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  • 1907
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“If I so much as mention books,” said Eliph’ pleadingly, “I wish you’d stop me. Don’t let me. Mebby I do sort of get in the habit of it, thinking it and talking it so much. But I never meant to sell you one. I only wanted to get acquainted.”

Miss Sally laughed.

“Well,” she said cheerfully, “there’s different ways to do it, but I guess you an’ me have got well acquainted different from what most folks does. Ain’t you been over to the ice-cream table yet? Or was you waitin’ to be primed; that’s what us ladies is here for, to start folks spendin’ money, like Mrs. Foster’s little nephew that come up from the city to visit her last summer. He wanted to know what everything was for that was on the farm or in the house, that he wasn’t used to, an’ when they told him they always had to leave a dipper of water in the pail to prime the pump with so it would give water, he wanted to know if the reason they had the pans of milk in the spring-house was so they could prime the cows so they would give milk.”

Eliph’ laughed heartily, for his heart was light. He was making progress; Miss Sally admitted that they were well acquainted, and now he could proceed to the second step advised in “Courtship; How to Win the Affections; How to Hold Them When Won.”


“Second: A Small Present”

The next morning Eliph’ Hewlitt purchased the two-pound box of candy in the pictured box that had long been considered by the druggist a foolish investment. For months it had reposed in the end of the toilet soap case awaiting a purchaser, and had acquired a sweet odor of scented soap mingled with the plainer odor of cut castile, and no one had been so extravagant as to buy it. Once the druggist had tried to persuade the candy salesman to take it back in exchange for more salable goods, but after taking it from the show-case and smelling it the drummer refused. At the opposite end of the case the druggist kept his plush manicure and brush-and-comb sets, with a few lumps of camphor scattered among them to discourage moths, but the odor of camphor did not hurt the candy. The scented soap protected it from the camphor. When Kilo buys scented soap she likes to have it really scented.

Miss Sally, when the small boy Eliph’ secured as a messenger had delivered the box of candy, knew well enough what it meant. The neatly written card, “From Yours very truly, E. Hewlitt,” did not suggest much, perhaps, but in Kilo friends do not scatter two-pound boxes of candy recklessly about. To receive a two-pound box on Christmas would have been a suspicious circumstance, for a smaller box would have done quite as well between friends, but to send a two- pound box on a day that was no holiday at all, but just a plain day of the week, could stand for but one of two things–the giver was insane, or he had “intentions,” and Miss Sally knew very well that Eliph’ Hewlitt was not insane. Unless on the subject of Jarby’s Encyclopedia.

She carried the box of candy to Mrs. Smith, and showed her the card.

“How lovely!” cried Mrs. Smith, an exclamation which might have meant either the box of candy or the sentiment that inspired the sender, and then added, “How odd! It smells like soap!”

“That’s a sign it’s good candy,” said Miss Sally. “The candy Rudge sells always smells of soap, an’ he handles only the best, so when you see candy that smells that way you know it’s good. This is Rudge’s candy, sure enough, for I know this box by heart. Rudge has had it in his show case ever since the firm was Crimmins & Rudge. It must be some stale by this time, but the box is pretty.”

“I don’t suppose Mr. Hewlitt knew it was stale,” said Mrs. Smith, “He evidently tried to get the best he could.”

“Yes,” admitted Miss Sally. “He wouldn’t know this box of candy so well as we town folks do, him bein’ a newcomer here. I suppose Rudge gave him a discount off the price on account of the box bein’ soiled a little. I hope to goodness that man wasn’t so foolish as to go an’ pay straight sixty cents a pound for it. He got cheated if he did, an’ I’ll tell him so when I see him next.” She slowly untied the red ribbon that bound the box, and rolled it neatly around the fingers of her left hand, to lay away for future use. “Now, what do you suppose that man sent it to me for?” she asked.

Mrs. Smith smiled, for she knew Miss Sally was asking the question merely that she might have her own belief made sure by the words of another.

“Because he’s in love, of course,” said Mrs. Smith. “Because he is desperately in love. It is a romance, my dear.”

Miss Sally looked doubtfully toward Susan, who was curled up on the old sofa in the corner of the room. She was not sure that such matters should be discussed before one so young, but Susan would have refused to leave the room, even if asked, and she resented the questioning glance that Miss Sally had thrown at Mrs. Smith.

“‘Courtship–How to Make Love–How to Win the Affections–How To Hold Them When Won,'” she said gaily. “‘First, get acquainted; second, make small presents, such as flowers, books or candy; third, ask for the lady’s hand.’ You needn’t look at me that way, Miss Sally; I know all about it. I read it in Jarby’s Encyclopedia.”

“Lands sakes!” exclaimed Miss Sally. “And me and him only got well acquainted last night at the festival. I never heard of such a thing!”

“It’s love at first sight,” teased Mrs. Smith. “He will probably be around this afternoon to propose, and we can have the wedding this evening.”

“Well, he needn’t come this afternoon, if he’s got it in his mind to come,” said Miss Sally shortly, “for I won’t be at home. I ain’t goin’ to be rushed that way, not by no man. I don’t say but Mr. Hewlitt is a clever spoken man, Mrs. Smith, when he ain’t talkin’ books, but I ain’t in the habit of bein’ courted like I was a Seidlitz powder, and had to be drunk down before I stopped fizzin’. That may be some folks way of doin’ it, but it ain’t mine.”

“Nor Colonel Guthrie’s,” suggested Mrs. Smith.

“If the Colonel’s slow it ain’t his fault,” said Miss Sally. “He’d be quick enough if I’d let him, but I can’t see no hurry, one way or another. I don’t say but that a husband is a good thing to have, mind you! I guess I’m like all other women and want to have one some time, but so long as I’ve got pa I’m in no hurry. He’s as much trouble as a husband would be, and as grumpy when things don’t go to suit him. Sometimes I feel like in the end I’d choose to marry the Colonel, since it wouldn’t be so much of a change, the Colonel bein’ like pa in some ways, such as bein’ economical; and then again I feel like I’d prefer Skinner, just because he’d BE a change. I’d be always sure of gettin’ good meat, for one thing, and I’d insist upon it. I can’t a-bear tough meat.

“Shoemakers’ children go without shoes,” suggested Mrs. Smith.

“They wouldn’t if I was their mother, an’ I’ll tell Skinner so, if I choose to marry him an’ he tries to send home any but the best meat he’s got in the shop,” said Miss Sally firmly. “That’s one man, if I marry him, I won’t take no foolishness from. When a man is castin’ his eyes my way, an’ then has to have a city ordinance made to compel him to do me the favor of buyin’ four fire- extinguishers off of me, that ain’t no earthly use to me, I’ll let him know I’m going to have my way about some things when we’re married. I know well enough I ain’t such a beauty that Skinner an’ the Colonel is what you might call infatuated with me, and I don’t expect ’em to be. Pa’s got money, and if he didn’t have I guess the Colonel an’ Skinner wouldn’t bother their heads about me much; but if they like me for pa’s money now I guess they’ll like me for it just as well after they marry me, for I’ll have it well known that money don’t go out of my name. And I’ll let this book agent man know it too. If it’s pa’s money he’s in such a hurry to get, he’ll find out his mistake.”

“I rather like the book agent,” said Mrs. Smith. “He doesn’t seem to me at all the adventurer type.”

“His whiskers do make him look like a preacher,” said Miss Sally, “if that’s what you mean; but if he means business he ought to know I ain’t the kind of bird to be caught with boxes of candy. Neither Skinner nor the Colonel is so silly as to think that.”

She smoothed her apron across her knees, and looked at its checked pattern.

“Seems to me,” she said, with a touch of regret, “this ain’t no time or age for such foolishness. It ain’t as if I was a girl like Susan there. Boxes of candy an’ Susan would match up like pale blue an’ white. I guess the safe thing is to make choice of one that ain’t a stranger. I’ve done business with Skinner years an’ years, sellin’ him calves an’ buyin’ meat off of him; an’ as for the Colonel, I guess I know all his bad points as well as his good ones. The Colonel has been a friend of pa’s a long time.”

So it happened that when Eliph’ Hewlitt called at Miss Sally’s that afternoon he did not find her at home. Mrs. Smith received him and tried to make up by her kindness for the disappointment Eliph’ evidently felt. She thanked him in Miss Sally’s name for the beautiful box of candy–although Miss Sally had left no such word–and drew him on to talk of Jarby & Goss, the publishers of the Encyclopedia, and of his own adventures. The longer she talked with the little man the better her opinion of him became, and she saw that he was gentle, shrewd, capable and sincere–sincere evening his wildest enthusiasm for Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art. When he arose to go he stood a moment hesitatingly with his hat in his hand. He coughed apologetically.

“I hope Miss Sally like the little token of esteem; the box of candy;” he said, looking up into Mrs. Smith’s face anxiously. “it isn’t as if I was used to such matters. My preference would have been a book; a good book; a book that I could recommend to man, woman or child, containing in a condensed form all the world’s knowledge, from the time of Adam to the present day, with an index for ready reference, and useful information for every day of the year. It was my intention to have given her such a book, which would have been a proper vehicle to convey to her my–my regard, but I learned only last night that she already had a copy of that work, without which no home is complete, and which is published by Jarby & Goss, New York, five dollars, bound in cloth; seven fifty, morocco. I learned that she already had one.”

“She told you I had given her my copy?” asked Mrs. Smith.

“Yes,” said Eliph’ simply. “So I could not present her with a copy of that work. My preference was to give a work of literature; I am a worker in the field of literature, and it would have been more appropriate. But I could give her nothing but the best of its kinds, and where find another such book as Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art? Nowhere! There is no other. This book combining in one volume selections from the world’s best literature, recipes for the home, advice for every period of existence, together with one thousand and one other subjects, forms in itself a volume unequaled in the history of literature. No person should be without it.”

“I know, Mr. Hewlitt,” pleaded Mrs. Smith, smiling, “but I have already bought two copies. Don’t you thing you ought to let me off with that?”

“I was not trying to sell you one,” said Eliph’ with embarrassment. “I hoped– –” He paused and coughed behind his hand again. “You know my intention in sending a present to Miss Briggs,” he said bravely. “I admire her greatly. I–to me she is, in fact, a Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art among women.”

“Dear Mr. Hewlitt,” said Mrs. Smith, taking his hand,”I understand. And I wish you all the good fortune in the world. I shall do all I can to help you.”

“Thank you,” said Eliph’, shaking her hand as if she was an old acquaintance he ad met after long years of separation. “So you understand that I can feel the same to no other woman. Not even to–to anyone.” He wiped his forehead with his disengaged hand. “So I feel that you will not misunderstand me if I ask you to accept a copy of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, bound in morocoo, seven fifty. I mean gratis. No home should be without one.”

“Why, it is very kind of you to suggest such a thing,” said Mrs. Smith, “and I’m sure I’ll be glad to own a copy.”

“I’m glad to have you,” said Eliph’. “I wanted to give you one, but I didn’t want you to think I meant it in the way I meant what I sent to Miss Sally. I was afraid you might, or that Miss Sally might. But I don’t mean it that way.”

“I know you don’t,” said Mrs. Smith heartily. “And if Miss Sally is jealous I will tell her she is quite mistaken. But if you will let a woman that has had a little experience advise you, do not be too hasty. Do not try to hurry matters too much. It would spoil everything if you pressed for an answer too soon and received an unfavorable one. And I’m afraid it would be an unfavorable one if you put it to the test now.”

Eliph’s countenance fell. It said plainly enough that he understood her to mean that the Colonel and Skinner were more apt to be favorably received.

