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The Troubles of a Mover by Jonathan F. Kelley


“Mr. Flash in?”

“Mr. Flash? Don't know any such person, my son.”

“Why, he lives here!” continued the boy.

“Guess not, my son; I live here.”

“Well, this is the house, for I brought the things here.”

“What things?” says our friend, Flannigan.

“Why, the door mat, the brooms, buckets and brushes,” says little breeches.

Flannigan looks vacantly at his own door mat, for a minute, then says he—

“Come in my man, I'll see if any such articles have come here, for us.”

The boy walks into the hall, amid the barricades of yet unplaced household effects—for Flannigan had just moved in—and Flannigan calls for Mrs. F. The lady appears and denies all knowledge of any such purchases, or reception of buckets, brooms, and little breeches clears out.

In the course of an hour, a violent jerk at the bell announces another customer. Flannigan being at work in the parlor, answers the call; he opens the door, and there stands “a greasy citizen.”

“Goo' mornin'. Mr. Flash in?”

“Mr. Flash? I don't know him, sir.”

“You don't?” says the “greasy citizen.” “He lives here, got this bill agin him, thirty-four dollars, ten cents, per-visions.”

“I live here, sir; my name's Flannigan, I don't know you, or owe you, of course!”

“Well, that's a pooty spot o' work, any how;” growls our greasy citizen, crumpling up his bill. “Where's Flash?”

“I can't possibly say,” says Flannigan.

“You can't?”

“Certainly not.”

“Don't know where he's gone to?” growls the butcher.

“No more than the man in the moon!”

“Well, he ain't goin' to dodge me, in no sich a way,” says the butcher. “I'll find him, if it costs me a bullock, you may tell him so!—for me!” growls the butcher.

“Tell him yourself, sir; I've nothing to do with the fellow, don't know him from Adam, as I've already told you,” says Flannigan, closing the door—the “greasy citizen” walking down the steps muttering thoughts that breathe and words that burn!

Flannigan had just elevated himself upon the top of the centre table, to hang up Mrs. F.'s portrait upon the parlor wall, when another ring was heard of the bell. He called to his little daughter to open the door and see what was wanted.

“Is your fadder in, ah?”

“Yes, sir, I'll call him,” says the child, but before she could reach the parlor, a burly Dutch baker marches in.

“Goot mornin', I bro't de pills in.”

“Pills?” says Flannigan.

“Yaw, for de prets,” continues the baker; “nine tollars foof'ey cents. I vos heert you was movin', so I tink maybees you was run away.”

“Mistake, sir, I don't owe you a cent; never bought bread of you!”

Vaw's! Tonner a' blitzen!—don't owes me!”

“Not a cent!” says Flannigan, standing—hammer in hand, upon the top of the table.

Vaw's! you goin' thrun away and sheet me, ah?”

“Look here, my friend, you are under a mistake. I've just moved in here, my name's Flannigan, you never saw me before, and of course I never dealt with you!—don't you see?”

“Tonner a' blitzen!” cries the enraged baker, “I see vat you vant, to sheet me out mine preet, you raskills—I go fetch the con-stabl's, de shudge, de sher'ffs, and I have mine mon-ney in mine hands!” and off rushes the enraged man of dough, upsetting the various small articles piled up on the bureau in the hall—by wanging to the door.

Poor Flannigan felt quite “put out;” he came very near dashing his hammer at the Dutchman's head, but hoping there was an end to the annoyances he kept at work, until another ring of the bell announced another call. The Irish girl went to the door; Flannigan listens—

“Mr. Flash in?”

“Yees!” says Biddy, supposing Flash and Flannigan was the same in Dutch. “Would yees come in, sir,” and in comes the young man.

“Good morning, sir,” quoth he; “I've called as you requested sir, with the bill of that china set, &c.”

“Mistake, sir—I've bought no china set, lately,” says Flannigan.

“Isn't your name Flash, sir!”

“No, sir, my name's Flannigan. I've just moved here.”

