Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/265

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253
RECOGNITION.

"No,—Thomas Henry."

I thanked him,—in words,—and said, with trepidation,—

"O yes,—I was thinking of another child that I named,—I have named a great many, and I get them confused,—this one was named Henry Thompson,—"

"Thomas Henry," calmly interposed the boy.

I thanked him again,—strictly in words,—and stammered out,—

"Thomas Henry,—yes, Thomas Henry was the poor child's name. I named him for Thomas,—er,—Thomas Carlyle, the great author, you know,—and Henry—er,—er,—Henry the Eighth. The parents were very grateful to have a child named Thomas Henry."

"That makes it more singular than ever," murmured my beautiful friend.

"Does it? Why?"

"Because when the parents speak of that child now, they always call it Susan Amelia."

That spiked my gun. I could not say anything. I was entirely out of verbal obliquities; to go further would be to lie, and that I would not do; so I simply sat still and suffered,—sat mutely and resignedly there, and sizzled,—for I was being slowly fried to death in my own blushes. Presently the enemy laughed a happy laugh and said,—

"I have enjoyed this talk over old times, but you have not. I saw very soon that you were only pretending to know me, and so as I had wasted a compliment on you in the beginning, I made up my mind to punish you. And I have succeeded pretty well. I was glad to see that you knew George and Tom and Darley, for I had never heard of them before and therefore could not be sure that you had; and I was glad to learn the names of those imaginary children, too. One can get quite a fund of information out of you if one goes at it cleverly. Mary and the storm, and the sweeping away of the forward boats, were facts—all the rest was fiction. Mary was my sister; her full name was Mary ——. Now do you remember me?"