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Chapter 31

Hope was not at breakfast with us.

'The child is worn out,' said Mrs Fuller. 'I shall keep her in bed a
day or two.

'Couldn't I see her a moment?' I enquired.

'Dear! no!' said she. 'The poor thing is in bed with a headache.' If
Hope had been ill at home I should have felt free to go and sit by
her as I had done more than once. It seemed a little severe to be
shut away from her now but Mrs Fuller's manner had
fore-answered any appeal and I held my peace. Having no children
of her own she had assumed a sort of proprietorship over Hope that
was evident - that probably was why the girl had ceased to love me
and to write to me as of old. A troop of mysteries came clear to me
that morning. Through many gifts and favours she had got my
sweetheart in a sort of bondage and would make a marriage of her
own choosing if possible.

'Is there anything you would like particularly for your breakfast?
Mrs Fuller enquired.

'Hain't no way pertic'lar,' said Uncle Eb. 'I gen rally eat buckwheat
pancakes an' maple sugar with a good strong cup o'tea.

Mrs Fuller left the room a moment.

'Dunno but I'll go out if the barn a minnit 'n take a look at the
hosses,' he said when she came back.

'The stable is a mile away,' she replied smiling.

'Gran' good team ye druv us out with las' night,' he said. 'Hed a
chance t'look 'em over a leetle there at the door. The off hoss is
puffed some for'ard but if yer husband'll put on a cold bandage ev'ry
night it'll make them legs smoother n a hound's tooth.

She thanked him and invited us to look in at the conservatory.

'Where's yer husband?' Uncle Eb enquired.

'He's not up yet,' said she, 'I fear he did not sleep well.

'Now Mis Fuller,' said Uncle Eb, as we sat waiting, 'if there s
anything I can do t'help jes'le'me know what 'tis.

She said there was nothing. Presently Uncle Eb sneezed so
powerfully that it rattled the crystals on the chandelier and rang in
the brass medallions.

The first and second butlers came running in with a frightened
look. There was also a startled movement from somebody above
stairs.

'I do sneeze powerful, sometimes,' said Uncle Eb from under his
red bandanna. ''S enough if scare anybody.'

They brought in our breakfast then - a great array of tempting
dishes. 'Jest hev four pancakes 'n a biled egg,' said Uncle Eb as he
sipped his tea. 'Grand tea!' he added, 'strong enough if float a silver
dollar too.

'Mrs Fuller,' I said rising, when we had finished, 'I thank you for
your hospitality, but as I shall have to work nights, probably, I
must find lodgings near the office.

'You must come and see us again,' she answered cordially. 'On
Saturday I shall take Hope away for a bit of rest to Saratoga
probably - and from there I shall take her to Hillsborough myself
for a day or two.

'Thought she was goin' home with me,' said Uncle Eb.

'O dear no!' said Mrs Fuller, 'she cannot go now. The girl is ill and
it's such a long journey.'

The postman came then with a letter for Uncle Eb.

It was from David Brower. He would have to be gone a week or so
buying cattle and thought Uncle Eb had better come home as soon
as convenient.

'They're lonesome,' he said, thoughtfully, after going over the
letter again. ''Tain't no wonder - they're gittin' old.'

Uncle Eb was older than either of them but he had not thought of
that.

'Le's see; 's about eight o clock,' said he, presently. 'I've got t'go
an' ten' to some business o' my own. I'll be back here sometime if day
Mis Fuller an' I'll hev if see thet girl. Ye musn't never try if keep
me 'way from her. She's sot on my knee too many year fer that -
altogether too many.

We arranged to meet there at four. Then a servant brought us our
hats. I heard Hope calling as we passed the stairway:

'Won't you come up a minute, Uncle Eb? I want to see you very
much.'

Then Uncle Eb hurried upstairs and I came away.

I read the advertisements of board and lodging - a perplexing task
for one so ignorant of the town. After many calls I found a place to
my liking on Monkey Hill, near Printing House Square. Monkey
Hill was the east end of William Street, and not in the least
fashionable. There were some neat and cleanly looking houses on
it of wood, and brick, and brown stone inhabited by small
tradesmen; a few shops, a big stable and the chalet sitting on a
broad, flat roof that covered a portion of the stableyard. The yard
itself was the summit of Monkey Hill. It lay between two brick
buildings and up the hill, from the walk, one looked into the
gloomy cavern of the stable and under the low roof, on one side7
there were dump carts and old coaches in varying stages of
infirmity. There was an old iron shop, that stood flush with the
sidewalk, flanking the stableyard. A lantern and a mammoth key
were suspended above the door and hanging upon the side of the
shop was a wooden stair ascending to the chalet The latter had a
sheathing of weather-worn clapboards. It stood on the rear end of
the brick building, communicating with the front rooms above the
shop. A little stair of five steps ascended from the landing to its red
door that overlooked an ample yard of roofing, adorned with
potted plants. The main room of the chalet where we ate our meals
and sat and talked, of an evening, had the look of a ship's cabin.
There were stationary seats along the wall covered with leathern
cushions. There were port and starboard lanterns and a big one of
polished brass that overhung the table. A ship's clock that had a
noisy and cheerful tick, was set in the wall. A narrow passage led
to the room in front and the latter had slanting sides. A big window
of little panes, in its further end, let in the light of William Street
Here I found a home for myself, humble but quaint and cleanly. A
thrifty German who, having long followed the sea, had married
and thrown out his anchor for good and all, now dwelt in the chalet
with his wife and two boarders - both newspaper men. The old
shopkeeper in front, once a sailor himself, had put the place in
shipshape and leased it to them.

