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Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking
by [?]

“Ther bloomin’ little skeezicks!” said Whistling Dick, with a broad grin bisecting his freckled face. “W’t d’ yer think of dat, now! Mer-ry Chris-mus! Sounded like a cuckoo clock, da’ts what she did. Dem guys is swells, too, bet yer life, an’ der old ‘un stacks dem sacks of dough down under his trotters like dey was common as dried apples. Been shoppin’ for Chrismus, and de kid’s lost one of her new socks w’ot she was goin’ to hold up Santy wid. De bloomin’ little skeezicks! Wit’ her ‘Mer-ry Chris-mus!’ W’ot d’ yer t’ink! Same as to say, ‘Hello, Jack, how goes it?’ and as swell as Fift’ Av’noo, and as easy as a blowout in Cincinnat.”

Whistling Dick folded the stocking carefully, and stuffed it into his pocket.

It was nearly two hours later when he came upon signs of habitation. The buildings of an extensive plantation were brought into view by a turn in the road. He easily selected the planter’s residence in a large square building with two wings, with numerous good-sized, well- lighted windows, and broad verandas running around its full extent. it was set upon a smooth lawn, which was faintly lit by the far-reaching rays of the lamps within. A noble grove surrounded it, and old- fashioned shrubbery grew thickly about the walks and fences. The quarters of the hands and the mill buildings were situated at a distance in the rear.

The road was now enclosed on each side by a fence, and presently, as Whistling Dick drew nearer the house, he suddenly stopped and sniffed the air.

“If dere ain’t a hobo stew cookin’ somewhere in dis immediate precint,” he said to himself, “me nose as quit tellin’ de trut’.”

Without hesitation he climbed the fence to windward. He found himself in an apparently disused lot, where piles of old bricks were stacked, and rejected, decaying lumber. In a corner he saw the faint glow of a fire that had become little more than a bed of living coals, and he thought he could see some dim human forms sitting or lying about it. He drew nearer, and by the light of a little blaze that suddenly flared up he saw plainly the fat figure of a ragged man in an old brown sweater and cap.

“Dat man,” said Whistling Dick to himself softly, “is a dead ringer for Boston Harry. I’ll try him wit de high sign.”

He whistled one or two bars of a rag-time melody, and the air was immediately taken up, and then quickly ended with a peculiar run. The first whistler walked confidently up to the fire. The fat man looked up, and spake in a loud, asthmatic wheeze:

“Gents, the unexpected but welcome addition to our circle is Mr. Whistling Dick, an old friend of mine for whom I fully vouches. The waiter will lay another cover at once. Mr. W. D. will join us at supper, during which function he will enlighten us in regard to the circumstances that gave us the pleasure of his company.”

“Chewin’ de stuffin’ out ‘n de dictionary, as usual, Boston,” said Whistling Dick; “but t’anks all de same for de invitashun. I guess I finds meself here about de same way as yous guys. A cop gimme de tip dis mornin’. Yous workin’ on dis farm?”

“A guest,” said Boston, sternly, “shouldn’t never insult his entertainers until he’s filled up wid grub. ‘Tain’t good business sense. Workin’!–but I will restrain myself. We five–me, Deaf Pete, Blinky, Goggles, and Indiana Tom–got put on to this scheme of Noo Orleans to work visiting gentlemen upon her dirty streets, and we hit the road last evening just as the tender hues of twilight had flopped down upon the daisies and things. Blinky, pass the empty oyster-can at your left to the empty gentleman at your right.”

For the next ten minutes the gang of roadsters paid their undivided attention to the supper. In an old five-gallon kerosene can they had cooked a stew of potatoes, meat, and onions, which they partook of from smaller cans they had found scattered about the vacant lot.