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little dark, to be sure, but do you know I particularly admire the head. Look at that forehead; any one can see that you are a man of intellect. I tell you it isn't every one who can boast of such a forehead."
"The-the 'mahk you make 'bout me, has been made 'fo'; I may say, has been made quite frequent-quite frequent; on'y lass Tuesd'y fohtni't, Sistah Ma'y Ann Jinkins-a promnunt membeh of ouh class (that is, Asba'y class, meets on Gay street), Sistah Ma'y Ann Jinkins, she ups an' sez, befo' de whole class, dat she'd puppose de motion, dat Bro' Thomas Wheatley wuz 'p'inted fus' speakah in de nex''Jug-breakin' an' Jaymiah's Hamma,' by de i-nanemous vote of de class. I'm clah to say I wuz 'stonished; but ahta class wuz ovva, Bro' Moss tole me de 'p'intment wuz made jes' f'om de 'peahunce of my hade, ''Cause,' he sez, 'no man cain't be a po' speakah with sich a fine intillec' which we see expressed in de hade of Bro' Thomas Wheatley,'but, same time, I knowed all time de fus' motion come f'om Sistah Ma'y Ann Jinkins, -she's a ve'y good friend o' mine, Sistah Ma'y Ann Jinkins-thinks a sight o' me; I 'scohts heh to class ev'y Tuesd'y-ev'y Tuesd'y, sine die."
"You do? What does your wife have to say to that?" I asked, maliciously.
He stared at me an instant, then replied: "My wife!-oh-oh, Law bless yoh soul, seh, she do' keeh. Bro' 'Dolphus Beam, he sees ahta heh: you see, seh, she's 1-o-n-g way 'moved f'om Asba'y class; 'twont admit none but fus'-class 'speience-givvahs in Asba'y, an' my wife she wa'n't nevvah no han' to talk; haint got de gif' of de tongue which Saul, suhname Paul, speaks of in de Scripcheh-don't possess hit, seh."
"She must be a very nice person to live with," I remarked.
"Well, y-e-es, seh," replied Thomas, after reflecting awhile. "I haint got nuth'n' 'g'in' Ailse; she's quite, an' ohdaly, a good cook, an' laundriss, an she's a lady,* an' all that, but sh' aint not to say what you'd call a giftid 'oman."
up all kines o' table-linen, she kin indeed. Naw, seh, I cain't say I got nuth'n' 'g'in' Ailse."
He was, I think, the worst manager of finances that I have ever known. He cleaned all the offices in our building, and earned, as near as I could estimate, about thirty-five dollars a month. Three of his four children were self-supporting, and his wife was honest and industrious, taking in washing, and getting well paid for her work. Yet, he was perpetually in debt, and his wages were always overdrawn. Whenever I came into the office after my two-o'clock lunch, and found him seated on his wooden chair, in the corner, gazing absently out at the dingy chimneys opposite-apparently too abstracted to observe my entrance, I knew I had only to go to my desk to find, placed in a conspicuous position thereon, a very small, dirty bit of paper, with these words laboriously inscribed upon it: "Mr. Dunkin Sir cen you oblidge me with the sum of three dolers an a half [or whatever the sum might be] an deduc thee same from mi salry i em in grate kneed of thee same yours mos respecfull thomas wheatley.”
