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Daddy Dinkle's Wards

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Tbis íiotioe appeared in the Mayville Index, üue day, ever so many years ago: " Rev. Gustavus Dinklebach proposes to open in Mayville, January 1, a prívate scbuul tur boys. Particular attentioii given to the classics and mathematica, boys and young men will receive a carelul and thorough training preparatory to entering college. Rev. Mr. l)inklebach respectíully sohcits the patronage of the ciuzens ot Mayville and vicinity." In other words, it was aa old-fashioned boys academy which Rev. Guitavus Diuklebach " opened. ' Au old-fashioned boys' academy, now all out of date, and iaughed to scorn by your new-fangled iellows who turn up their noses at Plato's dialogues in the original, and claim that the only present and future hope for the world is that it should be " evolved " out ot the pattern of the crook of Herbert Spencers little finger. Rev. Gustavus Ihuklebach wasn't that sort, bless his sweet, simple oíd heart. He read his bible and the Greek tragedies, iud believed the salvation of the world depended on the golden rule and hic, had, hoc. His ' religión and his learning wore so mixed up that he could hardly teil which was which at last, and he soinehow got into his queer old brain that one who wasfamiliar with Greek, Hebrew, and Latin lore, by that simple fact pertoice was made a gentleman, and that it was henceforth iueuinbent on him to walk through the world as an example to modern degeneracy, loving his neighbor as himself, being honest, gentlemannered, kindly and dignified. Kcv. Dinklebach was all that himself, and he kiiew no more of the ways of the wioked world than if he had boen a spotted kitten chasing a spool of thread. He came to Mayville a very learned, highlyreoommended man, with tender heart, a Jig, bald head, the soul of a little child, uucl but two pairs of stockings, to his Dame. Mayville took him under its wing. He " opeued " his boys' academy, and presided over it for twenty-tive years. Lt grew and nourished apace, and nobody in Mayville cheated Rev. Dinklebach out of all the money he got. It just hapjened so, as exactly the opposite hadhapjened to him in every place he had been jefore. To this day many and many a broad-shouldered, bearded man, with his own locks even beginning lolrost a little, jauses a moment trom the ciashing din of iie wide world, while he calis to miud ;he green days of Mayville, and reuienibers Daddy Diükle and amo, amas, anuií, with a smile, a tear, and a blessiug. Rev. Gustavus Dinklebach was an old iachelor who loved little children. He called himsfclf a dreary old bachelor, and a tart of his valediction to his bierjïest boy 8 was this: " My dear young friends, don't you be an oid bachelor," I don't know how it was, but before Rev. Gastavus L'inklebaoh had been in Hayville a year every body feil into the habit of oalling him Dadcly Dinkle, and that although he was an old bachelor. They called him that to his face alter while, and I'in sure they rueant no disrespect, lor everybody had a sort oi reverence for hini, so good and so dignilied ho was, and 60 learned withal. When he first went to Mayville, Daddy Diukle took up his lodging with a comely youug Euglishwonian, who had a big, stupid husband and afrisky little American bom baby girl, three months old, not yet nanied, on account of a difference ot opinión between its father and mother. The niother wanted to name it Francés Mary ; tha father, on the other hand, iiisisted that the child should be called Hannah. Both agreed to leave the question to Daddy Dinkle for arbitration, and Daddy Dinkle named the bright little thing Theodora - gift of God. During the year the coinely young Eugliühwoman's husband died. Daddy Diukle still lived in the house of the widow. A few months after the widow herself died, and left Daddy Dinklo alone in the house with a little baby. With' her dying breath the widow had committed the child to his care, and he had promised that never while he lived should uie baby girl be homeless or friendless. He promised all this, at the same time he had no more idea what he should do with the child than if she had been an elephant. But he promieed, out of the goodness of his heart. After the funeral he paid au elderly spinster a stipulated sum for taking care of the child, and went to visit it twice a week, and always carried it a dolí baby and a package of candy. This was his idea of infantile femiuinity. Mistortunes never come singly. Neither do blessings Nearly at the same time another piece of drift came tioating across the wide sea of humanity iuto the upen arms of Daddy Dinkle. The piece of drift was a boy. It was the orphan child of an old classmate of Gustavus Dinklebach, also a preacher, who died ol consumption, and the