Wonder where t'other is?—they most generally travel together. We call 'em the Imps, about these parts, because they're so uncommon likely at mischief. Always skeerin' hosses, or chasin' cows, or frightenin' chickens. Nice enough father an' mother, too—queer, how young ones do turn out."
As he spoke, the offending youth came panting beside our carriage, and in a very dirty sailor-suit, and under a broad-brimmed straw hat, with one stocking about his ankle, and two shoes, averaging about two buttons each, I recognized my nephew, Budge! About the same time there emerged from the bushes by the roadside a smaller boy in a green gingham dress, a ruffle which might once have been white, dirty stockings, blue slippers worn through at the toes, and an old-fashioned straw-turban. Thrusting into the dust of the road a branch from a bush, and shouting, "Here's my grass-cutter!" he ran toward us enveloped in a "pillar of cloud," which might have served the purpose of Israel in Egypt. When he paused and the dust had somewhat subsided, I beheld the unmistakable lineaments of the child Toddie!
"They're—my nephews," I gasped.
"What!" exclaimed the driver. "By gracious! I forgot you were going to Colonel Lawrence's! I didn't tell anything but the truth about 'em, though; they're smart enough, an' good enough, as boys go; but they'll never die of the complaint that children has in Sunday-school books."
"Budge," said I, with all the sternness I could command, "do you know me?"
The searching eyes of the embryo prophet and philanthropist scanned me for a moment, then their owner replied:—
"Yes; you're Uncle Harry. Did you bring us anything?"
"Bring us anything?" echoed Toddie.
"I wish I could have brought you some big whippings," said I, with great severity of manner, "for behaving so badly. Get into this carriage."
"Come on, Tod," shouted Budge, although Toddie's farther ear was not a yard from Budge's mouth. "Uncle Harry's going to take us riding!"
"Going to take us riding!" echoed Toddie, with the air of one in a reverie; both the echo and the reverie I soon learned were characteristics of Toddie.
As they clambered into the carriage I noticed that each one carried a very dirty towel, knotted in the center into what is known as a slip-noose knot, drawn very tight. After some moments of disgusted contemplation of these rags, without being in the least able to comprehend their purpose, I asked Budge what those towels were for.
"They're not towels—they're dollies," promptly answered my nephew.
"Goodness!" I exclaimed. "I should think your mother could buy you respectable dolls, and not let you appear in public with those loathsome rags."
"We don't like buyed dollies," explained Budge. "These dollies is lovely; mine's name is Mary, an' Toddie's is Marfa."
"Marfa?" I queried.
"Yes; don't you know about
"Marfa and Mary's jus' gone along To ring dem charmin' bells,
that them Jubilee sings about?"
"Oh, Martha, you mean?"
"Yes, Marfa—that's what I say. Toddie's dolly's got brown eyes, an' my dolly's got blue eyes."
"I want to shee yours watch," remarked Toddie, snatching at my chain, and rolling into my lap.
"Oh—oo—ee, so do I," shouted Budge, hastening to occupy one knee, and IN TRANSITU wiping his shoes on my trousers and the skirts of my coat. Each imp put an arm about me to steady himself, as I produced my three-hundred-dollar time-keeper and showed them the dial.
"I want to see the wheels go round," said Budge.
"Want to shee wheels go wound," echoed Toddie.
"No; I can't open my watch where there's so much dust," I said.
"What for?" inquired Budge.
"Want to shee the wheels go wound," repeated Toddie.
"The dust gets inside the watch and spoils it," I explained.
"Want to shee the wheels go wound," said Toddie, once more.
"I tell you I can't, Toddie," said I, with considerable asperity. "Dust spoils watches."
The innocent gray eyes looked up wonderingly, the dirty, but pretty lips parted slightly, and Toddie murmured:—
"Want to shee the wheels go wound."
I abruptly closed my watch and put it into my pocket. Instantly Toddie's lower lip commenced to turn outward, and continued to do so until I seriously feared the bony portion of his chin would be exposed to view. Then his lower jaw dropped, and he cried:—
"Ah—h—h—h—h—h—want—to—shee—the wheels—go wou—OUND."
"Charles" (Charles is his baptismal name),—"Charles," I exclaimed with some anger, "stop that noise this instant! Do you hear me?"
"Then stop it."
"Wants to shee—"
"Toddie, I've got some candy in my trunk, but I won't give you a bit if you don't stop that infernal noise."
"Well, I wants to shee wheels go wound. Ah—ah—h—h—h—h!"
"Toddie, dear, don't cry so. Here's some ladies coming in a carriage; you wouldn't let THEM see you crying, would you? You shall see the wheels go round as soon as we get home."
A carriage containing a couple of ladies was rapidly approaching, as Toddie again raised his voice.
"Ah—h—h—wants to shee wheels—"
Madly I snatched my watch from my pocket, opened the case, and exposed the works to view. The other carriage was meeting ours, and I dropped my head to avoid meeting the glance of the unknown occupants, for my few moments of contact with my dreadful nephews had made me feel inexpressibly unneat. Suddenly the carriage with the ladies stopped. I heard my own name spoken, and raising my head quickly (encountering Budge's bullet head EN ROUTE to the serious disarrangement of my hat), I looked into the other carriage. There, erect, fresh, neat, composed, bright-eyed, fair-faced, smiling and observant,—she would have been all this, even if the angel of the resurrection had just sounded his dreadful trump,—sat Miss Alice Mayton, a lady who, for about a year, I had been adoring from afar.
"When did YOU arrive, Mr. Burton?" she asked, "and how long have you been officiating as child's companion? You're certainly a happy-looking trio—so unconventional. I hate to see children all dressed up and stiff as little manikins, when they go out to ride. And you look as if you had been having SUCH a good time with them."
"I—I assure you, Miss Mayton," said I, "that my experience has been the exact reverse of a pleasant one. If King Herod were yet alive I'd volunteer as an executioner, and engage to deliver two interesting corpses at a moment's notice."
"You dreadful wretch!" exclaimed the lady. "Mother, let me make you acquainted with Mr. Burton,—Helen Lawrence's brother. How is your sister, Mr. Burton?"
"I don't know," I replied; "she has gone with her husband on a fortnight's visit to Captain and Mrs. Wayne, and I've been silly enough to promise to have an eye to the place while they're away."
"Why, how delightful!" exclaimed Miss Mayton. "SUCH horses! SUCH flowers! SUCH a cook!"
"And such children," said I, glaring suggestively at the imps, and rescuing from Toddie a handkerchief which he had extracted from my pocket, and was waving to the breeze.
"Why, they're the best children in the world. Helen told me so the first time I met her this season! Children will be children, you know. We had three little cousins with us last summer, and I'm sure they made me look years older than I really am."
"How young you must be, then, Miss Mayton!" said I. I suppose I looked at her as if I meant what I said, for, although she inclined her head and said, "Oh, thank you," she didn't seem to turn my compliment off in her usual invulnerable style. Nothing happening in the course of conversation ever discomposed Alice Mayton for more than a hundred seconds, however, so she soon recovered her usual expression and self-command, as her next remark fully indicated.
"I believe you arranged the floral decorations at the St. Zephaniah's Fair, last winter, Mr. Burton? 'Twas the most tasteful display of the season. I don't wish to give any hints, but at Mrs. Clarkson's, where we're boarding, there's not a flower in the whole garden. I break the Tenth Commandment dreadfully every time I pass Colonel Lawrence's garden. Good-by, Mr. Burton."
"Ah, thank you; I shall be delighted. Good-by."
"Of course you'll call," said Miss Mayton, as her carriage started,—"it's dreadfully stupid here—no men except on Sundays."
I bowed assent. In the contemplation of all the shy possibilities which my short chat with Miss Mayton had suggested, I had quite forgotten my dusty clothing and the two living causes thereof. While in Miss Mayton's presence the imps had preserved perfect silence, but now their tongues were loosened.
"Uncle Harry," said Budge, "do you know how to make whistles?"
"Ucken Hawwy," murmured Toddie, "does you love dat lady?"
"No, Toddie, of course not."
"Then you's baddy man, an' de Lord won't let you go to heaven if you don't love peoples."
"Yes, Budge," I answered hastily, "I do know how to make whistles, and you shall have one."
"Lord don't like mans what don't love peoples," reiterated Toddie.
"All right, Toddie," said I. "I'll see if I can't please the Lord some way. Driver, whip up, won't you? I'm in a hurry to turn these youngsters over to the girl, and ask her to drop them into the bath-tub."
I found Helen had made every possible arrangement for my comfort. Her room commanded exquisite views of mountain-slope and valley, and even the fact that the imps' bedroom adjoined mine gave me comfort, for I thought of the pleasure of contemplating them while they were asleep, and beyond the power of tormenting their deluded uncle.
At the supper-table Budge and Toddie appeared cleanly clothed in their rightful faces. Budge seated himself at the table; Toddie pushed back his high-chair, climbed into it, and shouted:
"Put my legs under ze tabo."
