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The Rum-Seller’s Dream
by [?]

“HOW much have you taken in to-day, Sandy?” asked a modern rum-seller of his bar-tender, after the doors and windows of his attractive establishment were closed for the night.

“Only about a dollar, Mr. Graves. I never saw such dull times in my life.”

“Only about a dollar! Too bad! too bad! I shall be ruined at this rate.”

“I really don’t know what ails the people now. But ‘spose it’s these blamenation temperance folks that’s doin’ all the mischief.”

“We must get up something new, Sandy;–something to draw attention to our house.”

“So I’ve been a thinkin’. Can’t we get George Washington Dixon to walk a plank for us? That would draw crowds, you know; and then every feller almost that we got in here would take a drink.”

“We can’t get him, Sandy. He’s secured over at the–. But, any how, the people are getting up to that kind of humbuggery; and I’m afraid, that, like the Indian’s gun, it would cost in the end more than it came to.”

“Couldn’t we get a maremaid?”

“A mermaid?”

“Yes, a maremaid. You know they had one in town t’other day. It would be a prime move, if we could only do it. We might fix her up here, just back of where I stand, so that every feller who called to see it would have to come up to the bar, front-face. There’d be no backing out then, you know, without ponying up for a drink. No one would be mean enough, after seeing a real maremaid for nothing, to go away without shelling out a fip for a glass of liquor.”

“Nonsense, Sandy! Where are we to get a mermaid?”

“Where did they get that one from?”

“That was brought from Japan; and was a monkey’s head and body sewed on to a fish’s tail,–so they say;”

“Well, can’t we send to Japan as well as any one? And as to its being a monkey’s head on a fish’s tail, that’s no concern. It would only make a better gull-trap.”

“And wait some two years before it arrived? Humph! If that’s the only thing that will save me, I shall go to the dogs in spite of the–“

“Don’t swear, Mr. Graves. It’s a bad habit, though I am guilty of it myself,”–the bar-tender said, with vulgar familiarity. “But, why need we wait two years for a maremaid?”

“Did you ever study geography, Sandy?”



“What’s that?”

“Why, the maps, at school.”

“I warn’t never to school.”

“Then you don’t know how far Japan is from here?”

“Not exactly. But ‘spose it’s some twenty or thirty miles.”

“Twenty or thirty miles! It’s t’other side of the world!”

“O, dear! Then we can’t get a maremaid, after all. But ‘spose we try and get a live snake.”

“That won’t do.”

“Why not?”

“A live snake is no great curiosity.”

“Yes, but you know we could call it some outlandish name; or say that it was dug up fifty feet below the ground, out of a solid rock, and was now all alive and doin’ well.”

“It wouldn’t do, Sandy.”

“Now I think it would, prime.”

“It might if these temperance folks were not so confounded thick about here, interfering with a man and preventing him making an honest living. If it wasn’t for them, I should be clearing five or ten dollars a day, as easy as nothing.”

“Confound them! I say,” was Sandy’s hearty response; while he clenched his fist, and ground his teeth together. “If I had a rope round the necks of every mother’s son of ’em, wouldn’t I serve ’em as old Julus Cesar did the Hottentots? Wouldn’t I though! But what could they say or do about it, Mr. Graves.”

“They’d pretty quick put it on to us in their temperance papers about the good device we had. They’d talk pretty fast about the serpent that seduced Eve, and all that. No, blast ’em! A snake won’t do, Sandy.”

“How will a monkey do?”

“A monkey might answer, if he was a little cuter than common. But we can’t get one handy.”