The form was always the same, my name in imposing capitals and the remainder in the very smallest letters which he could coax his stiff old fingers to make, and all written on the tiniest scrap of writingpaper. I think his object was to impress me with his humiliation, impecuniosity, and general low condition, because as soon as he received the money-which he always did, I vowing to myself each time that this advance should be the last, and as regularly breaking my vow-he would tiptoe carefully to the mantel-piece, get down his pen and ink, borrow my sand-bottle, and proceed to indite me a letter of acknowledgment. This written, he would present it with a sweeping bow, and then retire precipitately to his corner, chuckling, and perspiring profusely. He usually preferred foolscap for these documents, and the capitals were numerous and imposing. Like the others, however, they were invariably word for word the same, and were couched in the following terms:
"Like Sister Mary Ann Jinkins, eh?" "Egg-zac'ly, seh. Mist' Dunkin, you put hit kehrec', seh. Ailse haint possessed with none of the high talence, cain't exhoht, naw sing with fehveh, naw yit lead in praieh; heh talence is mos'ly boun' up in with Joy an Grattetude. Yours respecfull napkins-as Scripcheh say-mos❜ly boun' "THOMAS WHEATLEY." up in napkins; foh I do' deny she kin do
SIR I have Recieved thec Sum of Three Dolers an a half from Your hans an I Recieve thee same
* A virtuous woman.
I said his applications for money were always granted. I must, however, make an
exception, which, after all, will only go to prove the rule. One bright morning he met me at the office-door, his face as beaming as the weather. He hardly waited for me to doff my overcoat and hat, when he announced that he had bought a second-hand parlor organ the evening before, on credit, for seventy-five dollars, to be paid in installments of twelve dollars and a half each. He had been very hard up for a month past, as I had abundant occasion to know, and it was therefore with a feeling rather stronger than surprise, that I received the announcement of this purchase.
"But you haven't fifty cents toward paying for it. And what on earth can you possibly want with a parlor organ? Can you play?-can any of your family play "
"I'm driffin' 'em off et coss-driffin' 'em off et coss," he whispered, speaking rapidly, and waving his hands about, oriental fashion, the palms turned outward and the fingers twirling; this peculiar gesture seemed intended to indicate the cheapness of his wares. "Dey coss me mo'n that; heap mo', but I'm faih to lose um all now, en I'm driffin' 'em off, sine die."
After that, some dozen or more of the large wholesale houses engaged him to furnish their counting-rooms with lunch, and he began with brilliant prospects. He brought his basket around to me for first choice. Everything was very nice; a clean new basket, covered with a white cloth, wherein lay piles of neatly arranged packages done up in letter-paper, with a strange-looking character inscribed upon each.
"What do these letters mean?" I asked, taking up one of the packages, and trying in vain to decipher the cabalistic sign upon it.
Well, naw, seh," scratching his head reflectively. "I cain't say they kin not to say play"-as if they were all taking lessons, and expected to become proficient at some not far distant day. "In fac', seh, none 'Oh, that's to show de kine of san'wich on um knows a wued o' music. I didn't dey is, Mist' Dunkin. You see, seh, I got mean, seh, I didn't 'tend the—the instru- th'ee kines-so I put 'B' on de beef, 'H' ment fu' househol' puhpasses-I-I 'tended on de hahm, an' I stahtid to put 'H' on de hit as a off'in' to ouh Sabbath-school. We-hystehs, too, but den I foun' I couldn't we has no instrument at present, an' tell de hystehs f'om de hahm, so den I put 'HI' on de hystehs."
I am afraid I uttered a very bad word at this juncture. Thomas started, and retired in great discomfiture, and I thought I had made an end of the matter, but that afternoon I found the small scrap of paper on my desk-really, I think, with a little practice, Thomas might hope to rival the man who goes about writing the Lord's Prayer in the space of half a dollar. name was in larger capitals, the rest in smaller letters, than usual, and I was requested "to oblidge him with the sum of twelve dolers an' a half." I knew then that the first organ-installment was due, but I think it needless to add, his application was refused. About a week afterward, I learned that the Sabbath-school was again without a musical instrument, the organ having been pawned for twenty dollars, Thomas paying ten per cent. a month on the money. It was so with everything he undertook. Once he gave me elaborate warning that I must fur--clean sole out 'fo' two 'clock."
nish myself with another messenger at once, as he was going to make a fortune peddling oranges and apples. Accordingly, he bought a barrel (!) of each kind of fruit, sold half at reasonable rates, and then, the remainder beginning to decay on his hands, he came to me, offering really fine Havana oranges at a cent apiece.
