This was young Tom Driscoll's bedroom. He and the judge, the judge's widowed sister Mrs. Pratt, and three Negro servants were the only people who belonged in the house. Who, then, might this young lady be? The two houses were separated by an ordinary yard, with a low fence running back through its middle from the street in front to the lane in the rear. The distance was not great, and Wilson was able to see the girl very well, the window shades of the room she was in being up, and the window also. The girl had on a neat and trim summer dress, patterned in broad stripes of pink and white, and her bonnet was equipped with a pink veil. She was practicing steps, gaits and attitudes, apparently; she was doing the thing gracefully, and was very much absorbed in her work. Who could she be, and how came she to be in young Tom Driscoll's room?

Wilson had quickly chosen a position from which he could watch the girl without running much risk of being seen by her, and he remained there hoping she would raise her veil and betray her face. But she disappointed him. After a matter of twenty minutes she disappeared and although he stayed at his post half an hour longer, she came no more.

Toward noon he dropped in at the judge's and talked with Mrs. Pratt about the great event of the day, the levee of the distinguished foreigners at Aunt Patsy Cooper's. He asked after her nephew Tom, and she said he was on his way home and that she was expecting him to arrive a little before night, and added that she and the judge were gratified to gather from his letters that he was conducting himself very nicely and creditably--at which Wilson winked to himself privately. Wilson did not ask if there was a newcomer in the house, but he asked questions that would have brought light-throwing answers as to that matter if Mrs. Pratt had had any light to throw; so he went away satisfied that he knew of things that were going on in her house of which she herself was not aware.

He was now awaiting for the twins, and still puzzling over the problem of who that girl might be, and how she happened to be in that young fellow's room at daybreak in the morning.

CHAPTER 8

Marse Tom Tramples His Chance

The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Consider well the proportions of things. It is better to be a young June bug than an old bird of paradise.

--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

It is necessary now to hunt up Roxy.

At the time she was set free and went away chambermaiding, she was thirty-five. She got a berth as second chambermaid on a Cincinnati boat in the New Orleans trade, the _Grand Mogul_. A couple of trips made her wonted and easygoing at the work, and infatuated her with the stir and adventure and independence of steamboat life. Then she was promoted and become head chambermaid. She was a favorite with the officers, and exceedingly proud of their joking and friendly way with her.

During eight years she served three parts of the year on that boat, and the winters on a Vicksburg packet. But now for two months, she had had rheumatism in her arms, and was obliged to let the washtub alone. So she resigned. But she was well fixed-- rich, as she would have described it; for she had lived a steady life, and had banked four dollars every month in New Orleans as a provision for her old age. She said in the start that she had "put shoes on one bar'footed nigger to tromple on her with," and that one mistake like that was enough; she would be independent of the human race thenceforth forevermore if hard work and economy could accomplish it. When the boat touched the levee at New Orleans she bade good-by to her comrades on the _Grand Mogul_ and moved her kit ashore.

But she was back in a hour. The bank had gone to smash and carried her four hundred dollars with it. She was a pauper and homeless. Also disabled bodily, at least for the present.

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson Page 20

Mark Twain

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