Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/310

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SANTA CLAUS AT SIMPSON'S BAR[1]

BRET HARTE

It was nearly midnight when the festivities were interrupted. "Hush!" said Dick Bullen, holding up his hand. It was the querulous voice of Johnny from his adjacent closet: "Oh, dad!"

The Old Man arose hurriedly and disappeared in the closet. Presently he reappeared. "His rheumatiz is coming on agin bad," he explained, "and he wants rubbin'." He lifted the demijohn of whiskey from the table and shook it. It was empty. Dick Bullen put down his tin cup with an embarrassed laugh. So did the others. The Old Man examined their contents, and said hopefully, "I reckon that's enough; he don't need much. You hold on, all o' you, for a spell, and I'll be back;" and vanished in the closet with an old flannel shirt and the whiskey. The door closed but imperfectly, and the following dialogue was distinctly audible:—

"Now, sonny, whar does she ache worst?"

  1. By Special Permission of Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

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