Brave Mr Twinker
Do Scotsmen dream about being Lord Mayor of London? I’m not sure if this is a Scottish story or from further south. There aren’t any Twinkers in the ScotlandsPeople records but then it seems there has never been anyone by that name, anywhere in the UK, ever. That seems a bit odd as it sounds rather normalish, not like all the weird and wonderful surnames that often crop up. But it’s in a Scottish newspaper, and nowhere else it seems, so that’s good enough for me.
Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Saturday, July 28, 1888
It was about three o'clock in the morning, and Mr Twinker was dreaming he was Lord Mayor of London, when he was rudely awakened from this pleasant vision by feeling Mrs Twinker‘s bony elbow digging him in the ribs.
“Jeremiah!” said Mrs T. in a sepulchral voice “did you hear that?”
“What, my dear?” sleepily asked her spouse.
“Why, footsteps in the hall.”
“It’s the cat, my dear,” and he prepared to go to sleep again.
“Jeremiah! do you want to be murdered in cold blood?” asked. Mrs Twinker in a savage whisper. “I tell you there are burglars in the the house.”
“Eh! what!” exclaimed Mr T., the mention of ‘cold blood’ and ‘burglars’ having thoroughly aroused him. “Burglars, my dear! good gracious! is the door locked!”
Mr Twinker listened with a palpitating heart. There certainly seemed to be some person or persons moving about the house.
“I be—lieve your'e right, Ma—Matilda,” he whispered in a trembling voice. “Wha—what ever shall—shall we do?”
“Do! Why, you go down and fight them, Jeremiah,” said Mrs T. decidedly. “Make haste, or they'll be gone.”
“T hope they will,” murmured Mr T., not stirring out of bed.
“Jeremiah! are you going?” asked his wife. “Where's your courage?”
“But, Ma— Matilda, I have con—conscientious ob—objections to fighting,” stammered the frightened little man.
“Jeremiah! you're a coward! To think I should have married a co—coward!” almost sobbed Mrs T. “I'll tell everyone of you!”
“Why don't you do something, Matilda?—a great strong woman like you. Go and open the window, and shout fire, murder, thieves!”
“If I do that I shall frighten them away, and you won't be able to catch them.”
“I tell you I don’t want to catch them,” said the unhappy Mr T. “I wish you'd get that silly idea out of your head. I don't want to have anything to do with burglars; they’re a nasty low lot. Oh, Matilda! di—did you hear some one pa—pa—pass the do—door?’ he asked, with chattering teeth. “Isn’t it co—co—cold?”
“Yes, I did, distinctly,” answered his wife. “Now's your time, Jeremiah! One's gone upstairs, so you're sure to catch him!”
And Mrs Twinker, after a struggle, succeeded in rolling her husband out of bed. The poor little man was so terribly frightened that he didn't know in the least what he was doing. He threw one of his wife's petticoats on his shoulders, put on his tall hat, and armed himself with a bolster and a slipper. Mrs Twinker thrust a candlestick into his hand, and literally pushed him out of the room. She then, very meanly, locked the door; but immediately heard an imploring voice coming through the key-hole—
“Oh, Ma—Matilda! the house is full of them! Do le—let me in! On my be—bended knees I p—pray you to! You shall have a new bo—bonnet—you shall have an—anything! And I'll ne—never go to the clu—club again! Oh, Ma—Matilda wou—would you see your own Jer—Jer—Jeremiah mur—murdered in co—cold blood!”
Before Mrs Twinker could make any reply to his heartrending appeal, there were sounds of a desperate struggle going on just outside the door,
Mrs Twinker got a boot, hammered at the door, and called out—
“Hit him, Jeremiah! Don't be afraid! Remember you're in the volunteers! Death or glory! Remember, your fighting for me!”
There was the sound of a body rolling down stairs.
“Jeremiah!” shrieked Mrs T., “was that you?”
No answer. A death like silence prevailed.
“Oh, he's murdered! he’s murdered!” And Mrs Twinker ran to the window and shrieked—“Fire! Murder! Thieves!” as only a woman can.
Then there was a loud knocking at the front door, and a stentorian voice called out “Open, in the Queen's name!”
The Twinkers possessed a maid who was a courageous girl, and she ran down and let in two policemen. They found the unfortunate Twinker huddled up on the staircase landing, clasping the bolster to his breast. The burglars had decamped, bearing with them several pounds’ worth of plate, and they were never caught from that day to this.
Mrs Twinker, who now ventured out of her bedroom, was inexpressibly touched to hear her Jeremiah murmur—
“ I, Jeremiah Twinker, being of unsound body and mind, give and bequeath to my dear wife——“
“Poor dear!” she exclaimed, “he's making his will. You'd better run for a lawyer, Mary, though I'm afraid the poor dear's wandering.”
This seemed to arouse Mr Twinker, for he said feebly—
“No, Dear, I'm not. I can't even crawl, let alone wander. I believe both my legs are broken.”
The policemen lifted him up tenderly, and bore him to his bedroom.
“Have you taken up all of me?” he inquired pathetically. “I feel as if some part of me had been left behind.”
The servant went for a doctor, who, after a careful examination, said that he didn’t think Mr Twinker had sustained any injury beyond some severe bruises. When the doctor and policemen had gone, Mrs Twinker said reproachfully—
“I think, Jeremiah, while you were about it you might have had an arm or a rib or two broken. Think what a sensation it would have made amongst the neighbours! It would have looked so well in the papers too. You know how I like a little notoriety. But there, you always were selfish!”
The display of such utter heartlessness rendered poor Mr T. speechless. He could only bury his head underneath the bedclothes, and weep bitterly.
Mr Twinker is never tired of relating how he had a desperate conflict with six burglars. (There were only two, and one of them was a boy.) He wanted to put his weapons—the bolster and the slipper—under a glass case in the drawing-room, but Mrs T. wouldn't hear of it. The little man is immensely proud of his bruises, and displays them to his friends as if they were medals of valour. It will be a sad day for Jeremiah Twinker when those bruises fade away, and, alas! they are already showing signs of a speedy departure.
True it is that the joys of this mundane sphere are but fleeting.
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