BROWN’S Retreat flashed upon them all of a sudden.
The neighborhood had gone to sleep, one night, guileless and innocent, — that is, theoretically guileless and innocent, — and had awakened in the morning to the consciousness that Brown’s Retreat was in its midst.
There was considerable mystery and confusion attending the want of knowledge whether Brown’s Retreat meant that Brown had retreated, or if it was a general invitation into the “ retreat,” or if Brown was a practical joker and Brown’s Retreat merely a gentle stimulant to that weakness.
Edgerly was such a prosperous town that it was no misnomer to call it a city. It had a fine harbor and a fine East India trade, and it had a charming collection of water-side characters. It had a fine state-prison that was kept on the most desirable plan. Five hundred gentlemen were lodged there who had differences with their country’s laws. Once in a while, curiously enough, one of these gentlemen would escape. There were other fine institutions in Edgerly, of which it is, however, unnecessary to speak.
Edgerly itself was built on some three or four hills, so that the narrow, zigzag streets were not only narrow and zigzag, but they had quite an abrupt slope ; and some of them, had they been built as surveyors intend, would have led you, running at a smart pace, down into the very depths of the dubious-looking black water at the foot of the hill, where, at the weather-beaten wharves, with their perfume of bilge-water, some rusty-looking schooner would be lying at anchor, displaying on its bare spars a varied collection of trousers and under-garments hung out to dry, besides affording a glimpse of a decidedly untidy nautical character mopping the unsavory deck.
To be sure, this represents Edgerly’s least respectable side, but, to tell the truth, we have nothing to do with its more aristocratic aspect.
It was nearly at the foot of Edgerly’s down-hill street that Brown’s Retreat flashed out. At a rough guess it was six feet by ten, and occupied one half of the ground floor of No. 7, a wooden house with depressed-looking windows, at each of which appeared a vision of somebody’s baby and some baby’s mother, all looking very frouzy and much in want of soap and water and fresh air.
Brown’s Retreat was, then, about six feet by ten, and left lookers-on no doubt of its character, as it boldly proclaimed itself “ Brown’s Retreat ” on a deal-board, painted in lamp-black by one whose right hand had lost its cunning, for the letters resembled Edgerly streets, being narrow and zigzag in the extreme. Nevertheless, they stared into the world over the small, dingy show-window, which revealed as a solid foundation, two quarts of dismal-looking apples, surmounted by several rows of sticky pop-corn balls, a collection of combs and seed-cakes, a few paper dolls, a sprinkling of dead flies, clay-pipes, and shoestrings.
Sometimes a child’s face would peer out eagerly from among these treasures ; a child’s face, yet strangely unchild-like, with shrewd gray eyes watching stealthily, — a poor little body shivering in a doubtful calico dress, with an attempt at finery in a string with three glass heads about her wretched little neck, and a horse-hair ring on an emaciated forefinger.
The child was small, the shop was small, and the counter was very small.
The selection of wares was modest, and the greater part graced the window.
When the sign, “ Brown’s Retreat,” appeared over the window the neighborhood stared. Whether the invisible Brown grinned is unknown ; but true it is that the mysterious child continued to keep the little shop with much solemnity. Once in a while, when the shop was empty, — which, Heaven knows, was most of the time, for neither money nor trade was very brisk in that part of Edgerly town, — a cautious voice would whisper hoarsely, “ Is the coast clear, Popsy ? ”
The mysterious child would reconnoitre stealthily, and then with much difficulty would whisper through the keyhole of a small door in the back of the shop, half lost in the gloom of the place, “ Yes, Nunc! ” Then a man’s head would peer out cautiously from the slightly opened door, — a man’s head, with tumbled, brown hair, an unshaven face, and undecided blue eyes, that had, however, little redeeming wrinkles at the corners, as if the man could laugh at a joke.
If Popsy whispered warningly, “ Shoo, — shoo, Nunc ! ” there would come back a muffled “ All right, Popsy ! ” By which you will see that not only was there a Brown’s Retreat, but there was even a retreat to that, like a Chinese puzzle of a ball within a ball.
It was on a late November day that Brown’s Retreat appeared before an astonished world; a raw day, when the inky waves with a greasy scum, down in the harbor, had foamy white caps tossing upon them, and plebeian Edgerly went about with a red nose and its hands in its pockets, and some of the ladies had their dress skirts over their heads.
