The Coroner next called the only witness of the actual tragedy, “Reuben Allen.” The man did not move nor change his position. The summons was repeated; a policeman touched him on the shoulder. There was a pause, and the officer announced: “He has fainted, your Honor!”
“Is there a physician present?” asked the Coroner.
Sparlow edged his way quickly to the front. “I’m a medical man,” he said to the Coroner, as he passed quickly to the still, upright, immovable figure and knelt beside it with his head upon his heart. There was an awed silence as, after a pause, he rose slowly to his feet.
“The witness is a patient, your Honor, whom I examined some weeks ago and found suffering from valvular disease of the heart. He is dead.”
“Oh! it’s you, is it?” said the Editor.
The Chinese boy to whom the colloquialism was addressed answered literally, after his habit:—
“Allee same Li Tee; me no changee. Me no ollee China boy.”
“That’s so,” said the Editor with an air of conviction. “I don’t suppose there’s another imp like you in all Trinidad County. Well, next time don’t scratch outside there like a gopher, but come in.”
“Lass time,” suggested Li Tee blandly, “me tap tappee. You no like tap tappee. You say, alle same dam woodpeckel.”
It was quite true—the highly sylvan surroundings of the Trinidad “Sentinel” office—a little clearing in a pine forest—and its attendant fauna, made these signals confusing. An accurate imitation of a woodpecker was also one of Li Tee’s accomplishments.
The Editor without replying finished the note he was writing; at which Li Tee, as if struck by some coincident recollection, lifted up his long sleeve, which served him as a pocket, and carelessly shook out a letter on the table like a conjuring trick. The Editor, with a reproachful glance at him, opened it. It was only the ordinary request of an agricultural subscriber—one Johnson—that the Editor would “notice” a giant radish grown by the subscriber and sent by the bearer.