Man of Millions Knelt in Snow
Charles R. Flint Griefstricken at a Poor Pedler’s Mishap.
His Runaway Sleigh Horse Knocked Down James Walsh in Fifth Avenue
Rich Man Treated Poor Man Like a Brother and Sent Him to a Hospital.
“A Comfy Christmas, “says Walsh”
Lost the Price of His Family’s Dinner To-day but Doesn’t Mourn, and Will Never Say Another Word “Agin Millionaires.”
New York City, Dec 25 1896: “A millionaire, is he?” muttered James Walsh, a poor peddler, as he lay on a cot at St. Vincent’s Hospital last night. “Well, all I can say is that he’s the whitest man I ever seen in me life, an’ I’ll never say another word agin millionaires.”
A nurse and doctor came along just then. The doctor unwound the bandage from Walsh’s head, applied a saive to his wound and twined a nice fresh bandage in place of the old one. The nurse gave Walsh a drink, shook up his pillows, tucked in his bedclothes and asked him how he felt in a soothing, contralto voice.
“Just look at that!” said James Walsh when they had gone. “They act jest as if I was a millionaire meself. And all because I got run over by one’s horse and sleigh. I tell yer wot, that Mr. Flint’s a wonder. Why, he-he-he went down on his marrow lones in the snow along sider me an’ took my head on his knee – an’ It all bleedin’, too.”
The pedler’s voice broke into a curious little squeal as he told the story of a rich man’s kindess, and he turned his discolored face to the wall while he dug his knuckles into his eyes.
“An’ I heard him tellin’ the doctor,” he resumed after choking for half a minute, “to treat me white an’ give me all the luxuries at his expense. Say! I never had such a comfy Christmas as this before!”
Poverty in Their Home
James Walsh’s prospects for a “comfy” Christmas were not very bright when he started out from home yesterday morning. For a long time he has been the sole support of his father, Michael Walsh, and his mother, who is over seventy years old. The family of three live in squalid apartments at the rear of No. 71 Banks street. James, who is only twenty-two, has managed to eke out a pittance during several Summers by peddling fruit and vegetables. This Winter, however, he has been hard pushed to make any kind of a living, except in fits and starts, and he and the old people have established an intimate acquaintance with hunger. Indeed, they had quite resigned themselves to only dinner on Christmas Day, until James managed to get an order for some apples and potatoes from a family uptown, whom he had served during the Summer.
James Walsh left home at 8 o’clock, when Jack Frost was doing his level worst, and trudged northward with the potatoes and apples slung across his back. He delivered the goods to his customer, and started back home with 70 cents jingling in his pocket. That 70 cents meant a Christmas dinner for the old folks, at all events.
As Walsh came to the corner of Fifth avenue and Eighth street, the jingling of his silver was echoed by the jingle of sleigh bells. If this were a sad story, a portentous significance might be attached to those sleigh bells. But if it had not been for them James Walsh would not be enjoying half such a “comfy” Christmas as he boasted last night. Nevertheless, he would have dodged that runaway sleigh if he had seen it in time.
Millionaire Thrown Out
A strange thing had happened. Charles R. Flint, the millionaire merchant who has great ships sailing to South American ports, had been thrown out of his sleigh into the snow, with his coachman sprawling on top of him, and the master and man were now sprinting down Fifth avenue in the wake of a terrified horse shouting for somebody to stop the brute.
Walsh was too deeply absorbed in the consideration of the best kind of Christmas dinner for three that might be purchased for seventy cents to hear the outcry. He stepped into the street, just opposite the Brevoort House, and was knocked into a heap by the swiftly gliding sleigh. Both runners passed over his body.
Then happened the strangest thing of all. That is, it is strange when considered from the popular point of view, that a millionaire thinks more of his horses and dogs than he does of his obscure fellow humans. For Charles R. Flint uttered a cry of dismay when he saw the ragged peddler rollined in the snow, and left his vainable trotter to vanish in the distance while he cast himself on his knees by the injured man, and lifted James Walsh’s blood stained head tenderly to his knees.
“Dear, dear!” exclaimed the rich man – and trustworthy witnesses affirm that he was nearly crying – “too think that my horse should have done this!
“Here, some of you people! Help me carry this poor fellow into the hotel. Get him into the parlor. And somebody else go for a doctor, right away. Hurry up! I’ll make it worth your while!”
“Front” Couldn’t Keep Him Out.
There were plenty of people willing to obey the owner of such a fine sleigh, with liveried coachman and all; but when it came to carrying a disgracefully wet and dirty peddler through the sacred portals of the Brevoort House, insurrection reared its head. “Front” was scandalized to a bell boy. This gave the millionaire and opening for the use of some vigorous language, coupled with the disclosure of his identity, and an offer to pay the damage ten times over if necessary. Whereupon the insurrection collapsed.
“Tell the doctor I’m seriously injured,” commanded Mr. Flint.
Dr. Charles E. Simmons arrived presently, anxious to treat the unfortunate millionaire. But the millionaire led him to the peddler and enjoined the man of medicine to do everything in his power for James Walsh.
As a matter of fact, Walsh was not hurt so badly as might have appeared. His most serious injury was a scalp wound, which needed eight stitches to close it. Somebody had rung for an ambulance, and one came from St. Vincent’s Hospital. Mr. Flint gave the surgeon careful instructions to place Walsh in a paid ward and to give him the most careful attention and the best of diet. The bill will be sent to Mr. Flint, who also instructed Dr. Simmons to visit Walsh in the hospital and see that he received proper treatment.
The runaway horse was captured before it had done any serious harm, and the coachman led it home. Mr. Flint’s hurts were confined to a few bruises.
James Walsh lost his seventy cents when he tumbled over in the snow, but his Christmas is none the less “comfy” for that.
Originally Published by the New York Journal, NY, NY December 25, 1896