Rightfully construing this remark as a request to be moved to the table, I fulfilled his desire. The girl poured tea for me and milk for the children, and retired; and then I remembered, to my dismay, that Helen never had a servant in the dining-room except upon grand occasions, her idea being that servants retail to their friends the cream of the private conversation of the family circle. In principle I agreed with her, but the penalty of the practical application, with these two little cormorants on my hands, was greater suffering than any I had ever been called upon to endure for principle's sake; but there was no help for it. I resignedly rapped on the table, bowed my head, said, "From what we are about to receive, the Lord make us thankful," and asked Budge whether he ate bread or biscuit.
"Why, we ain't asked no blessin' yet," said he.
"Yes, I did, Budge," said I. "Didn't you hear me?"
"Do you mean what you said just now?"
"Oh, I don't think that was no blessin' at all. Papa never says that kind of a blessin'."
"What does papa say, may I ask?" I inquired, with becoming meekness.
"Why, papa says, 'Our Father, we thank thee for this food; mercifully remember with us all the hungry and needy to-day, for Christ's sake, Amen.' That's what he says."
"It means the same thing, Budge."
"I don't think it does; and Toddie didn't have no time to say HIS blessin'. I don't think the Lord'll like it if you do it that way."
"Yes, he will, old boy; he knows what people mean."
"Well, how can he tell what Toddie means if Toddie can't say anything?"
"Wantsh to shay my blessin'," whined Toddie.
It was enough; my single encounter with Toddie had taught me to respect the young gentleman's force of character. So again I bowed my head, and repeated what Budge had reported as "papa's blessin'," Budge kindly prompting me where my memory failed. The moment I began, Toddie commenced to jabber rapidly and aloud, and the instant the "Amen" was pronounced he raised his head and remarked with evident satisfaction:—
"I shed my blessin' TWO timesh."
And Budge said gravely:—
"NOW I guess we are all right."
The supper was an exquisite one, but the appetites of those dreadful children effectually prevented my enjoying the repast. I hastily retired, called the girl, and instructed, her to see that the children had enough to eat, and were put to bed immediately after; then I lit a cigar and strolled into the garden. The roses were just in bloom, the air was full of the perfume of honeysuckles, the rhododendrons had not disappeared, while I saw promise of the early unfolding of many other pet flowers of mine. I confess that I took a careful survey of the garden to see how fine a bouquet I might make for Miss Mayton, and was so abundantly satisfied with the material before me that I longed to begin the work at once, but that it would seem too hasty for true gentility. So I paced the paths, my hands behind my back, and my face well hidden by fragrant clouds of smoke, and went into wondering and reveries. I wondered if there was any sense in the language of flowers, of which I had occasionally seen mention made by silly writers; I wished I had learned it if it had any meaning; I wondered if Miss Mayton understood it. At any rate, I fancied I could arrange flowers to the taste of any lady whose face I had ever seen; and for Alice Mayton I would make something so superb that her face could not help lighting up when she beheld it. I imagined just how her bluish-gray eyes would brighten, her cheeks would redden,—not with sentiment, not a bit of it; but with genuine pleasure,—how her strong lips would part slightly and disclose sweet lines not displayed when she held her features well in hand. I—I, a clear-headed, driving, successful salesman of white goods—actually wished I might be divested of all nineteenth-century abilities and characteristics, and be one of those fairies that only silly girls and crazy poets think of, and might, unseen, behold the meeting of my flowers with this highly cultivated specimen of the only sort of flowers our cities produce. What flower did she most resemble? A lily?—no; too—not exactly too bold, but too—too, well, I couldn't think of the word, but clearly it wasn't bold. A rose! Certainly, not like those glorious but blazing remontants, nor yet like the shy, delicate, ethereal tea-roses with their tender suggestions of color. Like this perfect Gloire de Dijon, perhaps; strong, vigorous, self-asserting, among its more delicate sisterhood; yet shapely, perfect in outline and development, exquisite, enchanting in its never fully-analyzed tints, yet compelling the admiration of every one, and recalling its admirers again and again by the unspoken appeal of its own perfection—its unvarying radiance.
"Ah—h—h—h—ee—ee—ee—ee—ee—oo—oo—oo—oo" came from the window over my head. Then came a shout of—"Uncle Harry!" in a voice I recognized as that of Budge. I made no reply: there are moments when the soul is full of utterances unfit to be heard by childish ears. "Uncle Har-RAY!" repeated Budge. Then I heard a window-blind open, and Budge exclaiming:—
"Uncle Harry, we want you to come and tell us stories."
I turned my eyes upward quickly, and was about to send a savage negative in the same direction, when I saw in the window a face unknown and yet remembered. Could those great, wistful eyes, that angelic mouth, that spiritual expression, belong to my nephew Budge? Yes, it must be—certainly that super-celestial nose and those enormous ears never belonged to any one else. I turned abruptly, and entered the house, and was received at the head of the stairway by two little figures in white, the larger of which remarked:—
"We want you tell us stories—papa always does nights."
"Very well, jump into bed—what kind of stories do you like?"
"Oh, 'bout Jonah," said Budge.
"'Bout Jonah," echoed Toddie.
"Well, Jonah was out in the sun one day and a gourd-vine grew up all of a sudden, and made it nice and shady for him, and then it all faded as quick as it came."
A dead silence prevailed for a moment, and then Budge indignantly remarked:—
"That ain't Jonah a bit—I know 'bout Jonah."
"Oh, you do, do you?" said I. "Then maybe you'll be so good as to enlighten me?"
"If you know about Jonah, tell me the story; I'd really enjoy listening to it."
"Well," said Budge, "once upon a time the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people they was all bad. But Jonah didn't want to go, so he went on a boat that was going to Joppa. And then there was a big storm, an' it rained an' blowed and the big waves went as high as a house. An' the sailors thought there must be somebody on the boat that the Lord didn't like. An' Jonah said he guessed HE was the man. So they picked him up and froed him in the ocean, an' I don't think it was well for 'em to do that after Jonah told the troof. An' a big whale was comin' along, and he was awful hungry, cos the little fishes what he likes to eat all went down to the bottom of the ocean when it began to storm, and whales can't go to the bottom of the ocean, cos they have to come up to breeve, an' little fishes don't. An' Jonah found 'twas all dark inside the whale, and there wasn't any fire there, an' it was all wet, and he couldn't take off his clothes to dry, cos there wasn't no place to hang 'em, an' there wasn't no windows to look out of, nor nothin' to eat, nor nothin' nor nothin' nor nothin.' So he asked the Lord to let Mm out, an' the Lord was sorry for him, an' he made the whale go up close to the land, an' Jonah jumped right out of his mouth, an' WASN'T he glad? An' then he went to Nineveh, an' done what the Lord told him to, and he ought to have done it in the first place if he had known what was good for him."
"Done first payshe, know what's dood for him," asserted Toddie, in support of his brother's assertion. "Tell us 'nudder story."
"Oh, no, sing us a song," suggested Budge.
"Shing us shong," echoed Toddie.
I searched my mind for a song, but the only one which came promptly was "M'Appari," several bars of which I gave my juvenile audience, when Budge interrupted me, saying:—
"I don't think that's a very good song."
"Why not, Budge?"
"Cos I don't. I don't know a word what you're talking 'bout."
"Shing 'bout 'Glory, glory, hallelulyah,'" suggested Toddie, and I meekly obeyed. The old air has a wonderful influence over me. I heard it in western camp-meetings and negro-cabins when I was a boy; I saw the 22d Massachusetts march down Broadway, singing the same air during the rush to the front during the early days of the war; I have heard it sung by warrior tongues in nearly every Southern State; I heard it roared by three hundred good old Hunker Democrats as they escorted New York's first colored regiment to their place of embarkation; my old brigade sang it softly, but with a swing that was terrible in its earnestness, as they lay behind their stacks of arms just before going to action; I have heard it played over the grave of many a dead comrade; the semi-mutinous—the cavalry became peaceful and patriotic again as their band-master played the old air after having asked permission to try HIS hand on them; it is the same that burst forth spontaneously in our barracks, on that glorious morning when we learned that the war was over, and it was sung, with words adapted to the occasion, by some good rebel friends of mine, on our first social meeting after the war. All these recollections came hurrying into my mind as I sang, and probably excited me beyond my knowledge, for Budge suddenly remarked:—
"Don't sing that all day, Uncle Harry; you sing so loud, it hurts my head."
"Beg your pardon, Budge," said I. "Good-night."
"Why, Uncle Harry, are you going? You didn't hear us say our prayers,—papa always does."
"Oh! Well, go ahead."
"You must say yours first," said Budge; "that's the way papa does."
"Very well," said I, and I repeated St. Chrysostom's prayer, from the Episcopal service. I had hardly said "Amen," when Budge remarked:—
"My papa don't say any of them things at all; I don't think that's a very good prayer."
"Well, you say a good prayer, Budge."
"Allright." Budge shut his eyes, dropped his voice to the most perfect tone of supplication, while his face seemed fit for a sleeping angel, then he said:—
"Dear Lord, we thank you for lettin' us have a good time to-day, an' we hope all the little boys everywhere have had good times too. We pray you to take care of us an' everybody else to-night, an' don't let 'em have any trouble. Oh, yes, an' Uncle Harry's got some candy in his trunk, cos he said so in the carriage,—we thank you for lettin' Uncle Harry come to see us, an' we hope he's got LOTS of candy—lots an' piles. An' we pray you to take good care of all the poor little boys and girls that haven't got any papas an' mammas an' Uncle Harrys an' candy an' beds to sleep in. An' take us all to Heaven when we die, for Christ's sake. Amen. Now give us the candy, Uncle Harry."
