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The reader who has had patience to follow me so far will feel the indelicacy of parading these dainty touches for analytical examination; they require sudden glances and encounters. I might speak in a harsher key; I might say that these lucky words are stolen or borrowed year after year by authors who would scout the idea of an original property in their first use. How many times have we read of crispéd streams, since Milton first used the word! So Burns has a favorite word:
"Peggy dear, the evening's clear
Swift flies the skimming swallow.”
Both Tennyson and Alexander Smith use the same skimming swallow. Take the word clanging; it is a metallic word, yet observe: first it appears in the Odyssey, applied to gecse; then Shelley uses it twice in the Revolt of Islam:
"With clang of wings and scream the eagle past." "With clang of wings and scream the eagle flew."
Then Mr. Tennyson uses it three times; in Locksley Hall he "leads the clanging rookery home;" in the Princess he says, "The leader wild swan in among the stars would clang it;" and again in the same, "But I, an eagle clang an eagle to the sphere." Smith says,
"On midnights blue and cold Long strings of geese came clanging from the stars."
Later still, we have one
"Whose diapason whirls
The clanging constellations 'round the heavens."
The poetry of these expressions seems
to lie less in what they philologically mean than in what they suggest. Shelley's eagle was fighting a mailed serpent in the air; the poet would have this brown eagle an iron bird; to this end eagle is itself a hard word, and the "clanging" of his wings gives the bird a metallic hardihood which makes him a fit antagonist for his golden-scaléd foe. So "midnights blue and cold" gives polish to the stars, silvered by the metallic clanging of the geese, &c., &c. To such remote reflections does poetry owe somewhat of its splendor and its wealth.
Thus, leaving the remainder of the letters for the reader's private exemplification, I drop the subject just when its real interest would begin, if these assertions were admitted in a basis of criticism-which I shall not presume them to be. That they are trivial it cannot be denied; that they are fanciful is nothing against them. They would go but little way in the construction of a great poem; they indicate but the A B C of poetry, at the best; and the admission of one half of them might cause the whole of their little science to be discarded hereafter; (although rhyming is a much simpler science, and lives vigorously though cheaply notwithstanding.) But there is something in them, be it what it may, that has been a pleasant diversion and a curiosity to me: may it awaken the interest and become the study of more competent critics.
THE FOUNDERS OF GLOBE CITY.
WANT is a wolf, that haunts a pioneer lawyer more than any other animal known to natural history or mythology; for capital is cowardly, and clings to the close walls of cities. It does not like to go out on the frontiers without a heavy escort; and when it does venture, it asks extra inducements. At any rate, Chinny's money did, and he was the man to offer them, for every thing was fish that came to his net. If, by chance, they did not come to the net, he took the net to the fish. He had, that very morning, been preparing himself with some ground-bait, and he assumed a taking air as he sauntered down to the fishing-banks. His hat leaned over like the tower of Pisa, and was forced to brace itself against his ear to keep from engulfing his left eye. He seemed to have lost both hands off in his deep pockets, and to be feeling for them with his wrists, as he jingled the gold-pieces, and walked up the path to Richard's office, where he threw himself into a chair, without invitation
replied Chinny; "for I understood you said that times here was hard."
"I might have stated, as a fact, that times were hard, or that rogues were plenty here, without grumbling, or unjustly slandering the place either," said Richard.
"Yes, you might say so," replied Chinny; "but hard times, I take it, is when folks want somethin' to live on, and can't get it. But they can always get it here. As one poor cuss, who was raised down East, 'mongst the stones, and had to come out here lecturin' for a livin', said once; says he, 'These prairies are Nature's banks, stuffed chuck full of cash, which any man can draw out, if he'll only present his check. The funds,' says he, are deposited to the credit of the firm of Labor, Pluck & Co. It's the poor man's savin's bank. We've got these banks down our way,' he says; but there's been a run made on 'em, and there hain't on these.' Now, that Eastern chap was right. It may be a slow way to get rich, diggin' it out by day's work here; but it's a dead scald on hard times, in this country, where work counts. But speculatin' pays best though, I reckon, if you don't get catched in the cramps. I s'pose, now, that little speculation o' yourn must have
"A little slow," said Richard, as he cramped you," continued Chinny, inlaid the book on the table.
"I like to see a man, that's come here to identify himself with the place, a gettin' 'long well; 'cause, don't you see, it hurts the town, and spoils the sale o' land, to have a man grumblin' about hard times. Grumblin' is the poorest use a man can put his breath to; for it don't help him any, and it injures other folks."
"I can't say that I ever tried it, and, therefore, I am unable to give you an opinion," said Richard.
"Yes, if I had escaped your Globe City swindle," said Richard, "I should have no trouble now."
"Don't give it an ugly name,” said Chinny. "You've got books full of words here, and can pick out a better name than that, I know. Callin' it swindle don't sound bad to me, individually, but it might to strangers; and seein' they are our best customers, we must respect their feelin's."
