Twenty Minutes For Refreshments





Upon turning over again my diary of that excursion to the Pacific, I

find that I set out from Atlantic waters on the 30th day of a backward

and forlorn April, which had come and done nothing towards making its

share of spring, but had gone, missing its chance, leaving the trees as

bare as it had received them from the winds of March. It was not bleak

weather alone, but care, that I sought to escape by a change of sky;

and I hoped for some fellow-traveller who might begin to interest my

thoughts at once. No such person met me in the several Pullmans which

I inhabited from that afternoon until the forenoon of the following

Friday. Through that long distance, though I had slanted southwestward

across a multitude of States and vegetations, and the Mississippi lay

eleven hundred miles to my rear, the single event is my purchasing

some cat's-eyes of the news-agent at Sierra Blanca. Save this, my diary

contains only neat additions of daily expenses, and moral reflections

of a delicate and restrained melancholy. They were Pecos cat's-eyes, he

told me, obtained in the rocky canyons of that stream, and destined to

be worth little until fashion turned from foreign jewels to become aware

of these fine native stones. And I, glad to possess the jewels of my

country, chose two bracelets and a necklace of them, paying but twenty

dollars for fifteen or sixteen cat's-eyes, and resolved to give them

a setting worthy of their beauty. The diary continues with moral

reflections upon the servility of our taste before anything European,

and the handwriting is clear and deliberate. It abruptly becomes

hurried, and at length well-nigh illegible. It is best, I think,

that you should have this portion as it comes, unpolished, unamended,

unarranged--hot, so to speak, from my immediate pencil, instead of cold

from my subsequent pen. I shall disguise certain names, but that is all.



Friday forenoon, May 5.--I don't have to gaze at my cat's-eyes to kill

time any more. I'm not the only passenger any more. There's a lady.

She got in at El Paso. She has taken the drawing-room, but sits outside

reading newspaper cuttings and writing letters. She is sixty, I should

say, and has a cap and one gray curl. This comes down over her left ear

as far as a purple ribbon which suspends a medallion at her throat. She

came in wearing a sage-green duster of pongee silk, pretty nice, only

the buttons are as big as those largest mint-drops. "You porter," she

said, "brush this." He put down her many things and received it. Her

dress was sage green, and pretty nice too. "You porter," said she, "open

every window. Why, they are, I declare! What's the thermometer in this

car?" "Ninety-five, ma'am. Folks mostly travelling--" "That will do,

porter. Now you go make me a pitcher of lemonade right quick." She went

into the state-room and shut the door. When she came out she was dressed

in what appeared to be chintz bedroom curtains. They hang and flow

loosely about her, and are covered with a pattern of pink peonies. She

has slippers--Turkish--that stare up in the air, pretty handsome and

comfortable. But I never before saw any one travel with fly-paper. It

must be hard to pack. But it's quite an idea in this train. Fully a

dozen flies have stuck to it already; and she reads her clippings,

and writes away, and sips another glass of lemonade, all with the most

extreme appearance of leisure, not to say sloth. I can't imagine how she

manages to produce this atmosphere of indolence when in reality she is

steadily occupied. Possibly the way she sits. But I think it's partly

the bedroom curtains.



These notes were interrupted by the entrance of the new conductor.

"If you folks have chartered a private car, just say so," he shouted

instantly at the sight of us. He stood still at the extreme end and

removed his hat, which was acknowledged by the lady. "Travel is surely

very light, Gadsden," she assented, and went on with her writing. But

he remained standing still, and shouting like an orator: "Sprinkle the

floor of this car, Julius, and let the pore passengers get a breath of

cool. My lands!" He fanned himself sweepingly with his hat. He seemed

but little larger than a red squirrel, and precisely that color. Sorrel

hair, sorrel eyebrows, sorrel freckles, light sorrel mustache, thin

aggressive nose, receding chin, and black, attentive, prominent eyes.

He approached, and I gave him my ticket, which is as long as a neck-tie,

and has my height, the color of my eyes and hair, and my general

description, punched in the margin. "Why, you ain't middle-aged!"

he shouted, and a singular croak sounded behind me. But the lady was

writing. "I have been growing younger since I bought that ticket," I

explained. "That's it, that's it," he sang; "a man's always as old as he

feels, and a woman--is ever young," he finished. "I see you are true to

the old teachings and the old-time chivalry, Gadsden," said the lady,

continuously busy. "Yes, ma'am. Jacob served seven years for Leah and

seven more for Rachel." "Such men are raised today in every worthy

Louisiana home, Gadsden, be it ever so humble." "Yes, ma'am. Give a

fresh sprinkle to the floor, Julius, soon as it goes to get dry. Excuse

me, but do you shave yourself, sir?" I told him that I did, but without

excusing him. "You will see that I have a reason for asking," he

consequently pursued, and took out of his coat-tails a round tin box

handsomely labelled "Nat. Fly Paper Co.," so that I supposed it was

thus, of course, that the lady came by her fly-paper. But this was pure

coincidence, and the conductor explained: "That company's me and a man

at Shreveport, but he dissatisfies me right frequently. You know what

heaven a good razor is for a man, and what you feel about a bad one.

