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The Enchanted Kiss
by [?]

“When you hear them bells go tingalingling,”

serving notice upon those mysterious agencies that if it should come to a face-to-face encounter

“There’ll be a hot time
In the old town To-night!”

How long Tansey consumed in treading this haunted byway was not clear to him, but in time he emerged into a more commodious avenue. When within a few yards of the corner he perceived, through a window, that a small confectionary of mean appearance was set in the angle. His same glance that estimated its meagre equipment, its cheap soda-water fountain and stock of tobacco and sweets, took cognizance of Captain Peek within lighting a cigar at a swinging gaslight.

As Tansey rounded the corner Captain Peek came out, and they met /vis- a-vis/. An exultant joy filled Tansey when he found himself sustaining the encounter with implicit courage. Peek, indeed! He raised his hand, and snapped his fingers loudly.

It was Peek himself who quailed guiltily before the valiant mien of the drug clerk. Sharp surprise and a palpable fear bourgeoned upon the Captain’s face. And, verily, that face was one to rather call up such expressions on the faces of others. The face of a libidinous heathen idol, small eyed, with carven folds in the heavy jowls, and a consuming, pagan license in its expression. In the gutter just beyond the store Tansey saw a closed carriage standing with its back toward him and a motionless driver perched in his place.

“Why, it’s Tansey!” exclaimed Captain Peek. “How are you, Tansey? H- have a cigar, Tansey?”

“Why, it’s Peek!” cried Tansey, jubilant at his own temerity. “What deviltry are you up to now, Peek? Back streets and a closed carriage! Fie! Peek!”

“There’s no one in the carriage,” said the Captain, smoothly.

“Everybody out of it is in luck,” continued Tansey, aggressively. “I’d love for you to know, Peek, that I’m not stuck on you. You’re a bottle-nosed scoundrel.”

“Why, the little rat’s drunk!” cried the Captain, joyfully; “only drunk, and I thought he was on! Go home, Tansey, and quit bothering grown persons on the street.”

But just then a white-clad figure sprang out of the carriage, and a shrill voice–Katie’s voice–sliced the air: “Sam! Sam!–help me, Sam!”

Tansey sprung toward her, but Captain Peek interposed his bulky form. Wonder of wonders! the whilom spiritless youth struck out with his right, and the hulking Captain went over in a swearing heap. Tansey flew to Katie, and took her in his arms like a conquering knight. She raised her face, and he kissed her–violets! electricity! caramels! champagne! Here was the attainment of a dream that brought no disenchantment.

“Oh, Sam,” cried Katie, when she could, “I knew you would come to rescue me. What do you suppose the mean things were going to do with me?”

“Have your picture taken,” said Tansey, wondering at the foolishness of his remark.

“No, they were going to eat me. I heard them talking about it.”

“Eat you!” said Tansey, after pondering a moment. “That can’t be; there’s no plates.”

But a sudden noise warned him to turn. Down upon him were bearing the Captain and a monstrous long-bearded dwarf in a spangled cloak and red trunk-hose. The dwarf leaped twenty feet and clutched them. The Captain seized Katie and hurled her, shrieking, back into the carriage, himself followed, and the vehicle dashed away. The dwarf lifted Tansey high above his head and ran with him into the store. Holding him with one hand, he raised the lid of an enormous chest half filled with cakes of ice, flung Tansey inside, and closed down the cover.

The force of the fall must have been great, for Tansey lost consciousness. When his faculties revived his first sensation was one of severe cold along his back and limbs. Opening his eyes, he found himself to be seated upon the limestone steps still facing the wall and convent of Santa Mercedes. His first thought was of the ecstatic kiss from Katie. The outrageous villainy of Captain Peek, the unnatural mystery of the situation, his preposterous conflict with the improbable dwarf–these things roused and angered him, but left no impression of the unreal.