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Twenty Years of Hus'ling Part 39

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We were royally received at the farmer's residence, and the Doctor at once became the center of attraction for those already a.s.sembled, and continued so during the evening. He told his latest stories, and I told one occasionally, bringing in "Pocahontas," "Stove-pipe bracket," "Irish patient," "Bra.s.s watches," etc., etc., any one of which had the tendency to keep the Doctor "riled up," and in constant fear lest I should dwell on facts or go into particulars.

At last he called me out on the porch, and said:

"Now sir ---- you, I am among aristocratic friends, who have always honored and respected me; and you have come about as near telling some of your cussed miserable stories about me as I want you to to-night. So now be guarded, sir. Remember I am among my friends, and not yours; so I warn you to be careful."

I a.s.sured him that I meant no reflection on him, and would be guarded.

Directly the musicians came, and all was ready to begin. The Doctor was one of the first to lead out, with the hostess for a partner.

Everything went on smoothly. Hard cider flowed freely, and the Doctor indulged often. The gentlemen all kept their hats on, including the Doctor and myself, as etiquette didn't seem to require their removal.

More cider, plenty of music and constant dancing, warmed up everybody; and very soon the gentlemen removed their coats, the Doctor and myself following suit. The more we danced, the more we wanted to dance; and the Doctor never missed a single set.

We were both introduced to the belles of the neighborhood. The Doctor was a general favorite with them, which fact caused considerable jealousy among not a few of the young gentlemen present.

Taking in the situation, I took special pains to say to all the boys that the Doctor was a nice old fellow, and meant no harm.

Finally, about ten o'clock, the Simon-pure aristocracy appeared on the scene. This was a young lady who had a very handsome face and a beautiful figure. But she was very cross-eyed. In spite of this defect she was very attractive, and being a graceful dancer, had no lack of offers to dance. I received an introduction to her, and soon after, the Doctor was introduced as per his request.

[Ill.u.s.tration: THE DR. AND HIS CROSS-EYED GIRL.--PAGE 351.]

He became much infatuated with her, and she didn't seem to dislike him very much. At any rate, they danced nearly every set together. When supper was announced he waited upon her. It so happened that the Doctor sat at the end of the table, she to his left at the side of the table, and I to his right, opposite her.

The first thing I said was:

"All I care for is pie and coffee."

The Doctor looked sober and enraged.

After all were nicely seated, I told one or two old chestnuts, when the Doctor ventured on one of his latest. Then I said:

"Doctor, we are all alike. It simply shows our 'impecuniosity' to sit here and tell stories, when we ought to finish our meal and make room for others."

n.o.body laughed, so I told another. It was about an old gentleman going out to sell stove-pipe brackets. Everybody laughed but the Doctor. I then said:

"Doctor, let's hear from you, now."

He was too full for utterance, and as I very well knew, would have given considerable for a chance to express himself.

After supper he called me out on the porch and said he just expected every minute that I was going to mention his name in connection with that peddling story, and it was well I didn't.

"Well, Doctor, I didn't mean you at all."

"The d----l you didn't! I wonder who you meant, if not me."

I then said:

"I see you are having a nice time. Nice girl, you have taken a fancy to; but I was introduced to her before you were."

"Well, it doesn't make any difference about that," he answered. "She will have nothing to do with you."

"Why not?"

"Because I told her you were a married man, and that settled it."

"Oh, ho! I see, Doctor. I see you were afraid I would out-s.h.i.+ne you, weren't you?"

"Not much, sir; not much. I know what she thinks of me, and just how well I stand in her estimation. She is a rich man's daugh----".

"Yes," I interrupted, "and she will never speak to you, after to-night."

"She will, unless you tell some of your infernal yarns and connect me with them; and if you do, I'll--I'll----"

"But, Doctor," I said, hastily, "what will the landlady say, when she gets home and sees how things are going?"

"Oh, you cussed idiot!" he screamed. "Do you think she has a string tied to me? What do you s'pose I care for her? Is she any comparison to this young lady?"

"No, I suppose not; but, Doctor, you are fooled in this girl; and I'll bet you didn't tell her about my being married till after supper."

"What makes you think that?"

"Well, I noticed that she kept looking at me all the time we were eating."

"No such a ---- thing. _I_ know she was looking at me. I _know_ she was.

And another thing I know----"

"Yes," I put in, "and another thing _I_ know."

"What's that?"

"Well, sir, while we were at the table she kept her feet pressing against my feet all the time."

"Oh, you idiot! Those were my feet that were pressing against yours."

"Then if you knew they were mine, why did you keep pus.h.i.+ng yours against them all the time?"

Under much excitement he answered:

"Because--because, sir, I--I--I thought I would have a little fun with you. That's why."

"Yes; because you thought they were the girl's feet. That's why."

Then a.s.suming his usual dramatic att.i.tude, and striking his breast with his clinched fist, he cried out:

"Johnston, if you cast any imputation against the character of this young lady, you will have to answer to me, sir. Now remember what I tell you."

"Well, Doctor, you had better go in and resume dancing. You are losing lots of fun."

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