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Twelve Stories and a Dream

11.
Mr. Brisher's Treasure
"You can't be TOO careful WHO you marry," said Mr. Brisher, and pulled thoughtfully
with a fat-wristed hand at the lank moustache that hides his want of chin.
"That's why--" I ventured.
"Yes," said Mr. Brisher, with a solemn light in his bleary, blue-grey eyes, moving his
head expressively and breathing alcohol INTIMATELY at me. "There's lots as 'ave 'ad a
try at me--many as I could name in this town--but none 'ave done it--none."
I surveyed the flushed countenance, the equatorial expansion, the masterly carelessness
of his attire, and heaved a sigh to think that by reason of the unworthiness of women he
must needs be the last of his race.
"I was a smart young chap when I was younger," said Mr. Brisher. "I 'ad my work cut
out. But I was very careful--very. And I got through . . ."
He leant over the taproom table and thought visibly on the subject of my trustworthiness.
I was relieved at last by his confidence.
"I was engaged once," he said at last, with a reminiscent eye on the shuv-a'penny board.
"So near as that?"
He looked at me. "So near as that. Fact is--" He looked about him, brought his face close
to mine, lowered his voice, and fenced off an unsympathetic world with a grimy hand. "If
she ain't dead or married to some one else or anything--I'm engaged still. Now." He
confirmed this statement with nods and facial contortions. "STILL," he said, ending the
pantomime, and broke into a reckless smile at my surprise. "ME!"
"Run away," he explained further, with coruscating eyebrows. "Come 'ome.
"That ain't all.
"You'd 'ardly believe it," he said, "but I found a treasure. Found a regular treasure."
I fancied this was irony, and did not, perhaps, greet it with proper surprise. "Yes," he
said, "I found a treasure. And come 'ome. I tell you I could surprise you with things that
has happened to me." And for some time he was content to repeat that he had found a
treasure--and left it.
I made no vulgar clamour for a story, but I became attentive to Mr. Brisher's bodily
needs, and presently I led him back to the deserted lady.
 
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