Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/262

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250
GROWING SULTRY.

as much to blame as her father was, and I thought he was right. Didn't you?"

"Of course he was. It was a perfectly plain case. I always said so."

"Why no you didn't!—at least that summer."

"Oh, no, not that summer. No, you are perfectly right about that. It was the following winter that I said it."

"Well, as it turned out, Mary was not in the least to blame,—it was all her father's fault,—at least his and old Darley's."

It was necessary to say something,—so I said,—

"I always regarded Darley as a troublesome old thing."

"So he was, but then they always had a great affection for him, although he had so many eccentricities. You remember that when the weather was the least cold, he would try to come into the house."

I was rather afraid to proceed. Evidently Darley was not a man,—he must be some other kind of animal,—possibly a dog, maybe an elephant. However, tails are common to all animals, so I ventured to say,—

"And what a tail he had!"

"One! He had a thousand!"

This was bewildering. I did not quite tnow what to say, so I only said,—

"Yes, he was rather well fixed in the matter of tails."

"For a negro, and a crazy one at that, I should say he was," said she.

It was getting pretty sultry for me. I said to myself, "Is it possible she is going to stop there, and wait for me to speak? If she does, the conversation is blocked. A negro with a thousand tails is a topic which a person cannot talk upon fluently and instructively without more or less preparation. As to diving rashly into such a vast subject,—"

But here, to my gratitude, she interrupted my thought by saying,—

"Yes, when it came to tales of his crazy woes, there was simply no end to them if anybody would listen. His own