Gagtooth's Image by John Charles Dent

About three o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, the fourth of September, 1884, I was riding up Yonge Street, in the city of Toronto, on the top of a crowded omnibus. The omnibus was bound for Thornhill, and my own destination was the intermediate village of Willowdale. Having been in Canada only a short time, and being almost a stranger in Toronto, I dare say I was looking around me with more attention and curiosity than persons who are "native here, and to the manner born," are accustomed to exhibit. We had just passed Isabella Street, and were rapidly nearing Charles Street, when I noticed on my right hand a large, dilapidated frame building, standing in solitary isolation a few feet back from the highway, and presenting the appearance of a veritable Old Curiosity Shop.

A business was carried on here in second hand furniture of the poorest description, and the object of the proprietor seemed to have been to collect about him all sorts of worn-out commodities, and objects which were utterly unmarketable. Everybody who lived in Toronto at the time indicated will remember the establishment, which, as I subsequently learned, was owned and carried on by a man named Robert Southworth, familiarly known to his customers as "Old Bob." I had no sooner arrived abreast of the gateway leading into the yard immediately adjoining the building to the southward, than my eyes rested upon something which instantly caused them to open themselves to their very widest capacity, and constrained me to signal the driver to stop; which he had no sooner done than I alighted from my seat and requested him to proceed on his journey without me. The driver eyed me suspiciously, and evidently regarded me as an odd customer, but he obeyed my request, and drove on northward, leaving me standing in the middle of the street.

From my elevated seat on the roof of the 'bus, I had caught a hurried glimpse of a commonplace-looking little marble figure, placed on the top of a pedestal, in the yard already referred to, where several other figures in marble, wood, bronze, stucco and what not, were exposed for sale.

The particular figure which had attracted my attention was about fifteen inches in height, and represented a little child in the attitude of prayer. Anyone seeing it for the first time would probably have taken it for a representation of the Infant Samuel. I have called it commonplace; and considered as a work of art, such it undoubtedly was; yet it must have possessed a certain distinctive individuality, for the brief glance which I had caught of it, even at that distance, had been sufficient to convince me that the figure was an old acquaintance of mine. It was in consequence of that conviction that I had dismounted from the omnibus, forgetful, for the moment, of everything but the matter which was uppermost in my mind.

I lost no time in passing through the gateway leading into the yard, and in walking up to the pedestal upon which the little figure was placed. Taking the latter in my hand, I found, as I had expected, that it was not attached to the pedestal, which was of totally different material, and much more elaborate workmanship. Turning the figure upside down, my eyes rested on these words, deeply cut into the little circular throne upon which the figure rested:—JACKSON: PEORIA, 1854.

At this juncture the proprietor of the establishment walked up to where I was standing beside the pedestal. "Like to look at something in that way, sir?" he asked—"we have more inside."

"What is the price of this?" I asked, indicating the figure in my hand.

"That, sir; you may have that for fifty cents—of course without the pedestal, which don't belong to it."

"Have you had it on hand long?"

"I don't know, but if you'll step inside for a moment I can tell you.
This way, sir."

Taking the figure under my arm, I followed him into what he called "the office"—a small and dirty room, crowded with old furniture in the last stage of dilapidation. From a desk in one corner he took a large tome labelled "Stock Book," to which he referred, after glancing at a hieroglyphical device pasted on the figure which I held under my arm.

"Yes, sir—had that ever since the 14th of March, 1880—bought it at
Morris & Blackwell's sale, sir."

"Who and what are Messrs. Morris & Blackwell?" I enquired.

"They were auctioneers, down on Adelaide Street, in the city, sir. Failed sometime last winter. Mr. Morris has since died, and I believe Blackwell, the other partner went to the States."

After a few more questions, finding that he knew nothing whatever about the matter beyond what he had already told me, I paid over the fifty cents; and, declining with thanks his offer to send my purchase home to me, I marched off with it down the street, and made the best of my way back to the Rossin House, where I had been staying for some days before.

From what has been said, it will be inferred that I—a stranger in Canada—must have had some special reason for incumbering myself in my travels with an intrinsically worthless piece of common Columbia marble.

