University of Virginia Library




Let me introduce the courteous reader to two ladies.

Miss Picklin, a tall young lady of twenty-one, near enough to
good-looking to permit of a delusion on the subject (of which,
however, she had an entire monopoly), with cheeks always red in
a small spot, lips not so red as the cheeks, and rather thin, sharpish
nose, and waist very slender; and last (not least important),
a very long neck, scalded on either side into a resemblance to a
scroll of shrivelled parchment, which might or might not be considered
as a mis-fortune—serving her as a title-deed to twenty
thousand dollars. The scald was inflicted, and the fortune left in
consequence, by a maiden aunt who, in the babyhood of Miss
Picklin, attempted to cure the child's sore throat by an application
of cabbage-leaves steeped in hot vinegar.

Miss Euphemia Picklin, commonly called Phemie—a good-humored
girl, rather inclined to be fat, but gifted with several
points of beauty of which she was not at all aware, very much a
pet among her female friends, and admitting, with perfect sincerity
and submission, her sister's exclusive right to the admiration
of the gentlemen of their acquaintance.

Captain Isaiah Picklin, the father of these ladies, was a merchant


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of Salem, an importer of figs and opium, and once master
of the brig “Simple Susan,” which still plied between his warehouse
and Constantinople—nails and codfish the cargo outward.
I have not Miss Picklin's permission to mention the precise date
of the events I am about to record, and leaving that point alone
to the imagination of the reader, I shall set down the other particulars
and impediments in her “course of true love” with historical

Ever since she had been of sufficient age to turn her attention
exclusively to matrimony, Miss Picklin had nourished a presentiment
that her destiny was exotic; that the soil of Salem was too
poor, and the indigenous lovers too mean; and that, potted in her
twenty thousand dollars, she was a choice production, set aside
for flowering in a foreign clime, and destined to be transplanted
by a foreign lover. With this secret in her bosom, she had refused
one or two gentlemen of middle age, recommended by her
father, beside sundry score of young gentlemen of slender revenues
in her own set of acquaintances, till, if there had been anything
beside poetry in Shakspere's assertion that it is—

“Broom groves
Whose shadow the dismissed bachelor loves,”
the neighboring “brush barrens” of Saugus would have sold in
lots at a premium. It was possibly from the want of nightingales,
to whose complaining notes the gentleman of Verona “turned his
distresses,” that the discarded of Salem preferred the consolations
of Phemie Picklin.

News to the Picklins! Hassan Keui, the son of old Abdoul
Keui, was coming out in the “Simple Susan!” A Turk—a live


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Turk—a young Turk, and the son of her father's rich correspondent
in Turkey! “Ah me!” thought Miss Picklin.

The captain himself was rather taken aback. He had known
old Abdoul for many years, had traded and smoked with him in
the cafés of Galata, had gone out with him on Sundays to lounge
on the tombstones at Scutari, and had never thought twice about
his yellow gown and red trowsers; but what the deuce would be
thought of them in Salem? True, it was his son; but a Turk's
clothes descend from father to son through three generations; he
knew that, from remembering this very boy all but smothered in
a sort of saffron blanket, with sleeves like pillowcases—his first
assumption of the toga virilis (not that old Picklin knew Latin,
but such was “his sentiment better expressed”). Then he had
never been asked to the house of the Stamboul merchant, not introduced
to his wives nor his daughters (indeed, he had forgotten
that old Keui was near cutting his throat for asking after them)
—but of course it was very different in Salem. Young Keui
must be the Picklin guest, fed and lodged, and the girls would
want to give him a tea-party. Would he sit on a chair, or want
cushions on the floor? Would he come to dinner with his breast
bare, and leave his boots outside? Would he eat rice pudding
with his fingers? Would he think it indecent if the girls didn't
wear linen cloths, Turkey fashion, over their mouths and noses?
Would he bring his pipes? Would he fall on his face and say
his prayers four times a day, wherever he should be (with a clean
place handy)? What would the neighbors say? The captain
worked himself into a violent perspiration with merely thinking
of all this.

The Salemites have a famous museum, and know “what manner


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of thing is your crocodile;” but a live Turk consigned to
Captain Picklin! It set the town in a fever!

