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tion. Great, surely, was his success, for the row which
he raised was tremendous. But a row alone was not
enough; it was the mere breeze upon the surface of
the waters; the treasure-ship below was still to be
drawn up and gutted.

"It will cost money," he whispered confidentially to
capitalists and land-owners. "We must have the
sinews of war, or we can't carry it on. There's your
city lots goin' to double in value if this bill goes
through. What per cent, will you pay on the ad-
vance? That's the question. Put your hands in your
pockets and pull 'em out full, and put back ten times
as much. It's a sure investment; warranted to yield
a hundred per cent.; the safest and biggest thing
agoing."

Capitalists and land-owners and merchants heark-
ened and believed and subscribed. The slyest old
hunks in Fastburg put a faltering forefinger into his
long pocket-book, touched a greenback which had
been laid away there as neatly as a corpse in its coffin,
and resurrected it for the use of Mr. Pullwool. By
tens, by twenties, by fifties and by hundreds the dol-
lars of the ambitious citizens of the little metropolis
were charmed into the portemonnaie of this rattlesnake
of a lobbyist.

"I never saw a greener set," chuckled Pullwool "By

69



COMEDY

jiminy, I believe they'd shell out for a bill to make
their town a seaport, if it was a hundred miles from
a drop of water."

But he was not content with individual subscrip-
tions, and conscientiously scorned himself until he had
got at the city treasury.

"The corporation must pony up," he insisted, with
the mayor. "This bill is just shaking in the wind for
lack of money. Fastburg must come down with the
dust. You ought to see to it. What are you chief magis-
trates for? Ain't it to tend to the welfare of the city?

"Look here now; you call the common council to-
gether; secret session, you understand. You call 'em
together and let me talk to 'em. I want to make the
loons comprehend that it's their duty to vote some-
thing handsome for this measure."

The mayor hummed and hawed one way, and then
he hawed and hummed the other way, and the result
was that he granted the request. There was a secret
session in the council-room, with his honor at the
top of the long green table, with a row of more or less
respectable functionaries on either side of it, and with
Mr. Pullwool and the Devil at the bottom. Of course,
it is not to be supposed that this last-named personage
was visible to the others, or that they had more than a
vague suspicion of his presence. Had he fully revealed
himself, had he plainly exhibited his horns and hoofs,
or even so much as uncorked his perfume-bottle of
brimstone, it is more than probable that the city au-
thorities would have been exceedingly scandalized, and
they might have adjourned the session. As it was,
seeing nothing more disagreeable than the obese form
of the lobbyist, they listened calmly while he unfolded
his project.

Mr. Pullwool spoke at length, and to Fastburg ears
eloquently. Fastburg must be the sole capital ; it had

70



AN INSPIRED LOBBYIST

every claim, historical, geographical, and commercial,
to that distinction; it ought, could, would and should
be the sole capital; that was the substance of his ex-
ordium.

"But, gentlemen, it will cost," he went on. "There
is an unscrupulous and furious opposition to the meas-
ure. The other side— those fellows from Slowburg and
vicinity — are putting their hands into their britches-
pockets. You must put your hands into yours. The
thing will be worth millions to Fastburg. But it will
cost thousands. Are you ready to fork over? Are
you ready?"

"What's the figure?" asked one of the councilmen.
"What do you estimate?"

"Gentlemen, I shall astonish some of you," answered
Mr. Pullwool, cunningly. It was well put; it was as
much as to say, "I shall astonish the green ones; of
course, the really strong heads among you won't be
in the least bothered." "I estimate," he continued,
"that the city treasury will have to put up a good round
sum, say a hundred thousand dollars, be it more or
less."

A murmur of surprise, of chagrin, and of some-
thing like indignation ran along the line of official
mustaches. "Nonsense," "The dickens," "Can't be
done," "We can't think of it," broke out several coun-
cilmen, in a distinctly unparliamentary manner.

"Gentlemen, one moment," pleaded Pullwool, pass-
ing his greasy smile around the company, as though
it were some kind of refreshment. "Look at the whole
job. We must have lawyers; we must have newspapers
in all parts of the State; we must have writers to work
up the historical claims of the city; we must have fel-
lows to buttonhole honorable members; we must have
fees for honorable members themselves. How can you
do it for less?"



71



COMEDY

Then he showed a schedule; so much to this wire-
puller and that and the other; so much apiece to so
many able editors; so much for eminent legal counsel;
finally, a trifle for himself. And one hundred thou-
sand dollars or thereabouts was what the schedule
footed up, turn it whichever way you would.