I had a reason. I had often seen that little figure before; and the last time I had seen it, previous to the occasion above mentioned, had been at the town of Peoria, in the State of Illinois, sometime in the month of June, 1855.

There is a story connected with that little praying figure; a story, which, to me, is a very touching one; and I believe myself to be the only human being capable of telling it. Indeed, I am only able to tell a part of it. How the figure came to be sold by auction, in the city of Toronto, at Messrs. Morris & Blackwell's sale on the 14th of March, 1880, or how it ever came to be in this part of the world at all, I know no more than the reader does; but I can probably tell all that is worth knowing about the matter.

In the year 1850, and for I know not how long previously, there lived at Peoria, Illinois, a journeyman-blacksmith named Abner Fink. I mention the date, 1850, because it was in that year that I myself settled in Peoria, and first had any knowledge of him; but I believe he had then been living there for some length of time. He was employed at the foundry of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, and was known for an excellent workman, of steady habits, and good moral character— qualifications which were by no means universal, nor even common, among persons of his calling and degree of life, at the time and place of which I am writing. But he was still more conspicuous (on the lucus a non lucendo principle) for another quality—that of reticence. It was very rarely indeed that he spoke to anyone, except when called upon to reply to a question; and even then it was noticeable that he invariably employed the fewest and most concise words in his vocabulary. If brevity were the body, as well as the soul of wit, Fink must have been about the wittiest man that ever lived, the Monosyllabic Traveller not excepted. He never received a letter from any one during the whole time of his stay at Peoria; nor, so far as was known, did he ever write to any one. Indeed, there was no evidence that he was able to write. He never went to church, nor even to "meeting;" never attended any public entertainment; never took any holidays. All his time was spent either at the foundry where he worked, or at the boarding-house where he lodged. In the latter place, the greater part of his hours of relaxation were spent in looking either out of the window or into the fire; thinking, apparently, about nothing particular. All endeavours on the part of his fellow boarders to draw him into conversation were utterly fruitless. No one in the place knew anything about his past life, and when his fellow-journeymen in the workshop attempted to inveigle him into any confidence on that subject, he had a trick of calling up a harsh and sinister expression of countenance which effectually nipped all such experiments in the bud. Even his employers failed to elicit anything from him on this head, beyond the somewhat vague piece of intelligence that he hailed from "down east." The foreman of the establishment with a desperate attempt at facetiousness, used to say of him, that no one knew who he was, where he came from, where he was going to, or what he was going to do when he got there.

And yet, this utter lack of sociability could scarcely have arisen from positive surliness or unkindness of disposition. Instances were not wanting in which he had given pretty strong evidence that he carried beneath that rugged and uncouth exterior a kinder and more gentle heart than is possessed by most men. Upon one occasion he had jumped at the imminent peril of his life, from the bridge which spans the Illinois river just above the entrance to the lake, and had fished up a drowning child from its depths and borne it to the shore in safety. In doing so he had been compelled to swim through a swift and strong current which would have swamped any swimmer with one particle less strength, endurance and pluck. At another time, hearing his landlady say, at dinner, that an execution was in the house of a sick man with a large family, at the other end of the town, he left his dinner untouched, trudged off to the place indicated, and—though the debtor was an utter stranger to him—paid off the debt and costs in full, without taking any assignment of the judgment or other security. Then he went quietly back to his work. From my knowledge of the worthless and impecunious character of the debtor, I am of opinion that Fink never received a cent in the way of reimbursement.

In personal appearance he was short and stout. His age, when I first knew him, must have been somewhere in the neighbourhood of thirty-five. The only peculiarity about his face was an abnormal formation of one of his front teeth, which protruded, and stuck out almost horizontally. This, as may be supposed, did not tend to improve an expression of countenance which in other respects was not very prepossessing. One of the anvil-strikers happening to allude to him one day in his absence by the name of "Gagtooth," the felicity of the sobriquet at once commended itself to the good taste of the other hands in the shop, who thereafter commonly spoke of him by that name, and eventually it came to be applied to him by every one in the town.

