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Full text of "Gus The Great A Novel"

Duncan 

Gus the Great. 



6115314 





o 

y ' 



Gus the Great 



BOOKS BY THOMAS W. DUNCAN 

Novels 

GUS THE GREAT 

RING HORSE 

WE PLUCK THIS FLOWER 

O, CHAUTAUQUA 



Verse 

ELEPHANTS AT WAR ' 
FROM A HARVARD NOTEBOOK 
HOURS FROM A LIFE 



Thomas W. Duncan 



Gus the Great 



A NOVEL 




PHILADELPHIA 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY 
THOMAS W, DUNCAN 

PRINTED IN THE 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



SECOND IMPRESSION 



Quotations from the song, "Chicago," 

Copyright^ 1922, by Fred Fidier, Inc., 

used by permission of publisher, 

Fred Fisher Music Co., Inc. 

Quotations from the song, "In a Little Spanish Town," 
by Lewis and Young and Mabel Wayne, 

Copyright, 1926, by Leo Feist, Inc, 
used by special permission of Copyright Proprietor. 



To 
lActea 



This is a boo{ of fiction. The characters and 
events are imaginary. Any similanty m name, 
appearance ot disposition between these char- 
octets and actual persons, dead or alive, is 
coincidental. 



Gus the Great 



And many horses weep when 
their lords be dead. 

Bartholomew Anghcus. 



p 

J-/LEPHANTS HAD been buried on that land, and back in the glorious 
days on this country road you saw men in sweaters and caps leading 
the living elephants for their exercise in the sunshine of a spring morn- 
ing. That pasture had once trembled beneath the hoofs of a hundred 
horses, and camels had munched hay on that farm. In those flamboyant 
years., a lazy hippopotamus had grunted in the Animal House, and if 
you walked those hills at night you heard lions roaring drowsily as they 
dreamed. 

But that was over, now. The great days were dead. On the south 
slope of the hill the farm slept in the yellow autumn. The buildings 
marked "Paint Shop" and "Blacksmith Shop" ajid "Baggage Stock" 
stood silent in decay. Only sometimes you saw a girl hurrying into the 
house with a quick glance at the empty road, as if expecting somebody 
she did not want to see. 

Southeast past the farm the valley ran; and once, along the base of 
the hill between the road and the farm, the stubby electric engine of 
an interurban line had clanged, dragging coal gondolas. But no longer- 
In these afteryears, weeds smothered the rotting ties, and long ago men 
had ripped up the rails and hauled them away to the scrapyards of cities. 

On the flat ground between the road and the track, faded paint was 
peeling from a long, low barn where rats lived. From the gable a flag- 
pole rose, whitely streaked by bird droppings and topped by what had 
once been a gilded wooden globe; and beneath the gable -a sign, which 
the weather had nearly erased, said : HOME OF BURGQYNE & PAWP ACKER'S 
GREAT 3-RiNG CIRCUS. 

Northwest, at the head of the valley, a few shanties huddled near the 
slag heaps of an abandoned coal mine. Several families dwelt cheer- 
lessly there, because they didn't know where else to go. They were old 
men and women, Slovaks mostly, with garden patches and nanny 
goats; and they had lived there since those years in the early 1900'$ 
when a man named Oxenford owned the mine and the farm and the 
railroad spur which so foolishly had been constructed from the maia 
liae of Tamarack & Northern, some miles away. 

Oixe bright October afternoon a fat man came toiling along the inter- 
urban embankment a mile down the valley. His progress toward tie 

9 



io GUS THE GREAT 

farm was slow, for he was not so young as in the days when steel rails 
flashed through these woodland patches. Some need for caution odd 
in that sparsely inhabited valley seemed to hold his big body on leash. 
His gray eyes were watchful; and occasionally he halted and glanced 
back, scanning the roadbed curving away with trolley poles askew 
against the sky. 

Despite the autumnal warmth, the man wore an overcoat. It was a 
disintegrating garment, tinged in the sun with a faintly greenish patina. 
Sere grass and bits of leaves clung to its back, as if it had been not only 
worn but slept in. A single button latched it over his great belly, but 
the buttonhole was so frayed that the coat kept coming unfastened, 
revealing old tweeds in black-and-gray check. 

Big as the man was, there was evidence that he had been bigger once. 
A wattle of flesh dangled from his jawbone., and his heavy countenance 
sagged beneath pouched eyes. His florid skin was specked with tiny 
blood vessels, no larger than wisps of purple thread. He had gone un- 
razored for several days, and his shoes were gray and cinder-scarred, 
his hat dusty and stained. 

But although he looked like a ragamuffin, something about him 
hinted he would be able to deal with children jeering or dogs barking 
that a beggar was coming to town. His mouth had a certain brutal 
strength, and his eyes, although guarded, were fine and large and wise. 
His hair was white, his profile bold and Roman; and if you had bar- 
bered him and bathed him and sent him to a tailor he would have 
looked more like a senator than most senators. 

The man's hands were large, the fingers square and blunt; and now 
that he was nearing sixty they were mottled with freckle-colored spots. 
They looked like dominant hands that would serve their owner well, 
bringing in money with large, easy sweeps and scattering it with sweeps 
even larger. They were the kind of hands on whose left little finger 
you expected a diamond ring. Indeed, he was the kind of man you 
expected at one of the control posts of private enterprise, and you felt 
that some very curious circumstances had brought him to this back- 
country valley in the maddest season of the year. 

He carried a stick broken, from a tree, more club than cane," and 
once, halting with the stick under his arm, he fished a cigar from his 
pocket. As cigars went, it wasn't much. The tobacco was nearer yel- 
low than brown, and the wrapper had rustled loose. He licked it into 
place, then bit off the end and spat it out. Having lighted a match, he 
waved the flame across the cigar tip and puffed with satisfaction. Then, 
selecting a grassy spot on the embankment, he eased his weight to the 
ground and rested against a sycamore tree. Breathing with the exertion," 
he leaned over to unlace his shoes, but at the last moment he changed 
his mind and lounged back, his cigar cockecj at a prosperous angle* His 



GUS THE GREAT u 

eyes, slitted against the sunlight, never roved far from the roadbed 
along which he had made his cumbrous way. 

After a few minutes he painstakingly snuffed out the cigar and re- 
turned it to his pocket. Sighing, he regained his feet and plodded on. 
He held his head with almost senatorial nobility; he was cautious but 
not hangdog. When the roadbed bridged a creek he hesitated, as if 
reluctant to trust his weight to the worm-eaten trestle; but when he saw 
that the creek could not be otherwise crossed he ventured forward. It 
was as if he had business ahead whose urgency demanded that he take 
risks. 

Beyond the stream he encountered an elm sapling, taller than him- 
self, which had sprung up where the rails had been. He stared, as if, 
more than the debauched roadbed this slender tree spoke of the years 
gone since he had passed this way. At last he tramped on a few paces, 
then stopped and gazed back. But there was nobody else on the road- 
bed : only the mad scarlets and rotten golds of the decaying year. 

Pushing ahead, he kept always to the embankment, following it up 
the slow grades and through the cuts running bankful with sunlight. 
The tall bleached grasses and thickets served the purposes of any man 
who wished to move unseen through the countryside. 

But presently as the farm came nearer the brambles thinned and the 
valley widened out. The roadbed crossed another swaying trestle and 
bisected a dirt road. Burgoyne stopped, standing as motionless as the 
tattered milkweed in the ditches. And yet not quite motionless. His 
eyes moved. At last he started on, walking faster now; but as the road- 
bed took him closer to the low barn his pace slowed. 

To his right, the wreckage of lost years climbed the hill in the staring 
sun. A high band wagon was canted precariously; a monkey wagon 
lay upside down; and the gorgeously scrolled China wagon stood 
neglected in a patch of thistle. Wind and rain had sabotaged its carved 
and gilded lady and crouching tiger. 

He turned slowly to his left, and in the paddock east of the low 
Ring Stock barn he beheld the wooden horses. He stared, as men stare 
at the secretive and familiar and strange faces of the dead. Then he left 
the roadbed and made his way through the tangled ditch. 

The wooden horses had been born first in his brain; in that curiously 
expansive and shrewd and showy brain. They were slightly larger than 
a merry-go-round team, and with their sleigh they were mounted on a 
flat parade carriage. Necks arched, manes and tails rippling, they 
possessed a hot turbulence that even their essential artificiality could 
not quench. 

He felt tired suddenly, and almost; old* His gaze wandered to the 
sleigh. He shouldn't have done that; he shouldn't; have lopked at the 
sleigh, It brought, baclc too much. He could imagine a blond womafl 



12 GUS THE GREAT 

sitting there, on her lips that half-smile which in the beginning had 
piqued him, had tantalized him, till at last he had fallen ill of a fever 
to discover what waited behind it. 

His palm touched one horse; its wood was soft. He withdrew his 
hand. Once those horses had been painted brilliant yellow, but the 
paint had vanished. Like the past. Days of sun had dried them gray, 
and wet weather had left brown stains dripping from their eyes, so 
that they looked like horses that were weeping. He turned away and 
started for the house, but not before he had swept the interurban em- 
bankment with a long, sharp scrutiny. 

Where the driveway crossed the interurban he halted and gazed 
toward the house. It stood far back from the road in a yard that weeds 
had conquered, a two-story dwelling with a long kitchen wing. In the 
rich sunshine of midafternoon its white paint had a soft yellowish hue, 
and it looked as drowsy as an owl, waiting for darkness. He stood 
scrutinizing it with strict attention. 

At last he advanced watchfully along the evergreen-lined drive, his 
stick ready for barking dogs. But he doubted that people lived here 
any more. They would starve if they did, for this valley had always 
been wretched for farming. Too many knolls and gullies, too many 
rocks. The soil was thin and sterile and sour, as if nature had borne 
it a grudge from the beginning; and even in the old days when the 
circus wintered here the land had refused to yield more than a fraction 
of the hay needed for the animals. 

The driveway ended at a carriage yard, and his arrival sent a flock 
of sparrows whirring up from the deep dust. Then everything was 
quiet again. But it was a brooding quiet that filled him with uneasi- 
ness. 

A picket fence separated the carriage yard from the house yard. It 
was a ramshackle thing with many teeth missing, and it would have 
tumbled down and rotted away save for the bushes that propped it up. 
Undisciplined by hedge shears, those bushes had grown exuberantly; 
and a grapevine had intruded there too, twining along the fence like 
some endless fantastic serpent. 

The dust cushioned his movements with moccasin softness as he 
crossed to the gate. He squeaked it open and followed the path around 
\o the kitchen porch. But when he reached the steps he came to an 
abrupt standstill, for a man was standing just inside the open kitchen 
door. 

He was a small man, very old, and although the door commanded 
a view of the steps he gave no indication that any snapshots were flash- 
ing along his optic nerves. He had, however, the air of listening 
sharply. At last in a low voice he said: 



GUS THE GREAT 13 

"Eloise?" 

Burgoyne did not respond. 

The old man was moving now, his rubber-tipped cane guiding him 
across the sill. He reached the porch with great frugality of effort, his 
step weasel-soft; and he contrived to infuse that brief journey with 
enormous stealth and craft. When he inched to a halt he cocked his 
head forward. 

Burgoyne turned, moving on tiptoe, and retraced his steps. His heart 
was pounding. The gate squeaked as he pushed it open, but he didn't 
look behind to see if Pawpacker had heard. He retreated down the 
drive to the low barn. 

At the west entrance he stopped, and after what seemed a long time 
he caught sight of the old man, a small distant figure groping up the 
north hillside. Presently the foliage hid him, and Burgoyne stood 
scowling, asking himself why Pawpacker was here, why Eloise Sebas- 
tian was here. If strangers had been living at the farm it wouldn't have 
been good, but it wouldn't have been so bad, either. But Pawpacker. 
And Eloise. He hoped they would go to bed early and never hear 
somebody moving in the dark house. 

And then without warning his nervous system jerked, and he was 
doing what he so despised himself for doing glancing over his shoul- 
der. He saw only the driveway joining the dusty road. Under the 
remote sky the valley lay silent as a country graveyard. Was he actually 
being followed? Was it all nerves, all shadow play? Of course! He had 
been under harrowing tension, these last days, making himself come 
back. He had erected psychic barriers and whenever he broke through 
one his tension increased. First the state line. Then the city of Tama- 
rack. And now the farm. 

He turned, moved into the low barn. All of it was here, all the 
memories of those roaring years. 

A dusty passage ran the length of the barn, and he could hear a fly 
buzzing hopefully in the horse stalls. But today, only a thin odor of 
those horses remained. Rijig horses. They had cost a fortune, but they 
had been beauties: magnificent Percherons, elegant Arabians. 

Rungs ascended the barn wall to a loft above the stalls, and Burgoyne 
stared up at the aperture. He dreaded physical effort his belly was 
like a large globe of the world, getting in his way but up there he 
Would be out of sight. He began climbing. 

The rungs, afflicted with dry rot, creaked perilously, but they held- 
As his head rose through the aperture he heard a shrill squeal and the 
swift patter of retreating feet. A shiver cooled his spine, but he did not 
pause; arid when he stood upright in the loft he gripped his stick and 
muttered: 

"All right come on, you damned rats." 



14 GUS THE GREAT 

He wished he had not spoken; the silence closed over his words with 
the finality of water engulfing pebbles flung into a pond. The rats had 
vanished into secret nests. He could imagine their pointed, whiskered 
faces as they came forth to investigate his sleeping body, and he shiv- 
ered again. But he did not leave. 

The loft smelled of hay that had been sweet once; and as he stood 
listening he grew aware of a new sound. Wheezing. It did not startle 
him but it exasperated him, for it issued from his bronchial tubes. He 
had fallen victim to asthma these last years, and the loft was rousing it. 
In the lances of sunlight invading the roof cracks he could see whole 
universes of dust motes whirling. 

His gaze stopped at a bright slit in the north wall of the barn, and he 
started toward it. The floor complained. He envisioned his body 
plunging through a rotten patch of flooring, so he moved with the 
caution of an elephant in a jungle of sinkholes. When he reached the 
slit he found it too low for stooping; it would be necessary to kneel 
He accomplished it slowly, with as many sighs and grunts as a locomo- 
tive. 

Through the slit the day was very brilliant, very still. Not a person 
was in sight. Not a sound except his own breathing reached his ears. 
The windows of the Paint Shop stared at him blankly. Up the hill, 
through thinning bright foliage, he could discern the fat Baggage Stock 
barn with pigeons flashing about its ornamental cupola. That was the 
only movement. Otherwise he might have been gazing at a sun-flooded 
canvas daubed with October blues and golds by a painter drunk with 
the warm cider of autumn. His gaze moved west along the ridge, 
hunched up like a dinosaur's vertebrae. He did not see Pawpacker or 
Eloise. At last he labored to his feet. 

Using his stick, he raked together a thin pile of hay, and he sat down, 
wearily and heavily. He fumbled with his shoes and pulled them off, 
sighing like a man who had learned to be grateful for humble com- 
forts. Then from his overcoat he took a package wrapped in waxed 
paper. It contained thick beef sandwiches, and while he ate he thought 
of the future. It would be very fine. Till recently he had been quite 
without hope, a drifter along back streets. Then in the lobby of a 
cheap Denver hotel he had read a magazine. And suddenly hope 
surged through him. Instantly he knew he must return to this farm in 
the Middle West. He was his old self again, bursting with dazzling 
plans. 

He found the half -smoked cigar and rolled it from side to side of his 
mouth. He wanted to light it, but he decided not to risk that. He lay 
back on the hay, stretching his toes, closing his eyes. He would wait 
here till nightfall. There would be a moon at eleven, but before that 



GUS THE GREAT 15 

he would slip into the house and get what he wanted and be gone. 
Presently he dozed, and in his dreams he wore a prosperous suit and 
entered the Mirror Room of the Brown Palace Hotel with a vivid girl 
on his arm. They ordered cocktails and inch-thick steaks with the juice 
seared inside. 



JLOR SOME years the farm had been abandoned, the house untenanted 
save for the mice who made merry in the puddles of moonlight on 
the floor. Then ten days ago, in that autumn of 1938, old Mr. Paw- 
packer had come there to live, and with him this girl. Their arrival 
stirred little interest up at the hamlet of Oxenford, for those Slavic 
inhabitants were feudal souls with their own troubles. In the tiny store 
that served the countryside, it was said that Mr. Pawpacker had adopted 
the girl when she was a child, and that before catastrophe overtook 
him he had deeded the farm to her. 

Once in a while they saw her, when she walked to the store for 
supplies. She was in her middle twenties, rather tall and striking. 
Usually she wore slacks. She smoked a good deal, and she seemed pre- 
occupied with her own affairs. Her hair was worn in a shoulder-length 
bob, dark rust with an occasional crackling highlight. She used ample 
lipstick, and without being in the least acrimonious her mouth had a 
whisper of bitterness as if she had nibbled something it might even 
have been life and discovered it contained too much alum flavoring, 
Her voice was that way, too: disenchanted. A city voice. Her features 
were very nice, but her expression seemed guarded, as if she didn't 
wholly trust existence to remain on its good behavior if you turned 
your back. That may have been because she had knocked around in 
cities, where it is often wise for a girl to keep her own counsel. Some- 
times at the store the old proprietor made a simple peasant joke, and 
the girl smiled. The effect was fine. Once she even laughed. 

She came of a family of troupers, and her father used to tell her 
when she was a little girl that she had the makings of a good trouper. 
Her father and mother had been married at eighteen, and when they 
were twenty Eloise was born in Seattle. Her parents had wanted her, 
planned for her, even though her birth was bad for their business. For 
their art. That was how they thought of themselves, as artists. 

Always their act either opened or closed the show, for they were 
acrobats and ranked infinitely lower than entertainers like Sophie 
Tucker and Thurston the Great. But they had faith that if they 
worked hard and perfected their art they would come into their own, 
someday. They called it getting a break. They were billed as "Sebas- 

16 



GUS THE GREAT 17 

tian and Orika," and for several months at the time of Eloise's entry 
into the America of 1913 her father worked with a substitute whom a 
third-rate agent in New York recommended. The substitute was 
named Dixie Demmmg, and she did not have the interest of the act 
at heart. A floosie who was always running around with tinhorn sports 
and getting drunk. Her father was certainly relieved when Eloise's 
mother was able to rejoin the act. 

By the time she was seven, Eloise had traveled thousands of miles 
back and forth across America, and there was scarcely a theatrical hotel 
in which she had not slept a few nights. She spoke in the jargon 
of variety houses, and when her mother taught her to read it was The 
Billboard that served as textbook. She loved trouping, and it never 
occurred to her or her parents that her view of existence was narrow 
and warped. She saw life through the speckled windows of chair cars 
and from side-street hotels. 

Sometimes she made transient friendships with other theatrical chil- 
dren, but for the most part her association was confined to adults, so 
she was both wiser and more ignorant than most girls of her age. 
Many of the people she knew were cheap; but in some fashion her 
father and mother lived with cheapness, but escaped it. Their bodies 
were their livelihood and the instruments of their art, and they would 
as soon have abused their bodies as a violinist would abuse a Stradi- 
vari us. They avoided alcohol; they tried to get nine hours' sleep; they 
trained like athletes. Her father had a blond physique like a statue by 
Praxiteles, and although her mother was petite and weighed scarcely 
more than a hundred pounds the muscles beneath the silky skin of 
her legs and arms were like steel cables. 

Till she was ten Eloise never stepped inside a schoolroom. Now 
and then m the cities where they played, the law made the halfhearted 
gesture of sending a truant officer to the theater or the hotel. On those 
occasions Eloise's mother looked exceedingly conscientious and ex- 
plained she was teaching her daughter. She would ask Eloise to read 
for the man. There was seldom any difficulty, and if there was, the 
manager of the theater was always on good terms with some local 
politician who could fix things. And so if Eloise acquired a shaky 
knowledge of arithmetic and history her understanding of practical 
civics was excellent. 

Those were the great years of vaudeville, and twice a day Eloise 
was to be found m the audience, watching the act from first row or 
.back row or from the balcony in order to see how it appeared to cus- 
tomers in different parts of the house. The orchestra would crash into 
the overture and the curtain lettered "Asbestos" would rise and a 
page boy dressed in tight mauve trousers would walk to a gold-painted 
standard and shift the cards, and there would be the words: "Sebastian 



i8 GUS THE GREAT 

and Orika." Then the lofty dove-colored curtains swished apart and 
Eloise watched her bespangled parents and led the sporadic applause. 
Applause. It was what they yearned for, lived for, dreamed of, schemed 
for. When the act concluded the orchestra always played very loudly 
in order to give the illusion of a tremendous ovation. But it was never 
much. 

If you cared for acrobats you would have been enthusiastic about 
Sebastian and Orika. But people did not attend vaudeville to see 
acrobats. They attended to laugh at the gag men and to watch the 
song-and-dance teams and to listen to the red-hot mammas. Sebastian 
and Orika were not stupid; and presently they realized that in vaude- 
ville they had gone as far as they were likely to go. So they surveyed 
the show business and considered abandoning the stage for the ring. 
The circus. There were the disadvantages of a shorter season and 
lower wages in the beginning; but there were great advantages, too. 
In vaudeville acrobats were pariahs who were assigned the shabbiest 
dressing rooms, who were just tolerated by the gag men and ignored 
by the top liners. It was very differerent in the circus. They called 
you a kmker in the circus but they respected you as an aristocrat. And 
if some day you climbed to the payroll of the Big Oneof Rmglmg 
Brothers your salary would soar, too. On the Big One there were 
kinkers no better than Sebastian and Orika or at least no better than 
Sebastian and Orika could become who were famous the world over. 
You could perform in America during the summer and in the winter 
go to the famous indoor circuses of Copenhagen and Paris. 

"It's this way, kid," Eloise's father told his wife. "They come to a 
circus for acrobats. Yeah, clowns too, and animals but it's what goes 
on up in the top that makes 'em gasp. We don't want to be suckers 
all our lives, do we?" 

No, Eloise's mother said, they didn't. So they got in touch with Gus 
Burgoyne. 

That was in the fall of 1919, and Eloise would always remember the 
excitement that accompanied the writing of that first letter to Mr. 
Burgoyne. For days her parents discussed what they would say. They 
wanted Mr. Burgoyne to understand what wonderful acrobats they 
were, but they did not want him to believe them unduly egotistical. 

"We can't give him the idea we've got a swelled nut," Ned Sebastian 
kept saying. 

After their evening performance the Sebastians would go directly 
to their hotel, and while Lily (Orika) Sebastian sat at the writing table 
nibbling the pen, her husband paced about the room in the throes of 
composition. 

"Dear Mr. Burgoyne , . Um-m-m . . . The undersigned being 



GUS THE GREAT 19 

vaudeville artists of long standing and high repute . . . Um-m-m. No, 
better make that . . . vaudeville artists of refinement, long standing 
and high repute . . . respectfully submit herewith their qualifications 
for ... um-m-m ... for performing in your circus . . . um-m-m . . . 
better make that . . . um-m-m . . . your famous circus . . . and request 
the opportunity to talk with you about the same at some date suitable 
to the convenience of all concerned. Um-m-m . . . Now let's hear that. 
Lily,, and see how it sounds.*' 

And while Lily read the sentence aloud Ned stood rumpling his 
hair and frowning. And Eloise, lying quietly on the bed, hearing 
distant corridor doors opening and closing and the sound of a tap 
dancer practicing in the room above, would wonder why her father 
and mother took such pains with the letter. Why not simply tell Mr. 
Burgoyne what she fervently believed to be true that they were the 
best acrobats in vaudeville? 

After many evenings and many drafts the letter was ready. 
"We've got to impress him," Ned Sebastian said. "I've got an idea." 
So he visited a cheap printer, and a day or two later the Sebastians 
opened a brown paper package containing the stationery. It was as 
good as Christmas, opening that package. The letterheads were just 
about the most beautiful example of the printer's craft that had ever 
come from a press. Large type marched across the top of the page: 
"Sebastian and Orika." And in the upper -left corner, "Ned Sebastian/' 
and in the upper right, "Lily Orika." Beneath the name of the act 
the type announced: "Currently appearing on the Empress Circuit," 
and at the spot where you would date the letter were the words: "On 
Tour." 

"Ah," Ned Sebastian said, "now we'r,e getting somewhere." 
Lily and Eloise were equally enthusiastic. Sight of their names in 
print always intoxicated them: it brought dignity and significance to 
their lives, to the fngid dressing rooms and the changing of trains at 
3 A.M. and the fly-blown restaurants and the smells of cheap hotels. 
When they opened in a new town they were always nervous and rest- 
less till they could buy the newspapers containing their "notices." Often 
they were not mentioned at all, and sometimes the critic (usually a 
police reporter who wanted to see a free show) would dismiss them 
with, "Sebastian and Orika round out the program with the usual 
acrobatics," or "The program opens with Sebastian and Orika demon- 
strating that it's possible for man to walk on his hands." But now and 
then ah now and then the critic would be a writer of discernment, 
and he would devote a paragraph to their art. Red letter days, those! 
Happy cities, happy engagements! They were unaware that often the 



20 GUS THE GREAT 

critic had arrived at the theater too tardily to witness their act. Or 
that his paper was needling an opposition theater for more advertising. 
When gifts fell from heaven they did not ask why, 

"Sebastian and Onka have brought their act as near perfection as is 
humanly possible. They are young, enthusiastic, full of verve." (A 
misprint for "nerve," the Sebastians thought.) "Their work on the steel 
rings has a kind of aerial ballet quality, and they deserve a better spot 
on the program." 

True! A scholar and gentleman, that critic! They would buy a 
dozen copies of that enlightened newspaper and send clippings to 
agents and managers and friends in the profession. And Ned would 
exclaim, "It's coming! It's bound to come! We'll get our break!" 

A few such clippings they enclosed with their letter to Gus Burgoyne. 
And the letter was typed. Ned typed it himself on a hotel office ma- 
chine, using two fingers and ruining a dozen letterheads before he 
produced a perfect copy. And in the lower left corner he wrote, 
"NS:GL," so that Mr. Burgoyne would think he had a secretary. 

"What does 'GL' stand for?" Lily wanted to know. 

Ned laughed. "Can't you guess? It stands for what will bring us 
our break. It stands for Good Luck!" 

And when they posted the letter he insisted that all three should cross 
their fingers. 

After that the waiting began. Absurdly enough and he knew it 
was absurd but he couldn't help it Ned started expecting a reply 
the day after the letter was dispatched. On the second day he thought 
they might receive a telegram from Mr. Burgoyne. Or a Special De- 
livery. 

"I was expecting a wire," he s would tell the desk clerk. "You're sure 
nothing of the sort has come?" 

The clerk was very sure, wearily sure. 

A week elapsed and still no reply. Ned's enthusiasm was tempered 
now, but he did not lose hope. He invented excuses for Mr. Burgoyne, 

"Maybe he's out of town. Or sick. Or maybe he's just busy. We'll 
hear. You wait and see. We'll hear when he gets around to it." 

And then a second week went by. Lily thought they should write 
to another circus. 

"No," Ned said. "Let's play them one at a time. Burgoyne's show 
is just right for us. Not too small, not too big. On a small one nobody 
would ever hear of us. And if we started on the Big One we'd be 
lost in the shuffle. What we want to do is start with Burgoyne and 
get notices in The Billboard and then have the Rmglings come to us. 
See the difference, with them coming to us? We'd say, well we don't 
know. We're pretty well satisfied where we are, we'd say. We'd have 
to have good billing, we'd say." 



GUS THE GREAT 21 

By the end of the third week even Ned was beginning to doubt 
whether they would hear from Mr. Burgoyne. 

"Maybe we ought to write again/' he said lamely. "Maybe the letter 
went astray." 

But he knew it hadn't, and Lily and Eloise knew it hadn't. It was 
mid-November by that time, and they were troupmg westward under 
the gray, cold skies of the central states; of Cleveland, Dayton, Akron, 
Toledo, Detroit. The old treadmill of cities they had played time after 
time. Low billing in second-rate houses. People beginning to whisper 
that there was an outside chance that the movies would kill vaudeville. 
Ha, a good one, that! Listen to that one and get a laugh! But then 
sometimes you would waken in the small, sterile hours of night and 
recall that doleful prediction and know panic. 

It was in Grand Rapids that Burgoyne's letter caught up with them, 
after missing them by a 'couple of hours m Detroit. What a letter! 
What a day! They didn't dine at the Baltimore Dairy Lunch, that 
evening. They celebrated, went to a good hotel dining room with 
tablecloths and tipping expected. 

"Look at that letterhead!" Ned exclaimed. "Classy! I'll bet ours 
impressed him!" 

It was true that Mr. Burgoyne's letterhead was out-of-the-ordmary. 
Spectacular. Polychromatic. On either side of the two-line spread 
Burgoyne & Pawpacker's Great 3-Rmg Circus an elephant trumpeted. 
The elephants and the name of the circus were in red ink. Down the 
left margin, in blue, ran a list of the attractions which Burgoyne & 
Pawpacker had given the public in the season of 1919. And across the 
bottom of the page, in red : "America's Favorite Circus, Because Amer- 
ica's Best." 

The letter exuded cordiality. Mr. Burgoyne said that he had not 
responded sooner because he had been turning over their proposition 
in his mind. (Picture of Mr, Burgoyne seated at a prosperous desk, 
pondering, pondering.) He was much interested in Sebastian and 
Onka. He had, naturally, heard of their act. (Oh, delirious line!) 
He wasn't, as they could readily understand, prepared to make them 
an ofler in this first letter, but he did want them to know he was much 
interested. He noted on the route sheet which they had enclosed that 
they would be playing in Chicago between Christmas and New Year's. 
There was a strong possibility that business would take him to Chicago 
at that time, and if so he would certainly be interested in meeting them 
and talking further. 

Sebastian and Orika labored hours on their reply. And three pairs of 
fingers were crossed when they posted it. 

This time they expected a prompt response, but the days passed and 
no long envelope embellished with a red elephant in the upper left 



22 GUS THE GREAT 

corner waited for them at the theater or at their hotel. But they had 
faith, now. He had said himself that he had heard of their act. In 
their thoughts he had become a great man, an executive busy at winter 
quarters directing preparations for next season. Turning their propo- 
sition over m hts mind. Thinking, "And then there's Sebastian and 
Onka. If I can come to terms with them . . ." 

November dragged itself to Decembei, to the season of smoke and 
sooty snow and Fourtcen-Shoppmg-Days-Till-Chnstmas. Their big 
theatrical trunk withstood the pummelmg of baggage men in Green 
Bay, Milwaukee, Madison It snowed and melted and snowed, and as 
they tramped to and from the theater their shoes were soaked and they 
all came down with hard colds. Flu. But they wouldn't recognize it as 
flu. There was the act to consider. Their heads ached and their bodies 
ached, but you would never have guessed it, the way they maintained 
the elan of their act. They hurried to their room from the theater and 
doped themselves with pills and liniment and moaned into bed. Fever- 
ish dreams. No reply from Mr. Burgoyne. No reply ever coming. 

The weather turned bright and sunny on the morning they arrived 
in Chicago. A brisk wind grabbed the smoke pouring from stacks and 
hurled it up at the blue prairie sky. The streets were thronged with 
Christmas shoppers and loud with cab horns and the long hoots of 
traffic whistles. The tome of that energetic city stabbed into their blood. 
The heaviness left their bones and they felt lighthearted. Faith re- 
turned. There was no letter from Burgoyne at the theater or at their 
hotel, but they would hear from him. Hunches told them. They felt 
that Chicago would be their city of destiny. 

"By Christmas/' Ned said. "Well hear something by Christmas." 

They were like children with the simple faith that Santa Claus would 
not pass them by. 

"Well then, by New Year's Day," Ned said, when the last Christmas 
mail yielded no letter. "I know it. He's interested in us. We'll cele- 
brate-" 

So between shows they dined at Hernia's, feasting on turkey and 
dressing, and never mind the expense. It was Christmas, wasn't it? 
Their luck was about to turn, wasn't it? Eloise carried her new doll, 
fondling it all during dinner. She was bright-eyed, her hair falling in 
curls from her wise little head. The world was a vast place, filled with 
excitement and adventure. She loved sitting in the warm restaurant 
with Chicago hurrying past the windows; she took a deep sensuous 
pleasure in the crispness of the celery, the gleam o the olives, the 
verdant parsley, the thick deliciousness of mushroom soup sliding along 
her tongue. 

Most of humanity experienced an afterholiday letdown on Decem- 



GUS THE GREAT 23 

her twenty-sixth, but not Ned Sebastian. Great things were in the 
making. He knew. His hunches. 

And then on December twenty-seventh it happened. A Western 
Union boy brought a yellow envelope to the theater and asked for 
Sebastian and Onka. It had been sent from Chicago. From Gus 
Burgoyne m Hotel Sherman. He would be pleased to see them at 
10 A.M. next day, 

"Think of it!" Ned exclaimed. "A telegram! He could have phoned. 
But he's no piker! A telegram!" 

They took a cab to the Sherman. Extravagance! They could have 
traveled by common carrier, but that would be, Ned said, the wrong 
approach. They should meet Mr. Burgoyne in an aura of prosperity. 

The morning was overcast with clouds spitting snow and wind 
blustering off the lake, but they were elated with a sense of high ro- 
mance. Ned tipped the driver and escorted them into the Sherman 
as if he owned the ]omt. He strode confidently to the desk and asked 
the number of Mr. Burgoyne's room. And when he returned to his 
wife and daughter he grinned and said: 

"Nothing cheap about him. He's got a suite!" 

In the elevator they felt breathless, and in the upper corridor their 
legs went hollow. 

"Ned," Lily breathed. Tm scared." 

"Why kid, you've just got stage fright. An old trouper like you! 
Remember he sent us a wire. Asked us to come. He's heard great 
things about our act." 

The door. The^very door! Deep breaths. Bracing themselves. And 
Ned rapping. 

The door opened wide and there he was big, hearty, energetic; and 
it was like having the sun come up broad and red and jolly. 

"Well* look who's here!" he exclaimed. "Hello, troupers! Come 
in, come in!" 

They floated into the living room of the suite; the carpet was a cloud. 

"Sit down, folks, sit down. Take off your things. Hello, little girl. 
What's your name?" 

"It's Eloise, Mr. Burgoyne," she said in that young voice whose in- 
flections were like a parody of the vaudeville voices she 'had soaked up 
during so many performances. 

"Well, well. Eloise, That's a pretty name. And how old are you, 
Eloise?" 

Til be seven in April." 

"Think of that!" he boomed. "You're coming right along!" 

Eloise smiled up at him; she thought him enormous, ageless. He 



2 4 GUS THE GREAT 

had turned thirty-nine not long before, and his weight had pushed well 
above two hundred. But he had a frame to carry it. The bright tan 
skin of his face showed scarcely a line. He wore a maroon dressing 
gown tied round his girth. 

"Mind if I finish breakfast, folks?" He sat down at a table laid for 
one, poured more coffee from a silver pot. "I overslept. My wife's been 
up for hours and out buying me broke." He chuckled and went to 
work on the bacon and eggs, the oatmeal and toast. 

Eloise sat quietly in an upholstered chair, looking as if she were made 
of sugar and spice and all things nice. But she was all ears and her 
thoughts clicked fast through her shrewd head, for she realized the 
importance of this interview. Her gaze moved from her parents to 
Mr. Burgoyne. He seemed to have a big appetite. Beside ^ the table 
stood a cart made of bright metal from which he kept replenishing the 
food on his plate. The windows were gray with smoke and winter but 
the radiators hissed quietly and filled the room with comfort. 

While he ate, he talked of inconsequential things, and many of his 
jovial remarks were directed toward Eloise. He asked her if Santa 
Glaus had been good to her, and he told her she was lucky to have such 
nice parents, and then he added that they were lucky also to have such 
a fine little girl. 

"This was my little girl," he said, bringing out his wallet and hand- 
ing her a snapshot. "Her name was Barbara, but we lost her." 

Eloise studied the picture. She couldn't see much of Barbara just 
a baby in a carriage. Mr. Burgoyne and a woman stood on either side 
of the carriage, but what interested Eloise most was the elephant with 
its trunk on the carriage handle. She wanted to ask Mr. Burgoyne 
more about the elephant, but she decided she'd better not. She passed 
the snapshot to Lily, who passed it to Ned. They studied it and said 
that Barbara looked as if she had been a wonderful child. 

"Oh, she was a beautiful little thing. It was bad for Flora when we 
lost her. Flora's never been the same. That's why we like to get away 
from Tamarack at Christmas time. You know other people have 
children and decorated trees. All we have is a lot of cat animals and 
bulls. So we come to Chicago or some place. I always have business 
to do, anyway." 

He slid the snapshot back into his wallet and bit the tip from a fat 
cigar. Blew out a cloud of smoke. 

"You know/' he said, "we were here on Christmas Day, and I caught 
your act that evening." 

It startled Eloise and she glanced quickly at her parents. On Christ- 
mas night Mr. Burgoyne had been in the theater, watching Sebastian 
and Orika! She could tell that they too were racking their memories. 
How had the act gone? How was the applause? 



GUS THE GREAT 25 

Ned smiled, tongued his lips. "Well. So you caught our act!" 

"Yes sir, I caught it." He pursed his lips and stared at the ash ac- 
cumulating at the cigar end. "And I liked it," he added. 

Eloise could breathe again. 

"We're glad you liked it," Ned said. 

"We certainly are," Lily put in. 

"Yes sir, you folks are all right. Of course, I don't need to tell you 
that the act would have to be changed if we produced it under canvas. 
You understand that." 

Oh, certainly, of course, of course. The Sebastians understood that. 
(But changed how ? ) 

"In a theater there's one stage. Everybody looks at what goes on up 
there on the stage because there's nowhere else to look. If the act's bad 
they look anyway. Not, you understand, that your act's bad. Just the 
opposite. But you see what I'm getting at. Under canvas we've got 
three rings. Lots of competition for the crowd's attention. There'll be 
bulls performing in one ring, and Japanese tumblers in another and 
mutts in the third. And the Joeys will be getting laughs from the hip- 
podrome track Joey policemen Joeys doing the Pete Jenkins act. 
They're all competing. See what I mean? An act has to be pretty 
spectacular to compete." 

The Sebastians nodded, smiles frozen on their faces. Was he letting 
them down easy? Then why had he asked them to call? 

"What I have in mind for you folks is aerial work. How about it 
do you have cool heads for heights?" 

Ned shrugged easily. "That wouldn't worry us." 

"Good." He stood up, paced about 'the room, looking like a fat friar 
in that dressing gown. He stopped at a radiator, perched a foot on it, 
waved his cigar and talked while he gazed through the window. "You 
know, I'm always thinking of the future. Building my show building 
my show! I'll tell you folks something Burgoyne & Pawpacker's go- 
ing to be the biggest in the business. It's the best already. I do a lot of 
dreaming. Just a dreamer that's me. But look at that where did 
all that come from?" 

He waved a paw at the window pane, at the skyscrapers rooted by 
an inland sea and soaring cloudward in steel and stone. 

"Chicago," he said. "Queen City of a Prairie Empire. Skyscrapers. 
And where did they come from? From men's heads! From their 
dreams, that's where! Practical dreamers built 'em. Gives you a thrill, 
eh? Makes you glad to be alive! Big things going on! Commerce! 
Business! Bustle! If I could take you high enough you'd look down 
and see railroads coming in from every direction. Steel rails from the 
cotton fields of the South. From the longhorn country of Texas. From 
the cornfields of Iowa and the wheat fields of the Dakotas. From the 



2.6 GUS THE GREAT 

iron range of Minnesota. From the dairy country of Wisconsin. From 
Ohio,, New York State, Pennsylvania. All steaming toward Chicago! 
By God' it does something to a man, just to think of it!" 

He turned from the window, pufled his cigar. 

"Me, I started with nothing, you might say. All an idea in my head, 
all a dream. The circus. Nothing but a wagon show to begin with. 
And look at us now. And let me tell you one thing those who started 
with Gus Burgoyne and stuck with him and climbed with him have 
never regretted it. Never!" 

Impressive! The Sebastians had never thought of things in just thai 
way. They felt molded and swayed by the man's flow of speech, the 
way grasses are swayed by wind. The man's fierce self-behei gave ofl 
vibrations; the room was charged with power. And suddenly they 
wondered why they had ever thought of merely starting with Burgoyne 
and eventually moving on to the Big One. Why not start with Bur- 
goyne and stick with him ? Grow famous together! 

"Yes sir! People do the right thing by me and I do the right thing 
by them! Always! Ask anybody. Ask those in the know. They'll tell 
you where Burgoyne & Pawpackcr's heading. It's the big time. The 
old Big Time Express that's me'" 

Suddenly he fell silent. His jaw protruded. His gray eyes narrowed 
to an intensity that was almost cruel, and he glared at the Sebastians 
at Eloise, at Lily, at Ned. It was as if he thought they were doubting 
him. Their gazes dropped to the pattern on the rug. It took too much 
painful energy to meet his eyes. 

And then he smiled. And said in a low, confidential tone: 

"I like you kids. You've got the stuff. But you've been wasting your 
time. You tie up with me and you'll be stars. I'll put your names on 
billboards all over this country in letters a foot high. Red letters! You 
come to winter quarters a month ahead of the season and rehearse. I 
know what goes over with a circus crowd and I'll direct you. When 
will you be at liberty?" 

"March," Ned said. "Early March." 

"Good! Great! Where do you close?" 

"Tulsa." 

"Fine. You close and come to my winter quarters. How about it?" 

Ned looked at Lily. She murmured, "It's up to you." 

Burgoyne strode over to Ned Sebastian, dropped a big hand to his 
shoulder. 

"How about it, Ned?" he demanded. 

Ned said apologetically, "I was thinking of salary/* 

Burgoyne's eyes narrowed again. That gray intensity. Then he 
smiled. His voice was low, half amused, half offended. 

"I'm a little disappointed in you, Ned. Ill tell you this frankly I 



GUS THE GREAT 27 

can't match what you're getting now. But in every man's life there 
comes a time when he has to think of his future. When he has to 
weigh great gam in the years ahead against a temporary loss in pay. 
But I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll give the three of you board and room. 
Figure it at two bucks a day apiece and that's forty-two dollars a week. 
And I'll give you thirty bucks a week cash money. How about it ? " 

Ned looked at his wife. She smiled, a neutral, it's-up-to-you smile. 

Ned frowned. Then suddenly he smiled and said, "All right. All 
right, Mr. Burgoyne, it's a deal." 

Mr. Burgoyne grabbed his hand, agitated it. 

"Kids," he exclaimed, "you'll never regret it. You'll never regret 
joining out with Burgoyne & Pawpacker!" 

And so one morning in March the Sebastians alighted from a day 
coach at the Union Station in Tamarack. It was a day of racing clouds 
and of railroad smoke and dust blown along the station platform. Mr. 
Burgoyne had promised to meet them, but he was nowhere among the 
crowd. 

"He'll be along," Ned said. "Let's go inside and wait." 

Their mouths were coated with sleeplessness and their hands grimed. 
So while Ned guarded their bags Eloise and her mother went to the 
ladies' room to freshen up. After years on the road the Sebastians had 
become as ingenious as hoboes in crisping up their appearance by using 
public lavatories. Often while they waited in a station to change cars 
Ned would disappear into the men's room and emerge a few minutes 
later with a fresh shave and a clean shirt and different tie. Sometimes 
even he would shine his shoes while the station porter glowered. 

"No Burgoyne yet/' Ned told his wife and daughter when they re- 
joined him. "I look like a bum. Wait here while I wash up and then 
we'll have breakfast." 

Seeing them there on the red-varnished bench, nobody would have 
guessed that Lily and Eloise had spent the night on a slow train from 
Kansas City. Lily's appearance was impeccable, a small young woman 
with dainty features and an almost birdlike manner. You would never 
have guessed that she earned her living as an acrobat unless you had 
scrutinized her hands. Although small, they were as strong as a day 
laborer's, the wrists muscled and the palms thickly calloused. When 
she and Ned were performing, their safety often depended upon the 
strength in their hands, 

Eloise was already nearly as tall as her mother, and she possessed an 
adult composure that made her seem older than her years. She was 
not one of those railroad station children who squirm and chatter and 
jump around on the benches and play on the marble floor. She had 



28 GUS THE GREAT 

traveled so much and waited in stations so often that she accepted delays 
and inconveniences with urbanity. 

Now she sat erect on the bench, her skirt primly below her crossed 
knees, her gray-green eyes on the lookout for Mr. Burgoyne. She was 
not offended or surprised that he kept them waiting. Agents and 
managers often treated you shabbily. 

She didn't see Burgoyne, but as she watched the doors to the street 
her attention was attracted by a man who stood out from the rest of 
the crowd, not because he was physically large, for he was smaller than 
average, but because of his unusual appearance and of the distinction 
with which he carried himself. He was a man in his fifties, with a 
short trimmed beard that was bright cinnamon-colored and gray. His 
nose was a thin straight knife. His dark eyes surveyed the station and 
then with head erect and walking stick tapping the floor he paced to a 
door marked, "Station Master." After that Eloise lost sight of him for 
Ned returned, looking fresh and young and clean with health. 

"No Burgoyne?" 

"Not a sign of him/' Lily said. 

"Well, we might as well eat," Ned said; but at that moment a portly 
man in a railroad uniform filled the station with a foghorn voice. His 
words reverberated among the lofty arches : 

"Sebastian and Orika. Paging Sebastian and Onka." 

"Listen!" Ned exclaimed, "That's us!" 

And he hurried off toward the uniformed foghorn. 

Eloise observed the bearded man stepping forward and shaking 
hands with her father. They chatted a few moments before walking 
toward Eloise and her mother. 

"Lily, this is Ivan Pawpacker. Mr. Burgoyne's partner. And this is 
Eloise." 

He took Eloise's hand, his eyes .twinkling, and he bowed slightly 
from the waist, like an Old World count. At close quarters his manner 
and his clothes seemed even more distinguished. He wore a Homburg 
hat and a Chesterfield overcoat with a white silk muffler. 

"And are you part of the act, young lady?" 

"They won't let me," Eloise grinned. "They think I'm too young." 

Between the mustache and beard his lips quirked, and his eyes were 
full of humor. 

"Aren't parents ridiculous people!" he murmured, and Eloise 
laughed. After that there was always a subtle bond between them. 

"We didn't expect you, Mr. Pawpacker," Lily was saying, and that 
was quite true. In the Sebastians' thoughts it was Burgoyne who had 
loomed important; they had scarcely heeded the Pawpacker name in 
the partnership. 



GUS THE GREAT 29 

"Oh, well you know how Gus is." Mr. Pawpacker smiled indul- 
gently, as if he were speaking o a mischievous urchin. "He's so full 
of energy and enthusiasm that he gets all tangled up with himself. I 
tell him he's never quite as busy as he thinks he is. I happened to be in 
Tamarack on other business and he phoned my hotel from the farm. 
He was sputtering like a string of firecrackers. It seems that he had it 
in mind that you people were arriving tomorrow. Then he happened 
on a list of things he was to do today he's always making such lists 
and misplacing them and he saw he was to meet you. He asked me 
to come. I'm afraid my welcome isn't as well overwhelming as his 
would have been. He always makes people feel they've been greeted by 
a brass band." 

Mr. Pawpacker chuckled softly. And then, as if realizing that his 
faintly mocking manner had made Mr. Burgoyne appear ever so 
slightly ridiculous, he added: 

"But Gus is a good boy. A circus needs a man like him to pilot it. 
He's a good mixer everybody likes him. And a born salesman. I tell 
him he could have made more money if he'd started a medicine show. 
And that enthusiasm my! He paints with a broad brush. I just fol- 
low along and remind him of the details. And speaking of details 
have you people had breakfast?" 

"We were just going to eat," Ned said. 

"I'm sorry! Here I've been talking and keeping you from coffee. 
And the before-breakfast world is a gray one." 

He shepherded them into the station restaurant where they sat not 
at the counter but at a table. Mr. Pawpacker took the order blank and 
penciled their wishes m a small, neat hand. Then he sipped water from 
a tumbler and dried his lips with his napkin. 

"Gus has told me about your act. He thinks it's very good." 

The Sebastians murmured and beamed. 

"But he has certain changes in mind. He probably talked them over 
with you. He wants you to concentrate on the steel rings and on 
trapeze work. And to lift the whole act up into the tent top. Gus is a 
good showman. It's an instinct with him I tell him he plays by ear. 
You don't mind working heights, do you?" 

"We're pretty steady in our nerves," Ned said. "We've never done 
much high work. But I can't see the difference between working eight 
feet up and thirty feet up. We'll expect our share of falls, but with 
a net . . ." 

"Yes, of course. A net. I'd insist on the net, if I were you. At least 
till you get the hang of the thing. You know Gus. He'll want to do 
away with the net as soon as possible so he can bill you as daredevils. 



3 o GUS THE GREAT 

Don't let him push you too fast. After all, it's your necks. If you take 
a stand and need backing, come to ( me." 

Eloise thought: "They can't work without a net." 

"You people are young," Mr. Pawpacker was saying, "and attractive. 
You ought to have a good future. Although how anybody can work 
heights is beyond me. Of course, Gus thinks I'm Old-Man-Caution 
himself. I'm really a country banker, you know. Only the Bankers 
Association thinks I'm a showman and the show people think I'm a 
banker." 

Eloise returned his smile. But she was thinking: "They can't work 
without a net." 

But of course they did work without one, eventually. 

Eloise watched Mr. Pawpacker slide a leather case from his pocket 
and select a slim cigar. As he held the match to it he rolled it round 
and round so the tobacco would burn evenly. Then he picked up the 
check, making sure the waitress had added the figures correctly. 

"The problem now," he said, "is getting you people to the farm. 
Gus said on the phone he was sending a truck in for your baggage. 
I could hire a car, but if you think you could manage m the 
truck 55 

The Sebastians said of course they could ride in the truck. 

The truck, it turned out, was powered by a Model-T motor and 
driven by Joe Griffin, the circus carpenter. Despite its square snout and 
workaday cab Eloise found it a romantic vehicle, for it had been 
painted bright red. Along the sides yellow letters marched: BURGOYNE 
& PAWPACKER'S CIRCUS. 

Eloise and her mother rode in the cab with Joe, but there wasn't 
space for Ned. They laughed and told him he'd have to walk, and he 
offered to wager he'd reach the farm sooner if he did walk, from the 
looks of that truck. It was all very gay, and in the end Ned rode with 
the baggage, springing as easily into the box as a track champion 
going over a hurdle. 

"I wish I could do that," Pawpacker said, from the curb. "It's won- 
derful to be young." 

Whereupon Joe Griffin, who was squat and round as a beer keg, pushed 
back the cap from his bald head and said yes, he had been very power- 
ful himself as a young man. He had been able to carry a hundred- 
weight on each shoulder and think nothing of it. 

And as if to demonstrate he was still a mighty good man, he tugged 
down his turtle-neck sweater over his expanded chest and waddled to 
the front of the truck and flipped the crank. The motor roared and 
raced while he trotted back and jerked up the gas lever. 



GUS THE GREAT 31 

"Take good care of them, Joe," Pawpacker shouted against the motor. 
"They're going to be our stars, you know." 

The Sebastians had never played Tamarack, but to Eloise it looked 
like a dozen other cities of the Midlands the new Union Station that 
appeared finer in contrast to the blocks of smoky old buildings near it; 
the pile of grimed masonry that was the courthouse; the corner cigar 
stores and the Yellow cabs. Ned had once asserted that every city in 
the Middle West aspired to resemble Chicago, and Eloise thought of 
that as the truck picked its way through the newer part of the business 
district. 

"See that building?" Joe Griffin said, as the truck paused for traffic. 
"Gus Burgoyne's father-in-law built that. Named for him, too." 

It occupied a busy corner and soared fifteen stories; and embossed 
over the mam entrance were the words: Oxenford Electric Building. 
Eloise was impressed; they were going to work for a man whose father- 
in-law must be fabulously wealthy. 

"Of course," Joe added, "he lost it when he went broke. But he built 
it, just the same. He was a pretty rich man. He built the interurban, 
too. The one that goes past the farm." 

"Interurban?" Lily asked. "Why didn't we take it?" 

"It's just a spur, lady. A spur from the mam line. Goes to the coal 
mine up at Oxenford. He named that for himself, too. The mine don't 
amount to much, now. But them tracks are handy for us. When we 
want to move a tram they run juice through the trolley wire and send 
in an engine." 

He seemed to assume that they knew all about the geography of the 
farm, and he didn't explain further. But as the truck nosed through the 
residential district, he told them about himself and his work. A year- 
round employee, he was. There might be men handier with carpenter's 
tools, but he hadn't met up with them. No, he didn't travel with the 
show. He lived at the farm the year round. 

"And Gus is all right to work for, at that," he said. "Always knows 
what he wants. Maybe in the summer I'll get a wire to meet him in 
Michigan or Ohio. 'Now what?' I'll think. But I'll go, and he'll have 
the plans all drawed for a new building on the farm. 'Joe,' he'll say, 
'you get the material and start work.' So I do. That's one thing about 
him he keeps his credit good in Tamarack. I've heard those stories 
you know how people talk but he's always paid me. Yes, sir! right 
on the dot! And his credit's good in Tamarack. Maybe they'll have to 
carry him if he's had a bad season, but they get their money in the end. 
He's well thought of in Tamarack.'* 

The wind was sweeping the sky clean of clouds, and as they drove 
through the northwest subdivisions into the rolling country the sun 
shone brightly. It was like a good omen. The air was sharp with early 



3 2 GUS THE GREAT 

spring. In a hillside orchard Eloise sighted a robin flying with string 
in its beak, and the plows were out in the creek valleys. They drove 
north along a paved turnpike. 

"Prosperous country, through here/' Joe commented. "But see that 
ridge?" He pointed to a distant contour. "We drive along that and 
then we drop down into different country. The soil's no good for any- 
thing but grazing stock. And of course the coal under it or that used 
to be." 

The truck crawled across a wide valley and started up the ridge, 
sputtering and snorting like a balky horse. From the summit, Eloise 
could gaze back across miles of country and see the pall of soft-coal 
smoke hanging above the city. Then the pavement ended and they 
followed tan gravel through country over which a change had come 
without Eloise's being aware of the moment the change took place. It 
was a country remote in spirit. Thorn trees grew by the roadside and 
brambles went tanglefooting away into acres of woodlands. You could 
imagine foxes back in those timbered ravines. 

"Now we're getting there," Joe Griffin said a few minutes later, as 
the road wound down into a valley. "It's about a mile." 

After the uplands the valley seemed cozy. It had caught and held 
the warmth of the thin March sun, and on the south banks the grass 
was turning green. Down the middle of the valley a creek followed its 
wayward inclinations, with maples and willows peering at themselves 
in the water. And Eloise saw trolley poles walking up the valley from 
the southeast, holding a line of wire above rails on an embankment. 

The truck throbbed west over a little hill, and Eloise caught sight of 
the circus farm. She felt a wave of excitement. She saw a house flashing 
through the trees; and basking in the sun on the south slope of a hill, 
big red barns were anchored. The road flattened out and crossed the 
interurban and the creek, and as the truck turned in at the gate it 
passed a long, low barn between the road and the tracks. An American 
flag was waving above the gable. 

"Look," Joe said, halting the truck by the barn. 

He pointed toward the west pasture where a herd of horses had been 
grazing. At the sound of the car one horse had lifted its head and 
neighed, and now the whole herd was galloping across the pasture. 

"Not scared," Joe said. "Just frisky. Pretty, ain't it?" 

Eloise thought she had never seen a more beautiful sight than the 
running horses. Some were gleaming black and some pure white; and 
there were horses with golden skins and Indian pintoes. 

"Pawpacker can pick horses," Joe said, driving on. 

They crossed the interurban, and on a long siding Eloise saw a score 
of railroad cars, as vividly painted as autumn leaves. And beyond the 
tracks, east of the drive^ there were buildings marked "Paint Shop" 



GUS THE GREAT 33 

and "Blacksmith Shop." Joe honked the horn and waved at several 
workmen who were greasing the axle of a cage wagon. 

The truck halted in the carriage yard. A low building marked 
"Office" bounded it on the east. The door opened and a man bustled 
out. He wore a gray suit with a herringbone weave, and he roared 
cordially : 

"Well! Look who's here. Hello, kids! How are you?" 

As Ned Sebastian alighted nimbly from the truck Mr. Burgoyne 
grabbed his hand and pumped it. After that he wheeled to Eloise and 
her mother. 

"Eloise! And Lily Orika! Beautiful as ever! Well, well!" 

Then suddenly he exclaimed, "Say! You folks didn't ride out in the 
truck!" 

They assured him that they had. 

"Now I ask you'" he groaned, "Isn't that just like Ive Pawpacker? 
I told him to hire a car and he sends you in a truck! Always watching 
the pennies. That's Ive. Watching the pennies!" 

During the next weeks Eloise had ample opportunity to explore the 
farm. The day after their arrival Sebastian and Orika began rehearsing 
in the Hippodrome Barn, a circular building up the hill, which was a 
cross between a gymnasium and a one-ring tent; and although Eloise 
theoretically studied while her parents worked, she didn't actually 
spend many hours on arithmetic and geography. There were matters 
of more pressing importance to engage her. She would begin consci- 
entiously enough, at a table in the living room of the house, determined 
to memorize the boundaries of Paraguay or the exports of Brazil; but 
there were always interruptions. Perhaps it would be the voice of 
Wesley, Burgoyne's colored cook, singing about the old-time religion 
to the kitchen pans; or perhaps Burgoyne's wife would plod into the 
room and sigh into a rocking chair. 

"I won't bother you," she'd say. "I'll just do my fancy work." 
And she would push a lethargic needle through the cloth stretched 
over embroidery hoops. But after a minute this exertion seemed to 
weary her. With a long breath, she would permit the fancywork to 
float to her lap, and gfter that she would sit just sit the rocking chair 
squeaking. She seemed to possess an infinite capacity for doing noth- 
ing. The harder Eloise tried to concentrate on geography the more she 
was aware of the woman's presence; so presently she would snap shut 
the book and stand up, glad to leave that room and emerge into 
the sunshine and the air that smelled of early spring. She skipped 
up the hill to the Hippodrome Barn, opening the door a crack and 
peeking in at her father and mother. Dressed in white tights, Lily 
Orika was limbering her muscles on the horizontal bars, while Ned 



34 GUS THE GREAT 

Sebastian stood in the ring listening to Mr. Burgoyne explain the 
kind of act he wanted. Her parents never liked to have her watch 
them rehearse it made them nervous to have an audience of even 
one little girl while they concentrated so Eloise proceeded up the 
hill to the Animal House. It was a rectangular building whose bricks 
had been plastered over with gray concrete; and a rich, dark jungle 
odor uncoiled from the place. At the south end of the building open-air 
cages drank up the sunlight. Within that network of brightness and 
slim black shadows a score of monkeys were taking the morning air. 

Eloise would have watched their antics longer had there not been so 
many other wonders to investigate. At the wide east door she peered 
into the building, discerning in the pungent gloom a row of cages along 
the north wall, with glowing eyes observing her. Signs muttered, 
"Danger! Not Responsible For Accidents," and "No Loafing!" In 
the center of the floor a concrete pit was sunk, filled with black water 
and surrounded by a steel fence. Nearly submerged like a dark-gray 
boulder a hippopotamus existed there, motionless, ponderous. A shivery 
place! A sign announced that this was the behemoth mentioned in 
holy writ. Whatever it was, Eloise was content to let it live its own 
slubbery existence unmolested. By contrast, the gray shapes of ele- 
phants hobbled along the far wall seemed genial. But they could be 
dangerous too, her parents had warned her; she must never enter the 
Animal House unless keepers were there. No keepers were there now, 
so she continued up the hill, turning west past the Camel Shed and 
climbing ja fence into the north pasture. 

Up there she discovered three huge mounds enclosed by a low picket 
fence. Somebody had erected a sign, "Elephant Graveyard/' with an 
epitaph beneath: 

From India you came 
Glorifying Burgoyne & Pawpacker's name. 
Now your performing days are o'er. 
Rest in peace forever more. 

Eloise stared pensively at the burying ground where a red ant was 
trudging through gray sand. It encountered another ant and they 
halted nose to nose, as if passing the time of morning. Eloise walked 
on up the hill. 

From the ridge she could gaze miles in all directions. The air was 
brilliant, pellucid. Far to the southeast she could make out the smoke 
of Tamarack faintly staining the bright sky nm; and to the northwest 
the mining settlement looked very tiny, very still. 

Then she heard the moan of a whistle and she peered to the south- 
east, her gaze following the bright lines of rails till they curved out of 
sight into a timber patch. The whistle moaned again, and she perceived 



GUS THE GREAT 35 

an electric engine rounding the curve, pulling a long flatcar on which 
cage wagons were loaded. Their golden scrollwork flashed; but the 
whole thing engine, flatcar, cages appeared diminutive; and the 
clickety-chck of the car wheels sounded like the sharp, distant footwork 
of a midget tap dancer. 

As the engine clanged up the valley Eloise could see men leaving the 
Paint Shop to stare down the roadbed. By the time the engine halted 
near the Blacksmith Shop, Mr. Burgoyne had joined the group. Two 
men alighted from the flatcar. One strode to Mr. Burgoyne and there 
was a vigorous handshake. The other slouched m the background. 

She left the ridge. At lunch she met the man who had shaken hands 
with Mr. Burgoyne. He was Captain Philip Latcher, the famous tamer 
of jungle beasts. The other man didn't eat lunch in the house; he 
lunched with the roughnecks in a barnhke building west of the Animal 
House which was labeled, "Hotel." He was a youth of about seventeen, 
Captain Latcher's cage boy. His name was Willie Krummer. 

Where Captain Latcher had picked him up nobody ever asked, be- 
cause in those days nobody had the slightest interest in Willie Krum- 
mer. Nobody, that is, except the authorities of a certain town in 
northern Wisconsin. And now after several years their interest was 
tepid. When he vanished from town they had been preparing to pack 
him off to industrial school, not because of any one great crime but 
because of a series of petty misdeeds. He was a damned nuisance; he 
got in their hair; maybe they'd teach him a trade and straighten him 
out in- industrial school. But the sheriff and county attorney were not 
looking for a boy named Willie Krummer but Willie Parr. For that 
matter, you could not honestly say they were looking for him at all. 
No "Wanted" circulars; nothing of that kind. He was out of town, 
out of the county, and that was good enough. 

At home Willie was not greatly missed. For one thing, the home 
was not commodious, and it was already rocking full of Willie's 
brothers and sisters and half-brothers and half-sisters. Three miles east 
of town, on the arm of a lake, the home had originally been coiv 
structed by a logging concern to serve as a bunkhouse. Having slashed 
through the timber and logged out what it wanted, the company forgot 
about the bunkhouse and the land. So Oscar Parr moved his family in. 
The porcupines and the wood ticks didn't care. Nobody cared. Willie 
was four years old at the time, a much yelled-at, switched-at child. 
Oscar Parr was engaged in killing his first wife then. He used a 
method of legal murder compounded of uninterrupted child-bearing, 
hard labor, abusive language, worry and occasional clips alongside the 
jaw. As a young man he had been a lumberjack, but now he followed 
the professions of trapping in winter, and in summer fishing and serv- 



36 GUS THE GREAT 

ing as guide for various paunchy he-men from Chicago and Milwaukee 
who made vacation forays into the North Woods against the lives of 
the muskies and pike residing in the lakes and streams. 

When Willie, at fourteen, got wind of the education the authorities 
were planning for him (and heaven knew how he learned of it, except 
that he could sniff danger like a woods animal), Oscar Parr was at 
work on his third wife. Killing her wasn't going to be so easy, for she 
was a brawny virago who could give birth to a child one morning and 
cook a big breakfast the next. She had a tongue like a buggy whip and 
fists like sledge hammers, and when the two of them went after each 
other the kids tumbled out of the shanty and let them have the ring to 
themselves. The woods and the shore rocks roared. Their battles had 
a Brobdmgnagian flavor not out of place in that vast land where Paul 
Bunyan had walked P Both fervently defended the adage that there is 
no bad whiskey, but the rumors were groundless that she could always 
drink him under the table. Sometimes; not always. Oscar was a pretty 
good man himself. 

Willie had been gone three days before Oscar remarked his absence. 
Even had he been sober, which he was not, it is doubtful whether he 
would have been aware of the household's loss, for what was one child 
more or less in the multitude? It was a deputy sheriff who brought 
Willie to Oscar's mind. One afternoon the deputy drove his Ford 
through the sandy ruts to the Parr home and inquired for Willie. 

Bleary-eyed, Oscar Parr fingered his stubbled chin and said: 

"Damned if I know where the little son of a bitch is. Out in the 
woods, maybe. What's he done now?" 

"We're going to send him off. Reform school." 

"Veil, now," Oscar said, with his heavy German accent, "I don't 
know whether you are or not. Looks to me like you ought to talk to 
his Pa before you do that. If he's been into something I'll give him a 
going-over. Ain't that enough?" 

"I want Willie." 

"All right, all right/' Oscar bellowed. "Take him. But you'll have to 
ketch him first. He goes off to the woods like a wolf an' stays for days. 
If you get him you'll have to ketch him. He's a slimery one, that Willie 
is. Slimery as an eel." 

But they never caught Willie, for the good reason that by then he 
was occupying a boxcar on a Soo freight train, a hundred miles away. 
Much of his time during the next two years he spent in travel He 
found it broadening. From other road kids he learned a dozen ways 
to hold body and soul together, none by working. He grew adept t 
materializing from a hedge, stealing a washing off a line and fading 
out of sight. He came to know which pedestrians on a city street were 
good for a touch. He learned to roll drunks for their cash, to live off 



GUS THE GREAT 37 

the land by raiding gardens and orchards and chicken roosts; and he 
even worked up quite a business kidnapping pet dogs and watching 
the "Lost" columns for reward notices. ("He jus' follered me, mister, 
so I looks in the paper an' sees you want to pay ten bucks for the 
trouble of bnngin 3 him home. . . .") After being returned to their 
masters, the dogs were skittish and unnerved. This wasn't surprising. 
Many of the complaints against Willie, back in Wisconsin, had con- 
cerned his treatment of animals. 

By the time he was sixteen, if Willie had cared to offer himself as a 
laboratory specimen to a sociologist, he would have been informed that 
his chances of avoiding the penitentiary were slight. Indeed, the arms 
of the law were stretched out for him when he flung himself into the 
embrace of the circus. 

His joining the W. W. Harris Circus & Menagerie took place one 
June midnight in the railroad yards at Worcester, Massachusetts. With 
two companions, Willie was engaged in breaking the seal of a re- 
frigerator car containing fresh oranges when a detective of the Boston 
& Albany Railroad popped out of the shadows. There was a wild 
scramble as the three seekers after Vitamin C took to their heels and 
scattered. Willie fled west along the ties, darting in and out among 
freight cars and warehouses. Several times he heard a report behind 
him, such as a Police Postive might give forth, and something rattled 
into the cinders near his ankles. Willie shifted into high gear. He 
soared over a board fence enclosing the ]unkyard of M. Cohen and Son, 
snaked through the heaped blackness, mounted the fence on the street 
side and dropped to a sidewalk. He didn't run now, but strode briskly 
away from the railroad. After a couple of blocks, having sighted a 
patrolman, he worked back to the railroad and lay in a ditch. Presently 
the headligKt of a westbound locomotive shafted along the right-of-way. 
Willie parted the weeds and scrutinized the blmdingly lighted yards. 
The coast looked clear, so after the locomotive steamed past Willie 
darted out and trotted alongside the train. As deftly as a railroad man 
he swung up the ladder of a flatcar. 

To his astonishment, he discovered that the flatcar was twice as long 
as the ordinary flat, and that it carried bizarre freight cage wagons 
parked end to end, their wheels chocked. Beneath the wagons lay 
windrows of slumbering men, A circus! Hunched at the end of the 
car, sniffing the ripe odor of wild animals, Willie did some thinking. 
Why not try joining up with the show? He'd get travel, three meals a 
day, wages, and not be molested by railroad dicks. Though he refused 
to confess it, his encounter this evening had frightened him. He had 
never been shot at before, and he disliked it. 

That was in 1918. A war in Europe and booming factories in Amer- 



38 GUS THE GREAT 

ica had diminished the labor supply. So next day when Willie applied 
for a job the boss canvasman hired him without many questions. 

From the first Willie enjoyed roustabouting. Food was plentiful; 
you didn't worry about dodging cops; you were always on the move; 
and after the tops went up in the morning you could lie on the grass 
and doze or go downtown and look over the main stem. No more 
work till evening* A fine life! Regular meals and swinging a sledge 
hardened his muscles, broadened his shoulders; and now that he held 
a job, some of the shiftiness left his manner. Often he would look you 
directly in the eyes, now. He formed the habit of washing daily, and 
that helped. 

After a month on the show, he looked older than a boy who had 
turned sixteen in early June. He was tall and hard. He wore his 
wheat-blond hair clipped high and close (to lengthen the period be- 
tween spending money for haircuts), and this revealed his strong 
squarish skull. On either side of a thick-bridged nose his eyes were 
pale blue. They were not his best feature. At times they had the hard 
suspicion of an old detective's, and at times the look of a cat's when it 
is having fun putting a mouse to death by slow torture. His jaw was 
square and manly, but its forthnghtness was corrupted by his mouth. 
It impressed you as a slantwise gash, unamused even when he smiled. 
Probably it was this unamused expression that caused other roustabouts 
to mutter that Willie Krummer was meaner than hell. They should 
have been more discreet about flinging stones from their glass houses. 
Or perhaps it was because Willie always smiled when he began fight- 
ing. Growing huskier and more sure of himself, he fought a great 
deal. He didn't fight like an Irishman, for the joyous sport of it, but 
because he wanted to demonstrate that the other roustabouts were dirt 
under his feet. After a fight he held a grudge. What was the use of 
fighting if you were going to shake hands when it was over? You 
fought as animals fought: to show who was boss. If you were beaten 
you crawled away and ever afterward licked the winner's boots. There 
was even a certain emotional pleasure in that. 

Willie had changed since joining the show, but the reason was more 
fundamental than regular work and meals. It was ambition. Soon 
after becoming a roustabout Willie attended an afternoon performance. 
The clowns left him cold; the bareback riders and acrobats interested 
him only mildly; but then into a steel arena lions and tigers had been 
driven, and Captain Philip Latcher entered with a whip and a pistol. 
Willie snapped alert. Deep in his soul something stirred an awaken- 
ing half painful, half pleasurable. A tide of craving passed over him; 
craving to wear a smart uniform like Captain Latcher's, to stride into 
an arena looking hard and masculine and to subdue wild beasts. It 
was the only thing he ever wanted to do, and he felt bewildered and 



GUS THE GREAT 39 

almost stunned that he had not thought of such a career before. He 
had always had a way with animals. The stray dogs he had taught 
tricks; the crow he had taught to speak after catching it and slitting its 
tongue. ... A way with animals! 

Willie couldn't attend the evening performance; his help was needed 
m tearing down the menagerie top; but the next afternoon found him 
again watching Captain Latcher's act. He liked it even better, and 
after that he slipped into the tent every afternoon. He stood by a sec- 
tion of the cheapest seats the "blues" waiting for the band to start 
blaring "Entry of the Gladiators." His gaze passed over the massed 
humanity, a curl to his lips and contempt in his eyes as he watched 
them washing down popcorn and peanuts with lemon pop. Gillies, 
suckers. Timid, soft people; stick-in-the-muds who would live out 
their days in one town. They didn't realize who was standing in their 
midst. They didn't realize they were brushing elbows with Willie 
Krummer, who was going to be the most famous animal trainer in 
the world. 

Captain Latcher was a long rapierlike man of thirty-nine; intense, 
hard-bitten. His baldish head and angular face had been burned 
brown by many trouping seasons, and a toothbrush mustache bristled 
on his upper lip. His even teeth were very white, and in contrast to 
his brown face they flashed with spectacular incandescence when he 
smiled. He was not a captain, of course, and his name was not Latcher. 
He came from a good family in British Columbia whose name would 
have been embarrassed at finding itself on circus posters. As a young- 
ster, after some trifling scrape or other, he had been sent to a military 
school where he won medals for rifle-shooting, boxing and fencing. He 
knew how to use a knife and fork, and he had a good deal of charm, 
although this was lost on his animals. His patrimony he had spent 
buying a wild animal act, because at heart he was a nomad and an 
adventurer. 

Before entering the arena Captain Latcher snapped to attention and 
saluted the audience as if they were all generals. He handled his body 
curtly, precisely. This was not lost on Willie, who began going about 
his roustabout duties in a soldierly manner. Modeling himself after 
the Captain, he husked off his shifty movements as if they were the 
last year's skin of a snake. 

Casual inquiries brought Willie the information that most animal 
trainers had served apprenticeships as cage boys. The duties were lowly 
and of the chambermaid variety, but Willie yearned for them. He soon 
discovered, however, that this position was occupied by another youag 
man. This vexed him. His sense of proportion was not delicate, and 
he formed a cold hatred for Captain Latcher's cage boy, who was quite 
at a loss to explain why that roustabout was always glaring at him. 



40 GUS THE GREAT 

Willie had never spoken a word to him, but his balked ambition and 
acid loathing pictured the fellow as both a bungling idiot and a sinister 
miscreant. A threat to Captain Latcher and to the circus itself! And 
they seemed so unaware of their danger! Just to think of the situation 
filled Willie with righteous anger, and he brooded about it constantly. 
It would be an act of great magnanimity to rid the show of the villain. 
Willie spat, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Damn the 
fellow! But how to go about getting rid of him? How! He would be 
a vicious fighter, full of devilish craft. For by this time Willie believed 
passionately in the validity of the character with which he had endowed 
the cage boy. 

At last, following an afternoon performance, Willie screwed up his 
courage to the point of climbing the steps to the dressing van of Cap- 
tain Latcher. He paused at the sill of the open door. Although the 
outside of the van was scrolled in red and gold, the interior was severely 
plain. Whips dangled on the walls and lay in corners like nesting 
blacksnakes; and on the dressing table, with an opened box of ammu- 
nition, a couple of pistols glittered. But these details escaped Willie. 
What seized his attention was the sight of Captain Latcher lying face 
down and stark naked on a leather-covered table. And the cage boy 
oh, villain! was bent over that heroic man, kneading his muscles in a 
vigorous, injurious way. Willie had never heard of rubdowns, and 
when his coarse nose picked up the scent of rubbing alcohol there 
flashed through his brain a lurid scene: the cage boy getting Captain 
Latcher drunk and then killing him in some occult fashion. In order 
to acquire the act, of course! 

Willie's mouth twisted in that dangerous smile and he pounced for- 
ward. ' He grappled the cage boy's shoulders and spun him round. Pure 
incredulity widened the cage boy's eyes and brought a yell from his 
mouth. Willie drew back a fist and was preparing to let him have it 
right in the kisser when Captain Lat'cher was resurrected from the 
near-dead. His hard brown body sprang from the table. The point of 
Willie's jaw jerked with pain, and then he was floating backward and 
downward. After a period of darkness Willie became aware of voices, 
and he lay without opening his eyes. 

"Cecil, old fellow," Captain Latcher was saying, "run along and get 
me cigarettes. Two packs, please. And see here! You've been shirking 
on those uniforms, you know. You'll have to use petrol on those spots." 

"Yes, sir," Cecil said. 

"And what shall we do with that chap on the floor? Dump him to 
the cats?" 

"I'd sure like to." 

"You'd surely like to what!" 

"I'd sure like to, sir. He's been a-both"ering me, sir." 



GUS THE GREAT 41 

"Molesting you? Why don't you report these things to me?" 

"Well it ain't been much, sir. But he's been kind of glumming at 
me, sir." 

"'Glumming?' Really, Cecil " 

"You know, sir. Looking. Like he was sore with me." 

"You've never had any words with him?" 

"No words, sir. No nothing." 

"Interesting . . . Well, he'll be coming round presently and I'll put 
a few questions to him. It was a beautiful punch, wasn't it, Cecil?" 

"It sure was, sir! Right on the button." 

"That's science, Cecil. Nothing like it. Give me a lever, as the chap 
said, and I'll lift the world. My coordination was excellent, eh, Cecil?" 

"It sure was, sir." 

"And he's quite a husky fellow, you know." 

"He sure is, sir. Are we going to dump him to the cats?" 

Captain Latcher laughed shortly. "Run along, Cecil. I'll attend to 
him." 

Willie lay very still as the cage boy stepped over him and departed. 
But he was not relaxed. Certain phases of the conversation had alarmed 
him. After a minute he heard Captain Latcher 's voice, cool but 
streaked with amusement. 

"You might as well get up, old fellow. You've come round." 

Willie opened his eyes and sat up. 

"How did you know that?" he asked, and then added, "sir?" 

Captain Latcher was lounging easily at the dressing table, clad in 
slippers and a gray dressing gown. The likeness of a red lion was 
stitched over the heart. 

"Observation, old fellow. Nothing like it. Your eyes were shut too 
tightly. What's your name?" 

"Willie Krummer, sir." 

"You're on the show?" 

"Yes, sir. Canvas." 

"Really! And may I suggest that you stand up when you talk to me." 

"Yes, sir!" Willie scrambled to his feet and despite his slight dizzi- 
ness and his sore jaw stood at attention. 

"By jolly! Like a soldier!" Captain Latcher exclaimed. 

"No, sir. Like you, sir. I've been watching you, sir. Every afternoon 
in the arena. That's what I want to do, sir. I want to be like you." 

"Well, I'm damned!" Captain Latcher exclaimed, but he looked 
rather more pleased than damned, "You like my act, eh?" 

"Only good thing on the show, sir." The rest is puke." 

Captain Latcher closed his eyes and gritted his teeth in mock distress. 

"Your comparisons, Willie! Enough to turn one's stomach. But I 
forgive you since you're such an ardent fan." 



42 GUS THE GREAT 

"I don't know about that, sir, but I sure like your act. It goes over 
big with the gillies. Only thing on the show." 

Captain Latcher snapped a match, ignited a cork-tipped cigarette and 
blew thin, Turkish smelling smoke in Willie's direction. Willie re- 
mained at rigid attention. For half the cigarette Captain Latcher kept 
the conversation hovering around the virtues of his act. It couldn't be, 
really, as excellent as Willie thought. Oh yes it could, Willie re- 
sponded stoutly. Even better! And that wasn't flattery; the words rang 
true as a silver dollar. Captain Latcher's manner became warm and 
friendly, and he said : 

"At ease. And sit down, Willie. There on the rubbing table." 

"Is that what it is, sir? I never knowed what it was." 

So the Captain explained how beneficial an alcohol rub could be 
after a few minutes in the arena. 

"I sweat like a trooper/' he said. "I'd be stiff as a broomstick if it 
weren't for the rubdown." 

"I looked in," Willie said, "and never knowed what was going on. 
I thought" 

So he explained. The cage boy was not to be trusted. How did he 
know? Just knew, that was all. A bad one, that cage boy. Put him in 
mind of a road kid he had known, who had bashed in the back of a 
brakeman's skull with a rock. (This was fancy, but Willie was casting 
about for something resembling fact to buttress his suspicions.) 

"You got to watch him, sir! Ain't to be trusted!" 

And he went on to tell how alarmed he had been for the Captain's 
safety when he beheld what was happening on the rubdown table. 

"I never meant to make no trouble, sir. But" 

"But you had my safety at heart," the Captain said, looking both 
amused and thoughtful. "By jolly 1 A guardian angel! Where did you 
come from, Willie?" 

Willie was vague. He had joined up with the show somewhere back 
along the line. He'd forgotten the town. Albany, maybe. 

"Look at me, Willie. You're lying, old fellow. If you and I are to 
do business you'll have to come clean." 

Do business! Could the Captain mean ? So Willie poured out his 
history. That episode in Worcester 1 . His road-kid days. How he had 
fled Wisconsin. 

"Reform school, eh? What was the trouble, Willie?" 

Well, Willie said, they had it in for him, that was all. Always pick- 
ing on him. And then that final business about Mrs. Hanson's dog. 
He was simply attempting to teach the dog a few tricks, but it was 
very dumb. So what could he do but resort to a little force? 

"Dogs!" Captain Latcher made an impatient, contemptuous gesture. 



GUS THE GREAT 43 

"Why waste your time on dogs? Any fool with a stick can teach a dog. 
You don't even need a stick. Just a twist of the ear like that. But 
cats' Another matter entirely!" 

"Oh, I worked out on cats too, sir!" 

"Really, Willie!" The disgust in the Captain's voice brought hot 
chagrin to Willie's cheeks. "I'm speaking of big cats, of course. Jungle 
cats." 

"I'd sure like to have you learn me about them, sir." 

The Captain looked amused, 

"Do I understand you're applying for a job as cage boy?" 

"Sir, could I?" 

"No money in it, Willie. I'd toss you a copper now and then, that's 
all. And lots of work. Cleaning cages, cleaning uniforms, repairing 
whips, rubbing me down. A slave's life. You'd be my man Friday, 
you know." 

"Friday Saturday any day," Willie exclaimed "That's what I 
want, sir! To be your man!" 

The Captain shrugged. 

"We're talking dreams, Willie, Because already I have Cecil. But 
if he should ever leave, you're at the top of the list." 

After Willie had gone with a smart salute and a valiant attempt at 
an about-face Captain Latcher sat blowing smoke at the ceiling. He 
paid Cecil four dollars a week. Willie would work for the joy of it. 
Cecil was stupid. Never a word from Cecil about the excellence of the 
act! Willie might seem stupid certainly he was appallingly ignorant 
but the Captain sensed in him a kind of wild, native intelligence, such 
as animals had. He could learn. It might be amusing to teach him. 
And he would be loyal. Smart enough or possibly stupid enough 
for that. The Captain knew his sort. Kick him about a bit and he 
would come back for more. Willie, he thought, was medieval; he had 
the soul of a loyal aide-de-camp. It appealed to Captain Latcher's ro- 
mantic imagination to toy with the possibility of acquiring such a 
faithful follower: valet, bodyguard, servant, all in one. Of course, 
there was still Cecil But after Willie thought the matter through, the 
Captain was sure he would devise some means of ridding the show of 
Cecil. It would be amusing to watch how Willie would manage. 
Spectacles like that amused Captain Latcher vastly. 

Willie, however, had not inherited a subtle mind, and Captain 
Latcher's Machiavellian hint fell on stony ground. During the next 
week the only weapon Willie used against Cecil was that terrible 
glare. If looks could have killed, Willie's eyes would have been ma- 
chine guns capable of slaying a whole regiment of Cecils. As it was, 



44 GUS THE GREAT 

that baleful stare was not beneficial to Cecil's nerves. He developed a 
bad case o jitters. 

Cecil was seventeen, a slightly built boy with a muddy blond com- 
plexion marred by pimples. He came from an old South Chicago 
family of steelworkers. He had entered Captain Latcher's employ the 
previous January in Blue Island where., in an abandoned factory, the 
Captain maintained winter quarters for his cats. There he broke in 
new animals, and from there he traveled to various indoor circuses to 
fill engagements which his booking agent in the Loop secured for him. 
When at liberty, the Captain liked to run into town to dine at a good 
restaurant and attend the theater. Wearing a dinner jacket and carry- 
ing a stick with which he hailed cabs, the Captain was the ultimate in 
punctilio. Dramatizing himself as an adventurer, he liked to pretend 
that the stick was a sword cane, which it wasn't, and that he was a 
tanned, hard explorer just back from far places of the earth. And, 
indeed, this harmless pretense gave him an air of dash which head- 
waiters and pretty girls often found irresistible. Nothing pleased him 
more than to be mistaken for an Englishman: one of those buccaneer- 
ing yet gallant fellows from the pages of H. Rider Haggard. Inasmuch 
as he worked constantly at maintaining and adding to the accent his 
father had brought to British Columbia, this happened fairly often. He 
never missed the theater when the play was an English drawing-room 
comedy. 

As the days passed an<^ Willie failed to act overtly against Cecil, the 
Captain grew impatient. The more he thought about Willie as cage 
boy the better he liked the idea. One could always put four dollars to 
better use than wage-paying; and on droopy days when one's spirits 
dragged it would be heartening to have a Caliban like Willie who con- 
sidered one absolutely tops as an animal man. During all these months 
never any comment from Cecil about the merits of the act! The lout! 
Moreover, it seemed to the Captain that day by day Cecil grew more 
inefficient and forgetful. 

This was true. Worry had impaired Cecil's efficiency. How could a 
guy's mind be on his work when that roustabout glared at your every 
move? Enough to give you the shivers! In the mornings as soon as 
the menagerie top was erected and the cage wagons hauled in, it was 
your job to clean the cages. "To sweeten them up/' as the Captain said. 
Okay, you drove the cats to the far end of the cage and closed the 
partition across the middle. You entered and started work. And then 
right away you felt that stare drilling the back of your head. You gave 
a glance out through the bars and there he wasthat roustabout. Jeez! 
He'd be coming along the tent's edge, hooking up sidewall, but he 
managed to work and stare at one and the same time. 



GUS THE GREAT 45 

Or early in the afternoon you'd be sitting on the steps of the dressing 
van, repairing whips. And you'd feel it that stare! There he'd be at 
the corner of another van, pumping that look into you. His mug put 
you in mind of an inbred cat. Eyes set too close. And anybody with 
any knowledge whatsoever about cats realized that a long-nosed cat 
with close-set eyes was a bad customer with a vicious disposition. Jeez! 
What had you ever done to the guy ? It wasn't like as if you'd stole 
a dame off of him, or switched dice on him in a game of craps. You'd 
never had no truck with him whatsoever; never 'd seen him till a couple 
of weeks ago. Fact! Then all at once there he was, like he'd dropped 
down out of -a cloud, putting the buzz on you. Almost enough to make 
a guy want to duck the show. And on top of everything else, the Cap- 
tain had started bearing you a grouch. The Captain had his good side 
and he had his bad side, like all guys, but when he started showing 
you the bad side that he showed his cats, it wasn't no fun. He used 
czarcasm that's what. "Cecil " he'd say, mispronouncing it "Cessell" 
"Cecil, old man, do you think it would be too much of a strain for 
you to use that head of yours now and then ? It is a head, isn't it, old 
fellow?" Jeez! 

One morning on the lot the Captain strode up to the stake Willie 
was pounding and said, "Why don't you drop in and see me this after- 
noon? Let's make it a half-hour after my act." 

Cecil had been sent on an errand, so the Captain was alone when 
Willie made his soldierly entrance. The Captain lightly echoed his 
salute and invited Willie to seat himself. 

"Old fellow, I'm astonished at you. I thought you more resourceful." 

"Huh, sir?" 

"Don't say 'huh,' Willie, If you don't comprehend, say 'beg pardon.' " 

"Beg pardon, sir?" 

"I thought you were ambitious, Willie. I thought you wanted to be 
an animal trainer." 

"I do, sir!" 

"Then I'm astonished at you, Willie. Absolutely astonished. Afraid 
of a bit of chaff like Cecil." 

Willie's mouth twisted and his countenance stormed over. 

"Afraid! Sir, I'm not afraid of that" 

And Willie described Cecil with a string of lumberjack and road-kid 
terms, many of which were refreshingly new to the Captain. 

"My dear fellow! Then what are you waiting for?" 

"Waiting, sir?" 

"You want to be my cage boy. Cecil is now my cage boy. If Cecil 
were gone, you would be my cage boy. Isn't it simple?" 



46 GUS THE GREAT 

Willie got it at last, and his grin accompanied his comprehension. 
He began pacing about, fists clenched, ^numerating the damage he 
would wreak upon Cecil. 

"Oh, dear, dear," the Captain sighed. "Let's be civilized about it, 
Willie." 

"Civilized, sir?" 

The Captain chuckled, because just then Willie's countenance was 
so very uncivilized-appearing. 

"Why, yes, old man. Do it with a bit of imagination. Let Cecil 
frighten himself, eh?" 

Willie's brow was deeply corrugated. 

"Do you have a jackknife, old man?" 

Willie produced it> a huge "toad-stabber" variety of pocketknife, the 
hilt decorated with the voluptuous figures of nude girls. 

"Handsome affair, isn't it? Where did you steal it, old fellow?" 

Willie colored. 

"Never mind that, Willie. Now let me tell you how I managed to 
rid a school I once attended of a chap who was obnoxious to me. Just 
a threat nothing more. And I want you to understand, old man, that 
if you so much as scratch Cecil with this blade, I'll chuck you to the 
coppers. No knifing, understand?" 

The Captain flourished the wicked-looking blade, pretending he was 
addressing Cecil, announcing just how he was going to use the blade 
upon him. After a threat like that, the Captain doubted that Cecil 
would long remain on the show. 

And the Captain was quite correct. It was that very evening follow- 
ing the show that Willie found opportunity to leave his roustabout 
duties and accost Cecil outside the dressing van. 

"I want to talk to you," he said. 

Cecil looked stricken. He opened his mouth several times and at- 
tempted to protest before he managed to rattle a few dry words out of 
his throat. 

"Are you comin' with me," Willie said, very low, "or do I drag you?" 

So Cecil accompanied Willie across the lot. The canvas of the big top 
lay on the ground now, and the center poles stood naked. High- 
perched floodlamps sprayed down white, garish light. Teamsters were 
shouting at the horses pulling baggage wagons, and now and then a 
work elephant swam across Cecil's vision as he stumbled along beside 
Willie. 

They passed through bushes at the edge of the lot and halted in the 
weedy flatland beyond. 

"I got some advice to pass to you," Willie said. 

The advice was pointed. The circus, Willie said, was not large 



GUS THE GREAT 47 

enough for the two of them. Willie's voice was pitched low, and in 
the distance Cecil could hear shouts and the barbaric chant of Negro 
roustabouts as they loaded poles onto a wagon. 

"What did I ever do to you?" Cecil mumbled." "That's what I" 

Willie grinned. 

"You got in my way. And when a guy gets in my way, do you know 
how I fix him?" 

There was a click, and in the dull light Cecil caught the gleam of 
a blade. 

"I use this on 'im. I unbutton him with it. S-s-sip! Like that. Clean 
up to his tonsils . . ." 

Cecil dropped back a step, and his hand floated to his Adam's apple. 
He was convinced he was dealing with a fellow not right in the head. 

"I was leavm' anyhow," he mumbled. 

"When?" 

"Tomorrow . . . Maybe tonight . . " 

Willie grinned. 

"If you're on the show tomorrow night . . . S-s-sip!" 

"Don't," Cecil choked. "Don't keep speakm' about it." 

Two days later, Cecil dropped off a freight tram in South Chicago, 
determined to follow a career as a steelmaker and to forget as soon as 
possible that he had ever worked for Captain Philip Latcher. 

It was in Chicago a year from the next December when Gus Bur- 
goyne came to terms with Captain Latcher. Their haggling took place 
in a booking agent's office rather than in the hotel suite where the 
previous morning the Sebastians had agreed to join the show. Gus 
didn't much like the Captain. He was too supercilious, too frosty, too 
immune to bluff persuasion. And he was a phony undoubtedly a 
phony. Yet as an animal man his popularity was growing. Recently 
a theatrical trade paper had published his picture on its cover. 

At first they were poles apart in the matter of salary, but the booking 
agent kept spreading his hands and pouring balm on their differences, 
so after an hour everything was settled. 

"Let's have a drink on it, old man," the Captain suggested when they 
emerged from the office. "I know an excellent place." 

As they proceeded along Madison Street and turned a corner, the 
Captain swung his stick and remarked: 

"There'll be a girl waiting for me. A pretty little thing. I might 
work her into the act." 

Gus was instantly on guard. 

"A contract's a contract," he said. 

The Captain laughed against the roar o an elevated train. 



48 GUS THE GREAT 

"You misunderstand, old fellow. I wouldn't dream of touching you 
for more money because of her. She's very young, you know. Hardly 
more than a child. But she rather has me going. Odd the way the 
girlies can make a man spin, eh? I picked her up last month in St. 
Paul. A waitress. And she quite took to me. She had some dread- 
fully ordinary name Swenson, Paulson, Jenson. . . . No good in the 
show business, of course. So I rechnstened her. Rather fun, eh ? Mary- 
belle Monahan. Like it?" 

"Sure," Gus said. "Fine name. Of course, Monahan's fairly com- 
mon too " 

"Exactly! But common in an uncommon way, eh? And with the 
Marybelle a nice effect." 

They entered a restaurant and at the rear passed into a dusky room 
with booths and glowing lights, She sat in a corner booth, waiting. 
Years later when Gus tried to recall the impression she made on him 
that day it was all misty and vague. She was very young, as the Cap- 
tain had said, and very blond. Her fine skin was washed over with 
blond coloring too, and her face had a still, sweet beauty. Her cheek- 
bones were high; not too prominent, but prominent enough to give 
interest to a face which otherwise would have been that of merely an- 
other pretty girl. 

Nor could Gus ever recall many of the details of that conversation. 
He carried away the impression that the girl was Captain Latcher's 
mistress, and he thought the Captain a reckless man to risk that with 
a girl who couldn't be more than sixteen. He also had the impression 
that she was quite in love with that phony person. Her manner was 
that of quiet devotion, of compliance and simple obedience. One re- 
mark Gus did remember. Out of the Captain's ready conversation it 
stuck with him down -the years. 

"I was telling Mr. Burgoyne," the Captain said, "that I may break 
you into the act." 

The girl smiled. Half-smiled, rather. It was a smile sweet and yet 
mysterious, like a few tantalizing snatches from a melody by Tchaikov- 
sky. 

But what impressed Gus was the way the Captain had spoken of 
breaking her in, exactly as if she were a new animal he had acquired. 

Considering that Marybelle Monahan would occupy an important 
place in his scheme of things, Gus thought about her surprisingly little 
during the next months. Perhaps he didn't think about her at all 
When he looked back after a lapse of years and tried to remember his 
state of mind that spring he mainly failed. He was a busy man in those 
days; dozens of things on his mind. He was driving hard toward suc- 
cessthat enravishmg word whose very sound always excited him and 



GUS THE GREAT 49 

swayed him the way hidden riches in the earth pull at a throbbing 
divining rod. 

He had actually reflected so little about Marybelle that he hadn't 
even wondered where she was when Captain Latcher and Willie ar- 
rived at the farm. It was the Captain who mentioned her when, after 
lunch, they crossed the carriage yard toward the office. 

"Old man/' he said, "I've been meaning to ask you. How about that 
girl of mine?" 

"Girl? Oh, the blonde. Miss Flannigan " 

"Monahan, old fellow. Marybelle Monahan. How about her?" 

"Thought we had that settled," Gus rumbled. "You want to use 
her in the act, that's fine, but a contract's a" 

"Oh, come, come! Of course that's settled. But I'm wondering about 
bringing her here. The situation might be considered delicate, eh? 
No marriage certificate, and all that." 

"Where is she Chicago?" 

"Tamarack. I put the little bug away in a hotel room there. But see 
here! You don't run a Sunday School show. It would be capital if I 
could bring her out here and bunk her in with me. Quite all right, 
I suppose?" 

Gus said, "Uh yes. Suppose so. Of course, there's Flora. She 
might " 

"Exactly. Charming woman, Mrs. Burgoyne, but a bit of a moral 
filly, eh ? But suppose I introduce the little Viking as my wife." 

"Sure," Gus said. "Why not?" 

"Excellent. As a matter of fact, there's a possibility she will be my 
wife. I've knocked around a bit in my time, you know. Sipped at 
every spring, as the Bard says. But look here. Why shouldn't I marry 
her?" 

"Fine idea," Gus said. 

"By jolly! The idea has possibilities, eh? Taking a wife. Marriage 
a great adventure and all that. And wouldn't it please the little chick! 
I'll stride into the room with a marriage license and chuck her under 
the chin and break the news in a blaze of glory. Romantic gesture, 
eh?" 

"Think it'd please her, all right," Gus said. "Women like that sort 
of thing." 

"B/ jolly, I believe they do!" 

The Captain laughed pleasantly. He gave Gus a firm handshake. 

"Thanks, old man, for bringing it to my attention. You know, it 
rather appeals to my dramatic instincts. I believe I'll run into Tama- 
rack this afternoon. Is there a car I could use?" 

So withm the hour the Captain drove away. The idea of marriage 
had not come to him, however, quite as impulsively as he had led Gus 



50 GUS THE GREAT 

to believe. In his heart the Captain possessed less derring-do than one 
might have supposed. He cut a dashing figure before the world, but 
he had been troubled by the warnings dropped by his booking agent. 
That gentleman had not wished to see one of his most profitable clients 
taken into custody, and he had asked the Captain to consider whether 
it was worth the risk, crossing state lines with a sixteen-year-old girl. 

"If you're smart you'll marry her," the agent had said. 

And Captain Latcher was nothing if not smart. Next afternoon, 
when he returned with his bride to the farm, his spirit was once more 
untroubled by that worry. Now he could settle down to business and 
whip the act into shape. It didn't do to enter the arena with worry 
nagging you. 

As for Marybelldf she was a serenely beautiful bride. She existed at 
the center of a golden cloud of lassitude, as if drugged by love, and she 
said little. But when the Captain introduced her as his wife, that queer 
little half-smile lingered on her lips, and she held tenderly in hez arms 
the great, fragrant bouquet of roses which her groom had presented her. 

One person was not invited to attend the wedding dinner in the 
house, nor did he participate in the joy and well-wishing that showered 
like rice on the bridal couple. His name was Willie Krummer. 

Willie had matured in many ways since that evening nearly two 
years before when he frightened poor Cecil off the show. He was just 
as blond and square-headed and gash-mouthed as ever, but his muscles 
had hardened and his body had filled out. He had become a strapping, 
upstanding fellow. He was as strong as a young bullock and just as 
obstinate, and many of his moral and ethical standards were taurine, 
too. 

Probably if Willie had returned to his home town a visit he cer- 
tainly was not contemplating the sheriff and county attorney would 
never have recognized him as the ornery kid they had wanted to 
matriculate in industrial school. His shiftiness had been overlaid by 
the military manner he admired in Captain Latcher. But Willie's 
soldierly demeanor had m turn become less conspicuous. As he evolved 
toward manhood he realized that all that saluting and about-facing was 
kid stuff. His adolescent hero-worshipping had betrayed him into 
ridiculous deportment. It came to him suddenly that he had been act- 
ing like a jackass, and he almost never saluted the Captain again. 
When the Captain commented on this Willie forthrightly announced 
that his days of imitating a frightened orderly were over. 

"Well, old fellow feeling your oats, efai 5 " But a certain contempla- 
tion came into the Captain's eyes; such contemplation as might be 
observed in a hen discovering that the egg she had hatched had been 
left in her nest by a serpent. 



GUS THE GREAT 51 

No longer was the Captain a hero to Willie. For one thing, he was 
not a Captain; never had been. The medals he wore m a glittering 
row on his uniform were all military school medals. Nor was he very 
brave. 

This revelation came to Willie with the force of a club blow on his 
hard cranium. For Willie admired courage. Not the soft courage of a 
lifeguard rescuing a drowning person, but the domineering courage of 
an animal trainer beating a furious brute into submission. The Captain 
told lurid stories of his experiences how hard and ruthless and knife- 
brandishing he had been but after Willie heard them several times 
and checked the various versions against one another he began to 
doubt that there was a grain of truth in them. But most disenchanting 
of all was the discovery that the Captain feared entering the arena. 

This terrible knowledge of his hero's feet and heart! of clay 
cropped into sight little by little. For instance, after a few weeks' clean- 
ing cages, Willie learned that the Captain's lions and tigers were not 
very ferocious. To the audience they seemed ferocious, but only because 
they were unfamiliar. 

Of course, the arena was not as safe as an armchair by a fireside; 
with even the most mellow jungle galaxy accidents did happen; the 
Captain's hard body bore scars that proved this; but on the other hand 
striding from the safety cage to the arena was not much more hazard- 
ous than walking against a red light at a busy corner. You had to keep 
your wits about you and your nerves under control, that was all. 

Nerves of the wrong sort were what Captain Latcher kept about him, 
and as season after season piled up behind him his dread of entering 
the arena increased. He had assumed his military manner to stiffen his 
courage. And the reason he perspired so copiously m the arena and had 
to be rubbed down could be ascribed to nerves. 

Long after Willie had suspected this state of affairs, the Captain con- 
fessed his weakness, his tongue lubricated by whiskey. It was the 
winter following Willie's joining up as cage boy, and they were sitting 
in the office of the abandoned factory in Blue Island. For some time 
Willie had been urging the Captain to start breaking some new animals 
he had acquired, a couple of lions, three tigers. They were frisky, full 
of the devil. 

"It's hard to make a start, old man. I dread it." 

"Why? It'll be fun." 

The Captain slipped off his bathrobe and with a forefinger traced a 
long, ugly scar on his left arm. 

"Blood poisoning, old man. Just one sweep of a paw and I was m 
the hospital for weeks. And this one." He indicated the scar tissue 
whitening his right thigh. "That was a month in a hospital bed. 
Damn it, old man I hate hospitals. Smelly places." 



52 GUS THE GREAT 

"You mean you're scared?" 

The Captain smiled and gazed at Willie over the whiskey glass. 

"It's more complicated than that, old fellow. It has to do with this 
psychology stuff. It's called arena shell shock. It comes to us all sooner 
or later. Ask any animal man. Sometimes it creeps up on you grad- 
ually, like a damned tiger stalking you for days through the jungle, 
and sometimes it hits without warning and you go to pieces in the 
safety cage and are never any good after that." 

He drank. 

"Maybe, old man, it's a way the beasts have of evening up the score, 
eh ? We cage them up and put them through their paces so that a lot 
of dullards can sit with their hearts in their throats. But it's all a 
damned unnatural business, eh? So old Dame Nature takes it out 
on us." 

He drank. 

"You look rather incredulous, Willie. Well, old son, you'll learn, 
you'll learn. More things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of m 
your philosophy, as the chap taught us at school. You're young now, 
old son, and you think nothing will ever break you. But it will, it will. 
If you keep on the jolly old cats will get you, just as they'll get me. I 
dream about it, you know. I'm in there without my whip and kitchen 
chair and gun. And they're all after me at once. By jolly! I wake up 
in a sweat. Not a pleasant business!" 

He drained his glass. 

"But one thing you've got, old son, if you want to quit. You've got 
a trade." 

"A trade?" Willie's mouth twisted scornfully about the words. 

"What else, old man ? A trade as a masseur. Haven't I taught you 
how to rub me down? I believe they pay rather well for that sort of 
thing at Turkish baths." 

"A trade," Willie said. "For Christ's sake, who wants a trade! I 
want to go after them cats!" 

"Ah," the Captain murmured, "in the bright lexicon of youth, and 
so on, and so on ... Very well, old son, why not go after them ? It's 
a great opportunity, Willie. I've had one sip too many or I wouldn't 
be making you the offer. The arena's out there, Willie, and the cats 
are there, and here I sit giving you carte blanche, as our French friends 
say. Proceed, Willie, old son! And may the better animal win, eh? 
And if you get a scratch, I wonder what will flow. Blood? I doubt it, 
old son. Ice water, I jolly well believe." 

And so, with the Captain weaving along after him, Willie went 
from the office into the vast gloom of that factory which back in the 
i88o's had manufactured buggies. The long, grime-crusted windows 



GUS THE GREAT 53 

were set at infrequent intervals in the old brick walls, and thick walnut 
pillars rose from the brick-paved floor to support the wooden ceiling. 

"Light, Willie! You can't work in this beastly gloaming." 

So Willie snapped a switch and a floodlamp poured a bright cone 
into the circular steel arena. 

"What part of the act, Willie? A couple of lions, as a starter? Kalem 
and Nero?" 

"Them!" Willie spat. "Them tame kittens! I want the new ones." 

The Captain's brows went up. Then he shrugged. 

"Very well, old boy. But just the three Bengals. No lions today." 

While Willie hooked up the chute from the arena to the tiger den 
the Captain glided back to the office and slipped into his training suit- 
soft boots, light breeches, a light shirt. He snapped a wide leather belt 
around the flat sinews of his stomach and checked the load of blanks 
in both .32 revolvers. Out in the factory he found Willie impatiently 
gripping a whip. He stood with legs apart, clad in some offcast boots 
and breeches of the Captain, and he was gazing at the arena where 
the three new Bengals were circling and hissing. 

"Certain you don't want to work the old ones, Willie?" 

"These!" 

The Captain flipped one revolver, caught it expertly by the barrel 
and gave it to Willie. 

"I'll be in the safety cage, old boy. I shouldn't try much with them, 
if I were you. If you're able to get inside for a yard or so it'll be a good 
morning's work." 

Willie laughed. 

"I'm going to pedestal them." 

"We'll see, we'll see," the Captain murmured. "Easy does it, old 
man." 

They entered the safety cage. Revolver in his belt, whip in one hand 
and a kitchen chair in the other, Willie filled his chest and said, "Here 
goes." 

The Captain opened the door into the arena. , 

Willie didn't teach the new cats to leap to their pedestals that morn- 
ing. The door had scarcely clanged shut behind him when a great 
many confusing things happened. His gaze had darted momentarily 
toward two of the animals at the far side of the arena when suddenly 
something tawny loomed in the air before him and the kitchen chair 
disintegrated as if by explosion. Willie staggered to one side just as 
something brightly striped sprang past. Willie pivoted to the arena 
bars, yelling lumberjack oaths, flailing the air with his whip and shoot- 
ing. His courage plummeted from the boiling point to fifty degrees 
below zero, and the shifty movements of his boyhood returned. He 



54 GUS THE GREAT 

forgot his career, the Captain, everything; everything save those slink- 
ing, flashing streaks. 

He heard the Captain's voice; he heard the safety cage door clang; 
and then his courage oozed upward, for he discovered that by some 
miracle he was standing in the safety cage and the Captain had taken 
over the business in the arena. 

It was possible to admire the Captain's virtuosity. His was the foot- 
work of a boxer or fencer; he didn't shout. Two of the tigers were 
climbing the arena side and investigating with some panic the netting 
over the top; and when the third animal leaped at the Captain again 
and again he dodged, ducked, danced very neatly and lightly, fending 
the swatting paws with the kitchen chair. 

"The door, Willie." 

As easily as a man leading a dancing partner the Captain worked the 
bad tiger away from the safety cage; and when Willie snapped open 
the door the Captain stepped backward out of the arena. The tiger 
sprang and pounced shut the door. 

The Captain's forehead gleamed and rivulets streamed from his 
cheeks. 

"Rather wild, aren't they, old man?" he said. 

Then he frowned, and as if from some inner compulsion he ordered 
Willie to clear the arena of the new animals and to hook up the chute 
to the cages where the old familiar cats lived and to bring them in. 

Using a stream of water from a hose, Willie stood outside the arena 
and drove the tigers back into the tunnel. 

The Captain went through his entire act that morning. He was like 
an aviator returning aloft immediately following a minor crackup. He 
even seized the jaws of lazy, sluggish old Nero and thrust his head 
inside Nero's mouth. At least, circus audiences supposed his head 
entered Nero's mouth. Actually, only his face went in. The Captain 
didn't like to do it because most lions suffered from bad breath, and 
Nero was decidedly not an exception. It wasn't a dangerous feat not 
with Nero; but it occurred to Willie that it could be dangerous, after 
all. If Nero were to be startled. 

When the time came for his rubdown, the Captain was quite ex- 
hausted. He lay with his face buried in his arms, legs twitching. Willie 
could tell he was all nerves. Mentally, he sneered at the man's 
cowardice. 

As for Willie, he felt quite pleased with himself. He had made an 
excellent beginning. Very few young men would be brave enough to 
enter an arena with three unbroken cats. He would have pedestaled 
them too, if the lily-livered Captain hadn't interfered. 

Willie was scarcely a past master at dissimulation, and during the 



GUS THE GREAT 55 

next days his true feelings toward the Captain were apparent. He 
swaggered, and much of the time that ornery grin plastered his coun- 
tenance. 

Being a fairly shrewd judge of human nature, the Captain under- 
stood why their relationship was cracking up. He had treated the lad 
too well. As soon as he had allowed their officer-private caste system to 
fall into disuse, Willie's overbearing disposition asserted itself. He con- 
sidered discharging Willie, but he decided against this because as an 
employee the boy had virtues. He was a good worker; even a depend- 
able one. He kept the cages spick and span, the whips in good repair. 
He was a marvel at packing gear; and when they traveled with a circus 
everything in the dressing van had its place. Yes, a most orderly, in- 
dustrious chap. 

"When are you going to break them cats?" Willie kept asking, dur- 
ing the week after the episode with the Bengals. 

"Soon, old man, soon. I'm planning my strategy with the kittens." 

Willie would grin. 

The Captain's annoyance with the lad was growing, and then one 
morning Willie overstepped himself. 

"I'd like to get another crack at them cats," he declared. "Let me go 
after them, if you're afraid." 

The Captain smiled. He said icily: 

"As a matter of fact, old chap, I'm going to start breaking them this 
morning. But first, there's another trifling detail to be attended to. 
Come, Willie." 

The Captain led Willie from the office, and when they were in the 
gloom of the factory he explained his intentions in a matter-of-fact 
voice. 

"Have you ever heard of insubordination, old chap? No? You've 
been the very picture of insubordination, old fellow, and I can't say 
that I like it." 

Whereupon the Captain administered to Willie an extremely scien- 
tific and rather brutal beating. He had been an excellent boxer in mili- 
tary school and when, at first, Willie tried to defend himself with 
roundhouse blows it was most amusing. Willie's swinging fists, tele- 
graphing their intentions, never came within inches of the Captain's 
jaw. When Willie discovered the hopelessness of fighting, he surren- 
dered abjectly; he whined and blubbered and refused to get up from 
the floor. Kicks brought howls from the lad, but they didn't bring him 
to his feet. As long as he had embarked upon chastisement, the Cap- 
tain thought it would be well to give Willie something to remember, 
so he seized a whip and finished the job with that. 

And it was truly miraculous what the Captain accomplished that 
morning. He apotheosize^ himself in the cage boy's soul. The Captain 



56 GUS THE GREAT 

was a great man, after all: a hero. He could respect him again. Of 
course, buried deep in Willie's being resentment burned, a determina- 
tion to get even some day; but it was like heat generated at the bottom 
of a pile heaped with tons of coal No flames were seen, and only a 
wisp of smoke now and then. On the surface Willie was respectful to 
the cringing point. 

And his respect was the greater because as soon as the Captain 
stopped bringing howls and pleadings from Willie he ordered him to 
get up and drive the new cats into the arena. Not only the Bengals, but 
the lions as well. Willie was quite aware that it was stepping up the 
danger to mix untrained lions and tigers, but those were the orders. 
And he was in a mood now not only to obey every order to the letter, 
but to anticipate orders and wishes. 

Of course, the Captain proceeded with the training more cautiously 
than Willie might have wished. For days he merely stepped into the 
arena and accustomed the animals to his presence. It was weeks before 
he managed to train them to leap to their pedestals. 

Willie's insubordination was a weed which could be knocked down 
and broken, but not permanently destroyed. Twice during the next 
year the Captain was compelled to clean out the garden of their rela- 
tionship so that Willie's orderly, virtuous onions could thrive. 

