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The Oubliette
by [?]

The discovery that Syrilla was the daughter of Jonas Medderbrook (born Jones) was a great triumph for Philo Gubb, but while the “Riverbank Eagle” made a great hurrah about it, Philo Gubb was not entirely happy over the matter. Having won a reward of ten thousand dollars for discovering Syrilla and five hundred dollars for recovering Mr. Medderbrook’s golf cup, Mr. Gubb might have ventured to tell Syrilla of his love for her but for three reasons.

The first reason was that Mr. Gubb was so bashful that it was impossible for him to speak his love openly and immediately. If Syrilla had returned to Riverbank with her father, Mr. Gubb would have courted her by degrees, or if Syrilla had weighed only two hundred pounds, Mr. Gubb might have had the bravery to propose to her instantly, but she weighed one thousand pounds, and it required five times the bravery to propose to a thousand pounds that was required to propose to two hundred pounds.

The second reason was that Mr. Dorgan, the manager of the side-show, would not release Syrilla from her contract.

“She’s a beauty of a Fat Lady,” said Mr. Dorgan, “and I’ve got a five-year contract with her and I’m going to hold her to it.”

Mr. Medderbrook and Mr. Gubb would have been quite hopeless when Mr. Dorgan said this if Syrilla had not taken them to one side.

“Listen, dearies,” she said, “he’s a mean, old brute, but don’t you fret! I got a hunch how to make him cancel my contract in a perfectly refined an’ ladylike manner. Right now I start in bantin’ and dietin’ in the scientific-est manner an’ the way I can lose three or four hundred pounds when I set out to do it is something grand. It won’t be no time at all until I’m thin and wisp-like, an’ Mr. Dorgan will be glad to get rid of me.”

This information greatly cheered Mr. Gubb. While he admired Syrilla just as she was, a rapid mental calculation assured him that she would still be quite plump at seven hundred pounds and he knew he could love seven tenths of Syrilla more than he could love ten tenths of any other lady in the world.

The third reason had to do with the ten-thousand-dollar reward. When Mr. Gubb and Mr. Medderbrook were proceeding homeward on the train, Mr. Medderbrook brought up the subject of the reward again.

“I’m going to pay you that ten thousand dollars, Gubb,” he said, “but I’m going to pay it so it will be worth a lot more than ten thousand dollars to you.”

“You are very overly kind,” said Mr. Gubb.

“It’s because I know you are fond of Syrilla,” said Mr. Medderbrook.

Mr. Gubb blushed.

“So I ain’t going to give you ten thousand dollars in cash,” said Mr. Medderbrook. “I’m going to do a lot better by you than that. I’m going to give you gold-mine stock. The only trouble–“

“Gold-mine stock sounds quite elegantly nice,” said Mr. Gubb.

“The only trouble,” said Mr. Medderbrook, “is that the gold-mine stock I want to give you is in a block of twenty-five thousand dollars. It’s nice stock. It’s as neatly engraved as any stock I ever saw, and it is genuine common stock in the Utterly Hopeless Gold-Mine Company.”

“The name sounds sort of unhopeful,” ventured Mr. Gubb timidly.

“That shows you don’t know anything about gold mines,” said Mr. Medderbrook cheerfully. “The reason I–the reason the miners gave it that name is because this mine lies right between two of the best gold-mines in Minnesota. One of them is the Utterly Good Gold-Mine, and the other is the Far-From-Hopeless. So when I–so when the miners named this mine they took part of the names of the two others and called this one the Utterly Hopeless. That’s the way I–the way it is always done.”

“It’s very cleverly bright,” said Mr. Gubb.