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Title: Jap Herron - A Novel Written from the Ouija Board
Author: Hutchings, Emily Grant
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jap Herron - A Novel Written from the Ouija Board" ***

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Emily Grant Hutchings








On the afternoon of the second Thursday in March, 1916, I responded to
an invitation to the regular meeting of a small psychical research
society.  There was to be a lecture on cosmic relations, and the
hostess for the afternoon, whom I had met twice socially, thought I
might be interested, my name having appeared in connection with a
recently detailed series of psychic experiments.  To all those present,
with the exception of the hostess, I was a total stranger.  I learned,
with some surprise, that these men and women had been meeting, with an
occasional break of a few months, for more than five years.  The record
of these meetings filled several type-written volumes.

When word came that the lecturer was unavoidably detained, the hostess
requested Mrs. Lola V. Hays to entertain the members and guests by a
demonstration of her ability to transmit spirit messages by means of a
planchette and a lettered board.  The apparatus was familiar to me; but
the outcome of that afternoon's experience revealed a new use for the
transmission board.  After several messages, more or less personal, had
been spelled out, the pointer of the planchette traced the words:

"Samuel L. Clemens, lazy Sam."  There was a long pause, and then:
"Well, why don't some of you say something?"

I was born in Hannibal, and my pulses quickened.  I wanted to put a
host of questions to the greatest humorist and the greatest philosopher
of modern times; but I was an outsider, unacquainted with the usages of
the club, and I remained silent while the planchette continued:

"Say, folks, don't knock my memoirs too hard.  They were written when
Mark Twain was dead to all sense of decency.  When brains are soft, the
method should be anæsthesia."

Not one of those present had read Mark Twain's memoirs, and the plaint
fell upon barren soil.  The arrival of the lecturer prevented further
confession from the unseen communicant; but I was so deeply impressed
that I begged my hostess to permit me to come again.  For my benefit a
meeting was arranged at which there was no lecturer, and I was asked to
sit for the first time with Mrs. Hays.

In my former psychic investigation, it had been my habit to pronounce
the letters as the pointer of the planchette indicated them, and Mrs.
Hays urged me to render the same service when I sat with her, because
she never permitted herself to look at the board, fearing that her own
mind would interfere with the transmission.  Scarcely had our
finger-tips touched the planchette when it darted to the letters which
spelled the words:

"I tried to write a romance once, and the little wife laughed at it.  I
still think it is good stuff and I want it written.  The plot is
simple.  You'd best skeletonize the plot.  Solly Jenks, Hiram
Wall--young men.  Time, before the Civil War."

Then the outline of a typical Mark Twain story came in short, explosive
sentences.  It was entitled, "Up the Furrow to Fortune."  A brief
account of its coming seems vital to the more sustained work which was
destined to follow it.  I was not present at the next regular meeting
of the society; but at its close I was summoned to the telephone and
informed that Mark Twain had come again and had said that "the Hannibal
girl" was the one for whom he and Mrs. Hays had been waiting.  When
they asked him what he meant, the planchette made reply:

"Consult your record for 1911."

One of the early volumes of the society's record was brought forth, and
a curious fact that all the members of the society had forgotten was
unearthed.  About a year after his passing out, Mr. Clemens had told
Mrs. Hays that he had carried with him much valuable literary material
which he yearned to send back, and that he would transmit stories
through her, if she could find just the right person to sit with her at
the transmission board.  Although she experimented with each member of
the club, and with several of her friends who were sympathetic though
not avowed investigators, he was not satisfied with any of them.  Then
she gave up the attempt and dismissed it from her mind.  A
twenty-minute test with me seemed to convince him that in me he had
found the negative side of the mysterious human mechanism for which he
had been waiting.

The work of transmitting that first story was attended with the
greatest difficulty.  No less than three distinct styles of diction,
accompanied by correspondingly distinct motion in the planchette under
our fingers, were thrust into the record.  At first we were at a loss
to understand these intrusions.  That they were intrusions there could
be no doubt.  In each case there was a sharp deviation from the plot of
the story, as it had been given to us in the synopsis.  After one of
these experiences, which resulted in the introduction of a paragraph
that was rather clever but not at all pertinent.  Mark regained control
with the impatiently traced words:

"Every scribe here wants a pencil on earth."

Not until the middle of summer did we achieve that sureness of touch
which now enables us to recognize, intuitively, the presence of the one
scribe whose thoughts we are eager to transmit.  That the story of Jap
Herron and the two short stories which preceded it are the actual
post-mortem work of Samuel L. Clemens, known to the world as Mark
Twain, we do not for one moment doubt.  His individuality has been
revealed to us in ways which could leave no question in our minds.  The
little, intimate touches which reveal personality are really of more
importance than the larger and more conspicuous fact that neither Mrs.
Hays nor I could have written the fiction that has come across our
transmission board.  Our literary output is well known, and not even
the severest psychological skeptic could assert that it bears any
resemblance to the literary style of "Jap Herron."

Mrs. Hays has found the best market for her short stories with one of
the large religious publishing houses, and in the early days Mark Twain
seemed to fear that her subconscious mind might inadvertently color or
distort his thought, in process of transmission.  We had come to the
end of our fourth session when he added this:

"There will be minor errors that you will be able to take care of.  I
don't object.  Only--don't try to correct my grammar.  I know what I
want to say.  And, dear ladies, when I say d-a-m-n, please don't write
d-a-r-n.  Don't try to smooth it out.  This is not a smooth story."

That Mark should fear the blue pencil, at our hands, amused us greatly.
The story bristles with profanity and is roughly picturesque in its
diction.  It deals with a section of the Ozark country with which
neither of us is familiar, and in the speech of the natives there are
words that we had never heard, that are included in no dictionary but
are, it transpires, perfectly familiar to the primitive people in the
southwestern part of the state.  When the revision of the story was
almost complete.  Mark interrupted the dictation, one afternoon, to

"You are too tired.  Forces must be strong for results.  Somebody
handed you a lemon, back there.  Cut out that part about the apple at
fly time.  I am not carping.  You have done well.  The interpretation
is excellent.  I was afraid of femininity.  Women have their ideas, but
this is not a woman's story.  Good-bye."

There was another meeting, at which the revision of "Up the Furrow to
Fortune" was completed, and then we went to work on the second story,
"A Daughter of Mars."  As in the case of the first one, it began with a
partial synopsis.  Vallon Leithe, an enthusiastic aeronaut, was resting
after a long flight, when a strange air-craft fell out of the sky,
lodging in the top of a great tree.  The occupant of the marvelously
constructed flying machine proved to be a girl from the planet Mars.
Her name was Ulethe, and she had many thrilling adventures on our
earth.  The synopsis ended with the wholly unexpected words:

"Now, girls, it is not yet clear in my mind whether we'd better send
Ulethe back to Mars, kill her, marry her to Leithe, or have an
expedition from Mars raise the dickens.  But we will let it develop

The board, on which two short stories and a novel have already been
transmitted, is one of the ordinary varieties, a polished surface over
which the planchette glides to indicate the letters of the alphabet and
the figures from 1 to 10.  In the main our dictation came without any
apparent need for marks of punctuation.  Occasionally the words
"quotation marks," or "Put that in quotes" would be interjected.  Once
when my intonation, as I pronounced the words for the amanuensis who
was keeping our record, seemed to indicate a direct statement, the
planchette whirled under our fingers and traced the crisp statement, "I
meant that for a question."

When I told my husband of these grippingly intimate evidences of an
unseen personality, it occurred to him that a complete set of
punctuation marks, carefully applied in India ink, where the pointer of
the planchette could pick them out as they were required, would
facilitate the transmission of sustained narrative.  To him it seemed
that the absence of these marks on the board must be maddening,
especially to Mark Twain, whose thought could be hopelessly distorted
by the omission of so trivial a thing as a comma, and whose subtle use
of the colon was known to all the clan of printers.  Before our next
meeting the board had been duly adorned with ten of the most important
marks, including the hyphen and the M-dash.  The comma was at the head
of the right-hand column and the apostrophe at the bottom.  My husband,
Mrs. Hays and I knew exactly what all these markings meanly yet we had
some confusion because Mark insisted on using the comma when he wished
to indicate a possessive case.  The sentence was this, as I understood

"I was not wont to disobey my father, scommand."

Instantly my husband, who had become interested and had taken the place
of our first amanuensis, perceived that I had made a mistake, when I
pronounced the combination, "f-a-t-h-e-r, comma, s-c-o-m-m-a-n-d."

"But," I defended myself, "the pointer went to the comma.  I can see
now that it should have been the apostrophe."  As I spoke the pointer
of the planchette traced the words on the board:

"Edwin did a pretty piece of work, but that apostrophe is too far down.
I am in danger of falling off the board every time I make a run for it."

The result was that another apostrophe was placed in the middle of the
board, directly under the letter S.  In connection with the M-dash we
had a yet more startling evidence of an outside personality, one
dependent on us for his means of communication, but wholly independent
of our thought and knowledge.  Mark had dictated the synopsis for the
second story and had enlarged upon the first situation.  Then, as has
since become his fixed habit, he indicated that the serious work for
the evening was ended, and returned for an informal chat.  Mrs. Hays
and I had discussed the plot at some lengthy and after my husband had
read aloud the second evening's dictation we commented on some of the
obscure points, our fingers resting, the while, lightly on the
planchette.  Suddenly it became agitated, assumed a vigorous sweeping
motion and traced very rapidly these words:

"It is starting good; but will you two ladies stop speculating?  I am
going to take care of this story.  Don't try to dictate.  You are
interrupting the thread of the story.  There is ample time for
smoothing the rough places.  I am not caviling.  I am well pleased."
After a pause, he continued: "There is the same class of
interruption--those who could write stories, but are not to write
my----"  At this, the planchette turned to the M-dash and slid back and
forth under it several times.  It then spelled the word "stories."  We
were utterly at a loss, until he explained: "I was using that black
line for an underscore."

Again and again we have had the word "good" in an adverbial
construction, a usage that is not common to either Mrs. Hays or me; but
Mark has told us that he liked it, in familiar conversation.  We have
tried to adhere with absolute fidelity to even the seeming errors which
came over the board.

The second installment of the story gave all of us much trouble.
Incidentally it served to develop several bits of humorous
conversation.  When it was finished, we received this comment:

"I think that is all we can do to-night.  I intend to enlarge upon this
chapter before going further.  The forces are not strong enough
to-night.  We will rewrite this part Monday night."

We naturally expected a rehandling of that installment, which for
convenience he had designated a "chapter."  To our surprise, the
pointer of the planchette gave this:

"I have changed my mind.  We will proceed to New York.  I will probably
want to handle chapter second in a different way.  It reads like a
printed porous plaster; but that is no one's fault.  Begin!"

The dictation went smoothly, and there were no interruptions from the
unseen rivals who had so persistently contested Mark Twain's right to
the exclusive use of our "pencil."  Before the next meeting I was urged
to take a prominent part in another piece of psychic work, and to
persuade both my husband and Mrs. Hays to join me.  I said nothing to
either one of them about it, intending to discuss it with them when the
evening's work was over.  As soon, however, as we applied our finger
tips to the planchette, this astonishing communication came:

"I am afraid that my pencil-holders are going to get wound up in other
stuff that will make much confusion.  I heard Emily talking over the
telephone and making promises that are not good for our work."

When I had been questioned concerning the meaning of this rebuke, and
had explained its import, Mark added: "If we are going to make good
there must be concentration, to that end.  Get busy."  We did!  It was
a hot July night, and the planchette flew over the board so swiftly
that at times I could scarcely keep pace with it as I pronounced the
letters.  With other amanuenses I had been forced to pronounce the
finished words, and to repeat sentences in whole or in part; but after
my husband came into the work this was not necessary.  As much as a
score of letters might be run together, to be divided into words after
the dictation was ended.  Sometimes, when I had failed utterly to catch
the thought, and would hesitate or ask to have the thing repeated, my
husband would say to me: "Don't stop him.  I know what it means."  Mrs.
Hays avoided looking at the board lest her own mind interfere with the
transmission, and with less efficient help, the entire responsibility
had been on me.  When I came to realize that nothing was expected of me
beyond the mere pronouncing of the letters, the three of us developed
swiftly into a smoothly working machine.  Yet Mark was constantly
worried for fear that my heart would be alienated and that I would "go
chasing after strange gods," as he once put it.

When he had finished the fifth installment of the story, with a climax
that surprised and puzzled us, he said:

"I reckon we had better lay by for a few days till I get this thing
riffled out.  It has slipped its tether.  I have had such things happen
often.  Don't get scared."

We discussed the use of the word "riffle," and then Mark became serious.

"I don't want to be disappointed in the Hannibal girl.  I have been
trying for several years to get through to the light.  I don't want a
false sentiment for a crew of fanatics to wreck my chance.  I don't
want to act nasty, but if you go into that other work I am likely to
ruin your reputation.  You are likely to explode into some of the
mediocre piffle that is the height and depth of such would-be
communications with the other world.  There is nothing to hold to.  So,
my dear girls, if you want a future, cut it out.  I don't want to
command all your time, but right now it is best to avoid all

It is needless to say I declined the invitation.  After this, whenever
anything went wrong, the rebuke or complaint was invariably addressed
to me.  When there were humorous or pleasant things to be said, they
were dispensed equally to the three of us, whom Mark Twain had come to
designate as "my office force."  Two bits of personal communication
came within the succeeding week which seem to have a bearing on the
whole mysterious experience.  That second installment was undertaken
and abandoned again and again.  Finally he said:

"I am going ahead with the main body of the story.  There will be
another round with that second chapter, but not until the theme is
fully developed.  The second chapter sticks in my throat like the
cockleburr that I tried to swallow when I was five.  It won't slip down
or come up."

We had worked patiently on the latter part of the narrative and had
accomplished a big evening's work, when the dictation was interrupted
by this remark:

"It is going good; but I sure wish that I had Edwin's pipe."

We fairly gasped with astonishment; but we had no time for comment, as
the planchette continued its amazing revelation:

"Smoke up, old man, for auld lang syne.  In the other world they don't
know Walter Raleigh's weed, and I have not found Walter yet to make
complaint.  I forget about it till I get Edwin's smoke.  But for pity's
sake, Ed, cut out that tobacco you were trying out.  It made me sick.
I hoped it would get you, so that you wouldn't try it again."

My husband; whom neither Mrs. Hays nor I would, under any
circumstances, address by the abbreviation of his name, "Ed," asked
Mark what tobacco he had in mind.  He replied:

"That packet you were substituting, or that some one that had a grudge
against you gave you."

A comparison of dates revealed the fact that on the evening when that
troublesome second installment was transmitted, my husband had smoked
some heavy imported tobacco that had been given to him by a friend he
had met that afternoon.  The circumstance had passed from the minds of
all of us.  Indeed, it had never impressed us in the least, and it had
not occurred to any of us that our unseen visitor still retained the
sense of smell, or that he could distinguish between two brands of
tobacco.  He had given evidence of both sight and hearing, had told us
frequently that he was tired, at the end of a long evening's work, and
had made other incidental revelations of his environment and condition:
but his reference to the pipe was more significant than any of them.

Early in August, when our second story was nearing completion, the
transmission began with this curious bit, which none of us understood
for a long time:

"Emily, I think that when we finish this story we will do a pastoral of
Missouri.  There appear high lights and shadows, purple and dark, and
the misty pink of dawnings that make world-weary ones have surcease."

Not until "Jap Herron" was more than half finished did we realize that
it was the Missouri pastoral.  There was one other veiled reference to
that story which must not be omitted.  We had planned a trip to New
York, for some time in October or early November, although we had never
discussed it while at the board.  One evening Mark terminated his
dictation abruptly, and said:

"Emily, I think well of your plan."  I asked what plan he referred to.
"New York.  I will go, too.  I will try to convince them that I am not
done working.  I am rejuvenated and want to finish my work.  When I was
in New York last I had a very beautiful dream.  I did not understand it
then.  It meant that my days were numbered, and gave me the picture of
an angel bringing a book from heaven to earth, and on its cover was
blazoned this: MARK TWAIN'S COMPLIMENTS.  Ask them what they think
about that.  I was so tired--so tired that I could not rest.  A cool
hand seemed to soothe my weariness away and I slept, and, sleeping,

When I found that passage in the early part of our record, I wondered
if "Jap Herron" might be the book sent to earth with Mark Twain's
compliments.  I asked him about it, one evening when our regular
dictation had been finished.  The reply was a slow journey of the
planchette to the word, "Yes," followed by the rapidly spelled words,
"But old Mark isn't done talking yet."

We assumed that he had something further to say to us, and when I asked
him what he wanted to talk about, he gave this tantalizing reply:

"Curious?  Wait and see."  Then, after a pause, "I shall have other
work for my office force."

The explanation of this cryptic statement was not given until we had
completed the final revision of the story.  Before I reveal what he had
in mind, I wish to state that which is to me the most convincing proof
of the supernormal origin of the three stories that had been traced,
letter by letter, on our transmission board.  That they come through
Mrs. Hays, there can be no doubt whatever.  My total lack of psychic
power has been abundantly demonstrated.  Mrs. Hays has written much
light fiction; but it is necessary for her to write a story at one
sitting.  If it does not come "all in one piece" it is foredoomed to
failure.  I know nothing of Mark Twain's habits; but in all the work we
have done for him, the first draft has been rough and vigorous, and
sweeping changes have been made by him while the work was undergoing
revision.  In the case of "Jap Herron" some of the most important
changes were made without a rereading of the story, changes that
involved incidents which we had forgotten, and for which I was
compelled to search the original record.  When I had substituted these
passages for the ones they were to supplant, I made a typewritten copy
of the entire story and we read it aloud to Mark.  Mrs. Hays and I sat
with our finger tips on the planchette so that he could interrupt; but
he made only a few minor corrections.  The story had been virtually
rewritten twice, although a few of the chapters, as they now stand, are
exactly as they were transmitted, not so much as a word having been
changed.  The only change made in the fourteenth chapter came near the
end, where Mark had suggested a line of dashes or stars to bridge the
break between Jap's leaving his mother and the announcement that his
mother was dead.  Forty-eight words were dictated to show what Jap
actually did, in that painful interim, the three sentences being
rounded out by the words, "There, I think that sounds better."

Sometimes, in the course of the revision, we have been interrupted by
the jerkily traced words, "Try this," or "We'll fix that better," or "I
told Emily to take out those repetitions."  It has happened that he
used the same word four times in one paragraph, and in copying I have
substituted the obvious synonym.  Occasionally he did not approve of my
correction and would rebuke me sharply.  In the main he has expressed
himself as well pleased with the labor I have spared him.  On the 10th
of January, 1916, Mrs. Hays came to my home for a last reading of the
finished manuscript.  When she read it through, I asked her to sit at
the board with me.  There was something about which I wanted to
question Mark, and I did not wish her mind to interfere in any way with
the answer.  Mrs. Hays had had two curious psychic experiences in
connection with our work.  The first came to her when we were still at
work on "A Daughter of Mars."  It was in the form of a vivid dream in
which Mark Twain said to her, "Don't be discouraged, Lola.  All that we
have done in the past is just forging the hammer for the larger strokes
we are going to make."  The second was similar; but the man who
appeared to her was a stocky, bald-headed man in a frock coat.  When
she asked him who he was and what he wanted, he replied, "Mark Twain
sent me to call on you."

At this time, "Jap Herron" was being revised, and she supposed that
this man, with the striking personality, would be introduced somewhere.
However, the story was ended, and no such character had appeared.  I
wanted to know whether or not the dream was significant.  I said:

"Mark, did you ever send anybody to call on Lola?"  The planchette

"Yes, I sent him.  We will do another story.  We will wait until the
smoke of this one clears away.  I want Emily to have a rest, and many
other things will be adjusted.  I would like to have my old office
force.  It is to be a bigger book than this one--more important.  The
man I sent you was Brent Roberts."

We dropped our hands in amazement.  Brent Roberts appears twice in the
Jap Herron story.  He is not half so conspicuous as Holmes, the
saloon-keeper, or Hollins, the grocer.  In truth, we had scarcely
noticed him.  I asked:

"Mark, are you going to give a sequel to 'Jap Herron'?"  He said:

"No.  Brent Roberts had a story before he elected to spend his last
years in Bloomtown.  Now, girls, don't speculate.  I am taking care of
Brent Roberts."

He added that it was "up to Emily" to give his book to the world, and
that he intended to explore a little of the Uncharted Country while he
was waiting for his office force to resume work.  Once I asked him,
while he was transmitting "A Daughter of Mars," whether he had ever
visited that planet.  He replied:

"No, this is pure fiction.  I elected to return to earth.  I wanted to
take the taste of those memoirs out of my mouth."

One other passage from the early record may profitably precede the
actual story of Jap's coming.  We were in the midst of the most
critical revision.  My husband was commanded to read the story,
paragraph by paragraph.  When there was no comment, the planchette
remained motionless under our fingers, but there were few passages that
escaped some change.  Several times the changed wording conflicted with
something farther along in the story, and it was necessary to go back
and make another correction.  The revision sheets covered a big table,
and my husband found it very exasperating to make the corrections.  At
length Mark said:

"Smoke up and cool off, old boy.  Perhaps I should apologize.  The last
secretary I had used to wear an ice-soaked towel inside his head.  The
girls and old Mark together make a riffle.  Well, we will slow up.  In
my ambition, I have been too eager.  It is hard to explain how great a
thing is the power to project my mentality through the clods of
oblivion.  I have so long sought for an opening.  Be patient, please.
I am not carping.  I get Edwin's position.  We will be easy with the
new saddle, so the nag won't run away.  I heard Edwin's suggestion, and
it is a good one.  We will go straight through the story, beginning
where we left off to-night.  That was what I intended to do, but that
second chapter nipped me."

When next we met we had no thought of any other work than the revision
of the story on which we had been working at frequent intervals for
about two months.  We never knew whether a session at the board would
begin with a bit of personal conversation or a prolonged stretch of
dictation.  We held ourselves passive, ready to fall in with the humor
or whim of our astonishingly human though still intangible guest.  The
beginning of that evening's work--it was the 6th of September--was
almost too great an upheaval for me.  The planchette fairly raced as it
spelled the words:

"This story will have legitimate chapters.  Nosy nopsis.  Then
ameisjapherron.  Begin.  Asevery well-bred story has a hero, and as the
reseems better material in jap than in any other party to this story,
we will dignify him."

I wanted to stop, but my husband insisted that I make no break in the
impatient dictation.  He had perceived that the first string of letters
spelled the words, "No synopsis.  The name is Jap Herron," but I could
not see his copy, and to my mind the sentences spelled chaos.  A little
farther along I ventured an interruption, when we had transmitted the
sentence, "The folks in Happy Hollow continued to say Magnesia long
after she left its fragrant depths."  I had just spelled out the name,
Agnesia, and I was too deeply engrossed with the labor of following the
letters to even attempt to understand the meaning.  I turned to my
husband and said:

"It probably didn't intend to stop on that letter M," whereat the
planchette rebuked my stupidity thus: "Emily, they called her Magnesia."

After that, I contrived to get control of my nerves, and the rest of
the dictation was not so difficult.  When we had received the crisp
final sentence, "And stay he did," the planchette went right on with
this information, "This is the first copy of the first chapter.  There
will be 25 or more chapters.  This is enough for this time, as the
office force is a little weak.  But results ... very good.  We will
finish the other story and dip into this at the next session.  There
will be better speed in this, for there will be no revision until it is
finished.  We will work hard and fast.  Emily may meet folks she knows
in this tale, for she knows a town with a river and a Happy Hollow.  I
did not intend to start another story so soon, but other influences are
so strong that they may try to dominate the board.  This will not tire
you so much.  You must be determined not to permit intruders.  If they
are recognized, you will not be free of them again.  I am pushed aside.
Leave the board when they appear.  Good-bye."

The use of the name, Happy Hollow, forms a link with Hannibal; but if
any of the characters in "Jap Herron" were drawn from life, they must
have belonged to Mark Twain's generation and not to mine.  Mark never
seems to take into account the fact that he left Hannibal before I was
born, and that there have been many changes in the old town.  The
character of Jacky Herron may have been suggested by a disreputable
drunken fisherman whose experiences I have heard my father relate; but
there is one little touch in that first chapter that must have come
from Mark's own mind, since the underlying fact was not known to any of
us until we read Walter Prichard Eaton's article on birds' nests,
months later.  When we transmitted that statement, "The father of the
little Herrons was a kingfisher," none of us knew that the kingfisher's
home nest is a filthy hole, close to the river bank.  The application
is too perfect to have been accidental.

Before another chapter of the story was transmitted, I went to spend a
morning with Mrs. Hays.  At the request of her son, we consented to
allay his curiosity by a visible demonstration of the workings of the
mysterious board, of which he had necessarily heard much.  He hoped to
receive some definite communication from his father, or the sister who
had died in her girlhood; but this is what he recorded:

"Emily, I gave those synopses not for a guide but to prevent others
from imposing their ideas and confusing you.  It might be said that it
made it easier for you, but that idea is wrong.  It would be easier to
write the story direct.  You have learned that this was wise, because
constant efforts have been made to break in and alter the stories.  For
this reason I gave you the synopses, so that you could not be deceived.
Now I am going to trust you.  I intended to advise you that it would be
a more convincing psychic record, if you have nothing on which a
subconscious mind might be said to be working.  The synopsis was for
your protection, and has no value to the record.  At first you had such
a conglomerate method of working that it was necessary.  You did not
recognize the difficulties that were likely to occur.  You were apt to
employ temporary help, so eliminate."

Just what was meant by "temporary help" is not apparent; but there was
no opportunity to question him further, for at that moment we were
interrupted by the arrival of another luncheon guest and the board was
put aside.  We devoted two sessions to the revision and finishing
touches of the troublesome short story, and then we plunged into the
transmission of "Jap Herron" in deadly earnest.

As far as possible, we sat twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays.  We
usually worked uninterruptedly for two hours, with no sound save that
of my voice as I pronounced the letters and punctuation marks over
which the pointer of the planchette paused in its swift race across the
board.  My husband discovered early in the work that if he permitted
himself the luxury of a smile he was in danger of distracting Mrs.
Hays, who always sat facing him, and thus of bringing about confusion
in the record.  Under Mark's specific instruction she has schooled
herself to keep her mind as nearly blank as is possible for a woman who
is absolutely conscious and normal, and the evidence that something
humorous was being transmitted through her would be diverting, to say
the least.  As for my own part in the work, I seldom realized the
import of the sentences I had spelled out, my whole attention being
concentrated on the rapidly gliding pointer.  When my husband read
aloud the copy he had taken down it almost invariably came to Mrs. Hays
and me as something entirely new.

The story of Jap Herron, as it stands completed, does not follow the
original order of the first fifteen chapters.  The early part of the
tale was handled in a manner so sketchy and rapid in its action that
three whole chapters and seven fragments of chapters were dictated and
inserted after the work was finished.  In the original copy the second
chapter suffered little change up to the point of George Thomas's
advent, with the suggestion that he might bring in some more turnips.
Following the disaster to Judge Bowers's speech, Mark took a short cut
to pave the way for the next chapter.  It ran thus:

"But bad luck cannot camp on your trail forever.  In the gladsome
June-time, Ellis married Flossy Bowers, and her dowry of two thousand
dollars and her following of kin set the _Herald_ on its feet."

These two sentences were expanded into the more important half of the
third chapter, almost five months after they had been dictated, and
this without a rereading of the story.  At another time, when this
curious kind of revision was under way, Mark dictated the latter part
of the second chapter, wherein Ellis Hinton tells Jap how he happened
to be starving in Bloomtown.  When he had finished the dictation, with
the words, "My boy, that blue calico lady was Mrs. Kelly Jones," he

"Emily will know where to fit it in."

This fitting in was not extremely difficult, since there was only one
place in the story into which each of the inserted chapters or
fragments could be made to fit; but the original copy had to be read
several times before these thin places became apparent, and I got no
help whatever from Mark.  Once, when I implored him to tell me where a
certain brief but gripping paragraph belonged, he replied, "Emily, that
is your job.  I don't want the Hannibal girl to fall down on it."

On that second Monday night in September, when the "office force"
settled itself to serious work, my husband read to us the copy we had
transmitted.  The chapter ended with what is now the closing paragraph
of the third chapter:

"The _Herald_ put on a new dress, and the hell-box was dumped full of
the discarded, mutilated types that had so long given strabismus to the
patient readers of the Bloomtown _Herald_."

The diet of turnips and sorghum and the other humorous touches of the
narrative overwhelmed us with laughter, whereat the planchette under
our fingers wrote:

"Sounds like Mark, eh?"

I asked him if he was satisfied with the use of the word "_Herald_"
twice in that last sentence.  He replied:

"You must excuse me.  I am all in.  I told you I would leave minor
points to your pencil.  T-i-r-e-d.  Good-bye."

Our first acquaintance with Wat Harlow, as he appeared in the fourth
chapter, gave little promise of the character into which he was
destined to be developed.  To the three of us, who laughed over the
episode of the vermilion handbill, he appeared to be nothing more than
a third-rate country politician.  In the original transcription he
received only an occasional passing touch, until the death of Ellis
brought him forth in a new light.  We did not know then what Ellis had
meant by "that reformed auctioneer," for the story of Wat's connection
with the upbuilding of Bloomtown, as it is set forth in the sixth
chapter, was not told until we were well along with the work of

One of the most interesting personal touches, to be found only in our
private record, was introduced at the end of the fourth chapter.  It
had been a long stretch of dictation, and when the planchette stopped I
asked if there was any more.  The pointer gave only this, "No--30."
Having had no experience with printing offices, I was mystified until
my husband explained that "30 on the hook" means the end of a given
piece of work.

Mark once made use of the expression, "the story contains a great deal
of brevity that will have to be untied later on."  This untying process
is nowhere more aptly illustrated than in the fourth chapter of our
original copy, a brief chapter that contained the condensed material of
Wat Harlow's letter to Jap, the birth of little J.W. and Isabel
Granger's first kiss.  There was nothing about Bill's boyhood, no
record of Jap's home surroundings, none of the amusing details of the
printing office wherein Jap and Bill were learning their trade.  All
these incidents, which seem so essential to the story, were introduced
when the first draft of the story had been completed.  The seventh
chapter, which has to do with the babyhood of little J.W., was dictated
after the revision had apparently been completed.  When I asked Mark
why he inserted it, the planchette made this curious reply:

"I was thinking that we'd better soften the shock of the boy's death."

For us, through whom the story was being transmitted, there was no
softening of Ellis Hinton's death.  We knew from the foregoing chapter
that the country editor had gone to the mountains for his health, and
that Flossy had no hope; but when we had recorded the words: "Jap
closed the press upon the inky type, and gathered the great bunches of
fragrant blossoms and heaped them upon the press, to be forever
silent," a great wave of sadness swept over me, I knew not why.  The
action of the planchette was so rapid that I could not stop to think or
question.  It was as if the man dictating the story had an unpleasant
task before him, which he wished to have done with as soon as possible.
When the final words, "At rest.  FLOSSY," had been spelled out, and the
planchette stopped abruptly, Mrs. Hays cried:

"My God, what has happened!" and I looked up to see that she was very
white, and tears were slipping down her cheeks.