It seemed the cage boy would never learn; and sometimes the Cap- 
tain suspected that to Willie the whole business had the emotional 
beauty of a symphony's movements : a beating, cringing, respect, equal- 
ity, arrogance, another beating. 

"You're a queer chap, old fellow," he said, after the third punishment* 
"Rather twisted up inside, I imagine." 

Willie learned more from his association with the Captain than either 
imagined. Not merely about animal training, although he was learn- 
ing that too. Every now and then the Captain permitted him to enter 
the arena, always with the comfortable old cals. The Captain stood in 
the safety cage, ready to rescue him from a tight spot, while Willie got 
the act started. Once it was under way, a child could have taken over, 
because the cats knew the routine as well as the hands of a clock know 
the circle they travel. But the animals didn't like or trust Willie; he 
refused to fit himself into the regular rhythms of the act; he tried to 
hurry them; and instead of simply using the whip to cue them he 
couldn't resist snapping it into their hides. They would snarl and spit 
and pounce occasionally, whereupon Willie would discharge blank 
cartridges into their faces, afid then a real mixup would ensue. 

"By jolly, you need to learn restraint," the Captain told him re- 
peatedly, "Cats have a bit of pride, you know." 



GUS THE GREAT 57 

"I'll pride them, all right," Willie snarled. "I'll show 'em who's got 
pride. If the act was mine they'd learn all about pride." 

"Gracious, old chap ! If the act were yours. Not thinking of buying 
me out, are you?" The Captain laughed and added half -humorously, 
"And certainly not thinking of sponsoring an accident! I've made my 
will, you know. Everything goes to my brother in British Columbia. 
You'd be out of a job, old boy, if the cats got me." 

"Aw, quit the kiddin'," Willie protested. 

And he turned to a theatrical trunk and became very busy arranging 
things inside* He could feel the blood in his cheeks and he didn't want 
to meet the Captain's gaze. 

When they traveled to indoor circuses in the winter, they stopped at 
good hotels and ate in cafes, and this rolling-stone existence smoothed 
down and polished some of Willie's roughness. The Captain broke 
him of scooping food into his descending mouth with his knife, and 
he taught him to leave his napkin (only the Captain called it a servi- 
ette) on his lap instead of stuffing it into his collar. The first time they 
entered a hotel lobby with Willie carrying luggage, and a bellhop 
rushed to grab the grips, the Captain interposed just in time to prevent 
a scene. Willie thought the guy was trying to get away with some- 
thing. Willie's boundless ignorance about the amenities of living al- 
ways amazed and amused the Captain, and he spent many hours 
setting him right. He discovered that Willie's mind, beneath its rust 
of ignorance, had a hard, steel sharpness, and he even managed to 
patch up the more gaping holes in the lad's grammar. 

"If you're going to be a famous animal trainer," he'd say playfully, 
"you'll have to learn to meet people. The outcast days of the circus 
performer are over. Sometimes it even amuses society people to invite 
a few top liners to their homes for dinner. Think how dismayed they'd 
be at the sound of your eating. By jolly! They'd think you were chok- 
ing to death. Or if you sat next to a young matron of the Junior 
League, and dropped your hand on her knee " 

"Who are you kiddin'?" Willie inquired. "There ain't no girl players 
in the Leagues. Besides, I only follow the Majors." 

The Captain laughed delightedly, and explained to Willie's corru- 
gated brow all about the social order m the United States. 

Under this tutelage, Willie's wood-rat and road-kid personality was 
gradually overlaid with the protective coloration of the ordinary traveler 
to be met in railroad trains or hotel lobbies. The Captain took him 
down to the Loop and purchased him a suit, shirts, shoes. Willie 
yearned to buy fabrics and ties that screamed, but since the Captain 
was footing the bill he had to content himself with tamer selections. 
Willie's wide shoulders and narrow hips were the dream-come-true of 
clerks in ready-towear stores. 



5 8 GUS THE GREAT 

"A beautiful fit, sir! Look at the hang o that coat!" 

Sir! The coat tightened over Willie's chest and his chin came up 
as he admired himself in the long, three-winged mirror. But the clerk 
had let himself in for a good many sneering words by calling Willie, 
"sir." 

"You know, old lad," the Captain said, when they emerged to the 
street, "you treated the fellow rather shabbily." 

"Why not? That's what they're paym' him for to wait on people." 

Drill and hammer and blast as the Captain might, he could never in- 
ject into the cage boy's square skull the idea of equality in human 
relations. 

Inspired by his new clothes, Willie began taking great pride in his 
personal appearance, and when their second autumn together came 
and they boarded a train for St. Paul, Willie could easily have passed 
for a college football player. He looked like a semi-pro in mufti. Jaws 
grinding away at chewing gum, chin cupped in his palm, he sat gazing 
out the window looking bored. 

He had begun to do considerable reading, and although the range 
was narrow the quantity was vast, for every day he gulped down col- 
umns and columns of newspaper sports pages. He could tell you who 
pitched for the Yankees in 1910, and he was an authority on the cur- 
rent fortunes of a score of football elevens. Of them all, the aggregation 
which upheld the honor of the University of Wisconsin was his favor- 
ite. He held no grudge against his native state; quite the contrary. 
And he was ever willing to back up his high opinion of the Wisconsin 
team with a small wager. If the boys from Madison lost, a cloud of 
gloom descended upon him, but if they forged on to victory he grinned 
and crowed and rubbed it into the supporter of the other team. He 
despised Wisconsin's opponents, as if the coach and every member of 
the squad had insulted him. 

Sometimes he daydreamed regretfully about what a spectacular half- 
back the world had lost when he failed to continue his education. How 
he would have plowed through the line! Old Powerhouse Krummer! 
Many a face would have carried his cleat scars for the rest of its days. 
Knees pumping high, he would have surged and stiff-armed down the 
field. Old Touchdown Krummer! Rah, rah, rah! 

Still, you couldn't do everything, and a career as animal trainer re- 
mained his first love. Always he was tormented by the ambition that 
had crashed into flame on that long-ago afternoon when he beheld 
Captain Latcher saluting the audience and entering the arena. He 
pondered constantly how he could acquire an act of his own. He 
might, of course, go to work for a circus that owned a group of per- 
forming animals and wanted a trainer. But no! He wanted an act 



GUS THE GREAT 59 

that belonged to him, "Willie Krummer and His Trained Animals." 
Only a more impressive name than that. King Krummer. Or Count 
or Baron or Duke. Finding a new name would be much easier than 
acquiring the animals. He hadn't been long in selecting a name to sub- 
stitute for Parr. Jolting along on a Soo freight, he had seen a sign, 
Krummer Lumber Company, in a village through which the tram 
hooted, and at once he became Willie Krummer. 

Now and then Willie thought how simple it would be to foster an 
accident when the Captain was rehearsing the cats. There were dozens 
of possibilities. Since the world considered animal training so hazard- 
ous, nobody would be surprised to hear that a tiger had turned sud- 
denly, or that Nero had closed his jaws with the Captain's head inside. 
But damn it, what would be the use of arranging an accident when the 
act was willed to the Captain's brother? Willie entertained a very 
low opinion of the Captain's brother. 

It was in St. Paul where they were playing at the Shrine Indoor 
Circus that they met Mabel Swanson. On their second morning they 
left the hotel and strolled along Wabasha Street, searching for breakfast. 

"This will do well enough," the Captain said, so they entered a 
quick-lunch joint and sat down at a white-topped table. Everything 
ordinary and usual: paper napkins folded in a container, tinny-looking 
silverware, the clatter of trays and dishes echoing from the white-tiled 
walls. And then suddenly the place became out-of-the-ordinary and 
exciting with the appearance at their table of this girl. 

By this time Willie had had a number of girls, but there was some- 
thing about this serene blonde with her just-right figure that stirred a 
heretofore untouched nook of his being. He felt . . . well, a good deal 
the way he had felt that afternoon when he first saw the Captain sub- 
duing his cats. St. Paul had whetted his emotions anyway, for it was 
simply alive with lovely blond girls, and this waitress with her smooth 
skin seemed the summing up of all that fascinating pulchritude. Only 
she had something that the others lacked. Her face was more com- 
plicated, more mysterious. Something silent and secretive and un- 
touched brooded behind it, so that you felt like an explorer coming 
over a hill and beholding vast leagues of northern white birch, rich 
and virgin. 

When she left menus and departed for glasses of water, Willie's gaze 
followed her. She wore sheer, flesh-colored stockings, the seams run- 
ning straight and intensifying the beauty of her well-turned legs. 

While she took their orders, Willie detected a tiny smile playing 
lightly about her mouth, and this roused and baffled him. What was 



60 GUS THE GREAT 

the joke, huh? What was so funny about him? His fingers stirred 
and tingled. If he had her alone and she kept mocking him like that, 
he'd slap that smile off her face. Nobody could laugh at Willie Krum- 
mer and not let him in on the joke. 

He ordered bacon and eggs, the eggs to be fried sunny-side-up, but 
when she brought the food it was instantly apparent that she had will- 
fully disobeyed the command of the future greatest animal trainer in 
the world. The eggs had been fried turn-over style. 

So Willie acted like Willie. He pointed at the treacherously prepared 
eggs and with an arrogance of head and a few well-chosen words told 
the pretty mmx his opinion of a waitress who flouted the customer's 
wishes. She quit smiling soon enough then. She looked bewildered 
and flushed. 

It was at this point that Captain Latcher butted in on Willie's love- 
making. As usual at breakfast, the Captain had been lost in the pages 
of his morning newspaper, but as Willie's diatribe impinged on his 
consciousness he glanced up, took in the situation and put the paper 
down. 

He flashed the waitress his most charming smile and said easily: 

"Come, come, my girl. Don't let this chap disturb you." 

"I'm sorry about the eggs," she murmured in her low contralto 
voice. 

The Captain airily waved aside her apology. 

"He's lucky to have anything at all to eat. I picked him up the other 
day out of a hobo jungle. You can't imagine how he looked. He'd 
never had a haircut, and I doubt if he'd ever had a bath. And look 
at him now. You'd very nearly think him civilized, wouldn't you?" 

The Captain gestured easily toward his cage boy, and Willie found 
two pairs of eyes contemplating him as if he were a side show freak. 
His mouth twisted and the light in his eyes was sinister. And he felt 
hot crimson pumping up his heavy neck and into his ears, 

"Willie's like fire. A good servant, a poor master. A simple fellow. 
He fancies himself quite dangerous, you know, but I give him a sound 
thrashing now and then, and that keeps him in line. I assure you he 
won't bite you not while I'm present." 

Willie's lips were moving, soundlessly echoing the venomous 
thoughts that milled and circled through his brain like cats in an arena. 
And he knew how a surly cat felt, facing the Captain. You couldn't 
break through his guard. His footwork was too nimble, just as his 
wordwork was too foxy. Many of Willie's thoughts wanted to pounce 
out of his mouth and claw the Captain, but he knew the Captain would 
dance aside and lash back worse than ever, 

"See there?" the Captain said. "We have him tamed now, and 



GUS THE GREAT 61 

pedestaled. After a while he'll perform his tricks. He can use a knife 
and fork, you know. Really remarkable, eh?" 

The air enclosing Willie's head was a pink-tinged, hot balloon. The 
plate where the eggs reposed (those damned eggs that had started it 
all) was thick and white, the edge chipped. 

"Look up, Willie." The Captain snapped his fingers sharply, like a 
hypnotist. "Apologize to the girl." 

Willie wasn't going to look up and he wasn't going to apologize. 
And yet, damn it, he did look up, exactly as if he were a hypnotist's 
victim, and his throat muttered something that sounded like, " 'polo- 
gize." He hated himself for it, and he hated the girl and the Captain 
yes, and St. Paul and the world and the universe that had produced 
him without consulting his wishes in the matter. The girl was half 
smiling again, now, like a kid amused at the antics of a caged monkey. 

"I didn't fix the eggs," she told the Captain. "It was the cook." 

"Of course. Think no more about it. The incident's quite closed, 
eh? I say, what's your name?" 

"Mabel. Mabel Swanson." 

"Do you like a show, Mabel?" 

"Sure. A good show I like it." 

"You're going to see one." He slipped a notebook from his pocket, 
tore out a sheet, dashed off a few words. "You present this at the gate, 
Mabel" 

"Oh-h," she said, her low voice trilling up and down a tiny scale. 
"A circus." She frowned for a second, then smiled. "Your name signed 
here I knew somewhere I had seen it. And you, too. In the news- 
papers." 

Her voice and her diction had an engaging foreign flavor; not as 
pronounced as if she had been born in Scandinavia, but as if she had 
been reared in a household where a language other than English was 
spoken. 

"Yes," the Captain said, "our advance notices have been very good 
in St. Paul. Charming city, St. Paul." 

"Oh, yesvery nice. I like it." 

"Lived here long, Mabel?" 

"Not very long, no . . ." She glanced over her shoulder. "I must go, 
now. Other customers." 

This time, it was the Captain's gaze that followed her departure. 

"By jolly," he murmured. "An intriguing little creature." 

And after that, his concentration upon his newspaper was not so 
complete. Willie chewed sullenly. He would have enjoyed escaping 
into the sports pages, but the Captain was prejudiced against splitting 
up a newspaper and sharing it. Always he read it through leisurely, 
passing it on to Willie after he had quite finished with it. It exasper- 



62 GUS THE GREAT 

ated Willie., always accepting the crumbs and scraps of life. Everybody 
had forever been against him. 

The Captain soared through that day in high spirits, but Willie's 
sullen breakfast mood remained. There was no matinee, so that after- 
noon he moped about town, staring into curio shop windows, spending 
a few cents in a penny arcade, and finally boarding a streetcar for the 
long ride to Minneapolis. He stared at a good many smooth blond 
girlshe guessed they didn't make 'em any color but blond, up here 
in Minnesota but no girl affected him as Mabel had. 

He tried to analyze his emotions about her, but they were such a 
tangle of shame and desire and jealousy and tantahzation that he 
floundered about like a man trying to crawl through a thicket of bram- 
bles. He told himself that he hated her, but nevertheless he kept im- 
agining what it would be like if she were to respond to his overtures 
the way she had to the Captain's. His daydreaming flourished uncon- 
trolled, and it was lucky indeed that the other passengers couldn't 
know the thoughts that uncoiled in the head of that fellow who 
slouched in a seat, chewing gum and staring discontentedly out the 
window. 

The car moaned across the Mississippi River, but it left Willie unim- 
pressed. Just a lot of water. And the wide, bright, windy streets of 
Minneapolis left him unimpressed, also. In his present mood, he pre- 
ferred the narrower, older streets of St. Paul. He boarded another car. 

And that evening in the auditorium he attempted the impossible task 
of picking Mabel Swanson out among the thousands of blurring faces. 
He was hampered by the strong floodlights pouring brilliance into the 
ring. Willie wore a scarlet attendant's suit, the jacket scrolled with 
black, but of course nobody watched him . . . unless perhaps Mabel 
had come to realize ... All eyes followed the Captain. He hadn't 
given an audience such a big money's worth in a long time. Elegant 
in a fresh uniform and highly polished boots (a result of Willie's elbow 
grease), he saluted the audience dashingly, and he put his cats through 
their paces as if they were expertly trained cadets. He had blended his 
new animals into the act, and they were still as unbroken in spirit as 
brand-new shoes. The Captain took chances that night which evoked 
Willie's grudging admiration; even the new cats had to step. The 
applause was thunderous; and in the dressing room following the act 
the Captain was as high as the statehouse dome. None of that arena- 
shell-shock stuff tonight. 

"You run along, old boy," he said, patting his soft hat into place^ 
adjusting his scarf, taking up his stick. "I have an appointment." 

Willie stared. "Who with?" 



GUS THE GREAT 63 

"It's none of your business, old fellow, but if you must know, with 
the little Vikmg." 

"Viking?" 

"Don't be thick-headed, Willie. With Mabel I dropped in for a cup 
of tea this afternoon, and suggested that we meet after the show." 

Willie turned away, stricken. The next days were torment. And 
the worst blow of all bounced off his skull at the end of the week. For 
when they left St. Paul on the late Saturday night tram, Mabel accom- 
panied them. She and the Captain enjoyed Pullman accommodations. 
A stateroom. Willie dozed and twisted in his clothes amid the smells 
of orange peelings and garlic and the sounds of wailing infants in 
the day coach. 



LEAKS BEFORE, somebody had built the house at winter quarters. Not 
Burgoyne. He had come later. Whoever built it had gone bankrupt 
trying to farm the place, bec-ause the soil was so impoverished. 

Back in the iSgo's, in the city of Tamarack, a group of men had 
beheld visions. Financial and commercial visions. Like most men with 
idle capital they desired an investment that was both speculative and 
safe. They wanted their dollars to go adventuring and bring back 
alive great profits, but they were solicitous for the safety of their dollars 
while on the expedition. 

The men thought: transportation. Ah! The country was growing, 
Roads were wretched and horses slow. Yet goods had to be moved 
and people were always yearning to be where they were not. 

The men thought: electricity. Magic word! Thomas A. Edison! 
Modern wizardry! Profits! 

So the men stroked their whiskers and organized an electric railroad 
and christened it Tamarack & Northern. As president they elected a 
man with more whiskers and more money and more stock in the 
company than any of the others. Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford. He had 
attained financial prowess partly by hard work and partly by great 
luck. As a stripling he had migrated west and secured employment at 
a general store in what was then the muddy pioneer village of Tama- 
rack. He had no thought of becoming a financier or even a merchant. 
He wanted to be a farmer. So he slaved all day and at night he slum- 
bered on the counter of the store in order to save the cost of lodgings* 
Presently he had hoarded enough money to begin buying a farm at 
the edge of the village. It was on this farm that Tamarack took it into 
its head to grow; by 1890, the most bustling corner in the Tamarack 
business district occupied the spot which Mr. Oxenford had intended 
as his cow lot. Nobody had been more astonished at this happy turn 
of events than Mr. Oxenford, but he pretended he had possessed great 
foresight all along, and people held him in awe. 

Tamarack & Northern laid track, strung trolley wires, and for a few 
years it made money. When anybody suggested to Mr. Oxenford that 
these new horseless carnages might offer competition to his company, 
he enjoyed a hearty laugh. There were always, he said, Socialistic fools 
who would squander money on ideas like that. Why, he had evea 



GUS THE GREAT 65 

read in the newspapers about some idiots who thought they could build 
a flying-machine. Mr. Oxenford sometimes wondered what the coun- 
try was coming to. 

Mr. Oxenford was forever dabbling in various deals, and one of his 
side lines was the Tamarack Fuel & Ice Company. The concern 
operated several coal mines near Tamarack, but Mr. Oxenford, who 
always wanted more of everything, wanted more mines, so he em- 
ployed a geologist to go poking about the country searching for land 
which might have coal beneath it; and one day the geologist drove 
his buggy into that valley northwest of Tamarack. 

A week later, operating deviously, Mr. Oxenford began purchasing 
land in the valley. Not coal rights alone, but the land itself. For the 
land, being useless except for grazing, was priced so cheaply that he 
computed his possible profits as greater if he owned it outright. More- 
over, if he started dickering for coal rights, the owners might suspect 
the existence of coal and shove up the price. In the privacy of his 
dingy office, many a chuckle rustled through Mr. Oxenford's whiskers 
as he thought how he was outfoxing the owners of the land. 

Tamarack Fuel & Ice sank a mine shaft. Encountered coal. A 
settlement sprang into being, peopled by round-headed men with 
prodigious families who jabbered in a strange foreign tongue. The 
settlement was called Oxenford. 

And then Tamarack & Northern decided to run a spur into the valley 
from its main line. The decision was not popular with the other stock- 
holders. They howled. They saw ruin. But Mr. Oxenford owned 
fifty-one percent of the stock, and he had a streak of stubbornness as 
flinty as his small cold eyes. Profits which could better have been dis- 
persed as dividends were poured into the construction fund. It was 
bad business for Tamarack & Northern but excellent business indeed 
for Tamarack Fuel & Ice to have other people's money lay track to 
its mine. That was in 1901. 

Three years later a wedding occurred in Mr. Oxenford's great, 
showy wooden castle on Wellington Avenue in Tamarack. For better 
or worse his daughter, Flora, became the bride of that ambitious young 
fellow with the persuasive tongue, Gus Burgoyne. Burgoyne was a 
man after Mr. Oxenford's heart, A hustler! 

For several years Mr. Oxenford had been watching Gus Burgoyne. 
Their first business transaction had taken place when, at twenty-two, 
Burgoyne was city editor of the Tamarac\ Beacon. That was soon 
after Tamarack & Northern purchased a controlling interest in the 
Tamarack Street Railway Company. 

To Mr. Oxenford's slight dismay, the purchase had brought him 
into command of an amusement park. Amazing but true! a park 
called Funland, complete with a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a 



66 GUS THE GREAT 

Ferris wheel. For Funland was controlled by the streetcar company, 
which was controlled by Tamarack & Northern, which was controlled 
by Mr. Oxenford. Some years before, the streetcar company had put 
up the money for the construction of Funland Park away out at the 
edge of Tamarack, reasoning soundly that people who wanted to enjoy 
themselves at Funland would have to get there by riding the streetcars. 

Mr. Oxenford was sapient enough to realize he knew nothing- at all 
about the amusement park business, but so long as he had unwittingly 
acquired it he wanted to make a profit. And this much he did know : 
there would be no profit unless the citizenry could be lured there in 
droves. 

How to lure them Mr. Oxenford couldn't imagine, for he had no 
interest in such tomfoolery. No showman's instincts. He could lean 
back in. his swivel chair and rustle his palms together and hatch 
schemes for siphoning thousands of dollars from the bank accounts of 
other businessmen dizzy mergers of companies which owned other 
companies and were in turn owned by still other companies; but how 
to inspire small fry to waste nickels and dimes at an amusement park 
was beyond him. He didn't understand the thinking processes of nin- 
compoops who would pay to ride a merry-go-round. But he very well 
understood that ten dimes make a dollar: fortunes had towered up 
from the dimes of millions of spenders. Then it occurred to him that 
a newspaper man should have ideas on the subject, and he recalled 
that fellow Burgoyne, who had once interviewed him on his birthday 
and had written a very fine newspaper account about Mr. Oxenford's 
advice to young men who wanted to become successful. (Thrift, In- 
dustry, Integrity those were the cornerstones of success, Mr. Oxen- 
ford had disclosed to the Leaders-of-the-Future.) So he summoned 
Burgoyne to his office, and when he learned that the reporter had been 
promoted to city editor he was certain he had picked the right man. 

He offered Burgoyne what seemed to him the princely sum of ten 
dollars per week to act as publicity consultant. But Burgoyne laughed. 

"I couldn't touch it for that. Too much risk." 

"Risk?" Mr. Oxenford growled through his whiskers. "Where's the 
risk?" 

So Burgoyne explained that a newspaper man occupied a position of 
public trust. He smiled when he said it and Mr. Oxenford smiled too: 
they understood each other. A newspaper man and especially a city 
editor was expected to permit news alone to enter the columns of his 
paper. That a city editor should hold a side-line job as a press agent 
was unthinkable, at least at a salary of ten per week. 

"If my bosses found out what I was up to, I'd be fired so fast my 
head would swim. Of course," Burgoyne added, "I'd enjoy doing it 
if the price was right. I've got lots of ideas on the subject, and any- 



GUS THE GREAT 67 

thing I'd cook up would be sure to get into print. After all, I'm city 
editor." 

"What would you consider a right price?" 

"Oh, say twenty-five a week, as a starter." 

"Great God, man!" exclaimed Mr. Oxenford. "Do you think I'm 
made o money?" 

Burgoyne said, "Yes." 

A promising fellow! Mr. Oxenford chuckled. And his rapid mind 
did some figuring. After all, twenty-five wasn't so much, if Burgoyne 
could deliver. Display ads would cost more than that, and they 
wouldn't be as widely read as news stories. 

"You're hired," he said. And he thought: "You're smart, my young 
friend, but not as smart as you think. After you've taken that salary 
I'll have you where I want you. You'll have to take less then, or I'll 
tell your bosses what you've been up to." 

Mr, Oxenford was neither the first nor la:>t man who believed it 
possible to outsmart Gus Burgoyne. A year later Burgoyne left his 
job on the city desk to become manager of the park. And Flora Oxen- 
ford had fallen in love with him. She was a large, unbeautiful, cow- 
like girl, and some people were unkind enough to suspect that Bur- 
goyne married her for her money. Burgoyne never suspected any such 
thing; he damned well knew it. 

Burgoyne's first advice as secret press agent had been: 

"Buy an elephant." 

"A what!" 

"An elephant." 

"God Almighty!" Mr. Oxenford exclaimed. "What would we do 
with an elephant?" 

"You're paying me for advice. If you don't follow it, don't blame 



me." 



"An elephant," Mr. Oxenford groaned. "How much do they cost?" 

"You might pick up a baby elephant cheap. Twelve or fifteen 
hundred." 

The fellow was crazy! An elephant! Twelve or fifteen hundred! 
And yet ... well, there was a certain fascination in the suggestion. 

"What attracts people," Burgoyne said, "are superlatives. The best. 
The biggest. Of course, you could buy a whale" 

"Great God, no! Not a whale!" 

"No, not a whale," Burgoyne agreed. "Because you can't exhibit -a 
whale, unless he's dead and full of embalming fluid. But an elephant's 
different." 

"How much do they eat?" 

"Oh, well, you know," Burgoyne said, rather vaguely. "They're big. 
have to be fed. Of course the kids would feed it peanuts and " 



68 GUS THE GREAT 

He broke off. His eyes lighted. And he smacked his palm down on 
Oxenford's desk. "I've got it!" he exclaimed. "It won't cost you a cent! 
Not a red cent!" 

"That," said Mr. Oxenford, "is more like it." 

Burgoyne put his inspiration into words with such powerful and 
infectious enthusiasm that Mr. Oxenford found himself embracing 
the idea, 

"It has everything!" Burgoyne kept interjecting. "It doesn't miss 
anywhere!" 

And so it was that the children of Tamarack contributed their dimes 
toward thfc purchase of a baby elephant to be quartered at Funland 
Park. Wholeheartedly, the Tamarac^ Beacon sponsored the project. It 
became a crusade. Editorials were written upon the subject; civic 
speakers espoused the idea; the superintendent of schools declared the 
educational value of an elephant was beyond calculation; even a 
preacher or two said some fine things about elephants from their pul- 
pits. The citizens of Tamarack began feeling keenly the lack of an 
elephant. People wondered how they had got along all these years 
without one. 

Into the Beacon office the dimes began to tinkle. The tinkling 
swelled into a ringing torrent. The Beacon hired extra help. Human 
interest stories found their way into print. A story and picture of the 
little crippled newsboy contributing his dime. A picture of the little 
girl who did mother's dishes for a week to earn her dime. 

On the day when the tide of dimes surged above the fifteen-hijndred- 
dollar mark, the Beacon carried a banner headline: ELEPHANT ASSURED. 
And in the dining room of a country hotel, fifty miles away, a man sat 
reading that story. His name was Ivan Pawpacker. 

Late the next afternoon, in the Beacon city room, the copy boy came 
to the city desk and told Burgoyne: 

"Man to see you. Something about the elephant." 

Burgoyne looked across the big dingy room with its long untidy 
tables and antediluvian typewriters. Beyond the railing he saw a small 
man with a gold-headed stick. The copy boy bade him enter, and 
Burgoyne watched him crossing the room. Pawpacker wore a short 
beard and his step was quick, firm, self-assured. His eyes were dark 
and keen. He extended a narrow, well-kept hand: the hand of a 
gentleman. Burgoyne's burly paw shook it heartily. 

"Sit down, sir have a chair," he boomed cordially. 

In those brave days Burgoyne's zest for life was limitless; life was a 
melon he was going to carve up and find sweet and juicy. By his great 
energy and considerable ability he had bulled ahead in newspaper 
work, but he didn't want to spend his years chronicling the exploits of 
other men. He wanted to charge out into the arena where the sun was 



GUS THE GREAT 69 

hot and a man could brawl and sweat and make a name for himself. 
Newspaper work introduced him to many men, and he shrewdly esti- 
mated them all and tried to impress those he might use. 

As he talked -with Pawpacker, excitement pounded in his blood. It 
was as if his highly developed instinct for self-advancement were crying 
out that here was a man who would be important in his life. 

"I understand," Pawpacker said, "that you're in the market for an 
elephant' 1 

"Well yes. The Beacon has been raising funds. But Samuel Oxen- 
ford will make the actual purchase. With my advice. Any recommen- 
dation from me he'll accept. Do you have an elephant?" 

"I have a half-dozen." 

Burgoyne's excitement increased. The thought of elephants always 
affected him like a brass band. And he was excited too about the 
dazzling unpredictability of life. Five minutes ago he had been copy- 
reading a dull story. And then this man appeared and calmly admitted 
ownership of a half-dozen elephants! 

"Where are they?" 

"In Missouri. Winchester. I have a circus brokerage business there." 

Burgoyne felt as if he had quaffed champagne. Show business! He 
thought of Barnum. The Ringlings. Adam Forepaugh. 

"I think you and I can do business," Burgoyne said. "How long will 
you be in town?" 

"Till tomorrow." 

"Good. Have dinner with me and we'll go over the deal. Then later 
in the evening see Oxenford." 

They shook hands again, Pawpacker so laconic^ so meticulous, so 
rapierhke; Burgoyne so big and well-met. 

As soon as Pawpacker had gone, Burgoyne called Oxenford and 
made an appointment for nine that evening. He didn't mention the 
dinner engagement because already a scheme was sprouting in his 
mind whereby he might make a little money for himself on the deal. 
Moreover, he didn't want to share Pawpacker with anybody; he wanted 
to question him as to the cost of starting a small circus, and he knew 
that Oxenford would keep breaking in with pompous advice. 

The Beacon was an afternoon newspaper, and except for odds and 
ends his day's work was over. He didn't bother to clean up those odds 
and ends. 

"Tell anyone I won't be back," he instructed the copy boy. "Tell 
them I'm working on this elephant business," 

At the door, he glanced back at the city room. How stifling it 
seemed, suddenly! A dusty bar of late sunlight shafted through the 
grimed windows, revealing the stained walls, the warped floor, the 
scattered wastepaper. At the copy desk a couple of men in shirt sleeves 



7 o GUS THE GREAT 

were laboring over long strips of paper, and a reporter was tapping out 
a feature story. Slaves! Visionless treadmill animals! In ten years and 
twenty years they would still be tapping away their lives, but he was 
going on and on. His faith in his own capacities had never given him 
such a boundless sense of power. 

In his cheap lodging house he bathed and shaved and selected his 
favorite suit. A checked suit. He shrugged into crisp linen, hooked a 
starched collar round his heavy throat, knotted into place a blue tie 
with white polka dots. He was whistling. 

The season was spring balmy April weather and instead of hailing 
a horse-drawn cab he walked to the General Grant Hotel. It was one 
of the happiest half-hours m his life. The sun had set but the streets 
were still light from the afterglow in the serene sky. He strode along 
past boys playing marbles, girls playing jackstones; he heard a robin 
singing. He stopped at a saloon and bought a fistful of cigars, but it 
never occurred to him to order a drink. He was intoxicated enough 
already. He was gloriously young, and out there ahead the entire 
future stretched. All he had to do was to make the correct moves in 
this fascinating game of getting along in life. He felt like a man who 
had suddenly fallen m love and who was keeping an appointment with 
the girl. That same light and exquisite delirium raced through his 
veins, and he viewed reality through the same tinted lenses of self- 
delusion. 

In those days the General Grant was Tamarack's best hotel, and 
now at the dinner hour the lobby was full of aromatic cigar smoke 
and prosperous-looking men and handsome women and laughter and 
bustle and the sense of things happening. Burgoyne loved it. They 
were his kind of people, he thought. People upon whom fortune 
smiled. People who took what they wanted. 

He found Pawpacker in a corner, smoking a quiet cigar, and he 
noticed then that trait which through all the afteryears the man never 
lost: his detachment. He seemed content to remain the shrewd spec- 
tator. To manipulate things silently in the shadows behind scenes. 
Well, every man to his tastes, but those were not Burgoyne's tastes. 
He was a born front man. In Pullman cars and cafes he wanted people 
to nudge one another and whisper, "That's Gus Burgoyne. You know, 
the big circus man." 

"Well, Mr. Pawpacker," Burgoyne boomed, "see we're both on time. 
That ought to mean we can do business, huh?" 

"I'm always on time." 

"You bet! Punctuality's a wonderful thing. I'll fire a reporter 
quicker than scat if he's late to work." 

Burgoyne had never fired a man for being late, but he wanted to 



GUS THE GREAT 71 

impress upon Pawpacker the fact that his dinner companion was a 
man in authority around the Beacon, not some flunky. 

"What's the fellow up to?" Pawpacker asked himself, as they walked 
into the oak-paneled dining room. He was puzzled, amused, interested. 
For after all, he was the man who had something to sell, and Burgoyne 
was the customer. Yet from the first Burgoyne had treated him with 
the deference and cordiality due a customer. 

At the table, Burgoyne was the expansive host. Never for a second 
did the Negro waiter wonder which man was to foot the bill and pro- 
vide the tip. He called the waiter George. 

"How are the steaks tonight, George? Um-m. Are the planked ones 
good?" And to Pawpacker, "This place is famous for its steaks. Like 
a planked steak, Mr. Pawpacker?" 

And after the order was given Burgoyne said, "I called Mr. Oxen- 
ford. Made an appointment for nine at his home. As I told you, hell 
take my recommendation on the elephant." 

"Good," Pawpacker said. And waited. He wanted to sell one of his 
elephants, but thus far the best tactics had been to remain aloof from 
the subject. His shrewd eyes studied Burgoyne. The fellow was big, 
hale, hearty; hardly handsome, but he had the good looks of youth 
and abundant animal spirits. A large head with a wide brow; a long 
thrust of jaw; a Roman nose. 

"You say you're a circus broker, Mr. Pawpacker. Just what do you 
mean by that?" 

Despite his preference for taciturnity, Pawpacker found himself 
drawn out by the genuineness of Burgoyne's interest. His actual pro- 
fession was horse-buying, but some time ago a circus had played his 
town of Winchester. A small wagon show. During the evening per- 
formance the owner suffered a fatal heart attack. And it transpired that 
for months the show had been crawling along the brink of financial 
ruin. There was almost no money in the red wagon, and all the people 
on the show had been unpaid for so long that nobody had the price 
of a meal. 

As a dealer m horses and mules, Pawpacker owned a farm at the 
edge of Winchester, with plenty of sheds and barns. And he had loose 
capital. He had found it wise always to have a sum of money in the 
bank say four or five thousand against which he drew checks only 
when an unusual business opportunity presented itself. His Oppor- 
tunity Fund, he called it. False to believe that opportunity knocked 
but once! Opportunity knocked constantly. If you had loose capital. 

This was opportunity. So he bought the circus. By the simple ex- 
pedient of paying its debts. Actually, he had not wanted the wagons 
and canvas and wild animals. He had wanted the horses. The show 
possessed some wonderful draft animals. And several excellent saddle 



72 GUS THE GREAT 

horses. The horses had lured out his checkbook. He would have 
bought only the horses, save that buying the whole outfit was no more 
costly than buying the horses alone. And he wasn't a man who avoided 
getting all a dollar could buy. 

It was a good stroke of business. Better than he expected. Within a 
month he sold the horses and made a profit. And there he was with 
a lot of circus equipment on his hands. A cage of monkeys. Three 
lions. Canvas. An elephant. God knew what else. 

The animals had excellent appetites. He feared they would eat him 
out of his profit. So, in an amusement weekly, he inserted an adver- 
tisement. He hardly expected replies. It seemed unlikely there were 
people willing to pay hard cash for monkeys. But a surprise awaited 
him. There were many people looking for bargains in monkeys and 
lions and snakes. Yes, snakes! Two boa constrictors. Imagine! 

Men came to Winchester. His profits on that deal mounted. One 
man who owned some zebras offered to swap them for the elephant. 
His trading instincts rose to the occasion. He made the swap, and re- 
ceived a hundred dollars to boot. That was important in trading 
always to get cash, even a little, to boot. 

So without really intending to, he found himself in the circus broker- 
age business. One thing led to another. Hagenbecks' American repre- 
sentative called on him. The Carl Hagenbecks of Hamburg, Germany. 
Famous animal people. They were forever sending expeditions into 
Africa and India after wild animals. He imported a great many ani- 
mals from the Hagenbecks, now. 

Burgoyne thought he had never heard such a romantic story. He 
blurted out: 

"I'm going to organize a circus. Could you outfit me?" 

"Certainly." 

"How much would it cost?" 

"What do you plana railroad show or a mud show?" 

"Mud show?" 

"That's slang for a wagon show. A show that travels from town to 
town in its own wagons." 

Burgoyne sighed. "I suppose that's the way I'd have to start. Start 
small, and grow." 

"Like the Ringlings?" Pawpacker asked, with a smile. 

"That's it! Like the Ringlings! How much would it cost?" 

"Five thousand should get you started. In a small way. You 
wouldn't have much leeway, though. A week of rain would close you. 
You'd need luck." 

Burgoyne's mouth hardened, 

"If I ever get started nothing will close me." 

And he thought: Five thousand! Five thousand! A monumental 



GUS THE GREAT 73 

sum, He didn't have even five hundred. But he would get capital 
Somehow. It might take years, but he could be patient. He knew 
precisely what he wanted now, and he would go after it. 

He said, "About this elephant. You've read how we put on a cam- 
paign to buy it?" 

Pawpacker nodded. 

"That was my idea," Burgoyne said. "The whole thing came from 
right here." He tapped his forehead. "Funland Park agreed to quarter 
the elephant and feed it if the kids would buy it. And the Beacon 
agreed to collect the money. You know public service. When we 
get the elephant well have a big free day at the park, but after that the 
kids will have to pay admission to see their own elephant. That's smart, 
don't you think? Don't you think the whole idea was pretty cute?" 

Pawpacker smiled; this fellow amused him. He was so blustery and 
so manifestly a scalawag; and yet when he talked about elephants and 
circuses his eagerness and enthusiasm gave him an air almost o naivete. 
Yet Pawpacker was an experienced enough judge of men to discern 
that he was not naive, really. 

He said, "That's smart promotion. If you have many ideas like that, 
you're wasting your time in a newspaper office." 

Burgoyne beamed. "I think so too!" he agreed heartily. "I'm full 
of those ideas. Full of them! That's why I want to get into the show 
business." And he added, "Now about your elephants. Do you have 
a young one? We thought it would appeal to the kids to get a baby 
elephant." 

"Well, there's Molly. She's not very old. And she's a good bull/' 

"Bull?" 

"That's more circus lingo. All elephants are bulls." 

"I get it. Bulls. Good name for them. Seems to fit. How much 
do you want for her?" 

"Fifteen hundred." 

Burgoyne laughed. "You've read the Beacon, all right! Yep. We 
collect fifteen hundred so that's your price." 'He elbowed the table and 
spoke confidentially across the dishes. "Now listen, Mr. Pawpacker. 
It's Oxenford who'll make the purchase, but as I told you he'll take 
my advice. Because I cooked up this business and it's worked out fine, 
see? He trusts my judgment. But look here. Oxenford's a business- 
man. If we go but there and price this bull at fifteen hundred he'll 
smell a nigger in the woodpile. He'll think it's not worth that but that 
you're pricing it at fifteen hundred because we've got that much to 
spend. No, that won't do. He'll think you're slickering him." 

"How high would he go?" 

"I think hfe'd go to thirteen seventy-five. That'd leave him a hundred 
and a quarter to fix up a pen for the bull. Yes, if I'd advise him to buy 



74 GUS THE GREAT 

at thirteen seventy-five he'd do it. But see here. A man has to watch 
out for his own interests and I ought to come m on the deal." 

"In what way?" 

Grinning, Burgoyne curled his fingers and scratched them against 
his palm. 

"Catch on? If I recommend that we buy your bull that ought to be 
worth a hundred to you. You'd get thirteen seventy-five and pay me 
a hundred and that'd leave you twelve seventy-five. Think it over. 
Here, have a cigar." 

Pawpacker took the cigar, and with a cutter neatly snipped off the 
end. Burgoyne bit the end off his and spat it out. Pawpacker settled 
back smoking quietly, watching his host puff like a locomotive. 

"A good cigar," he said. 

"Ought to be. They cost two-bits apiece." 

The waiter cleared away the dishes and brought brandy. Pawpacker 
held his thin glass where the light could shine through and watched 
the bead. No, Burgoyne was not naive. An interesting fellow. But no 
nicety in an affair like this. Too blunt. Blurting out his proposal as 
if they were a pair of yeggs. Twelve seventy-five. Yes, he could make 
a profit at that price. And doubtless the fellow was correct in warning 
that Oxenford would find a price of fifteen hundred too damned ob- 
vious. He had overstepped himself there. He said: 

"I'll price the bull at fourteen and a quarter. And if he wants to 
bargain I'll come down to thirteen seventy-five." 

"And will you take care of me?" 

"I can't give you a hundred." 

And then it was that Pawpacker glimpsed another facet of Bur- 
goyne's character. A slow flush crept over his face, and his eyes and 
jaw hardened. A tough face. Pawpacker thought: "-He'll get what he 
wants. He'll go after it with a club. Hell knock hell out of anyone 
who gets in his way." 

And he said: 

"But I'm going to deal you in." 

"How?" 

*You say you want a circus. I'll give you two-hundred-and-fifty- 
dollars credit on my books. When you're ready to organize come down 
to Winchester. Pick out anything you want up to two-fifty and it's 
yours. And that five thousand I spoke about that you'd need to start 
a show. It wouldn't have to be all cash. I've been known to give 
credit." 

Burgoyne's big fists relaxed. And his mouth's hard lipless look was 
replaced by a smile. A wise smile. His eyes were still hard and bright, 
gazing directly into Pawpacker J s. He said: 



GUS THE GREAT 75 

"Why are you offering me credit? You don't know anything about 
me." 

Pawpacker sipped his brandy. (Burgoyne's had vanished in a couple 
of gulps long before.) He said: 

"I'd hold a mortgage on your show. I'd close you if you couldn't pay. 
I never take risks. You might as well know that, first as last. But as 
I size you up, I think you'd make a go of it. You're young and you've 
got a lot to learn, but you have plenty of brass. You'll need it. And 
if you do make a go of it, that's fine, too. For you'll want to expand. 
And I'll sell you more animals and equipment. I can't lose. Now do 
we understand each other?" 

"You bet we do," Burgoyne said. 

Mr. Oxenford's house stood on the north side of Wellington Avenue 
on a great lawn crowded with syringa and snowball bushes. At the 
front curb a cast-iron figure had been erected which Tamarack con- 
sidered the apex of utilitarian art. It was a small replica of a Negro 
hostler wearing bright blue pants and a yellow j vest. In its uplifted 
hand the figure held an iron ring to which you could hitch your horses. 
Dowagers riding sedately along the avenue smiled when they spied 
the figure and exclaimed, "Isn't that cunning?" 

As for the house itself, a great service would have been done the 
Tamarack scene if the architect who designed it had been hit over the 
head with a hammer soon after birth. But that had not occurred, so out 
of the civilization of the mustache cup and the celluloid collar the house 
came into being. Upon the observer's retina it created the impression of 
simultaneously sprawling and towering. Around two sides of the house 
ran a veranda whose roof was supported by pillars as spindling as a 
spinster's leg, with a froth of wooden lace at the thigh. At either end of 
the house great wooden watchtowers rose, embrasured with round-bellied 
bay windows, and topped by roofs looking like enormous dunce caps. 

Mr. Oxenford's wife had died suddenly ten years before, on the day 
the architect submitted his drawings, but no connection between the 
two events had ever been established so the fellow went scot free. Mr- 
Oxenford liked the plans and proceeded with the building. 

Mr. Oxenford's only child, Flora, reigned .over the house, but her 
reign was not happy. She was twenty-five years old," a big plump 
maiden obsessed by the awful fear that she was never going to be mar- 
ried. Her days were barren and empty, for she wasn't a girl who made 
friends easily, and most of the girls she had known in school had mar- 
ried and moved away or were busy managing homes of their own. 
After Flora conferred in the morning with the cook and gave the serv- 
ants their orders she had nothing to do. So she spent long hours lying 



76 GUS THE GREAT 

on her bed staring at the ceiling and daydreaming about a differently 
ordered existence. 

In those dreams she was always the heroine, wand-slim and petite, 
and a half-dozen men flocked around her, and she was cool and lovely 
with brilliant mots tripping off her tongue, and in the end she and 
the best-looking man of all went strolling through the moonlight and 
on into velvet shadows, and then something delirious happened the 
exact nature of which she did not yet, at twenty-five, understand. 

For the most part, in common with other men, her father ignored her, 
He was gone all day at his office, and at dinner he seldom spoke, for his 
thoughts were full of plans for acquiring more money and power. To 
him a meal was not a pleasant social interlude but a necessary nuisance, 
like furnace stoking, and he brought to the table the same eating man- 
ners that had come west with him as a young man. Before tasting a 
bite he salted everything, then dumped three spoonfuls of sugar into 
his coffee and bent nearer the table and ate like a hungry dog. He was 
inordinately fond of soup, and you could hear him consuming it all 
over the house. He was secretly proud of his lack of table manners, for 
he enjoyed thinking of himself as a self-made man who had never had 
time for the social graces. 

A meal for him was no meal at all unless pie terminated it, and after 
swallowing the last mouthful he straightened and emitted three little 
belches. Never four; never two; always three. Then he pulled the nap- 
kin from his collar, rolled it into a neat cylinder and stuck it through 
his silver napkin ring. And finally, he brought a quill toothpick from 
his vest pocket and went to work with it. One of his little eccentricities 
was that no money should be spent for toothpicks. When he ate out 
at noon he pilfered several quills from the dish on the cashier's desk 
and brought them home. "I got where I am by watching the pennies/' 
he would say. 

He was stingy about his clothes too, wearing his black suits till the 
elbows shone and dots of grease gleamed on the cheap cloth. He 
bought them ready-made and they hung awkwardly from his big bony 
frame. Theoretically his hair and whiskers were white, but actually 
they were the yellowish color of old piano keys. 

At home he passed most of his time in a room at the back of the 
house which was called the library. It had everything to deserve that 
name except books. For Mr. Oxenford was a practical man, and he 
had been heard to proclaim that people could find more useful ways 
to spend their time than by burying their noses in books. Where would 
he have got, if he had followed such a custom ? He didn't exactly for- 
bid his daughter to read, but if he caught her at it he rebuked her with 
his heavy-footed sarcasm. So Flora's reading was restricted to the news- 
papers. She didn't mind. 

With the coming of spring that year her listlessness and despondency 



GUS THE GREAT 77 

increased, and she had never felt more depressed than on that evening 
when she first saw Burgoyne. At dinner her father mentioned that two 
men were coming on business, but she imagined them to be older men, 
married men; and after the meal she left the house and with leaden 
feet moved about the garden. It was a lyrical evening, an evening for 
love, but all her argosies of hope had long since become rotting hulks 
in the Sargasso Sea of her despair. At the lower end of the garden, 
frogs were singing, and through the tepid air currents of sweetness 
flowed, but the scent of early blossoms and flowers meant nothing to 
her. It was an oppressive night, she thought; and she stood inert, star- 
ing at the shadows, and then her throat filled and big tears rolled down 
her cheeks. At last she plodded back toward the house and sighed 
into a rocking chair on the front veranda. Horses were clop-clopping 
along the avenue, and through the open window of a house next door 
floated the sound of a piano playing a sentimental ballad. The music 
drenched her with self-pity. 

And once again she turned over and over in her thoughts the old 
problem of finding a mate. Her luck, she thought, had been very bad; 
God knew she had tried hard enough. She told herself that she was 
not actually homely, and that was true; and surely no young man 
would resent the fact that some" day she would inherit considerable 
money. That was also true. Then why ? 

But soon she grew weary of any realistic analysis of her troubles, 
for that demanded an intellectual vigor and honesty which she did not 
possess. She fell into daydreaming again, about the day when some 
foreign nobleman would visit Tamarack and sue for her hand. Sue 
for her hand: her thoughts were always garbed in such romantic 
cliches. 

Then she became aware of two cab horses turning in from the 
avenue, hauling a closed vehicle along the driveway toward the porte- 
cochere at the east side of the house. That would be her father's friends, 
coming to drone on interminably about business. Her interest in them 
was scant, but because she was bored and had nothing better to do she 
arose and stood in the vine shadows where the front veranda curved 
into the side veranda. Light was falling from the side door, and her 
father emerged to greet his guests. She observed him distastefully, 
that bony, sharp-dealing, yellow-whiskered man. 

The cab door opened, and there was a gleam of polished boots and 
dark cane as a smaH bearded man stepped out? She had never seen him 
before, but she knew instantly he was Somebody, and more than ever 
she was ashamed of her father's shabby clothes. Then a second man, 
alighted from the cab, and although Flora's body remained breath- 
lessly still her spirit fluttered and swooned. 

He was a young man, big and broad-shouldered, with large hands 
and a deep chest and a noble head. A strong body. Powerful. 



78 GUS THE GREAT 

enough and big enough, she thought deliriously, to sweep you off your 
feet. He wore a gray-checked suit and a crisp tie, and his stalwart 
masculinity reminded her of those sterling young men whose exciting 
physiques loomed with so much virility in drawings by Charles Dana 
Gibson. 

Then he spoke, introducing the two older men, and his booming 
voice, so hearty and powerful, produced in her a delicious shortness of 
breath. After her father led his guests into the house she tiptoed to 
flhe door, peering through the screen. She glimpsed the young man 
turning into the library at the far end of the long corridor. 

Who was he? And was he married? No! she couldn't believe that. 
Her heart told her he was single and that all these years Providence 
had been saving him for her. That he should suddenly appear at her 
home on this April night seemed to her marvelously romantic. 

And suddenly she experienced annoyance and anger against her 
father, because he had known this young man but had been too self- 
centered and unimaginative to invite him here before and introduce 
him. But her anger passed quickly, crowded out of her thoughts by 
the plans she was making to meet him before he left tonight. First, 
however, she wanted to see him again; and filled with a sense of ad- 
venture she left the veranda and moved around the house to the library 
wing* Gone was her leaden-footed plodding; she tiptoed lightly. 

The library windows were open, and as Flora approached she could 
hear voices inside. Near the house a lilac bush grew, and from that 
evening onward lilacs seemed to her the most romantic of flowers and 
April the most romantic of months. Long after she became Mrs. Gus 
Burgoyne she looked back upon this evening as a shining miracle. 

Peering through the branches, she could see her father leaning back 
In his chair, his bony fingers stroking his whiskers as he listened to 
the man with the gold-headed cane. Then her eager gaze found the 
young man in the checked suit. He was sitting in a tipped-back chair, 
hands in pockets, hair rumpled, his countenance beaming, 

"What do you think of the proposition, Gus?" her father asked. 

(So his name was Gus! Wonderful name! Beautiful name!) 

The young man stood up and put one foot on the chair seat and 
leaned toward her father* wagging his forefinger. She thought he 
looked masterful, commanding. 

"Sam," he said, "it's like I've always said* There's nothing like ele- 
phants. You ask me, I think we're lucky that MrvPawpacker got in 
touch with us. You and I have a lot to learn about elephants, but he 
knows 'em. He knows the whole game. I think we ought to come to 
terms with Mr. Pawpacker." 

So Flora realized that the deal was about to be closed, and panic 
touched her lest they finish the business before she had a chance to 



GUS THE GREAT 79 

meet the young man. She turned and hurried through the back door, 
into the kitchen. A mirror hung there, and Flora studied herself. No, 
she was not actually homely. Her features were quite regular : nothing 
essentially wrong with them. Her hair was red. Not copper-colored 
or flame-colored; ]ust red. She had the white, fine, baby-soft skin that 
sometimes goes with red hair, and her full mouth was soft and a bit 
babyish, too. Her eyes were reddish brown. Usually they possessed 
the soft, vacant expression of a dairy cow, but tonight her excitement 
and burning purpose had brought to them a hint of fire. Indeed, her 
whole countenance had an unaccustomed glow; if ever Flora had ap- 
proached beauty, it was now. 

With a beating heart she moved along the hall toward the library. 
Just before she reached the closed door she paused, doubting that she 
could go through with it. Her throat filled; her breathing had become 
shallow and choppy. She felt a vein pulsating in her throat, and sud- 
denly she had a wild desire to flee. But it was now or never, so taking 
a grip on herself she rapped, and when her father said, "Come in" 
she opened the door. 

Her tremendous effort at self-control saved her saved her from 
banality, from coyness. It gave her a kind of dignity, not unbecoming; 
so that Gus Burgoyne's first impression was of a large girl whose 
Junoesque figure was somehow appealing to his robust appetites. 

She did not look at Gus Burgoyne or at Ivan Pawpacker. She gazed 
straight at Samuel Oxenford and said in a level voice: 

"Father, if you and your guests would like me to, I'll make coffee 
and serve you some cakes." 

"Coffee?" blurted out Mr. Oxenford. "Why, it ain't been long since 
we et." 

Flora blushed, and in her thoughts she consigned Samuel Oxenford 
to a thousand hells. 

It was Gus Burgoyne who charged gallantly to her rescue. He had 
arisen when she entered, and now he beamed and announced heartily; 

"Coffee? That'd be fine. Taste good." 

Flora glanced at him and smiled. 

"Don't believe we've met this lady," Burgoyne boomed. "Are you 
Miss Oxenford?" 

Not trusting her voice, Flora nodded. 

"I'm Gus Burgoyne, Old friend of your father. This is Mr. Paw- 
packer. . . . You just go right ahead, Miss Oxenford, and fix up those 
cakes and that coffee. And bring along 'Some for yourself." 

He wanted to know her better! As Flora retreated along the hall, 
her brain sang, her blood sang. She had come through the first skir- 
mish victorious. She wanted to cheer and weep and laugh. Wh#t a 



8o GUS THE GREAT 

man he was! How masterful! When her father's boorish stupidity 
bungled the situation, Burgoyne had taken charge, rescued it. She 
loved him. She had loved him from the instant she beheld him alight- 
ing from the cab. And she thought she would go on loving him till 
the end of her days; and she did; she did. 

A. H. Burgoyne that was how he signed his name. The initials 
stood for Augustus Howard. His mother, a maiden lady named Doll 
Burgoyne, had christened him in honor of two men, either of whom 
might have been his father. She was a judicious woman, and hence 
had bestowed second honors upon Howard Clancy, a fireman em- 
ployed by the Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific Railroad. Poor Clancy 
never lived to set eyes upon his possible offspring, having been scalded 
to death in a wreck on the Omaha run in the spring of 1880, some 
months before little Gus was born. In her room above Mahoney's 
Saloon at the corner of Second Avenue and the railroad tracks in 
Clayton Junction, Doll grieved for Clancy. "There'll never be another 
Clancy," she always said. He was a big, black-haired Irishman with 
an Irishman's humorous tongue. He always had her laughing, even 
when they made love. 

Clayton Junction was a smoky railroad town, a division point. It 
bounded the city of Tamarack on the west; Tamarack's back door; 
Tamarack's Jersey City. On the vaudeville stage in Tamarack, the 
hayseed comedians always said they came from Clayton Junction, and 
that line never failed to get a laugh. 

The more probable father of little Gus was a railroad man also, but 
nothing so lowly as a fireman. Doll never could remember his exact 
position; it was something away up there in the economic scale. ''He's 
a big man with the line," was how she thought of him. Physically, 
too, he was big, like a drawing of Capital in a cartoon. He wore 
black broadcloth suits with white piping on the vests; a big diamond 
sparkled in his cravat; and when he wanted to read he wore nose 
glasses on a cord. Class! 

When they met he was in his fifties, his hair already salted with , 
gray. He was standing at the bar in Mahoney's Saloon, his big fingers 
curled around a little glass of whiskey. In contrast with that shabby, 
beer-smelling place, he radiated prosperity. You could almost imagine 
tiny dollar signs stamped upon the links which fastened together his 
starched cuffs. 

He had arrived from Chicago that morning on a tour of inspection, 
traveling in a private car which even now stood on a siding down by 
the freight warehouse, awaiting his bidding. The car, it was rumored, 
had a colored porter and monogrammed napkins and silver. In the 
saloon the other customers gave him plenty of elbowroom. They were 



GUS THE GREAT 81 

railroad men, mostly, wearing caps and overalls and bandannas at their 
throats. 

Because of his presence, the conversation was more subdued than 
usual; monosyllabic. He drank slowly; and once, carrying his glass, 
he paced leisurely over to the window and stood gazing through the 
specked pane. Even in those days Clayton Junction looked old and 
down-at-the-heels. The early afternoon was windy, and dust went stag- 
gering over the gray cobbles of Second Avenue. Whenever a switch 
engine chugged over the crossing, a fine hail of cinders rattled against 
the saloon windows. 

He returned to the bar, paid for his drink; and then it was that he 
heard footsteps descending a wooden stairway beyond the wall at the 
north end of the room. A frosted-glass door opened and two young 
women entered. They were Doll Burgoyne and her sister, Lucy, em- 
barking upon a shopping tour to Tamarack, and they had entered the 
saloon to get money from Tim. Tim Mahoney he was Lucy's hus- 
band. 

Doll was the younger of the two and the better-looking. She was 
twenty, with flawless skin and violet eyes and dark hair which she 
wore today in a cluster of short curls at the back of her pretty head. 
She had style, a certain flair for clothes. Always had had. Even if she 
did say so herself, she looked like a million dollars in that gray hat with 
its purple plume, and in that French gray suit which molded so faith- 
fully the curves of her lovely figure. 

While Lucy and Tim whispered about family finances, Doll waited 
at a discreet distance. A couple of yards separated her from the portly, 
rich-looking man, and she surmised that he was the important person 
from Chicago, a vice-president or something, of whom Tim had spoken 
this noon. Traveled in his own railroad car. Her gaze wandered to 
the mirror behind the bar, and by one of those interesting accidents ia 
human relationships his gaze happened, to meet hers. He smiled. 

Well, gosh, you didn't want to get the reputation of being stuck up, 
did you? What else could you do but smile back? Besides, he was a 
big man with the line, out here alone, and he'd think Clayton Junction 
a mighty unfriendly place if its citizens didn't srnile when they were 
smiled at. It would be tantamount to insulting the entire Chicago, 
Tamarack & Pacific Railroad not to smile; and she had a warm place 
in her heart for the Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific, with Clancy working 
for them, and all. 

Her smile brought him along the bar to her, and what he said sur- 
prised her. You could have knocked her over with a feather. 

"You look like Paris in that suit, Dolly," he said. 

Those violet eyes widened as she looked up at him. 

"How did you know my name?" , 



82 GUS THE GREAT 

For a half-second his ruddy countenance showed surprise, too; then 
he chuckled. And in a confidential tone he said: 

"A little bird told me." 

"Now listen," she said, "don't give me that." 

"It's the truth. A little bird perched right here on my shoulder and 
said, 'Mr. Phelan, when you get to Clayton Junction you'll see the best- 
looking girl in the world, and her name will be Doll.' " 

"Oh you!" Doll said, and although her words were depreciatory 
her tone was exceedingly genial. 

"It's a fact," Augustus Phelan said. 

"I'll bet I know how you knew my name," Doll said. "I'll bet Tim 
told you." 

"Maybe he did. It's a nice name. It would have to be, for a lady like 
you." 

"I think you're just blarneying me," Doll remonstrated. Her voice 
had a metallic, brash quality; but brash in a most amiable way. "You're 
Irish, that's what you are, and you're just laying it on." 

"I can't deny I'm Irish," he confessed, "but you can't deny I've spoken 
the truth. Just look at your face in the mirror." 

"Oh you!" Doll repeated; and then this fascinating discussion was 
interrupted by the arrival of Lucy. 

"I'm ready, Sis," she said. 

At twenty-three, Lucy was not as pleasingly plump as Doll; she had 
high cheekbones and a thin face and long slender hands. Whereas Doll 
was poised and self-assured and confident that life would bestow good 
things upon her, Lucy was a bit apologetic. She was somewhat flat 
in the chest and round in the shoulders; in twenty years she would be 
a weary sharp-faced woman talking in a weary, thin voice. Not Doll. 
You felt that at forty Doll would still be erect and well-upholstered, a 
magnificent figure of a woman, good-natured and easygoing, riding 
through life on plush cushions. 

"This is my sister," Doll said. "Mrs. Mahoney. Sis, this is Mr. 
Phelan." 

"I'm glad to know you, Sis," said Mr. Phelan. "I'm always glad to 
meet a relative of my old friend, Doll." 

Lucy genuflected like a fox terrier, and Doll grinned: 

" 'Old friends!' Listen to the man. Mister, you're a fast worker." 

"I'd still be laying ties if I hadn't been. What are you girls up to?" 

"We're going to Tamarack* Shopping." 

"It's my lucky day," Mr. Phelan said. "For that's where I'm going, 
too, and now I'll have the company of two charming ladies." 

"Ohyoul" Doll laughed. 

Till, Doll had mentioned Tamarack, Gus Phelan's plans had not in- 
cluded a trip there, but he was not a man to hold unwaveringly to a 



GUS THE GREAT ' 83 

rigid course of action. Long ago he had discovered that life's most 
delectable experiences were those which occurred unexpectedly, so 
when adventure laughed in his ear and beckoned him to follow down 
some blossoming lane, he invariably accepted the invitation. 

And he believed his habit of living spontaneously was largely re- 
sponsible for his success with the Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific. He 
liked his work what Irishman didn't love the movement and tooting 
engines and waving lanterns of the railroad business? but he knew 
that fondness for one's work did not alone insure success. He had seen 
too many joyless fellows slaving hopelessly away at clerk's jobs. No, 
something more was needed, and that something was adventure. And 
to Gus Phelan, adventure and pretty women were synonymous. 

Adventure refreshed him, kept him alert and witty. It even con- 
tributed toward the success of his marriage. There were times when 
Nora and his eight children might have weighed him down with a 
sense of responsibility, save for adventure. To him domesticity seemed 
as unallurmg as a safety pm, but because of such interludes as this one 
with Doll Burgoyne, he was a model husband and father. 

He followed Lucy and Doll to the frosted-glass door. It opened into 
a narrow hall with steps climbing to the Mahoney living quarters above 
the saloon and with a door leading to Second Avenue. As the two 
women preceded him to the street, his heart was warmed by the lyric 
way Doll's bustled skirt trembled and swayed. 

A few minutes before, Second Avenue had seemed a squalid street, 
littered and dirty, but not so now. Strolling along the board sidewalk, 
with Lucy on one arm and Doll on the other, he felt like a king of the 
earth. In his spirit, brass bands were playing and flags were flying, and 
he felt young again and free as a colt. 

"How do we get to Tamarack?" he asked, and Doll told him a horse- 
car should be waiting at the next corner. 

"Horsecar! Isn't there a livery stable where a man can hire a rig?" 

There was; and while Gus Phelan strutted with the proprietor into 
the barn to select a team, Lucy and Doll waited in the office. Its air 
had a rich, horsy smell. 

A dreamy smile veiled Doll's lips and eyes. Lucy observed her. 

"You look about ready to purr," she said. 

Doll smiled secretly. 

"You ought to be ashamed," Lucy said, "just meeting him like that. 
Look how you've got him going." 

"He's nice," Doll said. "Different." 

"He's old enough to be your father." 

"What of it?" 

"You ought to be ashamed. Think of Clancy/* 

"Clancy's in Omaha." 



84 GUS THE GREAT 

"If you go skating around, Clancy will be sore. You ought to be 
ashamed. Clancy wants to marry you," 

"I'll handle Clancy," Doll said. "You leave Clancy to me, Sis." And 
she added, "I've been thinking." 

"Don't go to thinking," Lucy said. 

"A girl marries/' Doll said, "and what does she get out of it? A girl 
marries a fellow like Clancy, and there're kids and debts and a wash- 
board every Monday. No thanks. It's a big world, Sis." 

"You're getting pretty high and mighty," Lucy said, "Just because 
a rich man looked at you." 

Doll shrugged, perfectly good-humored and unruffled. 

"There must be lots of men like that," she murmured. "Interesting 
men who have money." 

"I don't know what Mamma would have thought, hearing you talk 
like that." 

"What did Mamma ever get out of it? What do you get out of it?" 
And then, seeing a sudden glisten in Lucy's eyes, Doll put a hand on 
her arm. "I'm sorry, Sis. Tim's nice, and if that's the way you like it, 
that's fine. It's just that you and I are different, that's all." 

"You'll get yourself into trouble, thinking things like that." 

A merry twinkle came into Doll's eyes. 

"No woman ever got herself into trouble just thinking," she said, 

Despite herself, Lucy giggled. 

"You're a case, Sis. You're really a case," 

Doll wandered to the window, gazing out at the shabby fajades 
lining the street, and when she spoke, very low, it was more to herself 
than to Lucy: 

"I don't know yet what I want not for sure. But it isn't Clayton 
Junction, and it isn't Tamarack, Maybe it's Chicago. Maybe even 
New York." 

A thunder of hoofs on the stable floor interrupted her reverie, and 
she turned to see Gus Phelan in a bright-red phaeton, pulled by a team 
of spirited chestnut horses. 

"Better than a horsecar," Doll thought, "Gosh, lots better . . ." And 
it occurred to her that this was what she wanted always : to ride in a 
phaeton instead of a horsecar, to walk in silks instead of calico, to 
drench herself in luxury, in a creamy, fluffy world of tinted lights and 
lace and champagne and mirrors and gilt and jewels and laughter. 
To roll in it, like a rapturous cat in catnip. 

While the stableman held the horses, Gus handed Doll and Lucy up 
into the rig. He accomplished this with a flourish. The rig looked 
brand-new, its seats upholstered in light yellow. A delicious little sigh 
escaped Doll. Then they were out of the stable and off, the spanking 
team stepping high, the varnished wheel spokes glittering. 



GUS THE GREAT ' 85 

In those years, the eastern edge of Clayton Junction and the western 
edge of Tamarack had not yet reached out and embraced; marshland 
and brushland separated them. At the limits of Clayton Junction the 
cobbles ended and the phaeton rolled along a white, dusty road. It was 
September, the sky lightly grayed with clouds, the weeds lightly grayed 
with dust. Doll pointed to a thorn tree growing by the roadside. 

"Look," she exclaimed, "red haws." 

"Want some?" Gus Phelan reined in the horses. "Here Lucy, you 
hold the lines." 

He eased his portly body out of the rig and bustled back to the tree. 

Lucy gave Doll a half-amused, half-reproachful glance. 

"The way you've got him going, Sis!" she breathed. "You ought to 
be ashamed." 

Gus brought her a heap of the cherry-colored haws, cupped in his big 
hands. 

"They're good," he declared. "I sampled one." 

Sight of those haws, so autumnal red, brought a momentary nostalgia 
to Doll, for once when she was fourteen, back in her home town of 
Sioux Creek, there had been a school picnic and she and a boy had 
wandered off into the timber and had picked haws. She remembered 
the breathlessness in her lungs when she realized he was going to kiss 
her, and how when he did kiss her, her whole being burst into flower. 
She had been wanting that, more or less consciously, for a long, long 
time. Throughout her teens she had been crazy about the boys, always 
in love with somebody. After she was sixteen or seventeen, marriage 
proposals began coming her way, some very good too, but she turned 
them down because in the back of her mind a voice always said that 
out beyond the skyrim there were cities where life was shining. 

The carriage rolled over a creek bridge and climbed a wooded hill. 
At the summit the brick pavement of Tamarack began, and as the 
horses' shoes rang against it Doll glanced back. She could see for miles 
and miles. South of Clayton Junction a river meandered through 
timbered lowlands, and a tiny-looking pumping station was puffing 
away, sending water to the railroad shops. From the east and from 
the west, steel tracks raced toward Clayton Junction, branching into 
an amazing number of sidings. Those rails had brought Gus Phelan 
from Chicago and they would bring Clancy back from Omaha tomor- 
row. Clancy. Yes, she could marry him, but she wasn't going to. 

Phelan tickled the horses with the whip, and they went clacking 
briskly along the avenue. 

"I've been thinking, girls," he said. "Why don't we all stay in town 
and eat supper together? You'll be hungry after your shopping." ' 

There was a moment of hesitation. Then Doll spoke. 



86 GUS THE GREAT 

"Lucy couldn't. Tim's always cross if she isn't there to cook his sup- 
per. But she could go home on the horsecar, and I could stay. It sounds 
like fun." 

"It will be," Gus Phelan said. 

Doll and Gus had agreed to meet at six o'clock outside the Arcade 
Dry Goods Store, and when she arrived at five after six he was patiently 
waiting, holding a paper cone that wrapped a bouquet of sweet peas. 

"Sweets to the sweet," he said. 

She exclaimed delightedly and buried her face in the flowers, closing 
her eyes and inhaling their fragrance. Clancy never gave her flowers. 
She was sure such a thing had never occurred to him, but if it had 
he would have thought it sissy. Perhaps Clancy assumed that giving 
her himself was enough. He was a lusty fellow with thrilhngly wide 
shoulders and biceps like lumps of pig iron, and he was such a jolly 
man; but sometimes she resented his assumption that she was his girl 
now, belonging to him alone. 

"They're wonderful," she told Gus Phelan. 

He beamed; and then like a small boy bursting with a secret too 
tremendous to keep he said: 

"I bought you something else, too." 

"Oh, Gus! What is it?" 

"Now, now!" he said, patting her shoulder. "Let's wait a while for 
that." 

"I'm just crazy to know what it is." 

"Now, now, Dolly! You know the old saying curiosity killed a cat." 

He took her arm, and as they went marching along the street she 
remembered another old saying. Better an old man's darling, it went, 
than a young man's slave. 

The sidewalk was crowded with clerks just released from their 
counters and bookkeepers just unchained from their high stools, and 
she compared them with Gus. Their faces were thin and gray and 
wore the meek look of men resigned to taking orders; men who would 
never set the world on fire. Gus Phelan's big countenance was florid, 
a garden where whiskey flowers blossomed, and his craggy nose and 
solid jaw were the features of a dominant man. His mouth was smil- 
ing now, but she could imagine it hard and authoritative as it shot out 
commands. She sensed that he could be ruthless. Maybe men who 
clubbed their way to the top had to be. 

Shadows were gathering in the street; they passed a man who had 
mounted a short ladder and was lighting a benzene street lamp. A 
hint of frost edged the thickening air. Doll thought of Clayton Junc- 
tion at twilight: dogs barking and mothers calling children in from 
play and the constant coughing and moaning and bell-ringing of loco- 



GUS THE GREAT 87 

motives, prowling in the yards. Sis would be in the kitchen, frying 
pork chops for Tim. Doll was glad she was here. 

They turned down a side street; and darkness had changed the store 
fronts into cliffs of shadow by the time they reached Marlow's Restau- 
rant. Before they even entered, Doll realized that she was about to 
enjoy a new experience. She had never eaten in such a fashionable 
place before. The front of the restaurant was not so much imposing as 
secretive with quiet luxury. You couldn't see through the windows 
because they were divided into many lozenge-shaped panes of red and 
blue glass; and the door was a great slab of heavy wood. 

Ordinarily, she would have felt shy about entering such a place, but 
protected by Gus Phelan's masterful manner she felt composed and 
happy. He swung open the door and in they went, into that restaurant 
where your feet sank into a thick carpet, where waiters in black suits 
and boiled shirts hurried to and fro balancing trays on their palms, 
where lamps poured forth honeyed light and shadows enriched the 
paneled walls. 

Rumor had it that the headwaiter was an Italian count; but rumor 
exaggerated slightly. He was Italian, but the son of a cobbler* To 
Gus it would have made no difference if he had been a crown prince; 
just another wop. So- when the headwaiter decided they would occupy 
a table in the center of the room, and Gus preferred a table by the wall, 
they sat by the wall. 

The bill of fare, an enormous card, confused Doll with its variety 
and its words in a foreign language, but she was a practical girl who 
had always side-stepped problems that she couldn't solve. So instead 
of letting the foreign words daunt her she said : 

'Til take what you take, Gus. Men know so much about good food." 

"It'd take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure this out," Gus said. He 
looked up at their waiter and demanded, "Tony, you speaka da Eng- 
lish, huh?" 

"Yes, sir. My brother, he's Tony, sir. I'm Gabriele." 

"Gabriele, huh? You ever work on the railroad? You know hitta 
da spike with da sledge?" 

"No, sir. No, I" 

"Your papa ever work for the railroad?" 

"Oh, sure, Papa works for the Tamarack Line." 

"All right, Tony you tell your papa you waited on Gus Phelan to- 
night. He'll know who you mean. And here's something else you 
tell the chef I'm here." Gus flapped a big hand against the bill of fare. 
"This stuff don't mean anything, Tony. So you tell the chef to send us 
in a couple of orders with soup and roast beef and all the fixings, and 
if it's not good tell him I'll be waiting in the alley for him. And bring 
us some wine, Tony. Make it dry, and the best in the house." And 



88 GUS THE GREAT 

after the waiter had retired Gus clasped his hands on the table and 
confided, "Section hands or waiters, they're all the same. Have to keep 
after them." 

And while they waited to be served he told her how he had begun 
working for the railroad when he was a young man. The job was 
laying track, but because he was a good fist fighter it wasn't long till 
he had been made a straw boss, and then a foreman; he knew how to 
handle men. The wine came, and the dinner, and he talked on, reliving 
his old triumphs. Sometimes Doll asked a question or made a brief 
comment but mostly she remained silent. Nobody had ever told her 
that the way to please men was to listen and listen and listen some 
more; she knew that instinctively. 

She heard every word he said, but this didn't prevent her mind from 
working independently on a different level, so while he talked she ob- 
served the other people, comparing the women's clothes with her own 
and wishing she might have a pearl necklace such as one woman wore. 
But the necklace didn't spoil her evening, for she knew in her bones 
that some day jewels would come to her. She felt serene and warm 
with quiet happiness. 

After the meal Gus brought out a fat brown cigar, putting it to his 
nose and sniffing the rich leaf. 

"Mind if I smoke, Dolly?" 

Her laugh tinkled merrily as glass chimes. 

"Of course not, Gus. I'd like to have you. I like the smell of cigar 
smoke." 

And that was true. All the odors and surfaces of the world of men 
were sweet to her. She liked the sound of their voices and the rough 
nap of their suits and their faces against her cheek; she liked their 
robust laughing and their zest. Men. She wq,s so genuinely fond o 
them that it seemed petty to disappoint them when they desired her, 
and so although the world might have thought her a girl of easy virtue 
it wasn't that at all: she was just kindhearted. 

"We could go to a theater," Gus said, when they emerged from the 
restaurant. "Of course, we have quite a drive back to Clayton Junction, 
and it would get you home late. But if you'd like to" 

He didn't want to; she could sense that. She would have enjoyed it, 
but she was too wise a girl to be gluttonous, so she said: 

"There'll be other nights for that." 

It pleased him. He gave her arm a squeeze, and as they walked 
toward the stable where he had left the horses, he said : 

"Dolly, I like you. It's not just that you're pretty. You've got brains, 
too. You're one of the most interesting talkers I've met." 

On the way to Clayton Junction he drove the horses leisurely. The 
had died at sunset and it was a fine night, the sky ablaze with 



GUS THE GREAT < 89 

stars. After they left Tamarack's last street lamp behind, the horses 
picked their own way along the dark road. Down there in the low- 
lands, mist was rising from the marshes. He slipped his arm around 
her and they kissed several times. 

Fewer street lamps burned in Clayton Junction than in Tamarack; 
it was a poor man's town. The ugly little houses, begrimed by day, 
were heaps of shadows now; the livery stable was a larger heap of 
shadow, a whale-oil lamp weakly lighting the office windows, a smoky 
lantern hanging just inside the wide entrance. While Gus paid the 
stableman for the rig, Doll waited outside. From far to the west, up 
the long river valley, floated the wail of a locomotive, mournful and 
nostalgic. 

Gus joined her and they groped through the darkness. Their ^ eve- 
ning together had an unfinished quality that disturbed her, Gus must 
have felt it too, for he said: 

"Ever seen inside a private car, Dolly? Mine is pretty fine. Would 
you like to see it?" 

"Yes," she murmured. "Yes, I would, Gus." 

They toiled along the uneven board sidewalk of Second Avenue. 
Mahoney's Saloon was still lighted, and inside somebody was playing 
a lewd song on the tinny piano. As they approached, a man reeled out 
and stood swaying, in the middle of the sidewalk. He was a young 
man in workman's clothes, very drunk, and when they tried to pass he 
doffed his hat extravagantly and mumbled insulting words. 

"Stand back," Gus told Doll; and then his big fist blurted out and 
smashed into the man's face. The drunk's knees buckled and he fell 
to the walk. Gus kicked him into the gutter. Then he dusted his 
hands together and took Doll's arm, 

"I hate drunks," he said. 

She felt strangely moved. He was old enough to be her father, Sis 
had said. Yes; but his body was still powerful. Clayton Junction was 
notoriously unsafe for a girl walking alone after dark; it was espe- 
cially hazardous to linger around the railroad tracks, with so many 
hoboes. But now as they stumbled along the siding toward his car, she 
felt perfectly protected, and it was a fine feeling. 

They passed the freight warehouse where by lantern light men were 
rolling great hogsheads into a boxcar; and in the darkness beyond they 
reached his car. He helped her up 'the steps to a back platform and 
opened the door. The observation end of the car had a rich red carpet; 
the woodwork was all curlicues and gilt; everything exuded luxury. As 
they entered, a dozing Negro in a uniform bestirred himself. 

"I won't need you any more tonight/' Gus said. 

The Negro vanished along a corridor; somewhere a door closed. 



jo GUS THE GREAT 

Doll seated herself in a chair with blue plush cushions. Gus moved 
from window to window, pulling down the thin green shades. 

"Do you like it?" he asked. 

"It's wonderful. Wonderful," she repeated, stroking the chair arm. 

"Maybe you'll like this, too." 

He brought a small package from his pocket, wrapped in white 
paper, and while she opened it he stood huge and smiling. The outer 
box contained a second box, and it too was wrapped. Then she un- 
lidded the second box. Inside nestled a gold watch, small and finely 
made, with a thin lid that snapped open and shut. She would wear it 
on her shoulder. It brought an exclamation of pure delight from Doll. 
Her eyes were shining and she stood up and snuggled against him. 

"Oh, Gus how did you know I wanted one of these?" 

They kissed, standing there, and gradually the gold watch receded 
into unimportance. 

All during that fall and winter, business brought Gus to Clayton 
Junction, and they had jolly times together. He was always as welcome 
as Santa Glaus on Christmas Eve. Many were the gifts she had from 
Gus; flowers and bonbons and jewelry of the less expensive kind. 
Sometimes he slipped her currency too, which she could exchange for 
clothes at the stores m Tamarack. 

He told her about his wife and children in Chicago, but this didn't 
disturb Doll. Chicago seemed far away. Nor did she feel she was 
wronging his wife by being the other woman in his life. Doll's logic 
was flawless, although it was destined never to attain popularity among 
married women. She reasoned that if his wife loved him she would 
naturally wish to see him happy, and that if Doll's company made him 
happy, why then his wife should encourage his trips to Clayton Junc- 
tion. Gus laughed when she told him these conclusions, and said he 
guessed she didn't understand Mrs. Phelan. 

Those were happy months for Doll, but they were not without com- 
plications. She could not receive Gus in the Mahoney living quarters 
above the saloon, because Tim Mahoney had taken a dislike to him. 
Tim was an Ulster man, whereas Gus's forebears had lived near 
Dublin, and this was an instance of geography's being responsible for 
war. Tim was tall, lanky, sandy, dour, and he often told Doll and 
Lucy what he would do to that old rooster Phelan if he caught him on 
the premises. The premises included the saloon, of course, but that 
didn't count; that was business. So Doll and Gus met in clandestine 
fashion, but instead of detracting from their affair this secrecy gave 
it spice. 

Then, too, there was Howard Clancy. He was South Irish also, but 
Tim liked him, perhaps because he was a bachelor with the honorable 



GUS THE GREAT gi 

intention of marrying Doll and taking her off the Mahoneys' hands. 
In discussing Clancy, Tim would say, "Sure, he's a Cork Irishman, but 
what of it? You can't hold against a man the place where his parents 
were born." If Doll pointed out that this live-and-let-live spirit should 
also apply to Gus, Tim would freeze up and scowl and declare that 
was different. 

Sometimes Doll laughed and told Lucy : 

"Sis, I feel like a piece of meat in the middle of an Irish stew." 

But she really felt more like a juggler that autumn, she was so busy 
not letting her left hand know what her right was doing. It was her 
hunch that if Clancy learned about Gus he would be hurt and perhaps 
annoyed, so to spare his feelings she did not mention those suppers in 
Tamarack and those evenings in the private car. She always managed 
things so that she would go out with Gus on the nights when Clancy 
was in Omaha. 

And it was necessary to avoid wearing the gold watch or any of 
Gus's other gifts when Clancy called, and to guard her tongue so she 
wouldn't make references to Tamarack restaurants or shows she had 
attended with Gus. What a nuisance! Once she said: 

"You know, Sis, sometimes I think I'll tell Gus and Clancy all about 
each other. It's too much work keeping them apart." 

"Sis!" Lucy breathed. "Never do that!" 

"Well, maybe not but I feel like it. Turn them loose and let the 
best man win." 

"Honestly, Sis," Lucy laughed, "I never know what you'll do or say 
next. You're the limit." 

Lucy derived a great deal of vicarious enjoyment from Doll's esca- 
pades; m her eyes Doll was quite a heroine. Doll, was so daring, so 
warm-blooded and fun-loving, such a believer in living while you 
lived. Things happened to her, and in her presence everything seemed 
colorful. On the mornings after Doll had been out with Gus, Lucy 
tiptoed about the house so as not to awaken her. Doll hated rising 
early. When she awakened about ten o'clock she always called out 
cheerfully, "Good morning, Sis is the coffee pot on?" And Lucy 
would open her bedroom door and see % her lying there looking as beau- 
tiful and comfort-loving as a pretty young cat. "I've got so much to 
tell you, Sis," Doll would smile. "What would you take to bring my 
breakfast in to me?" 

Some of Lucy's happiest hours were spent sitting in that bedroom 
while Doll ate breakfast. They always laughed a great deal, but Doll's 
comments on Gus's foibles were never acid or bitter. "He's such a dear 
man," she always said. "So generous." 

And Doll was generous, too. If Gus had given her money the night 
before she would say, "Hand me my purse, will you, Sis?" Then she 



92 GUS THE GREAT 

would snap it open and rustle out currency and flip a bill or two to 
Lucy, 

"I don't know, Sis," Lucy would say. "I don't know whether I 
should take it." 

"Why Sis, why not? Go ahead. Easy come, easy go. And there's 
more where that came from." 

But that idyllic state of affairs couldn't last forever, and late in Feb- 
ruary Clancy learned that Doll had been going about with Gus. Nearly 
everybody in Clayton Junction knew by that time, but nobody cared to 
risk Clancy's temper by telling him. As it was, a drinking pal told him, 
in Mahoney's Saloon, but instead of being grateful for the tip-off, 
Clancy went wild. 

He roared the fellow had insulted Doll, and he lunged at him and 
knocked him down to the sawdust floor. He was about to stomp him, 
too, but one of the man's friends, Phineas O'Brien, sought to prevent 
this. So Clancy fought O'Brien. By this time the man on the floor 
howled to his feet and Clancy began getting the worst of it. Marcus 
Corngan, who had gone to school with Clancy, couldn't permit that. 
So he joined the fray. A freight conductor, Red Murphy, who had 
never liked Corrigan, saw his chance now, so he too dived into the 
melee; and after that everybody joined the battle just for the hell of u. 

The place might well have been wrecked, except for Tim Mahoney's 
clear thinking. He opened a drawer behind the bar and seized a leather 
frankfurter loaded with lead shot. Stepping into the brawl, he swung 
that sap lightly and expertly, delivering sleep-producing but not skull- 
fracturing taps behind each participant's ear. It was a shame and a 
sacrilege to ruin a beautiful fight like that, but Mahoney had his tables 
and mirror to think of. 

Soon the floor was littered with loggy bodies; all except Clancy's. 
Because Clancy was his probable future brother-in-law, Mahoney didn't 
slug him. After his last opponent was floored, Clancy stood still waving 
his fists, looking dazed, his lips swollen and bleeding. Then he turned 
and stumbled to the frosted-glass door and climbed the stairs. 

Mahoney wanted to join him, but he had work to do first. He sent 
his bar boy out to the pump to^fetch pails of water, and he doused a 
full pail upon each knocked-out man. As they blinked toward con- 
sciousness, Mahoney dragged them to the door and rolled them to the 
sidewalk. 

"If you bastards want to fight," he snapped, "fight outside." Then 
he told the bar boy to take care of the place, and he went upstairs. 

When he opened the sitting-room door, he beheld an odd tableau. 
Clancy sat iti a straight-backed chair, elbows on his knees, head in his 
hands. His drooping body looked heartbroken. Lucy stood at the 
window, gazing out at the night, dabbing her eyes. Only Doll seemed 



GUS THE GREAT 93 

unruffled. Cushioned by pillows, she lounged on the plush sofa beneath 
the framed motto, "God Bless Our Home," 

"Come in, Tim," she said. "Did the fight do much damage?" 

"It's little enough you'd care if it did," he said. 

Doll sighed and shook her head. 

"I can't understand why everyone gets so upset about these things. 
Sis has the weeps, and I guess Clancy has, too." 

From Clancy came a choked-up groan. He remained bent over, his 
fingers tenderly probing his sore skull, and he moaned, "God in heaven, 
God in heaven." Then he gazed up at Mahoney and said sorrowfully, 
"She admits it, Tim. Chasing around with that old buck. And I loved 
her, that I did. I worshipped her like an angel, and I thought I wasn't 
fit to kiss the hem of her skirt." 

"You kissed more than the hern of my skirt," Doll reminded him. 

Clancy's ears turned red. Creaking to his feet, he shuffled over to 
Lucy and put a hand on her shoulder. "Good-by, Sis." Then he shook 
hands with Mahoney. "Good-by, Tim. Take care of yourself." And 
without a glance at Doll he opened the door and clumped down the 
stair. 

"See there," Tim snapped. "Now look what you've done, you little 
alley cat. He's gone and he won't come back." 

"Oh yes he will," Doll said. "He'll be back, don't worry." And to 
Lucy she said, "Well Sis, at least I can start wearing my gold watch 
now." 

A sudden giggle came from Lucy's tear-streaked face. 

"Honestly, Sis," she said, "you're a case. You're really a case." 

Despite her casualness toward Clancy that night, Doll felt sorry for 
him. She was not cold-blooded. But she hated scenes and she hated 
sentimentality and pettiness. She wanted life to move along smoothly, 
with everybody liking everybody else. Why, she asked herself, did 
people fuss so much about inconsequential things? She thought it 
selfish and little of Clancy to resent her going out with Gus. On the 
nights when Gus made love to her, Clancy had been in Omaha, hadn't 
he? Then why all the racket? Did he expect her to sit home and knit, 
when she could be enjoying restaurants and theaters? If that were what 
he wanted, she couldn't believe he loved her, because if he loved her 
he'd want her to be happy. 

Clancy had attracted her because he had been laughing and witty 
and carefree and hell-bent. And strong. She admired strength. But 
that night when he stumbled up the stair from the saloon he had been 
blubbering and self-pitying. She found this revolting. Martyrdom dis- 
gusted her. It seemed obscene. Certainly she never intended making a 
martyr of herself for anybody. 



94 GUS THE GREAT 

Doll guessed that if anybody had the right to feel upset that night it 
was she, for she had consulted a doctor the day before and discovered 
she was pregnant. She had not yet told the news even to Lucy, for 
she wanted to think things through alone and make her decisions un- 
aided. Although she was reasonably sure that Gus was responsible, she 
had been toying with the idea of congratulating Clancy upon his ap- 
proaching fatherhood and allowing him to make an honest woman 
of her. 

That would be the easy way. But it would also mean good-by to the 
life she had been planning for herself; good-by to silks, carriages, 
music, theaters. It would mean a smoke-discolored house in Clayton 
Junction with a' perennial baby in her arms and a two-year-old tugging 
her skirts; she would be a woman hanging out washing on Monday 
and ironing on Tuesday and baking and canning fruit on sweltering 
summer mornings. Over-the-fence gossip with Mrs. McGinnis. Clancy 
clumping home from work, tired and cross. And some day she would 
stare into the dresser mirror and behold a woman with stringy hair 
and neglected skin, and that dowdy stranger would be she. 

She would never be able to stick it. She would run off with a sewing- 
machine agent. Nobody expected a beautiful race horse to settle into 
dray harness. She was the person she was, and she couldn't marry 
Clancy. Even though she liked him. 

She had reached that conclusion when he came stumbling up the 
steps and moped into the sitting room, punch-drunk from liquor and 
fighting. And when she saw him that way, hurt and sentimental and 
silly with jealousy instead of gay and witty, she didn't even like him 
very much. Lucy, always more emotional than Doll, caught Clancy's 
mood and waded with him into that bog of bathos. Lucy wept. Not 
Doll. She felt contemptuous of them both. And she was disgusted at 
the dramatic way he had said good-by to Lucy and Tim. 

He would be back. She knew he would. And he was. The very 
next day. 

He came back in a mood for argument, in a domineering mood. 
She was not, he announced loudly, to see Gus Phelan again. He be- 
came excited, stamping about the sitting room, and she fancied he 
wished he could win the argument by giving her a clip on the jaw. 
If she had been his wife he might have done just that. But she wasn't 
his wife. Thank God! Oh, how she hated scenes! Leaving him in the 
sitting room with Lucy, Doll went to her bedroom and locked the door. 

Next time he returned he was contrite and sugar-tongued, but he 
was not the same good old Clancy. Everything he did and said seemed 
forced and unnatural. He was losing her he had already lost her 
and he had become obsessed with the notion of winning her back at 



GUS THE GREAT 95 

any cost. They could be married, he said, by the Presbyterian preacher. 
And he had always been such a good Catholic. Doll shook her head. 

"You'd regret it some day, Clancy," she said. "You know you 
would." 

Through the end of February and into the kite weather of March 
that continued, Clancy all upset, never himself; and Doll began to 
feel more concerned about her pregnancy. It was still a secret be- 
tween the doctor and herself, but she'd have to tell Lucy soon. Then 
one day Gus arrived in Clayton Junction. Luckily enough, it was on 
an afternoon when Clancy was making the Omaha run. 

Gus paid an urchin to deliver a note announcing he was in town; he 
would meet her at the usual place. That was the livery stable. They 
drove to Tamarack, eating supper and attending the theater, but 
throughout the evening she felt dispirited. "Anything wrong, Dolly?" 
Gus kept asking. She smiled, shook her head. But something was 
wrong; everything was wrong. She had a dull headache and her body 
felt heavy. Maybe, she thought, life was catching up with her. Maybe 
it wasn't such a high lark after all; maybe you couldn't go along taking 
what was agreeable from living and ignoring the rest. 

Driving back to Clayton Junction she felt cold inside and depressed. 
It was a windy night with a half-moon riding high and pale, and the 
clouds racing across it had fantastic shapes as if they were witches on 
broomsticks. Between the two towns the road curved ghost-pale, and 
the roadside bushes, tormented by the wind, looked like bony fingers 
clawing. After the horses thumped over a little wooden bridge Doll 
said: 

"Gus . . . Stop a minute, will you? I've got something to tell you." 

"Whoa," Gus bawled into the wind. "Whoa, boy." His big arm 
encircled her, and while they kissed she could hear the wind roaring 
through the trees with a sound like waterfalls. 

"Something to tell me," he said at last. "What is it, Dolly?" 

"You know," she said, "how much fun we've had. Making love . . * 
Well, I've found out I'm in the family way." 

"Well I'll be damned," Gus exclaimed. "That kind of takes my 
breath, Dolly. You're not worried, are you?" 

"No. Not exactly." 

He patted her. "Dolly my girl, you know me. I'll take care of every- 
thing. Nothing at all to worry about, Dolly. My wife's had eight and 
there's nothing to it. You won't want for a thing, Dolly, I'll see to that. 
You'll never want as long as I'm above the sod." 

"Oh, Gus," she sighed, burying her face in his coat; and suddenly 
she was sobbing. She wondered why. It wasn't like her. Then she 
realized that deep beneath her unconcern she had really been worried 



96 GUS THE GREAT 

and frightened. But Gus was reliable, a pillar of strength. He patted 
her, murmured heavy endearments, and they drove on, to Clayton 
Junction, to the livery stable. 

Gus was especially attentive and tender, helping her down from the 
rig. She waited by his side, in the dim lantern light within the stable, 
while he paid the stableman. 

"Thanks," said the stableman. "Pretty windy night for you folks to 
be out dnvm'. . . ." And then he asked, "Say, you hear about the 
wreck?" 

"Wreck?" 

"Oh, didn't you hear ? Wreck on the Omaha run. Number Eighty- 
eight and Number Three-nineteen had a head-on collision." 

Number Eighty-eight. Clancy was fireman on Number Eighty-eight. 

"My God/' Gus said. "That's awful Anyone hurt?" 

"The engine crew of Number Three-nineteen jumped," the stable- 
man said. "And the engineer on Number Eighty-eight. But the fire- 
man, he stuck with *er. Guess the engineer tried to get him to jump, 
but he wouldn't. He stuck. Fellow named Clancy. He stuck and was 
scalded to death." 

For a moment Doll felt numb, her tongue heavy and thick. Clancy 
wouldn't jump. He must have known what would happen to him 
when those two iron hogs collided, but he wouldn't jump. That moody 
wild-fisted Irishman knew he had lost her and he wouldn't 

The livery stable floor seemed to tip, and she thought black ink had 
been spilled over the lantern flame. Her knees buckled, the way a 
drunk's knees buckled one time when Gus hit him, and Doll realized 
that for the first time in her life she was fainting. 



DC 



"OLL'S SON was born one evening the following autumn in her bed- 
room above Mahoney's Saloon. Old Doc Harvey attended her, and the 
delivery was wholly normal and speedy as if the child were eager to 
emerge into the world and be about getting ahead in life. To Doll the 
birth did not seem speedy, but even with pain streaking her conscious- 
ness her humor did not desert her. She remembered how Gus had said 
his wife had borne eight children and there was nothing to it, and she 
thought of a quip with which she would chide Gus. It seemed funny, 
the way jokes seemed funny when you were drinking, and she laughed 
aloud. Doc Harvey put a hand on her forehead and said, "There, there, 
my girl easy does it," and then she was not laughing but sobbing. 

Throughout the ordeal the familiar sounds of Clayton Junction 
reached her and comforted her. From the saloon downstairs she could 
hear somebody banging away on the cheap piano, and now and then 
through that bawdy music the whooping laugh of a drunk ascended. 
Her thoughts darted in and out among the upspurting geysers of pain, 
and in imagination she left the misery of her bed and went downstairs. 
It helped dull the agony to pretend she was entering the saloon, wear- 
ing that gray suit in which she looked like a million dollars. The saw- 
dust floor was soft beneath her feet, and she could see the long bar and 
Tim "wiping away the rings left by glasses. 

She thought the saloon was empty except for him, and when he saw 
her he dropped the cloth and rounded the bar. She saw his lean body 
and dour countenance with the sandy hair and the discontented, brood- 
ing eyes. She felt his steely hands on her shoulders, and he tried to 
drag her against him and kiss her. She sensed his passion, but it was 
cold passion locked up within himself, and she placed her fists against 
his bony chest and pushed. Odd that she should imagine that happen- 
ing in the saloon, because it really happened one day in the sitting 
room Vhen Sis was out buying groceries. That was two years ago, 
only three or four weeks after Mamma -died in Sioux Creek and Doll 
came to make her home with Sis. She pushed him away, and when 
he kept trying to embrace her she slapped him. 

"Don't be a silly idiot," she snapped. "I'd just as soon have a jacka,ss 
slobbering over me." , ' 

His face went white, then flamiftg red, and from that moment his 



9 8 GUS THE GREAT 

attitude toward her changed. In her presence his lips tightened and his 
eyes were cold, and she knew he hated her with all the venom of desire 
turned back upon itself. Sometimes Doll was afraid of him. Although 
he was only twenty-eight, he seemed a bitter old man. Then from Sis, 
little by little, Doll gleaned information about their marital life, and 
she understood the frustration which always seemed to hagnde those 
two. Sis had gone to him a virgin, and she had remained faithful to 
him, and hence to her making love seemed a vastly overrated pastime 
and she could not understand why Doll took to it so enthusiastically. 
Doll was a kmdhearted girl and did not add to Lucy's discontent by 
describing the joys she was missing. 

"We're different. Sis, that's all," she told Lucy. "Some people like 
oysters and some don't. It's just the way you're made." 

She wondered whether Lucy suspected she was lying. She hoped not, 
for Lucy was without the fire and daring to find another man. Lucy 
was a person whom life shoved around. Most people were, Doll 
guessed. But she wasn't. Or perhaps she was. Perhaps life shoved 
everybody, but a few persons like Gus Phelan and herself shoved back. 
And if you shoved hard enough life yielded and you got what you 
went after. 

Doll's remaining in Clayton Junction for the birth of her child was 
an instance of her shoving back, for as soon as the town learned that 
the stork was making reconnaissance flights over Mahoney's Saloon it 
became incensed. The town did not consider the bearing of children a 
proper occupation for unmarried women. Doll thought this a strange 
attitude. She could have understood such an attitude in Sioux Creek, 
for it was a prim village inhabited by staid people. They were kindly 
people too, not so much straight-laced as naive, and when scandal came 
along, such as the time the Presbyterian preacher's wife yielded to the 
blandishments of the choir tenor, they were genuinely shocked and 
sorrowful. Such an occurrence was so unusual they didn't know what 
to do. But they knew they must do something, so they fired the 
preacher. This was possibly not quite fair, for the preacher had been 
no happier than anyone else about his wife's frailty, but in the end a 
kind of rough justice was achieved, for the preacher left town immedi- 
ately, taking his wife with him, and thus temptation was removed from 
both her and the tenor. The tenor, as it happened, was Doll's father. 

Doll knew how Sioux Creek would have reacted if she had been 
living there pregnant but unwed. After the first shock the town would 
have been angry, but presently the anger would have cooled. The town 
would not have cast her out. It would have remembered that after all 
she was one of its daughters, a cheerful girl it had watched growing up. 
While disapproving such conduct in general, it would have made an 



GUS THE GREAT- 99 

exception in her case. "I guess it's no more than we could expect," the 
town would have said, "considering she's Bill Burgoyne's daughter." 

None of that kindliness shone through Clayton Junction's attitude. 
It was such a rowdy town, so full of saloons and prostitutes and fight- 
ing, that Doll expected it to ignore her condition. She expected ur- 
banity and indifference. Instead, the town turned upon her. That 
summer when she strolled along the street, men loafing outside saloons 
made insulting remarks, and sometimes the women drew aside to the 
edge of the sidewalk so their skirts would not be contaminated. Once 
in a dry goods store the clerk, a sharp-nosed spinster, refused to sell 
her material for a dress. Doll demanded to see the manager. He 
proved to be as gray-skinned and sharp-featured as the clerk, and he 
wagged a forefinger and ordered her from the store. 

"We sell to harlots," he said, "but not to harlots that pretend to be 
ladies." 

It was such an absurd utterance that Doll's indignation gave way to 
peals of laughter. Then she drew herself up and with dignity paced 
from the store. It was a July afternoon, and the town lay prostrate in 
the blazing heat. She knew how baking-hot her room above the saloon 
would be, and she didn't want to return there and upset Sis till the 
anger left her face. Doll's pregnancy had upset Sis enough already, for 
she was a conformist who abided by the conventions as naturally as 
Doll transgressed them. These last months had been unhappy ones 
for Sis, torn as she was between loyalty to Doll and fear of what the 
town would say and what Tim might do. Tim, as a matter of fact, 
had done nothing but scowl and curl his thin mouth when he learned 
of Doll's condition. Finally he said, "What can she expect, chasing 
around with that old rooster, Phelan?" He seemed to derive grim 
satisfaction from the worst's happening. Lucy had feared he might 
turn Doll into the street, but she didn't know her husband. She didn't 
know that sometimes he lay awake thinking of Doll, turning over and 
over his emotion for her, that choking emotion in which passion and 
humiliation and hatred were so entangled. 

Leaving the store that afternoon, Doll felt more contemptuous than 
angry. She wanted to" be alone to think over her situation, to make 
plans, to gain strength. For she had discovered it futile to seek strength 
and courage from outside herself, from other people. When troubles 
tumbled upon her she had formed the habit of going into solitude, of 
communing with herself. It was as if there were great reservoirs of 
power within her spirit, and if she groped humbly toward them she 
found them at last, and they refreshed and strengthened her. Then 
she could laugh again. 

So through the heat she strolled along Second Avenue, past the livery 
stable where Gus had rented the phaeton that first day they drove to 



ioo GUS THE GREAT 

Tamarack, away from the business district. The sun burned down on 
her shoulders, and she was grateful for the shade of the residential sec- 
tion. But even the trees m Clayton Junction were poor sick things, 
blighted by the soot that floated from the railroad yards. She hated 
the town that afternoon, and she wondered why she remained. Gus 
had suggested she go to Chicago or at least Tamarack to have her baby, 
where she was unknown. He offered to pay all expenses, but she said 
no. She foresaw too many complications. Landladies inquiring about 
her husband that kind of thing. And besides, she wasn't going to 
give Clayton Junction the satisfaction of driving her away. 

She made her way to the edge of town, moving slowly and cum- 
brously, scanning the board sidewalks for knotholes that might trip 
her. But this afternoon she did not attain the peace that solitude usually 
brought. Yet she had no regrets about the course she had taken. She 
wouldn't have traded places with any of the drudging women in those 
houses she had passed; she wouldn't have traded places with Lucy. 
She was glad she had not consented to marry Clancy. 

In a way it was her fault that he had died : Tim openly blamed her, 
and she suspected that even Lucy shared his opinion. But in a larger 
sense it was not her fault at all. It was his own. A fatal weakness in 
his character, sentimentality. Because he loved her, he had selfishly 
thought she should shape her life to his. If she had complied and mar- 
ried him, it would have been she who would have died. Not physically, 
but her gay spirit would have left her. She couldn't marry a man just 
because he wanted her to. 

Yet she had been fond of Clancy and she had grieved for him; not 
for the doleful Clancy he had become in his last days upon earth, when 
he realized he had lost her, but for the witty, devil-may-care fellow who 
said the most outlandish things when they were making love. She 
would have been glad to think the child in her womb was his, but she 
was gladder to feel the child belonged to Gus. For beneath his joviality 
Gus was hard as nails, and she thought a child of hers would need to 
be ruthless. 

Clayton Junction was behind her now, and she felt tired. Deep with 
white dust the road to Tamarack curved away through the heat; heat 
flashed and shimmered in the vast cloudless sky. She stopped m the 
shade of a roadside tree. The sound of locomotives reached her, and 
to the south she could see their smoke puffing up in brilliant snowy 
mushrooms and dark plum-colored pillars. Some fine day she intended 
boarding a train and going away. East. Chicago. New York, 

She turned back toward town, deciding to stroll along First Avenue. 
It looked shadier. A few minutes later she regretted that decision. 

It began innocently enough when, deep in thought, she passed a dir,ty 
yard where three dirty children were playing joylessly. Two boys of 



GUS THE GREAT 101 

ten or twelve, and a girl of the same age. One boy, who had red hair 
and whose face was plastered with red freckles, stood with legs apart 
and stared at her insolently. Some smart-aleck remark popped from 
his mouth and the other children giggled. Doll thought wearily that 
the town was full of brats and passed on. 

She had walked a quarter of a block when she became aware of 
giggling behind her, and she glanced around. The children were there, 
with several others. They had the air of being up to no good. The 
redheaded boy dashed into the street and ran ahead, ducking behind a 
tree which she must pass. And suddenly she was afraid of passing that 
tree. That, she told herself, was ridiculous. Doubtless the children 
were engaged in some senseless game that did not concern her at all. 

The giggling grew louder, and when she glanced around again she 
saw that several more children had joined the game, recruited from 
the yards along the way. There were several dogs, too, their tongues 
dripping out. 

"What do you children want?" Doll asked. 

They giggled harder, as if at some obscure joke, and one boy patted 
his palm against his mouth and hooted. 

Doll marched on, and the tree where the boy was concealed came 
closer. He peeked around it, smirking, then ducked back. Her ridicu- 
lous dread of passing that tree increased. She told herself pregnant 
women were always foolishly nervous because they were carrying the 
whole future in their bodies. What she feared was that the boy would 
dash out and butt his head into her stomach. 

Then she reached the tree and nothing happened. She breathed in 
relief and told herself she was silly. 

Then she saw the redheaded boy again. Once more he was running 
down the middle of the street, and this time when he came abreast of 
her he yelled the word. The word was "whore." 

She understood, then. This was no game, or perhaps it was a game, 
one of the oldest in the world. And in a flash she felt kinship for all 
the poor derided women in history, the women branded with the 
letter "A," the women beaten past the town's end in the Middle Ages, 
all those poor creatures who had yielded on spring evenings beneath 
the hedgerows. 

And Doll did an odd thing. Odd for her, because she had never been 
very religious. She turned on that dancing mob of children and 
. screamed : 

"Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." 

They shrieked at that, and hooted, and the dogs barked, and then all 
the children took up the cry of the redheaded boy. 

She hurried as fast as she dared along the board sidewalk. Their 
quarry was retreating now, and the pack was in full cry. A yard ap r 



102 GUS THE GREAT 

proached where a fat woman was hanging out diapers, and Doll 
thought, "She'll make them stop. She'll make them behave." 

But when the woman heard the words the children were yelling a 
smile pasted itself over her face and she spat contemptuously. 

"That's right, give it to her," the woman yelled. "She's got it 
coming." 

Doll felt sick in her legs, but she plodded on. 

When she reached Van Buren Street she crossed it and turned west 
toward Second Avenue. The business district was only a block away, 
but still the children shrieked after her; she was at the center of a 
moving tornado of hoots and yelps and barking dogs. Ahead she saw 
a sign hanging over the sidewalk: "Clayton Junction Tribune." It was 
the first business establishment on this side street, and as the noise 
reached the place a man came out. 

He was a tall man in his forties, round-shouldered, and because he 
walked with a bad limp he carried a cane. He paused on the sidewalk, 
gazing at the children; and then understanding crossed his face and he 
limped fast toward her. His face was long and seamed, and his eyes 
flashed angrily. 

As he approached, the hooting ceased, and before it could begin again 
he said: 

"That's enough of this. Get along home." 

The children glanced at one another. 

The man brought paper and pencil from his pocket. 

"I'm going to take down your names," he said. "They'll want to 
know them at the police station." 

"Not my name, mister," the redheaded boy yelled. 

And he galloped down an alley. A few moments later not even a 
dog remained. 

"The little devils," the man murmured, staring after them. Then he 
turned to Doll. "You'd better come into the office and rest. You must 
be tired." 

It was a good place to cry. The building was brick, and after the 
bright heat of the street the dusky air seemed cool and damp. At the 
editor's littered desk Doll buried her face in her arms and let the tears 
come. Once she felt the man's hand on her shoulders and she heard 
him say, "That's all right. It's a dirty town." 

She didn't cry long. At first she was full of rage against the children 
and their parents, but presently her fury turned cold and almost im- 
personal; it was like the helpless anger of a man shaking his fist against 
the heavens after the destruction wrought by some great natural cata- 
clysm. 



GUS THE GREAT I03 

And as her tears ceased and she sat quietly with her head cradled 
in her arms, she experienced a curious sense of shame. She was not 
ashamed of being pregnant without matrimony any more than a vixen 
fox would have been ashamed of that. Mortification warmed her 
cheeks because she had figured in a public spectacle. 
She lifted her head and said quietly: 
"Thanks for what you did." 

The man sat tamping tobacco into a charred old pipe. His fingers 
were long, lean, alive-looking, with dirty nails. 

"They're little imps of the devil," he said. "Except I don't believe in 
the devil. Bosh and rubbish. You ought to read Voltaire. And Darwin 
and Huxley. They've got the stuff." Points of fire gleamed in his gray 
eyes. "This is a stinking town," he said. "If I had any gumption I'd 
lock up shop and walk out. But 111 never do it. I know myself, see? 
I'll talk about it but I'll never do it. Ill rot here till I die, and then 111 
really rot." 
He grinned at that. 

From a case of type another man called: 

"Not if you keep yourself well pickled you won't. Old Mother Al- 
cohol. God but I wish it was Saturday night, Frank. I'd be drunk if 
this was Saturday night." 

He was a gnarled man of sixty-five perched on a stool, and while he 
spoke his right hand kept flying over the typecase, plucking out bits of 
metal and clicking them into the stick he held in his left. He wore 
straw sleeve-protectors, and dirt tarnished his silvery hair. 

"You're Miss Burgoyne, aren't you?" the editor asked. "Well Miss 
Burgoyne, come back and meet Vince Fye. He's the best tramp printer 
I've ever had. That's not saying much." 
Without a pause in his typesetting, Fye said: 
"Pleased to meet you. Miss. And don't call me a tramp, Frank. Call 
me a boomer. A tramp's got more sense than me. A tramp won't 
work." 

"How about it, Vince?" the editor said. "You've been around. Isn't 
this a stinking town?" 

"I've seen better," Vince Fye said, "and I've seen worse. They all 

stink, Frank. Like the Good JBook says. To the skunk all things shall 

stinketh, and to the rose all shall smell sweet. Or words to that effect." 

Frank grinned. And he said to Doll, "You're feeling better now, 

aren't you?" 

"A lot better," Doll said, and she smiled. It was that warmhearted, 
spontaneous smile which always made her so many friends among 
men. Its earthiness and abundance somehow reminded Frank Mac- 



104 GUS THE GREAT 

Gowan of his native Pennsylvania on a wmey September afternoon. 

He asked, "Had those children been bothering you long?" 

"It seemed quite a while/' she said, and she told how it started and 
what the fat woman yelled and how the clerk in the dry goods store 
refused to sell her dress material. 

"But if they think they're going to run me out of town they're wrong. 
Ill fight back. I used to play jackstones and I'm like the rubber ball. 
The harder they bounce me down, the faster 111 come up." 

He chuckled, and Doll noticed a grin on the face of the old type- 
setter. Her heart went out to these men. They were different from any 
she had known; her experience provided no pigeonhole into which they 
would fit. She was grateful for the way they damned the town and 
clowned back and forth so she would feel that what had happened was 
beneath fretting about. They were nearly too good to be true, and a 
sudden suspicion flashed through her thoughts and she asked: 

"You won't put anything in the paper about this, will you?" 

Both men laughed, and MacGowan said: 

"People who live in glass houses have to flock together. No, not a 
line. We go to press Thursday. If you're going to worry, drop in 
Thursday afternoon and read proof." 

"I'm not going to worry." 

"Then drop in anyway. Drop in when you feel like cussing out this 
town. That's the best thing we do." 

"It's our safety valve," Vince Fye said. "We flatter the town in print 
and cuss it out in private." 

