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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

John Townsend Trowbridge (1827–1916)

Fred Trover’s Little Iron-Clad

From Scribner’s Magazine, August, 1873.

DID I never tell you the story? Is it possible? Draw up your chair. Stick of wood, Harry. Smoke?

You’ve heard of my Uncle Popworth, though. Why, yes! You’ve seen him—the eminently respectable elderly gentleman who came one day last summer just as you were going; book under his arm, you remember; weed on his hat; dry smile on bland countenance; tall, lank individual in very seedy black. With him my tale begins; for if I had never indulged in an Uncle Popworth I should never have sported an Iron-clad.

Quite right, sir; his arrival was a surprise to me. To know how great a surprise, you must understand why I left city, friends, business, and settled down in this quiet village. It was chiefly, sir, to escape the fascinations of that worthy old gentleman that I bought this place and took refuge here with my wife and little ones. Here we had respite, nepenthe from our memories of Uncle Popworth; here we used to sit down in the evenings and talk of the past with grateful and tranquil emotions, as people speak of awful things endured in days that are no more. To us the height of human happiness was raising green corn and strawberries in a retired neighborhood where uncles were unknown. But, sir, when that Phantom, that Vampire, that Fate, loomed before my vision that day, if you had said, “Trover, I’ll give ye sixpence for this neat little box of yours,” I should have said, “Done!” with the trifling proviso that you should take my uncle in the bargain.

The matter with him? What, indeed, could invest human flesh with such terrors—what but this? he was—he is—let me shriek it in your ear—a bore—a BORE! of the most malignant type; an intolerable, terrible, unmitigated BORE!

That book under his arm was a volume of his own sermons—nine hundred and ninety-nine octavo pages, Oh Heavens! It wasn’t enough for him to preach and repreach those appalling discourses, but then the ruthless man must go and print ’em! When I consider what booksellers—worthy men, no doubt, many of them, deserving well of their kind—he must have talked nearly into a state of syncope before ever he found one to give way, in a moment of weakness, of utter exhaustion and despair, and consent to publish him; and when I reflect what numbers of inoffensive persons, in the quiet walks of life, have been made to suffer the infliction of that Bore’s Own Book, I pause, I stand aghast at the inscrutability of Divine Providence.

Don’t think me profane, and don’t for a moment imagine I underrate the function of the preacher. There’s nothing better than a good sermon—one that puts new life into you. But what of a sermon that takes life out of you, instead of a spiritual fountain, a spiritual sponge that absorbs your powers of body and soul, so that the longer you listen the more you are impoverished? A merely poor sermon isn’t so bad; you will find, if you are the right kind of a hearer, that it will suggest something better than itself; a good hen will lay to a bit of earthen. But the discourse of your ministerial vampire, fastening by some mystical process upon the hearer who has life of his own—though not every one has that—sucks and sucks and sucks; and he is exhausted while the preacher is refreshed. So it happens that your born bore is never weary of his own boring; he thrives upon it; while he seems to be giving, he is mysteriously taking in—he is drinking your blood.

But you say nobody is obliged to read a sermon. Oh my unsophisticated friend! if a man will put his thoughts—or his words, if thoughts are lacking—between covers—spread his banquet, and respectfully invite Public Taste to partake of it, Public Taste being free to decline, then your observation is sound. If an author quietly buries himself in his book—very good! hic jacet: peace to his ashes!