Of course, this common council of Fastburg did not
dare to vote such a sum for such a purpose. Mr. Pull-
wool had not expected that it would; all that he had
hoped for was the half of it; but that half he got.

"Did they do it?" breathlessly inquired Tom Dicker
of him, when he returned to the hotel.

"They done it," calmly, yet triumphantly, responded
Mr. Pullwool.

"Thunder!" exclaimed the amazed Dicker. "You
are the most extraordinary man! You must have the
very Devil in you!"

Instead of being startled by this alarming supposi-
tion, Mr. Pullwool looked gratified. People thus pos-
sessed generally do look gratified when the possession
is alluded to.

But the inspired lobbyist did not pass his time in
wearing an aspect of satisfaction. When there was
money to get and to spend, he could run his fat oflf al-
most as fast as if he were pouring it into candle-
moulds. The ring — the famous capital ring of Fast-
burg — must be seen to, its fingers greased, and its en-
ergy quickened. Before he rolled his apple-dumpling
of a figure into bed that night he had interviewed Smith
and Brown, the editors; Jones and Robinson, the law-
yers; Smooth and Slow, the literary characters, various
lobbyists, and various lawgivers.

"Work, gentlemen, and capitalize Fastburg and get
your dividends," was his inspiring message to one and
all. He promised Smith and Brown ten dollars for
every editorial and five dollars for every humbugging

72



AN INSPIRED LOBBYIST

telegram, and two dollars for every telling item. Jones
and Robinson were to have five hundred dollars apiece
for concurrent legal statements of the claim of the
city; Smooth and Slow, as being merely authors and
so not accustomed to obtain much for their labor, got
a hundred dollars between them for working up the
case historically. To the lobbyists and members Pull-
wool was munificent; it seemed as if those gentlemen
could not be paid enough for their "influence;" as if
they alone had that kind of time which is money. Only,
while dealing liberally with them, the inspired one did
not forget himself. A thousand for Mr. Sly; yes, Mr.
Sly was to receipt for a thousand; but he must let half
of it stick to Pullwool fingers. The same arrangement
was made with Mr. Green and Mr. Sharp and Mr.
Bummer and Mr. Pickpurse and Mr. Buncombe. It
was a game of snacks, half to you and half to me; and
sometimes it was more than snacks, — a thousand for
you two and a thousand for me, too.

With such a greasing of the wheels, you may im-
agine that the machinery of the ring worked to a
charm. In the city and in the legislature and through-
out the State there was the liveliest buzzing and hum-
ming and clicking of political wheels and cranks and
cogs that had ever been known in those hitherto pas-
toral localities. The case of Fastburg against Slow-
burg was put in a hundred ways, and proved as sure
as it was put. It really seemed to the eager burghers
as if they had already heard the clink of hammers on
a new State House, and beheld a perpetual legislature
sitting on their fences and curbstones until the edifice
should be finished. The great wire-puller and his gang
of stipendiaries were the objects of popular gratitude
and adoration. The landlord of the hotel which Mr.
Pullwool patronized actually would not take pay for
that gentleman's board.



72,



COMEDY

"No, sir!" declared this simple Boniface, turning
crimson with enthusiasm. "You are going to put
thousands of dollars into my purse, and I'll take noth-
ing out of yours. And any little thing in the way of
cigars and whiskey that you want, sir, why, call for it.
It's my treat, sir."

"Thank you, sir," kindly smiled the great man.
"That's what I call the square thing. Mr. Boniface,
you are a gentleman and a scholar; and I'll mention
your admirable house to my friends. By the way, I
shall have to leave you for a few days."

"Going to leave us!" exclaimed Mr. Boniface, aghast.
"I hope not till this job is put through."

"I must run about a bit," muttered Pullwool, con-
fidentially. "A little turn through the State, you un-
derstand, to stir up the country districts. Some of the
members ain't as hot as they should be, and I want to
set their constituents after them. Nothing like getting
on a few deputations."

"Oh, exactly !" chuckled Mr. Boniface, ramming his
hands into his pockets and cheerfully jingling a bunch
of keys and a penknife for lack of silver. It was
strange indeed that he should actually see the Devil in
Mr. Pullwool's eye and should not have a suspicion
that he was in danger of being humbugged by him.
"And your rooms?" he suggested. "How about
them?"

