Part 4 out of 5
optimist eagerly examined it.
"A French-chalk mine," said he, "would not be a bad thing,
but I hoped that you had struck a bed of mineral gutta-percha.
That would be a grand find."
But the chalk-bed was at last passed, and we began again to
bring up nothing but common earth.
"I suppose," said my optimist to me, one morning, "that you
must soon come to water, and if you do I hope it will be hot
"Hot water!" I exclaimed. "I do not want that."
"Oh, yes, you would, if you had thought about it as much as I
have," he replied. "I lay awake for hours last night, thinking
what would happen if you struck hot water. In the first place,
it would be absolutely pure, because, even if it were
possible for germs and bacilli to get down so deep, they would be
boiled before you got them, and then you could cool that water
for drinking. When fresh it would be already heated for cooking
and hot baths. And then--just think of it!--you could introduce
the hot-water system of heating into your house, and there would
be the hot water always ready. But the great thing would be your
garden. Think of the refuse hot water circulating in pipes up
and down and under all your beds! That garden would bloom in the
winter as others do in the summer; at least, you could begin to
have Lima-beans and tomatoes as soon as the frost was out of the
I laughed. "It would take a lot of pumping," I said, "to do
all that with the hot water."
"Oh, I forgot to say," he cried, with sparkling eyes, "that I
do not believe you would ever have any more pumping to do. You
have now gone down so far that I am sure whatever you find will
force itself up. It will spout high into the air or through all
your pipes, and run always."
Phineas Colwell was by when this was said, and he must have
gone down to Mrs. Betty Perch's house to talk it over with her,
for in the afternoon she came to see me.
"I understand," said she, "that you are trying to get hot
water out of your well, and that there is likely to be a lot more
than you need, so that it will run down by the side of the road.
I just want to say that if a stream of hot water comes down past
my house some of the children will be bound to get into it and be
scalded to death, and I came to say that if that well is
going to squirt b'iling water I'd like to have notice so that I
can move, though where a widow with so many orphans is going to
move to nobody knows. Mr. Colwell says that if you had got him
to tell you where to put that well there would have been no
danger of this sort of thing."
The next day the optimist came to me, his face fairly blazing
with a new idea. "I rode over on purpose to urge you," he cried,
"if you should strike hot water, not to stop there. Go on, and,
by George! you may strike fire."
"Heavens!" I cried.
"Oh, quite the opposite," said he. "But do not let us joke.
I think that would be the grandest thing of this age. Think of a
fire well, with the flames shooting up perhaps a hundred feet
into the air!"
I wish Phineas Colwell had not been there. As it was, he
turned pale and sat down on the wall.
"You look astonished!" exclaimed the optimist, "but listen to
me. You have not thought of this thing as I have. If you should
strike fire your fortune would be made. By a system of
reflectors you could light up the whole country. By means of
tiles and pipes this region could be made tropical. You could
warm all the houses in the neighborhood with hot air. And then
the power you could generate--just think of it! Heat is power;
the cost of power is the fuel. You could furnish power to all
who wanted it. You could fill this region with industries. My
dear sir, you must excuse my agitation, but if you should strike
fire there is no limit to the possibilities of achievement."
"But I want water," said I. "Fire would not take the place
"Oh, water is a trifle," said he. "You could have pipes laid
from town; it is only about two miles. But fire! Nobody has yet
gone down deep enough for that. You have your future in your
As I did not care to connect my future with fire, this idea
did not strike me very forcibly, but it struck Phineas Colwell.
He did not say anything to me, but after I had gone he went to
"If you feel them pipes getting hot," he said to them, "I
warn you to stop. I have been in countries where there are
volcanoes, and I know what they are. There's enough of them in
this world, and there's no need of making new ones."
In the afternoon a wagoner, who happened to be passing,
brought me a note from Mrs. Perch, very badly spelled, asking if
I would let one of my men bring her a pail of water, for she
could not think of coming herself or letting any of the children
come near my place if spouting fires were expected.
The well-driving had gone on and on, with intermissions on
account of sickness in the families of the various workmen, until
it had reached the limit which I had fixed, and we had not found
water in sufficient quantity, hot or cold, nor had we struck
fire, or anything else worth having.
The well-drivers and some specialists were of the opinion
that if I were to go ten, twenty, or perhaps a hundred feet
deeper, I would be very likely to get all the water I wanted.
But, of course, they could not tell how deep they must go, for
some wells were over a thousand feet deep. I shook my head at
this. There seemed to be only one thing certain about this
drilling business, and that was the expense. I declined to go
"I think," a facetious neighbor said to me, "it would be
cheaper for you to buy a lot of Apollinaris water,--at wholesale
rates, of course,--and let your men open so many bottles a day
and empty them into your tank. You would find that would pay
better in the long run."
Phineas Colwell told me that when he had informed Mrs. Perch
that I was going to stop operations, she was in a dreadful state
of mind. After all she had undergone, she said, it was simply
cruel to think of my stopping before I got water, and that after
having dried up her spring!
This is what Phineas said she said, but when next I met her
she told me that he had declared that if I had put the well where
he thought it ought to be, I should have been having all the
water I wanted before now.
My optimist was dreadfully cast down when he heard that I
would drive no deeper.
"I have been afraid of this," he said. "I have, been afraid
of it. And if circumstances had so arranged themselves that I
should have command of money, I should have been glad to assume
the expense of deeper explorations. I have been thinking a great
deal about the matter, and I feel quite sure that even if you did
not get water or anything else that might prove of value to you,
it would be a great advantage to have a pipe sunk into the earth
to the depth of, say, one thousand feet."
"What possible advantage could that be?" I asked.
"I will tell you," he said. "You would then have one of
the grandest opportunities ever offered to man of constructing a
gravity-engine. This would be an engine which would be of no
expense at all to run. It would need no fuel. Gravity would be
the power. It would work a pump splendidly. You could start it
when you liked and stop it when you liked."
"Pump!" said I. "What is the good of a pump without water?"
"Oh, of course you would have to have water," he answered.
"But, no matter how you get it, you will have to pump it up to
your tank so as to make it circulate over your house. Now, my
gravity-pump would do this beautifully. You see, the pump would
be arranged with cog-wheels and all that sort of thing, and the
power would be supplied by a weight, which would be a cylinder of
lead or iron, fastened to a rope and run down inside your pipe.
Just think of it! It would run down a thousand feet, and where
is there anything worked by weight that has such a fall as that?"
I laughed. "That is all very well," said I. "But how about
the power required to wind that weight up again when it got to
the bottom? I should have to have an engine to do that."
"Oh, no," said he. "I have planned the thing better than
that. You see, the greater the weight the greater the power and
the velocity. Now, if you take a solid cylinder of lead about
four inches in diameter, so that it would slip easily down your
pipe,--you might grease it, for that matter,--and twenty feet in
length, it would be an enormous weight, and in slowly descending
for about an hour a day--for that would be long enough for your
pumping--and going down a thousand feet, it would run your
engine for a year. Now, then, at the end of the year you could
not expect to haul that weight up again. You would have a
trigger arrangement which would detach it from the rope when it
got to the bottom. Then you would wind up your rope,--a man
could do that in a short time,--and you would attach another
cylinder of lead, and that would run your engine for another
year, minus a few days, because it would only go down nine
hundred and eighty feet. The next year you would put on another
cylinder, and so on. I have not worked out the figures exactly,
but I think that in this way your engine would run for thirty
years before the pipe became entirely filled with cylinders.
That would be probably as long as you would care to have water
forced into the house."
"Yes"' said I, "I think that is likely."
He saw that his scheme did not strike me favorably. Suddenly
a light flashed across his face.
"I tell you what you can do with your pipe," he said, "just
as it is. You can set up a clock over it which would run for
forty years without winding."
I smiled, and he turned sadly away to his horse; but he had
not ridden ten yards before he came back and called to me over
"If the earth at the bottom of your pipe should ever yield to
pressure and give way, and if water or gas, or--anything, should
be squirted out of it, I beg you will let me know as soon as
I promised to do so.
When the pounding was at an end my wife and child came home.
But the season continued dry, and even their presence could not
counteract the feeling of aridity which seemed to permeate
everything which belonged to us, material or immaterial. We had
a great deal of commiseration from our neighbors. I think even
Mrs. Betty Perch began to pity us a little, for her spring had
begun to trickle again in a small way, and she sent word to me
that if we were really in need of water she would be willing to
divide with us. Phineas Colwell was sorry for us, of course, but
he could not help feeling and saying that if I had consulted him
the misfortune would have been prevented.
It was late in the summer when my wife returned, and when she
made her first visit of inspection to the grounds and gardens,
her eyes, of course, fell upon the unfinished well. She was
"I never saw such a scene of wreckage," she said. "It looks
like a Western town after a cyclone. I think the best thing you
can do is to have this dreadful litter cleared up, the ground
smoothed and raked, the wall mended, and the roof put back on
that little house, and then if we can make anybody believe it is
an ice-house, so much the better."
This was good advice, and I sent for a man to put the
vicinity of the well in order and give it the air of neatness
which characterizes the rest of our home.
The man who came was named Mr. Barnet. He was a
contemplative fellow with a pipe in his mouth. After having
worked at the place for half a day he sent for me and said:
"I'll tell you what I would do if I was in your place. I'd
put that pump-house in order, and I'd set up the engine, and put
the pump down into that thirty-foot well you first dug, and I'd
pump water into my house."
I looked at him in amazement.
"There's lots of water in that well," he continued, "and if
there's that much now in this drought, you will surely have ever
so much more when the weather isn't so dry. I have measured the
water, and I know."
