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I OUR SHORT STORY. I I STORY OF A SONG. I What I am about to relate occurred a number of years ago, a short time after that popular song, He Turned Her Picture Toward the Wall," came out. I was then living at Branton, out in Western America, our family consisting of myself, my wife and two children, Mattie, aged fifteen, and George, aged seventeen. We pos- sessed an organ upon which my daughter played, George singing, Mrs. Wilters and myself coming in in the chorus in regular country fashion. I was the musical enthusiast of the party, and while I did not like all the songs then extant, when one did strike me I immediately mastered it. I went into ecstasies over this particular song, and whistled it in the woodshed, hummed it in the parlour, sang it to visitors, neighbours and friends. Many of these took the fever but mine was especially malignant, and the song haunted me for weeks after everybody else had caught on to something new. 11 My wife casually mentioned an asylum for lunatics several times a day. But I still repeated the song, and the first thing on rising in the morning, and the last thing on retiring at night. Then she expostulated, and ventured to hope that no more popular songs would come out for at least a year. I realised that my state was be- coming alarming. Something must be done, and immediately. Mrs. Wilters," I said, the thing shall be stopped." But how, dear? she queried, wearily. I shall lock up the organ." Which I did; but the song still ran in my head. At last I collapsed. I was ill from an overdose of music. The doctor said I would re- cuperate after a few days of rest, but upon my becoming convalescent I must refrain from all music. Right in the midst of this mental tribulation something happened. Mrs. Wilters staggered into my bedroom, one morning, her eyes as large as saucers, and exclaimed. Sam Wilters, every picture in the parlour is turned to the wall! Yes," chimed in George, "and the organ is unlocked! And pa," added Mattie, the organ stops are open where you play He Turned Her Picture.' Instead of throwing me into a mental fever, this information did the reverse. It broke up the musical trend of my thoughts. Reverse every picture," I commanded, Lock the organ and fetch the key to me." I was obeyed. Then I said— George, go and fetch my gun from the attic." Oh gasped my wife. Yes, I will sit here in bed, armed, and at J the first approach of danger leap from it and shoot the person who is perpetrating this joke." But you are too ill to think of anything of the kind," expostulated my wife. I shall need only to step from the bed and fire. Pity if I cannot sing a popular song We'll see about it! It will be murder," said Mattie, with tearful eyes. It won't be murder It'll simply be defence against a burglar. See?" They all saw; and as I was master of the house and thoroughly aroused to the situation, it was decided that I should go on picket duty that night. Mrs. Wilters, you will retire to the chamber above," I ordered at bedtime. And Mattie, you can accompany your mother. As for you, George, get a cudgel from the woodshed, and be- come a sort of body guard to me." As night set in the darkness in the rooms be- came intense. Not a flicker of light anywhere just total darkness. George sat in the parlour behind a case of books containing poetry, prose, and enough dictionaries to scare an ordinary bur- glar out of his wits. I sat bolt upright in bed, my back resting against the headboard, my trusty gun in my hands. The clock struck, one, two, three. The sound of the bell had scarcely ceased when a loud noise came to my ears. Striking a match, I peeped into the room where George was sitting. He was fast asleep, and his falling cudgel had awakened me. I lighted the lamp and stared at the pic- tures. George I shouted. "What, father?" he cried, starting from his chair. See! He staggered back. All the pictures were again turned toward the wall, the organ was un- locked, and my favourite stops were out! I George stared at me. I stared at George. "vYhat does it mean, dad? You slept! But you were on guard? n Yes." And did you sleep? I think not." How came you here then? The falling of your cudgel aroused me." From sleep? Perhaps." Mattie and her mother soon appeared on the 'scene, but none of us could offer a solution to the mystery. Daylight came. The organ stops were replaced, the organ relocked, and every picture righted. The next night Mrs. Wilters and myself were to go on guard, she to remain in the parlour, as George had done the night pre- viously, and I in bed, as I was not quite strong enough to remain up. At midnight the house was again quiet, Mrs. Wilters on guard. I heard the clock strike twelve, then one, and My hair stood on end. A scream came from the parlour. Hastily lighting a lamp, I beheld Mrs. Wilters standing in a corner, swinging a stick frantically and screaming. Eleanor, what in Heaven's name are you doing? You nearly frightened me to death!" she gasped. "1?" What did you fire at? I had discharged the gun, and it lay smoking against the footboard, the looking-glass having a round hole through it. Did I fire? "Did you? Mr. Wilters, to-morrow night Mattie shall be on guard, and neither you nor your gun can frighten her Great Heaven, see Every picture was again turned toward the wall, and the organ was open Eleanor, what mystery is this? My wife was speechless. Just at this moment George and Mattie appeared. Father, we will try it to-morrow night, and failing, we'll call in the police to watch for us," George said, when the situation had been explained. And so once more the pictures were turned back. I prefer a revolver to a cudgel," Mattie said stoutly. Thus armed we again awaited events. Singular that I should hear the clock striking every night toward morning! But so it was. It struck twelve, then one, then two, and- I leaped from bed. Mattie was firing her revolver rapidly, the light revealing her in an attitude of despair. Well, Mattie, what have you hit? Nothing she said doggedly, throwing her smoking revolver into a corner. Oh, yes, you have! You've shot four holes through my new picture." As we came back to a normal condition of mind we found that all the pictures had been reversed as before. I It is terrible said Mattie. But why did you shoot? I heard footsteps." Whose? I do not know." Leave me to watch to-morrow night," said my wife, determinedly. Well and good; we will! I answered. When the fated hour came Mrs. Wilters com- manded- Mr. Wilters, you will now retire as usual. I retired gun in hand. George—Mattie—your father hap gene to bsd. We will retire. Come! The three left the room, going to the spare chambers above. What it meant I had no means of knowing at the time, but it all came out afterward. When I fell asleep they returned to the sitting room, each holding a revolver and a dark lantern. Mrs. Wilters was at the head of the undertaking, her idea being to flash the bull's-eyes full upon the parlour adjoining at the slightest noise, and should a person be discovel ed tampering with the organ or the pictures, to shoot him. As usual I heard the clock strike twelve, one, two, and- The next I knew the parlour was suddenly illuminated, and crack crack crack went the three revolvers. They had surprised the man in the very act of displacing the pictures. and after firing excitedly, rushed into the room. Great heavens cried my wife, fainting and falling. Are you hurt? gasped George. We have shot father!" screamed Mattie, springing forward and clasping me in her arms. Matters were soon righted. But if my bold warriors had not been too badly frightened to shoot straight, I should not be telling this story. It ia all explain ed by the fact that I was a somnambulist, and did these things in my sleep.









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