"Hush, Budge; don't Toddie say any prayers?"
"Oh yes; go on, Tod."
Toddie closed his eyes, wriggled, twisted, breathed hard and quick, acting generally as if prayers were principally a matter of physical exertion. At last he began:—
"Dee Lord, not make me sho bad, an' besh mamma, an' papa, an' Budgie, and doppity, [Footnote: Grandmother.] an' both boggies, [Footnote: Grandfathers.] an' all good people in dish house, and everybody else, an' my dolly. A—a—amen!"
"Now give us the candy," said Budge, with the usual echo from Toddie.
I hastily extracted the candy from my trunk, gave some to each boy, the recipients fairly shrieking with delight, and once more said good-night.
"Oh, you didn't give us any pennies," said Budge. "Papa gives us some to put in our banks, every nights."
"Well, I haven't got any now—wait until to-morrow."
"Then we want drinks."
"I'll let Maggie bring you drink."
"Want my dolly," murmured Toddie.
I found the knotted towels, took the dirty things up gingerly and threw them upon the bed.
"Now want to shee wheels go wound," said Toddie.
I hurried out of the room and slammed the door. I looked at my watch—it was half-past eight; I had spent an hour and a half with those dreadful children. They WERE funny to be sure—I found myself laughing in spite of my indignation. Still, if they were to monopolize my time as they had already done, when was I to do my reading? Taking Fiske's "Cosmic Philosophy" from my trunk I descended to the back parlor, lit a cigar and a student-lamp, and began to read. I had not fairly commenced when I heard a patter of small feet, and saw my elder nephew before me. There was sorrowful protestation in every line of his countenance, as he exclaimed:—
"You didn't say 'Good-by' nor 'God bless you' nor anything."
"God bless you."
"God bless you."
Budge seemed waiting for something else. At last he said:—
"Papa says, 'God bless everybody.'"
"Well, God bless everybody."
"God bless everybody," responded Budge, and turned silently and went up-stairs.
"Bless your tormenting honest little heart," I said to myself; "if men trusted God as you do your papa, how little business there'd be for preachers to do."
The night was a perfect one. The pure fresh air, the perfume of the flowers, the music of the insect choir in the trees and shrubbery—the very season itself seemed to forbid my reading philosophy, so I laid Fiske aside, delighted myself with a few rare bits from Paul Hayne's new volume of poems, read a few chapters of "One Summer," and finally sauntered off to bed. My nephews were slumbering sweetly; it seemed impossible that the pure, exquisite, angelic faces before me belonged to my tormentors of a few hours before. As I lay on my couch I could see the dark shadow and rugged crest of the mountain; above it, the silver stars against the blue, and below it the rival lights of the fireflies against the dark background formed by the mountain itself. No rumbling of wheels tormented me, nor any of the thousand noises that fill city air with the spirit of unrest, and I fell into a wonder almost indignant that sensible, comfortable, loving beings could live in horrible New York, while such delightful rural homes were so near at hand. Then Alice Mayton came into my mind, and then a customer; later, stars and trademarks, and bouquets, and dirty nephews, and fireflies and bad accounts, and railway tickets, and candy and Herbert Spencer, mixed themselves confusingly in my mind. Then a vision of a proud angel, in the most fashionable attire and a modern carriage, came and banished them all by its perfect radiance, and I was sinking in the most blissful unconsciousness—
"Sh—h—h!" I hissed.
The warning was heeded, and I soon relapsed into oblivion.
"Toddie, do you want uncle to whip you?"
"Then lie still."
"Well, Ize lost my dolly, an' I tant find her anywhere."
"Well, I'll find her for you in the morning."
"Oo—oo—ee—I wants my dolly."
"Well, I tell you I'll find her for you in the morning."
"I want her NOW—oo—oo—"
"You can't have her now, so you can go to sleep."
Springing madly to my feet, I started for the offender's room. I encountered a door ajar by the way, my forehead being first to discover it. I ground my teeth, lit a candle, and said something—no matter what.
"Oh, you said a bad swear!" ejaculated Toddie. "You won't go to heaven when you die."
"Neither will you, if you howl like a little demon all night. Are you going to be quiet, now?"
"Yesh, but I wants my dolly."
"I don't know where your dolly is—do you suppose I'm going to search this entire house for that confounded dolly?"
"'TAIN'T 'founded. I wants my dolly."
"I don't know where it is; you don't think I stole your dolly, do you?"
"Well, I wants it, in de bed wif me."
"Charles," said I, "when you arise in morning, I hope your doll will be found. At present, however, you must be resigned and go to sleep. I'll cover you up nicely;" here I began to rearrange the bed-clothing, when the fateful dolly, source of all my woes, tumbled out of them. Toddie clutched it, his whole face lighting up with affectionate delight, and he screamed:—
"Oh, dare is my dee dolly: tum to your own papa, dolly, an' I'll love you."
And that ridiculous child was so completely satisfied by his outlay of affection that my own indignation gave place to genuine artistic pleasure. One CAN tire of even beautiful pictures, though, when he is not fully awake, and is holding a candle in a draught of air; so I covered my nephews and returned to my own room, where I mused upon the contradictoriness of childhood until I fell asleep.
In the morning I was awakened very early by the light streaming in the window, the blinds of which I had left open the night before. The air was alive with bird-songs, and the eastern sky was flushing with tints which no painter's canvas ever caught. But ante-sunrise skies and songs are not fit subjects for the continued contemplation of men who read until midnight; so I hastily closed the blinds, drew the shade, dropped the curtains and lay down again, dreamily thanking heaven that I was to fall asleep to such exquisite music. I am sure that I mentally forgave all my enemies as I dropped off into a most delicious doze, but the sudden realization that a light hand was passing over my cheek roused me to savage anger in an instant. I sprang up, and saw Budge shrink timidly away from my bedside.
"I was only a-lovin' you, cos you was good, and brought us candy. Papa lets us love him whenever we want to—every morning he does."
"As early as this?" demanded I.
"Yes, just as soon as we can see, if we want to."
Poor Tom! I never COULD comprehend why with a good wife, a comfortable income, and a clear conscience, he need always look thin and worn—worse than he ever did in Virginia woods or Louisiana swamps. But now I knew all. And yet, what could one do? That child's eyes and voice, and his expression, which exceeded in sweetness that of any of the angels I had ever imagined,—that child could coax a man to do more self-forgetting deeds than the shortening of his precious sleeping-hours amounted to. In fact, he was fast divesting me of my rightful sleepiness, so I kissed him and said:—
"Run to bed, now, dear old fellow, and let uncle go to sleep again. After breakfast, I'll make you a whistle."
"Oh, will you?" The angel turned into a boy at once. "Yes; now run along."
"A LOUD whistle—a real loud one?"
"Yes, but not if you don't go right back to bed."
The sound of little footsteps receded as I turned over and closed my eyes. Speedily the bird-song seemed to grow fainter; my thoughts dropped to pieces; I seemed to be floating on fleecy clouds, in company with hundreds of cherubs with Budge's features and night-drawers—
May the Lord forget the prayer I put up just then!
"I'll discipline you, my fine little boy," thought I. "Perhaps, if I let you shriek your abominable little throat hoarse, you'll learn better than to torment your uncle, that was just getting ready to love you dearly."
"Howl, away, you little imp," thought I. "You've got me wide awake, and your lungs may suffer for it." Suddenly I heard, although in sleepy tones, and with a lazy drawl, some words which appalled me. The murmurer was Toddie:—
"Budge!" I shouted, in the desperation of my dread lest Toddie, too, might wake up, "what DO you want?"
"Uncle Harry, what kind of wood are you going to make the whistle out of?"
"I won't make any at all—I'll cut a big stick and give you a sound whipping with it, for not keeping quiet, as I told you to."'
"Why, Uncle Harry, papa don't whip us with sticks—he spanks us."
Heavens! Papa! papa! papa! Was I never to have done with this eternal quotation of "papa"? I was horrified to find myself gradually conceiving a dire hatred of my excellent brother-in-law. One thing was certain, at any rate: sleep was no longer possible; so I hastily dressed, and went into the garden. Among the beauty and the fragrance of the flowers, and in the delicious morning air, I succeeded in regaining my temper, and was delighted, on answering the breakfast-bell, two hours later, to have Budge accost me with:—
"Why, Uncle Harry, where was you? We looked all over the house for you, and couldn't find a speck of you."
The breakfast was an excellent one. I afterward learned that Helen, dear old girl, had herself prepared a bill of fare for every meal I should take in the house. As the table talk of myself and nephews was not such as could do harm by being repeated, I requested Maggie, the servant, to wait upon the children, and I accompanied my request with a small treasury note. Relieved, thus, of all responsibility for the dreadful appetites of my nephews, I did full justice to the repast, and even regarded with some interest and amusement the industry of Budge and Toddie with their tiny forks and spoons. They ate rapidly for a while, but soon their appetites weakened and their tongues were unloosed.