Vaseline and ground shells," he said, opening the box, "and I'm not

saying anything except it will last your lifetime and never hardens. Rub

the size of a pea on the fine side of your strop, spread it to an inch

with your thumb. May I beg a favor on so short a meeting? Join me in

the gentlemen's lavatory with your razorstrop in five minutes. I have

to attend to a corpse in the baggage-car, and will return at once."

"Anybody's corpse I know, Gadsden?" said the lady. "No, ma'am. Just a

corpse."



When I joined him, for I was now willing to do anything, he was

apologetic again. "'Tis a short acquaintance," he said, "but may I also

beg your razor? Quick as I get out of the National Fly I am going to

register my new label. First there will be Uncle Sam embracing the

world, signifying this mixture is universal, then my name, then the

word Stropine, which is a novelty and carries copyright, and I shall

win comfort and doubtless luxury. The post barber at Fort Bayard took a

dozen off me at sight to retail to the niggers of the Twenty-fourth, and

as he did not happen to have the requisite cash on his person I charged

him two roosters and fifty cents, and both of us done well. He's after

more Stropine, and I got Pullman prices for my roosters, the buffet-car

being out of chicken a la Marengo. There is your razor, sir, and I

appreciate your courtesy." It was beautifully sharpened, and I bought

a box of the Stropine and asked him who the lady was. "Mrs. Porcher

Brewton!" he exclaimed. "Have you never met her socially? Why she--why

she is the most intellectual lady in Bee Bayou." "Indeed!" I said. "Why

she visits New Orleans, and Charleston, and all the principal centres of

refinement, and is welcomed in Washington. She converses freely with our

statesmen and is considered a queen of learning. Why she writes po'try,

sir, and is strong-minded. But a man wouldn't want to pick her up for a

fool, all the samey." "I shouldn't; I don't," said I. "Don't you do it,

sir. She's run her plantation all alone since the Colonel was killed in

sixty-two. She taught me Sunday-school when I was a lad, and she used to

catch me at her pecan-trees 'most every time in Bee Bayou."



He went forward, and I went back with the Stropine in my pocket. The

lady was sipping the last of the lemonade and looking haughtily over the

top of her glass into (I suppose) the world of her thoughts. Her eyes

met mine, however. "Has Gadsden--yes, I perceive he has been telling

about me," she said, in her languid, formidable voice. She set her glass

down and reclined among the folds of the bedroom curtains, considering

me. "Gadsden has always been lavish," she mused, caressingly. "He seems

destined to succeed in life," I hazarded. "ah n--a!" she sighed, with

decision. "He will fail." As she said no more and as I began to resent

the manner in which she surveyed me, I remarked, "You seem rather sure

of his failure." "I am old enough to be his mother, and yours," said

Mrs. Porcher Brewton among her curtains. "He is a noble-hearted fellow,

and would have been a high-souled Southern gentleman if born to

that station. But what should a conductor earning $103.50 a month be

dispersing his attention on silly patents for? Many's the time I've

told him what I think; but Gadsden will always be flighty." No further

observations occurring to me, I took up my necklace and bracelets from

the seat and put them in my pocket. "Will you permit a meddlesome old

woman to inquire what made you buy those cat's-eyes?" said Mrs. Brewton.

"Why--" I dubiously began. "Never mind," she cried, archly. "If you were

thinking of some one in your Northern home, they will be prized because

the thought, at any rate, was beautiful and genuine. 'Where'er I roam,

whatever realms to see, my heart, untravelled, fondly turns to thee.'

Now don't you be embarrassed by an old woman!" I desired to inform her

that I disliked her, but one can never do those things; and, anxious

to learn what was the matter with the cat's-eyes, I spoke amiably and

politely to her. "Twenty dollars!" she murmured. "And he told you they

came from the Pecos!" She gave that single melodious croak I had heard

once before. Then she sat up with her back as straight as if she was

twenty. "My dear young fellow, never do you buy trash in these trains.

Here you are with your coat full of--what's Gadsden's absurd razor

concoctions--strut--strop--bother! And Chinese paste buttons. Last

summer, on the Northern Pacific, the man offered your cat's-eyes to me

as native gems found exclusively in Dakota. But I just sat and mentioned

to him that I was on my way home from a holiday in China, and he went

right out of the car. The last day I was in Canton I bought a box of

those cat's-eyes at eight cents a dozen." After this we spoke a little

on other subjects, and now she's busy writing again. She's on business

in California, but will read a paper at Los Angeles at the annual

meeting of the Golden Daughters of the West. The meal station is coming,

but we have agreed to--



Later, Friday afternoon.--I have been interrupted again. Gadsden

entered, removed his hat, and shouted: "Sharon. Twenty minutes for

dinner." I was calling the porter to order a buffet lunch in the car

when there tramped in upon us three large men of such appearance that

a flash of thankfulness went through me at having so little ready-money

and only a silver watch. Mrs. Brewton looked at them and said, "Well,

gentlemen?" and they took off their embroidered Mexican hats. "We've got

a baby show here," said one of them, slowly, looking at me, "and we'd

be kind of obliged if you'd hold the box." "There's lunch put up in

a basket for you to take along," said the next, "and a bottle of

wine--champagne. So losing your dinner won't lose you nothing." "We're

looking for somebody raised East and without local prejudice," said the

third. "So we come to the Pullman." I now saw that so far from purposing

to rob us they were in a great and honest distress of mind. "But I am

no judge of a baby," said I; "not being mar--" "You don't have to be,"

