Phoebe, on entering the shop, beheld there the already familiar face of

the little devourer--if we can reckon his mighty deeds aright--of Jim

Crow, the elephant, the camel, the dromedaries, and the locomotive.

Having expended his private fortune, on the two preceding days, in the

purchase of the above unheard-of luxuries, the young gentleman's

present errand was on the part of his mother, in quest of three eggs

and half a pound of raisins. These articles Phoebe accordingly

supplied, and, as a mark of gratitude for his previous patronage, and a

slight super-added morsel after breakfast, put likewise into his hand a

whale! The great fish, reversing his experience with the prophet of


Nineveh, immediately began his progress down the same red pathway of

fate whither so varied a caravan had preceded him. This remarkable

urchin, in truth, was the very emblem of old Father Time, both in

respect of his all-devouring appetite for men and things, and because

he, as well as Time, after ingulfing thus much of creation, looked

almost as youthful as if he had been just that moment made.

After partly closing the door, the child turned back, and mumbled

something to Phoebe, which, as the whale was but half disposed of, she

could not perfectly understand.

"What did you say, my little fellow?" asked she.

"Mother wants to know" repeated Ned Higgins more distinctly, "how Old

Maid Pyncheon's brother does? Folks say he has got home."

"My cousin Hepzibah's brother?" exclaimed Phoebe, surprised at this

sudden explanation of the relationship between Hepzibah and her guest.

"Her brother! And where can he have been?"

The little boy only put his thumb to his broad snub-nose, with that

look of shrewdness which a child, spending much of his time in the

street, so soon learns to throw over his features, however

unintelligent in themselves. Then as Phoebe continued to gaze at him,

without answering his mother's message, he took his departure.

As the child went down the steps, a gentleman ascended them, and made

his entrance into the shop. It was the portly, and, had it possessed

the advantage of a little more height, would have been the stately

figure of a man considerably in the decline of life, dressed in a black

suit of some thin stuff, resembling broadcloth as closely as possible.

A gold-headed cane, of rare Oriental wood, added materially to the high

respectability of his aspect, as did also a neckcloth of the utmost

snowy purity, and the conscientious polish of his boots. His dark,

square countenance, with its almost shaggy depth of eyebrows, was

naturally impressive, and would, perhaps, have been rather stern, had

not the gentleman considerately taken upon himself to mitigate the

harsh effect by a look of exceeding good-humor and benevolence. Owing,

however, to a somewhat massive accumulation of animal substance about

the lower region of his face, the look was, perhaps, unctuous rather

than spiritual, and had, so to speak, a kind of fleshly effulgence, not

altogether so satisfactory as he doubtless intended it to be. A

susceptible observer, at any rate, might have regarded it as affording

very little evidence of the general benignity of soul whereof it

purported to be the outward reflection. And if the observer chanced to

be ill-natured, as well as acute and susceptible, he would probably

suspect that the smile on the gentleman's face was a good deal akin to

the shine on his boots, and that each must have cost him and his

boot-black, respectively, a good deal of hard labor to bring out and

preserve them.