“I’m afraid so,” said Mrs. Smith regretfully. “You know they are older acquaintances, and Miss Sally is not one of those who think new friends are best.”

“I was coming again to-night,” said Eliph’. “Perhaps I’d better not say anything to-night. Perhaps I had better wait until to-morrow.”

“Wait until next month, or next year,” advised Mrs. Smith. “There is no hurry. Something may turn up.”


Something Turns Up

Something turned up the very next day. It turned all Kilo upside down as nothing had for years, and created such a demand for the TIMES that J. T. Jones had to print an extra edition of sixty copies, and he would have printed ten more if his press had not broken down.

Across two columns–the TIMES never used over one column headlines except for the elections–blazed the work “GRAFT,” and beneath, in but a size or two smaller, stared the “sub-head” “OFFICIAL OF KILO CORRUPTED. CITIZENS’ PARTY ROTTEN TO THE CORE. PROMINENT CITIZEN IMPLICATED.” Beneath this followed the moral of it, “The City, as Predicted in These Columns, Suffers for Departing from The Beneficent Rule of the Republican Party.”

Attorney Toole was sitting in his office when the boy from the TIMES delivered the paper to him. He smiled as he opened the damp sheet, for he extracted more amusement than news from the little paper, but as he turned it the headlines caught his eye, and instantly he was deep in the columns. Someone had sprung his mine before he had intended–it had exploded prematurely and with, what seemed to him, as he read on, a futile insipidity.

There were full two columns of it. There were hints and innuendoes, too well veiled, but no names mentioned. The specific act of graft was not brought to the surface. It was as if the writer had a “spread” of some vaguely uncertain rumor, and yet there was not doubt that Colonel Guthrie and Mayor Stitz and the fire- extinguishers were meant. The attorney could see that, and he had an idea that the writer had meant to tell more than he really did tell. The veiled allusions were so thoroughly veiled in words that they were buried as if under mountains of veils. Each slight hint was swamped in morasses of quotations and fine flourishes, overgrown and hidden by tropical verbiage, and covered up by philosophical and political phrases until nothing of the hint could be seen. As he read on the attorney could see Doc Weaver talking, as plainly as if he stood before him; he could see him at his desk in a frenzy of composition, and he recognized the apt quotations from Shakespeare that were Doc’s specialty. Doc Weaver had written it.

The attorney laid the paper down and studied the matter. How could Doc have learned of the affair? Skinner, angry as he had been at having to buy the four fire-extinguishers, would never have dared to wreck the party he had helped to create. The Colonel would have been no such fool. Stitz? He would hardly accuse himself. Who then?

One passage set the attorney thinking again as he re-read the article. “‘Thinks are seldom what they seem,’ as the poet says, which is as true as that ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ And as Shakespeare says, ‘To what base ends,’ for all this disreputable graft centers around certain brilliant objects that are not what the guilty bribers and bribees suppose them to be. While we shudder with horror at the temerity of the sinners we shake with laughter as we think of their faces as they will be when they realize that they are mortals to whom the immortal bard refers when he enunciates the truth, ‘What fools these mortals be!'”

“Certain brilliant objects” could mean nothing but the lung-testers. Eliph’ Hewlitt had that secret, and Eliph’ Hewlitt boarded with Doc Weaver. The attorney felt a sudden rush of anger. It was to this intermeddling book agent, then, that he owed the premature explosion of the mine that was to have blown the Citizens’ Party to fragments, and to have landed the fragments in the basket held ready by Attorney Toole?

The distribution of that week’s TIMES acted like a tonic on the town streets. New life followed in the wake of the boy as he carried the paper from door to door. It began at the corner of Main and Cross Streets, and as the boy proceeded, the merchants, the loafers, and the customers came from the stores and gathered in knots that formed quickly and dissolved again as the parts passed from one group to another, questioning, arguing, and guessing. The attorney looked out of his window. Across the street he could see the office of the TIMES, and T. J. already besieged by questioners, to whom he was evidently giving a kind but decided refusal of further information. The editor was waving them away with his hands. Some of the editor’s visitors handed T. J. money, and carried away copies of the TIMES, but all went, gently urged by the editor, and joined one or another of the groups below. The attorney drew on his coat. He would postpone his interview with Eliph’ Hewlitt; Thomas Jefferson Jones was the man he wanted to see at that moment.

It was difficult for the attorney to retain his enigmatical smiles as he climbed the stairs to the TIMES office. He was angry, but he knew the value of that irritating smile that hinted superiority and a knowledge of hidden details. He needed it in his talk with the editor.

It is odd how common interests will bring men together. And sometimes how common interests will not. The attorney and the editor had been as one man in polite attentions to Susan Bell, Mrs. Smith’s protégéee, at first, but as their acquaintance with her grew they seemed to like each other less. They no longer consulted each other on the best methods of bringing Republican rule back to Kilo. They did not consult together at all. The attorney coldly ignored the editor, and his irritation, beginning in this rivalry, was increased by the growing suspicion that the editor dared look toward the leadership of the Republican party in Kilo.

It all angered the attorney. What right had a country editor to compete with a man of talent, with a member of the bar, with Attorney Toole? Was this the thanks a rising lawyer should receive for leaving the superior culture of Franklin and bringing his talents to add luster to the bleak unimportance of Kilo? The very impertinence of it angered him. Toole, a man whose name would one day ring in the hall of Congress and perhaps stand at the head of the nation’s officers as chief executive, to be bothered by the interference of a Jones! By the interference of a man who spent his time collecting news of measles and hog cholera! It was about time T. J. Jones was told a few things.

As Toole entered the printing office T. J. was handing a copy of the TIMES to a customer, and the editor turned, and, seeing who his visitor was, held up his hand playfully.

“No use!” he exclaimed. “I can’t say anything about it, except what’s in the paper. Contributed article, and the editor sworn to silence, you know.”

The attorney seated himself on the editor’s desk, pushing a pile of papers out of his way.

“That’s all right, Jones,” he said. “That’s for the”–he waved his hand toward the window–“for the fellow citizens; for the populace. This is between ourselves.”

“I’d like to,” said Jones, “but really, I can’t say anything about it. I promised faithfully I would not betray my contributor’s confidence.”

“Now, do I look so green as that?” asked Toole. “Nonsense! Doc Weaver wrote that rot.” He smiled. “He spread himself, didn’t he?”

The editor remained motionless.

“I have nothing whatever to say,” he remarked, noncommittally.

“Well, I have!” cried the attorney. “I’ll tell you that it is poor work for you to steal my thunder and attempt to use it without consulting me! It is poor work, and mean work. You want to be boss of this party in Kilo county, that’s what you want. And you haven’t the capacity. You have proved it right here, right here in this silly sheet of yours. You hit on a big thing, and you spoil it. You are so anxious that Toole shall get no credit that you rush it into print and make a fizzle of it. I know who the traitors to the party are–you are one. Doc Weaver with his elegant style and his Shakespeare is another. And that miserable intermeddling little book agent is another. You make me sick.”

The editor stood like a statue, and his face was as white. The attorney dropped his words slowly from lips that still wore the tantalizing smile.

“The childishness amuses me,” said the attorney. “It makes me smile. Why didn’t you give names, since you had them? Why didn’t you tell it all, and do the party some good, as well as doing me some harm, if that was what you were after–and I don’t know what you were after if it wasn’t that? Why don’t you get a schoolboy to edit your paper for you?”

T. J. ground his nails into the palms of his hands. He meant to retain possession of his temper, but it was boiling within. He said nothing as the attorney indolently arose from his seat on the desk; he was resolved to do nothing, but when the attorney brushed against him in passing, turning his superior smile full in his face, he raised his arm. The next moment the two men were lying beside the press, struggling and gasping, locked fast and fighting for advantage, legs intertwined and each grasping the other by a wrist. The editor was on top, but the heavier attorney was working with the energy of hate, and as they panted and struggled the door opened and Eliph’ Hewlitt entered.

There was strength in his wiry arms, and he threw himself upon the upper man and dragged him backward. The attorney loosened his hold and the two men stood up, panting and gulping, and soon began to brush their clothes and look at the floor for dropped articles, as men do who have fought inconclusively and are not sorry to have been parted. The only real damage seemed to have been done to Eliph’s spectacles, which he had shaken off in his efforts, and which had been crushed beneath a heel. The attorney presently smiled, but it was a silly smile, and then he went out of the door and down the street.

Eliph’ coughed gently behind his hand, as if to excuse his intrusion.

“Quarreling?” he suggested. “I used to wrestle some when I was a boy. But not much. I hadn’t then the rules, given on page 554 of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, including “How to Wrestle, How to Defend Oneself Against Sudden Attack, Jui Jitsu,” et cetery, with wood cuts showing the best holds and how to get them. All this being but one of one thousand and one subjects treated of in this work, the price of which is but five dollars, neatly bound in cloth.”

The editor had turned his back and was staring angrily out of the window– sulkily tremulous would be a better description, perhaps–when he suddenly cried out. Eliph’ searched hurriedly in his pockets for another pair of spectacles, found them and put them on, and looked where the editor pointed. Across the street the attorney, backed up against the wall of the bank, was defending his face with one arm, and with his right hand seeking to grasp a ship that was raining blows upon his face and head. Someone grasped the whip from behind and wrenched it from the hand of the attorney’s assailant, and as the man turned angrily, the two in the window saw that it was Colonel Guthrie.

They heard him cursing those who had taken the ship from him, ending by loudly justifying himself for what he had done to the attorney, and saw the attorney step forward to quell the Colonel’s hot words. The Colonel put up both his hands and shouted, and some from the crowd, grasping the attorney about the waist and arms, as if the feared he was about to attack the older man, hurried him away, speaking soothing words to him.

The Colonel rioted on. Nothing could have stopped him. He pulled a copy of the TIMES from his pocket and slapped it with his hand as he abused the attorney for having given T. J. Jones the facts of the article.

He lit it be plainly known, in his anger, that the article called him a giver of graft. The crowd stood silent, as crowds stand about some drunken man, for the Colonel was drunk with wrath, and wordy with it, talking to himself as drunken men do. He finished, and the crowd opened a passage through itself to let him pass, and Skinner, who, in apron and bare arms, had viewed his rival’s wrath from a safe place on the edge of the group, backed away. The Colonel, mumbling, caught sight of him, and with one swift motion of the arm grasped him by the shirt band.

“You!” he shouted, pulling the shirt band until Skinner grew purple in the face. “You! You done it! Why couldn’t you buy them fire-extinguishers like a man? You made me buy up that Dutchman. I wouldn’t ‘a’ had to do it but for you.”

He gave the choking butcher an extra shake, and raised his hand to strike him, but again the crowd interfered, and seized the Colonel, and hurried him away.

The butcher stood stupidly and rubbed his neck, waiting for the wits that had been choked out of him to return, and far down the street Mayor Stitz, hearing a noise, came out on his front platform and looked up the street. It appeared to him that something was going on, and sticking his awl in the door of his car, he walked blandly up the street to where the remnant of the crowd formed a half circle around the butcher. He crowded through, saying, “Look out, the mayor is coming. Stand one side yet for the mayor!”

The butcher looked and saw before him the round, innocent face of the mayor, topped by the mayor’s round bald head. He raised his large, fat hand, and in vent for all his injured feelings brought it down, smack! On the smooth bald spot.

“Ouw-etch!” said the mayor.

He was surprised. He backed away and rubbed the top of his head, and what he said next was a rapid string of real, genuine German; exclamations, compound tenses, and irregular verbs and all that makes German a useful, forceful language. As long as he rubbed his head–with a rotary motion–he spoke German; then he stopped rubbing and spoke English.

