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Prent was sick, single, and singular.
It was of no use to do any thing for him ; he was going to die; that is, he was coming to his end. Of what ? Will you have the answer of last month, or last year? It 's quite important to me which. Last week he was dying of consumption ; last month of apoplexy ; last year of cancer; and it was as likely the year before to have been an aneurism as a palsy. But he thought of dying, and had thought of it off and on (generally on) for three years. Three years — till finally he reduced it to a certainty (he feared) and himself to a shadow ; a pretty distinct shadow, it's true.
He looked at his hand one day ; there was a little blue spot on it. Mortifying, no doubt – very. What would become of his penmanship? Off-hand, at least. Four-and-twenty hours relieved him: all right; only a stain. He walked in a perspiration of delight to the open win. dow; but where was his happiness, when two minutes after he put his hand upon his brow and felt cold drops standing there! Oh! where was it? Going in a consumption ; last stage --hasty at that; named in two words, cough and coffin.
Bed, blood-root and a blister.
Prent was a whig and a wag, and both together sometimes steady.
· Not so much my feelings as my friends,' said Prent, feebly; 'nor my pain as my principles, I grieve for. What 'll become of the party ? not that which comes to t-'(tea he was about to say, but growing short of breath got out tut instead, which was just as well,) but that which goes to the polls.' I 'm going, and my friends know it: it's expect.oration with me, but not with them.
No, no,' said his friend Prattle, the lawyer; 'do n't give way to such feelings. Cheer up.' *Cheer up!' said Prent; 'on what ? Spirits of nitre ?.
poor cheer, I take it.' He did ; and as for giving way, there's no help for it nor from it. I tell you, my friend, I'm a gone coon!' He smiled feebly. I've felt like it ever since the last election.' • Stuff!' said Pratie, stuff!'
• Which ?' asked Prent; ‘my medicine or my meals? I have n't eaten any thing so large as a cracker since yesterday. I'm an unsound liver, though not bilious.'
. Well,' said Prattle, “if you really think so, I'll send for the doctor; and,' suggested he, perhaps I'd better make out your will.'
• The best thing you can do; and give me my testament,' said Prent.
• Wo’n't you just sign this petition ?' said Prattle; it dates a week back, and you can sign it at the head.'
“A weak back,' said Prent; .contains a complaint does it ? Well, yes; I'll sign the petition and say my prayers. But, look here; do n't send for the doctor; it's no use.
• Yes,' said Prattle, imploringly.
No,' said Prent, decidedly, and coughed. Coughing loudly, for a sick man, he frightened Prattle into making out his will immediately, for there was some danger of its shaking his intention.
The will was drawn up in due form, and without ceremony.
As Prattle sat by the bed, he thought during the intervals between Prent's remarks; and when Prent said, • I feel easier now,' he thought so do I.' . In my mind,' said Prent.
In my pocket,' thought Prattle.
After half an hour Mr. Prattle went away, and after him went a week from that date.
Not so Prent; he got better. He got so he could ‘sit up and take things' — so that he could stand. It leaves me with a rheumatism,' said Prent; I wish it had left me alone.' • Ah! continued he, 'I'm only twenty-five, but I've a presentiment that I shan't live long. I'm a single man, too; nothing to mar my happiness. Why should I die? I have n't done any thing very bad, save that last painting. Well,' thought Prent, if I've got to die, I'll get married and have something to die for; I will.'
And he would have done it directly, only that the rheumatism attacked him just then ; but at the first opportunity, that is, as soon as he could, he took the preliminary steps. He took the steps to a three-story house.
• Mr. Prent ?' said the waiter.
Miss Bachelor was a young lady of about thirty, with a very fresh countenance and a very red nose exceedingly red; she bore the ap. pearance of one having the influenza all her life, and never using any thing for it but her pocket-handkerchief.
Miss Bachelor was • Pretty well as common, thankee,' and · Miss Latelle,' said Prent to a very pretty niece of Miss Bachelor's, · How are you?'
• Very well,' she warbled.
Prent was the only gentleman present. He sat himself down, and in five minutes thereafter was 'in town,' as the saying goes.
He felt happy and he looked happy. He thought perhaps he would have some difficulty in getting Miss Latelle, but even that produced a pleasurable excitement. The reasons for his belief were good, too. He was not handsome, and Miss Latelle had refused three already. But she was the first girl of his acquaintance, and he determined to commence at A No. 1,' and try down to etc.,' with no number.
To his surprise he advanced rapidly; from the weather to love in a
single leap; to matrimony in one more. • How well I feel !' thought Prent.
