BISHOP POTTS OF UTAH.
Bishops Potts of Salt Lake Cify was the husband of three wives and the hap- py father of fifteen interesting children. Early in the winter the bishop deter- mined that his little ones should have a good time on Christmas, so he con- cluded to take a trip down to San Fran-cisco to see what he could find in the shape of toys with which to gratify and amuse them. The good bishop packed his car-pet bag, embraced Mr. Potts one by one and kissed each of her affection-ately, and started upon his journey.
He was gone a little more than a week, when he came back with fifteen beautiful mouth-organs in his valise for his darlings. He got out of the train at Salt Lake, thinking how joyous and exhilarating it would be on Christmas morning when the whole fifteen of those mouth-organs should be in oper- tion upon fifteen different tunes at the same moment. But just as he entered the depot he saw a group of women standing in the ladies' room apparently waiting for him. As soon as he ap- proached, the whole twenty of them rushed up, threw their arms about his neck and kissed him, exclaiming—
"Theodore, we are so—so glad you have come back ! Welcome home! Welcome, dear, dear Theodore! Wel-come once more to the bosom of your family!" and the entire score of them fell upon his neck and cried over his shirt front and mussed him.
The bishop seemed surprised and em-barrassed. Struggling to disengage himself, he blushed and said:
"Really, ladies, this kind of thing is well enough—it is interesting and all that; but there must be some kind of a—that is, an awkard sort of a—excuse me, ladies, but there seems to be, as it were, a slight misunderstanding about the—I am Bishop Potts."
"We know it, we know it, dearest" they exclaimed in chorus, "and we are so glad to see you safe, safe at home. We have all been right well while you were away, love."
"It gratifies me," remarked the bish-op, "to learn that none of you have been a prey to disease. I am filled with blissful serenity when I contem- plate the fact; but really I do not un-derstand why you should rush into this railway station and hug me because your livers are active and your diges- tion good. The precedent is bad; it is dangerous."
"Oh, but we didn't!" they exclaimed in chorus. "We came here to wel-come you because you are our hus-band." "Pardon me, but there must be some little—that is to say, as it were, I should think not. Women, you have mistaken your man!" "Oh no, dearest!" they shouted, "we were married to you while you were away!" "What!" exclaimed the Bishop, "you don't mean to say that—" "Yes, love. Our husband, William Brown, died on Monday, and Thurs-day Brigham had a vision in which be was directed to seal us to you; and so he performed the ceremony at once by proxy." "Th-th-th-th-under!" observed the bishop, in a general sort of a way. "And, darling, we are all living with you—we and the dear children." "Children! children!" exclaimed Bishop Potts, turning pale, "you don't mean to say that there is a pack of children, too?" "Yes, love, but only one hundred and twenty-five, not counting the eight twins and the triplet."
"Wha-wha-wha-what d' you say?" gasped the bishop, in a cold perspira-tion; "one hundred and twenty-five! One hundred and twenty-five children and twenty more wives! It is too much—it is awful!" and the bishop sat down and groaned, while the late Mrs. Brown, the bride, stood around in a semicrcle, and fanned him with her bonnets, all except the red-haired one, and she in her trepidation made a futile effort to fan him with the coal-scuttle.
But after awhile thebishop became reconciled to his new alliance, knowing well that protests would be unavailing; so he walked home, holding as many of the little hands of the bride as he could conveniently grasp in his, while the red-haired woman carried his um-brella and marched in front of the par-ade to remove obstructions and to scare off small boys.
When the bishop reached the house, he went around among the cradles which filled the back parlor and the two second story rooms, and attemped with such earnestness to become ac- quainted with his new sons and daugh-ters that he set the whole one hundred and twenty-five and the twins to cry-ing, while his own original fifteen stood around and joined in the chorus. Then the bishop went out and sat on the garden fence to whittle a stick and solemnly think, while Mrs. Potts dis-tributed herself around in twenty-three places and soothed the children. It occurred to the bishop while he mused, out there on the fence, that he had not enough mouth- organs to go around among the children as the family now stood; and so, rather than seem to be partial, he determined to go back to San Francisco for one hundred and forty-four more. So the bishop repacked his carpet-bag and began again to bid farewell to his family. He tenderly kissed all the Mrs. Potts who were at home and start-ed for the depot, while Mrs. Potts stood at the various windows and waved her handkerchiefs at him—all except the woman with the warm hair, and she, in a fit ofabsent mindedness, held one of the twins by the leg and brandished it at Potts as he fled down the street.