poor father went across tue river of death with his eyes looking backward upon this world on account of the little boy he was leaving. There wasn't a soul on earth to staud between the boy and the orphan, asyluin but Daddy Dinkle. Daddy Dinkle acepted fate and tho two young ones. Aio took the children, Theodora and little Ned Wallaoe, and set up housekeeping, with the elderly spinster as his household goddess, her mother going along to save prosperitv. The two ohüdren ere Daddy Diukle' wards. That' the bones of ïny story. ï ow it's ready to be comraenced. Let us string the bones together. A warm, bright room. A young lady, with brilliant gray eyes, a firm uiouth, dazzling white teeth, and bright pink cluieks, sat on one side of the cheerful lire ; opposite her sat a slender, ekgautly handsouie young man, graceful as a pioture, with curling black hair, and eyes which young woinen of sixteen adore because they were so naughty, roving, brigandish - wicked black eyes they wero. People still aaid what a pity the boy wasn't the girl. Just opposite the bright fire, half way between these two, an oldish man reclined in au easy chair. He had a big, bald head, aud the expression of face of a boy. The young lady was Theodora, the young man was Ned Wallaee, aud the bald-headed, with the baby face, was Daddy Dinkle. It was Diukle and his wards. Daddy Diukle was leoturing thein in his mild mouotones. "My ohüdren, liberal loarning will revolutionize the world. " To tuis work, my dear children, looking forward with joy to the day when you two bright young inteüects wuuld tako the grand task off my feeble old hands, 1 have trained you. It has been the hope and dream of my years that you two. chüdreu would one day take my school aud continue it, traiuing the future man as I havo tried to do, to read the classics, and love God and his neigh bor. "My more than childrsn, - my two friends who have made life less lonely tor me, could you find it in your hearts to walk through life togethor, I teil you, next to my hope and faith that the promised time wiU come, it has been my fondest earthly hope that, before my eyes close on this world, they will look upou you two as husband aud wife. Believe me, 1 know you better than you know yourselves, and no other man or woman can ever be to either of you what you can be to each other." He spoke with more than his usually mild energy as he concluded. The girl blushed shghtly, anil-eatAtown her eyes. The youug mau looked first, with a llush of his brigandish, wicked eyes, at the placid face of Daddy Dinkle, and then, with another Üash, into the fire, and then he made an impatient movement of bis arm. haDuilv uuuoticed bv the Ful oíd man, but by no means lost on the sensitive girl. " Good night, my children," said the gentle old man. " Thiuk about what I said." Then the old-fashioned old gentleman took his old-fashioned candlestick and trudged olï to bed. The moment the door was softly closed behind him, Edward Wallaoe sprang to his feet, with a look of extreme vexation. " Daddy Dinkle isa doosed old Don Quixote. What sort of a Greek weapon is root to fight the world with ' I never said tho eonjuuctions iu my life that I didn't get tangled, and I don't know what tne optative mood means to this day. And if I had all the tarnation old rubbish at my fingec enda what use would it be 't It' the old gentleman had only seen fit to teach me botauy and anatamony." " 1 like Daddy Dinkle's way best," said Theo. " Oh, yes, it's well enough for girls to sit at home and learn rubbish. They take no part in tho stirriug and active life of the world. For them there are no world-s to conqueror measure - no boundess acres of marsh and forest to wrest from the hand of nature and inake habitations for man ; no secrete of the age to drag into light and force them to disclose ;he origin of the race and of the world. [t'll do for womeu to sit by the lire and drone over antiquated lore ; a more jlorious career awaits a man - the iinmeasurable field of action." Theo. tapped on the Hoor with her toes and looked into the fire, but said nothing. The young man's eyes rested upon her a moment, and a slight look of pain miugled with the look of annoyance on his handsome face. He paced tho floor for two or hree minutes, as if he did not know what ,o say next ; and then, as if he had made up his mina to say it, he stopped short and began : " I know you like me Theo. - hang it ! - all the girls do ; but I can't help it. I wish they wouldii't. I dou't care for jirls. I mean to speed my days in naking explorations in unknown lands. That's tho life for me. Theo., I'm asuamed as a beast to mention it, but Billy Eyan is dying for you. Billy's a blessed sight aetter fellow than I ani." The foolish, handsome boy didn't know what he was saying, - didn't know much of the nature of girls, or he