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The Taxidermist
by [?]

“Wait! I dawn’t be done wid doze number’ yet.”

I guessed that, having failed with them in the daily drawings, he would shift the figures after some notion of magical significance and venture a ticket, whole or fractional, in the monthly drawing.

Scarcely ten days after, as I sat at breakfast with my newspaper spread beside my plate, I fairly spilled my coffee as my eye fell upon the name of P.T.B. Manouvrier, of No.–St. Peter Street. Old Pastropbon had drawn seventy-five thousand dollars in the lottery.


All the first half of the day, wherever I was, in the street-car, at my counting-desk, on the exchange, no matter to what I gave my attention, my thought was ever on my friend the taxidermist. At luncheon it was the same. He was rich! And what, now? What next? And what–ah! what?-at last? Would the end be foul or fair? I hoped, yet feared. I feared again; and yet I hoped.

A familiar acquaintance, a really good fellow, decent, rich, “born of pious parents,” and determined to have all the ready-made refinements and tastes that pure money could buy, came and sat with me at my lunch table.

“I wonder,” he began, “if you know where you are, or what you’re here for. I’ve been watching you for five minutes and I don’t believe you do. See here; what sort of an old donkey is that bird-stuffer of yours?”

“You know, then, his good fortune of yesterday, do you?”

“No, I don’t. I know my bad fortune with him last week.”

I dropped my spoon into my soup. “Why, what?”

“Oh, no great shakes. Only, I went to his place to buy that wild turkey you told me about. I wanted to stand it away up on top of that beautiful old carved buffet I picked up in England last year. I was fully prepared to buy it on your say-so, but, all the same, I saw its merits the moment I set eyes on it. It has but one fault; did you notice that? I don’t believe you did. I pointed it out to him.”

“You pointed–what did he say?”

“He said I was right.”

“Why, what was the fault?”

“Fault? Why, the perspective is bad; not exactly bad, but poor; lacks richness and rhythm.”

“And yet you bought the thing.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You didn’t buy it?”

“No, sir, I didn’t buy it. I began by pricing three or four other things first, so he couldn’t know which one to stick the fancy price on to, and incidentally I thought I would tell him–you’d told me, you remember, how your accounts of your two birds had warmed him up and melted his feelings—-“

“I didn’t tell you. My wife told your wife, and your wife, I—-“

“Yes, yes. Well, anyhow, I thought I’d try the same game, so I told him how I had stuffed a bird once upon a time myself. It was a pigeon, with every feather as white as snow; a fan-tail. It had belonged to my little boy who died. I thought it would make such a beautiful emblem at his funeral, rising with wings outspread, you know, typical of the resurrection–we buried him from the Sunday-school, you remember. And so I killed it and wired it and stuffed it myself. It was hard to hang it in a soaring attitude, owing to its being a fan-tail, but I managed it.”

“And you told that to Manouvrier! What did he say?”

“Say? He never so much as cracked a smile. When I’d done he stood so still, looking at me, that I turned and sort o’ stroked the turkey and said, jestingly, says I, ‘How much a pound for this gobbler?'”

“That ought to have warmed him up.”

“Well, it didn’t. He smiled like a dancing-master, lifted my hand off the bird and says, says he, ‘She’s not for sale.’ Then he turned to go into his back room and leave me standing there. Well, that warmed me up. Says I, ‘What in thunder is it here for, then? and if it ain’t for sale, come back here and show me what is!’