"Ellis is dead," my husband said, very simply.  He had foreseen the
end, had grasped the infinite pathos of that old Washington press,
decked as a funeral casket with the flowers that had been sent to usher
in the new régime.

When the evening's copy had been read, I asked Mark if he wished to
comment on it.

"Not to-night, Emily," the planchette spelled.  "I am all broken up.  I
didn't want Ellis to die.  I tried to figure a way to save him; but I
couldn't make it go."

When we met again, on the 2d of October, the dictation began with these

"I want Edwin to go back to the beginning of the last chapter.  I left
out a sentence that is necessary.  It explains why Ellis left by rail.
You insert."

Then he dictated the passage relating to the new railroad and the
temporary station.  When he had finished he said, "Go on with the
story," and the next sentence began, "When Ellis went away it was to
the sound of jollity."  The reference to Robert Louis Stevenson was new
to both of us, and we have not sought to verify the incident.  That
Mark wanted it included in his story was sufficient for us.

That next chapter contained another accumulation of brevity which was
afterward untied.  The funeral, the reading of Ellis Hinton's will,
Judge Bowers's candidacy, the nomination of Jap Herron as the ugliest
man in Bloomtown, Bill's first spree and the local option fight, all
these were sketched with the sharpness and sudden transition of
pictures on a cinematograph screen.  The following chapter was almost
as tightly packed with incident, and in the midst of it there was a
break, with an astonishing explanation.  Three evenings in succession
we had had trouble with the planchette.  It had seemed to me that Mrs.
Hays was trying to pull it from beneath my fingers.  Meanwhile she had
mentally accused me of digital heaviness.  She uses the finger tips of
her left hand while I use my right.  As a rule our touch is so light
that the planchette glides automatically.  On these three evenings we
had left the board with cramped fingers, and a general sense of
dissatisfaction.  Several sentences that were plainly spurious were
afterward stricken from the record; but we had forgotten about the
other scribes who wanted "a pencil on earth," until Mark interrupted
the story to say:

"I must ask you to be wary and sharp to dismiss impostors.  Right now
there are more than twenty hands trying to control your dictation.  It
is very hard for me.  I am disconsolate, and powerless to help myself.
If we do not watch every avenue, our work is spoiled.  There has been a
constant struggle for my rights.  I only ask a little help, and you are
all my hope.  If you fail me, I am undone."

This illuminating outburst served to clear the atmosphere, and the
three chapters were afterward expanded into seven, much of the same
diction being reproduced.  It was as if Mark, knowing the difficulties
on his own side of the shadow-line, had tried to get at least the
outline of his story down on paper, lest he lose his hold entirely.
After that evening we had almost no trouble with intruders.

The story of Jones, of the Barton _Standard_, came to us like a thunder
clap from a cloudless sky, for the part which old Pee-Dee Jones played
in the development of Bloomtown and Barton was not related until we had
begun the work of revision.  In the original story of that near-fight,
Mark gave us a significant cross-light on the conditions under which he
lives.  The marshal had appeared in the office at the crucial moment,
as if he had dropped through the roof or arisen out of the floor.
Several times in the earlier part of the work the characters had thus
appeared without obvious means of locomotion, and I had called
attention to the inconsistency, with the result that Mark had dictated
a few words to show how or whence the new arrival had come.  When
Wilfred Jones shouted to the marshal, "I demand protection," my
husband, who was reading the evening's copy aloud to us, said:

"How does the marshal happen to be there?  I don't see any previous
mention of him."

Instantly the planchette, which we always kept in readiness under our
finger tips, began to move.  It dictated this:

"You might say, 'at that moment the town marshal, wearing his star
pinned to his blue flannel shirt, strolled in.'  I have been away from
the need of going up-stairs and down-stairs for so long that I forget
about it."

"How do you get from one place to another, Mark?" I asked.

"Now, Emily, curiosity!  But you know we haven't any Pullman cars or
elevators here.  When I want to be at a place where I am free to
go--why, I am there."

He took occasion, when our difficulties seemed to be at an end and his
grip on his "pencil" was once more firmly established, to make it very
plain to me that I alone was responsible for the annoyance we had had.
He put it thus:

"Things will be all right if you don't give way to any more curiosity.
In the beginning I told you that it would not do.  Emily wants to
investigate too much.  It must be one or all.  Edwin and I understand.
It was you that mixed the type.  Lola must be passive.  If she tries to
watch for intruders, she gets in my way.  So it is up to the Hannibal

I do not know, even now, how I could have prevented the trouble that
well-nigh wrecked our work.  It is true I had taken part in another
psychic demonstration, but it was in a remote part of the city and it
had nothing to do with Mark Twain's "pencil."  However, I took no
further chance with psychic investigation.

When Jap Herron was elected Mayor of Bloomtown, and the girl he loved
had walked right into his astonished arms, it seemed to us that the
story must be ended.  We had forgotten that Jap ever had a family of
his own, a mother and two sisters, and when the drunken hag reeled into
the _Herald_ office we were as greatly horrified as Jap himself was.  I
had put my husband's carefully kept copy into type-written form, and it
occurred to me to get the opinion of a master critic on the story, not
as evidence of the survival of the human mind after physical death, but
as pure fiction.  Acting upon the impulse, and without telling either
my husband or Mrs. Hays what I intended to do, I took the copy to
William Marion Reedy,[1] permitting him to infer that I had created it,
and asked him to tell me whether, in his judgment, the story was worth
finishing.  It was the beginning of the week, when the issuing of the
_Mirror_ consumed all his time, and while I was waiting for his verdict
we received three more chapters.  In the first of these we had a new
light on Isabel Granger's character, and came for the first time
absolutely to love Bill Bowers.  After that nothing that Bill might do
would shake our faith in his ability to make good in the end.  He might
be weak and foolish, but we understood why Jap believed in and loved
him.  We were jubilant when Rosy Raymond was eliminated from the game,
for we feared, whenever we permitted ourselves to speculate, that Bill
would marry her, and regret the step.  We assumed that the son of the
much-married Judge Bowers had inherited a nature sufficiently mobile to
recover from the shock of the silly girl's perfidy.

While this unexpected development of the story was being revealed to
us, William Marion Reedy sent me, in the envelope with the first ten
chapters of "Jap Herron," a criticism that fairly made me tingle with
delight.  Had the work been my own, I could not have been more pleased
with his unstinted praise.  I wanted to go to him at once and confess
the truth; but he was not in his office when I called.

Two of the succeeding chapters were taken down by friends who had been
let into the secret of our work and had asked permission to sit with
us.  It was the time of year when my husband could seldom spare an
evening from his work, and Mark consented to break into his beloved
office-force arrangement, for the sake of expediency.  Three men and
five women served us in the capacity of amanuenses while the latter
third of the book was being transmitted.  The first deviation from our
original arrangement came in connection with the dictation of the
seventeenth chapter, the chapter that ends with the death of Flossy and
her son.  We were three sympathetic women, and when the planchette had
traced the words, "It was a smile of heavenly beauty, as the pure soul
of Ellis Hinton's wife flew to join her loved ones," we three burst
simultaneously into violent weeping.  I have never experienced more
genuine grief at the grave of a departed friend or relative than I felt
when this woman, who had come to be more than human to me, was released
from her envelope of mortal clay.

The following day Mrs. Hays and I were invited to the home of a
delightful little Scotch woman who asked us to bring the planchette
board.  She knew nothing of the story, and had no intimation of the
personality on the other side who was sending it across, through our
planchette; nevertheless she was willing to keep copy for us.  The
chapter she wrote down is the eighteenth in the finished story, Jap's
funeral sermon and Isabel's song beside Flossy's coffin.  Even now I
cannot think of that scene without a swelling of the throat and a
blinding rush of tears.  It is needless to say we wept when the
dictation was ended.

When our hostess had read aloud the copy I asked our invisible
companion if he had anything more to say.  I avoided mentioning his
name, for we did not wish his identity disclosed.  The planchette
traced the curious words:

"You know that the air gets pretty damp for an old boy after this."

I looked out of the window.  It was a murky November afternoon, and I
asked, "Do you feel the dampness of the material atmosphere?"  Like a
flash came the reply:

"Emily, girl, you have been getting sob stuff."

Then I yearned to get my fingers in his shock of white hair, for I knew
Mark Twain was laughing at me.  But I had that which gave me
consolation, for I had brought with me Mr. Reedy's letter, analyzing
and commenting upon the story that Mark had created.  Incidentally Mrs.
Reedy had asked Mrs. Hays and me to come to her home the following day
to luncheon.  I had told her that Mrs. Hays possessed a high degree of
psychic power, and I consented to bring our board for a demonstration.
I wanted to see Mr. Reedy alone and explain to him that "Jap Herron"
had come to us over that insensate board, but opportunity was denied
me.  As soon as luncheon was over we went up to that beautiful yellow
room in which the best of _Reedy's Mirror_ is created, and Mrs. Hays
and I placed the board on our knees.  As soon as Mr. Reedy's fountain
pen was ready for action our planchette began:

"Well, I should doff my plaidie and don a kirtle, for 'tis not the
sands o' Dee but the wearing o' the green."  There was a wide sweep of
the planchette, and then, "'Tis not the shine of steel that always
reflects; but it is the claymore that cuts.  Both are made of steel and
both will mirror sometimes the shillalah.  Yet the shillalah is better
than the claymore, for the man that is cut will run; but if ye slug him
with the blackthorn he will have to listen.  This is just a flicker of
high light.  Bill jumped from bed as the rattle of the latch announced
the arrival of a visitor."

My heart thumped wildly for a moment, then sank.  I knew that the Bill
referred to was Bill Bowers, and not the editor whom hundreds delight
to call "Bill Reedy," and I knew, too, that it would be only a moment
until he must realize that the sentences he was writing down from my
dictation were part and parcel of the story whose first ten chapters he
had read and praised.  I dared not lift my eyes from the board, yet I
wanted to stop and explain that I had not intended to deceive him--that
I only wanted an unbiased opinion of Mark Twain's story.  In vain I
tried to stop the whirling planchette, my voice so husky that I could
scarcely pronounce the letters.  It went right on, with a situation
that neither Mrs. Hays nor I had anticipated.  We had schooled
ourselves not to speculate, yet the previous afternoon we had left Jap
in a fainting condition and on the verge of a long illness.  The
chapter we transmitted that day was the story of a gubernatorial
election in a small Missouri town.

Subsequently, when Mark gave us the intervening chapter, Jap's visit to
the cemetery and the humorous incidents of the campaign, I asked him:

"Why didn't you give this chapter last Thursday?"

"I thought that election would amuse Reedy.  Don't worry, Emily.  He
understood you.  He knows the Hannibal girl is honest," was the
comforting reply.

When the revision of the story was under way, and several fragments had
been dictated, the planchette spelled the words, "I want to add
something to the Reedy chapter," and without further ado it proceeded:
"The Bloomtown _Herald_ did itself proud that week."  That fragment was
the easiest of them all to fit into place.  At its conclusion we were
favored with a bit of pleasantry that seems significant.  My husband
gave us a lift whenever he could spare the time; but on this occasion a
woman friend was sitting with us.  She had written about two thousand
words of copy, when the tenor of the dictation changed suddenly to the
personal vein.

"Old Mark has been working like a badger, and is pleased with the
story.  The girls and friend Ed are going as well as Twain ever did
when he wielded his own pen.  When Edwin lights up a fresh smoke and
smiles, I know that all is well.  But when Lola frowns and Edwin
forgets to smoke, look out for leaks.  The story has sprung and therain
was hesitthininspots." The last of the sentence came so rapidly that
none of us had any idea what it meant, or that it meant anything at
all.  Before we had separated it into the words, "the rain washes it
thin in spots," I asked that that last part be repeated.  Instead we
got the words:

"When a board is sprung, it lets in rain.  It is Emily who has to hold
the drip pan for the temperamental ones."

"Thank you for those few kind words, Mark," I said.  "But if you think
enough of me to trust me with this important work, why do you single me
out for all the scoldings, when Edwin and Lola sometimes deserve at
least a share in your displeasure?"

"Whist, Hannibal girl, we know our office force," was the humorous

The appearance of Agnesia was one of the keen surprises of the story,
and before we realized what Jap's little sister would mean to
Bloomtown, Mark interrupted his dictation with the words, "Stop!
Girls, the yarn is nearly all unwound.  We will skip a bit that we will
tie in later.  But now--Bill sat doubled over the case, the stick held
listlessly in his hand.  Nervously he fingered the copy, not knowing
what he was reading."

Without a break, we received the brief final chapter, ending with the
words, "Isabel wants to call him Jasper William."  The planchette
added, "The End."  We transmitted no more that day, although we knew
that our story was far from completion.

The next time we met we had another surprise in the coming of Jap's
elder sister.  When the twenty-fifth chapter was finished, Mark said:

"Girls, I think the story is done."

"It's pretty short for a book," I protested.  By way of reply, he gave

"Did you ever know about my prize joke?  One day I went to church,
heard a missionary sermon, was carried away--to the extent of a hundred
dollars.  The preacher kept talking.  I reduced my ante to fifty
dollars.  He talked on.  I came down to twenty-five, to ten, to five,
and after he had said all that he had in him, I stole a nickel from the
basket.  Reason for yourselves.  Not how long but how strong.  Yet I
have a sneaking wish to tell you something of the early days of Ellis's
work, especially about Granger and Blanke.  But to-day I have writer's
cramp.  So let's get together soon and make the finish complete."

There were two more sessions, with the dictation of a whole chapter and
several fragments, at each meeting, and we met no more until I had put
the whole complex record into consecutive form.  We had a final review
of the work, and a few minor changes in words and phrases were made.
Mark expressed himself as well pleased, and as a little farewell he
gave us this, which has nothing to do with Jap Herron:

"There will be a great understanding some day.  It will come when the
earth realizes that we must leave it, to live, and when it can put
itself in touch with the heavens that surround it.  I have met a number
of preachers over here who would like to undo many things they
promulgated while they had a whack at sinners.

"There are hardshell Baptists who have a happy time meeting their
members, to whom they preached hell and brimstone.  They have many
things to explain.  There is one melancholy Presbyterian who frankly
stated the fact--underscore 'fact'--that there were infants in hell not
an ell long.  He has cleared out quite a space in hell since he woke
up.  He doesn't rush out to meet his congregation.  It would create
trouble and be embarrassing if they looked around for the suffering
infants.  As I said before, there is everything to learn, after the
shackles of earth are thrown aside.  I would like to write a story
about some of these preachers, and the mistakes they made, when the
doctrines of brimstone and everlasting punishment were ladled out as
freely to the little maid who danced as to the harlot.  It showed a
mind asleep to the undiscovered country."

"Can you shed any light on that undiscovered country?" I asked him.

"Perhaps.  But for the present there is enough of the truth of life and
death in 'Jap Herron' to hold you."

And with that he told us good-bye.


[1] William Marion Reedy, Editor and Publisher of _Reedy's Mirror_, a
weekly journal published in St. Louis, has long been interested in
psychic phenomena, as a source of exotic and unusual literature.  He
has also discovered and developed much purely terrestrial literary
talent, having brought out some of the best poets and fiction writers
of present-day America.  As a critic, he is a recognized master.



As every well-bred story has a hero, and as there seems better material
in Jap than any other party to this story, we will dignify him.  Mary
Herron feebly asserted her rights in the children by naming them
respectively, Fanny Maud, Jasper James and Agnesia.  Jasper
deteriorated.  He became Jap, and Jap he remained, despite the fact
that Fanny Maud developed into Fannye Maude and Agnesia changed her
cognomen, without recourse to law, to Mabelle.  The folks in Happy
Hollow continued to say "Magnesia" long after she left its fragrant

The father of the little Herrons was a kingfisher.  He spent his hours
of toil on the river bank and his hours of ease in Mike's place.  One
Friday, good luck peered through the dingy windows of the little shanty
where the Herrons starved, froze or sweltered.  It was Friday, as I
remarked before.  Mary was washing, against difficulties.  It had
rained for a week.  The clothes had to dry before Mary could cash her
labor, and it fretted Jacky Herron sorely.  His credit had lost caste
with Mike, and Mike had the grip on the town.  He had the only thirst
parlor in Happy Hollow.  So Jacky smashed the only remaining window,
broke the family cup, and set forth defiantly in the rain.  And in the
fog and slashing rain he lost his footing, and fell into the river.  As
it was Friday, Mary had hopefully declared that luck would change--and
it did!

The town buried Jacky and moved his family into decent lodgings,
because the Town Fathers did not want to contract typhoid in
ministering to them.  Loosed of the incubus of a father, the little
family grew in grace.  Jappie, as his baby sister called him, was the
problem.  Agnesia was pretty, and the Mayor's wife adopted her.  Fanny
Maud went west to live with her aunt, and Jap remained with his mother
until she, after the manner of womankind, who never know when they have
had luck, married another bum and began supporting him.  Jap ran away.

He was twelve years old, red-headed, freckled and lanky, when he
trailed into Bloomtown.  He loafed along the main street until he
reached the printing office, and there he stopped.  An aphorism of his
late lamented dad occurred to him.

"Ef I had a grain of gumption," said dad, during an enforced session of
his family's society, "I would 'a' went to work in my daddy's printin'
office, instid of runnin' away when I was ten year old.  I might 'a'
had money, aplenty, 'stid of bein' cumbered and helt down by you and
these brats."

Jap straggled irregularly inside and heard the old Washington hand
press groan and grunt its weary way through the weekly edition of the
_Herald_.  After the last damp sheet had been detached from the press,
and the papers were being folded by the weary-eyed, inky demon who had
manipulated the handle, he slouched forward.

"Say, Mister," he asked confidently, "do you do that every day?"
indicating the press, "'cause I'm goin' to work for you."

The editor, pressman and janitor looked upon him in surprise and pity.

"I appreciate your ambition," he said, more in sorrow than anger, "but
I have become so attuned to starving alone that I don't think I could
adjust myself to the shock of breaking my fast on you."

Jap was unmoved.

"My dad onct thought he'd be a editor, but he got married," he said

"Sensible dad," commented the editor, with more truth than he dreamed.
"I suppose that he had three meals a day, and a change of socks on

"But Ma had to get 'em," argued Jap.  "I want to be a editor, and I am
agoin' to stay."  And stay he did.


"Run out and get a box of sardines," ordered the boss of the Washington
press.  "I've got a nickel.  I can't let you starve.  I lived three
months on them--look at me!"

Jap surveyed him apprehensively.

"I'd hate to be so thin," he complained, "and I don't like sardines nor
any fishes.  My dad fed us them every day.  Allus wanted to taste
doughnuts.  Can I buy them?"

Ellis Hinton laughed shortly, and spun the nickel across the imposing
stone.  Jap caught it deftly.  An hour later he appeared for work,
smiling cheerfully.

"Why the shiner?" queried Ellis, indicating a badly swollen and rapidly
discoloring eye.

"Kid called me red-top," said Jap bluntly.

"Love o' gracious," Ellis exclaimed, "what is the shade?"

"It's red," quoth Jap, "but it ain't his business.  If I am agoin' to
be a editor, nobody's goin' to get familiar with me."

This was Jap's philosophy, and in less than a week he had mixed with
every youth of fighting age in town.  The office took on metropolitan
airs because of the rush of indignant parents who thronged its portals.
Ellis pacified some of the mothers, outtalked part of the fathers and
thrashed the remainder.  After he had mussed the outer office with
"Judge" Bowers, and tipped the case over with the final effort that
threw him, Jap said, solemnly surveying the wreck:

"If I had a dad like you, I'd 'a' been the President some day."

Ellis gazed ruefully into the mess of pi, and kicked absently at the

"I'll work all night," cried Jap eagerly.  "I'll clean it up."

"We'll have plenty of time," said Ellis gloomily.  "We have to hit the
road, kid.  Judge Bowers owns the place.  He has promised to set us out
before morning."

But luck came with Jap.  It was Friday again, and Bowers's wife
presented him with twins, his mother-in-law arrived, and his uncle
inherited a farm.  There was only one way for the news to be
disseminated, and he came in with his truculent son and helped clean
up, so that the _Herald_ could be issued on time.  More than that, he
made the boys shake hands, and concluded to put Bill to work in the
_Herald_ office.  After he had puffed noisily out, Ellis looked
whimsically at Bill.

"Are you going to board yourself out of what I am able to pay you?" he

"Oh, I don't reckon Pappy cares about that," the boy said cheerfully.
"He just wants to keep me out of mischief, and he said that lookin' at
you was enough to sober a sot."

Months dragged by.  Bill and Jap worked more or less harmoniously.
Once a day they fought; but it was fast becoming a mere function, kept
up just for form.  Ellis was doing better.  He had set up housekeeping,
since Jap came, in the back room of the little wooden structure that
faced the Public Square, and housewives sent them real food once in a

Once Ellis feared that Jap was going to quit him for the Golden Shore.
It was on the occasion of Myrtilla Botts's wedding, when she baked the
cakes herself, for practice, and her mother thoughtfully sent most of
them to the Editor, to insure a big puff for Myrtilla.  Ellis was
afraid; but Jap, with the enthusiasm and inexperience of youth, took a
chance.  Bill was laid up with mumps, or the danger would have been
lessened.  As it was, it took all the doctors in town to keep Jap alive
until they could uncurl him and straighten out his appendix, which
appeared to be cased in wedding cake.  This experience gave Jap an
added distaste for the state of matrimony.

"My dad allus said to keep away from marryin'," he moaned.  "But how'd
I know you'd ketch it from the eatin's?"

The subscription list grew apace.  There was a load of section ties,
two bushel of turnips and six pumpkins paid in November.  Bill and Jap
went hunting once a week, so the larder grew beyond sardines.  Jap
acquired a hatred of turnips and pumpkins that was in after years
almost a mania.  At Christmas, Kelly Jones brought in a barrel of
sorghum, "to sweeten 'em," he guffawed.  Jap had grown to manhood
before he wholly forgave that pleasantry.  It was a hard winter.
Everybody said so, and when Jap gazed at Ellis across the turnips and
sorghum of those weary months, he said he believed it.

"Shame on you," rebuked Ellis, gulping his turnips with haste.  "Think
of the wretched people who would be glad to get this food."

"Do you know any of their addresses?" asked Jap abruptly.  "Because I
can't imagine anybody happy on turnips and sorghum.  I'd be willin' to
trade my wretched for theirn."

Kelly said that Jap would be fat as butter if he ate plenty of
molasses, and this helped at first; but when the grass came, he begged
Ellis to cook it for a change.

When George Thomas came in, one blustery March day, to say that if the
turnips were all gone, he would bring in some more, Ellis pied Judge
Bowers's speech on the duties of the Village Fathers to the alleys,
when he saw the malignant look that Jap cast upon the cheery farmer.

Once a week Bill and Jap drew straws to determine which one should fare
forth in quest of funds, and for the first time in his brief business
career, Jap was glad the depressing task had fallen to him.  "Pi" was
likely to bring on an acute attack of mental indigestion, and the boy
had learned to dread Ellis Hinton's infrequent but illuminating flame
of wrath.

The catastrophe had been blotted out, the last stickful of type had
been set and Bill had gone home to supper when Jap, leg-weary and
discouraged, wandered into the office.  Ellis looked up from the form
he was adjusting.

"How did you ever pick out this town?" the boy complained, turning the
result of his day's collection on the table.

Ellis turned from the bit of pine he was whittling, a makeshift
depressingly familiar to the country editor.  He scanned the meager
assortment of coins with anxious eye.  Jap's lower jaw dropped.

"I'll have to fire you if you haven't got enough to pay for the paper."

"Got enough for that," said Jap mournfully, "but not enough for meat."

"Didn't Loghman owe for his ad?" Ellis demanded.  "Did you ask him for

"Says you owe him more 'n he's willin' for you to owe," Jap ventured.

Ellis sighed.

"Meat's not healthy this damp weather," he suggested.  "Cook something

"It'll be darned light," said Jap.  "There's one tater."

"No bread?" asked Ellis.

"Give that scrap to the cat," Jap returned, "Doc Hall says she's done
eat all the mice in town and if we don't feed her she'll be eatin'
off'n the subscribers."

"Confound Doc Hall," stormed Ellis.  "You take your orders from me.
That bread, stewed with potato, would have made a dandy dish."  He
shook the form to settle it, and faced Jap.

"How did I come to pick this place?" he said slowly.  "Well, Jap, it
was the dirtiest deal a boy ever got.  I had a little money after my
father died.  I wanted to invest it in a newspaper, somewhere in the
West, where the world was honest and young.  I had served my
apprenticeship in a dingy, narrow little New England office, and I
thought my lifework was cut out for me.  I had big dreams, Jap.  I saw
myself a power in my town.  With straw and mud I wanted to build a town
of brick and stone.  Dreams, dreams, Jap, dreams.  Some day you may
have them, too."

He let his lean form slowly down into a chair.  Jap braced himself
against the table as the narrative continued:

"In Hartford I met Hallam, the man who started the Bloomtown _Herald_.
I heard his flattering version.  I inspected his subscription list and
studied the columns of his paper, full of ads.  I bought.  The subs
were deadheads, the ads--gratuitous, for my undoing.  It was indeed
straw and mud, and, lad, it has remained straw and mud."  He leaned his
head on his hand for a moment.

"That was the year after you were born, Jap.  I was only twenty-one.
For a year I was hopeful; then I dragged like a dead dog.  You will be
surprised when I tell you what brought me to life again.  I tell you
this, boy, so that you will never despise Opportunity, though she may
wear blue calico, as mine did.

"It was one dark, cold day.  No human face had come inside the office
for a week.  That was the period of my life when I learned how human a
cat can be.  We were starving, the cat and me, with the advantage in
favor of the cat.  She could eat vermin.  I sat by the table, wondering
the quickest way to get out of it.  Yes, Jap, the first and, God help
me, the only time that life was worthless.  The door opened and a plump
woman dressed in blue calico, a sunbonnet pushed back from her smiling
face, entered."

To Jap, who listened with his heart in his throat, it seemed that Ellis
was quoting perhaps a page from the memoirs he had written for the
benefit of his townsmen.  His deep, melodious voice fell into the
rhythmic cadence of a reader, as he continued:

"'Howdy, Mr. Editor,' she chirped.  'I've been keenin' for a long time
to come in to see you.  I think you are aprintin' the finest paper I
ever seen.  I brought you a mess of sassage and a passel of bones from
the killin'.  It's so cold, they'll keep a spell.  And here's a dollar
for next year's paper.  I don't want to miss a number.  I am areadin'
it over and over.  Seems like you are agoin' to make a real town out of
Bloomtown,' and with a friendly pat on the arm, she was gone."

Ellis brushed the long hair from his brow, the strange modulation went
out of his voice and the fire returned to his brown eyes as he said:

"Jap, I got up from that table and fell on my knees, and right there I
determined that starvation nor cold nor any other enemy should rout me.
Jap, I am going to make Bloomtown a real town yet.  My boy, that blue
calico lady was Mrs. Kelly Jones."


Ellis scowled and kicked his stool absently with his heels.

"Will you explain where the colons and semicolons have emigrated to?"
he asked Bill, with suppressed wrath.

"We was short of quads, and I whittled 'em off."

Ellis glared at Bill's ingenuous face.

"And what, pray, did you whittle to take their place?"

"Never had no call to use 'em," muttered Bill, chewing up the item he
had just disposed of.  "I can say all that I can think with commas and

"Abraham Lincoln used colons and semicolons," said Ellis, shortly, "and
I am setting his immortal speech.  What am I going to do about it, my
intelligent co-printer?"

Bill coughed violently as the wad of paper slipped down his throat.

"Try George Washington," he advised,  "They didn't have so much
trimmin's to their talk them days."

Jap shoved a chair against the door sill and flung the door ajar to cut
off the blast of hot air that swept the office.

"Gee-whiz!" he complained, "I'm chokin' on the dust.  However did they
get 'Bloomtown' hitched on to this patch of dirt?  There ain't a flower
'in a mile, 'ceptin' the half-dead sprigs the wimmin are acoaxin'
against their will."

"When I came here," said Ellis, "the old settlers told me that whenever
I wanted information I should hunt up Kelly Jones.  There he goes now.
Call him in."

But Kelly was coming anyway.  He carried a mysterious basket and his
sun-burned face was full of suppressed excitement.

"Wife allowed that you and Jap must be putty nigh starved," he
chuckled, shifting the quid to his other cheek.  "I reckon she knowed
that Jap done the cookin' Wednesdays and Thursdays."

He lifted the clean white towel from the basket, disclosing a pound of
yellow butter, a glass of jelly, a loaf of bread and two pies, fairly
reeking aroma.

"Fu'st blackberries," asserted Kelly.  "I ain't had a pie myself yet,
and wife forbid me to take a bite o' yourn."

"God bless the wife of our countryman, Kelly Jones.  May her shade
never grow less," said Ellis fervently, stowing the basket away.  "If
Jap and Bill stick all the matter on the hooks before noon, they may
have pie.  Otherwise the Editor of the _Herald_ exercises his
prerogative and eats both pies."

"Kelly," asked Jap abruptly, "why did they call this patch of dust
'Bloomtown'?  Did they ever have even peppergrass growin' along its

Kelly settled himself comfortably in Ellis's chair and draped his long
legs over the exchanges.  Filling his mouth with Granger twist, he said:

"'Twa'n't because of the blooms.  Fact is, it never was 'bloom' in the
fu'st place.  Old man Blome owned this track of land--his name was
Jerusalem Blome.  Folks used to say Jerusalem Blown.  Purty nice story
there is about this town and Barton, why neither of 'em has got a
railroad, and why Barton is bigger in money and scarcer in folks."

Ellis put his stickful of type on the case resignedly.  Bill and Jap
deposited their weary frames on the doorstep.  The hot wind blew in
their faces, laden with dust.  The smell of dried grass was odorous.

"Looks like it mout blow up a rain," said Kelly, sniffing approvingly.

"Well, Kelly," declared Ellis, "you have tied the wheels of this
machine.  Deliver the goods you promised.  We are not interested in

"Humph!" ruminated Kelly, "it was this-a-way: Old man Blome bought this
track about the time that Luellen Barton moved to her plantation.  It
mout 'a' been sooner; I ain't sure.  Barton--leastways, what is Barton
now--belonged to old Simpson Barton.  When he went south and married a
rip-snortin' widow, he brought his wife and a passel o' niggers to live
at the old home place.  There hadn't never been no niggers there, along
of the fu'st Mis' Barton.

"When war broke out the niggers run away, along of Jerusalem Blome,
that got up a nigger regimint.  After the war there was talk of a
railroad.  It would run right through the Blome farm and cross the
Barton place crossways.  My daddy was overseer for Mis' Barton.  Simp
didn't have nothin' to say about the runnin' of the place.  I was a
tyke, doin' errands for everybody, and I heerd a lot o' the railroad
talk.  Old Blome was sellin' his farm in town lots, gettin' ready for
the boom--for who would 'a' thought that Mis' Barton would turn her
back on such a proposition?

"You see, it was this-a-way: Mis' Luellen was allus speculatin' in
niggers, and a month before war broke, she had bought a load of Guinea
niggers--the kind that looks like they are awearin' bustles, you know.
Simp kinder smelt war, but, Lordee, Luellen wouldn't be dictated to!
And she went broke, flat as a flitter.  All that was left was the
thousand acres of Barton land.