"Ocken Hawwy," remarked Toddie, "daysh an awfoo funny chunt up 'tairs—awfoo BIG chunt. I show it you after brepspup."
"Toddie's a silly little boy," said Budge; "he always says brepspup for brekbux." [Footnote: Breakfast.]
"Oh! What does he mean by chunt, Budge?"
"I GUESS he means trunk," replied my oldest nephew.
Recollections of my childish delight in rummaging an old trunk—it seems a century ago that I did it—caused me to smile sympathetically at Toddie, to his apparent great delight. How delightful it is to strike a sympathetic chord in child-nature, thought I; how quickly the infant eye comprehends the look which precedes the verbal expression of an idea! Dear Toddie! for years we might sit at one table, careless of each other's words, but the casual mention of one of thy delights has suddenly brought our souls into that sweetest of all human communions—that one which doubtless bound the Master himself to that apostle who was otherwise apparently the weakest among the chosen twelve. "An awfoo funny chunt" seemed to annihilate suddenly all differences of age, condition and experience between the wee boy and myself, and—
A direful thought struck me. I dashed up-stairs and into my room. Yes, he DID mean my trunk. I could see nothing funny about it—quite the contrary. The bond of sympathy between my nephew and myself was suddenly broken. Looking at the matter from the comparative distance which a few weeks have placed between that day and this, I can see that I was unable to consider the scene before me with a calm and unprejudiced mind. I am now satisfied that the sudden birth and hasty decease of my sympathy with Toddie were striking instances of human inconsistency. My soul had gone out to his because he loved to rummage in trunks, and because I imagined he loved to see the monument of incongruous material which resulted from such an operation; the scene before me showed clearly that I had rightly divined my nephew's nature. And yet my selfish instincts hastened to obscure my soul's vision, and to prevent that joy which should ensue when "Faith is lost in full fruition."
My trunk had contained nearly everything, for while a campaigner I had learned to reduce packing to an exact science. Now, had there been an atom of pride in my composition I might have glorified myself, for it certainly seemed as if the heap upon the floor could never have come out of a single trunk. Clearly, Toddie was more of a general connoisseur than an amateur in packing. The method of his work I quickly discerned, and the discovery threw some light upon the size of the heap in front of my trunk. A dress-hat and its case, when their natural relationship is dissolved, occupy nearly twice as much space as before, even if the former contains a blacking-box not usually kept in it, and the latter contains a few cigars soaking in bay rum. The same might be said of a portable dressing-case and its contents, bought for me in Vienna by a brother ex-soldier, and designed by an old continental campaigner to be perfection itself. The straps which prevented the cover from falling entirely back had been cut, broken or parted in some way, and in its hollow lay my dresscoat, tightly rolled up. Snatching it up with a violent exclamation, and unrolling it, there dropped from it—one of those infernal dolls. At the same time a howl was sounded from the doorway.
"You tookted my dolly out of her cradle—I want to wock my dolly—oo—oo—oo—ee—ee—ee—"
"You young scoundrel," I screamed—yes, howled, I was so enraged—"I've a great mind to cut your throat this minute. What do you mean by meddling with my trunk?"
"I—doe—know." Outward turned Toddie's lower lip; I believe the sight of it would move a Bengal tiger to pity, but no such thought occurred to me just then.
"What made you do it?"
Just then a terrific roar arose from the garden. Looking out, I saw Budge with a bleeding finger upon one hand, and my razor in the other; he afterward explained he had been making a boat, and that knife was bad to him. To apply adhesive plaster to the cut was the work of but a minute, and I had barely completed this surgical operation when Tom's gardener-coachman appeared and handed me a letter. It was addressed in Helen's well-known hand, and read as follows (the passages in brackets were my own comments):—
"BLOOMDALE, June 21, 1875.
"DEAR HARRY:—I'm very happy in the thought that you are with my darling children, and, although I'm having a lovely time here, I often wish I was with you. [Ump—so do I.] I want you to know the little treasures real well. [Thank you, but I don't think I care to extend the acquaintanceship farther than is absolutely necessary.] It seems to me so unnatural that relatives know so little of those of their own blood, and especially of the innocent little spirits whose existence is almost unheeded. [Not when there's unlocked trunks standing about, sis.]
"Now I want to ask a favor of you. When we were boys and girls at home, you used to talk perfect oceans about physiognomy, and phrenology, and unerring signs of character. I thought it was all nonsense then, but if you believe any of it NOW, I wish you'd study the children, and give me your well-considered opinion of them. [Perfect demons, ma'am; imps, rascals, born to be hung—both of them.]
"I can't get over the feeling that dear Budge is born for something grand. [Grand nuisance.] He is sometimes so thoughtful and so absorbed, that I almost fear the result of disturbing him; then, he has that faculty of perseverance which seems to be the on y thing some men have lacked to make them great. [He certainly has it; he exemplified it while I was trying to get to sleep this morning.]
"Toddie is going to make a poet or a musician or an artist. [That's so; all abominable scamps take to some artistic pursuit as an excuse for loafing.] His fancies take hold of him very strongly. [They do—they do; "shee wheels go wound," for instance.] He has not Budgie's sublime earnestness, but he doesn't need it; the irresistible force with which he is drawn toward whatever is beautiful compensates for the lack. [Ah—perhaps that explains his operation with my trunk.] But I want your OWN opinion, for I know you make more careful distinction in character than I do.
"Delighting myself with the idea that I deserve most of the credit for the lots of reading you will have done by this time, and hoping I shall soon have a line telling me how my darlings are, I am as ever,
"Your loving sister,
Seldom have I been so roused by a letter as I was by this one, and never did I promise myself more genuine pleasure in writing a reply. I determined that it should be a masterpiece of analysis and of calm yet forcible expression of opinion.
Upon one step, at any rate, I was positively determined. Calling the girl, I asked her where the key was that locked the door between my room and the children.
"Please, sir, Toddie threw it down the well."
"Is there a locksmith in the village?"
"No, sir; the nearest one is at Paterson."
"Is there a screwdriver in the house?"
"Bring it to me, and tell the coachman to get ready at once to drive me to Paterson."
The screwdriver was brought, and with it I removed the lock, got into the carriage, and told the driver to take me to Paterson by the hill-road—one of the most beautiful roads in America.
"Paterson!" exclaimed Budge. "Oh, there's a candy-store in that town, come on, Toddie."
"Will you?" thought I, snatching the whip and giving the horses a cut. "Not if I can help it. The idea of having such a drive spoiled by the clatter of SUCH a couple!"
Away went the horses, and up rose a piercing shriek and a terrible roar. It seemed that both children must have been mortally hurt, and I looked out hastily, only to see Budge and Toddie running after the carriage, and crying pitifully. It was too pitiful,—I could not have proceeded without them, even if they had been afflicted with small-pox. The driver stopped of his own accord,—he seemed to know the children's ways and their results,—and I helped Budge and Toddie in, meekly hoping that the eye of Providence was upon me, and that so self-sacrificing an act would be duly passed to my credit. As we reached the hill-road, my kindness to my nephews seemed to assume, greater proportions, for the view before me was inexpressibly beautiful. The air was perfectly clear, and across two score towns I saw the great metropolis itself, the silent city of Greenwood beyond it, the bay, the narrows, the sound, the two silvery rivers lying between me and the Palisades, and even, across and to the south of Brooklyn, the ocean itself. Wonderful effects of light and shadow, picturesque masses, composed of detached buildings so far distant that they seemed huddled together; grim factories turned to beautiful palaces by the dazzling reflection of sunlight from their window-panes; great ships seeming in the distance to be toy-boats floating idly;—with no sign of life perceptible, the whole scene recalled the fairy stories, read in my youthful days, of enchanted cities, and the illusion was greatly strengthened by the dragon-like shape of the roof of New York's new post-office, lying in the center of everything, and seeming to brood over all.
Ah, that was what I expected!
"I always think that looks like heaven."
"Why, all that,—from here over to that other sky way back there behind everything, I mean. And I think THAT (here he pointed toward what probably was a photographer's roof-light)—that place where it's so shiny, is where God stays."
Bless the child! The scene had suggested only elfindom to ME, and yet I prided myself on my quick sense of artistic effects.
"An' over there where that awful bright LITTLE speck is," continued Budge, "that's where dear little brother Phillie is; whenever I look over there, I see him putting his hand out."
"Dee 'ittle Phillie went to s'eep in a box and the Lord took him to heaven," murmured Toddie, putting together all he had seen and heard of death. Then he raised his voice, and exclaimed:—
"Ocken Hawwy, you know what Iz'he goin' do when I be's big man? Iz'he goin' to have hosses and tarridge, an' Iz'he goin' to wide over all ze chees an' all ze houses, an' all ze world an' evvyfing. An' whole lots of little birdies is comin' in my tarridge an' sing songs to me, an' you can come too if you want to, an' we'll have ICE-cream an' 'trawberries, an' see 'ittle fishes swimmin' down in ze water, an' we'll get a g'eat big house that's all p'itty on the outshide an' all p'itty on the inshide, and it'll all be ours and we'll do just evvyfing we want to."
"Toddy, you're an idealist."
"AIN'T a 'dealisht."
"Toddy's a goosey-gander," remarked Budge, with great gravity. "Uncle Harry, do you think heaven's as nice as that place over there?"
