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The Widow’s Bandbox
by [?]

“So, down the cap’n goes into the state-room to give a look at the box. Wal, he finds the stateroom door all locked to be sure, and my lady had the key in her pocket; but then the cap’n he had a master key to it; and so he puts it in, and opens the door quite softly, and begins to take observations.

“Sure enough, he finds that the screws had been drawed from the top o’ the box, showin’ that the widder had been a tinkerin’ on’t when they thought she was a cryin’ over it; and then, lookin’ close, he sees a bit o’ twine goin’ from a crack in the box out o’ the winder, and up on deck.

“Wal, the cap’n he kind o’ got in the sperit o’ the thing; and he thought he’d jest let the widder play her play out, and see what it would come to. So he jest calls Tom Toothacre down to him and whispered to him. ‘Tom,’ says he, ‘you jest crawl under the berth in that ‘are state-room, and watch that ‘are box.’ And Tom said he would.

“So Tom creeps under the berth, and lies there still as a mouse; and the cap’n he slips out and turns the key in the door, so that when madam comes down she shouldn’t s’pect nothin’.

“Putty soon, sure enough, Tom heard the lock rattle, and the young widder come in; and then he heard a bit o’ conversation between her and the corpse.

“‘What time is it?’ come in a kind o’ hoarse whisper out o’ the box.

“‘Well, ’bout nine o’clock,’ says she.

“‘How long afore you’ll let me out?’ says he.

“‘Oh I you must have patience,’ says she, ’till they’re all gone off to sleep; when there ain’t but one man up. I can knock him down,’ says she, ‘and then I’ll pull the string for you.’

“‘The devil you will, ma’am!’ says Tom to himself, under the berth.

“‘Well, it’s darned close here,’ says the fellow in the box. He didn’t say darned, boys; but he said a wickeder word that I can’t repeat, noways,” said Sam, in a parenthesis: “these ‘ere British officers was drefful swearin’ critters.

“‘You must have patience a while longer,’ says the lady, ’till I pull the string.’ Tom Toothacre lay there on his back a laughin’.

“‘Is every thing goin’ on right?’ says the man in the box.

“‘All straight,’ says she: ‘there don’t none of ’em suspect.’

“‘You bet,’ says Tom Toothacre, under the berth; and he said he had the greatest mind to catch the critter by the feet as she was a standin’ there, but somehow thought it would be better fun to see the thing through ‘cording as they’d planned it.

“Wal, then she went off switchin’ and mincin’ up to the deck agin, and a flirtin’ with the cap’n; for you see ’twas ‘greed to let ’em play their play out.

“Wal, Tom he lay there a waitin’; and he waited and waited and waited, till he ‘most got asleep; but finally he heard a stirrin’ in the box, as if the fellah was a gettin’ up. Tom he jest crawled out still and kerful, and stood-up tight agin the wall. Putty soon he hears a grunt, and he sees the top o’ the box a risin’ up, and a man jest gettin’ out on’t mighty still.

“Wal, Tom he waited till he got fairly out on to the floor, and had his hand on the lock o’ the door, when he jumps on him, and puts both arms round him, and gin him a regular bear’s hug.

“‘Why, what’s this?’ says the man.

“‘Guess ye’ll find out, darn ye,’ says Tom Tooth-acre. ‘So, ye wanted our ship, did ye? Wal, ye jest can’t have our ship,’ says Tom, says he; and I tell you he jest run that ‘are fellow up stairs lickety-split, for Tom was strong as a giant.

“The fust thing they saw was Mr. More hed got the widder by both arms, and was tying on ’em behind her. ‘Ye see, madam, your game’s up,’ says Mr. More, ‘but we’ll give ye a free passage to Boston, tho’,’ says he: ‘we wanted a couple o’ prisoners about these days, and you’ll do nicely.’