never would lave blurted out that he knew Thoo. had aid her silly, romantic girl's heart at his 'eet, and that he had no uae for the geutle jift. It was a brutal speech to niake, and no girl alive would have ever forjiven him for it, espocially when he went so far as to suggest the transfer of her maiden affectious to somebody else. But Edward W allace did not know any better. He had no idea in his blessed innocenco of the storm he was raising. Theo. stopped tapping with her feet, and sat'like a stone woman. " Why don't you Bay something, Theo. V" She spruug up, with a white face, and her eyes blazing. She stamped on the door, passionateiy. " Ned Wallace, don't you ever speak to me again as long as you live." He started in dismay. "Do you meau that, Theo. r" " I mean every word of it. If I live till I am a hundred years old 111 never forget nor forgive what you said tome just now. To teil me to my face that you know I am in love with you, and, if it's just as convenietit, you wish I'd take to somebody else. Oh, good God, it's too much!" She covored her face with her hands, her cheeks fiaming with auger and bitter humiliation. Edward Wallace made the sudden and uncomfortable discovery that he had hopelessly put his foot in it. He knew of old something of the temper he had aroused, and he stood appalled. " Theodora," said he, with a faint sound of emotion in his voice, " you and I have been good friends all our Uves. Once, when you were a little girl, I remeuiber you had a pet kitten which you liked very much. One day you caught that kitten killing some birds. You had liked her better than anything else in the world, yet you took that protty kitten and strangled her with your own hands, and from that day to this you have never allowed another cat in the house. Are you going to turn away from me to-night for good and all Y" " Yes," answered Theodora, speaking very slowly, " for good and all. I don't get over things like other people. I don't ■want to. After to-night 1 shall never speak to you again until I forgive you, and that will never be on earth." " Then good-by, Theodora," answered he, speaking, unlike himself, very rapidly. " I'm more sorry than I can teil that I've ofl'ended you. Alwaya remeinber that when yoa think of me, if you ever do. If you don't find me liere in the morning, you'll know why." So he turned and went away. Theodora covered her face with her hands, and burst into passionate tears - the woinan's weak refuge of tears. Next morning at breakfast Theo. came into the dining-room, and Daddy Dinkle handed her a note and said : " Read this to me, Theo. I found it on my plate just now." It was froin Edward, and it said : " Dear Fatheu Dinklebach : I've started for Brazil. I could not do aB you wanted. I know how ungrateful it seems, too, and I wish I could please you, but I cannot. Forgive and forget me, if you can, and may God bless you and Theo. " Edward Wallage." Daddy Dinkle laid his head on his hands and groaned. It was a cruel blow and it stunned him. A dim mist came over his eyes for a moment. When he looked up, Theo. was crying in the corner. Poor girl ! She had learned to conjúgate amo lar too well. Daddy Dinkle looked at her. Perhaps it was " liberal learning" whioh mudo his intuitions so fine and quick. In that moment he looked down through the past liko a visión, and his own blighted youth rose before him like a sorrowful ghost. He went over to Theo., and laid his hand gently on her head. " Theo., my poor girl, don't cry," he said. " I have no patienoe with crying women. Leave crying to babies, where it properly belongs. Please God, you and I have many a brave day's work before us, my child. Together we will tread the glorious patha of learning. Wo will climb yet higher heights, my daughter, and you shall lead and I will follow. We will wait for the promised time together. In the pursuit of liberal learning there is perpetual triumph, unalloyed by a a single pang, - the splendid triumph of knowledge and undertaking. Knowledge places man on a level with the angels. There are joy, consolation and ropose. I turned there for comfort, a long time ago, and it kas never failed me. Theodora, daughter, gift of God to a lonely oíd man, come !" " I will, father." 