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Page 174


It is a fearful thing to be stricken down, alone and
unattended, when our last hour comes — without a sigh
from loving lips to prove that we will be regretted
when we are gone, and to assure us that our life has
not been spent in vain, when tender ones can breathe a
blessing on our exit. This truth found poor Peasly, in
the cholera-time, moving one evening towards home,
pondering upon the chances of his being called away in
the midst of his usefulness, his young wife a widow,
with good prospect of being married again before he
had been dead six months. The night was dark, and
his mind was as dark as the night was, as he moved
along, turning these things over in deep reflection, and
wondering if lobster-salad was wholesome in cholera-time;
for he had just partaken of a dish of that delicious
preparation, and was conscious of an uneasiness in the
epigastric region. He had taken the precaution advised
by the “Baron,” to “soften the hostility” of the
salad by a sufficiency of Sauterne, or some other fluid,
and was surprised that it affected him so. He felt
uneasy in his mind about it. But he remembered the
tales he had heard where cheerfulness was a repellant
of cholera influences, and of the effects of dismal
thoughts inducing the dreaded disease, and he attempted
to whistle a cheerful tune. It was a failure. His whistle
sounded more like that heard in winter at some cranny
in an old barn, at night, when the witches are about,
and children hide their heads under the bed-clothes for

Going through Union-street towards the North End,
where he resided, he met one of his old friends.

“Lots of cholera down your way, eh, Peasly?” said


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the friend. “The Mayor 's been a overhauling Spear
Place, and found it brim full.”

He looked at Peasly by the gas-light, and saw that he
was pale and unhappy.

“What 's the matter?” asked he.

“I don't feel exactly right,” said he; “I — I guess it
is n't much, though. I 've been eating lobster-salad.”

“Bad stuff in cholera-times,” said the friend. “You
know old Timberly, up by Fort Hill? — well, he eat two
lobster-claws, day before yesterday about noon, and
next morning he was dead as General Jackson. Good-night.”

And the friend was off.

Peasly felt worse; and, whistle as he might, — and he
attempted another tune, — the pain increased, as he did
his pace.

“Ah, Peasly, my boy, how are ye?” said Styles, the
policeman, as he saw him scudding along, with his hand
upon his waistcoat.

“Pretty well,” replied Peasly, with an effort.

“Glad of it,” said Styles, “glad of it. Great times,
these. Cholera 's all round your neighborhood. Seven
carted away this afternoon.”

“Anybody that I know?” gasped Peasly.

“Why, there 's the Widow Spruce, and Jo Bart, and
Uncle Frye, and the rest I did n't know. Don't you
think that Frye was fool enough to gorge himself with
lobster-salad, and then wash it down with brandy. Confounded
fool, was n't he?”

“Perhaps so,” said poor Peasly, taking hold of his
waistcoat with redoubled force; “but is it generally so

“Bad!” said Styles, looking earnestly into Peasly's
eyes, and, seeing the sweat standing in globules upon


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his face, and his lips as white as ashes, determining to
guy him; “bad! you have n't seen the proclamation
about lobsters, made on the recommendation of Doctor
Smith, to have every one thrown into the dock, and
the men prosecuted for selling of 'em? 'T was sent
down to the watch-house to-night. Smith says they 're
rank pisen, — red cholerys, every one of 'em.”

How the pain took hold of Peasly, as the policeman
moved on! Down the street a crowd of people attracted
his attention, and for a moment he stopped to
ascertain the cause.

“What 's the matter?” asked Peasly of a bystander.

“It 's a feller that was picked up on the wharf, sir,”
was the reply. “Guess he 's got the cholery; been
eating lobster.”

Mr. Peasly ran from the scene towards his home, and
never had that spot appeared so sacred to his fancy as
at that particular juncture. He had got within a few
doors of his haven, when he met a man coming down
the street with a lobster under each arm, from which he
was breaking the claws and sucking them.

“He 's a goner,” said Peasly to himself, as an extra
pain made him almost cry out with its acuteness; “and
I 'm afraid that I am.”

Mr. Peasly reached his door, a wretched man; but he
was at home. Here he could find consolation and peppermint-tea.
Here he could have the hand of sympathy
held out to soothe his brow, or to drop laudanum for
his infirmity. With a strong hand he pulled the door-bell,
when, overcome, he sank upon the door-step. No
one came at the summons, and, rising up, he gave
another pull, and sat down again.

A window in the next house opened, and a female
voice was heard telling Mr. Peasly of the fact that his


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wife had gone to a religious meeting in the Bethel, and
would n't be back till ten o'clock, and it was now but
half-past eight. Wretched Peasly! An hour and a
half betwixt him and peppermint-tea, and he dying of
cholera! The reflection broke the back of the little
resolution he had left.

He fancied to himself the trouble that would arise in
finding out how he had died, — for he knew he was
dying, — and, taking a piece of chalk from his pocket, he
wrote on the door, in legible characters, “Died of
” and became insensible.

His wife arrived home sooner than she anticipated,
and found him still lying there. One of the brethren
who came home with her helped get him into the house,
where he was plied with proper applications, but was
not fully restored till the next day, when he found his
pain all gone, and a wonderful appetite possessing him.

“What have you got in the house to eat, wife?” said
he, putting his right foot out of bed; “I think I could
eat a little something — something that 's delicate, you

“I have,” said she, smiling, “something that will
please you. I have bought a nice large lobster, and
am going to make a lobster-salad for you.”

Poor Peasly! He fell back upon the bed and relapsed
again into forgetfulness. It was three weeks
before he recovered, and all the time he was sick
people marvelled at the strange inscription upon his
door, “Died of Cramp.” It was only owing to a strong
constitution and proper appliances that it was not

Peasly, to this day, has n't the courage to look at a
lobster. His sensibility is so acute that he can smell
lobsters three squares off, and thus is enabled to avoid


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them. He refused a sergeant's warrant in the Boston
Fusileers because they wore red coats, and the mention
of lobster gives him the horrors for days thereafter.