“So is it you treat your mayor!” he exclaimed indignantly. “Such a town is Kilo, to give mayors a klop on the head! Donnerblitzenvetter! Not so is it in Germany.” He turned to the crowd. “A klop on the head! It is not for klops on the head that I am mayor. No. I resign out of this mayor business. Go get another mayor, such as likes klops on the head. I am no mayor. I am resigned.”

He turned and walked slowly back to his car, pulled the awl out of the door, and went inside.

The editor moved away from the window. He seated himself at his desk and leaned his head on his arms and thought.

“Headache?” asked Eliph’.

“No,” said the editor, lifting his head. “I’m trying to think this thing out. Guthrie is in it, and Skinner must be in it, and Stitz. And that fellow across the way said you knew something about it, and he said Doc Weaver wrote the article. No,” he added hastily, as Eliph’ offered to speak, “let me think it out myself.”

He leaned his head on his hand, and gazed at the attorney’s office. He drew the week’s copy of the TIMES toward him and read over the article that had caused all the trouble.

“It might be that fire-extinguishers ordinance,” he said slowly. “Stitz pushed that through. And Skinner had to buy them. And–they were owned by Miss Briggs and the Colonel negotiated the sale.” He jumped up and turned over the file of back numbers of the TIMES. He found the announcement he had made of the arrival of Eliph’, and the report of the meeting of the city council that had passed the fire-extinguishers ordinance. Eliph’ had been in town before the ordinance had passed. Eliph’ boarded now with Doc Weaver. Again he read the article in the TIMES, seeking for the meanings that Doc knew so well how to hide. He paused at the “Things are seldom what they seem” lines, and considered it. Suddenly he arose and put on his hat.

“Wait here,” he said, “I’ll be back.”

When he returned he was smiling. He had visited Skinner’s Opera House and had examined the fire-extinguishers where they sat, each on its bracket.

“Hewlitt,” he said, “when you told Doc about the fire-extinguishers did you tell him they were lung-testers?”

The little book agent stared at the editor.

“I never told,” he exclaimed. “I have never said a word to Doc Weaver, nor to anyone about them. Not a word. I have kept it as sacred as the secret of the Man in the Iron Mask, a full account of whom, together with a wood cut, is given on page 231, together with ‘All the World’s Famous Mysteries,’ this being but one feature of Jarby’s—-“

“All right,” said the editor. “And you never told him about the graft?”

The blank amazement on the book agent’s face was sufficient answer.

“I’ve got to go out,” said the editor. “I’ve got some reporting to do. You’ll excuse me. I want to see Stitz. And Skinner. And Guthrie. I wish Doc hadn’t gone to his State Medical Society meeting to-day.”

Eliph’ went out with the editor, who locked the door behind him.

“Don’t say anything,” said the editor, “but I think there will be an extra edition of the TIMES out to-morrow.”



Eliph’ had said nothing to Doc Weaver about the affair of the fire- extinguishers, he had known nothing of the graft matter, and yet it could not be supposed that Doc Weaver could be a confidant of the attorney’s. The editor was puzzled, but he was sure he was right in the main, and he was nearer learning the truth than he supposed, as he hurried down the street to the mayor’s car- cobbler shop.

He opened the door and stepped inside, but the mayor did not look up with his usual smile; he was sulking, and from time to time he rubbed his head where the butcher had struck him.

“How do, Stitz,” said the editor. “How’s the mayor?”

The cobbler pulled his waxed threads angrily through a tough bit of leather, and did not look up.

“I am no more a mayor,” he said crossly. “I am out of that mayor job. I give him up. I haf been insulted.”

“I saw it,” the editor assured him. “He gave you a good whack. Sounded like a wet plank falling on a marble slab. Mad about the fire-extinguishers business, wasn’t he?”

“And why?” asked the mayor, looking up for the first time. “he has a right to obey those ordinances and not get mad.”

“Oh, but he don’t like the way folks will laugh at him when they learn the joke you have played on him. That was a good one.”

“Joke?” queried the mayor, growing brighter. “Did I play him one joke?”

“You know,” said T. J. “Making him buy those lung-testers of Miss Briggs’ when he thought they were fire-extinguishers. I should say it WAS a joke!”

“Sit down,” said the mayor; “don’t hang on those straps when seats is enough and plenty. Sit down. So I joked him, yes?”

“Rather,” said the editor, “and Guthrie, too, making him pay that graft.”

“Sure!” grinned the cobbler. “I got goot grafts. Apples, and potatoes, and celery, and peas, and chickens! Five grafts for one such little ordinances. Grafts is a good business, but now is all over. I quit me that boss-grafter job. I like me not such kloppings on the head. Next comes such riots, and revolutionings. I quit first.” He sewed steadily for a while then prepared another thread, waxing it, and twisting the bristle on either end.

“That fire-extinguishers joke,” he said, as he ran the ball of wax up and down the thread; “that was a good one, yes? On Skinner. That makes me a revenge on Skinner for such a klop on the head, yes?:

He adjusted the shoe on his knee, and began to sew again.

“Yes,” he said, “I am glad I make that joke on Skinner. What was it?”

“Come now!” said T. J. “Don’t pretend such innocence, Stitz. Don’t try to fool ME. You knew all the time that those fire-extinguishers were nothing but lung- testers.” The mayor looked puzzled, and properly, for he had never heard of lung-testers. “To test lungs,” explained the editor. “To show how many pounds a man can blow; how much wind his lungs will hold; a sort of game, like pitching horseshoes. They are not worth anything to Skinner. He paid his money for them for nothing. He will have to buy four genuine fire-extinguishers now. That was what made him mad at you.”

When the editor left Stitz’s car he had learned all the mayor could tell him, including the undoubted fact that the mayor considered graft a quite legitimate operation, and this particular case a good joke on Skinner and Colonel Guthrie, and that the mayor himself, thinking the joke too good to keep, had told Doc Weaver. The editor easily guessed that Doc had investigated the rest of the affair, and had seen the fire-extinguishers and known them to be not what they seemed. He hurried back to his office to set in type what he had learned.

But others were abroad, too. Attorney Toole, watching the editor, had seen him enter the cobbler-car and leave it again, and he easily guessed the object of the editor’s visit. He, too, went to see Stitz, and had a long and confidential talk with him, first frightening him until he was in a collapse, and then offering him immunity and safety, and at length leaving him in a perspiration of gratitude. He held up to him a vision of the penitentiary as the reward of grafting, and when the mayor was sufficiently wilted, rebraced him by promising to defend him, whatever happened, and finally restored him to complacency by showing him that the transaction was not graft at all. When he parted from the mayor, that official was, as opposition papers put it, “a creature of the attorney’s.”

The attorney found Skinner in his butcher-shop surrounded by a group of friends, to whom he was relating a story of how he had been attacked by the Colonel, and what would have happened to the Colonel if intervention had not come just when it did. Toole entered briskly and pushed his way through the group to where the butcher stood.

“Skinner,” he said, “I want half a dozen words with you, at once,” and his manner was enough to silence the butcher. Skinner led the way to the back room where the sausage machine made its home, and Toole carefully closed the door.

“Now,” he said, taking the butcher by the shirtsleeve,” you have had a taste of what comes of taking the political lead away from the party to which it rightly belongs. You have had an experience of what happens when people who know nothing about politics meddle with thing that the natural political leaders should be left to handle. You have been choked, and you have been cheated, and you deserve to be kicked. You pay money to this editor her in town, for an advertisement that you know does you no good, and in return he prints an article to make you laughed at. You form a combination with Guthrie to put in outsiders instead of good party men, and Guthrie uses his pull to have an ordinance passed to make you spend money for fire-extinguishers. You elect a mayor, by your influence as a leading citizen, and he takes a bribe from Guthrie, and passes an ordinance to rob you. And you, like a fool, let him do it. And you let Guthrie, that he may stand in solidly with the very woman you have your eye on, sell you–what? Fire- extinguishers? Not much! Not fire-extinguishers at all, but useless, no-account lung-testers! Lung-testers, that he makes you pay one hundred dollars for, and that you will have to throw away. That is what they are, lung-testers, and you can pocket a loss of one hundred dollars, and buy four real fire-extinguishers now, as the ordinance tells you, and makes you!”

The butcher’s mouth opened and his eyes stared. He felt weakly behind him for the edge of the table, pawing uncertainly in the air.

“That’s all I have to say to YOU,” said the attorney. “If you like that kind of thing, you are welcome. If you are willing to be cheated it is nothing to me. I don’t say T. J. Jones set them up to doing all this, just to throw down your Citizen’s Party, but you can see in the TIMES who printed the whole thing. If you like to have that kind of man run your only public journal it is no business of mine, but look out for the next TIMES!”

The butcher had found the edge of the table and was leaning back against it. The attorney paused with his hand on the door.

“You ought to be able to make the Colonel pay you back that hundred dollars,” he said. “It looks as if he had obtained money under false pretenses and given a bribe. But if you don’t care, I don’t,” and he went out.

Outside of the butcher shop the attorney stopped and looked up and down the street, smiling. He felt that he had done well, so far, setting both the mayor and Skinner against the editor, making a tool of the mayor, and inflaming the butcher against the Colonel. He would have liked to go to the Colonel and set him against the editor and Skinner, but he neither dared nor felt it really necessary. If Skinner attempted to make the Colonel take back the lung-testers the ill feeling between the two would be sufficiently emphasized, and no doubt the Colonel had sufficient reason, in the publication of the article, to hate the editor.

Horsewhipped! His face reddened as he thought of it, but he was too polite to consider a revenge of fists, which would not lessen the insult of the whipping he had received, but would only add the stigma of attacking an older man. That he had led the Colonel into the affair, putting him up to it, did not strike him as being any excuse for the Colonel. He felt that he had done only what he was entitled to do in the pursuit of political leadership. He would revenge himself on the Colonel later. A suit for damages for assault, timed to precede the next election, would be both revenge and politics. He could, at the moment, think of nothing else to do to undermine his opponents, and he had turned toward his office when a fresh idea occurred to him. Should Miss Sally take back the lung- testers, where then would his case stand? Guthrie would return the hundred dollars to Skinner. Skinner was fool enough to be satisfied with that, and Kilo, like many other towns, not wishing to besmirch herself, would hush up the whole affair. Miss Sally must not take back the lung-testers.

The attorney swung around and walked briskly toward Miss Sally’s home, tossing tumultuously in his mind the events of the day, his plans and what he would say to Miss Sally. As he turned in at the gate he saw Mrs. Smith and Susan sitting on the porch, and he took off his hat, and walked smilingly up to them.

“Miss Sally in?” he asked, after the customary greetings. “I would like to speak to her if she is.”

“She’s in” said Mrs. Smith, “but she is engaged at present. Won’t you have a seat and wait?”

Toole passed rapidly through his mind all those who might have business with Miss Sally this morning–the Colonel, Skinner, the editor. It could not be Skinner, for he had just left him, nor the editor, for he knew he was still in his office where he had seen him last. Probably it was the Colonel. He took the proffered seat.

“I suppose you saw the TIMES,” he said, “and that tremendous article. It amused me considerably. Splendid specimen of local journalism. Our friend T. J. is to be congratulated, isn’t he? He has made quite a stir.”

“The Colonel was here with a paper,” said Mrs. Smith. “He was furiously angry. I couldn’t understand what it was all about, except that it was connected with those fire-extinguishers Miss Sally had.”

“It was about the meanest piece of business I have ever run across,” said the attorney, speaking more to Susan than to Mrs. Smith. “It was the most vindictive thing I ever heard of. Do you know any reason why that editor should want to annoy Miss Briggs?”

