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The Adventure Of William Hicks
by [?]

Young William Hicks was a native of the village of Bensonville, in the southern part of Illinois. Having, at the age of twenty, graduated at the head of a class of six in the village school, his father thought to reward him for his diligence in study by a short trip to the city of Chicago, which metropolis William had never beheld. Addressing him in a discourse which, while not long, abounded in valuable advice, Mr. Hicks presented his son with a sum of money sufficient for a stay of a week, provided it were not expended imprudently.

One evening, William was walking along Wabash Avenue, feeling somewhat lonely as he soberly reflected that not one in all that vast multitude cared anything about him, when he heard himself accosted in a most cheery manner, and looking up, beheld a beautiful lady smiling at him. It was plain that she belonged to the upper classes. A hat of very large proportions, ornamented with a great ostrich plume, shaded a head of lovely yellow hair. She was clothed all in rustling purple silk and sparkled with jewelry. Her cheeks and lips glowed with a carmine quite unknown among the fair but pale damosels of Bensonville, which is situated in a low alluvial location, surrounded by flat plains, the whole being somewhat damp and malarial. William had never imagined eyes so wide open and glistening.

“My name is Willy, to be sure. But you have the advantage of me, for ashamed as I am to say it, I cannot quite recall you. You are not the lady who came to Bensonville and stayed at the Campbellite minister’s?”

“Oh, how are all the dear folks in Bensonville? But, say, Will, don’t you want to come along with me awhile and talk it all over?”

“I should be honored to do so, if you will lead the way. I confess I am lonely to-night, and I always enjoy talking over old times.”

At this juncture, a sudden look of alarm spread over the lady’s beauteous face and a lumbering minion of the law stepped before her.

“Up to your old tricks, eh?” he growled. “Didn’t I tell you that the next time I caught you tackling a man, I’d run you in? Run you in it is. Come on, now.”

“Oh, oh,” panted the lady, and great tears welled into her adorable eyes. At that moment, there was a crash in the street, as a poor Italian exile had his push cart overturned by the sudden and unexpected backing of a cab. The policeman turned to look and, like a frightened gazelle, the lady bounded away, closely followed by young William.

“Is there nothing I can do? Cannot I complain to the judge for you, or address a communication to some paper describing and condemning this conduct?”

“Is he coming? Is he coming?” asked the lady, piteously.

“No. But if he were, I would strike him, big as he is. Cannot a former visitor in Bensonville greet one of its citizens without interference from the police?”

Hereupon the lady, who seemed to be giving little heed to what William was saying, beyond the information that the policeman was not in pursuit, gave a gay little laugh of relief, which caused William’s eyes to light in pitying sympathy.

“Now that we are away from him, what do you say to a friendly game of cards somewhere, to pass away the evening, which hangs heavy on my hands and doubtless does on yours?”

“I have never played cards,” said William, “for while there is nothing intrinsically wrong in them, they are the vehicle of much that is injurious, and at the very least, they cause one to fritter away valuable time in profitless amusement.”

“Oh, la! you are wrong there,” said the lady, with a little silvery laugh. “They are not a profitless amusement. Why, a man has to keep his brains in good trim when he plays cards, and whist is just as good a mental exercise as geometry and algebra, or any other study where the mind is engaged upon various problems. You see I stand up for cards, for I teach whist myself and I assure you that many of the leading ladies of this city spend their time in little else than whist, which they would not do if cards were what you say. Before you pass your opinion, why not let me show you some of the fine points, and then you will have something to base your judgment upon.”