  • The times have been,
  • That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
  • And there an end; but now they rise again,”
  • as Macbeth observes, with some confusion of syntax, excusable in a person of his circumstances. Now, suppose they—or he—the man whose brains are out—goes about with his coffin under his arm, like my worthy uncle, and suppose he blandly, politely, relentlessly insists upon reading to you, out of that octavo sarcophagus, passages which in his opinion prove that he is not only not dead, but immortal? If such a man be a stranger, snub him; if a casual acquaintance, met in an evil hour, there is still hope—doors have locks, and there are two sides to a street, and near-sightedness is a blessing, and (as a last resort) buttons may be sacrificed (you remember Lamb’s story of Coleridge) and left in the clutch of the fatal fingers. But one of your own kindred, and very respectable, adding the claim of misfortune to his other claims upon you—pachydermatous to slights, smilingly persuasive, gently persistent—as imperturbable as a ship’s wooden figurehead through all the ups and downs of the voyage of life, and as insensible to cold water—in short, an uncle like my uncle, whom there was no getting rid of—what the deuce would you do?

    Exactly; run away as I did. There was nothing else to be done, unless, indeed, I had throttled the old gentleman; in which case I am confident that one of our modern model juries would have brought in the popular verdict of justifiable insanity. But, being a peaceable man, I was averse to extreme measures. So I did the next best thing—consulted my wife, and retired to this village.

    Then consider the shock to my feelings when I looked up that day and saw the enemy of our peace stalking into our little Paradise with his book under his arm and his carpetbag in his hand!—coming with his sermons and shirts, prepared to stay a week—that is to say a year—that is to say forever, if we would suffer him—and how was he to be hindered by any desperate measures short of burning the house down?

    “My dear nephew!” says he, striding toward me with eager steps, as you perhaps remember, smiling his eternally dry, leathery smile—“Nephew Frederick!”—and he held out both hands to me, book in one and bag in t’other—“I am rejoiced! One would almost think you had tried to hide away from your old uncle, for I’ve been three days hunting you up. And how is Dolly? She ought to be glad to see me, after all the trouble I’ve had in finding you! And, Nephew Frederick—h’m!—can you lend me three dollars for the hackman? For I don’t happen to have—— Thank you! I should have been saved this if you had only known I was stopping last night at a public house in the next village, for I know how delighted you would have been to drive over and fetch me!”

    If you were not already out of hearing, you may have noticed that I made no reply to this affecting speech. The old gentleman has grown quite deaf of late years—an infirmity which was once a source of untold misery to his friends, to whom he was constantly appealing for their opinions, which they were obliged to shout in his ear. But now, happily, the world has about ceased responding to him, and he has almost ceased to expect responses from the world. He just catches your eye, and when he says, “Don’t you think so, sir?” or “What is your opinion, sir?” an approving nod does your business.

    The hackman paid, my dear uncle accompanied me to the house, unfolding the catalogue of his woes by the way. For he is one of those worthy, unoffending persons whom an ungrateful world jostles and tramples upon—whom unmerciful disaster follows fast and follows faster. In his younger days he was settled over I don’t know how many different parishes; but secret enmity pursued him everywhere, poisoning the parochial mind against him, and driving him relentlessly from place to place. Then he relapsed into agencies, and went through a long list of them, each terminating in flat failure, to his ever-recurring surprise—the simple old soul never suspecting, to this day, who his one great tireless, terrible nemesis is!

    I got him into the library, and went to talk over this unexpected visit—or visitation—with Dolly. She bore up under it more cheerfully than could have been expected—suppressed a sigh—and said she would go down and meet him. She received him with a hospitable smile (I verily believe that more of the world’s hypocrisy proceeds from too much good-nature than from too little) and listened patiently to his explanations.

    “You will observe that I have brought my bag,” says he, “for I knew you wouldn’t let me off for a day or two—though I must positively leave in a week—in two weeks, at the latest. I have brought my volume, too, for I am contemplating a new edition” (he is always contemplating a new edition, making that a pretext for lugging the book about with him), “and I wish to enjoy the advantages of your and Frederick’s criticism. I anticipate some good, comfortable, old-time talks over the old book, Frederick!”

