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A Double Rescue
by [?]

CHAPTER 1. A DOUBLE RESCUE–INTRODUCTION.

It is a curious and interesting fact that Christmas-tide seemed to have a peculiar influence on the prospects of our hero Jack Matterby, all through his life. All the chief events of his career, somehow, happened on or about Christmas Day.

Jack was born, to begin with, on a Christmas morning. His father, who was a farmer in the middle ranks of life, rejoiced in the fact, esteeming it full of promise for the future. So did his mother. Jack himself did not at first seem to have any particular feeling on the subject. If one might judge his opinions by his conduct, it seemed that he was rather displeased than otherwise at having been born; for he spent all the first part of his natal day in squalling and making faces, as though he did not like the world at all, and would rather not have come into it.

“John, dear,” said his mother to his father, one day not long after his birth, “I’m so glad he is a boy. He might have been a girl, you know.”

“No, Molly; he could never have been a girl!” replied the husband, as he gently patted his wife’s shoulder.

“Now, don’t laugh at me, John, dear. You know what I mean. But what shall we call him?”

“John, of course,” replied the farmer, with decision. “My father was called John, and his father was called John, and also his grandfather, and so on back, I have no doubt, to the very beginning of time.”

“Nay, John,” returned his wife, simply, “that could hardly be; for however many of your ancestors may have been Johns, the first, you know, was Adam.”

“Why, Molly, you’re getting to be quite sharp,” returned the farmer. “Nevertheless this little man is to be John, like the rest of us.”

Mrs Matterby, being meek, gave in; but she did so with a sigh, for she wished the little one to be named Joseph, after her own deceased father.

Thus it came to pass that the child was named John. The name was expanded to Johnny during the first period of childhood. Afterwards it was contracted to Jack, and did not attain to the simple grandeur of John till the owner of it became a man.

In the Johnny period of life our hero confined his attention almost exclusively to smashing and overturning. To overturn and to destroy were his chief amusements. He made war on crockery to such an extent that tea-cups and saucers were usually scarce in the family. He assaulted looking-glasses so constantly, that there was, ere long, barely enough of mirror left for his father to shave in. As to which fact the farmer used to say, “Never mind, Molly. Don’t look so down-hearted, lass. If he only leaves a bit enough to see a corner of my chin and the half of my razor, that will do well enough.” No window in the family mansion was thoroughly whole, and the appearance of a fat little fist, on the wrong side of a pane of glass, was quite a familiar object in the nursery.

As for toys–Johnny had none, so to speak. He had only a large basket full of bits, the misapplication of which to each other gave him many hours of profound recreation. Everything that would turn inside out was so turned. Whatever was by nature straight he bent, whatever bent he straightened. Round things he made square when possible, and square things round; soft things hard, and hard things soft. In short, nothing was too hard for Johnny. Everything that came into his clutches, was subjected to what we may style the influence of experimental philosophy; and if Farmer Matterby had been a poor man he must soon have been ruined, but, being what is styled “well-to-do,” he only said, in reference to these things–