"Oh, I see," said I, opening one of the "hysteh" packages. It was very good; an excellent French roll, well spread with choice butter, and two large, nicely fried oysters between. I ate it speedily, took another, and, that disposed of, asked the price. "Ten cents, seh."
"Yes, seh; fi' cents 'piece."
"Why, Thomas," I exclaimed, "you mustn't begin by asking five cents apiece; you'll ruin yourself. These things are worth at least twice as much money. Why, I pay ten cents for a sandwich at an eating-house, and it doesn't begin to have as good materials in it as yours. You ought to ask more."
Naw, seh; naw, seh; Mist' Dunkin; as' less, an' sell mo'-that's my motteh. I have all dese yeah clean sole out 'fo' two 'clock
I interrupted him, asking the cost of each article, and then proving to him by calculation that he lost money on each sandwich he sold at five cents. But I could not convince him-he received the twenty-five cents which I insisted on paying him with many expressions of gratitude, but he left me reiterating his belief in "quick sales and small
profits." "Be back yeah clean sole out by two 'clock, sine die," he exclaimed, brightly, as he departed.
This venture brought him six dollars in debt at the expiration of a fortnight, and after that, by my advice, he abandoned peddling, condemning it as a "low-life trade," and agreeing to stick to legitimate business for the future.
One of his famous expressions, the most formidable rival of sine die (which, as the reader has doubtless discovered, he intended as an elegant synonym for without fail), was entirely original-this was, "Granny to Mash" (I spell phonetically), used as an exclamation, and only employed when laboring under great mental excitement.
As I was proceeding homeward one evening, I spied him standing on a street corner, holding forth to a select assemblage of his own color, who were listening to him with an appearance of the profoundest respect. His back was toward me, and I stopped and caught his words without attracting observation. He had assumed a very pompous, hortatory manner, and I could well believe he held a prominent position in Asbury class. "Yes, gentlemun; yes," he was saying, "ez Brotheh Jones 'mahks, I do live in a ve'y su-peeiaw at-mos-pheeh-suh-roundid by people of leahnin', with books, pens, blottehs, lettehpess, en what not, ez common ez these yeah bricks which I see befo' me. But thaih haint no trueh wued then ev'y station has its hawdships, gentlemun, en mine ah not exemp', mine ah not exemp'.
"Fus'ly, thaih's the 'sponsebility. W'y, this yeah ve'y mawnin' I banked nigh on to a thousan' dollehs fu' de young boss. En w'en I tell you mo'n two hundred stamps is passed my mouth this yeah blessid evenin', 't will give you some slight idee of the magnitude of the duties I has to puffawm. W'y, gentlemun, I is drank wateh, an' I is drank beeh, but my mouth haint got back hits right moistuh yit."
was out of town, and Thomas and I had been very busy since three o'clock-I writing, he copying the letters. After five, we had the building pretty much to ourselves, and a little after half-past five, the fire alarm sounded. The City Hall bell was very distinctly heard, and Thomas-who had finished his work and was waiting to take some papers to the office of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad for me-took down a list of the different stations, to ascertain the whereabouts of the fire.
"1-5," he counted, as the strokes fell; "that makes fifteen, and that is," passing his finger slowly down the card, "that is Eastun Po-lice station, cawneh-naw, on Bank street. On Bank street, seh." I listened an instant.
"1-5-1," I said, " 151; it isn't fifteen." Another five minutes elapsed, while he searched for "151," I busily writing the while.
"Hit's-w'y, Lawd-a-massy! Mist' Dunkin, hit's fu' de milinte'y." "Let me see," said I. "Yes, so it is; but they only want them to go to Cumberland. There's a strike there, and the strikers are getting troublesome."
He made no reply, and as the bells ceased ringing soon afterward, I resumed my work, which kept me busy until seven o'clock. I then placed the papers in an envelope, and took up the letters.