"Railroad?  No, siree!  She heard about old man Blome's activity, and
she had it in for Blome.  She sat up and primped her lips when Pee-Dee
Jones come in behalf of the railroad.  That's how the Barton Joneses
come to settle in this neck o' the woods.  Pee-Dee Jones--no kin o'
mine--had a winnin' way, and he purty nigh got Mis' Luellen's name on
the paper, when he let slip that he intended buildin' a town on her
land.  'Do you think that I am agoin' to have a lot of blue-bellied
Yankees in my very dooryard?' she yelled.  'You are mistaken.'  And so
she stuck.

"Afterwards she learned that Pee-Dee Jones had follered Grant.  Whew!
She nigh busted with rage.  Mis' Luellen allus said that she could
smell a Yankee a mile, and as she didn't like the smell, she cropped
the railroad boom.  It went five mile north of her place, and missed
Bloomtown twenty mile.  That's why the two towns are just livin' along.
The folks that bought lots of old Blome tried to get another railroad
to come their way.  That was when the Wabash looked like it was headed
for my farm; but I reckon that opportunities like that don't come but
onct in a lifetime.

"I wonder that Mis' Luellen's spook don't howl around Barton every
night, for Jones bought the big house after she died, and the fambly
comes back there to live whenever their luck goes wrong.  Pee-Dee's
boy, Brons Jones, started a paper there, about the time that Hallam
started the Bloomtown _Herald_.  He sold out to a poor devil that's
racin' to see if he can starve quicker'n Ellis.  Brons ain't been
around these parts, the last few years, but he owns a lot o' Barton
property that he thinks 'll make good some day."

Kelly aimed a clear stream of tobacco juice at the dingy brown
cuspidor, and made as if to settle himself for further narrative.

"Jap, Bill, get to work," commanded Ellis.  "And, Kelly, much as I
appreciate you and your excellent wife, I must dispense with your
society.  I need these boys."

As the farmer departed, grinning cheerfully, Tom Granger appeared at
the door of the _Herald_ office.  A conference of prominent citizens
had been summoned to meet, early that afternoon, in the Granger and
Harlow bank, a somewhat more pretentious building, separated from the
_Herald_ office by a narrow alley; and during a lull in the morning's
business Tom was serving himself in the capacity of errand boy.  From
his place on the front steps, he could watch for the possible advent of
depositor or daylight robber, there being no rear door to the bank.

"You'll be on hand, Ellis," he reminded.  "Couldn't have any kind of a
meeting without the _Herald_, you know.  We won't keep you long."

But the session was more important than the banker had anticipated.
Judge Bowers had prepared a lengthy discourse, and others had opinions
that needed ventilating.  Once or twice, Ellis was irritated by shrieks
of laughter that emanated from the office across the alley, usually in
Bill's shrill treble.  When the cause of the merriment had reached an
exceptional climax, the Editor pounced upon his assistants, wearing the
scowl of a thunder god.  Jap and Bill got up, shamefacedly, as he

"What do you think I am conducting this plant for?  A circus for

He kicked the cat loose from the box Jap had it hitched to.  The two
boys looked ruefully at their over-turned cart.

"There goes the hell-box!" Bill screamed.

Ellis stared at him in transfixed wrath.

"Was that pi?" he demanded, looking down the hole in the floor into
which most of the contents of the box had spilled.

Bill darted into the back room and sneaked swiftly out through the
alley door.  The office saw him no more that day.  With such tools as
were available, Jap set to work to undo the mischief he had wrought.
An hour later, he replaced the plank in the floor.  The rescued type
was piled in a dirty litter of refuse.  Ellis leaned over it, attracted
by a gleam that shone as not even new type could glitter.

"It's a ring," explained Jap, furtively.  "I reckon you won't be so mad
now.  I can soak it when we get hungry.  I soaked my ma's ring, lots of

"Why, you young reprobate!" exclaimed Ellis, "that ring is not yours,
or mine.  We will advertise it."  He smiled in Jap's disappointed face.
"It looked like a beefsteak, didn't it, boy?  Well, virtue is its own
reward, and maybe the owner will pay for the ad."

But she did not, and yet the kick given to the inoffensive office cat
had effects as far-reaching in the result to Bloomtown as did the kick
of the famous Chicago cow, with this difference, that the effects were
not disastrous.  The brief ad in the _Herald_ brought Flossy Bowers
from her home in Barton to claim a ring she had lost fifteen years

"The office used to belong to Pap's daddy," Bill explained to Jap, as
Ellis and Miss Bowers stood chatting in the front door.  "When Grandpap
was lawyerin', he had this for his office, and Aunt Flossy lost her
ring, scrubbin' the floor.  I have heard tell that he made the wimmin
folks curry the horses.  They say he had a big funeral.  I wonder--"
Bill spoke wistfully, "I wonder if I have any kinfolks on the man-side
that love anybody but theirselves.  Flossy didn't get to go off to
school till her daddy died.  She's been teaching up to Barton, since my
pappy married this last time, and my stepmother don't like her, so she
never comes home."

Jap and Bill noted that Ellis found frequent business in Barton, and
despite the inhospitable atmosphere of the substantial Bowers home,
across the little park from the _Herald_ office, Flossy came oftener
than usual to her girlhood town.  The autumn, the winter and the spring
sped by.  Ellis Hinton was too happy to scold, even when there was an
excess of horse-play.  In the gladsome June-tide the young girls of
Bloomtown stripped their mothers' gardens to weave garlands for the
little church, and Judge Bowers opened his heart and his house for the
wedding reception.

Flossy had a dower of two thousand dollars, besides the cottage, a part
of her father's patrimony, on one of the side streets, a ten-minute
walk from the office.  In her trunk were stowed away the yellow linens
that should have served her, had a certain college friend proved
faithful, and the wedding presents came near to doing the rest.  This
strange turn of the wheel of fortune landed Jap Herron in his first
real home.  Flossy could cook, and thank the kind fates, she brought
something to cook with her.  Flossy was a misnomer, for even in her
salad days, she had never been the least bit "flossy," and when Ellis
bestowed himself upon her she had well turned thirty.

The Judge made Ellis a present of the office, thereby relieving him of
the haunting fear that he might, at some time, demand the rent.  The
paper put on a new dress, and the hell-box was dumped full of the
discarded, mutilated types that had so long given strabismus to the
patient readers of the Bloomtown _Herald_.


"To-morrow is Jap's birthday," announced Ellis, one noontide early in
July.  "Jap, you are a joy-spoiler.  With the Fourth yet smoking in the
air, we must be upset by your birthday."

"Dad allus cussed that day," remarked Jap, wiping the blackberry juice
from his freckled face.  "Gee, I never guessed that there was such grub
as this," regretfully gazing at the generous blackberry
cobbler--regretfully, because his exhausted stomach refused to give
another stitch.

"Cussed it?" queried Ellis, who was beginning to fat up a bit.

"He said that I was the first nail in the coffin of his troubles,"
replied Jap cheerfully.

"How dreadfully inhuman," exclaimed Flossy, scraping the scraps to the
chickens.  "Well, Jappie," she bustled back to the dining-room where
her little family lingered, "we are going to begin making your
birthdays pleasant.  What do you want most?"

She had her mind's eye on the discarded ties of gorgeous hue, bought
while Ellis was courting, and still brand new.

"Ca-can I have just what I want?" stuttered Jap, excitedly.

"Why, certainly, Jappie.  That is, if we can afford it."

"Well--well," floundered Jap, astounded at his own temerity, "I allus
wanted a pair of knee pants.  Ma thought that some time she could get
'em; but the folks that she washed for allus kept giving her pants of
their menfolks.  I had to wear 'em.  Can I have knee pants?"

Flossy stared dazedly after Ellis, whose vision of Jap in knee trousers
was most unsettling.  Before the momentous request had been granted, he
was already half way down the alley.  He was still convulsed with
laughter when he reached the side door of the _Herald_ office.  But his
mental picture paled into dull commonplace, by comparison with the
reality that was in store for him.

Jap bought the cherished pants!

Bloomtown had seen the circus, the Methodist church fire and Judge
Lesley's funeral, the greatest in the history of the county; but none
of these created the interest that Jap brought out when he traveled the
length of Spring street, rounded the corner at Blanke's drug store and
walked solemnly along Main street to the office.

Ellis was looking out of the window when he appeared, and despite his
effort at composure, was writhing on the floor in agony when Jap
entered.  Bill looked up, as the vision crossed the threshold, and he
involuntarily swallowed four type he was holding in his lips while he
adjusted a pied stickful of "More Anon's" communication from Pluffot.
Jap was so interested in himself that these things passed him by.  He
sat solemnly on his stool and looked vacantly into the e-box.  Poking
absently among the dusty types, he said, with profound solemnity:

"Bill, did you ever want anything right bad?"

Bill swallowed the last type with difficulty.  It was the last capital
Z, and they were getting five dollars for the announcement of Zachariah
Zigler's daughter, Zella Zena's graduation into matrimony, and Bill had
been picking enough Z's out of the "More Anon" to spell it, when the pi
happened.  His mind feebly recognized the calamity.  He stared at the
apparition before him, too stunned by the catastrophe to apprehend
Jap's appearance further.  Jap pressed him for reply.

"Once," he admitted gloomily.  "I wanted to eat musherroons."

"Did you like 'em--when you got them?" asked Jap wanly.

"Naw!  Tasted nasty.  Never could see why folks keened after 'em."

Jap sighed.

"I allus wanted knee pants," he said plaintively.  "But seems like I
wa'n't made for that kind of luxury.  I ain't a bit happy, like I
thought.  Seems kind of indecent to show your legs, when you never done
it before."

And Jap donned his long trousers again, much to the relief of
Bloomtown.  Ellis afterward declared that the three-and-a-half feet of
spindling legs that dangled along under the buckled bands of those
short trousers were the most remarkable things he had ever seen.  They
resembled nothing more than the legs of a spring lamb, cavorting in
knee pants, in the butcher's window.

When we have achieved our heart's desire, we often taste the ashes of

Jap did not worry further about his appearance, but, dressed in the
neat jumpers that Flossy provided, he seemed content.  The memory of
the episode was beginning to lose some of its sting when Dame Fortune
gave a mighty turn to her wheel.  He was in the alley with Bill,
playing marbles, when Wat Harlow came rushing out.

"Where is Ellis?" he gasped.  "There's hell afloat."

"Ellis and Flossy have gone to Birdtown to stay till Monday,"
vouchsafed Bill.  "It's goin' to be big doin's at an anniversary,

"Good God!" cried Wat, "what can I do?"

Jap arose and dusted himself.

"Is it a dark secret?" he inquired.  "Did Ellis owe you a bill?
Lordee, man, you can find plenty more in your fix.  Forget it."

Wat continued to tear up and down the narrow alley.

"I'm ruined," he groaned.  "They've got an infernal lie out about me,
and it's going to kill me out."

Jap was interested.

"Maybe I know what Ellis could do," he suggested.

"I am running for the Legislature again," Wat said, pacing wildly over
the marbles.  "The Morgan crowd have got it out that I sold myself to
the crowd that are trying to lobby a bill for a big appropriation for
the State University.  The county is solid against it, and they will
vote me out of politics forever."

"What could Ellis do?" asked Jap, sympathetically.

"I thought that he could print the truth in handbills that could be
sent out.  It is now Friday, and Tuesday is election day.  There will
be no chance for help after Monday.  They would have to have time to
get all over the county."  He sat down and wiped his forehead.

"What is your defense?" asked Jap judicially.

"They said that I was in the headquarters of the University gang--and I
was," he said bitterly.  "They said I shook hands with Barks--and I
did.  They said that he walked with me down the steps, with his arm
around my shoulder--and he did."

"Love of Mike!" exploded Bill, "What do you want to talk about it for,

"The University headquarters are in Bolton's furniture store,"
explained Wat.  "My--my baby died last night, and I went there for her
little coffin."  He choked and walked over to the gate.  After a moment
he turned back.  "Barks was there.  When he found why I came, he walked
out with me.  He put his arm around my shoulder.  He--he was telling me
that he buried his youngest, a few weeks ago.  And now, while I am tied
here, and the time is so short, Ellis is gone.  And I'll be ruined!"

He leaned heavily on the rickety gate.  Bill wiped his snub nose,
openly, but Jap straightened up.  The fire of battle was in his eyes.

"Come inside," he cried valiantly.  "Ellis is gone, but the office is
here.  Come on, Bill.  We have great things to do."

All night long the two boys labored.  After the story was in type, they
printed it on the Washington press.  It was Bill's suggestion that
brought forth a can of vermilion, to lend color to the heart story.
Wat was in and out all night, but there was no "in and out" for the
boys.  At daybreak they flung the last handbill upon the stack of bills
and sank exhausted upon them.  Wat carried a mail pouch full of them to
the stage that started on its daily trip to Faber, at seven o'clock,
and the pathetic story saved the day for Legislator Harlow.

"Boys, I will never forget it," he declared.

Ellis saw one of the badly spelled, ink-smeared agonies on Saturday
evening, and took the next stage for home, wrathful enough to thrash
both boys.  They had adorned the bill with the cut that Ellis had had
made for Johnson, the tombstone cutter, a weeping angel drooping its
long wings over a stately head-stone.  A rooster and two prancing
stallions at the bottom presaged victory for the vilified Wat.

It was midnight when Ellis slammed the door open.  The two boys were
asleep in the midst of the litter of torn, ink-gaumed and otherwise
spoiled copies of that hideous handbill.  The last pull on the lever of
the press had let it fly back too quickly, and it had flapped its
handle loose and lay wrecked on the floor.  The office had the
appearance of a battleground.  The ink was blood, and the press and
scattered type, casualties.  He stirred the boys with an angry kick.
Jap sat up and peered through the ink over his eyes at his angry

"We fixed him solid," he declared jubilantly.  "There can't nothing
beat Wat now.  We opened the eyes of the county."

"You surely did," groaned Ellis.  "When the Press Association add to
their Hall of Fame, they will shroud me in the folds of that dad-blamed
bit of art!"


Jap came running into the office, early in January, his freckled face
aglow, his red hair standing wildly erect.

"Golly Haggins!" he exploded, "I got a letter from Wat.  He's up at the
Legislator and he writes--he writes this!"  He fairly lunged the letter
at Ellis.

Ellis read, scowling:

"My dear young Friend,--

"I am at the Halls of Justice and I want to fill my promise to reward
you for the noble deed you done.  There is a chance for a bright boy as
page, and I have spoke for it for my noble boy.  Come at once.  Time
and tide won't wait, and there is thirty other boys camped on the trail,

"Respectfully your Friend,

"Whoopee!" yelled Bill, jumping from his stool and turning a handspring
across the office.

"Reckon I'd better ask Flossy to fix my things--get my clothes out?"
asked Jap, beaming radiantly over the big barrel stove.  He started
toward the door.

"Stop!" said Ellis, in a voice Jap had never heard.  "You are not

"Not going?" echoed both boys hollowly.

"No!" almost shouted Ellis, his brown eyes flashing.  "I might have
expected this from that wooden-headed son of a lost art.  Do you think
that you are going to leave my office to lick the boots of that loafing
gang of pie-biters?  Not in a thousand years!  I am going to put a tuck
in that idea right now.  And while I'm talking about it, you may as
well know that Flossy is getting ready to teach you how to 'read and
write and 'rithmetic,' as Bill says.  And as for you, Bill, Flossy says
that if your father hasn't enough pride to do the right thing by you,
she'll give you an education, along with Jap.  You begin your lessons
to-morrow evening.

"Jap, write to that reformed auctioneer and thank him for his favor.
Tell him that you belong to the ancient and honorable order of
printers.  When he runs for governor, you will boom him.  Till then,
nothing doing in the 'Halls of Justice.'"

Jap sulked all day, but he wrote the letter whose contents might have
changed his career, and the following evening he and Bill began the
schooling that Flossy had planned.  It was a full winter for the boys,
the most important of their lives.  Even when spring came, with its
yawns and its drowsy fever, they begged that the lessons continue.
Already the effect was beginning to show in the galley proof.

One morning in July, Jap had held down the office alone.  Flossy was
not well, and Ellis spent as much time with her as possible.  Bill
blustered in, a look of disgust in his brown eyes.

"Ain't nothin' doin' in town, 'cept at Summers's," he exploded,
luxuriating in the kind of speech that was tabooed in the presence of
his elders.  "Only ad I could scare up was at Summers's, and Ellis
don't want that."

Jap looked from the door, beyond the little village park and the hotel,
to where the dingy white face of the saloon stared impudently upon the

"I never see one of them places without scringin'," he said slowly.
"My pappy almost lived in one.  When we were cold, he was warm.  When
Ma and us children were hungry, the saloon fed him, because--because he
could be so amusing and entertaining when he was half drunk.  Ma said
that my pappy's folks were quality, but they didn't have any time for

"I used to creep around to the side winder to see what kind of a drunk
he had.  If it was a mean one, I'd run home and sneak Aggie out and
hide.  He had a spite agin us two, and when he had a mean drunk he used
to beat us.  He was skeered to fetch Fanny Maud.  She had the
wild-cattest temper you ever saw.  He tried to pull her out of bed by
her hair one night, and she jumped on him and scratched his face like a
map.  Ma had to drag her off, and if he hadn't run, Fanny would 'a' got
him again.  After that he would brag what a fine girl she was.  One
night Aggie and me hid in a straw stack all night."

Bill looked sorrowfully upon his friend.

"I thought I was the most forsakenest boy in the world," he said.  "But
my father never beat me, and he never touches no kind of licker.  He
just don't like me around.  You know my mother died when I was born,
and somehow he seems to blame it on me.  I don't know how to figger it,
for he married in a year, and when that one died it didn't take him no
time to start lookin' out again.  He hardly ever speaks to me, 'cept to
cuss me or tell me what a nuisance I am.  Allus makes me feel like a
cabbage worm."

"Cabbage worm?" queried Jap.

"Yes, they turn green when they eat, and I feel like I am green, every
bite I take.  He looks at me so mean, like he thought I hadn't any
right to eat.  That's why I eat at Flossy's, every time she asks me.
The only nice thing my pappy ever done for me was to put me in here
with Ellis.  Jap," he broke off suddenly, "I'm durn glad you licked me,
that day.  But your hair _was_ red!"

Ellis had come quietly in at the rear door and had listened, half
consciously, to the sacred confession.  His face saddened for a moment.
Then he squared his shoulders and his dark eyes flashed.

"I am going to make men of those boys yet," he promised himself.  "Who

He interrupted the spasm of painful speculation, the dark foreboding
that had for days hovered over him.  The heat of summer and his anxiety
over Flossy were beginning to tell on his nerves.  He tiptoed softly
out of the back door, across the weed-grown yard and out through the
alley gate.  A moment later he came in at the front door, whistling

The summer was intensely hot.  As the dog-days waxed, Ellis grew ever
more and more morose.  His sharp bursts of temper were made tolerable
only by the swift justice of the amend.  Late in September he came down
to the office one morning, pale and shaken.  The boys had been sticking
type for an hour when his sudden entrance startled them.

"Flossy is very sick," he said with lips that quivered, "and I will
have to trust you boys."

Jap followed him to the door.  His face was downcast.

"Is it true, Ellis?  Bill said that Flossy would--would----"  He
gulped.  He could not finish.  Ellis turned suddenly and sat down at
the table and buried his face in the pile of exchanges.  His body shook
with the effort to suppress his emotion.  Bill slipped down from his
stool and the two awkward, ungainly youths looked at each other in
embarrassed sorrow.  Finally Jap laid an inky hand on Ellis's shoulder.

"Tell her--tell her," he stuttered, "that Bill and me are--are

Ellis gave a mighty sob and rushed away, bare-headed.

The two apprentices sat at their cases, the tears wetting the type in
their sticks.  The long day dragged by.  Neither of them remembered
noon, but plodded stolidly and silently through the clippings on their
copy hooks.

It was growing dusk when a great commotion arose.  It seemed to come
from the corner near Blanke's drug store.  It gathered force as it
neared Granger's bank, Now it had reached the mouth of the alley that
separated the bank from the _Herald_ office.  There was cheering and
laughter.  Jap's face hardened.  He slung one leg to the floor.  How
dared any one cheer or laugh, when Flossy lay dying?

In another instant Ellis burst into the room.  His dark locks were
rumpled, his eyes wild and bright.

"Get out all the roosters--and the stallions, too!" he shouted.  "Open
a can of vermilion and, in long pica, double-lead it: 'It is a boy!'"

Jap let the other leg fall and dragged himself around.  His mouth had
fallen loose on its hinges.  He sat down on the floor and gaped
foolishly at Ellis.

"She's feeling fine," babbled Ellis, "and you and Bill are coming in
the morning to see the boy."  He rushed out again.

Jap looked at Billy glued to the stool, holding in one paralyzed hand
the inverted stick.

"Gee!" said Jap.

In the morning they tiptoed into Flossy's room.  Very pale and weak was
the energetic little woman who had taken the moulding of their
destinies into her hands.  She smiled gently and, as mothers have done
since time was, she tenderly drew back the covers from a tiny black
head and motioned for the two to look.

"Our boy," she said, smiling radiantly.  "I am going to name him Jasper
William, and I want you to make him very proud of the men he was named

The hot tears sprang to Jap's eyes and fell upon the little red face.
The wee mite, perhaps prompted by an angel whisper from the land from
whence he came, threw aloft one wrinkled hand and touched him on the
cheek.  Sobbing stormily, Jap hid his face in the covers as he knelt
beside the bed.  Then he took the little fingers in his.

"If God lets me live, Flossy, I will make him proud of me."

He choked and dashed outside to join Bill, who was snubbing
[Transcriber's note: "snubbing" is what's in the source book.  Perhaps
the author meant "snuffling" or "sobbing".] audibly on the back steps.
After a muffled silence he said, his eyes growing suddenly bright:

"Bill, did you notice what Flossy said?  She said the 'men' that he was
named after.  Bill, we've got to quit kiddin' and begin to grow up."


Time passed, after the easy-going manner of Bloomtown.  Jap was
sixteen, long, ungainly and stooped from bending over the case.  Bill,
a little older in months, but possessed of immortal youth, was stocky
and rather good looking.  Four years of daily intercourse had wrought a
subtle change in their relations, four years of the stern and the sweet
that Ellis and Flossy Hinton had brought, for the first time, into
their lives.

Bill was at the table, the exchanges pushed back in a disorderly heap,
as he surreptitiously figured a tough problem in bookkeeping that
Flossy had given him.  Jap, with furtive air, bolted the history lesson
that ought to have been learned the day before.  Ellis, his back to the
one big window in the office, scowled over the proofs he was rattling.
From time to time he peppered the air with remarks that fell like bird
shot on the tough oblivion of his two assistants.  At length
forbearance gave way under the strain, and he said, in cold and
measured tones:

"When you are unable to decipher the idea I am trying to convey, I wish
that you would take me into your confidence."

Bill looked up, a grin on his round, shining face, a grin that was
fixed to immobility by the fierceness of Ellis's glance.

"I note that you have injected much native humor into perfectly
legitimate prose," the stern voice continued.  He read:

"'Jim Blanke has a splendid assortment of Sundays.'  Now please
explain.  You are causing the good folks of this town unnecessary
worry.  My copy reads, 'sundries.'"

"Jap done it," vouchsafed Bill.

"Who done this?" Ellis stressed the verbal blunder witheringly, as he
pointed his pencil at the next item.  It read:

"Ross Hawkins soled twenty-five yearling calves."

"It looked that way," argued Jap.

"A devil of a couple you are," declared Ellis wrathfully.  "Can't
either of you reason?  Did you ever hear of any one soling a yearling
calf?  Ross Hawkins is an auctioneer, not a shoemaker."

The boys looked sheepishly at each other.  Suddenly Bill flung himself
on his stomach and howled in glee.

"Lordee!  What if that had 'a' got in the paper!" he gasped.

"There would be two fine, large, lazy boys out of a job," Ellis said

He threw aside the copy and lifted the type.  Jap followed the movement
with anxious eye.  Another explosion hung, tense and imminent, in the

"Have you washed that type yet, Bill?" he asked, eager to placate Ellis.

It was the custom for the boy nearest the door to disappear when the
time for washing a form was at hand.

"It was your job," protested Bill.  "You promised to wash Wat Harlow's
speech if I cleaned Kelly Joneses stock bill."

Ellis sat down wearily.

"Oh, we're agoing to do it all, this evening," cried Bill, defiantly.
"You promised that we could clean out that box of cuts.  You promised a
long time ago."

"Go to it," said Ellis, his voice relaxing, and the two boys bolted
into the back room.  A little later he joined them.  Jap and Bill sat
on the floor, blowing the dust from a lot of dirty old woodcuts.

"I bought them with the job," he said, turning the pile over with his
foot.  He sat down on the emptied box and watched them as they examined
the cuts.

"What is this?" asked Jap, peering at the largest block in the lot.

"That is a cut of the town, as it was when I came here," said Ellis, a
shadow of reminiscence crossing his face, as he took the block in his
long fingers.

Bill drew himself to his knees and looked at the maze of lines and
depressions curiously.  The picture was as strange to him as it was to
Jap.  Ellis continued:

"There were three business houses here, besides the blacksmith shop and
the saloon.  Here they are.  Ezra Bowers, Bill's grandfather, with the
help of his three sons, ran a general store where they sold everything
from castor oil to mowing machines.  Phineas Blome--an unmistakable son
of old Jerusalem--sold clothing and more castor oil and mowing
machines.  There wasn't such a thing as a butcher shop in Bloomtown.
When the natives wanted fresh meat, they ordered it brought out on the
hack.  In other parts of the world, that institution is sometimes
called a stage; but here I learned that its right name is 'hack.'  The
southern terminus of the Bloomtown, Barton and Faber hack-line, that
has done its best for thirty years to prevent us from being entirely
marooned, was over there at the south side of Blome's Park, exactly as
it is to-day.  The hotel didn't have a bit more paint, the first night
I slept in it, than it has now."

"Flossy said that weathered shingles were fashionable," Bill grinned,
taking up another cut.  "Here's the Public Square--you call it Blome's
Park, but I never heard anybody else call it that," he added, his voice
lifting in a note of query.  "That's the Square, all right, and the
Town Hall, with 'leven horses hitched in front of it."

"Yes, when old man Blome laid out his farm in town lots, he reserved
his woods pasture for a city park.  You never heard of an orthodox town
that didn't begin with a Public Square, and that little rocky glade
with the wet-weather spring had the only trees within ten miles of
here.  It wasn't fit for farming, so Blome argued that nobody would buy
it with a view to raising garden truck.  But your foxy Uncle Blome
didn't sacrifice anything by his generosity to the town that was about
to be born.  He reserved the lots facing the park on three sides, and
held them at an exorbitant figure--as much as five dollars a front
foot, I should say.

"The lots at the north and east were to be sold for high-class
residences only.  Those at the west were reserved for business houses.
Behold the embryo Main street!  Overlooking the park at the south was
Blome's farm house, since metamorphosed into a tavern and barns for the
stage horses.  The last of the Blomes shook the dust of Bloomtown from
his feet when Carter bought his interest in the hack line.  Bill's
grandfather had a farm adjoining Blome's land at the west; but Ezra
Bowers, merchant prince and attorney-at-law," he said whimsically, "had
to have a residence in the fashionable quarter, fronting the park.  A
little patch of the old farm is quite good enough for Mr. and Mrs.
Ellis Hinton and their two sons, Jap and Jasper William."

Jap caught Ellis's hand, a lump arising in his throat.  Bill relieved
the momentary tension by turning over another cut.  A familiar face
looked out at him from the grime of years.  Ellis glanced at it and

"It is a great thing, Jap, the birth of a town.  Bloomtown was really
never born.  The stork dropped her when he was traveling for a friendly
haven.  For ten years she lay, just as she fell, without visible signs
of life.  About twenty families existed, somehow.  They had pigs,
chickens and garden truck, and to all intents they would go on existing
till the last trump.

"One day I went out into the country to attend a sale.  Boys, I was
never so well pleased with a day's work as I was with that day's jaunt.
I heard the most masterly bit of eloquence that ever came from the lips
of an auctioneer.  The man had the crowd hypnotized.  He even sold me
an accordion, a thing I was born to hate.  The fact that it was
wind-broken and rattly never occurred to me until I woke up, after he
had done.  Then I went to him and said:

"'You an auctioneer!  You should be in the Halls of Justice, telling
the people how to interpret their laws.'

"The idea struck him.  He came into town with me and we talked the
matter over.  He was easily the best known and most liked man in the
county.  It was then that the political bug stung our good friend, Wat
Harlow.  Wat moved his family to town and soon he had a decent
habitation.  He stimulated a rain of paint and a hail of shingle nails.
He prodded the older inhabitants to an era of wooden pavements and
stone crossings.  Bill's grandfather objected, because he said it cut
down the sale of rubber hip-boots; but Wat's eloquence was the key to
fit anything that tried to lock the wheels of progress.  He did more
than that.  He brought Jim Blanke from Leesburg to start a decent drug

"After that he robbed Barton of Tom Granger, and together they started
the first bank of Bloomtown.  Granger's wife and baby, with Wat's wife,
were the civilization.  Mrs. Granger was almost an invalid, even then,
but she gathered the women together and formed an aid society.  She
begged and cajoled Bowers out of enough money to build a little church
on the lot that Blome had donated.  I joined the church, for the moral
example.  I don't remember what denomination it was supposed to be.  We
had services once a month; but Mrs. Granger was the real power in the
town.  She introduced boiled shirts and neckties.  Tom bought the big
patch of ground, north of the park, and set out those elm trees before
his foundation was in.  Then Jim Blanke got Otto Kraus to come here and
start a private school.  Otto played the little cabinet organ in
church, and taught all the children music, after school hours.  Thus
was Bloomtown born.  Wat Harlow made the blood circulate in her
moribund veins."

Jap looked into Ellis's face, his freckled cheeks glowing.

"That's not what Wat Harlow said," he declared breathlessly.

"What did he say?" asked Ellis sharply.

"Why--why," gulped Jap, "he said that Bloomtown was dead as a herring,
and too no-account to be buried, till Ellis Hinton came and jerked her
out of the mud and started her to breathe."

Ellis got up and dusted his trousers.

"As I said before, Wat was an eloquent auctioneer.  Talk is his trade,
and he keeps in practice.  Dilute his enthusiasm one-half, Jap.  And
now, get to work, washing up."

As he left the office he encountered a group of tittering girls, in
front of the bank.  They scattered when they perceived that Ellis and
not Bill had come forth.  Bill was the lion of the town.  Already the
girls had begun to come after papa's paper, on publishing day, which
upset the machinery of the office, never too dependable.

One Thursday when the air was full of snow, the little office
registered its capacity crowd.  Ellis was at home with a heavy cold,
and Jap and Bill were getting out the paper.  The ink congealed on the
rollers and needed constant warming to lubricate the items reposing on
the bosom of the Washington press.  This warming was Bill's job, and
Jap was exasperated to fighting pitch by the dilatory method of Bill's
peregrinations around the circle of rosy-faced girls, hanging
admiringly on his efforts.

