Wait and Hope: or, A Plucky Boy's Luck
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"The lady has a taste for strong and decided colors. What is showy attracts her admiration."
"That's so!" commented Jonathan.
"She has a good deal of firmness, and likes to have her own way; as most of use do," added the professor. "Still she would yield to strong persuasion."
It will be unnecessary to go farther in the examination which proved quite satisfactory to the young couple, and a source of amusement to the rest of the passengers.
Jonathan next submitted himself to the professor's skill, and was highly delighted in being told that he was fitted to shine in public life, and might hereafter become a member of Congress.
"I guess the folks at home will think more of me when they hear that," he remarked to Sally. "The professor has given us good characters."
"So he has. Do you think it's all true, Jonathan?"
"Of course it is. It's a wonderful science, Sally. I didn't know I had so many bumps."
"Nor I. I can't feel 'em myself."
"That's because you're not used to it. It takes the professor to do it."
Other subjects were forthcoming, and the professor cleared three dollars during the evening. He understood human nature well enough to flatter all, without absolutely contradicting the science of which he claimed to be the exponent.
An Old Convert to Phrenology
About eleven o'clock the steamer stopped. A dense fog had sprung up, which made it perilous to proceed. Ben, who was a novice in traveling, got up to see what was the matter. He was on his way back to the stateroom, when he encountered a strange figure. The old lady was wandering about in dishabille, looking thoroughly alarmed.
Recognizing Ben, she clutched his arm.
"What has happened?" she asked, in a hollow voice, "Is the ship sinkin'?"
"No, ma'am," answered Ben. "We have only stopped on account of the fog."
"Something may run into us," exclaimed the old lady. "Oh, dear!
I wish I had never left home."
"You'd better go back to bed," said Ben soothingly. "There's no danger."
"No, I won't," said the old woman resolutely. "I'm not going to be drowned in my bed. I'll stay here till mornin'."
And she plumped down into an armchair, where she looked like an image of despair.
"Hadn't you better put on something more?" suggested Ben.
"You may get cold."
"I'll put on my shawl and bunnit," said the old lady. "I can't sleep a wink. We shall be shipwrecked; I know we shall."
Whether the old lady kept her word, or not, Ben did not know. When he entered the saloon the next morning she was already up and dressed, looking haggard from want of sleep. Ben ascertained that the boat had started again about five o'clock, and would probably reach Fall River five or six hours late. This would make it necessary to take breakfast on board.
He imparted the news to the old lady.
"It's a shame," she said indignantly."They did it a purpose to make us spend more money. I expected to eat breakfast at my son's house in Boston."
"We shall not probably reach Boston till noon, I hear."
"Then suppose I'll have to buy somethin' to stay my stomach. It's a shame. It costs a sight to travel."
"So it does," acquiesced Ben.
"They'd oughter give us our breakfast."
"I'm afraid they won't see it in that light."
The old lady went down to breakfast, and grudgingly paid out twenty cents more for tea and toast. She was in hopes Ben would get some meat and offer her a portion; but he, too, felt the necessity of being economical, and ordered something less expensive.
Prof. Crane attempted to renew his phrenological examinations, but could only obtain two subjects.
"Shan't I examine your head?' he asked insinuatingly of the old lady.
"No, you shan't," she answered tartly. "I don't want you pawing over me."
"Don't you want me to describe your character?"
"No, I don't. Like as not, you'd slander me."
"Oh, no, ma'am; I should only indicate, by an examination of your bumps, your various tendencies and proclivities."
"I don't believe I've got any bumps."
"Oh, yes, you have. We all have them. I shall only ask you twenty-five cents for an examination."
"I won't give it," said the old lady, resolutely clutching her purse, as if she feared a violent effort to dispossess her of it. "I can't afford it."
"It is a very small sum to pay for the knowledge of yourself."
"I guess I know myself better than you do," said the old lady, nodding her head vigorously. Then, yielding to an impulse of curiosity: "Say, mister, is it a pretty good business, examinin' heads?"
"It ought to be," answered the professor, "if the world were thoroughly alive to the importance of the noble science of phrenology."
"I don't see what use it is."
"Let me tell you, then, ma'am. You have doubtless employed servants that proved unworthy of your confidence."
The old lady assented.
"Now if you had employed a phrenologist to examine a servant's head before engaging her, he would have told you at once whether she was likely to prove honest and faithful, or the reverse."
"You don't say!" exclaimed the old lady, beginning to be impressed. "Well, that would be something, I declare. Now, there's Mirandy Jones, used to work for me – I'm almost certain she stole one of my best caps."