My acquaintance with him began when I had been in Peoria about a week. I may premise that I am a physician and surgeon—a graduate of Harvard. Peoria was at that time a comparatively new place, but it gave promise of going ahead rapidly; a promise, by the way, which it has since amply redeemed. Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer's foundry was a pretty extensive one for a small town in a comparatively new district. They kept about a hundred and fifty hands employed all the year round, and during the busy season this number was more than doubled. It was in consequence of my having received the appointment of medical attendant to that establishment that I buried myself in the west, instead of settling down in my native State of Massachusetts.

Poor Gagtooth was one of my first surgical patients. It came about in this wise. At the foundry, two days in the week, viz., Tuesdays and Fridays, were chiefly devoted to what is called "casting." On these days it was necessary to convey large masses of melted iron, in vessels specially manufactured for that purpose, from one end of the moulding shop to the other. It was, of course, very desirable that the metal should not be allowed to cool while in transit, and that as little time as possible should be lost in transferring it from the furnace to the moulds. For this purpose Gagtooth's services were frequently called into requisition, as he was by far the strongest man about the place, and could without assistance carry one end of one of the vessels, which was considered pretty good work for two ordinary men.

Well, one unlucky Friday afternoon he was hard at work at this employment, and as was usual with all the hands in the moulding shop at such times, he was stripped naked from the waist upwards. He was gallantly supporting one end of one of the large receptacles already mentioned, which happened to be rather fuller than usual of the red-hot molten metal. He had nearly reached the moulding-box into which the contents of the vessel were to be poured, when he stumbled against a piece of scantling which was lying in his way. He fell, and as a necessary consequence his end of the vessel fell likewise, spilling the contents all over his body, which was literally deluged by the red, hissing, boiling liquid fire. It must have seemed to the terror-stricken onlookers like a bath of blood.

Further details of the frightful accident, and of my treatment of the case, might be interesting to such of the readers of this book as happen to belong to my own profession; but to general readers such details would be simply shocking. How even his tremendous vitality and vigour of constitution brought him through it all is a mystery to me to this day. I am thirty-six years older than I was at that time. Since then I have acted as surgeon to a fighting regiment all through the great rebellion. I have had patients of all sorts of temperaments and constitutions under my charge, but never have I been brought into contact with a case which seemed more hopeless in my eyes. He must surely have had more than one life in him. I have never had my hands on so magnificent a specimen of the human frame as his was; and better still—and this doubtless contributed materially to his recovery—I have never had a case under my management where the patient bore his sufferings with such uniform fortitude and endurance. Suffice it to say that he recovered, and that his face bore no traces of the frightful ordeal through which he had passed. I don't think he was ever quite the same man as before his accident. I think his nervous system received a shock which eventually tended to shorten his life. But he was still known as incomparably the strongest man in Peoria, and continued to perform the work of two men at the moulding-shop on casting days. In every other respect he was apparently the same; not a whit more disposed to be companionable than before his accident. I used frequently to meet him on the street, as he was going to and fro between his boarding-house and the work-shop. He was always alone, and more than once I came to a full stop and enquired after his health, or anything else that seemed to afford a feasible topic for conversation. He was uniformly civil, and even respectful, but confined his remarks to replying to my questions, which, as usual, was done in the fewest words.

During the twelve months succeeding his recovery, so far as I am aware, nothing occurred worthy of being recorded in Gagtooth's annals. About the expiration of that time, however, his landlady, by his authority, at his request, and in his presence, made an announcement to the boarders assembled at the dinner-table which, I should think, must literally have taken away their breaths.

Gagtooth was going to be married!

I don't suppose it would have occasioned greater astonishment if it had been announced as an actual fact that The Illinois river had commenced to flow backwards. It was surprising, incredible, but, like many other surprising and incredible things, it was true. Gagtooth was really and truly about to marry. The object of his choice was his landlady's sister, by name Lucinda Bowlsby. How or when the wooing had been carried on, how the engagement had been led up to, and in what terms the all-important question had been propounded, I am not prepared to say. I need hardly observe that none of the boarders had entertained the faintest suspicion that anything of the kind was impending. The courtship, from first to last, must have been somewhat of a piece with that of the late Mr. Barkis. But alas! Gagtooth did not settle his affections so judiciously, nor did he draw such a prize in the matrimonial lottery as Barkis did. Two women more entirely dissimilar, in every respect, than Peggotty and Lucinda Bowlsby can hardly be imagined. Lucinda was nineteen years of age. She was pretty, and, for a girl of her class and station in life, tolerably well educated. But she was notwithstanding a light, giddy creature—and, I fear, something worse, at that time. At all events, she had a very questionable sort of reputation among the boarders in the house, and was regarded with suspicion by everyone who knew anything about her poor Gagtooth alone excepted.