    We had invited some village friends to come in and eat strawberries and cream with us that afternoon; and the question arose, what should be done with the old gentleman? Harry, who is a lad of a rather lively fancy, coming in while we were taking advantage of his great-uncle’s deafness to discuss the subject in his presence, proposed a pleasant expedient. “Trot him out into the cornfield, introduce him to the scarecrow, and let him talk to that,” says he, grinning up into the visitor’s face, who grinned down at him, no doubt thinking what a wonderfully charming boy he was! If he were as blind as he is deaf, he might have been disposed of very comfortably in some such ingenious way—the scarecrow, or any other lay figure, might have served to engage him in one of his immortal monologues. As it was, the suggestion bore fruit later, as you will see.

    While we were consulting—keeping up our scattering fire of small-arms under the old talker’s heavy guns—our parish minister called—old Doctor Wortleby, for whom we have a great liking and respect. Of course we had to introduce him to Uncle Popworth—for they met face to face; and of course Uncle Popworth fastened at once upon the brother clergyman. Being my guest, Wortleby could do no less than listen to Popworth, who is my uncle. He listened with interest and sympathy for the first half hour; and then continued listening for another half hour, after his interest and sympathy were exhausted. Then, attempting to go, he got his hat, and sat with it in his hand half an hour longer. Then he stood half an hour on his poor old gouty feet, desperately edging toward the door.

    “Ah, certainly,” says he, with a weary smile, repeatedly endeavoring to break the spell that bound him. “I shall be most happy to hear the conclusion of your remarks at some future time” (even ministers can lie out of politeness); “but just now——”

    “One word more, and I am done,” cries my Uncle Popworth, for the fiftieth time; and Wortleby, in despair, sat down again.

    Then our friends arrived.

    Dolly and I, who had all the while been benevolently wishing Wortleby would go, and trying to help him off, now selfishly hoped he would remain and share our entertainment—and our Uncle Popworth.

    “I ought to have gone two hours ago,” he said, with a plaintive smile, in reply to our invitation; “but, really, I am feeling the need of a cup of tea” (and no wonder!) “and I think I will stay.”

    We cruelly wished that he might continue to engage my uncle in conversation; but that would have been too much to hope from the sublime endurance of a martyr—if ever there was one more patient than he. Seeing the Lintons and the Greggs arrive, he craftily awaited his opportunity, and slipped off, to give them a turn on the gridiron. First Linton was secured; and you should have seen him roll his mute, appealing orbs, as he settled helplessly down under the infliction. Suddenly he made a dash. “I am ignorant of these matters,” said he; but Gregg understands them—Gregg will talk with you.” But Gregg took refuge behind the ladies. The ladies, receiving a hint from poor distressed Dolly, scattered. But no artifice availed against the dreadful man. Piazza, parlor, garden—he ranged everywhere, and was sure to seize a victim.

    At last tea was ready, and we all went in. The Lintons and Greggs were people of the world, who would hardly have cared to wait for a blessing on such lovely heaps of strawberries, in mugs of cream they saw before them; but, there being two clergymen at the table, the ceremony was evidently expected. We were placidly seated; there was a hush, agreeably filled with the fragrance of the delicious fruit; even my Uncle Popworth, from long habit, turned off his talk at that suggestive moment; when I did what I thought a shrewd thing. I knew too well my relative’s long-windedness at his devotions, as at everything else. (I wonder if Heaven itself isn’t bored by such fellows!) I had suffered, I had seen my guests suffer, too much from him already to think of deliberately yielding him a fearful advantage over us; so I coolly passed him by, and gave an expressive nod to the old Doctor.