It would leave an indelicate opening for a conjecture as to Miss
Picklin's present age, were I to state whether or not the arrival
of the “Simple Susan” was reported by telegraph. She ran in
with a fair wind one Sunday morning, and was immediately boarded
by the harbor-master and Captain Picklin; and there, true to
the prophetic boding of old Isaiah, the young Turk sat cross-legged
on the quarter-deck, in a white turban and scarlet et ceteras,
smoking his father's identical pipe—no other, the captain would
have taken his oath!

Up rose Hassan, when informed who was his visitor, and taking
old Picklin's hand, put it to his forehead. The weather-stained
sea-captain had bleached in the counting-house, and he had not,
at first sight, remembered the old friend of his father. He passed
the pipe into Isaiah's hand and begged him to keep it as a memento
of Abdoul, for his father had died at the last Ramazan.
Hassan had come out to see the world, and secure a continuance
of codfish and good-will from the house of Picklin, and the merchant
got astride the tiller of his old craft, and smoked this news
through his amber-mouthed legacy, while the youth went below
to get ready to go ashore.

The reader of course would prefer to share the first impressions
of the ladies as to the young Mussulman's personal appearance,
and I pass at once, therefore, to their disappointment, surprise,
mortification, and vexation; when, as the bells were ringing for
church, the front door opened, their father entered, and in followed
a young gentleman in frockcoat and trowsers! Yes, and in
his hand a hat—a black hat—and on his feet no yellow boots, but
calfskin, mundane and common calfskin, and with no shaved head,


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and no twisted shawl around his waist; nothing to be seen but a
very handsome young man indeed, with teeth like a fresh slice of
cocoa-nut meat, and a very deliberate pronunciation to his bad

Miss Picklin's disappointment had to be slept upon, for she
had made great outlay of imagination upon the pomp and circumstance
of wedding a white Othello in the eyes of wondering Salem;
but Phemie's surprise took but five minutes to grow into a positive
pleasure; and never suspecting, at any time, that she was visible
to the naked eye during the eclipsing presence of her sister,
she sat with a very admiring smile upon her lips, and her soft
eyes fixed earnestly on the stranger, till she had made out a full
inventory of his features, proportions, manners, and other stuff
available in dream-land. What might be Hassan's impression of
the young ladies, could not be gathered from his manner; for, in
the first place, there was the reserve which belonged to him as a
Turk, and, in the second place, there was a violation of all oriental
notions of modesty in their exposing their chins to the masculine
observation; and though he could endure the exposure, it was
of course with that diffidence of gaze which accompanies the consciousness
of improper objects—adding to his demeanor another
shade of timidity.

Miss Picklin's shoulders were not invaded quite to the limits
of terra cognita by the cabbage-leaves which had exercised such
an influence on her destiny; and as the scalds somewhat resembled
two maps of South America (with Patagonia under each
ear), she usually, in full dress, gave a clear view of the surrounding
ocean—wisely thinking it better to have the geography of her
disfigurement well understood, than, by covering a small extremity
(as it were the isthmus of Darien), to leave an undiscovered


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North America to the imagination. She appeared accordingly at
dinner in a costume not likely to diminish the modest embarrassment
of Mr. Keui (as she chose to call him)—extremely decolleté,
in a pink silk dress with short sleeves, and in a turban with a
gold fringe—the latter, of course, out of compliment to his country.
“Money is power,” even in family circles, and it was only
Miss Picklin who exercised the privilege of full dress at a midday
dinner. Phemie came to table dressed as at breakfast, and
if she felt at all envious of her sister's pink gown and elbows to
match, it did not appear in her pleasant face or sisterly attention.
The captain would allow anything, and do almost anything, for
his rich daughter; but as to dining with his coat on, in hot weather,
company or no company, he would rather—
“be set quick i' the earth,
And bowled to death with turnips”—
though that is not the way he expressed it. The parti carré,
therefore (for there was no Mrs. Picklin), was, in the matter of
costume, rather incongruous, but, as the Turk took it for granted
that it was all according to the custom of the country, the carving
was achieved by the shirt-sleeved captain, and the pudding “helped”
by his bare-armed daughter, with no particular commotion
in the elements. Earthquakes do not invariably follow violations
of etiquette—particularly where nobody is offended.