I could not understand him. It seemed to me that he was talking
wildly. He filled his pipe and lighted it and sat upon the wall.
"Now," said he, after he had taken a few puffs, "I'll tell
you where the trouble's been with your well. People are always
in too big a hurry in this world about all sorts of things as
well as wells. I am a well-digger and I know all about them. We
know if there is any water in the ground it will always find its
way to the deepest hole there is, and we dig a well so as to give
it a deep hole to go to in the place where we want it. But you
can't expect the water to come to that hole just the very day
it's finished. Of course you will get some, because it's right
there in the neighborhood, but there is always a lot more that
will come if you give it time. It's got to make little channels
and passages for itself, and of course it takes time to do that.
It's like settling up a new country. Only a few pioneers come at
first, and you have to wait for the population to flow in. This
being a dry season, and the water in the ground a little sluggish
on that account, it was a good while finding out where your well
was. If I had happened along when you was talking about a well,
I think I should have said to you that I knew a proverb which
would about fit your case, and that is: `Let well enough
I felt like taking this good man by the hand, but I did not. I
only told him to go ahead and do everything that was proper.
The next morning, as I was going to the well, I saw Phineas
Colwell coming down the lane and Mrs. Betty Perch coming up it.
I did not wish them to question me, so I stepped behind some
bushes. When they met they stopped.
"Upon my word!" exclaimed Mrs. Betty, "if he isn't going to
work again on that everlasting well! If he's got so much money
he don't know what to do with it, I could tell him that there's
people in this world, and not far away either, who would be the
better for some of it. It's a sin and a shame and an
abomination. Do you believe, Mr. Colwell, that there is the
least chance in the world of his ever getting water enough out of
that well to shave himself with?"
"Mrs. Perch," said Phineas, "it ain't no use talking about
that well. It ain't no use, and it never can be no use, because
it's in the wrong place. If he ever pumps water out of that well
into his house I'll do--"
"What will you do?" asked Mr. Barnet, who just then appeared
from the recesses of the engine-house.
"I'll do anything on this earth that you choose to name,"
said Phineas. "I am safe, whatever it is."
"Well, then," said Mr. Barnet, knocking the ashes from his
pipe preparatory to filling it again, "will you marry Mrs.
Phineas laughed. "Yes," he said. "I promised I would do
anything, and I'll promise that."
"A slim chance for me," said Mrs. Betty, "even if I'd have
you." And she marched on with her nose in the air.
When Mr. Barnet got fairly to work with his derrick, his
men, and his buckets, he found that there was a good deal more to
do than he had expected. The well-drivers had injured the
original well by breaking some of the tiles which lined it, and
these had to be taken out and others put in, and in the course of
this work other improvements suggested themselves and were made.
Several times operations were delayed by sickness in the family
of Mr. Barnet, and also in the families of his workmen, but still
the work went on in a very fair manner, although much more slowly
than had been supposed by any one. But in the course of time--I
will not say how much time--the work was finished, the engine was
in its place, and it pumped water into my house, and every day
since then it has pumped all the water we need, pure, cold, and
Knowing the promise Phineas Colwell had made, and feeling
desirous of having everything which concerned my well settled and
finished, I went to look for him to remind him of his duty toward
Mrs. Perch, but I could not find that naval and military
mechanical agriculturist. He had gone away to take a job or a
contract,--I could not discover which,--and he has not since
appeared in our neighborhood. Mrs. Perch is very severe on me
"There's plenty of bad things come out of that well," she
said, "but I never thought anything bad enough would come out of
it to make Mr. Colwell go away and leave me to keep on being a
widow with all them orphans."
Mr. Tolman was a gentleman whose apparent age was of a varying
character. At times, when deep in thought on business matters or
other affairs, one might have thought him fifty-five or fifty-
seven, or even sixty. Ordinarily, however, when things were
running along in a satisfactory and commonplace way, he appeared
to be about fifty years old, while upon some extraordinary
occasions, when the world assumed an unusually attractive aspect,
his age seemed to run down to forty-five or less.
He was the head of a business firm. In fact, he was the only
member of it. The firm was known as Pusey and Co. But Pusey had
long been dead and the "Co.," of which Mr. Tolman had been a
member, was dissolved. Our elderly hero, having bought out the
business, firm-name and all, for many years had carried it on
with success and profit. His counting-house was a small and
quiet place, but a great deal of money had been made in it. Mr.
Tolman was rich--very rich indeed.
And yet, as he sat in his counting-room one winter evening,
he looked his oldest. He had on his hat and his overcoat, his
gloves and his fur collar. Every one else in the establishment
had gone home, and he, with the keys in his hand, was ready
to lock up and leave also. He often stayed later than any one
else, and left the keys with Mr. Canterfield, the head clerk, as
he passed his house on his way home.
Mr. Tolman seemed in no hurry to go. He simply sat and
thought, and increased his apparent age. The truth was, he did
not want to go home. He was tired of going home. This was not
because his home was not a pleasant one. No single gentleman in
the city had a handsomer or more comfortable suite of rooms. It
was not because he felt lonely, or regretted that a wife and
children did not brighten and enliven his home. He was perfectly
satisfied to be a bachelor. The conditions suited him exactly.
But, in spite of all this, he was tired of going home.
"I wish," said Mr. Tolman to himself, "that I could feel some
interest in going home." Then he rose and took a turn or two up
and down the room. But as that did not seem to give him any more
interest in the matter, he sat down again. "I wish it were
necessary for me to go home," said he, "but it isn't." So then
he fell again to thinking. "What I need," he said, after a
while, "is to depend more upon myself--to feel that I am
necessary to myself. Just now I'm not. I'll stop going home--at
least, in this way. Where's the sense in envying other men, when
I can have all that they have just as well as not? And I'll have
it, too," said Mr. Tolman, as he went out and locked the doors.
Once in the streets, and walking rapidly, his ideas shaped
themselves easily and readily into a plan which, by the time he
reached the house of his head clerk, was quite matured. Mr.
Canterfield was just going down to dinner as his employer
rang the bell, so he opened the door himself. "I will
detain you but a minute or two," said Mr. Tolman, handing the
keys to Mr. Canterfield. "Shall we step into the parlor?"
When his employer had gone, and Mr. Canterfield had joined
his family at the dinner-table, his wife immediately asked him
what Mr. Tolman wanted.
"Only to say that he is going away to-morrow, and that I am
to attend to the business, and send his personal letters to----,"
naming a city not a hundred miles away.
"How long is he going to stay?"
"He didn't say," answered Mr. Canterfield.
"I'll tell you what he ought to do," said the lady. "He
ought to make you a partner in the firm, and then he could go
away and stay as long as he pleased."
"He can do that now," returned her husband. "He has made a
good many trips since I have been with him, and things have gone
on very much in the same way as when he is here. He knows that."
"But still you'd like to be a partner?"
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Canterfield.
"And common gratitude ought to prompt him to make you one,"
said his wife.
Mr. Tolman went home and wrote a will. He left all his
property, with the exception of a few legacies, to the richest
and most powerful charitable organization in the country.
"People will think I am crazy," said he to himself, "and if I
should die while I am carrying out my plan, I will leave the task
of defending my sanity to people who are able to make a good
fight for me." And before he went to bed his will was
signed and witnessed.
The next day he packed a trunk and left for the neighboring
city. His apartments were to be kept in readiness for his return
at any time. If you had seen him walking over to the railroad
depot, you would have taken him for a man of forty-five.
When he arrived at his destination, Mr. Tolman established
himself temporarily at a hotel, and spent the next three or four
days in walking about the city looking for what he wanted. What
he wanted was rather difficult to define, but the way in which he
put the matter to himself was something like this:
"I would like to find a snug little place where, I can live,
and carry on some business which I can attend to myself, and
which will bring me into contact with people of all sorts--people
who will interest me. It must be a small business, because I
don't want to have to work very hard, and it must be snug and
comfortable, because I want to enjoy it. I would like a shop of
some sort, because that brings a man face to face with his
The city in which he was walking about was one of the best
places in the country in which to find the place of business he
desired. It was full of independent little shops. But Mr.
Tolman could not readily find one which resembled his ideal. A
small dry-goods establishment seemed to presuppose a female
proprietor. A grocery store would give him many interesting
customers; but he did not know much about groceries, and the
business did not appear to him to possess any aesthetic features.
He was much pleased by a small shop belonging to a
taxidermist. It was exceedingly cosey, and the business was
probably not so great as to overwork any one. He might send the
birds and beasts which were brought to be stuffed to some
practical operator, and have him put them in proper condition for
the customers. He might-- But no. It would be very
unsatisfactory to engage in a business of which he knew
absolutely nothing. A taxidermist ought not to blush with
ignorance when asked some simple question about a little dead
bird or a defunct fish. And so he tore himself from the window
of this fascinating place, where, he fancied, had his education
been differently managed, he could in time have shown the world
the spectacle of a cheerful and unblighted Mr. Venus.
The shop which at last appeared to suit him best was one
which he had passed and looked at several times before it struck
him favorably. It was in a small brick house in a side street,
but not far from one of the main business avenues of the city.
The shop seemed devoted to articles of stationery and small
notions of various kinds not easy to be classified. He had
stopped to look at three penknives fastened to a card, which was
propped up in the little show-window, supported on one side by a
chess-board with "History of Asia" in gilt letters on the back,
and on the other by a small violin labelled "1 dollar." And as
he gazed past these articles into the interior of the shop, which
was now lighted up, it gradually dawned upon him that it was
something like his ideal of an attractive and interesting
business place. At any rate, he would go in and look at it. He
did not care for a violin, even at the low price marked on the
one in the window, but a new pocket-knife might be useful.