When Doll rose to leave, MacGowan said he had an errand and he 
would accompany her to Mahoney's Saloon. She saw through that. He 
had no errand. What he did have was understanding and kindness; 
and she suspected he feared that after her experience she might have 
qualms about venturing forth alone. 

They walked slowly to the corner and turned into Second Avenue. 
Their pace suited each other: she with her pregnancy, he with his 
lameness. 

"I'm not much of a walking companion," he said. "This left leg is 
artificial. I lost it at Chickamauga in 'sixty-three." 

"I'm not complaining/' she said. "I'm spavined, too, for a while." 

He chuckled, and as they moved along beneath the wooden awnings 
she stole glances at him. He had perched a dilapidated old hat upon 
his gray-sprinkled brown hair, and a streak of printer's grime ran 
across his cheek. He was as different as possible from Gus Phelan, Gus 
with his tailored suits and immaculate grooming; and yet in some 
fashion the men reminded her of each other. Perhaps it was because 
this man too, despite his lameness, gave her a feeling of strength. In 
his company she felt as perfectly protected as she had that first night 



GUS THE GREAT 105 

with Gus when he knocked down an insulting drunk and kicked him 
into the gutter. 

After that she often dropped in at the Tribune office, during those 
final months of pregnancy when she was incapacitated for love and her 
chief occupation was waiting, waiting. She grew fond of that dingy 
place with its odor of paper and printer's ink and burning tobacco, and 
she grew fond of Frank MacGowan, too. She saw him in many moods: 
tense and busy on Thursdays when the paper was printed; lazy and 
ready to talk for hours on Fridays. She watched him at his desk, work- 
ing easily as he penned some trivial local item, scowling and gripping 
his pen as if it were a dagger as he wrestled with the syntax of edi- 
torials. These were sprinkled with references to Karl Marx and 
Herbert Spencer, for the established order did not delight him. If the 
few persons who read his editorials had understood them he might 
have encountered trouble, but Clayton Junction's ignorance was his 
guardian angel. 

"Listen to this," he would exclaim, as his pen jabbed down the final 
period of an editorial. "This will show them." 

And then, waving his hand, he barked out the sentences he had 
composed, while Vince Fye continued his endless typesetting and Doll 
listened without understanding a word. 

"That's good," she always said. "Real good. It's pretty highbrow for 
me, but it sounds fine." 

And Fye grinned and said: 

"You've done it this time, Frank. They'll mob us Thursday night. 
Tar and feather us, and ride us out of town on a rail." 

Frank scowled suspiciously. 

"You don't mean that, Vince. You're having one on me again." 

"Sure I mean it. The pen's mightier than the sword, ain't it? You 
know the old saying. He who takes up the sword shall gather no 
moss." 

Frank put down the sheets, looking discouraged, and then a slow 
grin crept over his mouth. 

"The town stinks, Vince," he said at last. 

At the back of the office, beyond the typecases and composing stones 
and the old press, Vince and Frank batched it. Their untidy quarters 
would have horrified a woman with sterner housekeeping standards, 
but Doll didn't mind the unmade beds and unwashed dishes and the 
dresser littered with everything from The Origin of Species to Vince's 
sleeve garters. She herself was a bit careless about keeping house; often 
it was Lucy who slipped into Doll's room at midafternoon and made 
her bed. 

But Doll realized' there were certain inviolable conventions between 



106 ' GUS THE GREAT 

men and women, and among these was the canon that a woman should 
express horror at the disarray of a bachelor's abode, so the first time she 
beheld that combination bedroom-and-kitchen she exclaimed: 

"Frank, Frank! What a place! Something has to be done!" 

She pitched in, making the beds, washing the dishes, and while she 
worked Frank sat watching her, conscious of an inner glow of happi- 
ness. He had never been in love. There had been a girl back in his 
native town about whom he thought while he was away at war, but 
she had married. Besides, with his leg gone he would have been too 
shy to mention marriage. And down through the years in the presence 
of nice girls he was always conscious of that lost leg. So he had not 
known love. Passion he had known, not passion in its violent beauty 
but in violent tawdrmess, and he expelled it like a good riddance in 
the cat houses on Rafferty Street, down by the roundhouse. 

It would have given him a start to admit he was beginning to love a 
girl far gone in pregnancy with another man's child. But he did know 
that in her presence the world seemed more vivid. Between her visits 
the time stretched long and sterile, and when he was making up the 
paper or reading late at night he would think about her violet eyes and 
her brash voice and the way she wore her dark hair in short curls. His 
feeling for her was always shot through with a wistful ache. 

"There now, that's better," Doll said, giving the bed a final pat. She 
turned to the kitchen portion of the room and sighed humorously. 
"Those dishes, Frank! Honest to goodness! And that stove! Do you 
really cook on it?" 

"I go through the motions. The results aren't always digestible." 

"What I ought to do," she said, "is to cook you a real meal." 

"Would you?" 

"Try me," she said; and that was the first of those occasions when 
Doll cooked a delicious meal for Vince and Frank, and they feasted 
together. Usually this took place on Friday evening, when getting out 
another edition of the paper was nearly a week away. They lingered 
long at the table while Frank, expounded the doctrines of Herbert 
Spencer or Vince yarned about his experiences as a roving printer; arid 
when they did the dishes they sang old songs. 

Except for Vince and Frank, Doll might have found life lonely, be- 
cause during that summer and autumn business did not bring Gus 
Phelan to Clayton Junction as it did before her pregnancy. He wrote 
now and then, but his letters did not sound at all like Gus. They were 
formal and impersonal; businesslike, really; and they always conveyed 
the same information : business was keeping him tied down in Chicago. 
Doll smiled at that; she was no fool. He avoided mentioning money in 
his letters he was no fool, either but when she tore open the enve- 
lopes, currency tumbled into her lap. 



GUS THE GREAT 107 

At the end of those Friday evenings in the printing shop, Frank 
accompanied her home. They would leave Vince Fye in the lamp- 
lighted bedroom-and-kitchen, and grope into the dark shop, where the 
machinery and typecases bulked black against the dim light falling 
through the front windows. One evening he suggested they take a 
stroll. 

It was late September by that time, a sharp night with a frosty moon; 
and from the marshes outside town white mist had stolen m, ghostly 
silent. They moved slowly, Frank's cane swishing through dead leaves. 
For a long time they didn't speak, but the silence between them was 
the eloquent speechlessness of two people who had achieved under- 
standing and trust. Finally he asked: 

"When do you expect your child?" 

"In about three weeks." 

"Do you dread it?" 

"In a way. I'll be glad when it's over." And she added, "I don't 
think anything will go wrong, do you, Frank ? I don't think I'll die." 

It stopped him. In a hushed voice he said: 

"Don't even think about such a thing, Doll. Of course you won't." 

"I wouldn't want to. It's such a big world, so much to see. It's such 
an interesting world, and there're so many things I want to do yet." 

He experienced a pang. He could never hold her; he would never 
try. If death didn't take her away her restless spirit would. She was 
very close to nature, he thought; and he couldn't hold her any more 
than he could imprison a handful of sunshine. He said: 

"I want you to remember one thing. Doll. If you ever need me, call 
me. If you're a thousand miles away and need me, you call." 

She put her hand on his sleeve. "You're a good man, Frank." 

Presently he asked: 

"Whose child is it, Doll? Howard Clancy's?" 

"I don't think so. It's Gus Phelan's." 

Deep inside he cringed. He had seen Phelan m Mahoney's Saloon, 
and he could not imagine Doll in his arms. And then it occurred to 
him that probably Doll could not imagine him in the fat arms of a 
Rafferty Street trollop, either. In some odd fashion, he thought, his 
relationship with Doll had brought out what was jbest in each, the way 
April sun brought into bloom the shy, tender plants of the earliest 
springtide. In Doll there were probably impulses and determinations 
less lovely than he had beheld. And suddenly he was appalled at the 
complexity of human beings and at the vast tantalizing maze of human 
relationships. 

Silently, they tramped back to Second Avenue. The railroad yards 
were noisy with tooting locomotives, and Mahoney's Saloon was noisy, 
too. Inside the vestibule at the foot of the steps, they could heaor the 



io8 GUS THE GREAT 

piano banging away beyond the door, and men's voices reached them, 
husky and incoherent in various stages of intoxication. 

Doll whispered: * 

"I've never had a friend like you, Frank. If you'd like to kiss me 
good night, I'd like to have you." 

His body barely touched hers and he tried to keep his kiss tender, 
but behind it she sensed more than tenderness. Then he was gone, 
shuffling out the door. She watched him tapping away up the street, 
dragging his bad leg. 



HEN AUGUSTUS H. BURGOYNE was two minutes old, a woman fell in 
love with him. Her name was Lucy Mahoney. 

That past year had been a difficult one for poor Lucy. She was one 
of those willing, patient, colorless little women who always seem to be 
begging everyone's pardon for being alive. Destiny had played a bad 
joke on her when it gave her a vivid sister like Doll and a dour hus- 
band like Tim. She should have married an earnest country parson 
and spent her life cooking him plenty of fried chicken and helping him 
do good works. And even with an evangelical husband, she should 
never have permitted Doll to spend a single night in the manse. 

Lucy was eighteen when she married Tim. He was a native of 
Clayton Junction, where his father operated an esteemed saloon, but 
Tim fancied himself destined for higher things than pouring out drinks 
behind a bar. Occasionally in his father's saloon he had seen railroad 
officials m their fine clothes, and he thought that would be the life for 
him. So after his student days terminated with his graduation from 
eighth grade, he accepted a position with the Chicago, Tamarack & 
Pacific Railroad. It wasn't much of a job cleaning spittoons in the 
station, sweeping out, heaving baggage but the man who hired him 
said there was a future m it. He didn't say what kind. 

Tim worked hard, groping for the bottom rung in the ladder of 
success, and after a few years he found it. He had learned the Morse 
code and the railroad sent him to Sioux Creek as assistant to the station 
agent there. He had the graveyard watch, working from dark till 
dawn, and the pay was small. Sometimes he considered giving up his 
career and returning to Clayton Junction where he would go into the 
saloon business with his old man. 

The station agent in Sioux Creek advised Tim to make friends in 
the town, to foster good will for the railroad, so Tim attended the Pres- 
byterian Church. There, he met Lucy. She fell in love with him: the 
Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific seemed to have a fatal fascination for 
those Burgoyne girls. At Tim's invitation, Lucy occasionally visited 
him at night in the station, and this was innocent enough except that 
the railroad didn't pay him to spark a girl on its time. 

When the Widow Rritchlow learned of these nocturnal visits, God 
knew how, she immediately suspected that more was taking place I ap t 

109 ! 



no GUS THE GREAT 

the railroad station than the arrival of trains. She erred in her conclu- 
sions, for Lucy held virginity in higher esteem than her younger sister 
ever would, but Mrs. Kritchlow's error was quite natural, for Lucy's 
father had always assumed that Moses had misunderstood God when 
he wrote down the Seventh Commandment. So Mrs. Kritchlow called 
upon the station agent's wife, who was horrified that any breath of 
scandal should touch the Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific. She repri- 
manded her husband in a tone which suggested he was virtually as 
guilty as Tim. The station agent, who was beginning to have grave 
doubts that marrying meant perpetual happiness, became angry at his 
wife, but he couldn't take it out on her, for occasionally in moments 
of stress the woman threw things, so he took it out on Tim. 

Nobody could talk to a Mahoney the way the station agent talked to 
Tim. Not and get away with it, they couldn't. Years later, just think- 
ing about it made Tim mad, and as time went on he kept recalling 
more and more scathing things he said to the station agent. That 
conversation was responsible for the railroad's losing a mighty good 
man. 

But the railroad traffic's loss was the liquor traffic's gain, and before 
returning to Clayton Junction Tim asked Lucy to marry him. That, 
he thought, would show the town a thing or two. It did. It proved, 
Sioux Creek thought, that its suspicions had been correct and that Tim 
had to marry Lucy. When months and then years passed without 
Lucy's bearing a child, everyone felt badly let down. 

Lucy felt let down too, for unlike Tim she wanted children. He 
always said kids would be an expensive nuisance, but she possessed 
deep maternal yearnings. As a little girl in Sioux Creek she had been 
devoted to dolls, never happier than when on a summer morning she 
could spread a quilt on the lawn and sit playing house. 

"Lucy's never given me a minute's worry," her mother said. "She 
makes the cutest dresses for those dolls and she talks to them like they 
were real." 

And as Lucy grew older her popularity among the women of the 
neighborhood achieved spectacular heights, for she loved to take care 
of babies. Not for hire : hers was a labor of love. When young matrons 
wanted to attend afternoon parties Lucy was delighted to mind their 
babies. She enjoyed rocking infants to sleep, and when the older chil- 
dren awoke from naps she held them on her lap and showed them 
picture books. 

Doll was different. Doll didn't give a snap of her finger about babies. 
If there were nothing better to do she would play house, but she never 
shared Lucy's pleasure in imagining herself a fond little mother. When 
she played house she wanted to dress up in grown people's clothes, so 
while Lucy sat on the lawn crooning to her china-and-sawdust children, 



GUS THE GREAT in 

Doll went to her mother's bedroom and primped before the mirror, 
adorning herself in an old hat with a big plume, draping her body with 
a faded velvet dress, striking arch poses and making outlandish state- 
ments to the imaginary dukes and princes who kissed her hand and 
not always her hand. When she and Lucy played house, they were 
really not playing the same game at all. 

The games Doll liked best were those in which boys participated. 
Exciting games like kick the wicket or tallyho or run sheep run. Her 
most delectable childhood memories were of those long midsummer 
evenings when a score of children gathered beneath the great friendly 
maples in the Burgoyne yard. Because of the heat all rules about going 
to bed early were suspended, and as the long twilight crept over town 
the children argued about which game to play and chose up sides. 
Instinctively the gang always met at the Burgoynes', because they 
were an easygoing family; Mrs. Burgoyne never scolded if you hap- 
pened to run through a flower bed. And Mr. Burgoyne was a de- 
lightful man. He operated the Burgoyne Produce Company, buying 
chickens and eggs and cream from farmers and shipping them off to 
cities. He was different from most men in that town, for after working 
all day he came home and spruced up in good clothes. Nor was he a 
man to get into a rut by spending his evenings at home. He liked to 
go downtown for a game of pool. The children would see him leaving 
the house, a handsome and somehow dashing man with a rich brown 
mustache, and he would pause and chat. Doll was fond and proud of 
him. She would skip over and they would stand together, his arm 
across her shoulders, while he made the children laugh with his airy 
persiflage. As a young man he had been an actor, filling the leading 
tenor role in a light opera that played Sioux Creek. He fell in love 
with Doll's mother, and when the opera closed a few weeks later he 
dashed back to Sioux Creek and made the town rub its eyes with his 
whirlwind courtship. The produce business he inherited from his 
father-in-law. 

In those summer evening games, Doll always managed to be on the 
side with the most boys. She liked their company, and she played with 
them in a spirit of comradeship without any hint of tomboyishness 
marring her femininity. Boys liked her, too. All through the years 
Lucy was amazed at the effortless way Doll had boys and then men 
flocking after her. Lucy thought it typical of Doll to find a man to 
squire her around even when she was within a few weeks of giving 
birth to a baby. 

Little Gus was. a chubby baby with vast good humor. For hours he 
would* lie in his cradle, waving his arms and kicking and cooing. 
When Lucy poked a playful finger into his ribs and exclaimed, "Coot- 



ii2 GUS THE GREAT 

chy-cootchy-coo," he laughed and laughed. About the only time he 
became angry was when Doll stopped feeding him before his big appe- 
tite was satisfied. Then he would protest lustily, and because he 
possessed an excellent pair of lungs you could hear him all over that 
end of town. 

If there had ever been any doubt as to who was to take care of him, 
this was dispelled during the weeks following his birth. That honor 
fell to Lucy. And this was no more than a fair division of labor : after 
all, Doll had given him birth; why shouldn't someone else take up 
where she left off ? No one could be equally competent at everything. 

It was fortunate that Lucy enjoyed his company so much, because 
after being his constant companion for nine months Doll was a trifle 
weary of the infant. With her body slender again, she experienced a 
spiritual rebirth; she wanted to go places and do things. She made a 
shopping tour of Tamaj ack, buying new clothes. In other seasons Lucy 
had accompanied her on these purchasing expeditions, but this time 
Doll went alone, for somebody had to stay with the baby. 

Once the child was born, business again brought Gus Phelan to 
Clayton Junction, and he and Doll took up their relationship where it 
had been dropped, They met as of yore at the livery stable and drove 
to Tamarack, dining out and enjoying shows, A girl with a meaner 
spirit might have held it against Gus that he had denied himself her 
company during her pregnancy, but Doll was blessed with broad un- 
derstanding in such matters. Gus had behaved precisely as she would 
have behaved in his position. Besides, he had certainly not abandoned 
her when she was with child; his letters with currency demonstrated he 
had a great heart. She would never love Gus any more than she would 
love any specific man, for her love was infinite enough to include man 
as a species, but she liked him enormously. 

Gus displayed no curiosity about his son, and when Doll described 
her sufferings he drummed his fingers and changed the subject. Doll 
let it go at that Again, she understood. From his wife he had very 
likely heard that story before; and inasmuch as he had sired eight 
children you could scarcely expect him to consider a baby a novelty. 
Doll's instinct told her she had appealed to Gus because she was the 
very antithesis o his humdrum menage; hers was the ancient lure o 
beautiful women dedicated to love alone; to him she represented all 
the romance of sweet breath and smooth skm and soft, tinted lights. 
She was illusion; the dream woman running white and naked through 
the pearly mist of a glade at dawn. Realizing this, she told herself she 
had been a fool to loose the bull of reality in his china shop of illusion; 
and never again did she commit that error, with Gus <?r any man. 
1 - She was illusion for Frank MacGowan too, and during the months 



GUS THE GREAT 113 

that followed she saw Frank often. Their relationship progressed 
beyond friendship, but even in passion it retained that tender, wistful 
quality which made it seem like an unimportant but sweet little mel- 
ody a violinist might play for his own enjoyment between more am- 
bitious numbers. Even after they became lovers they were still good 
friends. They never quarreled, and Frank never gave her money or 
gifts; only his humble love. She made no effort to conceal the fact 
that Gus came to visit her, but he accepted this with the same good 
grace that a man who drank from a spring of clear water might accept 
the fact that others quenched their thirst there, too. Once he said: 

"I could easily be jealous. But I'm not going to. I might as well be 
jealous of the sun because it shines on other men." 

Frank's attitude toward polyandry gratified Doll, but something told 
her Gus Phelan would not share it, so she never told him about the 
evenings she spent at the print shop. Gus was easily duped, for he 
walked in a cloud of thick egotism. 

On one visit to Clayton Junction, Gus astonished Doll by telling her 
he'd like to meet his son. For months not a word about the child had 
been uttered between them, and she couldn't understand his sudden 
interest. She wondered whether somebody had dropped a word m his 
ear about poor Clancy, dead so long now, and whether he suspected 
there was a chance the boy was the scion of a long line of Clancys 
instead of Phelans. 

That wasn't it at all. It was only curiosity. Doll had been so silent 
about the child that Gus began wondering whether he was healthy and 
sound, and he wanted to see for himself. 

So that afternoon, risking Tim's displeasure, Doll smuggled Gus up 
the stairs to the apartment above the saloon. They found Lucy with 
little Gus in the sitting room. When they entered she jumped up, 
startled, for she remembered all Tim's threats about what he would 
do to that old rooster if he caught him here. 

"Hello, Sis!" Gus boomed cordially. "Ho ware you? You're looking 
fine. Haven't seen you for quite a while." 

Torn between alarm and hospitality, Lucy smiled and curtsied and 
bit her lip nervously. 

"How are you, Mr. Phelan?" she stammered. "I'm it's nice to see 
you." 

"Nice to see you too, Sis. Well, well! Look who's here!" 

He beamed down at the floor, where little Gus was crawling. 

"Say! He's quite a boy! Just look at him, will you! Look at that 
chest! He's a regular chip off the old block!" 

Gus swooped and inserted his paws beneath the child's armpits, and 
little Gus went soaring ceilingward. 



ii4 GUS THE GREAT 

"Whoopsy-do! Whoopsy-do!" Gus bellowed. 

All that noise combined with unaccustomed flight scared little Gus, 
and he started crying. 

"Listen to him, will you!" Gus boomed delightedly. "I always say 
it's a good sign when a kid will cry. Shows he's healthy. Shows he's 
got a lot of power in his chest. Say! He's going to make a big man. 
Look at those fists. Bet he'll make a good fighter. Bet he'll work for 
the Tamarack line. Is that what you're going to do, Gus? You going 
to be a railroad man?" 

Little Gus continued crying, so big Gus shoved him into Lucy's 
arms. 

"You take him, Sis. Calm him down. Guess he's not used to his 
old Pa." 

Lucy had a way with him, and safe in her arms little Gus ceased 
yelling. From the sofa where they sat, the child focused wondering 
eyes upon his father. 

Gus seated himself in Tim's favorite easy chair. 

"Yes sir," he kept exclaiming, "he's quite a boy. A fine boy." 

Doll said, "Sis, why don't you make some coffee? I'll bet Gus is 
hungry." 

"Oh, I can always eat," Gus said. "That's one thing about my 
appetite, it's never gone back on me yet." 

So while Lucy trudged to the kitchen, Doll held the child. His lips 
had never yet formed a word, but for some weeks Lucy had been 
urging him toward speech. "You're Gus," she would say. "Your name 
is little Gus. Can you say Gus? Gus. Gus." 

And now Doll pointed to big Gus and in honeyed tones said: 

"You don't want to cry, darling. You want to be friends with the 
man. His name is Gus. Gus." 

At that moment, when Lucy was puttering in the kitchen, her weeks 
of effort were rewarded. Without preamble the child looked at his 
father and said, "Gus." 

It sounded more like "Goose," but it was a word. Speech! A de- 
lighted squeal left Doll, and she exclaimed: 

"He talked! That's the first time he ever ! Sis! Come in here! 
Gus can talk!" 

"By golly, yes!" big Gus was roaring. "I heard him too, Sis. He said 
my name! Now what do you know about that!" 

Drying her hands, Lucy scampered in and knelt on the floor, 

"Honest, did he? I've been trying . . . Talk for me, Gus. Gus. Gus." 

The baby wrinkled his face and giggled. 

"Come on, now. Talk. Can you say Gus? Gus. Gus." 

"Goose," said Gus. 

Doll screeched again, and big Gus swelled up in self-congratulation 



GUS THE GREAT 115 

as i he had just been elected president of the United States. Lucy 
took the child and smothered him with kisses. Her eyes were damp, 
mostly from joy, but there was sadness about this moment, too. She 
felt a little resentful that, with no trouble at all, Doll had lured Gus 
into uttering his first word. All their lives it had been that way. All 
their lives Doll had had the best of everything. Usually Lucy accepted 
that as the natural order, and even when, as now, she wanted to rebel 
she knew that she never could; Doll's personality was too much for her. 

A pungent odor wafted from the kitchen, and Lucy rushed out to 
rescue the coffee from boiling over. She had scarcely left the room 
when the hall door opened and Tim Mahoney entered. 

Poor Tim was an unhappy man. He had boasted for so long about 
what he would do to Phelan if he caught him here that he had nearly 
hypnotized himself into believing he really would mop the floor with 
the man and kick him down the stairs. He had erred by barking about 
his intentions, and now he felt like a cur shivering on a rainy night 
with its tail between its legs. 

A few minutes ago one of his cronies entered the saloon and reported 
seeing Phelan going upstairs with Doll. 

"I knew you'd want to know it," the crony said. "Don't be too hard 
on him, Tim. He's an older man than you." 

Tim blanched, possibly from anger, and snapped: 

"Thanks. I'll fix the old rooster." 

But he did not immediately rage upstairs. He kept doing what he 
was doing: washing beer mugs. Oddly enough, his fingers shook. 
And mutely he cursed his informant, for the fellow was moving among 
the customers, whispering that Gus Phelan was upstairs and Tim was 
going to deal with him. The saloon grew silent and everybody kept 
watching him. Damn them! They expected a man to fight whether 
he felt like it or not. And Tim didn't feel like it today. He was just 
getting over a cold and he wasn't in the mood. 

As the minutes crawled past, the customers murmured to one an- 
other, and Tim knew he would have to do something. He kept 
thinking of his grudges against Phelan, trying to make himself mad, 
but damn it, when you had a cold you simply didn't feel like fighting. 
If Phelan had waited till his recuperation was complete then the old 
rooster would have had reason to beware! But no, he had to come 
today. Damn him! 

Desperately, Tim flung bucket after bucket of kerosene on the fires 
of his hate, but the effect was as if the buckets had contained water. 
He thought of Phelan's fine clothes and how the old rooster strutted 
around self-importantly and how he was a vice-president of the 
Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific. Once Tim himself had hoped to hold 
a lofty position with the railroad, but the station agent at Sioux Creek 



ii6 GUS THE GREAT 

fired him. That was really Lucy's fault. And in spite against the 
world at large he married Lucy, when actually her younger sister 
attracted him much more. Damn it, there was no fairness in the 
world! 

Then Doll came to live with them, tormenting him with her attrac- 
tiveness, but when he tried to do something about it she called him a 
jackass. How he hated her after that! Then she began going with 
Clancy and Tim hoped they would marry so her beautiful body would 
be out of his sight and he might know a little peace. But she took up 
with Gus Phelan and got herself in a family way, and now Tim had 
both Doll and Phelan's brat on his hands. A man needed his sleep, 
but could he get it with the brat yowling in the middle of the night? 

Oh, he had plenty of reason for beating up Phelan, but with this 
cold . . . Yet his customers expected him to go into action and they 
would guy him forever if he didn't. 

And so, scowling and squaring his bony shoulders, Tim paced to 
the frosted-glass door. Before closing it he turned and ordered : 

"You bastards stay down here. This is a private fight." 

Then he climbed the stairs, his anger oozing from his heels, and by 
the time he reached the upper landing he would have traded half- 
interest in hell if he might have gone back downstairs. Why was he 
always getting himself into messes like this? Why did everything he 
attempted end in futility? Well, he couldn't stand out here forever. 
So at last he forced his fingers to curl round the knob and turn it, and 
he entered the sitting room. It was the bravest act of his life. 

His arrival startled Gus Phelan. Gus had always been handy with 
his fists, and as a young man he had often fought for the sheer joy of 
it, but the passing of time had slowed him down. As a young cub he 
had fought anyone who wanted to fight, but in these later years he had 
selected his opponents carefully. It was one thing to fell a drunk man 
with a single, well-aimed blow, but quite another to engage in a battle 
that might stretch 'out for several minutes. He knew how his heart 
would pound and his breath would wheeze. 

From Doll and from some of the railroad men Gus had heard about 
Tim Mahoney's threats against his person if he ever came here. Well, 
he had come anyway, and now here was Mahoney. Gus didn't know 
about Mahoney. Couldn't exactly figure him. Sometimes those cold 
ornery guys turned very dangerous in a fray. Sometimes they used 
knucks, even knives. Moreover, Mahoney had the edge on him in 
years. 

Not that he was afraid of Mahoney! Perish the thought! If he were 
twenty-five years younger he would lick the bastard with one hand tied 
behind his back. But he wasn't twenty-five years younger. He was 
that much older than Mahoney, and a family man in the bargain. It 



GUS THE GREAT n 7 

would be unfair to his wife and children to mix up in a senseless fight 
that might injure him. 

But although his flesh was on the weak side, his spirit retained its 
old shillalah virtues; even though an old bull he was still a bull, with a 
bull's instinct to attack. So Mahoney had no more than shut the door 
when Gus jumped up and blustered across the room and grabbed him 
by the collar. 

"Now listen, Mahoney/' he roared, "I like youunderstand? But 
I've heard you don't like me. I hope I've heard wrong, because other- 
wise I'm going to beat you up within an inch of that God-damned 
ornery life of yours, and I hate to do that because there's ladies present, 
not to mention your poor little nephew. And it's ashamed of yourself 
you ought to be, coming up here and starting something before this 
sweet child and your wife and her sister." 

"What do you mean, starting something?" Tim complained. "Can't 
a man come into his own home without being jumped on?" 

Suddenly Gus felt braver than he had in years. 

"Don't try to lie out of it, Mahoney/' he thundered. "I know what 
was on your mind, and you do, too. By God, if you want to fight say 
so, and I'll kick your teeth down your throat." 

"Now wait," Tim said. "Who said anything about fighting? I've 
got a cold today. I'm a sick man and you jump on me " 

"You'll be a lot sicker when I get through with you," Gus bellowed. 
"By God, you can't insult an Irishman this way. Do you want to fight 
it out and get your jaw broke, or do you want to sit down and behave 
yourself?" 
\ "You started it," Tim pointed out. "I didn't say anything." 

"All right then, sit down!" Gus roared, pointing to a straight-backed 
chair. "Sit down and cut out all this noise." 

Releasing his prisoner, Gus steamed over to Tim's favorite chair and 
sat down. Miserably, Tim collapsed to the hard chair. His cheeks were 
burning. He glimpsed the amusement on Doll's face, and he saw Lucy 
in the kitchen doorway, nervously wiping her hands on a towel. She 
looked humiliated, ready to burst into tears. Phelan picked up little 
Gus and gave him a horseback ride on his knee. The brat screamed 
and laughed, damn its soul to hell. 

Then Doll called to Lucy, "How's the coffee coming, Sis? I think 
we'll need some, after all this." 

"It's ready now," Lucy said. "I'll bring it right in. Sis." 

Little Gus's second word was "choo-choo," and his third was "train," 
and after that his vocabulary increased rapidly, for he had a quick 
mind that grabbed at things. But the word "Gus" remained his favor- 
ite; till the end of his life he considered it the most fascinating wprd 



ii8 GUS THE GREAT 

in the language. Presently, however, "Burgoyne" ran a close second 
in his favor. 

Till Gus was three years old, he was as good a child as anyone could 
hope for, chubby and sunny and bubbling with laughter. He never 
had many toys but he didn't need them, for in the curved window at 
the southeast corner of the sitting room he had a reserved seat for the 
most exciting performance one could imagine. It was continuous and 
never repetitious. The window overlooked the railroad yards where, 
over the bright steel rails, switch engines were always puffing; and a 
number of times each day passenger trains steamed past, and long 
freight trains. Because Clayton Junction was a division point, every 
tram paused there for a fresh locomotive, and by the time Gus was 
three he became an authority on the type of engines used for limited 
trains and locals and fast meat trains and way-freights. And he drank 
in the sight of men signaling too, and presently he learned how to 
wave his arms to order imaginary engineers to keep backing or to halt. 

By day the scene was cluttered with harsh ugliness, although Gus 
didn't mind that; but at night it possessed a wild beauty, with switch 
lights and waving lanterns and red flame flooding everything when 
the fireman opened an engine's firebox door to coal up. Gus loved it 
when an engineer let off excess steam in great clouds; and he loved all 
the other railroad sounds too. Those fussy locomotives of the eighties 
with their tall stacks seemed enormous to him, and he gave them 
names and thought of them as individuals. He learned to recognize 
their different-toned whistles and their different-sounding bells, and 
when a locomotive stood waiting and emitted from its innards a harsh, 
deep, coughing sound you never could have convinced Gus it wasn't 
alive and talking to itself about the run to Omaha. 

When he grew up he was going to be a railroad man, of course. 
What occupation could possibly be greater? A railroad man an 
engineer was a powerful man. The locomotives were mighty, but 
they had their masters, and their masters were men; men in caps and 
overalls, with bandannas at their throats. It was disillusioning, later 
on, to learn that the masters of locomotives had masters, too; men like 
Gus Phelan who sat in faraway offices and gave orders. When Gus 
discovered that truth of practical economics, he lost interest in becom- 
ing an engineer. 

The great change took place in Gus's life a couple of months after 
his third birthday, for in December of that year his mother deserted 
Clayton Junction for Chicago, and after that he never knew serenity 
any more. Under the joint control of Lucy and Doll, his existence had 
been pleasant and easy, for Doll was not a woman who believed in 
discipline for the sake of discipline. She had observed that people who 



GUS THE GREAT 119 

did were usually unpleasant about everything. She imposed few re- 
straints upon herself and saw no reason to treat her son differently. 
He seldom made her nervous or roused her ire, for in his reaction to 
situations she detected traces of herself and Gus Phelan, and this 
amused her. She wasn't one to take life seriously, and her sense of 
humor was touched when she reflected that those nights of love with 
Gus, when the last thought in either of their minds was increasing 
Clayton Junction's population, had resulted in this by-product who 
amused himself by waving his arms m imitation of railroad brakemen. 

"He's a true son of the Tamarack line," Doll told Lucy. "You'd 
think he was the son of a locomotive and a caboose." 

And Doll would explore that idea further, dealing with all its 
ramifications, while Lucy giggled so hard that tears came into her eyes. 

"Honestly, Sis," she would protest, "you'll be the death of me. Hon- 
estly, you're the limit, Sis!" 

And little Gus would join in the laughter too, not because he under- 
stood but because he was jolly and enjoyed laughing. 

Frank MacGowan kept asking Doll about her son, so one day she 
took him to the Tribune office, and the visit was such a success 
that they often called there. As full of curiosity as a pup, little Gus 
went nosing about that jumbled place. He touched things he shouldn't, 
getting his hands dirty, and he conceived a vast admiration for Vince 
Fye. That droll man's dexterity m handling type and his marksman- 
ship with tobacco juice endeared him to Gus. 

"Here, here none of that," Vmce intoned, when Gus tried to pull 
out a typecase drawer. "Last little boy that did that I skinned alive 
and sent his scalp to the chief of my old Injun tribe." 

And Vince went on to spin outrageous yarns of his adventures in 
the Wild West. 

But even more than Vince, Gus liked Frank, perhaps because Frank 
never patronized him or waggishly teased him but talked to him as 
if he were an adult. 

"He's a bright boy," Frank told Doll "The way he's taking to the 
newspaper business, well make a Horace Greeley out of him." 

But other forces were conspiring to shape his career, and among 
these was a heart attack suffered in Chicago by Gus Phelan. This 
occurred one day in his office, and although he recovered, his life for 
the next fortnight was a round of examinations by doctors, and self- 
examination, too. For nearly half a century he had driven himself 
mercilessly, the way he used to drive his men when he was a track- 
laying foreman, and he had always relaxed vigorously as well. He had 
swallowed too much hard liquor and helled around with too many 
women. If he expected to go on living he would have to take better 
care of himself. 



lao GUS THE GREAT 

So Gus decided to retire, and that would mean an end of his business 
trips to Clayton Junction. But he didn't want his affair with Doll to 
terminate, because he had grown exceedingly fond of her. Embracing 
her was like embracing youth and life, and now that he had lost one 
of those blessings and was threatened with the loss of the other she 
seemed more precious than all his attainments. Resting in a sickbed, 
Gus became introspective, and he brooded gloomily upon the madness 
of men in trading youth and self-respect and often honor for a success 
that once achieved was not enjoyed. Looking back, the things that 
had seemed important to him once promotions, salary increases- 
seemed mere baubles now, and those things which at the time had 
seemed trifles a pretty girl's smile, a gay trip to Tamarack with Doll 
seemed the very treasures of existence. 

During his long hours of rest he sketched a plan for the remainder 
of his life, and in it Doll loomed as the central figure. He would make 
it worth her while to come to Chicago, where he would set her up in 
a place of her own. Everything would be in the best of taste and he 
would spend long hours with her, not necessarily making love but 
perhaps only listening to her pleasant conversation and enjoying the 
beauty of her hair and skin and figure. He wanted a sanctuary to 
which he could go and forget that some day another heart attack would 
strike like an assassin. He wanted restfulness and quietude, and expe- 
rience told him that a three-year-old boy would not contribute to that. 
So the boy could remain in Clayton Junction, where his aunt would 
give him the best of care. 

When Gus was able to travel, he made a final trip to Clayton Junc- 
tion and presented his plans to Doll. His appearance shocked her; he 
certainly looked as if he had been a sick man. He was thinner and 
there were pouches beneath his eyes and he carried a cane. But it 
was his mental attitude which betrayed his illness and his growing 
older. He took care not to walk fast and he avoided stairs. The cocky, 
perky bluster had vanished from his spirit, and Doll remembered that 
her mother used to comment that those big, vigorous men always 
seemed to break all at once and grow old over night. Only when they 
made love did Gus seem like his old self, and she remembered another 
favorite axiom of her mother: that even with one foot in the grave 
a man was never too old for monkey shines. Living with Doll's father 
had made her mother cynical about men. 

Doll listened in silence while Gus outlined his plan. They had 
rented a rig and driven north from town, but instead of turning east 
toward Tamarack, Gus drove west into the country where they could 
discuss their future without distractions. It was a raw afternoon, the 
sky packed with huge clouds like great rocks in different shades of 
gray, and the land rolling away to the horizon looked half-frozen 



' GUS THE GREAT 121 

already and the color of dead grass. The trees had lost their autumnal 
yellows and scarlets; they stood stark and bare, like the masts of sailing 
ships stripped for stormy weather. The bleak landscape depressed 
Doll; she hated winter. Even when she was a child its bobsled rides 
and skating parties had not compensated for her sense of panic at 
the fury of blizzards howling down across the continent. In winter, 
she thought, you saw the skeleton of existence, and she preferred the 
comfortable languor of summer when the bones of reality were gayly 
clothed. 

Gus pictured their future together in smooth, glowing colors; hear- 
ing him talk was like swallowing the peach-tinted warmth of brandy. 
In imagination she saw Chicago as a romantic city and herself as a 
romantic person. She would be a woman of the world riding along 
a glittering avenue in a fine carriage, a faint scent of adventure linger- 
ing about her like perfume. She saw herself at a theater full of bright 
pastel gowns and jewels and gleaming shirt fronts, with the orchestra 
swinging into the overture; and she imagined the after-theater suppers 
with rich, exotic foods. 

She couldn't imagine little Gus in that existence. He would be be- 
wildered and unhappy away from his trains and his Aunt Lucy. In 
a few years, perhaps, after he was older, she would send for him. 
Meanwhile, Lucy would give him excellent care. Probably better care, 
she thought, than she herself would give him, for Doll cheerfully rec- 
ognized her shortcomings as a mother. 

Gus's offer seemed a great stroke of fortune. In gratitude and af- 
fection she linked her arm through his and snuggled against him. 

"You've always been so good to me, Gus," she said. 

And so for the next month Doll was busy making preparations for 
her departure. When Lucy learned what was afoot she experienced 
a jumble of contradictory emotions. 

"I don't know what I'll ever do without you, Sis," she kept saying. 
"Gee, it'll be lonesome here. I'll miss you so much, Sis." 

And that was quite true, but in a way Lucy was glad that once again 
she would be the only woman in the household. She realized that 
since Doll had come to live with them Tim had changed. Perhaps with 
Doll gone he would be more the way he was in the early days of their 
marriage. 

Lucy was delighted that Doll was leaving little Gus behind. With- 
out him, she would have felt bereft. Now he would be hers alone, hers 
to wait upon and sacrifice for. Already she thought of him almost as 
her own child, and perhaps as time passed and the memory of Doll 
faded he would come to think of her as his mother. 

When Tim learned that Doll was going away he became angry. 



122 GUS THE GREAT 

This astonished Lucy; she guessed there was just no pleasing that man. 
He had been annoyed when Doll came to make her home with them; 
he had often privately complained to Lucy about her sister's presence; 
and now her leaving nettled him. Lucy told herself it all boiled down 
to his disliking Doll; no matter what Doll did, he would find fault. 
Tim said it was a disgrace that a sister-in-law of his should be going 
to Chicago and openly becoming Gus Phelan's mistress. 

"If you go through with it," he warned, "you needn't ever come back 
here. You needn't ever darken this door again." 

Doll laughed. 

"Oh Tim, you're funny. You don't realize how funny you are." 

That angered him and he stamped out of the sitting room to brood 
downstairs. His objections influenced Doll not one whit; she went 
right ahead with her plans, ignoring him for the inconsequential per- 
son he was. 

And at last Doll was ready to leave. It was an evening a few days 
before Christmas when she boarded the Denver-to-Chicago express 
train. And a beautiful evening it was, the ground shining with silvery 
snow and more snow falling in great feathery flakes through the mild, 
windless air. With Christmas so near even Clayton Junction wore a 
festive look, and as little Gus accompanied Doll and Lucy to the sta- 
tion he kept prattling about Santa Glaus and the sugarplums and red 
toys he hoped to discover in his stocking. 

Doll was as gay as her son, and she had never looked more beautiful. 
Her eyes were shining and her smooth cheeks glowed. She held her- 
self proudly, like a great lady, but there was a warm humanness and 
piquancy about her, too. Several snowflakes had become entangled in 
her hair, and these flavored her beauty with sauciness. 

They entered the little wooden station. A potbellied stove glowed 
cherry-red in the waiting room, and the many-paned windows were 
smooth and black. A good many people were waiting for trains that 
night, and when Gus entered with his aunt and mother whispers ran 
around the varnished red benches. 

"It's stuffy in here," Doll said. "Let's go outside, Sis." 

So in the gently falling snow they waited on the brick platform. By 
and by a great flower of white light bloomed in the west, and as the 
train approached you could see snowflakes twisting down in its head- 
light shaft. People crowded from the station. The locomotive shook 
the ground, its balloon stack throwing out cinders, its big cowcatcher 
snooping along ahead. 

Light from the cars shafted to the snowy platform, and finally the 
last passenger for Clayton Junction alighted. And then the people who 
were going away, as Mamma was, climbed the steps. 

"Good-by, Sis. Take care of yourself." 



GUS THE GREAT 123 

Mamma was kissing Aunt Lucy. 

"Good-by, Gus. Be a good boy." 

Her lips pressed his; he was drawn against her soft body* She 
smelled sweet, as always; a fragrant odor of perfume and powdered 
skin and hair and clothes that would go with him down the years. 

Good-by. Good-by. Wave good-by to Mamma, Gus. Good-by, 
darling . . . 

The sight of her through the car window. The conductor waving 
his lantern. The gigantic sound of the locomotive beginning to labor. 
The car lights moving. The red lantern and the green lantern on the 
end of the train, going away down the track through the snow. 

"Good-by, Mamma, good-by . . ." 

But she couldn't hear him now, so far away. 

Aunt Lucy took his hand; they trudged homeward. Gus felt odd. 
He felt as if something were inside his chest trying to come up his 
throat and get out. 

They climbed the steps and entered the sitting room. Uncle Tim 
was sitting there. He scowled at them while Aunt Lucy helped Gus 
from his outdoor clothes. 

And still that thing in his chest kept fighting to get out. Gus fought 
back. But he didn't like it. 

He walked over to the window and gazed out at the railroad yards 
in the falling snow and then suddenly the lights began to swim and 
blur and the thing inside his chest was getting out and he was sobbing 
heavily. 

Somebody said, "Shut up!" 

But Gus couldn't shut up. He had tried to keep the thing inside his 
chest but it wouldn't stay there. 

"I said shut up!" 

It was Uncle Tim yelling at him but the more Gus fought to hold 
the sobs inside his chest the more powerfully they rose up his throat. 

Uncle Tim said, "Now listen! When I tell you to do a thing you've 
got to learn to do it. You've been spoiled long enough. I'm going to 
start teaching you " 

And Tim seized little Gus and took him into the bedroom and gave 
him the hard whipping he had been needing for so long. 

Lucy stood outside the closed door, wringing her hands. 



o, 



"NE MORNING a few days after Doll's departure Tim climbed the 
steps from the saloon bearing a letter. Little Gus had been playing 
trainman in the living room, but when his uncle entered he stopped 
waving his arms and making tram noises. He made his body small 
inside his clothes and edged to a far corner of the room, observing his 
uncle's every move with large round eyes. But this morning Tim 
wasn't interested in Gus. He stalked out to the kitchen where Lucy 
was washing dishes. 

"From her," he said, holding up the letter. "It's about time she 
wrote." 

The letter threw Lucy into great excitement. She dropped the dish- 
cloth and made a grab for the envelope, but Tim jerked it back. 

"You fool! You'll get it all wet." 

He paced into the living room, seating himself and staring darkly 
at the wall. 

Drying her hands, Lucy hurried after him, and when she took the 
letter she noticed Tim's fingers shaking. She guessed that beneath his 
cold exterior he was as excited about hearing from Doll as she was. 

The letter had traveled from Chicago in an exciting envelope. In 
the upper left corner the words "Palmer House" were printed, and 
there was a woodcut of a grand-looking building with flags flying and 
high-stepping horses drawing carriages along the street. Staring down' 
at the envelope covered with Doll's large, free-flowing handwriting, 
Lucy experienced the same enchantment she used to feel when she 
carried breakfast into her sister's room and listened to Doll's recital 
of what had happened the previous evening. 

"Aren't you going to open it?" Tim demanded. 

So with unsteady fingers Lucy tore open the envelope. A faint scent 
of Doll's perfume floated up from the paper. The letter had not been 
dated except by the word "Tuesday," and it began, "Dear Sis." 

It didn't contain much news, really. She said she had arrived safely 
in Chicago after a journey uneventful save for meeting on the train 
an interesting and charming gentleman named Mr. Schulze, a farm- 
implement salesman. By the time the tram puffed into Chicago she 
and Mr. Schulze were like old friends, and he had invited her to 
dine out with him. Because of Gus Phelan she had refused, but Mr. 

124 



GUS THE GREAT 125 

Schulze had given her his office address and urged her to get in touch 
with him if she should change her mind. 

"Hated to turn him down," she wrote, "for he was so jolly and such 
good fun, but I thought maybe I'd better not. Honestly though, Sis, 
it's wonderful how nice everyone is, even m,a big place like Chicago. 
It's not hard at all to get acquainted." 

Gus had met her at the station with a nosegay in one hand and a 
box of bonbons in the other, and he had been so kind and wonderful 
that she felt at home instantly. In the letter Doll didn't refer to him 
as Gus. She called him "Mr. Phelan," as if writing his name demanded 
more dignity than speaking it. 

She was staying at the hotel temporarily, till she found a suitable 
place to live. To tell the truth she had been too busy having a good 
time to do much about getting settled. She liked Chicago a great deal. 
Nothing dull about that town; something going on every minute. 

"Some different from Clayton Junction," she wrote. 

She sent lots of love to little Gus; she hoped he was being a good boy 
and not too much trouble. As for Sis 3 she admonished her not to work 
too hard and to get out and have a little fun. After all, one didn't live 
forever. She promised to write again soon. "Although," she added, 
"you know me and how hard it is for me to get around to writing 
letters. Don't worry if you don't hear from me too often." 

After Lucy had finished, Tim growled: 

"Is that all?" 

"It seems to be." 

He muttered a foul word and marched from the room. Downstairs, 
there were no customers in the saloon, and Tim stood staring out at 
Second Avenue. It was a gray morning and the town looked drab. 
Tim thought of Chicago "some different from Clayton Junction." He 
thought of Doll in her bedroom at the Palmer House, her body smooth 
in a satin gown; and he thought of Gus Phelan calling on her there. 
Tim's blood was lemon juice that morning, and to sweeten it up he 
poured a drink of whiskey. After a while he poured, another, and then 
another. He felt better then, and his self-respect came back. He told 
himself Doll had always been secretly attracted to him, but because of 
Lucy she had repelled him. He told himself that some day the Chicago, 
Tamarack & Pacific would realize what a good man it had lost when 
it lost Tim Mahoney. He swallowed yet another drink, and it occurred 
to him that he had been a fool all these years in keeping away from 
whiskey. Long ago his father had warned that a saloonkeeper should 
never drink, because that was a sure way to consume your profits and 
go into bankruptcy, but he realized now that like everyone else hi?., 
father had been in a conspiracy against him- 



n6 GUS THE GREAT 

He was quite drunk by noon, when Lucy came down to tell him 
his meal was getting cold. 

"Let it," he said. "I'm busy." 

While he poured more whiskey, Lucy stood watching with a wor- 
ried look. But when he favored her with a hard stare she hurried out. 
He tossed down the whiskey and weaved to the door, climbing un- 
certainly to the second floor. 

Instead of going to the table, Tim flopped into a chair in the sitting 
room, where he sat on the end of his spine, his eyes closed. Several 
times Lucy came to the door and watched apprehensively. Once little 
Gus started to speak, but she shot him a warning glance and put her 
forefinger to her lips and shook her head. 

When she looked at Tim again she saw his eyes watching her. They 
had a glassy alcoholic gleam and his voice was hoarse. 

"You ain't fooling me," he declared. "Not for a minute you ain't." 

She didn't know what he was talking about. 

"I know what you're cooking up," he said. "You and that sister of 
yours. You're planning to run away. You're planning to go to Chi- 
cago." 

"Tim," she said, "I'm never. I'm never planning such a thing." 

"A man has got rights," Tim said. "A husband has got rights. You 
can't get away with it." 

Tears glistened on Lucy's face, and she leaned against the door jamb, 
sobbing. Her shoulders looked thin and sagging like an old woman's. 

Tim didn't stand up and go to her and put his arms around her. 
Except for closing his eyes again, he didn't stir. In the gray winter 
light his face looked lean and bitter. 

Presently Lucy ceased sobbing and stood staring at her husband 
while she dabbed her eyes with her apron. His breathing had grown 
heavy and coarse. She watched him for several minutes before tip- 
toeing across the sitting room and picking up little Gus. She carried 
the child into the kitchen and softly closed the door. Since Doll's de- 
parture Tim had already whipped Gus three times, and she thought 
she couldn't bear to have it happen again today. 

In the same mail with the letter to Lucy another letter arrived in 
Clayton Junction on Palmer House stationery. It was addressed to 
Frank MacGowan, and he sat now at his heaped desk in the Tribune 
office, reading it for the fifth time. 

The letter was full of Chicago; not perhaps Chicago as it actually 
was, but Chicago as it looked to Doll, a place crowded with the excite- 
ment of hansom cabs and good-looking men and warm cafes and 
music. 



GUS THE GREAT 127 

"It's a great place, Frank/' she wrote. "You ought to come in for a 
visit." 

Frank let his imagination plan such a trip. He imagined attending 
the theater with Doll and eating midnight supper, and after that they 
would lie all night in each other's arms. But even while he planned 
it he knew he would not make such a trip. For years he hadn't ven- 
tured farther from Clayton Junction than Tamarack, and he doubted 
now that he ever would. Long ago when he purchased the Tribune 
he was full of ambition; he intended building the paper into a first-class 
sheet and then selling it and using the money to buy another paper 
in a better town. But gradually his ambition oozed away. He dis- 
covered it made no difference to Clayton Junction whether he published 
a well-written paper or a slovenly one. The subscription list and the 
advertising accounts remained the same. So little by little he fell into 
the habit of publishing the paper in the easiest way. Finally, his interest 
and pride simmered down to the editorial columns alone; and not one 
subscriber in twenty read his editorials. The indifference of the town 
had undermined his ambition. 

Yet the paper made money. At the end of each year he was several 
hundred dollars to the good. But money didn't mean much to Frank. 
He seldom bought a new 'suit, because he preferred the comfort of 
his old ones; and he liked eating and sleeping in the back room of 
the office because it was convenient. So most of his profits went into 
his bank account. 

Perhaps the chief reason for his lack of interest in money was Karl 
Marx. His copy of Das Kapital was a thumb-smudged, dog-eared, 
much-penciled book. Frank liked to sit comfortably in his swivel 
chair and daydream away the hours about the world of the future. 
Arid a fine shining world it was, with bright clean towns and poverty 
only a bard memory and human beings no longer selfish or cruel. After 
a session like that he would pull his chair closer to the desk and scratch 
out an editorial. But the editorial, would alarm nobody, because always 
it stressed the delights of that Utopian future and ignored the means 
of bringing it about. He was more scholar and prophet than crusader, 
and any attacks on the social order of his day were buried deep within 
paragraphs and clothed in involved sentences. His editorials, people 
thought, were like the somnolent discourses of an old-fashioned 
preacher. 

In the politics of his era he had such scant interest that he didn't 
even bother to vote. He realized vaguely there was corruption in high 
places and in low, but some day the Utopian future would come along 
and change all that and men would be honest and good. His was the 
large view, the long view. Clayton Junction and Tamarack were ruled 



i 2 8 GUS THE GREAT 

by a machine^ but it never occurred to him to attack it, not because he 
lacked courage but because that would have involved pen-lashing men 
he knew, little officeholders who were cogs in the organization. They 
were genial men who passed the time of day with him on the street, 
men with wives and children. He didn't want to write anything that 
would hurt anybody. 

The politicians of the county misunderstood him. They thought he 
was being shrewd by keeping out o campaigns; he was a "safe" editor. 
They had never heard of Karl Marx, and they didn't care how often 
he mentioned Das Kapital so long as he didn't point out what group 
owned the houses on Rafferty Street. They rewarded the Tribune with 
political favors such plums as county advertising and for this Frank 
MacGowan courteously thanked them and never dreamed they thought 
they were buying him off. 

Frank answered Doll's letter at gnce, but he didn't receive a reply 
for some time. As soon as he dropped his letter into the mail box he 
began feeling expectant, and all the next day he thought, "She has it 
by this time. Maybe she's reading it right now." He formed the habit 
of limping to the post office several times a day, but there was never 
an envelope covered with her handwriting. "Maybe tomorrow," he 
told himself; and when he wakened next morning he would think, 
"Maybe today." 

He always forgave her not writing, just as he had always forgiven 
her everything. She was a natural woman, he thought; closer to nature 
than any person he had known. He told himself you couldn't blame 
her for her shortcomings any more than you could blame a brook for 
taking the easy way and meandering through flowery meadows; and 
you might as well blame the songbirds for flying away in the autumn 
as to censure her for leaving Clayton Junction. 

After ten days he wrote her another letter, and two weeks later yet 
another, but still she did not reply. Finally he gave up hope of hearing 
from her at all. But she was often in his thoughts and as time went 
on it seemed he missed her more than he had immediately after her 
departure. Back in the days when she lived in tlayton Junction life 
had tang, for when he left the shop he never knew but that he would 
encounter her on the street, and she was always dropping into the office 
at unexpected times to tidy up his living quarters and to cook a meal 
for him and Vince Fye. It had been a long time now since the room 
where he and Vince batched it had been properly dusted. And they 
never sang any more when they did the dishes. 

Vince had held his job with Frank .longer than he had ever held a 
job in his life. Always before he had either been given his time for 



GUS THE GREAT 129 

too extended a bout with the bottle or he had grown restless and 
moved on. 

"I always had an itching foot," he told Frank. "Reckon I'd have been 
a hobo if I hadn't taken up the printing trade where I could drift when 
I felt like it. But I'm getting along in years now." 

And that was very true; Vince had aged in the last year. He was 
bothered by pains in his legs and he shuffled more slowly from com- 
posing stone to typecase, and his fingers weren't as nimble as they used 
to be. He realized his roving days were over and he told himself he 
was lucky to find a good niche in which to work during his declining 
years. He and Frank were more like brothers than like employee and 
employer. Frank never gave him an order except in the mildest terms. 
"Maybe we ought to get that Fair Store ad set up first thing tomorrow," 
Frank would say, and Vmce would deliberate the problem, his jaws 
working his tobacco, and finally reply, "Yep then it'll be out of the 
way." 

Vince knew that Frank would never turn him out, and now that 
he was too old to buck the current of existence he was content to 
remain in a backwater shop where nothing much ever happened. He 
had lived a full and even rich life, knocking about the country, work- 
ing in Maine and New York and in San Francisco when it was lusty 
and full of hell; and he had plenty of memories to entertain him on 
the long evenings when he and Frank sat in the yellow lamplight of 
their living quarters. While Frank read, Vince sat rocking and chew- 
ing gently, and sometimes his eyes were merry and he would chuckle 
to himself about some escapade that had taken place thirty years 
before. 

Vince missed Doll too; she was a fine woman. She was the kind of 
woman he had always taken a shine to in his younger days in frontier 
towns; free and easy and good-natured and generous. It had warmed 
his old heart when, after her child was born, she had taken to coming 
to the print shop of an evening to call on Frank. He used to vanish 
discreetly after supper, grinning wickedly to himself as he ambled to 
the nearest saloon. She made him feel young again and full of ginger; 
sometimes even he would give her a little pat or a gentle pinch. Now 
and then across the supper table she flirted with him, and that made 
him feel like jumping into the air and kicking his heels together and 
shouting, "Yippee!" 

Yes indeed, a fine piece of female flesh, that Doll! Small wonder 
Frank had grown abstracted in the months since she had gone. One 
evening in March when they were sitting after supper Vince observed 
Frank for several minutes. His book lay open and he sat in a brown 
study. Vince cleared his throat but Frank paid no attention, so he 



130 GUS THE GREAT 

cleared it again, very loud, and Frank glanced across the table and 
said: 

"What's the matter?" 

"Fve been thinkin'," Vince said. "I've been thmkin' about you and 
what you need. You need female companionship." 

Frank didn't reply for a long moment, and then with a smile he 
said, "Maybe I do, Vince, at that." 

"Well," Vince said, "what are you waitin 5 for?" 

So Frank got down his walking cane and limped to the front door 
and out into the early spring night. Vince followed him to the door 
and said, "I'd go with you if I wasn't so damned old." Frank tapped 
away down the sidewalk, toward Rafferty Street, and Vince stood 
watcHmg till he turned the corner, his shadow narrow and jerky m 
the light from the oil street lamp. 

And suddenly the sight of him, so derelict in spirit, brought a lump 
to Vince's throat, and he steamed back into the shop and wrote Doll 
an ungrammatical and profane letter, demanding what m hell she 
meant by neglecting her old friends. 

A few mornings later Frank received his second letter from Doll. 
Vince knew something good had happened as soon as he heard Frank 
returning from the post office; his step was brisker, the tap of his cane 
sharper. When he came back to the stool where Vince was setting type 
he tried to appear casual, but his face was all smiles. 

Vince peered over his glasses and said, "What have you been drink- 
ing? It must have been powerful." 

Frank held up the letter. "From Chicago," he said. 

Vince put down his composing stick and with the back of a hand 
swabbed at the trickle of tobacco juice running from the corner of his 
mouth. 

"Well now, ain't that nice! Ain't that a surprise!" 

He swabbed at his mouth again and spat copiously. It was really a 
nervous gesture, for he was uneasy lest Doll had mentioned his letter. 
He thought she had more sense than that, but he was uneasy just the 
same. 

"I'll read it to you," Frank said, plucking the letter from the en- 
velope. It was penned on lavender paper, faintly scented. 

Doll began by blaming herself unmercifully for not being a better 
correspondent, especially in view of the many nice letters Frank had 
sent her. She wanted him to know, she said, that his letters were 
always as welcome as flowers in May, and if he would keep on writing 
her she would attempt to reply oftener. 

However, she was certain he would forgive her if he knew how busy 
she had been. About six weeks ago Mr. Phelan had purchased and 



GUS THE GREAT 131 

deeded to her a lovely little house in a nice residential district. But 
Frank was mistaken if he thought she hadn't been busy getting settled. 
The house had been new and unfurnished, and she had gone on count- 
less buying forays, selecting carpets and lamps with colored globes and 
furniture upholstered in plush. Whew! She had hired a Negro woman 
named Minnie to help her get settled, and at Mr. Phelan's suggestion 
she was retaining Minnie as cook and maid. 

"Oh, Frank," she wrote, "I'm so happy I feel like singing most of 
the time. The only fly in the beer is that sometimes I get a wee bit 
lonesome for somebody to talk to you know, to really talk to. Mr. 
Phelan has been wonderful but I always feel I have to watch what I 
say more than I did with you and Sis and Vince. If only you three and 
little Gus could live here we'd have some good times, wouldn't we? 
Since he bought the house Mr. Phelan don't like to go out much in 
the evening, we haven't been to a show or a restaurant in ages. He's 
not very well, Frank, I think his heart's worse than he lets on. Some- 
times when he's tired he looks quite old and it almost scares me. I 
feel so young, and he looks so old it's almost like he was my grand- 
father. 

"But there I go talking about myself all the time. How are you and 
Vmce, anyway? Do you ever see Gus and Sis and the rest of the 
Mahoney family? (Not that you're missing anything if you don't see 
the rest of it ha, ha.) Sis writes me that the rest of the Mahoney fam- 
ily has taken up drinking, and I think she's worried. But you know 
how Sis is, she never complains, always afraid of worrying me. Some- 
times I wonder if he's good to her and Gus. Maybe you'll call on that 
family sometime and give me the real news. 

"Well, I guess that's about all for this time. I hope this finds you 
well. Do write me, and tell Vince Fye I'd love to hear from him! With 
love, Doll." 

As Frank finished the letter Vmce made his face expressionless. 

"Now what do you s'pose she meant about loving to hear from me? 
You don't s'pose the girl's getting sweet on me, do you?" 

Frank laughed and said he wouldn't bet that she wasn't; Vince pos- 
sessed many lady-killing qualities. And he tapped off to the front of 
the shop where he spent the rest of the morning writing a reply to 
Doll. As Vince turned back to his typecase he was grinning wickedly. 

The only serious disagreement between Vince and Frank took place 
the following autumn, and it provided a subject of argument for years 
to come. Vince always maintained that Frank had been a softhearted 
visionary to act as he did, whereas Frank said that if all men had been 
like Vince, blind to progress, the human race would still be walking 
on all fours. 



132 GUS THE GREAT 

"If you'd been there when the first man invented the wheel/ 9 Frank 
said, "y u would have told him it never would work." 

"Maybe I would and maybe I wouldn't. But if you'd been there 
when the first man thought he'd invented perpetual motion, you'd 
have invested in the damned thing," 

It all began one rainy afternoon late in September. Frank had spent 
an hour in the office of the Fair Store, aiding Isaac Goldstein, the pro- 
prietor, in writing that week's ad. Most of the business establishments 
in Clayton Junction ran the same ad week after week from one year's 
end to another, mere stodgy announcements of the business and its 
purpose. Not the Fair Store. The Fair Store dealt in bargains and 
twice-a-year Quitting-Business sales, and although it always sold at a 
loss it managed, somehow, to prosper. Frank and Isaac Goldstein were 
great friends, possibly because although they lived in the town they 
did not consider themselves of the town. Their origins were far away, 
Frank's in Pennsylvania, Isaac Goldstein's in a Central European 
ghetto, and each in his own manner kept in touch with what was hap- 
pening in the world. With his books and his magazines Frank knew 
what ideas people were discussing in New York and London and 
Paris; whereas Isaac Goldstein's quick brain knew what price traders 
in Chicago and New York and Liverpool had been willing to pay 
yesterday for a pound of cotton or a bushel of wheat, and what the 
current interest rate was in Wall Street. 

Twenty years before Isaac Goldstein had trudged along the raw, new 
roads of the Middle West with a pack on his back, selling needles and 
thread and dress goods to farm wives; and then all at once he had a 
store of his own in Clayton Junction; and twenty and forty years hence 
there would be a Goldstein's Department Store in Tamarack, occupy- 
ing half a city block, all sprung from the commercial acorn of a little, 
dark, energetic man who had bustled into farmyards and said brokenly, 
"Lady, you like bargains in thread, maybe, look the best thread at 
half-price." 

Collaborating on an ad with Isaac Goldstein afforded Frank endless 
amusement, even though what should have been ten minutes' work 
took an hour. Isaac would dictate an item to be listed, but when it 
came to setting the selling price he would groan and exclaim, "It's 
terrible, Frank, to let it go at that. I'm losing money. It's killing me." 
But when Frank suggested a higher price Isaac would say, "And drive 
people away from my place of business? No, no better a small profit 
than none, and I've been killed before." What troubled Isaac with his 
delight in bargaining, Frank suspected, was the necessity for setting 
down a definite price in irrevocable black-and-white. 

On that afternoon, writing the ad had been particularly hectic, for 
with rain soaking their fields farmers had been unable to work and 



GUS THE GREAT 133 

many had driven into town for shopping. The Fair Store had many 
customers women who had bought dress goods from Isaac Goldstein's 
pack years before and with such an influx of business Isaac verged 
on hysteria and kept scurrying back and forth between the office and 
the trade. But at last the job was done and Frank left the store. 

Rain was drizzling from a low sky, and the boots of country people 
coated the board sidewalks with gleaming tan mud. The air had a rich 
smell of autumnal vegetation and of the steaming bodies of the horses 
hitched along the street. Frank limped with his head down against 
the raindrops, and as he passed beneath a wooden awning he heard 
someone call his name. He looked up and saw Lucy Mahoney, an 
umbrella in one hand and her other holding up her skirts from the 
mud. Little Gus was with her. 

"Hello!" Frank exclaimed. "I don't see much of you folks any more. 
How's the young man?" 

"I know you," Gus said. "You're Frank." 

"Mr. MacGowan, honey," Lucy told him, 

"Frank," Gus said. 

Lucy giggled, and as always on such a social occasion she squirmed 
and wagged her tail like a delighted fox terrier. 

"I'm almost four years old," Gus said. "I'm going to school next 
year." 

Frank expressed astonishment. Really now, was Gus actually going 
to school next year? 

"Sure," Gus said. "I can count. One, two, three, four see, I can 
count. Five, six, seven" 

"He's awfully smart," Lucy said. "He picks up things fast." 

"Sure," Gus said. 

"You're quite a young man, aren't you!" Frank said. "My goodness, 
you're growing like a weed!" 

And that was no mere pleasantry; it seemed to Frank that Gus 
looked twice as big as he remembered him. A big boy for his age with 
a large frame and chubby flesh. And it seemed too that Gus had 
changed in some other indefinable way. He was no longer a serene, 
almost dreamy child; something inside him had seemed to harden. 
He was not exactly defiant or insolent, but he was growing in that 
direction. 

"Poor little devil," Frank thought. "What can you expect?" 

He thought too that some equally indefinable change had taken place 
in Lucy. Now that the first smiles of their encounter had passed, he 
noticed that she seemed thinner and washed out, and deep in her eyes 
there lurked a look of perpetual worrying. Thin wrinkles as fine as 
threads were beginning to appear in her face. When he inquired 



i 3 4 GUS THE GREAT 

after her health she said that as a matter of fact she hadn't been any 
too well lately; it seemed to be her stomach. 

Frank asked: 

"And how about Doll? Do you hear from her often?" 

Lucy emitted her nervous little giggle and said: 

"Well, not as often as we'd like to. But of course I'd like to hear 
every day," 

"So would I," Frank thought; but aloud he said, 'I've had three or 
four letters from her. She seems to like Chicago." 

"Yes, she does. But you know Doll. She likes excitement." 

Lucy urged Frank to drop m and see them; and then Lucy and 
Gus walked on down the street. Frank stood looking after them. 
Once, Gus glanced back and stuck out his tongue. Frank grinned and 
then Gus grinned too, as if he wanted it understood no rudeness was 
intended. 

The encounter left Frank disturbed, and as he plodded on toward his 
shop a large melancholy enveloped him as the rain enveloped the 
town. He thought how swiftly time passed; it seemed such a little 
while ago that he and Doll walked the streets of Clayton Junction 
while she worried about the birth of her child. His thoughts were so 
wholly turned in upon himself that he didn't notice the man sitting 
in the office as he entered the shop and plodded back to the typecase 
with the Fair Store ad. 

"What's he want?" Vince asked. 

"Who?" 

"Why damn it man, where's your eyes? That feller who's been 
waitin* for you the last hour/' 

Vince backswiped the tobacco juice from his chin and jerked a thumb 
toward the office. 

"Oh," Frank said. "I don't know. I'll find out." 

Vmce scowled over his glasses as Frank moved away toward the 
office. Then he ran a smudgy forefinger down the sheet of Fair Store 
copy. But his mind didn't follow his forefinger; his mind followed 
Frank. The presence of that stranger filled him with uneasiness. The 
stranger had short legs and a stomach that looked as if he had just 
eaten a bushel of apples and swallowed a keg of beer. He had a deep 
double chin and a thick yellow mustache that drooped lugubriously. 
As soon as he had waddled into the shop and asked for the editor Vince 
had bristled with suspicion. He didn't know why. The man had 
spoken with a heavy Germanic accent, and something told Vince he 
was a printer. Maybe it was the professional way he sized up the shop 
or perhaps it was the type grime that had worked in deeply under his 
nails. 
Vince kept peering toward the office where Frank had shaken hands 



GUS THE GREAT 135 

with the stranger and where they now sat talking. He was almighty 
curious. Finally he put down his composing stick and went to a spit- 
toon and cleaned out his mouth. Then he brought out his plug and 
bit off a fresh chaw and paced to the office. 

Frank looked up and said, "Vince, meet Mr. Herman Bohnschweiger 
of St. Louis." 

"]a, we met already/' said Mr. Bohnschweiger. 

"But we ain't shook yet," Vince said tartly. He went to Mr. Bohn- 
schweiger's chair and took a hand that was deeply fat-cushioned. 

"Sit down, Vince," Frank said. "Mr. Bohnschweiger is inventing a 
machine that will set type." 

That was like tossing a half-dozen cats at an old, fight-scarred dog. 
Vince could feel his short hairs rising; if there was anything that riled 
him it was this damned nonsense he had heard in recent years about the 
possibility of setting type by machine. It was contrary to nature. The 
only kind of machine Vince could envision was a Frankenstein mon- 
ster that would stand before a typecase and pluck out letters and click 
them into a composing stick. 

He plopped into a chair, chewing belligerently. The German had 
handed Frank some great sheets covered with drawings, and now he 
waddled to the desk and explained how the machine would operate. 
Vince stared at him with hostile eyes. The man was obviously an 
enemy of society, especially of that portion of society made up of type- 
setters. Probably at some time a typesetter had done him a bad turn, 
and ever since he had been hatching this scheme to throw all type- 
setters out of work. Not, of course, that the scheme would ever 
succceed! 

"Don't you want to see these?" Frank asked. 

"Nope," Vince said. 

But he did want to see those drawings, despite his knowing very 
well that typesetting machines and perpetual motion were products of 
unbalanced minds. Yet he didn't budge from his chair. Outside, the 
rain had settled to a steady downpour and on the office panes the drops 
pursued one another endlessly. 

Frank kept asking questions which Mr. Bohnschweiger answered at 
great length, struggling with the twin difficulties of the English lan- 
guage and technical elucidation. He seemed to have vast patience, and 
Vince guessed that time meant no more to him than to a hog. The 
low sky and the thick rain brought darkness early, and when Frank 
lighted a lamp he told Vince: 

"You'd better look over these drawings." 

So Vince yielded. He told himself that after all he should know 
something about that infernal invention, if only to be able to confute 
its heresies* 



136 GUS THE GREAT 

The intricate neatness of the drawings astonished him; the inked 
lines were as definite and sharp as the lines of an etching. 

"Did you draw these?" he asked, looking at Mr. Bohnschweiger's 
thick fingers. 

>, who else?" 

The first drawing depicted a machine that was as fat and squat as 
Mr. Bohnschweiger. An outlandish contraption! Vmce wanted to 
laugh. 

"Tell me one thing," he crowed. "Tell me just one little thing, Mr. 
Bohnschweiger. How can that thing walk up to a typecase and go 
to work?" 

Mr. Bohnschweiger's scarlet face looked like a rubber balloon that 
couldn't withstand much more inblown air, 

"Nein!" he exclaimed. "You do not unnerstand." 

"Don't 'nine' me. Just show me. That's all." 

So once more Mr. Bohnschweiger explained the operation of the 
machine. When he had finished he said, "Veil?" 

Vince grinned. He felt better, now that he saw how insane the 
invention was. Mr. Bohnschweiger was manifestly crazy; a crazy in- 
ventor. 

"I don't think it'd work," he said. 

"Verk? But it does verk! In my chop in St. Looey it verks " 

"That's all right, mister," Vince said. "That's fine. You just go 
back to your shop and work it all you please." 

Mr. Bohnschweiger had blue eyes, almost innocent blue, like a baby's. 
They looked now as if they might fill with tears. He turned to Frank. 

"You don't t'ink it verks?" 

"Yes, I think it works. But well there're so many parts. So many 
things to go wrong. And it'd be so expensive to manufacture. I'd 
want to think it over before I put any money into it." 

"So," said Mr. Bohnschweiger. He looked from Frank to Vince and 
back to Frank. Then again he said, "So." 

He heaved a hippopotamus sigh and at the desk patted the drawings 
into a neat square. He inserted them into an artist's portfolio and 
wrapped the portfolio in worn oilcloth, tying it with dirty old string. 
The office was quiet save for his breathing and the drip and splash of 
rain. 

"Veil, goot-by," he said finally. "It is always the same. I need a 
leetle money to get started with it, but nobody believes it vill verk. 
So I start out on the road to show it to printers, but they laugh the 
hardest of all. . . . Veil, tonight I leaf for Omaha. Maybe somebody 
there vill not laugh." 

The old office floor complained softly about Mr. Bohnschweiger's 



GUS THE GREAT 137 

tonnage as he waddled to the door. Frank had a last glimpse of him 
as he passed the streaked windows on his way to Second Avenue. 

Vince broke out laughing. "Cracked! Cracked as the old Liberty 
Bell." 

Frank did not reply. He felt troubled. 

Vince felt troubled too, so while frying supper potatoes he reached 
for his bottle and fortified himself with a couple of drinks. But instead 
of smoothing his irritation the whiskey made that typesetting machine 
loom with diabolical importance. Away back in a corner of Vince's 
mind there lurked a suspicion that such a damn-fool machine might 
turn out to be practical, and he tried to scare away that suspicion with 
big talk. At the supper table he kept repeating his arguments against 
the machine, but he couldn't get any response from Frank beyond an 
occasional, "Maybe you're right." 

"Of course I'm right! Settm' type is the most complicated thing a 
man can do. Imagine the brass of that crazy old Dutchman' thinkin' 
a machine could do such work!" 

Frank said nothing. He wasn't eating much just pecking at his 
food and in memory he kept seeing the sharp black-and-white draw- 
ings of the typesetting machine and trying to follow the intricate me- 
chanics of the device. And he kept seeing Herman Bohnschweiger too, 
so gloomed by discouragement. 

"Think I'll take a walk," Frank said, after supper. Vince eyed him 
suspiciously and gruff ed: 

"Pretty wet night for that." 

As soon as he emerged into the rainy darkness Frank knew he was 
going to search for Mr. Bohnschweiger. He limped to Second Avenue 
and south toward the railroad. The ram had driven other pedestrians 
indoors and the store windows were black, but a light showed feebly 
from far back in the Fair Store where Isaac Goldstein sat hunched 
over a ledger. And as he passed opposite Mahoney's place he saw lights 
burning in the saloon behind windows specked by last summer's flies 
and crusted by last winter's smoke. He glanced up at the second story. 
In the southeast window, shadowy against the lamplight, he made 
out the figure of a small boy, observing from his low eyrie the world 
of Clayton Junction. Frank paused. Little Gus was wearing a night- 
gown, and something in his stance suggested a diminutive cartoon of 
a toga-clad emperor, surveying Rome from a balcony. Then a woman 
appeared in the window. It was Lucy. She knelt, and Gus prodded 
the pane with a forefinger, pointing at a locomotive that stood hissing 
in the railroad yards. As the woman and the boy talked, a difference 
of opinion seemed to develop, probably about going to bed; and at last 



138 GUS THE GREAT 

little Gus was lifted into her arms, not without protest, and carried 
from sight. 

Frank sloshed on toward the station. The wind had risen, and in 
the headlight rays of the locomotive the raindrops were blown like 
translucent sand. The worn old bricks of the station platform gleamed 
emptily, and save for railroad men the station was empty, too. But of 
course the westbound tram to Omaha was not due for an hour yet. 

And as he left that place and brooded back along the platform Frank 
was thinking suddenly of Doll, of time gone and of letters she never 
wrote. The autumn damp had crawled into his bones; he wanted the 
warmth of whiskey; so he crossed Second Avenue and entered Ma- 
honey's saloon. The first person he saw was Herman Bohnschweiger, 

Mr. Bohnschweiger was sitting alone at a little bare table, nursing 
a mug of beer. A thick cloud of Teutonic gloom enveloped him; his 
heavy-lidded eyes flicked no recognition as he observed Frank limping 
across the sawdust floor. 

"I was looking for you," Frank said. 

"So?" 

The monosyllable was not cordial. 

"I want to hear more about your machine." 

"Veil' Why didn't you say so?" The gloom cloud began to dissi- 
pate; Mr. Bohnschweiger removed his artist's portfolio from the extra 
chair and with sausage fingers waved an invitation to sit down. "I vill 
make you rich," he said. 

And so for the second time that day Mr. Bohnschweiger launched 
into a discussion of the merits of his invention. He had just got under 
way when Tim Mahoney came from behind the bar and slouched to 
the table. 

"What'll you have, gents?" 

He had been drinking himself, and his apron looked as if a muddy 
dog had been sleeping on it. Black half-moons rimmed his nails and 
he could have stood a shave. Although he was still a youngish man 
his complexion was sallow; discontent had knifed two lines from his 
nose to the corners of his mouth; and his cold eyes held the bitterness 
of a man who had never contemplated peace or beauty in the world 
outside himself or the world inside. Frank watched his narrow legs 
as he shuffled away to the bar; and when he returned with beer and 
whiskey he slopped the drinks over the glass brims as he set them 
down. 

As Frank sipped his drink Mr. Bohnschweiger talked on and on, 
piling fact upon fact, evidence upon evidence, until at last the type- 
setting machine lost its fantastic qualities and became a reasonable 
thing, and practical; and Mr. Bohnschweiger kept patiently elucidating 
even after four or five toughs from lower Rafferty Street came in and 



GUS THE GREAT 139 

ordered drinks and somebody sat down at the piano and banged out 
a ribald song which drowned the sound of the rain pouring against 
the windows and the long, sorrowing whistle of the evening train 
which Mr. Bohnschweiger didn't take to Omaha, 

The deal was virtually closed when, with midnight thick on the 
town, Frank and Mr. Bohnschweiger left Mahoney's Saloon and la- 
bored homeward through the downpour. Vince Fye, with more rancor 
than caution, had locked the front door, and Frank fumbled with his 
key while water trickled down his spine, Mr, Bohnschweiger waited, 
patient as a mountain. 

Frank groped into the office to the lamp, and after bad luck with 
several wet matches he struck a light at last, and the flame crawled 
slowly around the wick. He fitted the glass chimney into its prongs, 
peeled off his soaked coat and hat, and brought out whiskey. He had 
invited Mr. Bohnschweiger to occupy his bed, but they had so much 
to talk about that the half-hours slipped past and presently it was too 
near morning to retire. 

Except in mechanical matters, Mr. Bohnschweiger's rnind was direct 
and uncomplicated, and the company he had organized reflected his 
simplicity. There were five thousand shares, each valued at twenty-five 
dollars, but so few people had faith in his contraption that he held 
nearly all the stock himself. In the end Frank agreed to purchase a 
hundred shares, and next morning they boarded a horsecar and rode 
to Tamarack to settle the affair in a lawyer's office. 

The lawyer tugged his side whiskers as he studied the legal papers 
Mr. Bohnschweiger produced from his portfolio. By and by he an- 
nounced that the papers were quite in order, but he urged Frank to 
reconsider his decision to invest money in a company whose assets 
consisted so largely of patents on an invention which could never be 
put to practical use. Mr. Bohnschweiger sat growing redder and redder. 

"I've made up my mind," Frank said. 

The lawyer shrugged. "It's your money, and I suppose if you want 
to take a flyer it's your business. But I feel it's my duty to warn you." 

So that morning Frank became the first person to buy any consider- 
able number of shares in Mr. Bohnschweiger's company. 

"You vill never regret it," Mr. Bohnschweiger assured him, as they 
stood on the station platform in Clayton Junction that .evening. 

Nor did he; although after months elapsed and then years he wrote 
his investment off as a complete loss. He admitted to Vince he had 
put a little money into the thing, but he never confessed how much. 
Vince assumed he had squandered perhaps a hundred dollars, and' 
sometimes he twitted Frank about it, good-naturedly now, for it had 
become apparent to Vince that the talk about such machines was going 



i 4 o GUS THE GREAT 

to die down and crazy inventors would turn their attentions to other 
fields. 

Since Frank had no heirs, he comforted himself that he could afford 
to lose a good-sized sum on a whim. Sometimes he received letters 
from Mr. Bohnschweiger, assuring him that matters were proceeding 
satisfactorily although slowly. Other companies had been organized 
to manufacture such machines; companies with more resources than 
Mr. Bohnschweiger 's; but they couldn't get around the fact that Mr. 
Bohnschweiger had invented and patented several devices essential to 
the success of a typesetting machine. 

Letters from Mr. Bohnschweiger were not, however, what Frank 
hoped to receive as he waited in the post office for mail to be distrib- 
uted. He always had the hope that a letter postmarked Chicago would 
come to him, and when such a letter failed to arrive he experienced 
a pang. But the pang lost intensity as the years rolled along toward 
the 1890*5; and at last there was no pang at all. Sometimes he scarcely 
thought of Doll for weeks, and when he recalled his evenings with her 
he thought of the Frank who had escorted her about town as another 
person, a younger person distinct from the man with graying hair he 
saw in the mirror. And some evenings he would put down his book 
and ponder about that queer thing called time; that mortal foe of youth 
and beauty which men tried to drag down to the level of their under- 
standing by fastening it to the clock and the calendar. He visited a 
secondhand bookstore in Tamarack and bought a number of volumes 
by the great philosophers, and gradually his conviction grew that man 
was an orphan in the universe inhabiting a planet that was itself a 
bewildered wanderer. And after much musing and reading he 
stumbled across a dictum that had to suffice as an answer to his ques- 
tionings : the past existed only in memory and the future did not exist 
at all. Only the present had existence, and he began to think of life as a 
dream in the mind of some sound sleeper out in the wastes of space. 

But getting out an issue of the Tribune each week was a very un- 
dream-like necessity, especially when he depended upon Vince to set 
the type. For the pains in Vince's legs persisted and increased, and one 
day a few years after Mr. Bohnschweiger's visit Frank realized that 
Vince was actually a very old man, and a feeble one. No longer did 
his fingers go flying over the cases; they moved painfully. It was neces- 
sary to hire another printer. Frank wanted to be tactful about it, so 
one evening he sighed and told Vince it was a fright how busy they 
were, and asked how he would like to become foreman in the shop 
with a printer working under him. 

Vince sat rocking, his mouth so flaccid that the tobacco juice trickled 
from either corner unchecked. When Frank had presented the matter 
lie said: 



GUS THE GREAT 141 

"There's too damn much work, and that's a fact. I Fm foreman 
I ought to have better wages." 

Frank realized it was the old man's way of keeping up his self- 
respect, so he wrangled about it. 

"You old owl," he said. "You've never been any good as a printer 
and you know it. And now asking " 

Whereupon Vmce uttered a good many profane words. What would 
have become of the Tribune and its editor, he demanded, if it hadn't 
been for him? Why, that crazy inventor would have managed to 
steal everything Frank had, if Vince hadn't intervened with sound 
advice. 

At last Vince was given a wage increase; and next day in relief 
Frank went to Tamarack and hired another printer, a young man 
named George who was told to humor the old foreman. But Vince 
didn't interfere with George's work; he took to sitting outside the shop 
when the weather was fine, lost in his memories. 

It was about this time that Frank received a letter with a St. Louis 
postmark and the return address of a firm of lawyers. He had carried 
his big batch of mail exchange papers, advertisements, bills to the 
writing counter in the post office and was sorting through it when the 
long envelope turned up. He lifted it to the May sunlight and was 
about to tear it open when he heard a woman wishing him good after- 
noon. It was Lucy Mahoney. 

She didn't, he thought, look well; the emery wheel of living so long 
with Tim had worn her down. The years had accentuated her tend- 
encies toward thinness and round shoulders, and her features had 
sharpened, not into shrewishness but solicitude- She was still a smiling, 
tail-wagging fox terrier, eager to please, but deep in her eyes anxiety 
always lurked. 

As they exchanged pleasantries, Frank slipped the letter from St. 
Louis into his pocket and gathered up the rest of his mail Lucy 
glanced around at the other people in the post office and lowered her 
voice: 

"I'd like to talk with you." 

He nodded and suggested they walk to the corner together. 

"Well," she said, when they reached the street, "I've finally heard 
from Doll again." 

"How nice," he said. "How is she?' 5 

"She's moved. To New York City." 

It returned then that nostalgic pang for the lost years; and his old 
sense of being wounded when he thought of her came back. And 
absurdly, he felt bereft because of the miles that had multiplied between 
them. In Chicago, she lived only an overnight journey away; tucked 
somewhere in his mind was the thought: "If I wanted to, I could get 



142 GUS THE GREAT 

on a train and see her tomorrow." Chicago was close; the capital of 
the Middle West. But New York! 

" When did she move?" 

"I don't know exactly. I hadn't heard from her for a long time. At 
first she was pretty good about writing, but after while her letters 
came just now and then. And after that no letter at all for almost two 
years. Then yesterday I had this letter from New York. She tried to 
get me caught up on the news, Mr. Phelan died some time ago. He 
hadn't been well, you know. He was always such a nice man, too so 
generous and jolly. I don't think it was really bad of Doll to go away 
with him like that, do you ? He was more like a father to her." 

They had left the hitching posts of the business district and were 
strolling along a residential street. Spring was at full flood, the air 
balmy. 

"Doll was always such a case," Lucy said wistfully. "Even when we 
were girls I never could keep up with her. Well, she knew what she 
wanted, and I guess she's got it. She didn't like Clayton Junction at all. 
She used to say she belonged in a big city. Well, that's where she is 
now, and she loves it." 

"Has she ever mentioned coming back for a visit?" 

"Oh dear no! I'm sure she'd never do that. She didn't get along 
with Tim at all. And then the way the town treated her. No, I don't 
think she'll ever come back. But and this is what I wanted to talk 
to you about. She wants me to go there for a visit. She even sent me 
the money." 

"Are you going?" 

Lucy's face and worried brow looked as if her decision would affect 
all humanity for centuries to come. 

"I don't know," she said. "I just don't know," 

"Would you like to?" 

"Oh, I'm dying to go." 

"Well then, you have the money for a ticket " 

"It's not that," she said. 

They had reached the edge of town, and they strolled on along the 
white road curving north and east toward Tamarack. Thickets of wild 
plums were in blossom, their fragrance mingling with all- the fresh, 
tender smells of loam and new grasses. Robins were chirping, and from 
a fence post a meadow lark sent forth liquid melody. 

Lucy had withdrawn deep into her own problems, her lower lip 
between her teeth, her thin hands seeking each other for solace. 

"I believe I'd go," Frank said. "It would do you good." 

Lucy's lips trembled; she turned away. Her thin shoulders were in 
agitation, and she sank down to a stone by the roadside, her face in 
her hands. 



GUS THE GREAT 143 

"Don't," he said. "Don't cry." 

But the floodgates were open now. Frank patted her shoulder. 

"I'm sorry," he said. 

Gradually the sobs subsided; she looked up and smiled wanly. 

"I didn't mean to break down. But sometimes you can't help your- 
self, can you ? " 

"No," he said, "sometimes you can't." 

"It's like Doll always said. You understand things, Frank. A woman 
wants a man to understand." 

"Maybe it's what everybody wants." 

"A woman especially. Tun never does. It just isn't in him. He's so 
so bitter and hard. It's been terrible, sometimes. Oh, I don't mean 
for me. I mean for Gus. He was such a good baby. But Tim Tim's 
just about ruining him? You can't raise Gus that way. He's so smart 
and he has a mind of his own. It's been bad for him, growing up in 
this town. He was such a sweet baby. Then Doll left. Doll would 
never have stood for Tim going after him die way he does." 

"You mean he punishes him?" 

"Sometimes I think I can't stand it another time." She began to sob 
again, then pulled herself together. "Gus has had a hard time. In this 
town. As soon as he started to school. Boys calling him that bad word. 
He's not the sort of child to take things like that without fighting. It's 
made him tough. Like a turtle with a shell. He's only eight years old, 
but he's tough. I don't want him to turn out bad, Frank." 

"Why don't you take him with you to New York?" 

She shook her head. 

"I don't think . . . Don't blame Doll, Frank, but I don't think . . . 
She would have mentioned bringing him, wouldn't she? Maybe she'd 
have a gentleman friend and he'd see Gus. He's a big boy for his age. 
And Doll would want to look young and there would be Gus, growing 
like a weed. No, I can't take him, and I can't go, either. Because I 
wouldn't trust him with Tim." 

"Is it that bad?" 

"It was. But one time about a month ago well, I couldn't stand it 
any more. That was all, I couldn't stand it. He'd have to whip me 
first, I said. He'd been drinking he drinks so much, Frank and he 
took hold of me and started to shove me aside, so he could get to Gus. 
I'm not very strong my stomach's always upset the doctor thinks 
maybe it's ulcers but I fought back. Mamma always said even a worm 
would turn. It was easier, with Tim being drunk. He fell and hit 
his head. I was scared." 

"You can't hurt a drunk man," Frank said. 

"It did hurt him, though. Cut his scalp. You can't imagine how I 
felt when I saw blood. It knocked him out, and then Gus . . . well* 



144 GUS THE GREAT 

don't blame the child, Frank, he's been through so much. Gus saw him 
lying there and he kicked him in the jaw. Tim never knew when he 
came to why his jaw was so sore. It was terrible, but he's laid oflf Gus. 
Except that he always nags the child. Goodness! It's a wonder to 
me he's as good a boy as he is. What time is it, Frank? Is it time for 
school to be out? I'll have to be getting home." 

They were silent, walking back to town. When they parted Frank 
said : 

"I have the beginnings of an idea. Maybe you can go to New York, 
after all" 

"What is it?" 

"Don't press me. I'll work on it." 

And all the way back to the Tribune office he was lost in thought. 

He found Vince Fye in his familiar chair outside, legs sprawled in 
front of him. 

"Trying to block the sidewalk," Frank said. "There're ordinances 
to take care of fellows like you." 

Vince's watery old eyes ignored him, but slowly the back of one 
hand floated up to his mouth and wiped at the brown juice. And still 
staring straight ahead Vince said: 

"Report me, would you? Let 'em come after me. I'll shoot it out 
with 'em." 

In the office, Frank reached into his pocket for his pipe, and his hand 
encountered that letter from St. Louis. He read it through once, then 
again. The law firm informed him that Mr. Bohnschweiger had died. 
The firm was representing his widow. A certain company was eager 
to acquire several patents which Mr. Bohnschweiger's company owned, 
and Mrs. Bohnschweiger had decided to sell out. Since she owned the 
majority of the stock, her decision was final. 

The company making the purchase was willing to pay Frank Mac- 
Gowan a hundred dollars a share for his hundred shares of stock. Or 
it was willing to issue him an equal number of its own shares. In the 
legal firm's opinion, Mr. MacGowan might be well advised to take 
stock, because it appeared after all that machines to set type were prac- 
tical, and there might be a considerable boom in the business of manu- 
facturing such machines. 

Grinning, Frank stood up and marched out to the sidewalk. But 
when he saw Vince Fye, so feeble, so far in the past, he slipped the let- 
ter into his pocket and turned back into the office. And until Vince 
died quietly in his sleep the next winter, Frank maintained the fiction 
that Mr. Bohnschweiger had certainly taken him for a trimming. 

Frank could reach decisions fast when he had to, but he preferred 
Derating in leisurely fashion. He liked to deal with problems the way 



GUS THE GREAT 145 

an old dog deals with a bone: sniffing it, licking it, gnawing a little 
here and there, dozing over it, lying on his back and holding it between 
his paws and playing with it. Indeed, there was something reminiscent 
of a faithful old shepherd dog about him, shaggy, grizzled, lamed in a 
fight, dependable, easygoing; but still ready to scrap if that became 
necessary. And his office was about as unkempt as an old dog's yard. 

But he never fretted about the lack of order. In the end things got 
done, somehow. It was his experience that often even the toughest 
problems dissolved when permitted to soak in their own juice. 

At the moment, he had two problems under consideration: what to 
do about his typesetting stock, and how to arrange matters so Lucy 
might visit her sister; but he wasn't racing toward decisions. He pon- 
dered them while he puttered about at other things, between para- 
graphs of an editorial, while he filled his pipe and spilled tobacco 
crumbs onto the volume of Herbert Spencer he had been reading, while 
he fried pork chops for supper. 

"What's biting you?" Vmce demanded one evening. "The love 
bug?" 

"Love? Oh no. Not any more." 

"Why not? It's spring, ain't it? By crickety, maybe you need to go 
to Rafferty Street." 

"Not tonight, Vmce. I'm getting too old." 

"Old! Listen to him! I'm old, ain't I? And what do you suppose 
I think about when I sit out there in front? Love that's what!" 

"Who's the lucky girl?" 

"None of the floosies in this town! But there was a girl once in 
Frisco by God, she was a woman! Make your eyes pop out! And 
who do you suppose she picked for a man?" 

"Some handsome devil with a shiny rig," Frank grinned. "I'll bet 
she didn't know you were alive." 

"By crickety!" Vince slapped the table. "I'll bet she did know I was 
alive! There was a lot of them knew I was lively alive! Not know I 
was alive hell! Bet she's never forgot me. Oh, she was a woman. . . . 
It's a fact, Frank. A man goes through life and what does it all amount 
to? What does it get him? Just a pile of memories in the bureau 
drawer. And they're all about women. Women and liquor. They go 
together, the usual thing. When you get my age and look back, noth- 
ing else amounts to a damn. But sometimes a man wonders. Where 
did it all go to? All them years? You were right smack in 'em, and 
then they've gone on somewhere and left you. Where?" 

"Where are the snows of yesteryear?" Frank said. 

"Snow? Who said anything about snow? I was speaking about 
women. Always changing the subject on me. Never thought a son of 
mine would do that." 



146 GUS THE GREAT 

Frank pricked up his ears. "You never thought what?" 

"I said," Vince snapped, "that I never thought a son of mine would 
change the subject on me." 

And from that evening till his death, the delusion persisted in Vince's 
misting thoughts that Frank was his son. Communications between great 
areas of his brain broke down, so that sometimes he assumed he was 
living m San Francisco, and he would ask Frank to buy him a bottle 
of Bourbon in a certain saloon on Market Street. Frank bought it at 
Mahoncy's, and through the evenings Vmcc nursed it, that warm milk 
of his second childhood. 

Sometimes Frank arranged for Doc Harvey, very old himself now, 
to drop in for a "visit," and after he and Vince had exchanged yarns 
the doctor would examine him. 

"Nothing wrong with me that any pills can touch," Vince snapped. 
"Just them pains in my legs. Rust pains that's what they are. I'm 
rusting out. A nip of Bourbon is best for them." 

In general, the doctor agreed with Vince's diagnosis and treatment. 

With Vince failing so rapidly, Frank chided himself for having 
permitted the old man to work so long in the shop; and at other times 
he felt guilty for relieving him of his harness. Once he could sit and 
dream away the weeks, Vince seemed to deteriorate faster. 

One evening a few days after receiving the letter from St. Louis, 
Frank sat at his desk scratching out a reply. He offered to sell twenty- 
five shares at a hundred dollars each, and to take seventy-five shares in 
the new company. Where business was concerned, he was not exactly 
the fool Vince thought him, and his native shrewdness told him to 
get back his original investment and then ride along with the remain- 
ing shares to see what occurred. During the next decade plenty oc- 
curred; by the turn of the century those seventy-five shares brought 
him the income of a well-to-do man; but he was not greedy and he 
never regretted selling twenty-five shares any more than he had re- 
gretted making the original investment when it looked as if his money 
had gone up the flue. The whole business always seemed dreamlike, 
anyway, and he was astounded at the accidental quality of the hmgcs 
on which human fortune turned. He never felt especially proud of 
his foresight; it was just good luck that Mr. Bohnschweiger hadn't 
been selling something worthless; and when the dividend checks grew 
fatter he lived on at the shop, much as always. Often, fingering Das 
Kapital, he smiled ironically; and perhaps it was his knowledge of Marx 
which made him secretive about his good fortune. He didn't care to 
have Clayton Junction know his resources, so he opened a separate bank 
account in Tamarack to receive his dividends. 

That evening he had just tucked the letter into an envelope when he 



GUS THE GREAT 147 

heard voices in the warm darkness outside : somebody talking to Vince. 
At the open door, he saw Lucy Mahoney and her nephew. 

"Well," he said. "Taking a walk?" 

"That's just what we were doing," Lucy exclaimed. "It was such a 
nice evening that Gus and I thought we'd get the air." 

"That ain't it," Gus said scornfully. "She wants to make rne stay 
with her so I can't have fun." 

"Don't talk that way, Gus," Lucy said. "You know what you'd do. 
You'd get with those O'Brien boys and play in the railroad yards. It's 
dangerous to hop freights, isn't it, Frank?" 

"Great Heavens, boy," Frank exclaimed. "Don't tell me you hop 
freights!" 

"Sure. We ride 'em a little ways. Sometimes we talk to bums, too." 

Frank whistled. "I don't think I'd do that." 

"See there, Gus?" Lucy said. 

But these splendid admonitions came to naught, for Vince spoke up. 

"Hell's fires and pussycats!" he snapped. "Want to make a sissy out 
of the young one? Ain't no harm in hopping freights. I've hopped a 
good many, in my day." 

"You have?" Gus said delightedly. 

"Why hell, yes. In my booming days it was completely against my 
principles to pay money to a railroad. Them robbers! I always went 
from place to place by freight." 

Gus said, "Gosh!" 

And that was all Vince needed to launch himself on an odyssey of 
memory; and when Lucy and Frank faded into the office and talked in 
low tones they could hear Vmce yarning on and on, and Gus saying, 
"And what did you do when he pulled the gun on you?" 

Lucy said: 

"I thought if we walked by we might see you. I had another letter 
from Sis today. She's just bound I'll go. I just don't know what to 
nvrite her." f 

"Have you mentioned it to Tim?" 

"Oh, no! He doesn't even know Fve heard from her. He used to get 
my letters first and open them, so four or five years ago I told Sis to 
address her letters to the Fair Store, with another envelope inside. Mr. 
Goldstein's awfully nice he understands how it is and he lets me 
know when I have a letter." 

"Sic semper tyrannis" Frank said. 

"What?" 

"The motto of Virginia," he murmured, "badly misused by Booth, 
but true. 'Thus ever to tyrants. 9 What you've told me makes me 
happy. The human spirit always finds a thousand ways to rebel against 
tyrants-" 



148 GUS THE GREAT 

"He's a tyrant, all right," Lucy said. "That's the trouble. I could up 
and go and he couldn't stop me, but he'd take it out on Gus. But you 
said you had a plan " 

"I have. It's practically complete. I'll put it into operation tomorrow." 

"What is it?" 

"You'll hear about it from Tim. I think it's better you shouldn't 
know anything about it. It will be easier for you to act innocent." 

Outside, they found Gus trying to pin Vince down and get him to 
tell exactly how he had bested a famous gambler at his own game. 
Vince was acting nettled. To hell with unimportant details. 

Lucy took Gus by the hand and their footsteps died away toward 
Second Avenue. The street grew silent. At last Vince said wickedly: 

"Guess I was right at that." 

"Right?" 

"About you and the love bug and spring. But that Doll had more 
gumption than her sister. That Doll was a woman. Put me in mind 
of a girl I once knew in Cincinnati. Fine " 

"Oh, go to hell, you old owl," Frank said, turning back into the office 

"Where I'm headinV Vince chuckled. "Yes, sir! Ought to be a big 
reunion one of these days." 

Late the next afternoon Frank entered Mahoney's Saloon. The 
spring sun had sent the mercury climbing and Clayton Junction, down 
on the humid bottomlands, was steaming like an old booze-fighter in 
a Turkish bath. But the saloon was cool and dusky, the air pleasantly 
tinged with the odors of beer and liquor and the free-lunch smells of 
ham and dill pickles. At the cherry-red bar Frank swabbed his fore- 
head and observed to Tim Mahoney that it was a hot day. Tim said it 
sure was, and asked: 

"What'll you have?" 

"Another quart of Bourbon for Vince." 

Tim set the bottle on the bar. A couple of years before he had en- 
couraged a mustache to bloom on his upper lip, in compensation for 
his receding hair, and now, pomaded and waxed, it curled thinly like a 
mustache brushed on in sand-colored paint. It was amazing how the 
departure of hair from his forehead and the arrival of the mustache 
had altered his appearance. He looked more foxlike; more the tinhorn 
sport. 

Frank ordered a small whiskey for himself. Tim asked: 

"How is the old man, anyway?" 

"About the same." 

"He'd died long ago," Tim said, "if it hadn't been for the whiskey, 
He was always a good customer." 



GUS THE GREAT 149 

Frank sipped his drink. They were alone in the saloon, for it was 
the off hour before the six o'clock whistle. 

"It makes it hard for me," Frank said, "without Vince working. I've 
got this new fellow, but things don't go as fast as they did with Vmce. 
What I need is a printer's devil." 

"Printer's devil?" 

"A kid to learn the trade. An apprentice. But you can't find a kid 
who'll do it." 

Tim nodded sympathetically, 

"All these modern kids want to do is raise hell. Lazy little devils. 
Always into something. Damned if I know what '11 happen to this 
country when they grow up." 

"It's terrible," Frank agreed solemnly, 

"It sure is. Now take you and me when we were kids. We knew 
what work was. Up early, work hard all day " 

"That's the trouble," Frank said. "A printer's devil has a hard life. 
That's why they call him a devil because he has such a hell of a time. 
Work from sunup to sundown and then some. You can't find a 
modern kid who's willing to go through it." 

"They're soft, all right," Tim said. "Coddled." 

"That's it. Their parents don't want them to have to go through it, 
You know how ornery printers are. They kick them and cuff them 
around " 

"They do?" 

"Oh, yes. Mean as hell to them. Take my man, George. He's a 
terror. If he had a printer's devil he'd skin him alive. And I couldn't 
do a thing about it. For that matter, the kid's parents couldn't either." 

"They couldn't?" 

"You know how the law goes," Frank lied. "Once you've signed up 
your kid to be a printer's devil, he's not your kid any more. The 
printer can work him to death, and if v the kid doesn't step fast enough 
he can half kill him. Make him howl so you could hear him all over 
town. And that's exactly the way George would do it. But could you 
step in and stop it? No. You've signed him away maybe for his 
summer vacation, maybe for five years and you're helpless. Of course, 
you'd get his wages, and you wouldn't have to board and room him. 
But that wouldn't make up for the way the kid would suffer." 

Frank finished his drink, picked up the bottle. 

"Well, I'll move along. Vmce was pretty thirsty when I left." 

And he started toward the door. 

"What's the rush?" Tim inquired. "Vince can wait for that drink. 
I'd like to ask you a question." 

"Question?" 



150 GUS THE GREAT 

"Come on back to the bar. Here have one on the house. Guess I'll 
have one myself." 

"I really ought to be getting on" 

"Hell, let him wait for his snorter," Tim said, pouring two drinks. 
"What I want to ask you is about the wages a printer's devil gets." 

"They're not much, when you consider all the hell the kid takes. 
George was telling me his last kid never was able to sit down. Had to 
sleep on his stomach." 

Tim grinned. "He sure must know how to swing a paddle." 

"Strap," Frank said. "With the kid's pants down. You can't blame 
George too much, though. He was a printer's devil himself, and he's 
got a lot of misery to pass on to the next generation." 

"Blame him?" Tim exclaimed. "Who said anything about blaming 
him^ That's what these modern kids need. Hard work and hard 
lickings." 

"Spare the rod," Frank said, "and spoil the child." 

"Now you're talking! What wages did you say the kid's folks got?" 

"A couple of dollars a week. Not much, unless you figure in board 
and room." 

Tim tossed off his drink, smoothed his mustache, poured another. 

"What," he demanded, "would be wrong with that kid of ours?" 

"Gus?" 

"Sure, Gus! What would be wrong with him?" 

Frank scowled. 

"He's pretty young " 

"Not so young. He'll be nine in October. And he's big for his age/* 

"I don't know," Frank said. "I had in mind a kid about twelve." 

"He's as big as lots of kids of twelve. Husky! And smart!" 

"He probably eats a lot, if he's so husky." 

"Well," Tim said, "the answer to that is yes and no. He don't eat 
so much as you might think. One thing I'll say for the little bastard, 
he goes for cheap foods. Take in the fall when the apple season comes 
on, he jusf hogs apples. And potatoes. No, I wouldn't say he costs 
much to feed." 

Frank scowled in silence. 

"How about it?" Tim demanded. "You said you were looking for 
a printer's devil. I'm offering you one on a platter." 

"I don't know. What would his mother think?" 

"Doll?" Tim's eyes went bitter, and he called her a string of names 
which made Frank wince. "Why, we never even hear from her. 
Haven't had a letter in years. Maybe she's dead, for all we know. She 
just ran out on us and left the kid on our hands. No, you'd never have 
no kickback from her." 

"What would your wife think about if?" 



GUS THE GREAT i 5I 

"Damn my wife! She'd think what I tell her to think." 

"She might always be running over to the shop and interfering when 
George went after the kid." 

"Naw, naw nothing like that. She's a mouse. George would have 
a free hand.'* 

"I don't know/' Frank sighed. "He's pretty young, but I need a kid 
and that's sure. I'll think it over. I might take him on for summer 
vacation and see how it works out." 

"Why not for a year? Why not for five years?" 

'Til think it over." 

"Now you're talking! Two dollars a week for five years." 

"I'll sleep on it," Frank said. "If I decide to give him a try, I'll drop 
in tomorrow with the papers. It has to be all legal, you know." 

"Oh sure. Of course." Tim glanced toward the door leading up- 
stairs. "One favor. Don't speak of this to Lucy till it's settled. You 
and I could sign the papers, couldn't we, and then tell her?" 

"I should think so." 

"It's a deal," Tim said. "You come in tomorrow, and we'll sign it up 
all legal." 

After the swinging doors ejected Frank, Tim permitted a smile of de- 
light to suffuse his countenance. He turned to the heavy mirror behind 
the bar, and in the bright circle which was not soaped over he examined 
the smooth curl of his mustache with considerable satisfaction. 

Next morning in a Tamarack lawyer's office Frank explained at 
length what he wanted and why he wanted it. 

"I know the days of bound-out children are over," he said, "but if you 
could fix up something" 

"We can draw up a contract. It wouldn't hold in court, but you 
could make him go to court." 

That afternoon, using the bar as a desk, Frank MacGowan and Tim 
Mahoney affixed their signatures to the papers. The lawyer accompa- 
nied Frank, and then he too signed as notary public. After that there 
were drinks, and everybody seemed happy. 

Early one hot summer morning, about ten days after Gus entered 
the printing business, Lucy departed from Clayton Junction. Quite a 
delegation gathered at the station to see her off. The Tribune was 
represented by its editor, its printer's devil and its shop foreman, for 
when Vince Fye heard of Lucy's pilgrimage he insisted upon wishing 
her bon voyage. And at the last minute even Lucy's husband came. 

Embarking for New York was the most daring undertaking of 
Lucy's life, and as she waited on the platform the whole adventure 
seemed unreal. She Was aching to sec Doll and excited at the prospect 



152 GUS THE GREAT 

o travel, but she wanted to burst into tears at leaving Gus for three 
whole months. 

Often she had told herself she would like to follow Doll's example 
and escape from Clayton Junction. Now she wondered. Last night in 
the sitting room she had felt a sudden love for the ugly haircloth 
furniture and the worn Brussels carpets and the huge steel engraving 
depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The curtains 
hanging from a wooden rod between the sitting room and dining room 
crimson plush curtains intricate with tiny plush balls depending 
seemed as dear as old, trusted friends. Tears blurred it all and she 
sobbed to herself, "Oh, I don't want to go. I don't want to go to New 
York." 

But it was too late to turn back, then. For days her preparations had 
gone forward. Frank MacGowan had duped Tim into releasing Gus 
into his care. She had spent Doll's money for new clothes, for railroad 
tickets. She had written Doll to expect her on a certain train. And 
then, with everything in readiness, with her bridges flaming, she had 
told Tim about her trip. 

She made her announcement one morning at breakfast, and at first 
he treated it as a sour joke. 

"But it's true," she told him. "I'm going. I was always tied down 
with Gus, but now you've sold Gus to Frank MacGowan I'm free for 
the summer." 

"How about me?" Tim demanded. "It's always Gus, Gus. But 
how about me?" 

"You won't miss me." 

"That's not the question. You're my wife. A husband has rights. 
What are you going to use for money to get there ? And what are you 
going to do in New York?" 

She had withheld till now all mention of her sister. 

"I'm going to visit Doll for three months. She sent me the money." 

That brought the explosion. His face and lips looked as if his blood 
had turned to flour paste. His eyes were terrible. 

"Doll!" And he called her only sister all those shameful names, and 
this made Lucy weep. "Doll!" He stood up so abruptly that his chair 
went crashing backward, and he stormed about the room. "So that's it. 
So she's behind it. I might have known. She wasn't satisfied to come 
into a respectable household and bring shame on it. That wasn't 
enough! She had to flounce off and leave her brat on our hands. And 
then work behind my back and lure my wife away. You never told 
me you were getting letters from her. How could you get letters with- 
out me knowing?" 

"It doesn't matter. I got them. It doesn't matter how." 

"By God! Women! Born deceitful!" 



GUS THE GREAT 153 

"No, Tim, no," Lucy sobbed. "It was just well her letters always 
upset you so." 

"And why wouldn't they upset me? Why wouldn't letters from a 
life of shame upset a respectable businessman ? Why that that !" He 
was at a loss to find a low enough epithet, so he repeated all the ones 
he had used before. "And now trying to lure my wife away into a life 
like that!" 

"Tim you know that isn't true. I've always been true to you." 

"I wonder! By God, I wonder' Sure, I've always thought you were. 
But now working behind a man's back while he works day and night 
to keep you!" He stopped at the window, glaring out at the railroad 
yards. Lucy sobbed and dabbed her eyes and sobbed more. At last he 
turned back into the room. 

"All right, here it is straight. You aren't going." 

"Yes, I am. I'm going, Tim. I'm all ready and I'm going." 

He announced she was not, several more times, and she replied she 
was. So he roved about the room, inquiring of high heaven what the 
world was coming to when wives could go counter to their husbands' 
wishes. Finally he said : 

"All right, go. If you're so smart you go, and see if I care. But you 
needn't come back." 

"Tim! I'll come back. Of course I'll come back. It's just a visit !" 

"No, if you go I don't want you back. I won't be here anyway. You 
go ahead and find yourself a rich man like your sister did. That's fine 
with me. There're other women. You just go ahead and be a whore 
and see if I give a damn." 

Lucy cried out a protest, but he stamped from the room and slammed 
the hall door. 

She wept for several minutes, but after a time, recalling all the 
things she had to do, she stood up and cleared away the dishes. He 
didn't mean it about not being here when she returned. It was just his 
mouthiness. 

They didn't quarrel again about her trip. Tim accepted defeat; 
coldly, and mainly with silence. But sometimes he made sarcastic re- 
marks about the high old time she would have in New York while he 
slaved away in the saloon. 

