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The Little Iron Soldier
by [?]


AMINADAB IVISON started up in his bed. The great clock at the head of the staircase, an old and respected heirloom of the family, struck one.

“Ah,” said he, heaving up a great sigh from the depths of his inner man, “I’ve had a tried time of it.”

“And so have I,” said the wife. “Thee’s been kicking and threshing about all night. I do wonder what ails thee.”

And well she might; for her husband, a well-to-do, portly, middle-aged gentleman, being blessed with an easy conscience, a genial temper, and a comfortable digestion, was able to bear a great deal of sleep, and seldom varied a note in the gamut of his snore from one year’s end to another.

“A very remarkable exercise,” soliloquized Aminadab; “very.”

“Dear me! what was it?” inquired his wife.

“It must have been a dream,” said Aminadab.

“Oh, is that all?” returned the good woman. “I’m glad it’s nothing worse. But what has thee been dreaming about?”

“It’s the strangest thing, Hannah, that thee ever heard of,” said Aminadab, settling himself slowly back into his bed. Thee recollects Jones sent me yesterday a sample of castings from the foundry. Well, I thought I opened the box and found in it a little iron man, in regimentals; with his sword by his side and a cocked hat on, looking very much like the picture in the transparency over neighbor O’Neal’s oyster-cellar across the way. I thought it rather out of place for Jones to furnish me with such a sample, as I should not feel easy to show it to my customers, on account of its warlike appearance. However, as the work was well done, I took the little image and set him up on the table, against the wall; and, sitting down opposite, I began to think over my business concerns, calculating how much they would increase in profit in case a tariff man should be chosen our ruler for the next four years. Thee knows I am not in favor of choosing men of blood and strife to bear rule in the land: but it nevertheless seems proper to consider all the circumstances in this case, and, as one or the other of the candidates of the two great parties must be chosen, to take the least of two evils. All at once I heard a smart, quick tapping on the table; and, looking up, there stood the little iron man close at my elbow, winking and chuckling. ‘That’s right, Aminadab!’ said he, clapping his little metal hands together till he rang over like a bell, ‘take the least of two evils.’ His voice had a sharp, clear, jingling sound, like that of silver dollars falling into a till. It startled me so that I woke up, but finding it only a dream presently fell asleep again. Then I thought I was down in the Exchange, talking with neighbor Simkins about the election and the tariff. ‘I want a change in the administration, but I can’t vote for a military chieftain,’ said neighbor Simkins, ‘as I look upon it unbecoming a Christian people to elect men of blood for their rulers.’ ‘I don’t know,’ said I, ‘what objection thee can have to a fighting man; for thee ‘s no Friend, and has n’t any conscientious scruples against military matters. For my own part, I do not take much interest in politics, and never attended a caucus in my life, believing it best to keep very much in the quiet, and avoid, as far as possible, all letting and hindering things; but there may be cases where a military man may be voted for as a choice of evils, and as a means of promoting the prosperity of the country in business matters.’ ‘What!’ said neighbor Simkins, ‘are you going to vote for a man whose whole life has been spent in killing people?’ This vexed me a little, and I told him there was such a thing as carrying a good principle too far, and that he night live to be sorry that he had thrown away his vote, instead of using it discreetly. ‘Why, there’s the iron business,’ said I; but just then I heard a clatter beside me, and, looking round, there was the little iron soldier clapping his hands in great glee. ‘That’s it, Aminadab!’ said he; ‘business first, conscience afterwards! Keep up the price of iron with peace if you can, but keep it up at any rate.’ This waked me again in a good deal of trouble; but, remembering that it is said that ‘dreams come of the multitude of business,’ I once more composed myself to sleep.”