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FROM an early period, on occasions of detected
felony, the frequent larceny, burglary,
or riot, it was customary to accompany the
fore-ordained punishmentalways given "for
my good"—with an awful prophecy. It referred
to those premature endings which the
law allots, with circumstances of great solemnity
and superfluous publicity, as set out in the
public papers. This was so rung in my ears,
as the president of the court martial proceeded
to pass sentence, that I began to consider it as
a certain DOOM, directly and disgracefully ending
the prospects of a long life, and which only some
frantic exertion could avert.

The first occasion on which the prophecy was
uttered was, I recollect, on the introduction
into the family of a drummer, who had been
bought at a bazaar by a beneficent patron, and
conveyed, as it were, to trustees, for the joint
use of myself and sister. The drummer literally
blazed with vermilion, and, varnished, stood on
a sort of hollow chamber, whence, on the turning
of a feeble wire winch, issued a sort of plucking
twang, somehow associated with quills. At the
same instant his arms rose and fell in unequal
jerks and spasms. Amid the universal jubilation
which welcomed this officerand he was
as cordially received on the female side as
though he were alive and wore "real scarlet
uniform"—it was noticed that I remained
silent, and unmoveddiscontented, it was assumed,
at being fettered by a co-trustee. There
was some truth in this theory, but already I
had perceived the logical discrepancy between
the interior quill music and the outer tympanitic
motion, which, as a result, did not
fairly correspond. This, it seems to me now,
should have occurred to more practical minds
than mine. I also did resent the co-partnery.
What had shea girlto do with drummers
dans ce galère? Within half an hour from the
arrival of the musicianthe donor being loaded
with honours, that is, receiving sherry above
in the drawing-roomthe drummer was in my
own lair, lying on his side, completely separated
from the musical chamber, on which were still
visible his footprints in glue. The chamber itself
had been laid open, the mystery disclosed, pieces
of quills revolving. The wreck was complete and
irreparable, when word came that the donees
were to attend in the drawing-room in full tenue,
bearing their present, and return thanks "to
your kind friend, Mr. Bagley," and then this outrage
was discovered. The scene may be conceived.
Some excuse was made to the generous
patron, one, I fear, scarcely consistent with the
truth; but he was asked to dinner on the following
Sunday, and on his departure a court
martial hastily summoned. It was then, before
the punishment, that the gallows were first

Just as people talk now of "the great gold-dust
robbery," so now do I bring back "the
great jam puff robbery," which is the second
important occasion on which it was prophesied
that the outraged majesty of the law would be
vindicated in my person. The "jam puffs" had
been put away in the wing, as it were, of a
side-board. (So it was constructeda receptacle for
teas and groceries to the right and left, while
in the space between, lurked, cozily and
modestly, a stupendous sarcophagus, or garde
de vin.) Some insanity, or self-delusion, had
left the wing open, or there had been an apparent
locking. Prowling about, some instinct
had revealed to me this oversight. Not Aladdin
could have been so dazzled; not only the jam
puffs, but jam itself, half a dozen pots of marmalade,
lump sugar, and other treasures, all
revealed. But the puffs were irresistible;
I would have been tempted, I fear, into an
arrangement about my ultimate spiritual safety,
had the arch enemy held in his unseemly paw
or claw, one of these delicacies. The flavour of
paste and jam combined was too much. I knew
well that the delicacies were fore-ordained for a
guest that day, a gentleman in orders, for whom
they had been selected with care. I recked
not. The fit was on me. I swallowed the
booty with haste and discomfort, the rich paste
flaking off, the jam deliciously emollient. The
guilty morsels were gobbled down. I was meditating
a second puff, on the desperate plea that,
having gone so far, I might go further (the
whisperings of conscience were of course stifled),
whena footstep approaching! A nice ear,
sharpened by guerilla and predatory habits,
reported it to be the governess. I was at the
window in a moment, far away from the violated
cupboard. But, alas! I wanted the art of assuming
an "unconcerned air," which is de rigueur for a
first-class operative. I at the window with a