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As she gaily lifted her skirts to give my brushes a free swing, a perfect pair of ankles burst into view, daintily imprisoned in black silk hose, and—well, I naturally was excited. Blacking flew like the mud did when the beer wagon bumped against Mac, and a brush flopped out of my hand through a colored window, letting in more light, for it was still quite dusky. It seemed to be impossible for the young lady to keep her feet in place on the block, and not until she suggested I should hold her boot in place did I begin to polish to my credit.

After that no girl could keep her feet stationary unless I held her foot with one hand and polished with the other. I took it for granted that she was some copper king's daughter. I worked so hard that I was soon perspiring.

After finishing a dozen pair, when about to polish the second shoe on number thirteen, someone claimed she heard a professor reading Volapuk. At once there was a scurry, and a rustle of skirts. Number thirteen kicked over the blacking accidental, and fled with one shoe unpolished; but that odd shoe did just as good service as any of the rest. The whole bevy of girls vanished before I had time to collect my senses, my chair, and my brushes, and chase myself away. When once started, I ran to beat the cars, and reached the hotel in time for breakfast, the richer by six dollars and a lace handkerchief.

Come to think of it, what an extr'ordinary adventure that was for a modest and dignified traveler with a donkey! I wondered, as I sipped my coffee, what the Principal said when she discovered so many neat-looking shoes. An empty heart is like an empty barrel conveniently located; nobody will dare to gamble on the first thing to be thrown into it: and a full heart, like a barrel of fruit, must be sorted frequently, lest a bit of blemish corrupt the whole.

I first fancied my donkey, next admired him, suddenly became conscious of a growing contempt for him, and finally pity, now that the time for parting with him had come. Having depended entirely upon the stupid beast for companionship, he really had become a pet.

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Often he had offended and vexed me beyond seeming pardon; on the other hand, he had afforded me amusement during my lonesome hours, often causing me to laugh outright at his antics. But, in order to complete my journey on time, I felt I must avail myself of the first opportunity to exchange him for a livelier steed. It was my Vassar friend who told me about Dr.

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Jackson and his precocious donkey; she claimed the animal often displayed human intelligence. With some difficulty I found the doctor's residence; when, introducing myself and acquainting him with my errand, he put on his hat and took me to the barn. He was a sleek, slender creature of blush color, with an intelligent but roguish countenance, and with cropped ears which gave him a semblance to a deer.

The doctor said the animal was hardly three years old. His hoofs were very small, so tiny that he might have stepped into an after-dinner cup and not damaged more than your appetite for coffee. The coincidence made me smile. He then spelled his animal's name, showing that there was as much difference between the names as between the donkeys, between patrician and plebeian.

He said that Mac A'Rony was the lineal descendant of an ancient and honorable family of Irish asses; whereas, I believed Macaroni could boast of no more distinguished heritage than that of Italian peasantry. The doctor even harbored the suspicion that his donkey must be a descendant of Balaam's famous ass. I coveted that donkey, but had little hope of securing it, as my means were so limited. Imagine my astonishment when the doctor proposed that we make an even exchange of animals.

The bargain made, we parted. An hour later Macaroni was in the doctor's barn, and Mac A'Rony in the livery stable. The greatest objection I had to my new companion was his youth. The fastidious appetite of this Irish gentleman demanded bread, and other table fare; he actually stuck up his nose at oats and hay. What would he do should we get stranded! I might live a whole day on three milk punches which I could pay for with photos, but experience had taught me it required many punches to keep a donkey moving.

When about to depart, I was disconcerted to discover the doctor's boy riding his new possession down the street toward the hotel. Macaroni seemed to realize we were to part forever. There was a sad, depressed look in his eyes; his brows knitted, and his nose wept, as he brayed "When shall we three meet again.

