Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Beef Division. He examined his books and his locse papers, but with no success. I was encouraged. Dur. ing that week I got as far as the Sixth Comptroller in that division; the next week I got through the Claims Department; the third week I began and completed the Mislaid Contracts Department, and got a foot-hold in the Dead Reckoning Department. I finished that in three days. There was only one place left for it now. I laid siege to the Commissioner of Odds and Ends; to his clerk, rather,-he was not there himself. There were sixteen beautiful young ladies in the room, writing in books, and there were seven well-favored young cierks showing them how. The young women smiled up over their shoulders and the clerks smiled back at them, and all went merry as a marriage bell. Two or three clerks that were reading the newspapers looked at me ratber hard, but went on reading, and nobody said anything. IIowever, I had been used to this kind of alacrity from Fourth-Assistant-Junior Clerks all through my eventful career, from the very day I entered the first office of the Corn-Beef Bureau clear till I passed out of the last one in the Dead Reckoning Division. I had got so accomplished by this time that I could stand on one foot from the moment I entered an oflice till a clerk spoke to me without changing more than two, or maybe three times.

So I stood there till I had changed four different times. Then I said to one of the clerks who was reading,

“Illustrious Vagrant, where is the Grand Turk ?"

“What do you mean, sir ? whom do you mean? If you mean the Chief of the Bureau, he is out.”

“Will he visit the harem to-day ?"

The young man glared upon me awhile, and then went on reading his paper. But I knew the ways of those clerks. I knew I was safe, if he got through before another New York mail arrived. He only had two more papers left. After a while he finished them, and then as I regarded it,- he found the long-lost record of that beef-contract, -he found the rock upon which so many of my ancestors had split before they ever got to it. I was deeply moved. And yet I rejoiced,—for I had survived. I said with emotion, “ Give it me.

The government will settle now.” He waved me back, and said there was something yet to be done first.

“Where is this John Wilson Mackenzie ?” said he.
“Dead.”
" When did he die ?"
“He didn't die at all,-he was killed."
“ How ?"
“ Tomahawked.”
“ Who tomahawked him ?”

'Why, an Indian, of course. You didn't suppose it was a superintendent of a Sunday school, did you ?

"No. An Indian, was it?"
" The same."
" Name of the Indian ?"
" His name! I don't know his name."

Dust have his name. Who saw the tomahawking done ?"

" I don't know.” “You were not present yourself then?” "Which you can see by my hair. I was absent." "Then how do you know that Mackenzie is dead ?”

Because he certainly died at that time, and I have every reason to believe that he has been dead ever since. I know he has, in fact."

“We must have proofs. Have you got the Indian ?” “Of course not."

“ Well, you must get him. Have you got the tomabawk?"

“I never thought of such a thing." "“ You must get the tomahawk. You must produce the Indian and the tomahawk. If Mackenzie's death can be proven by these, you can then go before the commission appointed to audit claims, with some show of getting your bill under such headway that your children may possibly live to receive the money and enjoy it. But that man's death must be proven. However, I may as well tell you that the government will never pay that transportation and those travelling expenses of the lamented Mackenzie. It may possibly pay for the barrel of beef that Sherman's soldiers captured, if you can get a relief bill through Congress making an appropriation for that purpose; but it will not pay for the twenty-nine barrels the Indians ate."

“ Then there is only a hundred dollars due me, and that isn't certain! After all Mackenzie's travels in Europe, Asia, and America with that beef; after all his trials and tribulations and transportation; after the slaughter of all those innocents that tried to collect that bill! Young man, why didn't the First Comptroller of the Corn-Beef Division tell me this?"

"He didn't know anything about the genuineness of your claim."

“Why didn't the Second tell me? why didn't the Third ? Why didn't all those divisions and departments tell me?"

“None of them knew. We do things by routine here. You have followed the routine and found out what you wanted to know. It is the best way. It is the only way. It is very regular, and very slow, but it is very certain."

