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THE SPILLING OF THE CUP

Mr Bloke's Item
The Diamond Lens
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A Ghost[1]
A Terribly Strange Bed
Chan Tow The Highrob
May Day Eve
Mr Bloke's Item
My Fascinating Friend
The Birth-mark
The Box With The Iron Clamps
The Diamond Lens
The Great Valdez Sapphire
The Inmost Light
The Lost Room
The Man Who Went Too Far
The Man With The Pale Eyes
The Mummy's Foot
The Mysterious Card
The Oblong Box
The Rival Ghosts
The Secret Of Goresthorpe Grange
The Torture By Hope



Mr Bloke's Item








Our esteemed friend, Mr. John William Bloke, of Virginia City, walked
into the office where we are sub-editor at a late hour last night, with
an expression of profound and heartfelt suffering upon his countenance,
and, sighing heavily, laid the following item reverently upon the desk,
and walked slowly out again. He paused a moment at the door, and seemed
struggling to command his feelings sufficiently to enable him to speak,
and then, nodding his head toward his manuscript, ejaculated in a
broken voice, "Friend of mine--oh! how sad!" and burst into tears. We
were so moved at his distress that we did not think to call him back
and endeavour to comfort him until he was gone, and it was too late.
The paper had already gone to press, but knowing that our friend would
consider the publication of this item important, and cherishing the
hope that to print it would afford a melancholy satisfaction to his
sorrowing heart, we stopped the press at once and inserted it in our
columns:

DISTRESSING ACCIDENT.--Last evening, about six o'clock, as Mr.
William Schuyler, an old and respectable citizen of South Park, was
leaving his residence to go downtown, as has been his usual custom
for many years with the exception only of a short interval in the
spring of 1850, during which he was confined to his bed by injuries
received in attempting to stop a runaway horse by thoughtlessly
placing himself directly in its wake and throwing up his hands and
shouting, which if he had done so even a single moment sooner, must
inevitably have frightened the animal still more instead of
checking its speed, although disastrous enough to himself as it
was, and rendered more melancholy and distressing by reason of the
presence of his wife's mother, who was there and saw the sad
occurrence notwithstanding it is at least likely, though not
necessarily so, that she should be reconnoitering in another
direction when incidents occur, not being vivacious and on the
lookout, as a general thing, but even the reverse, as her own
mother is said to have stated, who is no more, but died in the full
hope of a glorious resurrection, upwards of three years ago, aged
eighty-six, being a Christian woman and without guile, as it were,
or property, in consequence of the fire of 1849, which destroyed
every single thing she had in the world. But such is life. Let us
all take warning by this solemn occurrence, and let us endeavour so
to conduct ourselves that when we come to die we can do it. Let us
place our hands upon our heart, and say with earnestness and
sincerity that from this day forth, we will beware of the
intoxicating bowl.--First Edition of the Californian.

The head editor has been in here raising the mischief, and tearing his
hair and kicking the furniture about, and abusing me like a pickpocket.
He says that every time he leaves me in charge of the paper for half an
hour I get imposed upon by the first infant or the first idiot that
comes along. And he says that that distressing item of Mr. Bloke's is
nothing but a lot of distressing bosh, and has no point to it, and no
sense in it, and no information in it, and that there was no sort of
necessity for stopping the press to publish it.

Now all this comes of being good-hearted. If I had been as
unaccommodating and unsympathetic as some people, I would have told Mr.
Bloke that I wouldn't receive his communication at such a late hour;
but no, his snuffling distress touched my heart, and I jumped at the
chance of doing something to modify his misery. I never read his item
to see whether there was anything wrong about it, but hastily wrote the
few lines which preceded it, and sent it to the printers. And what has
my kindness done for me? It has done nothing but bring down upon me a
storm of abuse and ornamental blasphemy.

Now I will read that item myself, and see if there is any foundation
for all this fuss. And if there is, the author of it shall hear from
me.

* * * * *

I have read it, and I am bound to admit that it seems a little mixed at
a first glance. However, I will peruse it once more.

I have read it again, and it does really seem a good deal more mixed
than ever.

I have read it over five times, but if I can get at the meaning of it I
wish I may get my just deserts. It won't bear analysis. There are
things about it which I cannot understand at all. It don't say whatever
became of William Schuyler. It just says enough about him to get one
interested in his career, and then drops him. Who is William Schuyler,
anyhow, and what part of South Park did he live in, and if he started
down-town at six o'clock, did he ever get there, and if he did, did
anything happen to him? Is he the individual that met with the
"distressing accident?" Considering the elaborate circumstantiality of
detail observable in the item, it seems to me that it ought to contain
more information than it does. On the contrary, it is obscure--and not
only obscure, but utterly incomprehensible. Was the breaking of Mr.
Schuyler's leg, fifteen years ago, the "distressing accident" that
plunged Mr. Bloke into unspeakable grief, and caused him to come up
here at dead of night and stop our press to acquaint the world with the
circumstance? Or did the "distressing accident" consist in the
destruction of Schuyler's mother-in-law's property in early times? Or
did it consist in the death of that person herself three years ago
(albeit it does not appear that she died by accident)? In a word, what
did that "distressing accident" consist in? What did that driveling
ass of a Schuyler stand in the wake of a runaway horse for, with his
shouting and gesticulating, if he wanted to stop him? And how the
mischief could he get run over by a horse that had already passed
beyond him? And what are we to take "warning" by? And how is this
extraordinary chapter of incomprehensibilities going to be a "lesson"
to us? And, above all, what has the intoxicating "bowl" got to do with
it, anyhow? It is not stated that Schuyler drank, or that his wife
drank, or that his mother-in-law drank, or that the horse drank--wherefore,
then, the reference to the intoxing bowl? It does seem to me that if
Mr. Bloke had let the intoxicating bowl alone himself, he never would
get into so much trouble about this exasperating imaginary accident. I
have read this absurd item over and over again, with all its
insinuating plausibility, until my head swims; but I can make neither
head nor tail of it. There certainly seems to have been an accident of
some kind or other, but it is impossible to determine what the nature
of it was, or who was the sufferer by it. I do not like to do it, but I
feel compelled to request that the next time anything happens to one of
Mr. Bloke's friends, he will append such explanatory notes to his
account of it as will enable me to find out what sort of an accident it
was and to whom it happened. I had rather all his friends should die
than that I should be driven to the verge of lunacy again in trying to
cipher out the meaning of another such production as the above.





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Previous: The Mummy's Foot



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