"Chase those girls out," he growled.  "No use for them to hang around.
We won't get this paper out in a week if they stick around after you."

"Old Crabby!" sniffed one of the girls.  "You're just mad because
nobody wants to hang after you."

"Jap is particular," chaffed Bill, half apologetically.  Since they had
assumed the responsibility for the right uplift of Flossy's boy, there
had been growing a new, shy pride in themselves.  "Better wait and come
back in the morning," he suggested.

The girls filed slowly out.  As they passed the table, where Jap was
piling the papers to fold, Isabel Granger, doubtless inspired by the
demon of mischief, leaned forward suddenly and kissed him full on the
mouth.  Then she fled, shrieking with glee.  Jap stood as if stricken
to stone.  Bill looked at him in fright.  There was no color in his
freckled face.  His gray eyes were staring, as if some wonderful vision
had blasted his sight.

"Gee, Jap," said Bill uneasily, "are you sick?"

Jap aroused himself and turned toward the press.

"No," he said slowly, "but I don't like for folks to be familiar like
that.  If I wanted to be a fool like you----"  He stopped and stared a
moment from the window.

"The next time she kisses me," he said shortly, "she will mean it."


What a wonderful thing is a baby!  Babies were not new to either Bill
or Jap.  In Bill's memory lingered the shrill duet of his twin
half-sisters, a continuous performance that had lasted more than a
year.  And Jap had never fully corrected a lurch to the left side, due
to carrying his sister, Agnesia, when he was little more than a baby
himself.  Yet the little visitor from the Land of Yesterday was a never
failing miracle to them.  His cry filled them with fear for his
well-being, and his laugh intoxicated them with its glee.

"Wait till he can talk," smiled Flossy, "Then you will see how wise he

In her heart she was beginning to combat the fear that he would never
talk.  Other children of his age were already chattering like magpies.

"Ma said that I said 'papa' when I was eight months old," declared Jap.
"But I don't know why I should 'a' said that."

Bill grinned fatuously as the baby pulled at his hair.

"Bill won't get his hair cut," said Jap.  "He knows that J. W. would
hang after me, if it wasn't for his curly hair."

The little fellow, who for obvious reasons could be neither Jasper nor
William, had learned to respond with amiable toleration to the soothing
abbreviation, "J. W."  Kicking his stubby legs gleefully, he tangled
his fingers more mercilessly in Bill's brown locks.  Flossy loosed the
fingers gently, as she cooed:

"Naughty, naughty!  Mamma said baby mustn't."

Flinging his fingers aloft in protest, he gurgled: "Ja--Bi!"

Flossy's eyes shone with sudden joy.  It was her son's first attempt at
articulate speech.  The boys lunged forward with one impulse.

"He said 'Jappie,'" Jap cried, his chest swelling with the importance
of it.  Bill glared.

"Why, Jap!"  Pain and indignation were in his tone.  "He tried to say

Flossy smiled on them both.  It was a wonderful little kingdom, of
which she had assumed the place of absolute monarch, a monarch so
gentle and so just that her sway was never questioned.

"Ellis puts in half his time trying to teach baby to say the two names
all in one mouthful, so that you boys won't fight about his first
word," she vouchsafed.  "It would have to be either Jap or Bill,
because you never tell him anything but your names."

When they waved their caps in farewell, they were still discussing the
mooted question vehemently.  Was it "Jappie," or a combination of Jap
and Bill?  To both of them the question was vital.  Jap had the better
of the argument, when Bill blurted:

"Anyhow, he's my cousin, and he ain't no relation of yours."  Then he
remembered that significant remark of Ellis's: "A little patch of the
old farm is quite good enough for Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Hinton and their
two sons, Jap and Jasper William," and he was silent the rest of the
way back to the office.

Little J. W. was three years old before he could speak distinctly.  The
child was born with other afflictions than the serious impediment to
his speech, and the four who hung with anguished love on his every
gesture were never free from a certain unnamed anxiety.  He loved Bill,
but he worshipped Jap.  Both were his willing slaves.

One rainy, dismal night in early fall, when Bill's step-mother lay
seriously ill, Flossy left her baby to the care of the small but
usually capable maid who assisted her with the work of the cottage,
while she and Ellis went to the home of Judge Bowers to relieve the
trained nurse who had come up from the city.  At the supper table,
Ellis had remarked that Jap and Bill would be working late that night,
in order to get out a job that had come in when all the resources of
the office were needed for the weekly edition of the _Herald_.  He had
added that he would go over and help them, if his presence could be
spared from the sick-room.

The remark must have lodged in the baby's mind, for he slipped out of
bed, while the maid was employed in the kitchen, and toddled through
the cold rain almost all the way to Main street.  Jim Blanke found him
lying exhausted in the road, a little way from the drug store, the rain
beating pitilessly on his unconscious head and his scantily clad body.

After a night of anxious care, the little fellow relapsed into a state
of coma, and lay for hours, white and still, save for the rasping of
his breath.  The office was closed.  Both boys, frantic with fear,
stood with Ellis as the child lay in his mother's arms, the four
dreading that each hoarse breath would be his last.  Flossy sat erect
in the wide rocking chair, her brave eyes watching every sigh that tore
the little bosom.  Dr. Hall, whose dictum was life and death, was
silent.  And this silence was the last straw for Jap.  He crept nearer.
In fear, he turned from the face of the beloved sufferer.  Ellis caught
the look in the boy's anguished eyes, and a spasm crossed his tightly
compressed lips.  The physician rallied himself from the torpor of
despair that had laid hold on him.

"Try to arouse him," he commanded.  "Try again."  The resources of his
experience and his prescription blank had long since been exhausted.

Flossy bent over her child and called softly:

"Baby, dearest, mamma loves you.  Won't you speak?"

Ellis leaned forward.  His face blanched.  The rasping had ceased!  Jap
caught the look of horror, and dragged himself up to look into the
baby's face.

"He isn't dead!  He's all right!" he shrieked, not knowing that he
spoke.  "He's still breathing.  I can hear him."  His hands grasped the
cold body and lifted it, unconscious of the thing he was doing.

"Oh, J. W.!  Oh, J. W.!" he screamed, "don't go away from us!"

He pressed the child to his breast convulsively, and the miracle
happened.  The solemn black eyes opened and a husky voice said,

After the excitement was over, and the exhausted mother slept beside
her sleeping child.  Bill said humbly:

"He did say 'Jap' first."

"But he tried to say 'Bill,' too," Jap said loyally.

The next morning, when the office had resumed its normal routine, a
routine that was destined to be only partially interrupted by the death
of Bill's second stepmother, a few days later, Ellis called Jap into
the little back room where, in the dismal days before Flossy's coming,
they had performed all the functions of housekeeping.  He closed the
door, as he laid his hand on Jap's shoulders.

"You saved J. W.'s life," he said solemnly.  "Doc Hall said that you
stopped him, on the threshold, when you gave that dreadful cry."

The baby did not rally, and Ellis worried about this incessantly.  One
day, some weeks after another mound had been added to the group in
Judge Bowers's family lot, and Bill had gone with his father to
appraise the merits of a prospective housekeeper from Birdtown, Ellis
looked up from the proof he was correcting.  Jap noted the anxiety in
his face, and the gray eyes, that could so often render speech
unnecessary, put the question.  Ellis sighed.

"He's not getting along the way he ought to," he mused.  "Doc Hall
prescribed a tonic for him a month ago; but it doesn't seem to take
hold.  He has no constitution to begin with.  His father, exhausted by
privation and ill-health, has handicapped him in the start.

"Jap," he said, as he arose and laid one arm confidingly around the
boy's shoulder, "you must remember that, in the years to come.  I
didn't give the baby a fair chance.  He may need all the help he can
get to carry him through.  If you should live longer than I, you must
be his father and big brother, both."

Jap's gray eyes opened in astonishment.  The idea that there could ever
be a time when Ellis would not be there had never entered his mind.  He
looked into the dark, thin face with its pallor and its unnaturally
bright eyes, and a joyous smile took the place of the momentary shock.

"Doc Hall said that you had grit enough to outlive any disease that
ever lurked in the brush of Bloomtown," he declared eagerly.

"Doc Hall is an optimist," Ellis laughed hollowly.  "I'm not so much
concerned for myself as for the boy and his mother.  You know what J.
W. means to her."

"Bill and I have already talked it over," Jap returned.  "We're going
to be big brothers to J. W.  We're going to take turns at taking him
for long rides on Judge Bowers's old horse, Jeremiah.  Doc Hall said
that long, jolty rides would set him up, rosy and fat, in a little
while.  Bill told me this morning that he had J. W. weighed again, on
Hollins's scales, and he has gained three pounds."

Ellis Hinton's face cleared.  There was a new elasticity in his step as
he crossed the room and laid the copy down on the case.  Unconsciously
he began to whistle, as he clicked the type in the stick.


Flossy came into the office, leading the boy by the hand, and called
Ellis aside.  Old Jeremiah had done wonders for the little fellow; but
on Flossy Hinton's face there was a look that boded ill to some one.

"I sent for Brother William to meet me here," she said crisply.  "I
want you to back up all that I say."

Before Ellis had breathed twice, she was out looking up the street, and
in less time than you could think it out, she was back, towing the
Judge, who puffed explosively.  Ellis and the three boys had retreated
to the rear office.

"There is not a bit of use to argue, William," she said, her lips in a
hard, straight line.  "Ellis has done more than any one else in town
could do.  When I heard that you had subscribed five thousand dollars
to the new church, I concluded that your charity was a little far
fetched.  Now I want you to subscribe five thousand dollars to the
institution that is making a man of your son.  I want five thousand
dollars for the printing office.  It is too small, and the press is out
of date.  We need all that goes into an up-to-date printing office."

Her brother looked upon her tolerantly.

"Keep it up, Floss.  It never fazed you to ask favors, and you ain't
run down yet."

"It's a shame," she stormed.  "Just look at this little shed!  Why,
even a cross-road blacksmith shop is better."

He looked around appraisingly.

"I reckon it'll house all Ellis's business," he commented.

"Ellis," she flashed, "tell William about the railroad."

Ellis came from the inside office.  He generally withdrew from the
conferences between Flossy and her brother.

"Wat Harlow told me that two of the big railroad systems have entered
into a joint arrangement to shorten their mileage, on through trains to
the West.  He's got it all fixed for the new track to pass through
Bloomtown.  It will give us all the benefit of two railroads."

"You see," said Flossy triumphantly, "the town will boom.  People will
move in, and a first-class newspaper will be the greatest asset."

"I think that the town will take a big start," assured Ellis.  "The
boys will have all they can do with job work, and the office is small
for our present needs."

"Pap, you should watch us carving letters when we get short,"
interposed Bill.  "Last week Jap had to carve three A's for Allen's
handbill.  There are only three of 'em in that case, and Allen wanted
to use six.  His name is Pawhattan Abram Allen, and he wanted the whole
blamed thing spelled out in caps.  I told Jap it was lucky Allen's
folks didn't name him Aaron, on top of all the rest."

"That's good practice for you boys," the Judge snorted.  "I'm mighty
glad you learned something for all the money I spent on you."  He
glanced at his sister witheringly; but Flossy had her eyes fixed on her

"I wish," Ellis stirred himself to say, "that the town would boom
enough to take all these frame shacks off of Main street, so that the
place wouldn't look like a settlement of campers."

"A good fire would help," commented Bill boldly.

Judge Bowers looked over his glasses at his son.

"Well, when the railroad comes, and the rest of the shacks are moved
out, I will write you a check for five thousand dollars," he snorted,
turning his rotund form out of the door.

Flossy picked up the boy and flounced out, in speechless indignation.
By argument and cajolery she had succeeded in getting six months apiece
for Bill and Jap at the School of Journalism, and at twenty the boys
were far more expert than Ellis was when he began the publication of
the _Herald_.  She had set her heart on the new printing office, and
her eyes were abrim with tears as she stumbled home.

The week wore on until printing day.  It was a day of unimagined
exasperations.  Everything went wrong.  Ellis's usually smooth temper
bent under the stormy comments of the boys, and in the late afternoon
he developed a violent headache and went home.  Things continued to
pile up until it was evident that the boys would have to print the
paper after dark.

It was ten o'clock when they finished.  Jap followed Bill to the
pavement, pausing to lock the door and slip the key in his pocket.  The
town was asleep.  Not a soul was to be seen on Main street.  Bill, who
usually took the short cut across the Public Square to his fathers
house, turned with Jap and walked along Main street to the farther end
of the block.  At Blanke's drug store, he turned into Spring street.
He was saying, in a tone of mixed penitence and anxiety:

"I wish we hadn't riled Ellis so, to-day.  I don't like those headaches
he's having so often, and the way his face gets red every afternoon.
If he ever sneaked out and took a drink--But I know he never does."

"Oh, Ellis is all right, now that little J. W. is getting strong," Jap

They had gone some distance in the direction of Flossy's cottage, when
Bill looked across an expanse of vacant lots to where a dim light
burned in the loft of Bolton's barn.

"They're running a poker game," said Bill wisely.

Almost before the words were gone, a wild shriek rent the air.  A flash
of light from the barn loft, a scrambling of feet, and a succession of
dark objects catapulted the ooze of the barnyard, and it was all
ablaze.  A stiff breeze was blowing from the southwest.  Bill ran to
the mill to set the fire whistle, and Jap scrambled through a window of
the Methodist church and began to fling the chimes abroad, so that he
who slept might know that there was a fire in town.  There had been no
rain for weeks, and the frame structures were ripe for burning.

In less than half an hour the row of stores on Main street, in the
block below the _Herald_ office, began to smoke.  From Hollins's
grocery store a brand was carried by the wind and lodged among the dry
shingles of Summers's saloon.  The excitement was augmented, a few
minutes later, by a series of pyrotechnic explosions.  Bucket brigades
were formed, the firemen mostly in undress uniform.

Jap and Bill were in their glory.  Jap was mounted on top of the Town
Hall, directing operations.  Right down the row rushed the flames,
eating up the town.  As if in parting salutation, the fiery monster
leaped across a vacant lot, thick set with dried weeds, and clutched
with heat-red claws at the _Herald_ office.

"This way, men!" yelled Jap.  "You have to get the press and enough
type out to tell about the fire."

Ellis was staring hopelessly at the flame that was licking at the rear
of the office.  The water was exhausted from the town well, and there
was no hope of saving the plant.  But youth is omniscient, and the
townsmen followed the wildly yelling apprentices and hastened to
demolish the office and drag away the debris, some of it already
blazing.  From the salvage rescued from Price's hardware store, and
heaped in a disorderly pile in the Public Square, Jap handed out the
latest thing in fire fighting apparatus.  The flimsy structure, that
had been Ellis Hinton's stronghold for almost twenty years, gave way to
an assault with axes, and the contents, pretty well scattered, were
left standing.  It was nothing that Granger and Harlow's bank went down
with little left to show its location save the fire-proof vault, and
that only a shift in the wind prevented the flames from crossing to the
fashionable residence section east of Main street.

In the morning the _Herald_ force began business in the ruins of its
time-worn shelter, and set up gory accounts of the fire, on brown
manila paper with vermilion and black ink.  A crowd assembled to watch
the exciting spectacle.

"What's the use of a railroad now?" bleated Judge Bowers.  "There ain't
no town to run it through."

"Why ain't there?" asked Jap sharply.

"Why, all the folks are talking of pulling up stakes and moving to

"Well, if that is the kind of backbone they have been backing this town
with," snapped the youth, his red hair standing erect, "you help them
move, and the _Herald_ will show them up for quitters--and fill the
town with real men."

And being full of wrath, he proceeded to incorporate this thought in
the half column he was setting up.  The paper was eagerly snapped up by
the crowd.

"Who wrote this?" fairly howled Tom Granger.  "I want to hold his grimy
hand and help him shout for a bigger and better town."

Ellis shoved Jap forward.

"Here is the fire-eater," he announced.  Jap flushed through the dirt
on his face.

"It's true," he said, half shyly.  "There's no good in a quitter.  The
best thing is to smoke them out and get live men to take their places."

"Bravely said," shouted Granger.  "The bank will rebuild with brick.
Who else builds on Main street?"

Before the end of the following week the town was humming with
industry.  Every hack brought its contingent of insurance adjusters,
and merchants elbowed contractors in the little telegraph office, in
endeavors to get supplies.  On Thursday a curious crowd stood watching
Ellis and the boys run the blistered but still faithful Washington
press in the boiling sun.

"Goin' to get winter after a while, Jap," shouted one of the
bystanders.  "You'll have to wear ear muffs to get out your paper."

Jap grinned and swung the lever around methodically.

"What are you going to do, Ellis?" asked the honorable member from the
"Halls of Justice," who had hurried to his little home town in her hour
of trouble.  "There ain't a vacant shack in town.  It seems a darned
shame that you'll have to give up, after starving with the town till it
gets its toes set in gravel at last.  Now that the railroad is running
this way like a scared wolf, the town needs a paper worse than ever."

"Who said they was going to quit?" demanded Judge Bowers pugnaciously.
"They ain't!  Ellis is goin' to have a two-story brick, with a printin'
press that runs itself.  This here town ain't no quitter."  He glared
fiercely at Harlow.

Jap lingered with Ellis until the last of the day's work was finished.
As he started for home he came upon an animated group, in the shade of
the half-burned drug store.  Behind a pile of wreckage, Bill was
holding court.  Jap stopped short.  Bill was telling a lurid tale of
superhuman strength and dare-devil bravery, of which Jap Herron was the
hero, a tale that grew with every telling.  A wave of embarrassment
swept over Jap.  As he turned hastily away, he felt a soft clutch on
his arm.  He looked back.  Two sparkling black eyes were looking up
into his.

"I think that you are the bravest boy in the world," whispered Isabel
Granger, "and--and I am glad I kissed you that time."

Jap stared at her, stunned by a new emotion.  In another moment she was
gone, flying across the street in the direction of her home.

"Anybody but Jap would 'a took her up on that," insinuated Bill, who
had heard Isabel's last words.

Jap turned a murderous look upon him.  The crowd of girls tittered as
they dispersed.  When supper was over Jap returned to the spot, and
long after dark he sat upon the pile of wreckage, thinking long, long


The scraping of saw, the clang of hammer and the smell of fresh paint
classed Bloomtown as "Boomtown."  The railroad had already peered into
the northern environs of the town, cutting diagonally across Main
street, some half-dozen blocks from the plot of ground that had been
rechristened Court House Square.  A substantial municipal building took
the place of the dingy old Town Hall, and the barns of the now almost
defunct Bloomtown, Barton and Faber hack line had been cleared away to
make room for a decent hotel.  In the angle between the railroad tracks
and Main street a small temporary station sheltered travelers.  The
half-moribund village had burst its swaddling bands and begun to
expand.  Everybody was wearing grins as a radiant garment.

As the summer traveled toward July, the headaches that had been so
frequent the past winter merged into a feeling of utter exhaustion, and
Ellis came down to the office but few days of each week.  Flossy
stopped Jap at the gate one noon hour.

"Ellis has something to tell you, Jappie, and I want you to be very
composed.  Don't let yourself go."  Her voice was full of pleading.
She turned quickly as Ellis appeared in the doorway.  He walked out to
meet them.

"Let us sit out under the trellis while Flossy finishes fixing dinner,"
he said, leading the way.  "Jap, your birthday comes to-morrow, and I
am going to ask you to accept a sacred trust that is a burden.  You are
twenty-one and, as they say, 'your own man.'  I want to ask you to be
_my man_.  Jap, I am going away, how far God only knows.  The doctor
says that my lungs are all wrong, and life in the mountains may save
me.  My boy--for you have been my boy since you walked through my door,
nine years ago--I want you to take charge of the office, and shoulder
the support of Flossy and the little one if--if----"  He caught the
horror-stricken boy's hand.  "Jap, I will never come back.  I know it.
I have talked with my soul and it is well.  Will you do it, Jap?"

Jap pressed Ellis's feverish hand between his strong young palms.  He
could not speak.  His eyes were dry and his lips twitched.

"There," cautioned Ellis, "no heavy face before Flossy.  God bless her!
she thinks that I will be well before the new office is done, and is
making more splendid plans for the big opening!  She is----  Jap, you
dunce, grin about something!"

Flossy and the boy came dancing down the sun-flecked path and Jap swung
the slender little fellow to his shoulder and began a mock race from

As soon as dinner was over, a dinner that stuck in his throat for
hours, he told Flossy that two men were rushing Bill to desperation for
their handbills.  He hurried out by way of the alley.  Flossy ran after
him.  "You forgot your hat, Jap," she cried breathlessly.  He took the
hat and started off silently.

"Wait a minute, Jap."  Her voice was insistent.  "You didn't put on a
grave face with Ellis, did you?  Oh, Jap"--the cry was from her
heart--"he will never live to see the new office!  He will never know
of the realization of his dreams, the big town, the trains whirling
through, and he looking down from his lofty window with a smile of
superior joy.  Oh, Jap, how often have we heard him tell about it!  He
doesn't know.  He is full of hope.  Only just before you came he was
joking about the Star Spangled Banner he was going to wind around his
brow when he dedicated the _Herald_ office.  Jap, be true to his faith,
for he will never open the door of that office.  He will never help to
get out the first paper."

She strangled and turned away.  Then in brisk tones she added:

"Now, Jap, hurry along.  Here comes Ellis to scold."  And in the
marvelous manner that is God-given to loving women, she forced a smile
to her lips as she gave the youth a playful shove and ran to meet her

A few days later they left.  The town took a holiday, and with laughter
and merrymaking it celebrated Ellis Hinton's first vacation.  A water
tank was in process of construction, at the upper end of a half-mile
stretch of double track, and at the lower end of the siding, close to
Main street, the imposing brick railroad station stood in potential
grandeur, its bricks still separated by straw and its ample foundation
giving promise of stability as it reposed in sacks of cement and piles
of crushed stone.  Something of this was incorporated in Ellis's
farewell speech as he addressed his townspeople.  When the train began
to move his black head was still visible, as he returned quip for joke.
And Flossy was flitting from her lifelong friends as if no trouble
clouded her brow.

Little J. W. was the feature of the going, and under the pretense of
caring for his wants, their sleeper compartment had been piled with
fruit and flowers by loving friends who had gone on to the nearest town
to meet the train, so that the surprise should be the more complete.
Then, to the sound of the village band, Ellis left what he had always
called "my town."  Jap did not go to the station, and when Bill found
the door of their improvised office locked, he turned silently away.
His heart was full, too.

The Widow Raymond had offered them a room for a printing office.  The
press occupied the room.  Jap and Bill set the type in the woodshed and
carried the galleys in.  During the nine years of their association
Bill had been the unsteady member of the team, consuming more effort in
devising ways and means of escaping work than the work would have cost,
and toiling with feverish penitence when he realized that he had
wrought a hardship to Jap or Ellis.  But now, inspired by the dimpled
face of Rosy Raymond, he worked as he had never worked in his life.
Odd things began to happen.  Bill insisted on doing all the
proof-reading, a task he had hitherto detested.  A bit of verse
occasionally crept into the columns of the _Herald_.  Jap did not
detect this verse for several weeks.  When he did, he descended upon

"Where in Heck did you filch that doggerel?"

"Who said it was doggerel?" demanded Bill.

"Lord love you," cried Jap, "what could any sane being call it?  What
did you get for publishing it--advertising rates?"

"You're a fool!" snapped Bill.  "You think that you're a criterion.  I
will have you know that lots of folks have complimented it."

Jap took up the offending sheet.

"'Thine eyes are blue, thine lips are red, thine locks are gold,'" he
groaned.  He looked at Bill.  Just then the door opened and Rosy
stepped into the room.  A great light shone on Jap's understanding.
Her eyes were blue, her lips certainly red, and a fervid imagination
could call her hair gold.  He sighed pathetically.

"Bill, don't you think you could write it out and relieve the pressure
on your heart, without endangering our prestige?"

Bill kicked at the mongrel dog that had its habitat under the press,
and marched out indignantly.

"I'll be glad if I get him out of here single," mused Jap.  "He has
these spells as regular as the seasons change.  Heretofore his
prospects have never entitled him to consideration.  This time it may
be different."

Bill had been systematically chased from every front gate in town,
behind which rosy-cheeked girls abode; but the disquieting conviction
swooped down upon Jap that Barkis, in the shape of the Widow Raymond,
might be more than "willin'" to hitch Bill to her sixteen-year-old
daughter.  And if Bill had not contracted a new variety of measles at
the most opportune time, Jap's forebodings might have been realized.
Bill had the "catching" habit.  No contagion in town ever escaped him,
and this time he was so ill that he had to go to the country to

The new stores opened, one by one, with much celebration.  Owing to
several unaccountable financial complications, the last of all the
important buildings on Main street to be finished was the _Herald_
office.  A cylinder press, second-handed, to be sure, but none the less
an object of admiration, was installed, and fonts of clean, new type
stood ready for work.  There was a great, sunny front office on the
main floor, and the ample space behind it had been divided into
composing room, press room and private office.  On the second floor was
a small job press, and here, at Jap's suggestion, the old Washington
press was stored.  The rooms were decorated with flags, and bunting was
strung across the front of the office.  Judge Bowers had personally
attended to this.

"You're going to have a dandy paper," Tom Granger beamed, as he
accompanied Jap on the final tour of inspection.  "We'll all have to
stop business to watch this cylinder press spill out the news."

Wat Harlow had run down from the Capital to congratulate the staff.  At
his suggestion the merchants had ordered flowers from the city, and
great vases of roses and carnations, and decorative pieces in symbolic
design, stood around in fragrant profusion.  Every room of the office
was filled with them.

The forms were ready for the printing of that first paper, and only
awaited the conclusion of Wat's speech, to be placed upon the press, so
that Bloomtown should receive the salutatory _Herald_.  Jap turned to
the assemblage, waiting in eager curiosity to see the cylinder revolve.

"The paper will be printed on Ellis's press," he said briefly.  "I
don't want to be ungrateful for your kindness, but will you leave Bill
and me alone to get out our first edition?"

They filed out slowly, awed by the grief in the voice of Ellis's boy.

With the old types, on the old Washington hand press, they printed the
first _Herald_ of the new régime.  With the exception of the greeting
on the front page, every word was reprinted from the predictions
written by Ellis in the years agone, and the greeting, in long pica on
the first page, was his telegram to them and his townsmen received that

When the last paper was printed by the two sad-faced boys on their day
of jubilee, and the pile had been folded and carried downstairs, Jap
closed the press upon the inky type, and gathered the great bunches of
fragrant blossoms and heaped them upon the press, to be forever silent.
With a groan of anguish, he threw himself against them.  Bill slipped
his arm through Jap's, and together they celebrated the day that was
Ellis's.  And in the night the telegram came:

"At rest.  FLOSSY."


When Ellis went away it was to the sound of jollity.  He came back to a
town shrouded in mourning.  Every store was closed, and symbols of
grief adorned most of them.  Wat Harlow, with a delicacy Ellis would
scarcely have expected of him, had ordered purple ribbon and white
flowers to tie with the crape.  Silent and grief-stricken, the town
stood waiting the arrival of the train.  When it came, the coffin was
lifted by loving hands and carried the ten long blocks to the church.
No cold hearse rattled his precious body, but, even as the body of
Robert Louis Stevenson was held by human touch until the last office
was done, so was Ellis Hinton, the country printer, carried to his last
repose by the hands of his friends.

Not until Jap looked for a long, anguished moment upon the
flower-massed grave did he realize that he was alone, that he was
drifting, that he had no anchor.  Something of this he expressed to
Flossy, between dry sobs, when they had left Ellis alone in the
secluded little cemetery.  Her eyes burned with a strange, maternal
light as she comforted the boy whose grief was of the fibre of her own.

"Ellis knew that you would feel that way," she said gently, "and
because of that, he made a will that is to be read to-night.  Wat
Harlow has it.  Until it is read, I want you not to trouble."

That evening, with all the important men of the town assembled in the
big front room of the _Herald_ office, Wat Harlow read brokenly the
last "reading notice" of Bloomtown's sleeping hero.  It was written in
the familiar scrawl that everybody knew, with scarcely a waver in its
lines to tell that a dying hand had penned it:

"I am going a long journey, but not so far that I cannot vision your
growth.  It was the labor of love to plan for this time.  In the
gracious wisdom of God it was not intended that I should enjoy it with
you; but as Moses looked into his promised land, so through the eyes of
the _Herald_ I have seen mine.  And God, in His wonderful way, has sent
you another optimist to do the royal work of upbuilding a town.

"My town, my people, I leave to you the greatest gift I have to offer.
I give you my boy, Jap.  He is worthy.  Hold up his hands, in memory of


As Harlow folded the paper, with hands that trembled, he was not
conscious of the fact that hot tears were streaming down his cheeks.
There was an instant of tense silence.  Then Tom Granger walked over to
the boy who lay, face downward across the table, arms outspread in
abandon of grief.  He took one limp hand in his, and a voiceless
message went from heart to heart.  Jap aroused himself.  One by one the
men of Bloomtown filed by.  No word was spoken, but each man pledged
himself to Ellis Hinton as he took the hand of Ellis's boy in a firm
clasp.  When the others had gone, Wat Harlow remained.

For a moment he stood silent beside the table.  Then with a cry of
utter heartbreak, he sank to his knees and permitted the bereaved boy
to give vent to his long-repressed agony in a saving flood of tears.
When they left the office together, there had been welded a friendship
that was stronger than years of any other understanding could have

Flossy went back to the cottage, and, like the brave helpmeet of such a
man as Ellis Hinton must have been, did not sadden the days with her
grief.  Sometimes, in the little arbor, with J. W. playing at her feet,
she sang softly over her sewing:

  "Beautiful isle of Somewhere,
    Isle of the true, where we live anew,
  Beautiful isle of Somewhere."

It was her advice that caused the boys to fit up a bedroom and
living-room on the second floor of the office.  It was her idea that
separated Bill from the unsteady air of his home.  The Judge, heeding
the scriptural injunction implied in the immortal words of Moses, "It
is not good that man should be alone," had taken unto himself a fourth
wife, and Bill had so many rows with his latest stepmother that there
was no opposition to the change.  Tom Granger observed that it had been
so many matrimonial moons since Bill had a mother that he did not know
whether he had any real kinfolks at all.  It was certain that he knew
little of the real meaning of the word "home."  Flossy boarded them,
and her cottage was their haven of refuge during many a long evening.
It was sad comfort, and yet it was the surest comfort, to have her live
over again those last days in the mountains, when Ellis's thoughts
bridged space and visualized the rebuilding of Bloomtown.

Perhaps Flossy sensed the fact that these evenings were bone and sinew
to Jap's manhood.  The boy, never careless, was changing to a man of
purpose, such as would be the product of Ellis Hinton's training.  The
stray, born of the union of purposeless, useless Jacky Herron, and
Mary, peevish and fretful, changeable and inconstant, had been born
again into the likeness of the man who bad been almost a demigod to him.

The town was growing, as Ellis had prophesied, and was creeping in
three directions across the prairie.  It incorporated and began to
settle into regular lines.  Spring street showed but few gaps in the
line of cottages that ran almost all the way from the rear of Blanke's
drug store to Flossy's home, and another line of modest cottages looked
at them from the other side of the street.  A new and fashionable
residence place was laid out, in the extreme south end of town, as far
from the grime and soot of the railroad as possible; but the
substantial old families still clung to their ancestral halls in the
vicinity of Court House Square.

