« ZurückWeiter »
Elizabeth Eliza waved her telegram in the air.
“We are only trying to send a telegram to my father and brother, who are in town," she endeavored to explain.
“If it is necessary,” said the chief engineer, "you might send it down in one of the hackney carriages. I see a number standing before the door. We'd better begin to move the heavier furniture, and some of you women might fill the carriages with smaller things.”
Mrs. Peterkin was ready to fall into hysterics. She controlled herself with a supreme power, and hastened to touch another knob.
Elizabeth Eliza corrected her telegram, and decided to take the advice of the chief engineer, and went to the door to give her message to one of the hackmen, when she saw a telegraph boy appear. Her mother had touched the right knob. It was the fourth from the beginning, but the beginning was at the other end !
She went out to meet the boy, when, to her joy, she saw behind him her father and Agamemnon. She clutched her telegram, and hurried toward them. Mr. Peterkin was bewildered. Was the house on fire ?
If so, where were the flames ?
He saw the row of carriages. Was there a funeral, or a wedding? Who was dead? Who was to be married ?
He seized the telegram that Elizabeth Eliza reached to him, and read it aloud.
“Come to us directly-the house is NOT on fire !”
The chief engineer was standing on the steps.
“ The house not on fire!” he exclaimed. “What are we all summoned for?”
“It is a mistake," cried Elizabeth Eliza, wringing her hands. “We touched the wrong knob; we wanted the telegraph boy!”
“We touched all the wrong knobs," exclaimed Mrs. Peterkin, from the house.
The chief engineer turned directly to give counter-directions, with a few exclamations of disgust, as the bells of distant fire-engines were heard approaching.
Solomon John appeared at this moment, and proposed taking one of the carriages, and going for a doctor for his mother, for she was now nearly ready to fall into hysterics, and Agamemnon thought to send a telegram down by the boy, for the evening papers, to announce that the Peterkins' house had not been on fire.
The crisis of the commotion had reached its height. The beds of flowers bordered with dark-colored leaves were trodden down by the feet of the crowd that had assembled.
The chief engineer grew more and more indignant, as he sent his men to order back the fire-engines from the neighboring towns. The collection of boys followed the procession as it went away. The fire-brigade hastily removed covers from some of the furniture, restored the rest to their places, and took away their ladders. Many neighbors remained, but Mr. Peterkin hastened into the house to attend to Mrs. Peterkin.
Elizabeth Eliza took an opportunity to question her father, before he went in, as to the success of their visit to town.
“We saw all the patent-agents,” answered Mr. Peterkin, in a hollow whisper. “Not one of them will touch the patent, or have any thing to do with it.”
Elizabeth Eliza looked at Agamemnon, as he walked silently into the house. She would not now speak to him of the patent; but she recalled some words of Solomon John. When they were discussing the patent, he had said that many an inventor had grown gray before his discovery was acknowledged by the public.
Others might reap the harvest, but it came, perhaps, only when he was going to his grave.
Elizabeth Eliza looked at Agamemnon reverently, and followed him silently into the house. - The Peterkin Papers.
EDWARD EVERETT HALE.
MY DOUBLE, AND HOW HE UNDID ME.
T is not often that I trouble the readers of
the Atlantic Monthly. I should not trouble them now, but for the importunities of my wife, who "feels to insist " that a duty to society is unfulfilled, till I have told why I had to have a double, and how he undid me. She is sure, she says, that intelligent persons cannot understand that pressure upon public servants which alone drives any man into the employment of a double. And while I fear she thinks, at the bottom of her heart, that my fortunes will never be remade, she has a faint hope that, as another Rasselas, I may teach a lesson to future publics, from which they may profit, though we die. Owing to the behavior of my double, or, if you please, to that public pressure which compelled me to employ him, I have plenty of leisure to write this communication. *See Biographical Sketch, p.