“Mr. Jones annoy Miss Sally?” said Susan, with surprise. “I can’t imagine why he should.”

“That’s what puzzles me,” said Toole. “There doesn’t seem to be any reason whatever, except that he is showing his ill-will. It looks like a conspiracy to throw those fire-extinguishers back on Miss Sally’s hands. Probably he has taken an agency for fire-extinguishers, or had made a deal to take some in payment for advertising space in his paper, and wants to sell them to Skinner. I understand there is some cock-and-bull story he has got up about these fire-extinguishers being out-of-date, or useless, or something of that kind, and that he means to make a big stir about the council having been bribed to force them on Skinner. I suppose Jones will get something out of it, someway. I understand he means to keep the thing alive in his paper, and throw ridicule on all concerned, until he forces things his way. Probably he has some political object, too. But I think it is bad that he should drag Miss Sally into it. I don’t mind his trying to throw mud on me. I can see his reason for that.”

He looked at Susan and smiled.

“I don’t understand,” said Mrs. Smith, “I couldn’t see that he said anything about you this morning.”

“Not this morning,” said the attorney. “There will be more to follow. Wait until you see the next issue of the representative of a free and untrammeled press. He will serve up all his friends there. I saw him darting around like a hawk-eyed reporter this morning. I went up to plead with him to drop the whole thing, this morning, but he as much as told me to mind my own business. The poor old Colonel was so angry he came at me with a whip–I don’t know why–but I did not take the advantage my strength gave me. I can forgive a man who is anger blinded. All I want to do now is to prevent that editor fellow making any more trouble for my friends, if I can. I don’t want Miss Sally to TAKE back those fire- extinguishers, and I don’t want her to be blackmailed into BUYING them back. I want to put her on her guard against T. J. Jones.”

“This is very kind of you,” said Mrs. Smith.

“She is a friend of yours, and of Miss Susan’s,” said the attorney. “That would be reason enough for my doing it.”

The door opened and Eliph’ Hewlitt came out of the house, and Toole, who had jumped up, in order to be on the defensive had it been the Colonel, assumed an air of indifference. The book agent hesitated uncertainly, glanced toward Mrs. Smith, felt under his left arm where his sample copy usually reposed, and, not finding it, put on his hat and walked toward the gate. Mrs. Smith sprang from her chair and ran after him. She caught him at the gate and laid her hand on his arm. He turned to face her, and she saw that there were tears in his usually clear eyes. He had put the question to Miss Sally, and the answer had been unfavorable.

The interview had been short and conducted with the utmost propriety, as advised by “Courtship–How to Win the Affections,” and Miss Sally had been kind but firm.
The article in the TIMES had, far from turning her against the Colonel, shown her what the Colonel has risked for her sake, and she had decided in his favor, although he had not yet appeared to claim an answer to the question he had never asked, but had been hinting for years.


Two Lovers, and a Third

The attorney, when Eliph’ walked down the path to the gate, entered the house, and found Miss Sally still sitting in the dark parlor where she had had the painful interview with Eliph’ Hewlitt. She still held her handkerchief to her eyes, for she had been weeping, and the attorney was not sorry to see this evidence of the stress of her interview with the book agent. Certain that Eliph’ had told Doc Weaver of the lung-testers, he was no less certain that the book agent had been telling Miss Sally that the nickel-plated affairs would be thrown back on her hands, and he hastened to urge resistance.

“Miss Briggs,” he said, “I came right in, because I knew what that book agent was here to say to you, and I wanted to warn you against him. I know what he asked, and I hope you refuse him.”

Miss Sally gasped.

“I believe,” continued the attorney, taking a seat, “that you refused, because you know which side your bread is buttered on. I believe that before the day is over Colonel Guthrie will come with the same question, and I want you to give him the same answer. And if Skinner should come on his knees, I want you to send him away with the same answer, too. They will all have arguments enough, but don’t be fooled. They money is all they want.”

Miss Sally gasped again. She was astounded.

“I could see,” said the attorney, confidentially, “that you have the book agent a pretty sharp answer, and that was right. He had no business to put himself forward at all, and I don’t suppose you can guess why he did.”

“He said he liked me,” said Miss Sally weakly, ashamed to mention the word openly. The attorney laughed.

“My opinion is that it is an conspiracy,” he said. “That is just the word, a conspiracy, and T. J. Jones is at the head of it. The book agent has come first; now the Colonel will come; and then Skinner, all asking the same thing, but my idea is that they are all in partnership, and that Jones is engineering the whole thing. They want your money, and that is all they want, and once they get it they will be happy and you will be left with four lung-testers on your hands.”

Even in Kilo slang comes and goes as in the rest of the world and Miss Sally was not sure about the word “lung-tester.” It had a slangy sound, and it must be a term of reproach applied to the future value of the four men Toole had mentioned. She accepted it as such.

“All I have to say,” continued the attorney, “is to refuse the Colonel, and to refuse Skinner if he comes, just as you have refused this book agent. Stick up for your rights. If they want to sue you, let them sue. You have the money now, and it is better to have that than a lot of good-for-nothing lung-testers. Once you get them on your hands you’ll never get rid of them.”

He arose and took up his hat.

“That is all I have to say,” he said, “but I wanted to let you know what you ought to do. Don’t mind if there is a lot of stuff published in the TIMES. You have to expect that, and Jones will probably drag your name into it, in connection with the Colonel and Skinner, but you are perfectly innocent and they can do nothing to you.”

He went out, and Miss Sally remained in a daze, looking at the door by which he had gone. She was still looking at it helplessly when Mrs. Tarbro-Smith came in with a swish of skirts and put her arm gently about her.

“DO you think you did what your heart told you to do, dear?” asked the lady from New York, kissing Miss Sally on the brow. “He was SO downcast. I really pitied him, poor man.”

Miss Sally threw her arms around Mrs. Smith’s waist and hit her face in the lacy softness of her gown, and wept. The authoress smoothed the brown hair and waited patiently for the tears to cease.

“Did you see Mr. Toole?” she asked brightly, to ease Miss Sally’s weeping and to turn her thought to other things. “He wanted to see you about those fire- extinguishers. But I don’t trust him. I think he has some plan or other that is selfish. I think he had been drinking.”

Miss Sally’s tears ceased, and she sat up, straight and severe.

“Fire-extinguishers?” she asked quickly.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Smith; “he seemed to think Skinner or the Colonel or someone would want you to take them back. And return the money, I suppose.”

“The money?” echoed Miss Sally slowly. She blushed as she saw that she had misunderstood the attorney, thinking he had dared to advise in her love matters, and then she frowned. “The money?” she repeated. “But I gave that money to pa. Pa won’t ever give that money back, never! I don’t know where on earth I’d ever get sixty dollars.”

As she spoke she heard someone on the walk, and then the heavy feet of the Colonel climbing the porch steps. She heard him ask Susan if Miss Sally was inside, and heard the girl answer that she was, and she held Mrs. Smith’s hand tighter.

“Come in,” she called, to the knock on the door, and the Colonel stumped into the room. He was hot and angry, so angry that he did not stop to offer his usual curt greetings.

“Look here,” he said, by way of introduction, “you an’ your fire-extinguishers has got me into a purty fix, Sally Briggs–a blame purty fix-an’ I want to know do you intend to git me out or not? I don’t want no foolishness. Skinner is after me an’ I’ve got to pay him back them sixty dollars, or somebody’ll go to jail for it. You ought to have knowed them wasn’t nothin’ but lung-testers, afore you set me up to sellin’ ’em to Skinner, an’ not let me go an’ make a ‘tarnal fool out of myself. But that ain’t the thing now; the thing is, will you pay back them sixty dollars? I guess you’d better do it, an’ do it quick. Skinner’ll have the law on ye if ye don’t.”

Miss Sally drew back toward Mrs. Smith as he scowled at her.

“Now, you git them sixty dollars an’ hand ’em over to me, that’s what you’d better do,” said the Colonel. “I want to git shut of this business. I was a fool fer meddlin’ in a woman’s affairs in the fust place. I don’t want to have no more hand in it. You git me that money, an’ let me fix it up with Skinner. He’s mad, an’ he won’t stand no foolin’. It was all I could do to keep him from comin’ in an’ makin’ a row right here in the house. He’s waitin’ at the gate till he sees if I git the money, an’ if I don’t—-“

“But I haven’t got sixty dollars,” Miss Sally gasped. “I gave that money to pa. I don’t know whether I can GET sixty dollars out of pa.”

She was so helpless that Mrs. Smith’s blood boiled at the rude brutality of the Colonel, and she stepped forward and faced him.

“What is all this about?” she asked. “What is the matter with those fire- extinguishers? Why do you come bothering Miss Sally this way? Why don’t you settle it with Mr. Skinner yourself?”

“The matter is, them ain’t fire-extinguishers at all,” said the Colonel rudely, “an’ wasn’t, an’ never was. Them things is lung-testers, an’ Sally was cheatin’ Skinner when she sold ’em to him. An’ the reason I’m botherin’ her is that she got the money fer ’em, an’ she’s got to find it somehow an’ pay it back. An’ as for me settlin’ with Skinner, I ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. I wasn’t nothin’ but Sally’s agent. I done her a favor, an’ that’s all, an’ I’m sorry I ever meddled in it.”

“But there certainly can’t be such haste needed,” said Mrs. Smith. “Miss Sally is not going to run away. Mr. Skinner is not going to fail for want of sixty dollars, is he? You can wait until to-morrow, or to-night, when Miss Sally can see her father.”

“No, I can’t,” said the Colonel doggedly. “I can’t wait at all. By to-morrow mornin’ that newspaper feller will have another paper printed up, an’ I hear tell he’s goin’ to give us all plain names, an’ I ain’t goin’ to wait. I want to git this thing fixed up right now. If Sally ain’t got sixty dollars, let her go borry it. I got to pay Skinner right now, an’ I want Sally to pay me. I want to git shut of this.”

“I don’t believe Mr. Skinner is in any such hurry as you pretend!” exclaimed Mrs. Smith. “I don’t believe he is so ungenerous. I believe he is more chivalrous, I believe HE will have some manliness, if you have not.”

She started for the door, but the Colonel grasped her by the arm.

“Hold on, here!” he said, but Mrs. Tarbro-Smith merely raised her eyebrows and looked, first at his hand on her arm, and then at his face, and his hand fell. He stood irresolute and uncomfortable as she went to the door and called to Mr. Skinner. The butcher walked up to the door, clearing his throat as he came. Mrs. Smith held the screen door wide for him to enter, and he walked into the parlor, holding his hat in his hands, and stood uneasily.

“The Colonel,” said Mrs. Smith pleasantly, “has told us you wish Miss Sally to return the money you paid for what she supposed were fire-extinguishers.”

“They was nothin’ but lung-testers,” said the butcher.

“So it seems,” said Mrs. Smith, “and it is odd that a man of business like yourself should not know it in the first place. But of course Miss Sally did not know what they were. Who told you they were fire-extinguishers, Sally?”

“The Colonel,” said Miss Sally, and the Colonel moved his feet uneasily.

“Indeed!” exclaimed Mrs. Smith, giving the Colonel another of her paralyzing glances. “But Miss Sally will do whatever is right. She hasn’t the money at this moment. You can wait until to-morrow for the sixty dollars, can you not, until she can see her father?”

The butcher grew red in the face, redder than his naturally high coloring, but he shook his head.

“I want it now,” he said. “Business is business.” And after a moment he added, “It wasn’t sixty, it was one hundred. Four at twenty-five, that’s one hundred. One hundred dollars, that was what I handed Guthrie. I paid one hundred and I want one hundred back.”