One day in early spring Bill burst into the office, his reporter's pad
flapping wildly.  His brown eyes danced.

"Big doings!" he shouted.  "Pap's going to run for mayor, and he wants
the _Herald_ to voice the cry of the town for his services."

"Who said so?" queried Jap, sticking away at the last legislative

"Nobody but him--as far as I can find out," Bill returned, grinning
knowingly.  "It seems that they had a mess of turnip greens, from
cellar sprouts, and they gave him cramps.  He was dozing under
paregoric when the idea hit him.  It grew like the turnip sprouts, fast
but pale.  He wants us to water the sprouts and give 'em air, so that
they'll get color in them."

"How much did he send in for the color?" asked Jap, climbing down

The Associate Editor flashed a two-dollar bill.

"I told Pap that if any opposition sprouted, he'd have to raise the
ante," he remarked.  "He squealed loud enough when I squeezed him for
this, but I convinced him that we had about done away with charity
practice.  Told him the _Herald_ was out of the amateur class, and
after this election the ante 'd be five bones."

"Well," conceded Jap, "as he is Flossy's brother, we'll have to spread
it on thick for the low price of introduction.  Look up that woodcut of
Sames, the Chautauqua lecturer.  If you'll chisel off the beard, we can
use it for the Judge.  I think that we will kill that story you cribbed
from the St. Louis _Republic_, about the President's morning canter
with his family physician, and run the Judge along the first column.
By the way, Bill, it would be a good idea to trace his career from
joyous boyhood to the dignity of the judicial office.  What judge was
he?  Since I have known him, he has never 'worked at the bench.'"

Bill grinned wickedly.

"He was judge of live stock at the county fair!"

"Fallen is Caesar!" Jap exploded.  "What can we say about him?"

"Nothin' for certain, as Kelly Jones says," Bill lamented.

"I never tried fiction," Jap averred, "but for the honor of the first
aspirant to the office of Mayor of Bloomtown, and the greater glory of
our Associate Editor, I am going to plunge."

And plunge he did.  When the town read the eulogium that Jap spread
upon the front page of the _Herald_ it gasped as from a sudden cold
plunge, sat up, rubbed its eyes, and concluded that it had somehow
failed to understand or appreciate its foremost son.  Hollins, the
leading grocer, and Bolton, the furniture dealer, had felt the itch for
office; and Marquis, the attorney, had stood in his doorway for a week
awaiting the delegation that would press upon him the nomination; but
all these aspirants faded like poppies in the wake of the reaper.
Nobody could be found to buck a sure thing, such as Judge Bowers,
backed by the power of the press.

The week after election, the _Herald_ sported fifty small flags through
its columns, and quoted Wat Harlow's speech in which he declared that
Judge William Hiram Bowers was "the noblest Roman of them all."  For
which Bill accounted to Jap by the astute observation that Rome was a
long way off.  The Judge hardly caught Wat's meaning, and came into the
office to protest.

"I am afeard that folks 'll think we have Catholic blood in the
family," he complained, shaking the paper nervously.

"Mystery is the blood of progress, Pap," assured Bill gravely.  "If you
will notice, the men that get there always have a skeleton rattling a
limb now and then."

"Mis' Bowers don't like it," he objected.  "I had to quit the
Methodists and be immersed in the Baptists afore she'd have me, and now
she's fairly tearin' up the wind over this talk about me bein' a Roman.
You gotta correct it!"

"We have given you a hundred dollars' worth of advertising for a measly
two-dollar bill," declared Jap emphatically.  "The columns of the
_Herald_ are free to news.  Advertising at our regular rates.  Bill
will give you particulars."

"Dollar an inch for display," crisped Bill; "ten cents a line for
readers."  He seated himself, pencil in band, as he added, "payable in

"Make a flat rate of ten dollars, as it is the Judge," advised Jap

The Mayor-elect decided to let it alone; but Jap mentioned the fact, in
the next issue of the _Herald_, that Judge Bowers had alleged that he
was born in New England, of Puritan stock, and had no Italian
sympathies--which lucid statement abundantly satisfied Judge and Mrs.
Bowers, but set the town to wondering what the Judge was hiding in the
dim annals of his past.


"I worked a bunch of passes out of the agent for that Indian medicine
show," announced Bill, washing his hands.  "Want to take her, Jap?" and
he jerked his head in the direction of the front door, where Isabel
Granger was passing.

"No; I'm going out to Flossy's a while.  I want to talk some things
over with her."

There was no further discussion, for at that moment Rosy Raymond
floated by, and Bill started out in eager pursuit.  Ever since the
election, Jap had been obsessed by a disquieting foreboding.  One of
Mayor Bowers's first official acts was to authorize the opening of a
second saloon on Main street, and he was rapidly pushing the work of
erecting two new business houses which, rumor declared, were to house
other thirst palaces.  Hitherto the natives and the surrounding
territory had been amply supplied by Holmes; but Bloomtown was growing
beyond the reach of one saloon.

Holmes had come across with a double-sized license, under promise of
the Mayor that he should continue to have a monopoly of the trade.  And
when the good people of the various churches waited upon Judge Bowers
to protest against what they were disposed to call the "introduction of
Satan into their town," he called their attention to the need for
municipal revenue.  If one saloon was a help, two saloons would double
that help.  The town had already begun to show signs of genuine
progress.  It had to build a calaboose to take care of the saloon's
patrons, and the regular fines for plain drunks almost paid the cost of
the court that collected them.

Once Jap thought he detected a sinister reason for Bill's flushed
cheeks and unsteady gait as he passed hastily through the office on his
way to the sleeping room above.  The next morning Bill declared that he
had been a fool, and had paid for his folly with a severe headache, and
Jap, with the delicacy that was Jap's, let the subject drop.  It was
becoming fashionable for the young fellows of the town to assume a
tough swagger.  Those who had formerly resorted to barn lofts and musty
cellars paraded their sophistication on Main street, and Bill would
rather be dead than out of style.  Jap wanted to talk it over with
Flossy, but he had never found the key to open such poignant
confidence.  What right had he to burden Flossy with fresh anxiety?  In
his loneliness, he yearned for Ellis as he had never yearned before.

He was sitting on the little front porch, tossing J. W. on the tough
old trotting horse afforded by his two ill-padded knees, and vaguely
wondering how he could introduce the subject of Bloomtown's swift
decay, without wounding Judge Bowers's sister and Bill's aunt, when
they heard a great tumult in the vicinity of the medicine show.  After
a while Bill came up the walk with Rosy.

"What was the racket about?" Jap asked incuriously.

Rosy giggled.

"They wanted to nominate the ugliest man in town, and there was a
fight," she said.

"Shut up!" growled Bill.  "Haven't you got any sense?"

"Sam Waldron nominated Jap," she sputtered, between giggles.

A hot flush swept over Jap.  Always keenly sensitive, he had never
armored himself against the playful brutalities of his friends.  The
shame of being made a subject of ridicule cut deeply.

"Rosy is a fool!" snapped Bill.

"What was the fuss about?" asked Flossy, prompted by a conviction that
further revelation would be good for Jap.

"Why, Isabel Granger slapped his face, and Bill jumped in and punched
him in the ribs, and the crowd wanted to take him down to the pond and
duck him."

Flossy's hand sought Jap's, and she laughed softly.

"That was worth while, boy.  How Ellis would have written it up!"

Jap smiled, but the sting was still there.  When it was evident that
Bill and Rosy expected to spend the evening, he arose with a tired,
"Well, I'll be going," and walked around the cottage to the alley gate.
He was afraid of meeting some one on Spring street, and he made excuse
to his own consciousness that the alley had always been the rational
highway between the cottage and the office.  He put his hand in his
pocket for his key, as he emerged on Main street.

As he approached the door, he saw that some one was sitting on the
steps.  She sprang up and laid trembling hands on his arm.

"Oh, Jap, you won't mind!  You won't let it hurt you?  Everybody knows
that you are the best-looking man in town.  At least I--think so!"

Before he could grasp her arm, the girl was gone.  That night Jap lay
awake long hours, thinking, thinking.  With the morning, reason
returned.  He had assumed responsibility for Flossy and the boy.  He
must not think again.

And indeed the next few days gave him little time for thought.  Wat
Harlow slipped into the office late one afternoon.  He wore a furtive
look and an appearance of guilt.  There was about him a suggestion of
gum shoes.  Something must be amiss.

"I want to see you alone, Jap," he confessed.

Jap led the way to the little private office.  Harlow was pulling
nervously at the stubby mustache that hid his short upper lip.

"In trouble, Wat?" asked Jap anxiously.

"No--not exactly.  You see, it's this way----"  He coughed
apologetically.  "The wife had a dream, a funny dream, the other night.
She's had curious dreams ever since we took that long trip, to New York
and all over, last year, and there may be nothing to it, but----"  He
lit a fresh cigar, and went at it again.  "She says that she saw me
going into the Capitol at Washington just as if I belonged there.  And
she got a notion----  Jap, you know how notionate women are.  She
thinks--well, she thinks that I might be called to run for the House of

"Oh, I see," said Jap, illuminated.  "It would sound good for the
_Herald_ to mention that you are in line?"

"Not rough-like, Jap!  Just a little tickle in the ribs, to see what
they'd say."

"Oh, I'll fix that," declared Jap, laughing.  And the _Herald_ flung
the hat in the ring for "Harlow, the one honest man."

Jap smiled sadly as he read his copy over.  He had a habit of wondering
what Ellis would have said.  He wondered, too, what attitude the editor
of the Barton _Standard_ would take.  The _Standard_ had recently
changed hands, and since Bloomtown had pulled a saloon, a sunbonnet
factory and two business houses out of Barton, a rapid-fire editorial
war had been in progress.  By some curious dispensation of Providence,
Jones of the _Standard_ and Herron of the _Herald_ had never met.  Jap
was not hunting trouble, but the same spirit that prompted him to
thrash his tormentors, the day of his advent in Ellis Hinton's town,
caused him to wield a fire-tipped pen against the _Standard_.

That opposition to Wat's candidacy would develop, before the
nomination, was to be expected; but opposition on the part of the
Barton _Standard_ would be a purely personal matter, the _Standard_
having its own party fights to foster.  But that was all Jap feared.

It was even worse than he could have imagined, for Jones dug up a
bloody ghost to walk at every political meeting.  Not only were all Wat
Harlow's sins of omission and commission paraded in the _Standard_, but
he was proclaimed as the implacable foe of higher education.  In vain
did his home paper print his record, of beneficent bills introduced, of
committee work on behalf of the district schools, and his great speech
setting forth the need of a new normal school building.  Jones had one
trump card left in his hand, and the day before the convention he
played it.  It was a handbill, yellow with age and ragged around the
edges, but still showing a badly spelled, abominably punctuated story
in vermilion ink, with a weeping angel at the top and a rooster and two
prancing stallions at the bottom.  It proved Wat Harlow the undying foe
of the State University.

Despite all the _Herald's_ valiant work, that nightmare was Harlow's
undoing.  The nomination went to a rising politician at the opposite
side of the congressional district.  A great change had come over the
sentiment, of the state, since the day when the University had been the
favorite tool of the political grafters.  Every village had its band of
rooters for the Alma Mater, and when the nominating convention came to
a close it was apparent that Wat Harlow was hardly an "also ran."

Defeat was galling enough; but the _Standard's_ expressions of glee
were unbearable.  Jap's red hair stood on end, "like quills upon the
fretful porcupine," as he stood at his case and threw the type into the
stick, hot from the wrath in his soul.  The paper was printed, as
usual, on Thursday; but Friday brought a change in the even tenor of
Bloomtown's way.  Jones, of the _Standard_, was a passenger on the
eastbound train that left Barton a little after noon.  His destination
was Bloomtown.

"I am looking for a cross-eyed, slit-eared pup by the name of Herron,"
was the greeting he flung into the _Herald's_ sanctum.  The door to the
composing room was open.  Jap looked up wearily.

"Would you mind sitting down and keeping quiet till I finish setting up
this address to the bag of wind that edits the Barton _Standard_?" he
said impersonally.

Jones, of the _Standard_, sat down and gaped at the long, lank figure
on the stool.  A moment he went limp and terrified; then he rallied his

"Do you unwind all at once?" he asked, as Jap disentangled his legs
from the stool.  "I take back what I said about a pup.  You're a
full-grown dog, all right.  I wasn't looking for a brick-top, either.
No wonder you have a weakness for vermilion."

"Better come outside of town," Jap interrupted.  "I've been intending
to go over to Barton to have a look at you, but it's better thus.  I
have been stealing space from my readers long enough.  They pay for
more important things than my private opinion of you.  I made up my
mind to stop the argument by giving you a hell of a licking, and I've
only waited because I didn't care to risk my reputation in a
neighboring town.  Here it will be different.  In the midst of my
friends, I hope to fix you so that you'll never try to throw filth on
any one again."

Jones arose hastily.

"I want no row," he said uneasily.  "I just want an understanding."

"You have the right idea," cried Jap.  "You are going to get lots of
understanding before you leave Bloomtown."

At that moment the town marshal strolled in, wearing his star pinned on
his blue flannel shirt.

"I demand protection," Jones shouted.  "This man has threatened me."

"What's the row, Jap?" asked the monitor of peace tolerantly.

"This is Mr. Wilfred Jones, of the Barton _Standard_," was all that Jap
said.  But the effect was electrical.  The man of peace was transformed
into an engine of vengeance.

"Going to beat him up?" he yelled.  "Go to it, and I'm here, if you
need help."

Jap took off his coat, deliberately.  He unclasped his cuffs and was in
the act of unbuttoning his collar, when the local freight whistled for
the crossing below town.  With a mighty leap the man from Barton
cleared the space between his chair and the door.  The strolling
populace of Main street was scattered like leaves before a sudden gust
of wind.  There was an abortive cry of "Stop, thief!" and a bewildered
pursuit by several tipsy bums who had been loafing in front of
Bingham's saloon, but the appearance of the marshal, wearing a broad
grin of satisfaction, dispelled apprehension.

"That was Jones, travelin' light," he explained.

The next issue of the _Standard_ failed to mention the editorial visit
to Bloomtown; but the scurrilous articles ceased and there was quiet

"Did Ellis ever have a fight--that kind of a fight--with anybody?" Jap
asked Flossy, when Bill had finished his second-hand recital of the
show that "he wouldn't have missed for his farm in Texas."  In Bill's
heart there arose a mighty resentment against Rosy Raymond, who had
enticed him from the office just before Jones arrived.

"Ellis did a good deal of fighting before he got me to fight his
battles for him," she said, a whimsical smile in her gentle eyes.  "You
ought to know, Jap.  I never would have had Ellis if he hadn't whipped
Brother William."

"But that wasn't a matter of personal grudge," Jap argued.  It had
seemed to him that somehow he had degraded himself when he went down to
Jones's ethical level.  "I wanted to use my fists because Jones
ridiculed me.  When Ellis licked the Judge, it wasn't a personal
matter.  He did it for me."

"And you did this for--for the honor of Bloomtown," cried Bill, with


"Something's broke loose," announced Bill, slamming the door violently.
"Pap's bought an automobile."  Which illuminative remark indicated that
Judge Bowers's mind had expanded to let in a fresh vagary.

Jap looked up inquiringly.

"I reckon it's all on account of Billy Wamkiss," Bill explained.

"Billy who?  There never was no such animal," and Jap scowled at the
stick in his hand.  Conditions in Bloomtown were, as Jim Blanke
expressed it, all to the bad.  While the political fight was at white
heat the Mayor had contrived to have his own way.  He was going to
"make the town" which Ellis Hinton had failed to make.  There would be
revenue enough to provide metropolitan improvements, and already there
was a metropolitan, perhaps even a Monte Carlo-tan, air to the recently
awakened village, as every train disgorged its Saturday evening crowd
of gamblers from the city where the lid had gone on with ruthless

Mrs. Granger had arisen from a sick-bed to call together the women of
all the churches to make protest at the licensing of another pool-room,
with bar and poker attachment, not two blocks from her home, a stroke
that had met its counter stroke when the saloon element threatened to
boycott Granger's bank and open a rival financial institution in one of
the store-rooms of the recently erected hotel that faced the Court
House Square, half a block away.  Another crowd, the men with
store-rooms and cottages to rent, promised to carry all their banking
business to Barton, if Granger didn't "sit on his wife good and proper."

"Never was no such animal?" Bill repeated.  "Wake up, Jap.  Don't you
know who Billy Wamkiss is?"

"Never heard of the guy," Jap insisted.

"He's that greasy, wall-eyed temperance lecturer that's been stringing
the town for a week."

"Humph!" Jap snorted.  "Time for you to wake up, Bill.  You brought in
the ad yourself, and you wrote the account of the first lecture.  The
columns of the _Herald_ will bear me out that the reverend gentleman's
name is Silas Parsons."

"Yes, that's his reverend name," Bill snorted.  "When he's the advance
agent of a rotgut whiskey house over in Kentucky that supplies fancy
packages to all the dry territory around here, he's plain Billy

"Oh, that's his game!"  Jap sat up, his gray eyes wide with
astonishment.  "How did you get next to it?"

"Your good friend, Wilfred Jones, put me wise.  He didn't mean to, but
he let it slip out when he wasn't watching.  I ran into him over in
Barton this morning and he was roasting Bloomtown as usual.  Said we
were a bunch of Rubes, to fall for a raw proposition like Billy
Wamkiss, dressed up as a temperance lecturer.  And then he went on to
say that my daddy would get richer'n he already is, from his rake-off
on the moisture that'll be injected into the town after she goes dry.
He said he met Wamkiss in Chicago three years ago, and he's been doing
a rattling business all over the country--deliver lectures on the evils
of the Demon Rum that'd bring tears to the eyes of a potato; dry up the
territory, with the help of the churches; and then fill up the town
with drug stores.  That's his program, and it's going to work here,
thanks to my amiable and honorable father."

Jap was silent.  He had no words with which to express his emotions.
Bill went out on the street, his reporter's pad under his arm.  In half
an hour he returned.

"It's worse--I mean more incriminating--than I thought, Jap," he said,
as he drew his partner into the private office and shut the door.

"Did you attend that meeting at the Baptist Church?" Jap asked

"Yes, and I had to dig out before it was over.  I wanted to explode,
and blow up the whole bunch of idiots and crooks.  Pap and Wamkiss,
alias Parsons, have formed some kind of a Templar lodge, and my daddy's
got himself elected secretary.  They're going to dry up Bloomtown.
Fancy it!  They did a lot of crooked work over at the Court House, so
as to make it look as if all the licenses would expire at the same
time.  Holmes is the only one that's likely to squeal, because he's
paid his second fee, and the others have only a few months to run.
They'll make it up to Holmes, I reckon, rather'n have him give the snap
away.  Of course, Jap, I haven't got the goods for any of this.  I just
put two and two together while I was listening to the speeches,
especially my father's speech."

"Bill"--Jap laid his hand on Bill's arm--"you made the mistake of your
career when you picked that owl for a daddy.  He has made more trouble
than three towns could stand up against.  First, he throws the place
wide open and takes all the stray saloons and gambling dens to his
bosom; and just when we have a reputation for being the toughest town
on the road and doing a land-office business in sin, he is--he is fool
enough to try to pull off a stunt like this.  What becomes of his plea
for municipal revenue when he turns saloons into drug stores?"

"Well, the lid's going on," Bill returned.  "The preachers and the
ladies are strong for it, and the right honorable Mayor announced that
he was the Poo Bah that was going to put up the shutters."

"Better order a granite," Jap muttered, as he returned to the composing

And his prediction was well founded, for the town had become so used to
its "morning's morning" that it fairly ravened for the blood of Mayor
Bowers.  The _Herald_ office became a forum for indignant orators,
while the Mayor strutted proudly up and down Main street, with the
black-coated Parsons, feeling that the eyes of the world were glued on

"Parsons!  Bah!" spluttered Kelly Jones, who had driven four miles with
his empty jug.  "Ef the town has got any git-up, it'll ride him and
that old jackass of a mayor on a rail."

"Judge Bowers is the honored father of our Associate Editor," informed
Jap gravely.

As Bill looked up he thumped the galley he was carrying against the
case and pied the whole column.  After he had said what he thought
about the catastrophe, Kelly grinned appreciatively.

"Them's my sentiments, Bill.  Ef you love your pappy, you'd better let
him go, along of Parsons, 'cause there's goin' to be doings around
Bloomtown that'll hurt his pride.  Parsons!  They say out our way that
his right name's Wamkiss."

The turgid tide of popular sentiment caused Mayor Bowers some
uneasiness; but before anything could happen five new drug stores were
opened for business and things moved placidly along again.  Barton
began to refer to "our neighbor, Bumtown," and it was reported that two
blind tigers prowled in the environs of the railroad station.

"Bill," said Jap one morning, "this won't do.  We'll have to raise hell
in this town.  This is Ellis's town, and we're not going to let a
dod-blinged mugwump like your asinine daddy ruin it.  Bill, if you have
got any speech to make, get ready.  If you can't stand for my program,
name your price, for the _Herald_ is going to everlastingly lambaste
William Bowers, Senior."

"Pull the throttle and run 'er wild," Bill retorted, as he ducked down
behind the press and dragged forth a box from the corner.  "I'm going
to get out that last lot of cuts that Ellis made," he continued.
"Kelly Jones knows sense.  If I remember right, Ellis had twenty-five
cuts of jacks for the stock bill.  We will stick every blamed one of
'em in next week's issue, and label 'em Mayor Bowers.  He has killed
the town with his ideas.  What can we do with him but hang him?"

When the _Herald_ appeared the following Thursday afternoon, the town
quit business to read the war cry of Ellis's boy.  It was a flaming
sword, hurled at the Board of Aldermen.  Bowers, foaming with wrath,
stormed into the office.

"You take all that back," he yelled, "or I'll put you out of this here
building.  I've told you times enough this office belongs to me.  I
never turned it over to Ellis."

Jap stuck type, deadly calm on the surface of his being.  Bill shifted
uneasily, his hands clinched, his ruddy face glowing.

"You hear me?" bawled the irate Mayor.

Jap turned to consult his copy.  Before the act could be imagined
Bowers had struck him over the head with the revolver he dragged from
his pocket.  Jap fell, crumpling to the floor, the blood spurting
across the type.  For an instant there was horrified silence.  Then,
with a howl like that of a wild beast, Bill threw himself upon his
father.  But for the intervention of Tom Granger, who had followed the
Mayor because he scented trouble, there would have been a quick finish
to the pompous career of Bill Bowers's progenitor, for Bill had wrested
the pistol from his father's hand and was pressing it against the
temple of the worst scared coward Bloomtown had ever seen.  There was a
sharp tussle between the broad-shouldered banker and the frenzied
youth.  Several men rushed in from the street.

"Let me go!" shouted Bill, "for if he's killed Jap he's got to die."

They were carrying Jap out of the composing room, limp and bleeding.

"Let him alone, Bill," Tom counselled wisely.  "Let your father alone,
for if Jap is dead, we'll lynch him."

Jap was pretty weak when they brought the Mayor's resignation up from
the calaboose for him to read.  A representative delegation stood
around his bed.

"Let the Judge out, for Bill's sake," Jap said.

"We'd better keep him locked up for his own sake," declared Tom
Granger.  "For in Bill's present frame of mind he's likely to make an
orphan of himself."

Flossy came in from the little sitting-room and leaned over the bed.

"I am going to see Brother William," she said quietly.  "I am going to
take Brent Roberts with me.  William will give you boys a quitclaim
bill to this property, for this dastardly deed."

She was an impersonation of righteous wrath as she swept into the jail,
followed by Bloomtown's leading attorney.  Judge Bowers had said more
than once that Flossy had a willing tongue, but its full willingness
was never conceived until she descended upon him that eventful day.

An arrangement, made by Ellis just before his departure, gave the
contents of the office to the boys, on regular payments to Flossy.  The
ground on which the new building stood had been deeded to Ellis and
Flossy on their wedding day; but the building, presumed to be a gift to
Ellis, had been reclaimed by Bowers; it was held, however, as Bill's
share in the firm.  As yet no occasion had arisen that demanded the
settling of the question of ownership.  Whenever the Judge had an
attack of bile he came into the office to remind Bill and Jap that the
building was still his.

For one heated hour Flossy detailed the past, present and future of her
cowering brother.  When she left him he was a wiser, and probably a
sadder, man, for she had deprived him of his weapon.

There was a big bonfire on the circus grounds, and a celebration in
Court House Square that night.  The next day there was a great vacuum
in the City Hall, for the Board of Aldermen resigned unanimously.  A
special election was called, and before Jap was strong enough to sit at
his case he had been elected Mayor of Bloomtown.

He looked sadly from the window of his bedroom, after the joyous crowd
of serenaders that had come to congratulate him.  Bill had followed in
their wake, to escort Rosy home.  It was late.  The clock in the
Presbyterian church spire chimed twelve, as he stood alone.  He took
his hat from the rack and went cautiously downstairs.  On the pavement
he paused a moment to steady himself.  His head still reeled after any
unwonted exertion.  Then he walked slowly up Main street, across the
railroad tracks, and out to the quiet village whose inhabitants slept
'neath marble and sod.  Standing beside the grave of his first friend,
he said:

"Ellis, make the town proud of your boy.  Help me to be your right
hand.  If I can only fulfill your plan, I am willing that no other
ambition be fulfilled."

A lonely night bird called softly.  The willow branches waved in the
breeze.  Thick darkness hung over the City of the Dead.  Suddenly the
moon peered through the clouds, flooding the night with beauty, and Jap
read from the stone the last message of Ellis:

"I go, but not as one unsatisfied.  In God's plan, my work will live."


"Now that you've got it, Jap," asked Tom Granger, "what are you going
to do with it?"  Jap looked silently from the door.

"He put in about eight hours of thinking about that himself," Bill
averred.  "News is that ten saloons are loaded on freight cars, waiting
word from Jap."

"You'll have to strike a happy medium," suggested Tom.  "I know that
you are the boy to deliver the goods."

"Ellis wasn't against saloons," commented Bill, "so Jap won't have that
to chew over.  Ellis wasn't either for or against 'em."

"No," Tom said seriously, "Ellis was dead set against hypocrisy.  He
hated a liar and a grafter worse than a murderer.  He knew that the way
to make people want a thing was to tell 'em they couldn't have it."

Jap's face was grave.  A panorama of wretched pictures moved slowly
before his wandering gaze, pictures that began and ended in Mike's
place, in the half-forgotten village of Happy Hollow.  He aroused
himself with a start.

"I'm going to put it up to the new Board to allow as many saloons as
want to, to come in," he said shortly.

Tom Granger let go a shrill whistle.

"At the license asked," continued Jap calmly.  "The license will be
three thousand dollars a year, and strict enforcement of all laws.  At
the first break, the lid will fall."

"Jumping cats!" howled Tom.  "Where will you get the saloon that'll pay

Jap smiled wearily.  "I am not hunting a saloon for Bloomtown," he
said, and turned toward the door in time to bump into Isabel Granger,
her arms full of bundles.  She blushed and dimpled prettily.

"I am looking for my papa," she cried, pinching Tom's cheek with her
one free hand.  "I want you to carry these packages for me."

"Run along, pet.  I'm busy."

"You look it," she reproved.  "I simply can't carry all these things.
My arm is almost broken now, and the dressmaker has to have them."

"Jap will tote them for you," chuckled Tom, watching the blood rush
over Jap's sensitive face.  To his surprise, Jap took the bundles and
walked out with Isabel.  He looked after them approvingly.

"Now there goes the likeliest boy in the state," he declared.  "It's
plumb funny the way he's got of getting right next to your marrow
bones.  I wish I had a boy like him."

"No great matter," drawled Bill, with tantalizing indefiniteness.

Tom looked up at him quizzically, as he picked absently at the pile of
exchanges.  Something in the young man's tone piqued him.

"If Jap wasn't so all-fired conscientious," Bill blurted, "you'd have a
son, in quick order."

"Lord!" exploded Tom.  "Dunderhead that I am!"  He slapped his thigh,
and a great, joyous laugh set his shoulders to heaving.  "Bill, you're
a genius for spying out mysteries.  How did you get on to it?"

"Mysteries!" shouted Bill.  "Why, everybody in Bloomtown, including
Isabel, knows that Jap is fairly sapheaded about her."

"Well, what's hampering him?" inquired Tom.  "Why don't he confide in

"Confide your hat!" remarked Bill crisply.  "Isabel will die of old age
before Jap asks her.  You see, he is such a durn fool that he thinks he
isn't good enough for her.  When the Lord made Jap Herron He made a
man, I tell you!"

"Who said He didn't?" stormed Tom.  "I can't know what is in the boy's
mind, can I?  What do you want me to do, kidnap him and get his
consent?  Bill, you're a fool.  You needn't tell me that Jap Herron is
such a mealy-mouth."

"All I know is that he won't ask Isabel," Bill said gloomily.  "I'd
like to get married myself, but as long as Jap stays single, I stick
too."  And thinking of Rosy's blue eyes, he sighed heavily.

"It beats me, the way young folks do.  It was different when I went
courting," Tom muttered, turning to go.

At the door he met Kelly Jones, who had come in to inquire what Jap
intended to do about the "licker" business.  He was too busy with his
fall plowing to be running over to Barton for his jug of good cheer,
and he didn't like the brand he could get at Bingham's drug store, on
Doc Connor's prescription.  While he was still holding forth, Jap came
in, with half-a-dozen constituents, all busy with the same problem.
Bill took up his notebook and wandered out.  At Blanke's drug store he
met Isabel.  She motioned for him to come back in the store.

"What do you want to know, Iz?" he asked with the familiarity born of
long years of propinquity.  "Reckon you want to ask what everybody else
wants to know--when is Jap going to get a saloon?"

"You are too smart, Bill Bowers," she retorted, with annoyance.  She
had had a subject of more personal nature on the tip of her tongue.  "I
think that Jap will be able to answer his own questions without any
help from you."

"It is to be hoped that he will make a better stagger at answering than
he does at asking," remarked Bill shortly.

"Now, Bill Bowers, just what do you mean?" she demanded, her black eyes
flashing angrily.

"What's the use?" said Bill, in disgust.  "Rosy says that she's going
to Kansas this fall, and I just will have to let her go because I can't
ask her to stay."

"Pity about you," she snapped.  "Thought you said Jap couldn't ask."

"I did," assented Bill, "for if he had gumption enough to get married,
or even go courting, I might get by.  But as long as he sticks alone
I'm going to stick, too."

Isabel's face flamed.  She stooped to pick up a hit of paper.

"What do you want to tell me about it for?" she complained.  "My
goodness, I'm not to blame."

"You are," stormed Bill.  "Jap knows that he is not your equal, and he
never will marry."

"Who said that Jap Herron was not more than the equal of any man on
earth?" she blazed.  "If Jap will ask me, I'll marry him to-morrow."

She whirled away in her wrath, and ran into the arms of Jap Herron,
standing half paralyzed with the wonder of it.  Bill, who had been
watching the unconscious Jap approaching for several minutes,
discreetly withdrew.