Lucy slept poorly the night before her departure. Sleep was a thin 
sheet against which all sorts of crazy magic-lantern dreams were pro- 
jected. At last, toward daybreak, heavier sleep brought peace to her 
tormented spirit; and then she snapped awake and the clock said 6:25. 
And the train due at 7:01! Tim was not in bed; he was probably grin- 
ning about her oversleeping. She jumped from bed and raced about, 
hoping the train would be late. It would be just like the erratic Chi- 
cago, Tamarack & Pacific to bring its Chicago-bound train into Claytoa 



154 GUS THE GREAT 

Junction on the dot this morning. But the Chicago train hadn't ar- 
rived on time in years, and this morning was no exception; so here she 
was on the station platform, finding it nearly impossible to believe that 
in a few minutes she would be sitting in a coach. 

"By God, you're lookm 5 fine, Lucy," Vince Fye told her. "A fine 
figure of a woman! You tell that sister of yours to watch sharp, or 
you'll turn out the best-lookin' one yet." 

Lucy flushed and wagged her tail. 

"Better bring Doll back with you," Vince said. "Tell her this place 
ain't been the same since she left." 

"Oh, she'd never come back." 

"Well then tell her to write! You'd think nobody had never taught 
her her ABC's, from the few letters we've got." 

"And you write, too," Frank said. "Let us know all about your trip. 
And tell Doll we've missed her." 

"I'll tell her. I'll tell her everything. Gus come back here! Gus!" 

"I won't get hurt," Gus said. 

Wearing blue overalls, arms extended, he was balancing himself 
barefoot along one of the rails. 

"I'm a tightwire walker," he said. "Watch, Aunt Lucy. I'm a per- 
former." 

"Hell be a printer one of these days," Vince said. "We'll learn him 
to chew tobacco and hold down whiskey, and hell be a real printer 
when you get back." 

Lucy's giggle was not without concern, so Frank told her: 

"Don't pay any attention to this old owl. He's corrupt. I caught him 
putting chewing tobacco in Gus's fried potatoes and whiskey in his 
milk." 

Vince's expression did not alter. He stared straight ahead, brushed 
the back of his hand across his mouth, and spoke to the horizon. 

"Always been my lot to fall in with rogues and liars. They've stole 
me blind and they've bore false witness against me. Myself, I've always 
led an upright, Christian life. But I've had to bear the cross of bad 
companions." 

Still balancing himself on the rail, Gus faced the platform. He 
crouched, waving his arms, and cried, "Look, Aunt Lucy. Ooops!" 
And he made a flying leap to the platform. 

"You be careful, Gus. You be careful while I'm gone." 

"Sure. Feel my head, Aunt Lucy. Feel my head just once more 
before you go." 

And Gus bent his round head where Lucy could finger it. 

One of Gus's first requests from Frank had been to visit a barber 
shop and have his head shaved for the summer. He maintained that 
other boys found this not only refreshingly cool, but 'beneficial to the 



GUS THE GREAT 155 

scalp. Gus had never before sat in a barber's chair; previously, Uncle 
Tim had clipped his hair. Where his nephew was concerned, Tim 
practiced rigorous thrift. Gus always dreaded these sessions when he 
had to sit with a towel choking his neck, for Uncle Tim's patience was 
not vast, and before he completed the job he usually worked in a bit of 
ear-pulling, light slapping and accidental jabs with the shears. Without 
training in the barber's art, Tim left his nephew's head appearing very 
slipshod, and Gus's companions guyed him about his weird tonsonal 
effects. So it was no wonder that he took so much pride in his fashion- 
able tonsure. 

"Ooo it feels prickly!" Lucy exclaimed. "And you have such pretty 
hair, Gus." 

"Healthier this way," Vince said. "It was all-fired bad, before. Every 
time he nodded his head you shoulda seen the fleas hop." 

Lucy giggled; and then her face went serious, for she spied her hus- 
band coming. 

He shambled along the platform looking as if he had eaten lemons 
for breakfast, his thin legs clad in sky-blue trousers, his narrow torso 
garbed in an unbuttoned fawn-colored vest and a purple-striped shirt. 
A hard straw hat with vertical purple-and-white stripes encircling the 
band protected his head from the sun. 

"Quite a party," he said, and then, sighting Gus's head, he exclaimed: 
"You look like you'd been in the penitentiary." 

Gus's jaw hardened and something snake-ugly gazed from his eyes. 
He sidled over near Frank and replied: 

"Aw, go on. Guess they won't have to spend much time on your 
bald head when you go to the pen." 

This allusion to the single flaw in his appearance distressed Tim; 
his mouth emulated the curl of his mustache and his hands twitched. 

Vince broke into a laugh. 

"Can't get ahead of that young one! No need to try. That young 
one's got a brain like a steel trap." 

"He needs some manners pounded into him," Tim declared. 

"Have to find someone who knows about manners to do it," Vince 
said. "With Lucy gone, there won't be nothin' but roughnecks left in 
this town. Well, I've always said the place stinks. I wouldn't never 
stayed a week if I hadn't fell into the clutches of bad company. I was 
a Christian man when I come here, and look at me now. I'm just 
about all tied up and packaged for hell. I can't lean over to pick up a 
collar button without the devil jabs me in the hind end with his pitch- 
fork." 

"Why aren't you at work?" Tim demanded of Gus. 

"Frank's my boss. He said I could come. I do what he says. I don't, 
have to do what you say." 



156 GUS THE GREAT 

"Oh Gus," Lucy breathed, and then she glanced in alarm at Tim, 
who had taken a step toward his nephew. 

Vince's voice halted him. 

"If I was in your place/' he drawled, "I don't think I'd start anything. 
Take me I've got a cane because I'm so damned old, and Frank there's 
got a cane because some flighty rebel shot off his leg. But if you want 
to tangle with us, take my advice and hand that pretty hat to your 
wife. Last time I smashed a fellow's head with my cane it just plumb 
ruined his straw. Got brains spilled all over it." 

"You talk too much," Tim said. 

"Maybe I do. But you know, I've heard lots of music in my day, but 
never any I liked as pretty as the sound of my own voice." 

So Tim's throat made a noise that got by as a laugh, and he passed 
the whole matter off as a joke. 

"The old man's still pretty witty," he said. 

"There's been them who've found me so," Vince conceded soberly, 

And then from far to the west a whistle moaned, and the river hills 
on the southern horizon caught the sound and tossed it back and forth 
among themselves until it evaporated into the shimmering blue 
heavens. 

"It's coming," Gus yelled. "It'll be here in a minute." 

The whistle sounded closer, accompanied now by the industrious 
chugging of the locomotive; and presently they saw it curving into 
view, vastly egocentric as locomotives have ever been, the tall stack 
expelling dove-gray clouds, the polished brass fixtures along its black 
spine burning in the sunlight. The bell clang-clanged and the platform 
trembled as the tired old iron horse galloped past and sighed to a halt, 
as if glad that Clayton Junction was a division point where it would 
be unhitched. 

And now, although the train was scheduled to remain five minutes 
while a fresh locomotive was backed into place, a great bustling agi- 
tated the little group on the platform. Frank boosted Lucy's valises up 
the steps, and while passengers gazed from the wooden cars in bore- 
dom, Lucy bade them farewell. 

"Good-by, Vince." She left a swift kiss on his cheek. 

"Good-by 3 Frank. And thanks" She didn't kiss him, but her 
warm handclasp was deeply eloquent. 

And then she swept Gus to her, showering him with passionate 
kisses. When she released him she was in tears. 

Then she turned to Tim. 

"Well," she said, "I guess I'd better be getting on the train." 

She was thinking of Sioux Creek and her girlhood and of how 
interesting-looking that young man named Mahoney was. He was 
the new assistant station agent and he had a very nice voice when he 



GUS THE GREAT 157 

sang hymns with the congregation at the Presbyterian Church and in 
memory she was standing in the vestibule after services one evening, 
her heart pounding as he stopped and asked, "Would you like to have 
me see you home, Miss Burgoyne?" 

Now his eyes were bitter and old before their time and maybe a 
trifle sad, too. 

"Yeah," he said, "it'll be pulling out." 

"Good-by, Tim. I'll be back. Don't work too hard." - 

Impulsively, she put her arms around him and kissed his mouth that 
smelled of whiskey so early in the morning, and she felt his arms 
around her and she remembered fleetly a night on the porch in Sioux 
Creek when a gentle spring ram was falling and he took her into his 
arms for the first time and kissed her and she heard the rain dripping 
softly from the vine leaves. 

She swayed away from him and kissed Gus some more and told 
him to be a good boy, and then she mounted the steps of the car and 
found her way along the blurring aisle to a seat by the window where 
she could wave good-by. 

The fresh locomotive backed into the baggage car, jolting the roots 
of the passengers' teeth, and there was a great deal of tooting and bell 
clanging and waving of arms on the part of trainmen; and at last the 
Chicago Limited jerked and inched along the rails, slowly gaining 
headway, and the group on the platform watched the window where a 
woman was waving till the window was indistinguishable from the 
long line of other car windows, and the chugging of the locomotive 
receded down the rails. 

Tim turned without a word and shambled away to his saloon. Then 
Vince sighed and said: 

"No good waiting here. Might as well get back to the shop. I'm 
tired." 

He looked tired, and he moved slowly. He had been buoyed up by 
excitement till he was very much like his old self, but now that the 
train had vanished and the sunshine lay bright and hot on the platform 
he sank back into feebleness and mental uncertainty. 

One morning in mid-July Clayton Junction wakened to discover a 
huge sign adorning the front of Tim Mahoney's Saloon. "Under New 
Management," the sign announced. When the editor of the Tribune 
made inquiries he learned that for some weeks Mr. Mahoney had con- 
ducted secret negotiations for the sale of the business, and that he had 
departed the night before on a west-bound train. Everything had been 
included in the sale, even the furniture in the living quarters above the 
saloon. 

The ticket agent reported that Mr. Mahoney had purchased a ticket 



i 5 8 GUS THE GREAT 

to California; a one-way ticket; and ever afterward Clayton Junction 
was deprived of Mr. Mahoney 's presence. And not for years did Clay- 
ton Junction hear even a whisper about his activities. Then in 1900 a 
man who had voyaged to the Klondike to search for gold returned to 
Clayton Junction (without gold) and reported that he had encoun- 
tered Mr. Mahoney working behind the bar in a mining-town saloon. 
His mustache had grown to noble proportions; he had taken on 
weight; and* he complained he was suffering from a kidney ailment. 
Except for the man's report, nothing was ever heard about Tim 
Mahoney. He might have stayed in the Klondike, for all the town 
knew. He might have died there, for all the town knew or cared. 



o, 



*N A BRIGHT afternoon in February 1899, a young man left the elec- 
tric car that had transported him from Tamarack to Clayton Junction 
and strode briskly toward the Tribune office. He was a large, well-built 
young man, bursting with good health and energy. He was scarcely 
handsome, but certainly he was attractive. A faint rosiness bloomed 
in his cheeks, and his gray eyes were clear and pleasant. His jaw was 
sturdy, his Roman nose resolute. He walked with shoulders squared, 
exuding self-confidence. 

It was apparent that here was a young man who would amount to 
something. His was an aura of hustle, snap, success. Sharply creased 
gray trousers were visible beneath his reddish brown overcoat, and his 
large hands were encased in yellow kid gloves. 

He lived at a moment most favorable for energetic young men. 
Progress vivified the air. Nobody wore bustles any more except smiled- 
at old ladies. Horsecars were clop-clopping into history. Carriages 
without horses were a demonstrated fact. 

The young man had become an ardent disciple o progress at his 
high school graduation the previous May he had delivered an oration 
entitled, "The Promise of the Twentieth Century" and so it was that 
he held Clayton Junction in low esteem. The place lacked get-up-and- 
go. Only the Fair Store had revealed any evidence of modern business 
methods, but now it too had sunk into lethargy, for its proprietor, 
Isaac Goldstein, had sold out and founded a larger store in Tamarack. 

The very sidewalk beneath the young man's heels was a specimen of 
the moss on the town's back, for it was constructed of wood. Last 
September at his urging, the Tribune had crusaded for concrete side- 
walks. Vigorous editorials signed "A.H.B." urged a bond issue. It 
hadn't taken the opponents of civic improvement long to deduce 
that those initials stood for Augustus Howard Burgoyne. Gus Bur- 
goyne! Huh! He had his brass to advocate spending a great sum of 
the taxpayers' money. He was getting pretty uppity for a young man 
whose mother couldn't have scared up a marriage certificate if her life 
depended on it. 

The crusade came to naught. Gus was disgusted. Not Frank. Frank 
just grinned and said it was necessary to cultivate patience. 

Patience! As if that were a virtue! Not in Gus Burgoyne's book! 



160 GUS THE GREAT 

Now as he approached the Tribune office, where he would break the 
great news to Frank, it occurred to him that despite all this grumbling 
against the Trusts they represented progress. In the last decade, two 
great improvements had blessed Clayton Junction, both imposed upon 
the town by corporations. The Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific Railroad 
had erected a new depot, not, perhaps, from any urge to brighten up 
the town, but because an overheated stove had set fire to the old sta- 
tion and it had burned to the ground. Nevertheless, from whatever 
cause, the town had a new 'station. 

Everybody recognized the need for the new station; but the second 
improvement, a beneficence of the Tamarack Street Railway Company, 
engendered a tempest of argument. When the mossbacks learned that 
electric motors were to replace the old nags that had pulled the horse- 
cars back and forth between Tamarack and Clayton Junction they 
were outraged. Electricity! Dangerous! Those motors were likely to 
explode. 

Spearheaded by Gus, a few civic-minded persons arranged a celebra- 
tion to commemorate the first voyage of an electric car from Tama- 
rack. At the corner of Second Avenue and the railroad tracks (hard 
by a saloon once operated by Tim Mahoney), a speakers' stand was 
erected and decorated with bunting. A great crowd of two hundred 
people gathered, and while they waited for the car they kept entering 
the saloon for refreshments. Enthusiasm grew, and when the car, also 
bunting-draped, came clanging along the track a cheer rose from the 
throng. Music blared from the Clayton Junction Military Band. The 
car swayed with its load of politicians, street railway officials, Tama- 
rack business leaders. There were many speeches and Gus feasted his 
eyes on these men who occupied positions of power. There was, how- 
ever, one unfortunate occurrence. The chairman introduced a promi- 
nent Tamarack businessman with sharp eyes and copious whiskers, 
Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford. As he began to speak a switch engine 
chugged along the railroad, and the engineer, grinning wickedly, held 
down the whistle cord. If Gabriel had blown his horn there couldn't 
have been a greater racket. In Mr. Oxenford's beard every hair 
trembled. The noise quite obliterated the first minute of his short 
speech, and Gus regretted this. From a rich man like that you were 
likely to hear wisdom about getting ahead. As it was, the only audible 
portion of Mr. Oxenford's address concerned the virtues of Thrift, 
Industry and Integrity. Gus was disappointed. Virtues they might be, 
but they sounded very pedestrian. Gus was always alert for a short 
cut to wealth and power. 

After the brilliance of sun on snow ? the Tribune office seemed duskier 



GUS THE GREAT 161 

than usual; and after he stepped inside Gus's nose and ears functioned 
better than his eyes. The homelike odors of printer's ink and paper 
and pipe smoke entered his nostrils, and the thump-thump of a job 
press reached his ears, operated by one of Vmce Fye's long line of 
successors. After a moment, by squinting, Gus distinguished Frank at 
his desk, with that book he had been talking so much about which 
concerned the life of the ant. 

Why any- man should possess curiosity about the folkways of ants 
was laughably beyond Gus's understanding. Or about bees or birds, 
for that matter subjects which had interested Frank in the past. Gus 
believed that the proper study of mankind was man: by learning the 
causes of man's actions, perhaps he could control the effects to his 
advantage. After receiving his high school diploma, when Frank sug- 
gested he enroll in the University of Tamarack, Gus declined, He did 
not wish to squander four of his best years slicing earthworms, scan- 
ning iambic pentameter lines, reading Cicero. 

Frank put down his book as Gus entered. 

"You're back early," he said. "I thought you were going to a 
matinee." 

"I changed my mind." 

Gus removed his overcoat, arranged it neatly on a hanger. He hung 
his hat on a hall tree in the corner. Then he looked for a place to sit. 
As usual, the chairs were piled with newspapers and magazines. He 
moved a stack to the floor and flipped his handkerchief over the chair 
seat. Then he sat down and tipped back, hands in pockets. His shoes 
gleamed, and his high linen collar with its blue cravat forced him to 
elevate his jaw. His brown hair was neatly parted on the side. 

Frank by comparison looked as slipshod as an old shoe. His trousers 
hadn't been pressed since he bought them, and he wore a moth-chewed 
gray sweater beneath his old brown coat. In the interest of comfort 
he wore no collar at all, and his brass collar button gleamed dully in 
the neckband of his unstarched shirt. He was smiling, not at anything 
in particular: it had become a habitual expression. The years had 
seemed to lengthen his face, and both to strengthen and mellow it. 
Good-natured wrinkles had stamped themselves in half wheel spokes 
about his eyes. His eyebrows and hair had turned white. He was 
always forgetting to visit a barber, and a fringe of white hair bushed 
from the cracked tan skin of his neck. 

At fifteen Gus had begun taking a sharp interest in his personal ap- 
pearance, and from time to time he hinted to Frank that it might be 
well for the editor of the Tribune to look more prosperous. But it was 
no good. Frank was too occupied with such books as Progress and 
Poverty to think about clothes. It wasn't that he couldn't afford to 
dress well; Gus was certain of that. For Frank always seemed able 



i6a GUS THE GREAT 

to put his hands on ready cash. When Aunt Lucy died in New York 
back in 1892, he sent a check to help out with funeral expenses. 

"How's everything in Tamarack?" Frank asked. 

"Booming. That's a good town. It's growing fast." And then Gus 
broke the news, "I went after a job while I was there. And I got it." 

"You did what?" 

"Got a job. On the Beacon. Reporting." 

Frank picked up a foul old pipe and tamped tobacco into the bowl. 

"That's quite a surprise," he said. "When do you go to work?" 

"Monday." 

"What do they pay?" 

"Not so much. That's the only bad thing about it. They offered me 
four a week. I argued them up to six. They kept saying I was inex- 
perienced, but I told them I'd had plenty of experience on the Tribune. 
Well, what do you think of the idea?" 

"I hate to lose you here, of course. But I wouldn't stand in your 
way." 

"I knew you wouldn't want to." 

"I'm not so young any more, and I'd hoped you'd take over the 
Tribune some day. But you'll never want to, now." 

"I might," Gus said quickly. "The way I figure it, a year or two on a 
daily paper will be good experience. I'll meet lots of important people." 

"You'll move to Tamarack?" 

"Almost have to. Be close to my work." 

Frank said gently, "It'll be sort of quiet around here." 

Gus grinned. "I guess it always has been quiet in Clayton Junction. 
I hate to leave you, Frank, but this damned town . . . I've never liked 
the place. It's too poky. You can't get ahead here. I want to live where 
things are happening. I want to make something of myself." 

"You'll stay in the newspaper business?" 

"Maybe. I don't exactly know what I want. I want to be well, 
damn it important. Like a politician making a speech. Only not that. 
But I want to have things happening and to be helping make them 
happen. I want my hand in the pie." 

"Just one thing," Frank grinned. "Don't get your hand sticky or 
stained. You won't, of course. But remember, you can always come 
back here. You get a few years on a big paper, and maybe editing the 
Tribune won't look so bad." 

Gus nodded. "It sounds like sense." 

It didn't, of course, sound like sense; but he was grateful to Frank 
and he wanted to humor him; and besides, it was always well to have 
an ace in the hole. 

Gus would work on the Tribune for the remainder of the week, so 



GUS THE GREAT 163 

presently he left the office to visit news sources. Frank picked up his 
book, but he had lost interest in the manners and morals of ants. He 
sat smoking, smiling, but it was only the shell of a smile, for he felt 
sad and somewhat befuddled. In the past year Gus had relieved him 
of more and more editorial duties, and now he would have to hire 
somebody else, for he didn't relish going back to gathering news him- 
self. As he grew older he found it harder to get around, with his bad 
leg, and as his mental world expanded his physical world contracted. 
The office, the shop, a little stroll to the post office that was his life. 
The rut of living had become a deep canyon. 

He had grown to love the familiar and to dread change; and Gus's 
leaving was a rockslide in the canyon of his life. But he didn't blame 
the boy. A frisky colt always wanted to kick up its heels and jump 
into greener pastures. For a long time he had sensed the boy's restless- 
ness and realized he would be drawn to Tamarack. Gus's restlessness 
and bitterness against Clayton Junction had been intensified by that 
incident of the Junior-Senior banquet. 

It was trivial enough an older person would have shrugged it off 
but Gus was only sixteen at the time, with all the self-doubts and sensi- 
tivity of adolescence. By sheer force of character and animal magnetism 
(and perhaps a little behind-scenes maneuvering) Gus had got himself 
elected president of his high school class, and this meant he would serve 
as toastmaster at the spring banquet the juniors tendered the seniors at 
a restaurant in Tamarack. 

In March of that year a family named Bryant had moved to town, 
Cyrus Bryant having purchased the Fair Store from the man who 
owned it after Isaac Goldstein. The Bryants had a daughter named 
Norma who entered Junior Class. She was an attractive little thing, 
and sometimes Gus walked home from school with her, and he was 
forever dragging her name into supper table conversation. Frank was 
delighted to see him taking an interest in a nice girl instead o strolling 
down the railroad and into the woods with that section hand's daughter, 
Beulah Murray, who had quit school in seventh grade. 

Some ten days before the banquet there was a hayrack picnic into 
the country, and Gus and Norma paired oflf, eating together and maybe 
discovering favorable qualities in the full moon. Usually at class parties 
Gus had been attentive to Madge Goodwin, daughter of a conductor 
who had served thirty years on the Chicago, Tamarack & Pacific. But 
since Norma moved to town, he had lost interest in Madge. 

But Madge had not lost interest in Gus, so next day Madge's mother 
paid a social call on Norma Bryant's mother and filled her full o local 
history, devoting particular attention to the life and loves of Doll Bur- 
goyne. This alarmed Norma's mother. She had no wish to awaken 
some morning and find herself an illegitimate grandmother. So Mr, 



164 GUS THE GREAT 

and Mrs. Bryant instructed Norma never to stroll from school again 
with the son of that hussy, Doll Burgoyne; and Norma wept and 
made bitter remarks about Madge Goodwin, but in the end she prom- 
ised not to flirt with Gus any more. The situation was painful because 
she had promised to attend the Junior-Senior banquet as his partner. 

Dissembling was foreign to Norma's nature, and next afternoon 
when she told Gus she couldn't allow him to escort her to the banquet, 
and he demanded to know why, she said her parents wouldn't let her. 
Gus's shrewd mind was instantly suspicious, and he pounded away for 
an explanation. Poor Norma went to pieces, and at last, blushing 
furiously, she confessed that Madge's mother had told her mother that 
Gus's mother had been fast. 

Gus was furious, raging into the Tribune office, smashing his school- 
books to the floor. His anger had an Olympian quality, as if only the 
anger of the gods were sufficient to arm him against the opprobrium 
of the world. He was not going to the banquet. He was quitting 
school. He would tie a few belongings into a bandanna and hop a 
freight for nowhere. If society insisted upon regarding him as its 
enemy, he would show it. Society would wish it had never started the 
quarrel. Gus swore horrible oaths that day, and he declared he wished 
he had never been born. 

Wise old Frank permitted the storm to blow itself out. He realized 
this was a crucial hour in Gus's ascent toward manhood. As an urchin 
Gus had resorted to fisticuffs when some boy taunted him. But he 
couldn't do that now. Growing up had disarmed him. 

Gus stamped out of the office, disappearing beyond the cases of type, 
and Frank found him back in their living quarters, face-down on the 
bed, fists clenched. Frank lighted his pipe, and at last he said: 

"You're taking it too hard. There's no disgrace in being a love child. 
How many of those kids in your class do you suppose were planned 
for? I'd make you a bet that not one was, only there's no way to settle 
a bet like that. If we'd go around asking their parents questions like 
that they might think we were nosey ." 

Silence from the bed. 

"You've got to take the long view. Your mother was never married 
to your father. What of it? If you'd been born a Mohammedan your 
dad would have had all the wives he could handle. And in some civili- 
zations your mother would have had a dozen husbands. Either way, 
you would have been perfectly respectable." 

Silence from the bed. But a listening silence. 

"Well, just because your father and mother happened to meet in 
Clayton Junction you were born illegitimate. All that means is that 
this town has certain tribal customs, and your parents disregarded those 
customs. So the town is mad. Tribal law has been broken. That hasn't 



GUS THE GREAT 165 

a damned thing to do with moral law whatever moral law is. You 
ought to read Nietzsche. It would give you the long view." 

Gus turned on the bed. 

"I knew your father and mother. They were fine people. And they 
were strong. Did they let the tribal law of a stinking little railroad 
town hamper them? Of course not. They had passions and they satis- 
fied them. They had courage. They were vigorous, healthy people 
and when nature told them to go into each other's arms they obeyed. 
And for my money that's a damned sight better than if your dad had 
sneaked off to Rafferty Street and your mother had withered up into 
one of these bleak spinsters." 

Gus sat up. "You make me feel better," he said. 

"I should think so! You've got the world by the tail, Gus. You 
were a love child, and that means you inherited a strong body from 
those strong parents of yours. And a strong will, too. The thing to 
do is to hold up your chin and face down the town. They can take 
you or leave you, and you don'i give a damn which. You've got a brain 
and you're going places, and some day they'll point to that saloon and 
say that Augustus Howard Burgoyne was born up there." 

Gus grinned. "By God, I'll show them!" 

"Of course you will! Make them swallow their own medicine. If 
you'd go on the bum, that would please them. They'd know then they 
had you licked. And if you wouldn't go to that banquet they'd know 
you were licked. Well, are you going to let them lick you?" 

"No," Gus said, "I'm not. Ill show them." He arose, squared his 
shoulders, stuck out his jaw. 

Frank would have been the first to admit that he had presented his 
arguments from the furthest possible extreme. But he felt he had 
to use strong words to counteract the whisperings of the town. 

From that afternoon onward Gus wore the armor of a conqueror. 
His jaw shouted he would show the town. But Frank suspected that 
inside the armor there lived a growing boy, wounded and troubled. 

He didn't quit school and he attended the banquet and his quips as 
toastmaster made the long table giggle. Frank helped him prepare 
for the occasion, leaning heavily on a copy of The Complete Ajter- 
Dinner Speaker, said to be endorsed by Chauncey Depew. 

When Gus returned from the banquet he was glowing with success, 
and already he was planning further success: he would work up an 
oration to deliver next year at graduation which would sweep the audi- 
ence off its feet. He remained bitter against the town, but never again 
did he rage into the office and explode about some cut. Sometimes, 
however, he returned from school in silence. And Frank was troubled 
to note that he no longer asked nice girls to be his partner at social 



i66 GUS THE GREAT 

functions. He began seeing Beulah Murray again., and during the 
spring of his senior year he went to Raflferty Street for the first time. 
Frank had grown to feel like a father toward Gus, with a father's 
protective instincts, but he scarcely felt himself in a position to forbid 
Gus's adventures on that rosy thoroughfare. However, he taught him 
to be careful. 

On that long-ago day when Frank learned that Tim Mahoney had 
skipped out, a hunch told him Gus might live on at the Tribune. Im- 
mediately, he wrote Lucy, recounting her husband's departure and 
mentioning how furious certain people in Clayton Junction were. 
These people were Tim's creditors. 

Business in that town was conducted in dawdling fashion, with busi- 
nessmen maintaining charge accounts at one another's establishments 
that dragged along for an entire year. When the first of January 
arrived, a grand settlement took place. Ordinarily, Tim Mahoney 
might not have been considered a good enough risk to receive long- 
term credit, but inasmuch as he owned a business his charge accounts 
were never questioned. 

The merchants whom he owed hundreds of dollars never dreamed 
he would secretly sell the saloon, including as assets the money they 
owed him; nor did the liquor wholesalers expect him to sell out so 
abruptly, listing as inventory unpaid-for cases of whiskey, gin, brandy. 

All in all, it was a cunning stroke of chicanery. Tim had duped 
the purchaser, a lumbering German named Schmidt, by explaining 
that the negotiations should be secret so that his wife, who opposed 
the sale, would not get wind of it. Mr. Schmidt, who believed fervently 
that a woman should be kept in her place, was delighted to oblige. 
He was red-necked with fury when he learned that the liquor whole- 
salers expected him to pay Tim's bills, and that the merchants had 
agreed among themselves not to settle the accounts against them on the 
saloon's books. 

As the news leaked out about how completely Tim had gulled every- 
body, Frank wrote further letters to Lucy, advising her to remain in 
New York till the scandal blew over. She needn't fret about Gus. He 
was enjoying himself at the Tribune office, and Frank would be de- 
lighted to have him live on there. 

Lucy replied with bewildered, tearful missives, filled with such state- 
ments as, "It seems too terrible to be true, the way things have turned 
out," and "Oh, Frank, I miss Gus so much. You'll keep him from 
playing down along the railroad, won't you?" 

And during the next years Frank even had a few secret letters from 
Doll. "I wasn't a bit surprised," she wrote, "to hear what Tim did. 
Isn't that just like that skunk?" And later: "Sis isn't feeling a bit well. 
She worries all the time and her stomach keeps bothering her." And 



GUS THE GREAT 167 

later still: "I've had a doctor for Sis. He says it's serious. She looks 
terrible, Frank, and she's always worrying about Gus. Me, I tell her 
that's foolish. I know that Gus is in good hands as long as he's with 
you." 

And then at last Doll wrote a long letter, describing in some detail 
Lucy's death and her funeral. "It would have been nice to take her 
back to Sioux Creek and lay her to rest in the family plot with Papa 
and Mamma, but I guess it doesn't make any difference to her now, 
where she is. It seemed so far back to Sioux Creek, and I would have 
had to go along, and I just didn't want to face all those people, Frank. 
Maybe I didn't even want to see you. You know what I mean. We're 
both older and I think it's better to remember each other the way we 
used to be. Maybe you think I haven't been all I should be, Frank, 
and I don't suppose I have, but I want you to know that I think a lot 
about the good times we used to have together. Wasn't Vince a jolly 
man? And now he's gone, too. It seems so sad that good people like 
Sis and Vince have to pass on, and skunks like Tim Mahoney are still 
alive. I'd like to get my hands on him! Sis told me the way he treated 
Gus. But wasn't it funny how you managed to get Gus away from 
him? I thought I'd die laughing. 

"Usually I enjoy myself here, but sometimes I get the blues and I 
don't like New York at all I think how nice it would be to live out 
there again, maybe on a little place in the country with you and Gus. 
Just dreams, of course. I guess we can't have everything, and I suppose 
it wouldn't be long till I'd want to see a good show again. I don't sup- 
pose Td know Gus now if I'd see him on the street, and he wouldn't 
know me. Isn't life queer? It's hard to believe I have a twelve-year-old 
son. Gee, that would date me, wouldn't it? I've stopped telling my 
age. Most people think I'm about twenty-six." 

Frank read that letter many times, and when he replied he enclosed 
his check for funeral expenses. He could afford gestures like that, for 
his stock in the typesetting machine was yielding phenomenal returns. 

As gently as possible, Frank broke the news of Aunt Lucy's death 
to Gus. They were sitting in the office, and Frank was astonished- at 
the calloused way Gus took it. "Uncle Tim's fault," he said. "He 
killed her. Always worrying her." Gus's young face was set in grim 
lines. Presently, with a "what of it?" manner, he tramped outdoors to 
play. Frank sighed. Gus was a hard little hickory nut. But a few 
minutes later, when Frank limped back to their living quarters, he 
discovered that Gus had sneaked in by the back door and was lying 
on the bed, weeping bitterly. 

If child labor laws had been made retroactive to the 1890*3, Frank 
would never have been punished for the hours he worked his printer's 



i68 GUS THE GREAT 

devil. During those first years, Gus spent about as much time in the 
shop as other children spent practicing their piano lessons. His quick 
rnind and chubby hands soon learned the typecase alphabet, and as 
he grew older he took pride in his speed at setting type. By and by he 
learned to work at the composing stone, to fill the forms and justify 
a page. He had tremendous stamina: it was impossible to work him 
hard enough to exhaust him. With his great store of animal energy, 
he would doubtless have ventured into all kinds of scrapes had it not 
been for his work in the shop. 

By the time he was eighteen, he could have drawn better wages as 
a printer than as a reporter on the TarnaracJ^ Beacon. But he wasn't 
so much interested in present wages as in advancement. He realized 
that a reporter associated on terms of equality with bank robbers and 
bank presidents, with thieves and senators, with idiots and college 
professors, and learned to distinguish one from the other; and he felt 
that if he walked where the winds of opportunity were blowing he 
would be bound to sniff the scent of riches. After he joined the staff 
of the Beacon he worked like a drayhorse. And the question that 
flamed day and night in his mind was how to get ahead. 

His tastes were expensive; he liked to buy clothes at the best tailor's 
and haberdashery at the smartest shops; and while he might snatch 
lunch at cheap hashhouses he dined in style. He took to smoking cigars 
rolled from rich Havana leaf. When he went out with young ladies 
he liked to rent a dashing rig with matched chestnuts and drive about 
the city on Sunday afternoons. He bought evening clothes, a top hat. 
His only economy was his living quarters : when he moved to Tama- 
rack he rented a room near the business district and he continued 
living there. Having been born above a saloon and reared in the back 
of a print shop, he was not dissatisfied with his small bedroom in a 
district of raffish lodgmghouses. He didn't spend many hours m his 
room, anyway* He wanted to use money where it would show. 

After six months as a reporter he demanded a salary rise, and an- 
other at the end of a year. These were granted, not because his copy 
was so excellent but because he was a first-rate news gatherer. He 
covered his beat exhaustively; he was seldom scooped; and every now 
and then he nosed out a scandalous story that marched across page 
one like a black-and-white polecat. In those days three newspapers 
served Tamarack; it was dog eat dog; and to the managing editor any 
reporter was dear who would dig out circulation-boosting news. Once, 
with an election approaching, Gus cracked politics wide open with his 
discovery of a shortage in the county treasurer's office. His method in 
unearthing governmental disgraces was simple: he would consider a 
certain official and ask himself what he would do if he were in that 
official's shoes. Then he would start snooping, and often he turned 



GUS THE GREAT 169 

up something interesting. At the end of his second year he received 
his fourth salary increase. This helped anoint his conscience after the 
stab it received when, as a result of one story, a minor official put a 
bullet through his temple. 

But even with his salary rising, he couldn't have lived in his dashing 
bachelor manner had it not been for other sources of income. One was 
Frank. Now and then Gus returned to Clayton Junction for a short 
visit, and when Frank asked how he was making out financially he 
always complained of the frightful time he was having. He empha- 
sized his economy in living in a down-at-the-heels lodgmghouse; he 
spoke of the expense one incurred eating out constantly. Frank usually 
gave him some currency to help him along. 

After working on a city daily, Gus smiled at the Clayton Junction 
Tribune. 

"You ought to get some new type faces," he told Frank one after- 
noon in 1901. "Or one of these typesetting machines. We use them 
exclusively on the Beacon now." 

"Do you think they're practical?" 

"Practical! They're as practical as a politician kissing babies." 

"I don't know/' Frank said. "Vmce Fye never thought much of 
them." 

"Vince Fye! My Lord! What did Vince know about them? An old 
tramp printer who couldn't hold a job in these times if he had to!" 

"He was good company, though. Sometimes I miss him around 
here." 

Gus never convinced Frank he should purchase a typesetting ma- 
chine. Oh well, he thought, riding the streetcar back to Tamarack, 
maybe Frank was happier this way, operating a little shop in a one- 
horse town. He had great affection for Frank, more affection than for 
any other mortal. Taking him in when his own mother didn't want 
him. But he mustn't think about his mother or he'd start brooding. 
Slam the door on the past; that was best." It was the future that inter- 
ested him, that shining land. 

When Gus started as a reporter everybody liked him. But presently 
other reporters found he was so ambitious and hard-working that he 
showed them up. They were vagrant fellows who had worked on 
papers all over the country, and they had the souls of magnificent 
loafers, but while they yarned about famous beats and gigantic hoaxes 
Gus was hard at work digging up stories. It was damaging to their 
solidarity to have a reporter so damned energetic. 

At first, Gus had been well liked also on his Series of beats. But 
gradually the affection in which politicians held turn was more sham 
than actual. His appearance in their offices was the signal for the skele- 
tons in their closets to begin clog-dancing. Damn it, why couldn't he 



170 GUS THE GREAT 

be easy-going like these other reporters? Everybody realized that to an 
officeholder elasticity of conscience was as essential as a firm handclasp, 
but this cocky devil was liable to sneak up behind you and snap the 
elastic of your conscience as if it were your suspenders. Damn him, 
you thought, smiling broadly and booming, "Hello, Gus! How's the 
boy?" 

When Gus took over the city hall beat in his third year on the 
Beacon, insomnia became fairly common among the city fathers. In 
September 1901, the streets commissioner had an especially restless 
night. The commissioner's duties included the purchase of sewer pipe, 
and one morning a salesman called at his office. After a pleasant chat, 
the salesman pointed to a diamond stickpin he was wearing. 

"What do you think of this pin?" he asked. 

The commissioner thought it handsome. 

Whereupon the salesman took it off and tossed it to the desk. 

"You can have it," he said. "I don't like it." 

The commissioner protested mildly, but the salesman was adamant; 
he had experienced bad luck, he said, ever since he purchased it; if 
the commissioner didn't take it he was going to toss it into the river. 

Well! In that case! 

The salesman thanked him. It was surely a relief to be rid of the 
damned thing. Then the salesman arose, beckoned the commissioner 
to the office window and pointed to a fine horse and buggy hitched 
to a post. 

"Just look at that,'* the salesman said. "A fellow offered me that rig 
at a bargain. I bought it, and now I'm stuck with it. I live in Chicago 
and think of the expense of shipping it. Want it?" 

The salesman left the office with a huge order. 

Gus was lingering in the outer office, and when the door opened he 
shielded himself behind a newspaper. He departed soon after the 
salesman, and followed him to his hotel. The commissioner's secretary 
had been so skillfully pumped that he scarcely realized he had informed 
Gus Burgoyne that the commissioner was about to purchase pipe. 

A bar adjoined the hotel lobby and naturally, after such a sizable 
order, the salesman visited the place. And first thing he knew he was 
chatting with a young fellow who said his name was Gus Perkins 
and whose occupation was hardware drummer for a St. Louis house. 
Following their discussion of baseball and horse racing and women, 
they drifted around to talking shop. Gus spoke of the difficulties of 
his calling. You were always having to pass out quarts of Scotch to 
purchasing agents. 

The salesman laughed. Compared with the difficulties he faced, 
Gus's tribulations were as peanuts. You can't mean it, Gus said. But 



GUS THE GREAT 171 

he did mean it, the salesman said: he would tell Gus something that 
would open his eyes. 

" That afternoon, Gus dropped in for a chat with the commissioner. 
No, there was no news. 

"I understand you've bought sewer pipe," Gus said. "Might use a 
story about that." 
.The commissioner didn't think it consequential. 

"You got bids, I suppose?" 

It amounted to the same thing, the commissioner said. He had 
talked to a number of salesmen and had given the order to the one 
whose product was cheapest when you considered quality. 

"I see. And now I'd like a look at your new stickpin. And when do 
I get a ride in that new buggy?" 

The commissioner had flowing mustaches, hard eyes. His mustaches 
didn't twitch or his eyes flicker. But he did change the subject abruptly. 

"When's your birthday, Gus?" 

"Next month." 

"Drop in tomorrow morning. I've been planning a birthday surprise 
for you, and you might as well have it." 

Next morning he handed Gus an envelope, and wished him a happy 
birthday. The envelope contained two hundred dollars. Gus thanked 
him gravely; it was nice to have one's friends remember one's birthday. 

"By the way," the commissioner said, "about that sewer pipe. I 
hardly think it's worth a story." 

Gus shook his head. 

"No," he said, "it wouldn't interest the public. Just routine." 

"That's rightjust routine," the commissioner said. 

Chances like that didn't come every month, but in the course of a 
year Gus's side-line pickings were considerable. Even honest politicians 
and Gus thought of these as politicians who hadn't been caught 
remembered him on his birthday and at Christmas. They considered 
it money well spent, like an insurance premium. And once the mayor 
tipped him off that a fine, wide street was to be cut through a certain 
shabby area, and guided by the mayor's forefinger'* on the city plat he 
bought some weedy lots. A few months later the city condemned these 
and Gus tripled his money. 

After becoming a reporter he never dreamed of paying his way into 
a theater, for the managers saw to it that passes reached the newspapers, 
and when he was city editor it was his habit to sell six or eight of these 
to a scalper. He had an annual streetcar pass too; and when he visited 
Chicago he spoke to the traffic manager of the Chicago, Tamarack & 
Pacific and found it unnecessary to purchase a ticket. Nor was Mr. 
Oxenford the first man who paid Gus to act as secret press agent. ! 



172 GUS THE GREAT 

Perhaps the ethics of these extra trickles of income were open to 
question, but Gus's conscience gave him no qualms. Certainly the 
theater passes were legitimate enough, and it was an era when rail- 
roads showered passes on politicians and even ministers. And the most 
respected business leaders were glad to turn a quick profit when they 
received an inside tip that the city was to advance in an unthought-of 
direction. And if politicians wished to use a fraction of their boodle 
to buy him suits and boxes of cigars, who was he to injure their feelings 
by refusal? 

Gus's work took him into a half-world where everybody was on the 
make, where his best friends were paying graft or receiving it, where 
the police themselves flouted the law in their methods of practical 
criminology. Nothing was ever as it seemed. Behind every big news 
story there was another story never printed. It was the fag end of the 
Victorian Age, and everybody was conspiring to give life a highly 
respectable air. It reminded Gus of the plays he attended at the Para- 
gon: the plush-and-gilt seats, the showy boxes, the play full of lofty 
notions and punctilio; and backstage the bare walls and canvas flats. 
Well, he worked backstage. 

Even if Gus had been endowed with a sharp ethical sense, he would 
have found it trying to determine which gifts were legitimate and 
which were bribery. It never occurred to him that he might be drifting 
into expediency and opportunism. He took life as he found it, and 
when, in June 1902, the managing editor offered him the city desk, at 
the very nerve center of the paper, he accepted with gusto. 

He plowed into the job head down. He was getting places, now. 
At the first clang of his alarm clock he jumped from bed, gulped break- 
fast, bustled to the office. He sat in shirt sleeves, booming orders, 
cooking up stories with reporters. He was a skilled judge of local news, 
and his years as a reporter had given him precisely the recondite and 
irrelevant-seeming information that a city editor needed : whether the 
person involved was a power in town, whether he was an advertiser, 
whether the person's wife was a friend of the owner's wife. And of 
course his promotion did not cut off his side income; it augmented it. 
Now, instead of covering one beat, he covered in effect all beats. The 
Beacon was outstripping its competitors; it was Tamarack's great 
family newspaper; and everybody desired its city editor's favor. He 
had real power now, and he loved it, but 

But he found himself dissatisfied. After his first elation at getting 
the job, he looked back with yearning on his reporting days. A be- 
numbing amount of drudgery accompanied his authority. He read 
copy till his eyes ached, and each day wave after wave assaulted the 
promontory where he ruled; reporters asking questions; people want- 
ing news suppressed; people wanting unnewsworthy stories printed. 



GUS THE GREAT 173 

Till late afternoon he was a prisoner at his desk, bolting sandwiches 
while he worked and calling it lunch, making snap decisions that 
might mean a huge loss or gain in circulation or advertising. And 
there was the average amount of hell from the managing editor and 
the front office. 

What did he want? He asked himself that, lying in bed at night, 
nerves exhausted. Well, he wanted to work for himself. Nobody over 
him. And he wanted work that would be lively and colorful. And he 
didn't, he realized now, want to remain a newspaper man. He sensed 
great capabilities lying fallow within himself, great energies frittered 
away in judging news made by other men. He wanted to make news 
himself. 

During the last year he had gained weight and he looked older than 
twenty-two. He wasn't fat, but his frame had filled out. His eyes were 
wise and old beyond their years, they had seen so much : fires, arrests, 
hangings, the deft fingers of gamblers, the cheaply jeweled fingers of 
madams, stinking jails, smudgy political conventions, the cesspools and 
ash heaps and sewers of his era. All of it that had once seemed so 
amusing and significant flitted across his memory as he turned in bed, 
seeking sleep. 

He was in this state of mind when he met a man from Winchester, 
Missouri, who owned a half-dozen elephants. 

Elephants! 

Despite his salary increases and his side income, Gus had saved no 
money. And so when, at that historic dinner with Ivan Pawpacker, 
he discovered that owning a circus was within possibility if only you 
possessed capital, he experienced momentary despair. But only mo- 
mentary. He would get capital, somehow. Save it, if he had to. 

As he sat in the General Grant Hotel, listening to Pawpacker talk 
offhandedly about zebras and elephants, Gus found himself gripped 
by tremendous excitement. A circus! 

Why hadn't he thought of a circus during the past weeks when he 
lay sleepless and imagined leaving newspaper work for other voca- 
tions? How blind he had been! He remembered now the circus which 
visited Clayton Junction when he was a boy of ten. The night before 
its arrival he slept lightly, and at 3 A.M. he hurried into his clothes 
and left the Tribune office. Memory flashed that early morning back 
to him, the cool dew on the board walks, the brilliance of the morning 
stars, the stealth of the slumbering town, the velvety blackness of dust 
between his toes as he trudged along the road leading north. 

He lingered where the road forked east and west, almost painfully 
happy with anticipation. Darkness had purified the air, and wild 
flowers and grasses and growing corn scented it. Night insects clicked 



174 GUS THE GREAT 

and trilled, and up the valley far away a railroad engine moaned. At 
that unaccustomed hour even such a familiar sound was wrapped in 
mystery. 

Presently darkness drained from the sky, and in the east gray light 
oozed upward, boldly contouring the wooded hills that bounded Tama- 
rack. But Gus stared west, his heart beating at the thought of a circus 
approaching along that rooster-crowing road. 

With the dawn other small boys arrived, chattering, boasting, daring, 
scuffling. But Gus stood apart and aloof, like a rehgieux in matinal 
contemplation. 

The stars had vanished and the air was ruddy when he heard the 
faint truckling of distant wheels. He bounded west along the road, 
his shadow leaping wildly up the low hill over the rosy dust. At the 
crest he beheld it coming : a scene that ever afterward ornamented his 
memory. Spread out before him was the pastoral valley the cool green 
of a meadow, miles of dew-bright corn, And ascending the road from 
a wooden bridge came the circus; wagons with golden wheels and 
glittering mirrors; wagons scrolled and gaudy, as if the designers had 
striven to outdo the opulent and ostentatious palaces of the merchant 
princes of the iSSo's, and had magnificently succeeded. 

As bedazzled as a beggar child at a coronation, he backed into the 
roadside weeds and stared at the procession flourishing past. He 
wanted to wave and cheer. But he just stood in his overalls, trying to 
swallow the lump in his throat, wondering why in this moment of 
overwhelming happiness he felt like tears. A driver grinned at him; 
a blowzy woman yelled something unfriendly from her buggy; it made 
no difference. The wand had been waved, the lamp rubbed, the dream 
born. 

The day was a trance; a blue and sunny memory to hoard against 
dark winter afternoons in an ill-lighted schoolroom. Armed with the 
passes the Tribune received, he attended both the afternoon and the 
evening performances. He laughed, he caught his breath, he admired; 
but nothing inside the tent equalled that moment in the flawless morn- 
ing. It returned to him bright and untarnished long after the rams of 
autumn filled the stake holes. Behind his spelling book, he was never 
a clown or a trapeze performer: he was an owner. It was not the ring 
alone that fascinated him; it was the circus complete. His Grand- 
father Burgoyne's yearning for the light-opera stage; Gus Phelan's love 
of the railroad business, with the excitement of clanging bells and 
tracks to far places; Doll's passion for freedom and splurge; the circus 
satisfied all those calls in his blood. 

"Well, Gus what are you going to be when you grow up?" 

You didn't reply, "A circus man." Not after you entered your teens, 
you didn't; it sounded childish. Even Frank used to chuckle when he 



GUS THE GREAT 175 

said it; so he stopped saying it; and after a time he stopped dreaming 
it. The world was a workaday place, and upon threat o ridicule it 
demanded that growing boys fix their eyes upon an occupation familiar 
and understandable. Whoever heard of becoming a circus owner? 
Might as well announce you were going to become a balloonist or a 
poet. 

So Gus was going into newspaper work. Of course. He was learn- 
ing printing, wasn't he? 

But somewhere the dream lived on. 

The dream was fine old wine that had gathered strength and flavor 
during its forgotten years in a cobwebby cellar,, and tonight it ran 
sparkling through his arteries and set loose visions in his head* No 
circus could ever be so fine as the one that tinkled now between the 
hedgerows of his imagination. No elephant could loom so heroic; and 
never again would words whisper with such subtle lure as these that 
hung magically in the cigar smoke: the Hagenbecks of Hamburg . . , 
Bengal tigers . . . Borneo . . . 

Gus looked at his watch. 

"It's a quarter of nine. Shall we go on out to Oxenford's?" 

They walked through the lobby, Burgoyne and Pawpacker. 

Often Gus looked back on the evening he dined with Ivan Paw- 
packer and met Flora Oxenford as the most significant one of his life. 
He could never recall just when the idea of marrying Flora occurred 
to him. He hardly believed it was when they were sitting in Samuel R. 
Oxenford's library, drinking coffee and eating cakes, although his in- 
terest in Flora was already piqued. 

He was elated that evening. The elephant deal was closed. Accord- 
ing to plan, Pawpacker priced the bull named Molly at fourteen and a 
quarter. A growl fought its way through Samuel Oxenford's whiskers : 
too much. So they dickered. Both Pawpacker and Oxenford had 
highly developed trading instincts, and they enjoyed themselves im- 
mensely, flying at each other like sparrows disputing a slice of bread. 
At last, still according to plan, they settled for thirteen seventy-five. 
Gus couldn't help beaming. This meant he had two hundred and 
fifty dollars credit with Pawpacker, and it meant all the future excite- 
ment of the elephant's coming and being installed in Funland Park. 
And then Flora Oxenford entered the room, all bosom and hips in 
her white shirtwaist and blue skirt, and there was that instant of em- 
barrassment when Oxenford said they didn't need coffee and cakes, 
and Gus galloped to her rescue. 

She looked at him thankfully, and he did not find her unattractive. 
The excitement of having a young man in the house had dissipated 



176 GUS THE GREAT 

her lethargy. Posterity's demand for life brought warmth to her face. 
Her brown, cowlike eyes did not seem stupid; they seemed innocent. 
And in the gaslight her hair did not shriek its redness; it had overtones 
of reddish gold and undertones of reddish brown. 

He told her to go ahead and fix up the coffee and cakes, and to bring 
some for herself. She smiled and departed with a liquid swirling of 
skirts. Very feminine. 

While they waited, Oxenford discovered that Pawpacker among his 
other accomplishments had a sound knowledge of the stock market, 
and this delighted him. He was never happier than when discussing 
money. 

While they talked, Gus wandered about the room, too jubilant at 
the way the elephant deal had turned out to sit still. He stopped at 
the open window and drew the April darkness into his lungs; and he 
stood with hands in his pockets, teetering back and forth from toes 
to heels, musing about how far he had ascended the social scale since 
living in Clayton Junction. He remembered the time he had listened 
while Mr. Oxenford made a speech on the occasion of the first street- 
car's arriving from Tamarack. He had been a nobody then, and now 
he moved easily in one of the finest homes in Tamarack, smiled at by 
Oxenford's daughter. 

He wondered why she had never married. Perhaps she was engaged. 
He would investigate. He considered inviting her to attend the theater 
with him. That indeed would boost his self-esteem: escorting the 
daughter of a leading Tamarack businessman when back in Clayton 
Junction the parents of some girls didn't consider him suitable for their 
precious daughters. He considered extending an invitation to Flora 
this very evening, but timidity odd for him held him back. He 
would proceed slowly. If she were engaged and refused him, he would 
feel like a monkey. 

It was impossible for him to view Flora with ordinary objectivity. 
Even when she brought in the food-laden tray and smiled at him 
again he couldn't be certain whether it was a come-on or merely 
hospitality. He hurried over and helped her pass the coffee and cakes, 
but although he seemed to possess great assurance he had social self- 
doubts. She was more than a young woman: she was Samuel Oxen- 
ford's daughter. She lived in a fine house with servants. He had been 
born nothing; he was an adventurer; and she had been born into what 
the Beacon called (without a smile) Tamarack Society. Brilliant things 
coruscated about her face and hair: flashing dollar signs. 

Somehow that evening Flora managed to tap into the great cosmic 
fund of feminine wisdom; she acquitted herself very well. After they 
sat down with plates on their laps she said: 

"Tell me about this elephant matter. Have you really bought one?" 



GUS THE GREAT 177 

She didn't have to say much after that. She listened with admiration 
while Gus told how he had thought up the scheme to beguile the chil- 
dren of Tamarack into contributing dimes for the purchase of an ele- 
phant that would enhance the value of Funland Park. She said, "That's 
wonderful!" and "But how did you ever think of it?" Could he dream 
her stupid after such comments' 1 He recounted the story in detail, 
with some boasting and a good deal of laughter. Mr. Oxenford 
grinned, and Mr. Pawpacker smiled quietly. And at one point he said : 

"I think Gus is a natural-born showman. If he ever goes into show 
business he ought to make a killing," 

Mr. Oxenford perked up. "Is there money in show business?" 

"Do you think I'd be in it if there wasn't?" 

Mr. Oxenford's eyes took on that intent, piggy look that always came 
into them when money-making was discussed. 

"It's always seemed tomfoolery to me." 

"Tomfoolery to the tune of thousands." 

Mr. Oxenford lifted a saucer of coffee and supped noisily. 

"We ain't showing a profit on Funland Park." 

"You must have a poor manager then. You ought to find somebody 
like Gus to take it over. Somebody who would make it hum." 

Mr. Oxenford frowned at the saucer and blew on it. 

"It's beyond me/' he said, "why crazy people will pay out hard 
money to ride a merry-go-round. What does it get them ? Round and 
round. Their dime's gone and they're back where they started. I got 
where I am by watching my pennies. Thrift, Industry and Integrity. 
Those are the cornerstones." 

"What's the fourth one?" Pawpacker asked. 

"Fourth? There ain't no fourth." 

"A building without four stones to support it?" 

In Mr. Oxenford's whiskers a grin flicked, like a fox seen through 
brambles. 

"Maybe you're right," he said. "Guess the fourth is getting up before 
daylight and outsmarting the other feller." He supped the last of his 
coffee, scrutinized his dollar watch. "Land o' Goshen. Talk about 
getting up. Look at the time. Hour past bedtime." 

Flora wished for more lenient laws regarding murder. Mr. Paw- 
packer and Gus stood up. 

"We're sorry," Mr. Pawpacker exclaimed. "It's been such a pleasant 
evening I hadn't realized" 

"Didn't mean to keep you up," Gus boomed. "But it's certainly been 
nice." He paused at Flora]$ chair. "And you helped make it perfect, 
Miss Oxenford! A man gets tired of eating restaurant food. Talk 
about bachelors' buttons! They ought to have home-cooked meals 
for bachelors." 



178 GUS THE GREAT 

She knew then. He was unmarried. She didn't look at him. She 
looked at the wall. She murmured: 

"We always have something special to eat on Sundays. Maybe you'd 
like to come out for Sunday dinner." 

"I certainly would! Next Sunday?" 

She nodded. 

"I'll be here. Johnny-on-the-spot!" 

Perhaps it was while he slept that night that the thought of marrying 
her took shape in his unconscious. Certainly the thought of marrying 
him was in Flora's mind, and not her unconscious. She didn't sleep 
a wink. She lay in bed and planned and schemed and plotted. He 
mustn't get away. She must do the right things. He mustn't get away. 

He almost got away, but that was far in the future on that sunny, 
warm April Sunday when he whistled out Wellington Avenue to break 
bread with the Oxenfords. 

Shoulders back, he swung along briskly, thinking of the elephant 
that should be arriving within the month and of the credit he had ac- 
cumulated with Pawpacker. More than money credit too, for he was 
certain he had impressed Pawpacker as a young man who knew his 
way about. Had not Pawpacker advised Oxenford to find a new man- 
ager for Funland Park, somebody like Gus Burgoyne ? 

The last few days he had been considering himself as a possible 
manager of Funland, and he liked the idea. He knew the present man- 
ager slightly, a bald, derby-hatted, cigar-chewing man who was the 
brother-in-law of the former president of the street railway. When 
Oxenford's Tamarack & Northern purchased the street railway the 
manager of Funland had been retained, but Gus was certain he had 
never had any qualifications for the job save nepotism. 

Well, should he hit Oxenford for the job? He didn't think so. Let 
the present manager bungle along through another season. Let the 
seed Pawpacker planted have a chance to grow. If Oxenford broached 
the matter himself, Gus would be, he realized, in a better bargaining 
position He must move adroitly, dealing with an old fox like Oxen- 
ford. 

And he intended moving cautiously with Oxenford's daughter, too. 
She had invited him to Sunday dinner. That probably meant she liked 
him. But she wasn't like these girls you picked up on a saloon corner. 
She came from an important family. And he didn't want Oxenford to 
get any ideas that a fortune hunter was chasing his daughter. 

In the late noon sunshine the avenue gjattered and glittered with 
fine horses and shining carriages people returning from church and 
now and then from an open Victoria men nodded at Gus. Wealthy 
men, mustached or bewhiskered, wearing Prince Alberts and silk hats. 



GUS THE GREAT 179 

How solid and respectable they looked! But he knew facts in their 
lives about which their wives and families never dreamed. He returned 
their greetings, and he hoped he would be seen turning in at the Oxen- 
ford mansion. 

As he moved toward the veranda he squared his shoulders to cover 
the odd stage fright that sifted through his kneecaps. He never ex- 
perienced stage fright when meeting men like Oxenford in their offices; 
but this was different. This was a social occasion. He wished he could 
forget that Junior-Senior banquet. 

A maid admitted him to the reception hall; and by daylight the 
interior of the house impressed him even more than it had the other 
evening. The ceilings were lofty, and sunlight shafted in through 
lace-curtained windows that were as tall as he. A grand staircase 
ascended to forbidden regions, and perched on a newel a voluptuous 
woman cast in bronze (but modestly draped) held a candelabra aloft 
in a Statue of Liberty gesture. Alcoves with bay windows opened off 
the hall, and everywhere space lay wasted, pretentiously wasted. 

The maid ushered him into the parlor where he sat in a gold- 
brocaded chair and stole glances at himself in a huge mirror tall 
enough for a giant that was bordered in curling gold vines and 
whose top served as a perch for a gold American eagle. A minute 
passed quietly, save for faint sounds of dishes rattling in distant, muffled 
reaches. He sat looking at the dark, stupid oil paintings in heavy gold 
frames, at the chaste plaster busts of Diana and Juno, and his stage 
fright increased. Then again he glimpsed himself in the mirror: a 
wide-shouldered young man with an easy smile, He felt better. The 
hell with sitting like a guilty schoolboy. He stood up and moved about 
the room, scrutinizing the objects of what Mr. Oxenford's interior 
decorator had considered art. 

Then muffled footsteps sounded on the stairs and the master's yellow 
whiskers entered the room. 

"Hello, Gus. Why did that hired girl put you in here? Like a show- 
case, ain't it?" 

He led the way back to the library, and in that less formal chamber 
Gus regained his self-confidence. Presently Flora appeared, wearing 
a filmy, high-collared shirtwaist adorned with lace flower petals. Gus 
went to her in greeting, and when he took her extended hand he 
couldn't resist pressing it, despite his resolve to proceed slowly. A flush 
came to her cheeks, but he could tell she was not displeased. He felt 
even more sure of himself after that; and by the time dinner was over 
his stage fright had vanished. Skillfully, without appearing to, he 
dominated the conversation at the table, bringing it to such subjects 
as Funland Park and the money-losing manager. And then out of a 
clear sky Flora asked: 



i8o GUS THE GREAT 

"Papa, why don't you do what Mr. Pawpacker said and hire Mr. 
Burgoyne?" 

Mr. Oxenford had been bent over his plate, eating greedily, but at 
that suggestion he quickly lifted his head, his chewing mouth full of 
food, his brows lifted, his eyes alert. Was there surprise and suspicion 
in his gaze ? Gus couldn't tell. If there were he must quell it swiftly, so 
he shrugged and gave an easy laugh. 

"I'm a newspaper man. I don't know a merry-go-round from a 
Mary-had-a-httle-lamb." 

Mr. Oxenford emitted a short guffaw. He swallowed the food in 
his mouth and said: 

"Pawpacker seemed like a smart one to me." 

"I think he knows his business," Gus said. 

Flora was blushing again. After the words were out she realized 
that for some reason they were ill-advised. She must watch what she 
said. 

But as Gus talked on about other matters he kept considering Flora's 
remark and it buttressed his self-assurance. To make a suggestion like 
that she must be more than a little interested in him. He would like 
to talk to her alone. 

This was brought about without effort on his part. Following dinner, 
Flora mentioned that the yard looked beautiful at this time of the year, 
and asked if he would care to examine the garden. Out there, he sug- 
gested they attend the theater the following Wednesday evening, and 
she agreed without demur. And presently Gus was calling at the home 
on Wellington Avenue two or three times a week. 

The elephant arrived in May, and on the front page of the Beacon 
this did not go unheralded. Gus wrote the stories himself, casting them 
in the form of "Molly's Diary." Considering that she was a baby ele- 
phant, Molly wrote very tellingly. In daily installments she told of her 
journey in a boxcar from Winchester to Tamarack. She gave her im- 
pressions of Tamarack (most favorable) and urged all the boys and 
girls to be good children and to obey their elders. She was, she said, 
living quietly and happily in her new home at Funland Park. She 
would not, however, be receiving guests till the first Monday after the 
dismissal of school in June, when all the children were invited to the 
park, admission free, to make her acquaintance. 

"What's the idea of keeping her out of sight so long?" Oxenford 
demanded, one evening when Gus was calling on Flora. "Shadwell 
thinks we ought to show 'er off right away." 

Shadwell was park manager, and Gus seized his opportunity. 

"I'm afraid he missed on his showmanship when he said that. Don't 



GUS THE GREAT 181 

you see what we're doing by keeping her out of sight? Building up 
curiosity. Making them want to see her. That's showmanship !" 

"Uh," Oxenford admitted, "maybe you're right." 

"Of course I'm right!" , 

And Gus plunged into a discussion of showmanship, revealing the 
theories he had evolved about that spangled subject. Oxenford stroked 
his whiskers and listened acutely. He said: 

"I don't know much about such tomfoolery, but it sounds 'all right. 
Wish Shadwell had more gumption." 

"You just have to know human nature," Gus said. * 

"Then I wish he knew more human nature. Wish he was more 
like you." 

"Don't blame him. He hasn't had newspaper experience." 

Mr. Oxenford clawed his whiskers. "I've been thinking. I've been 
thinking it might be a good thing for the park if you'd take over." 

Gus laughed easily. 

"It might be good for the park, but how about me ? No, I couldn't 
afford to leave a job like mine to manage Funland." 

"Maybe you could. You ain't given the matter enough thought to 
know whether you could or couldn't." 

"No," Gus said, "I wouldn't be interested." 

Flora had been sitting placidly, and now she said: 

"I've never seen the elephant. Is it big?" 

"Not so big. But she's just a baby. She'll grow." 

"Do I have to wait till June to see her?" 

Gus looked at his watch. "It's early yet. We could see her tonight. 

Flora thought that would be wonderful, so they strolled north 
through the garden to a back gate that opened on Jefferson Avenue. 
Dusk lay there in heavy fragrance, and fireflies swarmed like renegade 
stars. The path was narrow and sometimes their bodies brushed. It 
was the most intimate they had been, for Gus was adhering to the 
broad strategy he had schemed out. 

Steel tracks gleamed on Jefferson Avenue, and presently a westbound 
car rumbled along. Gus's annual pass covered both their fares, and 
they sat on the rattan seat with the acrid odor of the electric motor 
in their nostrils. Funland Park had opened ten days ago, but appar- 
ently not many people were going there this evening; the car was 
scarcely a quarter filled. Gus had visions of himself as manager with 
streetcars loaded to their steps bringing customers. 

Flora gazed out the window at the arc lamps sputtering past. On 
their evenings together she never talked much, and what she said was 
matter-of-fact. He had found that after a few hours in her company 
an odd bleakness settled on his spirit. He couldn't understand it. He 
would leave his lodgings with a high heart and return faintly depressed. 



1 82 GUS THE GREAT 

He didn't blame her. He blamed his strategy. It was unnatural for 
two young people to be together and not so much as hold hands. After 
their aflair progressed to caresses everything would change. He could 
usually drive out his depression by telling himself he had been keeping 
company with one of the potentially richest girls in Tamarack. To- 
night, he found it stimulating to reflect that this streetcar was owned 
or at least controlled by Flora's father. The tracks beneath its 
wheels, the trolley wire above, the park to which they were going all 
controlled by her father. And her father wouldn't live forever, and she 
was an only rfiild. Fascinating, breathless thoughts! At times he un- 
shackled his imagination and let it run wildly into the future. He 
saw himself rich and powerful, holding in his big hands the streetcar 
company, Tamarack & Northern, Funland Park. Yes, and a circus. 
And ambitious boys in Clayton Junction High would muse how A. H. 
Burgoyne the traction magnate and circus magnate had attended 
this very school, had perhaps studied at this very desk. 

The car was nearly empty when they left it. The park occupied a 
block on the south side of the street, and they crossed the tracks to a 
gate where electric bulbs spelled out its name. Another pass took them 
through the turnstile. The manager's office stood near the ticket kiosk, 
and Gus glanced in that direction. He knew he could occupy that 
office if he wanted to. His stand-offishness was succeeding with Oxen- 
ford. His spirits soared. 

All the meretricious festivity of the park tasted like wine and meat 
to him. He stopped to light a cigar and he stood smiling, quaffing the 
festooned lights of the Ferris wheel, the pale glimmer of the skeletal 
roller coaster. In his ears were the faint click-click of the car wheels, 
the cries of the barkers, the tinny music of the merry-go-round. He 
smelled the porky odor of frying frankfurters. 

"By golly!" he exclaimed. "You can't beat it!" 

"It's nice," Flora said. 

"Wonderful' Beautiful! It's like life ought to be." 

And quite without warning his throat lumped, just as it had so 
many years ago when he stood in the roadside weeds and watched a 
little wagon circus wheeling toward Clayton Junction. He blinked, 
averted his head, suddenly ashamed. 

"What's the matter?" Flora asked. "Something in your eye?" 

"Cigar smoke. Got a little cigar smoke in my eyes." 

"That's too bad. Maybe you want to leave." 

"Leave! Oh no. We haven't seen anything yet. My eyes feel better. 
Just a little smoke." 

"Do you smoke much?" 

He laughed. "Not much more than a steamboat." 



GUS THE GREAT 183 

"I've heard it isn't healthy," she said. "I've heard it upsets the liver/' 

"Nothing wrong with my liver." 

"That's just what I've heard. That it upsets the liver." 

Irritation scratched him. Flora didn't sense it. She was a cow on a 
railroad staring unstartled at the steaming locomotive of his irritation. 
She mooed placidly: 

"Maybe you ought to see a doctor about it. Find out whether it 
harms your liver." 

He wanted to shout, "For God's sake, woman we're at a park to 
enjoy ourselves' And we were enjoying ourselves till you started 
talking about livers. You take care of your liver and 111 take care of 
mine!" 

But you didn't shout things like that at the daughter of Tamarack & 
Northern. 

"Let's go see the bull," he said. 

"Bull?" 

"Elephant. That's what circus people call elephants." 

"That's queer. Why do you suppose they do that?" 

"Because it fits them. They're big and slow and powerful like a bull. 
Romantic name." 

"Romantic?" she asked, not in argument but puzzlement 

He dropped the subject. He felt like a soaring balloon dragged back 
to earth. He felt depressed, alone. He had opened a door and invited 
her to share the beauty which he found in any phase of the entertain- 
ment business, and she talked about smoking too much and about 
livers. He was reminded suddenly of Frank MacGowan (old Frank 
he ought to run out and see him oftener). Frank with his smiling 
pronouncements about the bourgeois mind. 

He escorted her to a white barn at the northeast corner of the park. 
At their approach an attendant stood up from his tipped-back chair. 

"Good evening, Mr. Burgoyne. Back again. You sure like this bull, 
don't you?" 

"She's a good bull," Gus said. "Miss Oxenford would like to see her." 

"Don't go to any trouble," Flora said. 

The attendant took them within and snapped on a weak bulb. A 
partition between stalls had been knocked out to give the baby elephant 
more room. Molly was not much larger than a pony, and she stood 
swaying at her hobble, her loose hide the color of wet cement, her 
trunk weaving inquisitively. Gus walked over to her. 

"Be careful!" Flora exclaimed. 

"Why, this little girl and I are friends," Gus boomed. "Hello here, 
Molly! How's the girl?" 

He scratched her broad, flat ears. Molly lifted her trunk and opened 



1 84 GUS THE GREAT 

her yellow-white mouth and said, "Ah-h-h. . . ." Gus's laugh roared 
out. "Quite a girl! Quite a girl!" 

He felt better, now. His sense of romance returned. Months ago as 
secret press agent he had had a brainstorm, and it had brought dimes 
to the Beacon and Pawpacker to Tamarack and Molly to this barn. 
And the end was not yet. His big nostrils dilated and contracted: 
already Molly had scented the barn with an elephant smell. That was 
fine with Gus. He loved the smell. 

When he turned, he noticed Flora holding her handkerchief to 
her nose. 

"And now," Gus said, when they emerged from the barn, "let's do 
the place." 

He gestured largely at the falsely jeweled acres. 

"How about the roller coaster as a starter?" 

"Oh, I don't know. I don't believe so. They scare me." 

"Well then, the merry-go-round." 

"Do you think we should?" * 

"Why not? I've got passes." 

"You know what Papa thinks about merry-go-rounds." 

"He wouldn't care," Gus assured her, "so long as we don't spend 
money." 

"He hates to see money squandered, that's for certain. But if you're 
sure you've got passes " 

The merry-go-round looked beautiful to Gus. Deep inside, he was 
as excited as he used to be when he stood at the sitting-room window 
watching trains. His eyes and his faintly smiling mouth did not look 
hard now. 

They stood waiting for the next ride. The organ with its drums 
and cymbal filled the warm evening with lively tintinnabulation. Gus 
tapped a foot, and he drank in the lights and mirrors revolving past. 
When the merry-go-round halted he took Flora's elbow and hurried 
her toward it. 

She started to enter a sleigh. 

"Let's ride horses," he said. 

"Oh, I don't know. I don't think I should/* 

"Why not?" 

"I don't think it's very modest." 

"Modest? Why, all the girls" 

The ride was beginning, so there was no time for further argument. 
They sat in the sleigh like a sedate couple of middle age, and as the 
ride took them round and round Gus felt like a small boy compelled 
by a maiden aunt to avoid the spirited wooden horses. But his jaw 
was set, and he said: 



GUS THE GREAT 185 

"We'll ride horses, next time." 

"I don't know," Flora murmured, biting her underlip. "I don't think 
Papa" 

He could be diplomatic to a point, but only to a point. 

"No, your papa wouldn't like it. But you're not here with your papa. 
You're here with me." 

It struck her then that in some puzzling way she had angered him. 
She said hastily: 

"Anything you want, Gus. I'll ride a horse." 

So at the next pause they left the sleigh. The inside horse which 
Flora would ride waited with head flung impetuously high, and she 
approached it as tentatively as if it were a bronc. 

"I'll help you on," Gus said 

She would ride sidesaddle so she backed against it, and Gus inserted 
his hands into her armpits and gave her a boost. Against his wrists 
her breasts were momentarily smooth and buxom, and Flora blushed 
furiously. Gus swung astride the outside horse and they were off, 
prancing on a gay trip to nowhere. 

"Want another ride?" he called through the music. 

"I believe I've had enough." 

He helped her down, and she blushed again. Gus left the merry- 
go-round with many a backward glance. She didn't, she said, feel up 
to the exertion of the Fun House, that wicked place of distorting mir- 
rors and swaying floors. The Old Mill? Yes, she guessed so. 

They sat side by side in the gondola, carried on the narrow canal 
through mysterious blue-lit passages, and finally into the utter darkness 
which made the concession so popular with all the swains. Gus slipped 
his arm around her shoulders. She yielded against him, then stiffened 
away. He found her hand and held it. The palm was feverish and 
perspiring. When another blue-lit passage shone ahead she drew her 
hand away and he removed his arm, and by the time the gondola 
bumped into the incandescence of the loading platform they were as 
respectable as a good bank account. 

After that they took passage on the miniature railroad, hauled by 
the shrilly tooting locomotive on a tour of the grounds, and then Gus 
hefted a rifle at the shooting gallery and popped away at the moving 
ducks. His aim was poor, and when he extended the rifle to Flora 
she drew back. Oh, no, she wouldn't want to shoot a gun. Besides, 
it was getting late. 

They crunched along the gravel path, back toward the gate, the 
music of the merry-go-round tinkling farther and farther away. The 
manager's office was dark, the ticket kiosk closed. Gus paused and 
gazed back at the whirling lights. Again his eyes found a beauty in 



1 86 GUS THE GREAT 

the garish scene that a more educated taste might have found in a 
Cezanne. 

On the streetcar he experienced the melancholy which Flora's com- 
pany was likely to evoke. The evening was an airy little melody played 
off-key. He made a decision. He would take her into his arms and 
see if that would help. 

They left the car and fumbled through the gate into the dark garden. 
Fireflies still carried greenish lanterns through the perfumed air. Gus 
encircled her corseted waist and they walked slowly, hemmed together 
by the flowers on either side of the path. When they paused Flora 
was breathing heavily. Gus pulled her against him. His lips fought 
to her mouth. A long sigh escaped her; she swayed weak and heavy 
against him. After the kiss she moaned, "Oh 3 Gus. Oh, Gus." He 
kissed her again. She pulled away. 
"You shouldn't, Gus." 

"Why not?" 

"People shouldn't kiss unless they're engaged." 

So there it was where he could reach for it Tamarack & Northern, 
the streetcar company. 

"We should kiss," he said. 

"Does that mean " 

"We should kiss," he repeated, and before she could pin him down 
, he kissed her again. 

Then he led her toward the porte-cochere, where thin light strug- 
gled through the darkness from a street lamp. He did not meet her 
gaze. His eyes might reveal his indecision. When they kissed at the 
door, her arms went around him. 

"Gus," she whispered, "are we in love?" 

"Are we?" 

"I think ... I am ..." 

A shining cool lamp of decency flickered on in his conscience, but 
he equivocated. 

"That's your answer," he said. 

He disengaged himself; he wanted to think. 

"Gus," she said, "I hate to let you go." 

"I know ... I know . . . But tomorrow's a working day." 

"Gus. Would you like to manage the park?" 

"Maybe. I don't know." 

"Papa would like to have you. I know he would." 

"I don't know," he said. "Good night." 

He crossed the lawn to Wellington Avenue. He would walk home. 
Think. He would have to decide soon whether he wanted an engage- 



GUS THE GREAT 187 

merit. He had not thought the decision would be forced upon him. 
Maybe she had some of old Oxenford's foxmess, his acquisitiveness. 

And so now indecision set up a tug of war in his life. When he 
went to bed he tasted the stale beer of insomnia, and more and more 
he grew to hate the confinement of the city desk. The problem which 
he alone could solve was always heavy in his thoughts. 

No longer did he feel victory at going out with the daughter of a 
leading Tamarack businessman. It had seemed romantic and glorious 
for a young man from a seedy town like Clayton Junction to woo 
Oxenford's daughter, but it was devilish dull business. He continued 
writing "Molly's Diary/' but his anticipation of the great day when the 
children would see their pet became tepid. He walked his treadmill, 
watching the day come closer without interest. 

But the Beacon could not view the approach of that day without in- 
terest. As sponsor of the elephant, the Beacon felt duty-bound to point 
at itself with pride, to congratulate itself in print, to stuff its columns 
with comments from leading citizens about the service it had rendered 
the community. Feature stories were printed dealing with the lore of 
elephants: their longevity, their phenomenal memories. 

If Tamarack had been elephant-conscious during the dime-raising 
campaign, it was elephant-delirious now. Barbers discussed elephants 
from the morning's first haircut to the evening's last shave. Dentists 
said, "Open wider. This won't hurt. . . . Well, are you going to see 
the elephant Monday?" And every politician scrambled for a chair on 
the speakers' platform. 

The Beacons rival newspapers discovered themselves in a lamentable 
position. They tried ignoring the whole affair and watched their 
street sales plummet. They experimented with wry editorials and 
received outraged letters. The Chronicle published what purported to 
be an interview with Molly, and the Beacon screamed fraud: only its 
own reporters were welcome at Molly's quarters. 

Mr. Oxenford and the Beacon managing editor had agreed that Gus 
should serve as chairman of the arrangements committee, so by early 
June he was furiously busy. This pleased him : it provided excuses for 
avoiding the house on Wellington Avenue. Since that evening when 
Flora mentioned an engagement, he had called there only a couple of 
times. She gazed at him expectantly, as if at any instant he might go 
to his knees and ask her to become his wife; and embarrassment hung 
between them when he kissed her good night. She was plainly be- 
wildered at the cooling of his ardor. 

As chairman of the arrangements committee, it was necessary for 
him to attend the celebration at the park, so on that Monday morning 



i88 GUS THE GREAT 

he turned over the city desk to a copy reader and caught a streetcar. 
Above its cowcatcher, a brilliant placard announced : "Special To Fun- 
land Park." It was only nine o'clock and the program wouldn't begin 
till eleven, but the car was jam-packed with children and their parents, 
with uniformed members of a lodge band, with elderly men in full 
G.A.R. regalia. The Tamarack Retail Merchants' Association had 
agreed that this should be a half-holiday, and many stores had hung 
out flags. Even June had co-operated with deep blue sky, warm sun. 

Hanging on a car strap, listening to chatter and laughter, Gus felt 
his excitement about the occasion return. He loved crowds the way a 
Fourth of July orator or a concession-barker loved them; they stimu- 
lated and revivified him. He liked their smell: starched dresses and 
popcorn and body warmth and powder. He reflected that none of them 
would be on this car if he had not served as secret press agent. His 
brain had brought it all about. He basked in the thought, in the sense 
of power it gave him. 

And the warm dream of owning a circus came to him again. Every 
day from April to October would be like this : the crowds, the bands, 
the festivity. And always he would know it had all come from his 
brain. Oh, there was no doubt about it, he thought lightheartedly, 
marrying Flora Oxenford would bring its compensations. 

The masses of humanity swarming into Funland Park exceeded his 
expectations, exceeded everybody's expectations. Already the hitching 
posts outside the park were tethering their capacity of farmers' buggies 
and lumber wagons. When Gus left the car he gazed back along the 
line: he could count five more over-burdened cars crawling along. 
People, people. All here because he had said, "Buy an elephant." 

He stood in line, jostled through the turnstile. Although general 
admission was free the rides and concessions charged regular prices, 
and he could hear the spielers' voices rapturous at this bonanza. He 
could see the Ferris wheel with every seat filled, the merry-go-round 
tinkling joyously at its load, the tiny-looking people away up there in 
the roller coaster cars. You knew without looking when a car swooped 
down the first decline, because the girls always screamed. 

Political dignitaries were gathering outside the manager's office: 
beards, long mustaches, Prince Alberts, black-silk summer suits. Great 
activity yeasted there : Good Morning, Mayor . . . You're looking well, 
Commissioner , . . Glad to see you, Congressman. Gus joined them 
and they all pumped his arm with that brief, mechanical handshake 
of politicians who knew their paws would have a big day's work. 

Gus glanced into the office. Shadwell, the manager, was swiveled 
back in his chair looking pleased, as if he were responsible for the 
incoming tides of humanity. And another man was there. A fastidi- 
ously dressed man, sitting with a quiet smile, his gold-headed cane 



GUS THE GREAT 189 

gleaming. Ivan Pawpacker! Owner of elephants, tigers, spangled 
wagons! Gus boomed into the office. Well, well I Mr. Pawpacker! An 
unexpected pleasure! 

"You'll sit on the speakers' platform, of course," Gus said. 

Ivan Pawpacker made a depreciatory gesture. "That isn't necessary." 

"Why certainly! If it hadn't been for you and me, they wouldn't 
be having this celebration. And you came all the way from Missouri 
to attend" 

"Not that far," Pawpacker smiled. 'Tm on a horse-buying trip. I've 
been reading about the celebration in the Beacon. And since my route 
led through Tamarack, I thought I'd drop in and see Molly. I don't 
know why I did it. Crowds tire me out." 

"Me too," Gus said, "But on the other hand, you have to have 'em 
in show business." 

"It would seem so." 

"Yes sir! Lifeblood of show business! Crowds!" Gus smacked his 
lips. "Just look at 'em!" 

They had emerged from the office and Gus waved his cigar at the 
multitude flocking around frankfurter stands. 

Pawpacker looked. Cool amusement sparkled in his eyes. He was as 
detached from the throng as an aristocrat at a bear-baiting. He wore a 
spotless white suit, a white Panama hat; he might have been an old- 
fashioned Southern planter. 

"It's worth a fortune to a man who knows how to draw a crowd 
like this," he said. 

"Think so?" Gus's blood coursed faster. And his manner became 
more hearty. In Pawpacker's presence he quite involuntarily ripened 
into bluffer and more staccato ways. Perhaps it was because Pawpacker 
represented the circus business, and when he dreamed of being a circus 
owner he saw himself as robust, expansive, a powerhouse, a cornucopia 
overflowing with spectacular projects. 

"Proof of the pudding," Pawpacker said. "This was your idea. And 
look at the money it's making the park." 

"Money that's right! Thousands!" Gus sighed. "And no way for 
us to cut in on it." 

"You'll cut in. After this, Oxenford should make you an offer. It 
might be good experience, managing a park." 

Gus nodded. Yes, if he could get sufficient salary. They discussed 
that, picking their way through the crowd. 

The speakers' platform had been erected against the east fence. Built 
of white pine, decorated with bunting, it had as much floor space as 
a good-sized dance floor. At first a small platform had been planned, 
but as the Beacon kept shouting about the celebration and it became 



190 GUS THE GREAT 

apparent that a large throng would gather, more and more politicians 
indicated willingness to occupy folding chairs where they could be 
seen. Steps climbed the north side, and a ramp slanted there also. 

"Shall we sit here?" Pawpacker suggested, indicating the back row. 

"No, no let's sit up here. Where we can see." 

And Gus led the way to seats in the front row. 

There was a speaker's table, with a sweating pitcher of ice water. 
And already the lumber benches facing the platform were a mass of 
jack-m-the-box children and palpitating cardboard fans. In the pit a 
tumng-up band was giving forth bullfrog and tree-toad noises. 

"You said you were on a horse-buying trip," Gus remarked. "Buying 
'em for circuses?" 

"No, I buy for companies in St. Louis and Chicago." 

"Much money in it?" 

"I've found it profitable." 

"You must know horses pretty well." 

"I got my start as a horse trader." 

Gus laughed heartily. "Guess I'd better keep my hand on my watch 
and chain." 

Pawpacker's smile was faint; he had heard that joke thousands of 
times. 

"Just joking, of course," Gus added. 

At that moment somebody said, "Why, it's Mr. Pawpacker!" And 
Gus glanced up to see Flora and Samuel R. Oxenford. 

Flora didn't look bad at all this morning; in fact, she looked like a 
million dollars to Gus. Her copious figure was clad in a white muslin 
dress, and she wore a large white hat whose diaphanous brim shed 
soft, flattering light upon her face. She carried a folded white parasol. 
When the foursome seated themselves, Flora and Gus were side by 
side. 

"My, but there's a crowd," she said. "And just think you planned 
it all." 

Her stock started climbing, 

"My, but Papa's pleased," she whispered. "When he saw how people 
are spending money he said a lot of nice things about you." 

Her stock broke par. 

Gus radiated good nature. She was a pleasant girl, after all. The 
success of the celebration, meeting Pawpacker, the draughts of satis- 
faction his herd instinct drank from the crowd these things brought 
peace to his warring selves. Life was good again, and he was going to 
be park manager and own a circus. The band began to play. 

A few minutes after eleven, the mayor picked up the gavel and 
punished the table. He had goat whiskers, and he regarded the multi- 
tude with the amiability of an old goat gazing upon thousands of tin 



GUS THE GREAT 191 

cans. He introduced the Reverend Welcome B. Shinn, pastor of the 
First Methodist Church, who had been selected to explain to the Al- 
mighty the meaning of all these goings-on. 

With his flowing white beard, the Reverend Mr. Shinn looked like 
somebody right out of the Book of Revelation. In a rich voice he said, 
"Let us rise," and then there was silence save for the tinkling of the 
merry-go-round, the distant cries of barkers and the pop-pop of shoot- 
ing-gallery rifles. 

"Almighty God," said the Reverend Mr. Shinn, and you could im- 
agine his resonant voice floating up and up, into the blue deep of sky, 
beyond the burning summer sun. 

The Reverend Mr. Shinn spoke favorably of elephants in general 
and in particular of this elephant which the little children of Tamarack 
had purchased with their coppers. The presence of an elephant in this 
city would be a living refutation of the mad theories of evolution 
which unrighteous men had attempted to foist upon the world. He 
praised the Beacon for its signal public service in acting as trustee for 
the funds of the children, and he praised the rest of the Tamarack 
press for services rendered in other ways. That took care of the church 
editors on the Chronicle and the Telegram. 

After the prayer, the mayor uttered a few well-chosen words. This 
consumed twenty minutes, for it would scarcely have been meet not 
to comment upon the beautiful equilibrium of the city budget. Then, 
one by one, he introduced the visiting dignitaries, asking each to rise 
and take a bow. They were glad to comply with his request. 

"And now," he shouted, "by virtue of the power vested in me by 
the citizens of this great city, and upon behalf of the children who 
have so unselfishly given of their treasure, it is my high honor and 
deep pleasure to present this certificate of bestowal to Mr. Samuel R. 
Oxenford, president of Tamarack & Northern." 

Limber and bony, his grease-specked black suit flapping, Mr. Oxen- 
ford arose and accepted the certificate. The ceremonies had lasted so 
long now that many children were whispering to their parents, and 
little journeys were made to the latticed and vine-clad buildings back 
among the whitewashed trees. And so it was that many of the rising 
generation missed the short speech delivered by Mr. Oxenford. This 
was a pity, for his yellow whiskers broadcast some beneficial hints 
about forging ahead. He advised Thrift, Industry and Integrity* 

"Ladies and Gentlemen," the mayor proclaimed, "the committee will 
now retire to the quarters occupied by the pachyderm and escort her 
to the platform." 

The band struck up "The Stars and Stripes Forever." The com- 
mittee, consisting of Mr. Oxenford and seven politicians, crossed the 
platform, descended the ramp and disappeared toward the barn. 



192 GUS THE GREAT 

Suspense. Eagerness. People standing up. Fathers perching small 
children on their shoulders. Mustached and helmeted police brandish- 
ing billy clubs to warn small boys from the line of march. And all the 
while the band playing gallantly. 

They were coming! 

The committee had formed a hollow rectangle around the elephant 
and her temporary keeper. He carried a bull hook but he didn't seem 
expert in its use, for once when Molly decided to halt she halted and 
the entire committee representing so much achievement in government 
and finance had to halt too, till she decided to resume walking. 

And a crisis arose when they reached the ramp. Out of sheer 
elephantine perverseness, or perhaps out of doubts about the trust- 
worthiness of the carpenters who had erected the platform, Molly re- 
fused to mount the ramp. Ears and tail waving, trunk coiling, she 
came to a dead standstill. Her keeper spoke to her from the side of 
his mouth. She ignored him. 

The band played and played and Molly stood and stood, and Mr. 
Oxenford ordered, "Giddap!" as if she were a horse, and the politicians 
offered gratuitous advice but all to no avail. 

And then it was that a big young man bustled across the platform 
and down the ramp. He took the bull hook, and he smiled at Molly 
and boomed, "What's going on here, sweetheart? You're delaying the 
game! Can't do this!" 

He hooked her lightly behind the ear and the immovable object 
moved. Together they ascended the ramp, Molly and Gus, and to- 
gether they received the plaudits of the multitude. It was a high hour. 



8 



O, 



"NE MORNING the following November, at the corner of Tenth and 
Harrison Streets in Tamarack, more than a hundred human beings 
were staring at a hole in the ground. The hole was large, occupying 
a quarter of a block, and along the edge a wooden railing had been 
erected to prevent the human beings from tumbling in. At the bottom 
of the hole, other human beings were toiling. 

The hole in the ground represented growth and progress. Less than 
half a century before, this portion of the earth's surface had been in- 
tended as a feeding lot for the cows of Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford. And 
then benevolent circumstances increased its value. A wooden building 
was erected there, soon replaced by a four-story brick building; and 
now the brick building had vanished and a loftier structure would soar 
from the hole. 

It would be called the Oxenford Electric Building. Several months 
before the Tamarac\ Beacon had printed an architect's imposing draw- 
ing of this cathedral honoring the gods of business and finance. A 
likeness of the Prophet Oxenford had also appeared. 

If you leaned there contemplating the hole, it was possible on occa- 
sion to glimpse Samuel R. Oxenford. This morning, the door of a 
little wooden structure opened and Mr. Oxenford stepped forth, accom- 
panied by a man with a roll of blueprints. After gestures and con- 
fabulation the men parted, the construction engineer returning to his 
shack and Mr. Oxenford moving to the street. He glanced at the haz- 
ards of carriages and vans, then crossed briskly. 

On the opposite corner he lingered in indecision. His bony fingers 
yearned to fetch out his coin purse. But the habits of a lifetime shud- 
dered at spending money foolishly. He stood debating, the wind blow- 
ing his whiskers. His days were filled with these financial crises. At 
last his reckless impulse won, and he snapped open the purse and 
plucked out two cents. From the newsboy on the corner he purchased 
the first street edition of the Beacon: It was an improvident purchase, 
for the Beacon was delivered to his home. Now they would have two 
copies. 

He rustled open the paper and peeked inside. The story and the 
picture were therfe; prominently there. He smiled. But he couldn't 
stand on a crowded corner reading: He folded the paper and slipped 

193 



i 94 GUS THE GREAT 

it into his overcoat. He would read it in his office. Since the old Oxen- 
ford Building had been torn down to make way for the new, he had 
taken temporary space in this building across the street, where he could 
watch the excavating. If any workmen seemed to be loafing, he re- 
ported them. 

He turned to enter the building, then halted. Excitement was pop- 
ping a block away on Harrison Street. Pedestrians stared; the loafers 
across the street shifted their attention from the hole to the street. The 
popping came closer, followed by barking dogs, preceded by horses 
rearing hysterically. 

The pair of fur-coated men in the horseless carriage wore silly smiles. 
As the contraption exploded past, a laugh broke from the pedestrians 
and the loafers. Mr, Oxenford laughed as hard as anybody. Then he 
entered the building and the elevator cage. 

Ten years ago he had sharp knowledge of how much he was worth, 
but that was before he organized Tamarack & Northern. Now his 
affairs were so tangled that when he attempted getting a clear idea of 
his position he ended feeling like a fly wading in flypaper. So he 
would spend an afternoon with his lawyer and get an approximation 
of where he stood. 

Not that there was cause for worry! Land of Goshen, no! He held 
more financial power now than ever before: the goose was hanging 
high. The only reason he fretted was because during most of his 
business career he had conducted his affairs simply, like a small shop- 
keeper; and it was difficult to accustom himself to this financial super- 
structure he had built. But it was all legal! His lawyer had advised 
him at every turn. When Mr. Oxenford came forth with some sharp 
scheme, and the lawyer shook his head, Mr. Oxenford would demand : 

"Why can't I do it?" 

"You can, Sam. Of course. But it would probably land you in jail." 

Jail! Whoa! Whoa-back! So he would follow his lawyer's advice. 

Back when Mr. Oxenford caught the urge ta own an electric rail- 
road, he heavily mortgaged his city property to get funds for a con- 
trolling interest in Tamarack & Northern. So far so good. That was 
simple and he could understand it. He already owned the Tamarack 
Fuel & Ice Company, and that too was simple. But the confusion 
began with his floating more Tamarack & Northern stock to get funds 
to purchase the Tamarack Street Railway Company. 

There were wheels within wheels. He bought the land at Oxenford 
outright and then, after issuing stock in the Tamarack Fuel & Ice 
Company, he sold the coal rights to the company at a high price. By 
and by, using his majority voting power, he caused Tamarack Fuel 
& Ice to sell back to himself the coal rights at a much lower price. 



GUS THE GREAT 195 

Then he sold coal from his mine to the company at a smart profit. 
And presently he issued more street railway stock and more Funland 
stock. A mix-up! 

But greater confusion followed when he decided to erect the Oxen- 
ford Electric Building. He presented all his stock in all his enterprises 
to the Merchants* State Bank as collateral for a whopping big loan. 
With the money, he bought a controlling interest in the Tamarack 
Fidelity & Trust Company. As majority stockholder, he approved a 
tremendous loan of depositors' funds to the Oxenford Electric Con- 
struction Company. He held fifty-one percent of the stock in this con- 
cern. Already, from deep in his financial labyrinth, he was considering 
using the construction stock as collateral for a loan from another trust 
company. And if he needed more cash he could use that loan to buy 
controlling interest in another trust company still, and then approve 
further loans. It was endless, bewildering. 

But nothing to worry about! Not as long as his companies continued 
making enough money to pay the interest on his loans. He was not 
merely a rich man now: he was a financier. Well, you couldn't be a 
financier without cares. He wished the mine at Oxenford would yield 
more. He wished the profits of Tamarack & Northern hadn't dropped 
last year. He wished he could carry all these figures in his head. If 
he had become a farmer he could have done that. But he wasn't a 
farmer. He was a financier. But oddly enough, except for his home, 
the only property he owned without encumbrance was that farm near 
Oxenford. He wanted to keep the coal rights for himself, because the 
veins might suddenly grow richer. And as for the surface of the farm, 
no trust company except his own would lend money on that, and his 
lawyer wouldn't let him mortgage that farm to himself, because the 
land was poor and any fool would realize the loan had been rashly 
near fraudulence. 

He left the elevator and stalked along the corridor to double glass 
doors flanked by panels of glass. Gold leaf said : "Tamarack & North- 
ern; Tamarack Street Railway Company; Tamarack Fuel & Ice; Fun- 
land Park. Samuel R. Oxenford, Pres." Already his lawyer a slick 
fellow who visited New York twice annually to learn how the big 
boys in Wall Street managed things was suggesting that he amalga- 
mate all his companies into one mammoth corporation. Call it some- 
thing like Tamarack Electric & Guarantee. (Mr. Oxenford shared 
the lawyer's fondness for words like "guarantee," "fidelity," "trust.") 

It was a daring idea with possibilities that made Mr. Oxenford dizzy. 
You could issue stock in the new company, always retaining fifty-one 
percent for yourself, and then you could begin the ring-around-the- 
rosy of putting up your stock as collateral for loans. Who said America 



196 GUS THE GREAT 

was not the land of opportunity? By jingo! These Socialistic-horseless- 
carriage-flying-fooL-radical-votes-for-women idiots made Mr. Oxenford's 
blood boil. 

Mr. Oxenford flashed open the glass door and entered a large room 
with a long counter. On high stools at the bookkeepers' desks men sat. 
No women. He wouldn't have a woman in the place. Other firms 
might yield to the corruption of modernity, but not his' No sir! No 
immorality here! 

At his entrance, the office became a place of industrious pen-scratch- 
ing, of silence, of close concentration. Fear of authority glittered in 
the air; it was like a schoolroom when a stern superintendent enters. 
His cold little eyes scanned the place sharply as he passed through the 
gate and marched to a door marked with his own name. 

Divesting himself of coat and hat, he creaked down at the old roll- 
top desk and opened the Tamarac^ Beacon. He read the story several 
times, as if determined to get his two cents' worth. 

Last evening Gus had said the story would appear, and here it was 
on the page devoted to Society. Above a two-column cut of a young 
woman appeared the word, "Betrothed." And beneath the picture his 
daughter's name. 

The headline over the story told the waiting world that Miss Flora 
Oxenford was engaged to marry Mr. A. H. Burgoyne. The story 
elaborated. Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford had announced the engagement. 
The wedding would take place next spring. The bridegroom-to-be had 
been employed for the past several years by the TamaracJ^ Beacon. On 
January i, however, he would accept a position as manager of Fun- 
land Park. 

Mr. Oxenford put down the paper and sat absently rubbing his 
hands. He was not displeased. He knew all about Gus, for months ago 
when he realized that his daughter's intentions were serious he sent 
his secretary to Clayton Junction to make inquiries. Mr. Oxenford 
kept to himself the information his secretary gleaned. He was de- 
lighted to have it, because if he ever needed to he could hold it over 
Gus. 

Not that he expected to be driven to that. He and his prospective son- 
in-law hit it off famously. Already they had been useful to each other. 
Throughout the summer Gus had tossed off a half-dozen money- 
making suggestions pertaining to Funland Park; and when the street- 
car company wanted to open a new line, Gus conferred with the council 
and the pay-off for the franchise had been much less than Mr. Oxen- 
ford expected. And during the heat of July when Tamarack Fuel & 
Ice raised the price of ice, and everybody kicked, the Beacon published 
an interview with Mr. Oxenford explaining why the increase was 
necessary. 



GUS THE GREAT 197 

O course Mr. Oxenford did not approve all Gus's interests. His 
concern with showmanship was very well so long as it produced 
schemes beneficial to the park, but when he blustered off on a tangent 
and declaimed about owning a circus Mr. Oxenford thought, "Fiddle- 
faddle!" If that young man expected to use Oxenford money in such a 
nonsensical venture he was mistaken. 

It never occurred to Mr. Oxenford to wonder whether Gus loved 
his daughter and would make her a good husband. Only a simpleton 
would marry without reckoning the financial advantages. A marriage 
was simply a contract, like any other. When Mr. Oxenford wooed his 
own wife he had not been unaware that her father owned three sections 
of land near Tamarack. Love? It didn't help balance a ledger, did it? 
Love was for women to fuss about, along with such nonsense as garden 
flowers and fancywork. 

Gus's colleagues had not known of his engagement, so that morning 
when the copy boy fetched papers and distributed them about the city 
room there was a jovial and Rabelaisian uproar. Reporters and copy 
readers jostled around the city desk. Most of the remarks were based 
upon the cynical foundation that Gus had been thinking of Mr. Oxen- 
ford's money when he proposed. Since this was not wide of the truth, 
Gus flinched inwardly; but outwardly he enjoyed the jokes as much as 
anybody. He found candor his best defense. 

"Sure I'm marrying her for her money. Think I'd pass up a million 
dollars?" 

"I've heard that when a man marries for money he earns it," some- 
one said. 

"Pleasant work, though," Gus shot back, and they all roared. 

"My, my manager of the park," somebody else exclaimed. "Coming 
right along in the world, aren't we!" 

"Yeah, and I want you buzzards to understand that when I come 
down here for publicity I want the best. Banner line page one. Won't 
settle for less." 

They laughed, and the telegraph editor said, "Hell we'll even extra 
for you, Gus." 

They liked Gus, that morning. Sometimes under stress he had yelled 
at them, and when the opposition beat them he had blown up and 
called them lazy hounds, but you expected that. Men who sat at the 
man-killing city desk were not noted for sweet dispositions. But he 
was not basically mean. When the paper went to bed at midafternoon 
he relaxed, and he was likely to tell you to forget what he had said 
that morning; everybody got scooped now and then. And he always 
defended you to the managing editor, and he did what he could to get 
your wages raised. And if you got in a tight spot he'd get you out of 



198 GUS THE GREAT 

it, and if you'd lost at craps he'd lend you enough to stave off your 
landlady. 

Most of the men who had been reporters when Gus started had long 
since drifted on to other cities, and those who remained had forgotten 
how they used to hold his hard work against him. They weren't even 
jealous because a cub had climbed over their heads to the city desk. A 
bad spot, the city desk; they wouldn't take it as a gift. Caged up in 
the office. 

After his engagement was announced and it was an accepted fact 
that he was leaving the paper, Gus became even easier to work for. If 
the Chronicle scooped the Beacon he shrugged and said you couldn't 
expect to beat the world every day. He wasn't on your tail all the time 
for feature stories; he left the office earlier; and one morning he didn't 
arrive till almost nine. Overslept, he grinned. That brought guffaws 
and speculation as to whether Flora Oxenford had overslept, also. Even 
the managing editor grinned. Indeed, he had been treating Gus with 
considerable deference of late. After all, Gus would soon be heir ap- 
parent to Tamarack & Northern; some day he would be an important 
man in Tamarack. 

As the first of the year drew nearer, the more discerning reporters 
told one another they believed Gus had the blues about leaving news- 
paper work. On gray days when work let up for a minute you'd see 
him tip back and gaze out at the smoky sky. He wouldn't look his 
jovial self; he would look perplexed and melancholy. Maybe he was 
thinking that despite all the hell the newspaper game was a lot of 
fun. Or maybe he was just experiencing that human reluctance to 
close the books on one phase of life where the disadvantages were fa- 
miliar and to begin another. 

They decided to throw a party for him on New Year's Eve, give him 
a good send-off. Plans began taking shape in mid-December; they 
would rent a private dining room at the General Grant Hotel; make 
it a surprise party. But no, maybe not a surprise. He might have some- 
thing planned with the Oxenford girl and be unable to come. So a 
few days before Christmas they revealed their plans. He was touched; 
you could tell that. He swallowed and grinned and said it was pretty 
damned nice of them to plan a thing like that. They asked if he'd like 
to have them invite Samuel R. Oxenford. 

"No not him," he said instantly; and he added, "He wouldn't come 
anyway. He goes to bed early. But there is someone I'd like to have." 

"Not your girl! It's strictly stag." 

"No, not her. But there's an old man named Frank MacGowan I'd 
like to have. Editor of the Tribune out in Clayton Junction. I learned 
the newspaper business from him." 

So a reporter went to Clayton Junction, returning with the news 



GUS THE GREAT 199 

that Frank would be delighted to attend; that when he was told Gus 
had asked for him tears came to his eyes. 

It was very true that Gus experienced regrets as the end of the year 
brooded nearer. The Beacon city room had been his headquarters for 
nearly five years; he had come to the paper as a cocky, raw kid; he 
had triumphed there and met Ivan Pawpacker there. Now he was 
leaving; and when he returned in the future with publicity for Funland 
Park he would be an outsider. Newspaper men were cliquish; they 
considered life a spectacle taking place so they would have something 
to write about; and he knew the mingled envy and pity and disdain 
with which they regarded people who said, "I used to be a newspaper 
man myself." 

They thought of them as men who had sold out. This was not quite 
fair, for Gus knew there were many young men like himself who be- 
came reporters because it was a quick way to meet influential people. 
Soon you were calling the people who ran the town by their first 
names, not only the puppets who held office but the bosses who ma- 
nipulated them. Then in any city there was a group exerting quasi- 
official but very real power. Power more permanent than that enjoyed 
by the front men. Officials of corporations; officials of lodges and civic 
organizations. You met them, too; and from them any personable 
young man was sure to receive job offers. Samuel R. Oxenford was 
one of these. 

Gus intended belonging to this group himself. Within the past 
months he had joined the Tamarack Commercial Club and several 
lodges, as well as St. Luke's Episcopal Church. That was the church 
of fashion; Flora attended there; and although Gus was a freethinker, 
belonging to such a strong, established church gave him satisfaction. 
In its respectability and authority he found compensations for being 
without a father. He figured attending would do him no harm; and 
the vestibule crowded after services with silk hats and frock coats 
gave him one more point of contact with important people. 

On one visit to Clayton Junction, he encountered a boyhood friend 
who was now a railroad brakeman, and the friend informed him that 
somebody had recently snooped into town making inquiries about Gus 
Burgoyne. Gus suspected Oxenford; so next evening he told Flora 
the truth about his parentage and offered to release her from the en- 
gagement. She listened in silence, clasping his hand tightly, and when 
he finished she whispered, "That doesn't make any difference. Kiss 

me, Gus." 

Astonishingly, he felt disappointment that she had not accepted his 
offer of release. He had thought his doubts about marrying her were 
locked permanently in the blackest dungeon of his mind. Last summer 



200 GUS THE GREAT 

he had debated the matter to its bitter conclusion: it was an oppor- 
tunity he simply couldn't pass by. Having made his decision, he was 
determined to give short shrift to his recurring incertitudes. 

Besides, an engagement was not marriage; and even after he spent 
his last dollar buying a bean-sized diamond for Flora he thought he 
could still break up with her. She had been a believer in short engage- 
ments, but when he suggested that their marriage take place in April, 
on the anniversary of the night they met, the romance of it instantly 
appealed to her. 

After the engagement was announced, Gus found himself greeted 
more cordially by civic and business leaders; but the politicians with- 
drew to mere politeness. He understood but he didn't like it: since he 
was abdicating the city desk they were no longer afraid of what he 
might do to them in print. 

On the day before Christmas it came to him afresh how much power 
he was losing. Previously on that day when the spirit of Christmas 
found its way even to the shabby cynicism of the city room, when 
reporters returned from last-minute shopping tours with mysteriously 
shaped packages, when everybody was a little more mellow and kindly, 
as if suddenly made aware that man's journey was dark and that only 
brotherhood could ameliorate it, Gus had always received many gifts. 
Messenger boys brought them from the city hall and police head- 
quarters and the courthouse. Oh, he had known that the gaily wrapped 
boxes and the sealed envelopes with currency were tribute; of course 
he had known. And yet in that season of joyful bells on frosty air 
he suppressed the knowledge; he accepted them for what they pre- 
tended to be, freely given gifts, with the giver warm and human. 

Today none came. Not a one. Not even the annual pair of cheap 
suspenders from the ancient 1 Negro janitor at the city hall, to whom 
the knowledge must have trickled down that Gus Burgoyne should be 
taken care of. Somehow Gus had supposed that woolly headed em- 
bodiment of rheumatic misery gave his poor gift from affection. As the 
afternoon waned, and reporters were unwrapping their gifts and 
chuckling, "What did the mayor give you? Gave me a quart of 
Scotqh," and the lamps were lighted in the street below, Gus experi- 
enced anger at the whole kit and boodle of those politicians, and then 
depression. He knew he was unreasonable. Of course they would drop 
him like a hot potato. 

He wanted to get away from the office, so he shrugged into his coat 
and strode through the gate, hat pulled low, his gift for Flora under 
his arm. He was going out there to exchange presents with her to- 
night, for tomorrow he would work as usual: news didn't stop hap- 
pening because the calendar was printed with a red "December 25." 

He emerged to a street crowded and bustling. Everybody carried 



GUS THE GREAT 201 

packages; most people were smiling, and their frosty breaths shone 
like silver. He stopped at a store and bought a bag of peanuts; the 
clerk gave him a cheery, "Thank you. And Merry Christmas!" 

"Why thanks," Gus said. "The same to you." 

It was early yet; much too early for his appearance at the Oxenfords'; 
so he jostled toward the car line to Funland Park. The car was packed 
and jammed, only tonight people were not going to an amusement 
park to see a baby elephant. They were going home. Going merrily. 
In the car with its steamed-over windows the faces of pretty girls 
bloomed like flowers. Gus watched them. Their smooth cheeks, their 
red lips, their white teeth. Dark hair. Blond hair. Fur coats. Their 
girlish voices calling "Merry Christmas" when the car reached a 
friend's corner. He found himself wishing he were going to marry a 
pretty girl. 

He speculated about the homes to which they were going. Ordinary 
houses, probably, and yet festive at this season with holly wreaths and 
hard-coal burners glowing at the stockings waiting for gifts. Homes 
of good people, kind people, located on quiet streets. People who didn't 
run the city and who were happy in not running it; who didn't know 
politicians or financiers; whose names would never be dragged across 
the front pages. He didn't know people like that, had never known 
them. Except maybe Frank. Probably the fathers in those homes 
would be like Frank. 

And suddenly there came to him the large sense of experiences 
missed, experiences he would never have, and he felt homeless and 
bereft. For a fleet second he saw himself as an opportunist, a migrant 
from one class to another, a man who would never know peace, a man 
who would always want something beyond attainment. And he knew 
that what he wanted was gone and lost forever, had never, indeed, 
been possible. He wanted to be a little boy ia one of those ordinary 
homes on Christmas Eve, peering out the window for his father com- 
ing home from work, a Christmas tree shining in the corner, his 
mother filling the kitchen with song and the scent of steamy broth. 
He wanted simplicity and goodness and pride in his father. ("My 
father can lick yours. . . . My father can drive a horse better than 
yours. . . .") Maybe he wanted to hang up his stockings and go to 
bed with the assurance that Santa Claus would not pass by that loving 
household. He had never believed in Santa Claus since he could re- 
member. Uncle Tim had explained there was nothing to it. After he 
went to live with Frank he hung up his stockings, but he knew who 
would fill them. 

The motorman was softly whistling "Silent Night," that song of 
simple shepherds honoring Mother and Child; and Gus thought o 
his own mother. What was she doing tonight? What did she look 



202 GUS THE GREAT , 

like? He remembered her dimly, a woman of beauty and fragrance 
with snowflakes in her hair. 

Enough! He knew better than to do this, to look inside himself. 
The past was dead. Unalterable. The future was what counted. Think 
of the future. 

"Merry Christmas," the conductor called as he left the car, and Gus 
returned the greeting. 

He crunched through the snow to the park. Above the entrance, the 
electric bulbs had been unscrewed from the word, "Funland"; a sign 
said: "Closed For The Season"; and the iron gates were padlocked. 
He jingled out keys; the gate creaked on cold hinges. 

Only a cadre of maintenance men worked here in winter; they had 
shoveled narrow paths through the snow. Gus unlocked the office; it 
held the clammy chill of unheated rooms. Shadwell had left the park 
last month, and Gus had been moving in a few of his things. The 
wall calendar was still turned to August. He put Flora's present on the 
desk and went outside. 

A few lights showed dimly among the trees, silvering the snow that 
had drifted over the miniature railroad, over the entrance to the Old 
Mill, that lay heavily on the roof of the merry-go-round. Winter 
silence rose from the snow, and the distant city noises were muted. 
Gus walked toward the elephant's quarters. 

A new, small barn had been built for her, with a pen outside. Faint 
light yellowed the window^ and when he opened the door he found 
Ler keeper dozing in a rocker by the stove. 

"Merry Christmas," Gus said. 

"Well. Mr. Burgoyne. Merry Christmas to you." 

Gus passed on to Molly's stall, and when he beheld her there, weav- 
ing at her hobble, his depression began lifting. 

"Well young lady!" he boomed. "How's everything? Merry Christ- 
mas!" 

Her trunk coiled toward him, toward the bag of peanuts. His laugh 
filled the little barn; and while he fed her he talked to her as if she 
could understand. 