    Wortleby began; and I was congratulating myself on my adroit management of a delicate matter, when—conceive my consternation!—Popworth—not to speak it profanely—followed suit! The reverend egotist couldn’t take in the possibility of anybody but himself being invited to say grace at our table, he being present—he hadn’t noticed my nod to the Doctor, and the Doctor’s low, earnest voice didn’t reach him—and there, with one blessing going on one side of the table, he, as I said, pitched in on the other! His eyes shut, his hands spread over his plate, his elbows on the board, his head bowed, he took care that grace should abound with us for once! His mill started, I knew there was no stopping it, and I hoped Wortleby would desist. But he didn’t know his man. He seemed to feel that he had the stroke-oar, and he pulled away manfully. As Popworth lifted up his loud, nasal voice, the old Doctor raised his voice, in the vain hope, I suppose, of making himself heard by his lusty competitor. If you have never had two blessings running opposition at your table, in the presence of invited guests, you can never imagine how astounding, how killingly ludicrous it was! I felt that both Linton and Gregg were ready to tumble over, each in an apoplexy of suppressed emotions; while I had recourse to my handkerchief to hide my tears. At length, poor Wortleby yielded to fate—withdrew from the unequal contest—hauled off—for repairs, and the old seventy-two gun-ship thundered away in triumph.

    At last (as there must be an end to everything under the sun) my uncle came to a close; and a moment of awful silence ensued, during which no man durst look at another. But in my weak and jelly-like condition I ventured a glance at him, and noticed that he looked up and around with an air of satisfaction at having performed a solemn duty in a becoming manner, blissfully unconscious of having run a poor brother off the track. Seeing us all with moist eyes and much affected—two or three handkerchiefs still going—he no doubt flattered himself that the pathetic touches in his prayer had told.

    This will give you some idea of the kind of man we had on our hands; and I won’t risk making myself as great a bore as he is, by attempting a history of his stay with us; for I remember I set out to tell you about my little Iron-clad. I’m coming to that.

    Suffice it to say, he stayed—he stayed—he STAYED!—five mortal weeks; refusing to take hints when they almost became kicks; driving our friends from us, and ourselves almost to distraction; his misfortunes alone protecting him from a prompt and vigorous elimination; when a happy chance helped me to a solution of this awful problem of destiny.

    More than once I had recalled Harry’s vivacious suggestion of the scarecrow—if one could only have been invented that would sit composedly in a chair and nod when spoken to! I was wishing for some such automaton, to bear the brunt of the boring with which we were afflicted, when one day there came a little man into the garden, where I had taken refuge.

    He was a short, swarthy, foreign looking, diminutive, stiff, rather comical fellow—little figure mostly head, little head mostly face, little face mostly nose, which was by no means little—a sort of human vegetable (to my horticultural eye) running marvelously to seed in that organ. The first thing I saw, on looking up at the sound of footsteps, was the said nose coming toward me, among the sweet-corn tassels. Nose of a decidedly Hebraic cast—the bearer respectably dressed, though his linen had an unwholesome sallowness, and his cloth a shiny, much-brushed, second-hand appearance.

    Without a word he walks up to me, bows solemnly, and pulls from his pocket (I thought he was laying his hand on his heart) the familiar, much-worn weapon of his class—the folded, torn yellow paper, ready to fall to pieces as you open it—in short, the respectable beggar’s certificate of character. With another bow (which gave his nose the aspect of the beak of a bird of prey making a pick at me) he handed me the document. I found that it was dated in Milwaukee, and signed by the mayor of that city, two physicians, three clergymen, and an editor, who bore united testimony to the fact that Jacob Menzel—I think that was his name—the bearer, anyway—was a deaf mute, and, considering that fact, a prodigy of learning, being master of no less than five different languages (a pathetic circumstance, considering that he was unable to speak one); moreover, that he was a converted Jew; and, furthermore, a native of Germany, who had come to this country in company with two brothers, both of whom had died of cholera in St. Louis in one day; in consequence of which affliction, and his recent conversion, he was now anxious to return to the Fatherland, where he proposed to devote his life to the conversion of his brethren—the upshot of all which was that good Christians and charitable souls everywhere were earnestly recommended to aid the said Jacob Menzel in his pious undertaking.