broke in the first, more slowly and earnestly. "It's a fair and secret

ballot we're striving for. The votes is wrote out and ready, and all

we're shy of is a stranger without family ties or business interests to

hold the box and do the counting." His deep tones ceased, and he wiped

heavy drops from his forehead with his shirt sleeve. "We'd be kind of

awful obliged to you," he urged. "The town would be liable to make it

two bottles," said the second. The third brought his fist down on the

back of a seat and said, "I'll make it that now." "But, gentlemen," said

I, "five, six, and seven years ago I was not a stranger in Sharon. If my

friend Dean Drake was still here--" "But he ain't. Now you might as well

help folks, and eat later. This town will trust you. And if you quit

us--" Once more he wiped the heavy drops away, while in a voice full of

appeal his friend finished his thought: "If we lose you, we'll likely

have to wait till this train comes in to-morrow for a man satisfactory

to this town. And the show is costing us a heap." A light hand tapped

my arm, and here was Mrs. Brewton saying: "For shame! Show your

enterprise." "I'll hold this yere train," shouted Gadsden, "if

necessary." Mrs. Brewton rose alertly, and they all hurried me out. "My

slippers will stay right on when I'm down the steps," said Mrs. Brewton,

and Gadsden helped her descend into the blazing dust and sun of Sharon.

"Gracious!" said she, "what a place! But I make it a point to see

everything as I go." Nothing had changed. There, as of old, lay the

flat litter of the town--sheds, stores, and dwellings, a shapeless

congregation in the desert, gaping wide everywhere to the glassy,

quivering immensity; and there, above the roofs, turned the slatted

wind-wheels. But close to the tracks, opposite the hotel, was an

edifice, a sort of tent of bunting, from which brass music issued,

while about a hundred pink and blue sun-bonnets moved and mixed near

the entrance. Little black Mexicans, like charred toys, lounged and lay

staring among the ungraded dunes of sand. "Gracious!" said Mrs. Brewton

again. Her eye lost nothing; and as she made for the tent the chintz

peonies flowed around her, and her step was surprisingly light. We

passed through the sunbonnets and entered where the music played. "The

precious blessed darlings!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands. "This

will do for the Golden Daughters," she rapidly added; "yes, this will

distinctly do." And she hastened away from me into the throng.



I had no time to look at much this first general minute. I could see

there were booths, each containing a separate baby. I passed a whole

section of naked babies, and one baby farther along had on golden wings

and a crown, and was bawling frightfully. Their names were over the

booths, and I noticed Lucille, Erskine Wales, Banquo Lick Nolin, Cuba,

Manilla, Ellabelle, Bosco Grady, James J. Corbett Nash, and Aqua Marine.

There was a great sign at the end, painted "Mrs. Eden's Manna in the

Wilderness," and another sign, labelled "Shot-gun Smith's twins." In the

midst of these first few impressions I found myself seated behind a bare

table raised three feet or so, with two boxes on it, and a quantity

of blank paper and pencils, while one of the men was explaining me

the rules and facts. I can't remember them all now, because I couldn't

understand them all then, and Mrs. Brewton was distant among the

sun-bonnets, talking to a gathering crowd and feeling in the mouths of

babies that were being snatched out of the booths and brought to her.

The man was instructing me steadily all the while, and it occurred to me

to nod silently and coldly now and then, as if I was doing this sort of

thing every day. But I insisted that some one should help me count, and

they gave me Gadsden.



Now these facts I do remember very clearly, and shall never forget them.

The babies came from two towns--Sharon, and Rincon its neighbor. Alone,

neither had enough for a good show, though in both it was every family's

pride to have a baby every year. The babies were in three classes: Six

months and under, one prize offered; eighteen months, two prizes; three

years, two prizes. A three-fourths vote of all cast was necessary to

a choice. No one entitled to vote unless of immediate family of a

competing baby. No one entitled to cast more than one vote. There were

rules of entry and fees, but I forget them, except that no one could

have two exhibits in the same class. When I read this I asked, how about

twins? "Well, we didn't kind of foresee that," muttered my instructor,

painfully; "what would be your idea?" "Look here, you sir," interposed

Mrs. Brewton, "he came in to count votes." I was very glad to have her

back. "That's right, ma'am," admitted the man; "he needn't to say a

thing. We've only got one twins entered," he pursued, "which we're glad

of. Shot-gun--", "Where is this Mr. Smith?" interrupted Mrs. Brewton.