Miss Sally and Mrs. Smith looked at the Colonel.

“I had a right to make a commission,” he blustered. “I ain’t no sich fool as to do business fer other folks an’ lose time by it. I took out a commission, an’ I had a right to, an’ I don’t want to hear no more about it. A commission’s fair.”

“You didn’t say anything about it,” said poor Miss Sally. “Mrs. Smith was just surprised to learn of it.”

“Surprised, my dear?” said Mrs. Smith, “No, indeed. Nothing that man would do could quite surprise me. But forty percent commission! Miss Sally hasn’t sixty dollars in the house,” she added, turning to the butcher. “You know very well people here don’t have so much in the house at one time. If I had it I would gladly lend it to her, but I don’t happen to have so much with me to-day. You can wait until Mr. Briggs gets back from Clarence, or you can do what you please.”

“I want the money,” said Skinner doggedly.

“Very well,” said Mrs. Smith. “Collect forty from the Colonel. That will keep you from starving until to-morrow. And now will you both kindly leave the house?”

“Now, look here, Mrs. Smith, ma’m,” said the butcher. “You ain’t got any right to talk that way to me. Money matters is money matters, and a man has a right to look after his own the best way he can. I was cheated out of one hundred dollars by this man and Miss Sally, as easy as you please, and there’s bribery in it, and land knows what. But I ain’t mean. All I want is my money back, and I want it now. I hear T. J. Jones is going to get out an extry to-morrow morning all about this, and all I want is to do what is right. Hand me back my hundred dollars, and I’ll go to T. J. and explain that Miss Sally did what was right, and tell him to leave her out of what he writes, but if I don’t get the money I won’t say a word to him. He can guess all he wants about Miss Sally and the Colonel being in cahoots with this bribe business. All I want is my money.”

“But I say you shall have it in the morning.”

“Well, I don’t count much on what you’ll get out of Pap Briggs. You might get ten cents, if he was feeling liberal, but he don’t usually feel that way. What I want is one hundred dollars right now. I don’t need no lung-testers, and I’ve been cheated, and I won’t wait. If Miss Sally ain’t going to pay me, I’ll see what the law says about it.”

“Mr. Skinner,” said Mrs. Smith, “in consideration that Miss Sally is a lady and that you are a gentleman, will you not wait till to-morrow?”

“Business is business,” he said flatly. “When I’m sellin’ meat I ain’t a gentleman, I’m a butcher; and when Miss Briggs was sellin’ lung-testers she wasn’t a lady, she was in business. Business is one thing an’ bein’ pleasant is another. I’ve got to look after my money or I soon won’t have any.”

When the two men went out Mrs. Smith could hear them begin to wrangle even before they quitted the yard, but she was more interested in what might happen to Miss Sally through the vindictiveness of the butcher. She was surprised to hear that T. J. Jones had even thought of such a thing as bringing Miss Sally’s name into the matter as a conspirator, and she did not know enough about Iowa laws to know whether the butcher could take any summary action or not. The most satisfactory way to straighten things out would be to pay the butcher, but it must be done at once. She pleaded with Miss Sally to remember someone of whom she could borrow sixty dollars, but Miss Sally confessed that she knew no one who would be apt to lend so much. She even expressed her doubt that her father would ever release the money she had given him. The two women sat in the darkened parlor, Miss Sally weeping softly and Mrs. Smith thinking hard. The authoress was ashamed that she could devise no way to aid her friend, and there they sat, exchanging a brief word from time to time, and the gloom deepening every minute. Presently, when the atmosphere was so charged with sadness that it was almost too thick to breathe, Mrs. Smith called to Susan, and the girl came in.

“Sue,” said Mrs. Smith, “will you run down to the TIMES office and see Mr. Jones? And–let me see–and tell him I very much want to see him before he begins
to print his extra. You won’t mind, will you?”

“Oh, no,” said Susan cheerfully, and she went, a fairy in filmy white, while the two women relapsed into gloom again.

So softly did the next comer mount the porch stairs that the two women did not hear him until a gentle tap on the door frame, followed by an apologetic cough, announced the return of Eliph’ Hewlitt.


According to Jarby’s

When Eliph’ Hewlitt, sad at heart, departed from his disastrous interview with Miss Sally, he felt, for the first time in his life, a doubt as to the infallibility of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art. Here was a book he had praised, sold and believed, and it had failed him. Here was a book that was proclaimed, in the “Advice to Agents,” to be so simply written and so easy of understanding that a child could follow its directions as well as a man, and it had only led him to defeat. He had courted according to “Courtship”; he had tried to win the affections according to “How to Win” them, and instead of the “Yes” that Jarby’s book led him to believe he would receive, he had been given a “No.” This, then, was the book whose success he had made his life work! Caesar, when he saw Brutus draw his dagger, was wounded no more in spirit than Eliph’ Hewlitt was now.

The world seemed to slip from beneath his feet; his firmest foundation seemed to have crumbled away; his best friend seemed to have turned false. As he walked toward Doc Weaver’s house he decided what he would do: he would go to his room and tear his sample copy of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art to scraps and throw them out upon the wind; he would write to Jarby & Goss and resign his commission; he would have Irontail hitched to his buggy and leave Kilo at once and forever, and from some other town he would write to G. P. Hicks & Co., and solicit the agency for Hicks’ Facts for the Million, a book he had heretofore hated and despised. All this he resolved to do, and yet here he was again at Miss Sally’s door, and the sample copy of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art was under his arm!

Mrs. Tarbro-Smith, when she saw Eliph’ Hewlitt at the door, uttered a little cry of joy and darted toward him. She put her finger to her lips and slipped out of the door and drew him to the seat that had once been a church pew, but was now doing duty as a garden-seat under an apple tree in the side yard. On Eliph’s face was no longer the care-worn expression of the rejected lover, but the full glow of confidence, radiating from between his side-whiskers.

Mrs. Smith bent confidentially toward him, and laid one hand on the copy of Jarby’s, which he had placed across his knees. In quick, crowding words she bade him hope–which wasn’t necessary–and told him of the coming of Guthrie and Skinner, and of their demands. She laid before him all she knew of the affair of the fire-extinguishers, of the horror of the threatened legal attack on Miss Sally, and the disgrace that would overwhelm her should T. J. Jones publish an article mentioning her name. Eliph’ Hewlitt must prevent the publication of the article; he must save Miss Sally.

The book agent was willing. As the appeal was spoken his eyes brightened and the book agent instinct–the instinct that knows no defeat, but will talk a book into
any man’s library, or die in the attempt–flowed full and free through his soul. Mrs. Smith saw him take fire, and she ventured the question she had been leading up to.

“Now, Mr. Hewlitt,” she said, “I have sent for Mr. Jones, and I will do what I can to persuade him not to publish the article. I depend on you to do what you can in that, too, but I am going to trespass on your good nature in another thing also. It is something I know Miss Sally would never allow me to ask, and I myself would not ask it but that I happen to be waiting for a check from my publisher, and am quite out of funds at the moment. I am going to ask you to lend me sixty dollars! Not for myself, but to me. I believe Miss Sally would be willing to borrow it of me, and I know, dear Mr. Hewlitt, you will be willing to lend it to me.”

Eliph’ coughed softly behind his hand.

“Gladly!” he said. “Gladly any amount. I have quite a little money laid away, quite a little; some thousands, in fact; I might be called a wealthy man–in Kilo. And it would be a pleasure, a real pleasure, to spend all for Miss Sally. She is a fine woman, Mrs. Smith. I admire her.”

“I knew I could depend on YOU,” said Mrs. Smith, putting her white hand on his scarcely less white one.

“But I can appreciate Miss Sally’s-ah-maidenly dislike, in fact, her quite proper dislike of a loan from-ah-one who aspires—- In fact,” he said, boldly breaking away from all attempt to speak bookishly, “from me. She don’t want to borrow from me, and it would be the same thing if you borrowed for her from me. The same thing. I am courting Miss Sally, and such a loan would be irregular. There is nothing, Mrs. Smith, in the chapter on ‘Courtship–How to Win
the Affections,’ et cetery, about loaning money to the lady. It would derange the directions given in this book, which is—-“

“I don’t want to hear about the book,” said Mrs. Smith with annoyance. “I know all about the book. So you refuse to lend me sixty dollars? You, like these other men, are willing to desert Miss Sally at a time like this?”

“No,” said the book agent. “Not desert. Rescue. Rescue her from the hands of these–these men. Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art should be in every home, in every store, in every office. To be without it is to be like a rudderless air ship tossed by the waves of the relentless ocean. It contains a fact for every day in the year, for every moment of life, any one of which is worth the price of the book many times over. This book,” he said–and then his eyes, which had been gazing far into the sky over Miss Sally’s house, returned to the eyes of Mrs. Smith–“I am going to sell Mr. Skinner a copy of this book.”

In spite of her disappointment in him, Mrs. Smith, the authoress, felt a thrill of pleasure in the discovery of such an admirable type–a book agent who could see in the midst of love, courtship, conspiracy and trouble only his book and a chance to sell it. But she was deeply disappointed.

“Then you desert Miss Sally,” she repeated sadly.

“Mrs. Smith.” Said Eliph’, reaching into his pocket and laying a handful of thick greasy manila envelopes in her lap, “these are my bank books. Six, containing the sum of seventeen thousand four hundred and eighty-two dollars and forty-six cents, and all this I lay at Miss Sally’s feet if I do not succeed in selling a copy of Jarby’s Encyclopedia this afternoon. If sold, the matter is settled.”

When Eliph’ reached the business part of Main Street he turned into Skinner’s butcher shop and halted at the counter. The butcher was at work in the back room, and he put his head out and, seeing who had called, shook it.

“No books,” he said shortly. “I never buy books. I didn’t buy them Sir Walter Scotts even. No books.”

Eliph’ coughed his deprecatory little cough and walked behind the counter and to the door of the back room.

“So I understood,” he said. “I heard at Franklin that you didn’t buy books; it was mentioned to me that I would be wasting my time in calling on you. They said you was known all over the State as not buying books, and many admired your self-restraint in not buying. They said it was wonderful. That’s why I never called on you to buy. But I didn’t come to sell you a book. I wanted to ask if you knew William Rossiter?”

“William Rossiter?” asked Skinner, perplexed, coming out of the back room. “Who’s William Rossiter?”

Eliph’ laid his book on the chopping block.

“William Rossiter, agent,” he said. “He was here once. He was the man that stopped with Miss Sally Briggs a while. I thought maybe you knew him. He’s dead. I thought maybe you’d be interested to know it.”

A light dawned on the butcher. William Rossiter must have been the man that left the lung-testers at Miss Sally’s.

“I’m glad he’s dead,” he said. “I don’t know anybody I’d sooner have it happen to.”

“Don’t say that!” exclaimed Eliph’. “If you only knew how he died, poor young man, you wouldn’t say it. He burned to death.”

“Well,” said the butcher, “I don’t know as I care how he died. I can’t say I’m sorry. I guess he cost me a hundred dollars. I’ve got to go to law for it if I ever want to see it again. I guess he deserved to die, for the trouble he has made in this town.”

Eliph’ placed his hand on the sample copy of Jarby’s.

“I will tell you how he died,” he said briskly.

“No, you won’t,” said Skinner angrily, waving his hand toward the door; “you won’t tell me nothin’. I’ve heard of these stories of yours, I have. You want to sell me one of them books, and you’ll talk away at me about this Rossiter feller, and the first thing I know you’ll have me down for a book. But you won’t, for if you don’t get right out of that door I’m goin’ to put you out.”

