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Colonel Bulper was of a slumberous turn. Most people are not: they work all day and sleep all night—are always in one or the other condition of unrest, and never slumber. Such persons, the Colonel used to remark, are fit only for sentry duty; they are good to watch our property while we take our rest—and they take the property. But this tale is not of them; it is of Colonel Bulper.
There was a fellow named Halsey, a practical joker, and one of the most disagreeable of his class. He would remain broad awake for a year at a time, for no other purpose than to break other people of their natural rest. And I must admit that from the wreck of his faculties upon the rock of insomnia he had somehow rescued a marvellous ingenuity and fertility of expedient. But this tale is not so much of him as of Colonel Bulper.
At the time of which I write, the Colonel was the Collector of Customs at a sea-port town in Florida, United States. The climate there is perpetual summer; it never rains, nor anything; and there was no good reason why the Colonel should not have enjoyed it to the top of his bent, as there was enough for all. In point of fact, the Collectorship had been given him solely that he might repair his wasted vitality by a short season of unbroken repose; for during the Presidential canvass immediately preceding his appointment he had been kept awake a long time by means of strong tea, in order to deliver an able and exhaustive political argument prepared by the candidate, who was ultimately successful in spite of it. Halsey, who had favoured the other aspirant, was a merchant, and had nothing in the world to do but annoy the collector. If the latter could have kept away from him, the dignity of the office might have been preserved, and the object of the incumbent’s appointment to it attained; but sneak away whithersoever he might—into the heart of the dismal swamp, or anywhere in the Everglades—some vagrom Indian or casual negro was sure to stumble over him before long, and go and tell Halsey, securing a plug of tobacco for reward. Or if he was not found in this way, some company was tolerably certain, in the course of time, to survey a line of railway athwart his leafy couch, and laying his prostrate trunk aside