"I keep them," replied the lobbyist, grandly, as if
blaspheming the expense — to Boniface. "Our friends
must have a little hole to meet in. And while you are
about it, Mr. Boniface, see that they get something to
drink and smoke; and we'll settle it between us."

"Pre — cisely!" laughed the landlord, as much as to
say, "My treat!"

And so Mr. Pullwool, that Pericles and Lorenzo de'
Medici rolled in one, departed for a season from the

74



AN INSPIRED LOBBYIST

city which he ruled and blessed. Did he run about the
State and preach and crusade in behalf of Fastburg,
and stir up the bucolic populations to stir up their
representatives in its favor? Not a bit of it; the place
that he went to, and the only place that he went to, was
Slowburg; yes, covering up his tracks in his usual
careful style, he made direct for the rival of Fast-
burg. What did he propose to do there? Oh, how
can we reveal the whole duplicity and turpitude of
Ananias Pullwool? The subject is too vast for a
merely human pen; it requires the literary ability of a
recording angel. Well, we must get our feeble lever
under this boulder of wickedness as we can, and do our
faint best to expose all the reptiles and slimy things be-
neath it.

The first person whom this apostle of lobbyism called
upon in Slowburg was the mayor of that tottering
capital.

"My name is Pullwool," he said to the official, and
he said it with an almost enviable ease of impudence,
for he was used to introducing himself to people who
despised and detested him. "I want to see you confi-
dentially about this capital ring which is making so
much trouble."

"I thought you were in it," replied the mayor, turn-
ing very red in the face, for he had heard of Mr. Pull-
wool as the leader of said ring; and being an iracund
man, he was ready to knock his head off.

"In it!" exclaimed the possessed one. "I wish I
was. It's a fat thing. More than fifty thousand dol-
lars paid out already!"

"Good gracious!" exclaimed the mayor in despair.

"By the way, this is between ourselves," added Pull-
wool. "You take it so, I hope. Word of honor, eh?"

"Why, if you have anything to communicate that



75



COMEDY

will help us, why, of course, I promise secrecy," stam- ■
mered the mayor. "Yes, certainly ; word of honor."

"Well, I've been looking about among those fellows
a little," continued Ananias. "I've kept my eyes and
ears open. It's a way I have. And I've learned a
thing or two that it will be to your advantage to know.
Yes, sir! fifty thousand dollars! — the city has voted it
and paid it, and the ring has got it. That's why they
are all working so. And depend upon it, they'll carry
the legislature and turn Slowburg out to grass, unless
you wake up and do something."

"By heavens !" exclaimed the iracund mayor, turn-
ing red again. "It's a piece of confounded rascality.
It ought to be exposed."

"No, don't expose it," put in Mr. Pullwool, some-
what alarmed. "That game never works. Of course,
they'd deny it and swear you down, for bribing wit-
nesses is as easy as bribing members. I'll tell you what
to do. Beat them at their own weapons. Raise a
purse that will swamp theirs. That's the way the world
goes. It's an auction. The highest bidder gets the
article."

Well, the result of it all was that the city magnates
of Slowburg did just what had been done by the city
magnates of Fastburg, only instead of voting fifty thou-
sand dollars into the pockets of the ring, they voted
sixty thousand. With a portion of this money about
him, and with authority to draw on the rest on proper
vouchers, Mr. Pullwool, his tongue in his cheek, bade
farewell to his new allies. As a further proof of the
ready wit and solid impudence of this sublime politician
and model of American statesmen, let me here intro-
duce a brief anecdote. Leaving Slowburg by the cars,
he encountered a gentleman from Fastburg, who sa-
luted him with tokens of amazement, and said, "What
are you doing here, Mr. Pullwool?"

76



AN INSPIRED LOBBYIST

"Oh, just breaking up these fellows a little," whis-
pered the man with the Devil in him. "They were
making too strong a fight. I had to see some of
them," putting one hand behind his back and rubbing
his fingers together, to signify that there had been a
taking of bribes. "But be shady about it. For the
sake of the good cause, keep quiet. Mum's the word."

The reader can imagine how briskly the fight be-
tween the two capitals reopened when Mr. Pullwool re-
entered the lobby. Slowburg now had its adherents,
and they struggled like men who saw money in their
warfare, and they struggled not in vain. To cut a
very long story very short, to sum the whole of an
exciting drama in one sentence, the legislature kicked
overboard the bill to make Fastburg the sole seat of
government. Nothing had come of the whole row,
except that a pair of simple little cities had spent over
one hundred thousand dollars, and that the capital
ring, fighting on both sides and drawing pay from
both sides, had lined its pockets, while the great cre-
ator of the ring had crammed his to bursting.