In due time the wedding took place. It was solemnized at the boarding-house; and the bride and bridegroom disdaining to defer to the common usage, spent their honeymoon in their own house. Gagtooth had rented and furnished a little frame dwelling on the outskirts of the town, on the bank of the river; and thither the couple retired as soon as the hymeneal knot was tied. Next morning the bridegroom made his appearance at his forge and went to work as usual, as though nothing had occurred to disturb the serenity of his life.

Time passed by. Rumours now and then reached my ears to the effect that Mrs. Fink was not behaving herself very well, and that she was leading her husband rather a hard life of it. She had been seen driving out into the country with a young lawyer from Springfield, who occasionally came over to Peoria to attend the sittings of the District Court. She moreover had the reputation of habitually indulging in the contents of the cup that cheers and likewise inebriates. However, in the regular course of things, I was called upon to assist at the first appearance upon life's stage of a little boy, upon whom his parents bestowed the name of Charlie.

The night of Charlie's birth was the first time I had ever been in the house, and if I remember aright it was the first time I had ever set eyes on Mrs. Fink since her marriage. I was not long in making up my mind about her; and I had ample opportunity for forming an opinion as to her character, for she was unable to leave her bed for more than a month, during which time I was in attendance upon her almost daily. I also attended little Charlie through measels, scarlet-rash, whooping-cough, and all his childish ailments; and in fact I was a pretty regular visitor at the house from the time of his birth until his father left the neighbourhood, as I shall presently have to relate. I believe Mrs. Fink to have been not merely a profligate woman, but a thoroughly bad and heartless one in every respect. She was perfectly indifferent to her husband, whom she shamefully neglected, and almost indifferent to her child. She seemed to care for nothing in the world but dress and strong waters; and to procure these there was no depth of degradation to which she would not stoop.

As a result of my constant professional attendance upon his mother during the first month of little Charlie's life, I became better acquainted with his father than anyone in Peoria had ever done. He seemed to know that I saw into and sympathized with his domestic troubles, and my silent sympathy seemed to afford him some consolation. As the months and years passed by, his wife's conduct became worse and worse, and his affections centered themselves entirely upon his child, whom he loved with a passionate affection to which I have never seen a parallel.

And Charlie was a child made to be loved. When he was two years old he was beyond all comparison the dearest and most beautiful little fellow I have ever seen. His fat, plump, chubby little figure, modelled after Cupid's own; his curly flaxen hair; his matchless complexion, fair and clear as the sky on a sunny summer day; and his bright, round, expressive eyes, which imparted intelligence to his every feature, combined to make him the idol of his father, the envy of all the mothers in town, and the admiration of every one who saw him. At noon, when the great foundry-bell rang, which was the signal for the workmen to go to dinner Charlie might regularly be seen, toddling as fast as his stout little legs could spin, along the footpath leading over the common in the direction of the workshops. When about halfway across, he would be certain to meet his father, who, taking the child up in his bare, brawny, smoke-begrimed arms, would carry him home—the contrast between the two strongly suggesting Vulcan and Cupid. At six o'clock in the evening, when the bell announced that work was over for the day, a similar little drama was enacted. It would be difficult to say whether Vulcan or Cupid derived the greater amount of pleasure from these semi-daily incidents. After tea, the two were never separate for a moment. While the mother was perhaps busily engaged in the perusal of some worthless novel, the father would sit with his darling on his knee, listening to his childish prattle, and perhaps so far going out of himself as to tell the child a little story. It seemed to be an understood thing that the mother should take no care or notice of the boy during her husband's presence in the house. Regularly, when the clock on the chimney-piece struck eight, Charlie would jump down from his father's knee and run across the room for his night-dress, returning to his father to have it put on. When this had been done he would kneel down and repeat a simple little prayer, in which One who loved little children like Charlie was invoked to bless father and mother and make him a good boy; after which his father would place him in his little crib, where he soon slept the sleep of happy childhood.

