We went into the billard-room and took something; that is, Peter and Eddie took that kind of something. Me and Jonadab took cigars.
“Fellers,” said Eddie, “drink hearty. I’m going in to tell my wife. Fake dishes! And I beat Thompson on the davenport.”
He went away bubbling like a biling spring. After he was gone Rogers looked thoughtful.
“That’s funny, too, ain’t it?” he says.
“What’s funny?” we asked.
“Why, about that sofy he calls a davenport. You see, I bought that off John, too,” says Adoniram.
I never could quite understand why the folks at Wellmouth made me selectman. I s’pose likely ’twas on account of Jonadab and me and Peter Brown making such a go of the Old Home House and turning Wellmouth Port from a sand fleas’ paradise into a hospital where city folks could have their bank accounts amputated and not suffer more’n was necessary. Anyway, I was elected unanimous at town meeting, and Peter was mighty anxious for me to take the job.
“Barzilla,” says Peter, “I jedge that a selectman is a sort of dwarf alderman. Now, I’ve had friends who’ve been aldermen, and they say it’s a sure thing, like shaking with your own dice. If you’re straight, there’s the honor and the advertisement; if you’re crooked, there’s the graft. Either way the house wins. Go in, and glory be with you.”
So I finally agreed to serve, and the very first meeting I went to, the question of Asaph Blueworthy and the poorhouse comes up. Zoeth Tiddit—he was town clerk—he puts it this way:
“Gentlemen,” he says, “we have here the usual application from Asaph Blueworthy for aid from the town. I don’t know’s there’s much use for me to read it—it’s tolerable familiar. ’Suffering from lumbago and rheumatiz’—um, yes. ’Out of work’—um, just so. ’Respectfully begs that the board will’—etcetery and so forth. Well, gentlemen, what’s your pleasure?”
Darius Gott, he speaks first, and dry and drawling as ever. “Out of work, hey?” says Darius. “Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask if anybody here remembers the time when Ase was in work?”
Nobody did, and Cap’n Benijah Poundberry—he was chairman at that time—he fetches the table a welt with his starboard fist and comes out emphatic.
“Feller members,” says he, “I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but it’s my opinion that this board has done too much for that lazy loafer already. Long’s his sister, Thankful, lived, we couldn’t say nothing, of course. If she wanted to slave and work so’s her brother could live in idleness and sloth, why, that was her business. There ain’t any law against a body’s making a fool of herself, more’s the pity. But she’s been dead a year, and he’s done nothing since but live on those that’ll trust him, and ask help from the town. He ain’t sick—except sick of work. Now, it’s my idea that, long’s he’s bound to be a pauper, he might’s well be treated as a pauper. Let’s send him to the poorhouse.”