"What does this mean?" demanded the partially hon-
est and entirely puzzled Tom Dicker, when he had dis-
covered by an unofficial count of noses how things
were going. "Fastburg has spent all its money for
nothing. It won't be sole capital, after all."

'T never expected it would be," replied Pullwool,
so tickled by the Devil that was in him that he could
not help laughing. "I never wanted it to be. Why, It
would spoil the little game. This is a trick that can be
played every year."

"Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Dicker, and was dumb with as-
tonishment for a minute.

"Didn't you see through it before?" grinned the
grand master of all guile and subtlety.

"I did not," confessed Mr. Dicker, with a mixture

77



COMEDY

of shame and abhorrence. "Well," he presently added,
recovering himself, "shall we settle?"

"Oh, certainly, if you are ready," smiled Pullwool,
with the air of a man who has something coming to
him.

"And what, exactly, will be my share?" asked Dicker,
humbly.

"What do you mean?" stared Pullwool, apparently
in the extremity of amazement.

"You said snacks, didn't you?" urged Dicker, tremb-
ling violently.

"Well, suacks it is," replied Pullwool. "Haven't
you had a thousand?"

"Yes," admitted Dicker.

"Then you owe me five hundred."

Mr. Dicker did not faint, though he came very near
it, but he staggered out of the room as white as a
sheet, for he was utterly crushed by this diabolical im-
pudence.

That very day Mr. Pullwool left for Washington, and
the Devil left for his place, each of them sure to find
the other when he wanted him, if indeed their roads
lay apart.



7S



THE GHOST BABY

Blackwood's Magazine

SOME years ago business took me down to the little
town of Temsbury, and as I expected to have to
stay some time, my uncle, John, offered to lend me his
house there, as it was standing empty.

Everybody who has ever been at Temsbury — and that
means almost everybody — knows the Old House, though
they may not know its name. It is the large red-brick
building with a pediment and a white porch, standing a
little back from the road on your left hand side as you
go down to the bridge. It is a fine old place, believed to
have been built by Sir Christopher Wren, and contains
carvings by Grinling Gibbons and all kinds of treasures
for those who can appreciate them — has a garden, with a
little terrace on the river, and a ghost. The possession
of the last mentioned curiosity, however, was not gen-
erally appreciated.

Of course, the great, old house was much too large
for a solitary, unprotected male. Accordingly, only one
or two rooms had been prepared for me — the dining-
room, a pleasant little morning-room to serve for sit-
ting and working in, and a splendid bedroom on the
first floor looking out on the river. I was shown over
it all by an old woman of pleasant appearance, who had
been put in there, with her daughter, by my uncle, to
look after the house when he was away. I think she
was an old nurse of his or something of that kind. My
own impression is that my uncle's early upbringing

Vol. 18—6 81



COMEDY

must have been a work of considerable difficulty ; he
seemed to have such a number of pensioners who had
acted in some capacity connected with it.

The old woman was inclined to be apologetic about
the bedroom she had prepared for me, saying she had
had so little notice, and that none of the other rooms
were fit to sleep in ; to be sure, it was the best room in
the house, and she didn't believe there was any truth in
the stories that were told about it.

"Why," I asked, "is this the haunted room?"

"Well, sir, it is the one where the people says the
noises are; but, of course, a gentleman like yourself
don't care for none of them stories."

I was not so sure about that. I had no great anxiety
to be introduced to a ghost, supposing such things to
exist. I made an attempt at an incredulous laugh and
assured Mrs. Creed that it didn't matter ; but I was
somewhat uncomfortable all the same.

However, I got a very good dinner, which restored
my spirits, and turned to afterwards at a bit of work I
had to do, till all thoughts of the haunted room went
out of my head. After going through a series of very
abstruse calculations, I tried to refresh myself with a
novel and fell fast asleep in my chair.

Some people say that a short sleep in your chair re-
freshes you ; but, for my part, I always find that I wake
up sleepier than before. At any rate, all I was good
for when I woke up this time was to tumble upstairs
and into bed as soon as possible, and there I fell fast
asleep again. When I awoke next, which I suppose
must have been between one and two o'clock, it was
with the consciousness that I was no longer alone.

