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The Man Without a Country and Other Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about The Man Without a Country and Other Tales.

“Deacon,” said he, “what meat did you eat for breakfast yesterday?”

The deacon’s family had eaten salt pork, fried.

“And where did you get the pork, Deacon?”

The Deacon stared, but said he had taken it from his pork-barrel.

“Yes, Deacon,” said the old man; “I supposed so.  I have been to see
Brother Stowers, to talk to him about his Sabbath-breaking; and, Deacon,
I find the pond is his pork-barrel.”

The story is a favorite with me and with Fausta.  But “woe,” says the oracle, “to him who goes to the pork-barrel before the moment of his need.”  And to that “woe” both Fausta and I say “amen.”  For we know that there is no fish in our pond for spend-thrifts or for lazy-bones; none for people who wear gold chains or Attleborough jewelry; none for people who are ashamed of cheap carpets or wooden mantelpieces.  Not for those who run in debt will the fish bite; nor for those who pretend to be richer or better or wiser than they are.  No!  But we have found, in our lives, that in a great democracy there reigns a great and gracious sovereign.  We have found that this sovereign, in a reckless and unconscious way, is, all the time, making the most profuse provision for all the citizens.  We have found that those who are not too grand to trust him fare as well as they deserve.  We have found, on the other hand, that those who lick his feet or flatter his follies fare worst of living men.  We find that those who work honestly, and only seek a man’s fair average of life, or a woman’s, get that average, though sometimes by the most singular experiences in the long run.  And thus we find that, when an extraordinary contingency arises in life, as just now in ours, we have only to go to our pork-barrel, and the fish rises to our hook or spear.

The sovereign brings this about in all sorts of ways, but he does not fail, if, without flattering him, you trust him.  Of this sovereign the name is—­“the Public.”  Fausta and I are apt to call ourselves his children, and so I name this story of our lives,

“THE CHILDREN OF THE PUBLIC.”

CHAPTER II.

WHERE IS THE BARREL?

“Where is the barrel this time, Fausta?” said I, after I had added and subtracted her figures three times, to be sure she had carried her tens and hundreds rightly.  For the units, in such accounts, in face of Dr. Franklin, I confess I do not care.

“The barrel,” said she, “is in FRANK LESLIE’S OFFICE.  Here is the mark!” and she handed me FRANK LESLIE’S NEWSPAPER, with a mark at this announcement:—­

    $100

    for the best Short Tale of from one to two pages of FRANK LESLIE’S
    ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER, to be sent in on or before the 1st of
    November, 1862.

“There is another barrel,” she said, “with $5,000 in it, and another with $1,000.  But we do not want $5,000 or $1,000.  There is a little barrel with $50 in it.  But see here, with all this figuring, I cannot make it do.  I have stopped the gas now, and I have turned the children’s coats,—­I wish you would see how well Robert’s looks,—­and I have had a new tile put in the cook-stove, instead of buying that lovely new ‘Banner.’  But all will not do.  We must go to this barrel.”

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