So he walked in and asked to look at pocket-knives.
The shop was in charge of a very pleasant old lady of about
sixty, who sat sewing behind the little counter. While she went
to the window and very carefully reached over the articles
displayed therein to get the card of penknives, Mr. Tolman looked
about him. The shop was quite small, but there seemed to be a
good deal in it. There were shelves behind the counter, and
there were shelves on the opposite wall, and they all seemed well
filled with something or other. In the corner near the old
lady's chair was a little coal stove with a bright fire in it,
and at the back of the shop, at the top of two steps, was a glass
door partly open, through which he saw a small room, with a red
carpet on the floor, and a little table apparently set for a
Mr. Tolman looked at the knives when the old lady showed them
to him, and after a good deal of consideration he selected one
which he thought would be a good knife to give to a boy. Then he
looked over some things in the way of paper-cutters, whist-
markers, and such small matters, which were in a glass case on
the counter. And while he looked at them he talked to the old
She was a friendly, sociable body, very glad to have any one
to talk to, and so it was not at all difficult for Mr. Tolman, by
some general remarks, to draw from her a great many points about
herself and her shop. She was a widow, with a son who, from her
remarks, must have been forty years old. He was connected with a
mercantile establishment, and they had lived here for a long
time. While her son was a salesman, and came home every
evening, this was very pleasant. But after he became a
commercial traveller, and was away from the city for months at a
time, she did not like it at all. It was very lonely for her.
Mr. Tolman's heart rose within him, but he did not interrupt her.
"If I could do it," said she, "I would give up this place,
and go and live with my sister in the country. It would be
better for both of us, and Henry could come there just as well as
here when he gets back from his trips."
"Why don't you sell out?" asked Mr. Tolman, a little
fearfully, for he began to think that all this was too easy
sailing to be entirely safe.
"That would not be easy," said she, with a smile. "It might
be a long time before we could find any one who would want to
take the place. We have a fair trade in the store, but it isn't
what it used to be when times were better. And the library is
falling off, too. Most of the books are getting pretty old, and
it don't pay to spend much money for new ones now."
"The library!" said Mr. Tolman. "Have you a library?"
"Oh, yes," replied the old lady. "I've had a circulating
library here for nearly fifteen years. There it is on those two
upper shelves behind you."
Mr. Tolman turned, and beheld two long rows of books in
brown-paper covers, with a short step-ladder, standing near the
door of the inner room, by which these shelves might be reached.
This pleased him greatly. He had had no idea that there was a
"I declare!" said he. "It must be very pleasant to manage a
circulating library--a small one like this, I mean. I shouldn't
mind going into a business of the kind myself."
The old lady looked up, surprised. Did he wish to go into
business? She had not supposed that, just from looking at him.
Mr. Tolman explained his views to her. He did not tell what
he had been doing in the way of business, or what Mr. Canterfield
was doing for him now. He merely stated his present wishes, and
acknowledged to her that it was the attractiveness of her
establishment that had led him to come in.
"Then you do not want the penknife?" she said quickly.
"Oh, yes, I do," said he. "And I really believe, if we can
come to terms, that I would like the two other knives, together
with the rest of your stock in trade."
The old lady laughed a little nervously. She hoped very much
indeed that they could come to terms. She brought a chair from
the back room, and Mr. Tolman sat down with her by the stove to
talk it over. Few customers came in to interrupt them, and they
talked the matter over very thoroughly. They both came to the
conclusion that there would be no difficulty about terms, nor
about Mr. Tolman's ability to carry on the business after a very
little instruction from the present proprietress. When Mr.
Tolman left, it was with the understanding that he was to call
again in a couple of days, when the son Henry would be at home,
and matters could be definitely arranged.
When the three met, the bargain was soon struck. As each
party was so desirous of making it, few difficulties were
interposed. The old lady, indeed, was in favor of some delay in
the transfer of the establishment, as she would like to clean and
dust every shelf and corner and every article in the place. But
Mr. Tolman was in a hurry to take possession; and as the son
Henry would have to start off on another trip in a short time, he
wanted to see his mother moved and settled before he left. There
was not much to move but trunks and bandboxes, and some
antiquated pieces of furniture of special value to the old lady,
for Mr. Tolman insisted on buying everything in the house, just
as it stood. The whole thing did not cost him, he said to
himself, as much as some of his acquaintances would pay for a
horse. The methodical son Henry took an account of stock, and
Mr. Tolman took several lessons from the old lady, in which she
explained to him how to find out the selling prices of the
various articles from the marks on the little tags attached to
them. And she particularly instructed him in the management of
the circulating library. She informed him of the character of
the books, and, as far as possible, of the character of the
regular patrons. She told him whom he might trust to take out a
book without paying for the one brought in, if they didn't happen
to have the change with them, and she indicated with little
crosses opposite their names those persons who should be required
to pay cash down for what they had had, before receiving
It was astonishing to see what interest Mr. Tolman took in
all this. He was really anxious to meet some of the people about
whom the old lady discoursed. He tried, too, to remember a few
of the many things she told him of her methods of buying and
selling, and the general management of her shop; and he probably
did not forget more than three fourths of what she told him.
Finally everything was settled to the satisfaction of the two
male parties to the bargain,--although the old lady thought of a
hundred things she would yet like to do,--and one fine frosty
afternoon a cart-load of furniture and baggage left the door, the
old lady and her son took leave of the old place, and Mr. Tolman
was left sitting behind the little counter, the sole manager and
proprietor of a circulating library and a stationery and notion
shop. He laughed when he thought of it, but he rubbed his hands
and felt very well satisfied.
"There is nothing really crazy about it," he said to himself.
"If there is a thing that I think I would like, and I can afford
to have it, and there's no harm in it, why not have it?"
There was nobody there to say anything against this, so Mr.
Tolman rubbed his hands again before the fire, and rose to walk
up and down his shop, and wonder who would be his first customer.
In the course of twenty minutes a little boy opened the door
and came in. Mr. Tolman hastened behind the counter to receive
his commands. The little boy wanted two sheets of note-paper and
"Any particular kind!" asked Mr. Tolman.
The boy didn't know of any particular variety being desired.
He thought the same kind she always got would do. And he looked
very hard at Mr. Tolman, evidently wondering at the change in the
shopkeeper, but asking no questions.
"You are a regular customer, I suppose," said Mr. Tolman,
opening several boxes of paper which he had taken down from the
shelves. "I have just begun business here, and don't know what
kind of paper you have been in the habit of buying. But I
suppose this will do." And he took out a couple of sheets of the
best, with an envelope to match. These he carefully tied up in a
piece of thin brown paper, and gave to the boy, who handed him
three cents. Mr. Tolman took them, smiled, and then, having made
a rapid calculation, he called to the boy, who was just opening
the door, and gave him back one cent.
"You have paid me too much," he said.
The boy took the cent, looked at Mr. Tolman, and then got out
of the store as quickly as he could.
"Such profits as that are enormous," said Mr. Tolman, "but I
suppose the small sales balance them." This Mr. Tolman
subsequently found to be the case.
One or two other customers came in in the course of the
afternoon, and about dark the people who took out books began to
arrive. These kept Mr. Tolman very busy. He not only had to do
a good deal of entering and cancelling, but he had to answer a
great many questions about the change in proprietorship, and the
probability of his getting in some new books, with suggestions as
to the quantity and character of these, mingled with a few
dissatisfied remarks in regard to the volumes already on hand.
Every one seemed sorry that the old lady had gone away. But
Mr. Tolman was so pleasant and anxious to please, and took such
an interest in their selection of books, that only one of the
subscribers appeared to take the change very much to heart. This
was a young man who was forty-three cents in arrears. He
was a long time selecting a book, and when at last he brought it
to Mr. Tolman to be entered, he told him in a low voice that he
hoped there would be no objection to letting his account run on
for a little while longer. On the first of the month he would
settle it, and then he hoped to be able to pay cash whenever
he brought in a book.
Mr. Tolman looked for his name on the old lady's list, and,
finding no cross against it, told him that it was all right, and
that the first of the month would do very well. The young man
went away perfectly satisfied with the new librarian. Thus did
Mr. Tolman begin to build up his popularity. As the evening grew
on he found himself becoming very hungry. But he did not like to
shut up the shop, for every now and then some one dropped in,
sometimes to ask what time it was, and sometimes to make a little
purchase, while there were still some library patrons coming in
However, taking courage during a short rest from customers,
he put up the shutters, locked the door, and hurried off to a
hotel, where he partook of a meal such as few keepers of little
shops ever think of indulging in.
The next morning Mr. Tolman got his own breakfast. This was
delightful. He had seen how cosily the old lady had spread her
table in the little back room, where there was a stove suitable
for any cooking he might wish to indulge in, and he longed for
such a cosey meal. There were plenty of stock provisions in the
house, which he had purchased with the rest of the goods, and he
went out and bought himself a fresh loaf of bread. Then he
broiled a piece of ham, made some good strong tea, boiled some
eggs, and had a breakfast on the little round table which, though
plain enough, he enjoyed more than any breakfast at his club
which he could remember. He had opened the shop, and sat facing
the glass door, hoping, almost, that there would be some
interruption to his meal. It would seem so much more proper in
that sort of business if he had to get up and go attend to a
Before the evening of that day Mr. Tolman became convinced
that he would soon be obliged to employ a boy or some one to
attend to the establishment during his absence. After breakfast,
a woman recommended by the old lady came to make his bed and
clean up generally, but when she had gone he was left alone with
his shop. He determined not to allow this responsibility to
injure his health, and so at one o'clock boldly locked the shop
door and went out to his lunch. He hoped that no one would call
during his absence, but when he returned he found a little girl
with a pitcher standing at the door. She came to borrow half a
pint of milk.
