“‘It’s never come like this before!’ hollers the Major, and then he goes down backward for the final touch, carryin’ away a kerosene lamp, and the same landin’ in a barrel of varnish.
“Well, sir, what with the stuff that was loose around there and the varnish, my coat tails was afire when I lugged the Major out to where Hadds was industriously savin’ the Mayoress’ life.
“The two hose companies got out in good shape, but a most unforchinit dispute over who was to claim first water on the fire led ’em to use axes and spanner wrenches and sections of hose on each other whilst our drug store burned green and purple and pink, neglected. Inside of ten minutes eight firemen was ready for the hospital; a good citizen took the Major and Majoress in for the night, and all that was left of our promisin’ business enterprise was a small heap of wood ashes and a very bad smell.
“‘Well,’ says I, ‘shake, Hadds; it’s all over.’
“He grabbed my hand, weepin’.
“‘No, it ain’t, Scraggsy, Old Man Rocks,’ says he. ’You stood by me noble, and I’ll do the same by you.’ He fumbled in his pocket. ‘I’ve saved a complete equipment from the wreck,’ says he, and with that he hauls out a couple of decks of cards and a box of poker chips. ’All is lost save honor, Zeke,” says he, ’but I reckon we can raise a dollar or two on that.’
“I was so moved in my feelin’s I could only shake his manly hand.
“When I could speak, says I, ’We’ll rise like a couple of them Fenian birds from the ashes, pard.’
“And hope springin’ eternal once more in our chests, we took a little drink at Jimmy’s place and went to bed happy.”
THE MOURNFUL NUMBER
“It’s a great misfortune to be superstishyous,” said Mr. Scraggs. “Such a thing would never have troubled me if I hadn’t a-learnt from experience that facts carried out the idee. Now, you take that number thirteen. There’s reason for believin’ it’s unlucky. One reason is, when things is all walkin’ backwards folks says they’re at sixes and sevens. Well, six and seven makes thirteen, so there you are.”
“I ain’t much more than arrived,” replied Red, rubbing his head dubiously.
“I’m comin’ fast,” said Charley; “but don’t wait for me, Zeke.”
“Well, that’s only speculation, anyhow,” continued Mr. Scraggs indulgently; “and speculation has made heaps of trouble for piles of people if I’m to believe what I read, which I don’t. But here’s cold facts. I was born on the thirteenth of April, at a time when me and the country was both younger than we are now. Hadn’t been for that I’d dodged considerable mishaps. It was on the thirteenth of October last, in the early mornin’, that I mistook that rattlesnake for a chunk of wood and heaved him in the stove.”
“Well, where’s the bad luck in that?” asked Charley.