My own house was not far from theirs, and I was so fond of Charlie that it was no uncommon thing for me to drop in upon them for a few minutes, when returning from my office in the evening. Upon one occasion I noticed the child more particularly than usual while he was in the act of saying his prayers. His eyes were closed, his plump little hands were clasped, and his cherubic little face was turned upwards with an expression of infantile trustfulness and adoration which I shall never forget. I have never seen, nor do I ever expect to see, anything else half so beautiful. When he arose from his knees and came up to me to say "Good Night," I kissed his upturned little face with even greater fervour than usual. After he had been put to bed I mentioned the matter to his father, and said something about my regret that the child's expression had not been caught by a sculptor and fixed in stone.

I had little idea of the effect my remarks were destined to produce. A few evenings afterwards he informed me, much to my surprise, that he had determined to act upon the idea which my words had suggested to his mind, and that he had instructed Heber Jackson, the marble-cutter, to go to work at a "stone likeness" of little Charlie, and to finish it up as soon as possible. He did not seem to understand that the proper performance of such a task required anything more than mere mechanical skill, and that an ordinary tomb-stone cutter was scarcely the sort of artist to do justice to it.

However, when the "stone-likeness" was finished and sent home, I confess I was astonished to see how well Jackson had succeeded. He had not, of course, caught the child's exact expression. It is probable, indeed, that he never saw the expression on Charlie's face, which had seemed so beautiful to me, and which had suggested to me the idea of its being "embodied in marble," as the professionals call it. But the image was at all events, according to order, a "likeness." The true lineaments were there and I would have recognised it for a representation of my little friend at the first glance, wherever I might have seen it. In short, it was precisely one of those works of art which have no artistic value whatever for any one who is unacquainted with, or uninterested in, the subject represented; but knowing and loving little Charlie as I did, I confess that I used to contemplate Jackson's piece of workmanship with an admiration and enthusiasm which the contents of Italian gallaries have failed to arouse in me.

Well, the months flew by until some time in the spring of 1855, when the town was electrified by the sudden and totally unexpected failure of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, who up to that time were currently reported to be one of the wealthiest and most thriving firms in the State. Their failure was not only a great misfortune for the workmen, who were thus thrown out of present employment—for the creditors did not carry on the business—but was regarded as a public calamity to the town and neighbourhood, the prosperity whereof had been enhanced in no inconsiderable degree by the carrying on of so extensive an establishment in their midst, and by the enterprise and energy of the proprietors, both of whom were first-rate business men. The failure was in no measure attributed either to dishonesty or want of prudence on the part of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, but simply to the invention of a new patent which rendered valueless the particular agricultural implement which constituted the specialty of the establishment, and of which there was an enormous stock on hand. There was not the shadow of a hope of the firm being able to get upon its legs again. The partners surrendered everything almost to the last dollar, and shortly afterwards left Illinois for California.

Now, this failure, which more or less affected the entire population of Peoria, was especially disastrous to poor Fink. For past years he had been saving money, and as Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer allowed interest at a liberal rate upon all deposits left in their hands by their workmen, all his surplus earnings remained untouched. The consequence was that the accumulations of years were swamped at one fell swoop, and he found himself reduced to poverty. And as though misfortune was not satisfied with visiting him thus heavily, the very day of the failure he was stricken down by typhoid fever: not the typhoid fever known in Canada—which is bad enough—but the terrible putrid typhoid of the west, which is known nowhere else on the face of the globe, and in which the mortality in some years reaches forty per cent.

Of course I was at once called in. I did my best for the patient, which was very little. I tried hard, however, to keep his wife sober, and to compel her to nurse him judiciously. As for little Charlie, I took him home with me to my own house, where he remained until his father was so far convalescent as to prevent all fear of infection. Meanwhile I knew nothing about Gagtooth's money having been deposited in the hands of his employers, and consequently was ignorant of his loss. I did not learn this circumstance for weeks afterwards, and of course had no reason for supposing that his wife was in anywise straitened for money. Once, when her husband had been prostrated for about a fortnight, I saw her with a roll of bank notes in her hand. Little did I suspect how they had been obtained.