"Milk!" exclaimed Mr. Tolman, in surprise. "Why, my child, I
have no milk. I don't even use it in my tea."
The little girl looked very much disappointed. "Is Mrs.
Walker gone away for good?" said she.
"Yes," replied Mr. Tolman. "But I would be just as willing
to lend you the milk as she would be, if I had any. Is there any
place near here where you can buy milk?"
"Oh, yes," said the girl. "You can get it round in the
"How much would half a pint cost?" he asked.
"Three cents," replied the girl.
"Well, then," said Mr. Tolman, "here are three cents. You can go
and buy the milk for me, and then you can borrow it. Will that
The girl thought it would suit very well, and away she went.
Even this little incident pleased Mr. Tolman. It was so very
novel. When he came back from his dinner in the evening, he
found two circulating library subscribers stamping their feet on
the door-step, and he afterwards heard that several others had
called and gone away. It would certainly injure the library if
he suspended business at meal-times. He could easily have his
choice of a hundred boys if he chose to advertise for one, but he
shrank from having a youngster in the place. It would interfere
greatly with his cosiness and his experiences. He might possibly
find a boy who went to school, and who would be willing to come
at noon and in the evening if he were paid enough. But it would
have to be a very steady and responsible boy. He would think it
over before taking any steps.
He thought it over for a day or two, but he did not spend his
whole time in doing so. When he had no customers, he sauntered
about in the little parlor over the shop, with its odd old
furniture, its quaint prints on the walls, and its absurd
ornaments on the mantelpiece. The other little rooms seemed
almost as funny to him, and he was sorry when the bell on the
shop door called him down from their contemplation. It was
pleasant to him to think that he owned all these odd things. The
ownership of the varied goods in the shop also gave him an
agreeable feeling which none of his other possessions had ever
afforded him. It was all so odd and novel.
He liked much to look over the books in the library. Many of
them were old novels, the names of which were familiar enough to
him, but which he had never read. He determined to read some of
them as soon as he felt fixed and settled.
In looking over the book in which the names and accounts of
the subscribers were entered, he amused himself by wondering what
sort of persons they were who had out certain books. Who, for
instance, wanted to read "The Book of Cats," and who could
possibly care for "The Mysteries of Udolpho"? But the unknown
person in regard to whom Mr. Tolman felt the greatest curiosity
was the subscriber who now had in his possession a volume
entitled "Dormstock's Logarithms of the Diapason."
"How on earth," exclaimed Mr. Tolman, "did such a book get
into this library? And where on earth did the person spring from
who would want to take it out? And not only want to take it," he
continued, as he examined the entry regarding the volume, "but
come and have it renewed one, two, three, four--nine times! He
has had that book for eighteen weeks!"
Without exactly making up his mind to do so, Mr. Tolman
deferred taking steps toward getting an assistant until P.
Glascow, the person in question, should make an appearance, and
it was nearly time for the book to be brought in again.
"If I get a boy now," thought Mr. Tolman, "Glascow will be
sure to come and bring the book while I am out."
In almost exactly two weeks from the date of the last renewal
of the book, P. Glascow came in. It was the middle of the
afternoon, and Mr. Tolman was alone. This investigator of
musical philosophy was a quiet young man of about thirty, wearing
a light-brown cloak, and carrying under one arm a large book.
P. Glascow was surprised when he heard of the change in the
proprietorship of the library. Still, he hoped that there would
be no objection to his renewing the book which he had with him,
and which he had taken out some time ago.
"Oh, no," said Mr. Tolman, "none in the world. In fact, I
don't suppose there are any other subscribers who would want it.
I have had the curiosity to look to see if it had ever been taken
out before, and I find it has not."
The young man smiled quietly. "No," said he, "I suppose not. It
is not every one who would care to study the higher mathematics
of music, especially when treated as Dormstock treats the
"He seems to go into it pretty deeply," remarked Mr. Tolman, who
had taken up the book. "At least, I should think so, judging
from all these calculations, and problems, and squares, and
"Indeed he does," said Glascow. "And although I have had the
book some months, and have more reading time at my disposal than
most persons, I have only reached the fifty-sixth page, and doubt
if I shall not have to review some of that before I can feel that
I thoroughly understand it."
"And there are three hundred and forty pages in all!" said
Mr. Tolman, compassionately.
"Yes," replied the other. "But I am quite sure that the
matter will grow easier as I proceed. I have found that out from
what I have already done."
"You say you have a good deal of leisure?" remarked Mr.
Tolman. "Is the musical business dull at present?"
"Oh, I'm not in the musical business," said Glascow. "I have
a great love for music, and wish to thoroughly understand it.
But my business is quite different. I am a night druggist, and
that is the reason I have so much leisure for reading."
"A night druggist?" repeated Mr. Tolman, inquiringly.
"Yes, sir," said the other. "I am in a large downtown drug
store which is kept open all night, and I go on duty after the
day clerks leave."
"And does that give you more leisure?" asked Mr. Tolman.
"It seems to," answered Glascow. "I sleep until about noon,
and then I have the rest of the day, until seven o'clock, to
myself. I think that people who work at night can make a more
satisfactory use of their own time than those who work in the
daytime. In the summer I can take a trip on the river, or go
somewhere out of town, every day, if I like."
"Daylight is more available for many things, that is true,"
said Mr. Tolman. "But is it not dreadfully lonely sitting in a
drug store all night? There can't be many people to come to buy
medicine at night. I thought there was generally a night-bell to
drug stores, by which a clerk could be awakened if anybody wanted
"It's not very lonely in our store at night," said
Glascow. "In fact, it's often more lively then than in the
daytime. You see, we are right down among the newspaper offices,
and there's always somebody coming in for soda-water, or cigars,
or something or other. The store is a bright, warm place for the
night editors and reporters to meet together and talk and drink
hot soda, and there's always a knot of 'em around the stove about
the time the papers begin to go to press. And they're a lively
set, I can tell you, sir. I've heard some of the best stories I
ever heard in my life told in our place after three o'clock in
"A strange life!" said Mr. Tolman. "Do you know, I never
thought that people amused themselves in that way--and night
after night, I suppose."
"Yes, sir, night after night, Sundays and all."
The night druggist now took up his book.
"Going home to read?" asked Mr. Tolman.
"Well, no," said the other. "It's rather cold this afternoon
to read. I think I'll take a brisk walk."
"Can't you leave your book until you return!" asked Mr.
Tolman. "That is, if you will come back this way. It's an
awkward book to carry about."
"Thank you, I will," said Glascow. "I shall come back this
When he had gone, Mr. Tolman took up the book, and began to
look over it more carefully than he had done before. But his
examination did not last long.
"How anybody of common sense can take any interest in this
stuff is beyond my comprehension," said Mr. Tolman, as he closed
the book and put it on a little shelf behind the counter.
When Glascow came back, Mr. Tolman asked him to stay and
warm himself. And then, after they had talked for a short time,
Mr. Tolman began to feel hungry. He had his winter appetite, and
had lunched early. So said he to the night druggist, who had
opened his "Dormstock," "How would you like to sit here and read
awhile, while I go and get my dinner? I will light the gas, and
you can be very comfortable here, if you are not in a hurry."
P. Glascow was in no hurry at all, and was very glad to have
some quiet reading by a warm fire; and so Mr. Tolman left him,
feeling perfectly confident that a man who had been allowed by
the old lady to renew a book nine times must be perfectly
When Mr. Tolman returned, the two had some further
conversation in the corner by the little stove.
"It must be rather annoying," said the night druggist, "not
to be able to go out to your meals without shutting up your shop.
If you like," said he, rather hesitatingly, "I will stop in about
this time in the afternoon, and stay here while you go to dinner.
I'll be glad to do this until you get an assistant. I can easily
attend to most people who come in, and others can wait."
Mr. Tolman jumped at this proposition. It was exactly what
So P. Glascow came every afternoon and read "Dormstock" while
Mr. Tolman went to dinner; and before long he came at lunch-time
also. It was just as convenient as not, he said. He had
finished his breakfast, and would like to read awhile. Mr.
Tolman fancied that the night druggist's lodgings were, perhaps,
not very well warmed, which idea explained the desire to walk
rather than read on a cold afternoon. Glascow's name was
entered on the free list, and he always took away the "Dormstock"
at night, because he might have a chance of looking into it at
the store, when custom began to grow slack in the latter part of
the early morning.
One afternoon there came into the shop a young lady, who
brought back two books which she had had for more than a month.
She made no excuses for keeping the books longer than the
prescribed time, but simply handed them in and paid her fine.
Mr. Tolman did not like to take this money, for it was the first
of the kind he had received; but the young lady looked as if she
were well able to afford the luxury of keeping books over their
time, and business was business. So he gravely gave her her
change. Then she said she would like to take out "Dormstock's
Logarithms of the Diapason."
Mr. Tolman stared at her. She was a bright, handsome young
lady, and looked as if she had very good sense. He could not
understand it. But he told her the book was out.
"Out!" she said. "Why, it's always out. It seems strange to
me that there should be such a demand for that book. I have been
trying to get it for ever so long."
"It IS strange," said Mr. Tolman, "but it is certainly in
demand. Did Mrs. Walker ever make you any promises about it?"
"No," said she, "but I thought my turn would come around some
time. And I particularly want the book just now."
Mr. Tolman felt somewhat troubled. He knew that the night
druggist ought not to monopolize the volume, and yet he did
not wish to disoblige one who was so useful to him, and who took
such an earnest interest in the book. And he could not temporize
with the young lady, and say that he thought the book would soon
be in. He knew it would not. There were three hundred and forty
pages of it. So he merely remarked that he was sorry.