"Be sure you see the Vice-President himself, Thomas," I said. "You know him, don't you ?"
Receiving no reply, and turning to ascertain the cause of his silence, I saw he was leaning out at the open window, gazing earnestly northward toward Baltimore street.
"Thomas! Thomas!" I shouted. He heard me at last, and withdrawing his head, apologized for his inattention.
"I thought I heehed sup'n nutha like a hollehin' kine of a noise, an'-some guns, aw sup'n, an' I wuz look'n' to see, but thaih don't 'peah to be nuthin' goin' on."
"They're mending the railroad on Baltimore street," I said. "I suppose that is what you heard." And I gave the papers into his hand, repeating my directions: "If the gentleman is not there, don't leave them on any account. I'll wait here until you get back-but go first to the post-office and mail these."
He wrapped the papers carefully in his handkerchief, placed them in his vest-pocket, and started off.
After he left, I leaned my elbow on the
dusty window-sill and lounged there awhile, watching him as he trotted busily down the deserted street; then, rousing myself, I stretched my weary limbs and set about arranging my desk, closing the safe, etc. At last everything was put in order, and I seated myself in an arm-chair, rubbing my cramped fingers and wrist, and afterward consulting my watch, more for something to do than to ascertain the time, which the clock on the mantel-piece would have told
Only quarter-past seven, and he might be detained until half-past eight. I leaned back and closed my eyes. How still and hot it was! I believe I was the only human being in that whole long block of big buildings on that July evening. Everything was as quiet as the typical country church-yard. I had a lethargic sense now and then of the far-off tinkle of a car-bell. I could catch a distant rumble from a passing vehicle a block or two away. And, yes, I did observe the presence of a dull, continuous drone, which proceeded from the direction of Baltimore street, but just as I sat up to hearken, some one passing whistled, "Silver Threads among the Gold," the melody tracing itself upon the stillness like phosphoric letters in a dark room. I listened with vivid interest, but the tune presently grew fainter, faded, and was dissolved into the dusk, leaving me lonelier than before, and too sleepy to give my attention to the strange hum, of which I again became dully conscious. It is tiresome work waiting here with nothing to do, was my last drowsy thought, as I folded my arms on the desk, and rested my head upon them, to be aroused by a knocking at my door.
"Come in," I called.
"Yes. I'm here; what do you want?" "Dey wan's you down-y street."
I stretched myself, reached mechanically for a match, and lighted the gas, which disclosed a small yellow boy, standing in the door-way, some fright and a good deal of excitement in his aspect. I then detected that he had something important to tell, and that his errand was a source of gratification to him.
"Aint yer yeared nuth'n' 'tall?" a shade of contempt in his tone.
"Well, what is it ?" I asked, after we had stared at one another.
"No, what is there to hear?" I asked, rather irascibly.
"Dey's a big fight down-town; de folks dey done tore de Six reggimen' all ter pieces, an' dey's wuk'n' 'long on de Fif' now."
"Whereabouts ? "
I started up, and got on my hat in an instant.
"Dey's et Camd' street depot, now. Ole colored gentlemun he's ben hurtid, an' sent me atter you."
It did not take half a minute to lock the door, and we proceeded down-stairs together.
"He's down yere on Eutaw street," continued my informant. "Dey's fightin' all 'long dere-I come nigh gittin' hit myselfhe gimme ten cents to come tell yer-may be he's done dade now," he added, cheerfully, as we gained the street, and began to walk.
The door creaked on its hinges, and somebody entered. I waited an instant, when an adolescent voice of the colored persuasion asked:
"The Fifth must be there now
"The Fifth ?—what are they-two hun
"Do somebody name Mist' Dunkin live dred men against two thousand ?-Lord here ?" knows how it will end. I hope this old town wont be burnt, that's all." The boy, listening, turned fearfully around, looking with distended eyes into mine. "Come on," I responded, and we spoke no more until we reached Liberty street. Then, all at once, above the street-noises-the rumbling of fugitive vehicles, the jingle of streetcars, and the hum of excited voices-rose a deep, hollow roar; a horrible sound of human menace in it, which was distinguishable even at that distance. The boy pressed closer, clutching timidly at my hand.