Shortly after my patient had begun to sit up in his arm-chair for a little while every day, he begged so hard for little Charlie's presence that, as soon as I was satisfied that all danger of infection was past, I consented to allow the child to return to his own home. In less than a month afterwards the invalid was able to walk out in the garden for a few minutes every day when the weather was favourable, and in these walks Charlie was his constant companion. The affection of the poor fellow for his flaxen-haired darling was manifested in every glance of his eye, and in every tone of his voice. He would kiss the little chap and pat him on the head a hundred times a day. He would tell him stories until he himself was completely exhausted; and although I knew that this tended to retard his complete recovery, I had not the heart to forbid it. I have often since felt thankful that I never made any attempt to do so.

At last the fifteenth of September arrived. On the morning of that day Messrs. Rockwell and Dunbar's Combined Circus and Menagerie made a triumphal entry into Peoria, and was to exhibit on the green, down by the river bank. The performance had been ostentatiously advertised and placarded on every dead wall in town for a month back, and all the children in the place, little Charlie included, were wild on the subject. Signor Martigny was to enter a den containing three full-grown lions, and was to go through the terrific and disgusting ordeal usual on such occasions. Gagtooth, of course, was unable to go; but, being unwilling to deny his child any reasonable pleasure, he had consented to Charlie's going with his mother. I happened to be passing the house on my way homewards to dinner, just as the pair were about to start, and called in to say good-bye to my patient. Never shall I forget the embrace and the kiss which the father bestowed upon the little fellow. I can see them now, after all these years, almost as distinctly as I saw them on that terrible fifteenth of September, 1855. They perfectly clung to each other, and seemed unwilling to part even for the two or three hours during which the performance was to last. I can see the mother too, impatiently waiting in the doorway, and telling Charlie that if he didn't stop that nonsense they would be too late to see Sampson killing the lion. She—Heaven help her!—thought nothing and cared nothing about the pleasure the child was to derive from the entertainment. She was only anxious on her own account; impatient to shew her good looks and her cheap finery to the two thousand and odd people assembled under the huge tent.

At last they started. Gagtooth got up and walked to the door, following them with his eye as far as he could see them down the dusty street. Then he returned and sat down in his chair. Poor fellow! he was destined never to see either of them alive again.

Notwithstanding her fear lest she might not arrive in time for the commencement of the performance, Mrs. Fink and her charge reached the ground at least half an hour before the ticket office was opened; and I regret to say that that half hour was sufficient to enable her to form an acquaintance with one of the property men of the establishment, to whom she contrived to make herself so agreeable that he passed her and Charlie into the tent free of charge. She was not admitted at the front entrance, but from the tiring-room at the back whence the performers enter. She sat down just at the left of this entrance, immediately adjoining the lion's cage. Ere long the performance commenced. Signor Martigny, when his turn came, entered the cage as per announcement; but he was not long in discovering by various signs not to be mistaken that his charges were in no humour to be played with on that day. Even the ring master from his place in the centre of the ring, perceived that old King of the Forest, the largest and most vicious of the lions, was meditating mischief, and called to the Signor to come out of the cage. The Signor, keeping his eye steadily fixed on the brute, began a retrograde movement from the den. He had the door open, and was swiftly backing through, when, with a roar that seemed to shake the very earth, old King sprang upon him from the opposite side of the cage, dashing him to the ground like a ninepin, and rushed through the aperture into the crowd. Quick as lightning the other two followed, and thus three savage lions were loose and unshackled in the midst of upwards of two thousand men, women and children.

I wish to linger over the details as briefly as possible. I am thankful to say that I was not present, and that I am unable to describe the occurrence from personal observation.