"So am I, " said the young lady, "very sorry. It so happens
that just now I have a peculiar opportunity for studying that
book which may not occur again."
There was something in Mr. Tolman's sympathetic face which
seemed to invite her confidence, and she continued.
"I am a teacher," she said, "and on account of certain
circumstances I have a holiday for a month, which I intended to
give up almost entirely to the study of music, and I particularly
wanted "Dormstock." Do you think there is any chance of its
early return, and will you reserve it for me?"
"Reserve it!" said Mr. Tolman. "Most certainly I will." And
then he reflected a second or two. "If you will come here the
day after to-morrow, I will be able to tell you something
She said she would come.
Mr. Tolman was out a long time at lunch-time the next day.
He went to all the leading book-stores to see if he could buy a
copy of Dormstock's great work. But he was unsuccessful. The
booksellers told him that there was no probability that he could
get a copy in the country, unless, indeed, he found it in the
stock of some second-hand dealer, and that even if he sent to
England for it, where it was published, it was not likely he
could get it, for it had been long out of print. There was
no demand at all for it. The next day he went to several second-
hand stores, but no "Dormstock" could he find.
When he came back he spoke to Glascow on the subject. He was
sorry to do so, but thought that simple justice compelled him to
mention the matter. The night druggist was thrown into a
perturbed state of mind by the information that some one wanted
his beloved book.
"A woman!" he exclaimed. "Why, she would not understand two
pages out of the whole of it. It is too bad. I didn't suppose
any one would want this book."
"Do not disturb yourself too much," said Mr. Tolman. "I am
not sure that you ought to give it up."
"I am very glad to hear you say so," said Glascow. "I have
no doubt it is only a passing fancy with her. I dare say she
would really rather have a good new novel." And then, having
heard that the lady was expected that afternoon, he went out to
walk, with the "Dormstock" under his arm.
When the young lady arrived, an hour or so later, she was not
at all satisfied to take out a new novel, and was very sorry
indeed not to find the "Logarithms of the Diapason" waiting for
her. Mr. Tolman told her that he had tried to buy another copy
of the work, and for this she expressed herself gratefully. He
also found himself compelled to say that the book was in the
possession of a gentleman who had had it for some time--all the
time it had been out, in fact--and had not yet finished it.
At this the young lady seemed somewhat nettled.
"Is it not against the rules for any person to keep one book
out so long?" she asked.
"No," said Mr. Tolman. "I have looked into that. Our rules
are very simple, and merely say that a book may be renewed by the
payment of a certain sum."
"Then I am never to have it?" remarked the young lady.
"Oh, I wouldn't despair about it," said Mr. Tolman. "He has
not had time to reflect upon the matter. He is a reasonable
young man, and I believe that he will be willing to give up his
study of the book for a time and let you take it."
"No," said she, "I don't wish that. If he is studying, as
you say he is, day and night, I do not wish to interrupt him. I
should want the book at least a month, and that, I suppose, would
upset his course of study entirely. But I do not think any one
should begin in a circulating library to study a book that will
take him a year to finish; for, from what you say, it will take
this gentleman at least that time to finish Dormstock's book."
So she went her way.
When P. Glascow heard all this in the evening, he was very
grave. He had evidently been reflecting.
"It is not fair," said he. "I ought not to keep the book so
long. I now give it up for a while. You may let her have it
when she comes." And he put the "Dormstock" on the counter, and
went and sat down by the stove.
Mr. Tolman was grieved. He knew the night druggist had done
right, but still he was sorry for him. "What will you do?" he
asked. "Will you stop your studies?"
"Oh, no," said Glascow, gazing solemnly into the stove.
"I will take up some other books on the diapason which I have,
and so will keep my ideas fresh on the subject until this lady is
done with the book. I do not really believe she will study it
very long." Then he added: "If it is all the same to you, I
will come around here and read, as I have been doing, until you
shall get a regular assistant."
Mr. Tolman would be delighted to have him come, he said. He
had entirely given up the idea of getting an assistant, but this
he did not say.
It was some time before the lady came back, and Mr. Tolman
was afraid she was not coming at all. But she did come, and
asked for Mrs. Burney's "Evelina." She smiled when she named the
book, and said that she believed she would have to take a novel,
after all, and she had always wanted to read that one.
"I wouldn't take a novel if I were you," said Mr. Tolman; and
he triumphantly took down the "Dormstock" and laid it before her.
She was evidently much pleased, but when he told her of Mr.
Glascow's gentlemanly conduct in the matter, her countenance
"Not at all," said she, laying down the book. "I will not
break up his study. I will take the `Evelina' if you please."
And as no persuasion from Mr. Tolman had any effect upon her,
she went away with Mrs. Burney's novel in her muff.
"Now, then," said Mr. Tolman to Glascow, in the evening, "you
may as well take the book along with you. She won't have it."
But Glascow would do nothing of the kind. "No," he remarked,
as he sat looking into the stove. "When I said I would let
her have it, I meant it. She'll take it when she sees that it
continues to remain in the library."
Glascow was mistaken: she did not take it, having the idea
that he would soon conclude that it would be wiser for him to
read it than to let it stand idly on the shelf.
"It would serve them both right," said Mr. Tolman to himself,
"if somebody else should come and take it." But there was no one
else among his subscribers who would even think of such a thing.
One day, however, the young lady came in and asked to look at
the book. "Don't think that I am going to take it out," she
said, noticing Mr. Tolman's look of pleasure as he handed her the
volume. "I only wish to see what he says on a certain subject
which I am studying now." And so she sat down by the stove on
the chair which Mr. Tolman placed for her, and opened
She sat earnestly poring over the book for half an hour or
more, and then she looked up and said: "I really cannot make out
what this part means. Excuse my troubling you, but I would be
very glad if you would explain the latter part of this passage."
"Me!" exclaimed Mr. Tolman. "Why, my good madam,--miss, I
mean,--I couldn't explain it to you if it were to save my life.
But what page is it?" said he, looking at his watch.
"Page twenty-four," answered the young lady.
"Oh, well, then," said he, "if you can wait ten or fifteen
minutes, the gentleman who has had the book will be here, and I
think he can explain anything in the first part of the work."
The young lady seemed to hesitate whether to wait or not; but
as she had a certain curiosity to see what sort of a person he
was who had been so absorbed in the book, she concluded to sit a
little longer and look into some other parts of the volume.
The night druggist soon came in, and when Mr. Tolman
introduced him to the lady, he readily agreed to explain the
passage to her if he could. So Mr. Tolman got him a chair from
the inner room, and he also sat down by the stove.
The explanation was difficult, but it was achieved at last,
and then the young lady broached the subject of leaving the book
unused. This was discussed for some time, but came to nothing,
although Mr. Tolman put down his afternoon paper and joined in
the argument, urging, among other points, that as the matter now
stood he was deprived by the dead-lock of all income from the
book. But even this strong argument proved of no avail.
"Then I will tell you what I wish you would do," said Mr.
Tolman, as the young lady rose to go: "come here and look at the
book whenever you wish to do so. I would like to make this more
of a reading-room, anyway. It would give me more company."
After this the young lady looked into "Dormstock" when she
came in; and as her holidays had been extended by the continued
absence of the family in which she taught, she had plenty of time
for study, and came quite frequently. She often met Glascow in
the shop, and on such occasions they generally consulted
"Dormstock," and sometimes had quite lengthy talks on musical
matters. One afternoon they came in together, having met on
their way to the library, and entered into a conversation on
diapasonic logarithms, which continued during the lady's stay in
"The proper thing," thought Mr. Tolman, "would be for these
two people to get married. Then they could take the book and
study it to their heart's content. And they would certainly suit
each other, for they are both greatly attached to musical
mathematics and philosophy, and neither of them either plays or
sings, as they have told me. It would be an admirable match."
Mr. Tolman thought over this matter a good deal, and at last
determined to mention it to Glascow. When he did so, the young
man colored, and expressed the opinion that it would be of no use
to think of such a thing. But it was evident from his manner and
subsequent discourse that he had thought of it.
Mr. Tolman gradually became quite anxious on the subject,
especially as the night druggist did not seem inclined to take
any steps in the matter. The weather was now beginning to be
warmer, and Mr. Tolman reflected that the little house and the
little shop were probably much more cosey and comfortable in
winter than in summer. There were higher buildings all about the
house, and even now he began to feel that the circulation of air
would be quite as agreeable as the circulation of books. He
thought a good deal about his airy rooms in the neighboring city.
"Mr. Glascow," said he, one afternoon, "I have made up my
mind to sell out this business shortly."
"What!" exclaimed the other. "Do you mean you will give it
up and go away--leave the place altogether?"
"Yes," replied Mr. Tolman, "I shall give up the place
entirely, and leave the city."
The night druggist was shocked. He had spent many happy hours in
that shop, and his hours there were now becoming pleasanter than
ever. If Mr. Tolman went away, all this must end. Nothing of
the kind could be expected of any new proprietor.
"And considering this," continued Mr. Tolman, "I think it
would be well for you to bring your love matters to a conclusion
while I am here to help you."
"My love matters!" exclaimed Mr. Glascow, with a flush.
"Yes, certainly," said Mr. Tolman. "I have eyes, and I know
all about it. Now let me tell you what I think. When a thing is
to be done, it ought to be done the first time there is a good
chance. That's the way I do business. Now you might as well
come around here to-morrow afternoon prepared to propose to Miss
Edwards. She is due to-morrow, for she has been two days away.
If she doesn't come, we will postpone the matter until the next
day. But you should be ready to-morrow. I don't believe you can
see her much when you don't meet her here, for that family is
expected back very soon, and from what I infer from her account
of her employers, you won't care to visit her at their house."