"I'm not talking to strangers," said
"But I thought you had tried it," Richard.
"But you don't make any thing by talkin' it to me."
"I'm not trying to make any thing." "But you can make somethin', if you want to," said Chinny.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I feel willin' to help you, considerin' every thing that's past," replied Chinny; "for I s'pose you want money, don't you?"
"Yes, I do want money," said Richard.
"Well, you can have it."
"Well, the common rates of interest, by givin' a good endorsed note, or a mortgage on somethin'."
"Will you take Globe City lots as collateral?" asked Richard. "They are something, ain't they?"
"No; I can't take them, unless you'll pay up the two hundred and twentyfive dollars you owe on that purchase. If you'll pay that and interest, I'll talk with you," said Chinny.
Richard clenched his fists, and rose to his feet; then, imprisoning both hands in his pockets, to make them keep the peace, he commenced pacing the room.
"Now, don't get riled at me," said Chinny, watching Richard closely; "for I didn't invent bad luck. It came into the world before I did, and will stay after I quit. You can't drive it out. All the blind alleys, all the jails, and all the poor-houses are full of it, and you can't get it out. Tain't no use tryin'. You must take things as they are. You owe two hundred and twenty-five dollars, and can't help yourself; that's all right. If I've a mind to lend you more, that's all right too. You can understand, if you please, that I do it as a partic'lar favor; 'cause we've had dealin's, and to help the place-sort o' business and friendship combined, or whatever you like, don't you see?"
over that, as I did, after you've been here a spell. You don't want to borrow, and I don't want to lend; but we are willin' to sacrifice our mutual feelin's a little, to accommodate. I always go armed and equipped, as the law directs," he continued, pulling some papers from his pockets. "Now, then, what are you goin' to give me as security?"
"I have nothing but my books."
"Books ain't o' much account, but they'll do," said Chinny; and he commenced filling the blanks and making inquiries as to the number and cost of the volumes.
After writing over the words, "all and singular, said books, and every part and parcel of said library, to wit: said fiftyseven volumes," with the usual legal variations, until, from mere repetition, they sounded strong and binding, he handed the paper to Richard.
"But I don't like this cut-throat mortgage, that allows you to take possession at any time," said Richard, reading it.
"No, of course not. That's what you Yankees always object to when you first come here; but it's our Western style. We don't like your down-east flint-lock concerns. We want somethin' that'll go off the first snap, and without havin' a lawyer or two pullin' at it, either; and we won't have any thing else. This is the regular blank used here. Now, then," he continued, putting five pieces on the table," here's your cash."
If any form of money is ever invented which is found to be more fascinating than double-eagles, Government should prevent its circulation. Chinny's bait proved too tempting for Richard. He signed the mortgage, and sat there alone, dropping the pieces into the palm of his left hand, wishing them back in Chinny's pocket, when he saw the landlord coming up to his office. The presence of a creditor was a constant dun and rebuke to Richard, and before the landlord could speak, he paid him in full.
"Well, I didn't come to dun you," said he, pocketing the money. "The girls are goin' to have some doin's tonight, and told me to ask you, but I forgot it till now."
"What kind of doings? Richard.
own path. He thought it a favorable time to throw out some hints for her to
"Well, a little hand-round," replied ponder on or use against Mary. the landlord.
"That's a dance, I suppose?"
"Well, yes, we do dance, of course; but a hand-round, out here, is where we don't set a table, but hand round the vittles. The table can't be set, you know, 'count of its clutterin' up the dancin'-room.”
Richard went to the hotel rather late in the evening.
"Bin in?" asked the landlord, as he walked through the hall.
"No; who is there?"
"Chinny, for one, slick as a bottle. A fly couldn't 'light on his shirt-collar 'thout danger o' slippin' up and breakin' its neck. He's tendin' to Miss Plumb, or she is to him. She's a cute one-jest as smart as a school-marm. I'll bet a dollar," he added, lowering his voice, "that she can whistle 'Hail Columby,' and it takes a smart man, with a slick tongue and a good deal of practice, to do that without missin' a note or slurrin' of 'em over. That's none o' your cheap, easy tunes, 'Hail Columby' ain't. Mary Seabray is in there too. I never see her show so handsome before in my life. So fur as looks and action goes, she's ahead of 'em all. She couldn't do a thing a'kward if she tried. No Morgan colt ever moved handsomer."
The girls were equal to the landlord's description. Miss Plumb was very much devoted to Chinny, which gave Richard a chance to talk to Mary.
"Mr. Chinny looks unusually well to-night," she said.
"Did you ever hear," he asked, “ of a young man bein' killed at a gamblin'table on a Mississippi River boat, a few years since, and of the man who shot him gettin' away?"