"Yes, Budge, a great deal nicer."
"Then why don't we die an' go there? I don't want to go on livin' forever an' ever. I don't see why we don't die right away; I think we've lived enough of days."
"The Lord wants us to live until we get good and strong and smart, and do a great deal of good before we die, old fellow—that's why we don't die right away."
"Well, I want to see dear little Phillie, an' if the Lord won't let him come down here, I think he might let me die an' go to heaven. Little Phillie always laughed when I jumped for him. Uncle Harry, angels has wings, don't they?"
"Some people think they have, old boy."
"Well, I know they DON'T, cos if Phillie had wings, I know he'd fly right down here an' see me. So they don't."
"But maybe he has to go somewhere else, Budge, or maybe he comes and you can't see him. We can't see angels with OUR eyes, you know."
"Then what made the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace see one? Their eyes was just like ours, wasn't they? I don't care; I want to see dear little Phillie AWFUL much. Uncle Harry, if I went to heaven, do you know what I'd do?"
"What WOULD you do, Budge?"
"Why, after I saw little Phillie, I'd go right up to the Lord an' give him a great big hug."
"What for, Budge?"
"Oh, cos he lets us have nice times, an' gave me my mama an' papa, an' Phillie—but he took him away again—an' Toddie, but Toddie's a dreadful bad boy sometimes, though."
"Very true, Budge," said I, remembering my trunk and the object of my ride.
"Uncle Harry, did you ever see the Lord?"
"No, Budge; he has been very close to me a good many times, but I never saw him."
"Well, I have; I see him every time I look up in the sky, and there ain't nobody 'with me."
The driver crossed himself and whispered, "He's foriver a-sayin' that, an' be the powers, I belave him. Sometimes ye'd think that the howly saints thimselves was a-sphak-in' whin that bye gits to goin' on that way." It WAS wonderful. Budge's countenance seemed too pure to be of the earth as he continued to express his ideas of the better land and its denizens. As for Toddie, his tongue was going incessantly, although in a tone scarcely audible; but when I chanced to catch his expressions, they were so droll and fanciful, that I took him upon my lap that I might hear him more distinctly. I even detected myself in the act of examining the mental draft of my proposed letter to Helen, and of being ashamed of it. But neither Toddie's fancy nor Budge's spirituality caused me to forget the principal object of my ride. I found a locksmith and left the lock to be fitted with a key; then we drove to the Falls. Both boys discharged volleys of questions as we stood by the gorge, and the fact that the roar of the falling water prevented me from hearing them did not cause them to relax their efforts in the least. I walked to the hotel for a cigar, taking the children with me. I certainly spent no more than three minutes in selecting and lighting a cigar, and asking the barkeeper a few questions about the Falls; but when I turned, the children were missing, nor could I see them in any direction. Suddenly before my eyes arose from the nearer brink of the gorge two yellowish disks, which I recognized as the hats of my nephews; then I saw between the disks and me two small figures lying upon the ground. I was afraid to shout, for fear of scaring them, if they happened to hear me, I bounded across the grass, industriously raving and praying by turns. They were lying on their stomachs and looking over the edge of the cliff. I approached them on tip-toe, threw myself upon the ground, and grasped a foot of each child.
"Oh, Uncle Harry!" screamed Budge in my ear, as I dragged him close to me, kissing and shaking him alternately, "I hunged over more than Toddie did."
"Well, I—I—I—I—I—I—I hunged over a good deal, ANY how," said Toddie, in self-defense.
That afternoon I devoted to making a bouquet for Miss Mayton, and a most delightful occupation I found it. It was no florist's bouquet, composed of only a few kinds of flowers, wired upon sticks, and arranged according to geometric pattern. I used many a rare flower, too shy of bloom to recommend itself to florists; I combined tints almost as numerous as the flowers were, and perfumes to which city bouquets are utter strangers. Arranging flowers is a favorite pastime of mine, but upon this particular occasion I enjoyed my work more than I had ever done before. Not that I was in love with Miss Mayton; a man may honestly and strongly admire a handsome, brilliant woman without being in love with her; he can delight himself in trying to give her pleasure, without feeling it necessary that she shall give him herself in return. Since I arrived at years of discretion, I have always smiled sarcastically at the mention of the generosity of men who were in love; they have seemed to me rather to be asking an immense price for what they offered. I had no such feeling toward Miss Mayton. There have been heathens who have offered gifts to goddesses out of pure adoration and without any idea of ever having the exclusive companionship of their favorite divinities. I never offered Miss Mayton any attention which did not put me into closer sympathy with these same great-souled old Pagans, and with such Christians as follow their good example. With each new grace my bouquet took on, my pleasure and satisfaction increased at the thought of how SHE would enjoy the completed evidence of my taste.
At length it was finished, but my delight suddenly became clouded by the dreadful thought, "What will folks say?" Had we been in New York instead of Hillcrest, no one but the florist, his messenger, the lady and myself would know if I sent a bouquet to Miss Mayton; but in Hillcrest, with its several hundred native-born gossips and its acquaintance of everybody with everybody else and their affairs, I feared talk. Upon the discretion of Mike, the coachman, I could safely rely; I had already confidentially conveyed sundry bits of fractional currency to him, and informed him of one of the parties at our store whose family Mike had known in Old Erin; but every one knew where Mike was employed; every one knew—mysterious, unseen and swift are the ways of communication in the country!—that I was the only gentleman at present residing at Colonel Lawrence's. Ah!—I had it. I had seen in one of the library-drawers a small pasteboard box, shaped like a band-box—doubtless THAT would hold it. I found the box—it was of just the size I needed. I dropped my card into the bottom,—no danger of a lady not finding the card accompanying a gift of flowers,—neatly fitted the bouquet in the center of the box, and went in search of Mike. He winked cheeringly as I explained the nature of his errand, and he whispered:—
"I'll do it as clane as a whistle, yer honor. Mistress Clarkson's cook an' mesilf understhand each other, an' I'm used to goin' up the back way. Dhivil a man can see but the angels, an' they won't tell."
"Very well, Mike; here's a dollar for you; you'll find the box on the hat-rack in the hall."
Half an hour later, while I sat in my chamber window, reading, I beheld Mike, cleanly shaved, dressed and brushed, swinging up the road, with my box balanced on one of his enormous hands. With a head full of pleasing fancies, I went down to supper. My new friends were unusually good. Their ride seemed to have toned down their boisterousness and elevated their little souls; their appetites exhibited no diminution of force, but they talked but little, and all that they said was smart, funny, or startling—so much so that when, after supper, they invited me to put them to bed, I gladly accepted the invitation. Toddie disappeared somewhere, and came back very disconsolate.
"Can't find my dolly's k'adle," he whined.
"Never mind, old pet," said I, soothingly. "Uncle will ride you on his foot."
"But I WANT my dolly's k'adle," said he, piteously rolling out his lower lip.
I remembered my experience when Toddie wanted to "shee wheels go wound," and I trembled.
"Toddie," said I, in a tone so persuasive that it would be worth thousands a year to me, as a salesman, if I could only command it at will; "Toddie, don't you want to ride on uncle's back?"
"No: want my dolly's k'adle."
"Don't you want me to tell you a story?"
For a moment Toddie's face indicated a terrible internal conflict between old Adam and mother Eve, but curiosity finally overpowered natural depravity, and Toddie murmured:—
"What shall I tell you about?"
"He means Noah an' the ark," exclaimed Budge.
"Datsh what I shay—Nawndeark," declared Toddie.
"Well," said I, hastily refreshing my memory by picking up the Bible,—for Helen, like most people, is pretty sure to forget to pack her Bible when she runs away from home for a few days,—"well, once it rained forty days and nights, and everybody was drowned from the face of the earth excepting Noah, a righteous man, who was saved, with all his family, in an ark which the Lord commanded him to build."
"Uncle Harry," said Budge, after contemplating me with open eyes and mouth for at least two minutes after I had finished, "do you think that's Noah?"
"Certainly, Budge; here's the whole story in the Bible."
"Well, I don't think it's Noah one single bit," said he, with increasing emphasis.
"I'm beginning to think we read different Bibles, Budge; but let's hear YOUR version."
"Tell ME about Noah, if you know so much about him."
"I will, if you want me to. Once the Lord felt so uncomfortable cos folks was bad that he was sorry he ever made anybody, or any world or anything. But Noah wasn't bad—the Lord liked him first-rate, so he told Noah to build a big ark, and then the Lord would make it rain so everybody should be drownded but Noah an' his little boys an' girls, an' doggies an' pussies an' mama-cows an' little-boy-cows an' little-girl-cows an' hosses an' everything—they'd go in the ark an' wouldn't get wetted a bit, when it rained. An' Noah took lots of things to eat in the ark—cookies, an' milk, an' oatmeal, an' strawberries, an' porgies, an'—oh, yes; an' plum-puddin's an' pumpkin-pies. But Noah didn't want everybody to get drownded, so he talked to folks an' said, 'It's goin' to rain AWFUL pretty soon; you'd better be good, an' then the Lord'll let you come into my ark.' An' they jus' said, 'Oh, if it rains we'll go in the house till it stops;' an' other folks said, 'WE ain't afraid of rain—we've got an umbrella.' An' some more said, they wasn't goin' to be afraid of just a rain. But it DID rain though, an' folks went in their houses, an' the water came in, an' they went up-stairs, an' the water came up there, an' they got on the tops of the houses, an' up in big trees, an' up in mountains, an' the water went after 'em everywhere an' drownded everybody, only just except Noah and the people in the ark. An' it rained forty days an' nights, an' then it stopped, an' Noah got out of the ark, an' he and his little boys an' girls went wherever they wanted to, and everything in the world was all theirs; there wasn't anybody to tell 'em to go home, nor no Kindergarten schools to go to, nor no bad boys to fight 'em, nor nothin'. Now tell us 'nother story."