"Uptown, drinking, ma'am." "And who may Mr. Smith be?" "Most popular

citizen of Rincon, ma'am. We had to accept his twins because--well,

he come down here himself, and most of Rincon come with him, and as we

aimed to have everything pass off pleasant-like--" "I quite comprehend,"

said Mrs. Brewton. "And I should consider twins within the rule; or any

number born at one time. But little Aqua Marine is the finest single

child in that six months class. I told her mother she ought to take that

splurgy ring off the poor little thing's thumb. It's most unsafe. But

I should vote for that child myself." "Thank you for your valuable

endorsement," said a spruce, slim young man. "But the public is not

allowed to vote here," he added. He was standing on the floor and

resting his elbows on the table. Mrs. Brewton stared down at him. "Are

you the father of the child?" she inquired. "Oh no! I am the agent. I--"

"Aqua Marine's agent?" said Mrs. Brewton, sharply. "Ha, ha!" went the

young man. "Ha, ha! Well, that's good too. She's part of our exhibit.

I'm in charge of the manna-feds, don't you know?" "I don't know," said

Mrs. Brewton. "Why, Mrs. Eden's Manna in the Wilderness! Nourishes,

strengthens, and makes no unhealthy fat. Take a circular, and welcome.

I'm travelling for the manna. I organized this show. I've conducted

twenty-eight similar shows in two years. We hold them in every State

and Territory. Second of last March I gave Denver--you heard of it,

probably?" "I did not," said Mrs. Brewton. "Well! Ha, ha! I thought

every person up to date had heard of Denver's Olympic Offspring Olio."

"Is it up to date to loll your elbows on the table when you're speaking

to a lady?" inquired Mrs. Brewton. He jumped, and then grew scarlet

with rage. "I didn't expect to learn manners in New Mexico," said he.

"I doubt if you will," said Mrs. Brewton, and turned her back on him. He

was white now; but better instincts, or else business, prevailed in his

injured bosom. "Well," said he, "I had no bad intentions. I was going

to say you'd have seen ten thousand people and five hundred babies at

Denver. And our manna-feds won out to beat the band. Three first medals,

and all exclusively manna-fed. We took the costume prize also. Of course

here in Sharon I've simplified. No special medal for weight, beauty,

costume, or decorated perambulator. Well, I must go back to our exhibit.

Glad to have you give us a call up there and see the medals we're

offering, and our fifteen manna-feds, and take a package away with you."

He was gone.



The voters had been now voting in my two boxes for some time, and I

found myself hoping the manna would not win, whoever did; but it seemed

this agent was a very capable person. To begin with, every family

entering a baby drew a package of the manna free, and one package

contained a diamond ring. Then, he had managed to have the finest babies

of all classes in his own exhibit. This was incontestable, Mrs. Brewton

admitted, after returning from a general inspection; and it seemed to us

extraordinary. "That's easy, ma'am," said Gadsden; "he came around here

a month ago. Don't you see?" I did not see, but Mrs. Brewton saw at

once. He had made a quiet selection of babies beforehand, and then

introduced the manna into those homes. And everybody in the room was

remarking that his show was very superior, taken as a whole they all

added, "taken as a whole"; I heard them as they came up to vote for

the 3-year and the 18-month classes. The 6-month was to wait till

last, because the third box had been accidentally smashed by Mr. Smith.

Gadsden caught several trying to vote twice. "No, you don't!" he would

shout. "I know faces. I'm not a conductor for nothing." And the victim

would fall back amid jeers from the sun-bonnets. Once the passengers

sent over to know when the train was going. "Tell them to step over here

and they'll not feel so lonesome!" shouted Gadsden; and I think a good

many came. The band was playing "White Wings," with quite a number

singing it, when Gadsden noticed the voting had ceased, and announced

this ballot closed. The music paused for him, and we could suddenly hear

how many babies were in distress; but for a moment only; as we began

our counting, "White Wings" resumed, and the sun-bonnets outsang their

progeny. There was something quite singular in the way they had voted.

Here are some of the 3-year-old tickets: "First choice, Ulysses Grant

Blum; 2d choice, Lewis Hendricks." "First choice, James Redfield; 2d,

Lewis Hendricks." "First, Elk Chester; 2d, Lewis Hendricks." "Can

it be?" said the excited Gadsden. "Finish these quick. I'll open the

18-monthers." But he swung round to me at once. "See there!" he cried.

"Read that! and that!" He plunged among more, and I read: "First choice,

Lawrence Nepton Ford, Jr.; 2d, Iona Judd." "First choice, Mary Louise

Kenton; 2d, Iona Judd." "Hurry up!" said Gadsden; "that's it!" And as we

counted, Mrs. Brewton looked over my shoulder and uttered her melodious

croak, for which I saw no reason. "That young whipper-snapper will go

far," she observed; nor did I understand this. But when they stopped the

band for me to announce the returns, one fact did dawn on me even

while I was reading: "Three-year-olds: Whole number of votes cast, 300;

necessary to a choice, 225. Second prize, Lewis Hendricks, receiving

300. First prize, largest number of votes cast, 11, for Salvisa van

Meter. No award. Eighteen-month class: Whole number of votes cast, 300;

necessary to a choice, 225. Second prize, Iona Judd, receiving 300.