Poor little Charlie and his mother, sitting close to the cage, were the very first victims. The child himself, I think, and hope, never knew what hurt him. His skull was fractured by one stroke of the brute's paw. Signor Martigny escaped with his right arm slit into ribbons. Big Joe Pentland, the clown, with one well-directed stroke of a crowbar, smashed Old King of the Forest's jaw into a hundred pieces, but not before it had closed in the left breast of Charlie's mother. She lived for nearly an hour afterwards, but never uttered a syllable. I wonder if she was conscious. I wonder if it was permitted to her to realize what her sin—for sin it must have been, in contemplation, if not in deed—had brought upon herself and her child. Had she paid her way into the circus, and entered in front, instead of coquetting with the property-man, she would have been sitting under a different part of the tent, and neither she nor Charlie would have sustained any injury, for the two younger lions were shot before they had leapt ten paces from the cage door. Old King was easily despatched after Joe Pentland's tremendous blow. Besides Charlie and his mother, two men and one woman were killed on the spot: another woman died next day from the injuries received, and several other persons were more or less severely hurt.

Immediately after dinner I had driven out into the country to pay a professional visit, so that I heard nothing about what had occurred until some hours afterwards. I was informed of it, however, before I reached the town, on my way homeward. To say that I was inexpressibly shocked and grieved would merely be to repeat a very stupid platitude, and to say that I was a human being. I had learned to love poor little Charlie almost as dearly as I loved my own children. And his father—what would be the consequence to him?

I drove direct to his house, which was filled with people—neighbours and others who had called to administer such consolation as the circumstances would admit of. I am not ashamed to confess that the moment my eyes rested upon the bereaved father I burst into tears. He sat with his child's body in his lap, and seemed literally transformed into stone. A breeze came in through the open doorway and stirred his thin iron-gray locks, as he sat there in his arm chair. He was unconscious of everything—even of the presence of strangers. His eyes were fixed and glazed. Not a sound of any kind, not even a moan, passed his lips; and it was only after feeling his pulse that I was able to pronounce with certainty that he was alive. One single gleam of animation overspread his features for an instant when I gently removed the crushed corpse from his knees, and laid it on the bed, but he quickly relapsed into stolidity. I was informed that he had sat thus ever since he had first received the corpse from the arms of Joe Pentland, who had brought it home without changing his clown's dress. Heaven grant that I may never look upon such a sight again as the poor, half-recovered invalid presented during the whole of that night and for several days afterwards.

For the next three days I spent all the time with him I possibly could, for I dreaded either a relapse of the fever or the loss of his reason. The Neighbours were very kind, and took upon themselves the burden of everything connected with the funeral. As for Fink himself, he seemed to take everything for granted, and interfered with nothing. When the time arrived for fastening down the coffin lids, I could not bear to permit that ceremony to be performed without affording him an opportunity of kissing the dead lips of his darling for the last time. I gently led him up to the side of the bed upon which the two coffins were placed. At sight of his little boy's dead face, he fainted, and before he revived I had the lids fastened down. It would have been cruelty to subject him to the ordeal a second time.

The day after the funeral he was sufficiently recovered from the shock to be able to talk. He informed me that he had concluded to leave the neighbourhood, and requested me to draw up a poster, advertising all his furniture and effects for sale by auction. He intended, he said, to sell everything except Charlie's clothes and his own, and these, together with a lock of the child's hair and a few of his toys, were all he intended to take away with him.

"But of course," I remarked, "you don't intend to sell the stone likeness?"

He looked at me rather strangely, and made no reply. I glanced around the room, and, to my surprise, the little statue was nowhere to be seen. It then occurred to me that I had not noticed it since Gagtooth had been taken ill.

"By the by, where is it?" I enquired—"I don't see it."

