December 1991

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No Pocket


Sarah Winter Kellogg

St. Nicholas Magazine, December 1876

It was at Kate McPherson's Christmas party that the announcement was made,— in the dining-room, where the scores of bright children were assembled to partake of the good things which Mrs. McPherson had bountifully provided,—Jimmy Johnson made the announcement, and this it was: "Bushy Caruthers aint got no pocket!"

Jimmy delivered this in such tones and with such a manner as he might have used if he had said: "Bushy Caruthers aint got no thumbs!" or "Bushy Caruthers aint got no nose!"

"Hasn't he?" said Bobby Smedley, with as much eager concern as Jimmy Johnson, or, indeed, the most exacting news-bearer could have asked or desired.

"Hasn't he?" said also Dickey Simpkins.

There was that in Dickey's tone which added, "I'm glad I'm not in Bushy's trousers."

Nellie Partridge, who was one of Jimmy Johnson's audience, opened her eyes roundly and puckered her mouth into a perfect O, and then gave vent to a long "W-h-y!" of astonishment.

"No, he aint got no pocket," Jimmy repeated with no abatement in his can-you-believe-it manner.

"That's 'cause he's a little boy," said Tommy Mayneer, who was large of his age.

With this explanation, Tommy thrust his hands into his trousers' pockets, drew himself up to the full capacity of his inches, and marched back and forth a few paces with great dignity.

Nellie Partridge, who, I much fear, will in time grow to be a gossip, hurried over to the group of children in the next corner, and repeated, with solemn eyes:

"Say! Bushy Caruthers aint got no pocket!"

"Did you ever?" said one little auditor. "It's too bad," said another. "Why!" exclaimed a third, hurrying away to carry the story to the next group of children. Then the word went to the company of little folks collected at the window; thence to the children outside the dining-room door in the hall, on and on, until everybody knew that Bushy Caruthers was so unfortunate as to be at a party where candy and nuts and oranges and all manner of good things abounded, and where there was a Christmas-tree, and yet to have no pocket.

What made it worse was, that it was Mrs. McPherson's way at her Katie's Christmas parties always to insist upon each little guest filling his or her pockets with good things "to take home."

Poor Bushy!

After a while the word reached Bushy himself. Of course he knew he hadn't any pocket before the children flocked around him with their expressions of condolence and their eager inquiries and exclamations of concern; but until he had heard these, and seen the consternation in the little faces, he had no conception of the magnitude of his misfortune. When this really dawned upon Bushy, he thought he ought to cry; but that seemed too much like baby-conduct. So he perked up his head with an heroic look in his funny little face, and rolled his eyes from one to another of his condolers, as if he would say, "Well, if I aint got any pocket, I'm going to bear my trouble like a man."

"Well, Bushy," Barney Williamson advised, "you eat all the candy and jelly and nuts and cake and oranges you can hold."

"What makes um call you Bushy, anyhow?" asked Henry Clay Martin. "You aint bushy a bit; you're slick as my black-and-tan terrier," and Henry Clay looked the unfortunate over from the crown of his glossy black head to the soles of his polished gaiters.

"My name's Bushrod, and they call me Bushy for short," was the explanation; whereupon a dozen or more children proceeded to tell what their right names were and what they were called for short.

Meantime Bushy, in accordance with Barney Williamson's advice, was engaged in storing away cakes and candies, regardless of headaches and doctors. At the end of fifteen minutes he had probably discovered the limit of his capacity; for at this time he went over to his papa with both hands full of bon-bons, and emptied them in that gentleman's big coat-pocket; and when papa looked behind him for an explanation of the pullings, and so on, Bushy said, pathetically:

"I aint got no pocket, papa."

"You have no pocket, you mean," corrected papa, gently.

"Yes, sir, I haven't no pocket.

In a few moments he was back again, and papa felt another tugging at his coat behind, and heard something rattling down into his pocket; again came the explanation from Bushy: "I aint got no pocket, papa."

It was not long after this before the folds of mamma's silk dress were disturbed, and down on top of her lace handkerchief streamed the candy and nuts from Bushy's overflowing hands, attended by the inevitable explanation: "I aint got no pocket, mamma. Katie says we must all take home something."

Again and again was the silk-dress pocket visited, for it was roomy, and mamma, busy in conversation, was unconscious of the visitations.

Then Bushy's sister, Minnie, thirteen years old, was petitioned to lend the aid of her pocket to the pocketless boy. Beside this, Bobby Smedley, whose home was just across the street from Bushy's, volunteered the loan of one-quarter of one of his pockets for the transportation of Bushy's nicknacks. Miriam Endicott, who lived next door to the unfortunate boy, hearing of Bobby Smedley's generosity, forthwith devoted a half of her roomy pocket to Bushy's relief.

But it was when the children had gone upstairs to the parlors where the Christmas-tree stood, that Bushy's concern attained its height.

"S'pose," he said to Barney Williamson, remembering Barney's role as adviser, "s'pose I was to get a great lot of things—that ball"—and he pointed to the spangled, radiant tree, with its wonderful blossoms and fruit—"and that top, and that drum, and that trumpet with a whistle, and, oh! them two wrasling heathen Chinee, and that whistle, and that cannon, and that velocipede, and that locomotive, and that there wheel-barrow, and a great lot more, how could I get them all home?—'cause I aint got no pocket, you know."

"Well I'll tell you," said the ready Barney. "I'll pack all the other things in your wheelbarrow, you know, and roll 'em home for you."

Bushy did get the wheel-barrow, sure enough, and soon had it loaded up.

You may well believe there was laughing at Bushy's house when all the pockets were emptied, and all the boxes and baskets. Such heaps of candy! such piles of cakes! such quantities of almonds and raisins, mottoes, lady-apples, oranges, and other good things, as were displayed! In Bushy's eagerness he had actually smuggled a chicken's wing and buttered biscuit into his mother's keeping. There was enough, as he said, ecstatically, for another party.

If he had gone to Katie's entertainment with pockets all over his chubby little form, he could not have fared so well.

"Mamma," said Bushy, gravely, as he cracked an almond between his white teeth, his black eyes, meanwhile, sweeping the table which held his collection of sweets, "don't never put no pocket in my party-breeches."

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