The day wore itself out. After dinner the two friends put in a long and
harassing evening trying to decide what to do with the five thousand
dollars reward which they were going to get when they should find One-
Armed Pete, and catch him, and prove him to be the right person, and
extradite him, and ship him to Tahlequah in the Indian Territory.
there were so many dazzling openings for ready cash that they found it
impossible to make up their minds and keep them made up. Finally, Mrs.
Sellers grew very weary of it all, and said:
"What is the sense in cooking a rabbit before it's caught?"
Then the matter was dropped, for the time being, and all went to bed.
Next morning, being persuaded by Hawkins, the colonel made drawings and
specifications and went down and applied for a patent for his toy puzzle,
and Hawkins took the toy itself and started out to see what chance there
might be to do something with it commercially. He did not have to go
far. In a small old wooden shanty which had once been occupied as a
dwelling by some humble negro family he found a keen-eyed Yankee engaged
in repairing cheap chairs and other second-hand furniture. This man
examined the toy indifferently; attempted to do the puzzle; found it not
so easy as he had expected; grew more interested, and finally
emphatically so; achieved a success at last, and asked:
"Is it patented?"
"Patent applied for."
"That will answer. What do you want for it?"
"What will it retail for?"
"Well, twenty - five cents, I should think."
"What will you give for the exclusive right?"
"I couldn't give twenty dollars, if I had to pay cash down; but I'll tell
you what I'll do. I'll make it and market it, and pay you five cents
royalty on each one."
Washington sighed. Another dream disappeared; no money in the thing.
So he said:
"All right, take it at that. Draw me a paper. He went his way with the
paper, and dropped the matter out of his mind dropped it out to make room
for further attempts to think out the most promising way to invest his
half of the reward, in case a partnership investment satisfactory to both
beneficiaries could not be hit upon.
He had not been very long at home when Sellers arrived sodden with grief
and booming with glad excitement--working both these emotions
successfully, sometimes separately, sometimes together. He fell on
Hawkins's neck sobbing, and said:
"Oh, mourn with me my friend, mourn for my desolate house: death has
smitten my last kinsman and I am Earl of Rossmore--congratulate me!"
He turned to his wife, who had entered while this was going on, put his
arms about her and said-- "You will bear up, for my sake, my lady--it had
to happen, it was decreed."
She bore up very well, and said:
"It's no great loss. Simon Lathers was a poor well-meaning useless thing
and no account, and his brother never was worth shucks."
The rightful earl continued:
"I am too much prostrated by these conflicting griefs and joys to be able
to concentrate my mind upon affairs; I will ask our good friend here to
break the news by wire or post to the Lady Gwendolen and instruct her
"What Lady Gwendolen?"
"Our poor daughter, who, alas!--"
"Sally Sellers? Mulberry Sellers, are you losing your mind?"
"There-please do not forget who you are, and who I am; remember your own
dignity, be considerate also of mine. It were best to cease from using
my family name, now, Lady Rossmore."
"Goodness gracious, well, I never! What am I to call you then?"
"In private, the ordinary terms of endearment will still be admissible,
to some degree; but in public it will be more becoming if your ladyship
will speak to me as my lord, or your lordship, and of me as Rossmore, or
the Earl, or his Lordship, and--"
"Oh, scat! I can't ever do it, Berry."
"But indeed you must, my love--we must live up to our altered position
and submit with what grace we may to its requirements."
"Well, all right, have it your own way; I've never set my wishes against
your commands yet, Mul--my lord, and it's late to begin now, though to my
mind it's the rottenest foolishness that ever was."
"Spoken like my own true wife! There, kiss and be friends again."
"But-Gwendolen! I don't know how I am ever going to stand that name.
Why, a body wouldn't know Sally Sellers in it. It's too large for her;
kind of like a cherub in an ulster, and it's a most outlandish sort of a
name, anyway, to my mind."
"You'll not hear her find fault with it, my lady."
"That's a true word. She takes to any kind of romantic rubbish like she
was born to it. She never got it from me, that's sure. And sending her
to that silly college hasn't helped the matter any--just the other way.
