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Riley-Newspaper Correspondent
by [?]

Riley is very methodical, untiringly accommodating, never forgets anything that is to be attended to, is a good son, a stanch friend, and a permanent reliable enemy. He will put himself to any amount of trouble to oblige a body, and therefore always has his hands full of things to be done for the helpless and the shiftless. And he knows how to do nearly everything, too. He is a man whose native benevolence is a well-spring that never goes dry. He stands always ready to help whoever needs help, as far as he is able–and not simply with his money, for that is a cheap and common charity, but with hand and brain, and fatigue of limb and sacrifice of time. This sort of men is rare.

Riley has a ready wit, a quickness and aptness at selecting and applying quotations, and a countenance that is as solemn and as blank as the back side of a tombstone when he is delivering a particularly exasperating joke. One night a negro woman was burned to death in a house next door to us, and Riley said that our landlady would be oppressively emotional at breakfast, because she generally made use of such opportunities as offered, being of a morbidly sentimental turn, and so we should find it best to let her talk along and say nothing back–it was the only way to keep her tears out of the gravy. Riley said there never was a funeral in the neighborhood but that the gravy was watery for a week.

And, sure enough, at breakfast the landlady was down in the very sloughs of woe–entirely brokenhearted. Everything she looked at reminded her of that poor old negro woman, and so the buckwheat cakes made her sob, the coffee forced a groan, and when the beefsteak came on she fetched a wail that made our hair rise. Then she got to talking about deceased, and kept up a steady drizzle till both of us were soaked through and through. Presently she took a fresh breath and said, with a world of sobs:

“Ah, to think of it, only to think of it!–the poor old faithful creature. For she was so faithful. Would you believe it, she had been a servant in that selfsame house and that selfsame family for twenty seven years come Christmas, and never a cross word and never a lick! And, oh, to think she should meet such a death at last!–a-sitting over the red hot stove at three o’clock in the morning and went to sleep and fell on it and was actually roasted! Not just frizzled up a bit, but literally roasted to a crisp! Poor faithful creature, how she was cooked! I am but a poor woman, but even if I have to scrimp to do it, I will put up a tombstone over that lone sufferer’s grave–and Mr. Riley if you would have the goodness to think up a little epitaph to put on it which would sort of describe the awful way in which she met her–“

“Put it, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,'” said Riley, and never smiled.