He was about proposing, when Miss Bachelor said, in a voice to which a coffee-mill would have been music : *I declare, I feel quite chilly! There was no doubting her veracity, but it was, Prent thought, awkward to say so at that moment. Supposing she was ? it was n't his fault. He wished her in the south of France, or the kitchen-stove, rather than there.
"It is rather chilly,' said Prent.
Miss Bachelor was troubled with teeth. Prent knew it. "I'm told,' said he, 'that a slight chill in the air is worse than really cold weather, for the teeth. Have vou heard it ?'
• Dear me! No,' said Miss B. -. 'I must n't stay here, then.'
She ascended the stairs with rapidity, and they heard no more of her for the evening.
Mr. Prent wasted no time, but proposed without delay. Miss Latelle accepted — all comfortably. Now it puzzled Prent to know how to act. It struck him rather forcibly that he ought to say something sen. timental. But what ? He was new to the business and felt awkwardly. He had heard that 'actions speak louder than words,' and he acted. Acted admirably: on the supposition that she must be love-sick, he kissed her, and repeated the dose at intervals; but it had no visible effect; and after the very last, she said : Oh!'
Ten o'clock Prent was almost ready to leave. Half-past — the same. Eleven, ditto ; half-past one more kiss. Well then-Oh! Twelve. A desperate effort, and two kisses. 'Oh! oh!' gone.
• My dear fellow,' said Prattle, · You do n't mean to say you are to be married ?
• Of course I do,' said Prent.
• Married, eh ?? Had n't Prattle eaten suppers with him, all for his pleasure, regularly, and as regularly told him, the next day, it was un. healthy, but humored him by helping him to eat another every evening; drank with him, smoked with him, and performed various like disinter. ested services ? He had. Well then, there could be no doubt of his friendship, and he told Mr. Prent it was a foolish idea. * And your object is to have some one to bother
live ?' said Prattle, 'or grieve when you ’re dead ?' Something to die for ?'
It is,' said Prent.
• If you believed you were destined to live twenty years, do n't you think you would be better off single?'
• I think I should,' said Prent. He answered this, as Prattle asked it, in view of late hours and champagne suppers.
Hum!' said Prattle, and straightway went to a doctor friend of his. • It lies in the stomach ; it's disordered,' said Prattle: “take this note and say I sent you. He's rich and his name 's Bill; foot it.' . It's of no use, doctor,' said Prent; “it's destined.'
What are the symptoms ?? asked Physic. • Various,' answered Prent. • Instance,' said Physic.
• Rheumatism; palpitation ; cold sweat; pain in the chest, etc., etc., said Prent.
· Let me try to remove them,' said Physic;' its 's eating that does it.' "No,' said Prent; •I've experimented on that.' • Drinking, perhaps ?' suggested Physic.
• I thought it might be,' said Prent,' and left off beer and drank nothing but brandy-and-water. No use; tried it for a week. Took to beer again, and dropped alcoholics. It would n't do. No, no; the fact is, it's constitutional. I wish it was n't. I'd have it before the judge in less than a week.'
• Do you think you have a standing complaint ? asked Physic.
I've no objection to trying any thing,' said Prent. * Well, one blue pill every night for a week; seidlitz-powder in the morning; diet, crackers and cold water.' • Stop! stop! doctor; I could n't live so.' Only for a month,' said Physic.'
Say one potatoe and half a glass of wine at dinner.' • You ’d better not,' said Physic; but you may alternate days, commencing to-morrow.'
• I'd rather commence every day,' said Prent. · Won't do !' said Physic.
It is strange, but Prent stood it like a man' for a month. much stranger, to him, that at the end of that time his arms, hands, legs, feet, all seemed to be sound. He breathed more freely, and did n't wake up o' nights and hear strange sounds, and his fingers were less inclined to travel 'round every article he endeavored to handle.
• What was the matter with me?' asked Prent of the doctor. • You injured the coat of your stomach,' said Physic; • And it could n't make a shift to use it's shirt-sleeves ?' muttered Prent. You 're not well yet, said Physic. • But the month's up,' said Prent.
So it is,' said Physic; but live moderately, or you 'll bring it on again ; and by-and-by there will be no curing you. Air, exercise, and temperance, or hypochondria; those are the tickets.'
And the last shan't receive my sufferage,' said Prent.
That night he drank a glass or two on the strength of it; then one or two more, temperately.
I'm sorry,' said Prent, ' that I'll have to marry' — hiccup. • You can break it,' said Prattle. Supposing she sues for breach,' said Prent.
• Supposing she does ?' said Prattle ; better try the breeches before marriage than after. She can't prove it.'
• Well, I'll