After a moment's hesitation he told me the whole story. It was then that I learned for the first time that he had lost all his savings through the failure of Messrs. Gowanlock and Van Duzer, and that the morning when he had been taken ill there had been only a dollar in the house. On that morning he had acquainted his wife with his loss, but had strictly enjoined secrecy upon her, as both Gowanlock and Van Duzer had promised him most solemnly that inasmuch as they regarded their indebtedness to him as being upon a different footing from their ordinary liabilities, he should assuredly be paid in full out of the first money at their command. He had implicit reliance upon their word, and requested me to take charge of the money upon its arrival, and to keep it until he instructed me, by post or otherwise, how to dispose of it. To this I, of course, consented. The rest of the story he could only repeat upon the authority of his wife, but I have no reason for disbelieving any portion of it. It seems that a day or two after his illness commenced, and after he had become insensible, his wife had been at her wits' end for money to provide necessaries for the house, and I dare say she spent more for liquor than for necessaries. She declared that she had made up her mind to apply to me for a loan, when a stranger called at the house, attracted, as he said, by the little image, which had been placed in the front window, and was thus visible to passers by. He announced himself as Mr. Silas Pomeroy, merchant, of Myrtle Street, Springfield. He said that the face of the little image strikingly reminded him of the face of a child of his own which had died some time before. He had not supposed that the figure was a likeness of any one, and had stepped in, upon the impulse of the moment, in the hope that he might be able to purchase it. He was willing to pay a liberal price. The negotiation ended in his taking the image away with him, and leaving a hundred dollars in its stead; on which sum Mrs. Fink had kept house ever since. Her husband, of course, knew nothing of this for weeks afterwards. When he began to get better, his wife had acquainted him with the facts. He had found no fault with her, as he had determined to repurchase the image at any cost, so soon as he might be able to earn money enough. As for getting a duplicate, that was out of the question, for Heber Jackson had been carried off by the typhoid epidemic, and Charlie had changed considerably during the fifteen months which had elapsed since the image had been finished. And now poor little Charlie himself was gone, and the great desire of his father's heart was to regain possession of the image. With that view, as soon as the sale should be over he would start for Springfield, tell his story to Pomeroy, and offer him his money back again. As to any further plans, he did not know, he said, what he would do, or where he would go; but he would certainly never live in Peoria again.

In a few days the sale took place, and Gagtooth started for Springfield with about three hundred dollars in his pocket. Springfield is seventy miles from Peoria. He was to return in about ten days, by which time a tombstone was to be ready for Charlie's grave. He had not ordered one for his wife, who was not buried in the same grave with the child, but in one just beside him.

He returned within the ten days. His journey had been a fruitless one. Pomeroy had become insolvent, and had absconded from Springfield a month before. No one knew whither he had gone, but he must have taken the image with him, as it was not among the effects which he had left behind him. His friends knew that he was greatly attached to the image, in consequence of its real or fancied resemblance to his dead child. Nothing more reasonable then than to suppose that he had taken it away with him.

Gagtooth announced to me his determination of starting on an expedition to find Pomeroy, and never giving up the search while his money held out. He had no idea where to look for the fugitive, but rather thought he would try California first. He could hardly expect to receive any remittance from Gowanlock and Van Duzer for some months to come, but he would acquaint me with his address from time to time, and, if anything arrived from them I could forward it to him.

And so, having seen the tombstone set up over little Charlie's grave, he bade me good-bye, and that was the last time I ever saw him, alive.

There is little more to tell. I supposed him to be in the far west, prosecuting his researches, until one night in the early spring of the following year. Charlie and his mother had been interred in a corner of the churchyard adjoining the second Baptist Church, which at that time was on the very outskirts of the town, in a lonely, unfrequented spot, not far from the iron bridge. Late in the evening of the seventh of April, 1856, a woman passing along the road in the cold, dim twilight, saw a bulky object stretched out on Charlie's grave. She called at the nearest house, and stated her belief that a man was lying dead in the churchyard. Upon investigation, her surmise proved to be correct.

And that man was Gagtooth.

Dead; partially no doubt, from cold and exposure; but chiefly, I believe, from a broken heart. Where had he spent the six months which had elapsed since I bade him farewell?

To this question I am unable to reply; but this much was evident: he had dragged himself back just in time to die on the grave of the little boy whom he had loved so dearly, and whose brief existence had probably supplied the one bright spot in his father's life.

I had him buried in the same grave with Charlie; and there, on the banks of the Illinois river, "After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."

I never received any remittance from his former employers, nor did I ever learn anything further of Silas Pomeroy. Indeed, so many years have rolled away since the occurrence of the events above narrated; years pregnant with great events to the American Republic; events, I am proud to say, in which I bore my part: that the wear and tear of life had nearly obliterated all memory of the episode from my mind, until, as detailed in the opening paragraphs of this story, I saw "Gagtooth's Image," from the top of a Thornhill omnibus. That image is now in my possession, and no extremity less urgent than that under which it was sold to Silas Pomeroy, of Myrtle Street, Springfield, will ever induce me to part with it.