    I was fumbling in my pocket for a little change wherewith to dismiss him—for that is usually the easiest way of getting off your premises and your conscience the applicant for “aid,” who is probably an impostor, yet possibly not—when my eye caught the words (for I still held the document), “would be glad of any employment which may help to pay his way.” The idea of finding employment for a man of such a large nose and little body, such extensive knowledge and diminutive legs—who had mastered five languages yet could not speak or understand a word of any of them—struck me as rather pleasant, to say the least; yet, after a moment’s reflection—wasn’t he the very thing I wanted, the manikin, the target for my uncle?

    Meanwhile he was scribbling rapidly on a small slate he had taken from his pocket. With another bow (as if he had written something wrong and was going to wipe it out with his nose), he handed me the slate, on which I found written in a neat hand half a dozen lines in as many languages—English, Latin, Hebrew, German, French, Greek—each, as far as I could make out, conveying the cheerful information that he could communicate with me in that particular tongue. I tried him in English, French and Latin, and I must acknowledge that he stood the test; he then tried me in Greek and Hebrew, and I as freely confess that I didn’t stand the test. He smiled intelligently, nodded, and condescendingly returned to the English tongue, writing quickly, “I am a poor exile from Fatherland, and I much need friends.”

    I wrote: “You wish employment?”

    He replied: “I shall be much obliged for any service I shall be capable to do,” and passed me the slate with a hopeful smile.

    “What can you do?” I asked.

    He answered: “I copy the manuscripts, I translate from the one language to others with some perfect exactitude, I arrange the libraries, I make the catalogues, I am capable to be any secretary.” And he looked up as if he saw in my eyes a vast vista of catalogues, manuscripts, libraries, and Fatherland at the end of it.

    “How would you like to be companion to a literary man?” I inquired.

    He nodded expressively, and wrote: “I should that like over all. But I speak and hear not.”

    “No matter,” I replied. “You will only have to sit and appear to listen, and nod occasionally.”

    “You shall be the gentleman?” he asked, with a bright, pleased look.

    I explained to him that the gentleman was an unfortunate connection of my family, whom we could not regard as being quite in his right mind.

    Jacob Menzel smiled, and touched his forehead interrogatively.

    I nodded, adding on the slate, “He is perfectly harmless, but he can only be kept quiet by having some person to talk and read to. He will talk and read to you. He must not know you are deaf. He is very deaf himself, and will not expect you to reply.” And, for a person wishing a light and easy employment, I recommended the situation.

    He wrote at once, “How much you pay?”

    “One dollar a day, and board you,” I replied.

    He of the nose nodded eagerly at that, and wrote, “Also you make to be washed my shirt?”

    I agreed; and the bargain was closed. I got him into the house, and gave him a bath, a clean shirt, and complete instructions how to act.

    The gravity with which he entered upon the situation was astonishing. He didn’t seem to taste the slightest flavor of a joke in it at all. It was a simple matter of business; he saw in it only money and Fatherland.

    Meanwhile I explained my intentions to Dolly, saying in great glee: “His deafness is his defense: the old three-decker may bang away at him; he is IRON-CLAD!” And that suggested the name we have called him by ever since.

    When he was ready for action, I took him in tow, and ran him in to draw the Popworth’s fire—in other words, introduced him to my uncle in the library. The meeting of my tall, lank relative and the big-nosed little Jew was a spectacle to cure a hypochondriac! “Mr. Jacob Menzel—gentleman from Germany—traveling in this country,” I yelled in the old fellow’s ear. He of the diminutive legs and stupendous nose bowed with perfect decorum, and seated himself, still and erect, in the big chair I placed for him. The avuncular countenance lighted up; here were fresh woods and pastures new to that ancient shepherd. As for myself, I was well-nigh strangled by a cough which just then seized me, and obliged to retreat—for I never was much of an actor, and the comedy of that first interview was overpowering.

    As I passed the dining-room door, Dolly, who was behind it, gave my arm a fearful pinch that answered, I suppose, in the place of a scream, as a safety-valve for her hysterical emotions. “Oh, you cruel man—you miserable humbug!” says she; and went off into convulsions of laughter. The door was open, and we could see and hear everything.