“All right,” said Eliph’ cheerfully, picking up his book, “if that’s the way you feel about it I won’t take up your time telling you about it I won’t take up your time telling you about Bill Rossiter. Only I thought you’d like to know how it happened he was burned up in a theater when there was two dozen as good fire- extinguishers, right at hand, as there is in the world. But I won’t intrude. I know myself too well, and I know I might happen to get to talking books before I thought. You see,” he said, as if apologizing for himself, “I can’t forget how this book saved my life, and might have saved the life of Bill Rossiter, too, if he had had a copy, the price being only five dollars, bound in cloth, one dollar down and one dollar a month until paid.”

“There,” said Skinner, as if Eliph’ had offended him, “you are talkin’ books right now, like I said you would.”

“Was I?” asked Eliph’. “And all I started out to say was that I met Bill Rossiter in St. Louis just after he had run away from here. He told me all about it, and wept on my shoulder as he told me how it pained him to have to skip that way. He said it wasn’t as if he could have left Miss Briggs anything that she could use, but-lung-testers! He asked me what a town like Kilo could do with lung-testers, and he felt awful about it. Said he couldn’t bear to look at a lung-tester any more, they made him feel so ashamed, and what made it all the worse was that he had to look at them all day.”

“I should think they would,” said the butcher heartily. “It makes me sick to see them. But why did he do it if he didn’t like it?”

“I was just going to tell you that,” said Eliph’, putting down his book again. “You see, when he left here he went right to St. Louis, that being where his home was, and that was how he happened to have lung-testers with him when he was here. His father made them. That was his father’s business. He was in the lung- tester manufacturing business. So when Bill Rossiter left here he went right home to his father, which was the wise thing to do.”

“Went home to sponge on the old man, I suppose,” said Skinner.

“Just so,” agreed Eliph’, “and that was how I happened to meet him. There was a man there in St. Louis by the name of Hopper-Darius Hopper-and he owned the Imperial Theater and Museum. He was an old friend of mine, and I had sold him a copy of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art away back in 1874, and as soon as he heard I was stopping in St. Louis he sent around to the hotel and begged me to come around to the museum and give readings out of Jarby’s to the people that come into the museum. He said that it would draw bigger crowds in a cultured city like St. Louis than would come to see a two-headed calf or a fat women’s race, being a course of readings that would instruct, entertain and please, and he asked me to name my own price.”

“I should call him a fool,” said Skinner scornfully.

“He wasn’t,” said Eliph’. “It took splendid. But I wouldn’t let him pay me a cent. I said I considered it my sacred duty to make as many people as I could love and know Jarby’s, and that I was doing my best to better the world that way, and was glad to do it free gratis, because in a big place like St. Louis there were many that could not afford even the small price of one dollar down and one dollar a month, which is all that is asked for this splendid volume, containing all the wisdom of the world, from the earliest days to the present time, neatly bound in cloth, and I felt I was helping the cause of progress by reading them a few chapters. I began at page one,” continued Eliph’, opening the book in his hands, “skipping the allegorical frontispiece in three colors, and the index in which ten thousand—–“

“I thought you was goin’ to tell me about William Rossiter,” said the butcher suspiciously.

“So I am,” said Eliph’. “William Rossiter was on the third floor of the Theater and Museum building, for that was the job his father hunted up for him. William was in charge of the penny-in-the-slot machines of all kinds, a full description of which will be found in this book under the head of ‘Machines, Automatic,’ including a description of how made, how to use and how to repair. In fact, there is nothing in the way of information, from how to tell the weight of a baby by measuring its waist, to the age, size and history of the immortal pyramids of Egypt, one of the seven wonders of the world, that this book does not contain. It interests alike the student and the business man. And,” he continued quickly as Skinner was about to interrupt him, “among the slot machines of which William Rossiter had charge were twenty-four lung-testers.”

“Twenty-four!” exclaimed Skinner. “Them St. Louis folks must like to test their lungs!”

“No,” said Eliph’, “they don’t, and that is what makes me feel so bad about William Rossiter. The St Louis people didn’t care for lung-testers at all. They crowded pennies into all the other machines, but they would just go up to the lung-testers and sort of sniff at them, and walk away without trying them. So there those twenty-four lung-testers stood, useless to man and beast, all in a row, doing nobody any good, and there I was on the floor below reading out of a book that would have told Bill Rossiter how to make those lung-testers worth their weight in gold, and would have saved his life. And to think he could have bought this book for the small nominal sum of—-“

“You said that once,” said Skinner. “Five dollars; one dollar down, and one dollar a month until paid.”

“Bound in cloth,” said Eliph’. “Seven fifty if in morocco leather. So at the very minute that the fire broke out—-“

“Fire!” said Skinner; “what fire? You didn’t say anything about a fire.”

“The fire in the theater and museum,” said Eliph’. “It started right on the stairs between the second and third floors, and the old building flared up like dry paper. Two or three men that was trying the slot machines saw the smoke and run for the lung-testers, thinking by the look they were fire-extinguishers, which was the most natural mistake in the world. The looks of them would fool anybody, but they were lung-testers, and there that old building was, with twenty-four lung-testers in it, and not one fire-extinguisher. After that fire they passed an ordinance compelling every theater to have four fire- extinguishers.”

“And do they have them?” asked Skinner.

“Every first-class theater and opera house does, all over the United States,” said Eliph’. “But the odd thing was that at the very moment the fire broke out I had this book open at page 416, ‘Fire–Its Traditions–How to Make a Fire Without Matches–Fire Fighting–Fire Extinguishers, How Made.’ I was reading to those people how to make fire-extinguishers at home out of common chemicals and any suitable nickel-plated can, that would be as good as the best sold in any store, and right as I read it I thought how easy it would be for any man or child to turn those twenty-four useless lung-testers on the third floor into first-class fire-extinguishers, by following the simple directions set down on page 418, at a cost of only about twenty-six cents each—-“

Skinner held out his hand for the book.

“Let me have a look at that book,” he said.

Eliph’ picked up the book and tucked it under his arm.

“And at that minute came the cry of ‘Fire!'” he said. “And I thought of poor Bill Rossiter up there on the third floor, shut off from all hope of rescue— –“

Skinner reached down to his cash drawer and pulled it open. He took out a dollar bill and held it toward Eliph’. The book agent ignored it.

“Think of it,” he said. “Bill Rossiter on the third floor, burning up, and me on the floor below with this book in my hand reading off of page 418 the names of the simple ingredients that would—-“

“Mebby I might as well pay the whole five right now,” said Skinner, taking four more dollars out of his drawer. “Could you leave that book with me?”

“I will, as a special favor,” said Eliph’.

“Well, say,” said Skinner, “I’ll be mortally obliged to you if you will. It will take a mighty load off of my mind.”

And when Eliph’ left the butcher shop he had, for the first time in his life, sold his sample copy.


Another Trial

When Eliph’ stepped out of the butcher shop he saw T. J. Jones across the street, returning from his interview with Mrs. Smith, and the book agent hailed him and crossed the street. The editor wore a harassed look as Eliph’ stepped up to him, and it deepened when Eliph’ asked him if he had acceded to Mrs. Smith’s request.

“Hewlitt,” he said, “I couldn’t do it. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. The man was willing but the editor had to refuse. The press cannot sink the public welfare to favor individuals; once the freedom of the press is lost the nation relapses into sodden corruption. I told Mrs. Smith so. And besides, I have the whole article in type, too. I like Mrs. Smith, and I like Miss Sally, but the hissing cobra of corruption must be crunched beneath the heel of a free and independent press. The TIMES must do its duty, let the chips fall where they may.”

“‘The pen is mightier than the sword,’ page 233, Apt Quotations for All Occasions,” said Eliph’, “this being one of three thousand quotations, arranged alphabetically according to subject, as ‘Bird–in the hand, Bird–of a feather, Bird–killing two with one stone,’ et cetery, including ‘Leap–look before you,’ and ‘Sure–be sure you’re right, then go ahead.’ What do you mean to print?”

The editor told him all he had been able to gather regarding the matte of the fire-extinguishers, and as he talked Eliph’ saw the butcher leave his shop and enter the drug store–he was after chemicals. He turned to the editor with fresh assurance.

“See page 88, ‘Every Man his Own Lawyer,'” he said, “giving all that it is necessary for any man to know regarding the laws of his native land, including laws of business, how to draw up legal papers, what constitutes libel, et cetery. This one division alone being worth the whole cost of the book, showing among other things what a paper should print and what it should not. Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art is a marvelous work, including as it does the chapter on ‘Fire–Its Traditions–How to Make a Fire Without Matches–Fire Fighting–Fire Extinguishers, How Made,’ et cetery, containing directions by which man, woman or butcher can convert lung- testers into approved fire-extinguishers at a cost of only twenty-six cents. It is a good book. I just sold Mr. Skinner one.”

He watched the editor’s face as the meaning of his words dawned on it, and added:

“Miss Briggs has a copy, morocco binding, including among ten thousand and one subjects ‘What Constitutes Libel.'”

“Then those fire-extinguishers will be all right, after all?” said the editor. “You want to look out how you trifle with the press. The press never forgives nor forgets.”

“Those lung-testers, prepared according to Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, would put out the flames of the fiery furnace prepared for Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, mentioned in ‘Bible Tales,’ Condensed and Put into Words of One Syllable for Children,’ page 569, Jarby’s Encyclopedia,” said Eliph’ airily. “They would satisfy an investigation committee of imps, or other experts.”

The editor thought for a minute and Eliph’ looked at him and smiled, gently combing his whiskers with his fingers.

“That’s all right,” said the editor. “That lets Miss Sally out, and it may satisfy Skinner, but it don’t do away with the bribery. Mayor Stitz was bribed and he admits it. He says he was, and he brags about it. Guthrie bribed him, and I’ve got enough left to give Stitz and Guthrie a good shot. I’ll leave Skinner and Miss Briggs out, but I’ll go for Stitz and Guthrie. I’ll show them that in Kilo the press is alert, wide awake, and not to be trifled with. I’ll teach them a lesson.”

“So do!” said Eliph’. “And make Miss Sally mad. And make Mrs. Smith mad. And make Miss Susan mad. And me. So do, and have Tolle tell them that he did not want you to print it, and that he went up and fought you to get you not to print it. So do, and instead of having Miss Sally and Mrs. Smith and me your friends, have us run you down to Susan. Instead of having hit Toole by printing the thing sooner than he wanted, as you did, print more, and do him a favor. Make him a favorite of Miss Sally’s. So do, if you want to. Or–have me go to Miss Susan and say you will not relent but that there is one chance–that she shall plead with you herself.”

He stepped back and looked at the hesitating Jones.

“Jones,” he said, “the way you are acting, the way you hesitate, would tell anybody that you have not a copy of Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, in your office. No man who has read that book would lack wisdom, that work containing under one cover all the wisdom I the world, price five dollars, two dollars off to the press. Buy a copy and be sensible.”

Jones looked far down the street toward his office as if the matter he had there standing in the galley was begging him not to desert it.

“Courtship–How to Make Love–How to Win the Affections–How to Hold them When Won,” said Eliph’. “See Jarby’s giving advice to those in love, those wishing to win the affections, et cetery. ‘If the object of the affections can be placed in a position where she will be compelled to ask a favor, the granting of it, however slight, will advance the cause of the eager suitor.”

“I don’t care!” said T. J. Jones suddenly. “I’d lose Skinner’s ad if I printed that article, and he pays cash.”