"Believe you're growing. Yes sir. Getting bigger. Be a big bull one 
of these days. Don't like winter, do you? Neither do I. Well, spring 
will come. New season. Lots of people here to see you." 

Sometimes she opened her mouth and emitted sounds in a minor 
key, or said, "Ah-h-h." He scratched her ears and spine. Her hide was 
rough to his fingers but he liked it. He liked her smell. He liked her 
ponderosity, her absurd little tail, the way her hide sagged about her 
hindquarters like a man losing his trousers. 

The keeper stood watching, and presently he said: 



GUS THE GREAT 203 

"She just weaves. All day long. Back and forth. She ought to stop 
it. It's bad for her front hoofs. Wearing 'em sore." 

"Sore?" Gus exclaimed. "Let's see." 

"Oh, she won't let you get near 'em!" 

"Why, sure she will I What's the trouble, Molly? Huh? What's 
the trouble? Getting corns? Huh? Sore dogs?" 

He leaned, grappled one leg. For a moment it remained rooted like 
a tree trunk; then she lifted it. 

"Well I never!" the keeper said. 

"Um-m," Gus murmured clinically. "Yep they're sore, all right* 
Worn raw. Why do you want to weave so much, Molly?" 

Molly said, "Ah-h-h . . ." 

Gus stepped Back, fingering his chin. 

"Weaves, huh?" he murmured. "Weaves all the time?" 

"All the time. Just weaves." 

"She's not weaving now." 

"No. We're here, now." 

"Mean to say she stops weaving when someone's with her?" 

"Usual thing, yes." 

"By Golly!" Gus exclaimed. "Bet she's lonesome. Sure! You lone- 
some, old girl?" 

Molly extended her trunk for a peanut. 

"Wish we could buy another bull," Gus muttered. "But they cost 
so damned much. Oxenford would faint. Um-m. Maybe we could 
buy a pony. S'pose a pony would keep her company?" 

"Might." 

"Worth a try. Soon as I take over here . . ." 

And so it was that when Gus installed himself in the office his first 
expenditure was for a Shetland pony, a gelding named Ranger. Ranger 
was a beautiful red-and-white animal, but it was a skin-deep beauty 
only. He lived for the moments when he could let fly with his heels 
or bite. But he never kicked Molly or bit her. They became fast 
friends. Molly ceased weaving and her hoofs healed. At first the two 
animals were not incongruously matched, but as time passed Molly 
towered over him. But their friendship persisted; everywhere that 
Molly went Ranger had to go; and when 'he died in 1910 she grieved 
noisily. But by that time she was part of the menagerie on Burgoyne's 
Circus & Hippodrome, and there were other bulls to keep her company. 

That evening at the Christmas Eve celebration Gus did not mention 
Molly's weaving or his intention to purchase a stallmate. He knew 
what Mr. Oxenford would say: "Can't afford it." No matter how 
trifling or necessary the expenditure, that was always Mr. Oxenford's 
conditioned reflex. 



204 GUS THE GREAT 

Gus left the incoming car on Jefferson Avenue and approached the 
house through the snow-buried garden. Flora herself admitted him at 
the porte-cochere door, for the servants had been given Christmas Eve 
off. 

"Merry Christmas, honey!" he boomed. And he threw his arms 
around her in a rough-and-ready hug. 

Flora wished the hug had not been so brief. She would have en- 
joyed remaining in his arms all evening with his male odor of cold and 
cigar smoke. His winter-roughened lips pressed her mouth for only an 
instant. 

"Oh, Gus," she sighed. "Merry Christmas, I wish you didn't have 
to work tomorrow." 

"Have to though," he said, heartily, cheerfully. "You know. People 
getting killed, Christmas babies being born " 

She flushed dully. She thought it slightly improper for one's fiance 
to mention the birth of babies. Babies were the result of whatever it 
was that happened in the shameful and delirious darkness ensconcing 
the marriage bed. 

"Papa's in the library," she said. 

Mr. Oxenford was laboring over figures. He sat on a high stool at 
an old-fashioned bookkeeper's desk. As a young man he had schemed 
his fortune at such a desk, and he felt more at home figuring there 
than in an easy chair. He glanced around, foxy-eyed and bewhiskered, 
as they entered the room. Gus thought he detected swift-vanishing 
worry on the old man's face. 

"Merry Christmas," Gus called. 

"Uh. Come in. Evening. S'pose I ought to wish you Merry Christ- 
mas too, but I don't know why.'* 

"Papa doesn't believe in Christmas," Flora said. 

"Not believe in it?" Gus laughed. "It's here, almost. It's a known 
fact. Got to believe in it." 

Mr. Oxenford rattled his fingers through his whiskers. 

"Ain't Christmas I don't believe in. A quiet Christmas is all right. 
A day of remembering Our Saviour. It's this damned present-giving!" 

Mr. Oxenford appeared almost in physical agony, and Gus grew 
conscious of the package wrapped in holly paper he was holding. 

"Who started it?" Mr. Oxenford demanded. "The Jews!" 

"Jews?" 

"Read the Scriptures! It's all there. The Three Wise Men started it. 
Jews, all of 'em. And these Jew merchants keep it up. Stores like 
Goldstein's. Crooks!" 

"Wait a minute," Gus said. "Ike Goldstein used to run a store in 
Clayton Junction. Know him well. He's not a crook." 



GUS THE GREAT 205 

Mr. Oxenford muttered in his whiskers, sour and unconvinced. He 
turned back to his high desk. 

"You shouldn't cross him, Gus," Flora whispered, after they left the 
library. 

"Never heard of anything so crazy." 

"Please don't cross him. He's worried with all these big deals. 
They're organizing a new company. He worries. He goes to bed early 
but I hear him up in the night walking the floor." 

Gus's grumpiness persisted; conversation lagged. There was no 
Christmas tree. 

"Maybe some day we can have one," Flora said. "Papa thinks they're 
foolish." 

Gus felt restless, eager to leave. But he'd have to stick it a while yet. 
They wandered through the huge, shadowy rooms. In a front alcove 
they stood at the window, gazing out at the silvery night. Cold air 
leaked through the sash and the house itself lacked warmth; Mr. Oxen- 
ford kept a sharp watch on the coal pile. Then Gus thought of a 
pleasant way to fill the rest of the evening. 

"Just thought of it," he chuckled. "I haven't eaten. Left work, went 
out to the park " 

The kitchen was enormous, with a coal range, a dripping faucet, a 
decrepit wooden refrigerator; everything had been arranged to give 
the cook miles of daily exercise. On the table before Gus, Flora set 
bread, butter, milk, cold roast beef. He made and consumed three big 
sandwiches, drank a second glass of milk. He felt better then, and lit 
a cigar. 

"Nothing like food," he said. "Guess you know the way to my heart, 
at that." 

When it was time for him to depart, Flora led him to the parlor. In 
lieu of a Christmas tree, she had placed her gifts on a gold-brocaded 
chair. There were only two packages. She handed one to Gus, and he 
gave her the one he had brought. 

Unwrapping the package, he experienced anticipation; and when he 
saw it he was touched. It was a squat, lidded thing of hand-painted 
China. A cigar humidor. A sponge occupied a nook inside the lid, to 
keep the tobacco moist. And on the bottom of the humidor painted 
letters said: "Flora to Gus. Xmas, '03." 

"Why this is wonderful," he boomed, knowing he would never use 
it. "Sponge and everything! How'd you ever think of it?" 

"I just don't know," she smiled. "It just came into my head." 

She exclaimed in delight over her present: a bottle of imported per- 
fume. She closed her eyes and sniffed it like a cow sniffing clover. 

"Um-m-m ... I don't have much perfume. Papa thinks it's foolish. 
But I ... love ... it. ... Oh, Gus . . ." 



206 GUS THE GREAT 

She embraced him, kissed him, nearly overbalanced him. 

He pointed to the package remaining on the chair, 

"Who gave you that?" 

"It's from myself." 

"You give yourself a present?" 

"Oh, yes. Always." 

It was like getting a glimpse of her childhood; probably with Samuel 
R. Oxenford for a father she too had not believed in Santa Claus. All 
at once he felt ashamed of himself for being bored in her presence. He 
experienced sympathy for her and pity; and he kissed her good night 
tenderly, almost as if he loved her. 

In the autumn when Gus agreed to become manager of Funland 
Park, January i had seemed an excellent time to leave newspaper work 
and take another job. But during the week between Christmas and 
New Year's, he discovered that emotionally it was a deplorable time 
to make the break. The sun was a summer hobo that had gone South, 
and the days were short, raw, dark. Gus always loved hot, bright 
weather circus weather; and when he sat in the noisy city room it 
gave him a chill to think that the following week he would be working 
alone in the stove-heated office at Funland Park. He enjoyed the com- 
pany of people, and he wished he were taking over the park at the 
height of the season. 

His spirits ebbed with the waning year, and his old doubts about 
marrying Flora returned. He even had doubts about a career in the 
entertainment business; owning a circus seemed remote. He wished 
Ivan Pawpacker would drop in, for that smooth, quiet man always 
excited him and made the impossible seem possible. Elephants and 
Ivan Pawpacker they brought back his intoxicating dreams. 

During that final week the Beacon really had two city editors, Gus 
and Bart Floyd, the courthouse reporter who was succeeding him. 
They worked together, Gus explaining the ins and outs of the job. 
Floyd was less than enthusiastic about his promotion; the managing 
editor had forced it on him. 

Gus spent the last afternoon of the year cleaning out his desk; and he 
lingered m the city room long after most of the staff had gone. It was 
dark outside when he finally put on his coat and hat. Even then he 
returned to the desk and stood with his fingertips resting on it, remem- 
bering the miles of copy paper he had scrutinized there, the joyous 
hysteria of big stories breaking, the day he had looked up and seen 
Ivan Pawpacker, He turned away at last and tramped toward the gate, 
through the wastepaper on the floor, past the long tables charred with 
cigarette burns. At the gate he looked back once more, regarding 



GUS THE GREAT 207 

af? ectionately that dingy room where he had poured out so much o his 
first youth. He thought: "I used to be a newspaper man myself." 

He was glad the boys were throwing a farewell party; and indeed, 
New Year's Eve turned out much happier than Christmas Eve. He 
was with his own kind of people. In the General Grant Hotel the 
boys had rented a private dining room, and at an improvised bar white- 
coated Negroes served anything liquid you wanted, and all you wanted. 
There was a great deal of milling about, of improvised quartettes, of 
tall stories about the newspaper business. Everybody recognized Frank 
MacGowan as a kindred spirit; and they took a great liking to him, 
clustering about his chair. He was an elder statesman of journalism 
now, his hair white and shaggy, his eyes mild and honest, his face 
forthright. But the years had not dulled his brain, and when he talked 
about socialism in his mellow voice, predicting economic trouble for 
America, they listened attentively. By eleven o'clock when supper was 
announced most of them were Socialists vinously. Not Gus, of course. 

"Gus has never seen the light," Frank grinned. "He's an individual- 
ist. If this party weren't in his honor, I'd say he had the soul of an 
economic pirate." 

"Yo-ho and a bottle of rum," somebody yelled, and there was 
laughter. 

"But I like him, anyway," Frank said, "Pirates are often charming 
people." 

"He's made us walk the plank!" a reporter put in, and there was 
more laughter. 

Gus laughed with the rest, "You damned buzzards! After the things 
I let you get away with, to talk about me like this." 

Supper was getting cold, a waiter told them, so they moved toward 
the long U-shaped table. Frank had difficulty in rising his chair was 
without arms so Gus seized his elbow and gave him a boost, and 
slapped his shoulders affectionately. 

"Having a good time?" he asked. 

"I haven't had an evening like this in years. I can't tell you how 
much I appreciate it." And he patted Gus's arm. 

They ate enormously, drank enormously, sang an enormous welcome 
to 1904. Bart Floyd acted as toastmaster, and it was he who spoke of 
their affection for Gus ("Even if he is a pirate" laughter) and pre- 
sented him with a watch. Gus was quite overcome by the applause 
winch greeted his taking the watch. He felt a wave of love for them 
all f or their runover heels and shabby clothes and keen brains and 
it was a little while before he could speak. i 

"Gentlemen," he said finally, "I used to be a newspaper man myself." 

They laughed and cheered. 

"And sometimes by God I wish I still was!" 



2o8 GUS THE GREAT 

More cheers and laughter. 

"But gentlemen, each of us has to follow our star of destiny, wher- 
ever it may lead. Yours is the gathering of news, and mine " 

He paused for a moment, his body swaying with too much liquor, 
but his brain like a clean June morning. And then the dream returned, 
the old boyhood dream of greatness and painted wagons truckling 
through an impeccable dawn. 

"Mine," he went on with that Irish eloquence he had inherited from 
Gus Phelan, "is the show business. Elephants and crowds, crowds and 
elephants." 

They thought he was talking about an amusement park, and he let 
them; even with his guard down he wasn't disclosing all his plans; but 
while he spoke about the virtues of elephants and the excitement of 
crowds he was thinking of Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome. 

"And now in conclusion, I want to pay tribute to the whitest man 
and the best man I've ever known. He took me in when I was a dirty- 
eared kid. He taught me the newspaper business guess I could hold 
down a job as a printer even now and he taught me to hold up my 
jaw and to go after what I wanted. Gentlemen, anything I am or may 
become I owe to him Frank MacGowan of the Clayton Junction 
Tribune!' 

They gave Frank an ovation, and Gus helped him to his feet. After 
Gus's oratory, Frank was conversational and witty. He related several 
humorous stories about Gus's boyhood exploits, and he said he had 
known Gus's mother before him a lovely woman. (Frank had been 
drinking, too.) And he knew, he said, that everyone here shared his 
hope that Gus would be successful in his new venture. But he had a 
feeling that Gus would return to the newspaper fold. 

"If he does, we'll welcome him as the father of old welcomed the 
returning prodigal. And in any case, I know you join me in wishing 
him happiness. . . ." 

And so at last the party broke up; and after the warmth and bright- 
ness the street was cold and nearly deserted now by the New Year's 
Eve merrymakers. It was snowing lightly, and a needle-sharp wind 
blew the snow in long serpentine streamers down the street. Gus and 
Frank labored slowly toward the car line, leaning on the wind; and 
on the icy corner they sought shelter in 3 building entrance. 

At last the dim headlight of the car showed down the blocks, and 
Frank offered his hand. 

"Lots of luck, Gus. Lots of happiness. I haven't had an evening like 
this since " 

He was going to say, "Since I knew your mother." But he changed it. 



GUS THE GREAT 209 

"Not in twenty years. I'm glad you remembered me. And do come 
out to see me. You'll have more time, now." 

"Sure, sure! I'll be out often." 

"Good night, Gus." 

"Good night, Frank." 

He limped slowly to the car, pulled himself up the steps. The car 
rumbled away toward Clayton Junction and Gus stood alone on the 
corner. 

For fully three days after becoming manager of the park, Gus 
repined for the newspaper business; but then early in the new year the 
gloomy clouds gave way to bright sun and he felt more cheerful. Just 
as he had plunged heavily into his tasks as city editor, so now he 
crashed head down into his new work. He'd make things hum! 

The maintenance men discovered at once that the lackadaisical era 
of Shadwell had ended. When Gus gave an order he wanted it exe- 
cuted instantly. Accustomed to city room tempo, he had little patience 
with delay. Every morning he arrived early at the park, and he de- 
manded that a good fire be crackling m the stove when he blustered in. 

The office was dust and cobwebs and debris, so by the end of his 
first week he had carpenters and painters at work. Commodious win- 
dows were embrasured in the east and south walls, giving him a mana- 
gerial view of the park; and the interior was painted creamy ivory. In 
the furniture department of Goldstein's store he bought a new desk, 
new chairs, a good rug. 

When the baby elephant was presented the summer before, a com- 
mercial photographer had recorded the event for future historians; so 
now Gus ordered a complete set of photographs and hung them in 
frames on the wall. His favorite was a likeness of himself with Molly. 

By the end of January the office was no longer shabby but bright and 
interesting. The improvements were lost, however, upon Samuel Oxen- 
ford. 

Gus had been unable to get a budget from Mr. Oxenford; and so, 
without consulting him, he had spent money as he saw fit, approving 
the in-pouring bills and sending them on to Mr. Oxenford's downtown 
office for payment. And so one morning in early February this brought 
the old fellow steaming out to the park. 

"God Almighty!" he exclaimed, stamping into the office waving the 
sheaf of bills. "Are you trying to break me up?" 

Gus had been expecting this; he remained at his desk, biting the end 
off a cigar. 

"Sit down, Sam." 

"Sit down!" the old man yelled. "What do you mean, sit down! 



210 GUS THE GREAT 

How can I sit down or sleep either with you spending money like 
water!" 

He gazed in horror at the new rug, the new furniture, the sunny 
windows, the painted walls. 

"Where do you think I'd got," he screeched, "if I'd squandered I" 

"Sit down!" Gus boomed it. And he jumped up and moved toward 
Mr. Oxenford as if he intended hitting him. 

Something in this young man's burly personality caused Mr. Oxen- 
ford to take a backward step; and when he spoke he didn't yell but 
whined: 

"It ain't moral to spend so much money. And a Shetland pony, too. 
Why you want a Shetland pony I don't know" 

"Sit down!" 

Quite without intending to, Mr. Oxenford seated himself. 

"Damn your stingy bones listen to me! You hired me to run this 
park and I'm going to run it. Of course you don't understand why I 
bought a pony. But I understand and that's good enough. As long as 
Fm manager here I'm manager, see? Where would you be without 
me? I got you an elephant free, didn't I? Shadwell wasn't any good, 
was he?" 

"Don't get excited, Gus. It's just" 

"I'll spend money, sure. But there's a purpose. Sure it's a fine office. 
It's got to be. Let's say I'm going to hire an outdoor act. They come 
out here to a shabby old office that I'm ashamed of, and can I dicker 
with them? They look at the broken-down old chairs and they feel 
above me. But now !" Gus waved his cigar. "This is class. They 
come to a fine office and I'm in a position to beat down their price. 
Ill save you the cost of this furniture before the season's half over. 
And I'll show you a fat profit if you give me a free hand and keep your 
nose out of it." 

Profit! Balm! 

"Don't get so excited, Gus. It ain't that I don't trust you" 

"Now about this pony. I'll explain why I bought it but damned if 
it isn't the last expenditure I'll explain. I want a good budget and I 
want it now. I bought the pony so that bull won't wear her hoofs to 
the quick and then there'd be a big vet bill and maybe she'd die, and 
then where would you be?" 

Gus stormed on; but he wasn't nearly as angry as he seemed. He 
was secretly amused; and he was delighted at the efficacy of his strategy. 
He knew how to handle people! Mr. Oxenford sat tapping a nervous 
foot and clawing his whiskers. 

"Maybe so, maybe so/' he muttered. "It was just that all them bills " 

When Mr. Oxenford took his leave they were on the best of terms, 
and they had agreed upon a fairly liberal budget Gus had discovered 



GUS THE GREAT 211 

that the old man's greed was more inordinate than his parsimony, and 
that the mention of profits had a magical way o unclenching his 
money-clutching fists, 

Gus subscribed to all the trade papers of the amusement business and 
he gobbled them from cover to cover. He read and read again the 
pages devoted to circuses, and he dreamed of organizing his own circus 
in another year or so. How would he accomplish it? He didn't know. 
But accomplish it he would! Financial backing from Oxenford, credit 
from Pawpacker. 

In mid-February, after a week of heavy snows, the temperature rose 
one sunny day and the park basked in the false spring of a winter thaw. 
The balmy air whispered of pussy willows, of robins in southern bayous 
preparing to fly north, of kites next month. The sun poured warmth 
through the office windows, and as Gus sat reading his trade papers he 
heard the spring music of melting snow dripping from the eaves and 
icicles tinkling to the ground. He thought of circuses all over America 
preparing to take to the long springtime roads. 

He tossed the paper to the desk and looked at his watch. It said 4:29. 
That would be important tomorrow at this time, and on many after- 
noons in the future. A bewitching hour: 4:29. 

As he slipped the watch back into his pocket he heard a knock on the 
door, and he called, "Come in." 

She came in. 

He stood up. 

There was a long moment when neither said a word. The eaves 
tinkled and the sunshine ran through the windows in golden shafts, 
Gus's hands started toward his collar to arrange his tie, then stopped. 

"I was looking," she said slowly, "for the park manager." 

"Yes," he said, "sit down. I'm the manager. I'm Mr. Burgoyne." 

"Thank you. I'm Miss Leslie. Carlotta Leslie." 

He smiled. She smiled. He sat down at his desk. 

"I hope I'm not interrupting" 

He lifted a hand. "Not at all. Glad to have you. Beautiful day, 
isn't it?" 

"Isn't it!" she said, and her voice chimed as springlike as the tin- 
kling eaves. 

Gus felt strange. He couldn't remember ever feeling this way. And 
he was puzzled, too, for it seemed that somewhere or other he must 
have met Carlotta Leslie. 

"Have we met before, Miss Leslie?" he asked. 

"I well it does seem" She looked thoughtful and puzzled herself. 
"But I don't believe so." 

"Have you lived in Tamarack long?" 



2i2 GUS THE GREAT 

"All my life," she said. 

"Maybe then we've seen each other on the street." 

"That might be," she said slowly. "I'm sure I've seen you somewhere. 
Did you go to the University o Tamarack?" 

He shook his head. Till now, he had never regretted not going. 

"I went two years," she said. "I thought we might have met there." 

"No but I was a newspaper man for five years. On the Beacon. 
I got around a lot. I must have seen you on the street." 

The conversation lapsed. But by some miracle it was not an em- 
barrassing pause. It was like the silence between old friends. Only 
different. 

"You're probably wondering why I'm here, Mr. Burgoyne." 

He nodded; but he hadn't been wondering. It had never occurred 
to him to wonder. Her entering the office had seemed natural and 
beyond the need for explanation, like the return of spring. 

"I'm a schoolteacher. Third and fourth grades, Manning School. 
This is my first year." 

Manning School. Yes, he remembered it. A new building on 
Forty-fourth Street in a good part of town. 

"We're studying natural science and well, perhaps it would be too 
much trouble for you but I thought if some day I might bring the 
youngsters here to see the elephant " 

"No trouble at all! That's what it's for." 

"You're very kind." 

"Any day! Why not tomorrow?" 

"It would have to be on a Saturday. On a Saturday morning would 
be best." 

This was Wednesday. Saturday seemed weeks away. 

"Ceitamly," Gus said. "This coming Saturday? We'll make an 
appointment right now. How about eleven o'clock, Saturday morn- 
ing?" 

"I don't like to trouble you, but if that would be convenient" 

"Glad to do it, Miss Leslie!" 

"Well, then, I'll meet the youngsters at school at ten, and we'll 
come here " 

She stood up. 

He stood up, with alacrity. 

"Wait," he said. "Don't go." 

She glaAced at him quickly. Her hair had the shining dark richness 

of pavement on a night of rain. She was the right height for him, 

neither tall nor short; and her figure beneath her inexpensive cloth 

coat was right, too; beautifully, gracefully right. He thought the pale- 



GUS THE GREAT 213 

olive coloring of her skin exquisite, and her eyes remarkable. Fringed 
by dark lashes, they were a deep blue-violet. 

"I mean," he said, "you'd like to see the elephant before you go." 

"It's getting late, but perhaps" 

"Why, of course! You wouldn't want to leave without seeing Molly." 
And he added as further inducement, "There's a pony now, too. Shet- 
land pony." 

He told her about that as they emerged from the office and strolled 
toward the elephant barn. 

The air was as subtly mild as early April. Rivulets of snow water 
sparkled along the path toward junctions with other thaw rills. The 
warm day had eaten great bites from the drifts and flashing planes 
of snow that only this morning, had lain immaculate and seemingly 
eternal; the brown earth was showing itself like an animal stirring 
from hibernation. And against the cobalt sky the dripping branches 
of trees seemed already emancipated from the bitter sorcery of frost; 
you could imagine sap beginning to throb in deep roots. 

He would remember this hour down the turbulent years; he would 
come back to it when he was tired*. The westering sun sent gigantic 
shafts of hazy gold through the trees, painting the snow with rose and 
delicate mauves. 

He had walked with pretty girls before; yes, with girls as pretty 
as this one. With girls even more spectacularly beautiful But there 
was a difference. 

In the elephant barn Molly lifted her trunk and greeted him with a 
delighted little squeal. 

"Better move Ranger," Gus told the attendant; so the pony was led 
to a far corner where he could not repeat his past indignities of nipping 
and kicking. 

"Well, sweetheart," Gus boomed to Molly. "Here's a pretty girl who 
wants to meet you." 

"Isn't she darling!" Carlotta said. 

Gus scratched Molly's ears and spine. Molly said, "Ah-h-h . . ." 

"May I come closer?" Carlotta asked. 

"Certainly. She won't hurt you." 

With the graceful balance of an ice skater Carlotta came into the 
stall. She touched Molly's forehead and murmured foolishness as if she 
were talking to a baby; but to Gus it did not sound foolish. Her voice 
was sprigged with as many trilling notes as a bar of music. 

When they left the barn the western sky was volcanic red beyond 
the black penciling o branches and the darkling shapes of the Fun 
House, the Old Mill. He walked through the gate with her; they stood 



214 GUS THE GREAT 

waiting for her car. It came too soon, the trolley wires and the rails 
humming. She extended her hand. 

"Thank you, Mr. Burgoyne. You've been very kind." 

"Nothing at all," he said, ' 

He watched her board the car. And he stood staring as it swayed of 
down the rails toward the violet smudge of the city. 

"Carlotta Leslie," he murmured aloud. "A pretty name." 

Custom had set aside Wednesday as an evening when he called on 
Flora. Tonight he did not want to go. He wanted to be alone, smiling 
a little, like a man remembering pleasant events. 

But he went, arriving late, greeted by Flora's account of the worries 
she had suffered concerning his safety. She pointed out that by habit he 
was prompt, and she asked what had detained him, 

"My watch was slow." 

"The watch they gave you at the farewell party? A new watch 
shouldn't lose." 

"I forgot to wind it." 

"Still, it shouldn't lose. Does it have a guarantee?" 

"I suppose so." 

"Maybe you ought to take it back to the place they bought it. Have 
themjook at it." 

"It'll be all right. I just forgot to wind it." 

Once in a path of thought, Flora had the slow bovinity of a cow 
plodding along a lane. And she had her father's concern with material 
things, with getting one's money's worth. 

"But even if you forgot to wind it, a new watch shouldn't lose. You 
should have them look at it. Maybe give your money back." 

"It was a present," he snapped. "Even if it started saying 'Cuckoo* 
I wouldn't take it back." 

"Oh, it wouldn't start saymg 'Cuckoo,' " she assured him. "They 
don't make watches like that. Just clocks." 

"No!" 

"Oh yes, Gus that's true. I'm sure it is. Just clocks. Papa says 
though they're not practical. They get out of fix. Sometimes they say 
'Cuckoo' and the bird never comes out at all. Or the bird comes out 
and doesn't say 'Cuckoo. 5 It's terrible you can't depend on them. 
But they don't make watches like that. What's the matter, Gus? Does 
your head hurt?" 

"That's right. I have a headache." 

"Smoking too much, maybe," 

"Maybe." 

"Did you smoke much today? How many did you smoke, Gus?" 



GUS THE GREAT 215 

"Can't remember. Twenty-nine or thirty." 

"Gus!" 

"I mean nineteen or twenty. Or nine or ten." 

"Well my goodness can't you remember? If you can't remember 
any better than that there's no need trying to keep count at all, is 
there?" 

"No." 

"But you should keep count, though. I don't mean because of the 
expense although it is expensive, isn't it? but I mean because of your 
liver. What you ought to do Gus is start out the day with just so 
many in your pocket and then when they were gone there wouldn't 
be any more. Wouldn't that be a good idea, Gus?" 

"Yes." 

"Then why don't you do it that way?" 

The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. 

"Oh, my God!" he groaned. "My God!" 

"Gus, what? You're not mad at me, are you?" Tears swam in 
her eyes. "You're not?" 

"No," he said. "No ... No ..." He jumped to his feet and strode 
about the parlor, his fingers fists and agony on his face. 

"Why, Gus! What?" 

"It's my head. It's splitting. I think . . . I'll have a sick headache" 

She wanted him to lie down; she wanted to apply cold cloths to 
his brow. He shook her fingers from his sleeve. 

"It's bed I need. A night's sleep. It's I've got to leave. Bed . . ." 

Bewildered, she stood at the front door watching him stride down 
the long walk to the street, his big shoulders bowed, his head lowered. 

He wakened Thursday morning after a night of strange, troubled 
dreams. Usually he wakened refreshed and invigorated, glad to bounce 
from bed and plunge into the day's business. Not this morning. He 
lay with a forearm covering his eyes, wishing he might remain here 
opiated till Saturday morning. 

He told himself he would feel better after breakfast, so he pulled on 
his clothes and dragged his body along the squeaking hall of the 
lodginghouse. Outside the morning was warm: early siin piercing the 
soft-coal smoke, the sidewalk veneered with patches of black ice frozen 
from yesterday's snow water. Along the street, carriages crunched 
through crusty snow and brittle ice-roofed puddles. * 

Children emerged from the doors of the cheap old houses, carrying 
schoolbooks. School Probably at this hour she was on her way to 
school. 

He went to his usual cafe and ordered his usual lusty breakfast, but 
he kept forgetting to eat. One minute his coffee was too steaming hot 



216 GUS THE GREAT 

to swallow and the next it was stone cold. He drained his cup and sat 
blowing smoke at the scarcely nibbled toast, at the uneaten ham and 
eggs. Suddenly he realized he would be late at the park, but he didn't 
jump up from the table and bustle out. He heaved a deep breath and 
remained there scowling. When he stood up at last his movements 
were slow and laborious. 

He caught his outgoing car, nearly empty at this hour, and sat 
staring through the window. Once he became aware of excitement 
on the street and beheld a horseless carriage chugging along. By this 
time there were several in the city; a motor club was to be organized; 
it looked as if the fad might take hold the way the bicycle fad had. 
People said that in the big cities they were becoming fairly common. 

The car moaned past the garden gate to the Oxenford place, and 
Gus caught sight of the wooden turrets of the house. He was scheduled 
to dwell there after a certain date in April. A few weeks ago when 
that was decided, it had seemed a good idea. The place sprawled big 
with plenty of room for newly weds; living there would save rent. And 
it had delighted him to think of Clayton Junction people driving past 
on Wellington Avenue, awed by the tremendous lawn and the stained- 
glass windows. But now the prospect seemed dreary. He wished he 
could dwell there without having Flora and Oxenford underfoot. He 
wished he could dwell there with somebody else as his wife. 

By the time he reached the park he was feeling more himself. He 
had a job; the day's work must be done. Nevertheless, he still felt out 
of touch with reality. Last winter an attack of grippe had put him to 
bed with a fever, and he had experienced this same disengagement 
from the world of things. It gave him the disconcerting sense that 
material objects were unimportant; that the only place reality existed 
was within himself. 

He left the car and crossed the tracks; and outside the gate he paused 
and gazed at the spot where yesterday afternoon two people had stood. 
It all came back to him then, the wrenchings within himself. It was 
as if his real self had never made its existence known before; as if it 
were a fabled giant, slumbering, bound, gagged; and now it was 
wakening, struggling against its fetters. 

He didn't like that feeling, either. Always it had made him gloomy 
to look inside himself. This sense that there were momentous things 
in life as mysterious and invisible as electricity which you couldn't 
touch and see, gave him a feeling of being unmoored and drifting. If 
you couldn't put store by the visible, tactile, audible world, you were 
lost and lost. What was wrong with him, anyway? Why did he 
stand here staring at a place where a lovely girl had waited for a street- 
car? He'd have to take hold of himself! 

So he took hold of himself, bustling into the park and into his 



GUS THE GREAT 217 

office. The momentum carried him through his morning mail. Letter 
from Pawpacker! Good! Great' He'd written him a fortnight ago, 
breaking the news of the approaching wedding and inviting him to 
attend. Well! Pawpacker said he'd be delighted to come, if he could 
arrange it. Pawpacker wished him well with the park; and then, in a 
wonderful paragraph, reminded him of his two-fifty credit and said 
he hoped Gus would not give up his idea of organizing a circus. He 
would advise most young men against such a venture, but Gus had 
already shown himself a master showman. Pawpacker trusted his 
marriage would not interfere with his circus plans. 

Interfere! Gus chuckled. Marriage would make his circus possible! 

He crackled through the rest of his mail, letters from booking agents 
and concessionaires. He whistled. Show business. Promotion. Making 
things happen. He loved it. 

He conferred with several maintenance men about routine matters; 
and after that he had nothing to do; his momentum was spent; and 
he sat at his desk aware that he was slipping back into his earlier 
mood. What was wrong with him, anyway? Was he catching a cold? 
Was he smoking too much, as Flora had hinted? Of course not! He 
was big, healthy, husky. Then why this predilection for sitting and 
day dreaming? Of course she was a pretty girl! But there were lots 
of pretty girls! It had even occurred to him that after marriage it 
wouldn't be absolutely necessary for him to cease joking with pretty 
girls. Of course it was a pretty name, Carlotta Leslie. But lots of 
pretty girls had pretty names. Damn it, why couldn't he think of other 
pretty girls he had known? Why did their remembered faces all go 
blank while Carlotta Leslie's remained vivid ? 

He found himself staring at the chair where she had sat. He re- 
membered her saying that she taught at Manning School, and he 
realized that ever since then the Manning School section of town had 
glowed in his mind as an enchanted place. This very office was en- 
chanted, as if the walls and furniture had absorbed her loveliness. And 
if he weren't virtually a married man, with his life all neatly charted, 
he would think that he too had come under that enchantment, be- 
witched like a character m a nursery tale. A vast, nameless pain existed 
in his chest; a delicious pain; and he kept taking deep breaths to get rid 
of it. But it wouldn't leave. Maybe at that he ought to see a doctor. 
But he was beyond a doctor's help. 

By two o'clock he was invaded by a restlessness that kept him pacing 
about the office, that sent him to the elephant barn and back, that gave 
him no peace at all. Forty-five hours till n A.M. Saturday. 

And then a fear, hit him. It was so devastating, so cruel, that he 
stopped short on the office rug and exclaimed, "No!" 



2i8 GUS THE GREAT 

The fear was simply that there might be a change in her plans 
and she wouldn't bring her pupils to the park after all. But . . . that 
couldn't happen! Yet it might. If it did, what would he do? He had 
to see her again, 

But of course she would come! If something changed her plans she 
would inform him. He dropped down at his desk, then immediately 
arose and paced the office. Finally he went outdoors and wandered 
along the path to the midway. A few minutes later he moved back 
toward the office, but instead of entering he passed through the gate 
and plodded along the car line toward the city. A bit of exercise would 
quell his restlessness, he told himself. He wasn't going anywhere in 
particular; just taking the air. 

After a couple of blocks he cut away north and his pace quickened. 
Cigar smoke plumed back over his shoulder; he strode briskly like a 
man late for an appointment. Some minutes later he espied the Man- 
ning School on the west side of the street. It was a two-story brick 
building with a muddy playground, and he observed it covertly. 

She was inside. Which room ? As he approached he sighted a man 
leaving the building, obviously a janitor in overalls and an old hat. 
Gus followed him toward a cluster of neighborhood storesjhalf a block 
away. 

Grocery. Drugstore. Barber shop. The janitor was a short man with 
a black mustache. He entered the drugstore. Gus followed. 

He was at the tobacco counter, purchasing Horseshoe Plug, discuss- 
ing the benign weather with the druggist. As Gus peered into the 
showcase at the cigars the janitor was saying: 

"But it can't last. A few days like this and it'll start snowing again." 

The druggist nodded. Gus indicated a quarter brand and said : 

"Six of those." And to the janitor: "You're absolutely right. It 
can't last." 

"No, it can't," the janitor said. "We get these thaws, but they don't 
last." 

"Lots of winter yet," Gus said. 

"Yeah lots of it." 

The janitor knifed tobacco from the plug and tucked it into his 
cheek, 

"How's everything at school?" Gus inquired. 

"About the same." 

"Friend of mine has a boy in that school. Third grade." 

The janitor did not consider this remarkable. 

"Let's see. Who teaches third grade? Miss ?" 

"Leslie." 

"That's the one. Hear she's a good teacher." 

The janitor nodded. "Fine girl." He spoke with difficulty, owing to 



GUS THE GREAT 219 

the size of the chew. "Not always jawing you like them old maids. Not 
complaining if the blackboards ain't washed." 

"That so?" 

"Sure it's so. You wouldn't believe it, the things they find to com- 
plain about. Too much heat. Or not enough." 

"The kids like her?" Gus asked. 

"Huh? Oh. Sure they like her. Sweet girl. Modest. Well, I got 
to get back." 

He shuffled out. Gus spat the end from a cigar, ignited it at the 
counter flare. He found himself envying the janitor, because the janitor 
was employed beneath the same roof. He thought of something. 

"Got a city directory?" 

The druggist jerked a thumb toward the rear. 

Gus nosed back through the thin medicinal odors to the prescription 
counter, ran through the plump book to the "L" section. 

Leslie, Carlotta. There it was in print, her name. She existed; 
she was not something he had dreamed. Her occupation was given as 
a student at the University of Tamarack: the book had been compiled 
a year ago. Her address was on Mabis Avenue. That would be north 
and east of here. Yesterday upon leaving the park she must have 
taken the car downtown and transferred to the University of Tama- 
rack line. 

The book gave her a mother, Agnes Leslie, housewife. Her father 
was Herbert C. Leslie, clerk at the Tamarack Fidelity & Trust Com- 
pany. For a moment that meant nothing to Gus, and then it came to 
him with a start: that was Oxenford's company. The trust of which 
he had gained control so he could borrow extravagantly. 

Gus was troubled. He wondered why. Then he realized that all day 
he had been planning half-consciously how he could call a few times 
at Carlotta Leslie's home without letting Flora know. And now this! 
Herbert C. Leslie an employee of Oxenford! But Oxenford had hun- 
dreds of employees. Probably he didn't know Leslie even by sight. 

His watch showed 3:15. School would not be dismissed till four. He 
wasn't going to accost her when she left school. He craved doing that, 
but even in his agitation he perceived the arguments against such a 
course. It would be pushing things too fast. Of course, if he could 
make it appear a chance encounter . . . No. Better wait till Saturday. 
But he wanted to glimpse her. 

He left the drugstore, entered the barber shop. Slack business had 
stretched the barber out asleep in his chair. 

"Any chance to get a shave?" Gus boomed, and the fellow jumped 
as if stuck with a needle. 

"Sure. You're next. Fine weather." 

Gus removed his tie and detached his linen collar. 



220 GUS THE GREAT 

"Can't beat it," he said. 

"It won't last, though/' the barber said. 

Gus closed his eyes, floated toward a half-doze under the bliss of 
the warm towel. Sometimes he sighed. Maybe out at the park they 
were wondering where he had gone. Damn the park. Yesterday the 
park and his future in show business had seemed the most vital things 
m the world. Now they were not exactly unimportant but certainly 
they had been jostled from the forefront of his thoughts. A girl had 
entered his office, and it was as if an innocent-appearing chemical had 
been added to a solution and brought about turbulence. The barber 
talked without expecting replies from the folds of the towel. And 
as he slapped on lather he mentioned a rumored rise in streetcar fares. 

He flourished his razor, moved it across Gus's cheek. 

"It's that damned highwayman Oxenford," he declared. "He's got 
his hands on this town's throat!" 

Gus didn't consider this the time for rebuttal. And after a few 
minutes, when the barber dusted powder on Gus's velvety cheeks, he 
was discussing prize fighting. 

Gus killed time with a haircut he didn't need, and it was nearly 
four when he stood at the mirror and hooked his collar to his shirt. 
His face had matured in the last year or two: he might have been 
twenty-six, twenty-eight. His eyes were shrewd, and so many years of 
determined thinking about getting ahead had brought a habitual pro- 
tuberance to his jaw. His countenance had a solid quality. He paid 
the barber with a five-dollar bill and tipped him a quarter; he despised 
niggardliness. 

Gaining the street, he beheld children marching from the school 
entrance. At the sidewalk the lines burst out in all directions: boys 
running, scuffling, hooting. The scene might have been the Clayton 
Junction school when he was a boy; it might have been any school, 
anywhere. He entered the drugstore and stood by the front windows, 
gaze fixed on the school. Most of the children had vanished. A little 
girl came out and dusted two blackboard erasers. Yes, in Clayton 
Junction there had always been such a teacher's pet who remained 
after hours to help with chores. The girl disappeared and minutes 
passed; and then, at 4:20, Gus saw Carlotta Leslie leaving the building 
and turning toward the neighborhood business district. A young man 
walked by her side. 

Gus stared. He had lighted another cigar and he never realized how 
furiously he puffed. In his overcoat pocket his right hand was a fist, 
and in imagination he left the store and strode across the street and 
smashed his fist into the young man's narrow, eyeglassed face. 

Now they had reached the opposite corner. They paused. She was 
talking to him soberly; he nodded the educated fool! and said some- 



GUS THE GREAT 221 

thing; and then she smiled and continued north alone. Gus drank in 
her loveliness; but his emotions were mixed, for the educated fool came 
across the street and entered the store. Narrow shoulders, pasty face. 
Gus eyed him through clouds of cigar smoke. He made a purchase 
and left, his narrow legs scissoring off toward the west. 

"That fellow looked familiar," Gus told the druggist. "What's his 
name?" 

"Harold . . . Somebody. Can't remember his last name. He's prin- 
cipal over at the school" 

"Guess I don't know him," Gus gruffed. 

He left the store, stared north. The tree-lined distances had taken 
her away from him. He strode back toward the park, telling himself 
it would be natural for a teacher to talk to the principal. But damn it, 
she didn't need to smile at him. Maybe she knew other men, went out 
with them. It was a supposition as devastating as it was likely. 

On Friday and Saturday mornings upon arriving at the office he 
grabbed his mail and shuffled through it fast, but on neither morning 
did he find the envelope he dreaded: a note from Carlotta Leslie 
telling him her plans for a visit to the park had changed. 

So she was coming! This was Saturday at last, and at eleven she 
would arrive. Gus sat staring through the window. 

The sky had clouded over in the night, and the air was the color of 
gray water. Light coming through the window filmed Gus's counte- 
nance with gray, too, and shadows whispered about his eyes and mouth, 
as if he had been missing sleep. 

He heaved a breath and gazed down at the desk. For three days he 
had neglected his correspondence; it was piling up on him. He'd have 
to attack it, he thought, gazing at the cumbrous typewriter on a little 
table beside the desk. He really needed a secretary, but such a sugges- 
tion would throw Oxenford into apoplexy. Always before he had 
answered his letters promptly, using two fingers to jab out the replies. 
A sheet remained in the typewriter, a half-written publicity story about 
how Funland had acquired a Shetland pony to keep Molly company. 

He stood up and prowled. Once he straightened a picture on the 
wall and once he rearranged a chair. Last Wednesday afternoon seemed 
weeks ago, weeks since he had been able to look ahead and plan his 
moves; marriage, money, a circus, more money, a bigger circus, renown. 

He wished she had never come knocking on his office door. No he 
didn't. Yes he did. What did he wish? He sighed and smiled faintly: 
he guessed he wished it were eleven o'clock. 

But it was scarcely nine. He left the office and pushed through the 
leaden morning toward the elephant barn. The black ground was a 
frozen crust daubed with unclean snow, and the park buildings looked 



222 GUS THE GREAT 

bleak. Impossible to believe that one summer morning thousands had 
swarmed here, or that ever again the place would be festive on a warm 
evening. He crossed the narrow gauge of the miniature railroad with 
its tiny crossing sign: "Watch Out For The Cars." On a siding the 
little locomotive and coaches were hidden by a dirty tarpaulin. And 
suddenly the whole park seemed cheap and tawdry, a catchpenny 
enterprise beneath his capabilities. 

He didn't like that. It was a way to make a good living, wasn't it ? 
It was a springboard to bigger things, wasn't it? Why these soul- 
searchings? Perhaps, he thought consolingly, all men experienced such 
misgivings, at times. Maybe on gray days lawyers gloomily thought of 
themselves as hired participants in a dog fight, and perhaps merchants 
asked their hearts why they were piddling away their lives with fifteen- 
cent sales. Possibly all men, in youth at least, had high dreams of them- 
selves as bigger than life, illustrious heroes striding forth to slay dragons 
or drive lion-pulled chariots. And then, tricked and trapped, they 
compromised. 

He .fisted his hands. He wouldn't compromise, by God! He knew 
what he wanted and he'd get it. He'd bull and push and bawl his 
demands, and life would yield. He'd come a long way from Clayton 
Junction, and he had only started. 

And then again Carlotta came into his thoughts. He was astonished 
she had been out of them for even an instant. He had halted, and he 
was staring out across the park, and for the first time he faced candidly 
the problem of two dreams in his life now. The circus. And Car- 
lotta, A little house on a quiet street, with children joyful on Christmas 
Eve. 

He recoiled from the choice. He was moving pretty fast, he told 
himself. Maybe he wouldn't like her when he saw her again. Maybe 
she was deeply in love with somebody else, going to be married. 
Maybe if he saw her a few times the shine would wear away, like 
cheap jewelry turning green with use. And maybe maybe he could 
have her and the circus both. 

That was an instant of happiness distilled pure. He beheld the two 
of them riding down the years together, and every day would be 
circus day and every instant would be ecstasy. Suddenly rage stormed 
through him because he had permitted that vision to be born. How 
could he buy a circus without Oxenford's backing? Well, Pawpacker 
had offered him credit. Bah! Hadn't Pawpacker frankly said he'd 
close him if things went bad? He'd need a backlog of capital. He 
wasn't a fool. You didn't organize a circus with hopes and dreams. 
Capital. He had saved nothing. Money ran through his fingers. He 
didn't have Oxenford's tightwad disposition wouldn't want it. He 
wasn't the type to scrimp and save, penny by penny. He was the 



GUS THE GREAT 223 

type to seize a big hunk o capital and toss it at Pawpacker and tell 
him what he wanted. He had two-fifty credit with Pawpacker. Pin 
money! He'd need several thousand. Where could he get it except 
from Oxenford? Frank MacGowan? Nonsense! Frank wouldn't 
have much saved. His dinky weekly paper supported him, and that 
was all. No, he mustn't admit that vision to his thoughts again. 

He strode on to the elephant barn, and as always the sight of Molly 
soothed his troubled cortex. He ordered the pony moved a safe dis- 
tance away, and then he approached the coiling trunk and boomed 
a greeting. How glad she seemed when he visited her! Some kind of 
bond existed between them: almost made you believe that stuff about 
transmigration of souls. He had a way with her, understood her, 
as if in some previous existence his spirit had resided in an enormous 
gray body, or as if now a burly elephant's soul inhabited the chemical 
entity men called Gus Burgoyne. 

"Well, sweetheart! How are you? You'll have to behave this morn- 
ing. Yep have to mind your p's and q's. Going to have visitors." 

After instructing the attendant to herd the pony and Molly into the 
outside pen, he returned to his office. Ten o'clock, now. She had 
said the children would gather at the school at ten. He could imagine 
them over there across the gray blocks. Some children would be early, 
some late, and all excited. No more excited than he! 

He saw them coming when they were a half-block distant, a long 
and not very regular line of children marching in twos, led by Car- 
lotta Leslie. He saw them from his desk through the shrubs and steel 
pickets of the fence rimming the park. He jumped up, noj: waiting to 
see the end of the line. 

His heart was thumping, and the pain in his chest had been replaced 
by breathlessness, as if the atmosphere had rarefied and he wasn't get- 
ting sufficient oxygen. He made himself wait in the office to give them 
time to reach the gate. At last he opened the door. 

The line of march was breaking up inside the park, the children 
whirlpooling. Carlo tta was saying: 

"Now wait, children! Wait!" 

As Gus walked toward her, smiling jovially, all the restlessness of the 
last days left him. Pain left him. He was quite himself again; he felt 
completely in command. 

"Well!" he boomed. "Look who's here! Good morning, Miss Leslie!" 

Her young face had been concerned with the problem of herding 
the children, but now she looked up at Gus and smiled. 

"Yes, we got here. Finally!" 

For an instant he enjoyed the electrifying experience of staring into 
her blue-violet eyes. 



224 GUS THE GREAT 

"Told Molly you were coming," he grinned. "Told her to be on her 
good behavior." 

"The youngsters are so excited. They " 

He didn't hear the rest. His gaze had chanced to the gate, admitting 
the last of the children. And he was turbulent again. For somebody 
was bringing up at the rear of the line. A pasty, eyeglassed face. 

The educated fool! 

Perhaps she detected the change in his face. 

"I asked Mr. Henderson to come along," she said easily. "It's such 
a responsibility to take a group of children through the streets I 
needed somebody to help. Oh, Mr. Henderson. Would you come here 
and meet ?" 

His narrow shoulders knifed through the swirling children. His face 
was oval, his hair mouse-colored; and the hand he extended was soft. 

Gus felt as masculine as a stallion. He shot out his big paw and 
seized the schoolmaster's hand, shaking it so bone-breakingly and 
vigorously that the fellow's eyeglasses threatened to hop off his thin 
nose. 

"Mighty glad to know you, Henderson," he boomed. 

Henderson said, "How do you do." His hand escaped the inquisition, 
and while he massaged it he asked, "Haven't I met you? Or seen you?" 

"Don't think so." 

"I'm sure I have. My memory seldom fails me. I never forget a face." 

Oh, insufferable braggart! 

"Neither do I," Gus declared stoutly. "In my line of work " - 

"I have it," Henderson exclaimed. "I didn't meet you, but I saw 
you. It was Thursday afternoon in the Square Deal Drugstore. I had 
just left Miss Leslie after agreeing to attend her on this expedition. 
You were standing by the window, looking out. Smoking a cigar." 

"Thursday? Couldn't be. I was downtown all afternoon." 

"I never forget a face," Henderson insisted, with a schoolmaster's 
passion for precision and details. "And I'm sure " 

He stopped. Perhaps the look in Gus's eyes stopped him, or perhaps 
he realized that his scholarly instincts were carrying him close to dis- 
puting Mr. Burgoyne's honesty. 

"It might have been somebody who looked like you," he conceded 
lamely. But he sounded unconvinced and puzzled at this instance of 
unwarranted deceit. x 

"It doesn't matter, anyway," Carlotta sang out. "Let's get on to 
the elephant barn. The children are so eager." 

This was understatement. 

"Better form a line," Gus said. He cupped his hands and bawled, 
"Listen, you kids! We're going to see the bull, now the elephant. 



GUS THE GREAT 225 

Don't want any nonsense. Line up, just as you were. Henderson will 
be behind you, and Miss Leslie and I will lead the way." 

That put Henderson in his place. 

And so, like a cigar-puffing, cigar-waving Pied Piper a prosperously 
dressed and self-assured Piper who had embroidered legend by acquir- 
ing a lovely companion Gus led the slow snake dance of children 
toward the elephant barn. It lifted his spirits. He loved leading a 
parade. 

The children were too anticipatory to observe how amiably Miss 
Leslie and Mr. Burgoyne were striking it off. Her laugh kept ringing 
out, and she was constantly glancing up at him in a cordiality that on 
occasion was almost coquettish. They looked well together, as if 
they were walking along to music that nobody else could hear. 

"Uh Miss Leslie," Gus said, just before they reached the barn. 
"After this is over would you drop into the office for a second? Want 
to ask your advice about a matter." 

Far to the rear, Mr. Henderson shambled along like a humble 
scholar at the end of an academic procession. You could almost imag- 
ine him garbed in cap and gown. 

In the outdoor pen stood Molly and Ranger, and when the children 
glimpsed them they broke ranks and surged to the fence. They shouted; 
they exclaimed. Gus kept bawling instructions: stand back, not too 
close! One intrepid boy attempted climbing the fence, but when Gus 
strode toward him he dropped to the ground and danced away into 
the throng. Other children asked if they might ride the pony, and a 
half-dozen negatives exploded from Gus's lips: Ranger's gentleness 
was illusory. Molly gazed at the small fry with eyes that were sapient 
and almost ironical, as if divining how many times down the circus 
years she would be stared at, gasped at. But always her gaze returned 
to Gus; she waved her trunk at his imperial figure and trumpeted 
affection. 

"Can they do tricks?" one boy shrilled. "Can the elephant and pony 
perform?" 

" 'Course not!" Gus replied. "They're just babies. But they will. I've 
got several trainers on the string who want the job. You come back 
next year at this time and they'll do tricks." 

Next year at this time. He winced secretly, wishing he had not men- 
tioned the future, as if already he sensed the decisions his ambition 
would force upon him. And so, as always when attacked by doubt, 
he buckled on robustness, great assurance, armor he would wear 
oftener and then perpetually as he plunged on into the chaos of the 
twentieth century. 

"Yes sir!" he boomed. "You won't find a smarter elephant any- 
where. She'll do tricks the like of which have never been seen!" 



226 GUS THE GREAT 

Impressive words, when buttressed by his persuasive power. There 
was a moment of round-eyed silence as the children stared at the 
beast whose tricks would some day be fabulous. 

At last the children had remained long enough according to their 
elders and the procession wound back toward the gate. 

"You said you wanted to ask me " Carlotta said. 

Gus gestured at the office. "Yes. Come in." 

She called to Mr. Henderson, asking him to keep an eye on the 
youngsters; she would return immediately. 

Gus followed her into the office, closed the door. It was an island 
of cubic silence, distantly assaulted by the surf roar of young voices. 

"Sit down," Gus said. 

"I can't stay." 

"Do sit down." 

She obeyed. He preferred that arrangement the other person sit- 
ting, himself standing when he conducted an interview that would 
yield him advantage. 

"I'm writing a publicity story," he said slowly, waving at the type- 
writer. "About our buying the pony to keep Molly company. I'm 
having trouble with it. Want it to appeal to children. You know 
children well teaching them. I'd like to have you read it and give 
me your advice." 

"Wellof course. But" 

"I know, I know* You don't have time now. But if if I could drop 
in at your home some evening get your advice " 

All futurity waited for her reply. The children were yelling, laugh- 
ing, whooping. 

"Why . . . yes," she said. 

"Tonight?" 

"No . . . not tonight. I couldn't . . . tonight." 

"Tomorrow night?" 

He would go on forever through the calendar. 

"Yes," she said. "Tomorrow night." 

"About eight?" 

"Yes." She stared at the rug. "Or . . . well, we always have a Sun- 
day night picnic in the living room. After a heavy meal at noon, we 
have . . . popcorn and apples. Why don't you come for that? At six." 

"Why, that's great," he said. "About six. Great!" And he chuckled. 
"Better pop plenty of corn, Miss Leslie. When it comes to popcorn, 
I eat like an elephant.** 

He floated through the rest of the day. Only one moth gnawed at 
the rich fabric of his happiness, his obligation to call on Flora that 
evening. Wednesday and Saturday evenings she expected him. 



GUS THE GREAT 227 

"How are you feeling, Gus?" Flora asked, as soon as the door 
opened. 

"Me? I'm feeling great. How are you feeling?" 

'Tve been worried about you. You weren't feeling good the other 
night." 

"Oh. No guess I wasn't. But I'm feeling fine, now." 

"How's your watch?" 

"It's all right." 

"Has it lost time any more?" 

"No keeping fine time," 

"I'd take it back, anyway. Have it checked." 

"Sure. I will if it loses again." 

As they reached the library Mr. Oxenford hopped up and strode 
toward Gus, hand extended. He was smiling knowingly. 

"Evening, Gus. Have you saw the paper?" 

"Paper?" 

"The Beacon. Have you saw it?" 

Gus hadn't. No news could have competed that day with the mo- 
mentous events in his life. 

"Just looky here," Mr. Oxenford crowed, snatching up the news- 
paper. "Just read this." 

From page one Mr. Oxenford's bewhiskered countenance peered 
out at the world, and a long news story accompanied the picture. It 
announced the organization of a new corporation, Tamarack Electric 
& Guarantee. The public was being permitted to exchange its dollars 
for pieces of paper known as stock in the corporation. 

"And they're snapping it up," Mr. Oxenford chuckled. 

Assets of the corporation consisted of other pieces of paper, stock 
certificates in such enterprises as Tamarack & Northern, Tamarack 
Fuel & Ice, Tamarack Street Railway. 

"Congratulations!" Gus said. "Didn't realize you had this iron in 
the fire." 

"Lots of irons," Mr. Oxenford said, rustling his palms together. 
"This is the smartest deal yet. That lawyer of mine's a sharp one. 
Sharp as a tack." 

"Uh," Gus said, "you still control everything?" 

"Control! You bet I do! That's the point. It ain't important to own 
all the dollars that work for you, Gus. Just control *em. Take Electric 
& Guarantee. I hold fifty-one percent of the stock. The other forty- 
nine dollars out of every hundred belong to the public. But I vote the 
majority." 

"That's pretty cute." 

"Cute as a dollar sign! Cuter! For between us, I ain't actually put 



228 GUS THE GREAT 

up dollars for my majority in Electric & Guarantee. I put up my stock 
in other firms." 

"But it amounts to the same thing/' Gus said. "You paid for your 
stock in those firms," 

"Well yes and no. That's my answer there yes and no. When 
you start trackm' it down, Gus, it makes you dizzier than following 
rabbit tracks. Take Oxenford Electric Construction Company. Our 
funds there are a loan from Tamarack Fidelity & Trust. I sort of own 
that trust. Got control by borrowing from the Merchants' State Bank. 
They hold stock of mine as collateral but I can still vote it. It's 
kind of mixed up, as I say. But it's all legal! Don't forget that! Never 
get Sam Oxenford to break a law!" He grinned and added, "Might 
bend *em a leetle mite, but never would break 'em." 

Both men had forgotten Flora. She sat admiring Gus as if he were 
a bale of clover hay. 

Gus looked puzzled. "But where's the catch?" 

"What do you mean catch?" 

"You can't get something for nothing. And it looks to me" 

"Something for nothing! Land of Goshen you sound like a Social- 
ist! Ain't something for nothing at all! I control the whole shooting 
match because I use my head that's why! Ain't a man's brains worth 
something?" 

Gus grasped the point at once. "I'm a little slow tonight," he 
grinned. "Of course." 

"Yep brains is what does it. And when my brains ain't smart 
enough I hire brains. That lawyer's. Once you're in the saddle you 
can control brains and vote 'em, so to speak, just like you control a 
company. Of course, I s'pose there could be a catch." 

Gus waited. 

"Nothing's perfect," Mr, Oxenford philosophized. "And if say a 
Democrat would get elected say they'd put up some wild-eyed fool 
like Bryan and elect him. And the country would go into a panic- 
But it ain't likely. I'm gambling it won't happen. We got heavy 
interest payments to meet, you know. We got to keep showing profit. 
But we will. I'm gambling that we will." 

Gus was gambling that way, too. 

At midafternoon Sunday, snow began to fall and dusk came early. 
The air was damp and raw, and Gus rode in a hack toward the Mabis 
Avenue address. All day he had been full of anticipation and elation, 
but now uncertainty took hold of him. It was like the stage fright that 
had assailed him that first Sunday when he dined at the Oxenfords'* 



GUS THE GREAT 229 

Only then he had been awed by wealth and power, but tonight it was 
the memory of Carlotta that agitated him. 

The closed hack smelled like a livery stable and the cushions were 
slick and cold beneath his drumming fingers. His breath and the 
animal warmth of his big body steamed over the windows; with his 
sleeve he swabbed the glass. The snow was falling more thickly now, 
swarming around street lamps like summer insects. 

The hack wheeled more slowly as the driver puzzled out addresses, 
and at last it halted before a tall house where a gas porch light was 
burning. The shallow front yard was rimmed by a low snow-sparkling 
hedge. After his money sent the cab wheels squeaking off through the 
snow, Gus stood looking at the house, trying to forget the saloon in 
Clayton Junction and the diamond he had given Flora. 

As he reached the porch something told him he was embarking on 
a new experience with people different from those he had known well. 
It was a tree. A Christmas tree, still on its standard, moved to the 
porch in the vain hope that the wintry air would help it retain its 
needles. A red-and-tinsel star still decorated its tip, and although the 
branches looked dry and woebegone Gus imagined them green and 
heavy with presents on Christmas Eve. 

And in a flash he remembered his own sterile Christmas Eve; and 
he thought of Flora and of Beulah Murray in Clayton Junction and 
the Rafferty Street girls. He remembered the girls he had gone out 
with when he was a newspaper man, pretty girls met m a dozen casual 
ways, Some lived with their families in the wrong part of town, but 
most lived as he did in the lodginghouse district, girls of the night 
and the half-world, laughing on the road to nowhere. 

Curving out from the front door was a cast-iron lever. He shoved 
it down, bringing a loud peal from the bell attached to the other side, 
vibrating a summons through the rooms of a happy home. 

"There he is," Carlotta sang out. "I'll go." 

She lifted her skirts and glided from the sitting room. Tonight she 
felt full of the devil and laughter, perhaps because of her new dress. 
It was a lovely thing of tulip-yellow, and the skirt swished like a tree 
full of leaves as she hurried along the hall from the back sitting room. 

On her right, double doors closed off the parlor. The Leslies were 
not parlor people. They would as soon have put guests into stocks as 
entertain them in that stiff room. Had they owned the house instead 
of renting it 3 they would have abolished the parlor. Modern people, 
the Leslies. 

Light was hissing from a gas globe in the hall, and at the mirror 
Carlotta gave herself a final survey. The girl in the glass had a smooth 



2 3 o GUS THE GREAT 

and almost regal loveliness, with all that brunette darkness and smol- 
der. She made a little face at herself and opened the door. 
"Hello come in," she called. "My goodness! Look at the snow!" 
"Well," the young man boomed, "I got here! Yes, quite a snow!" 
She watched while he heaved out of his great, expensive overcoat 
and hung it on the hall tree. His suit with ils tiny gray check was 
expensive, too. A sense of winter night had entered with him, and of 
male gusto in shouldering through cold and dark. He was smiling 
broadly, and his Roman nose sniffed. 

"Golly, Miss Leslie, but that popcorn smells good! Smells like a 
circus!" 
She laughed and told him to come along and meet her family. 

The Leslie sitting room was a snug place with rose-colored curtains 
drawn across the windows. A coal fire glowed in the grate, and there 
wasn't an uncomfortable chair in the room. No professional decorator 
had furnished this house; it couldn't compare in fashionable tasteless- 
ness with the Oxenfords*, but the room sinned in its own lighthearted 
way. There was too much furniture; too many knickknacks; and the 
walls were nearly hidden by pictures. There was a dark old oil of a 
setter with a wild duck, but most of the pictures were photographs. 
Some years before the family had given Mr, Leslie a camera on his 
birthday, and these shots of dogs and children and picnics were the 
fruits of his hobby. 

Carlotta's mother was a plump woman with laughing eyes and 
a section of white underskirt showing beneath her dress. To look at 
her was to think of pumpkin pie and turkey dressing. 

"We're glad you could come, Mr. Burgoyne," she told Gus, and 
within a few minutes he felt he had known the family for years. 

Herbert C. Leslie, in his fifties, was a Dad-looking man with gray 
hair and mild eyes. Gus classified him at once as one of the great 
number of men who made a livelihood not by giving orders but by 
taking them. 

Mr. and Mrs. Leslie had produced five children: Carlotta's older 
sister, Florence, married now; Herbert C. Leslie, Junior, aged fifteen; 
and the twelve-year-old twins, Alice and Chalice. They were identical 
possessors of dark pigtails, and Mrs. Leslie told Gus he could dis- 
tinguish them by Alice's wearing a red hair ribbon and Chalice a 
blue. 

"Dad can't tell them apart except that way," she said. "And some- 
times they even fool me. They're so full of Old Nick, Mr. Burgoyne. 
Sometimes they switch ribbons and plague their poor father something 
awful." 

The twins giggled, bringing a scornful sigh from Herbert C. Leslie, 



GUS THE GREAT 231 

Junior. He had a soap-shining face and water-plastered black hair. 
They called him Herbie. 

When the mantel clock chimed eight, Mrs. Leslie declared it was 
time for the twins to retire, and for Herbie to complete his homework 
in his room. And since tomorrow was Monday, Mr. Leslie announced 
that bed seemed the logical destination for himself. 

"I believe you and I work for the same man," he told Gus. "For 
Mr. Oxenford." 

"Sure. Sam Oxenford. Quite a fellow." 

Sam! Mr. Leslie swallowed. 

"I'm with Tamarack Fidelity & Trust Company," he said. 

"A good bank." 

"Not really a bank. Everybody calls it a bank, but it's a trust com- 
pany." 

"Amounts to the same thing, doesn't it?" 

"In practice. But we're not subject to as many regulations as a bank, 
and we don't have to keep such a big cash reserve." 

Gus laughed. "Sam would like that, not being regulated. Cash 
reserve or not, guess with Sam behind it there's no danger of its going 
broke/' 

Mr. Leslie managed a smile. A faint one. He was an old employee 
at Tamarack Fidelity & Trust; he had witnessed its growth. No 
danger of its going broke! 

"Just joking, of course," Gus boomed. 

At ten o'clock when the Leslie front door closed behind Gus the 
snow was still falling in heavy, damp flakes, and as he picked his way 
down the drifted steps and gained the silent street he felt proud of 
the way he had resisted temptation. All evening temptation had been 
present in the guise of Carlotta, and all evening he had yearned to 
suggest that they dine together soon or attend the theater. But he had 
stood firm against her lure; he kept reminding himself that with Mr. 
Leslie's working for Oxenford there was danger that Flora might learn 
of his taking Carlotta out; and now he congratulated himself upon 
his discretion and the power of his will. 

Through the snow he tramped north toward the University car line, 
remembering her dark beauty, so spectacular in the yellow gown with 
the tight bodice and lusciously full skirt. "Loveliest girl I've ever 
known," he thought; and suddenly the memory of her face and figure 
ran sharply through him like a lance, and he stopped in the snow and 
half-turned. 

But of course he couldn't go back now and ring the door bell and 



232 GUS THE GREAT 

say, "Forgot something. Would you like to take in a show some 
night?" 

He plodded on, but he no longer felt happy about his tremendous 
will power. 

He had liked not only Carlotta but her family and the cozy sitting 
room, and the great bowl of popcorn, and the apples, and the feeling 
that this was a home: a collection of warmhearted people who belonged 
together, loving and quarreling but mainly loving, backing up one 
another when trouble came, a warm little fortress. And yet 

Well, even as he basked in enjoyment he kept thinking that life held 
more for him than that. He liked Herbert C. Leslie, but it chilled him 
to picture himself at fifty, a man taking orders and a salary. He wanted 
to be out there in front, up there at the top, a man giving orders and 
making things happen. When he entered a famous restaurant he 
wanted people to whisper, "That's Gus Burgoyne." 

Toward that goal he was well on his way. He was engaged to Flora* 
He called Mr. Oxenford Sam. If he started taking out Carlotta where 
would it lead ? Certainly not to Tamarack & Northern. 

So he resisted temptation. So he had will power. So he was still safe 
on the highroad to spangles and elephants. So he ached. 

No streetcar was in sight when he reached the University line; no 
hacks. He decided to walk to his lodginghouse. It was a long way, 
but he would have a chance to think. He brooded along, his feet damp 
and cold, past the dark houses of the middle class. It comforted him to 
reflect that he could still drop Carlotta a note, asking to see her again. 

In her bedroom Monday evening, Carlotta sat at the table by the 
front window, attempting to write a love letter. 

The room had been to college, once. Pennants decorated the walls, 
and favors from parties dangled by the dresser mirror. On a little stand 
reposed a box that had contained bonbons, a two-pound box that Jim 
Wheeler had once given her. Now it contained programs of the Athe- 
neum Literary Society at the University of Tamarack. She and Jim 
had belonged to that, and it used to seem consequential for the Athe- 
neum to win silver cups in debating and oratory over the rival Delphian 
Society. There was also a large album with "Post Cards" in gilt on 
the cover. 

Nibbling the pen, she gazed at Jim's photograph on the writing 
table. He was a pleasant-looking young man with alert eyes and a 
mouth that had been ready to smile when the picture was taken. She 
remembered how brilliantly he had argued on the Atheneum debating 
team. He had been a campus leader, active on committees, president 
of the student council, a member of the men's honor society- 
Last spring in the university she and Jim had become engaged. 



GUS THE GREAT 233 

Now he dwelt in Chicago, where he had entered a solid, old law firm. 
He received a salary for briefing up cases, and he was saving to buy her 
an engagement ring, and in another year they would marry, and 
someday the partners in the firm would invite him to join them in their 
crusade to bring justice to the world. 

This evening, Carlotta assured herself that she was in love with 
Jim. Of this there was not the slightest doubt. Andjust as indubitably 
she was not in love with Gus Burgoyne. How could she be ? She had 
been in his company on only three occasions. He was an interesting 
young man although certainly not as handsome and socially smooth 
as Jim but she could never love him. The only reason she had thought 
about Gus today was because he had annoyed her by not asking to see 
her again. Had he made such a request, she would have refused. In- 
deed, she had composed a high-minded little speech of refusal, with the 
information that she was engaged to Jim Wheeler. 

She sat staring at the sheet on the table. Except for the date line and 
the salutation it was blank. Gus was certainly different from anybody 
she had known. An amusement park manager. And planning to or- 
ganize a circus. He seemed more mature than Jim but at the same time 
more boyish. Were she not engaged, it might be interesting to spend 
another evening in his company. If he should ask her. It puzzled her 
that he had not. 

She dipped the pen into the bottle and began to write. But after 
a few sentences the words piled up like a log jam in the ink flowing 
from the pen. She read what she had written. It sounded all wrong. 
She tore up the sheet and started over. But again, after the date line 
and the salutation, she couldn't think of anything to say. She would 
have enjoyed writing about this different young man who managed 
an amusement park, who was excited about elephants, who referred 
to the great Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford as Sam; but she feared this 
might disturb Jim. Needlessly! For she certainly could never love Gus 
Burgoyne. 

That week, for a girl in love with Jim Wheeler, Carlotta thought 
about Gus more than was necessary. As she walked to school she won- 
dered what would happen if she should encounter him around the 
next corner. She was always imagining the conversation that would 
take place. 

And after school she played with the possibility of finding him wait- 
ing outside the building. She knew this was absurd, but as she walked 
along the corridor she was aware of excitement in her blood. When 
she did not find him there, she experienced disappointment and pique. 

She found reasons for going downtown after school instead of walk- 
ing home. The nearest car line was that linking the business district , 



234 GUS THE GREAT 

with Funland, so what could be more natural than traveling that route? 
Waiting on a corner, slender and attractive, she gazed along the tracks 
toward the park, picturing him out there in his office; and when her 
car came rocking along she thought perhaps he would be on board. It 
was odd and a bit exasperating to reflect that he worked within a few 
blocks of her school, that he rode this car line, that possibly this morn- 
ing he had occupied this very seat, and yet she never encountered him. 

As the week crawled by her puzzlement deepened. She was such a 
beautiful girl it was possible she had been spoiled. Since she started 
going out with boys she had never experienced anything remotely like 
unrequited interest. At the university she was one of the campus beau- 
ties, and seldom indeed did she walk home alone from the library, or 
attend chapel unescorted; and her week ends were crowded. Since Jim 
moved to Chicago, she had remained faithful, and perhaps she had 
missed young men calling more than she realized. In any case, she 
didn't enjoy Gus's failure to implore seeing her again. 

The long week ended. Sunday afternoon was fine, so Carlotta and 
Herbie went for a stroll. Carlotta chanced to mention last Sunday 
evening and Gus Burgoyne, and that led to a discussion of the elephant, 
Molly. 

"I saw her last summer," Herbie said. "Wonder if she's grown. I'd 
like to see her again." 

"Mr. Burgoyne would let you. If I'd drop him a note and ask him." 

"Would you?" 

"Why, yes," Carlotta said. "I might." 

And suddenly she felt hghtEearted. 

She made quite a ceremony of writing the note. That evening she 
went upstairs early, lingering in a warm bath, and then in slippers and 
kimono she stood at her dresser mirror, touching her hair with per- 
fume, smiling, feeling on the verge of momentous events. 

Composing the note was a daring and pleasant experience. First 
she scribbled it in pencil, then copied it in ink. It said: 

Dear Mr. Burgoyne: 

It was certainly pleasant visiting with you the other eve- 
ning, and now I have another favor to ask. My brother 
Herbie saw your elephant last summer, and he would like to 
see her again. He wonders if she has grown. I don't like to 
bother you with a request like this, but I'm sure it would 
make him very happy if it could be arranged. 

Sincerely, 

Carlotta Leslie 



GUS THE GREAT 235 

She addressed the envelope to Funland Park, inserted the note, and 
then kept taking it out again, imagining herself in his place, receiving 
it. Leaving the envelope unsealed, so she could reread the note in the 
morning, she propped it against the books on her writing table. She 
kept gazing at the name on the envelope. Mr. Gus Burgoyne, Some- 
times she read it in whispers, so her ears could share her eyes' pleasure. 

She slept sweetly and wakened happily. Even before breakfast the 
note sounded very good, so she licked the flap and pressed it evenly 
against the envelope. On her way to school she entrusted it to a mail 
box. According to the collection schedule, the envelope would be picked 
up at noon. That meant he would receive it tomorrow morning. 

After school the regular Monday teachers' meeting was held in the 
principal's office, and although she sat trying to look prim and academic 
her thoughts were elsewhere. Harold Henderson presided with as 
much formality as if it were a conference of world powers instead of a 
meeting attended by a pretty girl and five tired old spinsters. Harold 
lived for these gatherings. He called them "faculty conferences," and 
everything had to proceed according to Robert's Rules of Order, He 
was not more than twenty-five, but he had been born with a school- 
book in his hand, and probably he would die clutching his Phi Beta 
Kappa key and his Ph.D. Not that he had yet attained that degree, or 
even his Master's, but it was wearily inevitable that he should. For in 
his own odd way he was ambitious, spending his summers at the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, saving his salary so by and by he could leave public 
school work and eat his gray bookworm path through volume after 
volume, crawling always toward his Doctor's Oral and his dissertation 
concerning "The Influence of Plato's Republic upon Sir Thomas More's 
Utopia and upon the Wor^s of Francis Bacon." 

The meeting was less concerned with curriculum than with deport- 
ment. It seemed some of the youngsters had been pilfering chalk and 
scrawling bad words on the building. Miss Dodge, who reported this, 
had not trusted her heart sufficiently to investigate the inscriptions, but 
had accepted the janitor's recital as veracious. 

"None of my children was involved," Miss Dodge declared. "But I 
understand Everett Whitcomb was one of the boys." 

And since Everett Whitcomb was enrolled in fourth grade, Miss 
Dodge's long nose managed to hint that Carlotta had put him up to it. 

"If Everett did it," Carlotta said, "I'm sure the older boys must 
have told him the words." 

And she in turn managed to imply that Miss Dodge, who instructed 
fifth and sixth grades, had whispered the words to the older boys and 
commanded them to induce Everett to deface school property. 

The other teachers now joined the fray. Only this morning, Miss 
StoflEel reported, she had erased a bad picture from the wall of what 



236 GUS THE GREAT 

she called the Girls' Locker Room. It was a picture showing consider- 
able talent in art, and everyone knew that the only girl in school who 
could draw well was Gladys Wabash of sixth grade. 

Miss Dodge flushed. It was by now apparent she was corrupting 
the young. She said icily: 

'Tm sure I don't know anything about such a picture. Why didn't 
you report it to me, Miss Stoffel?" 

"I thought this meeting the proper place to report it if action were 
to be secured/' Miss Stoffel said. 

Little Miss Benson, always the peacemaker, suggested: 

"It is my thought that the children should be lectured upon these 
matters. I'm sure they don't realize what they're doing. Mr. Hender- 
son could lecture the boys and one of us could lecture the girls." 

Mr. Henderson looked troubled. 

"I suggest," he said, "that a committee be appointed to confer with 
other schools and with the central office to learn whether they have 
faced a similar problem, and, if so, how they have handled it. Do I 
hear a motion to that effect ? " 

Miss Benson so moved; Miss Stoffel seconded it. 

So Mr. Henderson appointed Miss Benson chairman o the com- 
mittee, to be aided by Miss Stoffel and Miss Dodge. Another matter 
settled! 

After that the meeting took up the problem of boys and girls tres- 
passing on lawns; also the snowball problem. When the meeting 
adjourned at five, it was the concensus of these experts on children that 
the younger generation was the worst in history. 

Mr. Henderson hurried into his overcoat so he might accompany 
Carlotta from the building. She didn't dislike him, for he had been 
kind to her in a dozen pedagogical ways since her appointment to this 
school, an appointment mainly resulting from her father's friendship 
with a school board member. Although he had never asked to call at 
her home, she sensed that he might. For professional reasons she would 
have to grant that request, but she foresaw a stuffy evening. Thus 
far, she had fended him off with casual references to her fiance. 

The late afternoon looked like March, with craggy red clouds in 
the west and slate-colored clouds dashing eastward. On the playground 
boys were untangling kite strings. 

"Rather a heated meeting at times," Harold Henderson said, and 
Carlotta laughed. 

"Miss Dodge and Miss Stoffel have been at each other's throats for 
years." 

He smiled. 

"I trust that my gingham-dog-and-calico-cat strategy in that com- 
mittee appointment will be effective." 



GUS THE GREAT 237 

He might, she thought, be amusing, if you accepted him on his own 
terms. 

They paused on the corner opposite the drugstore* And all at once 
she was alert, for something told her he was edging toward personal 
matters. 

"I'll have to get on," she said. "I'm expecting a letter from Jim. 
He's in Chicago, you know, but business may bring him to Tamarack 
this week." 

"How interesting." 

"I think so," she smiled. 

She had saved his feelings, for after sending that note to Gus Bur- 
goyne she was keeping her schedule clear. 

He said, "I must be getting home, too." 

He lifted his hat from his narrow skull with the dry, mousy hair. 
His colorless lips smiled. But she was most aware of his eyes. Behind 
his glasses they were warm and friendly. She felt ashamed of lying to 
him, but it was a charitable lie. 

"Good afternoon," he said; and she wanted to laugh. If he weren't 
so dignified! 

Carlotta spent that evening in preparation for Tuesday. Tomorrow 
morning he would receive her note and tomorrow afternoon he would 
be waiting outside the school. What should she wear? All during 
supper her thoughts flitted like a moth among the clothes in her ward- 
robe. She wanted to look her best, but on the other hand she felt it 
unwise to look unduly ornamented. The problem was complicated by 
the modest size of her wardrobe. The Tamarack Independent School 
District paid her a monthly check of only two figures, woebegone little 
figures when compared with the price tags on the clothes she desired. 
And the clothes she needed! A new winter coat, for example. She 
would not certainly not! have traded her immortal soul for a fur 
coat; but she would have been tempted. 

She was not free to spend all her salary for clothes. Part of it she 
contributed toward the upkeep of the household. After Mr. Oxenford 
had purchased control of the Tamarack Fidelity & Trust Company, 
his first act had been to slice ten percent from all salaries. He did this 
to strengthen his employees' characters by teaching them thrift. 

Thrift! Mrs. Leslie could have written a definitive encyclopedia on 
thrift. Peel the potatoes thin; round steak instead of T-banes; and 
the twins would look so cute in those new dresses but no. . . . Herbert 
C. Leslie was also acquainted with the subject. When the cut came, he 
stopped smoking cigars. It nearly killed him, but he stopped. He 
bought a cob pipe and puff ed at that, even though a pipe bit his tongue. 
He allotted himself ten cents for lunch instead of twenty. When the 



238 GUS THE GREAT 

weather was decent, he walked home from work instead of riding the 
streetcar. It was several miles, but maybe it would decrease his waist- 
line. (A health benefactor in disguise, Mr. Oxenford!) And the Les- 
lies had a creaky buggy and a creaky old horse named Ned. These they 
sold. No more Sunday afternoon rides, but the saving in oats and 
hay was considerable. When Ned departed from the stable behind 
the house, the twins cried. Not Herbie. He was too old to cry. Not 
Mr. Leslie. Men didn't cry. Mrs. Leslie didn't cry either; not until 
the house was empty and she had the kitchen to herself. But she was 
a sentimental woman who disliked imagining Ned bony between the 
shafts of a junk dealer's cart. Besides, they had purchased Ned in their 
early days of marriage when Mr. Leslie was younger and had a great 
future; Ned was a link with youth. Ned had known her as a slim, 
pretty young matron, back when the buggy was new and he trotted 
briskly. Carlotta remained at the university all that day when Ned 
was sold. Upon returning home her eyes looked red-rimmed. She 
surely hadn't been crying about Ned, had she? Mrs. Leslie laughed. 
Pooh-pooh! That old nag. He'd be dying soon-, anyway. Better sell 
him while they could! 

It was also in the interest of thrift that Carlotta stopped school after 
her second year at the university. That would have especially pleased 
Mr. Oxenford. Money spent educating women was money down a 
rathole. This also held true for money spent educating men, unless 
the man studied something practical like law, dentistry, medicine. No 
frills about Sam Oxenford! All this stuff they learned young people 
at the university! Latin, French, Economics, Philosophy! Nonsense! 
Waste! Cluttered up their brains so they couldn't think straight about 
making money! 

Carlotta had planned studying Counterpoint, Harmony, Piano, dur- 
ing her last two years. How fortunate that during her first two some 
premonition had matriculated her in "Education" courses leading to a 
teacher's certificate! And how lucky her father knew a school board 
member! Yes, the Leslies had fared better than most families who 
learned thrift from Mr. Oxenford. 

When the salary cut was announced, Mr. Leslie had been guilty of 
thoughts disloyal to Tamarack Fidelity & Trust. Behind the closed 
bedroom door he even voiced these to his wife. Maybe, he said, he 
ought to make a change. A new job. But what? Where? It was 
frightening to think about. All very well for these young fellows to 
pull out "Damned if I'll let that old tightwad do this to me!" they 
said. "I'll get a better job!" Understandable! Young men were more 
flexible. Often they welcomed, not dreaded, change. Not Mr. Leslie. 
You couldn't expect an old milk horse to become a fire-engine horse. 
Besides, jobs were not plentiful. A man with gray hair. Why are you 



GUS THE GREAT 239 

leaving your present position? Because of a salary cut. Ha! A trouble- 
maker! 

Moreover, there was the retirement fund. At the moment, the money 
in the fund was on loan to the Oxenford Electric Construction Com- 
pany. Where better? Up from the corner of Tenth and Harrison 
Streets you could virtually see your money rising in steel and stone. 

Mr. Leslie remained with the company. Bird in the hand. But it 
was certainly a blessing that Carlotta was receiving a salary. She 
thought so, too. Even more heartwarming than new clothes was her 
ability to ease the financial stresses of the household. At the supper 
table this evening she thought her father looked tired; her mother 
looked tired. She wouldn't permit Mrs. Leslie to do the dishes. 

"No, you go in and sit with Dad. The twins and I will do them," 

With her hands in soapy water, she continued combing her ward- 
robe, and finally she narrowed her choice to either a skirt and shirt- 
waist, or her black wool dress with white collar and cuffs. She decided 
at last on the dress. It was both casual and smart. Stirring up the 
cookstove fire, she put the irons on to heat; and presently she pressed 
the dress. A happy task. 

Then in the bathroom she washed her hair, returning to the kitchen 
to dry it in the heat pouring from the oven. It was long hair, falling 
nearly to her waist. She sat idly ruffling it, dreaming about tomorrow. 

The children in third and fourth grades felt lucky to have such a 
pretty teacher, and Tuesday she seemed prettier than usual and more 
vivacious. She looked queenly in her long black dress, its starched 
collar and cuffs flashing as white as her teeth when she smiled. 

February had been a good month, with a red slotted box on St. Val- 
entine's Day, and programs on the birthdays of Washington and Lin- 
coln; and now with March so near Miss Leslie advised them to be 
on the watch for pussy willows and spring birds. She said they would 
set aside one freshly washed square of blackboard on which she would 
chalk the name of the pupil who spied the first robin, the first blue- 
bird. She seemed happy about the return of spring. 

After morning recess Everett Whitcomb reported seeing a wren, 
but this brought jeers from his schoolmates, who maintained that what 
Everett had seen was a young sparrow. Miss Leslie shared their doubts, 
but because she was in such a gladsome mood she inscribed Everett's 
name on the board, followed by "wren" However, in the interests of 
science, she wrote a large question mark beside the word. 

Carlotta carried her lunch to school, and when noon came she sat 
at her desk eating, wondering what he thought of her note, thinking 
that in four hours she would see him. After the jostling morning, the 
schoolroom was unnaturally siknt, so that the usually drowned-out tick- 



2 4 o GUS THE GREAT 

lock of the wall clock sounded large and fateful. When she brushed 
the crumbs from the desk blotter it was only 12:15, so she decided to 
go to the drugstore for dessert. In the corridor it occurred to her that 
Gus might be lingering outside the school now, and her heart beat 
wildly. But only the sunny noon waited outside, melting away the 
fag-end patches of winter. 

In the drugstore she saw Harold Henderson sipping root beer at a 
wire-legged table. He stood up smiling and beckoned her to an oppo- 
site chair. After she ordered a chocolate sundae sprinkled with nuts, 
he asked if she had received her letter. For an instant she didn't know 
what he meant, but just in time she remembered her fib about Jim's 
coming. She had thought so little about Jim lately. 

"No, i didn't. I'll probably have one today." 

"If he comes, when do you expect him?" 

"Tomorrow. Thursday, maybe. I don't know." 

Her sundae arrived and her tongue was blissful with the delectable 
mixture. 

Harold was scrutinizing the glistening circles his root beer glass had 
left on the table. He spoke in a painfully strained voice. 

"Hamlet is coming, you know. To the Paragon. The New York 
cast. I had thought of inviting you to attend with me Friday night, 
but of course if your fiance is coming . . ." 

Carlotta watched the bright spoon with the little round bowl go 
dipping into the swirling chocolate syrup specked with tan nut gratings. 
Jim, Gus, Harold. It never rained but it poured. The fashionable 
Paragon Theater. She could refuse Gus if he asked to see her Friday 
evening. It might whet his ardor. She could wear her new yellow 
dress to the Paragon, the one she had extravagantly bought to wear 
that Sunday for Gus. Harold had been nice to her. He was principal. 
Her fib had not stopped him. He must like her. You couldn't help lik- 
ing somebody a little bit when he liked you. Hamlet! Dull memories 
from high school English. Harold was certainly intellectual. She 
glanced up and flashed him a smile. 

"Jim should have let me know before this," she saict 'Td love to go." 

She was always amazed at the effects her smile produced. It trans- 
formed Harold from a scholar suffering anxiety into a young man re- 
vealing evidences of being human. 

"Splendid," he said. 

And when they left the drugstore he insisted on paying for her 
sundae. 

The early afternoon dragged, but when the clock hands reached 
three, time speeded up and Carlotta found herself in a state of nerves. 
When she was a girl of sixteen she used to feel this way as she waited 
for a boy to call at her home. To sit still was difficult, and the air she 



GUS THE GREAT 241 

drew into her lungs left her with a smothering sensation. Four o'clock 
came; there was the usual confusion of children struggling into rubbers 
and squirming into overcoats; and then they were sitting at their desks. 
She opened the corridor door; the fifth and sixth grade children 
marched past. She turned back to her charges. 

"Turn. Rise. Pass." 

They filed through the door, all but two little girls who lingered to 
attend to their apple polishing. To their redundant questions she 
rattled off quick answers, shooed them out. 

What she beheld in the mirror fastened to the iaside of her cloak- 
closet door heartened her. A pretty face. Even the mirror's wavy 
imperfections couldn't detract from the bright lips and the warm olive 
coloring of the cheeks. Her hands primped at her hair; she held a 
hatpin in her teeth while she arranged her hat. The final effect was 
so strikingly beautiful that she smiled at herself. Then, serious again, 
she stepped back and turned her lovely countenance to the right, to 
the left. Her heart was in her eyes. She lowered the richly fringed 
lashes, then swept them up. The result was startling, ravishing. 

She brushed her coat, slipped into it. The lining was coming loose, 
and again she yearned for a coat of fur. She thought of the displays of 
coats and gowns at Goldstein's; lovely colors and fabrics created for 
girls like her. She buttoned the coat over her curving bosom, surveyed 
herself again. She was ready. 

She took a breath,, crossed to the door, moved through the sweeping- 
compound gloom of the hall. At the head of the short flight of steps 
to the door she paused, her slim glove resting lightly on the newel. 
Within their underskirts her legs were troubled by uncertainty. Tur- 
moil clouded her windpipe, her lungs. Over her heart her ribs vibrated. 

She descended the steps, and looking casual she pushed open the 
outer door. She faltered. Gus was not there. Nobody was there. 

She was unbelieving. He should have received the note this morning. 
She had assumed that o course he would do the direct, natural thing: 
walk from the park to meet her here. Her gaze swept the street. Ex- 
cept for loitering children the south-going sidewalk was empty. 

With the air of having forgotten something she turned and entered 
the building. The clock in her schoolroom said 4:22. She would wait 
ten minutes. 

She waited in puzzlement, apprehension, vexation. Maybe the letter 
had gone astray. Or maybe he had a business appointment at this hour. 
Possibly he would write her a note. She wished they had a telephone 
at her home. More and more people were installing them. Her father 
and mother had discussed getting one, but the expense . . . She stood 
up, wandered about the room. She couldn't view the street from tfce 
windows: wrong side of the building. Ten minutes passed. She dep. 



242 GUS THE GREAT 

cided to wait five more. They crawled. In the end she made herself 
wait seven more. Seven was supposed to be lucky. When she left the 
room the janitor was sweeping the corridor. 

"You're here late," he said. 

"Yes. Things to do." 

Her hope was guttering as she descended the steps, and it snuffed out 
when she opened the door. No Gus. She couldn't return to her room 
and wait longer. The janitor would think it odd. She moved to the 
sidewalk, cast a long glance to the south. She didn't see him. Men! 
Men! They had everything their own way. A girl was expected to be 
demure, modest. To wait. You never knew where you stood. Always 
you had to guard against being too forward. A man could sow the 
wildest of oats and then turn around and marry a lovely woman, but 
let a girl so much as smile once too often and the whispers began. 
Maybe these suffragettes were not so crazy. She was full of miserable 
anger and antagonism against the whole male sex. She was going 
home and write a nice long letter to Jim. That would show Gus Bur- 
goyne whether she cared a snap of her finger about him. 

She marched north, her pretty chin tilted. She crossed the inter- 
section at the neighborhood business district. And then she heard 
somebody call, "Miss Leslie." 

She flashed her gaze across the street, toward the drugstore, and 
there Gus was coming toward her. All this time he must have been 
waiting at the store. Her anger vanished. She was smiling. 

"Well," he boomed, lifting his hat. "Thought you were never com- 
ing. Must work you hard at that school." 

"Mr. Burgoyne!" she exclaimed. "This is a surprise!" 

It was the loveliest of late afternoons. March would soon be here. 
Dull old weathermen said that spring began on March twenty-first, but 
tadpoles and pussy willows and two people strolling slowly in the 
nimbus of their own enchantment knew it would begin March first. 
The air was still and the late sunshine tender. Trees were bare but 
they had a look about them of things going to happen. They knew 
that nests would soon be woven in their branches and that buds would 
swell. Carlotta and Gus passed a house where the curtains were down: 
a woman was washing windows and a boy was beating carpets. In the 
distance the street was lightly hazed. 

"Mighty glad to get your note/' Gus was saying. "Glad your 
brother's interested in the elephant." 

"Oh yes, he's interested very." 

"Bring him over any time." Gus paused to light a cigar. "I've been 
sick since I saw you," he said. 

"Oh! I'm terribly sorry." 



GUS THE GREAT 243 

"Just a hard cold. It was snowing that night remember? I decided 
to walk home. Got my feet soaked and the air was raw. Next day 
I woke up with a terrible cold. It put me in bed. Stayed in bed till 
Thursday." 

"Do you feel all right now?" 

"Oh, wonderful! Feel fine, now . . . Then Thursday morning I 
had a letter from a bull man. You know, elephant trainer. I'd been 
trying to find a good one. This fellow said he'd be in Winchester, 
Missouri, on Friday. Man named Pawpacker has a circus brokerage 
business there. So I hopped a train Thursday night and went to 
Missouri. I stayed over the week end. Didn't get back till last night. 
Interesting place- I could hardly pull myself away. I hired the trainer. 
Good man, I think. He had some monkeys and high school horses he 
was selling Pawpacker. That's how he happened to be in Winchester." 

He didn't look as if he had ever been sick. He was wearing a new- 
looking spring overcoat of light tan twill and a felt hat of pale tur- 
quoise. His oxfords were polished tan. From her schoolroom drudgery 
his life looked romantic: getting a letter from an elephant trainer and 
hopping a train to Missouri. 

'"What's a circus brokerage business?" she asked. 

He explained with an enthusiasm that carried them along for several 
blocks. He told her about the sleepy town of Winchester that seemed 
to belong in the deep South instead of northern Missouri. 

"Settled by Southern people. Except Pawpacker. He came from 
New York State. And he's quite a fellow." Gus chuckled. "Got his 
fingers in a dozen pies. But between ourselves he's not much of a 
showman. He ought to go into business with someone like me. I'd 
make him a million." 

Gus puffed his cigar, looking as if he had already made several 
million. And he remarked that in Winchester, a couple of hundred 
miles south, early spring had arrived. 

"Hard to believe, but it's a fact, I left winter here and ran right into 
spring. Down there robins are thicker than hair on a dog. Great life, 
isn't it!" 

It seemed so to Carlotta. She thought it intensely romantic, his voy- 
aging south to meet the approaching springtime. He seemed to smack 
his lips over the deliciousness of life, as if it were juicy canvasback and 
rich plum pudding; and in his presence existence seemed a corking 
adventure, crammed with surprises and glowing colors. This afternoon 
he seemed to exude a kind of elemental joy, as plenteous as electricity 
from a dynamo. With him, it seemed anything might come true. 

When they turned east their shadows capered ahead of them on the 
bright gray sidewalk, hers shorter and slimmer, his big and full as a 
Chaucerian monk's. Crossing a street, he glanced at his half-smoked 



244 GUS THE GREAT 

cigar, took a final puff and tossed it extravagantly into a gutter. When 
he made his fortune, she thought, he would be the fabled millionaire 
lighting cigars with ten-dollar bills. 

His visit to Winchester had left him as intoxicated as a bumblebee 
that had drunk rose-dew. He couldn't stop buzzing about the wonders 
he had beheld. You went north, he said, from the Courthouse Square 
and there you were at the edge of town. You saw great mustard- 
colored barns with "Pawpacker" painted in blue under the gables. A 
railroad siding curved in, crowded with circus cars. It took your 
breath. One barn was full of mules. Missouri! And lanky farmers 
with twangy voices were dickering for teams. And another barn 
housed great work horses and glossy carnage horses. But best were the 
animal barns. Panthers! Elephants! And flashy circus owners were 
there to buy, and they mingled with the farmers and it was all rich 
in comedy, contrast, gustmess. And at the center of the enterprise 
Ivan Pawpacker reigned, quiet, smiling. 

"Makes running a little park with one bull seem like peanuts," Gus 
said. "But I'll have a show of my own. By golly, though, it's hard to 
wait!" 

He lifted his big nose, filled his lungs with a great whiff. 

"How've you .been?" he asked. "Seems a long while since I saw you. 
What have you been up to?" 

"The usual things. Teaching. Nothing exciting like a trip to Mis- 
souri." 

"Well look here. Why don't we take in a show together? Would 
you like that?" 

"Yes," she said. "I would, Gus." 

"Tomorrow night?" 

She nodded. 

"That's great," he said. "Wonderful!" 

They didn't attend Shakespeare. They attended vaudeville. When 
the cab discharged them at the marquee, Gus ignored the line at the 
ticket window, escorted her directly to the door. He brought out his 
wallet and exhibited a card to the young man taking tickets. The 
young man smiled. 

"Good evening, Mr. Burgoyne." 

"Evening, Chet. How's business?" 

An usher hurried up. 

"Good evening, Mr. Burgoyne." 

"Evening, Harry. Got something nice for us?" 

"Yes sir, Mr. Burgoyne. This way," 

They followed the usher, down the sloping carpet to a lower box. 
Carlotta had never before sat in a box. From English literature she 



GUS THE GREAT 245 

remembered that in the Elizabethan theater plumed and sworded gen- 
tlemen sat on the stage; the box must have derived from that custom; 
and she knew that if privileged patrons still sat on the stage she and 
Gus would be sitting there tonight. 

"Do you have a season ticket?" she asked. 

"A pass. I know all the theater managers. Give 'em passes to Fun- 
land, and they give me passes." He grinned. "Of course, I get the 
better end of the deal, but they don't mind. We're all in show business 
together." 

The theater was filling, and Carlotta gazed out over rows of heads. 
She even glanced up at the cheaper balcony, where she usually sat, 
and at the murky heights of the gallery. People were looking at her, 
just as she always scrutinized the fortunate and obviously wealthy 
people who occupied boxes. She felt like a countess. ' 

Through a little door from under the stage the orchestra crawled 
into the pit, and after a tuning-up cacophony the leader flicked his 
baton and the overture sent up the asbestos curtain. For five minutes 
the audience listened to Neapolitan street music and gazed at the 
scene painted on the canvas curtain, a Venetian canal done in out- 
landish pinks and gaudy blues. A gondolier with black curly hair and 
gold earrings guided his craft with its romantic couple; and from an 
upper window, where doves fluttered, a girl in peasant's costume 
leaned eagerly out and flung flowers to a man who clutched his side 
as if he were suffering indigestion but who was probably only singing 
a love ballad. 

"Good picture," Gus said. "Always liked it." 

Memories of her college course in Art Appreciation told Carlotta 
that the canvas was scarcely a masterpiece, but she didn't dispute him. 
However, even after the curtain had risen on a trained-dog act, she 
kept pondering the manner of person he was. Her professor in that 
art course had said most people preferred bad pictures because they 
were obvious, easy, familiar. She didn't think that accounted for Gus. 
He was attracted by the theatrical, the gaudy/ as if in that tinsel world 
he found a beauty he had searched for and never discovered in reality. 

And she wondered again why she was so attracted to him. The dog 
act was over and he was clapping lustily. He liked the next act just as 
well; he liked them all. From time to time she stole glances at him; 
he drank in what took place behind the footlights with the delight of 
a small boy. When a joke pleased him his chair creaked with laugh- 
ter; his applause smacked heartily. Perhaps, she thought, she was 
drawn to him by his tremendous vitality. Perhaps the attraction be- 
tween two people was as chemical as a laboratory formula, and love 
was the bright explosion. The problem of exactly what love was had 
occupied her thoughts a great deal lately. 



246 GUS THE GREAT 

The program ended with, spangles flashing on the tights of acrobats, 
and although many of the audience were stirring from their seats Gus 
did not budge. And when the act was over the performers acknowl- 
edged his appreciation with a bow toward the box. This made him so 
happy that he applauded harder than ever. 

"Good show," he said as they left the theater. "Always like vaude- 
ville. Now how about something to eat?" 

It was growing late and she had to teach tomorrow, but she didn't 
want the evening to end. She slipped her hand through his arm and 
they strolled along blithely past lighted show windows. He stopped on 
a corner and bought tomorrow morning's paper, folding it and thrust- 
ing it into his pocket without more than a glance. The newsboy 
thanked him by name. Gus lit a cigar and asked how business was. 
"Slow/' the boy said. At an alley a beggar in dark glasses stood with 
pencils and a tin cup. Gus's trousers pocket tinkled as he thrust after 
change; he clanged a quarter into the cup. He asked the beggar how 
he was doing. "Terrible till now, Mr. Burgoyne," the beggar said. 

"By golly, I'm hungry/' Gus exclaimed. "Think I'd like a steak. 
Ever been to Marlow's?" 

She hadn't, 

"You'll like it. Used to be a fashionable place. They still serve good 
food." 

To reach Marlow's they left the newer part of the business district 
for a section of pawn shops and secondhand stores. Windows were 
black, and the old buildings looked secretive with dingy memories of 
the iSSo's. Feeble light seeped through the lozenge-shaped red-and- 
blue panes of Marlow's Restaurant, and beyond the heavy door the 
carpet showed gray paths worn by generations of waiters. 

"Let's have that table," Gus told the aging headwaiter. "Over there 
by the wall." 

No longer did Marlow's waste money on linen cloths; the shining 
dark wood of the table was bare; but this gave an effect not of poverty 
but o all fripperies stripped from the business of serving good food. 

Their waiter, an old Italian with a head as brown and bald as a 
buckeye, wore a boiled shirt, a threadbare black suit with a shiny badge 
on the lapel. 

"Good evening, Mr. Burgoyne." 

"Evening, Joseph. Got any good steaks?" 

"Sure, Mr, Burgoyne. Always good steaks." 

Gus ordered two heavy T-bones with French fries, as well as an 
appetizer of blue points and cocktails. 

"You tell the chef Gus Burgoyne's out here, Joseph. He knows how 
I like steaks. Sear 'em brown on the outside and broil the juice in." 

Blue points were strange to Carlotta, and a cocktail stranger. She 



GUS THE GREAT 247 

watched Gus fork an oyster, swill it in red sauce, gobble it. She man- 
aged to swallow two. 

"Going to eat the rest of your oysters?" he asked. "If not, I'll trade 
you." 

They exchanged plates; he attacked the remaining blue points gustily. 
That made ten for him. 

"Ah," he grinned. "They give me an appetite!" 

She sipped her cocktail, glanced at the other patrons. In the years 
since Gus Phelan took Doll Burgoyne there, Marlow's had lost vogue 
with the best citizens of Tamarack; and the people Carlotta saw were 
as far beyond her experience as the exquisite drink on her tongue. 
Many of the women were young, but not in wisdom of the world; they 
were as buxom as popular actresses and beautiful in a painted way. 
Plumed hats rode on their intricately dressed hair, and they wore 
clothes a shade too stylish for good taste. Many of their escorts had 
attained middle age and pouched eyes, and the younger men's faces 
held knowledge from race tracks and baize-covered tables. 

As she finished her drink, the restaurant glowed bewitchingly. The 
paneling acquired rich depths, the cigar smoke hung dazzling white. 
Third and fourth grades at Manning School receded into a long-ago 
dream; Gus's face blurred pleasantly. She thought, "I'm in love 
with him. I went to an amusement park to ask about an elephant and 
I fell in love." 

She had not confessed it so frankly to herself before. She felt awed. 
And she felt apprehension, too. She sensed bewildering complexities in 
his character. With Jim or with Harold Henderson you knew where 
you stood, where you would go: a home with children and Jim's be- 
coming a corporation lawyer or a judge. Harold Henderson getting a 
Master's, a Doctor's, joining a college faculty. But Gus- With him the 
future was all tangled. A marriage march played on a calliope. 

Love. The word lay shining in her mind. To her it was not the 
common word that millions had spoken, the old com worn smooth by 
usage, its edges clipped. It was new-minted from gold, still warm, 
sharply milled. Gus was talking, gesturing, and she listened and smiled 
and nodded, but all the time she thought her secret thoughts. The 
steaks sizzled to the table and she picked up knife and fork, thinking 
how hazardous life was, how unprotected you were. You were en- 
gaged to a nice boy and then you went to an amusement park expect- 
ing the manager to be an ancient in his forties, but he turned out to 
be Gus Burgoyne and after that everything grew jumbled. 

As his knife bit into the thick steak, Gus yarned about Winchester 
and Ivan Pawpacker. 

"You ought to meet him. He knows showmanship when he sees 



248 GUS THE GREAT 

it, but he doesn't have the knack himself. By golly, if I had his equip- 
ment I'd put a show on the road that would . . ." 

The wave of his hand was eloquent. 

Brandy came with coffee, and Gus slipped the gold band from a 
rich cigar. 

"A ring/' Carlotta said. "Let me see it." 

He dropped the band into her palm. She tried it on her engagement 
finger. 

"My father used to smoke cigars," she told him. "When I was a 
little girl he gave me the bands. I had a collection." 

She saw at once that this band, heavily embossed with Spanish, had 
probably cost as much as the cigars themselves her father smoked. She 
tucked it into her purse. 

"I'll start a new collection," she smiled. 

When the waiter brought the check, Gus tossed a twenty-dollar bill 
to the table, and he tipped generously. The waiter was all smiles and 
bows; and as the winged memory of brandy carried them to the door 
he scurried to open it. The street was cold, with a stray wind sneaking 
from alleys to sniff their ankles. A helmeted policeman labored from 
door to door, testing locks, and as they passed he said, "Hello, Gus." 

"Evening, Lieutenant." 

When they were beyond earshot Gus chuckled, "He's not a lieu- 
tenant, of course. But it makes a cop feel good to call him that." 

Carlotta's legs felt dreamy; her brain felt dreamy. When they found 
a hack she sank into the cushions, her chin snuggling into the cheap 
fur collar of her coat. The interior was a little dusky world, with Gus 
sitting closer than necessary and the clopping of hoofs sounding 
muffled. Presently he took her hand, and she guessed that was all right. 
Usually she kept a boy at arm's length, but he was not a boy and he 
was different. His big arm encircled her shoulders. She did not object. 
Her will was sweetly benumbed; she sighed and rested her head on 
his shoulder. Her eyes closed and with the cab rocking and the 
rhythmic clopping of hoofs it was like wandering through the drowsy 
meadows leading to slumber. She wondered why he didn't try to kiss 
her. She wouldn't let him, naturally; she was a nice girl not in the 
habit of spooning. 

Then suddenly she sensed it coming, and before she could duck her 
chin he was kissing her. She wanted to draw away but she was be- 
drugged and enchanted. Then she didn't want to. Her left hand 
pressed the back of his shoulder. She was engaged to Jim; she was a 
schoolteacher supposed to set a high moral example for the young. 
She had never been kissed before, like this. At last she drew away, 
averted her face. Blood coursed through the veins of her throat; night 



GUS THE GREAT 249 

reeled past the cab shadow-wrapped houses, stark black trees, lonely 
street lamps. She felt bad and bewitched and glad. 

Very close to her ear he murmured, "Tomorrow night?" 

"Yes," she heard herself saymg. "Yes, Gus. Tomorrow night . . ." 

"And Friday and Saturday and Sunday . . ." 

"Yes. All of them. But not Friday. Don't be mad, Gus. I can't 
Friday. Not Friday. But Saturday . . ." 

"Why not Friday?" 

"I promised. I promised Friday. To go to Shakespeare." 

"Shakespeare!" 

''Hamlet. I promised ... to go with Harold Henderson." 

"The educated fool!" 

As he blurted out the words a passing street lamp showed her what 
opposition could do to his face: hardening it. 

"I know," she whispered fast. "He's strange. But he means well. 
He's my boss. He's made things easy for me. I don't want to, but I 
promised. I don't want to ... now. Just one night. All the rest for 
you . . ." 

Suddenly he was kissing her again, so vigorously that it choked the 
breath from her lungs. 

"Oh, Gus," she whispered when he released her. "I'm bad ... to 
let you . . . s6 much. No, no. Not again. Oh, we're crazy . . ." 

"Yes," he said, "we're crazy. We couldn't help ourselves, could we? 
What happened to us ... that first day at the park?" Another street 
lamp revealed his bewilderment, and, when he spoke he seemed to be 
beseeching the cloaked forces that charted man's perplexing journey 
down the years. "I missed you," he added, and there was astonishment 
in his voice, as if the strangest thing about the whole experience was 
his discovery that separation could bring hunger to the heart. "When 
I had that cold I lay there thinking of you. And in Missouri. You 
seemed to be with me on the train and when I talked to Pawpacker. 
It seemed part of you and me were down there. Maybe always will be 
down there, walking through those barns. . * . It makes a man won- 
der," he muttered. "Makes you wonder if it's love. . . . Only I never 
believed in that." 

And now for the next weeks Gus and Carlotta became mad people, 
and there was no cure for their affliction save being together, and that 
was not a cure after all but a sedative. The mad month of March 
blustered in, a mischievous flute-player clowning through the streets 
of town, peeking under skirt hems and making fat men chase their 
up-spiraling hats; and all through the countryside solid conservative 
rabbits turned daft and heedless as bankers at a burlesque show. Up 



250 GUS THE GREAT 

from the thawing pond bottoms came bullfrogs to sing their Rubaiyats 
to the windy stars; and cats wandered much abroad, those bawdy 
jongleurs of back fences. 

Thursday, Gus spent the evening at Carlotta's; and when she kissed 
him good night she regretted bitterly her engagement to witness Ham- 
let with Harold Henderson because it meant she wouldn't see Gus 
again till Saturday evening. Two whole days! She wondered how she 
could pass the hours till then. 

All day Friday she was moody; even the prospect of wearing her 
new dress to the theater couldn't lift her spirits. And when Harold 
called for her he was scarcely more welcome than tonsillitis. But she 
was essentially kindhearted and she told herself she had got herself 
into this evening with him, and it would be wise to make the best of 
it. So she greeted his narrow black overcoat and oyster-colored face 
with a happy smile, but she deplored throwing away the evening. 

Instead of traveling to the theater in a cab they rode the streetcar. 
She despised the snobbish thoughts that sneaked into her head. After 
all, she and Jim had always journeyed by streetcar, and when she went 
out with her family they rode Mr. Oxenford's common carriers. She 
told herself she should be grateful to Harold for dipping into his 
meager stipend to take her to the theater. Nevertheless, she couldn't 
help comparing his way of doing things with Gus's way. Gus gave the 
impression of scattering money more where that came from but she 
could imagine Harold taking out a little account book at the end of 
the evening and carefully noting down what he had disbursed. 

They did not occupy a box at the Paragon. They did not even occupy 
orchestra seats. They mounted carpeted stairs to the balcony. Again 
the snobbish imps taunted her. Pretty cheap of Harold! Useless to 
argue with the imps! Useless to confront them with maxims spoken 
by every philosopher of thrift from Poor Richard to Mrs. Herbert C, 
Leslie! A penny saved. Waste not, want not. The imps snickered. 
How dull! If you were a successful young man like Gus, the imps 
said, you disregarded such threadbare and humble maxims. 

She had to admit, in fairness, that their seats in the center of first 
row, balcony were about the best in the house. In a box, without 
craning your neck, you couldn't see more than half the stage. In the 
orchestra seats your neck suffered a crick from gazing upward. From 
here, visibility was unexcelled. Sitting in a box was ostentatious. This 
argument didn't confute the imps. They merely pointed out that in a 
box her new dress could be seen to better advantage by more people. 

On the way to the theater much of Harold's conversation had con- 
cerned William Shakespeare's well-known abilities as a playwright, and 
as soon as they seated themselves he brought from his pocket a small 
volume entitled Shakespeare's Tragedy of Hamlet. 



GUS THE GREAT 251 

"It will be interesting," he said, "to follow the text and see what lines 
are cut." 

In his quiet way he was as excited about attending Shakespeare as 
Gus had been about attending vaudeville. His lips the least ascetic 
feature of his oval face were smiling, and behind his glasses his eyes 
were bright. He continued discussing Shakespeare, pointing out that 
after his death literary fashions changed and people preferred the 
metaphysical poetry of John Donne and the dreadful conceits of 
Donne's imitators. 