After the first day, things took their natural course—as near
as they were able. Hassan was not very quick at conversation,
always taking at least five minutes to put together for delivery a
sentence of English, but his laugh did not hang fire, nor did his
nods and smiles; and where ladies are voluble (as ladies sometimes


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are), this paucity of ammunition on the gentleman's part is
no prelude to discomfiture. Then Phemie had a very fair smattering
of Italian, and that being the business language of the Levant,
Hassan took refuge in it whenever brought to a stand-still
in English—a refuge, by the way, of which he seemed inclined to
avail himself oftener than was consistent with Miss Picklin's exclusive
property in his attention. Rebellious though Hassan
might secretly have been to this authority over himself, Phemie
was no accomplice, natural modesty combining with the long habit
of subserviency to make her even anticipate the exactions of the
heiress; and so Miss Picklin had “Mr. Keui” principally to
herself, promenading him through the streets of Salem, and bestowing
her sweetness upon him from his morning entrance to his
evening exit; Phemie relieving guard very cheerfully, while her
sister dressed for dinner. It was possibly from being permitted to
converse in Italian during this half hour, that Hassan made it the
only part of the day in which he talked of himself and his house
on the Bosphorus, but that will not account also for Phemie's
sighing while she listened—never having sighed before in her life,
not even while the same voice was talking English to her sister.

Without going into a description of the Picklin tea-party, at
which Hassan was induced to figure in his oriental costume, while
Miss Picklin sat by him on a cushion, turbaned and (probably)
cross-legged, à la Sultana, and without recording other signs satisfactory
to the Salemites, that the young Turk had fallen to the
scalded heiress—

“As does the ospray to the fish that takes it,
By sovereignty of nature”—
I must come plump to the fact that, on the Monday following


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(one week after his arrival) Hassan left Salem, unaccompanied
by Miss Picklin. As he had asked for no private interview in the
best parlor, and had made his final business arrangements with the
captain, so that he could take passage from New York without
returning, some people were inclined to fancy that Miss Picklin's
demonstrations with regard to him had been a little premature.
And “some people” chose to smile. But it was reserved for
Miss Picklin to look round in church, in about one year from this
event, and have her triumph over “some people;” for she was
about to sail for Constantinople—“sent for,” as the captain rudely
expressed it. But I must explain.

The “Simple Susan” came in, heavily freighted with a consignment
from the house of Keui to Picklin & Co., and a letter
from the American consul at Constantinople wrapped in the invoice.
With the careful and ornate wording of an official epistle,
it stated that Effendi Hassan Keui had called on the consul, and
partly from the mistrust of his ability to express himself in English
on so delicate a subject, but more particularly for the sake
of approaching the object of his affections with proper deference
and ceremony, he had requested that officer to prepare a document
conveying a proposal of marriage to the daughter of Captain
Picklin. The incomplete state of his mercantile arrangements,
while at Salem the previous year, would account for his
silence on the subject at that time, but he trusted that his preference
had been sufficiently manifest to the lady of his heart; and
as his prosperity in business depended on his remaining at Constantinople,
enriching himself only for her sake, he was sure that
the singular request appended to his offer would be taken as a
mark of his prudence rather than as a presumption. The cabin
of the “Simple Susan,” as Captain Picklin knew, was engaged on


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her next passage to Constantinople by a party of missionaries,
male and female, and the request was to the intent that, in case
of an acceptance of his offer, the fair daughter of the owner would
come out, under their sufficient protection, to be wedded, if she
should so please, on the day of her arrival in the “Golden Horn.”

As Miss Picklin had preserved a mysterious silence on the subject
of “Mr. Keui's” attentions since his departure, and as a lady
with twenty thousand dollars in her own right is, of course, quite
independent of parental control, the captain, after running his eye
hastily through the document, called to the boy who was weighing
out a quintal of codfish, and bid him wrap the letter in a brown
paper and run with it to Miss Picklin—taking it for granted that
she knew more about the matter than he did, and would explain
it all, when he came home to dinner.

In thinking the matter over, on his way home, it occurred to
old Picklin that it was worded as if he had but one daughter. At
any rate, he was quite sure that neither of his daughters was
particularly specified, either by name or age. No doubt it was
all right, however. The girls understood it.

“So, it's you, miss!” he said, as Miss Picklin looked round
from the turban she was trying on before the glass.

“Certainly, pa! who else should it be?”