"To wear herself?" asked Ben demurely.
"No, she wanted it for her grandmother. I'm almost sure I saw it on the old woman's head at the sewin' circle one afternoon. Then, again, there was Susan Thompson. She was the laziest, sleepiest gal I ever see. Why, one day I went into the kitchen, and what do you think? There she stood, in the middle of the floor, leanin' her head over her broom fast asleep."
"In both these cases phrenology would have enabled you to understand their deficiencies, and saved you from hiring them."
Here a gentlemen whispered to Prof. Crane: "Offer to examine the old woman's head for nothing. I will see you are paid."
The professor was not slow in taking the hint.
"Madam," said he, "as my time just now isn't particularly valuable, I don't mind examining your head for nothing."
"Will you?" said the old lady. "Well, you're very polite and oblegin'. You may, if you want to."
Prof. Crane understood that a joke was intended, and shaped his remarks accordingly.
"This lady," he commenced, "is distinguished for her amiable disposition." Here there was a smile visible on several faces, which, luckily, the old lady didn't see. "At the same time, she is always ready to stand up for her rights, and will not submit to be imposed upon."
"You're right there, mister," interjected the old lady, "as my son-in-law will testify. He tried to put upon me; but I soon let him know that I knew what was right, and meant to have it.
"My subject has a good taste for music, and would have been a superior performer if her talent had been cultivated. But her practical views would hardly have permitted her to spend much time in what is merely ornamental. She is a good housekeeper, and I may venture to remark that she understands cooking thoroughly."
The old lady – so potent is flattery – really began to look amiable.
"I wish old Miss Smith could hear you," she interrupted. "She's a vain, conceited critter, and purtends she can cook better than I can. If I couldn't make better pies that she had the last time the sewin' circle met at her house, I'd give up cookin', that's all."
"You see, gentlemen and ladies," said the professor, looking about him gravely, "how correct are the inductions of science. All that I have said thus far has been confirmed by my subject, who surely ought to know whether I am correct or not."
"This lady," he proceeded, "is fitted to shine in society. Her social sphere may have been limited by circumstances; but had her lot been cast in the shining circles of fashion, her natural grace and refinement would have enabled her to embellish any position to which she might have been called."
The contrast between the old lady's appearance and the words of Prof. Crane was so ludicrous that Ben and several others with difficulty, kept their countenances. But the old lady listened with great complacency.
"I wish my granddarter would hear you," she said. "She's a pert little thing, that thinks she knows more than her grandmother. I've often told my darter she ought to be more strict with her; but it don't do no good."
"It's the way with the young, madam. They cannot appreciate the sterling qualities of their elders."
When the examination was concluded, the old lady expressed her faith in phrenology.
"I never did believe in't before," she admitted, "but the man described me just as if he know'd me all my life. Railly, it's wonderful."
Prof. Crane got his money, and with it the favor of the old lady to whom he had given such a first-class character. Her only regret was that her friends at home could not have heard him.
About one o'clock in the afternoon the long journey was at an end, and Ben and his young charge descended from the train in the South Terminal, in Boston.
It has already been mentioned that there was a train to Milltown at half-past ten in the morning. Of course Ben was too late for this. He ascertained, however, that there was another train at five o'clock, and this he resolved to take.
"Where are we going, Ben?" asked Emma, as they stepped out of the station.
"Don't you feel hungry, Emma?"
"Then we will go and have some dinner, first of all."
This proposal was satisfactory to the little girl, who took Ben's hand and walked up toward Washington Street with him.
On School Street they found an eating-house which did not appear too high in price, and Ben led Emma in.
They seated themselves at a table, and ordered dinner. Just opposite sat a pleasant-looking man, of middle age. He was fond of children, and his attention was drawn to little Emma.
"Is that your sister?" he inquired of Ben.
"No, sir," answered Ben.
"No, sir; she is from New York. She is going to board with my aunt."
"Does your aunt live in Boston?"
"No, sir; in Milltown."
"Has the young lady come into the city on a shopping excursion?" inquired the new acquaintance, smiling.
"No, sir; she is just on her way from New York. I went to fetch her."
"You are a young guardian."
"Rather, sir; but there was no one else to go for her."
"How old are you?"
"Are you attending school?"
"No, sir; I should be glad to do so; but my aunt is not in good circumstances, and I have to work. I have been employed in the mills, but they discharged some of their hands lately, and I was among them."
"How would you like to come to Boston to work?"
"I may some time have a vacancy for you. I am a wholesale stationer on State Street. Give me your address, and if I have any opening I will write to you."
