Eight dollars wouldn’t buy a dog house.
I was desperate. Every evening I had to sit around and listen while Clara J. told Tacks or Uncle Peter or Aunt Martha or Mother what she intended doing when we moved to the country.
They had it all cooked up. Uncle Peter and Aunt Martha were coming to live with us and Tacks would be there to let us live with him.
Uncle Peter intended starting a garden truck farm in the back yard and Tacks figured on building a chicken coop somewhere between the front gate and the parlor.
Aunt Martha and Clara J. almost came to blows over the question of milking the cow. Aunt Martha insisted that cows are milked by machinery and Clara J. was equally positive that moral suasion is the only means by which a cow can be brought to a show down.
In the meantime I was dying every half hour.
Finally the day preceding the long-talked of country excursion arrived and I began to figure on the safest and least inexpensive methods of suicide.
I went to the track in the afternoon and threw out enough gold dust to paint our country home from cellar to attic—but never a sardine showed.
Frostbitten and suffocated by the odor of burning money I crept into a seat in the car and began to plan my finale.
Presently an elbow poked me in the ribs and I looked into the smiling face of Bunch Jefferson.
“Still piking, eh?” he chuckled; “you wouldn’t trail along after Your Uncle Bunch and get next to the candy man, would you? Only $400 to the good to-day. Am I the picker from Picklesburg, son of the old man Pickwick?—well, I guess yes!”
Then in that desperate moment I broke down and confessed all to Bunch. I told him how my haughty spirit disdained a tip and how in the pride of my heart I doped the cards myself and fell in the well. I told him of my feverish desire to beat the Bookmakers down through the earth till they yelled for mercy, and I told him of my pitiful dilemma and how I had to build a home in the country before noon to-morrow or do a dog trot to the Bad lands.
Then Bunch began to laugh—a long, loud, discordant laugh which ended in, “John, I’ll help you make good!” and then I began to sit up and notice things.
“I’m away head of this pitty-pat game at the Merry-go-Round,” Bunch went on, “and it so happens that recently I peeled the wrapper off my roll and swapped it for a country home for my sister and her daughter. She’s a young widow, my sister is, and one of the loveliest little ladies that ever came over the hill. And she has a daughter that’s a regular plate of peaches and cream.”
Still I sat in darkness, and he went on:
“Now, my sister won’t move out there for a day or two, so to-morrow, promptly on schedule time, you lead your domestic fleet over the sandbars to that house and point with pride to its various beauties—are you wise?”