Popsy, having flashed out along with the Retreat, was much stared at and questioned; but the only information gleaned was that Popsy had a sick uncle in the back room, who was n’t to be disturbed. He had bought out the previous occupant, she further volunteered, who had failed ingloriously, with five dollars debts and assets nil.
“ Uncle says, too, we must n’t trust,” Popsy added, parenthetically. As she spoke a low chuckle was heard through the key-hole of the back room, as if some one could n’t help laughing, for the life of him.
“ Merciful powers, what’s that ? ” asked the visitor.
“ It’s only uncle a-choking,” said Popsy, with much presence of mind.
A man may be a rascal, and yet possess a fine sense of humor. That was the matter with Popsy’s uncle. Not that he was such an awful rascal, if you judge by any other standard than this world’s. His name was Brown, and before he became ripe for the penitentiary he had been quite a decent member of society, who even went to church once in a while. That was his misfortune. Had he not gone to church he might still have been quite a decent member of society instead of what he was.
One Sunday morning he wandered into a meeting-house, and heard the preacher grow eloquent on forgiving the sins of our fellow-men; how that he, the preacher, loved mankind, and there was nothing his erring brethren could do to him which would turn him against them. Brown had gone into the sacred edifice more for warmth than from piety, for it was a bitter, biting winter day, and his lucky star was, just then, very dim. Being there he listened, and listening believed the eloquent words. Confidingly, and with a certain sense of humor, too, he took the reverend gentleman at his word: that night the parsonage was entered and a large number of valuables were stolen. Brown was not caught in the act, exactly, but a silver cream jug was found in his left coat-tail pocket for which he could not account; especially, as it had a strange monogram engraved on one fat side. To his surprise and disappointment the minister appeared against him; a jury without a bit of humor found him guilty, and a prosaic judge sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment.
Brown did not belong to that class novelists delight in describing, the noble convict. He was human, — that is all I have to say for him ; human, with a fine ignorance of mine and thine; but beyond that, he would do no injury to man or child, except, perhaps, in selfdefense, when we are all either cowards or wild beasts.
That late November night when he escaped, one thought had been uppermost in his distracted mind, — to secrete himself on some outward-bound vessel in Edgerly harbor, and be carried to parts unknown; very fine in theory, very hard in practice, though Brown had his friends, and you know that truthful adage, “ honor among thieves.”
That eventful night, when, after deathly danger, he stood trembling and shuddering once more under the skies, a free man, unimaginative creature that he was he felt his own unspeakable wretchedness. With the instinct of a hunted beast more than the consciousness of a man with a deadly fear at heart, that made him repent of his rash folly too late, he turned his back on the open country, that would have meant safety to many a man, and groped his way through miserable alleys and no-thoroughfares, shrinking at every sound and starting at every shadow, to Edgerly’s marketplace.
The sky was black, the rain fell in torrents; and a piercing wind swept the great drops hither and thither.
“ Dog’s weather ! ” muttered a policeman, and pulled his coat collar about his ears, and was for a moment not quite as watchful as he should be. “ Good convict’s weather,” Brown may have thought, if the power of thinking was still left to him in the midst of cold and terror, as he crouched in an angle of the great market that stretched its granite length in dim perspective, lighted at distant intervals by flickering gas-lamps, about which the rays, falling on mist and rain, formed a dismal yellow halo. Deserted all, deserted.
Edgerly market lay quite near the wharves ; not very respectable, to be sure, but Brown was satisfied, and Brown and respectability had long since ceased to know each other. Quite unhindered he continued his vagrant, groping way, till, being about to turn a corner, a corner with a traitorous street-lamp, he ran face to face against another man.
“ Damn you ! ” muttered the newcomer. Then instantly catching sight of the cowering face, he grasped the wretched man’s arm with the power of a vice. “ You, Brown,” —
“You, Jack,” — and Brown tried to free himself desperately, and raised one clenched fist.
“ None o’ that, Brown; we ’re friends! ” cried Jack. “ Ned Brown, you here ? Are n’t you — why — you must have — you must have ” —
“ Cut ? Yes,” Brown interposed. “I’m off, Jack. They’ll be after me now, sure ! ” he cried, and peered anxiously about.