I determined that I would not again attempt to repeat portions of the Scripture narrative—my experience in that direction had not been encouraging. I ventured upon a war story.
"Do you know what the war was?" I asked, by way of reconnoissance.
"Oh, yes," said Budge; "papa was there, an' he's got a sword; don't you see it, hangin' up there?"
Yes, I saw it, and the difference between the terrible field where last I saw Tom's sword in action, and this quiet room where it now hung, forced me into a reverie from which I was aroused by Budge remarking:—
"Ain't you goin' to tell us one?"
"Oh, yes, Budge. One day while the war was going on, there was a whole lot of soldiers going along a road, and they were as hungry as they could be; they hadn't had anything to eat that day."
"Why didn't they go into the houses, and the people they was hungry? That's what I do when I goes along roads."
"Because the people in that country didn't like them; the brothers and papas and husbands of those people were soldiers, too; but they didn't like the soldiers I told you about first, and they wanted to kill them."
"I don't think they were a bit nice," said Budge, with considerable decision.
"Well, the first soldiers wanted to kill THEM, Budge."
"Then they was ALL bad, to want to kill each other."
"Oh, no, they weren't; there were a great many real good men on both sides."
Poor Budge looked sadly puzzled, as he had an excellent right to do, since the wisest and best men are sorely perplexed by the nature of warlike feeling.
"Both parties of soldiers were on horseback," I continued, "and they were near each other, and when they saw each other they made their horses run fast, and the bugles blew, and the soldiers all took their swords out to kill each other with, when just then a little boy, who had been out in the woods to pick berries for his mama, tried to run across the road, and caught his toe some way, and fell down, and cried. Then somebody hallooed 'Halt!' very loud, and all the horses on one side stopped, and then somebody else hallooed 'Halt!' and a lot of bugles blew, and every horse on the other; side stopped, and one soldier jumped off his horse, and picked up the little boy—he was only about as big as you, Budge—and tried to comfort him; and then a soldier from the other side came up to look at him, and then more soldiers came from both sides to look at him; and when he got better and walked home, the soldiers all rode away, because they didn't feel like fighting just then."
"Oh, Uncle Harry! I think it was an AWFUL good soldier that got off his horse to take care of that poor little boy."
"Do you, Budge? Who do you think it was?"
"It was your papa."
"Oh—h—h—h—h!" If Tom could have but seen the expression upon his boy's face as he prolonged this exclamation, his loss of one of the grandest chances a cavalry officer ever had would not have seemed so great to him as it had done for years. He seemed to take in the story in all its bearings, and his great eyes grew in depth as they took on the far-away look which seemed too earnest for the strength of an earthly being to support.
But Toddie,—he who a fond mama thought endowed with art sense,—Toddie had throughout my recital the air of a man who was musing on some affair of his own, and Budge's exclamation had hardly died away, when Toddie commenced to wave aloud an extravaganza wholly his own.
"When I was a soldier," he remarked, very gravely, "I had a coat an' a hat on, an' a muff an' a little knake [Footnote: Snake: tippet.] wound my neck to keep me warm, an' it wained, an' hailed, an' 'tormed, an' I felt bad, so I whallowed a sword an' burned me all down dead."
"And how did you get here?" I asked, with interest proportioned to the importance of Toddie's last clause.
"Oh, I got up from the burn-down dead, an' COMED right here. An' I want my dolly's k'adle."
Oh persistent little dragon! If you were of age, what a fortune you might make in business!
"Uncle Harry, I wish my papa would come home right away," said Budge.
"I want to love him for bein' so good to that poor little boy in the war."
"Ocken Hawwy, I wants my dolly's k'adle, tause my dolly's in it, an' I want to shee her;" thus spake Toddie.
"Don't you think the Lord loved my papa awful much for doin' that sweet thing, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge.
"Yes, old fellow, I feel sure that he did."
"Lord lovesh my papa vewy much, so I love ze Lord vewy much," remarked Toddie. "An' I wants my dolly's k'adle an' my dolly."
"Toddie, I don't know where either of them are—I can't find them now—DO wait until morning, then Uncle Harry will look for them."
"I don't see how the Lord can get along in heaven without my papa, Uncle Harry," said Budge.
"Lord takesh papa to heaven, an' Budgie an' me, an' we'll go walkin' an' see ze Lord, an' play wif ze angels' wings, an' hazh good timsh, an' never have to go to bed at all, at all."
Pure hearted little innocents! compared with older people whom we endure, how great thy faith and how few thy faults! How superior thy love—
A knock at the door interrupted me. "Come in!" I shouted.
In stepped Mike, with an air of the greatest secrecy, handed me a letter and the identical box in which I had sent the flowers to Miss Mayton. What COULD it mean? I hastily opened the envelope, and at the same time Toddie shrieked:—
"Oh, darsh my dolly's k'adle—dare 'tish!" snatched and opened the box, and displayed—his doll! My heart sickened, and did NOT regain its strength during the perusal of the following note:—
"Miss Mayton herewith returns to Mr. Burton the package which just arrived, with his card. She recognizes the contents as a portion of the apparent property of one of Burton's nephews, but is unable to understand why it should have been sent to her. "June 20, 1875."
"Toddie," I roared, as my younger nephew caressed his loathsome doll, and murmured endearing words to it, "where did you get that box?"
"On the hat-wack," replied the youth, with perfect fearlessness; "I keeps it in ze book-case djawer, an' somebody took it 'way an' put nasty ole flowers in it."
"Where are those flowers?" I demanded.
Toddie looked up with considerable surprise but promptly replied:—
"I froed 'em away—don't want no ole flowers in my dolly's k'adle. That's ze way she wocks—see!" And this horrible little destroyer of human hopes rolled that box back and forth with the most utter unconcern, as he spoke endearing words to the substitute for my beautiful bouquet!
To say that I looked at Toddie reprovingly is to express my feelings in the most inadequate language, but of language in which to express my feelings to Toddie. I could find absolutely none. Within two or three short moments I had discovered how very anxious I really was to merit Miss Mayton's regard, and how very different was the regard I wanted from that which I had previously hoped might be accorded me. It seemed too ridiculous to be true that I, who had for years had dozens of charming lady acquaintances, and yet had always maintained my common sense and self-control; I, who had always considered it unmanly for a man to specially interest himself in ANY lady until he had an income of five thousand a year; I who had skilfully, and many times, argued, that life-attachments, or attempts thereat, which were made without a careful preliminary study of the mental characteristics of the partner desired, was the most unpardonable folly,—I had transgressed every one of my own rules, and, as if to mock me for any pretended wisdom and care, my weakness was made known to me by a three-year-old marplot and a hideous rag-doll!
That merciful and ennobling dispensation by which Providence enables us to temper the severity of our own sufferings by alleviating those of others, came soon to my rescue. Under my stern glance Toddie gradually lost interest in his doll and its cradle, and began to thrust forth and outward his piteous lower lip and to weep copiously.
"Dee Lord, not make me sho bad," he cried through his tears. I doubt his having had any very clear idea of what he was saying, or whom he was addressing; but had the publican of whose prayer Toddie made so fair a paraphrase worn such a face when he offered his famous petition, it could not have been denied for a moment. Toddie even retired to a corner and hid his face in self-imposed penance.
"Never mind, Toddie," said I, sadly; "you didn't mean to do it, I know."
"I wantsh to love you," sobbed Toddie.
"Well, come here, you poor little fellow," said I, opening my arms, and wondering whether 'twas not after contemplation of some such sinner that good Bishop Tegner wrote:—
"Depths of love are atonement's depths, for love is atonement"
Toddie came to my arms, shed tears freely upon my shirt-front, and finally, after heaving a very long sigh, remarked:—
"Wantsh YOU to love ME"
I complied with his request. Theoretically, I had long believed that the higher wisdom of the Creator was most frequently expressed through the medium of his most innocent creations. Surely here was a confirmation of my theory, for who else had ever practically taught me the duty of the injured one toward his offender? I kissed Toddie and petted him, and at length succeeded in quieting him; his little face, in spite of much dirt and many tear-stains, was upturned with more of beauty in it than it ever held when its owner was full of joy; he looked earnestly, confidingly, into my eyes, and I congratulated myself upon the perfection of my forgiving spirit, when Toddie suddenly re-exhibited to me my old unregenerate nature, and the incompleteness of my forgiveness, by saying:—
"Kish my dolly, too."