“Indeed,” says the clerk. “Well, sir, where has Flash gone to, do you know.”

“Gone to be hanged! I trust, for I've been bothered all this morning by persons that scoundrel appears to owe. He moved out of here, day before yesterday; I took his unexpired term of the lease of this dwelling, having noticed it advertised, gave the fellow a bonus for his lease, and he cleared for California, I believe.”

This concise statement appeared to satisfy the clerk that his “firm” was done, and the young man and his bill stepped out. Another ring, and Flannigan opens the door; two men wanted to see Mr. Flash; he had been buying some tin-ware of one, and the other he owed for putting up a fire range in the building, and which range and accoutrements poor Flannigan had bought for twenty-five dollars, cash down! These gentlemen felt very vindictive, of course, and hinted awful strong that Flannigan was privy to Flash's movements; and a great deal more, until Flannigan losing his patience, and then his temper, ordered the men to vamose!—they did, giving poor Flannigan a “good blessing” as they walked away!

The family was about to sit down to a “made-up dinner” in the back parlor, when the bell rang; the Irish girl answered the call, and returned with a bill of sundry groceries, handed in by a man at the door.

“Tell him Mr. Flash has gone—left—don't know him, and don't want to know him, or have any thing to do with him or his bill!”

The girl carried back the bill; presently Flannigan hears a muss in the hall, he gets up and goes out; there was Biddy and the grocer's man in a high dispute. Biddy—“true to her instinct,” had made a bull of her message by telling the man her master didn't know him; go to the divil wid his bill! Flannigan managed to pacify the man, and give him to understand that Mr. Flash was gone to parts unknown, and—the grocer, in common with bakers, butchers, tinners and china dealers—were done!

But now came the tug of war; two “colored ladies” made their appearance, for a small bill of seven dollars, for washing and ironing the dickeys and fine linen of the Flashes.

“An' de fac am,” says the one, “we's bound to hab de money, shuah!

It did not seem to take when Flannigan informed his colored friends that they were surely done, as their debtor had “cut his lucky” and gone!

The darkies felt inclined to be sassy, and Flannigan closed the door, ordering them to create a vacancy by clearing out, and just as he closed the door, ring goes the bell!

“Be gor,” says a brawny “adopted citizen,” planting his brogan upon the sill, as Flannigan opened the door—“I've come wid me coz -zin to git her wages, ye's owin' her!”

“Me? Owe you?” cries poor Flannigan.

Igh!” says Paddy, trying to push his way into the hall.

“Stand back, you scoundrel!” cries Flannigan.

Scoun-thril!” roars the outraged “adopted citizen.”

“Stand back, you infernal ruffian!” exclaims Flannigan, as Paddy makes a rush to grab him.

“Give me me coz-zin's wages, ye—ye—” but here his oration drew towards a close, for Flannigan, no longer able to recognise virtue in forbearance, opened the door and planting his own huge fist between the ogle-factories of Paddy, knocked him as stiff as a bull beef! Falling, Paddy carried away his red-faced burly coz-zin, and the twain tumbling upon the two negro women who were still at the bottom of the steps, dilating, to any number of lookers-on, upon the rascality of poor Flannigan in gouging them out of their washing bill, down went the white spirits and black, all in a lump.

Here was a row! A mob gathered; “the people in that house” were denounced in all manner of ways, the negroes screamed, the Irish roared, the Dutch baker came up with a police-man to arrest Flannigan for stealing his bread! And soon the butcher arrived with another officer to seize the goods of Flash, supposed to be in the house—ready to be taken away!

Such a double and twisted uproar in Dutch, Irish, Ethiopian and natural Yankee, was terrific!

Mrs. F. fainted, the children screamed, and poor Flannigan was carried to the police office to answer half a cord of “charges,” and reached home near sundown, quite exhausted, and his wallet bled for “costs,” fines, &c., some $20. Poor Flannigan moved again; the house had such a “bad name,” he couldn't stay in it.


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