“ From the . . . ? ” Jack asked, turning his thumb in the direction of Edgerly’s prison. Brown nodded, and was about to hurry on, when the other stopped him. “ Yours is hard luck, old boy. Here, take this ; it ’ll help you ou. I ’ll do som’mat more for you if I can, — for old time sake, ye know.” Thrusting some money into the man’s hand, this good Samaritan, in the guise of a common sailor, vanished.
With a ray of comfort in his heart Brown clutched the money to his breast, and at last found himself in that narrow, zigzag street which led to the black water at the foot of the wharf, a street not very dainty in its inhabitants, and very willing to give anything it possessed for miserable money. It was the most undesirable of all the streets in a great city, — a street with tumble-down, wooden houses and odd nooks ; with narrow lanes and alleys creeping out, and, here and there, dark quadrangles below the level of the street, with rickety wooden steps leading down to them, and dimly lighted by an oil lamp swinging from a wooden arch overhead and throwing a wretched glimmer on unspeakable poverty and crime. Down this street the culprit crept. He had just reached such a quadrangle, and had shrunk back from the dreary darkness and the dreary light, when he heard a bitter sobbing, and the next instant he felt something pull at his trousers. With a shudder and an oath he looked down.
“ Let go, you brat ! ” he muttered, as he caught sight of the shivering form of a child crouching on the top of the miserable flight of steps. The child ceased sobbing and shrank back at the sudden violence of face and tone, while the unhappy man disappeared into the darkness. There is a touch of superstition, a fear of a higher power, be it what it will, in the most unimaginative and irreligious of us, — a feeling that, somehow, as we do, so shall we be done by. Fleeing, as he was, from every known peril, Brown was yet stopped in his headlong course by an unexplained feeling that a certain guiding power — Brown would call it “ luck,” in an unvarnished statement— might, in retribution, forsake him as he had passed by the child. So he retraced his steps to where she had fallen ou her face and was weeping most bitterly. “ What’s the matter, young ’un ? ” he asked roughly.
“ They 've turned me out o’ doors, for father’s gone, I don’t kuow where, and mother — mother’s dead, — and oh, I’m so cold and hungry, and I’m so afraid ! ” she cried, looking about fearfully.
“ Well, what “s to be done with you, young ’un ? ” Brown demanded, not unkindly.
The child stopped sobbing, and looking up to him with an imploring face said, with innocent confidence, “ P’raps you ’ll take me with you.”
It did not enter Brown’s head to disbelieve her story.
“ Take you with me,” he repeated, with a grim smile, for he saw the ghastly humor of the thing, — “ take you with me ? Why, I have n’t got a bunk for myself to-night.”
The child had been bred in that state of society where hunted-down Brown was but an every-day object to her. He seemed a stranger in Edgerly, and what wonder, therefore, that he was without a lodging ?
“ I know of a boarding-house where they ’ll take you in,” she said eagerly ; “ that is, if you can pay,” she added, with some misgivings. Brown nodded. “ It’s right here in the street, — near the wharf ; and — and — p’raps you ’ll tell ’em to take me in, too, and—and p’raps you ’ll give me a bit of bread.”
“ Go ahead,” said Brown, and he followed his ragged guide. He was reckless, this breaker of laws, and as a gambler stakes his all on one throw of the dice, so he staked life and liberty on this small vagrant, with a feeling of superstition that his “ luck ” could not forsake him ; for had he not befriended one nearly as wretched as himself ?
The child led the way to a tumbledown wooden house with depressed windows. The landlady, a middle-aged virago, was just having a dispute with a slightly intoxicated lodger, which she postponed for an instant to attend to business. The delicate matter of references not being alluded to, the stranger, in consideration of a certain modest sum, was allowed to take possession of a dingy room back of a six-by-ten-feet shop, followed by his small guide with a tallow candle.
“ Two doors and a low window,” said Brown, peering curiously about in the miserable room. “One door leads into the shop, the other into the entry, and the window,” he said, throwing it open as noiselessly as possible, and putting his head out, “ into an alley — so ! ” he exclaimed, and shut it again. Then he seated himself on the tall, uninviting bed, and, dangling his legs backwards and forwards, stared into the pinched, haggard face of the child, who stood watching him very patiently. “ And what may your name be, young 'un ? ” he asked abruptly.
“ Popsy,” she said briefly, returning his .stare.
“ You ’re pretty well alone in the world ? ”
“ Yes,” she whispered.
