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How Old Man Plunkett Went Home
by [?]

Later he spoke of his family. The daughter he had left a child had grown into beautiful womanhood. The son was already taller and larger than his father; and, in a playful trial of strength, “the young rascal,” added Plunkett, with a voice broken with paternal pride and humorous objurgation, had twice thrown his doting parent to the ground. But it was of his daughter he chiefly spoke. Perhaps emboldened by the evident interest which masculine Monte Flat held in feminine beauty, he expatiated at some length on her various charms and accomplishments, and finally produced her photograph,–that of a very pretty girl,–to their infinite peril. But his account of his first meeting with her was so peculiar, that I must fain give it after his own methods, which were, perhaps, some shades less precise and elegant than his written style.

“You see, boys, it’s always been my opinion that a man oughter be able to tell his own flesh and blood by instinct. It’s ten years since I’d seen my Melindy; and she was then only seven, and about so high. So, when I went to New York, what did I do? Did I go straight to my house, and ask for my wife and daughter, like other folks? No, sir! I rigged myself up as a peddler, as a peddler, sir; and I rung the bell. When the servant came to the door, I wanted–don’t you see?–to show the ladies some trinkets. Then there was a voice over the banister says, ‘Don’t want any thing: send him away.’–‘Some nice laces, ma’am, smuggled,’ I says, looking up. ‘Get out, you wretch!’ says she. I knew the voice, boys: it was my wife, sure as a gun. Thar wasn’t any instinct thar. ‘Maybe the young ladies want somethin’,’ I said. ‘Did you hear me?’ says she; and with that she jumps forward, and I left. It’s ten years, boys, since I’ve seen the old woman; but somehow, when she fetched that leap, I naterally left.”

He had been standing beside the bar–his usual attitude–when he made this speech; but at this point he half faced his auditors with a look that was very effective. Indeed, a few who had exhibited some signs of scepticism and lack of interest, at once assumed an appearance of intense gratification and curiosity as he went on,–

“Well, by hangin round there for a day or two, I found out at last it was to be Melindy’s birthday next week, and that she was goin’ to have a big party. I tell ye what, boys, it weren’t no slouch of a reception. The whole house was bloomin’ with flowers, and blazin’ with lights; and there was no end of servants and plate and refreshments and fixin’s”–

“Uncle Joe.”


“Where did they get the money?”

Plunkett faced his interlocutor with a severe glance. “I always said,” he replied slowly, “that, when I went home, I’d send on ahead of me a draft for ten thousand dollars. I always said that, didn’t I? Eh? And I said I was goin’ home–and I’ve been home, haven’t I? Well?”

Either there was something irresistibly conclusive in this logic, or else the desire to hear the remainder of Plunkett’s story was stronger; but there was no more interruption. His ready good-humor quickly returned, and, with a slight chuckle, he went on,–

“I went to the biggest jewelry shop in town, and I bought a pair of diamond ear-rings, and put them in my pocket, and went to the house. ‘What name?’ says the chap who opened the door; and he looked like a cross ‘twixt a restaurant waiter and a parson. ‘Skeesicks,’ said I. He takes me in; and pretty soon my wife comes sailin’ into the parlor, and says, ‘Excuse me; but I don’t think I recognize the name.’ She was mighty polite; for I had on a red wig and side-whiskers. ‘A friend of your husband’s from California, ma’am, with a present for your daughter, Miss–,’ and I made as I had forgot the name. But all of a sudden a voice said, ‘That’s too thin;’ and in walked Melindy. ‘It’s playin’ it rather low down, father, to pretend you don’t know your daughter’s name; ain’t it, now? How are you, old man?’ And with that she tears off my wig and whiskers, and throws her arms around my neck–instinct, sir, pure instinct!”