Lillian Brown gets 15 for 1st prize. None awarded." There was a very

feeble applause, and then silence for a second, and then the sun-bonnets

rushed together, rushed away to others, rushed back; and talk swept like

hail through the place. Yes, that is what they had done. They had all

voted for Lewis Hendricks and Iona Judd for second prize, and every

family had voted the first prize to its own baby. The Browns and van

Meters happened to be the largest families present. "He'll go far! he'll

go far!" repeated Mrs. Brewton. Sport glittered in her eye. She gathered

her curtains, and was among the sun-bonnets in a moment. Then it fully

dawned on me. The agent for Mrs. Eden's Manna in the Wilderness was

indeed a shrewd strategist, and knew his people to the roots of the

grass. They had never seen a baby-show. They were innocent. He came

among them. He gave away packages of manna and a diamond ring. He

offered the prizes. But he proposed to win some. Therefore he made that

rule about only the immediate families voting. He foresaw what they

would do; and now they had done it. Whatever happened, two prizes went

to his manna-feds. "They don't see through it in the least, which is

just as well," said Mrs. Brewton, returning. "And it's little matter

that only second prizes go to the best babies. But what's to be done

now?" I had no idea; but it was not necessary that I should.



"You folks of Rincon and Sharon," spoke a deep voice. It was the first

man in the Pullman, and drops were rolling from his forehead, and his

eyes were the eyes of a beleaguered ox. "You fathers and mothers," he

said, and took another breath. They grew quiet. "I'm a father myself,

as is well known." They applauded this. "Salvisa is mine, and she got

my vote. The father that will not support his own child is not--does

not--is worse than if they were orphans." He breathed again, while they

loudly applauded. "But, folks, I've got to get home to Rincon. I've

got to. And I'll give up Salvisa if I'm met fair." "Yes, yes, you'll

be met," said voices of men. "Well, here's my proposition: Mrs. Eden's

manna has took two, and I'm satisfied it should. We voted, and will stay

voted." "Yes, yes!" "Well, now, here's Sharon and Rincon, two of the

finest towns in this section, and I say Sharon and Rincon has equal

rights to get something out of this, and drop private feelings, and

everybody back their town. And I say let this lady and gentleman, who

will act elegant and on the square, take a view and nominate the finest

Rincon 3-year-old and the finest Sharon 18-month they can cut out of the

herd. And I say let's vote unanimous on their pick, and let each town

hold a first prize and go home in friendship, feeling it has been

treated right."



Universal cheers endorsed him, and he got down panting. The band played

"Union Forever," and I accompanied Mrs. Brewton to the booths. "You'll

remember!" shouted the orator urgently after us; "one apiece." We

nodded. "Don't get mixed," he appealingly insisted. We shook our heads,

and out of the booths rushed two women, and simultaneously dashed their

infants in our faces. "You'll never pass Cuba by!" entreated one. "This

is Bosco Grady," said the other. Cuba wore an immense garment made of

the American flag, but her mother whirled her out of it in a second.

"See them dimples; see them knees!" she said. "See them feet! Only feel

of her toes!" "Look at his arms!" screamed the mother of Bosco. "Doubled

his weight in four months." "Did he indeed, ma'am?" said Cuba's mother;

"well, he hadn't much to double." "Didn't he, then? Didn't he indeed?"

"No at you; he didn't indeed and indeed! I guess Cuba is known to

Sharon. I guess Sharon'll not let Cuba be slighted." "Well, and I guess

Rincon'll see that Bosco Grady gets his rights." "Ladies," said Mrs.

Brewton, towering but poetical with her curl, "I am a mother myself, and

raised five noble boys and two sweet peerless girls." This stopped them

immediately; they stared at her and her chintz peonies as she put the

curl gently away from her medallion and proceeded: "But never did I

think of myself in those dark weary days of the long ago. I thought of

my country and the Lost Cause." They stared at her, fascinated. "Yes,

m'm," whispered they, quite humbly. "Now," said Mrs. Brewton, "what is

more sacred than an American mother's love? Therefore let her not shame

it with anger and strife. All little boys and girls are precious gems to

me and to you. What is a cold, lifeless medal compared to one of them?

Though I would that all could get the prize! But they can't, you know."

"No, m'm." Many mothers, with their children in their arms, were now

dumbly watching Mrs. Brewton, who held them with a honeyed, convincing

smile. "If I choose only one in this beautiful and encouraging harvest,

it is because I have no other choice. Thank you so much for letting

me see that little hero and that lovely angel," she added, with a yet

sweeter glance to the mothers of Bosco and Cuba. "And I wish them all

luck when their turn comes. I've no say about the 6-month class, you

know. And now a little room, please."