The doors of what I had supposed to be a great press
at the other end of the room stood wide open, disclosing
a small secret room built in the thickness of the wall.

Out of this room now came forth a figure — a lady

82



THE GHOST BABY

dressed in a strange, antiquated fashion, a long, loose,
blue dress of the kind which, I believe, is called a sacque
and with a great tower of a headdress, carrying a baby-
in her arms and singing softly to it as she walked to
and fro, without taking the least notice of me.

After the first minutes of utter bewilderment I began
to be conscious that this must be the ghost that people
spoke of; certainly it was not a substantial living crea-
ture. I cannot deny that I felt a curious kind of thrill
at the idea that I was actually face to face with a dis-
embodied spirit, even going so far as a general tendency
to shivering and chattering of teeth ; but these feelings
I succeeded in repressing. One thing which conduced
greatly to strengthen my resolution was the moral im-
possibility of getting out of bed to run away. I have
always been brought up in the strictest principles of
propriety, and I could not take a step which would be
an outrage to the feelings of a lady, even of a ghost
lady. Obviously it was my duty as a gentleman to
remain quietly in bed.

The sense of duty is encouraging, and I began to feel
quite composed, even with a soothing tendency to
grumble; for, as I put it to myself, while my conduct
at the present juncture is in the highest degree credit-
able, it serves to show, at the same time, how entirely
unjustifiable is the conduct of a lady ghost in haunting
a gentleman's bedroom. Comforted as I was with these
reflections, it was somewhat disturbing to find, on look-
ing up again, that the lady's eyes were fixed upon mine,
though with no particularly terrible or malevolent ex-
pression. I returned her gaze as steadily as I could,
and the lady, after a while, broke into a smile, and said
in a pleasant but somewhat affected voice, "You are not
afraid of me?"

"N — no. Madam. I don't think I am," I said, rather
hesitatingly.



«3



COMEDY

"You are not quite sure?" said the apparition, kindly.
"But I ask you the question with a serious purpose,
and you must answer truthfully. Are you really not
afraid of me?"

This was rather an awkward question, as the truth is
that I was still rather uncomfortable ; but I felt it must
be answered in the affirmative. I had read ghost stories
and I saw that the time was coming when the ghost
would confide in me respecting the family papers be-
hind the wainscoting or the treasure buried in the gar-
den. Under these circumstances I determined that I
would not be afraid.

After all, I said to myself, what is there to be afraid
of? The lady, who was anxiously awaiting my answer,
evidently meant me no harm; her appearance was in no
way terrible — indeed, her face, though sadly thin and
worn, showed traces of great beauty. There was noth-
ing but the irrational horror of something that has died
and yet lives — a condition of existence, by the way, in
which we formally express our belief every Sunday. So
I firmly and confidently replied, "I am not afraid of
you."

"Are you quite, quite certain?" repeated the lady,
anxiously. "Remember to whom you are speaking, and
do not say so unless you are perfectly sure. I am a
ghost, you know, a spirit. I have been dead and buried
these hundred and fifty years. Are you still quite sure
you are not afraid?"

Repressing what I felt to be an absurd inclination to
shudder, I replied, "I am perfectly sure."

The lady gave a sigh of relief.

"You speak confidently, sir," she said, "and I believe
truly. Heaven knows there is little enough to fear in
me, yet you are the first that I have seen since I have
haunted this apartment who could say so much. Your
courage shall not go unrewarded. To you I feel that



THE GHOST BABY

I can deliver the precious charge which I can no longer
retain. Are you willing to receive it?"

"Madam," I replied, "you do me too much honor. I
shall be proud to render you any assistance in my
power."

The lady looked at me very seriously.

"It is a very great trust that I am about to impose
upon you ; and though it cannot fail to bring you great
joy and happiness, it is one not to be lightly undertaken.
Yet I cannot think I have chosen badly. You are young
and inexperienced, but you seem to be kind and honest.
You are sure that you are ready to receive this charge?"

I bowed in assent as well as in acknowledgment of
the compliment, which only my duty as a faithful his-
torian induces me to transcribe. At the same time, I
may mention that it is an extremely difficult thing, when
one is in bed, to bow to a lady with any degree of pro-
priety, not to say grace. As for the trust, I decided it
must be treasure, which I was probably intended to
apply to some particular purpose.

"A hundred and fifty years ago," continued the appa-


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