"Gee!" he said, "but they ought not to be kissing in such a public

There were a dozen customers in the store, but neither Jap nor Isabel
knew it.  And it is to the credit of Bloomtown that they all looked the
other way, as they hurriedly transacted their business and departed.
Blanke declared afterward that he filled fifteen prescriptions with
epsom salts in his abstraction, and accidentally cured Doc Horton's
best paying patient.  Moss, the paper hanger, went out with his rolls
of paper, and hung the border on the walls, instead of the siding.  The
mistakes reported were legion; but the town was all courting Isabel
with Jap, at heart.

Bill rambled into the bank and suggested that Tom go over to Blanke's
and lead Jap and Isabel out, as Blanke might want to close the store.
Half an hour later Tom came from the drug store, with an arm locked
with each of the glowing pair.  Straight across Main street they
marched, and down the shady walk that flanked the little park until
they were opposite the front gate of the Granger home.  Then they went
in to break the news to Isabel's invalid mother.

Flossy heard about it, almost before Jap had awakened to his own joy,
and he never knew of the hour she spent in passionate grief.  In some
vague way it seemed to tear open the old wound.  Without knowing why,
she resented the fact that Isabel's brunette beauty had won Jap.  She
told herself that it was not a fitting match for him.  Flossy, in her
maternal soul, had looked to heights undreamed of by the retiring boy.
She had planned a future for him that would be sadly hampered by
marriage with a village belle.  But only smiles met him when he brought
Isabel to her, his plain features glorified by joy in her possession.

Somehow the story of Jap Herron, the youthful Mayor of Bloomtown, his
advent in its environs, and the story of his romance with the banker's
daughter, crept into the country press, was carried over into the city
papers and flung broadcast, so that friend and foe might seek him out.
One dreary fall day, when the rain was beating sullenly down on the
sodden leaves, a haggard, dirty woman straggled into the office.

"I'm lookin' for Jasper Herron," she mumbled.  "They told me I'd find
him in here."

Jap looked at her in horror.  His heart sank.

"I am his poor old mother, that he run away from and left to starve,"
she said viciously.

And Jap, just on the threshold of his greatest happiness, was turned
aside by this grizzly, drunken phantom from the past.


Little J. W. crawled out from under Bill's case, his brown eyes wide
with surprise at this vagrant who called Jap "son."

"Run like sin," counselled Bill, in a whisper, "and bring your mother.
She will know what to do."

While the boy went to do his bidding, Bill slipped out of the rear door
of the office and was waiting in front of the bank when Flossy came
hurrying along.

"Oh, Bill, what has Jap said?" she asked breathlessly.  From J. W.'s
lisping description--he always lisped when he was excited--she had come
to fear the worst.

"Nothing," said Bill bluntly.  "He's sitting at his case, sticking type
as if he was hired by the minute."

"And she--that awful woman?"

"Gee!"  Bill spat the word.  "You don't know anything yet.  Wait till
you lamp her over."

"That bad, Bill?"

"Worse," muttered Bill.  And when Flossy came inside and looked into
the little inner office where the woman sprawled, half asleep and
muttering incoherently, the fumes of liquor and the presence of filth
all too evident, her stomach rebelled and she retreated swiftly.
Softly she slipped into the composing room through the wide-open door.
Timidly she approached Jap and touched his arm.  He looked at her with
eyes utterly hopeless.

"Oh, Jap, what can I do!"

"You cannot do anything," his voice flat and emotionless.  "No one can.
Could you take her in?  No!  She is impossible, and yet--she is my
mother.  Perhaps if I had stayed with her it would have been different,
so I must make up for it."

Flossy looked into his set face in affright.

"I am going away--with her."  Jap's tones were calm.  "You can see,
Flossy, that it is the only way.  I cannot be Mayor of Ellis's town
with such a disgrace to shame me.  I must give up Isabel and--and the

Flossy clung to his arm.

"Listen to me, Jap Herron," she cried shrilly.  "You shall not do it!
You shall not let this horrible old woman drag you down in the dirt."

Jap smiled sadly.

"What could I do, Flossy?  She must be cared for.  She has been all
over town.  Everybody has seen her.  They know the truth, that my
mother is--what she is."

Suddenly he threw himself forward on the case and began to sob, such
hard, racking sobs as might tear his very breast.  Flossy threw her
arms around him and cried aloud.  Bill stood in the little private
office, looking down upon the snoring woman with a murderous glare.  He
turned as Tom Granger came noiselessly from the outer office and stood
beside him.  Grief was in Granger's face.

"I heard what Jap said just now," he whispered, "and he is right.  It
would be impossible for him to stay with her in the town.  She has
ruined Jap."

"You're a gol-dinged fool," shouted Bill, dragging him across the big
office and out of the front door.  "Pretty sort of friend you are,
anyway.  I'll fight you, or a half-dozen like you, if you murmur a word
like that to Jap."

He whirled as his father ambled up the street, his round face wearing a

"What is that greasy smirk for?" demanded Bill.  "If you have any
business in the _Herald_ office, spit it out."

"I knowed it would come out sooner or later," spluttered Bowers,
shifting his position to avoid a pool in the pavement, left by the
recent rain.  "With half an eye, anybody could see the mongrel streak

He stopped as his son advanced swiftly toward him.

"What kind of a streak?" he threatened.  "I dare you to say that again,
and hitch anybody's name to it."

"Why, William," expostulated his father, "you shorely ain't goin' to
have Jap and his mammy hitched up to the _Herald_?  Barton 'll ride
Bloomtown proper."

"It will give Jones a whack at the _Herald_," suggested Granger mildly.

"And it will be his last whack!" foamed Bill.  "For I'll finish him and
his filthy paper before I go to the pen for burning down the _Herald_
office.  The day that Jap Herron leaves the _Herald_, there will be the
hell-firedest bonfire that Bloomtown ever saw!"  His eyes were blazing.
"Get away from here," he cried fiercely, "you--you milksop friends!"

He stopped as Isabel, her eyes swollen from crying, crossed the street.
She had come across the corner of the park, and her face was white and
drawn.  Bill stepped up into the doorway and awaited her.

"I want to speak to Jap," she said, as he barred the passage.

"What do you want with him?" Bill demanded truculently.  "Because he is
packing all the load now that he can stand, and you ain't going to add
another chip to it.  Give me your old engagement ring, and I'll pitch
it in the hell-box.  I reckon that's what you came for."

She pushed him aside, her eyes blazing with wrath.

"Get out of my way, Bill Bowers.  You never did have any sense.  Let me

She flung herself past him and ran into the composing room.  At sight
of Flossy, she paused.  Flossy raised her head from Jap's shoulder and
looked defiantly at the girl, but only for a second.  She knew, in that
glance.  Softly she crept out as Isabel, with a heart-shaking cry, ran
to Jap and threw herself against him.

"Take me in your arms, Jap," she cried stormily, "for I love you."

Jap stared up, dully, for an instant.  Then, forgetting all but love,
he opened his arms and clasped her to his heart.  Bill rushed outside
after Flossy.

"I never knew that she was the real goods," he said remorsefully,
wiping his eyes.

"Get a wagon from the grocer," Flossy said, decisive again.  "I am
going to take her home with me."

"Meaning that?"  Bill flipped his thumb toward Jap's mother.

"Send her up to the house, and I will have a doctor, and some one to
bathe her and clean her up.  Maybe after she is clean and sober, she
won't be so dreadful."

When Jap came out of his stupor enough to try to put Isabel away, he
discovered what Flossy had done.  With Isabel clinging to him, he
walked with downcast head through the streets that lay between the
_Herald_ office and Flossy's cottage.

His mother was in bed, clean and yet disgusting in her drunken sleep.
He forgot Isabel, silent by his side, as he stood looking down upon the
blotched and sunken face, thinking what thoughts God only knew.  He
seemed years older as he walked out again, after the doctor had told
him that nothing could be determined until she had slept the liquor
off.  Slowly and silently he and Isabel walked past the row of neat
cottages until they reached Main street.  On the corner Jap paused.

"You must go home, Isabel," he said brokenly.  "Sweetheart, I
understand, and I know that you are the bravest girl in the world.  But
you must leave me now."

"I will not," she declared.  "I want you to take me right down to the
office and send for a license.  I am going to marry you, and show this
town what I think of you!"

"But I cannot let you," Jap said simply.  "I know--you don't."

"Then," said Isabel defiantly, "I will go back to Flossy's and take
care of your mother until you are ready to talk sense."

Jap looked at her helplessly.  They were in front of Blanke's drug
store.  Jim Blanke stepped outside and grasped Jap's hand.  Isabel
looked proudly up at him, her arm drawn tightly through Jap's.  As they
passed down the street, citizens sprang up, apparently from nowhere,
and clasped Jap's hand in a fraternal grip.  Isabel peered into his
silent face.  The tears were streaming unheeded down his cheeks.  Her
father frowned as they appeared at the door of the bank.

"Papa," she called resolutely, "you coming with us?"

He stood gnawing at his lips, his face overcast.  An instant he battled
with his pride and his love for the boy.  Then, with his old
heartiness, he clapped Jap on the shoulder.

"Straighten your shoulders, lad.  We're all your friends!"  And the
storm cloud lightened.

All that night Jap paced the floor of the office, while Bill, too
sympathetic for sleep, tossed in the room above and swore at fate.  It
was noon the next day when little J. W. came in to say that Mrs. Herron
was awake and wanted to see her son.

She was half sitting among the pillows when Jap entered.  Flossy had
drawn the muslin curtains, to soften the garish light as it fell on her
seamed and shame-scarred face.  She peered up at him from blood-shot,
sunken eyes.

"You look like your pappy's folks, Jasper," she croaked.  "And they
tell me you air a fine, likely boy, and follerin' in the trade of your
gran'pap.  I wisht that I had a known where you was, long ago.  I have
had a hard life, Jasper.  Your step-pa beat me, and that's more'n your
pappy ever done.  He died of the trimmins, three year ago, and I have
been wanderin' every since, huntin' my childurn.  But Aggie's a bigbug
now, and she drove me off.  And Fanny's goin' to a fine music school,
and sent me word that she'd have me put in a sanitary if I bothered
her.  She saw a piece about you in the paper, and sent it to me.  So I
tramped thirty mile to come."

Her face was pathetic in its misery.  She sank back in the pillows and
closed her eyes.  Jap leaned down and drew the covers tenderly over her
arms.  She opened her eyes, at the touch, and looked up at him sadly.

"Thanky, Jasper," she mumbled,  "You be-ant mad?"

He patted her cheek softly, and the sunken eyes lighted with a smile of
weary contentment.  Then the lids fluttered, like the last effort of a
spent candle, and she slept.  Like one in the maze of a vague,
uncertain dream, Jap went back to the office.  Unconsciously he took
the familiar way, through the alley.  Automatically he climbed to his
stool and began setting up the editorial that had been interrupted by
his mother's coming the previous day.

At sunset Bill touched his shoulder softly.  Jap raised his head from
his hands.

"Your--your mother never woke up after you left her, Jap," he said


Bill looked up as a long, lank form glided surreptitiously into the

"Been a long time since you drifted our way," he commented, as the form
resolved itself into the six-foot length of Kelly Jones.

"Might' nigh three month," averred Kelly grimly.  "I've been tradin'
over at Barton.  Couldn't stand for Jap's damfoolishness.  Had to buy
my licker there, and just traded there.  It's twelve mile from my farm
to Barton, and four mile to Bloomtown.  Spring's comin' on, and work to
do.  I hate to take that trip every time the wife needs a spool o'
thread.  Did you get my letter, sayin' to stop the paper?"

"Stopped it, didn't we?" queried Bill crisply, scattering the type from
the financial report of Bloomtown into the case.

"Yes," assented Kelly, "you did.  What'd you do it for?"

"Not forcing the _Herald_ on anybody," announced Bill glibly.  "Got
past that.  We used to hold 'em up and feed the _Herald_ to them, but
we don't have to do it now."

"I hear tell that Jap made Tim Simpson night marshal.  Why, he run a
blind tiger beyond the water tank," exclaimed Kelly.  "I reckon Jap
didn't know that."

"Just because he did know it, he made Tim night marshal," declared
Bill, flinging the last type into the box and descending from the
stool.  "Just you stroll down the tracks in either direction, and see
if you can find a whisker or a tawny hair from the tip of any tiger's
tail lying loose along the way.  Jap knows several things, Kelly, my
boy, and he is fighting fire with fire.  Tim Simpson understands the
operations of the kind of menagerie that usually flourishes in a dry
town, and Jap put him on his honor.  He's so conscientious that he goes
over to Barton to get full.  He won't drink it here.  He's got pride in
making Bloomtown the whitest town in the state.  But explain the return
of the prodigal.  How come your feet in our dust again?"

"Well," said Kelly shamefacedly, "the wife said that I was a durn fool.
I stopped the _Herald_ and subscribed for the _Standard_--and a pretty
standard it is!  While Jap Herron was cleanin' up, it was slingin' muck
at him.  The wife read it, and one day she goes up to Barton and starts
an argument with Jones.  I reckon she had the last word.  If she
didn't, it was the fu'st time.  She come home so rip-snortin' mad that
she threatened to lick me if I didn't tackle Jones.  Well, to keep
peace in the family, I run in to see him the next time I went to
Barton.  Well, Jones put it up to me, if Jap was doin' much for
Bloomtown in havin' unlicensed drug stores, instid of regular saloons."

"Sure sign that you don't know the news," said Bill, unfolding a copy
of the _Herald_.  "Since last Saturday night there has been only one
drug store in Bloomtown.  That's Blanke's, and Jim Blanke wouldn't sell
liquor on anybody's prescription but Doc Hall's, and Doc Hall would let
you die of snake-bite, if nothing but whiskey would cure you.  Any
other drug stores that may open up in this town 'll have to pattern
after Blanke's or out they go."

Kelly took the paper up and scanned its columns.  He snorted.

"Well, I do declare!  I see that might' nigh all the doctors have
packed up and are threatenin' to leave town.  Well, there wa'n't enough
doctorin' to keep twenty of 'em in cash nohow."

"You ought to have heard Jap's speech when they were putting a plea for
local option," said Bill.  "My pap has carried a sore ear against Jap's
reign ever since he was elected to fill out that unexpired term, and he
stirred up a lot of bellyaches among the guzzlers.  It was a sickening
mess, because the whole town knows that my daddy can't stand even the
smell of liquor.  It wouldn't be so bad--so hypocritical, if he really
liked it and was used to it.  As I was telling you, he and the old
booze gang had been burning the midnight dip to plan a crimp for Mayor
Herron, when that local option idea struck him.  Well, Jap got up and
made a speech, calling their attention to the bonds we voted, and the
sound financial condition back of those bonds; the granitoid pavement
on Main street, the electric light plant that's going up, and the water
works, and sewers that are under way--all managed since the town went
dry.  Then he nominated Tom Granger for mayor, and what do you reckon
they did?"

"Seein' as how he ain't mayor," said Kelly, with a twinkle, "I allow
they done nothin'."

"Why," said Bill, his brown eyes kindling, "they arose as one man and
yelled, 'We want Jap Herron!' and that settled it."

The farmer stood in the middle of the office, his arms gesticulating
and his head bobbing with animation, as Jap hurried in.  He gazed at
the back of Kelly's familiar slicker incredulously.

"What!" he hailed joyously, "our old friend of the sorghum barrel!
Where have you been hibernating?  Surely a cure for sore eyes," and Jap
seized his shoulder and whirled him around so that he could grasp his

"Chipmunking in Barton," prompted Bill.  "This sadly misguided farmer
has been lost but now is found."

"The Missus sent a package to Miss Flossy.  You and Bill 'll eat it, I
reckon," and he produced a parcel from his pocket.  "She said if Ellis
was here, he'd appreciate it.  It's sausage that she made herself.
And--and she sent a dollar for the paper.  She wants the _Herald_."

"And what about Kelly?" Jap asked, a wave of memory sweeping over him.

"Just you write it down that Kelly Jones is a yaller pup," said Kelly

"Never!" declared Jap heartily.  "Misled, perhaps, but with a heart of

Kelly groped for his handkerchief.

"I've got on the water wagon, Jap," he sniffled.  "I reckon I kin get
along without the stuff.  Sary hid my jug, and I done 'thout it for a
week, and I felt fine.  I am goin' to make a stagger at it, if I do
fall down."

Jap pushed him into a chair.

"Why, you old rascal," he cried, "you have backbone enough to do
anything you will to do.  Move into town and help us turn the wheels."

Kelly wiped his nose on the tail of his slicker as he started for the

"Don't happen to need any basses, do you?" he grinned.

Jap flung an empty ink bottle after him.  When quiet had returned to
the office, he said, as he hung his hat on the nail:

"Isabel wants to learn to stick type."

"Funny," said Bill shortly, "so does Rosy, and they hate each other
like Pap hates beer.  Pretty mix-up we'll have on our hands."

"That's all nonsense, Bill.   Rosy can't help liking Isabel."

Bill scanned the copy on his hook, his eyes narrowing.

"Appears like she can," he muttered.

"Now, Bill, this won't do," argued Jap earnestly.  "We can't afford to
have dissension in such a vital matter.  You must talk to Rosy."

"You can have the job," waived Bill, picking up a type.  "Isabel said
that Rosy was shallow and only skin-deep, and Rosy heard about it.
Isabel Granger is not so much----"

He stopped abruptly as Jap's hand went up in pained alarm.

"Look here, Bill, are we going to let the chatter of women come between
us?  There is something deeper holding us together than the friendship
of a day.  Give me your hand, Bill, and tell me that it is Ellis's work
and not these trifles that you care for.  We have a work to do, you and

Bill threw the stick upon the case and grasped Jap's outstretched hand.
Tears glistened in his eyes.

"Better than all the loves in the world, I love you, Jap," he stormed.
Jerking his hat from the nail, he strode out to walk off the
emotionalism he decried.

That afternoon he strove manfully to show Isabel how to put type in the
stick upside down, and to save her feelings he stealthily corrected her
faulty work, suppressing a grin at Jap's pride in her first attempt.
Bill shook his head sadly as they strolled out together, Jap's eyes
drinking in the girl's slender beauty.

"Petticoat government 'll get old Jap tripped up," he complained to the
office cat.  "And then where'll I be?  When Jap marries I'll play
second fiddle.  Come seven, come 'leven!" and he snapped his fingers in
the air.


The sun was streaming through the east windows.  Jap looked anxiously
up and down the street.  Bill had not been home all night.  This was a
state of affairs alarming to Jap.  He walked back to the table and
turned the exchanges over restlessly.

"I wonder if the boy could have persuaded that butterfly to elope with
him, as he threatened he would, when her mother cut up so rough," he

Tim Simpson came in and peered around furtively.

"Bill is drunk as a lord," he announced in a stage whisper.  "I've got
him in the back room of the calaboose, to sober up without the news

Jap paled.

"Bill drunk?" he faltered.  "Who got him into it?  Is he asleep, Tim?"

"Lord, no!  If he was, I would 'a' left him out when he come to, and
said no word to you about it.  But I'm plum scared about him.  He's
chargin' up and down like a Barnum lion.  I reckon as how you'd better
mosey down there and try to ca'm him."

As Jap walked rapidly down the alley beside the night marshal, he asked:

"Did you try to talk to him?"

"Yes," said Simpson ruefully.  "He kicked me out and was chasin' after
me when I slammed the door on him.  He's blind crazy loaded.  I fu'st
seen him after number nine pulled in, so I think he come on her.  He
was mutterin' and shakin' his fist when he hove in sight.  I got him
and steered him into the jug without much trouble, and it was only a
hour ago that he started this ragin' and ravin'."

As they entered the jail, sounds of tramping feet and mutterings
reached their ears.  Bill's swollen, blotched face and reddened eyes
appeared behind the grating.

"Let me out of here!" he shouted.  "You'll get a broken head for this,
you old mule."  He shook the grating furiously.

"Bill," said Jap slowly, "do you want to come with me, or do you want
me to stay here with you till you've had a bath and a good sleep?"

Bill laughed discordantly.

"A sleep!  A sleep!" he cried.  "Yes, a long, long sleep.  As soon as
you take me out of this hell-hole, I'll take a sleep that'll last."

Jap opened the door and stepped inside.

"Don't come any nearer," warned Bill.  "I'm too filthy, Jap.  But let
me stay as I am till it's over."

He sat down on the cot and stared crazily into the corridor.  Jap sat
down beside him and drew his arm around his shoulder, with the
tenderness of a woman.

"Tell me about it, Bill, boy," he counselled gently.  "Tim, you may
leave us."

Bill sat a long time, staring sullenly at the floor.

"Well, this is a hell of a display for me to bring to Bloomtown," he
declared at last.  "I should have ended it in Jones's town.  If I
hadn't been so dumb with rotgut that I didn't know what I was doing, I
would be furnishing some excitement for the Bartonites this morning.
The finest place in the world to die in--it isn't fit to live in."

Jap shook him briskly.

"Straighten up, Bill, and tell me what kind of a mess you have been in."

Bill laughed wildly.  After a moment he dragged a letter from his
pocket.  Jap read:

"When you read this, I will be the wife of Wilfred Jones, the Editor of
the Barton _Standard_.  Maybe you will be pleased?  I prefer to marry a
real editor, not the half of Jap Herron."

The letter was signed, "Rosalie," but the affectation carried none of
the elements of a disguise.  To Jap it was the crowning insult.
Crushing the silly note in his hand, he threw it from him.  Standing
up, he drew Bill to his feet.

"We are going home," he said curtly.  "When you are sober I will tell
you how disappointed I am in my brother."

The news that Bill had been jilted spread over Bloomtown like fire in a
stubble-field, and deep resentment greeted the announcement that Jones
of the _Standard_ had scored another notch against the _Herald_.

Bill, sullen and defiant, had battled it out in the room above the
office.  All the vagaries of a sick mind were his.  Murder, suicide,
mysterious disappearance, chased each other across the field of his
vision, and ever the specter of suicide returned to grin at him.  For a
day and a night Jap sat beside his bed, talking, soothing, comforting.
Finally he made this compact:

"To show you that I love you better than myself, Bill, I am going to
promise that I will not marry until you are cured of this blow.  Not a
word, Bill!  Happiness would turn to ashes if I accepted it at your
cost.  How far I am to blame in your trouble, I can only guess.  I am
not going to preach philosophy.  I am only going to plead my love for

He took the revolver from the drawer and laid it on the table beside

"If you are the boy I think you are, you will be sticking type when I
come back from Flossy's.  If you are a coward, I will not grieve to
find you have taken the soul that God gave you and flung it at His

Not trusting himself to look back, he hurried down the stairs.  His
heart was heavy with dread as he locked the office and walked blindly
to the cottage where all his problems had been carried.  He could not
talk to Flossy, but, sitting beside her on the little front porch, he
fought the mad impulse to run back to the office.  He strained his ears
for the sound that he was praying not to hear.

Two hours he sat there, fighting with his fears, the longest hours of
his life.  Flossy sat as silent.  No one knew Jap as Flossy did.
Smoothing his tumbled hair and stroking his tightly clenched hands were
her only expressions.  Futile indeed would words be now.  The tragedy
that hovered over them both must work itself out.

A whistle shrilled from the road.  Jap sprang up with a strangled cry,
as Wat Harlow came through the gate.  His face was stern.

"Bill allowed that this is where I'd find you, chatting your valuable
time away," he chaffed.  Then the mask of his countenance broke into a

"Is Bill in the office?"  Jap's lips were so stiff he could scarcely

"Sure he is," said Harlow cheerfully.  "He wants you to ramble down

"There's a hen on, Jap," he confided, after they had taken leave of
Flossy.  "We'll try to hatch something this time.  I'm going to get in
the game again.  You know the old saying: 'You mustn't keep a good dog
chained up.'"

"Well?" queried Jap, his thoughts springing space and picturing what
Bill might be doing.  Wat was discreetly silent until they had passed
through town and were inside the office.  Bill, pale and haggard,
looked up from his desk.  He extended the paper he was writing on.  Jap
took it without a word.


"How's that for a head?" he demanded.  "If we're going into this thing,
we might as well go with both feet."

He looked into Jap's face.  Their eyes met.  With one voice they cried:


"'When Harlow runs for governor,'" Jap quoted tremulously, "'you will
boom him.  Till then, nothing doing in the Halls of Justice.'  Bill,
Ellis was a prophet.  He even knew that he wouldn't be in the game.
Wat, we'll put you across this time."

"Yes, and it'll be a nasty fight," Wat returned, as Bill leaned over
and picked nervously at the ears of the office cat.  "We've got Bronson
Jones to buck up against, in all political probability.  He's almost
sure of the nomination."

"Just who is Bronson Jones?" Jap asked.  "Seems to me I ought to place
him.  He's been in the papers down in the southwestern part of the
state a good deal."

"He's the smooth proposition that came back here a couple of years ago
and bought back his old newspaper for his son and has managed up to the
present time to keep his own name discreetly out of that same paper,"
vouchsafed Harlow.  "He won't let it leak out till the psychological
moment.  He's the daddy of the split-hoofed imp of Satan that runs the
Barton _Standard_!"


Jap threw his pencil impatiently on the desk.

"I can't get my thoughts running clear this morning," he said abruptly.
"Every time I try to write, the pale face of little J. W. comes between
me and the page."

"They're back from the city," Bill said uneasily.  "I saw them coming
from the train.  I fully meant to tell you, Jap."

"I hope the specialist has quieted Flossy's fears."  Jap ran his
fingers through his loose red locks.  "The boy is growing too fast.
Why, look at the way he has shot up in the last year.  Ellis told me
that he ran up like a bean pole, the way I did, and just as thin.  J.
W. is exactly like him."

"And Ellis died at forty----"

"Don't, Bill," Jap choked.  "I can't bear it."  He walked to the door
and gazed out into the hazy silver autumn air.

"This weather is like wine," he declared.  "It will set the boy up,
fine as a fiddle.  You must remember, Bill, that Ellis impoverished his
system by the life of hardship he was forced to endure while the town
was growing.  The things he used to tell were humorous enough, the
droll way he had of telling them.  But they break our hearts when we
think of them now, and know that it was that privation that killed him.
It was bad enough here when I was a youngster, and that was luxury to
what he had had.  J. W. has not had such a handicap.  Of course he was
a delicate baby, but he certainly outgrew all that."

Bill was discreetly silent.  He knew that Jap was only arguing with his
fears.  In the early summer, J. W. had been acutely ill, and as the
heat progressed, he languished with headache and fever.  In the end,
Dr. Hall had counselled taking him to a noted specialist in the city.

"Better take a run up to Flossy's," Bill suggested.  "You'll be better

Jap took a copy of the _Herald_ from the table and went out.  All the
way along Spring street he strove with his anxiety.  Flossy met him on
the porch.  One glance was enough for Jap.  He sat down, helpless, on
the lower step.

"J. W. is tired out and asleep," said Flossy softly.  "Come with me,
Jap, down to the arbor.  You remember the day that Ellis told you the
truth about himself?"

Jap followed her beneath the grape trellis, stumbling clumsily.  When
they reached the arbor, with its bench and rustic table, she faced him,
slender to attenuation.

"Jap," she said brokenly, "J. W. has tuberculosis in the worst form.
His entire body is filled with it.  He contracted it while we were with
Ellis--and we never knew, never suspected----"  Her voice broke.  "Not
even a miracle can prolong his life longer than spring.  The doctors
insisted on examining me, too.  They say I have it, in incipiency, and
my only chance of escape is to leave my boy to the care of others.
Under the right conditions they say I have a fighting chance."

"You are sure that you have every advice?"  Jap's voice was so hoarse
that she looked up at him in alarm.

"Yes, Jap, but I knew it before.  Months ago, even before he was so
sick in the summer, I had a dream, and this was my dream: Ellis, with
that beautiful smile that every one loved, was waiting out there at the
gate, and I was hurrying to get the boy ready to go with him.  I knew,
when I awoke, that he was ready to wait our boy's coming.  Oh, Jap, do
you think that smile was for me, too?"

The look of agony in Jap's sensitive face was more than she could bear.
She clutched his arm.

"Oh, Jap, pray--help me to pray that he was waiting for me, too.  The
time has been so long.  I want to be with my boy to the last.  You
understand, Jap.  I don't believe that words are needed."

He put his arms around her.  He could not speak, but his head bent
above hers and the hot tears dropped upon her brown hair, now streaked
with gray.

"I have done the work he wanted me to do," she sobbed.  "He wanted me
to be a mother until you were on the plane he had planned.  Like the
butterfly whose day is done, Jap, I would go.  I am so tired, and--boy,
I have never ceased to long for Ellis.  The world could not supply
another soul like his."

"Flossy," Jap said in smothered tones, "I know.  I have walked the
floor for hours, missing him until I was almost frantic.  But, little
Mother, what is left to me if you go?  Without you, I am drifting

"I would fear that, if I had never seen into the deeps of Isabel's
nature.  And to think that I once decried--but I didn't understand,
Jap.  When your mother came, there was a revelation.  I don't fear for
your future now.  And when I knew this, I suddenly felt tired and old.
I pray not to survive my boy."

The following morning brought the first fall rain.  And then, for
endless weeks, the leaden sky drooped over the world.  Dreary
depression and the penetrating chill of approaching winter filled the
air.  Only the unwonted pressure of work kept the boys from brooding
over the inevitable that would come with the spring-time.  To relieve
Flossy of all unnecessary burdens, Jap and Bill went to the hotel for
their meals, but every evening one or the other went to sit with her.
At length there came a time, late in November, when the office work was
more than both of them could handle, and for several days the visits
were interrupted.

"Flossy is sick," announced Bill, hanging his dripping raincoat behind
the door.  "I saw Pap just now, and he told me.  He and his wife were
there all night.  He says that J. W. has been so bad off for a week,
has had such bad spells at night, that Flossy has hardly slept, and
yesterday she broke down and sent for Pap.  He took Doc Hall along, and
they are afraid she has pneumonia."

Jap threw his paper aside.

"Why didn't we know that J. W. was worse?" he demanded.  "I sent some
one to inquire every morning while we had the big rush on, and Flossy
said that they were all right.  I thought that she was going to take
him to the mountains."

"I guess that she didn't know how sick he was," commented Bill.  "Pap
was to haul the trunks to-morrow, as Flossy told us.  She wanted to
start on Sunday so that you and I could go as far as Cliffton with her.
She knew we were working overtime to get things cleaned up."

Jap put on his raincoat, for it was pouring a deluge.

"I will not be back if Flossy needs me," he said.

For three days and nights he hovered over the two sick-beds, while the
wind soughed mournfully around the cottage, and the rain dripped,
dripped, dripped, like tears against the wall outside.  Neighbors and
friends volunteered their services.  Bill and Isabel came as often as
was possible; but when all the others had gone, Jap kept his solemn
vigil alone.  On the afternoon of the fourth day, there was a sudden
turn for the worse.  Dr. Hall was hastily summoned.  And then, all at
once, without any seeming warning, it happened.

The last gasping breath faded from the body of Ellis's child, and as
Jap leaned over to close the wide, staring eyes, he could hear the
rasping breaths that rent Flossy's bosom, as she lay unconscious in the
next room.