The bishop reached San Francisco, completed his purchases, and was just about to get on the train with his one hundred and forty-four mouth-organs, when a telegram was handed him. It contained information to the effect that the auburn-haired Mrs. Potts had just had a daughter. This induced the bishop to return to the city for the pur-pose of purchasing an additional organ.
On the following Saturday he re-turned home. As he approached the house a swarm of young children flew out of the front gate and ran toward him, shouting, "There's pa! Here comes pa ! Oh, pa, but we're glad to see you! Hurrah for pa!" etc., etc.
The bishop looked at the children as they flocked around him and clung to his legs and coat, and was astonished to see that they were neither his nor the late Brown's. He said: "You youngsters have made a mistake; I am not your father;" and the bishop smiled good naturedly.
"Oh, yes, you are though!" screamed the little ones in chorus.
"But I say I am not" said the bish-op, severely, and frowning; "you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Don't you know where little story-tellers go? It is scandalous for you to violate the truth in this manner. My name is Potts."
"Yes, we know it is," exclaimed the children—"we know it is; and so is ours; that is our name now, too, since the wedding." "Since what wedding?" demanded the bishop, turning pale. "Why, ma's wedding, of course. She was married yesterday to you by Mr. Young, and are all living at your house now with our new little brothers and sisters." The bishop sat down on the pave- ment and wiped away a tear. Then he asked—"Who was your father?" "Mr. Simpson" said the crowd, "and he died on Tuesday." "And how many of his infernal wid- ows—I mean how many of your moth- er are there ?" "Only twenty- seven" replied the children, "and there are only sixty-four of us, and we are awful glad you have come home."
The bishop did not seem to be un-usually glad ; somehow he failed to en-ter into the enthusiasm of the occasion. There appeared to be, in a certain sense, too much sameness about these surprises, so he sat there with his bat pulled over his eyes and considered the situation. Finally, seeing there was no help for it, he went to the house, and forty-eight of Mrs. Potts rushed up to him and kissed him, and told him how the prophet had had another vision, in which he was commanded to seal Simpson's widow to Potts.
Then the bishop stumbled around among the cradles to his writing- desk, where he felt among the gum rings and rattles for his letter- paper, and then addressed a note to Brigham, ask-ing him as a personal favor to keep awake until after Christmas. "The man must take me for a foundling hos-pital" he said. Then the bishop saw clearly enough that if he gave presents to the other children and not to the late Simpson's, the bride (relict of Simpson) would probably souse down on him, fumble among his hair and make things warm for him. So, repacking his car-pet-bag, he started again for San Fran-cisco for sixty-four more mouth-organs, while Mrs. Potts gradually took leave of him in the entry—all but the red-haired woman, who was up stairs, and who had to be satisfied with screeching good-bye at the top of her voice.
On his way home, after his last visit to San Francisco, the bishop sat in the car by the side of a man who had left Salt Lake the day before. The strang-er was communicative. In the course of the conversation he remarked to the bishop: "That was a mighty pretty lit-tle affair up there at the city on Mon- day." "What affair?" asked Potts. "Why, that wedding; McGrath's widow, you know—married by proxy." "You don't say" replied the bishop. "I didn't know that McGrath was dead." "Yes; died on Sunday, and that night Brigham had a vision in which he was ordered to seal her to the bishop." "Bishop!" exclaimed Potts. "Bish-op ! What bishop?" "Well, you see there were fifteen of Mrs. McGrath and eighty-two children, and they shoved the whole lot off on old Potts. Perhaps you don't know him?"
The bishop gave a wild, unearthly shriek and went into a hysterical fit, and writhed upon the floor as if he had hy-drophobia.When he recovered, he leaped from the train and walked back to San Francisco. He afterward took the first steamer to Peru, where he en-tered a monastery and became a celi-bate.
His carpet-bag was sent to his family. It contained the balance of the mouth- organs. On Christmas morning they were distributed, and in less than an hour the entire two hundred and eight children were sick from sacking the paint off of them. A doctor was called, and he seemed so much interested in the family that Brigham divarced the whole concern from old Potts and an-nexed it to the doctor, who immediate-ly lost his reason and would have butchered the entire family if the red-haired woman and the oldest boy had not marched him off to a lunatic asylum where he spent bis time trying to ar-rive at an estimate of the number of his children by ciphering with an im- possible combination of the multiplica-tion table and algebra.—Max Adeler.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.