80 two went on to work where itsvas to have been three. They never mentioned the wanderer, never heard from him. The old man and the girl sharod their studies together. At length an atiack of sickness came upon Daddy Dinkle", and weakened him so he was never quite the same again. After that Theo. heard part of the boys' lessons. " Liberal learning" brought her joy and consolation indeed. She seemed quite happy after a little time. Her eye was bright as a bird's, and her voice as swoet, hopeful, and cheery. A lover or two crossed her quiet life, as the years went on. That was the only time her bright, suuny spirit ever seemed disturbed. Her soft, pink cheeks had turned very palc, and she seemed faint and breathless tor a moment, and then she had said mildly and firinly that her life was devoted to the old professor and tho boys. She never looked for, or indeed never wished for, any other life than her present one. So the flying years still went on, and Theodora lived as much shut out of the world as if she and the old professor and the boys had been cast away on a green island in mid ocean. At last there come a sorrowful day, wken Daddy Dinkle found himself in total darkness. His worn-out eyes had failed him completely, except for tears, dear stricken old maa. Those rained down from his poor old eyes freely enough, but tuars could not bring back the lost light of day. And now Theodora took the old professor's tasks all on her brave two skoulders, and the academy, for the cultivation of his liberal learning, nourished as hardly ever before. Still the wing-footed years glided on, and the young woman kept her school and did her quiet work and lived her quiet life braveiy and well, until one day she found herself thirty years old, and Wallace had been gone twelve years. - She tied a ribbon in her hair that day and looked in tha glass and saw herself, a woman never handsome, and no longor very young. Not young in years, that is to say. In heart and spirit, she was younger than most girls at eighteen. - She looked in the glass that day and saw a woman with gray hair, soft pink cheeks, and bright, spirited eyes. She looked happy and peaceful as she siniled at her gray hair in the glass. She was happy and peaceful - quite, quite kappy. She still thought of Ned Wallace. 1 know that in her silent heart she thought of him fifty times a day, but thoughts of him no longer brought the bitter remembrance of old. All tho burning pain and humiliatiou had passed away and the lost love had become only a pleasaut memory. So, on her thirtieth birthday she smiled at her gray hair and went cheerily down to join her boys. Daddy Dinkle's mind soemed to be failing him a little that year. He was not always so cheerful and hopeful as formerly. He used to have fits of deep gloom sometimes - strango in this sunny-hearted old man. One dny he said to The. : "I am cross and old, Theo., and the promised time isn't half so near at hand as it used to be. I wish Edward Wallace would come home." At lengtk the gentle old man feil sick. He seemed to be slowly declining, and once when Theo. sat beside him, he said : " Theodora, daughter, I think the promised time isn't so far off after all. I think I shall find it where I am going. The friends of my youth have all found it already. Ve love the next world better than this when our dear ones die, one by one, and we have a hope of meeting them there. I wish Edward Wallace would come borne." Theo. went to Norton one day in a railway train. As she returned she observed a stranger sitting direetly opposite her. He was looking at her with a gleamiug intense look. He was a large man, with heavy, dark beard, bronzed ckeek and eyes. Ah ! Theodora's face turned white. She set her toeth together, drew fi deep, shuddering breath, and looked out the window. The man's face turned pale, too pale, to his very brow, and he leaued his head suddènly torward, as if dizzy. - He tore the back off an old letter and scribbled a question on it. He touched Theodora on the shoulder and gave it to her ; looking steadily at her with his bright intense eyes. People thought she had dropped a letter and he had picked it up for ker. She read the question, looked full into the expectant's face, with its bright intense eyee, and her face turned winter than before. She looked full into the bright eyes and deliberately shook her head. The stranger quietly sat down. The letter did not belong to her after all. The train was crossing a railway bridge stilted upon trestle-work, half-disjointed, hastily thrówn together, and worm-eaten in some places. It was s fashionable American railway bridge. It seemed fearfully shaky to the stranger with the bright eyes and brown cheeks. A moment later every soul on that train would have thought the same thing, if he had had any time for thought, which he hadn't. There was a sudden noise of splintering timbers. The bridge was going down beneath the weight oí' the train. It was a very high bridge. There was a deop ravine under it, full of dry, jagged rocks and fallen trees. The train was tilting over toward the side whero Theo. sat. She had time to see that much. Theo. glanced wildly around for a moment, and then closed her eyes. Something caught her in a grasp like steel and whirled her madly around. She thought tha oar was turning over. An awful crash whioh will ring forever in the pars of_those who heard it, like the crack of doom. Wild sbrieks of