“She looked so darned funny standin’ there that I grabbed her right up and kissed her.
“’If anybody tries to take that dolly away from you, you let me know—skip!’ says I, and down the aisle she runs hollerin’: ’Oh, papa, papa! Thee my dolly!’ Seems she didn’t have no mother, poor little thing.
“Well, sir, old human nature is human nature, after all—elsewise it would be a darned funny state of affairs—but anyhow, that little gal’s holler did something to my friends, the Oggsouashers. I don’t think I overstep the mark when I say some of ’em smiled a kindly smile.
“’But I didn’t have no time to study it. If I missed my freight I stayed in Oggsouash over night, so, reasonin’ thus, the tall form of E. G. W. Scraggs might ‘a’ been seen proceedin’ toward the railroad track at the rate of seventeen statute miles per hour. Just as I hooked on to the caboose comes a feller pastin’ after me.
“‘Say!’ he whoops. ‘Say! We want to thank you!’
“‘Turn it in to the kids,’ says I. ’Good-night, Oggsouash, good-night,’ I says, ‘Partin’ is such sweet sorrow that I could say good-night as long as my wind held out.’
“Well, sir, it was nigh three in the mornin’ when I hit Castle Scraggs agin, after the coldest walk to be found anywhere outdoors; but when Mrs. Scraggs come to the door—and it was one of the blackest-eyed and snappiest of the race—and she says, ’Zeke Scraggs! Where you been?’ I just fell into her arms.
“‘Bear with me, Susan, or Mary Ann, or whatever your name is,’ says I, ‘for I’ve had a ter’ble time.’
“’You behave yourself, you old idiot, or I’ll do you personal harm,’ says she.
“’Thank you, thank you for them sweet words, spoke by somebody alive, anyhow,’ says I. ‘And this much more, Mrs. Scraggs,’ says I, ‘before we part. If ever you hear me complain of anythin’ concernin’ you ladies just you say “Oggsouash” to me and hold your hand, so, to indicate an empty glass.
“‘Good-night, Susanna—Merry Christmas,’ says I. ’On my word of honor, there has been one moment of my life when I was glad to see you.’
“And I left her standin’ there, with the candle in her hand, paralyzed.
“And I can conclood, as I suggested in the beginning, that I had not foresaw one item of these occurrences when I risked that collar-button.”
THE SIEGE OF THE DRUG STORE
“Once upon a time, when I was scarcely married at all, you might say,” began Mr. Scraggs, “I quit workin’ for a livin’ and started a scientific school.”
“You did?” cried Red, after one astonished second vanished in the past.
“Yes, sir,” replied Mr. Scraggs, “I did. It was for the investigation and pursuit of this, here doctrine of chances. The idee was to put a little box full of playin’-cards on the table, and draw them forth one at a time, to see just how they’d fall. Some of the students got that interested they bet on the results.”