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55 CHAPTER XI. Questions which seemed no chance of being answered.— My name accounted for—Calvin Peterson, and his boarder—Curiosity of Covert. wigglesworth was certainly a little demented. “How do you know your name ought to be Jack Engle? It’s right, of course—O, of course. But why don’t you inquire ? Inquire of whom? Who knows? Perhaps I know; perhaps Covert knows; perhaps Ephraim Foster knows.” These were some of the sagacious remarks of Wigglesworth , jerked out now and then, when no one was in the office but we two. Since his conversion to Methodism, the old man had altogether given up drinking, and the result was, that without the stimulant which had been his accustomed support for fifty years, he felt low spirited enough at times. He looked worse than ever; and, after taking the advice of Ephraim, I counselled the old man to indulge himself moderately in drinking. For it was now too late; Wigglesworth stood with one foot in the grave, and, to deprive him totally of drink, we thought likely, under the 56 circumstances, to do him more harm than good. If he had reformed in that respect years before, however, he would no doubt have now been a healthier and a happier man. With respect to my name being what appears at the head of this auto-biography, all that I knew about it was this—for Ephraim and Violet had informed me of as much, and it tallied with my own recollection: Jack Engle was the name whereby I called myself, and remembered being called among the very few who use more than my first appellative; it was the name which I gave at our first acquaintance to Violet’s serious questionings . Moreover, the morning I came, in my rags, to the benevolent milkman’s door, I was wearing in my ear a ring, some three-quarters of an inch in diameter, which I never remembered being put there, but which I knew had hung there as long as my childish memory could know anything about it. It was a plain round ring, with a thick square bar straight across the lower quarter; and somehow had stuck to me through all my wanderings. Probably this good luck was attributable to the fact that the ring, in its dimness and dirt, passed for nothing more valuable than brass. Upon an examination which Violet made, soon after their adoption of me, this ring proved to be of gold. The little cross bar was double, and when the two parts were separated, there was plainly to be seen, on the one which was concealed before, the words “Jack Engle”; a discovery which so confirmed my juvenile traditions that Ephraim and his wife concluded to give up their first intention of 57 bestowing upon me their own name. Besides, they had some honest religious scruples about their right to make any change. Who knew but what I had been christened with that name? A year afterward an incident occurred which, although perhaps of no importance, may as well be mentioned here; for it was one of the very few links which had any connection with the mystery of who the deuce I was, and whence I came. Our pious acquaintance, once casually alluded to in the last chapter, Mr. Calvin Peterson, eked out a frequently scanty living by taking boarders. Calvin wouldn’t have any but pious ones; and his accommodations were not very select. One of his inmates—perhaps two years subsequent to the period described in the second chapter, where I do myself the honor of making the reader’s acquaintance—was a middle aged man, who stayed with the Petersons only a couple of weeks, waiting the departure of a brig in which he was going to take passage for a port in South America. The man said very little about himself, except that he was bound abroad with the intention of bettering his fortunes, and had no particular idea of soon returning. Once when I was there playing with Tom Peterson, a boy of my own age, this man, hearing him call my name in full, came down on the back stoop; and I remember his standing so long and looking so gravely at me that I noticed it, and felt a childish feeling of annoyance. 58 The next morning, he came around to Ephraim’s, asked for me, drew me to his side, and looking at me again as before...


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