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Punchinello, Volume 2, No. 39, December 24, 1870.

by Various

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The next morning, as ANN was eating breakfast, who should drive up in a covered wagon but the Hon. MICHAEL.

"Just as I expected," said she. "They've found out where I am, and they'll come out here and try to pump me about it. But I don't envy 'em their job. Come in," she added, in answer to the Hon. MICHAEL'S somewhat timid knock.

"How'd'do, ANN," said he. "Sister-in-law said you was here, and I thought I'd come over and see you. Besides," he continued, in evident embarrassment, "there's one or two things I thought you'd like to know."

"Well?" said she, as he paused. "Out with it, old fellow. Don't be bashful."

"Oh! I ain't," he replied, rubbing his knees nervously. "Well, in the fust place, the old lady is awfully down on you, says you've disgraced the family, and she disowns you, and all that sort of humbug, but I shet her up by telling her that whatever she said agin you, she said agin me." He looked at ANN admiringly, and, taking from his pocket a large package of red and white candy, handed it to her. Then he turned very red in the face, looked hard at the ceiling, and repeated Mrs. LADLE'S message all over again.

"First thing, told," said he.

It was plain to ANN that he had really come with the intention of making love to her, but was anxious to find how the land lay first. But she didn't give him any encouragement. Under existing circumstances, she didn't think 'twould be right.

"Well," said she, "anything else?"

"Oh yes, I believe so,—ah—BELINDA sends love, and is jest about crazy to see you, and hear all about it. Shouldn't wonder a bit if she was over here afore the day's over."

He moved his chair nearer hers, glanced at her furtively, and sighed deeply.

"Second thing, told," said he.

"Well, I'm much obliged to you. Items of gossip are victuals and drink to our sex, you know. Don't be in a hurry," she continued, seeing that he showed no signs of going. "Looking for your hat? Yes, here it is. Let me put it on for you," she added in her gentle, winning way. "Good-by. To think," she added, looking after him, "that the old pill should get spoony on me!"

Sure enough, in the afternoon up drove BELINDA.

"Awful glad to see you, ANN dear," said she, kissing her. "I'm dying to know all about it. As soon as I found out where you were, I rushed out and hitched up the old mare myself. But I knew she'd never go so far from home without an object in view to urge her. So I fastened a bag of oats in front of her head. Didn't she just streak it? The idea of her chasing them oats five miles before she caught 'em! She's out there now eating 'em, propped up by a couple of fence-rails. But tell me, quick, are you really married, as you said you'd be in that letter you left on my wash-stand?"

"Yes, I am," replied ANN.

"Where's your husband? Who is he? Do tell me all about it. Does he look like anybody I know?"

"Well, I should say he did." answered ANN, grinning. "You see it's a sort of a joke, BELINDA....