“So am I,” he said thoughtfully,— “ so am I. We might,” he added, as if thinking aloud, — “ we might hang on to each other, for the present at least, might n’t we ? ”
“ I bet we might! ” Popsy answered energetically, with a world of gratitude in her old young eyes.
“ Well, then, call me uncle ; Nunc, you might say, for short. Now, Popsy ? ”
“ Fetch a pint of milk and a loaf of bread.”
Popsy disappeared, and Brown lay back on the bed and laughed. The idea of his playing the part of protector was too funny ; it struck him so forcibly that he forgot his own precarious position in amusement at the comic side of the transaction.
Such was the advent of Brown, who rented the six-by-ten-feet shop, and, hiding day-times, prowled about at night in search of means to escape from Edgerly town and the Edgerly laws he had broken. Yet the man could not be the man he was without having his little joke. In his leisure moments, so very plentiful, he traced the words “ Brown’s Retreat ” on a pine board, and, trusting to the name of Brown as a disguise, nailed it over the shop window one night, where it surprised Edgerly the next morning, to the intense delight of its owner, who nearly choked with suppressed laughter when an unsuspecting policeman, in passing, read the sign and grinned.
That policeman had a nice sense of humor, but it was as nothing compared to Brown’s.
But Justice did not sleep because guileless policemen passed by Brown’s Retreat unsuspectingly. No; she was only slightly confused ; perhaps rubbing her bandaged eyes, and resting the end of her classic nose on the hilt of her conventional sword. But she was not asleep. She had put her hand into her respectable pocket and offered two hundred and fifty dollars reward for the apprehension of the fugitive Brown, which stimulated quite a number of loafers to find him out.
November had turned into the bitterest, coldest December. Approaching Christmas hardly disturbed this part of Edgerly by any undue gladness ; though Brown’s Retreat made a sacrifice to the season in the shape of a few twigs of holly and an evergreen-tree.
Popsy had developed fine shop-keeping talents, with a shrewd eye open for cash customers. This calculating eye, in looking over the street one December morning, lighted on a stranger in an attire several degrees better than that usually worn by the gentlemen about. It was a cross between a naval and a police uniform, and there was something military in the slouched hat that was carelessly cocked over a wide-awake eye ; there was, too, something military in the dyed mustache.
This personage, with his hands in his trousers pockets, stared at the sign of Brown’s Retreat, and said “ Hallo ! ” with a dim sense of amusement. Then lie looked in at the door, and said K Hallo ? ” interrogatively. Without waiting for an answer, he leaned his elbow gracefully on the counter, and remarked to Popsy, —
“ Of course you ’re not Brown ; who may Brown be ? ” to which the child listened in silent alarm. “ Brown’s a man who likes a joke,” the stranger continued, surveying the dismal place with much scorn; “ for of course nobody ’d call this a retreat except as a joke. . . . What did you say?” he abruptly asked Popsy, who stood by in open-mouthed consternation.
“If you please,” she said, with a little courtesy,— “ if you please, sir, Brown’s my sick uncle, and mustn’t be disturbed.”
“ Oh, really, must n’t he ? ” said this remarkable individual, calmly making for the little door.
“ No, you shan’t! ” cried Popsy, and thrust her slight figure between the stranger and the back room.
“ Why, you ferocious little savage! what harm would it do him ? ” he cried, retreating, nevertheless, while he stroked his dyed mustache nonchalantly, and laughed a weak laugh, which would have been still weaker could he have seen through the deal door, where Brown sat on the bed with a loaded revolver in his hand, ready with an unexpected welcome.
“ He’s sick, and you mustn’t go in,” Popsy said hastily, fearing, child as she was, that she had made a blunder, even in her quick defense of him ; for she knew his story, and that he was waiting for a favorable moment to escape on one of the schooners down at the wharf, — a transaction by no means strange to Popsy.
The mysterious stranger, as if in his turn to allay her suspicion, or her alarm, looked over the wares on the counter, and at last purchased a clay pipe, and then sauntered carelessly out of the shop, followed by the child’s eager gaze and by a couple of cautious eyes that looked stealthily out of the inner door after the retreating figure, and made such a mental note of it that that inquisitive person would not have been safe from Brown beneath any disguise. “ The devil’s in that sneaking cuss ! ” he muttered, as he drew his head in again. “ Popsy! ”
“ What’s it, Nunc ? ” the child asked, putting her shrewd face in at the door.
