was moving toward Lady Toppingham, with the expectation of entering with her, when Mr. Adams stepped quickly up, and saying, "Wal, I don't keer ef I dew jine you; 'low me the pleasure, ma'am," he offered her his arm. She took it. Mr. Grimstone retreated in disorder, and we all went in somewhat irregularly. As we passed through the hall, and approached the dining-room, it occurred to Mr. Adams to remove his hat; and he then looked about, and up and down, in evident search of a peg on which to hang it. A servant stepped forward and held out his hand for it. After a brief hesitation he resigned it, saying, "Ain't ye goin' to give me no check for that? Haow do I know I'll git it agin? Haowever, it's Lord Toppingham's haouse, an' he's responsible, I guess. That's good law, ain't it, your lordship?”

"Excellent," said our host, evidently much pleased that Lady Toppingham had taken this opportunity to continue on her way to the dining-room, where we found her with Mr. Grimstone on her right hand, and a vacant seat on her left, between her and her cousin, to which she beckoned me; Mr. Adams, the Professor, and the two authoresses forming a little group near Lord Toppingham.

"I hope," said the M. P. to me, as we settled ourselves at table, "that you are pleased with your Mr. Washington Adams. I, for one, own that such a characteristic exhibition of genuine American character and manners is, if not exactly agreeable, a very entertaining subject of study."

The taunt itself was less annoying than its being flung at me across our hostess; but as I could not tell him so without sharing his breach of good manners, I was about to let his remark pass, with a silent bow, when a little iook of encouragement in Lady Toppingham's eyes led me to say, "As to your entertainment, sir, I have no doubt that you might find as good at home

without importing your Helots. As to Mr. Adams being my Mr. Washington Adams, he is neither kith nor kin of any of my people, to whom he would be an occasion of as much curious wonder as he is to any person at this table."

"Oh, that won't do at all. He is one of your legislatorsthe Honorable Washington Adams. You Americans are a very strange people; quite incomprehensible to our poor, simple English understandings." I did not continue the discussion, which I saw would be as fruitless as, under the circumstances, it was unpleasant, and indeed almost inadmissible, notwithstanding the gracious waiver of my hostess.

Luncheon engaged the attention of us all for a while, notwithstanding the presence of Mr. Adams; but nevertheless he continued to be the chief object of attention, and erelong he was heard saying, with an elevated voice, in evident continuation of a description of a legislative scene, "The feller, sir, had the lip to perpose to investigate me; but I told him, sir, that I courted investigation, and I claimed that he was no better than a scallawag and a shyster; and I gripped him, sir, and skun him—skun him clean as an eel."

Captain Surcingle, who had been regarding the speaker with all the earnestness that his glass admitted, turned to me, and Isaid, with soft inquiry:

"Skun? 'Mewican for skinned?"

"Yes; all true Americans say skun."

"Vewy queeah way of speakin' English;" and he was about to subside into silence, when all at once a bright gleam of intelligence came into his face, and he broke out, "Oh, I say! that won't do. You're 'Mewican; an' you don't say skun or scallawag;" and the good fellow regarded me with a look of triumph.-"The Fate of Mansfield Humphreys."

Edward Everett Hale

My Double and How He Undid Me

It is not often that I trouble the readers of the Atlantic Monthly. I should not trouble them now, but for the importunities of my wife, who "feels to insist" that a duty to society is unfulfilled till I have told why I had to have a double, and how he undid me. She is sure, she says, that intelligent persons cannot understand that pressure upon public servants which alone drives any man into the employment of a double. And while I fear she thinks, at the bottom of her heart, that my fortunes will never be remade, she has a faint hope that, as another Rasselas, I may teach a lesson to future publics from which they may profit, though we die. Owing to the behaviour of my double, or, if you please, to that public pressure which compelled me to employ him, I have plenty of leisure to write this communication.

I am, or rather was, a minister of the Sandemanian connection. I was settled in the active, wide-awake town of Naguadavick, on one of the finest water-powers in Maine. We used to call it a Western town in the heart of the civilization of New England. A charming place it was and is. A spirited, brave young parish had I, and it seemed as if we might have all "the joy of eventful living" to our heart's content.

Alas! how little we knew on the day of my ordination, and in those halcyon moments of our first housekeeping. To be the confidential friend of a hundred families in the towncutting the social trifle, as my friend Haliburton says, "from the top of the whipped syllabub to the bottom of the sponge

[ocr errors]

cake, which is the foundation"-to keep abreast of the thought of the age in one's study, and to do one's best on Sunday to interweave that thought with the active life of an active town and to inspirit both and to make both infinite by glimpses of the Eternal Glory, seemed such an exquisite forelook into one's life! Enough to do, and all so real and so grand! If this vision could only have lasted!

The truth is, this vision was not in itself a delusion, nor, indeed, half bright enough. If one could only have been left to do his own business, the vision would have accomplished itself and brought out new paraheliacal visions, each as bright as the original. The misery was, and is, as we found out, I and Polly, before long, that besides the vision, and besides the usual human and finite failures in life (such as breaking the old pitcher that came over in the Mayflower, and putting into the fire the Alpenstock with which her father climbed Mont Blanc)-besides these, I say (imitating the style of Robinson Crusoe), there were pitchforked in on us a great rowen-heap of humbugs, handed down from some unknown seed-time, in which we were expected, and I chiefly, to fulfil certain public functions before the community, of the character of those fulfilled by the third row of supernumeraries who stand behind the Sepoys in the spectacle of the "Cataract of the Ganges." They were the duties, in a word, which one performs as member of one or another social class or subdivision, wholly distinct from what one does as A. by himself A. What invisible power put these functions on me it would be very hard to tell. But such power there was and is. And I had not been at work a year before I found I was living two lives, one real and one merely functional-for two sets of people, one my parish, whom I loved, and the other a vague public, for whom I did not care two straws. All this was a vague notion, which everybody

had and has, that this second life would eventually bring out some great results, unknown at present, to somebody somewhere.

Crazed by this duality of life, I first read Doctor Wigan on the "Duality of the Brain," hoping that I could train one side of my head to do these outside jobs, and the other to do my intimate and real duties. But Doctor Wigan does not go into these niceties of this subject, and I failed. It was then that, on my wife's suggestion, I resolved to look out for a Double.

[ocr errors]

I was at first singularly successful. We happened to be recreating at Stafford Springs that summer. We rode out one day, for one of the relaxations of that watering-place, to the great Monson Poorhouse. We were passing through one of the large halls, when my destiny was fulfilled!

He was not shaven. He had on no spectacles. He was dressed in a green baize roundabout and faded blue overalls, worn sadly at the knee. But I saw at once that he was of my height-five feet four and a half. He had black hair, worn off by his hat. So have and have not I. He stooped in walking. So do I. His hands were large, and mine. Andchoicest gift of Fate in all-he had, not "a strawberry-mark on his left arm," but a cut from a juvenile brickbat over his right eye, slightly affecting the play of that eyebrow. Reader, so have I! My fate was sealed!

A word with Mr. Holly, one of the inspectors, settled the whole thing. It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was at that moment ironing in the laundry. Before I left Stafford I had hired both for five years. We had applied to Judge Pynchon, then the probate judge at Springfield, to change the name of Dennis

« 上一页继续 »