The mothers fell back. But my head swam slightly. The 6-month class, to

be sure! The orator had forgotten all about it. In the general joy over

his wise and fair proposition, nobody had thought of it. But they would

pretty soon. Cuba and Bosco were likely to remind them. Then we should

still be face to face with a state of things that--I cast a glance

behind at those two mothers of Sharon and Rincon following us, and I

asked Mrs. Brewton to look at them. "Don't think about it now," said

she, "it will only mix you. I always like to take a thing when it comes,

and not before." We now reached the 18-month class. They were the

naked ones. The 6-month had stayed nicely in people's arms; these were

crawling hastily everywhere, like crabs upset in the market, and

they screamed fiercely when taken upon the lap. The mother of Thomas

Jefferson Brayin Lucas showed us a framed letter from the statesman for

whom her child was called. The letter reeked with gratitude, and

said that offspring was man's proudest privilege; that a souvenir

sixteen-to-one spoon would have been cheerfully sent, but 428 babies had

been named after Mr. Brayin since January. It congratulated the swelling

army of the People's Cause. But there was nothing eminent about little

Thomas except the letter; and we selected Reese Moran, a vigorous Sharon

baby, who, when they attempted to set him down and pacify him, stiffened

his legs, dashed his candy to the floor, and burst into lamentation. We

were soon on our way to the 3-year class, for Mrs. Brewton was rapid

and thorough. As we went by the Manna Exhibit, the agent among his

packages and babies invited us in. He was loudly declaring that he would

vote for Bosco if he could. But when he examined Cuba, he became sure

that Denver had nothing finer than that. Mrs. Brewton took no notice of

him, but bade me admire Aqua Marine as far surpassing any other 6-month

child. I proclaimed her splendid (she was a wide-eyed, contented thing,

with a head shaped like a croquet mallet), and the agent smiled modestly

and told the mothers that as for his babies two prizes was luck enough

for them; they didn't want the earth. "If that thing happened to be

brass," said Mrs. Brewton, bending over the ring that Aqua was still

sucking; and again remonstrating with the mother for this imprudence,

she passed on. The three-year-olds were, many of them, in costume, with

extraordinary arrangements of hair; and here was the child with gold

wings and a crown I had seen on arriving. Her name was Verbena M., and

she personated Faith. She had colored slippers, and was drinking

tea from her mother's cup. Another child, named Broderick McGowan,

represented Columbus, and joyfully shouted "Ki-yi!" every half-minute.

One child was attired as a prominent admiral; another as a prominent

general; and one stood in a boat and was Washington. As Mrs. Brewton

examined them and dealt with the mothers, the names struck me

afresh--not so much the boys; Ulysses Grant and James J. Corbett

explained themselves; but I read the names of five adjacent girls--Lula,

Ocilla, Nila, Cusseta, and Maylene. And I asked Mrs. Brewton how they

got them. "From romances," she told me, "in papers that we of the upper

classes never see." In choosing Horace Boyd, of Rincon, for his hair,

his full set of front teeth well cared for, and his general beauty, I

think both of us were also influenced by his good sensible name, and his

good clean sensible clothes. With both our selections, once they were

settled, were Sharon and Rincon satisfied. We were turning back to the

table to announce our choice when a sudden clamor arose behind us,

and we saw confusion in the Manna Department. Women were running and

shrieking, and I hastened after Mrs. Brewton to see what was the matter.

Aqua Marine had swallowed the ring on her thumb. "It was gold! it was

pure gold!" wailed the mother, clutching Mrs. Brewton. "It cost a whole

dollar in El Paso." "She must have white of egg instantly," said Mrs.

Brewton, handing me her purse. "Run to the hotel--" "Save your money,"

said the agent, springing forward with some eggs in a bowl. "Lord! you

don't catch us without all the appliances handy. We'd run behind the

trade in no time. There, now, there," he added, comfortingly to the

mother. "Will you make her swallow it? Better let me--better let me--And

here's the emetic. Lord! why, we had three swallowed rings at the Denver

Olio, and I got 'em all safe back within ten minutes after time of

swallowing." "You go away," said Mrs. Brewton to me, "and tell them our

nominations." The mothers sympathetically surrounded poor little Aqua,

saying to each other: "She's a beautiful child!" "Sure indeed she is!"

"But the manna-feds has had their turn." "Sure indeed they've been

recognized," and so forth, while I was glad to retire to the voting

table. The music paused for me, and as the crowd cheered my small

speech, some one said, "And now what are you going to do about me?" It

was Bosco Grady back again, and close behind him Cuba. They had escaped

from Mrs. Brewton's eye and had got me alone. But I pretended in the

noise and cheering not to see these mothers. I noticed a woman hurrying

out of the tent, and hoped Aqua was not in further trouble--she was

still surrounded, I could see. Then the orator made some silence,

thanked us in the names of Sharon and Rincon, and proposed our

candidates be voted on by acclamation. This was done. Rincon voted for

Sharon and Reese Moran in a solid roar, and Sharon voted for Rincon and

Horace Boyd in a roar equally solid. So now each had a prize, and the

whole place was applauding happily, and the band was beginning again,

when the mothers with Cuba and Bosco jumped up beside me on the

platform, and the sight of them produced immediate silence.



"There's a good many here has a right to feel satisfied," said Mrs.

Grady, looking about, "and they're welcome to their feelings. But if

this meeting thinks it is through with its business, I can tell it that

it ain't--not if it acts honorable, it ain't. Does those that have had

their chance and those that can take home their prizes expect us 6-month

mothers come here for nothing? Do they expect I brought my Bosco from

Rincon to be insulted, and him the pride of the town?" "Cuba is known

to Sharon," spoke the other lady. "I'll say no more." "Jumping Jeans!"

murmured the orator to himself. "I can't hold this train much longer,"

said Gadsden; "she's due at Lordsburg now." "You'll have made it up by

Tucson, Gadsden," spoke Mrs. Brewton, quietly, across the whole assembly

from the Manna Department. "As for towns," continued Mrs. Grady, "that

think anything of a baby that's only got three teeth--" "Ha! Ha!"

laughed Cuba's mother, shrilly. "Teeth! Well, we're not proud of bald

babies in Sharon." Bosco was certainly bald. All the men were looking

wretched, and all the women were growing more and more like eagles.