"With God's help we may pull her through," whispered Isabel, twining
her arms around his neck.  He turned stony eyes of grief upon her.

"If God helps, He will let her go with J. W. to meet Ellis," he said in
a voice strained to breaking.

He drew the girl from the chamber of death, and sat down beside
Flossy's bed.  He caught one fluttering, fever-burned hand in his, and
the restless muttering ceased.  Then the eyes opened.  They seemed to
be looking not at Jap but above him.

"Ellis!" she cried, and slept.

"When she awakes, she will be better or----"  Dr. Hall broke off, and
went over to the window.  "It's the crisis," he finished huskily.

Flossy, in her quiet, optimistic bravery, had made her place in the
hearts of her townspeople.  Isabel knelt beside her, watching Jap's
face, with its unnatural calm, fearfully.  She dared not speak.  Bill
stood awkwardly at the foot of the bed, his cap twirling uncertainly in
his hand.  His eyes shifted uneasily from the thin, white face on the
pillow to the frozen features of Jap.  A clock ticked loudly.

The thick gloom broke.  A tiny linnet that Jap had given Flossy
fluttered to the swing in its cage and burst, all at once, into song,
and a vagrant sunbeam darted through the western clouds.  Flossy opened
her eyes.

"Jap," she gasped painfully, "is this the thing called Death, this
uplift of joy?"

The doctor raised her in his arms and gave her a few sips of medicine.
She was easier.  She motioned Jap to bend closer.

"Is he gone?" she asked clearly.  "Is my boy with his father?"

Jap kissed her forehead gently.

"He is with Ellis," he whispered.

"Then I thank You, great Giver of all Good," she cried happily, "for I
can go now."  She summoned Bill with her eyes.

"I want you to make the boy very proud of the men he was named for,"
she smiled.  It was a smile of heavenly beauty, as the pure soul of
Ellis Hinton's wife flew to join her loved ones.


Bill and Isabel led Jap from the room as the doctor drew the sheet over
Flossy's face.  Together the three left the cottage.  In dazed silence
they walked past the row of modest homes until the business street was
reached.  Across Main street they went, in stony silence, the girl
clinging to an arm of each of her escorts.  In front of the elm-shaded
residence of Tom Granger, now stark and bare in its late autumn
undress, they paused.  Isabel, unheedful of the passing crowd, threw
her arms around Jap's neck and kissed him passionately.  A moment he
held her in his arms, his tearless eyes burning.  And in her awakened
woman's heart, she knew that he was looking through her, beholding the
trio of adored ones whose influence had made his heart a fitting
habitation for her own.  And in that consciousness Isabel Granger
experienced no twinge of jealousy.

Silently she walked up the brick-paved path to the stately old house,
as Jap and Bill turned back toward Main street.  When they reached the
office, they locked the door behind them.  With the mechanical action
of automata, they climbed to their stools and threw the belated issue
of the _Herald_ into type.

"Bill, can you do it?" Jap asked at length.

"I'll do my best," Bill said huskily.  And his tears wet the type as he
set up a brief obituary notice.

The morning of the funeral broke clear and sunny, as fall days come.
The air was clear and sounds echoed for long distances.  It was a
joyous new day, and yet a threnody swept through its music.  Something
of this Jap and Bill felt as they hurried to the house of Death.  Judge
Bowers met them at the door.  His face was red and overcast.  He
shifted uneasily.

"I sent for you, because we have to fix things decently for Flossy."

"Decently?" echoed Bill.

"Why, yes.  Ma and me got the caskets and all that.  Everything's
'tended to, but the service.  You know Flossy was a free-thinker, and
never belonged to no church."

"Well, what of it?" Bill said shortly.

"We have got to get somebody to preach a sermon," asserted the Judge,
his flaccid face showing real concern.  "I don't see how we are going
to manage it.  It looks queer to ask anybody to preach over a

"Why do it then?"  Bill's tone was enigmatic, as he followed Jap into
the little parlor where the effects of the Judge's work were apparent.

Side by side stood the caskets, each one holding a jewel more precious
than any diadem.  Jap sat down between them, dumb to the greetings of
the friends who came for a last look at the two set faces, and there he
sat until the afternoon.  The room was half filled with people when the
Judge aroused him by a sharp grip on his arm.

"Come on, Jap," he whispered huskily, "they have come for them."

"Who?" asked Jap, tonelessly.

"The hearses," said the Judge, his flabby cheeks trembling.

Jap walked outside and climbed into the carriage with Bill, and
together they went to the church where Ellis had met his townsmen for
the last time.  It was the handsome new church whose claim on her
brother's generosity had called forth from Flossy such righteous
resentment.  Mechanically the two young men followed the usher to the
pew that had been set apart for them.  Vaguely Jap smiled at Isabel as
she passed him, clinging to the arm of her father.  As in a dream, he
followed her slender form as she took her accustomed place at the
organ.  Clutching the arm of the seat, he sat there, deaf, dumb and
blind, until the wailing notes of the organ appraised him that the
service was beginning.

He turned his head as a heavy, rolling sound reached him, and looked
upon the most heart-shaking sight in the history of the town: two
coffins traveling up the aisles to meet at the altar.  Sick and faint,
he turned his head away.  Bill's arm crept around him, while Bill
sobbed aloud.

Frozen to silence, Jap stared at the boxes containing all that linked
him to his past.  Stony-eyed, he gazed at the masses of flowers,
casually admiring the gorgeous chrysanthemums and the pink glory of the
carnations.  He even read, with calm curiosity, the card of sympathy
hanging from one of the floral offerings on Flossy's casket.  Then he
sank into blunt indifference until he was aroused by Bill's start.

He looked up dully.  The minister was praying--and his prayer was for
forgiveness for Flossy.

"She was a wanderer from grace," the ominous voice droned, "but Thou
who didst forgive the thief on the cross wilt grant her mercy."

Bill clasped his hands fiercely over Jap's arm.  His breath hissed
through his set teeth.  Jap sat upright, his gray eyes searching the
face of the man of God, as he drawled through a flock of platitudes,
promising in the end that on the last great day Flossy and her son
would be called by the trump to arise, purified and forgiven.

Wiping his forehead complacently, he sat down.

Jap Herron arose to his feet and walked to the coffin of the only
mother he had ever known.  Facing the assembly, he said in low, clear

"Friends of mine, friends of Flossy and her boy, and friends of Ellis
Hinton, you have listened to this minister.  Now you must listen to me.
I knew Flossy.  Some of you knew her, but none as I did.  She had no
religion, he says.  Flossy Hinton's life was a religion.  What is
religion?  Love, faith and works.  Dare any of you claim that she had
not all of these?  If such soul as hers needs help to carry it through
the ramparts of heaven, then God help all of you.

"She will not sleep until a trumpet calls her!  No!  Alive and vital
and everlasting, her soul is with us now.  Did Ellis Hinton sleep?  He
has never been away.  He has dwelt right here, in the hearts of all who
loved him.  Friends, dry your eyes if you grieve for the sins of

Raising his hand above the casket, as if in benediction, and looking
into the face beneath the glass, he said brokenly:

"A saint she lived among us.  In heaven she could be no more."

The descending sun shot a ray of white light across the church, as it
sank below the opaque designs in the gorgeous memorial window that
flanked the choir.  A moment later it would be crimson, then purple,
then amber; but for an instant it filtered through pure, untinted
glass.  Creeping stealthily, the white ray reached the space in front
of the altar and rested a moment on the still face within the casket.
To Jap it seemed that the lips that had always smiled for him relaxed
into a smile of transcendent beauty.  Entranced he looked, forgetting
all else.  Then the strength of his young manhood crumbled.  The hinges
of his knees gave way, and he sank to the floor.

Bill sprang to his side and carried him to a seat.  Isabel, half
distracted, started from her place at the organ.  As she passed, the
white face in the coffin met her eyes.  She stopped.  A tide of feeling
swept her back, back from Jap, whose limp form called her.  The song
that Flossy had loved came singing to her lips.  Inspired in that
moment, she stood beside the coffin and sang, as never before, the
words that had comforted Flossy in her years of loneliness:

  "Somewhere the stars are shining,
    Somewhere the song birds dwell.
  Cease then thy sad repining!
    God lives, and all is well."

Her face was glorified.  She sang to that silent one, and to the world
that had been hers.  In a dream she sang on, as the mother and her boy
were taken from her sight, sang on while the people silently departed.
"Somewhere, somewhere," she sang,

  "Beautiful isle of Somewhere,
    Isle of the true, where we live anew,
  Beautiful isle of Somewhere."

Her voice broke as uncontrollable sobs rent her slender body, and she
sank against the shoulder of her father and followed Bill from the
church.  Half-a-dozen kindly hands were carrying Jap outside.

The long line of carriages had already started on its way to the little
plot of ground where two fern-lined graves awaited the loved ones of
Ellis Hinton.  The horses of the remaining carriage pawed the ground
restlessly in the sharp November air.

"Better take him to his room in a hurry," Dr. Hall commanded.  "The boy
has been through too much.  I was afraid of this."

"You can't take him to that dreary office," Isabel pleaded.  "Papa,
tell Dr. Hall what to do."

And, as always, she had her way.  In the sunny south room above the
library, with the shadows of the stark elms doing grotesque dances on
the window panes, with Isabel and her mother hovering in tender
solicitude over him, Jap Herron tossed for weeks in the delirium of
fever, calling always for Flossy.


"Mr. Bowers wants to talk to you," Isabel said, smoothing Jap's limp
hair from his haggard face.  "He has been here every day for a week,
and Mamma wouldn't hear to his bothering you, especially as you had
concluded that you must talk to Bill about the office."

"Let him come," said Jap wearily.

The Judge tramped heavily into the bedroom.

"I want to talk to you about Flossy's affairs," he declared, dropping
into a chair and blowing his nose.

Jap's face flushed, then paled.  He lifted one thin hand to his eyes
and leaned back in the pillows.

"I sent for Bill to meet me here and have Brent Roberts read Flossy's

"Why?"  Jap's voice rasped with pain.

"You have been sick nigh a month," said the Judge, "and there's a power
o' things that oughter be seen to, and Brent refused to read Flossy's
will till you could hear it.  I want to settle the bills."

Isabel slipped her arm around Jap's shoulder and glared at the Judge.

"You ought to be ashamed," she cried.  "Jap is not strong enough to be
bothered with business."

Jap put her aside gently and sat up.

"The Judge is right, sweetheart," he said.  "I will not be tired with
doing anything for--for her."

He covered his face with his hands.  Bill entered softly.  His brows
lowered at sight of his father.

"What did you want with me and Roberts?" he queried shortly.

"It is all right, Bill," Jap said brokenly.  "It will hurt whenever it
comes, so let's get it done."

After the will was read Jap lay silent, the tears slipping down his
cheeks, for Flossy's will gave all that she possessed to her son, Jap
Herron.  It was made the day after she knew that her own child was
doomed to an early death.

They filed slowly from the room, even the Judge awed by the face of the

The New Year had turned the corner when Jap was moved to the office.
Little by little he grew back into harness.  They did not talk of
Flossy in those early days.  It was not possible.  One chill spring
day, when the grass was greening, and the first blossoms were opening
among the hyacinths on Ellis's grave, Jap walked with Bill to the
cemetery.  He bent above the dried wreaths with their faded ribbons,
sodden and dinged by the winter's snows.

"Throw them away, Bill," he choked.  "They are the tawdry tokens of
mourning.  I am trying to forget that mourning."

Bill gathered the dry bundles and carried them away.  Coming back, he
stood looking mournfully upon the muddy sod.  Jap raised his eyes
suddenly, and they gazed for a long minute into each other's hearts.
Bill threw his hands over his eyes and cried aloud.

"Don't, Bill!" Jap's hand clutched him tightly.  "For God's sake, help
me to be a man!"

And forgetting the sodden grass, they knelt beside the grave and sobbed
together in an abandon of grief.  Boys they were, despite their years,
and Flossy had been more to them than the mother whom youth is prone to
take for granted.  When the tempest of sorrow and desolation had spent
itself they arose.

"It is done," said Jap, looking up into the sky where the stars were
beginning to twinkle palely.  "It had to be done.  Now I can realize
that they laid Flossy beneath the earth.  But, please God, I can forget
it.  Now I know that she has left the beautiful shell behind.  But,
Bill," he touched the mound with his fingers, "Flossy has never been
here, never for an instant."

"She is in heaven," said Bill reverently.

Jap laid his arm around Bill's shoulders.

"You don't believe that, Bill.  You know better.  Flossy is right with
us, as Ellis has always been.  Just as he has inspired us to develop
his paper and his town, so she will stay with us, to create good and
optimism and faith in ourselves.  Bill, when those two wonderful people
came into our lives, they came to stay.  Do you think Ellis and Flossy
would get any joy out of strumming on a harp and taking their own
selfish ease?  No, Bill, that's all a mistake.  They're working right
with us, and it's up to you and me to so wholly reflect them that we
will be to this town what they have been to us.  In any crisis in our
lives, let us not forget that Ellis and Flossy Hinton are not dead.  We
may have need to remember it, Bill."

The next morning he climbed on his stool and took the stick in his
hand.  Bill stopped at the door of the composing room, something in
Jap's attitude arresting him.

"What are you going to do, Jap?"

"Get busy," declared Jap.  "We have given out enough plate.  The
_Herald_ is going back on the job."

Bill felt a lump rise in his throat as he paused to finger the copy on
his hook.

"We have to get the drums beating," said Jap.  "We have to elect Wat
Harlow governor, and, believe the Barton _Standard_, we have some rough
road to travel."

And the battle was on!  Alone, the Bloomtown _Herald_ tackled the job
of making a governor.  Watson Harlow had been a familiar figure in
state politics for more than twenty years, but as gubernatorial timber
no one had ever regarded him seriously.  His opponent, on the other
hand, was a fresh figure in the state, with all the novelty of the
unknown quantity about him.  It was an off year for the dominant party,
both locally and nationally, and the fight promised to be a complicated

Week by week the battle raged between the types.  Little by little the
country press began to get in the fight.  Not content with the
picturesque drumming of his own machine, Jap interested the city press
in the history of Wat Harlow, the "Lone Pine, of Integrity Absolute."
This descriptive title was proclaimed in and out of season during the
months of battle, both before and after the nomination of Harlow and
Jones.  Jap invented a stinger for Bronson Jones.  In his past history,
it was alleged, he had much that were better concealed than revealed.
Not the least of his offenses was that he had assisted his father, a
certain P. D. Jones, in stealing red-hot cook-stoves from the ruins of
the Chicago fire.  Jap so declared, and he offered to prove that Jones
had sold these same stoves to their former owners, when they became
cold.  In one instance, the victim was a widow who had lost everything,
even her former mate, in the fire.  And Jones carried the title, "The
Widow's Friend," for years.  All this was fun for the city dailies, and
cartoons of the "Lone Pine" being fed to the "Cook-Stove" alternated
with those of the pine falling upon the "Widow's Friend" as he was
about to sell a stove to the above-mentioned widow.

The color came back to Jap's cheeks, and the battle light flamed in his
gray eyes.  His one relaxation was the tranquil hour with Isabel.
Harlow, like an uneasy ghost, haunted the _Herald_ office when he was
not out storming the hustings.  The Barton _Standard_ continued to pry
into Wat's past, while the _Herald_ continued to lift the lid from the
chest of Bronson's secret garments.  Unfortunately, the _Standard_ had
played its big trump card in the congressional campaign.  The vermilion
handbill was once more dragged to light, but it worked like a
boomerang, for several of Wat's own party workers had been caught
red-handed in the act of attempting to operate a shameless graft game,
in the name of the university.  And Jap utilized the story to show that
Wat was a man above party, a man in whose mind integrity was indeed

Argument grew red hot, every place but Bloomtown.  There, there was no
one to argue with.  Bloomtown was one man for Harlow.  Jones undertook
to deliver one speech there, and that bright hour nearly became his
last.  After the good-natured raillery of the opening address, Jones
plunged into the vitriolic explosion he had delivered at the various
places he had spoken.  For exactly ten minutes it lasted.  By that
time, Kelly Jones had reached Hollins's grocery store and gathered
enough eggs to start a protest against the defamation of Wat Harlow's
character.  And the protest was proclaimed unanimous!

It was stated that there were no eggs on Bloomtown's breakfast table
next morning, and no Sunday cakes.

"But," said the _Herald_, "if Bronson Jones wants any more hen-fruit,
the housewives of Bloomtown will cheerfully sacrifice themselves in his

And so the months sped away until the grass had mossed the graves in
the cemetery with lush beauty, and the three mounds were merged into
one by the riotous growth of sweet alyssum, Flossy's best loved
blossom.  The summer waned.  The autumn hasted, and chill winds
whispered around the Lone Pine as the last sortie was made.  Then
Bloomtown pressed her hands to her throbbing breast and got ready


Bill jumped from bed as the rattle of the latch announced the arrival
of a visitor.  Without waiting for the formality of more than a
bathrobe, Rosy Raymond's last birthday gift to him, he bolted down the
stairs and across the office.  He flung the door open and disclosed the
hazy features of Kelly Jones, peering at him through the November fog.

"What, ho!  Kelly, what brings you to our door in the glooming?"

Kelly shook the rain from his slicker and came inside.

"Wife called me at three o'clock," he announced.  "Had my breakfast and
rid like hell to git to town early.  I want to cast the fu'st vote for
Wat for governor."

Bill yawned.

"You could have ridden more leisurely, and saved us a couple of hours'
sleep," he complained.  "There are at least a thousand voters of
Bloomtown with that same laudable intention.  Tom Granger has been
missing since seven o'clock last night.  It is believed that he is
locked in the booth so that his vote will skin the rest."

Kelly looked ruefully back into the rain.

"I reckon that I will come in and set a while, that bein' the report."

"Any man found voting for Jones is to be lynched at sunset," declared
Bill, pushing a chair forward.

"Reckon this'll be a big day for the Democrats," commented Kelly,
stretching his feet across the table comfortably.  "'Tain't nothin' to
keep 'em home, so they'll kill time, votin'.  That's why I allus cussed
my daddy for raisin' me a Democrat.  Bein' as I am one, I've got to
stick by and see the durn fools shuckin' corn while the Republicans are
haulin' their grand-daddies in town to vote the Republicans in."

Bill retired to don a few garments and Jap tumbled from bed, for this
was a big day in Bloomtown.  Before six o'clock the roads were lined
with vehicles, as for an Independence holiday.  The county was coming
in to help the town vote for her favorite son.

About noon Harlow came creeping up the alley and slipped in at the back
door.  He wore a slicker that he had borrowed from some constituent who
was short.  It hung sorrowfully about his knees.  Bill remembered that
in spike-tail coat and white necktie Wat Harlow looked enough like a
governor to pass for one, but just now he resembled nothing so much as
a draggled rooster.  The stove in the little private office hissed and
sputtered as he shook the rain from the coat.

"I thought that the only place that victory would be complete would be
the _Herald_ office," he said, relaxing into a chair.  "And if we are
beat, I could meet it better here."  He took a paper in his shaking
hands and tried to read.

The rain poured in torrents, but Bloomtown cast her record vote--and
not one scurrilous vote against him dropped into the ballot box.  At
sunset a wild yell proclaimed that Bloomtown had done her duty.  It was
now up to the rest of the state whether Wat Harlow, proclaimed from
border to border as an honest man, would be its next governor.  On his
record as opposed to State University graft, he had once been elected
to the legislature when the running was close.  On that same record, as
opposed to higher education, he was defeated for United States
Congressman, and on that same record he was running for governor of his

The _Herald_ office lighted up.  All the big men of Bloomtown smoked
the air blue, waiting for the returns.  First good, then crushingly
bad, they varied.  By the tone of the operator's yell, the waiters
guessed each bulletin.  If he came silent, they all coughed and waited
for some one to take the fatal slip of paper.  The dawn was graying
when they dispersed, with the issue still in doubt.  It was late
afternoon before they knew that Harlow was elected.  Bill grinned
joyously, for the first time since Rosy Raymond carried her heart to
Barton and left it there.

"How many roosters have we?" he asked impishly, as he walked over to
the telephone.

"Why?" queried Jap.

"I am going to 'phone Jones that we want to borrow all that he don't
need," said Bill, taking the receiver from the hook.

"We done it!" yelled Kelly Jones, slapping his slouch hat against the
door.  "And I'm goin' over to Barton and git on the hell-firedest drunk
that that jay town ever seen.  Whoopee!"  And off he set at a run to
catch the local freight.

About half of Bloomtown seemed inspired with the same spirit, and the
freight pulled out amid wild yells of joy.  Several of the most agile
among the jubilant ones draped the box cars with strips of faded, soggy
bunting, and Harlow's picture adorned the cow-catcher.  The yelling,
that had been discontinued for economic reasons, was resumed in raucous
chorus as the train rolled into Barton to celebrate Harlow's victory in
Jones's town.

The Bloomtown _Herald_ did itself proud that week.  A mammoth picture
of the Lone Pine stood forth on the front page.  Around it fluttered
one hundred flags.  Every page sported roosters and flags in each
available space, between local readers and editorial paragraphs.  It
was a thing of beauty and a joy forever--at least to Wat Harlow.  One
other cut found place at the bottom of the editorial page.  Bill did
not forget to boomerang Wilfred Jones by reprinting the weeping angel.
For a week there were bonfires every night, and a number of Bloomtown's
citizens sought to lighten Barton's woes by buying fire-water there.
Wat swelled until he looked more like a corpulent oak than a lone pine.

"My house is yours," he cried, alternately wringing Jap and Bill by
their weary hands.  He had come across once more from his headquarters
in the Court House to make sure his appreciation was understood.  Jap
smiled wanly as the village band followed him with its intermittent

Bloomtown had long since outgrown the village class; but not a drum nor
a horn had encroached upon the old traditions of that band.  Mike
Hawkins was far too conservative to permit innovation, and as there was
no provision for retiring the bandmaster on half pay, the problem of
dividing nothing in half having as yet been unsolved, Mike continued to
hold the job.  All day the band had been vibrating between the Court
House and the _Herald_ office, having delivered ten serenades at each
side of Main street, for it was understood that the _Herald_ shared the
victory with Harlow.  As the Governor-elect retreated to the other side
of the street, the band at his heels, Bill groaned aloud.

"I wish that that bunch of musicians had had more confidence that Wat
was going to get it," he sighed, "so that they could have learned one
tune good."

Kelly Jones was capering down the street.  Kelly had absorbed enough of
Barton booze to make him believe he owned the half of Bloomtown that
did not belong to Wat Harlow.  He had been having what Bill described
as "one large, full time."  As he came in sight, Bill's brow darkened.

"I've been afraid that Kelly would burst and catch fire," he said
morosely, "and now, by jolly, I wish he would.  It's funny how much
your good friends will get in your way when they pair off with John
Barleycorn.  Kelly is certainly one ding-buster when he is lit up."

Jap leaned from the door to watch the procession that had formed for
the purpose of escorting Wat Harlow to the station.

"Kelly's time is wrinkling," he laughed.  "Here comes Mrs. Kelly Jones,
with worriment on her brow."

Bill ran his inky fingers through his hair.  Something was troubling

"Jap," he said as he walked toward the door of the composing room,
"that skunk of a Jones----"

"Who?  Kelly?"

"Oh, no."  Bill wheeled, and his face was deadly earnest.  "Kelly's not
a skunk, even when he has soaked up all the rotgut in Barton.  But I
had Kelly Jones in the back of my head, just the same, when I mentioned
the honorable Editor of the Barton _Standard_.  It's getting under my
skin, Jap, the way he has of tempting these Bloomtown fools over to his
filthy village to get the booze we won't let 'em have at home, and then
holding them up to ridicule when they make asses of themselves."

"It's one of the angles of this problem that I haven't figured out
yet," Jap said earnestly.  "Do you think it would do any good to go
gunning for Jones?"

"I've thought of that possibility several times," and Bill's tone was
not entirely humorous.

Jap shoved his stool to the case.  As he climbed upon it, he sighed
uneasily.  It had been sixteen months since Wilfred Jones turned the
neat trick that left Bill disconsolate, and still the venom lingered in
the bereft boy's heart.  To Jap, with his standard of womanhood
established by Flossy and Isabel, the thing was monstrous,
inconceivable.  And yet it was a fact to be faced.

"We'll have to get busy, Bill," he said.  "We've got enough job work on
the hooks to keep us up till midnight for a week.  We haven't done a
thing the last month but elect Wat Harlow."

"I hope to grab he won't run for another office till I have six sons to
help me," Bill snorted.

Jap heaved a sudden sigh of relief.

"Looking out again, Bill?" he asked, jerking his thumb in the direction
of the vacant photograph frame above Bill's case.


It was the day after Thanksgiving.  Bill was twirling the chambers of
his revolver around.  His face was grim.  Jap halted in the door of
their bedroom.

"Going gunning for Jones?" he asked lightly.

Bill turned, and the black look on his face startled Jap.

"I am," he said deliberately, "and I will come back to jail or in my

Jap caught the revolver from his hand.

"Bill," he said sharply, "wake up!"

Bill threw a letter to him, and continued his hasty toilet.  Jap read:

"Dear Will,--

"Come to me.  I am almost crazy.  Wilfred accused me of giving you
information against his father that beat him in the election, and he
struck me in the mouth.  He said he only married me to spite you, and
he hates me.  I will meet you at the section house, where the train
slows up for the switch, at six o'clock.  I want you to take me away, I
don't care where.  I don't love anybody but you, and I can't live with
Wilfred another night.  I don't care whether anybody ever speaks to me
again, if you will take me and love me.

"Your distracted ROSALIE."

Jap stared at the note as if it had been a snake-tressed Medusa that
turned him to stone.  He stood rigid and paralyzed as Bill said, deadly

"I am going to Barton, and I am going to shoot that dog."

"And after that?"  Jap's voice was toneless.

"After that!" Bill broke out fiercely.  "After that, what more?"

Jap drew Bill around to face him.  Rivers of fire seemed suddenly to
course through his body, and an unprecedented rage burned up within him.

"You are not going to Barton, and you are not going to meet that
foolish light-o'-love at the section house," he said sternly.

"Who will stop me?  Not you, Jap, for even if an angel from heaven
tried to bar my way, I would brush it aside.  I wanted to kill him when
he stole her away and----"

Jap shook him angrily.

"No one stole her, Bill.  Have you forgotten the insolent, flippant
letter she wrote you?"

Bill shook Jap's hand from his shoulder.

"It's no use, Jap.  I am going to kill him!"

Jap set his teeth and his gray eyes blazed as he gripped Bill's arms
and shoved him into a chair.

"I will have you locked up, you foolish hot-head," he exclaimed, "and
give Wilfred Jones a few hours to consider his attitude toward his
wife.  She _is_ his wife, Bill, and all your heroics won't gloss that
fact from sight.  Do you want to hang, because you were a damned fool?
I can consider a romantic close to your career, but not as an intruder
in another man's home--no matter how great your feeling of injustice.
Rosy was not a child when she married Wilfred Jones."

"But he struck her," gulped Bill.

"I have known times," declared Jap vehemently, "when, if I had been of
the fibre of Wilfred Jones, I would have felt satisfaction in thrashing
Rosy Raymond.  Not having been Jones, I had to content myself with
kicking the furniture around.  I don't want to rile you, Bill, but I
rather think there are two sides to this story, and I want to hear both
sides.  If it is proven that Jones has mistreated Rosy brutally, I will
hold him while you give him the licking he deserves.  More than that, I
will help Rosy to get a divorce.  Isn't that fair enough, Bill?  What
is revenge upon a dead body, especially if you expiate that revenge on
the gallows?  Tell me, who profits?  For the woman, disgrace.  For
you----  Humph! the only one who comes out of it honorably is the dead
man, Jones."

Bill glowered at him.

"You had no mother, Bill, because she died when she gave you to the
world.  I had no mother, because Providence gave me where I was a
burden.  But God gave both of us a mother.  Bill, before you go any
farther with this adventure--misadventure--I want you to kneel with me
before Flossy's picture and ask for her approval and her blessing.
Because, Bill, brother, she knows.  And what do you suppose will be her
counsel?  What would Flossy want you to do?"

He took the photograph from the table and held it out to Bill.  The
brown eyes remained downcast.  The hands opened and closed
spasmodically.  Jap lowered the picture so that Bill's eyes could not
choose but meet the loved face.  A great, gulping sob shook him, and he
dashed into the other room and slammed the door.  Jap's tense features
relaxed into a smile.  He knew that Flossy had won.

"Will you let me go to Barton instead of you?" he asked through the
closed door.  There was no reply, and he turned the knob.  Bill was
staring stolidly from the window.  "I won't carry healing oil if the
case doesn't call for it," he insisted.  "You will believe me, boy?"

"It's your job," Bill said, in smothered, tear-drenched tones.

"I can just make the 5:20," said Jap, as he caught up his hat and
overcoat from the foot of the bed where he had flung them.  Then he
hurried to the station, with Rosy's foolish letter in his pocket.

Without looking to right or left he boarded the train that would have
carried Bill to his love tryst.  Already the evening shadows were
beginning to settle, and it was almost dark when the local train ran
into the siding to permit the east-bound special to pass.  He stood on
the steps of the rear coach as the wheels crunched with the stopping of
the train.  Then he dropped quietly to the ground.  The special, that
was wont to throw dust in the eyes of both Bloomtown and Barton, came
thundering by, and the friendly local took up its westward journey.

Jap hurried over to the cloaked figure that crouched in the shadow of
the little section house.  Rosy crept out quickly, but retreated with a
cry of alarm when she saw that Jap, and not Bill, was coming to meet
her.  He caught her by the arm and drew her into the light of an
electric bulb that glowed above the section boss's door.  Scanning her
silly face for a moment, he said sharply:

"So you lied to Bill!  There is no mark of a blow on your face."

"He--he did push me," she sobbed.  "And I don't love him, anyway.  It
was your fault that I ran away with Wilfred."

"My fault?" echoed Jap.

"Yes," she said, and her tone rasped with cruel spite.  "What girl
wants to have her sweetheart only half hers?  Jap Herron only had to
twist his thumb, and Bill would run like a foolish girl.  I wanted a
whole man or none."

"Seems that you got one," commented Jap, "and don't appreciate him.
Now, Rosy, if you think you are going to ruin three lives by starting
this kind of a play, I am going to undeceive you.  I am going to take
you home and look into this affair."

"I won't go!" she screamed.  "He would kill me."

"What did you do?" demanded Jap, holding her tightly.

"I wrote him a note that I had run away with Bill," she confessed

For the first time Jap became conscious of the suitcase at her feet.
His grip on her arm tightened until she cried with pain.

"You idiotic little fool," he ground between his teeth.  "Where is your

"He went to the city this morning.  He said he'd come home on the local
if he got through his business in time.  Otherwise he wouldn't come
till the midnight train.  I thought Bill could get a rig and drive to
Faber.  I thought he could take me away somehow before Wilfred got the

"News?  Great God!" cried Jap.  "And such as you could win the golden
heart of Bill Bowers!  Come with me.  If your husband takes the late
train, there is still time to destroy that note.  If he is already at

"He'd go to the office first, anyway," Rosy cried.  "But I don't want
to go home."

