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Did you ever notice,” said Dr. Spooner, “the fatality
that attends upon the name of Atwood? Meet with
it where you will, oysters may be found connected with
it as closely as barnacles to a ship's copper. It seems
the most natural thing in the world. Atwood seems as
much made for oysters as oysters for Atwood. I can't
understand it, any more than I can spirit rapping or the
aurora borealis. It is one of those mysterious phenomena
of the universe that cannot be fathomed by the
usual rules of interpretation. Should I go to England,
I should expect to find Atwood engaged in the oyster
business. Were I to go to France, I should be greatly
disappointed did I not find Mons. Atwood opening the
bivalves to my order. Were I to find my way to China,
I should look for Atwood with a long tail to supply me
with oysters! It is very strange, and I never look at
the sign bearing the name without thinking of this destiny


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— this oystere destiny, if I am allowed the privilege
of indulging in a little pleasantry — that chains them to
a specific calling, like old Sassafras that rolled the big
rock up the mountain.”—“I have myself noticed this
fatality,” said the imperturbable, who sat smoking in the
corner, “and your remark about meeting the name in
foreign parts I myself have tested. I have met it in Paris,
in Amsterdam; and once, when in Cairo, Egypt, as I
was taking some oysters with a friend, I had the curiosity
to ask the name of the one who kept the place, with
a view to establishing the fact of which we are speaking,
and the name was given of —” — “Atwood, of
course,” said the Doctor, breaking in. — “No, sir,” replied
the imperturbable, “it was Tomally, an Egyptian as
black as your hat.” He kept on with his smoking,
while the Doctor pulled on his glove and went out,
evidently troubled at the smile that greeted his discomfiture.