"Dey fet all 'long yere," was his next breathless remark, made some time later. We were now proceeding rapidly up Baltimore street, as rapidly, at least, as people can who are pushing against a steady stream of agitated humanity. "Dey fawr'd a bullet clean through de Sun-paper room," pursued the boy, "an' dey bust up dem dere winder-glassis —"
Pausing involuntarily to look, I caught stray scraps of additional information. "Twenty-five people killed." "As many as that?"
"Oh, yes; fully, I should say. The Sixth fired right into the crowd, all along from Gay to Eutaw street."
Well, I hear the Sixth are pretty well cleaned out by this time, so it's tit for tat."
"Is yer-is yer gwine ter keep on?" he faltered. "De ole gentlemun, he 'lowed puticler you wa'n't to run no resk 'count o' him."
"Where is he?" I asked. "In the thick of it ? "
"No, sir; he's lay'n' down in a little alley -clean off d' street."
"Come on, then; you'll have to show me where it is. I wont let you get hurt."
When we first wheeled into South Eutaw street, I was conscious of an almost painful stillness, more noticeable after the tumult of confused sounds from which we had just emerged. The houses on either side were fast closed, doors and windows. Some of them were even unlighted, and not a vehicle was in sight. The street was partially unpaved, where new gas-pipes had been laid, and piles of paving-stones were heaped on the edge of the sidewalks. The place
But presently, far down in the immediate vicinity of the depot, I perceived accumulated a dense, dark mass, like a low-hanging cloud, from which a low, hoarse murmur seemed to proceed. It swayed slightly from side to side, with the inevitable motion of a large crowd, while at the same time it kept well within certain bounds. We walked quickly along, block after block, without encountering a single soul. I had been so engrossed with the dark, muttering pulsation in front, that I failed to attend to the sounds from behind, until the boy, jerking my hand, bade me listen to the drum. I heard it then plainly, as soon as he spoke, and the approaching tramp of disciplined feet was soon after distinctly audible. I turned and looked. The Fifth regiment was marching down the middle of North Eutaw street, having not yet crossed Baltimore street, the drum corps in front, the colors flying, and crowding the sidewalks on either hand was a motley van and body guard, consisting of street loafers and half-grown boys, who had come along to see the "fun," and whose sympathies were plainly with the rioters. The foremost of these soon reached the spot where I stood, and as I drew aside to let them pass, I heard a gamin say to his neighbor:
"I say, Bill, these yere putty little soldierboys hadn't better make ther las' will an' testyment-aint it ? "
"I dunno 'bout that," replied the other, a veteran of fourteen, who was chewing tobacco, and whom I recognized as a certain one-eyed newsboy. "These yere men
hez fought in the late war, yer see, plenty of 'um, an' you bet they don't carry no bokays on ther bayonits."
As the column advanced, I glanced anxiously toward the human sea down yonder. At first, no additional movement could be detected, then, as the drums approached nearer, a quick stir, like a sudden gust, struck its troubled waters; the hoarse, horrible cry tore raggedly through the summer air. And then I hastily drew the terrified child with me into the shade of a receding door-way-for the mad flood came raving over its bounds toward us.
The mob was mostly composed of men in their working-clothes, with bare arms and gaunt, haggard faces. There were some women among them-wretched, halfstarved creatures-who kept shrieking like furies all the time. As the regiment, still moving resolutely onward, approached within a few yards of them, there fell the first volley of stones, accompanied with hoots and jeers of derision.
"Thuz only two hundred of 'um, boys," shouted a rough voice. "They'll run quick enough if you give it to 'um good,” and a second shower of missiles fell into the ranks, the mob arming themselves with the pavingstones at hand.