    “You are traveling, h’m?” says my uncle. The nose nodded duly. “H’m! I have traveled, myself,” the old gentleman proceeded; “my life has been one of vicissitudes, h’m! I have journeyed, I have preached, I have published—perhaps you have heard of my literary venture”—and over went the big volume to the little man, who took it, turned the leaves, and nodded and smiled, according to instructions.

    “You are very kind to say so; thank you!” says my uncle, rubbing his husky hands with satisfaction. “Rejoiced to meet with you! It is always a gratification to have an intelligent and sympathizing brother to open one’s mind to; it is especially refreshing to me, for, as I may say without egotism, my life and labors have not been appreciated.”

    From that the old interminable story took its start and flowed on, the faithful nose nodding assent at every turn in that winding stream.

    The children came in for their share of the fun; and for the first time in our lives we took pleasure in the old gentleman’s narration of his varied experiences.

    “Oh, hear him! See him go it!” said Robbie. “What a nose!”

    “Long may it wave!” said Harry.

    With other remarks of a like genial nature; while there they sat, the two—my uncle on one side, long, lathy, self-satisfied, gesticulating, earnestly laying his case before a grave jury of one, whom he was bound to convince, if time would allow; my little Jew facing him, upright in his chair, stiff, imperturbable, devoted to business, honorably earning his money, the nose in the air, immovable, except when it played duly up and down at fitting intervals; in which edifying employment I left them and went about my business, a cheerier man.

    Ah, what a relief it was to feel myself free for a season from the attacks of the enemy—to know that my plucky little Iron-clad was engaging him! In an hour I passed through the hall again, heard the loud, blatant voice still discoursing it (had got as far as the difficulties with the second parish), and saw the unflinching nasal organ perform its graceful seesaw of assent. An hour later it was the same—except that the speaker had arrived at the persecutions which drove him from parish number three. When I went to call them to dinner, the scene had changed a little, for now the old gentleman, pounding the table for a pulpit, was reading aloud passages from a powerful farewell sermon preached to his ungrateful parishioners. I was sorry I couldn’t give my man a hint to use his handkerchief at the affecting periods, for the nose can hardly be called a sympathetic feature (unless, indeed, you blow it), and these nods were becoming rather too mechanical, except when the old gentleman switched off on the argumentative track, as he frequently did. “What think you of that?” he would pause in his reading to inquire. “Isn’t that logic? Isn’t that unanswerable?” In responding to which appeals nobody could have done better than my serious, my devoted, my lovely little Jew.

    “Dinner!” I shouted over my uncle’s dickey. It was almost the only word that had the magic in it to rouse him from the feast of reason which his own conversation was to him. It was always easy to head him toward the dining-room—to steer him into port for necessary supplies. The little Iron-clad followed in his wake. At table the old gentleman resumed the account of his dealings with parish number three, and got on as far as negotiations with number four; occasionally stopping to eat his soup or roast beef very fast; at which time Jacob Menzel, who was very much absorbed in his dinner, but never permitted himself to neglect business for pleasure, paused at the proper intervals, with his spoon or fork half-way in his mouth, and nodded—just as if my uncle had been speaking—yielding assent to his last remarks after mature consideration, no doubt the old gentleman thought.

    The fun of the thing wore off after awhile, and then we experienced the solid advantages of having an Iron-clad in the house. Afternoon—evening—the next day—my little man of business performed his function promptly and assiduously. But in the afternoon of the second day he began to change perceptibly. He wore an aspect of languor and melancholy that alarmed me. The next morning he was pale, and went to his work with an air of sorrowful resignation.

    “He is thinking of Fatherland,” said the sympathizing Dolly; while Harry’s less refined but more sprightly comment was, that the nose had about played out.