The night druggist wanted to think about it.
"There is nothing to think," said Mr. Tolman. "We know all
about the lady." (He spoke truly, for he had informed himself
about both parties to the affair.) "Take my advice, and be here
to-morrow afternoon--and come rather early."
The next morning Mr. Tolman went up to his parlor on the
second floor, and brought down two blue stuffed chairs, the best
he had, and put them in the little room back of the shop. He
also brought down one or two knickknacks and put them on the
mantelpiece, and he dusted and brightened up the room as well as
he could. He even covered the table with a red cloth from the
When the young lady arrived, he invited her to walk into the
back room to look over some new books he had just got in. If she
had known he proposed to give up the business, she would have
thought it rather strange that he should be buying new books.
But she knew nothing of his intentions. When she was seated at
the table whereon the new books were spread, Mr. Tolman stepped
outside of the shop door to watch for Glascow's approach. He
"Walk right in," said Mr. Tolman. "She's in the back room
looking over books. I'll wait here, and keep out customers as
far as possible. It's pleasant, and I want a little fresh air.
I'll give you twenty minutes."
Glascow was pale, but he went in without a word, and Mr.
Tolman, with his hands under his coat-tail, and his feet rather
far apart, established a blockade on the doorstep. He stood
there for some time, looking at the people outside, and wondering
what the people inside were doing. The little girl who had
borrowed the milk of him, and who had never returned it, was
about to pass the door; but seeing him standing there, she
crossed over to the other side of the street. But he did not
notice her. He was wondering if it was time to go in. A boy
came up to the door, and wanted to know if he kept Easter eggs.
Mr. Tolman was happy to say he did not. When he had allowed the
night druggist a very liberal twenty minutes, he went in. As he
entered the shop door, giving the bell a very decided ring as he
did so, P. Glascow came down the two steps that led from the
inner room. His face showed that it was all right with him.
A few days after this Mr. Tolman sold out his stock, good
will, and fixtures, together with the furniture and lease of the
house. And who should he sell out to but to Mr. Glascow! This
piece of business was one of the happiest points in the whole
affair. There was no reason why the happy couple should not be
married very soon, and the young lady was charmed to give up her
position as teacher and governess in a family, and come and take
charge of that delightful little store and that cunning little
house, with almost everything in it that they wanted.
One thing in the establishment Mr. Tolman refused to sell.
That was Dormstock's great work. He made the couple a present of
the volume, and between two of the earlier pages he placed a
bank-note which in value was very much more than that of the
ordinary wedding gift.
"What are YOU going to do?" they asked of him, when all
these things were settled. And then he told them how he was
going back to his business in the neighboring city, and he told
them what it was, and how he had come to manage a circulating
library. They did not think him crazy. People who studied the
logarithms of the diapason would not be apt to think a man crazy
for such a little thing as that.
When Mr. Tolman returned to the establishment of Pusey &
Co., he found everything going on very satisfactorily.
"You look ten years younger, sir," said Mr. Canterfield. "You
must have had a very pleasant time. I did not think there
was enough to interest you in ---- for so long a time."
"Interest me!" exclaimed Mr. Tolman. "Why, objects of interest
crowded on me. I never had a more enjoyable holiday in my life."
When he went home that evening (and he found himself quite
willing to go), he tore up the will he had made. He now felt
that there was no necessity for proving his sanity.
MY UNWILLING NEIGHBOR
I was about twenty-five years old when I began life as the owner
of a vineyard in western Virginia. I bought a large tract of
land, the greater part of which lay upon the sloping side of one
of the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge, the exposure being that most
favorable to the growth of the vine. I am an enthusiastic lover
of the country and of country life, and believed that I should
derive more pleasure as well as profit from the culture of my
far-stretching vineyard than I would from ordinary farm
I built myself a good house of moderate size upon a little
plateau on the higher part of my estate. Sitting in my porch,
smoking my pipe after the labors of the day, I could look down
over my vineyard into a beautiful valley, with here and there a
little curling smoke arising from some of the few dwellings which
were scattered about among the groves and spreading fields, and
above this beauty I could imagine all my hillside clothed in
green and purple.
My family consisted of myself alone. It is true that I
expected some day that there would be others in my house besides
myself, but I was not ready for this yet.
During the summer I found it very pleasant to live by
myself. It was a novelty, and I could arrange and manage
everything in my own fashion, which was a pleasure I had not
enjoyed when I lived in my father's house. But when winter came
I found it very lonely. Even my servants lived in a cabin at
some little distance, and there were many dark and stormy
evenings when the company even of a bore would have been welcome
to me. Sometimes I walked over to the town and visited my
friends there, but this was not feasible on stormy nights, and
the winter seemed to me a very long one.
But spring came, outdoor operations began, and for a few
weeks I felt again that I was all-sufficient for my own pleasure
and comfort. Then came a change. One of those seasons of bad
and stormy weather which so frequently follow an early spring
settled down upon my spirits and my hillside. It rained, it was
cold, fierce winds blew, and I became more anxious for somebody
to talk to than I had been at any time during the winter.
One night, when a very bad storm was raging, I went to bed
early, and as I lay awake I revolved in my mind a scheme of which
I had frequently thought before. I would build a neat little
house on my grounds, not very far away from my house, but not too
near, and I would ask Jack Brandiger to come there and live.
Jack was a friend of mine who was reading law in the town, and it
seemed to me that it would be much more pleasant, and even more
profitable, to read law on a pretty hillside overlooking a
charming valley, with woods and mountains behind and above him,
where he could ramble to his heart's content.
I had thought of asking Jack to come and live with me,
but this idea I soon dismissed. I am a very particular person,
and Jack was not. He left his pipes about in all sorts of
places--sometimes when they were still lighted. When he came to
see me he was quite as likely to put his hat over the inkstand as
to put it anywhere else. But if Jack lived at a little distance,
and we could go backward and forward to see each other whenever
we pleased, that would be quite another thing. He could do as he
pleased in his own house, and I could do as I pleased in mine,
and we might have many pleasant evenings together. This was a
cheering idea, and I was planning how we might arrange with the
negro woman who managed my household affairs to attend also to
those of Jack when I fell asleep.
I did not sleep long before I was awakened by the increased
violence of the storm. My house shook with the fury of the wind.
The rain seemed to be pouring on its roof and northern side as if
there were a waterfall above us, and every now and then I could
hear a shower of hailstones rattling against the shutters. My
bedroom was one of the rooms on the lower floor, and even there I
could hear the pounding of the deluge and the hailstones upon the
All this was very doleful, and had a tendency to depress the
spirits of a man awake and alone in a good-sized house. But I
shook off this depression. It was, not agreeable to be up here
by myself in such a terrible storm, but there was nothing to be
afraid of, as my house was new and very strongly built, being
constructed of logs, weather-boarded outside and ceiled within.
It would require a hurricane to blow off the roof, and I believed
my shutters to be hail-proof. So, as there was no reason to
stay awake, I turned over and went to sleep.
I do not know how long it was before I was awakened again,
this time not by the noise of the storm, but by a curious
movement of my bedstead. I had once felt the slight shock of an
earthquake, and it seemed to me that this must be something of
the kind. Certainly my bed moved under me. I sat up. The room
was pitchy dark. In a moment I felt another movement, but this
time it did not seem to me to resemble an earthquake shock. Such
motion, I think, is generally in horizontal directions, while
that which I felt was more like the movement of a ship upon the
water. The storm was at its height; the wind raged and roared,
and the rain seemed to be pouring down as heavily as ever.
I was about to get up and light the lamp, for even the
faintest candle-flame would be some sort of company at such a
grewsome moment, when my bedstead gave another movement, more
shiplike than before. It actually lurched forward as if it were
descending into the trough of the sea, but, unlike a ship, it did
not rise again, but remained in such a slanting position that I
began to slide down toward the foot. I believe that if it had
not been a bedstead provided with a footboard, I should have
slipped out upon the floor.
I did not jump out of bed. I did not do anything. I was
trying to think, to understand the situation, to find out whether
I was asleep or awake, when I became aware of noises in the room
and all over the house which even through the din of the storm
made themselves noticed by their peculiarity. Tables, everything
in the room, seemed to be grating and grinding on the floor,
and in a moment there was a crash. I knew what that meant; my
lamp had slipped off the table. Any doubt on that point would
have been dispelled by the smell of kerosene which soon filled
the air of the room.
The motion of the bed, which I now believe must have been the
motion of the whole house, still continued; but the grating
noises in the room gradually ceased, from which I inferred that
the furniture had brought up against the front wall of the room.
It now was impossible for me to get up and strike a light,
for to do so with kerosene oil all over the floor and its vapor
diffused through the room would probably result in setting the
house on fire. So I must stay in darkness and wait. I do not
think I was very much frightened--I was so astonished that there
was no room in my mind for fear. In fact, all my mental energies
were occupied in trying to find out what had happened. It
required, however, only a few more minutes of reflection, and a
few more minutes of the grating, bumping, trembling of my house,
to enable me to make up my mind what was happening. My house was
The wind must have blown the building from its foundations,
and upon the slippery surface of the hillside, probably lashed
into liquid mud by the pouring rain, it was making its way down
toward the valley! In a flash my mind's eye ran over the whole
surface of the country beneath me as far as I knew it. I was
almost positive that there was no precipice, no terrible chasm
into which my house might fall. There was nothing but sloping
hillside, and beneath that a wide stretch of fields.