"Thank you, sir," said Ben; "I should like very much to work here."
Ben took the stranger's card, from which he learned that his name was Otis Johnson, and that he dealt in stationery, blank books, diaries, and a similar line of goods.
"This may lead to something," thought Ben. "I should enjoy living in Boston. There is a good deal more going on here than in Milltown."
It was about quarter of two when Ben and Emma rose from the table.
"What are we going to do now?" asked Emma.
"The train doesn't start till five," he said. "We won't go to the station yet, for we should get tired of waiting. We will walk about, and look into the shop windows, unless you are tired."
"I am not tired. I should like it," said Emma.
Presently they came to the old State House. Ben's attentions was attracted by a Charleston car. He knew that Bunker Hill Monument was in Charleston, and it struck him that it would be a good opportunity to go and see it.
"Does this car go to Bunker Hill Monument?" he inquired.
"Yes," said the conductor. "It goes within two minutes' walk of it."
"How long does it take to go there?"
Ben reflected that the train did not start till five o'clock, and that there would be plenty of time for the excursion. He did not know when he would have another chance, and resolved to avail himself of this.
He helped Emma to board the car, and got on himself.
"I like to ride in electric cars, Ben," said Emma.
"So do I, Emma. Do you know what we are going to see?"
"What is it?"
"A great stone monument, five times as high as a house."
"What is a monument?"
Ben explained to her.
"Does anybody live in it?" asked the little girl.
"No, I don't think it would be a very pleasant place to live in."
"What did they build it for, then?"
Ben explained that a great battle had been fought on the hill where the monument stood.
"Do they fight any battles there now, Ben?" asked Emma, in some apprehension.
"Why? Are you afraid of getting killed?"
"There is no danger. It is over a hundred years since there was any fighting there."
Just then the car stopped, and a new passenger got on and sat down just opposite Ben and his young charge. Ben did not take special notice of her, and was surprised to hear a familiar voice.
"I declare, if it ain't the little gal,"
Looking up, he recognized the old lady, his fellow passenger.
"How do you do, ma'am?" he said.
"Putty well. Where be you goin'?"
"Over to Bunker Hill."
"I'm goin' to Charleston, myself. My son is away with his wife, and I'm goin' over to stay with my niece till he comes back. How do you do, little gal?"
"Pretty well," said Emma.
"You don't know me, do you?"
It was an unfortunate question.
"Yes, I do. You're the lady that takes snuff," said Emma.
Some of the passengers tittered, and the old lady turned red in the face.
"Well, I never did!" she exclaimed, in mortification. "You're a bad-behaved little gal."
"She didn't mean to offend you, ma'am," said Ben. "She's very young."
"She's old enough to behave. Children didn't use to sass their elders like they do now. If one of my children was to behave so, I'd shut 'em up in a dark closet for twenty-four hours, with only dry bread to eat."
The old lady shook her head vigorously, and glared at Emma over the top of her spectacles. It was just as well, perhaps, that Emma was absorbed in looking out of the window, and did not listen to what the old lady was saying. Being a high-spirited and free-spoken young woman, she would have been likely to reply, and that would have made matters worse.
The ride was not a long one, for but a narrow bridge separates
Boston proper from the historic town of Charleston.
"You get out here," said the conductor. "Go up that street to the monument."
Ben could see the great stone pillar standing up against the sky in plain sight, and he ascended the hilly street toward it.
"That is the monument, Emma," he said.
"It looks like a big chimney," said Emma; "only chimneys are made of brick."
"It would take a big house to need such a chimney as that," said Ben.
They reached the top of the hill, and stood beside the monument, which looked immensely tall, now that they were close to it.
"This is where Warren fell," said Ben, repeating to himself a piece of information which he had heard.
"Did he fall?" inquired Emma.
"Oh, no; he was killed in the battle here."
"Are you going to ascend the monument?" asked a gentleman who had come up the hill another way.
"I didn't know you could," said Ben.
"There is a spiral staircase inside. Most visitors ascend it. There is a splendid view from the top."
"I should think there would be."
"Will you go? I think of going, and would like your company."
"No, I guess not," said Ben. "It would be too much for Emma. She is only a little girl, and could not stand the fatigue."
"I wouldn't dare to go up so high, Ben," said Emma timidly.
Here a well-dressed lady, who had heard the discussion said: "If you would like to go up, young man, I will take care of the little girl till you come down. Will you stay with me, my dear?"
She smiled pleasantly, and Emma's confidence was won.
"Yes, Ben, I will stay with her," she said; "only don't be gone too long."