Moreover, they were separating into two bands and taking their husbands

with them--Sharon and Rincon drawing to opposite parts of the tent--and

what was coming I cannot say; for we all had to think of something else.

A third woman, bringing a man, mounted the platform. It was she I

had seen hurry out. "My name's Shot-gun Smith," said the man, very

carefully, "and I'm told you've reached my case." He was extremely

good-looking, with a blue eye and a blond mustache, not above thirty,

and was trying hard to be sober, holding himself with dignity. "Are you

the judge?" said he to me. "Hell--" I began. "N-not guilty, your honor,"

said he. At this his wife looked anxious. "S-self-defence," he slowly

continued; "told you once already." "Why, Rolfe!" exclaimed his wife,

touching his elbow. "Don't you cry, little woman," said he; "this'll

come out all right. Where 're the witnesses?" "Why, Rolfe! Rolfe!" She

shook him as you shake a sleepy child. "Now see here," said he, and

wagged a finger at her affectionately, "you promised me you'd not cry

if I let you come." "Rolfe, dear, it's not that to-day; it's the twins."

"It's your twins, Shot-gun, this time," said many men's voices. "We

acquitted you all right last month." "Justifiable homicide," said

Gadsden. "Don't you remember?" "Twins?" said Shotgun, drowsily. "Oh yes,

mine. Why--" He opened on us his blue eyes that looked about as innocent

as Aqua Marine's, and he grew more awake. Then he blushed deeply, face

and forehead. "I was not coming to this kind of thing," he explained.

"But she wanted the twins to get something." He put his hand on her

shoulder and straightened himself. "I done a heap of prospecting before

I struck this claim," said he, patting her shoulder. "We got married

last March a year. It's our first--first--first"--he turned to me with a

confiding smile--"it's our first dividend, judge." "Rolfe! I never! You

come right down." "And now let's go get a prize," he declared, with his

confiding pleasantness. "I remember now! I remember! They claimed twins

was barred. And I kicked down the bars. Take me to those twins. They're

not named yet, judge. After they get the prize we'll name them fine

names, as good as any they got anywhere--Europe, Asia, Africa--anywhere.

My gracious! I wish they was boys. Come on, judge! You and me'll go give

'em a prize, and then we'll drink to 'em." He hugged me suddenly and

affectionately, and we half fell down the steps. But Gadsden as suddenly

caught him and righted him, and we proceeded to the twins. Mrs. Smith

looked at me helplessly, saying: "I'm that sorry, sir! I had no idea

he was going to be that gamesome." "Not at all," I said; "not at all!"

Under many circumstances I should have delighted in Shot-gun's society.

He seemed so utterly sure that, now he had explained himself, everybody

would rejoice to give the remaining-medal to his little girls. But

Bosco and Cuba had not been idle. Shotgun did not notice the spread of

whispers, nor feel the divided and jealous currents in the air as he

sat, and, in expanding good-will, talked himself almost sober. To entice

him out there was no way. Several of his friends had tried it. But

beneath his innocence there seemed to lurk something wary, and I grew

apprehensive about holding the box this last time. But Gadsden relieved

me as our count began. "Shot-gun is a splendid man," said he, "and he

has trailed more train-robbers than any deputy in New Mexico. But he has

seen too many friends to-day, and is not quite himself. So when he fell

down that time I just took this off him." He opened the drawer, and

there lay a six-shooter. "It was touch and go," said Gadsden; "but he's

thinking that hard about his twins that he's not missed it yet. 'Twould

have been the act of an enemy to leave that on him to-day.--Well, d'you

say!" he broke off. "Well, well, well!" It was the tickets we took out

of the box that set him exclaiming. I began to read them, and saw that

the agent was no mere politician, but a statesman. His Aqua Marine had a

solid vote. I remembered his extreme praise of both Bosco and Cuba. This

had set Rincon and Sharon bitterly against each other. I remembered his

modesty about Aqua Marine. Of course. Each town, unable to bear the

idea of the other's beating it, had voted for the manna-fed, who had 299

votes. Shot-gun and his wife had voted for their twins. I looked towards

the Manna Department, and could see that Aqua Marine was placid once

more, and Mrs. Brewton was dancing the ring before her eyes. I hope I

announced the returns in a firm voice. "What!" said Shot-gun Smith; and

at that sound Mrs. Brewton stopped dancing the ring. He strode to our

table. "There's the winner," said Gadsden, quickly pointing to the

Manna Exhibit. "What!" shouted Smith again; "and they quit me for that

hammer-headed son-of-a-gun?" He whirled around. The men stood ready, and

the women fled shrieking and cowering to their infants in the booths.

