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“ Miggles! O Miggles !” No answer.
“ Migg-ells! You Miggles ! ” continued the driver, with rising wrath.
“ Migglesy!” joined in the expressman, persuasively. “O Miggy! Mig!”
But no reply came from the apparently insensible Miggles. The Judge, who had finally got the window down, put his head out and propounded a series of questions, which, if answered categorically, would have undoubtedly elucidated the whole mystery, but which the driver evaded by replying that “if we did n't want to sit in the coach all night, we had better rise up and sing out for Miggles.”
So we rose up and called on Miggles in chorus ; then separately. And when we had finished, a Hibernian fellow-passenger from the roof called for “ Maygells !” whereat we all laughed. While we were laughing, the driver cried “Shoo ! "
We listened. To our infinite amazement the chorus of “Miggles” was repeated from the other side of the wall, even to the final and supplemental “ Maygells.” “Extraordinary echo,” said the Judge. “ Extraordinary d-d skunk !” roared the driver, contemptuously. “Come out of that, Miggles, and show yourself! Be a man, Miggles! Don't hide in the dark; I would n't if I were you, Miggles," continued Yuba Bill, now dancing about in an excess of fury.
" Miggles !” continued the voice, “O Miggles ! ”
“My good man ! Mr. Myghail!” said the Judge, softening the asperities of the name as much as possible, “ consider the inhospitality of refusing shelter from the inclemency of the weather to helpless females. Really, my dear sir” — But a succession of “ Miggles,” ending in a burst of laughter, drowned his voice.
Yuba Bill hesitated no longer. Taking a heavy stone from the road, he battered down the gate, and, with the expressman, entered the enclosure. We followed. Nobody was to be seen. In the gathering darkness all that we could distinguish was that we were in a garden – from the rose-bushes that scattered over us a minute spray from their dripping leaves — and before a long, rambling wooden building.
“Do you know this Miggles ?” asked the Judge of Yuba Bill.
“No, nor don't want to," said Bill, shortly,
who felt the Pioneer Stage Company insulted in his person by the contumacious Miggles.
“ But, my dear sir,” expostulated the Judge, as he thought of the barred gate.
“Lookee here,” said Yuba Bill, with fine irony, “ had n't you better go back and sit in the coach till yer introduced ? I'm going in," and he pushed open the door of the building.
A long room lighted only by the embers of a fire that was dying on the large hearth at its farther extremity; the walls curiously papered, and the fickering firelight bringing out its grotesque pattern; somebody sitting in a large arm-chair by the fireplace. All this we saw as we crowded together into the room, after the driver and expressman.
“Hello! be you Miggles ? ” said Yuba Bill to the solitary occupant.
The figure neither spoke nor stirred. Yuba Bill walked wrathfully toward it, and turned the eye of his coach-lantern upon its face. It was a man's face, prematurely old and wrinkled, with very large eyes, in which there was that expression of perfectly gratuitous solemnity which I had sometimes seen in an owl's. The large eyes wandered
from Bill's face to the lantern, and finally fixed their gaze on that luminous object, without further recognition.
Bill restrained himself with an effort.
“ Miggles! Be you deaf? You ain't dumb, anyhow, you know ?” and Yuba Bill shook the insensate figure by the shoulder.
To our great dismay, as Bill removed his hand, the venerable stranger apparently collapsed, — sinking into half his size and an undistinguishable heap of clothing.
“Well, dern my skin !” said Bill, looking appealingly at us, and hopelessly retiring from the contest.
The Judge now stepped forward, and we lifted the mysterious invertebrate back into his original position. Bill was dismissed with the lantern to reconnoitre outside, for it was evident that from the helplessness of this solitary man there must be attendants near at hand, and we all drew around the fire. The Judge, who had regained his authority, and had never lost his conversational amiability, — standing before us with his back to the hearth, — charged us, as an imaginary ury, as follows:
“ It is evident that either our distinguished friend here has reached that condition de scribed by Shakespeare as the sere and yellow leaf,' or has suffered some premature abatement of his mental and physical faculties. Whether he is really the Miggles ” —
Here he was interrupted by “ Miggles ! O Miggles! Migglesy! Mig!” and in fact the whole chorus of Miggles in very much the same key as it had once before been delivered unto us.
We gazed at each other for a moment in some alarm. The Judge, in particular, vacated his position quickly, as the voice seemed to come directly over his shoulder. The cause, however, was soon discovered in a large magpie who was perched upon a shelf over the fireplace, and who immediately relapsed into a sepulchral silence, which contrasted singularly with his previous volubility. It was undoubtedly his voice which we had heard in the road, and our friend in the chair was not responsible for the discourtesy. Yuba Bill, who reëntered the room after an unsuccessful search, was loath to accept the explanation, and still eyed the helpless sitter with suspicion. He had found a shed in which he had put up his horses, but came back dripping and skeptical. * Thar ain't nobody but him within ten milo