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A Tale Of A Turkey
by [?]


The shutters of a little spur of warehouses which breaks out into mountainous stores and open valleys of streets around the corner, but which itself overlooks no fairer view than a narrow, muddy alley of a thoroughfare scarcely broad enough to admit two drays abreast, and, by actual measurement,–taken with persistent diligence by the adjacent office boys,–just two running-jumps from gutter to gutter; the shutters of this, in its own eyes, important little trade centre, were up, and a great clattering they had made in getting up on a clear, tingling night before Christmas, eighteen hundred and–no matter what.

The porters had come out in their faded greatcoats, bandaged right and left in woolly mufflers, and more than usually clumsy in padded gloves, and had been bitten and tossed about by the wind with such unbecoming violence that even a porter felt it necessary to hurry and bustle. Taking the shutters by assault from the foe’s embraces, they had thumped, and banged, and hammered, and scolded them into place, and, in undignified haste, had betaken themselves, steaming warm breath through their fingers, into their proper and respective places by the counting-house fire.

The magic–so it seemed in its effects–tolling of a deep-toned bell in the neighborhood would not allow them to doze long in their warm nooks, but, like the jealous monster in the fairy-tale, kept its captives always going, going, going, for its sixth stroke had not died away before they began to appear again, this time with the addition of fur hats and little dinner-baskets, and with no perceptible noses–unless the existence of watery eyes above their mufflers argued the missing features to be in their proper places below–and with an accelerated gait–also an act of enchantment.

William, of No. 6, bawled as loud as his worsted gag would permit across the street (so termed by a figure of rhetoric) to James, of No. 7:

“Hello, Jim! Cold as blazes, ain’t it?”

James, of No. 7, assenting, Thomas, of No. 4, would like to know “How blazes can be cold, now?”

William, of No. 6, would say “as thunder,” if that would suit him any better; and as it appeared to do so they, with half a dozen others, breasted the wind and trudged out into the blustery streets beyond.

The merchants, too, had locked their doors, and tried their knobs, and looked up at the faces of their stores as if to say, “Merry Christmas to you, and I wish you a pleasant day to-morrow!” but in reality to see that all was fast, and perchance to indulge in a comfortable survey of their snug little properties–and the complacent tread with which they followed the porters gives color to the suspicion–and draw from it momentum for the enjoyment of the morrow’s holiday.

The shutters, then, were up–stop, not all up! One, as you may see by the shaft of gas-light that has just fallen across the pavement near the top of the court, is still down.

The little square window through which the light eddies on the bricks is supported on either side by a heavy door, and all three, the two doors and the window, are in turn crowned and anointed on the head, as it were, by a very bold sign containing very brazen–in every sense of the word–letters which announced pompously, like some servants of similar metallic qualities, the name of their master.

Emanuel Griffin–the tongue uncontrollably adds Esquire–was the name, and there, if you had looked through the window, in a deep funnel of a room, at a desk near the fire, head behind the open leaves of a ledger, and feet beneath the warm recesses of the stove, sat its possessor.

Outside the railing which formed a barrier between Emanuel Griffin, Esq., and the business world, and encompassed with a less elaborate railing, sat, on a high stool in a cold corner, the little, blackish-green (perhaps the color gas-light imparts to faded black) clerk of Emanuel Griffin, Esq. Whether David Dubbs, such was he called, derived the power of writing from his mouth; or whether the gentle excitation of moving his lips over toothless gums assisted thought; or whether, as some said, he chewed tobacco, a position which nobody ever held long, as nobody ever proved him to have expectorated during his whole life; his mouth–always closed–moved up and down, up and down, with the motion of his pen. Hair he had none, that is, none to speak of; there were some few isolated white locks behind his ears and at the back of his head, but he made no pretensions to have any, and openly acknowledged himself bald–and very candid of him it was to do so.