"Now hear her, Hawkins! Rowena-Ivanhoe College is the selectest and most
aristocratic seat of learning for young ladies in our country. Under no
circumstances can a girl get in there unless she is either very rich and
fashionable or can prove four generations of what may be called American
nobility. Castellated college-buildings--towers and turrets and an
imitation moat--and everything about the place named out of Sir Walter
Scott's books and redolent of royalty and state and style; and all the
richest girls keep phaetons, and coachmen in livery, and riding-horses,
with English grooms in plug hats and tight-buttoned coats, and top-boots,
and a whip-handle without any whip to it, to ride sixty-three feet behind
"And they don't learn a blessed thing, Washington Hawkins, not a single
blessed thing but showy rubbish and un-american pretentiousness. But
send for the Lady Gwendolen--do; for I reckon the peerage regulations
require that she must come home and let on to go into seclusion and mourn
for those Arkansas blatherskites she's lost."
"My darling! Blatherskites? Remember--noblesse oblige."
"There, there--talk to me in your own tongue, Ross--you don't know any
other, and you only botch it when you try. Oh, don't stare--it was a
slip, and no crime; customs of a life-time can't be dropped in a second.
Rossmore--there, now, be appeased, and go along with you and attend to
Gwendolen. Are you going to write, Washington?--or telegraph?"
"He will telegraph, dear."
"I thought as much," my lady muttered, as she left the room. "Wants it
so the address will have to appear on the envelop. It will just make a
fool of that child. She'll get it, of course, for if there are any other
Sellerses there they'll not be able to claim it. And just leave her
alone to show it around and make the most of it. Well, maybe she's
forgivable for that. She's so poor and they're so rich, of course she's
had her share of snubs from the livery-flunkey sort, and I reckon it's
only human to want to get even."
Uncle Dan'l was sent with the telegram; for although a conspicuous object
in a corner of the drawing-room was a telephone hanging on a transmitter,
Washington found all attempts to raise the central office vain. The
Colonel grumbled something about its being "always out of order when
you've got particular and especial use for it," but he didn't explain
that one of the reasons for this was that the thing was only a dummy and
hadn't any wire attached to it. And yet the Colonel often used it--when
visitors were present--and seemed to get messages through it. Mourning
paper and a seal were ordered, then the friends took a rest.
Next afternoon, while Hawkins, by request, draped Andrew Jackson's
portrait with crape, the rightful earl, wrote off the family bereavement
to the usurper in England--a letter which we have already read. He also,
by letter to the village authorities at Duffy's Corners, Arkansas, gave
order that the remains of the late twins be embalmed by some St. Louis
expert and shipped at once to the usurper--with bill. Then he drafted
out the Rossmore arms and motto on a great sheet of brown paper, and he
and Hawkins took it to Hawkins's Yankee furniture-mender and at the end
of an hour came back with a couple of stunning hatchments, which they
nailed up on the front of the house--attractions calculated to draw, and
they did; for it was mainly an idle and shiftless negro neighborhood,
with plenty of ragged children and indolent dogs to spare for a point of
interest like that, and keep on sparing them for it, days and days
The new earl found-without surprise--this society item in the evening
paper, and cut it out and scrapbooked it:
By a recent bereavement our esteemed fellow citizen, Colonel
Mulberry Sellers, Perpetual Member-at-large of the Diplomatic Body,
succeeds, as rightful lord, to the great earldom of Rossmore, third
by order of precedence in the earldoms of Great Britain, and will
take early measures, by suit in the House of Lords, to wrest the
title and estates from the present usurping holder of them. Until
the season of mourning is past, the usual Thursday evening
receptions at Rossmore Towers will be discontinued.
Lady Rossmore's comment-to herself:
"Receptions! People who don't rightly know him may think he is
commonplace, but to my mind he is one of the most unusual men I ever saw.
As for suddenness and capacity in imagining things, his beat don't exist,
I reckon. As like as not it wouldn't have occurred to anybody else to
name this poor old rat-trap Rossmore Towers, but it just comes natural to
him. Well, no doubt it's a blessed thing to have an imagination that can
always make you satisfied, no matter how you are fixed. Uncle Dave
Hopkins used to always say, 'Turn me into John Calvin, and I want to know
which place I'm going to; turn me into Mulberry Sellers and I don't
The rightful earl's comment-to himself:
"It's a beautiful name, beautiful. Pity I didn't think of it before I
wrote the usurper. But I'll be ready for him when he answers."