    Indeed, it had almost ceased to wave; and I feared that I was about to lose a most valuable servant, whose place it would be impossible to fill. Accordingly, I wrote on a slip of paper, which I sent in to him:

    “You have done well, and I raise your salary to a dollar and a quarter a day. Your influence over our unfortunate relative is soothing and beneficial. Go on as you have begun and merit the lasting gratitude of an afflicted family.”

    That seemed to cheer him a little—to wind him up, as Harry said, and set the pendulum swinging again. But it was not long before the listlessness and low spirits returned; Menzel showed a sad tendency to shirk his duty; and before noon there came a crash.

    I was in the garden, when I heard a shriek of rage and despair, and saw the little Jew coming toward me with frantic gestures.

    “I yielt! I abandone! I take my moneys and my shirt, and I go!” says he.

    I stood in perfect astonishment at hearing the dumb speak; while he threw his arms wildly above his head, exclaiming:

    “I am not teaf! I am not teaf! I am not teaf! He is one terreeble mon! He vill haf my life! So I go—I fly—I take my moneys and my shirt—I leafe him, I leafe your house! I vould earn honest living, but—Gott im himmel! Dieu des dieux! All de devils!” he shrieked, mixing up several of his languages at once, in his violent mental agitation.

    “Jacob Menzel” said I solemnly, “I little thought I was having to do with an impostor!”

    “If I haf you deceive, I haf myself more dan punish!” was his reply. “Now I resign de position. I ask for de moneys and de shirt, and I part!”

    Just then my uncle came up, amazed at his new friend’s sudden revolt and flight, and anxious to finish up with his seventh parish.

    “I vill hear no more of your six, of your seven—I know not how many parish!” screamed the furious little Jew, turning on him.

    “What means all this?” said my bewildered uncle.

    “I tell you vat means it all!” the vindictive little impostor, tiptoeing up to him, yelled at his cheek. “I make not vell my affairs in your country; I vould return to Faderlant; for conwenience I carry dis pappeer. I come here; I am suppose teaf; I accept de position to be your companion, for if a man hear, you kill him tead soon vid your book and your ten, twenty parish! I hear! You kill me! and I go!”

    And, having obtained his “moneys” and his shirt, he went. That is the last I ever saw of my little Iron-clad. I remember him with gratitude, for he did me good service, and he had but one fault, namely, that he was not iron-clad!

    As for my uncle, for the first time in his life, I think, he said never a word, but stalked into the house. Dolly soon came running out to ask what was the matter; Popworth was actually packing his carpet-bag! I called Andrew, and ordered him to be in readiness with the buggy to take the old gentleman over to the railroad.

    “What! going?” I cried, as my uncle presently appeared, bearing his book and his baggage.

    “Nephew Frederick,” said he, “after this treatment, can you ask me if I am going?”

    “Really,” I shouted, “it is not my fault that the fellow proved an impostor. I employed him with the best of intentions, for your—and our—good!”

    “Nephew Frederick,” said he, “this is insufferable; you will regret it! I shall never—NEVER” (as if he had been pronouncing my doom) “accept of your hospitalities again!”

    He did, however, accept some money which I offered him, and likewise a seat in the buggy. I watched his departure with joy and terror—for at any moment he might relent and stay; nor was I at ease in my mind until I saw Andrew come riding back alone.

    We have never seen the old gentleman since. But last winter I received a letter from him; he wrote in a forgiving tone, to inform me that he had been appointed chaplain in a prison, and to ask for a loan of money to buy a suit of clothes. I sent him fifty dollars and my congratulations. I consider him eminently qualified to fill the new situation. As a hardship, he can’t be beat; and what are the rogues sent to prison for but to suffer punishment?

    Yes, it would be a joke if my little Iron-clad should end his career of imposture in that public institution, and sit once more under my excellent uncle! But I can’t wish him any such misfortune. His mission to us was one of mercy. The place has been Paradise again, ever since his visit.