agony, appalling, fearful death-groans, insane screams of frenzy, niingled with the hissing3 of steam, and the sound of women screeching in that idiotie way which tries inen's souls. Edward Wallace had caught Theo. in his arms just as the bridge went down. It was his last act of conaciousness for days. He had hurried her away from the window, and turnod so that he was next the side where she sat. An old tree sturup came bumping ihto the window. It struck him on the shouider. As Theo. had been, it would have struck her on the head, She escaped with some broken glass cuts and a blaök and blue bruise on her arm. He had saved her life. His shouider was dislocated, a rib or two broken, and he was badly stunned and bruised about the head. That was all. We are nearing the end of our story. They took the poor, bruised creature home to Daddy Dinkle's own house. - Theo. gave her school in charge of some of the older boys. She told Daddy Diukle that a stranger had saved her life at the risk of his own ; that h was sorely wounded, perhaps unto deatb, and she had brought him home to be cared for. And she grew white with watching and sorrow. But ono day Daddy Dinklo, through the open door, heard a voice faintly speaking in the next room. He had not walked without help for a raonth, yet he sprang upon his feet, quivering with excitement. " Theo. you have lied to me ; you, who never told me a falsehood before. Itis no stranger I hear in there, It is my wellbeloved son, who was dead and is alive again. Take me to him." And he feil upon his neck and kissed him, and they wept together - the weak old man and the weak young man. But Daddy Dinkle took to his bed next day, and did not leave it. A week later, whon Edward Wallace, feeble yet and no more than able to walk, went to his bedside to take his blessing and bid him farewell, he clung to the old man and wopt. " My son," he cried, " you will not leave me again ! Alone in my helpless blindness I have prayed daily and nightly that I might not depart this life till 1 heard your voice. You wero a spirited lad, full of life, and wayward sometimes, but I always loved you as the apple of my eye. Next to one other, it was the cruelest disappointment of my life when you went away. Oh, my son, my boy! You will not leave me again ! You will stay with the foolish nld man till he diesV" He reached out in his blindness and caught him and clung to him with his trembling hands. Theodora sat beside his bed. She turned her head away and wiped a tear from her eyes. "Father," at length Edward Wallace said, "how can I stay 't I have aocoinplished the career which was the dream of my boyhood. I have sailed the seas from the northern icebergs to the southern ocean. I bave prospected for gold in Australia, and helped build a telegraph line through a country where the foot of a civilized man never trod before. I have sailed around the globe, and done all that I hoped for in my youth, only to find at last that Thoodora is more to me than anatomy and botany ; more than travel and adventure ; more than all the world besides. l'ather, I have come fivethousand miles to ask Theodora once in her life to forgive, and she will not. If she would bid me stay, father - " The old man groped hopelessly over the quilt with one hand. "Theo., give me your hand. I cannot find it ïnyself," said the old man. She reached out her hand, cold and trembling, and he took it in his weak grasp, holding it thus in one hand, and Edward's hand in the other. He drew them feebly together, and laid the hand of Theo. in the hand of Edward. " My children, it is the last wish of the old man. Theo., my girl, shall it not be so '(" She glanced at the face of Edward Wallace. He was looking at her with his beautiful eyes all moist and tender, offering her once more, and for the last time, his heart, begging her to take the gift - the heart of a brave, strong, loving, eternally true man - hers forever and ever. Such a love is God's blessed gift to a woman. The world seemed turning around to her, and she closed her eyes dizzily. Daddy Dinkle listened painfully. " Theo. 't" he said. " Yes, father, it shall be so." He smiled a pleased, child-like smile, nodded his head faintly to show that he understood, and turned his blind eyes a little toward the üght. Then his inind seemed to wander slightly. He thought he was back to school with his boys. "Turnto book four," l)e said, line 6ó3, Vixi, et queuin dederat curtswtn, fortuna peregi - I have lived and accomplished the race which fate designed." He loosened b,is hold on Theo's hand, and Edward 'Wallace closed his own fingers over it and held it fast. Daddy Dinkle seemed to have fallen into a light slumber. His face was as beautiful and serene as the face of an infant in a happy dream. The old man was dead.


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