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A Wish Unexpectedly Gratified
by [?]

When the bogus-lottery men were driven out of the large cities by the vigor of the postal authorities, they tried for a while to operate from small country towns by collusion with dishonest postmasters. As the delinquencies of the offenders were successively brought to light, their heads rolled into the basket at the foot of the official guillotine. The swindlers, however, succeeded in bribing fresh victims, and for a time cunning and duplicity managed with tolerable success to maintain a foothold against the power of the department.

Among other similar swindles, sealed circulars were at one time scattered broadcast over the more remote states, announcing that on a given date the drawing for a series of magnificent prizes would take place at Livingston Hall, No. 42 Elm Avenue, Wington Junction, Connecticut. Patrons were urged to remit the purchase-money for tickets promptly, as there would be no postponement of the grand event under any circumstances. “Fortune,” continued the glittering advertisement, “knocks once at every one’s door, and she is now knocking at yours.”

As usual, multitudes swallowed the bait, but some, instead of sending the greenbacks to Highfalutin & Co., forwarded the circulars to the department. Thereupon special agent Sharretts was instructed to visit Wington Junction, with the view of learning whether the postmaster was properly discharging his duties. Taking an early opportunity to perform the mission, he alighted at the station one morning, and proceeded to survey the town, which consisted of four or five houses scattered along the highway for a distance of half a mile. “Livingston Hall” and “Elm Avenue” were nowhere visible. It was apparent that “No. 42” on any avenue was a remote contingency not likely to arise in the present generation.

Having previously ascertained that the postmaster was also switch- tender at the junction, and that the cares of the office devolved on his wife, the officer walked up to a keen-looking man in front of the little round switch-house, whose energies were devoted exclusively at that moment to the mastication of a huge quid of tobacco, and who, after a prolonged scrutiny of the stranger, answered his salutation in an attenuated drawl,’ “Meornin’, sir.”

“Will you be kind enough to tell me, sir, where Mr. Morris, the postmaster, can be found?” asked the agent.

“Wall, I guess my name’s Morris. What kin I do fur yeou?”

“Mr. Morris, I should like a few minutes’ private conversation on business of great importance, which can be so managed as to turn out advantageously to us both. I do not wish to be overheard or interrupted. In these times even blank walls have ears, you know.”

The last suggestion seemed to serve as a passport to the confidence of the postmaster. Leading the way into the switch-house, he remarked, “Come in heear. Neow, what is it?”

“The fact is, Mr. Morris, some friends of mine propose to go into a little speculation, which will involve a large correspondence; and for reasons that I need not specify to a man like you, they do not wish to have every ragtag, bobtail post-office clerk poring over their letters, and asking impertinent questions at the delivery- window. If they can find a shrewd, square man, who knows how to keep his mouth shut, and who can’t be fooled, that for a handsome consideration will put the letters away in a safe place till called for, they are willing to make an arrangement that will be profitable all around. You have been recommended as just the person. I am told that you generally know which side your bread is buttered, and have called to see if we can’t arrange to pull together.”

“‘Nuff said,” ejaculated Morris, with a sly wink. “I know what yeou want, but my wife is the one to fix things. I don’t have nuthin’ to dew with the letters. Sue ‘tends to everything. The folks as we’se a-workin’ for said we must be plaguey keerful about the deetecters. I’ll bet nun on ’em can’t play it on my wife tho’. If they dew, they’ll have to git up arly in the mornin’.”