And there ended the captain's doubts, for he never again got
sight of the letter, and the turmoil of preparation for Miss Picklin's
voyage, made the house anything but a place for getting answers
to impertinent questions. Phemie, whom the news had
made silent and thoughtful, let drop a hint or two that she would
like to see the letter; but a mysterious air, and “La! child, you
wouldn't understand it,” was check enough for her timid curiosity,


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and she plied her needle upon her sister's wedding dress
with patient submission.

The preparations for the voyage went on swimmingly. The
missionaries were written to, and willingly consented to chaperon
Miss Picklin over the seas, provided her union with a pagan was
to be sanctified with a Christian ceremonial. Miss Picklin replied
with virtuous promptitude that the cake for the wedding was already
soldered up in a tin case, and that she was to be married
immediately on her arrival, under an awning on the brig's deck,
and she hoped that four of the missionaries' wives would oblige
her by standing up as her bridesmaids. Many square feet of
codfish were unladen from the “Simple Susan” to make room
for boxes and bags, and one large case was finally shipped, the
contents of which had been shopped for by ladies with families—
no book of oriental travels making any allusion to the sale of such
articles in Constantinople, though, in the natural course of things,
they must be wanted as much in Turkey as in Salem.

The brig was finally cleared and lay off in the stream, and on
the evening before the embarkation the missionaries arrived and
were invited to a tea-party at the Picklins. Miss Picklin had
got up a little surprise for her friends with which to close the
party—a “walking tableau,” as she termed it, in which she should
suddenly make her apparition at one door, pass through the room,
and go out at the other, dressed as a sultana, with a muslin kirtle
and satin trowsers. She disappeared accordingly half an hour
before the breaking up; and, conversation rather languishing in
her absence, the eldest of the missionaries rose to conclude the
evening with a prayer, in the midst of which Miss Picklin passed
through the room unperceived—the faces of the company being
turned to the wall.


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The next morning at daylight the “Simple Susan” put to sea
with a fair wind, and at the usual hour for opening the store of
Picklin and Co., she had dropped below the horizon. Phemie
sat upon the end of the wharf and watched her till she was out of
sight, and the captain walked up and down between two puncheons
of rum which stood at the distance of a quarter-deck's length from
each other, and both father and daughter were silent. The captain
had a confused thought or two besides the grief of parting,
and Phemie had feelings quite as confused, which were not all
made up of sorrow for the loss of her sister. Perhaps the reader
will be at the trouble of spelling out their riddles while I try to
let him down softly to the catastrophe of my story.

Without confessing to any ailment whatever, the plump Phemie
paled and thinned from the day of her sister's departure. Her
spirits, too, seemed to keep her flesh and color company, and at
the end of a month the captain was told by one of the good dames
of Salem that he had better ask a physician what ailed her. The
doctor could make nothing out of it except that she might be
fretting for the loss of her sister, and he recommended a change
of scene and climate. That day Captain Brown, an old mate of
Isaiah's, dropped in to eat a family dinner and say good-by, as he
was about sailing in the new schooner Nancy for the Black sea—
his wife for his only passenger. Of course he would be obliged
to drop anchor at Constantinople to wait for a fair wind up the
Bosphorus, and part of his errand was to offer to take letters and
nicknackeries to Mrs. Keui. Old Picklin put the two things together,
and over their glass of wine he proposed to Brown to take
Phemie with Mrs. Brown to Constantinople, leave them both
there on a visit to Mrs. Keui, till the return of the Nancy from
the Black sea, and then re-embark them for Salem. Phemie


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came into the room just as they were touching glasses on the
agreement, and when the trip was proposed to her she first colored
violently, then grew pale and burst into tears; but consented
to go. And, with such preparations as she could make that evening,
she was quite ready at the appointed hour, and was off with
the land-breeze the next morning, taking leave of nobody but her
father. And this time the old man wiped his eyes very often before
the departing vessel was “hull down,” and was heartily sorry
he had let Phemie go without a great many presents and a great
many more kisses. * * * *

A fine, breezy morning at Constantinople!

