Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/192

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Suddenly there arose on the air a yell, followed by wild objurgations and furious anathemas.

Then there was a clanking and rattling, as of an overturned picket-fence, and another yell with more anathemas. The fatted boarders listened, and, ghostly clad, tip-toed along to Buffum's room,—he of Buffum & Bird, second-hand furniture dealers. As they stood there, there was a whiz, a grinding, a rattling and a bang, and more yells. They consulted, and knocked on the door.

"Come in."

"Open it."

"I can't."

Convinced that Buffum was in his last agony, they knocked in the door with a bedpost.

The sight was ghastly. Clasped between two sturdy, though slender, frames of walnut, Buffum, pale as a ghost, was six feet up in the air. He couldn't move. He was caught like a bear in a log-trap.

"What on earth is it?" they said.

"Bedstead—combination. New patent I was tellin' you about," gasped Buffum.

His story was simple, though tearful. He had brought it home that day; and, after using it for a writing-desk, had opened it out and made his bed. He was going peacefully to dream-land, when he rolled over, and accidentally touched a spring. The faithful invention immediately became a double crib, and turned Buffum into a squalling wafer. Then he struggled, and was reaching around for the spring, when the patent bedstead thought it would show off some more, and straightened out, and shot up in the air, and was a clothes-horse. Buffum said he didn't like to be clothes, and he would give the thing to anybody that would get him out. They said they would try. They didn't want any such fire-extinguisher as that for their trouble, but they would try. They inspected it cautiously. They walked all around it. Then the commission-merchant laid his little finger on the top end of it. The thing snorted and reared as if it had been shot, slapped over with a bang, and became an extension-table for ten people. When they recovered from the panic, they came back. They found the commission-merchant in the corner trying to get breath enough to swear, while he rubbed his shins. Buffum had disappeared, but they knew he had not gone far. The invention appeared to