“ If that chap comes loafing round here again, you do this ; do you understand ? Now do it! ” So Popsy coughed obediently, as Brown directed“ It’s getting as hot as h—ll round here. I ’ll have to cut, or they ’ll pin me again,” he muttered.
“ Nunc,” said Popsy, still lingering, “ there was another man here this morning what asked to see you; and I said you wos sick, and he said he wos a doctor. I said you would n’t see no doctor ; then he said he wos a friend o’ yourn, and he’d come round again.”
There was a look of veiled fear in the man’s eyes, and he clenched his brawny hands, and felt as if the game he was playing was coming to a delicate point.
The zigzag street was indeed becoming unsafe quarters ; the neighborhood was accustomed to harbor suspicious characters, and, after a first nod of surprise, forgot all about them. But the mysterious Brown, who was never seen, who rented a shop where there was little to sell, became the subject of conversation. The police was after him, too ; but it was not the police that looked in at the store and bought clay pipes; nor did the police say it was the doctor and his friend. The police was scouring the country far and wide in search of the criminal, but it had not occurred to that able body to examine the region under its very nose; that duty was being performed by self-constituted spies, who had recourse to the police only at the last moment, fearing it might claim the reward. The culprit, knowing the tricks of the trade, instantly recognized his visitors’ errand, and muttered a curse upon them. The man was not so delicate in his sentiments — not being a noble convict — as to doubt the honor or purity of their profession ; he merely questioned their right to be stepping into the shoes of those whose duty it was to arrest him in the way of business.
“ Curse them for sneaking dogs ! Why can’t they leave a fellow alone! ” he thought, with a despair at heart that nearly made him give in, beaten.
Nevertheless, that night he once more groped his way stealthily out of the house, through a back door that led into an alley-way, darker for a cloudy night and dirtier than usual for a spell of thawing. Into this dirt and darkness Brown disappeared.
The neighborhood about Brown’s Retreat, if not very honest or respectable, had a touching confidence in other people’s honesty and respectability; for it always slept with its doors wide open in summer and on the latch in winter, the delicate formality of a bell or knocker being quite unknown. At midnight, or a little later, the faint light of a tallow candle lit a corner of Brown’s Retreat and awoke Popsy from her slumbers on a miscellaneous heap of old clothes and a patchwork quilt to the fact that an unknown man was bending over her. A sailor he seemed; a strong looking man, with a face smoothly shaven but for a short, cleanly cut mustache.
Being only a child, Popsy was for a moment filled with unspeakable terror at the sudden awakening, the light, and the strange man. Then there flashed into her mind, young as she was, the danger of the man who had befriended her, and whose object was, she knew, to remain undiscovered.
Without moving her eyes from the stranger’s face, she slipped on to her feet, and stood at the door of Brown’s room, as if to defend it. Not a word she said, but stood there shivering and trembling, with one small, faithful hand on the door-knob and a pleading look in her faithful eyes that made his own dim; that made him turn away for an instant, and then ask in a husky voice, “ Don’t you know me, Popsy ? ” Popsy started at the tones. “ Well, this beats all! Don’t you know your Nunc ? ” cried the man. “ I swear, youngster, either you ’re asleep or I’m another man. What, don’t you know me, Popsy ? ” he asked, and held out his arms to her.
“ Yes, you are Nunc! ” the child cried, throwing her arms about his neck. Then, after a little thoughtful pause, she added, “ And yet you are not.”
The man was, indeed, well disguised. Since Popsy had known him his face had become rough and dark by a beard and mustache of some weeks’ growth. Soap and water and a comb, prosaic as it sounds, had helped the transformation. The trim sailor’s dress, rough as it was, formed such a contrast to the wretched clothes he had picked up piecemeal.
With better clothes something of that disgraced, hunted-down look in his eyes had disappeared; so that as far as his outer man was concerned Brown might again have been classed as a respectable member of society.
“ And yet you are not Nunc,” the child repeated, not quite comprehending his disguise.
Brown said nothing, but lifting her in his arms carried her into the back room and closed the door. Placing the candle on the rough table, he seated himself and took the child on his knee.
“ Look here, Popsy,” he began, with some embarrassment, “ you know I’m hiding from the — from the” —
“ Perlice,” Popsy interposed wisely.