"Yes; it was young Meech who was killed," she replied.
"Must have been a single man who shot him; couldn't have had a family," said Chinny, looking at Mary. “A doctor like as any man," continued Chinny; "they are such fellows to get mad, and fly off the handle before they know it. The man who did it was stabbed through the left arm below the elbow, they say."
Miss Plumb looked at him, and tried to catch his eye, but it would not be caught.
'I can't see what this has to do with the subject we were talking about,” said Miss Plumb.
"I was only thinkin' to myself," said Chinny, as if he had been unconsciously talking his thoughts aloud. "I was thinkin' that this world was made up of queerness. We can't tell what is in a man's heart by lookin' at his face, any more than we can tell whether an egg is an egg or a chicken by lookin' at its shell. A good many eggs are chickens that'll hatch out one o' these days."
"When they do, I shall probably be able to discover what you mean," said Miss Plumb.
In fact, she thought she had already discovered what he meant, and she was greatly troubled by the suspicions he had aroused in her mind. She tried to
"He looks over this way a great deal, confirm her doubts while Chinny was I notice," replied Richard.
"Yes; he takes an interest in me-he and father are such old friends."
Chinny certainly did take a great interest in her and her father and in the general welfare. He had been watching Miss Plumb closely for some time, and concluded, when he saw her looking over toward Richard so often, that she must be jealous of Mary. He quickly saw the possibility of using Miss Plumb to remove a dangerous rival from his
escorting her to the Colonel's, but he adroitly avoided direct answers.
Richard accompanied Mary home; and it was an hour or two afterwards that he left the piazza, and returned to the hotel.
There was a light in Chinny's room, and he heard the clinking of glasses and loud conversation there. He could not well avoid overhearing what was said, for it was very late and still.
"I say, you might have been presi
dent jest as well as not," said Chinny. "Then you could have talked folks into buyin' stock-our stock, you knowand that would have made us rich."
"I couldn't do that, for I had no capital to begin with."
"You've got enough, if you'd only use it," Chinny replied; "and what's the use of havin' a house, and things to get up a dinner-party, and a daughter to do things handsome for you, if you don't use 'em?"
"You know very well," said the Colonel, “that I want to go to Congress. When I get there, every thing else will come to me. I can get to be president of a road then, if I want to; but if I take the presidency of this railway now, and do what you want me to, I shall become so unpopular that I can't go anywhere by the votes of the people. What I want is a little money, and time enough to make a turn. If I can work over this sand-bar, it will be all fair sailing hereafter."
"Well, I might jest as well talk this thing plain. You can't have no more money of me, to hunt wild geese with. You know what I want, Colonel; now what are you goin' to do about it?"
"I can do no more," replied the Colonel.
"You can use your authority," said Chinny.
"I claim to have the instincts of a gentleman: I can do no more," said the Colonel, firmly.
"You'd get along better with less o' them instincts. Anyhow, you'd make more money by throwin' 'em away," said Chinny.
"I do throw them away when I come here," replied the Colonel, striking his cane on the floor; "and it is well for you that I do not throw them all away."
"If I lived in a glass-house, and had a mortgage on my property, and a scar on my arm, I'd be careful what I said and did, and I wouldn't throw stones much," said Chinny.
"See here," said the Colonel, dropping his voice, "you are playing this a little too brash. You've got a good hand, with a big card back; but I warn
you not to force the game, for I hold good cards too."
Then Richard heard the door open, and some one walked down-stairs. Looking out of his window, he saw the Colonel going up to his house. He puzzled himself a long time over what he had heard; so long, indeed, that he was fast asleep when some one rapped at his door next morning.
"Come in," said he, " if it's a man." It was no less a man than the landlord.
"Miss Plumb is down in the parlor, waiting to see you," said he.
"Give her my compliments, and tell her I'll be there in five minutes. Stay a moment, though! What on earth can she want of me this time of day?"
"I don't know," replied the landlord; "she looks a little flustered.”
"Good-morning, Mr. French," said Miss Plumb, when Richard presented himself. "I am on my way home, and thought I would call, to say that we shall be glad to see you at the lake soon."
"I'm surprised to hear that you are going this morning, for I some way got the impression that you would stay here a week longer. How do you get there?"
"I drive across the prairie," she said.
"Drive alone, eh?" said Richard. "Why, I've a mind to go with you, to see how you do it!"
"That will be delightful!" said she, brightening up instantly, with the slightest shade of a blush, as they went out and got into the buggy.
"It must be very pleasant for you to find such a good friend as Doctor Blodgett here," said Miss Plumb, looking directly at the horse's ears.
"Yes; I have known the Doctor a long time."
"I thought I had heard, somewhere, that he went South once," said Miss Plumb.
"I think he never went South," Richard replied.
"But didn't he own a steamboat on the Mississippi River?" she asked, still keeping her eyes pointed at the horse.