"Dryden recognized the master's greatness," he said, "but even 
Dryden thought him lacking in literary elegance and rewrote him. 
And I've never been able to forgive Dr. Johnson in the eighteenth 
century for his lukewarm praise," 

Carlotta thought: "I'll bet that upsets Dr, Johnson's ghost." 

She said, "That's interesting." 

"Isn't it! It shows how literary fashions change. Very probably in 
another generation such writers as Clyde Fitch and Augustin Daly 
will be forgotten." 

"Really?" 

"Oh, yes. And such poets as Ella Wheeler Wilcox and novelists like 
Mrs. Humphry Ward." 

She didn't argue, although she knew he was overstepping himself 
there. 

Throughout the performance, Harold held the book open, now and 
then leaning forward to peer at the print in the dull light from the 
stage. Sometimes he smiled to himself, as if amused at the deletion of 
some line too ruggedly Elizabethan for modern ears. The company 
was billed as an original New York cast, but it seemed probable their 
closest approach to Broadway had been Syracuse or Albany. Between 
acts Harold commented that although this Hamlet and most Hamlets 
were emaciated tights-wearers, scholars agreed that the original man 
who acted the title role had been plumpish. Hence the line about the 
too, too solid flesh. This information he delivered in tones fraught with 
high significance. He was a born teacher. 

The audience tonight was not the audience of vaudeville. Except for 
the coaching staff, virtually the entire faculty of the University of 
Tamarack was present, as well as teachers of English from little towns 
for miles around. The theater was as full of brains as the variety-meat 
showcase in a butcher shop. After the performance the foyer was* 
crowded with rusty black evening clothes and the smell of mothballs. 
Harold nodded good evening to his various old preceptors from the 
university, and to Ellis Higby Bartholomew, professor of philosophy, 
he spoke a few well-chosen words. 

And as they walked toward the streetcar line, he told her: 



252 GUS THE GREAT 

"Dr. Bartholomew is considering an instructorship for me. As soon 
as I get my Master's." 

"That would be wonderful!" 

"I'd have my foot in the door," Harold said. "Then every summer 
I'd work toward my Ph.D. And perhaps eventually take a sabbatical 
to complete my studies. Dr. Bartholomew seems interested in me. He 
retires in ten years, and if all goes well I might attain a professorship." 

They did not visit Marlow's, or any cafe. 

Two weeks later Harold once more screwed up his courage and in- 
vited Carlotta to spend an evening in his company. Although her 
refusal was bandaged in kindliness and tact it was still a refusal. 
Wounded, he dragged himself home to his furnished room; and that 
evening instead of continuing his reading in modern philosophy he 
went back to the Stoics. But even Epictetus failed to comfort him, and 
so at last, yielding to the temptation of light reading, he took down 
his worn copy of Ovid and read about love. 

At last he went to bed but he lay sleepless, his thoughts filled with 
Carlotta's lovely face and figure. And gradually determination shaped 
itself in his will. If he believed anything, he told himself, it was in the 
power of the intellect. The mind could conquer circumstance and 
matter! So he made a resolve. Some day he would marry Carlotta 
Leslie. She was already engaged. What of it? Before this engagements 
had been broken. 

He doubted that she took her engagement seriously, because he knew 
for a fact that she had recently been much in the company of that 
amusement park manager. Burgoyne! On several afternoons, glancing 
from his office window, Harold had seen the fellow striding toward the 
school to meet Carlotta and stroll home with her. What in heaven's 
name did she find in him to attract her? A blusterer. Someday, Har- 
old was sure, she would come to her senses. 

During late February and the first half of March Gus*s visits to the 
house on Wellington Avenue became infrequent, and finally they 
stopped altogether. The more he was with Carlotta the more he 
wanted to be with her; he saw her every night, and on Sundays he 
hired a team and they drove into the country; and when they were 
apart he was given to long periods of daydreaming. He was like a 
poet struck with celestial madness. All his values changed; nothing 
mattered much except being with Carlotta. When humdrum affairs in- 
truded he was as irritated as a poet at the knock of a creditor. 

He reached a point where even to think of Flora set his teeth on 
edge. All his old disgust with her returned doubly intensified. Yet 



GUS THE GREAT 253 

every sunset brought their marriage date closer, and he knew that soon 
he would have to make a decision. This he dreaded and postponed. 

Never had he mentioned Flora to Carlotta. At first he fully intended 
to, and then suddenly it was too late. He had held her passionately 
and told her he loved her more than man ever loved woman. He 
meant it. At that instant he determined to break off cleanly with 
Flora the very next day. 

But next day he realized what would happen if he broke his en- 
gagement. Flora would moan to her father and old Sam would fire 
him. That appalled him. He was just getting a start in the amuse- 
ment business; he thought of Ivan Pawpacker, of elephants. If he lost 
his job what could he do ? Crawl back to the Beacon and ask for em- 
ployment? Or return to Clayton Junction and the Tribune? Those 
alternatives left him sick. 

On the other hand, when he saw himself as Flora's husband, with 
Carlotta lost to him, he experienced panic. Without Carlotta he 
wouldn't want to go on living. 

It was a problem so vast and insoluble that he locked it out of his 
thoughts. But now and again he sensed it, a black thundercloud form- 
ing below the horizon to rise presently and devastate a serene spring 
afternoon. It frightened him. But he told himself that somehow every- 
thing would turn out all right. "Things will work out," he thought, 
over and over. 

He wished that time would stop, that he could go on like this al- 
ways, walking with Carlotta through the enchantment of earliest 
spring. But deep in his mind he had the shrewdness and hard wisdom 
to know that time had never waited on the wishes of poor mortals, 
and never would. 

Flora Oxenford was not perspicacious, and hence long after most 
girls would have grown suspicious she smelled no mouse in the castle 
of her dreams. The date of her marriage was set, and it never occurred 
to her there might be danger of her husband-to-be becoming her 
husband-who-was-to-have-been. She would have been delighted to 
have Gus call every evening, but when he told her that business pre- 
vented this she did not doubt his honesty. Indeed, his great concern 
with business gave her the comfortable feeling that everything was as 
it should be, for as long as she could remember her father had passed 
his evenings poring over figures. 

Even when March arrived and many days passed without sight of 
Gus her suspicions were not roused. Probably one reason for this could 
be marked to the credit of the Bell telephone. 

In his campaign of modernizing Funland Park, Gus had ordered a 
telephone installed. The expense of this distressed Mr. Oxenford, but 



254 GUS THE GREAT 

experience had taught him to proceed cautiously in rebuking Gus, so 
he hadn't grumbled about it more than a couple of hours, and for him 
this was practically enthusiastic endorsement. 

Of telephones Mr. Oxenford had been long suspicious. Years before 
when he first heard of this invention he had dismissed it as an im- 
practical plaything, a money- waster and time- waster. But the jugger- 
naut of progress refused to halt because of Mr, Oxenford's bewhiskered 
figure in its path; it would as soon have run over him; so at the last 
moment he climbed aboard the juggernaut to the extent of installing 
telephones in his offices. To do business at all, he almost had to. 

But he still disliked the contraption with its alarmingly high toll 
charges. And he never learned its proper use. He held the receiver 
awkwardly against his ear, and he fairly screamed into the transmitter, 
for unconsciously he still doubted its efficacy and thought the dry-cell 
batteries should be augmented by lung power. 

He had steadfastly refused to install one of the things in his home. 
Therefore, he was astonished but not delighted on that day in late 
winter when, upon arriving home, he was ushered by Flora into the 
kitchen. 

"Look, Papa. A surprise." 

There it was screwed to the pantry wall, a telephone! 

Mr, Oxenford started and cried out as if he had beheld a skunk 
with tail lifted for business. 

"Great God in Heaven! What's that!" 

"It's a telephone, Papa." 

Mr. Oxenford replied vociferously that he was profanely aware it was 
a telephone. During the next minutes he referred to the telephone 
company as a gang of robbers out to pauperize unsuspecting citizens. 
He wouldn't have the thing in the house. First thing next morning 
it must be removed. 

This outbreak aroused no visible emotion in his daughter. She 
stood gazing at the instrument, stolidly chewing her cud, as pretty as 
a picture on a can of condensed milk. 

"It'll be nice for me to call up Gus," she said. 

"Gus! Ain't you got better use for your time than calling up Gus 
and keeping him from work!" 

Flora chewed on. Presently she opined, "It'll be real handy to have." 

Mr. Oxenford stormed out of the room, and before breakfast next 
day he called the company and ordered the telephone removed. How- 
ever, as soon as he left for work, Flora countermanded the order. 
After this went on for several days, Mr. Oxenford surrendered. In an- 
other week he even used the instrument himself. And in the end, 
despite its unholy expense, he was gladder than not that it was there, 
for it provided him with a never-failing subject of complaint. 



GUS THE GREAT 255 

At least once a day Flora called Gus at his office, asking, "Do you 
know who this is?" Gus always knew. To get her money's worth from 
the telephone, Flora believed in long conversations. Sometimes Gus's 
voice seemed to fade into the distance, and she would say, "Hello. 
Hello, Gus. Can't hear you." 

"I'm still here." 

"That's good. What was I telling you?" 

*' About your new brown dress." 

"No, I told you about that five minutes ago, I know. I was telling 
you about my wedding dress." 

Near the end of the conversation Flora would ask : 

"When am I going to see you?" 

This query provided Gus's imagination with a great variety of 
calisthenics. Every day he invented a new reason why it would be 
impossible for him to call that evening. By and by his opinion of the 
telephone sank to the level of Mr. Oxenford's. Nevertheless, in fairness 
to Alexander Graham Bell, he admitted that had it not been for the 
invention it would have been more difficult to keep Flora unsuspicious 
in her pasture. 

With the wedding approaching, Flora's energies turned to assem- 
bling a trousseau, and to aid her a woman named Minnie Pond came 
to the house several times each week. Minnie was what Flora thought 
of as a widow-woman. In her middle fifties, she was a thin, energetic, 
little hyperthyroid, with black little eyes. 

By nature Minnie had been endowed with the abilities of a gossip 
columnist, but by profession she was a seamstress. For years she had 
been going from home to home along Wellington Avenue, gilding 
lilies, and her mind had card-indexed more facts and near facts than 
you could find in an almanac. 

Even when pins bristled from her mouth she could out-talk an Edison 
Phonograph; but she knew how to phrase a leading question, too, and 
when to listen. Her ears were sharp, and she could outdo Sherlock 
Holmes in deducing a shocking corollary from meager evidence. 

For years Minnie had served Flora and her mother before her, and 
hence she had been electrified by the news of Flora's engagement. 
During a dressmaking bout last autumn, she heard the whole romantic 
story from Flora's own lips. Privately she concluded that this Gus 
Burgoyne from Clayton Junction had purchased the engagement ring 
.as an investment, and she yearned to learn more about him. Minnie 
always had her sources, so one afternoon she boarded a car for Clayton 
Junction and spent several profitable hours with a school friend who" 
Jiad moved there years ago after marrying a livery stable proprietor* 
The friend's husband had inherited the business from his father, 



256 GUS THE GREAT 

and as a young man he had worked in the stable at the period when 
Doll was meeting Gus Phelan there. With much head-shaking and 
tongue-clucking Minnie listened to the delicious saga of Doll; and the 
very next day, while fitting Mrs. Jason Cadwallader, wife of the patent 
medicine king, she poured out the whole story. 

"Well!" panted Mrs. Cadwallader. "So that's the kind of young 
man he is!" 

"Just what I said. So that's the kind he is! Lift your arm, honey." 

Within twenty-four hours, all the leading families of Tamarack were 
relishing the shocking information that Flora was to marry a man 
whose mother had been a high-stepper. Heretofore, interest in Flora's 
marriage had been slight. Dowagers had talked it over for only a few 
hours, concluding finally that Flora's fiance must be either a fortune 
hunter or a glutton for punishment. Now, however, their curiosity was 
whetted; they wanted to behold this Burgoyne person with their own 
gimlets; and during the autumn and winter most of them managed to 
catch sight of the fellow, either after church or at the theater or at 
some party to which Flora and Gus had been invited with this purpose 
in mind. 

They weren't quite as shocked as they pretended, for with Queen 
Victoria's death moral disintegration had set in; and some members of 
Flora's own generation shrugged and remarked that you couldn't 
blame Gus for what his mother did. This brought rebukes from be- 
whiskered fathers, who in self-protection had to evince outrage lest 
the world suspect them of moral turpitude and discover their mis- 
tresses. But all in all, Tamarack was much more urbane about Gus's 
parentage than Clayton Junction. 

"Honey," Minnie Pond asked, one fine spring morning, "does Mr. 
Burgoyne have a double?" 

Flora stared down at her. "Double?" 

"You know what I mean, honey. Somebody who looks like him." 

They were in the sewing room, a small second-floor chamber over- 
looking the garden. Scraps of dress material and thread littered the 
carpet, and a stack of patterns from bygone years towered up from 
the golden oak table. Against the wall a foot-powered sewing machine 
stood ready, with Minnie's help, to convert the raw material from dry 
goods counters into fetching creations. 

Flora stood wearing a dress in the penultimate stage of completion. 
It was part of her honeymoon wardrobe, a thing of sober black silk, 
as bridelike as a raven. But it would be handy to wear in the after- 
noons. Moreover, being a practical girl by heredity and training, she had 
planned her trousseau for service long after her bridal days had passed- 

Mr. Oxenford had been complaining lately about his daughter's. 



GUS THE GREAT 257 

extravagance in preparing for marriage. Land of Goshen! When he 
repeated the marriage vows he had committed no such sacrilege as 
wearing a new suit. He had worn his three-year-old Sunday suit. 
Didn't Flora already have enough clothes to outfit her ? 

"But Papa I can wear these new clothes a long time after I'm 
married." 

"That don't mean any nickels in my bank. After you're married, 
Gus'll be buying your clothes." 

The wedding would take place at 8 P.M. in the Oxenford parlor, and 
already Flora was addressing scores of invitations. Oddly enough, Mr. 
Oxenford offered no objections to a large wedding, even though it 
meant expense. Instead he encouraged it. The motive behind this ap- 
parent extravagance was the same that had caused him to build and 
furnish such a pretentious house: advertising. Within the fastnesses 
of his heart he harbored secret uneasiness about his enterprises. He 
admitted to himself that the ice was a little thin. So it would do no 
harm to splurge. He knew the wedding would garner lavish news- 
paper space, and prospective stockholders would be reassured. Deposi- 
tors in the Tamarack Fidelity & Trust Company would sleep soundly 
on. After he had erected his fine house, he had been instantly aware 
of increased respect from other businessmen; the house had aided him 
in organizing Tamarack & Northern. Smart business to spend dollars 
foolishly now and then, where they showed! It pained him, naturally, 
but at the same time it suckled his ego* He thought how well he had 
done and how sharp he had been, coming west with nothing and 
working hard, observing the copybook maxims, and now living in a 
mansion. It just went to prove that if you worked hard and held onto 
the right land and hired a slick enough lawyer you could get to the 
top. Mr. Oxenford thought of himself in the great Log-Cabin-to- 
President tradition. 

Following the wedding, Gus and Flora planned to catch the night 
train to Chicago, where they would honeymoon. Already, Mr. Oxen- 
ford was fretting lest Gus buy Pullman space instead of spending the 
wedding night in a day coach. (Gus hadn't told him he intended 
renting a compartment.) And Mr. Oxenford kept mentioning a cheap 
hotel in Chicago which would be inexpensively ideal for a honeymoon. 
"Ain't nothing wrong with it at all," he insisted. "No fancy do-dads, 
but it's a good family hotel. Reasonable rates, too/' Gus, of course, 
intended stopping at Chicago's best caravansary. 

So everything was moving smoothly toward the April wedding, ex- 
cept that the bridegroom wasn't participating in the planning as en- 
thusiastically as Flora might have wished. And now Minnie Pond had 
asked that odd question about Gus's having a double. 



258 GUS THE GREAT 

"I don't think he has a double/' Flora said. "I've never heard him 
speak of it." 

"Um-m-m," Minnie replied. She had been kneeling, trying to get 
the skirt to hang right; and now she arose and viewed it from a few 
paces away. She removed the pins from her mouth, stuck them into 
her dress. "I think that will be all right now, honey. You can take it 
of?." 

Flora houdmi-ed out of it. Several layers of underskirts still guarded 
her virginal legs; a tatted corset cover shrouded her bosom; only her 
freckled arms were bare. With elbows cupped in opposite palms, she 
stood staring at Minnie. 

"Why did you ask that?" she demanded. 

"Ask what, honey?" 

"If Gus had a double." 

"Oh that! Don't worry about it, honey. You just get into your 
dress and don't worry about it." 

"I'm not worrying." 

"Of course you're not! Gladys Campbell was mistaken. And Mrs. 
Woodley, too. Lots of people look like other people. Maybe not really 
doubles, but they look like each other from a ways off." 

Absently, Flora scratched her arm. Two vertical lines appeared 
above her nose. 

"Aren't you going to put on your dress?" Minnie asked. 

Flora pulled it on. After she had arranged it she asked: 

"What about Gladys Campbell and Mrs. Woodley?" 

"Now, honey. I fixed them. I told them Gus was here night and 
day. I told them of course he was with you those evenings." 

"What evenings?" 

"Why, goodness me the evenings they saw his double with that 
girl. Let me see what evenings. Gladys Campbell saw them in a box 
at some show last Saturday I believe it was* And Mrs. Woodley was 
eating in the General Grant dining room last Monday evening and 
thought she saw them. They don't know Mr. Burgoyne very well, do 
they? Might easily be mistaken. Was he with you last Saturday and 
Monday?" 

"No," Flora said. "He wasn't. What did the girl look like? Who 
was she?" 

"She wasn't anybody, honey. Not anybody who amounted to any- 
thing. They didn't know her." 

"What did she look like?" 

"Well, for that matter they said she was pretty enough. Dark- 
haired. One of these dark beauties, honey. I always say you have to 
watch those dark quiet ones. Still waters run deep, I always say. Now 
you're not going to worry, are you? You're engaged to him, you know. 



GUS THE GREAT 259 

I always say men aren't worth worrying about. Goodness me, the 
things they put us through. Awful!" 

Flora stood rooted to the floor, arms dangling. The lines in her fore- 
head had deepened. 

"The same girl?" she asked. "Both times?" 

"The same one, honey. The dark one. But now don't you go worry- 
ing. It was probably another man who looked like Mr. Burgoyne." 

"I don't think there're any who look like him," Flora said. 

"Well then, it might have been some relative he had with him." 

"Might." 

"Don't go jumping to conclusions," Minnie advised. "Of course, it 
might be just as well for you to ask him about it. Have it out with 
him. You're engaged to him and just the same as his wife now, ex- 
cept for certain things. Not that that would make any difference, 
honey, the way men are. If I'd tell you the things Mr. Pond put me 
through when he was alive, poor man, you wouldn't believe it. They're 
all alike, honey. Let a pretty skirt switch past and they're off like a 
tomcat. Ain't it awful?" 

"Awful," Flora said. 

"Yes it is! It's just that awful! A good respectable woman don't 
seem to appeal to them, somehow. I don't know why we fight for them 
the way we do. But that's what you'll have to do, honey. Fight for 
him." 

"Fight? But how?" 

"Listen to your heart, honey. It'll tell you how. Every man's differ- 
ent, so the way you'd fight for one wouldn't work with another. You 
listen to your heart, honey." 

The perplexity stamping Flora's brow had invaded her eyes. And 
when she left the room her feet moved in heavy bewilderment. 

After the door closed, Minnie's solicitous expression was replaced by 
a beatific one. Not much happened to Minnie Pond except needle 
pricks. Most of her joy in living derived from observing the validity 
of the truism that money did not bring happiness. She always did 
what she could to help the truism prove itself. 

Flora's bedroom was situated at the southeast corner of the house, 
under one of the great wooden dunce caps which Mr. Oxenford had 
found so appealing in the architect's drawing. Flora closed the door 
and sat on the bed, staring at the marble-topped chest of drawers 
against the wall papered in golden mustard. 

She tried telling herself it wasn't true, that Gladys Campbell and 
Mrs. Woodley had been mistaken/ that perhaps Gus actually had a 
double. She tried to remember what excuses he had given for not call- 
ing last Saturday and Monday evenings. But she couldn't sort out the 



260 GUS THE GREAT 

excuses he had used to cover those evenings. There had been so many 
excuses lately. And suddenly she stopped pretending it wasn't true. 
It was true. 

Her fingers clenched and she leaned slowly forward. Her body 
shook. Then she flung herself into the center of the bed. Terrible 
choking sounds left her throat, and she pounded the counterpane. The 
agony of weeping seized her whole body, and she pulled a pillow 
against her mouth to muffle the wails leaving it. Her sorrowing had 
the forlorn, hopeless quality of a cow's bawls when men have led away 
its calf. 

She didn't know what to do. She had nobody with whom to share 
her problem. Sne had never had any close friends. Her mother was 
long dead. She knew she could find no sympathy or understanding 
in her father. She was alone . . . alone. 

She wept till from physical exhaustion she could weep no more. 
Then she lay quietly, save for an occasional moan. Her nerves were 
limp as old string. Her body was torpid. She felt life had cast her 
into a deep pit, breaking her courage, and she was too weak and heart- 
sick to stir. Her thoughts were as formless and viscid as a puddle of 
molasses. She was beaten. Minnie had said to fight. But how? 

From the yard outside she could hear the sounds of springtime. At 
the house next door a workman was removing storm sashes, putting 
up screens. This had been going to be a deliriously happy spring. 
She lay remembering last spring, the night Gus had first come to her 
father's house. Now he was going out with another girl, and she was 
losing him. And she didn't know what to do. 

At last she heaved a great sigh and found strength to stand up and 
plod to the mirror. Her hair was mussed, her eyes red-rimmed and 
puffy. She went to the bathroom and bathed her eyes; she did what 
she could to her hair. Now and then, without warning, a sob jerked 
her diaphragm. She moved along the upper hall to the stairs. As she 
passed the sewing room she heard the machine humming inside, and 
she knew that Minnie would be wanting her for another fitting. She 
wouldn't be here. She didn't want Minnie to see her grief -puffed face. 

Downstairs she put on a large hat with a gray veil that would mask 
her sorrow from the world. She picked up her alligator-hide purse 
and left by the side door. Without destination, she walked through 
the balmy garden, along that path where Gus had kissed her the first 
time. On Jefferson Avenue she caught an outgoing car, seating herself 
on the Funland Park side. 

As the park approached she peered through the window. She 
glimpsed a workman burning leaves, but she didn't see Gus. She rode 
on to the end of the line, through an area that till recently had been 
meadow land. Once Funland Park had been at the very edge of town, 



GUS THE GREAT 261 

but now the city had spilled beyond it. She saw surveyors' stakes and 
graders cutting new streets. Bricklayers and carpenters were erecting 
houses. 

On the return trip the car halted at the park to take on a man in 
overalls, and she stared at the little building where Gus had his office. 
The workman was still burning leaves and the sunny white smoke was 
filtering thinly among the budding trees. 

As the car left the park, she tried to marshal a plan of action, but the 
only idea that came to her was negative: she wouldn't call him on the 
telephone any more. Let him call her. Would he? She doubted it. 
Everything was over between them, she thought; he had found some- 
body else and now she would never be married. Tears slid from her 
eyes, and she had to bite her lip to keep from wailing aloud. 

The car was approaching her home, but she didn't signal a stop; 
the garden gate whisked past. She had no idea where she was going; 
she guessed she'd just ride for a time; the mechanical noises of the 
car and its swaying soothed her a little, and she was grateful for any 
comfort no matter how slight. As the business district came closer 
noon whistles were blowing, and Flora stared at the office workers and 
clerks thronging the sidewalks. Once the car halted in midblock; up 
ahead a dray horse had fallen down; and there was a terrible snarl of 
traffic: buggies, hacks, wagons. Lost in the mixup was an automobile, 
and of course its motor had gone dead and it refused to budge, so after 
the horse had regained its feet the automobile tangled everything up 
all over again. Men pushed it to the curb. People were laughing at the 
befuddled driver. A man ahead of Flora told a companion he favored 
a law prohibiting automobiles the use of downtown streets. 

The car clanged peevishly and crawled ahead. A block away Flora 
caught sight of the girders of the Oxenford Electric Building. The 
lower stories were already clothed in brick; but up above the steel ribs 
clawed for greater heights. She experienced a grudging admiration for 
her father: it awed her to think that this towering building was the 
result of those evenings he spent at his old-fashioned bookkeeper's desk. 
She had not the dimmest conception of his affairs, his elaborate 
financing, for Mr. Oxenford belonged to a generation that believed 
Almighty God had reposed financial and political wisdom exclusively 
in the male sex. If she had asked him about his affairs, he would have 
quoted something like "Whistling girls and crowing hens, always come 
to some bad ends." She had a child's belief that he was fabulously 
rich and that like a wealthy king in a fairy tale he kept his money 
hidden in a great heap somewhere. 

She remained with the car through the older part of the business 
district. It crossed the river into dingy East Tamarack, where small 
factories and great warehouses and great bawdy houses flourished. She 



262 GUS THE GREAT 

saw a policeman accosting a bewhiskered stumble-bum, and although 
the feeble old fellow offered no resistance the officer whacked him with 
his billy club and he dropped to the walk. The car clanged on; but 
Flora carried from the scene a sudden horror. It came to her that the 
world was full of things she had never known about, living on Well- 
ington Avenue. 

The car squealed around a corner and gained speed along a street 
of decaying brick apartments. A placard caught her eye. It was 
propped against the pane of a lace-curtained window in a smoke- 
blackened frame house. It said : "Madam Thale. Clairvoyant." 

That the sign might offer her comfort did not occur to Flora for 
several blocks. And when the idea of consulting Madam Thale burst 
upon her she thought: "Oh, no. I couldn't do that!" But she kept 
thinking about it all the way to the end of the line, all through'those 
precincts of wretchedly housed humanity, past the factory with the 
gold-lettered sign, "Cadwallader Medicine Company," past the Wood- 
ley Stove Works, past the weedy lots bordering the sidings of Tama- 
rack & Northern, past brickkilns and a washing machine factory and 
a lumberyard and all the other enterprises that bought carriages and 
dresses and mistresses for Wellington Avenue. 

As the car nosed back toward the city. Flora toyed with the idea of 
going to Madam Thale; but not till she thumbed the stop button and 
descended from the car did she believe she was actually going to do it. 

Upon closer inspection, the house looked more slatternly than it had 
from the car; and Flora lost courage. But desperation conquered her 
fear, just as desperation was beginning to whet her mental faculties; 
so she turned in at the short brick sidewalk and climbed to the narrow 
porch. The door was opened by a boy whose face was a stranger to 
soap and water, 

"Is Madam Thale here?" 

The boy invited her in. 

She stepped into a small front parlor, and as she crossed the sill she 
was assailed by an odor of fried pork. And underneath that odor was 
another more permanent one. To Flora it was unfamiliar, because it 
was the odor of poverty. After telling her to wait, the boy disappeared. 
Flora sat on the edge of a sofa upholstered in velour. The doorway to 
a second room was decorated with hangings of strung wooden beads. 
The cracked wimiow shades were purple, and they tinged the room 
with unhealthy light. 

She became aware of her racing heart, and she wished she had never 
come to this dreadful house. In her lap her hands were clenched. 
Then Madam Thale walked slowly and portentously into her room, 



GUS THE GREAT 263 

the beaded hangings clacking. A sleazy black dress rustled about her 
thin figure. Her blond hair looked twenty years younger than her 
hatchet face and her sharp eyes. Jet earrings dangled alongside her pow- 
dered cheeks. Before Flora could utter a word, Madam Thale ex- 
claimed : 

"You are in trouble. Already I sense that much." 

"How did you know that?'* Flora blurted out. 

An occult smile revealed Madam Thale's gold teeth. 

"I was born with a caul." 

"What's that?" 

"Haven't you ever heard of a caul?" 

"I can't say that I have." 

"You are wearing one now. A veil. Only mine was of flesh." 

"Well I never!" Flora exclaimed, amazed, believing, her timidity 
gone. j 

Perhaps Madam Thale was not on intimate terms with occult forces; 
but what she lacked in second sight she made up in first sight. Her 
powers of observation were excellent, and she deduced that a good bank 
account had purchased her visitor's clothes. 

Troubles about money and love brought people here. She felt sure 
that in Flora's case financial worries could be discarded. That left love. 

Those troubled by love divided themselves into two great classes: 
the married, and the wanting-to-be-marned. Within these divisions 
endless subdivisions existed, but at the moment Madam Thale wished 
only to place this customer into one or the other category. 

"Throw back your veil," she said. "And take off your coat. Sit 
down here." 

She seated herself at a little table, and Flora took, the opposite chair. 

"Your hands, please." 

Flora's hands, never roughed by scrub water, confirmed Madam 
Thale's deduction that money did not worry her customer. The en- 
gagement ring pigeonholed her as unwed. The swollen eyes spoke of 
recent distress. 

"You are in trouble because of a man." 

Flora nodded. 

"A man you love." 

"That's right" 

"I see him as " (This girl was large she wouldn't be cavorting 
with a midget.) " as a large man. Handsome. Successful." 

Flora nodded. 

Madam Thale groped on, feeling her way, and within a few minutes 
she had told Flora a great many things Flora already knew. She blun- 



264 GUS THE GREAT 

dered badly in describing the woman who was threatening Flora's 
happiness, for she saw her as blond. But when no affirmative came, she 
backtracked neatly. 

"I see them together ... in shadows. Perhaps her hair ... yes ... 
the brightness about her hair is a headdress of some kind. Silvery. 
Underneath . . . yes . . . the hair is dark." 

"One of those dark, quiet kind," Flora said. "What's her name?" 

"I want you to concentrate on her name," Madam Thale said. She 
pushed a pad and pencil across the table. "To help you concentrate, 
write her name. Do not let me see it." 

Madam Thale had various ruses to get possession of anything Flora 
might write; but she was unprepared for Flora's response. 

"I don't know her name. That's what I want you to tell me." 

"Um-m-m," Madam Thale murmured, "this is going to be more 
difficult." And she added, "If she has a good soul, I'll get her name 
fairly fast. But if her soul is evil . . ." 

Madam Thale closed her eyes and struggled to pluck from infinity 
the name of a dark-haired girl. At last she confessed: 

"I don't get a single impression." 

Flora's lip quivered. She leaned forward, head on her arms, and 
cried. 

A speculative light showed in Madam Thale's eyes. 

"Now, now," she exclaimed. "We won't help ourselves this way. 
What you need is my Complete Service. I guarantee success." 

Flora lifted her head. 

"What is it?" 

"It's advice. Based partly on clairvoyance and partly on my knowl- 
edge of the world. It costs five dollars. But many people have found 
it invaluable." 

"I want it." 

Madam Thale smiled. "I see your situation very clearly. But I want 
to hear your story in your own words. Suppose you begin at the be- 
ginning." 

For twenty minutes Madam Thale listened. She cursed herself in- 
wardly when Flora revealed her name: she might just as well have 
asked ten dollars*, fifteen. When at last the recital was over, Madam 
Thale said: 

"The first thing to do is learn the girl's name. And the best way to 
go about that is to find where she lives." 

"How can I do that?" 

"You'll have to follow Mr. Burgoyne." 

"Follow him! What if he'd see me!" 

"He won't, if you use ordinary care. Hire a hack and wait outside 
his roominghouse tonight. When he comes out, follow him and let 



GUS THE GREAT 265 

lim lead you to the girl. Be sure to remember her address. Once you 
tiave it, bring the house number to me. And I'll find out everything 
about her that is, if you want to hire me to do that." 

"Oh, yes I want you to help me all you can! I just didn't know 
what to do, till I came to you!" 

Madam Thale smiled. 

"There have been many who have found me helpful." 

The vibrations she received from the occult deceived Madam Thale 
when they told her Flora's purse was stuffed with currency, for after 
forking over five dollars Flora had less than two dollars left. Getting 
cash from Mr. Oxenford was about as easy as converting a dog to 
vegetarianism. He didn't consider it wise to trust money with a 
woman, for she was as likely as not to spend it. He maintained charge 
accounts at all the leading stores, and when Flora brought up the pain- 
ful subject of cash he always said, "If you need something, buy it and 
have 'em put it on the books. But be sure you need it!" The bills from 
the stores provided him with an efficient check upon his daughter's 
expenditures. If a foolish purchase were listed, he sounded and acted 
as if he were walking on hot coals. 

The money Flora paid Madam Thale had been carefully hoarded 
for months. She had acquired it by indirection. The trick was to 
purchase a small item, charging it, and then turn around and sell it 
for cash at a greatly reduced price. Often one of the servants would 
see something she wanted at a department store and ask Flora to buy 
it for her. The servant obtained the article cheaply; Flora got the 
cash; and everybody was happy except Mr. Oxenford. 

On the streetcar toward town, Flora realized she faced a fiscal emer- 
gency. Hiring a hack to follow Gus would consume money. Further 
advice from Madam Thale must be paid for. She needed more money 
than the servants could afford to spend. 

Twenty-four hours ago she would not have been as bold as now. 
She guessed that when life made demands you found the strength 
and means to satisfy them. -She left the car in the business district and 
marched into Goldstein's Department Store. At the silver counter, she 
ruthlessly swelled Mr. Oxenford's debt to Goldstein's by seventy-five 
dollars. 

Carrying her purchases, she left the store and strode toward the older 
part of the business section. She turned in at an entrance beneath three 
gold balls. She emerged from the pawn shop with thirty dollars. She 
was ready for battle. 

Throughout the day a mounting excitement took possession of Flora- 
She bathed, and dressed in black, because she felt that tonight she 



266 GUS THE GREAT 

would be an adventuress and a woman of mystery, and clad in black 
she would blend into the shadows. She was still deeply troubled at 
Gus's deception, but she no longer felt impotent and hopeless. She had 
a plan of action, now. Just where it would lead she wasn't sure, but 
at least she was doing something, not just moping around waiting for 
things to be done to her; and with her implicit faith in Madam Thale 
she felt that her woes would end in victory. With a psychic telegraph 
operator like Madam Thale as her adviser, she felt the entire zodiac 
was working to drag Gus to the altar. 

Although she harbored murderous sentiments toward the unknown 
dark girl, she found it easy to forgive Gus. He was only a man, with 
all the weaknesses that masculine flesh was heir to, and certainly he 
could not be blamed if by bad luck he had encountered a hussy who 
duped and entranced him. But she would surely like to get her hands 
on that girl! 

Her dresser mirror held the image of a very different Flora from 
the one who had sobbed out her heart this morning. Her eyes no 
longer had the placidity of a cow's. Determination gleamed in them; 
and her jaw had hardened. It was as if all along she had possessed 
qualities she had never used because she had never had to. 

Supper as usual was a nearly wordless although not silent meal. 
Mr. Oxenford sat at one end of the table, Flora at the other. He 
bowed his head and returned thanks rapidly, then fell to. The sound 
of his eating soup had an epic rhythm, like waves on Homeric beaches. 
When his spoon had scraped up the last drop, he glanced at his 
daughter. 

"Gus coming tonight?" 

She shook her head. 

"Ain't been here much lately, has he?" 

"He's been busy at the park." 

With the amenities thus disposed of, Mr. Oxenford plunged back 
into thought. The percentage of slate in the coal from the Oxenford 
mine was mounting alarmingly. Last month Tamarack & Northern 
had shown another decline in receipts. The total income from all his 
enterprises was tremendous, but the outgo was gigantic, too. He simply 
had to maintain bond interest and dividend payments, for if the public 
ever lost faith there would be a crash like the walls of Jericho. Wor- 
ried him, sometimes. But things would get better. Soon the Oxenford 
Electric Building would start yielding rent. Tamarack & Northern 
would pick up. 

He yanked the napkin from his collar, belched three times, brought 
out a quill toothpick and shambled off toward the library. 

Flora arose and tiptoed along the hall. In the vestibule she put on her 
coat and hat; and again tonight she wore a veil. She slipped from the 



GUS THE GREAT 267 

house and caught a streetcar. It was early yet: just barely dusk. Down- 
town, she hurried toward the General Grant Hotel, where a line of 
cab horses always waited. She selected an older driver. 

"I want to hire you for an hour or two/ 5 she told him. 

"Yes, mum." 

"I want to drive to a certain address. We'll wait outside. A man 
will come out and I want you to follow him." 

"Well, mum I wouldn't want no trouble " 

"There won't be. Just you follow him, that's all." 

Darkness had settled when they reached the vicinity of Gus's lodg- 
ing. Flora told the driver to halt three houses away on the opposite 
side of the street. 

They waited. Sometimes the horses stamped or blew darkly. A 
block away children were playing shrill games, and farther yet away 
an occasional streetcar clanged. Once a door opened and closed, and 
a sporty-looking man whistled toward town. The driver lighted a foul 
pipe. Carriages clopped by. Flora sat forward on the seat, her gaze 
fastened on the lodgmghouse. Her nerves were alertly keyed. Lemon- 
colored light fell through the downstairs windows, and after a few 
minutes she saw a woman with a plumed hat turning in at the lodging. 
The door opened; voices rang out in greeting; the door closed. Later, 
a man left the house. An older man in a derby hat; portly. She had 
never seen him before; she would never see him again; and she was 
dimly aware of the romance and mystery of existence. Then the door 
opened and Gus emerged. Flora whispered something to the driver. 

Walking briskly, Gus turned toward town; and then, spying the 
hack, he angled across the street toward it. Flora thought she would 
collapse. With her heart in her windpipe she oozed oflf the seat and 
crouched on the floor. 

"Cab?" she heard Gus say, very near. 

"Sorry, mister. This here one's took. Just waiting." 

His footsteps died away. Before she regained the seat the cab began 
moving. The driver swung it around and holding the horses at a walk 
followed Gus. On the seat again, Flora peered out. She glimpsed him 
striding along half a block ahead. 

On one of the lighted avenues near town he hailed another hack with 
more success; it drove off west. Flora's driver followed at a safe dis- 
tance through evening traffic. 

"That was a close one, mum," he called back, chuckling. 

"Don't lose him/' Flora ordered. "But don't let him see us. Wher- 
ever he's going, I want the address." 

"Easy. Ain't nothing to it, mum." 

Some minutes later, on Mabis Avenue, Flora beheld the other bade 



268 GUS THE GREAT 

pulling to a stop, Gus stepped out and approached a tall house in a 
narrow front yard. Her own hack halted. 

'Til get the address/' the driver mumbled. He tethered his horses 
with a round iron weight to which a strap was attached. Then he 
shuffled away toward the other hack and spoke to the driver. 

"Nothin 5 to it," he grinned, upon his return. "Told him I was hunt- 
ing an address. Asked him that house address. It's 3818 Mabis Avenue. 
What do we do now?" 

"Keep following/* Flora said. 

Presently two people left the house and entered the hack. Gus and 
a girl Flora strained forward, eyes pin-pointed. In the illumination 
from an arc light Flora discerned that the girl was dark-haired. 

The vehicle they were following clopped along to the west and south- 
west. Once it paused at a corner, and Gus and the girl descended. She 
glided to a mail box and posted a letter. Then they re-entered the hack. 

Flora remained on the edge of the seat, staring. Her hatred for 
the girl was cold and sharp. She had to admit that the girl was grace- 
ful and pretty, but she was convinced it was beauty of the epidermis 
only. What injured Flora most was seeing the girl and Gus together. 
Nevertheless she kept straining her eyes to see them together. Her 
mouth was grim, and he knew that after her experience tonight she 
would never again be quite the same. 

The trail led to Jefferson Avenue and then west along the car tracks 
toward Funland Park. Flora's driver followed expertly, reining in his 
horses when the other hack stopped at the park entrance. Flora 
breathed hard as she witnessed Gus and the girl entering the park. 
Gus must have paid off his driver, for the horses trotted back toward 
town. 

"What now, mum?" 

"Pull closer to the park." 

The vehicle creaked ahead. 

"This will do," Flora said, when they were nearly opposite the gate, 
"You wait for me here." 

The springs complained as she shifted her body and stepped down. 
Her breath choppy, she crunched across the cinders between the car 
tracks. To the east, the lights of town cast dim radiance against the 
sky. Flora reached the concrete esplanade outside the entrance; she 
grasped the cold iron gate. It jangled against its chain and padlock. 

Locked! After entering, Gus had snapped shut the padlock. 

Flora stared between the perpendicular bars. Scattered about the 
park, lonely bulbs shone weakly. Her gaze followed the gravel path 
that wandered toward the elephant's quarters. Down in the glade she 
could distinguish two figures strolling slowly. As she watched they 



GUS THE GREAT 269 

halted, embraced. Minutes later they moved languidly on, toward the 
elephant barn. 

Flora shivered, and her teeth wanted to chatter. She clamped her 
jaws. A faint sickness curled inside her stomach, and the surface of 
her brain felt numb as if from a series of blows. But she was aware of 
activity taking place on some distant level of her being: a gathering 
of titanic rage as she realized how monstrously and ignominiously she 
had been deceived. 

She waited a long time, clutching the gate; and at last she made 
out two shadows returning. She knew she ought to clear out of there, 
but she couldn't tear away her gaze. And then they were ascending 
the path very near, and it was much too late for her to trundle to her 
hack. She shrank back, pressing her body into the angle of the wall 
and gate. When they left they would be sure to discover her. 

She hardly breathed. She heard the rumble of Gus's voice, followed 
by the girl's bell-clear laugh. Sweat sprang out on Flora's brow and 
she closed her eyes tightly. Any moment she expected to hear the 
jangling of the padlock chain. 

It didn't come. Again she looked. The office door was opening; a 
light flashed on inside. The door closed. And presently the office was 
plunged into darkness. 

Flora wavered back toward her hack. She heard her voice ordering: 

"Drive back down Jefferson Avenue. I'll tell you when to stop." 

She creaked inside. The hack rocked away. She paid off the driver 
at the garden gate. She entered the house at the porte-cochere door, 
and as she fumbled along the hall Mr. Oxenford came from the library- 

"Where you been?" 

Flora blinked at him. 

"What's the matter?" he shrilled. "Cat got your tongue? Where 
you been?" 

"Walking. It's a real nice evening. So I went for a walk." 

"Well why didn't you say so in the first place?" 

He turned back into the library; she had a glimpse of his book- 
keeper's desk covered with papers. Slowly, she pulled herself up the 
stairs. She closed the door of her room and flung herself to the bed, 
strangled by sobs. 

Next morning Flora rode the streetcar across town to Madam Thale. 
She poured out the whole story of what had happened the night before. 
Madam Thale scribbled down the address. 

Flora broke into tears as she related those terrible events, and Madam 
Thale went to her chair and slipped a comforting arm around her. 

"Don't cry. Everything will be all right." 



2,jo GUS THE GREAT 

"Oh, I don't know," Flora wailed. "I love him so much, and that 
girl's so pretty " 

"Don't you trust me?" 

"Y-yes . . ." 

"Then don't worry. You do what I tell you and it will come out all 
right/' 

"How will we find out the girl's name?" 

"I'll go into a trance." 

"You'll do what?" 

"After you leave I'll enter the trance state. I dread it. It is very 
wearing. That's why I have to charge ten dollars. But when I'm in 
the trance state I always get lots o information. You come back to- 
morrow morning " 

Two hours later, Mrs. Herbert C, Leslie answered the doorbell. Her 
caller was a hatchet-faced blond woman who said she was engaged in 
a survey sponsored by the Retail Merchants' Association. 

"I haven't anything to sell," the caller said, flashing a gold-toothed 
smile. "But I would like to gather some information." 

"Why yes come in/' Mrs. Leslie said. 

The caller was a good listener, and Mrs. Leslie loved to talk about 
her family. 

"Her name," Madam Thale told Flora, the following morning, "is 
Carlotta Leslie. She's twenty. She went to the university two years, 
and now she teaches at Manning School. She's engaged to a man 
named Jim Wheeler who lives in Chicago." 

Flora stared wide-eyed. She would have believed anything now. 

"Her father," Madam Thale went on, "works at the Tamarack 
Fidelity & Trust Company, and her brother " 

"Where?" Flora exclaimed. 

"Tamarack Fidelity & Trust." 

"That's Papa's bank!" Flora's eyes glinted. "Maybe Papa would fire 
him! Maybe if that girl won't stop bothering Gus, Papa would " 

"I don't think that will be necessary. Not if you follow the plan 
I outline/' 

"I'll follow it. Anything!" 

"First, you're to call Mr. Burgoyne and invite him to your home 
for dinner next Sunday/' 

Tears threatened Flora. "Maybe he won't copie." 

"He'll come. Don't give him a chance to refuse." 

"I'll call him this morning. Then what?" 

Madam Thale pressed her forehead against her knuckles and with 
eyes closed sat meditating. At last she shook her head. 

"The rest isn't clear. I'll have to enter the trance state. That is, if 



GUS THE GREAT 271 

you feel like spending the money. I'm sorry this is costing so much, 
but when I use up my strength in the trance state " 

Flora opened her purse. "How much?" 

"The same as before." 

Flora brought out ten dollars. "It's worth it," she said. "Every cent. 
I think you're wonderful. I wish I could hire you permanent. I want 
to keep seeing you till Gus and I are married." 

Madam Thale smiled. "Perhaps it can be arranged." 

At that hour, the skies above Chicago were gray, and a young man 
named Jim Wheeler, an employee of the law firm of Hibber, Marks, 
Kloppe, Johnson and Hibber., sat in the law library of the suite, staring 
through the window at pigeons wheeling over the Loop. 

The letter which Carlotta had posted night-before-last had reached 
him this morning. It was a five-page letter, the gist of which was that 
absence did not after all make the heart grow fonder, that what they 
had shared in college was not true love, that now she was experiencing 
true love, and that it seemed only fair to inform him and break their 
engagement. 

The young man, despite the pain it gave him, kept reading this letter 
over and over. He was supposed to be briefing up that railroad case 
for Hibber, Senior, but the calf-bound volumes stood uncracked on the 
table. At last he folded his arms on the table and his head sank. 

"Well now, Wheeler, what's this?" exclaimed Hibber, Senior, when 
he entered the library a few minutes later. "Are you sick, my boy?" 

Wheeler said he was very sick. 

So Hibber, Senior, sent him home for the day, but Wheeler did not 
go home. He stopped at a saloon. The next year he married a Chicago 
girl. 

That afternoon, obeying Madam Thale's instructions, Flora boarded 
the Jefferson Avenue car and rode toward Forty-fourth Street. Madam 
Thale had told her that if she felt any inclinations toward anger to 
encourage them. 

"It would do you good to get mad," Madam Thale said. 

By the time she left the car and plodded north toward Manning 
School, Flora was good and mad. Not at poor helpless Gus, but at 
Carlotta Leslie. Ever since leaving Madam Thale, Flora had been 
brooding. Her face was flushed, and as she hoofed along she kept 
clamping her fists. Hers was the righteous anger of the innocent and 
injured, of the duped. All her grievances against life fueled it Old 
animosities and humiliations swarmed through her thoughts as she 
strode along the sidewalk. In grade school she had been the fat little 
redhead at whom boys jeered and whom the little girls excluded from 



272 GUS THE GREAT 

their secret societies. It was she who received the worst comic valen- 
tines. Her brain had been slow to grasp the schoolbook lessons, and 
in consigning her to the foot of the class, teachers had held up her 
exercises as horrible examples. The terror and shame of not being 
promoted haunted her childhood, and the other children audibly de- 
duced that only her father's place in the community was responsible 
for her progress from one grade to the next. 

As she grew older she did not suddenly grow slim and attractive, as 
did many chubby little girls. She reftiained Flora, sluggish, clumsy- 
footed. She was not invited to birthday parties, unless the fathers of 
the little hosts wanted something from Mr. Oxenford. And when she 
attended, the other little guests found ways to torment her and make 
a fool of her. She was the butt of every joke. She would always bite 
on every conundrum. 

High school was even worse. The lessons offered more difficulties, 
for one thing. And there were the social ordeals. Boys took girls to 
parties. She was a girl. But no boy took her to parties. She attended 
school functions alone. Alone! She had always been alone. 

With girlhood behind, her interest in men intensified. She stared at 
men on the street, and in her bedroom she dreamed about them. She 
took odd fancies to men in social orbits far below hers. She had reached 
the point where she would have married anybody male and Caucasian. 
That nice floorwalker at Goldstein's, the iceman who always signifi- 
cantly! said, "Good morning." And then Gus! 

Gus! She had asked a crust from life, and life had sent her roast 
turkey with dressing. She would have been content with vinegar, and 
life had given her wine. Gus! handsomer than any male from the 
ink bottle of Charles Dana Gibson. And they were engaged to be 
married in April, and then what happened? 

A pretty little chit named Carlotta Leslie tried to steal him, that was 
what! Small wonder that rage filled her as thunder fills sky. Oh, she 
knew the habits of these pretty girls! She knew, she knew! Luck had 
given them everything, but were they satisfied? Not them! The dirty 
little sluts had to sneak around and try stealing the man you were 
engaged to! 

She strode faster through 4 P.M., and by the time she reached Man- 
ning School her rage was a leviathan threshing within her, driving her 
on. 

From the drugstore up the street, Gus Burgoyne beheld her, not 
without concern. 

The central office of the Tamarack Independent School District, like 
So many educational systems, considered pedagogical organization more 
important than teaching the young; and hence it required every school 



GUS THE GREAT 273 

within its jurisdiction to turn in endless reports. These were due at 
noon Saturday. 

Harold Henderson didn't mind. As academic as a stick of chalk, he 
enjoyed making out these reports. The task filled his orderly soul with 
the snug sense that all was well with the world. Like a bureaucrat in 
the passionate embrace of red tape, the more complicated and prepos- 
terous the report the better he liked it. It satisfied a craving in his soul 
to know that m a thousand years any interested person could thumb 
through the school district files and discover that during such-and-such 
a week a certain number of absences and tardinesses had occurred at 
Manning School, Harold Henderson, principal. 

Harold had discovered that he must fill in subsidiary reports daily 
if he hoped to have the master reports completed by Saturday noon. 
He sat at his desk now, concentrating on the sheets. His legs were 
neatly crossed and his eyeglasses flashed as he gazed from the slips 
turned in by various teachers to his own sheets. 

So hard was the shell of his concentration that even any untoward 
disturbance in the building could not have cracked it. But at this hour 
no disturbance could possibly take place. Ten minutes ago the lines 
of children had marched out, leaving the halls full of bad air and 
peace. Even the playgrounds were silent, deserted by the potential 
presidents of the United States. 

Nevertheless, despite his concentration, Harold afterward fancied 
that while he worked he had been aware that all was not as usual in 
the building. Along the hushed halls, through his closed office door, 
a distant turmoil wafted to nudge the edge of his consciousness. Un- 
heeding, he worked on. 

His concentration, of course, had limits; and it could not be expected 
to withstand the swift knocks that presently assaulted the door, and 
the voice of Miss Benson in distress. 

"Mr. Henderson! Mr. Henderson! Are you in there?" 

"Yes, Miss Benson. Yes, I'm here. Come in." 

The door burst open, revealing the horrified countenance of little 
Miss Benson. 

"Mr. Henderson! You must come at once!" 

"Are you in some difficulty?" Harold inquired. 

"Difficulty! Can't you hear it?" 

Now that Miss Benson mentioned it, Harold did hear it. From 
down the hall came the sound of voices. The voices of school teachers 
and of the janitor. But they were mere murmurs compared to the voice 
they fringed. This voice was lifted in anger. 

Dumbfounded, Harold glanced at Miss Benson. 

"What under the sun is taking place?" 



274 GUS THE GREAT 

"It's some terrible woman," Miss Benson exclaimed. "She's reading 
the not act to Miss Leslie." 

"Miss Leslie!" 

Harold snapped through the door ahead of Miss Benson. She hur- 
ried after him. 

Harold gained speed down the hall. He had heard of such things 
as this happening: some parent outraged by a child's punishment or 
low grade coming to school and tearing into the teather. But as he 
neared Miss Leslie's room, he concluded this was no irate mother. 
Certain hysterical words screamed by the voice told him otherwise. 
The voice was accusing Miss Leslie of larceny, of kidnaping, the victim 
being Gus Burgoyne. 

The janitor and the teaching staff were clustered about the door to 
Miss Leslie's classroom. 

"What's this!" Harold exclaimed sharply. "Why haven't you stopped 
it?" 

"Did try/' the janitor said. "I'll take wildcats. Any day!" 

"Let rne through!" Harold commanded. Reluctantly, the teachers 
made space for his passage. He noted fleetly the pleased expressions 
on the faces of Miss Dodge and Miss Stoflfel. 

Upon gaining the arena, Harold's first emotion was pity for Car- 
lotta Leslie. He had never seen her face so white; and her eyes looked 
stricken. She had retreated to the far row of windows. 

"I just won't listen I won't!" she was saying, and her hands went 
up and she plugged her ears with her forefingers. 

The person she addressed was a large, loutish girl with red hair. 
Her face was flushed. 

"You'll see! I'll have your father fired! I'll tell Papa to fire him. 
If he's a thief like you" 

With a long, precise forefinger Harold tapped her shoulder. 

"That's enough!" 

The girl's jaw swung round. 

"I said that was enough!" Harold declared. "You are leaving! This 
instant!" 

For a moment the issue remained in doubt. The redheaded girl 
looked brawny enough to turn Harold over her knee and paddle him. 
This would have been the icing on the cake for the Misses Dodge and 
Stoffel, but it didn't occur. The girl's lip curled. 

"I've had my say," she said. Halfway to the door she turned, eyed 
Harold with distaste. 

"A schoolteacher!" she expectorated. 

Then she plodded out the door. 

"Back to your rooms, all of you," Harold ordered the teaching staff, 



GUS THE GREAT 275 

exactly as if they were erring pupils. They were amazed at this un- 
guessed steel in Mr. Henderson's spine, but they obeyed. 

"Carlotta, 5 ' Harold commanded, "you come into my office," 

She also obeyed. 

With the office door closed, Carlotta collapsed at the desk into heavy 
weeping; and the steel in Harold's spine (whose presence had aston- 
ished him as much as anybody) melted away into embarrassment. 

"Now, now," he said. "Please don't." 

But Carlotta did. Harold might as well have been advising Niagara 
Falls to call the whole thing off. Uneasily he kept clearing his throat, 

"It really doesn't matter," he said once. "Unfortunate,, but of no 
consequence. The woman was obviously a virago." 

Carlotta's whole body wept. Her arms and head mussed Harold's 
desk, spattering the reports with tears, and one hand clenched spas- 
modically, crumpling the papers. Unfortunate, but unavoidable. 
Harold paced uneasily to the window, gazing out at late afternoon 
creeping across the playground. The sky was blue, the trees budding; 
and when a lull came in the weeping Harold cleared his throat. 

"A beautiful afternoon." 

She lifted her wet face. He thought she looked as lovely as a spring 
flower after a shower. 

"What?" she asked. 

"I said it was very nice outside. Beautiful weather." 

She emitted a sound that was half-laugh, half -sob; and then the 
weeping began all over again. 

"Really," he said, "the incident was quite unimportant. Not worth 
the attention you're giving it." 

He moved to the desk and put a hand on her shoulder. Suddenly 
it occurred to him that this would be as good a time as any to broach 
a subject that had been much in his thoughts. Perhaps it would take 
her mind off the recent unpleasantness. 

"I've been meaning to ask you," he said, "whether you would marry me." 

Her face snapped up. 

"Did I hear you right?" 

"I have no way of knowing. I asked whether you' would consider 
marrying me." 

She dabbed at her eyes, softly blew her nose. She arose and went to 
the window. At last she said: 

"I think you'd better take me home now, HarokL Would you mind 
walking with me? And what you just asked me. Yes, I will con- 
sider it. I will." 

"Do I understand," he asked, "that you will marry me, or that you ' 
will consider it?" 



276 GUS THE GREAT 

"That I will consider it." 

"Thank you," he said. "That is very gratifying." 

Inside the drugstore, Gus stuck a cigar between his teeth and 
frowned at Manning School. Flora Oxenford had just gone steaming 
through the door. 

He did not have an appointment to meet Carlotta outside the store; 
he never met her there by arrangement but only when his schedule 
at the park allowed him to get away and stroll home with her. Al- 
though they were together nearly every night, they welcomed any 
additional hours they could spend in each other's company. 

The past weeks were a blur in his memory, a period when time had 
gone mad, racing when they were together, crawling when they were 
apart. They had dined together and attended the theater and driven 
with picnic baskets into the country; and Gus had grown to resent even 
the demands of the amusement park because they took his thoughts 
from Carlotta. Twice they had quarreled about trifles, suffering a day 
or two and then making ecstatic peace. 

The separation of those quarrels had taught him how intensely they 
had grown together, and he had become increasingly alarmed when 
he thought of his wedding date and of Flora. He realized that by 
temporizing and procrastinating he had floundered into a dreadful 
tangle, and he worried about extricating himself. 

Time and again on the evenings with Carlotta he had made up his 
mind that next day he would \break his engagement. But he never did. 
He knew what that would mean: the wrecking of the future he had 
planned. 

Sometimes in his office he decided to tell Carlotta the whole story, 
but when evening came he couldn't bring himself to that, either. Life 
without Carlotta would be unbearable. 

Yet he knew that soon he had to make a decision; things couldn't go 
on this way; but he put it off and put it off, and all the time his 
position became more impossible. And then the other evening she had 
dropped an envelope into a mail box, afterward telling him it had been 
a letter to Jim Wheeler breaking her engagement. The next move was 
plainly his. He had sworn so often he loved her that it was natural for 
her to expect marriage, now she was free. But he wasn't free; he was 
all tangled in his own folly. He could see no way through his difficul- 
ties; he couldn't imagine how it would end. 

And now he had beheld Flora striding toward the school. Such an 
occurrence he had never anticipated. Somebody must have tatded. 
And Flora was forcing the issue, just as she used to keep forcing the 
subject of marriage. 

He stood chewing his cigar, staring at the school, his nerves jumpy, 



GUS THE GREAT 277 

his thoughts dark and profane. Damn it, he wished he had told Car- 
lotta about his engagement, so she would have been more prepared for 
this. He wished the world were ordered differently and that Carlotta's 
father owned the park. He wished he knew what was taking place 
inside that school. 

After what seemed a long time he perceived Flora coming from the 
building. At the street she paused and glared back. Then she plodded 
south. Till her figure receded from sight Gus stared after her. She 
was his future. 

No! He couldn't bring himself to marry her, not" even for a circus. 
He'd resign from the park and marry Carlotta and they'd go away 
somewhere. At once! He'd write his resignation tonight. This after- 
noon! 

Several women were emerging from the school now, and Gus 
thought they looked like teachers. There were four large women and 
one small, and they clustered on the sidewalk, heads together. Some- 
times they glanced at the building. Finally the group broke up, two 
walking south and the others coming in Gus's direction. He observed 
them pass on the other side of the street, their skirts sweeping the side- 
walk, their tongues going lickety-spht. 

Gus dropped his soggy cigar and brought out a fresh one, biting off 
the end but neglecting to strike a match. What was keeping Carlotta? 
He compared his watch with the drugstore clock. Both showed five. 
He returned his gaze to the school, and after a few more minutes he 
espied the person he was waiting for. Only she was not alone. The 
educated fool accompanied her. 

Henderson! Why did she want to walk from school with him? And 
the nerve of the fellow! He had his hand on her elbow, guiding her. 

As they moved closer, Gus noticed that Carlotta walked as if she 
were tired. She kept her gaze on the sidewalk, and once her handker- 
chief went to her eyes. Crying! What had that fool Flora done? 

From experience Gus knew that on the corner opposite Henderson 
and Carlotta would part company. So he waited for that. 

But it didn't happen. The educated fool accompanied her past the 
corner. You'd think he intended walking home with her. Gus plunged 
out the door, crossing the street at an angle. He called. 

They stopped. Forcing a big smile, Gus bustled up to them. But his 
smile was not answered. Henderson's gray face looked judicial pas- 
sionless. Carlotta's eyes were flashing with enmity. 

"What's wrong?" Gus asked. 

Carlotta spoke deliberately and distinctly. 

"I've just had the great pleasure of meeting the woman you're going 
to marry." 



278 GUS THE GREAT 

"You have, huh? Well now look here. Hope you aren't upset. I 
can explain" 

"Upset! Oh no, not in the least. She practically wrecked the school, 
that's all. And as for explanations, I've had everything explained very 
clearly/' 

"Carlotta! Look here! You" 

"And as for you/' she said, "I hope I never see you again. I wish 
I'd never met you in the first place." 

Biting her lip, she wheeled around and struck off down the side- 
walk. Henderson had to hurry to keep pace, 

Gus stared after them till their figures were far away. 

Feeling utterly at loose ends, he ambled back toward the park, his 
shadow elongated by the low sun. Once he stopped to light his cigar 
but he had chewed it to a pulp that wouldn't draw. He cast it away, 
lit a fresh one, moved on, dully watching the sidewalk cracks advanc- 
ing under his feet. He knew he was in for a bad time, but at the mo- 
ment he felt nothing save a vast emptiness. He had nothing to do 
tonight, tomorrow night, the next night. All that time which some- 
how he must fill loomed formidably ahead. She had said she never 
wanted to see him again, and her manner convinced him she meant it. 

Perhaps even Flora wouldn't welcome him now. Then he remem- 
bered. She had called him this morning and invited him for Sunday 
dinner. Even then she must have known about Carlotta., must have 
been intending to accost her at the school. Inviting him had been her 
way of letting him know all was still well between them. He found 
himself surprised she had been intelligent enough to figure that out. 
You never could tell about women, he thought. Who would have 
thought Flora had it in her to go to the school and raise hell? 

He brooded through the park gate, went to his office, dropped down 
at his desk. He didn't sit there long, for terrible restlessness seized him. 
He paced the office, finally emerging into the twilight and wandering 
toward the elephant barn. He remembered that Saturday in February 
when he walked this path by Carlotta's side, leading the children. He 
remembered the nights they had come to the park and had paused to 
embrace here at the miniature railroad crossing. She was everywhere, 
he thought, with panic. My God, he thought, I'll never escape. 

Heavily, he moved on to the barn. Molly's trunk was stretched at 
full length, welcoming him. 

"Hello, old girl," he said tonelessly. "How's everything, huh? 
How're things going?" 

She murmured, talking to him in her own language. He scratched 
her; she sighed blissfully. 



GUS THE GREAT 279 

"Growing," he told her. "Yep, you're growing. Be a big bull one 
of these days." 
He felt better. 

During the next days, a number of persons in Tamarack experienced 
unhappmess. 

One was Flora. Having ridded herself of anger, she felt as deflated 
and sunk in despair as the gas bag of a balloon in a swamp. She feared 
that once again she had done the clumsy thing, that Gus would be 
angry, that he wouldn't appear for Sunday dinner. She moped across 
town and consulted Madam Thale, but even when that woman assured 
her she couldn't have acted more effectively Flora was not entirely 
consoled. 

Another was Carlotta. Indeed, the whole Leslie family found itself 
distressed as little by little Mrs. Leslie coaxed from her daughter an 
account of what had happened. Mrs. Leslie didn't, however, tell every- 
thing to the rest of the family. To prevent worry, she kept to herself 
the threat Flora had brandished about having Herbert C. Leslie dis- 
charged. Mr. Oxenford would never do that, Mrs. Leslie told herself, 
as she prepared broth in the kitchen to carry to Carlotta's bedside. 
Herbert was a valuable employee; Mr. Oxenford (whom she consid- 
ered very nearly as all-wise and remote and all-powerful as God) 
would have too much common sense to permit his daughter's love 
problems to interfere with business. Nevertheless, she worried. You 
were an easy victim of worry when the welfare of your family de- 
pended upon the whims o one man.. 

Nor was Harold Henderson completely serene during the remainder 
of that week. With Carlotta ill at home, somebody had to assume her 
duties. Harold requested a substitute teacher from the central office, 
but none was available. So he taught third and fourth grades himself. 
But that was not the worst. The worst was the summons he received 
to appear at the central office. The summons came from Clarence 
Beeley, superintendent of schools. It seemed that news of Flora's visit 
had flashed through the entire Tamarack educational system, and Mr. 
Beeley wished to get to the root of the scandal 

So Saturday morning Harold repaired to the central office, where he 
was closeted for an hour with Mr. Beeley, Leaving, Harold looked 
flushed and annoyed. In his opinion, Mr. Beeley possessed the mental 
powers of a gnat. For Mr. Beeley had flouted logic and held Harold 
partly responsible for that unfortunate incident. Moreover, Flora's out- 
burst and the repercussions which followed had instilled in Mr. Beeley's 
mind grave doubts about Miss Leslie's suitability as an instructor of 
the young. Plainly, he considered her far gone in immorality. Where 



2 8o GUS THE GREAT 

there was smoke there was fire, he kept insisting. Never again would 
he hire a good-looking, normal girl as teacher. He was asking Miss 
Leslie to resign at once. 

On the street, Harold sizzled like a firecracker fuse. He told him- 
self that Clarence Beeley was a timid simpleton, afraid that the faintest 
breath of scandal would blow him out of a job. Well, Harold thought, 
what could you expect of a man who had taken his Ph.D. in "Educa- 
tion"? 

Without Carlotta, Manning School was going to be dreary. Harold 
supposed he could stick it for the rest of this year, but he couldn't 
imagine returning next fall. By frugality he had saved seven hundred 
dollars toward continuing his studies. Perhaps he might get a job of 
sorts at the University of Chicago. So he went home and wrote one of 
his summer school professors there, requesting a teaching fellowship. 

Unhappiest of all were Carlotta and Gus. He didn't take to his bed 
as she did, but he felt like it. He spent his days in gloom, and he dis- 
covered that only a stiff drink of whiskey at bedtime would bring the 
surcease of sleep. 

At his desk he found it hard to focus his thoughts on business. He 
wandered out into the sunlight of late March, moving aimlessly about 
the park, observing carpenters and painters at work preparing for the 
new season. 

He felt as if some invisible weapon had pierced his vitals, leaving a 
wound that bled secretly in the dark. Only Carlotta could heal him, 
and she had sent him out of her life. Dozens of times, of course, he 
considered going to her or writing her. But supposing he did. Instantly 
all those old complications would entangle him, and once again he 
would be confronted by the decision he must make. He didn't feel 
up to it. He felt a sense odd for him of having been bound hand 
and foot by life. He felt defeated, confused. 

And yet sometimes as he floundered through misery a sudden elation 
would lift him, and for a minute he would feel that things would still 
turn out all right. He didn't know how; he knew only that they must* 
Other people's lives might go awry, but he was different. He was Gus 
Burgoyne. He was something special in the universe. He would have 
Carlotta and fame as a circus owner too. But the moments of elation 
passed. 

Everything spoke to him of Carlotta, restaurants where they had 
eaten, streets where they had walked. He would stare from a streetcar 
window and, seeing a certain corner, remember how they had laughed 
as they passed it. Looking back, it seemed they had laughed a great 



GUS THE GREAT 281 

deal. And strangely, the memory of their laughter huYt most of all. 
Conversely, remembrance of their quarrels soothed and salved him, 
possibly because those other quarrels had turned out all right. 

He spoke of his sorrow to no one. Carlotta had her mother; even 
Flora had Madam Thale; but Gus had only himself. Long ago he had 
formed the habit of keeping his own counsel. But when he found his 
loneliness and pain unbearable he would wander to the elephant barn 
and talk to Molly. 

The only thing of consequence about Sunday dinner at the Oxen- 
ford's was that nothing of consequence occurred. Coached by Madam 
Thale, Flora greeted Gus cordially and never mentioned Carlotta 
Leslie. To Gus this was such a relief that he very nearly enjoyed him- 
self. 

During the meal Gus talked business with Mr. Oxenford, divulging 
the spectacular publicity stunts he was planning for the park. He 
warmed to the subject, and presently his occupation as park manager 
seemed colorful and exciting again. Astonished, he realized he hadn't 
thought of Carlotta for several minutes. 

When they left the table Flora led him outside to the garden. Now 
she would certainly upbraid him. Again he was pleasantly surprised. 
As they strolled she talked cheerfully about her trousseau and plans for 
the wedding, but never did she rebuke him for neglect. She was a 
pretty good sort after all, he thought. Not one woman in a million 
would have welcomed him back this way. Blowing out cigar smoke, 
he surveyed the spacious garden, the stable which was larger than 
many people's homes, the massive, sprawling house. Only two things 
separated all the wealth represented here from his fingers: a wedding 
ceremony, and Mr. Oxenford's health. He wondered whether he was 
going to be a fool and let a passing attachment to Carlotta prevent him 
from becoming a wealthy man. 

As they sauntered back toward the house he patted his stomach, 

"That was a wonderful meal. But I ate too much. Made me sleepy," 

"Why don't you take a nap?" 

He grinned. " Wouldn't be very polite, would it? Going to sleep 
on your hands?" 

"If you're sleepy you sleep. You could take a nap in the library." 

But when they went to the library they discovered that Mr. Oxen- 
ford had appropriated the couch. He lay with his mouth open, snooz- 
ing oft his big meal. In sleep he looked older. He was only mortal, 
Gus thought; and again it occurred to him that any young man would 
be a fool to turn his back on the wealth Mr. Oxenford had spent a 
lifetime accumulating. 



282 GUS THE GREAT 

They tiptoed from the library. 

"You could take a nap in Papa's bedroom," Flora whispered, 

"Oh, I'll be all right." 

"After a meal like that you need sleep. Come on, Gus." 

So she led him up the carpeted stair, past the bronze woman on the 
newel, past the great blue floor vase on the half-landing. He had never 
visited the upstairs before, and the unfamiliar spaciousness impressed 
him. 

Mr. Oxenford's bedroom occupied the corner beneath the great south- 
western dunce cap. The bedstead was carved walnut, dating back to 
the early years of Mr. Oxenford's marriage. In this gigantic bed Mrs. 
Oxenford had conceived her daughter. 

"I'll shut the door," Flora said, "and you take a good nap. You 
look kind of tired, Gus." 

He was touched by her concern for his well-being. She was almost 
motherly. 

He did not lie down at once. Roving about the room, he paused at 
the tremendous walnut dresser that matched the bed. Photographs 
stood on the marble top. One was brown with age, the wedding pic- 
ture of Mr. and Mrs. Oxenford. Mr. Oxenford was a bony young man 
with a mustache but jio beard. His sharp eyes were staring at the 
camera as if he expected the photographer's bill to come popping from 
the lens. He was seated on a plush chair, his legs thin and his shoes 
glued to the carpet. His bride stood beside the chair with one hand 
resting on it. She looked about Flora's size. 

Gus went to the bed, sat on its yielding feather tick, removed his 
shoes. He sighed and was about to recline when he noted sheets of 
paper on the bed table. He picked them up. 

They were covered with figures, penciled in Mr. Oxenford's chirog- 
raphy. Their import was unknown to Gus, because no explanations 
accompanied them. What excited him was their size. Those figures 
represented millions, but only Mr, Oxenford understood whether mil- 
lions he hoped to acquire or had acquired or owed. Gus optimistically 
assumed they represented wealth Mr. Oxenford had salted away. 

He lay down. Millions. He had only to reach out his hand. 

Sleep was rolling over him like sea and fog engulfing a whale. Nice 
of Flora not to jump on him. Nice of her to insist on a nap. He felt 
comfortable, taken care of, peaceful. With a little sigh, he dropped 
into unconsciousness. 

He slept dreamlessly for hours. Once, with twilight stealing through 
the windows, Flora opened the door and tiptoed to the bed. She gazed 
down at him tenderly. While he slept he was hers, all hers. His breath- 
ing was deep and regular; his hair was mussed; he looked relaxed but 
very tired. And suddenly she experienced a kind of maternal pity for 



GUS THE GREAT 283 

him, lying there so defenseless, so mortal, wrapped in the little death 
which was slumber. 

It was after nine when he wakened. He felt like a new man. Vastly 
refreshed. Oddly happy. 

"Well, well," he boomed, thumping down the stair, "I certainly 
slept. Look at the time!" 

It was a great joke; Flora giggled, and even Mr. Oxenford seemed 
amused. He approved of sleep; nobody ever squandered money while 
sleeping. 

"Ain't long till my bedtime," he grinned. "Thought I'd have to roll 
you onto the floor." 

"Are you hungry, Gus?" Flora asked. 

"You bet I am. Any of that chicken left?" 

Mr. Oxenford had already supped; so Gus and Flora raided the 
icebox. Consuming food at the kitchen table, Gus was elated at feeling 
so natural and normal again. Once he had gone to bed with a tooth- 
ache, and when he wakened in the morning it had vanished. He felt 
now as then, amazed and thankful that the pain had left him. Perhaps 
the human spirit could suffer only so long without respite; perhaps 
pain would return; but in the meantime he would enjoy himself. 

Riding home in a hack, he still felt pretty good; and he slept soundly 
that night. But Monday brought the pain again. 

However, its bite had lost sharpness. He was able to work. And he 
still felt happy, because he thought the interlude of painlessness proved 
that at last it would wear away altogether. In time, in time. 

He rode downtown for lunch, and for some reason the pain in- 
creased. Returning on the streetcar, he sat in gloom. And at the park 
the familiar restlessness sent him about the grounds. But even as he 
brooded he had to acknowledge that the park looked bright and cheery. 
Tree trunks had been newly whitewashed, fresh gravel scattered, the 
roller coaster painted. Men were greasing the machinery of the merry- 
go-round and polishing its brass fittings; and a mechanic was over- 
hauling the miniature locomotive. 

Gus entered the Old Mill, groping along the dry canal into light- 
tight depths. Presently he heard voices ahead and saw light glimmer- 
ing. Workmen were mixing cement and patching cracks in the 
waterway. When he emerged the daylight blinded him. He stood 
squinting. And he made out a figure leaving his office. 

Excitement sent Gus hurrying toward the visitor. 

"Mr. Pawpacker!" he bellowed. "Here I am!" 

"How about dinner with me?" Gus suggested, after he had given his 



284 GUS THE GREAT 

guest a cigar. "I've got a matter to discuss with you. Want some ad- 
vice. Shall we meet in the General Grant?" 

Pawpacker assented. 

"Fine," Gus said. "Now let me show you how we've fixed up the 
park." 

They strolled along the paths with Gus gesturing and pouring out 
ideas for attracting customers. 

Once he said: 

"You know Ive, it's struck me you and I ought to team up. Organize 
a circus. We'd make a cool million!" 

"We might. But why don't you organize your own show and make 
the million for yourself?" 

"Capital. That's all that's stopping me." 

"After the wedding," Pawpacker smiled, "you shouldn't be troubled 
by lack of capital." 

Gus frowned. 

"Did you find your letter?" Gus's landlady asked him that evening, 
as he thundered down into the hall, dinner-bound. 

"Letter?" 

"It must have got here after you came in. I didn't think you were 
home yet. It's there on the table. A Special." 

Gus grabbed it. Carlotta's handwriting. 

He thrust the envelope into his pocket; the front door slammed after 
him; he swung off down the street. Once excitement began, he was 
thinking, it didn't stop. First Pawpacker, and now this. 

His heart beat faster at the thought of the letter, and he wondered 
why he postponed opening it. What did it contain? More of the sar- 
casm she had used against him that afternoon opposite the drugstore? 

Flora wasn't so bad. Yesterday at the Oxenfords' had turned out 
pretty well. After his nap he had faced losing Carlotta without agony. 
Today he had suffered again, till Pawpacker came. Even talking to 
Pawpacker he hadn't exactly forgotten Carlotta, for his suggestion that 
they go into partnership had sprung from the wild outside chance that 
Pawpacker would agree, and then both Carlotta and a circus would be 
his. But Pawpacker had refused. Of course! Couldn't blame him! A 
young man without capital was doomed to a job. 

He entered a cigar store and purchased the quarter brand. A half- 
dozen. He guessed his tobacco bill alone would keep a family in 
groceries. He stowed away the cigars, brought out the letter, weighed 
it on his palm. It didn't weigh much. It didn't weigh as much as a 
million dollars. Or two million, or whatever the old man was worth. 

He tore open the envelope, and there in the cigar store with its hard 
bright lights and the noises of traffic yapping in from outside he read 



GUS THE GREAT 285 

Dear Gus: 

I'm so miserable I don't know what to do. And something 
terrible has happened, and I'd like to talk to you. 

Carlotta. 

Something terrible. What? It worried him; but he drove worry from 
his thoughts as he entered the General Grant. He might have owned 
scores of elephants already, from the imperial way he marched through 
the crowded lobby. With its marble pillars veined with rose, its gigan- 
tic spittoons, it seemed a hotel for herculean men. 

"Uh want to send a wire," he told Pawpacker. "J ust a minute." 

He bustled to the telegraph counter. Since the Leslies had no 
telephone, this was the fastest way of communicating with 
Carlotta. 

"I will call at eight Tuesday evening," he wrote. He hesitated, then 
added: "Lots of love. Gus." 

After eating, Gus felt better; and when the liqueurs arrived he blew 
out cigar smoke and leaned forward. 

"Um-rn-m. Now about this matter I mentioned. Feel I need advice 
from an older head than mine. Fact is, I'm sort of involved." 

And he told Pawpacker everything. 

"Let's sit in the lobby," Pawpacker said, "and talk it over. 

They sat in a remote corner and lit fresh cigars. 

"Of course you realize," Pawpacker said, "that it isn't easy to give 
advice in a matter like this." 

"Realize that. You bet I do." 

"I've told you before what I think of your future in show business. 
How much does that future mean to you?" 

"Why, it means" Gus waved his cigar. "Means everything . . ." 

"I thought so." 

"Uh then you think" 

Pawpacker shook his head. "I can't advise you, Gus. Either way 
you jump, you'll have regrets. Of course, if you marry Flora you'll do 
your regretting in luxury." 

"Something to that/' Gus said. "Uh one question. Do you believe 
in love?" 

Pawpacker didn't reply immediately, and it was as if he saw faraway 
visions in the cigar smoke. 

"Yes," he said, "I believe in it. But the question is whether you be- 
lieve in it." 

"Sure I believe in it. Of course I do. What you say, though, about 
regretting in luxury there's a lot in that. Let me ask another ques- 
tion. Can you think of any way a man like me could start a circus 
without capital? I mean without any capital." 

"Offhand I can't." 



286 GUS THE GREAT 

"Neither can I," Gus said. 
He slept badly that night. 

In the hack next evening Gus felt jumpy, his stomach queasy. From 
high school physiology he remembered a chart of the nervous system, 
and he felt like the chart: every fiber pen-lined tight, every ganglion 
quivering. 

The Leslies' porch light was burning; he told the driver to wait. 
Facing the house, he had an impulse to duck back into the cab and 
tell the driver to whip up his horses. He squared his shoulders, took a 
deep breath; and going to the house he bustled. 

The doorbell pealed. Almost at once Carlotta opened the door, as 
if she had been waking in the hall. 

"Well, 55 he exclaimed heartily, "hello here!" 

"Hello, Gus. Come in." 

The hall was full of embarrassment, but he fought its tortures cour- 
ageously. He said it was a nice evening; yes sir, fine evening. A little 
cool, but mighty nice. You could certainly tell spring was here, he said. 

Carlotta looked tired. He watched her at the mirror arranging her 
hat* There was a droop to her shoulders and she didn't say much. 
She was like a girl preparing to attend a funeral. And the house had 
a chill funereal qaality. The doors to the other rooms were closed on 
silence. He'd be glad to get out of there. 

When she turned and gave him her coat to hold, her face looked 
drawn. Her eyes looked hurt. He couldn't help but remember the other 
evenings he had called for her. She had been girlish and dashing, then. 
She had been laughter. 

And suddenly he was wrung by nostalgia and regret, and he remem- 
bered that long poem she had read aloud on one of their picnics about 
an old Persian who saw life as a phantom and a madness to which 
only love and wine and poetry could bring a measure of sanity. The 
lines hobbled brokenly back to him now, something about shattering 
this sorry scheme of things and remolding it nearer to the heart's de- 
sire. When she read it the philosophy had been too oriental for his 
tastes, for he was the flower of Western Civilization in the twentieth 
century, full of the sturdy American virtues of getting ahead, o prog- 
ress; and the poem had left him uneasy and troubled by the sense of 
great forces loose in the universe which were not especially concerned 
with the welfare of Gus Burgoyne. 

When they reached the street Carlotta said: 

"You have a hack- Can't we walk a while, instead?'* 

"Tell you," he whispered, "I had him wait. Hate to send him off 
now. We'll ride a while and then walk." 

He directed the driver to Funland Park; and as the hack swayed 



GUS THE GREAT 287 

along she sat on the far side of the seat, silent. He tried to make con- 
versation, without success. 

Cloppmg toward Jefferson Avenue, the cab passed Manning School, 
and he grew aware of a change in Carlotta. Her head was more 
averted than ever, her shoulders hunched, and he realized she was 
fighting tears. 

"Why honey," he muttered, slipping his arm around her, "what's 
the matter?" 

She wept then as he had never known a girl to weep. And he wept 
too, in spirit. And he knew that even for the Oxenford money he 
couldn't cast her aside like a burned-out cigar. He guessed he was 
soft, but he couldn't. And suddenly he felt both trapped and glad. 
He spoke his mental farewells to Flora and Sam Oxenford and Ive 
Pawpacker and to the dream of elephants parading through band 
music. He'd get a job. Some newspaper. It wouldn't be so bad; not 
with Carlotta trimming a Christmas tree and himself donning false 
Santa Claus whiskers. Yes, someday they would have children and 
he'd take them to a circus and the clowns would make everybody 
laugh except himself. 

"Tell me about it," he said. "You can tell me. Sure you can." 
But she couldn't, then. She could only cry. 

When the hack creaked to a halt at the park she staunched her tears, 
and with her handkerchief at her face she stepped to the shadowy 
esplanade where they had stood together that first afternoon while she 
waited for a streetcar that came too soon, Gus embraced her while 
the hack clacked away toward the city. Then he jangled out keys and 
guided her to the gate. 

Regret wrenched him as he reflected that he wouldn't be opening 
this gate many more times. Flora would bellow and old Oxenford 
would fire him and people would crowd through this gate on summer 
evenings, but he wouldn't be present to hear the music from the merry- 
go-round. He'd be hearing presses thundering out another .sort of 
music from the basement of a newspaper shop. Fire and graft and 
flood and sudden death. And when a circus press agent visited town 
he'd probably astonish the fellow by taking him to lunch. 

Maybe he could crawl back to Clayton Junction and take over the 
Tribune. The last few times he had dropped in there, he had noticed 
how old and tired Frank seemed. Yes, he could do that; only he 
couldn't. People would say that although Doll Burgoyne's son had 
flown pretty high for a time, they noticed he had come back. Back to 
the dirty railroad smoke and the sorrowing of trains. And he couldn't 
bring up children of his in Clayton Junction. Memories were too long. 
From inside the gate he reached through the bars and snapped shut 



288 GUS THE GREAT 

the padlock; and then with Carlotta he wandered along the path to- 
ward the miniature railroad and the elephant barn. 

"Let's not go in there tonight/' she said. "Let's sit down some- 
where." 

Faint irritation pricked him, because it seemed they were being un- 
true to Molly, not visiting her. Poor Molly had her troubles, now that 
the trainer had arrived and started schooling her. It seemed to Gus 
he used the hook too much and too cruelly, but he said the first weeks 
were the hardest. Sometimes Gus wished that she didn't have to be 
trained, but if she weren't the kids would clamor eternal questions as 
to why she didn't know tricks. 

They walked among the ghostly whitewashed trees to the bandstand 
in the center of the park, climbing the steps and sitting down and 
talking a long time. 

Next June a famous band would present a week of free concerts be- 
neath the pointed roof of this octagonal pavilion. At least, Gus planned 
to announce m his publicity that the band was famous; and the music 
would certainly be free to those who had paid admission to the park. 
Within the last week he had signed a contract with the band leader, 
who, at Gus's suggestion, had promised to compose a piece of virtually 
original music to be called 'The Funland Park March." 

"Be great publicity," Gus had declared. 

But now, Gus thought regretfully, he wouldn't be here when the 
band played the world premiere of that composition. He sighed. A 
march rendered by a brass band was his favorite music. He preferred 
it even to a merry-go-round organ or a calliope. 

Tonight the pavilion was shadowy, lighted only by the distant bulbs 
burning among the trees. They sat on the wooden bench encircling 
the bandstand, Gus leaning back with his arms outflung along the 
railing. 

"I've never had such a shock," Carlotta said at last. "I mean that 
awful woman coming to school." 

Her shoulders shivered at the memory; he drew her against him. 

"Must have been bad," he agreed. 

"You don't know how bad. You can't know. She just screamed and 
yelled. Everybody heard. All the other teachers." 

"Yeah, pretty bad, all right. Must have been." 

Carlotta pulled away and faced him. 

"Why didn't you tell me you were engaged to her?" 

"I did intend to, honey. But I never seemed to get around to it." 

Carlotta expelled a snort of disgust. 

"How did you ever get mixed up with her?" 



GUS THE GREAT 289 

"Uh well tell you. It just sort of came about. I got to doing busi- 
ness with old Sam, and Flora was always around" 

"And you couldn't miss seeing her, I suppose. At the Oxenfords* 
they keep an elephant in the parlor, and you like elephants." 

Gus felt his ears burning. He knew Flora's shortcomings as well as 
anyone, but it seemed hardly fair for a girl as lovely as Carlotta to 
keep clawing her. He forgave Carlotta, for Flora had picked on her 
first; but nevertheless Flora was a pretty good old lumber wagon, and 
he experienced an odd loyalty to her. 

"I don't know what you see in her/' Carlotta said. "If you like her 
and you must or you wouldn't have got engaged then I don't see 
how you could like me." 

Gus shifted his position on the grill. 

"Yeah, funny thing, all right. Just the way things happen." 

"Or maybe/' Carlotta said, "you were cold-blooded about it. Maybe 
you liked her money." 

The temperature rose in Gus's ears; he didn't want to get mad. 

"Let's not talk about it," he said. 

"Not talk about it! What do you suppose I've been thinking about 
all these days! The trouble with you Gus, you don't like to face things. 
If something unpleasant comes along you turn your back. The reason 
this mess came about is because you wouldn't play fair. That's what's- 
wrong with you." 

That anything very serious was wrong with him came as news to 
Gus. And he didn't enjoy hearing it. Why couldn't Carlotta be like 
Flora in just one respect? Why couldn't she welcome him back with- 
out hooking it into him? Last Sunday Flora had been wonderful to- 
him. A fine meal, a restful nap. 

"Well, why don't you say something?" Carlotta demanded. "I guess, 
it's because you know you're in the wrong." 

"Oh hell!" Gus muttered. He stood up and paced around the band- 
stand, 

"Swearing won't get you any place. That's what's wrong with you 
you won't face things. You'll swear and bluster but that's all it 
amounts to." 

"Oh, Carlotta," he groaned. "Why do you have to be this way?" 

"What way?" 

"I mean dragging me over the coals" 

"I didn't used to be this way. I used to be happy. I was getting along 
fine till I met you. I was engaged to a nice boy. Then you came along 
and" 

"You started it. You came to the park, I was doing fine till 
myseli" 



290 GUS THE GREAT 

"Yes," she snapped, "I came to the park. On perfectly legitimate 
business. And what did you do? You started moonshinmg up to me 
and urging me to go out with you and made me fall in love with you. 
And I broke my engagement with Jim Wheeler, and" 

"I didn't tell you to do that." 

"No, you didn't. That's not the way you do things. You play three 
or four at the same time. I'm not like that. You told me you loved 
me, so naturally I broke my engagement. I've never known anyone 
so unfair as you." 

She began to cry. 

Gus trundled over and muttering heavy endearments fumbled an 
arm around her shoulders. She shook it violently oif. He frowned, 
resumed pacing. He was more than a little angry and disgusted him- 
self. He'd been in the wrong sure. Ought to have told her about 
Flora. But he didn't think he had been as far gone in duplicity as 
Carlotta thought. He could find valid excuses for himself. And he'd 
decided to do the right thing, hadn't he ? She had broken her engage- 
ment, and he loved her and he would marry her. My God, didn't it 
occur to her what he would be giving up by marrying her? Did she 
think the Oxenford empire was just a lot of wastepaper? Who in hell 
did she think she was, anyway ? Queen of Sheba, or somebody ? 

Well, he knew what he was giving up! And he had a damned good 
notion not to do it. 

Carlotta had stopped crying now, and Gus sat again by her side. 
But this time several inches separated them, and his arm didn't en- 
circle her. He gruffed: 

"You said in that letter something terrible had happened. What 
is it?" 

"I wondered if you'd forgotten that. I wondered if you cared 
enough" 

"Oh, stop it," he growled. "Stop picking on me, can't you? And 
come to the point." 

She was venomously silent. 

"My God," Jie said finally. "Are you going to tell me, or aren't you?" 

"Yes," she said crisply, Tm going to tell you. I've been fired." 

"Fired?" 

"Yes, fired. Haven't you ever heard of somebody getting fired? The 
superintendent of schools has fired me." 

"He can't do that." 

"You might tell him that. He'd be glad to get your ideas, I'm cer- 



tain." 



"I mean well, don't you have a contract? And what did he fire 
you for?" 



GUS THE GREAT 291 

"Why do you suppose? Because of the things that awful woman 
said. After the scene she made I was in disgrace." 

"Why that's that's silly. Crazy." 

"You don't know much about school systems, do you? Teachers are 
supposed to set good examples. If there's any scandal they can fire you. 
There's a paragraph about that in my contract. I didn't pay any atten- 
tion to it when I signed. Of course, that was before I knew you." 

Suddenly he was very ^ angry, and he knew he was going to say 
things he would regret. 

The battle continued intermittently the rest of the evening. In the 
hack going home they were silent, exhausted, wounded. But there was 
a difference between them. Carlotta sat in dejection. She hadn't in- 
tended to say such bitter things. It was just that for days her anger had 
mounted and once she got started she couldn't check herself. But she 
wasn't angry, now. The tears that rolled down her cheeks were not 
tears of rage. 

Gus's was the silence of grumpmess. Tonight his self-esteem had 
taken a bad beating. It didn't help to tell himself he deserved what he 
got. She needn't have stooped to personalities. Tomorrow was Wed- 
nesday, and on Wednesday evening he used to call on Flora. He 
guessed he would tomorrow evening. He'd phone her in the morning. 

When they descended from the hack Gus told the driver to wait. 
They walked slowly to the porch and climbed the steps. The porch 
light was out. 

"Gus, I'm sorry," Carlotta murmured. 

He sighed. "That's all right. I'm sorry, too." 

"Am I going to see you again?" 

"Sure. Ill get in touch with you." 

"No," she whispered. "I don't think you will." 

"I said I would, didn't I?" 

"You're mad. Aren't you?" 

"No not very. I'm tired. I'm all mixed up." 

"I want to know," she said slowly, "if you're going to see me. Be- 
cause if you're not well Harold Henderson has asked me to marry 
him." 

"The educated fool." 

But he didn't say it in anger, or even with much jealousy. And sud- 
denly his heart wrenched and he pitied Carlotta. And he realized then 
that whatever his decision he could never entirely escape her. He took 
her into his arms and kissed her and at last they were at peace. He 
was always glad afterward they had not parted in anger. 

"Sure," he mumbled, "I'll get in touch with you. You don't have a 
phone Til write you or wire or just drop in " 



292 GUS THE GREAT 

He kissed her again and finally he left. She watched him fumbling 
down the steps and ambling toward the hack, big, bewildered, his head 
lowered. She heard his voice rumbling directions to the driver. He 
started to enter the hack, then- turned, as if he had a notion to come 
back. Instead he lifted an arm in a clumsy wave. Then the hack door 
slammed and the horses started walking. And a wave of pity for him 
overtook her, because she had seen him at his best as well as his worst, 
and she knew how wistful and ingenuous he could be, and how con- 
fused and how lost. 



A 



LFTER THE wedding of Flora Oxenford and A. H. Burgoyne more 
than two years passed before Ivan Pawpacker saw Gus again. He didn't 
greatly miss him, for he was exceedingly busy with his own affairs. He 
was in his forties now, a period of expanding prosperity. Already well- 
to-do by Winchester standards, he saw the opportunity to become actu- 
ally rich. His dealings in horses and mules brought him good income, 
and his circus brokerage business had developed surprising profits. 
But banking attracted him most. 

After buying stock, he had gained a seat on the board of the Farmers* 
National Bank, and he was scheming to elect himself president. Then 
he would exert his energies toward absorbing the only other bank in 
Winchester. He wanted to become a financial power in the state. 
Sometimes he thought of himself as a general and his dollars an army. 
As a strategist he was never a heedless raider but a commander think- 
ing first of defending what he had and only then reaching out to cap- 
ture a new position. 

Not often, of course, did he philosophize about his purpose in 
expanding his financial duchy. To make more money whether you 
needed it or not seemed the natural thing to do. He was grateful that 
civilization had advanced to the place where dollar power exceeded 
every other power. Somewhere back in the centuries men with brains 
had outwitted the big slow fellows who thought with lumpy muscles. 
Physical strength had been enslaved by the power of finance. . It didn't 
make much difference any more, he told himself, if you were not a big 
strapping fellow; the sources of power had passed from body to brain. 

He was born in upper New York State at Larkin Corners, a hamlet 
in a land of meadows and stone quarries. Its population could never 
quite reach the hundred mark, for always when a new baby was due 
somebody would die unexpectedly, foiling the community's ambition 
for a census in three figures. The place had the quiet spirit of a Currier 
& Ives print, with a village green where a town pump stood by a water- 
ing trough; and in the tan dust of the street dogs slept in perfect safety. 

Few business establishments faced the green, and only two were im- 
portant. One occupied a building o native stone with a wooden awnr 

293 



294 GUS THE GREAT 

ing shading the wooden sidewalk. A sign told the villagers what they 

already knew: this was Pawpacker's General Store. 

Ivan was the fifth child of Vermont parents who considered they 
were migrating west when they moved to Larkin Corners. His father, 
a taciturn, wiry man, had quit school after a few terms and worked 
hard to get money to buy a store. The older children worked dutifully 
there, but all Ivan wanted to do was hang around the other important 
business enterprise, Kronkmeyer's Livery Stable. It stood on the east 
side of the green, a stone building whose dusky interior was enriched 
by the odor of horses. From earliest youth that aroma pulled him like 
a tropisrn. On Saturdays he could scarcely wait to finish his wood- 
splitting and weed-pulling so he could hurry to the stable. 

Try as they might, his parents couldn't keep him away. They wor- 
ried about his propensity for the stable not because it was disreputable, 
for Herman Kronkmeyer was a respectable citizen, but because they 
felt Ivan was falling into the habit of loafing. 

When he was eleven Ivan convinced Mr. Kronkmeyer he needed a 
boy to help around the stable at real wages, so after that his parents 
couldn't object. In those years, no matter how vigorously he scrubbed, a 
faint scent of horses always emanated from Ivan. He couldn't under- 
stand why it was distasteful to his sisters and the girls at school; he 
loved it. 

Kronkmeyer's stable was his high school and his college with the 
entire curriculum devoted to horses. Kronkmeyer and the hostlers were 
his teachers; from them he absorbed vast information about the vices 
and diseases and virtues of horses; and by the time he entered his teens 
it almost seemed he gleaned knowledge from the horses themselves by 
a kind of mental and emotional osmosis. 

To possess a horse became his passion, but that was far beyond his 
resources because he turned over his wages to his father. But Ivan 
would not be balked. To attain a horse he developed the trading in- 
stincts inherited from his father. Beginning with a collection of birds' 
eggs, he traded and bargained with urchins of his own age; and pres- 
ently he owned a rifle. He cared nothing about hunting, so now he 
began a series of trades with grown men, and after a year he owned a 
buggy. It was far from new, but he greased the axles and polished the 
body; and then came the opportunity to sell it to a farmer for real 
money. Ivan insisted that the farmer throw in some old harness. The 
money he banked and with the harness he embarked on another series 
of trades. His reputation as a trader was greatly admired, and by the 
time he was fourteen grown men would sometimes commission him to 
conduct their trading. But trading always played second fiddle to his 
ruling passion : horses. 



GUS THE GREAT 295 

And that same passion ruled another person in the community, a 
man forty years Ivan's senior. The leading citizen and the richest, his 
name was Major Adam Redmond, and he dwelt in a stone house on a 
farm a half-mile west of the village. His title he had attained while 
serving in the cavalry during the Civil War. 

In the meadows of the Redmond farm many fine horses grazed, and 
Ivan used to stop by the fence and stare yearningly at the horses and at 
the house with its iron grillwork in a pleasant maple grove. The 
stone barn was enormous, and a weather vane with a trotting horse 
topped its cupola. Sometimes he would see a buggy flashing down the 
drive, pulled by a spirited pair of matched blacks. Major Redmond 
would be holding the reins. 

As a little boy that was the closest Ivan ever got to Major Redmond, 
but he admired him breathlessly. But after he began working at the 
stable he saw more of the major, who would sometimes drop into the 
office while his horses were being shod at the blacksmith's next door. 
He was a full-blooded man with a beard like General Grant's; and 
he carried a gold-headed cane. He never seemed aware of the boy in 
nondescript shirt and trousers; but of him Ivan was Very much aware. 
He thought it would be pretty fine to become a carefully dressed man 
with a beard and a gold-headed cane. 

One day when Ivan was fifteen, the major's visit to the stable co- 
incided with the arrival of a horse trader. Everyone gathered on the 
green to look over the horses, and the major's fancy was taken by a 
roan saddle mare. After examining her teeth he rode her, and when 
he trotted back to the green you could tell he admired her to the buy- 
ing point. 

Swinging from the saddle, the major stood looking very judicious, 
sometimes backing a few paces to get an over-all view of the mare, 
sometimes slowly encircling her. When somebody -plucked at his 
sleeve, he glanced around with irritation. Concentrating on the roan's 
points, he didn't like being interrupted. 

It was the stableboy. 

"Could I say something to you, Major ?* Ivan asked. And when 
the man seemed about to wave him away he added in a whisper: 
"About the mare." 

So they entered the office, the major so fashionably immaculate, the 
stableboy in patched pants. 

"Don't think I'd buy her, if I was in your place/* Ivan said. 

The major frowned at this thin-faced boy with dark eyes and brown 
hair that needed cutting. 

"Why not?" 

"Think she's a stump-sucker, Major." 

The major's frown deepened, for he prided himself upon being an 



296 GUS THE GREAT 

excellent judge of horseflesh, and he hadn't seen a horse in a long 
time that he admired so much. 

"You know the animal?" 

"Never saw her before." 

"I like her." 

"She's sweet. But I think she's a stump-sucker." 

"What makes you think that?" 

Ivan couldn't put his suspicion into words. Something told him, 
that was all. 

"You've never seen her eat wood?" 

"No." 

"Never seen her till today?" 

"No." 

"You're wasting my time," the major gruffed. He stalked from the 
office and bought the mare. 

A few days later the major's groom came to the stable and told Ive 
he was wanted at the Redmond place. Ive rode out in the buggy with 
the groom. As they turned in he saw the major pacing back and forth 
in front of the house, his cane jabbing the sod. And when the buggy 
halted in the side yard the major stamped over, looking angry. 

"You're Pawpacker's boy, aren't you?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Why didn't you tell me the other day you'd known that mare 
before?" 

"I'd never known her before." 

Scowling, the major led Ive into the barn. 

The mare's name was Goldie, and when they reached her stall Ive 
saw she had gnawed a splintery U-shaped hunk from the manger. 

"Stump-sucker!" said the major. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Somebody must have told you/* 

"No, sir." 

"You're lying." 

"No, sir." 

"Then how did you know?" 

"Just knew." 

"Come, come!'* 

"Just knew. I could tell." 

"How?" 

Ive made an uncertain gesture. "I don't know how." 

"Likely story! By gad, I ought to have you discharged. Stump- 
sucker!" 

The major acted as if Ive had sold him the mare. Men hated to be 
bested in a horse deal. 



GUS THE GREAT 297 

Ive said, "You were in the war. An officer." 

"What's that got to do with it?" 

"You could judge men." 

"Of course I could judge men!" 

"Knew which ones you could trust. Which ones would be scared. 
Which ones would carry out orders." 

"By gad!" the major exclaimed. "What's the war got to do ?" 

"You judged them by looking at them. Maybe talking to them for 
a minute." 

"Certainly." 

"Well," Ive said, "that's the way I judge horseflesh." 

Gnawing the edge of his mustache, the major led the way along the 
stalls. He halted and pointed at a heavy Clydesdale. 

"All right, judge him." 

Ivan looked him over. 

"He's between five and six. Like him pretty well in the withers. 
But" Ivan frowned. "Not a buy," he added. "Subject to the heaves." 

"My groom told you!" 

"No, sir. Nobody told me." 

"By gad!" 

Ivan was silent. 

The major tramped on to the next stall. 

"Judge her." 

Ivan took his time. At last he said : 

"She's three. She likely broke hard. Maybe still shies to the right. 
Think she'll get over it. Kind of headstrong yet, but she's got a gait 
like a rocking chair." 

"By gad!" 

A few minutes later, the major ushered Ive into the library of his 
house. Ive had never seen a room like that. The major had more 
books than a lawyer. 

"You don't drink?" 

"No, sir." 

"Admirable!" The major poured a stiff jolt of Bourbon, downed it 
without a wash. "You needn't sit on the edge of that chair. It won't 
nip your hind end." 

Ive grinned, leaned back. 

"You don't look at their teeth, even," the major said. "Why not?" 

"Don't need to." 

"By gad!" 

"You can tell a man's age without looking at his teetL Well, I can 
tell a horse's. Sometimes I miss." 

"You didn't miss today." 

"Sometimes I do." 



298 GUS THE GREAT 

"By gad!" The major had another drink. "It's a gift," he declared. 
"Like a baritone. Like one of these artist fellows." 

"I've always liked horses." 

"Like one of these child prodigies. On the fiddle." 

"Sometimes I miss." 

"By gad! Must speak about this to your father." 

"He knows about it. But horses don't mean much to him." 

The major poured more Bourbon. 

"With a gift like that," he said, "you've got a future." 

"I like horses. Always have. I like to work with horses." 

The major pursed his lips. Scowled. At last he said: 

"What am I going to do with that stump-sucker?" 

Ivan didn't know. 

"By gad! I can't abide a ^tump-sucker. Never could. And that 
damned trader . . . Look here. Do you want her?" 

Ive grinned. "I don't have much money." 

"Money! Where're your wits, boy? Do you want her as a gift?" 

Ive expelled a long breath. 

"That's handsome of you. Real handsome." 

"Can't abide a stump-sucker. Messy! Splinters! But look here. I 
want a good saddle horse. You buy me a good saddle horse and I'll 
pay you a commission. Five dollars. But she's got to be good. Perfect." 

"They don't come perfect." 

"Say ninety percent perfect. But by gad! No stump-sucker!" 

"Yes, sir," Ivan said. "No stump-sucker." 

Three weeks later Ivan swapped the mare Goldie to a horse trader 
for a chestnut pacer. He demanded ten dollars to boot. He got six. 

Five weeks later he heard of a saddle horse owned by a farmer. He 
called at the farm, looked her over. Then he got in touch with Major 
Redmond. The major paid him five dollars commission. And never 
regretted it. 

During the next months Ive was a frequent guest at Major Red- 
mond's. The major told him about the great world beyond Larkin 
Corners. If Ive were to become a famous horse judge maybe an ex- 
pert at society horse shows he should acquire more learning. He 
should know how to speak correctly. The major lent him books from 
his library, and because Ive was a serious young man who desired 
someday to have a nice home like the major's, he dutifully read the 
books. He read Addison and Shakespeare and Byron without too 
much understanding or enjoyment. But he gulped Fielding and 
Dickens* 

And during the next two years he continued trading; and the major 



GUS THE GREAT 299 

spoke to his friends about that boy's ability to judge horses, and other 
people began paying him to render expert opinions. 

At seventeen, he owned a team and a wagon and three additional 
horses. And early one spring morning when the eastern sky was be- 
ginning to pink he drove from Larkin Corners along the road past the 
pleasant meadows of the Redmond place and on toward the West to 
seek his fortune. A few years later, richer by several thousand dollars, 
he drove south across the Iowa line toward Winchester, Missouri. 

In Kansas City and St. Louis, the great neckless men who pilot the 
Republican Party and the Democratic Party in Missouri agree upon one 
thing: that it would be political waste to send campaign orators into a 
certain tier of counties. Little Dixie, they call these counties; and the 
safest prophecy under heaven is that in any election they will turn in 
thumping Democratic majorities. 

Northernmost of the county seats in Little Dixie is Winchester, but 
Ive Pawpacker soon discovered that to the town geography meant 
nothing. Architecturally and emotionally it was a town in the deep 
South: the farthest northward push the South ever made. 

The town was built around the Courthouse Square, and in the hot 
summers old men lolled in the humid shade of the courthouse lawn 
and drawled about the virtues of various flea-pestered hound dogs. Or, 
if they were talking business, their conversation concerned mules. Usu- 
ally somebody's Negro man lingered at the edge of the group, perhaps 
Judge Southwick's Ed. Judge Southwick would be telling how his 
bitch hound holed a fox last week, and he'd say in his charming, liquid 
voice, "Isn't that right, Ed?" And even though it was the greatest 
whopper a man ever told, Ed would exclaim, "Yes, sir, Jedge that's 
just how it happen! 11 

Of course by the time Ive Pawpacker reached Winchester the Ne- 
groes were technically free, but the town went on year after year as if 
the Emancipation Proclamation had never been signed. The early 
settlers had brought their slaves with them, and during the Civil War 
most of the young men had gone away to fight for Jeff Davis. So far 
as Winchester was concerned, there had been only one important war 
in history, The War. And after it was lost the town was a defeated 
town. It turned its back on the future. 

It was a languid town in a country of rolling hills, and it seemed 
older than General Lee's grandmother. The courthouse was not a 
great domed structure, but a little building of slate-colored stone with 
corridors that smelled of musty documents and tobacco juice. Away 
from the Square the streets dozed in dank shade, and the dwellings 
were of time-blurred brick or wooden houses with galleries and pillars 
that needed paint. 



300 GUS THE GREAT 

Life was easy there, because everybody believed making a living a 
necessary evil, and nobody was in a hurry to have truck with that evil. 
The women were mostly beautiful and lazy, and the hounds were 
beautiful and lazy, and the men were charming and lazy. Nearly 
everybody was related to everybody else. In the daytime the Negro 
women sang at their work, and at night you could hear the nostalgic 
music of hounds baying in tangled valleys. 

On Saturdays the farmers who drove to town were not the plump, 
thrifty peasants of the Middle West. They were gaunt, raw-boned 
men, lean as squirrel rifles. Hound dogs flopped along in the shade of 
the wagons, and the wagons were pulled by mules. While the women- 
folks bought calico and corn meal the men gathered in feed lots to buy 
and sell mules. In that town the principal industry was the breeding 
of mules. It was an ideal occupation for Winchester, because the 
horses and jacks did most of the work. 

He was not like other horse traders. Most of them were thieving 
men who needed shaves and baths, and their eyes were shifty beneath 
the brims of slouch hats. They creaked from town to town in filthy 
wagons covered with canvas, camping by the roadside and sometimes 
lifting a chicken from a farmer's henroost. Dealing with them you 
were on guard. They were full of tricks, and you might find you had 
bought a horse stolen from the next county, or a horse doped. 

He was not as they. He drove an ordinary lumber wagon without 
a canvas cover, and he never camped out. He was shaved and clean 
and respectable, wearing a neat suit and blacked shoes; and when he 
entered a town he drove to a livery stable and demanded the best for 
his horses. They were always well-fed and glossy. And he inquired 
about the best hotel and took a suitcase from the wagon box and strode 
into the place with great assurance. He was not big, but wiry and 
supple. His lean face was weather-browned and intense vitality burned 
in his dark eyes. 

He was shrewd enough to know the power of words, and hence he 
never announced himself as a horse trader but always a horse buyer. 
It threw the smartest men off guard, for they began scheming how 
they could sell him their horses at extravagant prices instead of worry- 
ing about protecting their pocketbooks from the tricks of a horse 
trader. He had been commissioned, he said, to buy horses for Major 
Redmond of New York State. It sounded impressive and somehow 
official. 

Before he tried to sell or trade he bought a horse or two. Always his 
routine was the same. In the paddock of the livery stable he stepped 
back a few paces from the horse up for sale, scrutinizing it sharply. 
Then with slow deliberation he paced around it, his concentration in- 



GUS THE GREAT 301 

tense. He could judge weight within a few pounds, and through the 
years all the lore and knowledge of horses had steeped his very bones. 
He didn't like a draft horse that was too ready to prick up its ears, al- 
though in a trotter that was the very trait he wanted. He preferred a 
Roman nose to a dish face. A Roman nose was hard to break, but once 
broken he was reliable, whereas a dish face was easy to break but you 
never knew what he would do. Of all markings he was suspicious. A 
white star on a black forehead might be a natural marking, but some-- 
times it meant the horse had been stolen and the star bleached there by 
applications of hot potatoes. 

These and a thousand other scraps of knowledge swayed his judg- 
ment. It never took him long to make up his mind. His decision re- 
sulted from the total impression he received, never from individual 
points, for you were likely to deceive yourself if you fancied too much 
the curve of a crest or the line of a back. 

Sometimes he made a bad buy, for he relied somewhat on hunch. 
Perhaps ten percent hunch and ninety percent knowledge compounded 
his judgment. But usually he was right. When he wanted a horse lie 
made a single offer. If the owner refused and started haggling, Ive 
shrugged and turned away. 

"If you can't afford to sell him at that," he said, "keep him. I don't 
want to cheat anybody." 

Usually the owner ended by accepting the offer. 

After he had finished buying, somebody always asked if any of his 
horses were for sale. 

"Certainly. I've never owned a horse I wouldn't sell if I got my 
price." 

In selling as in buying, he refused to haggle. He set a price and 
they could take it or leave it. Usually they took it. With his trader's 
soul he would have loved to haggle, but from experience he learned 
that arrogance in a horse deal was more impressive and profitable. 

He made money. Knowing values, he offered to buy for slightly less 
than the horse was worth, and he had the cash in his wallet to make 
full and instant payment. Experience told him that most men who 
offered a horse for sale needed money and were prepared to sacrifice a 
few dollars to get it. On the other hand, a man in the market for a 
horse almost always had spare cash, and if the horse took his eye he 
would pay a little more than its actual value. He never tried to make 
killing profits on a single deal. He preferred to make money by lots 
of buying and selling with small profits. 

And so gradually as he worked his way west, through Pennsylvania 
and Ohio and Michigan and Illinois, his capital grew. He took care of 
it, opening accounts in three banks, for he was too cautious to trust his 
money to a single institution. And he took care of himself too, buying 



302 GUS THE GREAT 

good clothes and living well and often spending his evenings reading. 
He had never forgotten Major Redmond's advice about improving 
himself. 