“ Well, yes, to be sure. And the fact is, to make a long story short, those two chaps who’ve been a-prowling round here are making the place too hot for me; and, Popsy,” he said, with a certain tenderness in his voice you would hardly have expected from so rough a man. — “ Popsy, I’ve got to leave you, though I said I would n’t; and it does seem hard and mean, now, does n’t it, young ’un ? ”
“ Oh, Nune, Nune! ” the child sobbed.
“ There, there! ” Brown said, rocking her to and fro like a sick baby. “Kow, listen to what I’ve done. You don’t know Jack? Still, how should you?” he muttered to himself. “Ay, Jack’s a good one and has stood by me like a rock, darn him! ” Brown said affectionately. “ Kow, Jack’s got me a berth with himself on the Mary Ann, bound for the East Indies. The skipper’s glad of a steady hand, and asks no questions at this time o’ year. There ’ll come a woman for you to-morrow, Popsy, who’ll take ye along with her. She’s Jack’s sister, and,” speaking almost in a whisper, “once she was to have been my wife, — my wife. But I went to the dogs — God forgive me!—and she’s only Jack’s sister now. Be mindful of her, Popsy; be true and good like her, and some day you ’ll grow up to be a good woman, just as she is, — Heaven bless her ! ” Brown cried, and buried his face in his hands for a moment.
“ I will, I will, Nunc! ” the child answered piteously. “ But when are you coming back ? ”
“Never,” said Brown, accustomed to staring hard facts in the face, — “ never. But when you’re a woman grown, — a good woman, mind, like her, Popsy, — perhaps then you ’ll come out to me — But what’s the matter, young ’un ?” as Popsy, slipping from his knee, with head bent forward listened intently.
“Nune, don’t you hear something ? ” she whispered, terror-stricken.
Instantly Brown was deadly still, listening with that keen suspense which only a man feels whose liberty and life are at the mercy of a sound.
There was the noise as of a delicate tampering with the metal about a knob or a lock, — a noise which would have been unheard in the day-time, but which a dead midnight barely caught and reechoed into those straining, foreboding ears.
There was only time to act. With the quickness of a man to whom self-possession in danger has become a second nature, he sprang to the low window, tore it open, and without another word or look leaped out into the midnight darkness, and ran, ran for dear life, with the horror at heart of perhaps running into the very hands of his pursuers.
The child, with quick instinct, shut the betraying window, and then, with the hot tears welling up into her eyes, shrank back into a dim corner, and waited till the low door opened, and by the flash of a lantern and the flaring light of the candle she saw three men enter, one of whom carried a revolver in his hand. This last man was a policeman, and he stepped in with a certain business-like air which was in fine contrast to the lagging steps of the men behind him, in whom the child instantly recognized the nautical loafer of the morning and the individual who said he was a doctor and a friend.
“ Where’s Brown ? Where’s the man ? ” the policeman asked, peering about, with his lantern in one hand and the revolver in the other.
“ This is Brown’s Retreat with a vengeance, said the nautical gentleman, while the friendly individual used some strong language about meddling fools, with a glance at the former.
Without a knowledge of what would happen, with the glitter of the ugly looking pistol in her eyes, but with a world of gratitude in her heart, poor Popsy crept out of her corner, and said humbly and pleadingly, “ If you please, sir, I ’m Brown ! ”
Of course they tried to ferret him out, but the humorous rogue did actually escape on the Mary Ann, bound for the East Indies, with the briskest kind of a breeze to push her along.
I had a feeling of sympathy with Brown all the time, for he had a vein of humor in him ; and a vein of humor is an excellent point in a man, even if two hundred and fifty dollars are offered as a reward for his capture as a common thief.
He was, to be sure, a bit foolhardy in his appreciation of a joke, for in his leisure he nailed up another deal-board with “ Brown’s Retreat ” upon it at the head of his bunk, to the curiosity of the other seamen. Only one understood the delicate innuendo, and that was the good Samaritan, Jack.
As his country’s prisons were never again honored by his presence, as nothing was heard of his death, as mysterious presents are continually reaching Popsy, who has grown to be a true and noble-hearted girl just as Jack’s sister was before her, it is pleasant to think that the wretched criminal found some spot on earth where he prospered; where he could have his little joke with out being locked up ; where preachers say what they mean and human nature is to be trusted.
The name of Brown is not uncommon. Should you know a middle-aged man of that name, with a misty past and a taste for a joke, you might ask him if he ever heard of Brown’s Retreat.