Mine host bore the name of Opper and was widely known as 'All
Right' Opper, from his habit of cheery approval. Everything and
everybody were 'all right' to him so far as I could observe. If he
were blessed or damned he said 'all right . To be sure he took
exceptions, on occasions, but even then the affair ended with his
inevitable verdict of 'all right'. Every suggestion I made as to terms
of payment and arrangement of furniture was promptly stamped
with this seal of approval.

I was comfortably settled and hard at work on my article by noon.
At four I went to meet Uncle Eb. Hope was still sick in bed and we
came away in a frame of mind that could hardly have been more
miserable. I tried to induce him to stay a night with me in my new
quarters.

'I mus'n't,' he said cheerfully.' 'Fore long I'm comin' down ag'in
but I can't fool 'round no longer now. I'll jes'go n git my new
clothes and put fer the steamboat. Want ye t'go 'n see Hope
tomorrow. She's comm up with Mis Fuller next week. I'm goin' t'
find out what's the matter uv her then. Somethin's wrong
somewhere. Dunno what 'tis. She's all upsot.

Poor girl! it had been almost as heavy a trial to her as to me'
cutting me off as she had done. Remembrances of my tender
devotion to her, in all the years between then and childhood, must
have made her sore with pity. I had already determined what I
should do, and after Uncle Eb had gone that evening I wrote her a
long letter and asked her if I might not still have some hope of her
loving me. I begged her to let me know when I might come and
talk with her alone. With what eloquence I could bring to bear I
told her how my love had grown and laid hold of my life.

I finished my article that night and, in the morning, took it to Mr
Greeley. He was at his desk writing and at the same time giving
orders in a querulous tone to some workman who sat beside him.
He did not look up as he spoke. He wrote rapidly, his nose down so
close to the straggling, wet lines that I felt a fear of its touching
them. I stood by, waiting my opportunity. A full-bearded man in
his shirt-sleeves came hurriedly out of another room.

'Mr Greeley,' he said, halting at the elbow of the great editor.

'Yes, what is it?' the editor demanded nervously, his hand
wobbling over the white page, as rapidly as before, his eyes upon
his work.

'Another man garrotted this morning on South Street.

'Better write a paragraph,' he said, his voice snapping with
impatience as he brushed the full page aside and began sowing his
thoughts on another. 'Warn our readers. Tell 'em to wear brass
collars with spikes in 'em till we get a new mayor.

The man went away laughing.

Mr Greeley threw down his pen, gathered his copy and handed it to
the workman who sat beside him.

'Proof ready at five!' he shouted as the man was going out of the
room.

'Hello! Brower,' he said bending to his work again. 'Thought you d
blown out the gas somewhere.

'Waiting until you reject this article,' I said.

He sent a boy for Mr Ottarson, the city editor. Meanwhile he had
begun to drive his pen across the broadsheets with tremendous
energy.

Somehow it reminded me of a man ploughing black furrows
behind a fast walking team in a snow flurry. His mind was 'straddle
the furrow' when Mr Ottarson came in. There was a moment of
silence in which the latter stood scanning a page of the Herald he
had brought with him.

'Ottarson!' said Mr Greeley, never slacking the pace of his busy
hand, as he held my manuscript in the other, 'read this. Tell me
what you think of it. If good, give him a show.

'The staff is full, Mr Greeley,' said the man of the city desk. His
words cut me with disappointment.

The editor of the Tribune halted his hand an instant, read the last
lines, scratching a word and underscoring another.

'Don't care!' he shrilled, as he went on writing. 'Used to slide
downhill with his father. If he's got brains we'll pay him eight
dollars a-week.

The city editor beckoned to me and I followed him into another
room.

'If you will leave your address,' he said, 'I will let you hear from
me when we have read the article.

With the hasty confidence of youth I began to discount my future
that very day, ordering a full dress suit, of the best tailor, hat and
shoes to match and a complement of neck wear that would have
done credit to Beau Brummel. It gave me a start when I saw the
bill would empty my pocket of more than half its cash. But I had a
stiff pace to follow, and every reason to look my best.

Irving Bacheller