More than he realized he modeled himself on Major Redmond. 
Someday he wanted a nice home like the major's, and he wanted to be 
looked up to as a leading citizen and carry a gold-headed stick. He 
didn't want to spend his life wandering about the country. The time 
would come when he'd find a livery stable for sale in a town he liked, 
and he'd take root. He'd hire hostlers to operate the stable and with it 
as headquarters he would go out on buying trips. 

By the time he was twenty-two, he had a pretty shrewd knowledge 
not only of horses but of men. And travel had taught him a good deal 
about the world. Sometimes he granted himself a vacation and spent 
a week in Milwaukee or Chicago, eating at the best restaurants and 
attending the theater. 

And so in many ways he was more self-reliant and experienced than 
most young men, but in one way he was still callow and adolescent. 
He didn't know much about girls. Driving from town to town, he 
had little opportunity to become acquainted with what he thought of 
as nice girls. And caution kept him away from the other kind. Desire 
tormented him more and more, and when he was falling asleep at 
night he thought of the pretty faces and bosoms and hips he had seen 
on the street or in the lobby, and he felt fever hot. One evening in 
Chicago desire led him to the shadowy levee district, but he was too 
shy to knock on the doors of the more fashionable houses. And the 
women who accosted him on the sidewalk turned his desire to disgust. 
They were blowzy, cheaply jeweled, ostrich-plumed, and he suspected 
they were diseased. He was too fastidious for adventures of that kind. 

In his thoughts all girls were either nice or not nice. The not-nice he 
abhorred. And like a schoolboy daydreaming about a lovely face, he 
thought of all beautiful and nice girls as shining creations, pure and 
gentle and angelic. He had reached marrying age without the hand- 
holding and kissing parties and preliminary skirmishes that prepared 
most men for the battle of life. Then he met Georgiana Kelvin of 
Winchester, Missouri. 

At midafternoon as he drove south toward Winchester a thunder- 
shower sent him to a farmer's barn, delaying him more than an hour, 
and now at sunset the town was still several miles away. It was May, 
and the scent of springtime bewitched the land. He drove through 
grazing country with hills rolling away to the horizon and long valleys 
where creeks meandered and brush grew thick. The broad rays from 
the low red sun projected wagon and horses in a grotesquerie of mov- 
ing shadows. Then the sun vanished and Ive drove along in the re- 



GUS THE GREAT 303 

fleeted fire of a west that had become salmon flame. That soon died 
and the air cooled. And with dusk came the mist. 

He was winding along a ndge when he noticed it first, rising silently 
down in the creek valleys. He knew the habits of quiet country at 
twilight, and he assumed that the mist would remain down there 
where it belonged, hanging above the rills and brooks like the ghostly 
spirit of running water. In the east a rising moon was swimming in 
lavender sky, and somewhere a whip-poor-will began its melancholy 
and repetitious song. 

The cooling air was still damp from the shower, and perhaps that 
explained why the mist came stealing upward, filling the valleys, until 
finally from his wagon seat Ive gazed out on lakes of spectral froth. 
Above the ridge road the sky was clear, the moon white as a plum 
blossom and the stars yellow. Not of the sky was the mist born, but 
of the damp mysterious earth. 

The team plodded on, and the road dipped. Ive glanced back. His 
trading stock, three untethered horses, were not straggling now to 
munch the tender grass. They followed close, as if uneasy. 

Down in the hollow the wagon was engulfed so thickly that he 
couldn't make out the horses 1 rumps. Then the road climbed and grad- 
ually the mist thinned. But not completely. .As it had taken the valleys 
by stealth, so now it was taking the ridge. 

He wondered how far it was to Winchester. Not a great distance, 
likely; on a clear night he would have driven on; but he didn't like 
wandering blind down an unfamiliar road. Halting the team, he 
fumbled in the wagon box for a lantern. In its rays, the mist glistened 
and moved like smoke. While the team waited he groped along the 
road, discovering presently a grassy turnout. Returning, he grasped 
the bridle of the off-horse and led the team to the camping spot. 

The whip-poor-will was silent now, but other sounds invaded the 
roadside hush. Frogs were croaking somewhere; and off in a valley 
he heard the forlorn bonging of a cowbell. And once, far away and 
nostalgic, he heard a hound yelping on the tracks of a fox or raccoon. 
It was like the voice of the legendary South, bringing to mind all the 
lazy mystery of that possum-sleepy land: hot bread and fiddle music 
and yellow wenches laughing. 

He unhitched, kindled a fire; and sitting on the wagon tongue, he 
munched what remained in his lunch pai a pork sandwich, a hard- 
boiled egg, a square of ginger cake. In the firelight his brown hair 
looked black and his face sober. His eyes were moody. His straight thin 
nose and lean jaw and thin mouth gave his countenance almost an 
ascetic cast. His hands were" dark tan and well shaped,, the fingers lean. 
He looked too well-dressed to be sitting at a campfire. His vest was the 
hue of creamed coffee, checked with red-brown lines and pearl- 



3 o 4 GUS THE GREAT 

buttoned. His shirt was still crisp after a day of travel, his cravat buff- 
colored; and his jacket and trousers had been tailored from leaf -brown 
fabric. But sandy mud stained his shoes. 

He scraped off the mud with a stick, considering as he worked the 
problem of water. By morning the horses would be restless with thirst; 
even now he was thirsty himself. He stood up and listened to the night, 
attempting to isolate the direction of the frog voices. But it was no 
good: they croaked everywhere. On a dry night frogs would mean a 
brook or pond, but probably in this dripping mist they were bouncing 
all over the place. It seemed ridiculous to be thirsty when every leaf 
and blade glistened and the air was so crammed with moisture, and 
he wondered whether he'd get lost if he went exploring for water. He 
decided to chance it. And then, coming far down the road from Win- 
chester, he heard galloping hoofs. A saddle horse, he decided, as the 
sound drew nearer. And its rider must be mad or drunk to be plung- 
ing pell-mell through a night like this. 

He stepped into the road, swinging the lantern and calling. If the 
fellow weren't too drunk perhaps he could direct him to water. 

Through the wet air the hoof beats sounded as sharp and definite as 
whip cracks. As they came closer he shouted louder and poised him- 
self, ready to leap aside if the drunken fool failed to heed his lantern 
and voice. When the sound was very close he detected a break in the 
horse's stride. A yell cut the mist, and then looming bigger than life 
he saw a black horse rearing. He jumped to the roadside and the 
horse's front hoofs landed where he had been standing. It caracoled 
on a few yards before wheeling back into the radiance of fire and lan- 
tern, its glossy coat streaming mist and sweat. 

"I declare!" the rider exclaimed gaily. "Were you trying to suicide 
yourself?" 

The rider was neither mad, drunk nor male. The rider was a girl 
with shining yellow hair falling to her shoulders from under a gray 
campaign hat. She swung easily from the saddle. 

"I didn't see that lantern till I was near on you. I might just as well 
have killed you." 

Ive saw then that, hard as it was to believe, she was wearing not a 
ladylike riding skirt but rawhide-colored breeches and black boots. Her 
blouse was open at the throat, and she wore a man's jacket snugly but- 
toned over her breasts. 

He felt the blood coursing up his neck. She must be a wild hussy to 
deck herself out like that, but she was a hussy very exciting to the eyes. 
She didn't look more than eighteen, and in the firelight the smooth 
skin of her face and throat was overwashed with a golden tint. And 
despite her boy's getup, there was no mistaking that a girl's curved 
body occupied those clothes. 



GUS THE GREAT 305 

"Reckon when your eyes are full," she drawled, "you'll wish to fill 
your pockets." 

But he could tell she wasn't offended because he had stared, and 
suddenly his embarrassment left and he felt more at ease than usual 
with girls. 

"It's a fetching getup," he said. 

Her smile was teasing, 

"You ought to try wearing a riding skirt. Then you'd know why I 
hate them. But if I'd go garbed in pants in broad daylight, they'd lack 
smelling salts enough. 'Goodness alive!' they'd say. 'There goes Georv 
giana Kelvin in her pappy 's hat and her cousin Stuart's britches! Good- 
ness alive!' " 

"So you ride at night." 

"Near every night. Except when I ride afternoons with my cousin 
Stuart. This fog sure bewitches things something terrible." 

"You were covering the road." 

She puckered her nose. Her face was saucy, her mouth and chin will- 
ful, and Ive judged that once she took it into her head to ride in pants 
nobody could stop her. 

"Blackie, he was just lazying along tonight. That horse has got no 
use for fog, nohow." 

Her warm voice flowed slow as honey, so that what she actually said 
sounded like, "Blackie, he was jus' lazin' 'long tonight. That hoss got 
no use fo' fog, nohaow." 

"How far is this from Winchester?" 

"Mile and a half, I reckon. Maybe two." 

Her hand fussed with her hair while she gazed at the wagon and 
the horses. When she wasn't smiling the willfulness of her chin was 
more pronounced, her full mouth almost sullen. 

"You don't look like a horse trader," she said, "but reckon you must 
be with all this stock. What's your name?" 

He told her. 

Smiling, she crinkled her forehead and cocked up a blond brow. 

"How come you have a name like Ivan?" 

"My mother found it in a poem." 

"I never did get much understanding out of poesy. But my cousin 
Stuart can recite it by the mile. You're from up North, I reckon." 

"Fm a horse buyer. I buy for Major Redmond of New York State. 
That's where I'm from." 

"Goodness, you've come far. I hear tell that Yankees are smart 
traders. Sharp as their voices, I hear. Daddy's a lawyer. He was in the 
legislature once. The wages the state pays are real generous. Do you 
make much money trading about the country?" 

"I do all right." 



3 o6 GUS THE GREAT 

"I declare!" She grinned hoydenishly. "You're the first man I ever 
hear confess to it. Daddy says there's no money in the law. But my 
cousin Stuart would read it. In Daddy's office. It's an occupation fit 
for a gentleman, he says. Are you a gentleman?" 

Before Ive could reply she drawled on : 

"Reckon not. You never hear tell of a gentleman trading horses 
about the country. Or making money. My cousin Stuart has passed 
himself over the bar, now. He'll go off to St. Louis soon to practice. 
He's marrying a St. Louis girl. Are there flocks of handsome girls in 
St. Louis?" 

"I've never been there." 

She stood idly snapping her crop against her boots. Sullenness had 
returned to her face, but in the firelight her hair was angelic. Ive 
didn't know what to make of her. He felt he should classify her as a 
nice girl, yet those riding pants made his blood race as if she had been 
wearing only boots from the waist down. 

"I'd like to lay sight on St. Louis/' she said. "My cousin Stuart's been 
there twice. How come you've never been there?" 

"Just never have, that's alL" He felt he had lost caste with her be- 
cause he hadn't seen St. Louis. "I've been in Chicago. Lots of times. 
I've eaten oyster stew in the Palmer House?." 

It left her unimpressed. 

"How long do you aim to be in Winchester?" she asked. 

"As long as trading's good." 

She turned to go. 

"Well, if you find yourself in law trouble, you call on my Daddy. 
W. C. Kelvin, south side of the Square. Everybody knows him. They 
all call him W.C." 

"I'm in trouble now. Not law trouble. But I need water for these 
horses." 

"Well goodness alive! Why don't you move down to the branch 
and fetch it?" 

"Branch?" 

"Tucker's Branch." She waved at the brambles. "It's not much far- 
ther than you can throw a nigger." 

He looked where she pointed, but all he could see were mist-dripping 
bushes. 

She gave an exaggerated sigh. 

"Goodness alive, but menfolks are helpless! Give me that lantern 
and Til show you." 

Til get buckets," he said. 

As he rummaged in the wagon, he felt attracted to her and stung by 
annoyance. Her conclusion that he was not a gentleman a word 
which seemed to have an odd technical meaning piqued him; and 



GUS THE GREAT 307 

he didn't like her saying that menfolks were helpless. Maybe the men 
she knew maybe this Stuart person but not him! And he was nettled 
by her stubborn clinging to a geography so hazy that she believed St. 
Louis the world's leading city. He discovered he had taken a dislike to 
St. Louis. And he wanted to impress her in some way; so when, carry- 
ing buckets, he rejoined her he succumbed to the temptation to boast. 
Never before had he boasted to anybody. It wasn't his nature, with 
his streak of caution; and besides, it was bad business for a horse trader 
to seem too smart. But now he told her how he had pulled himself up 
by his bootstraps till he possessed five horses and money in three banks. 

"I declare," she grinned. "Ain't it a fright the tales a man will spin 
for a girl!" 

"Don't you believe it?" 

She put a consoling hand on his arm. 

"Don't look so down in the mouth. It was a real noble attempt. A 
girl likes to hear big talk." 

A senseless urge to prove himself right and conquer her stubborn- 
ness took hold of him. 

"I can prove it." 

"No doubt. But I reckon you wouldn't bet on it." 

"I reckon I would." 

"The horses maybe," she conceded. "Maybe you own them. And 
maybe not. Maybe you're just this Major Redmond's hired hand. 
Reckon that's it." 

He felt heat in his cheeks and ears. 

"But money in three banks," she went on lightly. "Nobody ever had 
money in three banks." 

"I have, and I'll bet on it. And I'll prove it." 

She half closed her eyes and gazed dreamily into the mist. 

"There's a bracelet in Grove's Store," she murmured, "that I'm near 
dying to own. The price is something terrible. Near five dollars. 
Would you bet that much?" 

"Against what?" 

She pouted her lips. "Reckon I don't own anything of value to bet. 
Lest I'd bet a kiss. A kiss against the bracelet?" 

As he went to the wagon and opened a suitcase, his palate was dry 
and his lips feverish. Excitement pulled him quivering tight. His 
fingers shook as he found the bankbooks tucked in a corner of the suit- 
case. He was kneeling in the wagon and he glanced toward the fire* 
She stood gazing into the flames, her profile toward him, a smile play- 
ing with the end of her mouth. She kept snapping her riding whip 
against her booted legs. The firelight threw them into round contour, 
and he could see the lazy rise and fall of her breast. She had taken off 
her campaign hat and her hair was lustrous. 



3 o8 GUS THE GREAT 

"My goodness alive," she murmured as she fingered the little calf- 
bound bankbooks. "It sure does look like " 

She rustled the pages, scrutinizing the deposits. Her countenance 
was sober, interested, impressed. And when she returned the books her 
eyes were puzzled and speculative. 

"I never did know there was that much money tied to one man's 
name." 

Ive pocketed the books. His breath was swift and shallow. 

"Time to pay bets." 

She smiled ravishingly and teasingly; she extended her hand. 

"We didn't say what kind of kiss," she purred. "You can kiss my 
hand." 

He felt outraged, duped. He took her extended hand; and then be- 
fore she could pull loose he seized her in his arms. The kiss from her 
full, pouty lips telegraphed itself to his toes. The fragrance of perfume 
bottles and girlish skin was in his nostrils. She struggled at first, then 
gave herself against him. When at last she pushed him away he 
thought she might cut him with the riding whip. In Vermont and in 
Larkm Corners girls didn't submit lightly to caresses. Instead she 
flashed him that teasing smile. 

"My goodness alive," she drawled. "Reckon that bet was sure paid 
off. But I do wish I'd won. I do* fancy that bracelet." 

"Maybe," he said quietly, "you'll get it anyway." 

Her eyes widened and her smile was brilliant. 

"Sure enough?" 

"I don't guess it would break me up." 

He felt suddenly adult, masculine. Masterful. And never before had 
he been so sharply conscious of the power in dollars. All at once, more 
than ever, he wanted to make thousands and millions, and dress in 
finery and carry a walking stick and show the world he was a gentle- 
man. 

Carrying the lantern, she led the way into the brambles on the search 
for water. Ive followed with the buckets. In the fog the lantern's 
orange smudge and the moon-flooded translucence dislocated reality. 
They fumbled through shining, pearl-gray myopia. The mist drifted 
between them and swarmed into their ears. Tree trunks swam past, 
bulging with fog-produced corpulence. Underfoot the wet earth and 
grasses were slick as grease, and once Ive miscalculated, assuming a 
jutting shadow to be part of the hillside. He regained balance just in 
time to avoid a fall. The buckets banged to the ground. 

"Goodness!" Georgiana exclaimed. "Hurt yourself?" 

"It's slippery. But Fm all right." 

"You be careful how you break your neck." 



GUS THE GREAT 309 

She had turned back to him; in the lantern rays the air fizzed like 
soda water. They had stopped in a patch of hazel brush. 

"I thought there was a path," she said. "Where do you reckon it 
vanished to?" 

"You've been here before?" 

"Ofttimes. Hazel-nutting when it comes fall." 

"Don't get us lost." 

"Lost! Reckon I know Winchester County blindfolded. I've never 
been out of it, except when Daddy was in the legislature. But I was too 
young then to recollect much about Jefferson City." 

"If there's water/' Ive said, "it's likely down in the gully." 

"Anybody knows that. What I want is to find the path." 

She moved on, resuming an obstinate search among bushes that 
slapped wetly and low-hanging branches that clawed. Sometimes she 
halted and frowned at the steaming woods, her mouth turned down 
and her chin stubborn. 

"That old path!" she exclaimed, in vexation. "It's just hiding itself 
away on purpose!" 

"Maybe you're mixed up about where we are." 

"I'm not!" Her face stormed over and she stamped a foot. "I know 
where we are just as well as anything." 

He did not argue further but he concluded that the mist had com- 
pletely befuddled her. Probably she had mistaken his camping spot 
for another place along the road. At last Georgiana started down the 
slope. 

"I didn't care about that pesky path, anyway," she said. "But I do 
think it's right mean of it to hide away like this." 

Damp sand curved along the gully basin but no water gleamed there. 
The far wall rose steep, with acrobatic bushes and saplings climbing 
out of sight into the fog. 

"This wouldn't be Tucker's Branch/* she said. "It's the next one. 
This is Cave Hollow. I knew it all the time. There's a spring along 
here somewhere. I know this hollow." 

As they followed the sandy gully there came again to his ears the 
baying of a hound from lonely distances, mournful and haunting as a 
threnody. And he wondered about this country of willful and beauti- 
ful girls and bewitched hollows. 

Once the gully narrowed and a limestone cliff towered up, smooth as 
a wall. They paused, and he thought he might steal another kiss. But 
she backed nimbly away, holding the lantern between him and her 
seductive body. 

"No you don't," she smiled teasingly. 

"Please. Just one." 

"Is kissing all you ever think about?" 



3 io GUS THE GREAT 

It was all he was thinking about at that moment. Beyond the hot 
lantern her skin was golden smooth; he was dazzled and tantalized. 

"Reckon that's all you do, journeying from town to town. Just kiss 
the pretty girls and leave their hearts broken." 

She spoke lightly, tauntingly. She baffled and roused him. Her 
words stung him into feeling both wickedly experienced and ineptly 
adolescent. Her jeering smile and coquettish eyes seemed to be daring 
him to take w 7 hat he wanted. 

He took a step toward her. Graceful as a ballet girl she smiled out 
of reach, at the same instant moving the lantern so its bright glass 
brushed the back of his hand. An exclamation of surprise and pain 
broke from his lips. He stopped in his tracks, his hand going to his 
mouth. For a second he hated her. 

Then she was beside him, seizing his hand and showering the burned 
skin with kisses. 

"Honey! I'm right sorry! Oh, look at it all red and burned! That's 
an awful shame! Honey, I never meant " 

"I know you didn't. It's all right." 

He forgot he had suspected her of burning him deliberately. Her 
hair was soft as a kitten's; and bending over his hand she murmured 
words that soothed like ointment. 

"Such a shame," she said, looking up. 

He kissed her then, longer than before. His senses were warm de- 
lirium, the pain in his hand far away. 

"No not any more," she said finally. 

"One more." 

"Then just one. And do you forgive Georgiana for being so awk- 
ward with that old lantern?" 

He had forgiven her kisses ago. 

She untangled herself from his arms and took up the lantern. 

"We'd best get to that spring," she said. "Your poor thirsty horses!" 

They found the spring bubbling clear and bright from the hillside. 
She put down the lantern and went to her knees to drink. When 
she arose her lips gleamed with the water. Then Ive drank. He could 
hear the water purling softly; it was icy, with a mineral tang; and he 
thought again of the witchery of these Southern hills. 

He filled the buckets, and with Georgiana going ahead to light his 
way he started climbing the gullyside. He felt winged and exalted. 
The mist smelled sweet and his hand didn't hurt so much now. He 
breathed the magic night into his farthest lung cells. His thoughts 
dreamed high above the mist, into the moon-haunted sky. But his 
feet were ground-chained. And the ground here was steep and slippery. 
Suddenly where there should have been solid earth under his right foot 
there was the treachery of a gopher hole. 



GUS THE GREAT 311 

It caught him by surprise and before he could catch himself he fell, 
the buckets spilling, quick agony wrenching his ankle. He must have 
yelled as he went down, for m an instant Georgiana had returned to 
him, kneeling. 

'Til be all right," he said. "I" 

He moved his ankle then, and he clamped his teeth on an outcry of 
pain. 

"Honey, let me see " 

Under her light fingers, his ankle felt as if a knife were being twisted 
into it. 

"You poor honey child! It's starting to swell. Reckon it must be 
sprained." 

She helped him up. His teeth were gritting most of the time, now. 
He experimented with easing his weight on the ankle. It brought 
sweat to his forehead. 

"No," she said, "don't step on it. Maybe you could sort of hop. On 
the good foot. Back to the wagon. You poor child I'll hitch up your 
wagon. You can lay down in back and I'll drive. You're coming right 
home with me. We'll put you to bed there and get a doctor." 

The house in Winchester where W. C. Kelvin had begot his beau- 
tiful daughters was a Southern planter's mansion whose growth had 
been stunted by the winters of northern Missouri. It stood on Jackson 
Street, its gallery facing the South, where its heart lay. Small square 
pillars rose two stones to support the roof, which needed reshingling 
nearly as badly as the house needed paint. When January piled the 
yard with snow, the house looked bewildered and out of place; but 
in the humid summers the gallery attracted what breeze might be 
stirring, and after a day in his office W/C. Kelvin liked to repose there 
in an easy chair, smoking his long, slim cigars. 

He was rather like his cigars, long and slim and slow-burning. In his 
late fifties now, he looked a distinguished man. You might have mis- 
taken him for a judge or a governor-general of some unimportant col- 
ony. His narrow head was mainly bald, but what hair remained was 
pure silver and neatly brushed over p his almond-colored scalp. His eyes 
were a liquid, swimming brown, the upper lids drooping, and even in 
late middle age they gave him a languishing, romantic expression 
which still fluttered the hearts of the cracked old belles of the town. 

With his parents he had migrated to Winchester from Virginia back 
in the 1830'$. Friends preceded them, and the letters telling of oppor- 
tunities in the West tempted the Kelvins to pack up their slaves and 
other chattel and make the move. 

W.C/s grandfather had been a moneymaker, a prosperous breeder 
of slaves and horses, but his abilities to persuade the silver eagle to 



3 i2 GUS THE GREAT 

hatch eaglets accompanied him to his grave. In the strictest sense he 
had not, perhaps, been a gentleman; but his son and grandson were, so 
that evened things up. If offered his choice between talking about 
hunting all day or working, W.C.'s father always preferred conversa- 
tion, so his bank account dwindled and his debts rose. But a gentle- 
man he undeniably was. It was his enjoyable lot to proceed through 
the pleasantest phase of the fine old shirt-sleeves-to-shirt-sleeves tradi- 
tion. 

As a boy W.C. was fond of rhetoric. He loved to mount the plat- 
form at a schoolhouse entertainment and in imperative tones command 
the deep and dark blue ocean to roll, or to inform admiring ears that 
the mountains looked on Marathon. People assumed that their souls 
were stirred by W.C. alone, instead of W.C. in collaboration with 
Byron; and everybody said he should become a lawyer. So he entered 
Judge Hablett's office and read the law, and after his admittance to the 
bar he became the judge's partner. With the judge to keep him at work 
he made a little money, enough to marry Eliza Gregory. She too was a 
migrant from Virginia, a great beauty. 

Then war came along, and as went Virginia so went her sons, W.C. 
and his brother, Arthur. They rode away south to offer aid, comfort, 
encouragement and if it came to that even a little fighting to Presi- 
dent Davis. Both boys became lieutenants. Arthur perished in a South- 
ern fever camp. Exactly what W.C. did to help the Confederacy lose 
The War remained always obscure, but doubtless it was exactly the 
right thing. When he returned to Winchester he was gallantly and 
tatteredly weary, and he always lacked energy thereafter. It was as if 
the deep South had thinned his blood. 

After an absence of several years, W.C. found his affairs jumbled. 
Bills had mounted. Arthur's wife had died from grief, it was said 
so their son, Stuart Kelvin, had gone to live with W.C.'s wife and 
three daughters. Judge Hablett had died; and without the judge to 
direct him, W.C. floated languidly on the backwaters of the law. At 
home, he fathered a fourth daughter. She was christened Georgiana, 
in honor of the state through which Sherman trekked. 

If W.C. could have spent his time as a court attorney he might have 
been successful, for juries liked his leisurely ways and his drawl But 
in Winchester County not many cases came to trial; sometimes several 
terms of court were convoked without W.C.'s trying a case. There re- 
mained the dull, musty, unromantic details of his profession, wills to- 
be probated, tides to be cleared, deeds drawn, documents notarized. 
On the side he wrote hail and fire insurance, if people came to his office 
and asked for it. He was unsuited by temperament to this kind of 
thing; his yen for the law had been that of an orator for the platform. 

la the early iSyo's he became a statesman, serving two terms in the 



GUS THE GREAT 313 

legislature, and for a time it looked as i he had found himself and 
would go on to higher honors. But even in legislative committee rooms 
there was work to be done statesmanship was not all speechmaking 
and sometimes W.C. overslept or whiled away the afternoon in a bar 
instead of on the house floor. During one of his absences a bill which 
his county wanted passed did not pass; it lost by his vote. So at the 
next election his constituency retired him; but in print he was still 
called the Honorable W. C. Kelvin. With a career m marble halls 
blasted, he sank deeper and deeper into the lethargy of the law. If only 
he could have discovered an occupation where no work was required 
he would have gone far. 

With the waters of bankruptcy always awash in its hold, how the 
Kelvin ship of family managed to sail rather proudly was an example of 
spirit victorious over matter. Socially they were among the first families 
of Winchester. Their daughters grew and were gowned. Stuart Kelvin 
grew and was suited. The house and lot occupied a quarter of a town 
block; and in the stable dwelt two riding horses and a cow. In a shack 
fronting the alley lived Maggie Penbrooke and her husband, Harmon, 
the Kelvins' Negro servants. Also residing along the alley were 
chickens and ducks and pigs. The financial arrangement between the 
Kelvins and their servants had never been stated, and little cash was 
involved. What Maggie needed for her own larder she took from the 
Kelvin pantry. When she wanted a collection-plate dime for the Cal- 
vary Afro-Methodist Church Mrs. Kelvin could usually find one some- 
where. W.C. gave Harmon tobacco money. 

Eliza Kelvin kept Maggie happy by telling her she was the best 
nigger in Missouri, Eliza didn't know what she would ever do, she 
said, without her. This praise was true and sincere. Without Maggie 
nobody would have eaten in that house, and in the sitting room the 
dust would have obscured the plaster-bust features of General Lee and 
President Davis and Lord Byron. Eliza had never learned to cook, and 
she would have had scarcely any more idea how to use a feather duster 
than a chronometer. In her early fifties now, she was a woman sweet 
as sugar and water. Her hair was the pinkish white of an apple blos- 
som and her skin as velvety textured. She was tall and willowy, with 
delicate wrists and ankles, and in spirit, at least, she had never lost her 
youth. 

Two of her daughters had married, Virginia to a bank clerk In New 
Orleans, and Cordelia to a Winchester youth who had taken his bride 
off to Texas. The eldest daughter, May, had reached thirty several 
years before; it was too bad about May. At twenty-five she was en- 
gaged to an upright young man, son of a livery stable proprietor, such 
a jolly boy. They would have made a wonderful couple, for they loved 



3 i4 GUS THE GREAT 

devotedly and May was in many respects the most beautiful daughter 
of all, willowy like her mother, auburn-haired and fawn-eyed. Then a 
queer thing took place. One summer dusk the young man called and 
found May sitting on a garden bench, lost in contemplation of the fire- 
flies and other natural wonders. Being so jolly and full of fun, the 
young man tiptoed up behind her and suddenly shot out his hands, 
grabbing her shoulders and exclaiming, "Now I've got you'" 

All m fun, of course. 

But May leaped to her feet and whirled, trembling violently. Then 
she lifted her skirts and fled to the house, and ever after that she hated 
the young man, and reality receded beyond a soft gentle haze. "May 
isn't herself," was the way the family alluded to her condition. Dr. 
Bennett examined her and could find nothing wrong, physically. He 
said they had better observe her closely to make certain she didn't set 
the house on fire. But that was a concern they had long ago dismissed; 
she cared nothing about playing with matches. She was lamb-gentle, 
and her mental cloudiness was not cyclonic but like the great floating 
clouds of a summer day that dissolve harmlessly at twilight. In many 
ways her interests were like her mother's: flowers and trees and birds 
and butterflies. Only when May wandered about the garden and talked 
to the trees they replied, telling her beautiful stories. Spinsterhood had 
not brought angularity to her features, but only a sweet and faintly 
melancholy beauty, like a weeping willow. Sometimes she seemed very 
lucid, but at others the haze thickened between her and the world and 
she went wandering off into the fields and woodlands to hear new 
stories from the trees growing there. So far as her family could gather, 
she no longer thought of Harry Nodamoore, her former fiance. 

Harry, naturally, felt simply terrible about the entire business, blam- 
ing himself for setting May off like that. Nobody else blamed him, but 
after a few months he couldn't stand it any longer, so he left Winches- 
ter for the distant Pacific Coast. His father, Prentice Nodamoore, had 
always counted on Harry's taking over the livery stable, but it didn't 
look now as if he ever would. Lately Prentice Nodamoore had been 
talking about finding a good buyer for the stable and moving west to 
join his son. 

Georgiana was different from anyone else in the family. More energy 
and blaze. She was a yellow-haired dandelion thrusting gaminely up 
among the moon-colored lilies and orchids of a hothouse. Seven years 
younger than Cordelia, the next oldest, she had mildly astonished Eliza 
and W.C. by being born. When Georgiana was a little girl, W.C.'s 
mother had still been alive, and she declared that the young one put 
her in mind of W.C.'s grandfather, the long-dead slave breeder and 
horse breeder, the last of the moneymaking Kelvin men. Old Arthur, 



GUS THE GREAT 315 

he was, as distinguished from W.C.'s brother. Young Arthur, who died 
in The War. It seemed Old Arthur had been quite a hell-raiser, will- 
ful and hard-riding, tempery and wenching and always sure he was 
right even when he knew he was wrong. Yes, indeed; Georgiana was 
like him; very like. 

You never knew what she would decide to do next, but one thing 
you did know : whatever she- decided would be done, else there would 
be trouble. Even as a litde girl she was unpredictable. Once when she 
was seven she wrote Santa Glaus a letter, telling him to bring her a 
doll cradle, and on Christmas morning when the family gathered in 
the sitting room the cradle was there, red beneath the green boughs of 
the tree. She emitted a sharp cry of delight and scampered to the 
cradle and dragged it to the center of the room, not waiting for W.C. 
(who distributed presents with great wit and charm) to announce that 
it was hers. 

Everybody indulged her eagerness, for she was the baby of the fam- 
ily, and they had neither the heart nor the fortitude to cross her. They 
stood beaming: W.C. and Eliza, younger in those days and a hand- 
some pair; Virginia and Cordelia, pretty girls in their teens; Grandma 
Kelvin, a slim old lady with a cameo pinned on her black-taffeta dress; 
May, who had not yet been startled by Harry Nodamoore; and Stuart 
Kelvin, handsome and even at seventeen very courtly. Maggie and 
her husband were there, grinning at the edge of things; only at that 
time Maggie was married not to Harmon Penbrooke but to Fabius 
Thompson, her third husband, who was discovered a few years later 
razored to a corpse down m the railroad weeds. (An unsolved murder 
and an odd one, for Fabius was a preacher and apparently on excellent 
terms with the Lord.) No matter how often Maggie changed hus- 
bands, her occupation and her Kelvins' Alley address remained un- 
altered* 

On that bright Christmas morning when the house was full of 
excitement and the odor of a turkey roasting, Georgiana found not 
only a cradle but a doll reposing inside, lying under a quilt that Grand- 
ma Kelvin, whom Santa Glaus sometimes employed at piecework, had 
made with her own hands. 

Then without warning Georgiana's face clouded and the tip of her 
blond nose turned red. A storm signal. Nobody had any idea what 
was angering her. Then they saw she was holding the letter she had 
written to Santa. He had placed it on top of the cradled doll, as if to 
indicate that he had received hers of December 3rd mst., and was 
complying with her request. It transpired he had sorely offended her 
by returning her letter. A deed no gentleman would commit! Even at 
seven Georgiana understood decorum, for she had listened endlessly to 
Grandma's yarning about glittering Virginia society where if a care- 



3i6 GUS THE GREAT 

less remark so much as nicked a gentleman's honor he pranced for his 
dueling pistols. People m Virginia, to hear Grandma tell it, oozed 
gentility the way a grasshopper oozed tobacco juice. 

When angered, Georgiana always fell into a tantrum, kicking her 
heels and squealing like a sinner getting religion. As a baby she used 
to hold her breath when enraged, and while that was alarming it cer- 
tainly was easier on the ears. Her performance this Christmas morning 
attained new peaks. As always, W.C. and Eliza stared at each other 
helplessly, Eliza's hands describing vague circles of mild despair. 
Grandma simply ignored the histrionics, the way any Southern lady 
ignored the unpleasant and the sordid. With Georgiana holding center 
stage, Virginia and Cordelia sighed incapably, and Virginia mur- 
mured, "I declare! I do believe she's gone into one of her tantrums!" 
And May added: "Now I wonder why. But I do think she's a charmin' 
little sweet potato." 

Fabius Thompson and Maggie held their own opinions about child 
rearing, derived straight from the Book of Proverbs; but they kept their 
ideas about the hazards of rod sparing to themselves, for after all 
Georgiana's hair was spun golden silk, not kinky black, and her skin 
peaches and cream, not chocolate. 

It was Stuart Kelvin who quieted Georgiana. Even then she adored 
him; he could do anything with her. He was as tall and blond and 
handsome as a curly-headed statue of youth and gallantry; soft-spoken 
and gentle, romantic as a ballad. 

He lazied over to her now and knelt, stroking her forehead and hair. 

"Did old Santa Claus insult my Georgiana?" he asked. 

Her heels ceased battering and she sat up, her pretty face all tear- 
streaked. 

"He didn't want to keep my letter!" she wailed. "I wrote it to him 
and he didn't want to keep it!" 

"Reckon he just didn't know better. I'd sure keep any letter you 
wrote me. Reckon he's varmint-stupid, not to keep a letter from the 
prettiest little girl in creation." 

At that her mood changed; she smiled sunnily. Then her face turned 
sulky again and she declared: 

"Reckon he's no gentleman!" 

" 'Course not, honey. He's from 'way up north. They don't know 
better, up there. You want me to, I'll send the cradle and doll back to 
him. And 111 write him a scorcher." 

She pondered a moment. Then she said: 

"Reckon 111 keep what he left. But write him the scorcher." 

The crisis over, W.C. strolled to the Christmas tree and distributed 
gifts. With each one he quoted an appropriate line of poetry. Georgi- 
ana's tantrum was soon forgotten; but that afternoon she reminded 



GUS THE GREAT 317 

Stuart o his promise to write Santa a scorcher, and he smilingly com- 
plied. She helped him, and the most cutting remarks in the letter were 
from her little tongue. Not till she had put Santa in his place could 
she relax and bask in the spirit of Christmas. 

For as long as she could remember Georgiana had been devoted to 
Stuart, and when she was eight and ten and twelve she had numberless 
bad evenings when he attended parties with girls of his own genera- 
tion. He was a most eligible young man; Winchester was full of beau- 
tiful girls who were delighted to go out with him; and Georgiana hated 
them all. Lying in bed on a prurient summer evening, thinking of him 
under the Japanese lanterns of a lawn party, she wandered toward 
sleep along a tormented road. She would resolve to put him into his 
place next day and keep him there; to ignore and disdain him. But 
never for long could she maintain the pretense of despising him. 

In those years he spent much of his time around the house, for 
since completing his secondary education at the Winchester Public 
Academy he had not quite decided upon his lifework. Once he con- 
templated becoming a doctor, but after a visit at Dr. Bennett's office, 
where he leafed through the closely printed pages of Gray's Anatomy, 
he experienced doubts. The doctor told him about the arduous study 
required of a medical student the dissecting and memorizing and 
stern devotion to science and after that Stuart dropped the whole idea. 
Picturing himself a doctor, he had not considered the study-lamp mid- 
nights. He had thought only of how respected he would be and of 
how handsome and romantic he would look, driving along in a 
polished rig, and of how it might be necessary to comfort a beautiful 
patient by holding her hand. 

He thought of entering the clergy, too, for the poetry of the Episcopal 
service appealed to him, but after discussing that career with the rector 
he decided the Call he had heard had been directed at someone else 
with a similar-sounding name. For the rector explained that unless he 
wished to become one of these brimstone-spouting, self-ordained 
preachers like Fabius Thompson, he must study Latin and Greek and 
Hebrew, all of which smelled like a lot of hard labor. 

After that he thought of attending West Point; letters concerning 
his possible appointment passed between W.C. and the congressman 
from that district. Stuart thought of himself in the uniform of a young 
officer, dashing and valorous and witty like Captain Absolute in The 
Rivals; but here again he discovered that a conspiracy of learning ex- 
isted against a talented young man. Once he heard of the entrance 
requirements at the Academy and realized he must study at least a 
year before he could hope to pass the preliminary examinations, he 
concluded he had not really wished to serve the flag. 



3 i8 GUS THE GREAT 

For a week or two he played with the idea of entering finance, but 
there was no opening in either Winchester bank. Moreover, he de- 
duced that mathematical skill was sometimes helpful to a financier. 
And alas, in school mathematics had been his weakest subject. 

Those \\ere all careers which a gentleman might follow, and the 
only other was the law. W.C. was pessimistic about anybody's chances 
to make money in the legal profession, but he could understand 
Stuart's reluctance to enter any of the others. So at last it was decided 
that Stuart should go each day to W.C.'s office, reading Blackstone 
and studying the Code of Missouri. It seemed the only thing left, for 
certainly Stuart a Kelvin could not be expected to go into trade. 

Stuart rather liked studying the law, because he worked under an 
indulgent taskmaster, himself. W.C. never interfered, never demanded 
that he brief up a certain number of cases each week. And certainly 
W.C. would not have dreamed of requiring him to perform the menial 
duties usually expected of an apprentice lawyer, sweeping and spittoon- 
cleaning. Once every month Maggie and her current husband came 
to the office and tidied up. 

Stuart wanted to acquire a deep, solid knowledge of the law, not 
merely to skitter over the surface, so months and years passed while 
he studied. W.C. taught him the legal Esperanto used in drawing up 
documents, and he learned the meaning of those words that smelled 
like ancient yellowed papers and calf-bound books, words like replevin 
and writ and torts and probate. 

For some unknown reason not connected with industriousness, W.C. 
was a fairly early riser; he breakfasted at eight and drifted to his office 
at nine. Not his nephew. Stuart had learned that the most restful 
slumber sifted over him between midnight and ten in the morning, 
and he was not one to lose sleep and perhaps undermine his health by 
getting up at seven. His mind worked better in the afternoon, any- 
way. So usually he left home about eleven, strolling along the wooden 
sidewalk toward the Square, perhaps stopping to chat a few minutes 
over a picket fence with some girl or lady. 

In his late teens he had been handsome but rather thin, almost gan- 
gling. The years had remedied this. Nearing twenty-seven, his body 
had filled out, and he had grown a silky straw-yellow mustache. Once 
a girl had told her mother that Stuart Kelvin looked like a Greek god 
but that he lacked the conceit usually present in a handsome man. 
This was very nearly true. Long ago he had accepted the fact of his 
good looks and his charm, and he didn't think about his appearance 
unduly. He thought about girls and horses and hunting and hounds 
and the law; and at the heart of his daydreams two contradictory 
yearnings persisted. One showed himself as a plantation owner, a vast 



GUS THE GREAT 319 

place in the South of imagination, with a company of pink-coated 
ladies and gentlemen his guests riding to the hounds through frosty 
sunlight. The other yearning dealt with the Open Road beckoning 
on and on through a land equally imaginative, and himself a gypsy 
lad with gold rings in his ears. Every poem which he could find and 
they were numerous about the Open Road and the gypsy life he com- 
mitted to memory, and sometimes he recited these to Georgiana. She 
was seventeen now, a young beauty. Both enjoyed riding horseback, 
and m the afternoons you would see them cantering into the country. 
Their relationship had changed, for with Georgiana a young lady he 
could no longer treat her like his baby cousin. 

In midsummer the deep South shambled north over the Missouri 
hills and embraced Winchester, like a sweating Negro mammy smoth- 
ering a long-lost child with affection. The town lay motionless in yel- 
low heat, and the leaves of the great old shade trees looked as heavy and 
still as vegetation in the tropics. Now for the first time since January 
the Negroes thawed out, their spirits becoming lively as bedbugs in a 
tick with a warming pan. All day the hound dogs slept in shadows, 
and during the afternoons ladies like Mrs. Kelvin napped behind closed 
blinds. 

At this season, the summer before Georgiana met Ivan Pawpacker, 
a visitor from St. Louis journeyed to Winchester, along the branch line 
that ran one train each way every twenty-four hours. Her coming was 
the social event of the summer, for she was Eulalia Delacroix, daughter 
of Colonel Hubert Delacroix of St. Louis, a lawyer who had added to 
his inherited wealth by investments in steamboat lines and warehouses 
and mercantile establishments. 

The editor of the Winchester Enterprise heralded this visitor with 
every favorable adjective whose meaning he knew, and some whose 
meaning he didn't. Winchester was honored, charmed, enraptured, en- 
thralled : in short, glad to have her. 

Eulalia's hostess was Penelope Trevelyan, a young lady equally 
beauteous, resplendent, sublime and pulchritudinous, according to the 
Enterprise. The editor knew what his public expected, and to give it 
to them he labored like a farmer pitchforking manure. If he had 
merely said both girls were beautiful, the town might have lynched 
him for insulting Southern Womanhood. 

Both girls were twenty, so naturally a girl of seventeen like Georgi- 
ana was excluded from the parties arid teas and collations that honored 
Eulalia. Cordelia Kelvin attended (she had not yet married and moved 
to Texas), and so did Stuart. And he made the exhilarating discov- 
ery that Eulalia deserved all the adjectives with which the Enterprise 
had gilded her. 



3 2o GUS THE GREAT 

"She's very beautiful," Cordelia told Georgiana, the morning after 
the first party at the Trevelyans'. "Slender as a squirrel and raspberry 
blond. They say she traveled with a whole trunkful of clothes. And 
are they ever fetching! Soon as Stuart laid eyes on her he began wan- 
dering in circles.'* 

The girls were lingering over breakfast in the dining room; Cordelia 
lifted her coffee and sipped. 

"And if I'm any judge," she added, in a tone that announced she 
deserved the Supreme Bench, "I'd say that Eulalia was much taken 
with Stuart. The way she used her eyes on him was scandalous." 

She smiled at the memory. She didn't notice the effect of her words 
on Georgiana; she was merely reminiscing. 

"And wouldn't she be a catch for Cousin Stuart," she went on, in a 
voice as warm and sugared as the coffee. "They say her Daddy's fright- 
ful rich. Must be, the way she's turned out. He's an attorney, too. If 
Stuart ever reads his way through all those law books, and gets himself 
legalized to practice, he might enter her Daddy's office in St. Louis. 
Yummy yum! Not that I'd want Cousin Stuart to wed for money, but 
I do think it would be mighty sweet if he'd fall in love with a girl 
of means." 

Georgiana's pale blue eyes looked like a cat's following the overhead 
flight of a redbird. 

"You came home first last night," she said. "Stuart came later." 

"Why honey, 'course he came later. Although how you knew that! 
Mean to say you were lyin 9 wakeful all through the night hours?" 

"He stayed with her?" 

"He wasn't out coon huntin', honey. Why shouldn't he linger be- 
hind after the party ? The Trevelyan garden is sweet-beautiful this 
season. And that full moon last night was silver-luscious. It was in- 
deed/' 

In the midst of this chitchat Georgiana arose unexpectedly and left 
the dining room. She didn't reply when Cordelia asked, "Where you 
goin', honey?" Feeling as if nettles had lodged beneath her skin, she 
went to the front veranda and flopped into a chair. Angry tears were 
seeking to pry themselves into her slitted eyes. Her fingers clenched 
and her foot tapped the floor. She looked moody and waspish. Pres- 
ently she left the porch and wandered into the garden, not to admire 
the marigolds and petunias, but to sit tight-mouthed on a bench, boil- 
ing with resentment. 

Not yet had she seen this Eulalia Delacroix, but already she hated 
her. And she hated Penelope Trevelyan for inviting her here. She 
hated them separately and she hated them together, for girls like that 
had everything she wanted, clothes and money to travel away from a 
stupid town like Winchester. 



GUS THE GREAT 321 

Money. That, she thought, was what counted in this world. For a 
long time now she had nursed a grudge against her family because 
they didn't have it. With money you could go to St. Louis and board a 
steamboat for New Orleans and wander with a young man beneath 
the live oaks while snows blew across Winchester. Or in July you 
could travel to French Lick Springs or to Cincinnati and thence to some 
fashionable watering place in the Virginia mountains. You could be 
attended by a personal maid and travel with trunks of beautiful clothes. 
Eulalia Delacroix had brought one trunk to Winchester. One trunk, 
indeed! Georgiana's mouth curled. With Eulaha's money she would 
have brought a half-dozen. She would have changed dresses every 
hour and filled with envy every girl in Winchester. 

Money. She thought of her family. Her mouth curled again. She 
was a clear-headed girl with a steel-trap brain, and for a long time she 
had seen through them. Her father was too lazy to live. A gentleman; 
oh yes, a gentleman. But a gentleman without money was a general 
without a sword. Her mother was utterly inconsequential, as simple 
as a child. Since she could walk Georgiana had been able to pull the 
wool over her mother's eyes. And May; moon-struck May! The state 
maintained institutions for girls like May, where they were kept hid- 
den so they couldn't drift in when you had guests and tell what some 
sycamore tree had said. As for her other sisters, she supposed they 
were all right, but they accepted penniless gentility as their lot. Grand- 
mother Kelvin had died five years ago; she no longer counted. There 
remained Stuart. 

Her mood softened. She reckoned she had loved him as long as she 
could remember, but when she was a little girl it was a different love 
from this she had experienced the last few years. This was love that 
wanted moonlight and passionate kisses. He used to kiss her, long 
ago, but she had been a child then and they were playful caresses. 
She was no longer a child, despite the way the family treated her. She 
was a woman. 

Eulalia Delacroix was a tall, graceful girl whose hair and skin were 
tinted with the most subtle palette colors. Her hair was neither red 
nor yellow, but a mouth-watering blend of both. Stuart thought of it 
as golden beach sand flushed warm with the glow from an orange 
sunset. 

Instantly she attracted him, and he lingered on after the party to 
walk with her in the Trevelyan garden and suggest that they go horse- 
back riding the next afternoon. She agreed at once* When she had 
accepted Penelope's invitation to visit Winchester, she had expected 
to rusticate for two weeks- She supposed the Winchester young men 
would be country bumpkins. But here was Stuart Kelvin, handsome ; 



3 22 GUS THE GREAT 

as an oil painting, witty as any St. Louis man, courtly, exquisitely 
mannered, and given to quoting gypsy poetry. It was a balmy July 
night with a brilliant lovers' moon reflecting itself in the lily pool; 
spicy scents from the flower beds sifted through the windless air; and 
as they sat on a stone bench and gazed at the silver-tipped trees she 
found herself already half in love with him. 

Strolling homeward, Stuart bared his head and pulled the summer 
darkness deep into his chest. He felt moon-struck and intoxicated. 
Even if she had not been the daughter of a wealthy lawyer he would 
have loved her, but certainly her father's position did not irk him. He 
resolved to settle down and study the law in earnest, so he could pass 
the bar and enter her father's firm as a junior partner and ride horse- 
back through St. Louis parks. And he was glad and glad again he had 
eluded Georgiana's determined pursuit. He told himself he would in- 
deed be in a pretty pickle if he had yielded. But he had battled tri- 
umphantly and she had no hold on him. 

During the next fortnight Eulalia and Stuart wandered deeper and 
deeper into the mists of love. To every party in her honor he escorted 
her; and on the evenings when no party was held he called at the 
Trevelyans'. Almost every afternoon they rode horseback. Unlike 
Georgiana, she preferred a gentle horse, so he mounted Blackie and 
she rode Princess. 

They were secretly engaged by the time Eulalia had spent ten days in 
Winchester. Soon she must return home, but they planned that Stuart 
would visit St. Louis in September and meet her family; and he would 
study hard and pass the bar and they would be married the following 
June. Where would he practice? St. Louis, of course. 

"I think Winchester is a most charming little village," Eulalia said, 
"but I just don't believe I could bring myself to live here. Not after 
St. Louis." 

She went on to say that she would speak to her father about Stuart's 
entering his firm. She called her father Papa and she pronounced it 



"Papa will love to have you.' He just dotes on me so sweet he'll do 
near anything I ask." 

Winchester suspected that an engagement would ensue from all 
Stuart's courting, and these suspicions lifted not only Stuart but the 
entire Kelvin family in the town's estimation. To his astonished de- 
light, W.C. discovered that his nephew's romance had improved his 
credit rating with tradesmen, for the financial standing of Eulalia's 
father was well known, and the butcher and grocer and clothier as- 
sumed that out of Stuart's union with Colonel Delacroix's daughter 
some financial benefit would surely accrue to the Kelvins. W.C. him- 
self assumed as much. The assumption was not sharp and mercenary 



GUS THE GREAT 323 

and schemed-out, but he did find himself filled with a vast sense of 
financial well-being. All things come to those who wait : that had long 
been W.C.'s favorite maxim, and from long practice he had perfected 
the technique of waiting. Taking advantage of the credit transfusion 
which Colonel Delacroix had unwittingly given, W.C. purchased a 
new linen suit and a planter's straw hat and another of the narrow, 
black string-ties that he liked so well. Wearing his new clothes, pac- 
ing leisurely around the Square, he felt virtually on intimate terms 
with Colonel Delacroix already, and he mused how pleasant it would 
be to run down to St. Louis for a rest from the legal wear and tear and 
spend a few weeks as the colonel's guest. 

Georgiana alone disapproved the match. Day by day she became 
harder to live with. Her temper was a six-gun trigger filed to explode 
at a touch. Oftener than ever she burst into tears and ran upstairs to 
her bedroom. She was stinging as a hornet with her father and mother 
and Cordelia and poor May, and most of the time she refused to speak 
to Stuart. She called Maggie a lazy nigger, and Maggie confided 
angrily to her husband that the child was a caution, as full of poison- 
sap as an ivy plant. Georgiana brooded and went riding alone, taking 
her spite out on Blackie till the frightened animal shied at her ap- 
proach. 

In September, Stuart visited Eulalia in St. Louis, and their engage- 
ment was announced the next spring, after he passed the bar. They 
were to be married in June. 

Georgiana was moody and unhappy that autumn and winter and 
spring. She continued pestering Stuart, but fortified by his love he 
resisted her adamantly. Every evening he went to his office and 
worked hard behind locked doors. He wrote a daily letter to Eulalia 
and received a daily reply. 

After Cordelia's marriage in October, Georgiana found life duller 
than ever. More and more she hated the town and yearned to escape. 
But how? She was without funds; W.C. was without funds. She pos- 
sessed no skills, and if she managed to raise the railroad fare to St. Louis 
what could she do? Starve along as a shopgirl? No thank you. Unlike 
the rest of the family, she couldn't even look forward to visiting Colonel 
Delacroix at the time of Stuart's wedding, for Eulalia was not fond of 
her. When the girls met the fur had flown, and Eulalia had plainly 
stipulated that Georgiana should not attend the wedding. 

It was the blackest period she had ever known. Sometimes even 
the joy of riding Blackie palled^ and she took long solitary walks, cut- 
ting across the Square and going north past the Farmers* National 
Bank. The last house she passed belonged to Prentice Nodamoore, a 
red brick dwelling on the west side of the street. He had lived there 



324 GUS THE GREAT 

alone since his wife's death and his son Harry's moving to Oregon to 
forget how he had startled poor May. Poor May bosh! Georgiana's 
mouth curled. May could have been mistress of that house today if 
she hadn't gone to pieces. 

That was an exciting night, when Georgiana brought Ivan Paw- 
packer to the Kelvins'. Lamps came on all over the house, their rays 
shafting out into the swarming fog. A lamp was lighted in Maggie's 
cabin, and presently Maggie herself bustled into the house, flinging up 
the windows of the downstairs bedroom, smoothing clean sheets on 
the bed, tucking the fat pillows into crisp pillow cases. By and by, 
Harmon came inching along the path, accompanied by his floppy- 
eared hound. Sensing the unusual, the hound now and then elevated 
his muzzle and released an enormous bay that floated heavenward in a 
great blossom of sound. 

Harmon couldn't be sent for Dr. Bennett; his heels were not the 
winged ones required in an emergency; so Stuart went. Meanwhile, 
W.C. and Georgiana aided Ivan Pawpacker toward the house. Har- 
mon accompanied them with a lantern. Using W.C. and Georgiana as 
crutches, Ive hopped along slowly. 

In the bedroom, pain-sweat gleamed on Ive's forehead. His ankle 
felt as big as a stovepipe and as red-hot. He wanted to get into that 
inviting bed as quickly as he could. So the women retired and W.C. 
helped him out of his clothes and into his nightshirt. Then Dr. Ben- 
nett and Stuart arrived. 

The doctor's fingers were agents of torture, but his verdict was 
gratifying. 

"Nothing broken. But a bad sprain. You won't be Using that foot 
for a while," 

There were basins of water and more pain. As Ive lay grimacing he 
thought of his horses, and he asked about a stable. He wanted the best. 

"Reckon Nodamoore has the best," Georgiana said. "Stuart will 
drive your wagon down there. Don't you worry. We'll take care of 
everything." 

Ive smiled, full of gratitude. He swallowed the sedative which Dr. 
Bennett gave him, and presently the pain drifted out of his ankle. The 
doctor had gone; somebody turned down the lamp and blew it out. 

"Reckon you'll feel better in the morning," a voice said. "Good 
night." 

It was the girl's voice. Georgiana Kelvin. A lovely, bewitching girl. 

"Good night," he murmured. "And thanks." 

"You get a good night's sleep," the young voice said, sounding far 
away in the darkness. "Then you'll feel better." 

His eyelids were heavy; he smiled. These people were Samaritans. 



GUS THE GREAT 325 

His horses would be taken care of. He had no worries. Through the 
window the scent of flowers drifted from a garden. And now that his 
ankle was sprained, he would have a good excuse to carry a cane. He 
had long wanted to. Like Major Redmond. 

Those days of illness were the most pleasant in his life. For half a 
decade he had been an itinerant, a stranger among strangers. Usually 
he had been lonely, but till now he had not realized how acutely so. 
Wandering and loneliness were the prices an ambitious young horse 
trader had to pay while he accumulated capital. He had been willing 
to pay, for he wanted money more than comfort and friends. You 
couldn't, his harsh Vermont wisdom told him, get something for noth- 
ing. He might have remained in Larkin Corners and married a coun- 
try girl and never known homesickness, but opportunity was limited 
there and that meant making money was limited. And making money 
was his passion. After he acquired it he took care of it, naturally; that 
was horse sense; but he wasn't abjectly stingy. He bought what he 
wanted, within reason. 

As he lay in bed at the Kelvins', the thought of his capital comforted 
him. He had enough money to marry and settle down, to own a busi- 
ness and a home, to live in one town and become respected. Those 
three bank accounts gave him a quiet sense of power. He could make 
any move he pleased. He was master of his life. 

During those first days when he remained in bed, he saw much o 
Georgiana. Presence of a young man in that downstairs bedroom 
awakened her more efficiently than any alarm clock. The lordly Kelvin 
roosters had scarcely bugled up the suri before Georgiana opened her 
eyes. She lay smiling. She loved having a man all to herself, lying 
helpless in the room below where no other girls could have at him. He 
was rather attractive, too. Rather nice. And three bank accounts! 
Whew! 

He was not the man she would have chosen in a perfectly ordered 
world. He was not Stuart. He was not tall, wide-shouldered, blond. 
But she had lost Stuart anyway, the idiot. She consoled herself by as- 
suming that Stuart had fallen in love with the Delacroix fortune* 
Someday he would realize how he had ruined his life when he cold- 
shouldered Georgiana. That would be a sweet day for her. She'd 
break his marriage so wide open Eulalia would think a cannonball had 
struck it. And it would serve Eulalia right that bag of bones! for 
excluding her from the wedding. People just couldn't expect to go 
through life being mean to other people, Georgiana philosophized, 
without getting repaid. 

But that was in the future and meanwhile she didn't intend becom- 
ing a spinster. She knew a good thing when she saw it and three bank 



326 GUS THE GREAT 

accounts were a good thing thrice over. Married to Ive Pawpacker, 
she would have funds to visit St. Louis, watering at a fashionable hotel, 
and she would be on hand when Stuart realized he loved her. She 
might even hasten the coming of that great realization. Perhaps Eulalia 
Delacroix assumed that excluding her from the wedding was a slight 
soon to be forgotten., but if so she was mistaken. 

Having begun her day with these charitable thoughts, Georgiana 
sprang from bed, stretched like a silky cat, dressed, and descended to 
the kitchen. That room was angelic with the odor of Maggie's hot 
biscuits mingled with the aroma of coffee and sizzling bacon. Georgi- 
ana arranged linen and silver on a tray; she even skipped outdoors to 
pick flowers to decorate it. During her absence, Maggie snorted. If 
that young white man were wise, he would dispense with Dr. Bennett 
and call in a good voodoo doctor. Not to cure his ankle; the Lord 
would do that. But to fix up a charm to fend off Georgiana. "Need the 
Lawd and the devil and voodoo," Maggie thought, "to wall him away 
from her." 

During his days in bed, Ive's great concern was not for his ankle but 
for his horses. Georgiana assured him Nodamoore's stable was the best 
in town, and Stuart reported the horses seemed in excellent spirits, but 
he wanted to see for himself. So when on the fourth morning Dr. 
Bennett brought crutches and told him he could get up, Ive determined 
to visit the stable. 

"You'd better come along," he told Georgiana, who couldn't have 
been kept home with leg irons. 

"Should I?" 

"I may need your help. Besides, I promised you a bracelet." 

"Oh, Ive! I do relish that bracelet. Are you sure enough going to 
buy it for me?" 

"If you want it." 

"I'm just dyin' for it!" 

Early that afternoon he and Georgiana set out for the Square. He 
couldn't have selected a better day to see Winchester for the first time. 
Rain had fallen the night before, washing the town clean. Now the 
sun shone cheerfully and the balmy air smelled of mock oranges and 
peonies. 

He thought Winchester the prettiest little town he had ever seen, and 
Georgiana the most charming girl. He loved her drawl and the odd 
way she used words. Beneath the silk of her parasol her face and hair 
were radiant. She chattered happily by his side, warning his crutches 
against the knotholes in the sidewalk. 

They cut across the courthouse lawn, and when Ive sighted Noda- 



GUS THE GREAT 327 

moore's Livery Stable he paused, interested as always in anything con- 
cerning horses. It was a long, commodious building. Even the big, 
solid horse trotting on the weather vane looked prosperous. 

"That's a nice layout," he said. 

"Best in town." 

"Nodamoore must make money," 

"Reckon he does. He's getting old now, though, and wants to sell 
out." 

Ive said nothing further because he wanted no one not even Georgi- 
ana to guess how much he admired the stable. 

Prentice Nodamoore was a portly old man with white chin whiskers. 

"I'm Pawpacker," Ive said. "I've come to look at my horses." 

Nodamoore led the way from the office into the stable, and as Ive 
followed he passed swift and favorable judgment upon the construction 
of the building and the number of horses housed there. 

His own horses he found In excellent condition, and he told Noda- 
moore he would be keeping them here a few more days. 

"Till this ankle heals. Then I'll move on." 

"You're a horse trader?" 

"A horse buyer. For Major Redmond of New York State. I've just 
about finished a buying trip for him. I'll go back to Peoria soon. I'm 
thinking of going into business there," 

"Horse business?" 

"That's right." 

He started back toward the office, where Georgiana had waited. 

"I've got a good business here," Nodamoore said. 

Ive said he didn't doubt it. 

"But I'm getting old. Reckon I'll be selling out one of these days." 

Ive nodded. 

"As a matter of fact," Nodamoore added, "I'm putting the business 
up for sale." 

"Ill remember that," Ive said. "If I hear of anyone who's in the 
market, I'll mention your name." 

"Maybe you'd be interested." 

"I might have been, two months ago. But I like that layout in 
Peoria. The deal's still in the dickering stage, but I like the layout." 

When Ive moved back toward the Square with Georgiana, Prentice 
Nodamoore stood in the stable door, reflectively stroking his whiskers. 

Grove's General Store where the bracelet was on sale occupied a big 
building fronting the west side of the Square. Ive and Georgiana 
stopped at a showcase just inside the door. At a bench facing the front 
window, a little man sat on a stool, scrutinizing the works of a watch 
through a jeweler's lens. Georgiana peremptorily tapped the showcase. 



328 GUS THE GREAT 

While she examined the bracelets, Ive glanced about the store. Ten 
thousand dollars' worth of stock in the dry goods department alone, 
he estimated. Winchester might be a small town, but to support a 
store like this it must be a prosperous trading center. A county seat. 
Farmers driving in to court and to pay taxes. Driving in. That meant 
business for a stable. 

He imagined himself owning the stable; he'd hire a good man to 
manage it when he visited neighboring county seats to buy and sell. 
Tomorrow he'd go to the stable again merely, of course, to check up 
on his horses and perhaps Prentice Nodamoore would set a price on 
his business. By using his wits he had placed himself in an excellent 
bargaining position. Whatever the price, he'd beat it down. He 
doubted whether he had enough capital to buy the stable outright, but 
when the time came he would go to the Farmers' National Bank and 
swing a loan. The stable would secure the loan. It was good business 
to hire a thousand dollars to work for you at wages of sixty dollars a 
year. That was what the mumbo jumbo of borrowing at interest boiled 
down to: hiring dollars the way you hired men. He liked to keep 
everything simple. 

Of course, to hire dollars you had to convince their owner you were 
trustworthy, but he didn't anticipate difficulty there. The money he 
had saved would do that. Long ago he had figured out that the way 
to get rich was to save diligently till you had a sum to use as working 
capital. After that, you could borrow. After that, you could scarcely 
help becoming well-to-do. 

Georgiana was plucking his sleeve. 

I ve _y OU aren't listening! Look." 

She held a bracelet in each hand. 

"This old thing," she said, waving the one in her left hand, "was the 
one I told you about. It's four ninety-five. But this one," she beamed, 
lifting her right hand, "this one I do relish. It costs more, but I sure 
enough like it best." 

Ive could see no difference between them. Trinkets. But it appeared 
that girls those fascinating, mysterious creatures liked such things. 

He took the bracelet from her right hand and asked the jeweler: 

"What's this worth?" 

"Eleven-fifty." 

"What will you take for it?" 

The jeweler said frostily: 

"The price is eleven-fifty." 

"Ill give you nine dollars," 

The jeweler stared at Ive. Ive stared back. At last the jeweler said: 

"I might let you have it for eleven." 

Ive pursed his lips. 



GUS THE GREAT 329 

"It's a big price, but I'll give nine-fifty.'* 

The jeweler flushed. He said Grove's Store wasn't in business for its 
health. Ive replied he had gathered as much. And he offered: 

"Nine seventy-five." 

The jeweler shook his head. 

Ive crackled a ten-dollar bill to the counter. 

"That's as high as I'll go. If you don't want to sell for that, we'll take 
the four ninety-five one." 

The jeweler said : 

"I'm losing money, but you can have it for ten." 

When he took it to his bench for wrapping, Georgiana gazed at Ive 
with mirth and amazement. 

"You Ye wonderful!" she whispered. "I do declare! IVe never seen 
the like!" 

"Do you mean you always pay the first price they ask?" 

"I just never did dream you could buy for less." 

"The easiest way to make a dollar and a half," he said, "is to save it." 

She touched his arm. 

"Reckon Daddy wouldn't think it gendemanly to buy that way. But 
he wouldn't have the money to buy me a bracelet. It's right handsome 
of you to give me such a nice gift." 

When the jeweler returned, Ive asked whether the store sold canes/ 
They were referred to the men's clothing department. There Ive 
selected a dark stick with a gold head. 

So now he owned a cane. Like Major Redmond. It aided him 
greatly, once his ankle was well enough so he could discard the 
crutches, and he continued carrying it after his ankle was completely 
healed. In a town like Winchester, a cane-swinging young man would 
ordinarily have been jeered at; but while he needed its support people 
grew used to seeing him with it, and when he kept on using it they 
assumed his ankle had been weakened by the sprain and that he must 
occasionally find it necessary. 

Walking home that afternoon, Georgiana warned Ive against men- 
tioning the bracelet to the Kelvins. She explained that her mother and 
father harbored old-fashioned ideas; they would doubt the propriety of 
a young lady's accepting jewelry from a young man to whom she was 
not engaged. 

"They think I'm terrible anyhow," she said. "They don't think I 
should wear riding pants even at night." 

Actually she was quite unworried about her parents* reaction to the 
bracelet: it was only her fondness for deception and intrigue which 
prompted her to keep it a secret. Moreover, this seemed a good oppor- 
tunity to dangle an engagement before Ive. 



33 o GUS THE GREAT 

His cheeks warmed at her mention of the pants, and in imagination 
he saw her as she looked by the campfire. And he tingled with the 
realization that i all went well he might take this girl as his bride. 

"But I'd like to see you wear the bracelet," he said. 

She flashed him a brilliant smile, and her eyes were as full of promise 
as a harem. 

"Ill wear it next week. Next Tuesday they're leaving for St. Louis. 
Daddy and Mamma and Stuart. For his old wedding. That will leave 
just you and me at home. And May, of course. But she won't mind." 

Excitement filled him as he thought of being alone in the house with 
Georgiana and May. May didn't count: already he had heard her tell 
about her fascinating conversations with trees. This was Friday. Four 
days till Tuesday. 

"I'd like to see you wear it before that," he said. 

She smiled secretly. 

"Maybe you will." 

"When?" 

"Now don't tease." 

"When?" 

"Maybe tonight. Reckon I might come down and show it to you 
after the rest have gone to bed." 

Her words were innocent enough, but her manner flavored them 
with enigma and promise. The remainder of the day, resting in his 
bedroom, he wondered whether she meant more than she said. 

It was late. In the Kelvin house only the youngest daughter and the 
guest were wakeful. 

Even Ive was not very wakeful. He lay on the bed drowsy but some- 
what vexed, for by this time he despaired of Georgiana's coming. Then 
his gaze chanced on the door to the hall and he beheld the knob turn- 
ing. It made no sound, for Georgiana's movements were as sly as a 
cat's in the night. As the door inched open she held a forefinger on 
her lips. 

The door closed and she slipped over and sat down beside him on 

tte bed. 

"See?" she whispered, lifting her wrist and displaying the bracelet* 

Ive saw the bracelet, and more too; for just as Georgiana was ahead 
of her time in the matter of riding costume so did she hold advanced 
ideas as to what a girl should wear when calling on a young man in 
his bedroom. She was attired in a white nightgown. 

"I thought you were never coming," Ive said. 

"I had to wait till they were all asleep, didn't I? Reckon they 
wouldn't like it if they knew I was here." 



GUS THE GREAT 331 

In the lamplight her hair and skin were flawless. Ive's breathing was 
swift and his very tonsils quivered with excitement. She seemed un- 
aware of his perturbation as she sat with her wrist aloft, twisting it 
slowly and admiring the bracelet. 

"It was sure enough nice of you to buy it for me," she whispered 
"You won the bet. Why did you buy it for me?" 

"Maybe because I like you." " 

"Do you, Ive?" 

"You know I do. Do you like me?" 

Her glance slid toward him from the corners of half-lidded eyes,, 
and her smile curled teasingly. 

"Maybe." 

"Don't you know?" 

"Maybe." 

"Don't you know any other word but maybe?" 

"Maybe." 

She laughed then, like a child delighted by some foolish game. He 
slipped an arm around her waist, under her arm. 

"I'd best go," she said. 

"Don't go yet." 

"I'd best." 

He kissed her. 

"Honey," she whispered at last, "you're sweet. But I'd best go." 

"No. Please not yet." 

"Yes." 

He kissed her again. 

She pulled away and stood up. But he still clasped her hand. 

"I'd best go," she said. "Let me go." 

"No." 

He had remained seated because of his ankle. She smiled poutingly 
down at him. 

"You'd best let me go." 

"No. Please not yet." 

"I'll do something bad if you don't." 

He misunderstood her meaning and gripped her hand harder* 

"I warned you I'd do something bad," she smiled, and kicked his 
sprained ankle. 

Ive yowled. 

She clapped a palm over his mouth. 

"Sh-h-h! Do you want to wake the house?" 

Pain-sweat had broken out on his forehead, and he glared at hen 

She removed her palm and pressed her lips against his. After that 
kiss the hostility left his eyes. 

"You shouldn't have kicked my ankle," he said. 



332 GUS THE GREAT 

"You shouldn't have held my hand when I said I had to go." 

"But it might be bad for my ankle." 

"It might be bad for me to stay, too," she said, witchery in her smile. 

He was gripping her hand again. 

"One more kiss," he pleaded. 

"No." 

"One more." 

"No." 

"Please." 

"Well just one." 

She sat by his side and Ive lost himself in the kiss. He thought it was 
like diving from a dizzy height through warm golden air. 

She stood up abruptly. 

"I'm going now," she said crossly. "If your hands can't behave Fm 
going." 

Ive looked down at his offending hands. 

"Don't go. Please, not yet." 

"I think I'd best." 

"Please, not yet." 

"You're bad," she said. 

"You're beautiful." 

"You're very bad." 

"You're very beautiful." 

Her face lighted. 

"You're nice," she smiled. "I like you " 

"How much?" 

"Ve?y much." 

"Enough," he heard himself asking, "to marry me?" 

Her eyes widened. 

tt lve!" she whispered. 

"I love you," he said. 

"Reckon that's what you tell all the girls." 

"No! Georgiana. I love you. Will you marry me?" 

She sank to the bed. 

"My goodness! Reckon you've taken my breath." 

"Didn't you know I cared that much?" 

"I had no idea." 

**I think you're lovely," he whispered. "And beautiful. And sweet." 

She smiled dreamily. 

"Will you marry me, Georgiana?" 

"Maybe ... I don't know." 

"Why don't you know?" 

"I'd want to think about it." 

"When will you know?" 



GUS THE GREAT 333 

"I'd want to think about it a few days. I'll let you know next 
week. I'll let you know Tuesday. After the folks leave for St. Louis." 

"If your answer's yes, could we be married right away?" 

"Maybe." 

"The day you tell me yes?" 

"Maybe." 

He kissed her. At last she stood up again. 

"Those hands! Those bad hands!" But she smiled when she said it. 

He grinned. 

"I reckon," she said, "they think we're married already." 

"I wish we were/ 3 

"Well we aren't. And Til have to go," 

"I wish we were married tonight." 

"You're ternble," she said. 

"I can't help it. I wish we were." 

She laughed softly. "Don't you, though!" 

And she leaned forward and brushed her lips across his mouth and 
then darted out of reach before he could grab her. 

"You'd pay for that," he said, "if it weren't for this ankle." 

"Would I?" she smiled teasingly. 

And once again she leaned forward. This time he caught her and 
pulled her down beside him. After a few kisses she said: 

"Let me go now." 

"No." 

Til kick your ankle." 

"Darling," he said, "you wouldn't do that." 

"I'm going to," she said impishly. 

Instantly, he released her. He was learning. 

She jumped up. 

"Good night," she said. 

"One more." 

"No." 

"Just a good-night kiss?" 

"That last one," she said, "was our good-night kiss. And here's 
another." < 

She kissed her fingertips and blew. 

"That's your good-night kiss," she smiled, opening the door and dis- 
appearing into the hall. 

Ive lay awake for hours. 

The following Tuesday morning, after Stuart and Eliza and W.C, 
boarded the train for St. Louis, Ive hitched his team to a light buggy 
rented from Prentice Nodamoore. With Georgiana he drove to a 
neighboring county seat, and that afternoon a judge married them. 



334 GUS THE GREAT 

After the ceremony, Georgiana dispatched a telegram to her parents 
in St. Louis. It pleased her to think of Stuart's face when he heard the 
news and realized she had outdistanced him into wedlock by four days. 

Their bridal night they passed in a wooden hotel near the courthouse 
where they were declared man and wife. Neither slept well, owing to 
the unfortunate presence of bedbugs in the room. Upon returning to 
Winchester, they found May and Maggie beside themselves with worry 
about Georgiana's disappearance. 

"Married?" May gasped. "Well I never!" 

"What do you mean by runnm' off and lettin' us worry ourselves 
gray?" Maggie scolded. 

Georgiana tossed her head. 

'I'm married now. I don't have to answer to anybody, now." 

" 'Cept your husband. You'll answer to him," 

Georgiana laughed. 

Ten days later, after hours of bargaining with Prentice Nodamoore 
and more hours of consultation with the president of the Farmers' 
National Bank, Ivan Pawpacker came into possession of the livery 
stable and feed lot, as well as various traps and four-wheelers and an 
amorous stallion and an even more amorous jack. By the same deal, 
which mortgaged Ive up to his eyebrows but left him a good sum of 
working capital, he acquired Nodamoore's house, completely furnished. 
He even acquired responsibility for a Negro couple who had served 
Nodamoore as Maggie and Harmon served the Kelvins. Their names 
were Uncle Meredith and Aunt Acacia; and although Ive didn't feel 
that a young couple just getting started needed servants, it was fortu- 
nate for his stomach that Aunt Acacia remained to prepare meals. 
Georgiana, of course, knew nothing about cooking; and she evinced 
not the remotest interest in learning. 

Their first violent quarrel took place the Saturday following their 
marriage. It concerned nothing at all, but it ended with a flung shoe 
clipping Ive's ear. It was quite coincidental that the quarrel brewed 
itself at 4 P.M., the hour of Stuart's wedding in St. Louis. 

From the beginning Ive made money with the livery stable. The 
burden of debt rested lightly on his shoulders, probably because he 
continued to think of borrowed dollars as hired dollars. As soon as 
possible, of course, he wanted to pay off his bank loans, so he worked 
hard; harder than any three men in Winchester; harder than five hun- 
dred W.C's. 

Ruthlessly he reorganized the livery stable, discharging two hostlers, 
luring others at less pay, hiring a responsible manager. Soon after 
taking over he informed the lazy hangers-on who cluttered up the 



GUS THE GREAT 335 

office that they would have to loaf elsewhere. These moves roused 
some ill-feeling against him in Winchester; people said he was a cold, 
calculating, money-getting Yankee; but he didn't care. He wanted 
money and lots of it. He knew that loafers in the office would impair 
his efficiency as he sat concentrating on figures; so out went the loafers. 
He had little time for anything but business. In those first years while 
he was getting out of debt people learned it was useless to invite him 
to go hunting or fishing; he was too busy. After slightly more than 
three years he paid the last of his loan at the bank, 

"Mr. Pawpacker," the president said, "you're the best risk I ever had. 
You can have anything you want at this institution." 

"Thanks," Ive said; but it never occurred to him to ask for happiness 
from the bank, because he realized banks did not keep happiness 
locked in their vaults. 

Yet there were times during those early years of marriage when he 
was not unhappy. Now and then, even, he was not unhappy at home. 
But for the most part he found it wiser to spend more and more time 
at the livery stable, returning in the evening to sit at his desk and plan 
his business forays. 

As soon as he became convinced that the stable manager could be 
trusted, Ive resumed his horse-trading travels. A couple of months 
after marriage he drove from Winchester in his lumber wagon, several 
horses following. At that time he still had hopes that the marriage 
would turn out well after all, and he invited Georgiana to accompany 
him. Her mouth curled. 

"Reckon I don't relish traipsing around the country in a wagon," she 
said crossly. "I don't see why we can't visit St. Louis." 

"We have to stick to business. Till we're out of debt." 

"Business. That's all you think about." 

He didn't argue further, for he had learned that anger came easily to 
his wife, and often she threw things. 

He set out hghtheartedly on that first trip, but by evening he found 
himself lonely for Georgiana. The farther he drove from Winchester 
the more unimportant their quarrels seemed. He remembered the 
times when she had been good-natured. So he returned home ahead 
of schedule and rushed into the house. 

"Well, my goodness," she said. "What are you doing back so soon?" 

"I was lonesome for you." 

After permitting him to kiss her she said: 

"Reckon it's a good thing you came back. You didn't leave me near 
enough money." 

So they were arguing again. 

Indeed, money inspired many of those early battles, so at last Ive 



336 GUS THE GREAT 

opened a separate bank account for Georgiana. Often she overdrew. 
This distressed him. He told her she had no money sense, and they 
were at it again. 

Presently Ive's trips were lasting ten days, two weeks. Both were 
happier when he was gone. He knew more about women now, and 
sometimes when a girl smiled at him on the street of a strange town 
he considered making her acquaintance. But he didn't. He was still 
hoping for the miracle that would turn a bad marriage good. 

At the end of one trip he found not Georgiana waiting for him, but 
a note. It announced that she had taken the train to St. Louis for a 
short visit. 

She returned enthusiastic about St. Louis; she would enjoy living 
there. She said she had looked up Stuart Kelvin; he was fine. From 
the city, Georgiana brought back many newfangled notions. Most sig- 
nificant was the fashion for a husband and wife to occupy separate bed- 
rooms. Never one to lag behind the times, Georgiana instituted this 
custom in her own household, moving all Ive's belongings from the 
large front bedroom where they had made love as a bridal couple to a 
smaller bedroom at the back of the house. Ive could discover nothing 
commendable in this vogue, but Georgiana was not to be dissuaded. 
The lock on 'the front bedroom was excellent, and she used it- Next 
time Ive made a horse-trading trip he struck up an interesting acquaint- 
ance with a pretty chambermaid. 

Georgiana's visits to St. Louis became more frequent and longer as 
the years went by. At last she rented a flat there. She was really a St, 
Louis woman then, who made short visits to Winchester. This took 
more money, but by that time Ive considered money well-spent if it 
kept Georgiana away. He had stopped loving her, had stopped hating 
her. She had become only an annoyance, the embodiment of a mistake 
he had made as an inexperienced youth. He had not, however, stopped 
loving. In a county seat fifty miles away he met a widow a few years 
his senior, and presently she moved unobtrusively to Winchester, 
occupying a small house a block from Ive's. After the town went to 
bed he called on her. They were lovers. More important, they were 
great friends. She wasn't even very pretty, but Ive no longer believed 
; n the essential goodness of beauty. She never stamped her foot. She 
aever burst into tears and threw movable objects. She never nagged 
iim for more money. She possessed an abundant good nature and an 
astonishing ability as a cook. After making love they returned to the 
sitting room, where she served him cold chicken and bun-bread and 
jookies. Then he lighted a cigar and they sat behind drawn shades, 
slaying checkers. It didn't bother her when he won. 

Sometimes he thought of divorcing Georgiana, but divorce was a 
disgrace in the most quiet circumstances, and he knew that if he began 



GUS THE GREAT 337 

action Georgiana would fight it tooth and claw. There would be 
scandal. And probably Georgiana would even ferret out his relation- 
ship with the widow, Etta Rogers. He discussed it with Etta, offering 
to marry her once he was free. But she shook her head. They were 
happy as they were, she said. Why should he risk the agony of a di- 
vorce case? Let things drift. He had grown his mustache and short 
beard by that time, and he stroked them as he listened to her counsel 

His renown as a judge of horses spread, and presently a great firm of 
horse dealers in St. Louis commissioned him to buy for them. So 
occasionally business took him to St. Louis, and he called several times 
at Georgiana's flat. Not that he wished to see her, or that she wished 
to see him. But he knew she would feel slighted and be furious if she 
learned he had been in town without paying her a call. 

The small flat seemed stuffy to Ive, with its raspberry carpet and 
plush furniture, its cuckoo clock and its cluttered whatnot, its voluptu- 
ous cushions and its oak center table bearing a dish of artificial fruit. 
But she seemed to enjoy living there with her high-yaller maid. On 
the mantel Ive noticed Stuart Kelvin's picture. He looked well-fed and 
well taken care of. 

Evidently Georgiana and her cousin were on the best of terms, for 
Ive's keen eyes detected a number of Stuart's belongings in the flat. 
Several law books. A brief case with his name stamped in gold. A 
half-empty package of the pipe tobacco he preferred. Ive smiled with 
that quiet irony which was becoming his companion. 

Years of toil in the Inns of Court had wearied W.C., so late in the 
iSgo's he retired. To this event the Winchester Enterprise devoted a 
great deal of space. Headlines on page one said: HON. W. C. KELVIN 
RETIRES FROM ACTIVE PRACTICE. PROMINENT BARRISTER WILL DEVOTE 
TIME TO STUDY. The news story occupied more than a column; the 
editor let himself go, recounting how W.C. had served in the Con- 
federate army and in the legislature; and after reading the story, people 
felt that a great man had been living in their midst. 

Those sundown years were pleasant. Stuart and Ive agreed to share 
in the Kelvins' support; but off in St. Louis, Stuart had big expenses, 
keeping up with Society, rearing three children; so most of the Kelvin 
livelihood came from Ive's checkbook. He didn't begrudge the money, 
for he grew fond of his family-in-law. Nearly every Sunday he dined 
with them, and after the meal he and W.C. would sit on the gallery, 
smoking and discussing Shakespeare and mules and national affairs. 
Far from dimming W.C/s memory, the passing years brightened it : he 
kept recalling more and more battles in which he had participated 
during The War, and more and more important pieces of legislation 
which he had helped shape. 



338 GUS THE GREAT 

Georgiana's visits to Winchester had long since ceased, and Ive was 
just as glad. He settled deeper and deeper into his money-making 
routine; into his routine of calling on Etta Rogers. The Boer War 
came along; agents of the English government visited the United 
States, booming the market in horses and mules; and Ive made money 
hand over fist. He bought the pasture stretching north from his house 
and erected big barns, for his livery stable could no longer accommo- 
date the great number of animals he assembled at Winchester for ship- 
ping. And at this time a shabby little circus wandered into town and 
expired. 

Wanting the horses, he acquired the show. That was the beginning 
o new adventures. And then one day in a St. Louis paper he read of 
a circus that had gone broke in Illinois and was to be sold under the 
sheriffs hammer. He made- a quick trip to Illinois, and when he re- 
turned he owned a fairly large circus, complete with railroad cars. 
Side track was laid into his pasture from the branch line serving Win- 
chester, and presently a string of gaudy circus cars stood there, waiting 
to be sold to showmen. 

But he didn't let his new adventure interfere with his business in 
horses and mules. He still made buying trips. And now he actually 
was a horse buyer and not a horse trader. He was known and re- 
spected by farmers and livery stable proprietors in several states. Before 
he visited a town he sent an advertisement to the weekly paper, an- 
nouncing he would buy horses at a certain stable on a certain day. 
Farmers brought in their horses and gaped at this quiet, fastidiously 
dressed man who carried a walking stick and sized up an animal with- 
out even examining his teeth. 

It was on such a trip when, in a county-seat town, he read how the 
Tamarac^ Beacon was sponsoring the purchase of an elephant. Next 
day he met Gus Burgoyne. 

From the first, Burgoyne amused him, puzzled him, tickled his 
vanity. Was he a rogue? A mere bag of wind? What was he up to? 
Why did. the mention of elephants always make him sputter and 
bluster? Ive liked him. He began to smile as soon as he sighted Gus 
striding like a serio-comic emperor through a hotel lobby. All at once 
life seemed a robust affair. A grab-bag full of surprises. Romantic. 
Something to be enjoyed to the hilt. Ive found that sven if he were 
weary from travel, a few minutes with Gus acted like a strong tonic. 
You had to brace yourself lest his enthusiasm sweep you off your feet. 
He was a born showman; and when he puffed his cigar and grinned 
infectiously and outlined some earth-shaking project you felt a con- 
spirator in some comic and mouth-watering adventure, as if you were 
a pair of small boys planning a raid on a melon patch. 

It might be, Ive thought, that he could use Gus someday. First let 



GUS THE GREAT 339 

him take out a show and get experience (on his own money) and then 
hitch up with him in a partnership. If he could be trusted. Well, he 
had married money now; perhaps that would steady him. 

But for more than two years after attending the wedding, Ive lost 
touch with Gus. Onc& in passing through Tamarack he telephoned 
Funland Park, but a workman answered and said Mr. Burgoyne was 
out of town. So Ive returned to Winchester without seeing him. And 
as the months passed, busy as he was with his own affairs, he forgot 
him. 

And then one autumn afternoon in 1906, at his desk in the livery 
stable office, Ive heard the door burst open, and a familiar, hearty voice 
boomed greetings. 

"Well, well! Ive Pawpacker! How are you, Ive?" 

He turned and beheld Gus striding in, bigger than ever, exuding 
prosperity and good health and powerful laughter. 

Gus seized Ive's hand and pumped it, 

"Here I am! Just like I said I'd be when I was ready for a circus! 
By golly, but it's good to see you! Here! Have a cigar!" 



10 



PARK had prospered under Gus Burgoyne's brisk manage- 
ment. No longer did Mr. Oxenford's clerks uncork the red ink when 
they prepared a financial statement at the end of a season. Indeed, the 
park was showing more profits on capital invested than any dominion 
in Mr. Oxenford's empire. This bewildered the old man, for he still 
could not comprehend the improvidence of people shelling out money 
for merry-go-round journeys. Where did it get them? 

But it delighted him, too, although he concealed his joy behind yel- 
low whiskers and flinty eyes. 

"Ain't a bad showing," he told Gus, "Maybe next year you can do 
better. Your expenses are a caution. If you could just pare them 
down! 4 ' 

"What do you want?" Gus growled. "A hundred dollars profit on 
every dollar I spend?" 

And although Mr. Oxenford realized this was sarcasm, his eyes 
lighted and his dry palms rustled together. 

"That's it! Ain't a bad goal at all! Keep it in mind when you're 
tempted to spend money." 

The 1905 season at the park had closed, and they were sitting in 
Mr. Oxenford's private office on the fifteenth floor of the new Oxen- 
ford Electric Building. The battered old desk and seedy chairs looked 
beggarly in the bright, fireproof office. 

"Ain't no need at all to buy new furniture," Mr. Oxenford had de- 
clared, when he moved in. "Lots of wear left in this desk." 

His thrifty fondness for old things, Gus thought, went to fantastic 
lengths. Why couldn't the old man buy a new suit, or at least send 
this one to a cleaner? With its shiny elbows and grease-specked vest 
it looked like something a secondfiand dealer had cast aside. Nor 
were Mr. Oxenford's shoes the proper footgear for a business leader. 
A network o cracks crisscrossed the cheap leather. They had been 
blacked and blacked again, not at a shining establishment, but in the 
kitchen at home. Mr. Oxenford was his own valet, and every morning 
he energetically buffed them. Not vanity but economy directed his 
purchase *of blacking. "Preserves the leather," he said. "Polish is 
cheaper than shoes." 

340 



GUS THE GREAT 341 

Soon after Gus moved into the house, Mr. Oxenford advised him to 
form a similar habit. Eying Gus's oxfords, he observed: 
"Them shoes of yours have a nice polish. Do it yourself?" 
"There's a kid downtown I usually hire/' Gus said. 
"What do you pay him?" 
"A dime." 

Mr. Oxenford clawed his whiskers. 

"Now look here, Gus, This is a lesson in practical thrift. Say you 
hire him five times a week. That's fifty cents. And say you have it 
done fifty weeks in a year. That amounts to Land o' Goshen that 
amounts to twenty-five dollars!" 

"The kid has to make a living," Gus said. "He quit school when 
his old man was killed in an accident." 

"Twenty-five dollars a year! That's the interest on five hundred 
dollars at five percent. See how money gets away from a man if he 
don't watch sharp?" 

Gus was more amused than annoyed, for he was still a newcomer 
under Mr. Oxenford's roof. But as the days passed and the old man 
continued nagging him, his amusement evaporated and his annoyance 
boiled into anger. A scene ensued, the first of many, for Mr. Oxenford 
considered it his duty to plug the leaks m his son-in-law's purse. Gus 
roared and boomed, and finally Mr. Oxenford retired sullenly behind 
his whiskers and grumbled: 

"I was just trying to advise you. Land o' Goshen! Don't know where 
I'd got if I'd gone scattering money like a drunken sailor." 

After that, his references to shoe-polishing were oblique. 

"Been up for hours," he would announce at breakfast. "Gave my 
shoes a good polish. It'd surprise you how long shoes will last, if you 
ain't too proud to use a little elbow grease." 

Before marriage, Gus had been enticed by living in the great house 
on Wellington Avenue, but in practice it disturbed his domestic tran- 
quillity. Mr. Oxenford remained head of the house, and Gus felt like 
a guest. Mr. Oxenford thought he smoked too many cigars and hired 
too many hacks. If Gus bought a copy of the Beacon instead of wait- 
ing to read the copy delivered at the house, Mr. Oxenford pointed out 
that two pennies had been squandered. 

"Gone forever. You'll never get 'em back. Two cents may not seem 
like much, but it's a year's interest on a dollar at two percent." 

Or the old man would comment: 

"New necktie you're wearing, ain't it? What did it set you back? 
How much? A dollar? Land o' Goshen! What's wrong with all them 
ties you've got already? Lots of wear in 'ein yet!" 

When Gus bought a new shirt or hat, Mr. Oxenford looked as if he 



342 GUS THE GREAT 

were suffering indigestion, and if the purchase were a new suit the 
poor old fellow writhed and exclaimed: 

"God Almighty! Why I ain't bought a new suit since 1902, And 
I could buy and sell you a thousand times!" 

Gus did not permit these outbursts to go unanswered, and after a 
quarrel both men were grumpy. 

Flora worried about the friction between her father and husband. 
That first summer of marriage, she would sit for hours rocking and 
chewing gum, attempting to find a solution. In bed at night she whis- 
pered: 

"Gus." 

"Uh?" 

"You asleep?" 

"Uh . . . Just dropping off, I guess. 5 * 

"Gus, I'm worried." 

"What about?" 

"About you and Papa," 

"What about us?" 

"About the way you spat. You shouldn't, Gus." 

"What do you mean, / shouldn't? He starts it. I can't spend a penny 
without" 

"I know. But you shouldn't cross him. It makes him mad." 

"Well, by God! It makes me mad, too." 

"It's just his way, Gus. He hates to see money wasted." 

"I don't waste it." 

Flora did not respond. 

"I suppose you think I waste it," Gus said. 

"I know Papa's careful about money," Flora said, "but you do spend 
a lot, Gus. You know you do." 

Gus sat up and swore. "Now you're starting it. You're as bad as 
the old man." 

"Don't swear, Gus. Please don't swear. I love you, Gus. And Fm 
not as bad as Papa. I'm sure I'm not." 

"You think I smoke too much," Gus said. 

"It's just because I don't want your liver upset." 

"Hell and damnation! There's nothing wrong with my liver. What 
ever got it into your head my liver was upset?" 

"Because you smoke too much. Smoking too much upsets the liver* 
That's true, Gus. Everyone knows it's true." 

They went round and round, till Gus was fuming. Not Flora. She 
seldom lost her temper. Sometimes Gus wished she would. But she 
had the even disposition of a milch cow, and about the same abilities 
at logical reasoning. 



GUS THE GREAT 343 

At last Gus found his slippers and left bed. 

"Can't sleep, now. All upset. Damn it, why did you want to upset 
me?" 

"I didn't, Gus. Smoking does it. Smoking upsets your liver." 

Not trusting himself to respond, he groped to the door and padded 
along the upper corridor, kitchen-bound. At the head of the stairs he 
snapped a switch that lighted the downstairs hall. But no light came. 
So he felt his way down, and in the black lower hall he barked his 
shins. Swore. Then a terrible suspicion entered his thoughts, and he 
pawed till he located the light fixture depending from the hall ceiling. 
The bulb was loose in the socket; he twisted it; light came on. 

"Well I'll be damned," he muttered. 

The old man had hit upon another device for saving money. He 
had unscrewed the bulb against the careless servants and his careless 
son-in-law; he wasn't going to have a light burning needlessly in the 
hall. Some time ago, a dishonest salesman from the public utilities 
company falsely told Mr. Oxenford that he would save money by hav- 
ing the gas fixtures wired for electricity. He exhibited figures to prove 
his contention, and Mr. Oxenford yielded. But when the first electric 
bill came he found he had been tricked. The world was full of robbers 
and thieves. Preying on honest men! After that bill, Mr. Oxenford 
preached the gospel of turning off lights. Flora was converted and 
preached the gospel also, but Gus did not heed. 

Leaving the light burning, Gus entered the dining room, switched 
on the chandelier, pushed through the swinging door to the kitchen. 
From the icebox he brought milk, butter, cheese, cold beefsteak. Food 
always cheered him. After swallowing a great quantity, he went to 
the veranda and sat smoking. The July night was so warm that he 
felt comfortable clad only in his nightshirt. 

He thought of Funland Park, of how successfully he was operating 
it this first season. And his thoughts dreamed ahead to next year. He 
would have a circus, then. He had been biding his time, proving he 
could wrest great profits from the amusement business. He was certain 
that once the season's profits from Funland were computed, Mr. Oxen- 
ford would be glad to back him in the circus venture. 

Gus had never been lazy, and that first season he worked as obstrep- 
erously as a locomotive. He thundered gladly from bed, as zestful as 
a 6 A.M. whistle. At the open window he stripped off his nightshirt 
and cleansed his lungs with great draughts of fresh oxygen. His fists 
thumped his enormous chest and then a true believer in Theodore 
Roosevelt's Strenuous Life he launched into setting-up exercises. He 
was persuaded that the calisthenics benefited him more when accom- 



344 GUS THE GREAT 

panied by audible testimonials of their rigor, and hence Flora was 
awakened by vast puffings and grunts and groans as her husband 
sought to touch the carpet without bending his knees. 

Although a large girl, Flora was scarcely more muscular than a 
hundred and fifty pounds of jelly; she had never sought to develop her 
smews; and on that first morning in a Chicago hotel room, upon awak- 
ening from love-opiated slumber, she was startled by her husband's 
groans. She blinked and gazed toward the window. Then suddenly 
she emitted a cry of shame and buried her face in the pillow. In spirit 
she was still a maiden, and the glimpse of her unclad groom shocked 
her. 

But now, after several months of marriage, she was used to Gus's 
morning gymnastics, and she lay watching with interest and admira- 
tion. Sometimes she asked: 

"How many times did you touch the floor?" 

"Hoo! Huh? Oh. Fifteen. Hoo!" 

"You seem to work awful hard at it, Gus. Think it's good for you 
to strain yourself that way?" 

"Hoo! Ah-h-h! Huh?" 

"I said you seem to strain awful hard. If you strain so hard some- 
thing might snap." 

u Huh-uh. Good for me. Start the day right." 

"It might put a strain on your liver." 

But by then Gus stretched face-down and shoving himself up and 
down with bulging biceps was too engaged to respond. 

The calisthenics over, he thudded along the hall to the bathroom. 
Recently some sadistic wretch had published an article advocating icy 
showers, and so presently from beyond the bathroom door came bel- 
lows and howls. You would have thought it Mr. Oxenford just dis- 
covering his error in purchasing Brooklyn Bridge. 

Gus's morning toilet did not include shaving, for every afternoon 
he went to a downtown barber shop patronized by Tamarack business 
leaders. A regular customer, he was accorded the honor of a private 
shaving mug. It stood in a cabinet along with those of other conse- 
quential men, a handsome white mug with "A. H. Burgoyne" lettered 
in gold* 

"Ever considered growing a beard?" Mr. Oxenford once asked. 

"Beard? Not for me. Too old-fashioned." 

Mr. Oxenford bristled. 

"May be old-fashioned but it's practical. Economical, too. Whiskers 
will come back. You wait and see." 

"Don't think so," Gus said. And some jovial imp made him add, 
''People are driving automobiles now. Whiskers get in the way." 

"Automobiles!" Mr, Oxenford nearly shouted the word. "That ain't 



GUS THE GREAT 345 

no argument at all! Automobiles! Nothing but a fad. Won't last. 
Too much expense. A dying fad." 

"See more of them all the time, though." 

That, Mr. Oxenford pointed out, was because the manufacturers 
had sought out all the fools who happened to have money. The supply 
of fools would soon be exhausted. Then automobiles would vanish 
into bad memory. 

"Ought to ban 'em from the public streets/' Mr. Oxenford declared. 
"A common nuisance that's all they are. Just a common nuisance." 
Having thus disposed of the gasoline engine, Mr. Oxenford returned 
to whiskers. "A man spends a lot of money buying shaves. Even if 
he shaves himself the outlay is considerable. Razor and strop and soap. 
If I was m your place, Gus, I'd give a beard serious thought." 

"I like a smooth face." 

"Well then, why can't you shave yourself? Land o' Goshen! Bar- 
bers run into money fast. Now I realize a good razor's considerable 
expense too, but once you've got it you've got it. Something to show 
for your money. You buy a shave and what have you got? A smooth 
face. But you ain't got it tomorrow! You're right back where you 
started, tomorrow. And your money's gone. Ain't that logic?" 

"Sure. But I like a barber shop. You get on friendly terms with im- 
portant people." 

"Fiddle-faddle! Important fools! They're looking out for them- 
selves. They ain't looking out for you. You save your pennies, Gus, 
and pretty soon they'll be flocking around you. Don't have to seek 
them. They'll seek you. Flies will always buzz around molasses, and 
if you've got money they'll come buzzing." 

Mr. Oxenford stroked his whiskers, and hard humor gleamed in his 
eyes. 

"Take me, Gus. When I come to Tamarack there was plenty of 
young dandies who wouldn't have thought I was good enough to har- 
ness their horses. And plenty of flibbertigibbet girls who wouldn't 
have let me pick 'em out of a mud puddle. Did it fuss me?" 

Mr. Oxenford snorted. 

** 'Course it didn't. Leastwise not much. I just minded my p's and 
q's and saved my pennies and kept my eyes peeled and my mouth 
shut. I worked from sunup to dark and I got my sleep. Let them 
dandies with their fancy vests take them flimflam girls to dances! I 
saved my money." 

"Guess you did, at that," Gus grinned. 

"You bet I did!" Mr. Oxenford exclaimed, warming to his favorite 
subject. "I saved and I scrimped and I was industrious. Industry, 
Thrift and Integrity! Them's the cornerstones. Can't beat 'em! And 
I lived to see a lot of them dandies hired out to me. Didn't used to 



34 6 GUS THE GREAT 

notice me, but they notice me now! It's 'Good morning, Mr. Oxen- 
ford,' now. They speak it as pretty as you please. And they call me 
Sir, now, like I was a Dook or one of them English nobles. And me 
not good enough to dance with them flippity girls that used to make 
eyes at them!" 

Mr. Oxenford's eyes hardened, and he said heatedly: 

"And what did it? Being economical, that's what! A penny here 
and a penny there. Pretty soon you've got a dollar. And that dollar 
goes to work and brings interest. Before long you've got a lot of dol- 
lars. And the word gets around! You bet it does. Flies will always 
smell out molasses. So they come to you with propositions. Most of 
them are crooked, but after while a good thing comes along. Like 
with me when I organized Tamarack & Northern. You bet! Then 
you've got money and you can call the tune. They're dancing now 
to your fiddling! Once you've got money you can do anything with 
'em. Crack 'em like hickory nuts!" 

Gus grinned broadly. 

"Get the gold right out of their teeth!" he said, with stingo. 

"That's it! Right out of their " Mr. Oxenford stopped abruptly, 
eyes flashing shrewdly. "Well now Gus, not hardly that. Nothing 
crooked. I ain't one to break any laws. You got to respect the law. 
It's the law that protects a man from them Socialists and Anarchists 
and whatnot. The law's your best friend, I always say. But on the 
other hand, I say a man's a fool not to take every last advantage the 
law allows him. If them lawmakers didn't mean a man to do that 
they would have legislated different. That's just horse sense. So I 
say walk right up to the edge of the law. Maybe push on it a little. 
It'll give, the usual thing, without actually cracking. Get my mean- 
ing? And now don't you think it might be wise to shave yourself?" 

Always one to be overwhelmed by genuine enthusiasm of any kind, 
Gus heard himself saying: 

"Sure. Sounds like a great idea. I'll think it over." 

But that afternoon he purchased a store shave, as usual 

Funland Park opened late in May and closed early in September. 
Since the open season on the public was so short, Gus felt he must 
make every minute count, so during the summer his working day be- 
gan at eight and lasted till midnight. He didn't spend every hour of 
this long day within the park; he came and went at will; but even 
when he rode downtown or returned home for dinner he ruminated 
about park business. 

Except for his prompt arrival at work and his remaining till the 
last customer left, his schedule was exceedingly flexible. He liked this. 
Routine was not for him. Just as he had hated the confinement of the 



GUS THE GREAT 347 

city desk but had enjoyed his freedom as a reporter, so now he loved 
this job where he accounted to nobody not even Mr. Oxenford for 
how he spent his time. 

At first Mr. Oxenford rebuked Gus for this erratic schedule. But 
he didn't rebuke him a second time. 

"I'm manager," Gus told him. "I'll run things in my own way. You 
keep out of it." 

"Don't seem businesslike," Mr. Oxenford complained, "for a man 
not to be in his office when you ring him on the telephone." 

"Shadwell was always in his office, wasn't he?" 

"Yep. He stuck to business." 

"And he lost you money, didn't he?" 

"Land o' Goshen, yes! It was a caution." 

"All right! Now look here, Sam. I'm going to make you a fat profit. 
But I've got to do it in my own way. I get my best ideas on a streetcar 
or in a saloon. Either I run things my own way and make you a good 
profit or I quit!" 

Profit! Mr. Oxenford cried: 

"Now wait, Gus. Hold your horses. Don't get mad. It was just 
that I-" 

"Don't even think about the park," Gus advised him. "Leave it to 
me. It's in good hands." 

And this was quite true: never had the park been in better hands. 
All through that first summer Gus was forever hatching new schemes 
to remind the public of Funland. He organized trolley picnics whereby 
some company would sponsor an employee party and take over the 
park for an evening. He convinced lodges and patriotic organizations 
that they should hold outings at Funland. The fact that the park 
owned an elephant was a bargaining weapon of great power. Once 
when a lodge held its state convention in Tamarack he permitted 
Molly to march in its downtown parade provided the lodge would 
designate one day as "Funland Park Frolic Day." And the Tamarack 
Police Department held its annual picnic at Funland, greatly to the 
uneasiness of the ex-convicts who operated concessions. 

Gus faithfully attended the weekly luncheon of the Tamarack Com- 
mercial Club (not for another decade would it be known as the 
Chamber of Commerce) 3 and when they sang "Tamarack the Beauti- 
ful," a composition borrowing extensively from "America the Beauti- 
ful," his strong baritone led all the rest. He always sat next to Mr. 
Oxenford: they might have been Allah and Mohammed. Other busi- 
nessmen thought, "Smart young fellow, old Sam's son-in-law. Hell 
take hold of things and keep them going when Sam dies." 

Once Gus delivered the luncheon address. His subject, "Merry-Go- 
Rounds and Eugene Debs/' filled the organization with the uneasiness 



348 GUS THE GREAT 

which any mention of unrest among the lower classes always en- 
gendered; but he hadn't spoken two minutes before he had them in 
the palm of his hand. Gus did not advocate socialism; his thesis was 
soothing and optimistic. The ordinary worker, he said, was a fine, 
loyal American whose native horse sense had been clouded by doctrines 
from foreign parts. What this victimized American needed to flush out 
these ideas was plenty of entertainment in the fresh air. Where better 
could he find such entertainment than at an amusement park ? Tama- 
rack could consider itself fortunate to have one of the most up-to-date 
amusement parks in the land. 

Gus had heard Frank discuss socialism so often that he buttressed 
his speech with catch-phrases that made him seem a profound student 
of sociology. His interest in socialism, of course, was as faint as ever: 
it didn't worry him. He felt he could get on very well in any social 
order. His intention that noon was simply to speak in praise of Fun- 
land, and in casting about for some means of masking his real purpose 
he hit upon socialism. 

He built better than he had dreamed. As he stood at the speakers' 
table he looked stalwart, solid, commanding. His natural eloquence 
was great; sentences came readily to his tongue; he drove home points 
by smacking his fist into his palm. When he mentioned Washington 
and Lincoln his voice quavered. 

The Commerical Club nearly rioted when he finished. Applause 
thundered; some people even cheered. Whiskers swarmed round the 
speakers' table and hands jabbed toward Gus in congratulation. He 
couldn't have stirred them more if he had been sincere. One old fellow 
even said they ought to run him for Congress. 

Reporters always attended the luncheon, to get a free meal, so that 
afternoon Gus purchased all the papers. His address had landed him 
on the front pages, for the city desks knew that any attack on socialism 
would delight patriotic advertisers. BURGOYNE'S BIG GUNS ROAR AT 
DEBS, the headlines ran; and PARK MANAGER RAPS MARXISTS. The 
Beacon even used a one-column cut of A. H. Burgoyne with the stir- 
ring overline: RADICALS* FOE. And it proudly terminated its story with 
the information that Mr. Burgoyne was a former city editor of the 
Beacon. 

Gus folded the papers and caught a streetcar for the park, where in 
his office he could feast his gaze without interruption. It was thfc going- 
home hour for the little people, the people who worked for the men 
he had addressed that noon. The car was jammed; late afternoon heat 
flowed through the windows with a hot-asphalt smell; Gus swayed 
from a strap. 

He didn't mind the heat and the packed car; he was gregarious as a 
sardine; and under his breath he whistled "In The Good Old Summer 



GUS THE GREAT 349 

Time." And he smiled. He knew it was absurd to be so elated about 
his name on the front pages; newsprint fame was brief and often ill- 
deserved. But absurd or not, he loved it. Only a few years ago he had 
been a nobody in Clayton Junction; he had come far. 

Clutching the newspapers, Gus left the trolley and strode through 
the park gate. He stopped outside his office and gazed at his domain. 
It was 5:45 an off-hour but business was better than fair. Families 
were unpacking picnic baskets under the trees; children had gathered 
round the pen where Molly and Ranger lived; ecstatic screams came 
from the roller coaster; and the merry-go-round whirled and tinkled. 

Gus spread the papers on his desk, lit a cigar, enjoyed himself. The 
photograph the Beacon used had been snapped several years before. 
Gus examined it critically, his cigar angling upward. The photograph's 
jaw and nose were aggressive, but the eyes were not quite as wise as 
the eyes gazing upon it. 

"Still look a little damp behind the ears," Gus thought. "Guess I 
should have a new picture taken for the papers." 

He smoked and read the stories over and over, glowing as if from 
whiskey, remembering the applause at the Commercial Club and the 
old fellow who had nominated him for Congress. He considered a 
career in politics, rejected it. Some opponent would dig up his illegiti- 
mate birth and start a whispering campaign. He wasn't feeling sorry 
for himself, but merely being realistic: he understood the manners and 
morals of his age. Giving up a political career didn't distress him in 
any case; he wanted a circus. 

Idly, he leafed through the Beacon. When he came to the Society 
page he stopped. For a long moment he stared, nonplussed. The office 
was very still. In the distance the merry-go-round organ was playing 
"After The Ball." 

Below the word "Bride" a two-column picture of a girl looked out 
at him. Only Gus saw more than a likeness badly reproduced on news- 
print. He saw hair the color of gleaming pavement on a rainy night, 
and violet eyes. Somewhere in an echo-chamber of his brain he heard 
her saying, "Gus, I'm sorry. . . . Am I going to see you again?" 

Beneath the picture, they had printed, "Mrs. Harold Henderson." 
And in a column beside the picture they had printed other things. 
Married Thursday afternoon. That was yesterday afternoon. A quiet 
wedding at home. The couple left at once for Chicago . . . where Mr. 
Henderson . . . teaching fellowship . . . will study for higher de- 
grees 

The cigar had gone cold in his fingers; absently, he cast it into the 
spittoon. The merry-go-round played its entire repertoire. Screams 
came from the roller coaster. The shooting gallery said pop, pop, pop. 



350 GUS THE GREAT 

Dusk crept through the windows, gathered in the corners, inked the 
floor. Outside the lights came on. 

That was a big evening at the park. It didn't matter much. Perhaps 
the front page stories had brought Funland Park to people's minds. 
Perhaps they said, "It's a fine night. We haven't been to Funland yet 
this year. Let's go out there." Yes, that was how publicity worked. 
Not that it mattered. 

The educated fool. Great God. The educated fool, of all people. 

He left the office, moved through the tepid evening. Hello, Gus, 
people said. Good evening, Mr. Burgoyne. . . . Hello, he said. Hello, 
there. Glad to see you. 

But he wasn't glad. 

He ventured along the path that dipped to the miniature railroad. 
He didn't bustle. He moved like a man recuperating from a long ill- 
ness. Only he wasn't recuperating. He had made his decision and 
there had been a great wedding with tremendous publicity, and since 
then he had hurled himself into work. Hadn't allowed himself to 
thinkvery much. When he thought of her he told himself she was 
still living in Tamarack. Might bump into her on the street some day. 
Yes, he was a married man now but . . . well ... old friends, weren't 
they? Let's drop into this cafe for coffee. How've you been, Carlotta? 
I've missed you, you know that? Uh s'pose you could drop over to 
the park some evening? Like to talk to you. Ask your advice about 
. . about ... a publicity story. . . . 

He stopped at the railroad crossing; the locomotive came tootling, 
dragging cars loaded with yipping children. Some waved. Gus lifted 
a halfhearted paw. The train clattered away down the rails. 

He slowly mounted the rise toward the elephant pen. Molly spied 
him coming, lifted her trunk. 

" 'Lo, Molly. How are you, old girl?" 

And again in that mental echo-chamber he heard a voice chiming, 
"Isn't she darling!" 

Presently he tracked back to the office, fumbled through the shadows 
to the couch and lay down. He told himself he would get over it. 
Once long ago he had sorrowed when another woman with violet eyes 
left him on a silvery night, for Chicago. He had got over it. "Get over 
these things," he mumbled. And it occurred to him that man's faculty 
for burying such loveliness beneath the trash heap of passing years was 
the saddest thing in existence. But the kindest, too. He drew a long 
breath, wondering whether he could compel himself to go home to- 
night and crawl into bed with Flora. 

The Tamarack papers were delivered in Clayton Junction, and 



GUS THE GREAT 351 

Frank MacGowan subscribed to all three. That evening he sat in the 
Tribune office, amused as he read o Gus's ascent to fame on a journal- 
istic skyrocket. 

