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Negative, in a tone of gloomy approbation. "But
you must know, sir, that when people attend to
other people's business more than their own,
they spare no pains to find other people's business
out. Our friend there followed the gentleman
home, and his brother-in-law, the journeyman
carpenter, did the same."

"The master carpenter," ejaculated the Sandy
orator, with visible signs of incipient wrath.

"Well, master carpenter, if you like to call
him so," said the Negative with a wink to the
company generally. "That's neither here nor
there. I say that you and your brother-in-law
both followed the gentleman home."

"No I didn't," retorted the Sandy man, doggedly.
"Nor my brother-in-law neither. I
grant you my shop-boy did something of the

"Well, you or your shop-boy, it's just the
same thing."

"Now, I put it to you, gentlemen," exclaimed
the historian, thinking he had his tormentor at
a vantage—"I put it to youam I the same
thing as a boy twelve year old?"

"As far as sense and experience go, yes,"
shouted the Negative, as though he were darting
a thunderbolt.

"Stop, stop, gentlemen," said the benignant
Chairman. "I feel I must again interpose. We
all, no doubt, should be glad enough to be boys
again; but we don't like to be compared to
boys. For you see we are all proudtoo proud
I must sayof the little sense with which
we are blessed, and sense comes from experience,
and experience is the result of years.
Hence, though I often sigh for the return of my
youth, I console myself with the reflection that
we never are boys twice——"

"Except when we get into our second childhood,"
thought the Negative; but he did not give
utterance to his thought, so great was the moral
weight of the benignant Chairman with every
person in the room.

"Besides," continued the mild sage, his
countenance becoming more and more radiant
with intense goodness, "I object to comparisons
altogether: for as the poet beautifully
observes, Comparisons are oddno, I don't mean
that. I meanyes

Comparisons admit of no defence,
For want of courtesy is want of sense."

"Perhaps," suggested the Novice, returning
to the story, through the briary obstacles that
had recently sprung up, "the gentleman only
bought the dolls and coffins to amuse some
young friends."

"Queer sort of a toycoffins," murmured
the Significant.

"No," replied the historian to the Novice,
leaping over the observation of the Significant
"no; for my brother-in-law's cousin keeps company
with a young woman who is in service
close to the gent's house, and she says, that
though he carries many a parcel home, he
carries none out."

"Of course, if there's any prying into other
folks' affairs, there's sure to be a woman in the
case," observed the Negative.

"He's no great admirer of the ladies,"
whispered the Significant, "and he has no reason to
be, if you knew all."

"I think there's a noise at the bar outside,"
observed the Positive, at last emerging from
silence and the yesterday's newspaper.

"When did you hear of a bar without a noise
in a thoroughfare like this?" asked the Negative,
with exceeding sulkiness, when the attention
of all alike was absorbed by the sudden
entrance of the landlord with a face of overwhelming

"You know the gent as none of you can
make out?"

"Yes," was the universal response.

"Him with the dolls and coffins like?"

"Yesyes," was the reply, uttered with increased

"Well, his old woman has been hereall of
a fluster."

"He means the old servant," whispered the
Significant to the Novice, lest the latter might
suppose that the phrase "old woman" was used
idiomatically for wife.

"She says she has had a turn," continued
the landlord.

"A turn!" ejaculated the company.

"Yes, she says she opened a door that the
gov'nor gen'rally keeps locked, because you see
on this occasion he left the key in the keyhole,
and walking in, what should she see but a row
of shelves placed round the room, with nothing
but little coffins upon themall regularly covered
with cloth, and ornamented with silver-headed

"I knew the coffins would come to something,"
roared the Positive, with an explosion of

"Well, what have they come to?" asked the
Negative, with a quiet sneer." They were
coffins before, and they are coffins now."

"Yes, but when my brother-in-law gave
them to the gent," interposed Sandy, "they
were only plain wood, and now, it seems, they
are fitted up with cloth and nails. Now I
think of it, that accounts for the rapping that
the servant-girl used to hear in the middle of
the night as she passed the house."

"Strange time for a respectable young woman
to be outanyhow," snarled the Negative.

"I shouldn't wonder," said the Significant
with a gasp, "if the dolls were inside the

"Shouldn't you?—then I should," brutally
objected the Negative.

"Hush!" said the landlord, "here is Mr.
Thingummy himself."

"And if it is Mr. Thingummy, I suppose
one has a right to speak," retorted the Negative;
but, however, as the new comer entered
the room he became silent, and in spite of
his affected indifference, could not conceal his

No one could look less remarkable than the
Theme of Discourse. He might be called an