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"Taking Down" a Sheriff by Jonathan F. Kelley


Ex-honorable John Buck, once the “representative” of a district out West, a lawyer originally, and finally a gentleman at large, and Jeremy Diddler generally, took up his quarters in Philadelphia, years ago, and putting himself upon his dignity, he managed for a time, sans l'argent, to live like a prince. Buck was what the world would call a devilish clever fellow; he was something of a scholar, with the smattering of a gentleman; good at off-hand dinner table oratory, good looking, and what never fails to take down the ladies, he wore hair enough about his countenance to establish two Italian grand dukes. Buck was “an awful blower,” but possessed common-sense enough not to waste his gas-conade—ergo, he had the merit not to falsify to ye ancient falsifiers.

The Honorable Mr. Buck's manner of living not being “seconded” by a corresponding manner of means, he very frequently ran things in the ground, got in debt, head and heels. The Honorable Mr. B. had patronized a dealer in Spanish mantles, corduroys and opera vests, to the amount of some two hundred dollars; and, very naturally, ye fabricator of said cloth appurtenances for ye body, got mad towards the last, and threatened “the Western member” with a course of legal sprouts, unless he “showed cause,” or came up and squared the yards. As Hon. John Buck had had frequent invitations to pursue such courses, and not being spiritually or personally inclined that way, he let the notice slide.

Shears, the tailor, determined to put the Hon. John through; so he got out a writ of the savagest kind—arson, burglary and false pretence—and a deputy sheriff was soon on the taps to smoke the Western member out of his boots. Upon inquiring at the United States Hotel, where the honorable gentleman had been wont to “put up,” they found he had vacated weeks before and gone to Yohe's Hotel. Thither, the next day, the deputy repaired, but old Mother Yohe—rest her soul!—informed the officer that the honorable gentleman had stepped out one morning, in a hurry like, and forgot to pay a small bill!

John was next traced to the Marshall House, where he had left his mark and cleared for Sanderson's, where the indefatigable tailor and his terrier of the law, pursued the member, and learned that he had gone to Washington!

“Done! by Jeems!” cried Shears.

“Hold on,” says the deputy, “hold on; he's not off; merely a dodge to get away from this house; we'll find him. Wait!”

Shears did wait, so did the deputy sheriff, until other bills, amounting to a good round sum, were lodged at the Sheriff's office, and the very Sheriff himself took it in hand to nab the cidevant M. C., and cause him to suffer a little for his country and his friends!

Now, it so chanced that Sheriff F., who was a politician of popular renown—a good, jolly fellow—knew the Hon. Mr. Buck, having had “the pleasure of his acquaintance” some months previous, and having been floored in a political argument with the “Western member,” was inclined to be down upon him.

“I'll snake him, I'll engage,” says Sheriff F., as he thrust “the documents” into his pocket and proceeded to hunt up the transgressor. Accidentally, as it were, who should the Sheriff meet, turning a corner into the grand trottoir, Chestnut street, but our gallant hero of ye ballot-box in the rural districts, once upon a time!

“Ah, ha-a-a! How are ye, Sheriff?” boisterously exclaims the Ex-M. C., as familiarly as you please.

“Ah, ha! Mr. Buck,” says the Sheriff, “glad (?) to see you.”

“Fine day, Sheriff?”

“Elegant, sir, prime,” says the Sheriff.

“What do you think of Mr. Jigger's speech on the Clam trade? Did you read Mr. Porkapog's speech on the widening of Jenkins's ditch?”

For which general remarks on the affairs of the nation, Sheriff F. put some corresponding replies, and so they proceeded along until they approached a well-known dining saloon, then under the supervision of a burly Englishman; and, as it was about the time people dined, and the Sheriff being a man that liked a fat dinner and a fine bottle, about as well as any body, when the Hon. Mr. Buck proposed—

“What say you, Sheriff, to a dinner and a bottle of old Sherry, at ——? We don't often meet (?), so let's sit down and have a quiet talk over things.”

“Well, Mr. Buck,” says the Sheriff, “I would like to, just as soon as not, but I've got a disagreeable bit of business with you, and it would be hardly friendly to eat your dinner before apprizing you of the fact, sir.”

“Ah! Sheriff, what is it, pray?” says the somewhat alarmed Diddler; “nothing serious, of course?”

“Oh, no, not serious, particularly; only a writ, Mr. Buck; a writ, that's all.”

“For my arrest?”

“Your arrest, sir, on sight,” says the Sheriff.

“The deuce! What's the charge!”

“Debt—false pretence—swindling!

“Ha! ha! that is a good one!” says the slight'y cornered Ex-M. C.; “well, hang it, Sheriff, don't let business spoil our digestion; come, let us dine, and then I'm ready for execution!” says the “Western member,” with well affected gaiety.

Stepping into a private room, they rang the bell, and a burly waiter appeared.

“Now, Mr. F.,” says the adroit Ex-M. C., “call for just what you like; I leave it to you, sir.”

“Roast ducks; what do you say, Buck?”


“Oyster sauce and lobster salad?”

“Good,” again echoes the Ex-M. C.

“And a—Well, waiter, you bring some of the best side dishes you have,” says the Sheriff.

“Yes, sir,” says the waiter, disappearing to fill the order.

“What are you going to drink, Sheriff?” asks the honorable gent.

“Oh! ah, yes! Waiter, bring us a bottle of Sherry; you take Sherry, Buck?”

“Yes, I'll go Sherry.”

The Sherry was brought, and partly discussed by the time the dinner was spread.

“They keep the finest Port here you ever tasted,” says the Diddler.

“Do they!” he responds; “well, suppose we try it?”

A bottle of old Port was brought, and the two worthies sat back and really enjoyed themselves in the saloon of the sumptuously kept restaurant; they then drank and smoked, until sated nature cried enough, and the Sheriff began to think of business.

“Suppose we top off with a fine bottle of English ale, Sheriff!”

“Well, be it so; and then, Buck, we'll have to proceed to the office.”

“Waiter, bring me a couple of bottles of your English ale,” says the Hon. Mr. Buck.

“Yes, sir.”

“And I'll see to the bill, Sheriff, while the waiter brings the ale,” said the Ex-M. C., leaving the room “for a moment,” to speak to the landlord.

“Landlord,” says the Diddler, “do you know that gentleman with whom I've dined in 15?”

“No, I don't,” says the landlord.

“Well,” continues Diddler, “I've no particular acquaintance with him; he invited me here to dine; I suppose he intends to pay for what he ordered, but (whispering) you had better get your money before he gets out of that room!

“Oh! oh! coming that are dodge, eh? I'll show him!” said the burly landlord, making tracks for the room, from which the Sheriff was now emerging, to look after his prisoner.

“There's for the ale,” says the Diddler, placing half a dollar in the waiter's hand; “I ordered that, and there's for it.” So saying, he vamosed.

“Say, but look here, Buck, I say, hold on; I've got a writ, and—”

“Hang the writ! Pay your bill like a gentleman, and come along!” exclaimed the Ex-M. C., making himself scarce!

It was in vain that the Sheriff stated his “authority,” and innocence in the pecuniary affairs of the dinner, for the waiter swore roundly that the other gentleman had paid for all he ordered, and the landlord, who could not be convinced to the contrary, swore that the idea was to gouge him, which couldn't be done, and before the Sheriff got off, he had his wallet depleted of five dollars; and he not only lost his prisoner, but lost his temper, at the trick played upon him by the Hon. Jeremy Diddler.


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