“Mine too,” said Eliph’, “and I was just thinking of doubling it. Jarby’s deserves—-“

“That’s all right,” said the editor, with a sigh of relief. “You needn’t have Miss Susan come begging me. Just tell her I gave up printing the article because you said she wouldn’t like it.”

“Don’t throw away a chance,” urged Eliph’ putting a hand on the young man’s arm. “Be wise. Do as Jarby’s says. Be urged. I followed Jarby’s advice.”

“Why are you–are you, too?” asked T. J., beaming upon him.

Eliph’ coughed behind his hand.

“Yes,” he said, “Miss Briggs. I followed Jarby’s advice–and won.”

“Congratulations!” said the editor. “Have it your own way then. I’ll be at Miss Sally’s after supper, if Sue wants to coax.”

They parted, and as Eliph’ walked happily toward his boarding house he did not realize that he had not won, nor that his appeal had been rejected by Miss Sally, for he had regained his faith in Jarby’s and if he had not yet won, he felt that he would, and that was the same thing.

After his supper Eliph’ felt that the time had come to arrange things with Miss Sally. There was no longer any cause for delay. He had arranged the matter of the fire-extinguishers; he had settled the matter of the TIMES, and he felt that Skinner and the Colonel must have hurt by their actions their causes with Miss Sally. They had, indeed, far more than Eliph’ guessed. He repaired to his room and brushed his whiskers carefully. Never had he appeared smarter than when he went out of the gateless opening in Doc Weaver’s fence, and turned his face toward Miss Sally’s home.

His way led him pas the mayor’s little car, where Stitz was on his platform smoking and evening pipe. The mayor halted him with a motion of his pipe stem.

“Mister Hewlitt,” he said, “you know too that joke, yes? About those lung- testers was not fire-extinguishers?”

“That’s all right,” said Eliph’, seeking to pass on, “It is all fixed up now. They ARE fire-extinguishers.”

“Such a fool business on Skinner,” said the mayor with enjoyment. “And on Stitz, too. I thinks me I am the boss grafter, and I ain’t!”

He chuckled.

“No-o!” he said cheerfully. “But next times I makes no more such fool mistakes; I make me a real boss grafter. I am now only a boss-fool, but boss grafter. So says Attorney Toole. Money is grafts, and houses and lots is grafts, and horses is grafts, and buggies, but,” and he paused impressively, “apples isn’t, and potatoes isn’t, and peas isn’t, and chickens isn’t. Nothing to eat is grafts. If it is to eat it is not grafts. So says Attorney Toole. Things to eat is no more grafts as lung-tester is fire-extingables. So says Toole. So nobody won’t prosecute me. I stick me to the mayor business yet a while. Klops on the head is nothings much; all big men gets them. So says Attorney Toole.”

Skinner was locking his shop when Eliph’ passed, and the stopped Eliph’ too.

“Works fine,” he said. “I tried a tomato canful on a bonfire in the back yard, and it put it out like a wink. That’s a great book; I’m glad you spoke about it. I wish you’d told me about it sooner.”

Miss Sally was not on the porch when Eliph’ arrived, for she was still in the kitchen at the supper dishes, but Mrs. Smith and Susan were there, and they greeted him eagerly. The little man smiled as he walked up to them, and waved his hand in the air.

“You fixed it?” cried Mrs. Smith. “It is all right now?”

“Fixed from A to Z,” said Eliph’, as he took a seat on the porch step. “All right from the allegorical frontispiece in three colors to the back page. Jarby’s wins, and error don’t. Miss Sally in?”

He heard the click of the dishes as Miss Sally laid them one by one on the kitchen table, so he knew well she was in.

“It might relieve her mind if I told her,” he suggested, and Mrs. Smith smiled and said it might.

“Go right in,” she said, and Eliph’ did.

He went into the hall and coughed gently behind his hand, and Miss Sally looked up. She wiped her hands hastily on her blue gingham apron, and came into the hall.

“Jarby’s fixed it,” he said, and rapidly related what he had done, with illustrations in the way of quotations from the titles and sub-titles of Jarby’s. “When you have a moment to spare,” he added, “I would like to speak to you. I want to tell you something about Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, a copy of which I see lying on your parlor table, forming an adornment to the home both useful and helpful.”

“Well, I don’t want no books,” said Miss Sally, “I’ve got one copy, and that ought to be enough to adorn any home. And I’ve got to get these dishes washed sometime. I’ve let the fire go out, and the water will be cold. If there’s anything important you want to say about that book, you can go out and wait till I get the dishes done.”

“It’s about how to get the best use out of it,” said Eliph’. “I’ll go out and wait. It’s something everybody that has a copy ought to know.”

He went out as she said, and found Susan alone on the porch. Mrs. Smith was at the gate, and he could see her white dress in the evening darkness. Susan sat with a knitted shawl about her shoulders, for the evening were already growing chill, so long had Eliph’s courtship lengthened out. He could not have had a better opportunity to speak to Susan alone, and he warned her of the “piece” T. J. had threatened to publish in the morning, and of the disgrace and sorrow it would bring to Miss Sally. The girl listened eagerly and her indignation grew as he went on, so that he had to veer, and expatiate on the virtues of T. J. and the right of the modern press to meddle in private affairs when it wants to.

“And can’t anything be done?” asked Susan. “Why don’t somebody do something? I didn’t think Thomas was like that.”

“He isn’t,” admitted Eliph’ heartily. “But he needs coaxing. If you were to coax him he might see how wrong he is. I shouldn’t wonder if he would come up here to-night, looking for me, being interested in Jarby’s Encyclopedia and anxious to get a copy at the reduced price of two dollars off, offered to the press only. If he does, try to move him.”

“I will,” said Susan. “And if he publishes that piece, I’ll never speak to him again.”

Eliph’ was still sitting there when T. J. came, and when Susan proposed a walk down to the corner he knew that it would be all right with T. J. Jones. A light coming suddenly over his shoulder from the parlor behind him told him that Miss Sally was ready to receive him, and he took his hat and went into the house.

Miss Sally was sitting in the rocker with the cross-stitch cover, and Eliph’ took a seat at the opposite side of the center-table and lifted the morocco bound copy of Jarby’s from its place beside the shell box. The kerosene lamp glowed between them, and he drew closer to the table and laid the book gently on his knees. Miss Sally sat straight upright in her chair and looked at the little book agent.

“This book,” he said, looking up at her with eyes in which kindness and business mingled, “although sold, in this handsome binding, for seven fifty, is worth, to one who understands it, its weight in gold. It holds a help for every hour and a hint for every minute of the day. It furnishes wisdom for a lifetime. I read it and study it; for every difficulty of my life it furnishes a solution. Corns? It tells how to cure them. Food? It tells how to cook it. Love? It tells how to make it. But,” he said, laying his hand affectionately on the morocco cover, “to be understood it must be read. To read it well is to admire and cherish it, and yet, only this morning I was about to tear my copy of this priceless volume to pieces and scatter it to the four winds of heaven.”

He paused to let this awful fact sink into Miss Sally’s mind.

“Yes,” he continued, “I was about to turn away from the best friend I have in the world and declare to one and all that Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art was a fraud! When I left your home yesterday, I was full of anger. I was mad at Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art. I had trusted to its words and directions, as set forth in, Courtship–How to Make Love–How to Win the Affections–How to Hold Them When Won, and you sent me away. I went away a different man than I had come, and resolved to go away from Kilo, and never to sell another copy of this book. I resolved to take the sale of ‘Hicks’ Facts for the Million,’ a book, although greater in cost, containing by actual count sixteen thousand less words than this.

“I went to my room at Doc Weaver’s,” he continued, “and seized my copy of this work from where it lay on my bureau. I called it names. I told it it was a cheat and a liar. Yes, Miss Sally, I let my angry passions rise against this poor, innocent book. I believed it had advised me falsely. I had trusted to its words and had done as it said to do, and you had sent me away, not in anger, but in sorrow, but just as much away. I picked up the book and opened it, grasping it in two hands to tear it asunder.”

He opened the book and showed her how he had grasped it.

“I pulled it to tear it in two,” he said, raising the book and pulling it in the direction of asunder, “but it would not rip. It was bound too well, the copies bound in cloth at five dollars, one dollar down and one dollar a month until paid, being bound as firmly as the more expensive copies at seven fifty. I pulled harder and the book came level with my nose. I saw it had opened at ‘Courtship–How to Make Love,’ and I said, ‘While I am getting my breath to give this book another pull, why not read the lie that is written here once more? It will give me strength to rend it asunder.’ So I read it.”

He looked at Miss Sally and saw that she was showing no signs of being bored.

“I held the book like this,” he said, showing how he held it, ” and read. All that it said to do I had done and my anger grew stronger. But I turned the page! I saw the words I had not seen before; words that told me I had tried to tear my best friend to pieces. I sand into a chair trembling like a leaf. I felt like a man jerked back from the edges of Niagara Falls, a full description and picture of that wonder of nature being given in this book among other natural masterpieces. I weakly lifted the book back again and read those golden words.”

“What was it?” asked Miss Sally, leaning forward.

“‘Courtship–How to Make Love–How to Win the Affections–How to Hold Them When Won.'” said Eliph’, turning to the proper page. “And the words I read were these: ‘The lover should not be utterly cast down if he be refused upon first appealing for the dear one’s hand. A first refusal often means little or nothing. A lady frequently uses this means to test the reality of the passion the lover has professed, and in such a case a refusal is often a most hopeful sign. Unless the refusal has been accompanied by very evident signs of dislike, the lover should try again. If at the third trial the fair one still denies his suit, he had better seek elsewhere for happiness, but until the third test he should not be discouraged. The first refusal may be but the proof of a finer mind than common in the lady.'”

Eliph’ removed his spectacles and laid them carefully in the pages of the book which he closed and placed gently on the center-table.

“Having read that,” he said, “I saw that I had done this work a wrong. I had read it hastily and had missed the most important words. I felt the joy of life returning to me. I remembered that you were a lady of finer mind than common, and I understood why you had refused me. I resolved to stay in Kilo and justify Jarby’s Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art by giving it another trial. And now,” he said, placing his hand on the book where it lay on the table and leaning forward to gaze more closely into Miss Sally’s face, while she faced him with a quickened pulse, and a blush, “now, I want to ask you again, WILL you put your name down for a copy of this work—-” He stopped appalled at what he had said, and stared at Miss Sally for one moment foolishly, while over her face spread not a frown of anger or contempt, but a pleasant smile of friendly amusement.

“Not the book,” he said, “but me.”

Miss Sally looked at the eager eyes that were not only serious, but sincere and kind.

“Well, Mister Hewlitt,” she said, “I guess I’ll have to marry someone some time so I might as well marry you as anybody. But I don’t think pa will ever give consent to havin’ a book agent in the family. He hates book agents worse than I used to.”

“You don’t any more,” said Eliph’, putting his hand very far across the table.

“Well, no, I don’t,” said Miss Sally graciously, “not all of ’em.”


Pap Briggs’ Hen Food

The doubt that Miss Sally had expressed regarding Pap Briggs’ acceptance of Eliph’ Hewlitt as a son-in-law was mild compared with the fact. When the old man returned the next day from his farm at Clarence and learned from Miss Sally that she had promised to marry the book agent he was furiously angry. For two whole days he refused to wear his store teeth at all, and when he recovered from his first height of anger it was to settle down into a hard and fast negative. He went about town telling anyone that would listen to him that there ought to be licenses against book agents, and once having made up his mind that Miss Sally should not marry Eliph’ as long as he remained alive to prevent it, not even the friendly approaches of the book agent could move him from his stubborn resolution. Miss Sally would not think of marrying while her father was in such a state of opposition, and indeed, Eliph’ did not urge it. He had no desire to defy his father-in-law, and he unwillingly but kindly agreed to wait.