Rapidly down the Bosphorus shot the caique of Hassan Keui,
bearing its master from his country-house at Dolma-batchi to his
warehouses at Galata. Just before the sharp prow rounded away
toward the Golden Horn, the merchant motioned to the caikjis to
rest upon their oars, and, standing erect in the slender craft, he
strained his gaze long and with anxious earnestness toward the
sea of Marmora. Not a sail was to be seen coming from the west,
except a man-of-war with a crescent flag at the peak, lying off
toward Scutari from Seraglio point, and with a sigh that carried
the cloud off his brow, Hassan gayly squatted once more to his
cushions, and the caique sped merrily on. In and out, among
the vessels at anchor, the airy bark threaded her way with the
dexterous swiftness of a bird, when suddenly a cable rose beneath
her and lifted her half out of the water. A vessel newly-arrived
was hauling in to a close anchorage, and they had crossed her
hawser as it rose to the surface. Pitched headlong into the lap
of the nearest caikji, the Turk's snowy turban fell into the water
and was carried by the eddy under the stern of the vessel rounding
to, and as the caique was driven backward to regain it, the


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bareheaded owner sank back aghast—Simple Susan of Salem
staring him in the face in golden capitals.

“Oh! Mr Keui! how do you do!” cried a well-remembered
voice, as he raised himself to fend off by the rudder of the brig.
And there she stood within two feet of his lips—Miss Picklin in
her bridal veil, waiting below in expectant modesty, and though
surprised by his peep into the cabin windows, excusing it as a
natural impatience in a bridegroom coming to his bride.

The captain of the Susan, meantime, had looked over the tafferel
and recognized his old passenger, and Hassan, who would
have given a cargo of opium for an hour to compose himself,
mounted the ladder which was thrown out to him, and stepped
from the gangway into Miss Picklin's arms! She had rushed up
to receive him, dressed in her muslin kirtle and satin trowsers,
though, with her dramatic sense of propriety, she had intended to
remain below till summoned to the bridal. The captain, of course,
kept back from delicacy, but the missionaries stood in a cluster
gazing on the happy meeting, and the sailors looked over their
shoulders as they heaved at the windlass. As Miss Picklin afterward
remarked, “it would have been a tableau vivant if the deck
had not been so very dirty!”

Hassan wiped his eyes, for he had replaced his wet turban on
his head, but what with his escape from drowning, and what with
his surprise and embarrassment (for he had a difficult part to play,
as the reader will presently understand), he had lost all memory
of his little stock of English. Miss Picklin drew him gently by
the hand to the quarter-deck, where, under an awning fringed
with curtains partly drawn, stood a table with a loaf of wedding-cake
upon it, and a bottle of wine and a bible. She nodded to
the Rev. Mr. Griffin, who took hold of a chair and turned it


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round, and placing it against his legs with the back toward him,
looked steadfastly at the happy couple.

“Good morning—good night—your sister—aspetta! per amor'
di Dio!
” cried the bewildered Hassan, giving utterance to all the
English he could remember, and seizing the bride by the arm.

“These ladies are my bridesmaids,” said Miss Picklin, pointing
to the missionaries' wives who stood by in their bonnets and
shawls. “I dare say he expected my sister would come as my
bridesmaid!” she added, turning to Mr Griffin to explain the
outbreak as she understood it.

Hassan beat his hand upon his forehead, walked twice up and
down the quarterdeck, looked around over the Golden Horn as if
in search of an interpreter to his feelings, and finally walked up
to Miss Picklin with a look of calm resignation, and addressed to
her and to the Rev. Mr. Griffin a speech of three minutes, in Italian.
At the close of it he made a very ceremonious salaam, and
offered his hand to the bride, and, as no one present understood
a syllable of what he had intended to convey in his address, it
was received as probably a welcome to Turkey, or perhaps a formal
repetition of his offer of heart and hand. At any rate, Miss
Picklin took it to be high time to blush and take off her glove,
and the Rev. Mr. Griffin then bent across the back of the chair,
joined their hands and went through the ceremony, ring and all.
The ladies came up, one after another, and kissed the bride, and
the gentlemen shook hands with Hassan, who received their good
wishes with a curious look of unhappy resignation, and after cutting
the cake and permitting the bride to retire for a moment to
calm her feelings and put on her bonnet, the bridegroom made
rather a peremptory movement of departure, and the happy couple
went off in the caique toward Dolma-batchi amid much waving


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of handkerchiefs from the missionaries, and hurrahs from the Salem
hands of the Simple Susan.

And now, before giving the reader a translation of the speech
of Hassan before the wedding, we must go back to some little
events which had taken place one month previously at Constantinople.

The Nancy arrived off Seraglio Point after a very remarkable
passage, having still on her quarter the northwest breeze which
had stuck to her like a bloodhound ever since leaving the harbor
of Salem. She had brought it with her to Constantinople
indeed, for twenty or thirty vessels which had been long waiting
a favorable wind to encounter the adverse current of the Bosphorus,
were loosing sail and getting under way, and the pilot,
knowing that the destination of the Nancy was also to the Black
sea, strongly dissuaded Captain Brown from dropping anchor in
the Horn, with a chance of losing the good luck, and lying, perhaps
a month, wind-bound in harbor. Understanding that the
captain's only object in stopping was to leave the two ladies with
Keui the opium-merchant, the pilot, who knew his residence at
Dolma-batchi, made signal for a caique, and kept up the Bosphorus.
Arriving opposite the little village of which Hassan's
house was one of the chief ornaments, the ladies were lowered
into the caique and sent ashore—expecting of course to be
received with open arms by Mrs. Keui—and then, spreading all
her canvass, the swift little schooner sped on her way to Trebisond.

Hassan sat in the little pavilion of his house which looked out
on the Bosphorus, eating his pillau, for it was the noon of a holyday,
and he had not been that morning to Galata. Recognizing
at once the sweet face of Phemie as the caique came near the


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shore, he flew to meet her, supposing that the “Simple Susan”
had arrived, and that the lady of his love had chosen to come
and seek him. The reader will understand of course, that there
was no “Mrs. Keui.”

And now to shorten my story.

Mrs. Brown and Phemie were in Hassan's own house, with no
other acquaintance or protector on that side of the world, and
there was no possibility of escaping a true explanation. The
mistake was explained, and explained to Brown's satisfaction.
Phemie was the “daughter” of Captain Picklin, to whom the
offer was transmitted, and as, by blessed luck, the Nancy had
outsailed the Simple Susan, Providence seemed to have chosen to
set right for once, the traverse of true love. The English
embassy was at Burgurlu, only six miles above, on the Bosphorus,
and Hassan and his mother and sisters, and Mrs. Brown and
Phemie were soon on their way thither in swift caiques, and the
happy couple were wedded by the English chaplain. The arrival
of the Simple Susan was of course looked for, by both Hassan
and his bride, with no little dismay. She had met with contrary
winds on the Atlantic, and had been caught in the Archipelago
by a Levanter, and from the damage of the last she had been
obliged to come to anchor off the little island of Paros and repair.
This had been a job of six weeks, and meantime the Nancy had
given them the go-by, and reached Constantinople.

Hassan was daily on the look-out for the brig in his trips to
town, and on the morning of her arrival, his mind being put at
ease for the day by his glance toward the sea of Marmora, the
stumbling so suddenly and so unprepared on the object of his
dread, completely bewildered and unnerved him. Through all
his confusion, however, and all the awkwardness of his situation,


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there ran a feeling of self-condemnation, as well as pity for Miss
Picklin; and this had driven him to the catastrophe described
above. He felt that he owed her some reparation, and as the
religion in which he was educated did not forbid a plurality of
wives, and there was no knowing but possibly she might be
inclined to “do in Turkey as Turkeys do,” he felt it incumbent
on himself to state the fact of his previous marriage, and then
offer her the privilege of becoming Mrs. Keui No. 2, if she chose
to accept. As he had no English at his command, he stated his
dilemma and made his offer in the best language he had—Italian
—and with the results the reader has been made acquainted.

Of the return passage of Miss Picklin, formerly Mrs. Keui,
under the charge of Captain and Mrs. Brown, in the schooner
Nancy, I have never learned the particulars. She arrived at
Salem in very good health, however, and has since been distinguished
principally by her sympathy for widows—based on what,
I cannot very positively say. She resides at present in Salem
with her father, Captain Picklin, who is still the consignee of the
house of Keui, having made one voyage out to see the children
of his daughter Phemie and strengthen the mercantile connexion.
His old age is creeping on him, undistinguished by anything
except the little monomania of reading the letters from his son-in-law
at least a hundred times, and then wafering them up over
the fireplace of his counting-room—in doubt, apparently, whether
he rightly understands the contents.