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Shortly afterward, I was stopped by a blacksmith who recognized Mac and asked to shoe him, saying he would do it for a picture, seeing it was I. Of course, I was delighted, and leaving the donkey in his custody, dropped in a restaurant and lunched; after which I bought Mac a loaf of graham bread. The kind-hearted blacksmith had several horses waiting to be shod, and it was nearly night when Mac A'Rony ceased to be a "bare-foot boy. But that quadruped traveled so fast that he tired out after going a few miles, and I had to put up at a little inn at Staatsburg for the night.

Had it not been that I sold next day a number of photos at princely villas on the way, I should have had trouble to keep from starving.

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No remittance had come from the papers as yet, and lecturing was out of the question at that time. I had written to several soap, sarsaparilla, tobacco and pill companies for a contract to advertise their stuffs by distributing circulars, or samples, or displaying a sign from my donkey's back, but thus far had received no favorable replies.

At length the blue summits of the Catskills loomed against an azure sky in the west, and I caught occasional glimpses of Kingston and Rondout, the twin cities, nestling in the foothills by the Hudson.


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At three o'clock we crossed the ferry, and soon afterward arrived at the Mansion House, Kingston. The landlord received us with gracious hospitality, but I, having lost so much time by accident and other misfortune, only tarried for the night, and hastened on up the valley. The days were perceptibly shorter while we traveled in the shadow of the Catskills.

The roads were so heavy, and the recent cold I had contracted so stiff and uncomfortable, that I decided at seven o'clock to spend the night at a German road-house. Landlord Schoentag gave us soft beds, in spite of his hard name, and his spouse was kind enough to make me a hot brandy and a foot bath. I drank the one; Mac cheated me of the other. I retired early under a pile of bedding as thick as it was short, and soon found myself in a terrible sweat. This was not due alone to the comfortables, but to a party of convivial young people, who thrummed on a discordant piano, and sang, and danced till daylight, their hilarity causing Mac in the stable sundry vocal selections, such as should have disturbed the spirit of Rip Van Winkle, eight miles away.

Monday we pushed on toward Saugerties. But for a delay at Soaper's Creek Bridge, we should have reached Catskill before dark. Mac A'Rony stopped stock still at the bridge approach, and neither the eloquence of gad nor gab moved him an inch. I petted him and patted him; I stroked his ears and I rubbed his nose; and then I asked him point blank what ailed him. It was fully sixty seconds before I realized that the animal had actually spoken; then I looked up and read the sign hanging from the iron girder overhead, "Ten dollars fine for riding or driving over this bridge faster than a walk.

All I could do was to sit down on a stone and, like Macawber, wait for something to turn up. It seemed ages before a farmer came along with a ton of hay; he was kind enough to slide off the load and assist me to carry the donkey across the bridge. The night was spent in Catskill.

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Smith's Hotel was swarming with busy grangers, generally good-hearted, garrulous characters, whose society lightened the tedium of two days, while I nursed my cold and weaned Mac. We reached Athens, a village eight miles to the north, Wednesday noon, but being somewhat rusty in Greek, I ferried the river to Hudson. A light snow had fallen; the wind was sharp shod, and traveled forty miles an hour.

A small German hotel opened its doors to us, and I persuaded Mac to ascend the low stoop and venture half his length indoors; the landlord aided me at the helm and we managed to anchor my "craft" out of range of the storm, though we couldn't get it across the bar. Mac lay down in a heap, and I called for port, to find none in stock. Suddenly, a man in shirt sleeves hastily entered with a pitcher in hand, and before he could check himself, went sprawling over the frightened beast, smashing the pitcher and setting Mac to braying.

The man hurriedly collected himself, glanced at the strange-looking quadruped, and not stopping for beer, fled in dismay. When the storm had abated somewhat, we started for Kinderhook. Late in the afternoon we trailed into a thrifty little town where I found stock port in Stockport. Here the cheery aspect of the Brookside Hotel tempted me to remain over night, and doctor the severe cold in my chest.

This tavern, the pride of the village, was said to be the oldest on the old "post road" from New York to Albany. So comfortable was the hotel that I hesitated long before accepting a cordial invitation, extended to me through his coachman, to be the guest of the wealthiest resident of the town.


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