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A Madonna Of Tinkle Tickle
by [?]

It was at Soap-an’-Water Harbor, with the trader Quick as Wink in from the sudsy seas of those parts, that Tumm, the old clerk, told the singular tale of the Madonna of Tinkle Tickle.

“I’m no hand for sixpenny novels,” says he, with a wry glance at the skipper’s dog-eared romance. “Nursemaids an’ noblemen? I’m chary. I’ve no love, anyhow, for the things o’ mere fancy. But I’m a great reader,” he protested, with quick warmth, “o’ the tales that are lived under the two eyes in my head. I’m forever in my lib’ry, too. Jus’ now,” he added, his eye on a dismayed little man from Chain Harbor, “I’m readin’ the book o’ the cook. An’ I’m lookin’ for a sad endin’, ecod, if he keeps on scorchin’ the water!”

The squat little Newfoundland schooner was snug in the lee of False Frenchman and down for the night. A wet time abroad: a black wind in the rigging, and the swish and patter of rain on the deck. But the forecastle bogey was roaring, and the forecastle lamp was bright; and the crew–at ease and dry–sprawled content in the forecastle glow.

“Lyin’ here at Soap-an’-Water Harbor, with Tinkle Tickle hard-by,” the clerk drawled on, “I been thumbin’ over the queer yarn o’ Mary Mull. An’ I been enjoyin’ it, too. An old tale–lived long ago. ‘Tis a tale t’ my taste. It touches the heart of a woman. An’ so, lads–’tis a mystery.”

Then the tale that was lived page by page under the two eyes in Tumm’s head:

“Tim Mull was fair dogged by the children o’ Tinkle Tickle in his bachelor days,” the tale ran on. “There was that about un, somehow, in eyes or voice, t’ win the love o’ kids, dogs, an’ grandmothers. ‘Leave the kids have their way,’ says he. ‘I likes t’ have un t’ come t’ me. They’re no bother at all. Why, damme,’ says he, ‘they uplift the soul of a bachelor man like me! I loves un.’

“‘You’ll be havin’ a crew o’ your own, some day,’ says Tom Blot, ‘an’ you’ll not be so fond o’ the company.’

“‘I’ll ship all the Lord sends.’

“‘Ah-ha, b’y!’ chuckles Tom, ‘He’ve a wonderful store o’ little souls up aloft.’

“‘Then,’ says Tim, ‘I’ll thank Un t’ be lavish.’

“Tom Blot was an old, old man, long past his labor, creakin’ over the roads o’ Harbor with a staff t’ help his dry legs, an’ much give t’ broodin’ on the things he’d found out in this life. ”Tis rare that He’s mean with such gifts,’ says he. ‘But ’tis queer the way He bestows un. Ecod!’ says he, in a temper, ‘I’ve never been able t’ fathom his ways, old as I is!’

“‘I wants a big crew o’ lads an’ little maids, Tom,’ says Tim Mull. ‘Can’t be too many for me if I’m to enjoy my cruise in this world.’

“‘They’ve wide mouths, lad.’

“‘Hut!’ says Tim. ‘What’s a man for? I’ll stuff their little crops. You mark me, b’y!’

“So it went with Tim Mull in his bachelor days: he’d forever a maid on his shoulder or a lad by the hand. He loved un. ‘Twas knowed that he loved un. There wasn’t a man or maid at Tinkle Tickle that didn’t know. ‘Twas a thing that was called t’ mind whenever the name o’ Tim Mull come up. ‘Can’t be too many kids about for Tim Mull!’ An’ they loved him. They’d wait for un t’ come in from the sea at dusk o’ fine days; an’ on fine Sunday afternoons–sun out an’ a blue wind blowin’–they’d troop at his heels over the roads an’ hills o’ the Tickle. They’d have no festival without un. On the eve o’ Guy Fawkes, in the fall o’ the year, with the Gunpowder Plot t’ celebrate, when ‘t was