“Yes, certain death. It has been, to the most of our tribe. I begin to feel that I, too, am called. Young man, you love the bright creature yonder with the gentleblue eyes and the steel pens behind her ears,— I see it in your soft glances; you wish to marry her,—but you are poor. IIere, hold out your hand,-here is the beefcontract; go, take her and be happy! Heaven bless you, my children!"

This is all that I know about the great beef-contract, that has created so much talk in the community. The clerk to whom I bequeathed it died. I know nothing further about the contract or any one connected with it. I only know that if a man lives long enough, he can trace a thing through the Circumlocution Office of Washington, and find out, after much labor and trouble and delay, that which he could have found out on the first day if the business of the Circumlocution Office were as ingeni ously systematized as it would be if it were a great private mercantile institution.

8. C. Cleinens.

A VALEDICTORY,
Delivered at the Closing Exercises of an Academy.

We'rr a band of loving school-mates, bound by friendship's

golden chain, Children of one common Father met in learnings sacred fane, When the hill of Science rises far above the misty heights, When the child of Superstition with the pen of error writes, Ere the Autumn days departed, to our homes we bade adieu ; And the pearly tear-drops glistened, we were leaving all we

knew; Strangers met us, we were lonely, but anon the tones of love, Fell upon our saddened spirits, like the sun-light from above, And affections minstrels chanted in a joyous, happy strain, Love ye, love ye one another, you may never meet again. So we leagued ourselves together, and the path of learning trod, Taught by all to look through Nature, humbly up to Nature's

God; In the buds we see his promise of a gay and beauteous Spring, When the robin and the black bird on the leafy boughs shall

sing ; In the crystal fringes hanging on the willow's graceful bouglas, We have traced the Holy Record of the Omnipresent's vows; In the robe of virgin-whiteness that bedecked our mother-earth We have read a sacred volume telling of a heavenly birth ; un the wind's tempestuous roaring we have felt a Father near, Bidding us in soothing accents trust in flim, and have no fear; From the star-bespangled azure angels whisper “God is love; See ye not yon orb of splendor pointing to his throne above ? Much we've learned of truth and beauty in the branches we

were tauglit, Knowledge years of toil lave gathered, from the mystic realms

of thought; And while memory near us lingers, we can ne'er these truths

forget, While we sce the lamps of Ileaven, as they seem to rise anıl When we read of England's paupers in the damp, unhealthy

set,

mine, Humphrey Davy's zeal untiring shall be traced on every line ; When we see the lightning playing harmless round the pointed

rod, Wo will think of Franklin's genius and the rugged paths he

trod; And the worthy Fulton, too, on the annals of our fame, With that mightyengine, steam hath inscribed a deathless name: Morse, with modern telegraph, owes the impress of his seal To tlo shepherd of Mount Ida with the magnet at his heel; Yet another claims our notice, 'tis Columbus, bold and brave, With his crew of ninety men on the stormy ocean wave, – Weeks and months, ere land appeared to pay him for his toilAnd we'll think what joy was his when he trod upon our soil. But the warning voice of Time bids us dwell on other themes; Even now the light of gladness through the misty twilight teems. We will soon be with our kindred, fill again tlie vacant chair, 'Twill rejoice our anxious parents when they see us seated there; But with all this promised pleasure, shades of sadness lover

o'er, We are leaving many lov'd ones we may meet on earth no

more; Yet the impress of their virtues on our hearts shall long re

main Fresh and fragrant, as the flowers after summer's gentle rain ; But the farewell must be spoken, -yet one prayer before we

part, May the fire of truth and justice light the hearth-stone of each

heart, That we may, when death is placing his cold seal upon our brow, Feel life's errand has been done, and in resignation bow! Now, farewell, beloved Teacher! may the seed your hands have Yield a rich, abundant harvest you might well be proud to own! We will treasure up your precepts, they may be, in future years, Balm to soothe our saddened spirits, strength to banish doubts

and fears. Fare you well! we may not linger,-in that far off Spirit land, May we mingle with the ransomed—with that bright angelio

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »