The Organ Grinder
Trevor Johnson

In the winter of 1824, Mr. Charles Dugan of Bedord, Massachussetts wrote of his affair with Ms. Ellen Fairchild. "My pride and my principles depart whenever I am near her. My affection, this leading edge — portrayed in my most frustrated states as the impish, dancing monkey peddling nonsense for street crowds — my tender, loathsome affection an angry sea threatening to capsize the insignificant vessel adrift."

Happening unfortunately upon the letter, Mr. Dugan's wife promptly gathered up all of her possesions and her three children and fled to her father's estate on the northern coast.

Dugan seldom emerged from his home, but the affair lived on through gossip. A year later, he poisoned himself and the letters were made public. A newspaper quoted his final letter: "I have nothing. I am nothing. I close my eyes and see her; what seems now a lifetime ago, at the summer cottage, the meadows, the lake — always her. And I, the filthy organ grinder, unable to gather a coherent thought as I lay awake at night, until at last I submit and find momentary peace in sleep."

Years later, witty columnist Horace Blankenshhip wrote of a man who had trained a monkey to perform only to have the creature embarrass him during a circus act. "Much like Mr. Dugan, Mr. Forrester was only able to find peace of mind when he thrashed his monkey."

Bobby scrolled to the top of the screen and titled the essay Colloquial Origins. He hoped Mrs. Palmer wouldn't make him read it aloud.

First published: August, 2009
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