Now there was a new and sudden noise of heavy objects falling
upon the roof, and I knew what that meant: my chimney had been
wrenched from its foundations, and the upper part of it had now
toppled over. I could hear, through the storm, the bricks
banging and sliding upon the slanting roof. Continuous sounds of
cracking and snapping came to me through the closed front
windows, and these were caused, I supposed, by the destruction of
the stakes of my vines as the heavy house moved over them.
Of course, when I thoroughly understood the state of the
case, my first impulse was to spring out of bed, and, as quickly
as possible, to get out of that thumping and sliding house. But
I restrained myself. The floor might be covered with broken
glass, I might not be able to find my clothes in the darkness and
in the jumble of furniture at the end of the room, and even if I
could dress myself, it would be folly to jump out in the midst of
that raging storm into a probable mass of wreckage which I could
not see. It would be far better to remain dry and warm under my
roof. There was no reason whatever to suppose that the house
would go to pieces, or that it would turn over. It must stop
some time or other, and, until it did so, I would be safer in my
bed than anywhere else. Therefore in my bed I stayed.
Sitting upright, with my feet pressed against the footboard,
I listened and felt. The noises of the storm, and the cracking
and the snapping and grinding before me and under me, still
continued, although I sometimes thought that the wind was
moderating a little, and that the strange motion was becoming
more regular. I believed the house was moving faster than
when it first began its strange career, but that it was sliding
over a smooth surface. Now I noticed a succession of loud cracks
and snaps at the front of the house, and, from the character of
the sounds, I concluded that my little front porch, which had
been acting as a cutwater at the bow of my shiplike house, had
yielded at last to the rough contact with the ground, and would
probably soon be torn away. This did not disturb me, for the
house must still be firm.
It was not long before I perceived that the slanting of my
bed was becoming less and less, and also I was quite sure that
the house was moving more slowly. Then the crackings and
snappings before my front wall ceased altogether. The bed
resumed its ordinary horizontal position, and although I did not
know at what moment the house had ceased sliding and had come to
a standstill, I was sure that it had done so. It was now resting
upon a level surface. The room was still perfectly dark, and the
storm continued. It was useless for me to get up until daylight
came,--I could not see what had happened,--so I lay back upon my
pillow and tried to imagine upon what level portion of my farm I
had stranded. While doing this I fell asleep.
When I woke, a little light was stealing into the room
through the blinds of my shutters. I quickly slipped out of bed,
opened a window, and looked out. Day was just breaking, the rain
and wind had ceased, and I could discern objects. But it seemed
as if I needed some light in my brain to enable me to comprehend
what I saw. My eyes fell upon nothing familiar.
I did not stop to investigate, however, from my window.
I found my clothes huddled together with the furniture at the
front end of the room, and as soon as I was dressed I went into
the hall and then to my front door. I quickly jerked this open
and was about to step outside when, suddenly, I stopped. I was
positive that my front porch had been destroyed. But there I saw
a porch a little lower than mine and a great deal wider, and on
the other side of it, not more than eight feet from me, was a
window--the window of a house, and on the other side of the
window was a face--the face of a young girl! As I stood staring
in blank amazement at the house which presented itself at my
front door, the face at the window disappeared, and I was left to
contemplate the scene by myself. I ran to my back door and threw
it open. There I saw, stretching up the fields and far up the
hillside, the wide path which my house had made as it came down
from its elevated position to the valley beneath, where it had
ended its onward career by stopping up against another house. As
I looked from the back porch I saw that the ground still
continued to slope, so that if my house had not found in its path
another building, it would probably have proceeded somewhat
farther on its course. It was lighter, and I saw bushes and
fences and outbuildings--I was in a back yard.
Almost breathless with amazement and consternation, I ran
again to the front door. When I reached it I found a young woman
standing on the porch of the house before me. I was about to say
something--I know not what--when she put her finger on her lips
and stepped forward.
"Please don't speak loudly," she said. "I am afraid it will
frighten mother. She is asleep yet. I suppose you and your
house have been sliding downhill?"
"That is what has happened," said I. "But I cannot
understand it. It seems to me the most amazing thing that ever
took place on the face of the earth."
"It is very queer," said she, "but hurricanes do blow away
houses, and that must have been a hurricane we had last night,
for the wind was strong enough to loosen any house. I have often
wondered if that house would ever slide downhill."
"Yes," she said. "Soon after it was built I began to think
what a nice clean sweep it could make from the place where it
seemed to be stuck to the side of the mountain, right down here
into the valley."
I could not talk with a girl like this; at least, I could not
meet her on her own conversational grounds. I was so agitated
myself that it seemed unnatural that any one to whom I should
speak should not also be agitated.
"Who are you?" I asked rather brusquely. "At least, to whom
does this house belong?"
"This is my mother's house," said she. "My mother is Mrs.
Carson. We happen just now to be living here by ourselves, so I
cannot call on any man to help you do anything. My brother has
always lived with us, but last week he went away."
"You don't seem to be a bit astonished at what has happened,"
She was rather a pretty girl, of a cheerful disposition, I
should say, for several times she had smiled as she spoke.
"Oh, I am astonished," she answered; "or, at least, I
was. But I have had time enough to get over some of it. It was
at least an hour ago when I was awakened by hearing something
crack in the yard. I went to a window and looked out, and could
just barely see that something like a big building had grown up
during the night. Then I watched it, and watched it, until I
made out it was a whole house; and after that it was not long
before I guessed what had happened. It seemed a simpler thing to
me, you know, than it did to you, because I had often thought
about it, and probably you never had."
"You are right there," said I, earnestly. "It would have
been impossible for me to imagine such a thing."
"At first I thought there was nobody in the house," said she,
"but when I heard some one moving about, I came down to tell
whoever had arrived not to make a noise. I see," she added, with
another of her smiles, "that you think I am a very strange person
not to be more flurried by what has happened. But really I
cannot think of anything else just now, except what mother will
say and do when she comes down and finds you and your house here
at the back door. I am very sure she will not like it."
"Like it!" I exclaimed. "Who on earth could like it?"
"Please speak more gently," she said. "Mother is always a
little irritable when her night's rest has been broken, and I
would not like to have her wakened up suddenly now. But really,
Mr. Warren, I haven't the least idea in the world how she will
take this thing. I must go in and be with her when she wakes, so
that I can explain just what has happened."
"One moment," I said. "You know my name."
"Of course I know your name," she answered. "Could that
house be up there on the hillside for more than a year without my
knowing who lived in it?" With this she went indoors.
I could not help smiling when I thought of the young lady
regretting that there was no man in the house who might help me
do something. What could anybody do in a case like this? I
turned and went into my house. I entered the various rooms on
the lower floor, and saw no signs of any particular damage,
except that everything movable in each room was jumbled together
against the front wall. But when I looked out of the back door I
found that the porch there was a good deal wrecked, which I had
not noticed before.
I went up-stairs, and found everything very much as it was
below. Nothing seemed to have been injured except the chimney
and the porches. I thanked my stars that I had used hard wood
instead of mortar for the ceilings of my rooms.
I was about to go into my bedroom, when I heard a woman
scream, and of course I hurried to the front. There on the back
porch of her house stood Mrs. Carson. She was a woman of middle
age, and, as I glanced at her, I saw where her daughter got her
good looks. But the placidity and cheerfulness of the younger
face were entirely wanting in the mother. Her eyes sparkled, her
cheeks were red, her mouth was partly opened, and it seemed to me
that I could almost see that her breath was hot.
"Is this your house?" she cried, the moment her eyes fell
upon me. "And what is it doing here?" I did not immediately
answer, I looked at the angry woman, and behind her I saw,
through the open door, the daughter crossing the hallway. It was
plain that she had decided to let me have it out with her mother
without interference. As briefly and as clearly as I could, I
explained what had happened.
"What is all that to me?" she screamed. "It doesn't matter
to me how your house got here. There have been storms ever since
the beginning of the world, and I never heard of any of them
taking a house into a person's back yard. You ought not to have
built your house where any such thing could happen. But all this
is nothing to me. I don't understand now how your house did get
here, and I don't want to understand it. All I want is for you
to take it away."
"I will do that, madam, just as soon as I can. You may be
very sure I will do that. But--"
"Can you do it now?" she asked. "Can you do it to-day? I
don't want a minute lost. I have not been outside to see what
damage has been done, but the first thing to do is to take your
"I am going to the town now, madam, to summon assistance."
Mrs. Carson made no answer, but she turned and walked to the
end of her porch. There she suddenly gave a scream which quickly
brought her daughter from the house. "Kitty! Kitty!" cried her
mother. "Do you know what he has done? He has gone right over
my round flower-garden. His house is sitting on it this minute!"
"But he could not help it, mother," said Kitty.
"Help it!" exclaimed Mrs. Carson. "I didn't expect him to
help it. What I want--" Suddenly she stopped. Her eyes flashed
brighter, her mouth opened wider, and she became more and
more excited as she noticed the absence of the sheds, fences, or
vegetable-beds which had found themselves in the course of my
It was now well on in the morning, and some of the neighbors
had become aware of the strange disaster which had happened to
me, although if they had heard the news from Mrs. Carson they
might have supposed that it was a disaster which had happened
only to her. As they gazed at the two houses so closely jammed
together, all of them wondered, some of them even laughed, but
not one offered a suggestion which afforded satisfaction to Mrs.
Carson or myself. The general opinion was that, now my house was
there, it would have to stay there, for there were not enough
horses in the State to pull it back up that mountainside. To be
sure, it might possibly be drawn off sidewise. But whether it
was moved one way or the other, a lot of Mrs. Carson's trees
would have to be cut down to let it pass.