I obeyed. My forgiveness was made complete, but so was my humiliation. I abruptly closed our interview. We exchanged "God bless you's," according to Budge's instructions of the previous night, and at least one of the participants in this devotional exercise hoped the petitions made by the other were distinctly heard. Then I dropped into an easy-chair in the library, and fell to thinking. I found myself really and seriously troubled by the results of Toddie's operation with my bouquet. I might explain the matter to Miss Mayton—I undoubtedly could, for she was too sensible a woman to be easily offended merely by a ridiculous mistake, caused by a child. But she would laugh at ME—how could she help it?—and to be laughed at by Miss Mayton was a something the mere thought of which tormented me in a manner that made me fairly ashamed of myself. Like every other young man among young men, I had been the butt of many a rough joke, and had borne them without wincing; it seemed cowardly and contemptible that I should be so sensitive under the mere thought of laughter which would probably be heard by no one but Miss Mayton herself. But the laughter of a mere acquaintance is likely to lessen respect for the person laughed at. Heavens! the thought was unendurable! At any rate, I must write an early apology. When I was correspondent for the house with which I am now salesman I reclaimed many an old customer who had wandered off—certainly I might hope by a well-written letter to regain in Miss Mayton's respect whatever position I had lost. I hastily drafted a letter, corrected it carefully, copied it in due form, and forwarded it by the faithful Michael. Then I tried to read, but without the least success. For hours I paced the piazza and consumed cigars; when at last I retired it was with many ideas, hopes, fears, and fancies which had never before been mine. True to my trust, I looked into my nephews' room; there lay the boys, in postures more graceful than any which brush or chisel have ever reproduced. Toddie, in particular, wore so lovely an expression that I could not refrain from kissing him. But I was none the less careful to make use of my new key, and to lock my other door also.
The next day was the Sabbath. Believing fully in the binding force and worldly wisdom of the Fourth Commandment, so far as it refers to rest, I have conscientiously trained myself to sleep two hours later on the morning of the holy day than I ever allowed myself to do on business days. But having inherited, besides a New England conscience, a New England abhorrence of waste, I regularly sit up two hours later on Saturday nights than on any others; and the night preceding this particular Sabbath was no exception to the rule, as the reader may imagine from the foregoing recital. At about 5.30 A. M., however, I became conscious that my nephews were not in accord, with me on the Sinaitic law. They were not only awake, but were disputing vigorously, and, seemingly, very loudly, for I heard their words very distinctly. With sleepy condescension I endeavored to ignore these noisy irreverents, but I was suddenly moved to a belief in the doctrine of vicarious atonement, for a flying body, with more momentum than weight, struck me upon the not prominent bridge of my nose, and speedily and with unnecessary force accommodated itself to the outline of my eyes. After a moment spent in anguish, and in wondering how the missive came through closed doors and windows, I discovered that my pain had been caused by one of the dolls, which, from its extreme uncleanness, I suspected belonged to Toddie; I also discovered that the door between the rooms was open.
"Who threw that doll?" I shouted, sternly. There came no response.
"Do you hear?" I roared.
"What is it, Uncle Harry?" asked Budge, with most exquisitely polite inflection.
"Who threw that doll?"
"I say, who threw that doll?"
"Why, nobody did it."
"Toddie, who threw that doll?"
"Budge did," replied Toddie in muffled tones, suggestive of a brotherly hand laid forcibly over a pair of small lips.
"Budge, what did you do it for?"
"Why—why—I—because—why, you see—because, why, Toddie froo his dolly in my mouth; some of her hair went in, any how, an' I didn't want his dolly in my mouth, so I sent it back to him, an' the foot of the bed didn't stick up enough, so it went from the door to your bed—that's what for."
The explanation seemed to bear marks of genuineness, albiet the pain of my eye was not alleviated thereby, while the exertion expended in eliciting the information had so thoroughly awakened me that further sleep was out of the question. Besides, the open door,—had a burglar been in the room? No; my watch and pocketbook were undisturbed. "Budge, who opened that door?"
After some hesitation, as if wondering who really did it, Budge replied:—
"How did you do it?"
"Why, you see we wanted a drink, an' the door was fast, so we got out the window on the parazzo roof, an' comed in your window." (Here a slight pause.) "An' 'twas fun. An' then we unlocked the door, an' comed back."
Then I should be compelled to lock my window-blinds—or theirs, and this in the summer season, too! Oh, if Helen could have but passed the house as that white-robed procession had filed along the piazza-roof! I lay pondering over the vast amount of unused ingenuity that was locked up in millions of children, or employed only to work misery among unsuspecting adults, when I heard light footfalls at my bedside, and saw a small shape with a grave face approach and remark:—
"I wants to come in your bed."
"What for, Toddie?"
"To fwolic; papa always fwolics us Sunday mornin's. Tum, Budgie, Ocken Hawwy's doin' to fwolic us."
Budge replied by shrieking with delight, tumbling out of bed, and hurrying to that side of my bed not already occupied by Toddie. Then those two little savages sounded the onslaught and advanced precipitately upon me. Sometimes, during the course of my life, I have had day-dreams which I have told to no one. Among these has been one—not now so distinct as it was before my four years of campaigning—of one day meeting in deadly combat the painted Indian of the plains; of listening undismayed to his frightful war-whoop, and of exemplifying in my own person the inevitable result of the pale-face's superior intelligence. But upon this particular Sunday morning I relinquished this idea informally, but forever. Before the advance of these diminutive warriors I quailed contemptibly, and their battle-cry sent more terror to my soul than that member ever experienced from the well-remembered rebel yell. According to Toddie, I was going to "fwolic" THEM; but from the first they took the whole business into their own little but effective hands. Toddie pronounced my knees, collectively a-horsie "bonnie," and bestrode them, laughing gleefully at my efforts to unseat him, and holding himself in position by digging his pudgy fingers into whatever portions of my anatomy he could most easily seize. Budge shouted, "I want a horsie, too!" and seated himself upon my chest. "This is the way the horsie goes," explained he, as he slowly rocked himself backward and forward. I began to realize how my brother-in-law, who had once been a fine gymnast, had become so flat-chested. Just then Budge's face assumed a more spirited expression, his eyes opened wide and lightened up, and, shouting, "This the way the horsie TROTS," he stood upright, threw up his feet, and dropped his forty-three avoirdupois pounds forcibly upon my lungs. He repeated this operation several times before I fully recovered from the shock conveyed by his combined impudence and weight; but pain finally brought my senses back, and with a wild plunge I unseated my demoniac riders and gained a clear space in the middle of the floor.
"Ah—h—h—h—h—h—h," screamed Toddie, "I wants to wide horshie backen."
"Boo—oo—oo—oo—," roared Budge, "I think you're real mean. I don't love you at all."
Regardless alike of Toddie's desires, of Budge's opinion, and the cessation of his regard, I performed a hasty toilet. Notnwithstanding my lost rest, savagely thanked the Lord for Sunday; at church, at least, I could be free from my tormentors. At the breakfast-table both boys invited themselves to accompany me to the sanctuary, but I declined without thanks. To take them might be to assist somewhat in teaching them one of the best of habits, but I strongly doubted whether the severest Providence would consider it my duty to endure the probable consequences of such an attempt. Besides I MIGHT meet Miss Mayton. I both hoped and feared I might, and I could not, endure the thought of appearing before her with the causes of my pleasant REMEMBRANCE. Budge protested and Toddie wept, but I remained firm, although I was so willing to gratify their reasonable desires that I took them out for a long ante-service walk. While enjoying this little trip I delighted the children by killing a snake and spoiling a slender cane at the same time, my own sole consolation coming from the discovery that the remains of the staff were sufficient to make a cane for Budge. While returning to the house and preparing for church I entered into a solemn agreement with Budge, who was usually recognized as the head of this fraternal partnership. Budge contracted, for himself and brother, to make no attempts to enter my room; to refrain from fighting; to raise loose dirt only with a shovel, and to convey it to its destination by means other than their own hats and aprons; to pick no flowers; to open no water-faucets; to refer all disagreements to the cook, as arbitrator, and to build no houses of the new books which I had stacked upon the library table. In consideration of the promised faithful observance of these conditions I agreed that Budge should be allowed to come alone to Sabbath school, which convened directly after morning service, he to start only after Maggie had pronounced him duly cleansed and clothed. As Toddie was daily kept in bed from eleven to one, I felt that I might safely worship without distracting fears, for Budge could not alone, and in a single hour, become guilty of any particular sin. The church at Hillcrest had many more seats than members, and as but few summer visitors had yet appeared in the town, I was conscious of being industriously stared at by the native members of the congregation. This was of itself discomfort enough, but not all to which I was destined, for the usher conducted me quite near to the altar, and showed me into a pew whose only other occupant was Miss Mayton! Of course the lady did not recognize me—she was too carefully bred to do anything of the sort in church, and I spent ten uncomfortable minutes in mentally abusing the customs of good society. The beginning of the service partially ended my uneasiness, for I had no hymn-book,—the pew contained none,—so Miss Mayton kindly offered me a share in her own. And yet so faultlessly perfect and stranger-like was her manner that I wondered whether her action might not have been prompted merely by a sense of Christian duty; had I been the Khan of Tartary she could not have been more polite and frigid. The music to the first hymn was an air I had never heard before, so I stumbled miserably through the tenor, although Miss Mayton rendered the soprano without a single false note. The sermon was longer than I was in the habit of listening to, and I was frequently conscious of not listening at all. As for my position and appearance, neither ever seemed so insignificant as they did throughout the entire service.