Ben hesitated. He wanted to go up, and was not sure when he would have another opportunity. He could see no reason to doubt that Emma would be entirely safe under the care of the stranger.
"I don't like to give you so much trouble," said Ben.
"It will be no trouble," said the lady politely. "I am fond of children."
It was twenty-five minutes before Ben descended. He looked for
Emma, and his heart gave a great bound of dismay.
Neither Emma nor the lady was to be seen.
The Strange Captor
This was what had happened.
When Ben was fairly on his way up the monument, the lady addressed
"My dear," she said, "are you fond of candy?"
"Ever so much," said Emma.
"Suppose we go to a candy store and get some?"
"But I don't want to leave Ben," said the little girl.
"Oh, we will be back before he returns," said the lady. "Will you come?"
"If you are certain sure you will be back in time."
"Oh, yes, my dear."
The lady's manner was so kind that Emma felt entire confidence in her promise.
"Yes, I will go."
They walked down the hill in a different direction from that which they had come up. This brought them to a street on which were some shops. The lady entered one, leading Emma by the hand.
"Give us one half-pound of assorted candy," she said.
The girl behind the counter weighed out the candy and handed it to her.
They left the shop.
"Now are we going back to Ben?" asked Emma.
"I have sent word to him to come to my house and take supper, my dear child. Come with me, and you will see him soon."
How should Emma know that this was not true? She was a little girl, with no experience of the world, accustomed to put confidence in those she met, and the lady was very kind in her manner.
"Is your home far off?" she asked.
"No, it is quite near."
This proved to be true.
The lady turned up a street lined with neat dwellings and rang the bell.
A servant answered the bell.
"Is it you, mum?" she said.
Jan looked inquiringly at the little girl, and was on the point of asking who she was; but she knew her mistress was peculiar and said nothing.
"This little girl will stay to tea," said the lady. "Put on an extra plate."
"And isn't Ben coming, too?" asked Emma, noting the omission.
"Yes, Jan, you may put on two extra plates."
Emma followed her new acquaintance up-stairs, and was led into a neat bedchamber. The lady entered it, bade Emma enter, locked the door, and then, sinking on the floor before the astonished child, exclaimed with evident emotion: "Have I found you at last, my dear, dear child?"
Emma was startled at the lady's tone, and for the fist time felt alarmed.
"I ain't your child," she said. "What makes you call me so?"
"Are you not my dear little Mary?" said the lady.
"No, my name isn't Mary. My name is Emma."
"Did they change your name, my dear child? Was it not enough to take you away from me, without changing your name?"
"I don't know what you mean," said Emma, ore and more alarmed.
"I want to go back to Ben."
"Would you leave your mother, my child?"
"You are not my mother. Let me go."
Emma ran to the door, but it was locked, and the key was in the lady's pocket.
"I cannot let you go, my dear child. You have been away from me too long already. I have been very lonely without you."
Her tone was still kind – it had never varied – but Emma was thoroughly frightened.
"Let me go!" she began to cry. "I want to go to Ben."
The lady looked at her in mingled grief and wonder.
"Can a child turn from her own mother to a stranger?" she said musingly. "She forgets that she is my little Mary. She no longer loves me."
"My name is Emma," said the little girl. "Why did you take me away from Ben?"
Help was at hand, though it came from a stranger.
A knock was heard at the door, and the lady rose and opened it. The newcomer was a little younger than the lady already mentioned, but bore such a resemblance to her as to indicate that she was her sister. She looked at surprise at Emma.
"Where did you get this child, Clara?" she asked.
"It is my little Mary. Don't you see that it is?"
"You are mistaken, Clara. Your little Mary is in heaven."
"She has come back again. This is she. Don't you see that it is she?" asked the lady called Clara earnestly.
"My poor sister," said the younger lady compassionately, "you are mistaken. This is not your little Mary. Where did you find her? To whom does she belong?"
Emma had listened to this conversation with interest, feeling that it concerned her. She answered the question herself.
"I belong to Ben," she said.
"Where is Ben?" asked the younger lady.
"He is at the big stone chimney. He was going up to the top. He left me with her."
"You mean the monument, don't you, my dear child?"
"Is this true, Clara?"
"Yes," the elder sister admitted.
The younger lady looked perplexed.
"You did wrong, Clara, to take the little girl from her brother. He will feel very anxious about her.
"She said she would buy me some candy," said Emma.
"Could I see my child, and not claim her?" said Clara.
"I am not your child. What makes her say I am her child?"
"My dear," said the younger lady gently, "my poor sister lost her little girl not long since. She has not been well since. When she saw you to-day she thought you were her little Mary."
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