"Which shall never happen!" cried that good lady. "If
nothing else can be done, it must be taken apart and hauled off
in carts. But no matter how it is managed, it must be moved, and
that immediately." Miss Carson now prevailed upon her mother to
go into the house, and I stayed and talked to the men and a few
women who had gathered outside.
When they had said all they had to say, and seen all there
was to see, these people went home to their breakfasts. I
entered my house, but not by the front door, for to do that I
would have been obliged to trespass upon Mrs. Carson's back
porch. I got my hat, and was about to start for the town, when I
heard my name called. Turning into the hall, I saw Miss
Carson, who was standing at my front door.
"Mr. Warren," said she, "you haven't any way of getting
breakfast, have you?"
"Oh, no," said I. "My servants are up there in their cabin,
and I suppose they are too much scared to come down. But I am
going to town to see what can be done about my house, and will
get my breakfast there."
"It's a long way to go without anything to eat," she said,
"and we can give you some breakfast. But I want to ask you
something. I am in a good deal of perplexity. Our two servants
are out at the front of the house, but they positively refuse to
come in; they are afraid that your house may begin sliding again
and crush them all, so, I shall have to get breakfast. But what
bothers me is trying to find our well. I have been outside, and
can see no signs of it."
"Where was your well?" I gasped.
"It ought to be somewhere near the back of your house," she
said. "May I go through your hall and look out?"
"Of course you may," I cried, and I preceded her to my back
"Now, it seems to me," she said, after surveying the scene of
desolation immediately before, and looking from side to side
toward objects which had remained untouched, "that your house has
passed directly over our well, and must have carried away the
little shed and the pump and everything above ground. I should
not wonder a bit," she continued slowly, "if it is under your
I jumped to the ground, for the steps were shattered, and began
to search for the well, and it was not long before I discovered
its round dark opening, which was, as Miss Carson had imagined,
under one end of my porch.
"What can we do?" she asked. "We can't have breakfast or get
along at all without water." It was a terribly depressing thing
to me to think that I, or rather my house, had given these people
so much trouble. But I speedily, assured Miss Carson that if she
could find a bucket and a rope which I could lower into the well,
I would provide her with water.
She went into her house to see what she could find, and I tore
away the broken planks of the porch, so that I could get to the
well. And then, when she came with a tin pail and a clothes-
line, I went to work to haul up water and carry it to her back
"I don't want mother to find out what has happened to the
well," she said, "for she has enough on her mind already."
Mrs. Carson was a woman with some good points in her
character. After a time she called to me herself, and told me to
come in to breakfast. But during the meal she talked very
earnestly to me about the amazing trespass I had committed, and
about the means which should be taken to repair the damages my
house had done to her property. I was as optimistic as I could
be, and the young lady spoke very cheerfully and hopefully about
the affair, so that we were beginning to get along somewhat
pleasantly, when, suddenly, Mrs. Carson sprang to her feet.
"Heavens and earth!" she cried, "this house is moving!"
She was not mistaken. I had felt beneath my feet a sudden
sharp shock--not severe, but unmistakable. I remembered
that both houses stood upon slightly sloping ground. My blood
turned cold, my heart stood still; even Miss Carson was pale.
When we had rushed out of doors to see what had happened, or
what was going to happen, I soon found that we had been
needlessly frightened. Some of the broken timbers on which my
house had been partially resting had given way, and the front
part of the building had slightly descended, jarring as it did so
the other house against which it rested. I endeavored to prove
to Mrs. Carson that the result was encouraging rather than
otherwise, for my house was now more firmly settled than it had
been. But she did not value the opinion of a man who did not
know enough to put his house in a place where it would be likely
to stay, and she could eat no more breakfast, and was even afraid
to stay under her own roof until experienced mechanics had been
summoned to look into the state of affairs.
I hurried away to the town, and it was not long before
several carpenters and masons were on the spot. After a thorough
examination, they assured Mrs. Carson that there was no danger,
that my house would do no farther damage to her premises, but, to
make things certain, they would bring some heavy beams and brace
the front of my house against her cellar wall. When that should
be done it would be impossible for it to move any farther.
"But I don't want it braced!" cried Mrs. Carson. "I want it
taken away. I want it out of my back yard!"
The master carpenter was a man of imagination and expedients.
"That is quite another thing, ma'am," said he. "We'll fix this
gentleman's house so that you needn't be afraid of it, and then,
when the time comes to move it, there's several ways of doing
that. We might rig up a powerful windlass at the top of the
hill, and perhaps get a steam-engine to turn it, and we could
fasten cables to the house and haul her back to where she
"And can you take your oaths," cried Mrs. Carson, "that those
ropes won't break, and when that house gets half-way up the hill
it won't come sliding down ten times faster than it did, and
crash into me and mine and everything I own on earth? No, sir!
I'll have no house hauled up a hill back of me!"
"Of course," said the carpenter, "it would be a great deal
easier to move it on this ground, which is almost level--"
"And cut down my trees to do it! No, sir!"
"Well, then," said he, "there is no way to do but to take it
apart and haul it off."
"Which would make an awful time at the back of my house while
you were doing it!" exclaimed Mrs. Carson.
I now put in a word. "There's only one thing to do that I
can see!" I exclaimed. "I will sell it to a match factory. It
is almost all wood, and it can be cut up in sections about two
inches thick, and then split into matches."
Kitty smiled. "I should like to see them," she said, "taking
away the little sticks in wheelbarrows!"
"There is no need of trifling on the subject," said Mrs.
Carson. "I have had a great deal to bear, and I must bear it no
longer than is necessary. I have just found out that in order to
get water out of my own well, I must go to the back porch of
a stranger. Such things cannot be endured. If my son George
were here, he would tell me what I ought to do. I shall write to
him, and see what he advises. I do not mind waiting a little
bit, now that I know that you can fix Mr. Warren's house so that
it won't move any farther."
Thus the matter was left. My house was braced that
afternoon, and toward evening I started to go to a hotel in the
town to spend the night.
"No, sir!" said Mrs. Carson. "Do you suppose that I am going
to stay here all night with a great empty house jammed up against
me, and everybody knowing that it is empty? It will be the same
as having thieves in my own house to have them in yours. You
have come down here in your property, and you can stay in it and
take care of it!"
"I don't object to that in the least," I said. "My two women
are here, and I can tell them to attend to my meals. I haven't
any chimney, but I suppose they can make a fire some way or
"No, sir!" said Mrs. Carson. "I am not going to have any
strange servants on my place. I have just been able to prevail
upon my own women to go into the house, and I don't want any more
trouble. I have had enough already!"
"But, my dear madam," said I, "you don't want me to go to the
town, and you won't allow me to have any cooking done here. What
am I to do?"
"Well," she said, "you can eat with us. It may be two or
three days before I can hear from my son George, and in the
meantime you can lodge in your own house and I will take you to
board. That is the best way I can see of managing the
thing. But I am very sure I am not going to be left here alone
in the dreadful predicament in which you have put me."
We had scarcely finished supper when Jack Brandiger came to
see me. He laughed a good deal a about my sudden change of base,
but thought, on the whole, my house had made a very successful
move. It must be more pleasant in the valley than up on that
windy hill. Jack was very much interested in everything, and
when Mrs. Carson and her daughter appeared, as we were walking
about viewing the scene, I felt myself obliged to introduce him.
"I like those ladies," said he to me, afterwards. "I think
you have chosen very agreeable neighbors."
"How do you know you like them?" said I. "You had scarcely
anything to say to Mrs. Carson."
"No, to be sure," said he. "But I expect I should like her.
By the way, do you know how you used to talk to me about coming
and living somewhere near you? How would you like me to take one
of your rooms now? I might cheer you up."
"No," said I, firmly. "That cannot be done. As things are
now, I have as much as I can do to get along here by myself."
Mrs. Carson did not hear from her son for nearly a week, and
then he wrote that he found it almost impossible to give her any
advice. He thought it was a very queer state of affairs. He had
never heard of anything like it. But he would try and arrange
his business so that he could come home in a week or two and look
As I was thus compelled to force myself upon the close
neighborhood of Mrs. Carson and her daughter, I endeavored
to make things as pleasant as possible. I brought some of my men
down out of the vineyard, and set them to repairing fences,
putting the garden in order, and doing all that I could to remedy
the doleful condition of things which I had unwillingly brought
into the back yard of this quiet family. I rigged up a pump on
my back porch by which the water of the well could be
conveniently obtained, and in every way endeavored to repair
But Mrs. Carson never ceased to talk about the unparalleled
disaster which had come upon her, and she must have had a great
deal of correspondence with her son George, because she gave me
frequent messages from him. He could not come on to look into
the state of affairs, but he seemed to be giving it a great deal
of thought and attention.
Spring weather had come again, and it was very pleasant to
help the Carson ladies get their flower-garden in order--at
least, as much as was left of it, for my house was resting upon
some of the most important beds. As I was obliged to give up all
present idea of doing anything in the way of getting my residence
out of a place where it had no business to be, because Mrs.
Carson would not consent to any plan which had been suggested, I
felt that I was offering some little compensation in beautifying
what seemed to be, at that time, my own grounds.
My labors in regard to vines, bushes, and all that sort of
thing were generally carried on under direction of Mrs. Carson or
her daughter, and as the elderly lady was a very busy housewife,
the horticultural work was generally left to Miss Kitty and me.
I liked Miss Kitty. She was a cheerful, whole-souled person, and
I sometimes thought that she was not so unwilling to have me for
a neighbor as the rest of the family seemed to be; for if I were
to judge the disposition of her brother George from what her
mother told me about his letters, both he and Mrs. Carson must be
making a great many plans to get me off the premises.
Nearly a month had now passed since my house and I made that
remarkable morning call upon Mrs. Carson. I was becoming