"How limpid you walk!"
said a voice behind us, as we
were making a hundred and fifty
horse-power effort to reach a
table whereon reposed a volume
of Bacon. "What is the cause
of your lameness?" It was
Mrs. Partington's voice that spoke,
and Mrs. Partington's eyes that
met the glance we returned over
our left shoulder. "Gout,"
said we, briefly, almost surlily.
"Dear me," said she;
"you are highly flavored!
It was only rich people and epicacs
in living that had the gout in
olden times." "Ah!"
we growled, partly in response,
and partly with an infernal twinge,
"Poor soul!" she continued,
with commiseration, like an anodyne,
in the tones of her voice; "the
best remedy I know for it is an
embarkation of Roman wormwood
and lobelia for the part infected,
though some say a cranberry poultice
is best; but I believe the cranberries
is for erisipilis, and whether
either of 'em is a rostrum for
the gout or not, I really don't
If it was a fraction of the arm,
I could jest know what to subscribe."
We looked into her eye with a
determination to say something
severely bitter, because we felt
allopathic just then; but the
kind and sympathizing look that
met our own disarmed severity,
and sinking into a seat with our
coveted Bacon, we thanked her.
It was very evident, all the while,
that she, or they, stayed, that
Ike was seeing how near he could
come to our lame member, and not
touch it. He did touch it sometimes,
but those didn't count.
"I've always noticed,"
said Mrs. Partington on New Year's
Day, dropping her voice to the
key that people adopt when they
are disposed to be philosophical
or moral; "I've always noticed
that every year added to a man's
life is apt to make him older,
just as a man who goes a journey
finds, as he jogs on, that every
mile he goes brings him nearer
where he is going, and farther
from where he started. I am not
so young as I was once, and I
don't believe I shall ever be,
if I live to the age of Samson,
which, Heaven knows as well as
I do, I don't want to, for I wouldn't
be a centurion or an octagon,
and survive my factories, and
become idiomatic, by any means.
But then there is no knowing how
a thing will turn out till it
takes place; and we shall come
to an end some day, though we
may never live to see it."
There was a smart tap on the
looking-glass that hung upon the
wall, followed instantly by another.
"Gracious!" said she;
"what's that? I hope the
glass isn't fractioned, for it
is a sure sign of calamity, and
mercy knows they come along full
fast enough without helping 'em
by breaking looking-glasses."
There was another tap, and she
caught sight of a white bean that
fell on the floor; and there,
reflected in the glass, was the
face of Ike, who was blowing beans
at the mirror through a crack
in the door.
"As for the Chinese question,"
said Mrs. Partington, reflectively,
holding her spoon at "present,"
while the vapor of her cup of
tea curled about her face, which
shone through it like the moon
through a mist, "it is a
great pity that somebody don't
answer it, though who under the
canister of heaven can do it,
with sich letters as they have
on their tea-chists, is more than
I can tell. It is really too bad,
though, that some lingister doesn't
try it, and not have this provoking
question asked all the time, as
if we were ignoramuses, and did
not know Toolong from No Strong,
and there never was sich a thing
as the seventh commandment, which,
Heaven knows, suits this case
to a T, and I hope the breakers
of it may escape, but I don't
see how they can. The question
must be answered, unless it is
like a cannondrum, to be given
up, which nobody of any spirit
She brought the spoon down into
the cup, and looked out through
the windows of her soul into celestial
fields, peopled with pig-tails,
that were all in her eye, while
Ike took a double charge of sugar
for his tea, and gave an extra
allowance of milk to the kitten.