In this way the autumn faded into winter. Mrs. Tarbro-Smith returned to New York with a note-book full of dialect and a head full of local color and types, and if she took Susan with her it was only because she agreed to bring her back in June, when T. J. Jones was to marry her. Miss Sally lived on with her father, attending to his wants, which were few and simple. An egg for breakfast, and enough tobacco to burn all day were his chief earthly desires, eggs because he could eat them in comfort, and tobacco because he liked it.

When Miss Sally had moved to town there was one thing she had said her father SHOULDN’T do, after living all his life on a farm, and that was, have store eggs for his breakfast.

“Hens is trouble enough, Lord knows,” said Miss Sally, “an’ dirty, if they can’t be kep’ in their place; but there’s some comfort in their cluckin’ round, and I guess I’ll have plenty of time, and to spare to tend to ’em; so, Pap, you won’t have to eat no stale eggs for breakfast, if I kin help it. They ain’t nothing’ I hate to think on like boughten eggs. Nobody knows how old they are, nor who’s been a-handlin’ them; and eat boughten eggs you shan’t do, sure’s my name’s Briggs!”

So Sally brought half a dozen hens and a gallant rooster to town with her, and supervised the erection of a cozy coop and hen-yard, and Pap had the comfort of knowing his eggs were fresh. But fresh or not, it made no difference to him so long as he had one each morning, and it was fairly edible.

“These teeth o’ mine,” he told Billings, the grocer, “cost twelve dollars down to Franklin, by the best dentist there; but, law sakes! A feller can’t eat hard stuff with any comfort with ’em for fear of breakin’ ’em every minute. They ain’ nothin’ but chiney, an’ you know how chiney’s the breakiest thing man ever made. That’s why I say, ‘Give me eggs for breakfast, Sally,’–and eggs I will have.”

The six hens did their duty nobly during the summer and autumn and a part of the winter, and Pap had his egg unfailingly; but in December the long cold spell came, and the six hens struck. It was the longest and coldest spell ever known in Kilo, and it hung on and hung on until the entire hen population of Eastern Iowa became disgusted and went on a strike. Eggs went up in price until even packed eggs of the previous summer sold for twenty-seven and thirty cents a dozen, and angel-cake became an impossible dainty.

The second morning that Pap Briggs ate this eggless breakfast he suggested that perhaps Sally might buy a few eggs at the grocery.

“Pap Briggs,” she exclaimed reproachfully, “the idee of you sayin’ sich a thin! As if I would cook packed eggs! No; we’ll wait, and mebby the hens will begin layin’ again in a day or two.”

But they did not, and the days became a week, and two weeks, and still no eggs rewarded her daily search. Pap knew better than to repeat his suggestion of buying eggs, for Sally Briggs said a thing only when she meant it, and to mention it again would only exasperate her.

“Our hens don’t lay a blame egg,” Pap told Billings complainingly, “and Sally won’t buy eggs, and I can’t eat nothin’ but eggs for breakfast, so I reckon I’ll jist have to naturally starve to death.”

“Why don’t you try some of our hen-food?” asked Billings, taking up a package and reading from the label. “‘Guaranteed to make hens lay in all kinds of weather, the coldest as well as the warmest’ That’s just what you want, Pap.”

“Well,” said Pap, “I been keepin’ hens off and on for nigh forty year, and I ain’t ever seen any o’ that stuff that was ary good; but I got to have eggs or bust, so I’ll take a can o’ that stuff. But I ain’t no hopes of it, Billings, I ain’t no hopes.”

His pessimism was well founded. The cold spell was too much even for the best hen-food to conquer. No eggs rewarded him.

One evening he was sitting in Billings’, smoking his pipe and thinking. He had been thinking for some time, and at length a sparkle came into his eyes, and he knocked the ashes from his pipe and arose.

“Billings,” he said, “mix me up about a nickel’s wuth o’ corn-meal, and a nickel’s wuth o’ flour, and”–he hesitated a moment and then chuckled–“and a nickel’s wuth o’ wash-blue.”

“For heaven’s sake, Pap,” said Billings, “have ye gone plumb crazy?”

“No, I ain’t,” said Pap. “I ain’t lost all my brains yit, nor I ain’t gone plumb crazy yit, neither. That’s a hen food I invented.”

“Hen-food!” exclaimed Billings. “You don’t ‘low that will make hens lay, do you, Pap?”

“I ain’t advisin’ no one to use it that don’t want to,” said Pap, “but I bet you I’m a-goin’ to feed that to my hens”; and he chuckled again.

“Pap,” said Billings, “you’re up to some be-devilment, sure! What is it?”

“You jist keep your hand on your watch till you find out,” answered Pap, and he took his package and went home.

“Sally,” he said when he entered the house, “I got some hen-food now that’s bound to make them hens lay, sure.”

She took the package and opened it.

“For law’s sake, Pap,” she said, “what kind o’ hen-food is that? It’s blue!”

“Yes,” said Pap, looking at it closely, “it IS blue, ain’t it? It’s a mixture of my own. I ain’t been raisin’ hens off an’ on fer forty year for nothin’. You got to study the hen, Sally, and think about her. Why don’t a hen lay in cold weather? ‘Cause the weather makes the hen cold. This will make her warm. You jist try it. Give ’em a spoonful apiece an’ I reckon they’ll lay. It don’t look like much, but I bet you anything it’ll make them hens lay.”

“I don’t believe it,” she snapped, “and I’ll hold you to that bet, sure’s my names Briggs.” But the next day she gave them the allotted portion.

That evening when Pap Briggs knocked the ashes from his pipe and rose from his seat in Billings’ store, he said, “Billings, have you got some mainly fresh eggs–eggs you kin recommend?”

“Yes, I have,” said Billings, with a grin. “So your hen-food don’t work, Pap?”

Pap chuckled.

“It’s a-workin,” he said, “and you can give me a dozen o’ them eggs. And, say, you need’t tell Sally.”

Billings laughed. “I’m on,” he said.

Pap put the bag of eggs back of the cracker-box, and put three of them in his pocket.

When he reached home he quietly slipped around the house and deposited the three eggs in three nests, and went it.

The next morning Sally greeted him with a smile. “Eggs this mornin’, Pap,” she said. “That hen-food did work like a charm. I got three eggs.”

Pap ate without comment until he had finished the second egg. He felt that he could eat a dozen, after his long fast.

“It do seem good to have eggs agin,” he said.

That evening, and the next evening he deposited three eggs as before. On the third morning Sally said: It’s queer about them hens, Pap; they lay, but they don’t cluck like a hen generally does when she lays an egg.”

Pap hesitated for a moment.

“It’s sich cold weather,” he said, “I reckon that’s why.”

About a week later Sally said: “I do declare to gracious, Pap, them hens do puzzle me.”

Pap moved uneasily in his seat.

“The do puzzle me!” repeated Sally. “Here the are layin’ right along as reg’lar as summer-time, and never cluckin’ or lettin’ on a bit, and the queerest thing is they jist lay three eggs every day. It don’t seem natural!”

That night Pap put four eggs in the nests. The next night he put in five, and the next night three, and the danger into which his wiles had fallen was averted.

One morning Sally startled him by saying: “Pap, I can’t make them hens out. Here they are a-layin’ right along, and all at once they quit layin’ decent sized eggs like they ought, and begin layin’ little mean things no better than banty eggs.”

Pap scratched his head.

“You must allow, Sally,” he said, “that it’s quite a strain on a hen to keep a- layin’ right along through such weather as this, and I’m only thankful they lay any. Mebby if you give them a leetle more o’ that hen-food they’ll do better.”

“I believe it,” said Sally. “Why, it’s wonderful, Pap. I shouldn’t be a bit surprised to find ’em layin’ duck eggs if I jist give ’em enough o’ that stuff.”

Pap looked closely at her face, but it was innocent of guile. She suspected nothing.

The next day the eggs were of the proper size.

“It’s a real blessin’ to have hens a-layin’,” she said one day. “I took half a dozen over to the minister’s wife this mornin’, and she was so pleased! She said it was sich a blessin’ to have fresh eggs again. She was gittin’ sick o’ them she’s been buyin’ at Billings’. She was downright thankful.”

About a week later she said:

“Them hens of ourn do beat all creation. I run out o’ that hen-food a week ago, and I hain’t give them a mite since, and they keep a-layin’ jist the same. I can’t make head nor tail of them, Pap.”

Pap squirmed in his chair.

“Pshaw, now, Sally,” he said, “you’d ought to have let me know you was out. You oughtn’t to do that. Feed ’em plenty of it. They deserve it. If you stop feedin’ them they’ll stop layin’ pretty soon. The effect of that hen-food don’t last more’n two weeks. No,” he said thoughtfully, “ten days is the longest I ever knowed it to last ’em.”

If Pap Briggs enjoyed his eggs for breakfast he enjoyed as fully the many laughs he had with Billings over the scheme, and Billing found it hard to keep his promised secrecy. It would be such a good story to tell. But Pap exhorted him daily, and he did not let the secret out.

One Sunday morning Pap came down to his breakfast and took his seat. Sally brought his coffee and bacon. Then she brought him a plate of moistened toast.

“You’ve forgot the eggs, Sally,” said Pap admonishingly.

“They ain’t none this morning,” said Sally briefly.

Pap looked up and saw that her mouth was set very firmly.

“No eggs?” he asked tremulously.

“No,” she said decidedly, “no eggs! I kin believe that hens lay eggs and don’t cluck, and I kin believe that hens lay eggs all winter, and I kin believe that Plymouth Rock hens lay Leghorn eggs and Shanghai eggs and Banty eggs, Pap, but when hens begin layin’ spoiled eggs I ain’t no more faith in hens.”

Pap laid down his knife and fork.

“Spoiled eggs!” he ejaculated.

“Yes, spoiled eggs,” she declared. “You and Billings ought to be more careful.”

Pap turned his bacon over and eyed it critically. Then he frowned at it. Then he chuckled.

“You needn’t laugh,” said Miss Sally severely. “You don’t get no more eggs until the hens begin laying regular. You can eat moistened toast. You ain’t fair to me, pa. You set up to say who I shall marry, when I’m old enough to know for myself, and then you go and cheat me about eggs. Mebby I ain’t old enough to know who to marry, but I’m old enough to run this house for you, and you don’t get no more eggs. No more eggs until spring, or until I can marry who I want to.

Pap looked at the mushy piece of toast and grinned sheepishly.

“You’d be worse of ‘n ever, Sally,” he said meekly, “if so be you married a man that felt he had to hev eggs every morning. They’d be two of us then.”

“Well, Id just have to buy eggs then,” she said, “if that come to pass. I couldn’t expect these few hens to lay enough eggs in winter for two men. If I had to buy eggs for a husband, I’d buy them.”

The old man ate his toast slowly and without relish.

“Sally,” he said that afternoon, “I guess mebby you’d better git married. I’m gittin’ old. You’d better marry that book agent whilst you got a chance.”

It was Pap Briggs who urged an early date, after that, and who was most joyous at the wedding.

“Pap,” asked Sally one morning soon after she and Eliph’ were married, while the three were sitting at breakfast, “what ever made you swing round so sudden and want me to marry Eliph’, after objectin’ so long?”

Her father looked at Eliph’ slyly and chuckled.

“Eggs,” he said. “I fooled you that time, Sally. I knowed when I said to go ahead that Eliph’ has to have eggs for breakfast. Doc Weaver told me so.”