"Gentlemen! Gentlemen!" cried Gadsden, "don't hurt him! Look here!" And

from the drawer he displayed Shot-gun's weapon. They understood in a

second, and calmly watched the enraged and disappointed Shot-gun. But he

was a man. He saw how he had frightened the women, and he stood in the

middle of the floor with eyes that did not at all resemble Aqua Marine's

at present. "I'm all right now, boys," he said. "I hope I've harmed no

one. Ladies, will you try and forget about me making such a break? It

got ahead of me, I guess; for I had promised the little woman--" He

stopped himself; and then his eye fell upon the Manna Department. "I

guess I don't like one thing much now. I'm not after prizes. I'd not

accept one from a gold-bug-combine-trust that comes sneaking around

stuffing wholesale concoctions into our children's systems. My twins are

not manna-fed. My twins are raised as nature intended. Perhaps if they

were swelled out with trash that acts like baking-powder, they would

have a medal too--for I notice he has made you vote his way pretty often

this afternoon." I saw the agent at the end of the room look very queer.

"That's so!" said several. "I think I'll clear out his boxes," said

Shot-gun, with rising joy. "I feel like I've got to do something before

I go home. Come on, judge!" He swooped towards the manna with a yell,

and the men swooped with him, and Gadsden and I were swooped with them.

Again the women shrieked. But Mrs. Brewton stood out before the boxes

with her curl and her chintz.



"Mr. Smith," said she, "you are not going to do anything like that. You

are going to behave yourself like the gentleman you are, and not like

the wild beast that's inside you." Never in his life before, probably,

had Shot-gun been addressed in such a manner, and he too became

hypnotized, fixing his blue eyes upon the strange lady. "I do not

believe in patent foods for children," said Mrs. Brewton. "We agree

on that, Mr. Smith, and I am a grandmother, and I attend to what my

grandchildren eat. But this highly adroit young man has done you no

harm. If he has the prizes, whose doing is that, please? And who paid

for them? Will you tell me, please? Ah, you are all silent!" And she

croaked melodiously. "Now let him and his manna go along. But I have

enjoyed meeting you all, and I shall not forget you soon. And, Mr.

Smith, I want you to remember me. Will you, please?" She walked to Mrs.

Smith and the twins, and Shot-gun followed her, entirely hypnotized. She

beckoned to me. "Your judge and I," she said, "consider not only your

beautiful twins worthy of a prize, but also the mother and father

that can so proudly claim them." She put her hand in my pocket. "These

cat's-eyes," she said, "you will wear, and think of me and the judge

who presents them." She placed a bracelet on each twin, and the necklace

upon Mrs. Smith's neck. "Give him Gadsden's stuff," she whispered to me.

"Do you shave yourself, sir?" said I, taking out the Stropine. "Vaseline

and ground shells, and will last your life. Rub the size of a pea on

your strop and spread it to an inch." I placed the box in Shot-gun's

motionless hand. "And now, Gadsden, we'll take the train," said Mrs.

Brewton. "Here's your lunch! Here's your wine!" said the orator, forcing

a basket upon me. "I don't know what we'd have done without you and your

mother." A flash of indignation crossed Mrs. Brewton's face, but changed

to a smile. "You've forgot to name my girls!" exclaimed Shot-gun,

suddenly finding his voice. "Suppose you try that," said Mrs. Brewton to

me, a trifle viciously. "Thank you," I said to Smith. "Thank you.

I--" "Something handsome," he urged. "How would Cynthia do for one?" I

suggested. "Shucks, no! I've known two Cynthias. You don't want that?"

he asked Mrs. Smith; and she did not at all. "Something extra, something

fine, something not stale," said he. I looked about the room. There was

no time for thought, but my eye fell once more upon Cuba. This reminded

me of Spain, and the Spanish; and my brain leaped. "I have them!"

I cried. "'Armada' and 'Loyola.'" "That's what they're named!" said

Shot-gun; "write it for us." And I did. Once more the band played, and

we left them, all calling, "Good-bye, ma'am. Good-bye, judge," happy

as possible. The train was soon going sixty miles an hour through the

desert. We had passed Lordsburg, San Simon, and were nearly at Benson

before Mrs. Brewton and Gadsden (whom she made sit down with us) and I

finished the lunch and champagne. "I wonder how long he'll remember me?"

mused Mrs. Brewton at Tucson, where we were on time. "That woman is not

worth one of his boots."



Saturday afternoon, May 6.--Near Los Angeles. I have been writing all

day, to be sure and get everything in, and now Sharon is twenty-four

hours ago, and here there are roses, gardens, and many nice houses at

the way-stations. Oh, George Washington, father of your country, what a

brindled litter have you sired!



But here the moral reflections begin again, and I copy no more diary.

Mrs. Brewton liked my names for the twins. "They'll pronounce it

Loyo'la," she said, "and that sounds right lovely." Later she sent me

her paper for the Golden Daughters. It is full of poetry and sentiment

and all the things I have missed. She wrote that if she had been sure

the agent had helped Aqua Marine to swallow the ring, she would have let

them smash his boxes. And I think she was a little in love with Shot-gun

Smith. But what a pity we shall soon have no more Mrs. Brewtons! The

causes that produced her--slavery, isolation, literary tendencies,

adversity, game blood--that combination is broken forever. I shall speak

to Mr. Howells about her. She ought to be recorded.





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