The minister reached "And finally, dear brethren," with my earnest prayers for a successful and speedy finale. It seemed to me that the congregation sympathized with me, for there was a general rustle behind me as these words were spoken. It soon became evident, however, that the hearers were moved by some other feeling, for I heard a profound titter or two behind me. Even Miss Mayton turned her head with more alacrity than was consistent with that grace which usually characterized her motions, and the minister himself made a pause of unusual length. I turned in my seat, and saw my nephew Budge, dressed in his best, his head irreverently covered, and his new cane swinging in the most stylish manner. He paused at each pew, carefully surveyed its occupants, seemed to fail in finding the object of his search, but continued his efforts in spite of my endeavors to catch his eye. Finally, he recognized a family acquaintance, and to him he unburdened his bosom by remarking, in tones easily heard throughout the church:—
"I want to find my uncle."
Just then he caught my eye, smiled rapturously, hurried to me and laid his rascally soft cheek confidingly against mine, while an audible sensation pervaded the church. What to do or say to him I scarcely knew; but my quandary was turned to wonder, as Miss Mayton, her face full of ill-repressed mirth, but her eyes full of tenderness, drew the little scamp close to her, and Mssed him soundly. At the same instant, the minister, not without some little hesitation, said, "Let us pray." I hastily bowed my head, glad of a chance to hide my face; but as I stole a glance at the cause of this irreligious disturbance, I caught Miss Mayton's eye. She was laughing so violently that the contagion was unavoidable, and I laughed all the harder as I felt that one mischievous boy had undone the mischief caused by another.
After the benediction, Budge was the recipient of a great deal of attention, during the confusion of which I embraced the opportunity to say to Miss Mayton:—
"Do you still sustain my sister in her opinion of my nephews, Miss Mayton?"
"I think they're too funny for anything," replied the lady, with great enthusiasm. "I DO wish you would bring them to call upon me. I'm longing to see an ORIGINAL young gentleman."
"Thank you," said I. "And I'll have Toddie bring a bouquet by way of atonement."
"Do," she replied, as I allowed her to pass from the pew. The word was an insignificant one, but it made me happy once more.
"You see, Uncle Harry," exclaimed Budge, as we left the church together, "the Sunday-school wasn't open yet, an' I wanted to hear if they'd sing again in church; so I came in, an' you wasn't in papa's seat, an' I knew you was SOMEwhere, so I LOOKED for you."
"Bless you," thought I, snatching him into my arms as if to hurry him into Sabbath school, but really to give him a kiss of grateful affection, "you did right—EXACTLY right."
My Sunday dinner was unexceptional in point of quantity and quality, and a bottle of my brother-in-law's claret proved to be most excellent; yet a certain uneasiness of mind prevented my enjoying the meal as thoroughly as under other circumstances I might have done. My uneasiness came of a mingled sense of responsibility and ignorance. I felt that it was the proper thing for me to see that my nephews spent the day with some sense of the requirements and duties of the Sabbath; but how I was to bring it about, I hardly knew. The boys, were too small to have Bible-lessons administered to them, and they were too lively to be kept quiet by any ordinary means. After a great deal of thought, I determined to consult the children themselves, and try to learn what their parents' custom had been.
"Budge," said I, "what do you do Sundays when your papa and mama are home? What do they read to you,—what do they talk about?"
"Oh, they swing us—lots!" said Budge, with brightening eyes.
"An' zey takes us to get jacks," observed Toddie.
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Budge; "jacks-in-the-pulpit—don't you know?"
"Hum—ye—es; I do remember some such thing in my youthful days. They grow where there's plenty of mud, don't they?"
"Yes, an' there's a brook there, an' ferns, an' birch-bark, an' if you don't look out you'll tumble into the brook when you go to get birch."
"An' we goes to Hawksnest Rock," piped Toddie, "an' papa carries us up on his back when we gets tired."
"An' he makes us whistles," said Budge.
"Budge," said I, rather hastily, "enough. In the language of the poet
"'These earthly pleasures I resign,'
and I'm rather astonished that your papa hasn't taught you to do likewise. Don't he ever read to you?"
"Oh, yes," cried Budge, clapping his hands, as a happy thought struck him. "He gets down the Bible—the great BIG Bible, you know—an' we all lay on the floor, an' he reads us stories out of it. There's David, an' Noah, an' when Christ was a little boy, an' Joseph, an' turnbackPharo'sarmyhallelujah—"
"TurnbackPharo'sarmyhallelujah," repeated Budge. "Don't you know how Moses held out his cane over the Red Sea, an' the water went way up one side, an' way up the other side, and all the Isrulites went across? It's just the same thing as DROWNoldPharo'sarmyhallelujah—don't you know?"
"Budge," said I, "I suspect you of having heard the Jubilee Singers."
"Oh, and papa and mama sings us all those Jubilee songs—there's 'Swing Low,' an' 'Roll Jordan,' an' 'Steal Away,' an' 'My Way's Cloudy,' an' 'Get on Board, Childuns,' an' lots. An' you can sing us every one of 'em."
"An' papa takes us in the woods, an' makesh us canes," said Toddie.
"Yes," said Budge, "and where there's new houses buildin', he takes us up ladders."
"Has he any way of putting an extension on the afternoon?" I asked.
"I don't know what that is," said Budge, "but he puts an India-rubber blanket on the grass, and then we all lie down an' make b'lieve we're soldiers asleep. Only sometimes when we wake up papa stays asleep, an' mama won't let us wake him. I don't think that's a very nice play."
"Well, I think Bible stories are nicer than anything else, don't you?"
Budge seemed somewhat in doubt. "I think swingin' is nicer," said he—"oh, no;—let's get some jacks—I'LL tell you what!—make us whistles an' we can blow on 'em while we're goin' to get the jacks. Toddie, dear, wouldn't YOU like jacks and whistles?"
"Yesh—an' swingin'—an' birch—an' wantsh to go to Hawksnesh Rock," answered Toddie.
"Let's have Bible stories first," said I. "The Lord mightn't like it if you didn't learn anything good to-day."
"Well," said Budge, with the regulation religious-matter-of-duty-face, "let's. I guess I like 'bout Joseph best."
"Tell us 'bout Bliaff," suggested Toddie.
"Oh, no, Tod," remonstrated Budge; "Joseph's coat was just as bloody as Goliath's head was." Then Budge turned to me and explained that "all Tod likes Goliath for is 'cause when his head was cut off it was all bloody." And then Toddie—the airy sprite whom his mother described as being irresistibly drawn to whatever was beautiful—Toddie glared upon me as a butcher's apprentice might stare at a doomed lamb, and remarked:—
"Bliaff's head was all bluggy, an' David's sword was all bluggy—bluggy as everyfing."
I hastily breathed a small prayer, opened the Bible, turned to the story of Joseph, and audibly condensed it as I read:—
"Joseph was a good little boy whose papa loved him very dearly. But his brothers didn't like him. And they sold him, to go to Egypt. And he was very smart, and told the people what their dreams meant, and he got to be a great man. And his brothers went to Egypt to buy corn, and Joseph sold them some, and then he let them know who he was. And he sent them home to bring their papa to Egypt, and then they all lived there together."
"That ain't it," remarked Toddie, with the air of a man who felt himself to be unjustly treated. "Is it, Budge?"
"Oh, no," said Budge, "you didn't read it good a bit; I'LL tell you how it is. Once there was a little boy named Joseph, an' he had eleven budders—they was AWFUL eleven budders. An' his papa gave him a new coat, an' his budders hadn't nothin' but their old jackets to wear. An' one day he was carryin' 'em their dinner, an' they put him in a deep, dark hole, but they didn't put his nice new coat in—they killed a kid, an' dipped the coat—just think of doin' that to a nice new coat—they dipped it in the kid's blood, an' made it all bloody."
"All bluggy," echoed Toddie, with ferocious emphasis. Budge continued:—
"But there were some Ishmalites comin' along that way, and the awful eleven budders took him out of the deep dark hole, an' sold him to the Ishmalites, an' they sold him away down in Egypt. An' his poor old papa cried, an' cried, 'cause he thought a big lion ate Joseph up; but he wasn't ate up a bit; but there wasn't no post-office nor choo-choos, [Footnote: railway cars] nor stages in Egypt, an' there wasn't any telegraphs, so Joseph couldn't let his papa know where he was; an' he got so smart an' so good that the king of Egypt let him sell all the corn an' take care of the money; an' one day some men came to buy some corn, an' Joseph looked at 'em an' there they was his own budders! An' he scared 'em like everything; I'D have SLAPPED 'em all if I'D been Joseph, but he just scared 'em, an' then he let 'em know who he was, an' he kissed 'em an' he didn't whip 'em, or make 'em go without their breakfast, or stand in a corner, nor none of them things; an' then he sent 'em back for their papa, an' when he saw his papa comin', he ran like everything, and gave him a great big hug and a kiss. Joseph was too big to ask his papa if he'd brought him any candy, but he was awful glad to see him. An' the king gave Joseph's papa a nice farm, an' they all had real good times after that."