"You're going home, no matter what the consequences," Jap told her.
"And if you ever attempt to communicate with Bill again, I will have
you put in an asylum.  You are not capable of going through life

He walked her rapidly up the railroad track and through the streets
that lay between the business part of Barton and her own pretty home.
On the corner opposite the house he stopped, while she ran across the
street in terror and rushed up the steps.  She had told him that if all
was yet well, she would appear at the window.  As he stood there, his
eyes glued on the great square of glass, some one touched him on the
arm.  He turned.  It was Wilfred Jones.

"Well, Daddy-long-legs," he said brusquely.  "You think you turned a
pretty trick.  Well, it was a fair fight, and I'm all over it."

Jap shook his hand mechanically, his eyes seeking the window from which
Rosy was peering.

"Tell Bill that bygones must be bygones," Jones continued, "for we want
to get the two papers together on the main issue.  The old man will
come in on the senatorship on the strength of his race for governor.
And I want to tell you a secret that makes me very happy--and will make
Bill feel different.  The doctor has just told me that these queer
spells and moods that Rosalie has been having lately mean--Jap, do you
understand?  I will be a father before summer!"

Jap wrung Jones's hand, a whirl of fancies going through his head.  As
he sought for suitable words of congratulation, a boy ran up.

"I been chasin' all over town ahuntin' for you, Mr. Herron," he said
breathlessly.  "I got a telegram for you."

Trembling with dread, Jap tore it open and read:

"_Come home at once.  Your sister Agnosia is here._--BILL."


The streets were deserted as Jap came from the station.  In his state
of mind, he did not reflect on the oddity of this circumstance.  But
had he reflected, the condition of traffic congestion at the corner
near Blanke's drug store and the further congestion in front of the
bank would have enlightened him.  All the business men of Bloomtown,
who had rushed to the _Herald_ office with important advertisements or
news items, were reluctantly giving place to those who had discovered a
sudden want of letter-heads.

The telegraph office at Bloomtown was no secret repository, and in less
than ten minutes after Bill had telegraphed Jap to hurry home the whole
street knew that the beautiful vision that arrived on the 6:20 was Jap
Herron's sister, Agnesia.  And forthwith traffic filed that way.

The vision arose as Jap entered the front door, and waited until he
came into the private office.  It was apparent that Bill had played
host, to the limit of his meager resources.  Agnesia's hat and
fur-trimmed coat lay on the table of exchanges.

"Well, Jappie," she laughed in silvery tones, "how long you are!"

He took her little ringed hands in his and looked at her silently.
Agnesia was the beauty of the family.  Her golden curls fluffed
bewitchingly about her face and her wide blue eyes smiled

"You are grown, too, Aggie.  I have been thinking of you as a very

"Mercy!" she broke in.  "Please, Jappie, don't drag that awful name to
light.  When I went to the new home, they mercifully killed Agnesia.  I
have been Mabelle Hastings so long that I had almost forgotten Aggie
Herron.  I gave that hideous name to your friend," she flung a
gold-flashed smile at Bill, "because you had no sister Mabelle in the
old days.  Our folks made a bad selection of names for their progeny.
And why Jasper?  Why didn't they put the James first?  It sounds so
much more human."

"Not a bit of it!" declared Bill.  "What is there about James?  This
town had to have its Jap Herron.  No substitute would have made good."

She slipped a glance through her long lashes at Bill.

"I called him 'Jappie,'" she confided.  "I was a lisping baby and
couldn't say 'Jasper.'  Dear old Jappie, how he slaved for me!  And I
was a tyrant, demanding service every minute of the day."

Jap's face clouded.  "Aggie is a bigbug now," came surging into his
memory, as a wizened face obtruded itself between the laughing eyes of
his sister and his own.  The girl noted the swift change.  She took his
handy her voice quivering with appeal.

"I know what you are thinking about," she said.  "But I could not help
it, Jappie.  We don't have to keep up the pretense before Mr. Bowers.
He knows the worst, I take it.  Jappie, you may not remember, but when
Mrs. Hastings adopted me, my mother had reported that she would either
turn me out or give me to the county.  Afterward my foster-mother took
me away from Happy Hollow when she saw that our mother was bringing
disgrace on all of us.  She sacrificed her home and moved far enough
away so that no smirch could come to me.  You don't know, brother, and
I would never want you to know the dreadful things she did.  I had not
heard from her since she married that drunken brute, until she came to
the house one hot day.  When she found no one at home, she laid down on
the porch and went to sleep, drunk and unspeakably filthy.  She was
there when we returned with a party of friends.  Can you imagine it,

Jap nodded his head slowly.

"Mrs. Hastings had her taken out of town, and told her if she came
there again she would have her put in an asylum for drunkards.  After
that she threatened to descend upon Fanny Maud.  Fanny could not afford
to have her career spoiled.  Perhaps we were cruel.  I read the
scorching letter you wrote to Fanny after her--after mother's death.
But Fanny was not angry with you, and--and she was willing to have me
come to you now.  Next spring she will graduate in vocal music from the
highest university in the country, and then she goes to Paris to study
under the artists there.  Jappie, she has made a large part of it,
herself, teaching and singing in the church choir, and studying
whenever she had enough money ahead.  At last Uncle Francis died and
left her a snug little sum, and she went to New York, where they say
her voice is a wonder.  We should be proud of her.  She wants you to
come with me in June to hear her sing when she graduates."

Jap stared at the floor.  She laid her hand coaxingly on his shoulder.

"Of course Jap will go!"  Bill's brown eyes were glowing.  Jap looked
across at him in astonishment and wonder.  His brain reeled.  The day
had been too full.

"And you?" the girl queried, smiling into those dancing brown eyes.

"We can't both go at once," he blurted.  "The paper has to come out on

She arose and wandered through the rooms that occupied the lower floor
of the building, stepping from a hasty and uncomprehending glance at
the press room and the composing room to dwell with critical eye on the
big, bare office.

"You need a little fixing up," she commented.  "You should have a nice
rug and shades, and a roll-top desk and swivel chair."

"So we should," lamented Bill, looking around with an air of
disapproval.  "But not having anybody to tell us----"  He stopped
short, embarrassed.

"I guess that I will have to keep house for Jappie, and boss the office
too.  That is, if you want me, Jappie," she appealed.  "Mrs. Hastings
died last March, and I have been with Fanny ever since.  My
foster-mother left me well provided for.  I won't be a burden, Jappie,"
she cried.  "We have all made good.  We must rejoice together."

Bill was half way across the office in his excitement.

"You can take Flossy's house," he burst out.  "It's ready any time,
because Pap had it completely overhauled after the tenants moved out.
It's the only ready-furnished house in Bloomtown and----"  His voice
lowered and there was a note of wistfulness in it.  "Jap, Flossy would
be so happy!"

Jap surveyed his erstwhile desperate friend with a gleam of merriment.
As yet, Bill did not know but that his sacrificing partner was a
fugitive from the law.  He had not even remembered to ask about the
well-being of Wilfred Jones and his wife.

"Perhaps Aggie--Mabelle," he hastily corrected, "is just joking.  She
would hardly like to bury herself in this little town after New York.
There would be so little to compensate."

"Oh, I don't fear that I will regret New York," said Mabelle, letting
her blue eyes dwell on Bill's ingenuous countenance for a throbbing
moment.  "Really, Jappie, there's nothing to regret."

Bill's heart turned over twice.  His face was appealing.  He met Jap's
dancing eyes defiantly.

"Well," said Jap, "you might get the keys and show the cottage to
Ag--Mabelle, and see how much enthusiasm it provokes.  Perhaps it would
make a better first impression by electric light.  Here, put an extra
bulb in your pocket, if one happens to be missing," and he drew out the
table drawer, where many things lay hidden.

Bill was helping Mabelle on with her coat, his well-set body charged
with electricity that was strangely illuminating to Jap.  As the two
left the office, a few minutes later, a teasing voice called after them:

"Remember, Bill, that you took on a pile of orders this evening, and we
were loaded to the guards with job work already."


Jap looked up as a shadow fell across the door of the composing room.

"Well," he queried quizzically, "what about it?"

"Well," Bill repeated, drawing the girl into the room after him,
"Mabelle thinks that the cottage needs a bathroom and about a wagon
load of plumbing, besides paint and paper.  Otherwise, it's all right."

Mabelle slipped past him and approached the case.  Standing on tiptoe
beside the high stool, she laid a hand coaxingly on the strong, angular

"Now, Jappie, boy, iron out that worry-frown.  I am going to do the
fixing up myself.  It shan't cost you a cent."

"No!" Jap exploded.

"Now, dear boy, forget your pride.  I have lots and lots of money, and
this is to be my home."

"The firm is not insolvent," suggested Bill.

"It isn't a matter for the firm," Jap said gravely.  "The cottage
belongs to me, and we can't allow our finances to get mixed.  I'm
willing to have you put in all the repairs that I can afford."

His mind reverted to Flossy, happy and clean without a bathroom.

"Let me take a mortgage on the property for whatever the work costs,"
Mabelle pleaded, her lips puckering irresistibly.

Jap descended from the stool and caught her in his arms.  Somehow she
had, all at once, become his baby sister again.  The episode of the
straw stack loomed before him.  She had puckered her lips just like
that when she fled to him for protection.  With little coquettish
touches, she slipped one arm around his neck, while she smoothed his
red locks gently.  Bill, looking on, was overcome by an unaccountable

"What a pity Isabel isn't home!" he blurted.  And Bill never knew why
he had recourse to Isabel at that moment.  The observation bore the
desired fruit.  Mabelle freed herself from her brother's embrace, with
the pained exclamation:

"Isabel not at home!  Oh, Jappie, I have just been waiting for you to
tell me about her.  Ever since we read in the paper--and the one little
reference to her in your letter to Fanny----"

She stopped, her blue eyes filling with tears.

"They went away just after the election was over," Bill explained.  "Iz
wouldn't leave Jap while the thing was in doubt, not even for her

"I don't think that's quite square," Jap interposed.  "Mrs. Granger
didn't want to go at all, and only consented when Dr. Hall told her how
ill Isabel was.  The rest of us knew that Mrs. Granger couldn't live
through another winter here; but he had to make Isabel's poor health
the pretext when he sent them to Florida for the cold weather."

"Is she--is she seriously sick?" Mabelle asked tremulously.  "The
mother, I mean."

"It's a desperate hope, a kind of last resort," Bill vouchsafed.  "I
heard Doc Hall talking to Tom Granger in the bank, the morning before
they left.  He said he didn't want to scare him, but he wanted to
prepare him for the worst, I thought."

"I'm sure if Isabel were at home, she'd insist on your coming right to
her," Jap said slowly.  "Bill and I have been bunking together up
there," he jerked his thumb in the direction of the ceiling.  "We have
a bedroom and a little combination living-room, dressing-room and
library.  The library's Bill's part.  We take our meals at the hotel,
down in the next block.  The hotel isn't bad for a town of this size."

"Oh, I've already met the hotel," Mabelle laughed.  "Bill--Mr. Bowers
took me there to dinner this evening while we were waiting for you to
come home."

"Aw, chuck that 'Mr. Bowers,'" Bill interrupted.  "I'm plain Bill to
everybody in this town, and I guess Jap's sister can call me that."

"The hotel, as I was saying," Jap resumed, "will have to take care of
you for the present till you can get a bathroom attachment for the
cottage.  It'll probably be lonely for you, just at first."

"I'll see to it that Mabelle meets all the best people in town," Bill

The temporary housing problem settled, they returned to the discussion
of repairs necessary and repairs superfluous.  After two hours of
parley, Jap consented to let his energetic sister work her will on
Flossy's cottage.  It was after midnight when the girl had been
established in her room at the hotel, and Jap and Bill tumbled into
bed.  The shank of that night had wrought miracles for unsuspecting
Bloomtown.  A vision of blue eyes, red lips and golden tresses kept
floating through Bill's dreams, a vision that bore not the least
resemblance to Rosy Raymond.  Meanwhile Jap stalked through one dream
controversy after another with plumbers, painters and the other
defilers of Flossy's home.

By noon on Monday Mabelle had Bloomtown by the ears, and by the end of
the week it was all up with Bill.  Jap had to hire a boy to help get
out the _Herald_.  It consumed all of Bill's time threatening and
cajoling merchants into the prompt delivery of supplies, and seeing to
it that the workmen were on the job when Mabelle arrived at the cottage
in the morning.  Bloomtown carpenters, paper hangers and plumbers
usually took their own sweet time.  They had a great awakening when
Mabelle employed them.  With Bill to pour oil on the troubled waters,
strikes were narrowly averted.

One morning, soon after the radiant one arrived, Kelly Jones wandered
into the office, where a lively dispute with the boss plumber was under
way.  In ten minutes, Kelly had fallen a victim to the little tyrant.

"'Tain't no use talkin' about her gittin' along without a cellar," he
confided to Jap.  "I'll dig it myself, and that'll save all this row
about how the pipes is got to run.  I ain't got nothin' much to do, now
the corn's all in.  And it's lucky we ain't had a hard freeze.  The
ground's fine for diggin'," and the following morning he was on the job.

For two months Bloomtown was demoralized.  A cellar made possible a
furnace, and the elimination of stoves called for a fireplace in the
living-room, a fireplace framed in by soft blue and yellow tiles.  One
by one Mabelle added her receipted bills to the packet of documents
that would go into the making of that mortgage on Jap's property.  One
by one the housewives of Bloomtown demanded of their paralyzed husbands
bathrooms, cellars, furnaces, tiled fireplaces.

At last the agony was over.  A load of furniture had arrived from the
city, and Bill, as usual, left his stickful of type and hastened to
superintend the transfer of it from the freight depot to the cottage.
The evening shadows were lengthening in the office when he returned.
Jap had gone up-stairs to get out a rush order on the job press, and
there was a little commotion on the stairway just before Bill presented
himself, his brown eyes full of trouble.  Jap looked at him, and his
heart sank.  Had it come to this?  Mabelle, in spite of her scanty
years, was older than Bill.  She must have known.  The whole town knew.

"For goodness' sake, Bill, don't pi this galley," he shouted, bending
over the imposing stone.  "Look where you're going.  I wish that
Mabelle would wake to the fact that you have a half-hearted interest in
this office.  She thinks you have nothing to do but keep tagging on her

The office cat rubbed her sleek side against Bill's leg.

"Get out and let me alone!" he screamed, jumping with nervous

"Don't do that, Bill," Jap said firmly.  "What's the matter with you,
anyway?  You are as pernickety as a setting hen, as Kelly said
yesterday.  When even Kelly begins to notice your aberrations it's time
for you to get a wake-up.  Are you sick?  Have things gone wrong?"

Bill walked over to the window and ran his thumb down the pane of glass

"Jap, have you that mortgage handy--all that business that Mabelle gave

Jap went to the safe and took out the packet of papers.

"Why?" he asked, as he glanced through the long list of items.  "Has my
sister thought of anything else she absolutely needs?  In another week,
I'll owe her more than the cottage is worth."

Bill took the documents gingerly.  His mobile face flamed.

"I--I--want to take up the deeds," he stammered.

Jap whirled to face him.

"You see," stuttered Bill, "I--that is, we--Mabelle and I, we----"

Jap sprang forward, lithe as a panther, and caught Bill by the arm.
Drawing him to the light, he looked full in the embarrassed face.

"Where is she?" he shouted.  "Where is that sister of mine?  Where is
she hiding?"

The girl came from the dark hall, her eyes defiant, her head set with
charming insolence on one side.  Jap struggled with his self-possession
an instant.  Then a great, gurgling laugh shook his shoulders as he
gathered the pair into his long arms.

"Golly Haggins!" the expletive of his boyhood leaped to his lips, "I'm
glad the agony is over.  Now perhaps we will be able to get the
_Herald_ to our subscribers on time."


"Tom Granger got a telegram," announced Bill, coming into the office
one morning early in April.  "He wants to see you at once, Jap."

Jap's face blanched.  He looked dumbly at Bill.

"No, it's not her," Bill hastened to say.  "It's her mother."

Jap stumbled awkwardly up the walk to the Granger home.  The letters
from Isabel had been far from reassuring, and only the previous day Dr.
Hall had sounded a warning that the care of the invalid was too much
for the girl, taxed as she was in both mind and body.  Into Jap's
consciousness there crept the thought that she had never fully
recovered from those terrible weeks when she hovered over him.

Tom Granger met him at the door.  His eyes were red with weeping.  He
drew Jap into the parlor and gave him two telegrams.

"This came at midnight," he said brokenly.  Jap read:

"Mother sinking.  Come.  ISABEL."

"And this just arrived," Granger choked, as the fatal words met Jap's

"Mother dying.  Come.  Bring Jap.  ISABEL."

"The train leaves in half an hour.  I don't have to ask you anything,
my boy."

Jap turned and hastened away.  He did not weaken Granger's feeble
strength with words of sympathy.

It was the afternoon of the second day when the two stood with Isabel
at the foot of the bed.  Alice Granger lifted her heavy lids, and a
gleam of recognition shone in her eyes.  Swiftly those two, the husband
and the child, drew near, eager for any word that might pass the
stiffening lips.  Jap stood looking sorrowfully down on her as they
knelt at her side.

"Jap," she whispered, "you, too," and her feeble fingers drew him.

With a choked sob he knelt beside Isabel.  The mother fumbled with the
covers until her hand, icy cold, touched his.  Instantly his firm,
strong hand closed over it.  She smiled and murmured:

"Tom.  Isabel."

They leaned over her in a panic of fear.

"Isabel's hand," she breathed, and placed the two hands together.
"Tom, there is time," she whispered; "I want----"  She sank helpless.

"I know what you would say," cried Granger, the tears streaming down
his face.  "You want him to be our son before--before you say good-bye."

A flash of joy illumined her thin face.  She sighed contentedly.

A minister was hastily summoned, and a half hour later Isabel sobbed
her grief in the arms of her husband, as they stood awaiting the coming
of the Death Angel.

"It made such a difference in her feeling toward you, your illness at
our house," Tom said, looking down upon her closed eyes and fluttering
lips.  "She never understood you, and in her quiet way she was always
reserving judgment, when I used to talk so much about you.  A mother
finds it hard to think any man is the right one for her only child, and
she was so dependent on Isabel.  She hadn't any doubts, after she saw
you in that dreadful fever, with all your soul laid bare to us.  She
knew Isabel would be safe, and after that she stopped worrying."

A grim hand caught at Jap's throat, as Tom sank on his knees and buried
his face in the pillow to smother his sobs.  Into his memory there came
the words of Flossy: "When your mother came, there was a revelation.  I
don't fear for your future now.  And when I knew this, Jap, I suddenly
felt tired and old."

Flossy had clung to life until he had found the woman who could take
her place.  Then, all at once, she let go.  And now Alice Granger, an
invalid for twenty-three years, had relaxed her feeble hold on life
when she knew that her child was in safe and gentle hands.  Must Death
forever draw its grim fingers between him and his happiness?  He looked
at his bride, fragile as a spring flower, and a great fear rushed over
him.  Dumb, he stood there, stroking Isabel's hair with futile caresses.

At last the glazing eyes opened, and Alice Granger said faintly:

"Tom, not alone."

"Not alone?" he cried in anguish.  "Always alone without you, Alice."

She only smiled--and then she fell asleep.

It was a strange wedding journey.  Between the half-crazed father and
the exhausted wife, Jap was taxed to the uttermost.  Isabel, for once
helpless, lay white and silent in the compartment, too weak to do more
than cling to her one tower of strength, while Tom Granger rent Jap's
sympathetic heart with his unreasoning grief.  At length nature
demanded her own; from sheer exhaustion they slept.  Jap left them
alone and stood out on the platform between the coaches.

"Is my life always to hold grief?" he queried of his soul.  A throb of
fear tore at his consciousness.  Isabel's death-white face arose before

"No!" he cried fiercely, "there is a God.  He will not take all from

He went back into the car and, kneeling beside his sleeping wife,
prayed madly to his God for mercy.

The grasses were green along the tracks, and the blue violets lifted
their rain-washed faces as the familiar stations loomed in sight near
the journey's end.  At the last station below Bloomtown, Bill and Dr.
Hall entered the sleeper.

"We have everything arranged," Dr. Hall said to Jap, while Bill fought
with his tears.  "Isabel Granger has gone through too much to stand the
harrowing experience of a funeral.  The carriages are waiting, and it
has all been attended to at the cemetery.  We'll just have a short
service out there, and I want you to keep her in the carriage with you.
Bill and I did things with a high hand, but it had to be so.  I
wouldn't risk having the girl look into her mother's grave.  She
couldn't stand it."

The platform was crowded with friends, and Tom Granger was responding
to sympathetic greetings with tears he did not try to hold.  Jap half
carried Isabel to the nearest carriage, and Dr. Hall took his place
with them.  Bill had hurried to meet Mabelle, who tactfully drew Tom
Granger into the second carriage, in which the minister sat waiting.
In a dream the well known landmarks of Bloomtown passed before Jap's
eyes.  There was the quick jolt that marked the crossing of the
railroad tracks, and then the cool green of the cemetery came into view.

While the brief service was read, Jap held Isabel tight to his aching
breast.  His eyes wandered away beyond the yellow mound of earth, and
in the hazy distance he saw his City of Hope.  The young grass smiled
above the mounds that held the empty shells of those he had loved, the
first in all the world who had loved him.  On Flossy's straight white
shaft he read "I Hope."  That was all.

After the slow cortège had moved its way back to town, Mabelle left the
carriage and approached her brother.  Bill, with his face frankly
tear-stained, was beside her.  The coachman had descended from his box,
and was opening the door.

"Let me take her--let me take your sweetheart to our cottage," she
pleaded.  Leaning past him, she took one of Isabel's black-gloved
hands.  "Dear, I am Jappie's sister.  I want to have you with me until
you are better."

Tom Granger sat up and leaned out of the carriage, so that all could
hear him.

"Jap is coming home with us," he said.  "He is my son.  He was married
to Isabel just before her mother left us."

And it was thus that after well-nigh three years of waiting Bloomtown
celebrated the long-expected happiness of her best loved son.


Isabel had a long, lingering illness.  It was plainly impossible for
Jap and Mabelle to go to New York to see Fanny Maud make her debut.
Mabelle had been a ministering angel, so faithful in her care of the
invalid that an unreasoning jealousy blotted the grin of contentment
from Bill's face as he uncomplainingly took the brunt of work at the
office.  Jap was too abstracted to notice the Associate Editor's woe.
One day, when rosy June was just bursting its buds, he glanced
hurriedly through the columns of the _Herald_, still damp from the
press.  He started, and looked keenly at Bill.  Second column, first
page, under a double head that reduced the day's political sensation to
minor importance, he read:


"Whew!" he whistled.  Bill looked up.  The red flew to his cheeks.

"Both boys," he commented, folding papers rapidly.  "Be in line for
pages, when old Brons lands in the Halls of Justice."

Jap hurried home to tell the news.  Isabel, still pale and weak, was
lying in the hammock on the screened porch.  She laughed, her old merry
laugh, when Jap told her of Rosy Raymond's achievement.  Mabelle tossed
her yellow curls.

"Well, I don't think she was worrying Bill," she snapped.

"There is no heavier blow to romance than twins," Jap said.

"Maybe she will call them Jap and Bill," crisped Mabelle, and stopped
short when her brother walked abruptly to the other end of the porch.

"I hope that it won't fluster you to know that Bill and I are going to
be married before Fanny Maud leaves for Europe," she flung at him.  "I
want that haughty sister of mine to know that I am marrying a real man."

Jap came swiftly back.

"Have you taken Bill into your confidence, Sis?" he asked, patting
Isabel's shoulder gently, as he smiled his whimsical smile at Mabelle.

"You're naughty to tease her so," his wife chided.

"Bill and I are going to New York on our wedding trip, just as soon as
Isabel can spare me.  I want Fanny Maud to see----"  She stopped, then
took the bit in her teeth.  "Jappie, you never knew why I ran away from
New York last Thanksgiving.  Of course I told Bill all about it long
ago.  Fanny and I certainly don't agree when it comes to men.  I can't
imagine she will approve of Bill, after the one she picked for me."

Further confidence was cut short by the appearance of Bill, turning the
corner.  She arose and ran to meet him.

"Poor Bill," Jap laughed, as the two came arm in arm up the shady lawn.

Before her designs upon Bill could be executed, a strange thing
happened.  Fanny Maud and a company of musicians made a summer concert
tour.  It was only a little run from the city, and such an aggregation
of artists as Bloomtown's wildest dreams had never visioned descended
upon the town.  The hotel was taxed to its uttermost capacity, with six
song birds, an orchestra, three lap dogs, and an Impresario whose
manner implied that he had designs other than professional on the
leading soprano.  Her stay was short, and left an impression of
perfume, fluffy ruffles, French and haste.  Her manager consented to
have her sing for Jap and Isabel.

Bloomtown stood out in the road, listening, agape.  Perhaps Kelly Jones
had been to Barton that summer night, for he declared that cats were
climbing out of Tom Granger's chimneys, screeching for help, and a man
kept scaring them worse by howling at them.  When Fanny Maud reached
the famous high note she was justly proud of, Kelly clapped his hands
to his stomach and yelled for mercy.

"That's clawsick music," abjured Bill, who was sitting on the lawn with
Mabelle.  Kelly looked at them with sorrow.

"I was skeered that she had busted her throat, and all the sound was
comin' out to onct," he complained.

The last night of the brief but exciting visit Bill and Mabelle were
quietly married.  Quietly--yes and no.  Mike Hawking rallied the band
and all the tinware in town to celebrate.  Mabelle was indignant at
first, but soon began to enjoy the fun, and created the happiest
impression on the older generation of Bloomtown by insisting on
marching arm in arm with Kelly Jones at the head of the procession.
After Bill had given his solemn oath never to repeat the offense the
"chivaree" broke up, with wild yells of congratulation.

They took up residence in Mabelle's cottage.  By consensus of opinion
it was Mabelle's cottage.  The town in fact so thoroughly recognized
Mabelle, in the possessive case, that Jap cautioned Bill against the
contingency of being referred to as "Mabelle's husband."  Bill was
proud of his wife, and when fortune brought him lucre, from the
long-forgotten bit of Texas land that suddenly showed oil, he began to
improve the whole street by putting out trees.

As Jap feelingly declared, Mabelle had even improved the dirt under the
doorstep of the cottage, and Bill was fairly pushed out on the street
for improving to do.  Under her fostering care, Bill had learned to
make violent demands on the Town Board.  And they, the aldermen of
Bloomtown, bent on pursuing the even tenor of their way at any hazard,
had to adjust themselves to a new ebullition from Bill every Tuesday
night.  But Bill and Mabelle were not doomed to see their enthusiasm go
up in vapor.  It bore, instead, the most substantial fruit.  The
barren, treeless town was beginning to grow shade for the aldermen to
rest under in their old age.

Kelly Jones said that if Jap had brought Mabelle with him, instead of
waiting fourteen years to import her, the town would be larger than St.
Louis.  As it was, Bloomtown might yet run that city a swift race.
Mabelle set the fashions; told the School Board how to run the schools;
the preachers how to make their churches popular; the mothers how to
train their children.  And the Town Fathers all carried their hats in
their hands when she breezed down the street.  Jap and Isabel watched
and smiled, serene in the happiness that was theirs.

"How wonderful it is, Jap, dear," said Isabel, standing in the sunset
glow, on that Easter Sunday, after the year had flown.  The last red
gleam touched the tip of the monument to Ellis Hinton, that had been
erected by Bloomtown and dedicated that morning.  Together they had
gone to the cemetery, when the crowd would not be there, Isabel's arms
full of garlands for the low green tents of their loved ones.

"It seemed that Flossy must be smiling at you as you stood there,
saying the marvelous things that must have come to you direct from the
lips of your spirit father.  Ellis Hinton spoke through you when you
told the story of our town."

Jap drew her tenderly to the fostering shadow of the monument and
pressed her to his heart.  Her face was glorified as she looked up into

"Oh, Jap, what if Ellis had never lived!"

Jap drew her close.  Many hours had he wrought with his fear, but now
the roses had come again to her cheeks and the light to her eyes.  He
looked over the City of Peace, and his own eyes were full with joy.

"But, thank God, Ellis did live."  And arm in arm they walked back to
Ellis Hinton's real town.

As they crossed the railroad tracks, Kelly Jones came ambling down from
the station, where a large contingent from the vicinity of the steel
highway between Barton and Bloomtown waited for the evening

"Gimmeny!" he exclaimed, clapping Jap on the shoulder, "I sure was
proud of Ellis's boy to-day.  Ellis says to me, the day he went away,
says he, 'Watch my boy, Kelly.  He is goin' to put the electricity in
Bloomtown's backbone,' and, by jolly, you done it!  I reckon you felt
proud," he went on, turning to Isabel, "when Wat Harlow called Jap the
man that made Bloomtown a real town, and the crowd yelled, 'Yes.'
Well, ma'am, for a minute I shook and grunted.  And then the wife said,
'Wait a bit,' so I waited.  And when Jap got up and told the folks that
not Jap Herron but a greater man than he ever hoped to be, had cradled
and nussed Bloomtown and learnt her to walk, I might' nigh split my
guzzle yellin' for joy.  Did you hear me yellin', 'Hurrah for Ellis's
boy!'  And did you hear the crowd say it after me?"

As Isabel took his hardened hand in hers, her eyes overflowed.

"Jap is Ellis," she said gently, "to you and to his town.  I know it,
and I am glad."


Bill sat doubled over the case, the stick held listlessly in his hand.
Nervously he fingered the copy, not knowing what he was reading.  From
time to time he slid down from the stool and lounged across the big
office to the street door.  Vacantly he returned the greetings of his
townsmen, as he gazed past them, across the corner of the little park
that lay, brown and gold, in the glory of Indian Summer, across the
intervening street where Tom Granger's sedate old house looked out on
the leaf-strewn lawn.  He could see Tom Granger, pacing up and down the
walk.  He could see Jap, sitting under the great elm, his face hidden
in his hands.

"Poor old Jap," Bill muttered, brushing aside a tear, as he returned
once more to his case, "life has slammed him so many tough licks that
he is always cringing, afraid of another lick."

The morning wore on.  Bill gave up the effort at type-setting and tried
to apply himself to the exchanges, so that he could the better watch
the front of that house.  He was near the door, trying to read, when,
all at once, Tom stopped pacing.  Jap sprang up and bounded across the
lawn and into the front door.  A white-capped nurse ran through the
wide hall, and in a little while Mabelle put her head out of an upper
window and peered over at the office.  Bill pushed his chair back and
tramped heavily to the pavement.  Then he tramped back again.

"Certainly there are enough of them to let somebody come here with
news," he growled.  "They don't seem to know that there are
telephones--or that I would care."

Half an hour dragged.  Then, all alone, his face shining with holy joy,
Jap hurried to the office.  For a moment neither could speak.  Hand in
hand, heart beating with heart, they stood looking into each other's
eyes.  Then Jap said huskily:

"Do you remember what Ellis said, that day when his greatest joy came?"

Bill flung his arms around Jap and hugged him lustily.

"Get out all the roosters?" he cried, tears gushing from his brown eyes.

"And," said Jap slowly, "Isabel wants to call him Jasper William."


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jap Herron - A Novel Written from the Ouija Board" ***

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