In a quarter of a century not many changes had come to the Tribune. 
Electric lights had replaced the kerosene lamps, but the chairs were 
still stacked with magazines and papers, and the desk hadn't been 
cleaned in years. 

Back in the shop, a new job press had been installed, but type was 
still set by hand. There were two printers now, and a reporter, for 
Frank was too busy reading and pondering to have time for work. 
His stock in the typesetting machine yielded such good dividends that 
he could afford these luxuries. 

Frank told himself that once he might have been irked by Gus's 
blast against socialism, but tonight he was amused and pitying. 

"Poor Gus," he thought. 

Although Frank had advocated socialism at the New Year's Eve 
party, he was no longer certain he should call himself a Socialist. He 
had never, of course, been a party member. That was just as well, for 
now he would have been considered a backslider. What perplexed him 
was the nature of the territory into which he had backslid. 

But even though Gus's attack did not irk him, he was troubled by 
the opportunism inspiring the attack. Somewhere he had read that a 
conservative young man had no heart, a radical old man no brain- 
Frank hedged this sentiment with his usual reservations, but he would 
have felt more comfortable if Gus had now and then flung himself 
headlong into some cause any cause besides the cause of Gus. 

Frank spent the remainder of the evening scratching out a light- 
hearted editorial refuting the theory that amusement parks would cure 
a sick society. A socialist would have realized instantly that the author 
of the editorial had more than a passing acquaintance with Das KapitaL 

Next morning Frank awakened feeling as chipper as a man in his 
sixties had any right to expect. Hot weather agreed with him. When 
winter came he ventured out little, because he feared that his bad leg 
and treacherous ice might lead to broken bones. His stuffy indoor life 
brought on colds; he suffered neuralgia and he felt and acted old. But 
this was August, and since spring he had walked every day to the 
post office and basked in the sun. He felt a decade younger; young 
enough to visit Rafferty Street again. The last year or so he had con- 
sidered selling out and moving to a warm climate. California, possibly. 
But he was unacquainted on the Coast, and he dreaded loneliness. 

In his office after breakfast, he read the editorial he had penned the 
night before. It still seemed amusing, so he took it back to the shop 
and gave it to Mark Hare to set up. 



352 GUS THE GREAT 

Hare had come to the Tribune a month before* A lean man o 
thirty, he had sharp features and sharp eyes behind steel-rimmed 
glasses. Frank always had the vague sense that he suffered from 
stomach ulcers. 

Frank returned to his office, and a few minutes later Hare appeared. 
His dry skin was cracked in an unaccustomed smile. 

"It's about that editorial you gave me. Best thing I've read in a long 
time." 

"Glad somebody liked it," Frank said. /'You know, I tried an experi- 
ment once. I published the same editorials three weeks running. 
When nobody mentioned it to me, I began to wonder if they were 
being read." 

Both men laughed. 

"Years ago, I had an old tramp printer named Vince Fye. I used 
to write something red-hot full of Spencer and Karl Marx and old 
Vince would tell me they'd ride us out of town on a rail. But they 
never did, damn it." 

Both laughed again. Then Hare ventured : 

"Read that story in the Beacon last night. It burned me to a crisp." 

"Bosh. That was just Gus blowing his tuba to draw attention to 
Funland Park. Gus doesn't give a damn one way or the other about 
socialism. Of course, if the Revolution would come tomorrow he'd 
jump on the band wagon and grab the reins and start driving. No, 
don't let that story get under your skin, I suppose I'm as much a 
Socialist as I am anything, but " 

"You're a Socialist?" Hare sighed. "I've been a party member for 
years. And to think the day would come when the boss would be a 
Socialist. My God! We really must be growing." 

"I'm not a party member," Frank said, 

"Why aren't you?" 

"I've never been sure I could join with a clear conscience. I've 
reached my conclusions independently." 

"You're just the kind of man we want," Hare exclaimed. "Our 
Local meets Monday evening. Why don't you come?" 

Frank considered, eyes twinkling. 

"I might," he said, "say something that would stir tip the animals. 
Fm not a pure Marxian by a long shot." 

"My God! Who is? We've got every shade in the Local. From 
pale pink to red-crimson. How about coming?" 

"All right," Frank said. "Why not?" 

Monday evening Frank debated riding in a hack to the meeting, 
but he decided this might appear too plutocratic, so he journeyed from 
Clayton Junction in one of Mr. Oxenford's trolley cars. He left the 



GUS THE GREAT 353 

car at the University of Tamarack and limped along a middle-class 
street. 

After nearly a block he sighted a small brightly lighted house. The 
porch light was burning, and several bicycles stood in the yard. 
Through the open windows he heard excited conversation. Mark Hare 
had said tonight's meeting would be held at the home of Mrs. Beatrice 
Webster, an English instructor at the University of Tamarack. 

As he knocked he gazed through the screen door at a dozen persons 
in the sitting room. Since most of them were talking, he had to knock 
a second time to make his presence known. Then a plump woman in 
her fifties answered. Her round face and brown eyes were friendly. 

"I'm Mr. MacGowan," Frank said. 

"Oh yes. Come in. The meeting's just warming up." 

Mark Hare hurried across the room and shook Frank's hand. Then 
he lifted a palm for silence. 

"Comrades, this is the man I mentioned. I'll introduce you." 

First, Frank met the woman who answered the door. She was Mrs. 
Webster, the hostess, and instead of merely bowing and murmuring 
she held out her hand and gripped his firmly. 

"I'm glad to know you, Comrade," she said breezily. Her voice had 
the warm friendly texture of home-baked bread. She looked as if life 
delighted and amused her. 

The others were more serious, as if working for the Revolution were 
after all no laughing matter. Frank shook great calloused hands that 
had groped toward socialism from humble occupations, and he shook 
the soft hands of persons whom the hired wags of capitalism were 
calling parlor socialists. He met Jews, Gentiles and a Negro. 

The business meeting did not differ materially from the business 
meeting of a commercial club. The secretary a German carpenter 
read the minutes, and old business was argued into limbo. Frank sat 
studying the members and musing how delighted he would have been 
fifteen years ago if he had chanced upon this group. In those days 
socialism had crackled like a pitch torch in his brain. 

But the years had made him less sure of truth, and certainly much 
less sure that the Revolution was within even telescope range. He 
sensed the futility of this little group a handful in the Tamarack 
population area and he thought it comic that men like Mr. Oxenford 
should be so exercised about the dangers of socialism. He glanced 
across the room at Mrs. Webster's good-natured, intelligent face. What 
path had led her from a university classroom to this group? 

When the discussion was thrown open to new business, a knotty 
blond man arose and delivered a Swedish-American diatribe against 
certain views recently uttered by one A. H. Burgoyne. Presently his 
attack shifted to Mr. Burgoyne's father-in-law. His countenance red* 



354 GUS THE GREAT 

dened and his speech thickened, for he was employed in the streetcar 
company's barns. The wages were niggardly, and his problem of mak- 
ing both ends meet was complicated, he blurted out, by his old 
woman's getting pregnant every time he hung his overalls over a chair. 

At the revelation of this biological phenomenon, the meeting broke 
into laughter. Mrs. Webster fairly shook. 

"Yah, almost dot bad," the speaker declared. 

And he went on to advocate that this meeting pass a resolution of 
protest against Burgoyne's remarks, and dispatch it to the press. 

Aaron Bergheim, a young attorney, toqk the floor to opine that the 
press would refuse to print such a resolution. 

"I read those news stories," he said. "They were utter nonsense. 
Beneath our contempt. But I agree with Comrade Pearson's remarks 
about Samuel Oxenford. He's getting this town by the throat." Com- 
rade Bergheim illustrated the process with his hands. "Squeezing it. 
But I've been prying and watching, and I think he's spreading himself 
too thin. It wouldn't surprise me if there'd be a crash some day. If 
anybody here has any money in an Oxenford bank, I'd advise him to 
get it out fast." 

Whether the resolution should be passed occupied the rest of the 
meeting. Many Comrades rose and spoke, all attacking Mr. Oxenford. 
He had raised the price of ice; he had raised streetcar fares; one work- 
man had been killed and three injured during the construction of the 
Oxenford Electric Building. All the speakers assumed Gus Burgoyne 
an unimportant figurehead. Old Oxenford, they implied, had prompted 
his son-in-law to attack socialism. Frank held his tongue, but the 
thought of Gus as anybody's figurehead amused him. 

At last Mark Hare gained the floor. 

"Comrades, I've got something to read you. It's a perfect answer 
to Burgoyne's attack. It will be printed as an editorial in the Clayton 
Junction Tribune, and with Comrade MacGowan's permission 111 
read it." 

They looked at Frank. He felt embarrassed; and as Hare read the 
editorial his discomfiture mounted. Most of the faces here were pretty 
grim; doubtless they expected an editorial skinning Gus alive. What 
they heard was irony and gentle humor. Feeble humor, Frank decided, 
observing their lugubrious faces. Then he glanced at Mrs. Webster- 
She was smiling broadly, and when Hare finished she declared: 

"That's delicious. There's no weapon like humor. Simply delicious." 

An intelligent woman! 

She was. And she was that bird of rarest plumage, a teacher of fresh- 
man composition with a sense of humor. Also she was a lonely 
woman. Perhaps loneliness as much as intelligence sustained her mem- 



GUS THE GREAT 355 

bership in the party. She had joined back in the days when Charles 
was living. The Reverend Charles Webster. Charles. Thin-faced, 
brown-haired, intense; the gentlest of men, till roused. Poverty roused 
him. Men railroaded to prison roused him. Urchins kicked into the 
bull pens of jails; old women shot gleaning coal along a right-of-way; 
lynchings; sheriffs who received fifty cents a day to feed each prisoner 
and spent two cents; phrases like unearned increment; all roused him. 
Then how he preached! 

Born a Pennsylvania Quaker, he had found Unitarianism at Har- 
vard. And he had found Beatrice in Old Main on the campus of the 
University of Tamarack. The Atheneum Literary Society had con- 
sidered itself daring to invite the new Unitarian minister to address it 
that January evening. That was the evening of the great blizzard and 
not many attended. Beatrice attended, Phi Beta Kappa key and all. 
The new Unitarian minister lived up to firebrand expectations. 

She remembered the ribs of the old building creaking in dark wind; 
window panes plastered with snow; and she wore red velvet. She was 
secretary of the Atheneum, not because Uncle Timothy was president 
of the university, but because she had attained popularity in her own 
right. She was a senior; twenty-one; and she could have married al- 
most anybody. Tall; dark-haired; buxom. But not a haughty beauty. 
She couldn't manage aloofness. Things always amused her; all kinds 
of things. Besides, haughtiness demanded unfriendliness, and it hap- 
pened she liked people. 

She sat on the first row and he talked at her. You felt injustice had 
lighted a hot fire inside him. Not like the senior boys. He wasn't very 
old. He wasn't much taller than she. Maybe she ought to attend 
Unitarian church some Sunday. When he spoke she caught a sense 
of vast forces gathering, out in the beyond-the-campus world. In- 
dustrial Revolution. Workers rising. Machines. Bought legislatures. 
Wall Street. Wage slaves. His voice was vibrant. He had gentle eyes. 
His face was thin. She was such a good cook. "I enjoyed your speech, 
Reverend Webster. Do you speak of such things in the pulpit?" 

They were married the following summer. And there were many 
churches in many cities the next twenty years. The congregations al- 
ways the same. Such a wide divergence of opinion in Unitarian con- 
gregations. Always the atheists who still felt the need of Sunday 
morning communion. The agnostics. The believers in God who 
denied the divinity of Christ. The religious liberals but economic con- 
servatives; the religious conservatives but economic liberals. Poor 
Charles. And he so hated contention . . , "They don't think I should 
march in picket lines. Well, we can move on." 

Charles contracted smallpox while investigating jail conditions; and 
grief was a great tide sweeping you out and out on solitary oceans. 



356 GUS THE GREAT 

But you must fight your way back to the reality of land, because o 
Charles, Junior. Uncle Timothy was no longer president of the Uni- 
versity of Tamarack; honorably dead these fifteen years; but possibly 
because he was your uncle, or because you attained Phi Beta Kappa or 
because you were an Atheneum and Uncle Timothy's successor was an 
Atheneum, you became instructor of English and blue-penciled comma 
splices. And Charles, Junior, was furious about the Maine explosion; 
and fever was prevalent in Cuba, but a very sympathetic letter arrived 
from the war department. And this time the ocean flashed with more 
terrible loneliness, but life must go on. Freshman composition classes 
must go on. "A comma splice? I have explained that many times. 
Oh yes I have but you were probably thinking about the freshman 
picnic." Laughter from the class. "A comma splice is very wicked- 
nearly as wicked as a split infinitive." Laughter. (They know I'm 
talking nonsense. How they would gasp if I'd tell them they're think- 
ing too much about other kinds of splicing.) "Only one 'A 1 in this 
course. To Harold Henderson. A very fine student, Harold. Con- 
scientious." (But oh Lord, how dull!) 

So grief had a double edge, slowly blunting. Corsets were uncom- 
fortable; she hadn't bought a new one in several years; this one was 
comfortably sprung in the right places. She wore it even to the theater, 
to that second-rate performance of Hamlet at the Paragon. (Those in- 
frequent trips to New York with Charles. John Drew!) And of all 
things! There in first-row balcony sat Harold Henderson and Carlotta 
Leslie! And Carlotta supposed to be in love with Jim Wheeler. 
Harold was certainly not the young man one would imagine Carlotta 
choosing. 

Then one August afternoon the Beacon came (the Beacon with the 
idiotic outburst from A. H. Burgoyne) and in the Society section you 
read an account of a wedding. Carlotta. Gave her a "B." Mrs. Harold 
Henderson. Life was strange. 

And now the Monday evening meeting of the Local had ended, and 
she stood alone in a house suddenly stilled. "Frank MacGowan. It 
pleased him when I wanted a copy of the Tribune containing the edi- 
torial He promised to bring one to me Thursday evening. What goes on 
here? I like his eyes. Gentle, like Charles's. The poor man has a bad 
limp. And his face is thin. Must bake Thursday. Apple pie. All men like 
apple pie. And this corset is such a comfortable old friend, but I really 
must go down to Goldstein's tomorrow and buy a new one." 

Thursday evening Frank took a hack to Tamarack. Mrs. Webster 
hung up his hat and settled him into a comfortable chair. 
"Now let's see the Tribune'' she said. 
"It isn't much of a paper." 



GUS THE GREAT 357 

As she unfolded it, a queer humility overtook Frank, and he wished 
he had heeded Gus's suggestions and purchased new type faces, a new 
press, perhaps even a typesetting machine. The paper was off-size: 
too wide for its length. The serifs of the Old English nameplate had 
worn fuzzy; the column rules wandered crookedly; the print paper 
was flimsy. The old press, always erratic, had grown quite unpre- 
dictable with age, printing some lines faintly and others in startling 
boldface. 

As he watched Mrs. Webster, Frank had the feeling that m unfold- 
ing the Tribune she was unfolding and scrutinizing his life. There he 
was: shabby, gray, aging, deep in his rut. And he experienced sharp 
discontent with the Tribune and with his life; both might have been 
of more consequence. 

And yet, despite its shortcomings, he loved the Tribune, perhaps 
because it was his only offspring, the only projection of his poor 
mortality. And it was the past. Some of those stodgy ads on page four 
had doubtless been set years ago by Vince Fye. At least the type print- 
ing the ads had been handled by Vince, scrubbed with gasoline by 
Vince. And he seemed to recall Vince's admiring that woodcut of a 
horse which ornamented a livery stable ad. 

Frank glanced about the sitting room. He liked it. The other eve- 
ning, crowded with people, the room's personality had been eclipsed, 
but tonight its comfort, its mellowness, its sense of having been wept 
in, laughed in, read in, thought in, rose from the carpet, flowed from 
the bookcases, from the comfortable chairs, from the reproductions of 
Renoir and Manet on the walls. The gas chandelier was dark tonight; 
soft light came from two old kerosene student lamps with green 
shades. One pooled illumination on the table by Frank's chair, the 
other on the table by Mrs. Webster's. She put down the paper, chuck- 
ling. 

"It's a good editorial. I like it even better than I did Monday eve- 
ning." 

"Then you and Mark Hare are my public," Frank smiled. "The 
Local didn't seem to care for it." 

"They take their socialism very seriously. It's castor oil and elixir 
of youth. They think it will cure everything." 

"Don't you think so?" 

"No. Do you?" 

"I used to," Frank said. "But I've concluded we're going about it 
wrong-end-to. Society will change when human beings change." 

"You pessimist/' she grinned. 

"Not at all. Human beings have changed. For the better. In an- 
other thousand years well be ready for socialism. But if it would come 
now, and somebody like Gus would take it over" 



358 GUS THE GREAT 

"Gus?" 

"Gus Burgoyne. A. H. Burgoyne." 

"You know him?" 

"He grew up in my shop." 

She wanted to hear about that. He told her. He told her how he 
had outwitted Tim so Lucy could visit Doll in New York, and he 
told her about Doll. Never before had he put the whole story into 
words, and he wondered why he was doing so now, unburdening old 
desires to this woman he had met only three nights before. Perhaps 
he sensed in her the understanding that had come from much experi- 
ence. He knew she must be a dozen years younger than he, but as he 
unearthed those relics of time gone it seemed she was older in wisdom 
than he could ever be. 

As she listened he watched her. Very little gray had intruded into 
the smooth black braids wound on her head. In the lamplight the only 
wrinkles in her face were laughing wrinkles; her eyes were merry. 
She must have been very beautiful once. Her full body which for 
some reason seemed more svelte tonight looked as full of comforts as 
a feather bed. 

"So you didn't visit her in Chicago/' Mrs. Webster said. "You never 
saw her again." 

"No, never." 

"Do you regret it?" 

He thought a moment. "I think it was better that way. She would 
have changed. I never blamed her for anything. I think she was the 
most natural woman who ever lived." 

Mrs. Webster's eyes twinkled. 

"My dear man all women are natural women." 

And she thought briskly : "This man needs somebody to bring in his 
tricycle and guard his marbles* Doll! Imagine his mooning for years 
about a little slut like that! He's taller than Charles. But that same 
gentleness. That same goodness." 

She said: 

"I baked today. Pie. Would you like some?" 

"Why yes, what kind is it?" 

"Apple." 

His face lighted. "My favorite!" 

In October of that year, as a result o the terrible quarrel between 
Mr. Oxenford and his son-in-law, Flora and Gus established a home 
of their own. 

"It'll be better now," Gus told himself. "Guess I was a fool to try 
living with old Sam." 

After inspecting many flats and houses, they rented an unfurnished 



GUS THE GREAT 359 

house in the new real estate development that had sprung up west of 
Funland Park. 

"Be close to my work, this way/' Gus said. 

"I don't know, Gus," Flora said. "The rent seems awful high. 
Maybe we ought to buy. You pay rent and the money's gone. Gone 
forever." 

But Gus's resources did not empower his making even a down pay- 
ment on a house. He was, unfortunately, almost broke. The five hun- 
dred dollar check Frank had given him last April as a wedding present 
had been spent. His salary had flashed through his fingers. Whither 
all those dollars had departed he did not know. Hacks, cigars, cock- 
tails, dinners, tips, shirts, ties. He was not one to waste time account- 
ing for pennies. 

Part of the money he had given Flora, for unlike some husbands 
who spent freely Gus did not become suddenly thrifty in his wife's 
presence. 

"How're you fixed for cash?" he asked. 

"I guess I'm all right, Gus. I've still got that twenty you gave me last 
week." 

"Better have some more. Here's another twenty. Person always 
ought to have cash, in case of emergency. Let me know when you 
need more." 

This bewildered Flora. It even made her uneasy, for after years 
with Mr. Oxenford it seemed contrary to nature. She took the money, 
but she didn't understand. And whenever she made a purchase she 
noted it down in a litde book, just in case Gus should revert to what 
she considered masculine type and suddenly demand an accounting 
for all the money he had showered on her. 

The house Gus and Flora rented was exceedingly modern. None 
of this stained-glass stuff. It was the pride of 1904, what the real estate 
salesman called "a story-and-a-half job, hardwood floors throughout, 
oak finish, six rooms and bath, not a lot of extra space for the missus 
to clean, know you'll be mighty happy there." 

It faced the east, 'and it still smelled of paint and plaster when the 
Burgoynes moved in. The clay yard had not yet been sodded, and the 
concrete front walk had been so recently laid that one gained the porch 
by treading on planks. The real estate development where it stood 
gleamed with other equally new and modern houses. The loftiest tree 
in the "addition" towered to only seven feet. 

They bought furniture at Goldstein's, on credit extended by the store- 
owner himself. While Flora wandered about the furniture department 
Gus sought out Isaac Goldstein in his office. 

"Want to buy our stuff from you, of course," he said. "But the fact 



360 GUS THE GREAT 

is, I'm a little close run just now, and I'd like to stretch out paying 
for it." 

Isaac's beard had turned patriarchal white, and he wore a black 
skullcap, to the amused chagrin of his five dapper sons who returned 
one by one from Harvard with knowledge of Chaucer's sources for 
Troihts and Cressida, and with merchandising hints from the Boston 
stores. 

"Sure, Gus. Sure. You can have unlimited credit, within reason." 

After Gus departed, Isaac telephoned his son Morns in the credit 
department and instructed him to keep a sharp eye on the Burgoyne 
account. For Isaac remembered an occasion years ago in his Clayton 
Junction store, when Frank gave Gus a dime and Gus promptly spent 
every cent of it for candy. And last spring at the wedding Gus had 
told him of Frank's handsome gift. Five hundred dollars. And now 
Gus was close run. Oi! Nor was Isaac impressed by Gus's relationship 
to Samuel R. Oxenford. Isaac was not among the investors in Mr. 
Oxenford's enterprises. Nor was he a depositor in any Oxenford trust. 
He should live so long and entrust his funds to Oxenford! 

Flora .and Gus bought chairs upholstered in figured velour and a 
bedroom suite of bird's-eye maple. The clerk who served them was a 
girl of twenty-five, with hair the color of the bedroom suite and a trim 
figure. At first she was smoothly professional, but presently Gus made 
her laugh. In discussing price and quality she and Gus found it neces- 
sary to smile at each other. And once when Flora bent heavily over 
a chair to examine the construction Gus winked at the clerk. Ever so 
slightly, she winked back. 

Next day Gus returned to the furniture department, and late in the 
afternoon he telephoned Flora that some old newspaper friends were 
throwing a party which he must attend. If one wanted publicity one 
must remain on good terms with the press. Flora was disappointed, 
for this was their first day in the new house, and she had purchased 
T-bone steaks to broil for her husband's dinner. Nevertheless, she 
understood. Business came first. 

A few weeks later the girl, whose name was Inez, resigned her 
position at Goldstein's and took a flat. Her means of support were 
not visible, except to Gus. But she was not Carlotta. She was the first 
of many who were not Carlotta. This puzzled Gus. Why did Car- 
lotta keep returning to his thoughts? Why did he wonder what she 
was doing qn Thanksgiving and Christmas and on the anniversary 
o their meeting in February? One of life's imponderables! And he 
hated imponderables! Sometimes in his office he wrote her name and 
sat staring at it. Sometimes he dreamed of her at night. And gradu- 
ally in a secret part of his brain there evolved a series of imaginary 



GUS THE GREAT 361 

events. In that existence he had married Carlotta and acquired a 
circus and they were forever gallant and young. Sometimes he won- 
dered whether other human beings lived double lives. Sometimes he 
wondered if the actual world were not that phantom world. Perhaps 
he was asleep by Carlotta's side now, in that other existence, dreaming 
he had married Flora. Never having read a line of philosophy, Gus 
thought he had come upon an original idea. 

Despite his excursions into the rosy half-world of Inez and her suc- 
cessors, Gus had a certain fondness for his wife. She tried hard. She 
cooked what he liked. Their occasional quarrels resulted from her 
sluggish perceptions rather than from any shrewish outcroppmgs. She 
was loyal, taking his part in the quarrel with Mr. Oxenford, even 
though her better judgment told her Papa was right. When Gus 
spent an evening at home she mooed with happiness. He was not un- 
kind to her, save for the unkindness of many absences. Marriage 
agreed with her; during the first two years in their own home she 
gamed weight; and when, now and then, Gus kissed her with a certain 
significance she remembered from honeymoon days she trembled with 
delight. She even wished he would kiss her that way oftener. Once 
she said as much, but he laughed and said they were old married peo- 
ple now, grown beyond that foolishness. She believed him. She be- 
lieved anything he told her. She thought his wisdom vast. 

Although it often resulted in monetary loss. Flora didn't mind when 
Gus entertained male friends at an evening of poker. After preparing 
stacks of sandwiches and making sure the beer bottle opener was where 
he could find it (Gus never could find anything even if it were in plain 
sight; he would accuse her of hiding things), Flora went upstairs so 
the men could swear if they wished as they played at the dining-room 
table. Lying in bed, she heard their voices rumbling, and she dozed 
off feeling exceedingly married, exceedingly contented. 

As their first Christmas approached, Flora seized courage by the 
horns. 

"You know, Gus, I feel kind of sorry for Papa. He'll be all alone 
on Christmas. I feel kind of sorry for him." 

"You do, huh?" t 

"Yes, I do, Gus. I don't know. I feel kind of sorry for him." 

"Well, maybe we ought to invite him over for Christmas dinner, at 
that," Gus rumbled. "Let bygones be bygones." 

"You won't start fussing with him, will you Gus? You won't ask 
him to buy you a circus again?" 

"I didn't ask him to buy me one* Just wanted his backing. Just 
wanted him to sign my note." 



362 GUS THE GREAT 

"Well, anyway, you won't, will you, Gus? Christmas doesn't hardly 
seem the time to fuss with him." 

"Guess it wouldn't do any good if I did. Although I don't see why 
he won't back me." 

u He wants you to run the park, Gus. You're such a good manager 
he doesn't want to lose you." 

"Well by God! If I'm a good park manager I'd be twice as good 
with a show. All I wanted him to do was back me. And he said a 
circus was tomfoolery. By God!" 

"Don't swear, Gus. Please don't swear. Papa means well. It's just 
that he don't like to spend money." 

"No!" Gus snorted. 

"Oh yes, Gus that's true. He don't like to. I thought you realized 
that. He's always been that way. He's careful with money. But he 
means well. And he's getting old. Maybe well maybe when he 
passes on you could have a circus." 

Flora spoke as if such a thought had never entered her husband's 
head. Gus sighed. 

"But I want a circus now. Damn it. If I could just buy a small one 
take it out in the spring " 

"Then it's all right if I invite Papa, Gus? You won't fuss with him 
again ? " 

"No," Gus said, "I won't." 

So Mr. Oxenford came, striding from the car line through bright 
snow. Living alone, he had grown even more thrifty, and recently 
he had dismissed his combination handy man and coachman and had 
sold his team. He had reduced the staff of servants to a lone house- 
keeper. Much of the house remained shut off in winter, to save heat. 
Thrift was his Cracker jack: the more he tasted the more he wanted. 

As Mr. Oxenford climbed the porch steps Gus flung open the door* 

"Well, well! Sam! Glad to see you! Merry Christmas!" 

A grin flicked through the old man's whiskers. 

" 'Lo, Gus. Same to you." 

Since their quarrel they had not, of course, refused to speak, for park 
business had to be discussed, but the atmosphere when they met would 
have given a polar bear pneumonia. B/the time cold turkey was eaten 
Christmas evening, however, they were on the best of terms. Flora had 
judged her husband correctly; observation had told her he was never 
so good-natured and expansive as when acting as host. Realizing it 
took two to make peace, Mr. Oxenford also did his part. When lie 
sighted the Christmas tree, decorated with all sorts of expensive do- 
dads, he very nearly cried out. A tree in the house! How much did 
it cost? Waste! 



GUS THE GREAT 363 

But he restrained himself. It was hard, but he did it. After all, Gus 
had shown a smart profit with the park. 

One morning after the close of Gus's third season at Funland, Frank 
MacGowan called him. 

"I'd like to see you, Gus. I have a couple of important matters to 
talk over with you. Could you run out?" 

"Be there in an hour." 

Gus hung up, consulted his watch. It was attached to a heavy gold 
chain looped across his vest. The chain had been a birthday gift from 
Flora, purchased with funds saved from thrifty management of grocery 
money. A single ornament dangled from the chain: a large lion's tooth. 
Gus had discovered it in a novelty shop the winter before, when he and 
Flora spent a month in New York. He prized it highly. If he couldn't 
have a circus he could at least accouter himself as he imagined a circus 
owner should. 

Lighting a cigar, he left the office and strolled toward the miniature 
railroad. It was a sparkling morning in mid-September. Workmen 
were boarding up the dance pavilion and lugging park benches inside 
for storage. A faint melancholy touched Gus, as always at season's end. 
Good-by to crowds and whirling lights. This morning the melancholy 
was intensified by his feeling of marking time. Three seasons as park 
manager, and a circus as far away as ever. 

His desire for a circus never strayed far from his thoughts. But alas! 
Samuel Oxenford kept refusing to back him. And also alas, Mr. Oxen- 
ford's health remained good. To Gus it seemed likely the old fellow 
would run a close second to Methuselah. Last winter, because" of low 
temperatures in the Wellington Avenue house, Mr. Oxenford had con- 
tracted bronchitis. But did it turn into something more serious? No! 
After Mr. Oxenford regained his feet, Gus called on his physician. 
Mr. Oxenford had often referred to him as a highway robber making 
so many unnecessary calls but the man turned out to have an honest 
face. 

"Just wondering about old Sam's health," Gus told the doctor. "My 
wife and I've been worried, Anything serious wrong?" 

The doctor beamed a negative. 

"He's as organically sound as a man of forty. A wonderful specimen. 
Unless he freezes to death in that cold house, he has a good chance 
to live to a hundred. You can stop worrying." 

But Gus didn't stop. 

Despite his calisthenics, Gus was putting oh weight. Around his 
middle, there was a hint of the huge girth to come. Beneath his jaw- 
bone, there was a whisper of double chin. "He'll be a fat man some- 
day/' strangers thought. 



364 GUS THE GREAT 

But his face had strengthened, too. Determination for a circus had 
tightened his mouth and thrust out his chin. His eyes were harder, 
more calculating. When he was alone he brooded more than m other 
days. He fretted about his lack of progress, and he still thought of 
Carlotta. A few weeks ago the Beacon had carried a brief story an- 
nouncing that Mr. and Mrs. Harold Henderson and son Harold, 
Junior, were returning to Tamarack after two years in Chicago. Mr. 
Henderson had been appointed assistant professor of philosophy at the 
Unrversity of Tamarack. 

Harold, Junior. That hurt. Perhaps, he thought, he and Flora 
should have a child. A. H. Burgoyne, Junior. A kid to toddle ex- 
citedly toward a lighted Christmas tree. Perhaps through a son he 
could recapture and alter! his own childhood. No Uncle Tim to 
scare A. H. Burgoyne, Junior. No kids at school to chant, "Yah, yah, 
yah! Gus is a bastard, Gus is a bastard! 1 ' Things would be different 
for Gus, Junior, And someday he would inherit the vast Oxenford 
enterprises. Only by then they would be the Burgoyrjte enterprises. 
And chief among them would be a circus. Organically sound as a 
man of forty! Bah! 

Assistant professor of philosophy. That must mean an advancement 
over being a public school principal. So the educated fool even more 
educated now and, Gus hoped, more foolish was getting ahead. And 
he was standing still. If he chanced to meet Carlotta she might ask, 
"What ever happened to all your big plans for owning a circus?" 

He mounted the rise to Molly's pen. She lumbered to the fence, 
trunk aloft. He scratched her ears. Only now he had to reach up to 
scratch her ears. The hay she had consumed had not been for naught. 
For with all living things Molly shared the mysterious power permeat- 
ing the universe. She ate. Drank. And within herself the mystery 
operated, converting water and hay into this huge gray bulk. 

South of the pen stood a long building, built last spring. For that 
building a girl named Ruby was responsible. Ruby had come into 
Gus's life as a ticket seller. She reminded him a little a little! of 
Carlotta, and he inquired one day how she would like to live a life 
of ease, a flat of her own, sleeping late, possessing pretty clothes* She 
could discover no drawbacks to such an existence. So presently Ruby 
was toiling not, but spending much. Mr. Oxenford refused to give 
Gus enough of a salary increase. He needed money. 

One day an idea came to him, and immediately he called at the 
Tamarack newspaper offices. But on these trips, instead of yarning 
with reporters and city editors, he sought higher authority. Managing 
editors. 

"I've got a move in mind," he said, "but before I start I want to talk 



GUS THE GREAT 365 

it over with you. I'm absolutely in your hands. I know the power the 
press has." 

"What's the move?" 

"Between ourselves," Gus lied, "Funland isn't doing so well. Unless 
I can boost profits, we might close. That wouldn't be good for me 
and it wouldn't be good for Tamarack. An amusement park draws 
people to town." 

Undeniably, said the managing editor. 

"Well now, look here. We both know this town's wide open. Lots 
of gambling. Must be a dozen houses. Notice you've laid off them 
and I agree with that policy! Don't think I don't! The public gets 
sick of campaigns against vice. Well, I was thinking we might have 
a few games at Funland. It would boost our revenue. Give us just 
the margin we need to keep operating. Nothing rowdy, you under- 
stand. Just a few quiet games. Discreet But as I say, it's up to you. 
If you say no, I'll drop the whole idea. But if you'll promise you won't 
mention the matter in print, 111 go ahead.'* 

Gus obtained three promises of silence. 

Next he visited the sheriff. Next the public safety 'commissioner, 
He told of the promises from the press. And then he started speaking 
language the sheriff and the commissioner understood. 

Thus armed with co-operation of the Fourth Estate and the Law, 
Gus called upon an old friend from his reporting days, one "Honest 
Jack" Denmson. Their discussion of terms occupied two hours. Once 
Gus boomed: 

"What's the advantage to you? Hell's bells, Jack! Don't give me 
that stuff. I know your business falls off in the summer. And I'm 
offering you a pitch where thereVe suckers. Crowds and crowds of 
suckers. Advantage to you, for God's sake! I wasn't born yesterday." 

So lumber was hauled to Funland Park; south of Molly's pen a build- 
ing rose. Mr. Oxenford became curious, but from Gus he had received 
such excellent training in keeping his nose out of park business that 
he didn't interfere. He couldn't resist asking a few questions 9 however. 

"Now listen, Sam. You keep out of this. You don't know anything 
about it You'll be happier that way." 

"I know, Gus, but all them bills for lumber and nails and whatnot. 
Land o' Goshen! Like to break me up!" 

Gus grinned. "Wait till you see how our profits go up." 

"Profits! Why didn't you say so! Land o' Goshen, I ain't one to 
turn down a little profit." 

But Gus did not account to Funland for all the profits from those 
quiet summer games. One had to look out for one's interests, and in 
view of all the extra trouble he went to, and Ruby's penchant for 



3 66 GUS THE GREAT 

jewelry and sending money to her mother in Kansas City, it seemed 
only fair that some profits should slide into his own pockets. 

By August, Honest Jack Denmson was sending six and eight of his 
employees to the park to operate the games. Oiice more, Gus had 
proved to himself that he possessed genius at separating the public 
from its excess cash. Oh, for a circus! But he made up his mind to 
one thing. On his show he would carry no grift. Run a clean show. 
Sunday School show. Like the Ringlmgs. Honest Gus Burgoyne 
that was how people would think of him. 

When Gus boarded a trolley that morning for his appointment with 
Frank, he discovered the conductor to be one of his old Clayton Junc- 
tion schoolmates. As a boy, the conductor had taunted Gus, but today 
he didn't taunt him. 

"Mr. Burgoyne!" he exclaimed. "Good morning!" 

"Hello, Ira. How's everything?" 

"Fair. Guess it's pretty good with you. You've sure gone to the top, 
Mr. Burgoyne." 

"Oh, I can't complain." 

"Guess you can't! Clayton Junction's mighty proud of you, Mr. 
Burgoyne." 

Gus took a seat in the center of the car. Clayton Junction mighty 
proud of him. Hogwash! Nevertheless, the conductor's greeting 
touched him with well-being. His melancholy left him. His decision 
against marrying Carlotta had been wise, after all. As the car sped 
along, he even ridded himself of his worry about Ruby. All that girl 
thought of was money. Once he had wearied of Inez, he had extricated 
himself fairly easily, but sometimes he wondered whether Ruby would 
accept his cooling passion so cheerfully. 

All the way to Clayton Junction, the conductor was politer than 
usual to passengers, and he even rang up every fare. And when Gus 
left the car he called: 

"Good-by, Mr. Burgoyne. Glad to have saw you. 3 * 

Clayton Junction! How long since he had visited the place! How 
it had contracted! a town seen through the wrong end of field glasses. 
Only it hadn't really contracted. He had grown. 

The railroad yards still puffed and moaned and flung cinders against 
the windows of what had been Mahoney's Saloon. Now it called itself 
Finnegan's Bar. And above the saloon, that southeast window still 
overlooked the tracks. Memory stabbed his ribs. Aunt Lucy. His 
mother. Mustn't think about the past. Let it remain buried back there 
in the nineteenth century their century. This was the twentieth. His! 

As Gus thundered into the Tribune office, he noticed an amazing 
change in Frank. 



GUS THE GREAT 367 

"You look great!" Gus bellowed. "Yes sir! looking wonderful! 
What's happened?" 

Frank smiled. His angular face was shaved slick as a whistle; his 
hair had been recently trimmed. Possibly even shampooed! No print- 
er's grime in it, today. It crested his head in a distinguished shock, as 
vividly blue-white as only Scotch-Irish hair could be. He wore an 
open-gate linen collar, a dark tie with a pearl stickpin. A white hand- 
kerchief peeked from the breast pocket of his dark suit; his shoes 
gleamed. 

"All right, Gus," he said. "Grab your chair and hold tight. I was 
married last night." 

"Married! Why, you old devil!" 

Gus roared. He laughed. He slapped Frank's shoulders. He 
pumped his hand. 

"Married! My God! Tell me about it!" 

So a little later, after Gus had spluttered and rumbled and blown 
himself out, Frank told how he had courted Mrs. Webster. 

"Remember," he asked, "that time a couple of years ago when you 
attacked socialism at the Commercial Club?" 

Gus laughed. 

"Lot of bull. You know what a commercial club likes. Got myself 
in the papers, though. That's what I wanted. They all swallowed it 
hook, line and sinker. Damn near swallowed the pole, too. But hope 
you understand there was nothing personal in that speech." 

Frank understood. And he told how the speech had indirectly led 
him to Mrs. Webster. ^ 

"Like to meet her," Gus said. "Is she here?" 

"She's at her house in Tamarack. I'll be commuting for a while. 
But as soon as I dispose of the Tribune we're moving to California. 
And that brings me to the other matter. Do you know a man named 
Louis Rink? I believe they call him Curly Rink." 

"Moving to California!" Gus exclaimed. "Well I'll be damned. Bet 
you'll like it out there . . . Uh Rink? Sure, I know Curly. He's a 
county supervisor." 

"What do you think of him?" 

"Fine fellow." 

"I mean is he a crook?" 

"Oh sure, he's a crook. I said he's on the board of supervisors, didn't 
I?" 

And Gus laughed. 

"Rink wants to buy the Tribune!' 

"He does? What the hell for? Uh wait! I get it. He lives in the 
other end of the county. He probably wants the Tribune to build him- 
self up politically in this end." 



3 68 GUS THE GREAT 

"That's how I figured it." 

"Uh wait a minute, Frank. Let me think. Seems to me I heard 
a rumor . . . Let me use your phone." 

Gus called the Tamarack Beacon and talked to the city editor. When 
he hung up he was grinning. 

"I thought Curly must have something up his sleeve. Seems there's 
a fight under cover between the sheriff and the board of supervisors. 
Lot of bad blood. Something about county funds. Rink controls the 
board, so it boils down to a scrap between him and the sheriff. They 
expect Rink to put up his own man against the sheriff at the polls. 
Rink's after control of the county." 

Slowly, Frank filled his pipe. Socialism seemed far away. He said: 

"You seem to know what's going on behind scenes." 

"Have to." 

"What sort of person is the sheriff?" 

"Oh well, you know. Run-of-the-mill. Nice fellow." 

"Is he crooked, too?" 

"I wouldn't bet he wasn't. . . . Uh now about Rink and the Trib- 
une. Take my advice and ask him a good whopping price. He'll pay. 
He's got plenty salted. If he's after control of the county, he'll" 

"Damn him!" Frank said suddenly. 

"Sure, damn him all you please, but ask him a good big price." 

"He can go to hell. I've owned the Tribune for too many years to 
let it get mixed up in a dogfight with a lot of crooks. After you've run 
a paper as long as I've run the Tribune, you get pretty fond of it. It's 
an old friend. You know its faults but you love it anyway. Maybe you 
love it because >f its faults. It's an old-fashioned paper, Gus, but at 
least it's honest." 

"No doubt of that." 

Frank's forefinger tamped his pipe. Suddenly he asked: 

"Would you like to have the Tribune?" 

"Me!" 

"Why not? Would you like it?" 

Gus was about to say: "Hell, no! Why would I want the creaky old 
sheet? Think I want to spend the rest of my life in Clayton Junction? 
I've got other plans. Circus!" 

But he checked himself. A vast wild plan flashed through his 
thoughts. He said : 

"Of course Fd like it. Every reporter has a notion he'd like to run 
a weekly. And Fm sick of Funland. Sure Fd like it. But I don't 
know what Fd use for money." 

"If you want it," Frank said, "you can have it. Free. Or maybe Fd 
better charge you a dollar. That would make it a legal sale. My lawyer 
will know about that when we draw up the papers." 



GUS THE GREAT 369 

"Now wait! Hold on a minute, Frank! Didn't think I was a slow 
worker, but you're too fast for me! You mean ?" 

Frank meant it. 

Gus walked to the window. Could he do it? Frank loved the 
Tribune. Could he take it as a gift and then sell it to Curly Rink? No! 
Damned shabby trick! 

"If you give me the Tribune" he asked, "what would you live on? 
Did the woman you married have money?" 

"I've made a few investments. I'll have plenty. Do you want the 
Tribune?" 

Gus turned from the window, still not knowing whether to say 
yes or no. 

One fine frosty evening three weeks later, Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Bur- 
goyne accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Frank MacGowan to the railroad 
station in Clayton Junction. Gus carried Frank's grips. After the two 
women had been ensconced in the station, the men went outside and 
stood on the platform. 

In a quarter of a century the Clayton Junction yards had changed 
little. Except for the new station which was no longer so very new 
and the larger switch engines, and the lean steel towers of the auto- 
matic block system, the yards looked the same as on those long-ago 
evenings when a small boy stood in the window above Mahoney's 
Saloon and waved to signal the trains of his imagination. Switch lights 
still glowed in the darkness, and when a fireman coaled up, the rails 
and cinders still were bathed in hellish red flame. 

As they stood beneath the stars Frank kept poking at the platform 
bricks with his cane, and now and then his hand explored his pocket 
to make certain he had not lost the tickets. 

"How're you feeling, Frank?" 

"Homesick/' 

"Now wait a minute! None of that! Wonderful thing for you 
California.'* 

Frank said: 

"I've cussed this town for half a lifetime. Vince Fye and I used to 
cuss it before you were born. We used to say it stank. Well, Vince left 
it in one way and I'm leaving in another. And damn it, Fm homesick. 
I'm leaving a lot of years behind. A human being's a queer animal, 
Gus." 

"Be great thing for you though California." 

"One thing I've meant to mention, Gus. About Vince's grave. I al- 
ways buy flowers and decorate it on Memorial Day. Sentimental, I 
suppose., Vince would probably like it better if I'd decorate it with a 
plug of tobacco and a quart of whiskey. But when you get older, those 



370 GUS THE GREAT 

gestures mean more. I'd appreciate it if you'd look after Vince's grave. 
Make sure they keep the grass cut, and buy flowers on Memorial Day." 

"Bet I will I I'll look after it." 

"And keep sending me the Tribune. As soon as we have a perma- 
nent address 111 let you know. And oh, damn it, I'm a nosy old man! 
but there's one other thing I'd like to speak about." 

"Not nosy at all! Go right ahead." 

"Well it's not my business but if I were you and Flora, I'd think 
about children. When you're an older man you'll wish you had a child 
or two. I've been lucky, of course. I've had you." 

A lump came to Gus's throat. He would not, he resolved abruptly, 
sell the Tribune to Curly Rink. From low in his throat he gruffed: 

"Guess I should have kept in closer touch with you, after I left Clay- 
ton Junction, But damn it, I was always so busy " 

Frank touched his arm. "Sure you were, Gus. I understood." 

One other subject remained. An unspoken subject. Doll. Frank 
thought of her. Gus thought of her. It was as if her gay, unfettered 
spirit were there on the platform with them, beautiful, laughing, easy- 
going, always young in both their memories. 

Gus wanted to say: "Tell me about her, Frank. Tell me about my 
mother. I remember her as as beautiful. She always smelled sweet. 
When I didn't mind her, she laughed. I remember her as as the most 
beautiful woman I've ever known. You must have slept with her, you 
old devil. Did you sleep with her? Would she sleep with just any- 
body? I've not been all I should, but I hope I kind of hope she 
wouldn't sleep with just anybody." 

But he didn't say it. He said : 

"You've been mighty good to me, Frank. Want you to know I ap- 
preciate it." 

"You're a good boy, Gus," Frank said. 

An hour later, Mr. Louis (Curly) Rink hung up the receiver of the 
telephone on his dining-room wall and, swearing a blue streak, re- 
joined his wife in the sitting room. 

"It ain't right for you to use such language," she said, "and you a 
supervisor. Maybe it was okay when you was working at the brickkilns, 
but it don't sound right for a supervisor " 

Mr. Rink continued taking the Lord's name in vain. 

"Well," his wife sighed, "what is it?" 

"It's that damned Gus Burgoyne. I was fixing to buy the Clayton 
Junction Tribune from an old goof who didn't know straight up, and 
now Burgoyne's bought it! That was Burgoyne on the phone." 

"Maybe you could buy it from Burgoyne." 

That possibility threw Mr. Rink into another spasm of profanity. At 
last he shouted: 



GUS THE GREAT 371 

"Buy it from him! Sure! That's his idea. He told me it was for 
sale! But the bastard will make me pay through the nose. I know him. 
Knew him when he was a reporter. He had every politician in this 
county scared silly. He's crooked as a dog's hind leg. Oh, damn it to 
hell, anyway!" 

"Do you have to buy that Clayton Junction paper?" 

Mr. Rink scowled. Thought. Sighed. 

"Wish I didn't, but I ought to have it. I've always been weak in that 
township. Need them roundhouse workers. And with the Tribune, 
I could club them Rafferty Street landlords. Make 'em shell into the 
kitty. Yeah, with the fight that's coming in this county I need the dirty 
little sheet. Damn Burgoyne! Trouble with him, he's nothing but a 
crook!" 

Beatrice MacGowan had been at the grocery store when the mailman 
came. She was still at the store. Frank sat at a desk by the window, 
staring out at the copious sunshine of southern California. The sun- 
shine fell from low clouds in gray streaks, soaking the lawn, dripping 
from the eaves. 

Once more Frank read the story in the Tribune, announcing the 
paper's sale to Mr. Louis Rink, the widely known supporter of the full 
dinnerpail. 

At last he drew ink and paper toward him and scratched furiously. 
In the letter he told Gus exactly what he thought of him, and what 
Frank thought of Gus that morning would have given the postmaster 
general a heart attack. He boasted. He told of his stock in the type- 
setting machine company. Who had been going to inherit that stock, 
after Mr. and Mrs. Frank MacGowan passed on? Gus Burgoyne, that 
was who! And who would inherit it now? Damned if Frank knew, 
but certainly not Gus Burgoyne! 

"I'm disappointed in you," Frank wrote. "Bitterly disappointed in 
you. This instance of barefaced crookedness " 

He broke off writing. He stared out the window. The sunshine 
splashed down harder. At last, with a long breath, he picked up the 
letter, tore it across the middle, tore it again, and then again. He 
dropped the pieces into the wastebasket. 

"Who am I?" he asked himself. "God Almighty? Who am I to 
judge? Maybe if I'd been born above a saloon and had Tun for an 
uncle and had been called bastard " 

He drew another breath. Stared at the torn letter in the wastebasket. 
No letters would ever be sent from this house to Gus Burgoyne. He 
must find a lawyer. See about changing his will. Find some worthy 
cause. 

He picked up the Tribune. He read the story a third time, 

"Poor Gus," he thought. 



11 



APPEARING in the TamaracJ^ Beacon, April 22, 1907: 

Good Luck, Gus! 

About eight years ago a likeable young fellow named A. H. 
Burgoyne came to our office from Clayton Junction and asked for 
a job as reporter. In the newspaper business as in every occupa- 
tion many are called but few are chosen. However, there was 
something about this young man that convinced us he was a 
hustler, so we took a chance on him. 

Our judgment proved correct. A. H. Burgoyne who right 
away was u Gus" to everybody turned out a top-notch reporter. 
In his covering of police and then the courthouse and then the 
city hall he made a host of friends. Before long, Gus's energy and 
ability caused us to promote him to city editor. 

Gus could have carved out a great career for himself in the 
newspaper professon, but his interests lay in other directions. He 
left us with mutual regrets and good will to manage Funland 
Park. Under his able direction Funland has become one of the 
snappiest amusement parks in the country, a place where young 
and old may enjoy good, wholesome entertainment. 

By virtue of honesty and thrift, Gus has prepared himself for 
a new venture. Throughout the past winter he has assembled 
circus equipment and trained animals at Funland, and today 
this fine little circus Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome took to 
the road. By special arrangement with the interests controlling 
Funland, the elephant, Molly, and the pony, Ranger, are accom- 
panying the show. ' 

In these days when kickers and whiners complain that there 
are no longer opportunities for young men, we submit that the 
career of A. H. Burgoyne refutes such talk. We believe that from 
this beginning Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome will grow into 
one o the important shows of the land, and we do not need to 
point out what a fine thing for Tamarack it would be to have a 
large circus wintering here. 

God bless you, Gus, we believe you will go far. Lots of luck! 

373 



GUS THE GREAT 373 

Feature story appearing in the Tamarac^ Beacon, April 22, 1907, 
with several illustrations and appropriate headlines: 

Your alarm clock begins banging and you tumble from bed and 
turn it off. The hands point to 3 A.M. But you aren't sleepy. 
You're wide-awake with an excitement you remember from boy- 
hood. Circus day excitement! 

You grab a hasty breakfast and catch a trolley for Funland 
Park. It is not yet 4 A.M. when you arrive. But inside the park 
great activity is going on. 

A circus is being born this morning! 

Tamarack's own circus Burgoyne 's Circus & Hippodrome! 

This isn't the first time in recent months your reporter has 
visited Funland. In fact, your reporter has spent many spare 
hours there since last November, observing the gradual accumu- 
lation of wagons, tents, horses, wild animals. In recent weeks, 
your reporter has met many of the performers who will entertain 
and delight circus crowds during the coming months. Your re- 
porter has attended rehearsals of the show, held in the big top 
that has been pitched in the open space near the bandstand. 

Nor is this your reporter's first acquaintance with Mr. A. H. 
Burgoyne, owner of the show. A few years ago your reporter 
served under Mr. Burgoyne whom his countless friends know 
as Gus when he was city editor of this newspaper. 

Gus has brought the same boundless energy, the same en- 
thusiasm to his circus that he brought to his duties as city editor. 
As soon as your reporter entered the park he caught sight of Gus, 
hurrying to and fro, issuing last-minute orders. 

To your reporter's layman's eyes, this show looked like a win- 
ner. There are eighteen wagons, gay with paint and gilt. The 
band wagon which will accommodate fourteen musicians in the 
parade is pulled by six beautiful white horses. 

On the show and Gus explained you are always "on" the 
show, never "with" it or "in" it on the show there are a number 
of interesting animals. In addition to the many performing dogs 
and ponies, there is a striped hyena, said to have been captured in 
Tibet, as well as a great boa constrictor. A zebra, a northern 
timber wolf, a pair of red foxes and a ferocious cougar, captured 
in the Rocky Mountains, round out the interesting menagerie. 

And of course there is Molly, the elephant which Tamarack 
children know and love, as well as her friend and companion, 
Ranger. 

"I'm convinced," Mr. Burgoyne declared, "that the American 
public in our smaller cities and towns is ready for a circus that 



374 GUS THE GREAT 

will bring first-class, clean entertainment at popular prices. My 
policy can be simply stated: never break faith with the public." 

It is 5 A.M. The circus is ready to leave for Graham, a town ten 
miles west of Tamarack. (Today will be spent in setting up and 
in final rehearsals the first performance will take place tomor- 
row afternoon.) 

Mr. Burgoyne lights a cigar, climbs into his light buggy, lifts 
his hand. The procession starts, leaving the park by the north- 
east wagon-gate. 

Your reporter watches. Teamsters order, "Giddap." Wagons 
rumble. Dogs are barking and the cougar lets out a blood-cur- 
dling shriek. Directly behind Mr. Burgoyne's buggy Molly and 
Ranger march. 

A circus is born! 

# 

if 

From the journal of Harold Henderson, assistant professor of phi- 
losophy at the University of Tamarack: 

April 22, 1907 

. . . and during our conversation I mentioned to Dr. Bartholo- 
mew my projected textbook, The History of American Philoso- 
phy, explaining I hope to make it the definitive work in its field. 
He was most encouraging. 

Carlotta isn't well this evening. Immediately dinner was over, 
she retired with a headache. Hence, I have been minding the 
infant this evening. He grows more alert every day. But I dis- 
cover that unlike Dr. Bartholomew and myself, he is a follower 
of the pragrnatists. 

* 

Editorial in the Tamarac^ Morning Chronicle, April 23, 1907: 
Something Rotten In Funland 

A few years ago the children of Tamarack bought an elephant! 

THE CHILDREN bought it, with THEIR OWN DIMES. 

Where is that elephant today? 

The elephant has departed from this city to travel with a circus. 

HOW COME????? 

A certain newspaper sponsored the purchase of that elephant. 
Now this same newspaper publishes a laudatory editorial about 
the circus AND GLOSSES OVER THE DEPARTURE OF 
THE PACHYDERM! 

The little children of this community and their parents have a 
right to know by what high-handed monkey business a privately 



GUS THE GREAT 375 

owned circus can abscond with the children's elephant. They 
bought it to be quartered at Funland Park. 

NOW IT HAS GONE! 

HOW COME????? 



Telephone conversation between Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford and a re- 
porter for the Tamarac^ Beacon, April 23, 1907: 

Reporter: You read that editorial in the Chronicle this morning? 

Mr. O.: I read it over a feller's shoulder on the streetcar. I 
ain't a subscriber. 

Reporter: Do you have any statement to make? 

Mr. O.: It's all legal! There ain't nothing wrong about it. We 
own the critter! 

Reporter: What sort of arrangement did you make with Mr. 
Burgoyne? 

Mr. O.: Young feller, that ain't none of your affair. 

Reporter: I'm sorry, Mr. Oxenford, if I seem to be prying, but 
I want you to know the Beacon is on your side in this 
matter. We want to show up that scare sheet down 
the street. 

Mr. O.: Well, there wasn't any arrangement about it. Gus said 
to me, "Sam, I've been meaning to tell you, that bull's 
eating up a lot of park profits. The kids have all saw 
her now, and she ain't bringing no extra trade to the 
park. Why don't I take her out with my show," Gus 
said, "and take the expense of feeding her off your 
hands?" So I said for him to take her, and that pony, 
too. Never did see the use of buying that pony. Land 
o' Goshen! Like to break a man up, buying ponies 
and feeding elephants! 

Reporter: As I understand it, the children purchased the elephant 
and presented her to the park. Is that right? 

Mr. O.: Sure it's right! We own her, lock, stock and barrel. 
Guess a man has a right to do what he pleases with his 
own property. You'd think them Socialists were in 
control, the way things 



News story appearing in the Tamarac^ Beacon, April 23, 1907, under 
the head: OXENFORD REPLIES TO CHRONICLE'S CHARGES: 

Declaring that permitting the elephant, Molly, to travel with 
Burgoyne's Circus was in every sense legal, Samuel R. Oxenford, 



376 GUS THE GREAT 

head of the interests controlling Funland Park, today struck back 
at the editors of the Tamarac^ Chronicle. 

"I very much regret the Chronicle 's attack," Mr. Oxenford 
stated. "If before writing the editorial the editors had consulted 
me, I could have explained." 

According to Mr. Oxenford, after the elephant was purchased 
by school children in 1903, she was presented to Funland Park as 
a gift. 

"It was perfectly understood at that time," Mr. Oxenford said, 
"that the elephant was to become park property with no strings 
attached. 

"Nobody has absconded with the elephant. She is temporarily 
on loan to Burgoyne's Circus, that is all. As a matter of fact, ob- 
servations of park officials have shown that the children are no 
longer as interested in the elephant as they once were." 

Mr. Oxenford went on to say that it was thought the elephant's 
absence from the park for a brief period might whet and renew 
the children's interest in the animal. 

"We proceeded on the theory that absence makes the heart 
grow fonder," Mr. Oxenford smiled. "We were thinking of the 
best interests of the children. The Chronicle is completely in 
error in suspecting anything underhanded about the affair." 

Mr. Oxenford indicated his belief that such irresponsible at- 
tacks are dangerous, playing into the Socialists' hands by under- 
mining respect for private property. 

# 

Editorial in the Tamarac\ Morning Chronicle, April 24, 1907: 
What Kind Of Beacon? 

Yesterday the Chronicle published an editorial asking some 
questions. 

Questions about the disappearance of the elephant, Molly, from 
Funland Park to travel with a circus. 

Questions that were evidently embarrassing in some quarters. 

Yesterday the Beacon published what purported to be an inter- 
view with Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford, allegedly answering our 
questions. 

The gist of that interview was that the children of Tamarack 
have wearied of the pachyderm which they BOUGHT WITH 
THEIR OWN DIMES. 

The further gist was that the Chronicle has turned Socialist. 

The Chronicle refuses to believe that Mr. Oxenford made any 
such accusations or offered any such thin excuse as to why the 
elephant has vanished. 



GUS THE GREAT 377 

The Chronicle believes the public will recognize that interview 
as a TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF THE BEACON'S UNRE- 
LIABLE REPORTING OF THE EVENTS OF THE DAY! 

Nobody is questioning Mr. OxenforcTs high integrity or the 
high integrity of Mr. A. H. Burgoyne. 

BUT THE CHRONICLE DOES QUESTION THE BEA- 
CON'S STEWARDSHIP OF THE MONEY IT COL- 
LECTED FROM THE CHILDREN OF THIS COMMU- 
NITY. 

Doubtless Mr. Oxenford had a legal right as the interview 
claims to lend the elephant to Burgoyne's Circus. 

BUT THE BEACON HAD NO MORAL RIGHT TO 
COLLECT DIMES FROM LITTLE CHILDREN, TO BUY 
A PACHYDERM AND THEN TO GIVE HER FREE 
GRATIS TO A PRIVATELY OPERATED AMUSEMENT 
PARK! 

No, gentlemen of the Beacon, your thin explanations will not 
do! 

The Chronicle will continue turning its fierce, clean searchlight 
of publicity upon the activities of the Beacon, to ferret out the 
SHINING TRUTH from the maze of HALF-TRUTH AND 
OUTRIGHT FALSEHOOD! 

We repeat what we said yesterday. 

THE ELEPHANT HAS VANISHED FROM FUNLAND! 

HOW COME????? 



Memo from the business manager of the TamaracJ^ Morning 
Chronicle to the editor, 12:45 P.M., April 24, 1907: 

Suggest you lay off. Jimmy has just landed a series of ads 
from the st. car co. 



News story appearing in the Tamarac\ Beacon, April 24, 1907, under 
excusably rapturous headlines: 

A free circus! 

That is what Tamarack children were promised today by A. H. 
(Gus) Burgoyne in an exclusive long distance telephone inter- 
view with die Beacon. 

"When Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome comes in off the road 
in the fall/* Mr. Burgoyne declared, "we are going to present two 
absolutely free performances for the kiddies of Tamarack." 

Mr. Burgoyne stated that he had been holding back announce- 



37 8 GUS THE GREAT 

ment o the free circus as a surprise. However, due to what 
Tamarack people are calling a "tempest in a teapot" about the 
elephant, Molly, Mr. Burgoyne decided to make his announce- 
ment at this time. 

"Not only will both performances be free," Mr. Burgoyne said, 
"but Samuel R. Oxenford has promised that streetcar transporta- 
tion to the circus grounds will also be furnished free. Burgoyne's 
Circus & Hippodrome is proving a sensational success, and the 
Tamarack kiddies can look forward to the best circus of its size 
in America." 

Officials of the Tamarac\ Beacon announced today that all chil- 
dren attending the circus will receive free balloons, peanuts and 
lemonade with the compliments of the newspaper. 

Date for the free circus has not yet been set, although it will 
probably take place on a Saturday late in September or early in 
October. 

Inasmuch as the date will be announced in the Beacon as soon 
as it is known, it is suggested that parents restrain their children 
from telephoning the Beacon to inquire as to the date, 



Comment from Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford upon learning from the 
Beacon news story that he had promised free transportation to the 
circus grounds: 

God Almighty! Why that that robber! Break me up! That 
crook! That that ! 



Portion of advance publicity sent by Burgoyne's Circus & Hippo- 
drome to editors of weekly newspapers : 

When a man bites a dog, that's news. 

And when a great newspaper like the TamaracJ^ Beacon com- 
ments editorially upon the merits of a circus, that's bigger news. 

In a recent issue, the Tamarac\ Beacon did just that, singing 
the praises of Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome which will show 
in - on - . 

"We believe . . . Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome . . . one 
of the important shows of the land," the Beacon said. "We do 
not need to point out what a fine thing ... to have a large 
circus wintering here." 

In a recent news story, the Tamarac\ Beacon went even fur- 
ther. 



GUS THE GREAT 379 

"Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome is proving a sensational 
success," it declared, "and the . . . kiddies can look forward to 
the best circus ... in America." 

And m a feature story the Beacon announced, "This show 
looked like a winner. The American public ... is ready for a 
circus that will bring first-class, clean entertainment at popular 
prices." 

After such praise from a newspaper of the Beacons standing, 
further comment is needless. However, a rapid glance at some of 
the startling and amazing features offered by America's newest 
and brightest circus is in order. 

Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome offers tons of mirth and 
merriment in Molly, the only elephant in the world that has 
trained a Shetland pony to mimic her own tricks. 

Burgoyne's is the only show where you can watch a monstrous 
boa constrictor crush a live chicken in its mighty toils and eat 
the same. 

Burgoyne's is the only show . . . 

Burgoyne's is the only . . . 

Burgoyne's . . . 

Burgoyne's . . . 

Burgoyne's . . . 



After-notice of Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome in the Weekly 
Excelsior, Huntsville, Iowa (Pop. 783), issue of June 6, 1907: 

Last Tuesday evening we took our "better half" and our three 
"chips-ofi-the-old-block" to the circus. The kids seemed to enjoy 
it, but well have to " 'fess up" that we ourselves were a little dis- 
appointed. 

Maybe we're just an old "grouch," but after the advance pub- 
licity and the statements attributed to the TamaracJ^ Beacon we 
expected something pretty novel in the way of circuses. Doggone 
it, guess we expected a small edition of Ringling Brothers. 

The circus was pitched in Blackmer's pasture down near Fox 
Creek, and from the scratching we've been doing ever since we 
estimate the mosquitoes were impressed by that advance pub- 
licity, too. 

The show consisted of some eighteen wagons and a little "top" 
with one center pole. Seated around four hundred, we'd say. The 
"menagerie top," through which you entered the "big top," was 
a mite bigger than the tent we used on our camping trip to 
Spirit Lake last summer. 



380 GUS THE GREAT 

Guess we expected monkeys and tigers and such-like. There 
was a pair of foxes, but heck! a man can see those any day if he 
wants to get himself a hound dog and go rambling through 
Uncle Charley Johnson's timber. 

Guess we expected to see that boa constrictor eat a chicken. But 
It turned out they only feed the "big worm" twice a week, and 
this wasn't a feeding day. That snake impressed us as almighty 
lazy he just lay there in his canvas pen "snoozing his head off." 

The same laziness seemed to afflict the northern timber wolf 
and the Rocky Mountain cougar. The latter sort of reminded us 
of our office cat, except somewhat more sizable. But then maybe 
we would be lazy too if folks would hand us our food without 
any work. 

After the big circuses we have seen, the performance struck us 
as kind of tame. We liked the bareback riding act, and the 
clowns cracked some jokes we hadn't heard since boyhood, but 
the trapeze work didn't quite come up to the acrobatics we saw 
last summer when the kids of our neighborhood staged a "circus" 
in Thompson's barn. 

Most of the performance consisted of trained dog and pony acts. 
We've always had a dog around our house, and we think we 
know a good deal about "man's best friend," and these trained 
dog acts always make us uncomfortable. Maybe we're wrong, but 
the dogs always look "scared to death" with their tongues lolling 
out. 

The show was climaxed by the performance of the elephant, 
Molly, and the pony, Ranger. We didn't care much about the 
tricks, but it's certainly fascinating just to watch an elephant mov- 
ing. At the very end the trainer set off a firecracker in a wooden 
cannon, Molly waved "Old Glory" in her trunk and the show 
was over. 

During the day we had the pleasure of meeting and visiting 
with A. H. Burgoyne, the show's owner. He struck us as a 
mighty nice young fellow, full of energy and enthusiasm. Mr. 
Burgoyne who is known in the show world as "Honest Gus" 
gave us the best cigar we have smoked since the governor spoke 
here in his 1904 campaign. 

Honest Gus served as equestrian director what we ordinary 
folks call "ringmaster" during the show, and it seemed to us 
he enjoyed the performance more than the audience. He got a 
good laugh from the clowns, and when Molly performed we 
thought he looked pretty proud. 

We liked Honest Gus, and we're sorry his circus fell short of 
what his advance publicity led us to expect. We don't think he 



GUS THE GREAT 381 

meant to deceive the public. Probably his own enthusiasm for his 
circus led him to overrate it in his publicity. 

One thing about Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome it's a 
"clean show." Honest Gus lived up to his name. In these days 
too many circuses shortchange the public at the ticket window, 
or carry gamblers. Honest Gus told us he operates what is known 
in the show world as a "Sunday School show." We approve of 
that, and we will be looking forward to Honest Gus's next visit 
to our little city. 



From the journal of Harold Henderson: 

Chicago, Illinois 
June 20, 1907 

Here we are at the University of Chicago again, where I shall 
continue my studies toward my doctorate during the summer 
session. I am growing more and more interested in my project, 
The History of American Philosophy. I hope to be able to re- 
work much of my dissertation material and use it in my History. 
This is a decidedly humid evening, and one feels like a limp 
rag. The weather causes Harold, Jr. to be fretful, and I fear he 
is a great trial to Carlotta, who is pregnant again. 
My courses this summer include . . . 



Editorial in the TamaracJ^ Morning Chronicle, June 24, 1907: 
Many Happy Returns! 

This is the birthday of one of Tamarack's leaders! 

Seventy years ago today, back in Maine, Mr. Samuel R. Oxen- 
ford was born. 

In the life story of Samuel R. Oxenford you can read the 
pageant of America! The westward migration hard work 
honesty achievement all are there! 

Mr. Oxenford himself has often stated that his success can be 
ascribed to all that is embodied in three words. They are: 

THRIFT! INDUSTRY! INTEGRITY! 

Ponder those words well, ye lads of today! 

At this time, owing to the unsound policies of a certain gentle- 
man occupying the White House, the nation is in the throes of a 
depression. Beginning with the collapse of shaky financial insti- 
tutions in New York, there has been a wave of bank failures. 
' TAMARACK HAS COME THROUGH THIS ^BANK- 
ERS 1 PANIC" UNSCATHED! 



382 



GUS THE GREAT 



WHY? 

BECAUSE OF MEN LIKE SAMUEL R. OXENFORD! 

Our banking institutions rest upon firm foundations. We sleep 
well o' nights. 

Congratulations, Mr. Oxenford, upon your many splendid 
achievements! May your period of Service to your city and your 

country be long! 

* 

Telephone conversation between the editor of the Tamarac\ 
Morning Chronicle and his wife, n A.M., June 24, 1907: 

Wife: Hello, Scoop? 

Editor: Yeah. 

Wife: I read your editorial, Scoop. About old Oxenford, 

Editor: Yeah. 

Wife: Listen, Scoop. Is the Tamarack Fidelity & Trust an Ox- 

enford bank? 

Editor: Not a bank. It's a trust. 

Wife: Don't quibble, darling. Does Oxenford own it? 
Editor : He controls it. 
Wife: Well honey, reading your editorial about Oxenford 

made me wonder. Is he honest ? 

Editor: Honest! Hell, no! Whatever gave you that idea? 
Wife: Do you think there's any danger of Tamarack Fidelity 

closing its doors ? 
Editor: You're damned right there is. Last few days there's been 

a lot of scurrying going on behind scenes. Every banker 

in town is scared. They'll try to save Oxenford because 

if he goes they'll all smash together, but 
Wife: Listen, Scoop. I didn't tell you. I thought I'd save it and 

buy you a nice birthday present, but 
Editor: What are you talking about? 
Wife: If you wouldn't keep breaking in I'd tell you! Last week 

Aunt Hattie gave me a hundred dollars, and thinking I'd 

save it I deposited it in Tamarack Fidelity, and 
Editor: Tamarack Fidelity! For God's sake, woman, you get 

right downtown and pull out that dough! 



Telephone conversation between the Chronicle editor's wife and a 
friend, 11:15 A - M -3 J une 2 4? I 97 : 

Wife: Gladys? 

Friend: Oh hello, Josephine! ' 

Wife: Listen, Gladys! I don't have time to talk. But I remem- 



GUS THE GREAT 383 

her you said you banked at Tamarack Fidelity, and I just 
talked to Scoop and he says . . . 



Portion of a letter from Mrs. A. H. Burgoyne to Mr. A. H. Bur- 
goyne, June 25, 1907: 

. , . and with this hot weather I'm kind of glad we closed our 
house for the summer and I moved in with Papa, it's so much 
cooler in this big place, although it seems a shame to keep paying 
rent on our house when we don't use it. 

Saw the doctor again today. He says I'm doing all right. He 
said again I shouldn't wear a corset. Don't know why he always 
says that, I sure wouldn't think of it, I think it's awful to wear a 
corset when you're in the family way. 

Yesterday was Papa's birthday. Had fried chicken, but he 
didn't eat much. He don't seem very well, Gus, sometimes I won- 
der if it's his liver. He seems kind of jumpy, he's cross, and he 
thinks I see the doctor too often. Says the day before he was born 
his mother hoed potatoes in the garden, the doctor never got 
there at all, just a neighbor woman. I don't know, sometimes I 
think he's too careful with money, I don't think it's wasteful to 
see the doctor. Guess Papa's working on a big deal. Last night 
several prominent men came and they talked in the library till 
way past his bedtime, and when I went to the bathroom at three 
in the morning there was a light in his bedroom. Kind of odd, 
don't you think, he was never one to, sit up late. 

Oh yes, I knew there was something else. The other day Papa 
and his lawyer came out to the house with a lot of legal papers 
T didn't understand and had me sign. Anyway, what it was, he 
deeded this house to me, except there was a paper that said he 
could live here till he dies. Deeded me the coal mine at Oxen- 
ford too, and that farm that won't grow good crops. Seems kind 
of funny to me because when he passes on I'll inherit anyway. 

Well Gus, glad to hear business is better now the rainy spell is 
over. Do you think you'll make as much as you did managing 
the park? 

Yours truly, 
Flora Burgoyne 



Telephone conversation, 9:30 A.M., June 25, 1907.- 
Woman: , . . and Sally said that Mary had told her that Gladys 



384 GUS THE GREAT 

said the Tamarack Fidelity might close its doors and 
I thought I'd better tell you . . , 

# 

Editorial in the Tamaracl^ Beacon, July i, 1907: 
A Time For Cool Heads 

In its news columns today the Beacon is publishing a sympo- 
sium by such financial and business leaders as Mr. Samuel R. 
Oxenford and Mr. Jason Cadwalladen We recommend it to the 
thoughtful attention o our readers. 

The disturbing fact is that during the last few days a series of 
quiet runs have been taking place on the trusts and banks of this 
city. Why these runs should occur against institutions whose in- 
tegrity and stability are unimpeachable is a mystery. The only 
possible answer, as our leaders point out in the symposium, is 
that the financial flurries of last spring in New York are having 
a belated effect in Tamarack. 

An entirely different situation exists in the country today than 
existed last spring. Only a rash and ignorant man would dare 
impugn the impregnability of the Tamarack banking system. 

Of course, as everyone knows, no bank or trust ever keeps all 
its assets in liquid form. A bank could not exist if it were to do 
so. Business could not go on if banks were to do so. The money 
you deposit in a bank is lent to enterprising businessmen, who use 
it to produce new wealth, to provide jobs which in turn produce 
more purchasing power. That is the way to economic health and 
prosperity. 

As it happens, the financial institutions of Tamarack have been 
able to convert a great share of their assets into liquid form, and 
they are prepared to meet requests for withdrawals to almost any 
amount. If you want to let yourself be swayed by foolish fears 
and vicious rumors, if you wish to withdraw your funds, they 
will be waiting for you. But in a few days, when you return your 
funds, you will have lost interest and feel, in general, rather 
foolish. 

So the Beacon suggests that you retain your faith in these lead- 
ing men of Tamarack, and turn a deaf ear to the gossipmongers. 
This is a time for stout hearts and cool heads. 



News story in an extra edition of the Tamaracf^ Beacon, July 2, 
1907, beneath a banner proclaiming, FINANCIER PLUNGES TO 
DEATH: 



GUS THE GREAT 385 

Samuel R. Oxenford, 70, widely known Tamarack financier, 
plunged to his death at approximately 2:15 P.M. today from his 
office on the fifteenth floor of the Oxenford Electric Building. 

Police believe the fall was a suicide, although investigation is 
still going forward. 

Dr. W. L. King, county coroner, has not yet announced an 
opinion. 

The Tamarack Fidelity & Trust Company closed its doors at 
12:45 tQ day in the face of a line of depositors a half -block long. 
(See other columns for this story.) 

The Merchants' Trust Company, the Farmers' and Mechanics' 
Trust Company and the Guarantee Savings and Trust Company 
all closed their doors at approximately the same hour. 

Mr. Oxenford was heavily interested in these institutions. 

Witnesses report that Mr. Oxenford's body came hurtling with- 
out warning into the traffic of Harrison Street. It landed in a 
dray owned by the Schwartz Transfer Company. 

The force of the fall caused the body to bounce from the dray 
into the street, in full view of horrified spectators. 

In the confusion the dray. horses were frightened and a run- 
away resulted. Several pedestrians narrowly escaped injury. After 
about a block the driver of the dray brought his team under con- 
trol. 

Patrolman Oscar J. Terwillinger, traffic officer on duty at Tenth 
and Harrison Streets, promptly brought order from the confusion 
resulting from Mr. Oxenford's fall. 

He covered Mr. Oxenford's body with gunny sacking from a 
wagon belonging to the Tamarack Grain and Feed Company. 
Then Patrolman Terwillinger called headquarters for a police 
ambulance. 

Officials believe that Mr. Oxenford's fall can be ascribed to 
mental distress resulting from the closing of Tamarack Fidelity 
& Trust Company, and other institutions. 

Employees in Mr. Oxenford's offices on the fifteenth floor of the 
Oxenford Electric Building report he returned from lunch at 
approximately 1 130 P.M. 

He left an order not to be disturbed and went to his private 
office, closing the door. Employees maintain they had no intima- 
tion of what was to take place. 

Mr. Oxenford is survived by his daughter, Mrs. A. H. Bur- 
goyne. 

This summer Mrs. Burgoyne has been residing in her father's 
home at 2609 Wellington Avenue. Mrs. Burgoyne's husband is 
on tour with Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome, now playing in 



386 GUS THE GREAT 

southern Minnesota. Prostrated with shock and grief, Mrs, Bur- 
goyne would make no statement. 

Funeral arrangements have not been completed. 

(See later editions of the Beacon for full story of Mr. Oxen- 
ford's life, artist's drawing recreating the plunge, interviews with 
witnesses, and up-to-the-minute developments.) 



Want to sell? Want to trade? Want to buy? Try a Beacon 
Want Ad for results! 



Telegram from Mrs. A. H. Burgoyne to Mr. A. H. Burgoyne, care 
of Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome, Wheatland, Minnesota: 

PAPA PASSED AWAY FALL FROM OFFICE WINDOW 
CAN YOU COME 

FLORA 
* 

Story in second extra edition of the Tamarac^ Beacon, July 2, 1907, 
under a banner, EYEWITNESS DESCRIBES OXENFORD'S 
PLUNGE: 

I saw Samuel R. Oxenford leap to his death at 2:15 today. 

I am Royal Washington Ealey, a colored window washer, 
living at 1781 Calkins Court. 

Shortly after noon today I resumed work washing windows 
on the tenth floor of the Metropolitan Exchange Building, 
directly across the street from the Oxenford Electric Building. 

At approximately 2:10 P.M., from my perch where I was safety- 
belted to a window ledge, I happened to look upward at the 
Electric Building. 

My heart was in my mouth. 

For I saw an old gentleman with a white beard sitting on the 
ledge of a fifteenth floor window with his legs dangling. 

I yelled at the top of my lungs. I don't think he heard me be- 
cause it is always windy at that height even though it may be 
calm on the street below. 

But he might have heard me because after a moment he with- 
drew his legs and disappeared inside the office. 

I breathed easier* But I was still looking up at the Electric 
Building. 

Then all at once through the open window the old gentleman 
came plunging. It appeared to me he had made a running dive 
through the window. 



GUS THE GREAT 387 

I was transfixed with horror as his body went hurtling down- 
ward, turning over and over. 

I could see wagons and buggies and tiny-looking people on the 
street far below. I thought he might crash into a crowd of pedes- 
trians. 

It was terrible. 

I breathed with relief when he averted the pedestrians and 
struck the dray. 

# 

News story in Tamarac\ Beacon, July 3, 1907, under the head, FUN' 
LAND TO REMAIN OPEN FOR HOLIDAY: 

Funland Park will be open for business as usual on the Inde- 
pendence Day holiday, Henry Worthing, park manager, has 
announced. 

** Although the entire staff of Funland is grief-stricken because 
of Samuel R. Oxenford's death," Mr. Worthing stated, "we feel 
he would want us to carry on." 

A number of organizations have planned Fourth of July picnics 
at the park, Mr. Worthing said. 

"Interest is high," he declared, "in an act brought to Funland 
for one day only. Speed Marvelli, the daredevil motorcyclist, will 
ride his cycle in an arena with three prowling Nubian lions." 

* 

Series of headlines appearing in various Tamarack papers during 
1907: 

.TAMARACK BANKERS HOLD EMERGENCY 
INDEPENDENCE DAY MEETING 

ATTORNEY GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE 
OXENFORD EMPIRE 

MANY BANKS WILL REOPEN TODAY 

TAMARACK ELECTRIC & GUARANTEE 
STOCKHOLDERS WILL ORGANIZE 
PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION 

RECEIVERSHIP FOR TAMARACK 
ELECTRIC & GUARANTEE 

BAR ASSOCIATION BEGINS 
DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS 
AGAINST OXENFORD ATTORNEY 



3 88 GUS THE GREAT 

OXENFORD CARRIED $50,000 
LIFE INSURANCE FOR DAUGHTER 

3 OXENFORD EMPIRE OFFICIALS 
TESTIFY BEFORE GRAND JURY 

ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS OXENFORD 
INSURANCE CANNOT BE ATTACHED 

BURGOYNE DENIES KNOWLEDGE 

OF OXENFORD ACTIVITIES 

Circus Man Says He Was 

Merely An Employee 

GRAND JURY FAILS TO INDICT 
OXENFORD OFFICIALS 

BAR ASSOCIATION ABSOLVES 

ATTORNEY OF BLAME IN 

OXENFORD DEALINGS 

GOVERNOR DECLARES LEGISLATION NEEDED 
TO CONTROL ACTIVITIES OF TRUST COMPANIES 

GOVERNOR SAYS MANY OXENFORD 
ACTIVITIES "LEGAL FRAUDULENCE" 



From the journal of Harold Henderson: 

Chicago, Illinois 
July 4, 1907 

Since this is Independence Day no classes are being held, and I 
had anticipated a day of study despite the heat. This morning, 
however, a letter reached us by special delivery from Carlotta's 
mother which has distressed us both. 

The Tamarack Fidelity & Trust Company, the institution with 
which Carlotta's father has been associated for many years, closed 
its doors July 2. Soon thereafter Mr. Samuel R. Oxenford took 
his life by leaping from the top floor of the Oxenford Electric 
Building. 

Mother Leslie was unable to state how these events will affect 
Father Leslie, but she fears the ultimate results will be adverse. 
I share her fears. She reports that the closing of Tamarack Fidel- 
ity has been a great blow to Father Leslie. 

It is possible, of course, that after those in authority have in- 
vestigated the situation Tamarack Fidelity will open its doors 



GUS THE GREAT 389 

once again; but I fear the possibility is remote. One deduces that 
if all had been honest and well with Mr. Oxenford's affairs he 
would not have found life too great a burden to bear. 

I never, of course, knew Mr. Oxenford save by repute; but from 
his public statements concerning matters of moment, and from 
snatches of gossip, it is not impossible to imagine the kind of man 
he was. 

Mr. Oxenford, I believe, must have been representative of the 
more than ordinarily successful business man of the nineteenth 
century. He was a product of his environment and his time. 
Driven by an urge to acquire, he put his faith in material things; 
and his inner life the life of the spirit withered into atrophy. 

When adversity overtook him, when the material structure 
he had erected collapsed, he found himself unable to turn any- 
where for consolation. Doubtless the great poetry of the ages 
the noble tragedies of Sophocles and of Shakespeare were 
unknown to him. The Greeks attended the theater because they 
found that great tragedy purged them of the pettiness of worka- 
day life. They left the theater cleansed and ennobled. Tragedy 
lifted them outside themselves and gave them perspective, causing 
them to realize how small and yet how divine a being is man. 
Tragedy gave them tolerance and pity and understanding and 
love for their fellow man. 

It is a terrible thing for a man to be without the consolation of 
philosophy. 

Mother Leslie is especially concerned about the future of the 
Tamarack Fidelity retirement fund. For many years five percent 
of Father Leslie's salary has been withheld and placed in this 
fund at two percent interest. At age seventy he was to begin re- 
ceiving a monthly check double the amount withheld, the com- 
pany contributing the same amount as that withheld. Now 
Mother, Leslie fears the retirement fund has been looted and 
squandered* 

Probably her fears are justified. She is bitter; Carlotta is bitter. 

I am not bitter. Only saddened. I cannot but remember that 
after all Mr. Oxenford was only a poor, misguided, foolish mortal. 
He must have been sorely tormented in his last days. One can 
only imagine the suffering which will cause a man to go counter 
to the most basic instinct of self-preservation and take his own 
life. I cannot help thinking it ironical that the vainglorious struc- 
ture Mr. Oxenford built the Electric Building should have at 
last served him only as a means for ending his days upon the 
earth. 

I think I might rework some of today's entry in this journal 



39 o GUS THE GREAT 

and use it to chastise the pragmatists in my History of American 
Philosophy. 

5fC 

Letter written by A. H. Burgoyne : 

2609 Wellington Ave. 
Tamarack, Iowa 
October 28, 1907 
Mr. Ivan Pawpacker 
Winchester, Missouri 
Dear Friend Ive: 

I've just finished trying to call you long distance. They tell me 
you are out o town on a buying trip and don't know your exact 
whereabouts or when you will return to Winchester. So I'm writ- 
ing you. When you read this letter will you give me a ring long 
distance? I want to come to Winchester to do business with you, 
but don't want to make the trip and find you gone. 

Well Ive, a lot has happened since our paths crossed last. 
Maybe you've heard how everything went to hell all at once last 
summer. Old Sam went smash all at once, and he ended it all 
by jumping out o his office window. I was out on the road with 
my show at the time. I hustled back for the funeral. It was a bad 
time for it to happen just before the Fourth of July. We were 
booked to play a town where they were celebrating the Fourth, 
and I wanted to be there, but of course the show went on just 
the same. Good gate. 

It's a damned shame about Sam, but guess there's no use crying 
over stale beer. Sam was pretty foxy, even at the last. Just before 
he cashed in his chips he deeded this house to Flora, as well as 
the coal mine at Oxenford and the farm. He owned those clear, 
in his own name they weren't mixed up with any of his com- 
panies. Also, it turned out he had carried a life insurance policy 
for a fairly good amount, so Flora and I aren't in such bad shape. 

There's been a hell of a stink here. A lot of people lost their 
savings, and all the suckers who owned Tamarack Electric & 
Guarantee have howled their heads off. There have been investi- 
gations and God knows what all. Even had me up before the 
grand jury, but I was absolutely in the clear. I was able to prove 
that I just worked for Sam as park manager and had nothing to 
do with Electric & Guarantee and all the subsidiary companies. 
Also, I was able to prove that I started Burgoyne's Circus & Hip- 
podrome with my own funds derived from the sale of the Clayton 
Junction Tribune. So I came through it all with a clean slate. 
The boys at the Commercial Club are pretty mad at Sam, but 
they're friendly to me. Glad of this, for a circus owner ought to 



GUS THE GREAT 39 r 

keep his reputation spotless and his credit gilt-edged in his home 
city. Then if you run into trouble on the road you can always 
give leading men in your home city as references. 

Had a pretty good season with the show, despite all the finan- 
cial troubles in the country. Think it's just temporary. Any 
man's a fool who will bet against this country's ability to recover 
from a little financial bellyache brought on by a lot of crooks 
in Wall Street. 

I learned a lot about show business this summer. Molly went 
over biggest of all. Incidentally, I've bought her from the wreck- 
age of Electric & Guarantee, which owned the streetcar company, 
which owned Funland. (Didn't old Sam have everything mixed 
up and complicated!) They were glad to sell the bull, and I was 
glad to buy her. Bought that little devil, Ranger, too. 

As I say, I've learned a lot, and I know now that nothing goes 
over with a circus crowd like a bull. Bulls you've got to have 
bulls, Ive. A lion's just a big house cat, and a zebra's only a horse 
gone convict. It's bulls that make a show. I want a herd, and I 
want to put my show on rails next season. Maybe not a. lot of 
cars, but at least enough to be known as a railroad show. That's 
why I want to come to Winchester to look over what you've got 
on hand in the railroad car and bull line. 

Say! You licked the living hell out of me when you sold me 
those foxes and that timber wolf and that cougar. Nobody gave 
a damn about them. You might as well have sold me a jack- 
rabbit! But this will give you a laugh. I sold them all and at 
a profit! to the Amazon Exposition, a dinky little carnival that 
played day and date with us at the end of the season. Had to talk 
my head off to sell them, but I did it! Know that will give you 
a laugh. 

I had intended wintering my show at Funland, but with old 
Sam gone I couldn't very well do that. (The lawyers and receiver 
and stockholders in Electric & Guarantee are still wrangling about 
who in hell does own Funland. I want to keep out of it.) Well, 
at the end of September when we closed I brought the show to 
that farm near Oxenford- The land doesn't amount to a tinker's 
damn, but it's going to work out fine for winter quarters. I 
kicked out the tenant and will remodel the house. Also, am 
fixing up the farm buildings. 

It's a hell of a good spot for winter quarters even if I go on 
rails, for that branch to the mine from the main line of Tama- 
rack & Northern will work out fine to carry our cars. I have big 
plans. Took a trip over to Baraboo recently and looked over the 
Ringling quarters, and ran on down to Peru, Indiana, and met 



39 2 GUS THE GREAT 

Uncle Ben Wallace and looked his farm over. I've got a layout 
on the farm near Oxenford that has them both beat. I've hired 
a handy man named Joe Griffin to be my year round carpenter. 
I've got him doing repair work and I'm planning more barns, a 
Blacksmith Shop, a Paint Shop with a sail loft for repairing 
canvas an Animal House, etc. I'm small yet, but I won't always 
be small. 

Kept the show Sunday School this year. Good policy, don't 
you think? I wouldn't carry grift for love or money, although 
sometimes when you think of all the cash you're passing up by 
being Sunday School you wonder who's the sucker you or the 
gillies. They're calling me Honest Gus had you heard? I had 
a visit with Chas. Starrbuck of the Great Starrbuck Circus we 
showed in towns ten miles apart in August and he thinks I'm 
a sucker to stay Sunday School. He not only doesn't pay his 
ticket seller the guy's an expert at holding back change and 
double-counting currency but he also now get this! he also 
sells the pickpocket privilege on his show. Not bad, eh? Of 
course, he admitted this leads to all kinds of fights and clems, 
and he can't book himself back through the same territory next 
season, so there're disadvantages, too. Guess I'll string along Sun- 
day School, although as I say, you wonder sometimes if you're 
a sucker. But I kind of like the sound of Honest Gus. 

Well Ive, give me a ring when you get back to Winchester 
and I'll run down to see you. Will probably come by rail, al- 
though recently I bought a nifty automobile Cadillac. Man, 
how she tears up the road! I've had her up to forty! Really need 
it to go back and forth between Tamarack and the farm. It's 
good advertising, too. I had them paint Burgoyne's Circus & 
Hippodrome along the sides. 

Guess that's about all. I'll tell you more about my first season 
when I see you, as well as my future plans. I'm headed for places 
and places, Ive! Now don't you wish you'd hooked up with me 
in a partnership? 

Sincerely tho' merely, 
A. H. (Honest Gus) Burgoyne 

P.S. Wife and I are "expecting" next month. Figured I needed 
a son and heir to carry on the show! 

# 
From the journal of Harold Henderson: 

November 2, 1907 

I arn laboring endlessly on my dissertation. Dr. Bartholomew 
is a great help. Having completed my residence class work at 



GUS THE GREAT 393 

the University of Chicago last summer, only my dissertation and 
my Doctor's Oral remain between me and my Ph.D. 

Mother and Father Leslie called on us this evening. They were 
in high spirits. Father Leslie has tried without success to find a 
position in an office or bank. However, at last he has found a 
position as a clerk in the Bargain Grocery. He begins work next 
week. I am happy that they are happy, although it seems an eco- 
nomic waste for a man of Father Leslie's bookkeeping and ac- 
counting abilities to clerk in a grocery. I am happy, too, for 
Carlotta's sake. She has worried a great deal about her family's 
financial future, since it was announced that the retirement fund 
has evaporated along with other assets of Tamarack Fidelity, 
Carlotta should be unworned just at this time, for we are expect- 
ing our second child in January. 



News story from the TamaracJ^ Beacon, November 12, 1907, under 
he head, DAUGHTER BORN TO BURGOYNE, CIRCUS MAN: 

Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Burgoyne, 2609 Wellington Ave., are the 
parents of a daughter born early this morning at Presbyterian 
Hospital. Mother and child are doing well. 

Mr. Burgoyne, a former reporter and city editor of the Beacon, 
is proprietor of Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome. 

* 

Notice in vital statistics column of the Tamarac^ Beacon, January 24, 
908: 

Births 

Henderson, Mr. and Mrs. H., a son, Presbyterian Hospital. 

* 
From the journal of Harold Henderson: 

January 24, 1908 
Another son! And a fine, healthy child he is. One is reminded 

of the Roman mother who said, "These, my children, are my 

jewels." 
I do hope I shall be able to send both my boys to Harvard. I 

have never confessed it, even to myself, but one of my great dis- 

appointments was in being financially unable to attend Harvard. 

How stimulating it would have been to sit under Santayana! 
Carlotta is doing well, and I have never seen her more beautiful 

than she looked this morning, lying in bed suckling my son. She 



394 GUS THE GREAT 

is a good wife. In the early days of our marriage I sometimes 
wondered whether she were as happy as a bride should be, but 
we have built a good marriage and I no longer wonder, now. 
Before she left for the hospital she made me very happy. She 
told me she loved me deeply, and that she considered me the 
kindest of men. I was oddly embarrassed, and I fear I acquitted 
myself as clumsily as usual where human relations are concerned. 
I replied simply by saying, "Thank you, my dear. I have always 
loved you devotedly." Then I kissed her. She smiled, and her 
eyes were moist, and I believe that mine were hardly dry. 

Now that the boy is safely delivered, I shall return to the com- 
pletion of my dissertation . . . 



12 



T 

K 



HOSE WERE great golden years for Gus, those years when the nation 
was half horse and half gasoline; when Theodore Roosevelt discovered 
a jungle river of no vast consequence and William Howard Taft ruled 
the land like a benevolent Republican Buddha; when more and more 
electric lights blessed the American Commonwealth and playgoers 
were shocked ecstatic by the great climactic scene in Bought and Paid 
For. Halley's Comet swooped and missed and swished its tail away 
into the outer universe, grumbling it would return some day; and 
people laughed at Buster Brown and were properly impressed by 
learned editorials about the Panama Canal. 

Gus wore goggles and a linen duster when he piloted his motor car, 
and his circus expanded and prospered, and more barns were erected 
at winter quarters, and people were excited about Luther Burbank 
and Thomas A. Edison and Henry Ford's motor car for the millions. 
Newspapers spelled airplane "aeroplane," and the Titanic would surely 
have broken a speed record, and the band played "Nearer, My God, 
To Thee" while the water rose about their knees. The call of the Bull 
Moose was heard in the land, and thousands of sinners would have 
fried everlastingly save for the intercession of the Reverend Billy 
Sunday. 

William Jennings Bryan thrived on grape juice and became Secretary 
of State, and Harry Houdini escaped twice daily on the Orpheum cir- 
cuit, and thousands of policemen chased thousands of pie-stealing 
tramps across the sheets of thousands of nickelodeons. Patty went to 
college, and some people thought The S%y Pilot concerned aviation, 
and Irene and Vernon Castle danced. America danced. Orchestras 
played "Everybody's Doing It," and for fourteen years the twentieth 
century struggled to be born, an unruly Gargantua freed at last from 
the Victorian womb by the sword's Caesarean. 

"I had that dream, again last night/* Flora told her husband at 
breakfast. 

"Uh?" Gus said, looking up from the Morning Chronicle. 
"I said I had that dream again." 
"What dream?" 
"That dream I'm always having. About that girl." 

395 



396 GUS THE GREAT 

"What girl's that?" 

"Don't you remember, Gus? That girl who tried to steal you." 

"Uh. Well, don't let it worry you.' 5 

"It does though Gus. It always worries rne." 

"Forget it." 

"I can't, Gus, I always think about it. The dream's always the same. 
I dream I go to that schoolhouse, but then It's different from the way 
it happened. The way it happened, that man schoolteacher made me 
leave. You know, that Henderson she married." 

Gus helped himself to another fried egg, 

"Always like breakfast," he said. "Best meal of the day. Have an- 
other egg?" 

"Don't believe so, Gus. Well, maybe I will Now about that dream. 
In the dream, instead of Henderson it's you who makes me leave. 
What do you suppose that means?" 

"Doesn't mean a thing. You know how dreams are. Why, last night 
I dreamed I was an elephant. Doesn't mean a thing." 

Gus laughed and returned to the sports pages. 

It was a November morning in 1910. Gus occupied the master's 
place at the head of the table, the very place where Mr. Oxenford used 
to dog his food and belch three times. Gus was heavier than in the 
days when Mr. Oxenford lived. The promise of a double chin had 
been fulfilled, and his belly was expanding toward hemispheric soli- 
darity and greatness. No longer were his cheeks faintly rosy; his skin 
was tan. Not long ago he had attained thirty, but his eyes were not 
that young. 

In essence, Flora had not really changed, but certainly she had ag- 
glomerated. Gus possessed a great deal more wife than in the early 
days of marriage. During pregnancy she had lost her figure, and in 
the years since Barbara's birth she had never found it again. Her hair 
was still the color of a fireman's nightmare, and her expression was 
that of a mighty intelligent cow. 

Masticating the egg, Flora studied her husband. Sometimes she 
worried about his color. He told her his tan skin was the result of 
wind and sun on circus lots, and this was true; but sometimes Flora 
thought it indicated a faulty liver. She didn't know, but she thought 
so. Several years before, he had discontinued his calisthenics and his 
icy showers. Now he maintained his great good health by Turkish 
baths and massages. But just the same, Flora wished he had not dis- 
continued his calisthenics. Cost less than Turkish baths, and in the 
health column of the Beacon she read that bending exercises were stim- 
ulating to the liver. The same health column informed her that the 
liver was virtually a charter member of the Anti-Saloon League; noth- 
ing annoyed it more than cigars, rich food, beer, late hours. Despite 



GUS THE GREAT 397 

his penchant for joining, Gus had never evinced the slightest interest 
in the Anti-Saloon League. He loved cigars, rich food, beer, late hours. 
This worried Flora. She didn't mean to be a nagger; it was only that 
she considered the best interests of his liver. 

Now, as her husband turned the newspaper page, she said: 

"Gus, I think maybe I ought to see Madam Thale." 

"Uh? Why?" 

"About that dream." 

Gus chuckled. "Don't fall for her hooey. Leave that to the gillies." 

"Oh, but she's good, Gus. She's psychic." 

"You've been listening to Butch," 

He was referring to Butch Strollo, a man with tough vocal cords 
who stood on a platform outside the side show of Burgoyne's Circus & 
Hippodrome and urged the public to spend one thin dime for a ticket. 
Within the side show, which Gus called the grind show, one could 
receive occult intelligences from Madam Thale, the celebrated seer who 
had often advised the Emperor of Germany and the Czar of All the 
Russias. 

Ever since the days of Carlotta's grand larceny, Flora had maintained 
her friendship with Madam Thale, for after snatching a matrimonial 
prize like Gus, she did not want to lose him. Madam Thale had never 
told Flora about Inez and Ruby, possibly because she was unaware of 
those light ladies; wire trouble would occur on the line between the 
Madam and the zodiac. She had, however, given Flora a great deal of 
common-sense advice about how to annoy her husband as little as 
possible. Gus was only hazily aware of the professional relationship 
between the two women; and when, upon the Madam's prompting, 
Flora suggested that he hire her for his circus, he realized instantly 
the merit in this idea. 

That was back in 1909. Flora brought Madam Thale to the house, 
ushered her into Gus's presence and left them alone to discuss terms. 
The interview took place in what had been Mr. Oxenford's library. 
When that financier was among the quick, the room had had a dark, 
sober quality. Gus had changed all that. Converting it into his den, 
he ordered the walls painted cream and the woodwork pale yellow. 

"Liven the place up/' he told the workmen. "And take all this junk 
up to the attic." 

The junk at which he waved included Mr. Oxenford's high book- 
keeping desk and various decrepit old chairs. 

In Mr. Oxenford's time, few pictures decorated the walls. High 
priest among these was a steel engraving of Benjamin Franklin, with 
whose opinions on early-to-bed and thrift Mr. Oxenford agreed hys- 
terically. By the time Madam Thale visited Gus, Poor Richard had 
been exiled. Now, brilliant lithographs splashed the walls. The lithe- 



398 GUS THE GREAT 

graphs mentioned Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome, and there were 
likenesses of yellow tigers and kingly lions. One poster showed count- 
less circus cars in a railroad yard, with several elephant herds. Another 
depicted a big top with eight center poles and numerous smaller tops. 

"I didn't realize your show was so big," Madam Thale said. 

"Uh well tell you. We're not quite as big as all that. But we will 
be. We're growing." 

In the years since Flora had first consulted her, the Madam's skin 
had grown drier and more cracked, but her hair was as blond as ever, 
her teeth as gold. She read Gus's palm, predicting a long life and 
tremendous riches, and then they discussed terms. 

"I'll give you your feed and a berth on the train," he said, "and you 
can charge what you please for fortunes," 

"Charge?" 

"Of course you'll charge. And all you take in above fifteen a week 
we'll split fifty-fifty." 

"Let me get this straight, honey. I thought if I gave readings in the 
grind show, and you charge admission, I'd have to do it free." 

"Not that at all. That entrance fee is just the beginning. Once 
they're inside we charge 'em for everything we can. Life story of the 
midgets, life story of the wild man, pamphlet on how you can eat 
fire-" 

Waving his cigar, he halted before the fireplace. It crackled cheer- 
fully with hickory, as it had never burned in Mr. Oxenford's fuel- 
hoarding days. 

"Of course, I run a Sunday School show. Want you to understand 
that. Matter of fact, they call me Honest Gus. My advance men al- 
ways mention that when they get a license. Sometimes, though, when 
I think of the pickings I might take " 

Gus sighed, eyes wistful. 

"Why, we could charge 'em for the grind show and have a few 
games inside. Not that I'm thinking of it, understand. I'm just telling 
you why they call rne Honest Gus. We could have three card monte, 
and the shell gameoh, that's a game, Madam, that's a game! Thou- 
sands in it. I was talking to Honest Jack Dennison the other day. 
He'd work it any way I wanted. Pay me a flat sum for game privileges, 
or split with me. Think a flat sum would be better, because you can't 
trust Honest Jack. 

"I refused, of course. And know what Honest Jack said to me? 
*Gus/ he said, 'who's the sucker now? You or the rubes?' What could 
I say? No answer to that one. Honest Jack has some pretty good 
connections. He knows one of the slickest little dips. . . . Met him 
at Honest Jack's. A little guy named Deacon Charley. Know what 



GUS THE GREAT 399 

the Deacon did to me? Just while we stood talking he pulled my 
watch and roll slick as a whistle." 

Gus laughed and added hastily: 

"Gave 'em back to me, of course. All in fun between friends. But 
it just goes to show. . . . Best thing, I think, would be to sell the 
pickpocket privilege outright. Those dips are such damned crooks 
you'd never get your split. Not that I'm thinking of quitting Sunday 
School. You start running a crooked show and you run into all sorts 
of trouble. On the other hand, dips will follow a show. Kept us busy 
last season chasing them off the lot. But we couldn't chase them of? 
the parade route. It makes a man wonder. You'll have pickpockets 
either way. Sometimes I think it would be more practical to sell the 
privilege and be done with it. Then your dips would chase off out- 
siders. That way, the thing would be controlled. All open and above 
board, so to speak. The other way, you've got a lot of outside dips 
that are no better than parasites. A farmer gets his pocket picked and 
he blames you even if you don't know the dip and aren't getting a 
cut. No justice in that." 

After they came to terms, Madam Thale gazed at the railroad-yard 
poster and asked: 

"How many cars do you have?" 

"Uh," Gus said, "let's see. I'm adding some this season. Hope to 
add at least one. Would add. more, except I'm building up my bull 
herd. Bulls are more important than cars. Had three bulls last season. 
Hope to get a couple more this year. Buy 'em from a fellow named 
Pawpacker. I like the little devil, but he's a close bargainer. Banker, 
Sort of tight. Don't know why it is, I'm always getting mixed up with 
tightwads. No pockets in a shroud that's my motto. . . . Uh, as to 
the cars. Mine are better than the average show's. Bigger, safer, more 
commodious. Let's see. Last season I had uh six. I'll keep adding, 
though. First season I was in wagons. Next season on rails! Grow- 
ing! Got the Ringlings worried already!" 

So Madam Thale joined the show in 1909, and that stirred Flora's 
interest in the enterprise. Till then, she had accepted her husband's 
owning a circus in a matter-of-fact spirit, as if it were an occupation 
as commonplace as selling sausages or tombstones. Flora's observation 
told her that most men worked at something or other; Gus had entered 
show business; and that was that. 

"Guess I'll go out to the farm and see you off/' she said, a couple 
of mornings before the season opened* 

"Uh sure you want to?" 

"Guess I will. I kind of want to/* 



4 oo GUS THE GREAT 

"Thought you might rather catch the show when we open in Tama- 
rack." 

"Guess I'll go out to the farm." 

"How about Barbara?" 

'Til take her along." 

So Gus drove to Ruby Woeckener's flat and broke the news that she 
could not after all accompany him to the farm that day. She didn't 
like it. She stated it was bad enough, his refusing to take her on tour. 
But now this! 

"But honey" 

"Don't 'honey' me! You're tired of me, that's what. You don't care 
for me any more." 

Gus sighed. And he resolved that once he was through with Ruby 
he would desist from these extra-matrimonial adventures. Where did 
they get you, anyway? Took your thoughts from building your show. 

"Now Gus," Flora said, "don't drive too fast." 

Carrying Barbara, she had emerged from the house and stood re- 
garding the new Apperson beneath the porte-cochere. 

"Huh?" Gus called from the tonneau, where he was stowing lug- 
gag^ 

"I said I wouldn't drive too fast, Gus. It's dangerous." 

"Safer than horses. Faster and safer." 

"I don't think it's safer than horses, Gus. It may be quicker but I 
don't think it's safer." 

"Statistics prove it." 

"I don't think it's safer, Gus. And I hope you won't drive too fast. 
Might scare Barbara." 

Gus roared with good humor as he puffed to the porch. 

"Why, this little lady wouldn't be scared of her dad's driving. Look 
at her! Smiling all over the place!" 

Barbara was a little beauty. She looked not like Flora, or Gus, or 
Mr. Oxenford, or a railroad vice-president named Phelan. More viva- 
cious chromosomes had patterned her. Her eyes with their thick 
curving lashes were the color of woodland violets; her skin was pale 
olive, her hair dark brown. 

"She'll be a heartbreaker!" Gus sometimes announced. "It's a scandal 
the way she flirts with me. Fifteen-twenty years from now, there'll be 
a line of beaux from the front door to the street." 

"I don't know, Gus. I don't think you should say that." 

"It's the truth." 

"Maybe so, but I don't think it sounds refined." 

This afternoon, Barbara gave her father a bewitching smile and said, 
"B'loon." 



GUS THE GREAT 401 

"Want a balloon ride? That what you want?" 

Barbara extended her hands and Gus inserted his great paws beneath 
her armpits. 

"Whoopsy-do, whoopsy-do!" he roared, and Barbara soared high, 
screeching with delight. 

Flora watched dubiously, like a cow that disapproved jumping over 
the moon. She least understood her husband when he romped with 
Barbara. Didn't seem dignified. Mr. Oxenford had not been given 
to frolicking. In motoring costume, Flora looked matronly. A duster 
encased her ample figure, and she wore a large hat with a heavy veil. 

"You be careful, Gus. Don't drop her." 

But neither husband nor daughter heeded. Sometimes when they 
played together Flora felt excluded, 

"Think that's enough, Gus. You're puffing. Don't want to wear 
yourself out. You'll tire out Baby, too." 

"Hoo! One more. One more ascent. Parachute jump, this time. 
Big crowd watching. Daredevil Barbara and her balloon. Hoo! Here 
we go. Whoopsy-do!" 

"Don't think you ought to call her Daredevil Barbara," Flora mut- 
tered to her veil. 

After Daredevil Barbara yipped earthward by parachute, Flora 
picked her up and carried her to the car. The top was down, and as 
Flora entered the back seat the car swayed. She harbored a faint sus- 
picion against the internal combustion engine. Just a toy, Papa had 
said, an impractical toy. 

Despite Papa's descent, without parachute, from the Oxenford Elec- 
tric Building, Flora remained loyal to his memory and many of his 
ideas; she still believed he had been a great financier. Say what you 
wanted to about Papa, he had built a fortune from nothing. At times 
he might have been too careful with money, but that was how he got 
rich, by being careful. Better careful than spendthrift! Sometimes she 
worried about the way Gus was going through the insurance money. 
He said you had to spend money to make it. Maybe. Papa had never 
said that. 

Nearly everybody blamed Papa, but she thought they misjudged 
him. In her opinion, Papa had been betrayed by his lawyer and by 
those other businessmen. After his death people snubbed her as if 
she had had anything to do with starting those bank runs! but she 
was able to bear their ostracism fairly well. After all, it was hard to 
ostracize her from Wellington Avenue Society when she had never 
been in it. Moreover, Madam Thale remained a staunch friend. When 
Flora became lonely she invited the Madam to Wellington Avenue 
for the day. 

Flora had fretted lest the businessmen ostracize Gus, but they had 



402 GUS THE GREAT 

proved broad-minded and charitable. When It had happened ("It" 
was Flora's euphemism for Papa's swan dive) Gus had been traveling 
with his circus, and luckily enough! Papa's money had not backed 
that first circus. Things had a way of turning out for the best. 

Even if the businessmen had wished to ostracize Gus, it wouldn't 
have been easy: about like ostracizing a tornado. Her husband was a 
great good mixer. The world never knew it when a gloomy mood 
overtook him. Being his wife, she knew it, and she would ask: 

"What's the matter, Gus?" 

"Nothing. Got the blues, I guess. Must be something I ate." 

"I think it's your liver, Gus." 

Certainly he didn't have the blues this afternoon. Having donned 
goggles, duster and gloves, he bustled to the front of the car and 
gripped the crank. After herculean effort he was rewarded by a cannon 
roar from the exhaust. He hurried to the front seat and calmed the 
motor. Some men cranked a car unobtrusively, but when Gus urged 
combustion there was a large, fateful air about proceedings. 

Gaining the avenue, he sped along at a good clip. Most of the teams 
past which he whizzed were blase animals, accepting the transporta- 
tion revolution with good grace; but now and then a farmer's team 
took a few steps on hind legs. Gus drove principally with accelerator 
and horn, and his journey across town to Madam Thale's did not pass 
unnoticed. In the business district the letters announcing that this car 
belonged to Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome caught many glances. 

"There goes Burgoyne," he imagined people saying. "The circus 
man." 

This put him in fine spirits. 

Gus's arrival at winter quarters loosed stores of energy in his em- 
ployees. Even if workmen had nothing to do they did it anyway, with 
great dispatch. They knew he loved bustle. 

All this industry did not stir Flora to emulation. The nervous wear 
and tear of motoring with her husband had exhausted her, so she was 
glad to sit in the living room and recuperate, 

"Don't you want to look around?" Gus asked- "Been lots of build- 
ing going on since you were here." 

"Don't believe so, Gus. Kind of tired. Think Madam and I will 
just sit here. Have a stick of gum, Madam?" 

"Thanks, honey. But maybe Mr. Burgoyne has work for me to do." 

"No," Gus boomed, "that's all right. Guess you don't need to re- 
hearse your pitch. I'll show Barbara around the place." 

"Now you be careful, Gus. Don't let Baby get close to those cages." 

So, carrying his daughter, Gus left the house and crossed the carriage 
yard. On the east side a low building had been erected, and a sign 



GUS THE GREAT 403 

said: "Office." Lorenz, the general manager, was waiting outside. He 
was a big man of fifty-five with suspicious eyes, and he hailed Gus. 

"It's about Pete Nesbitt," he said. 

For two seasons Pete Nesbitt had served as general ticket seller, and 
Gus wanted to know what about him. 

"He fell off a bridge last night." 

"Did what?" 

"Fell. Or maybe jumped. Happened in Tamarack. Seems Pete was 
liquored up, celebrating the new season, and he was showing some 
guys how tightwire walkers work, and he fell off the bridge railing." 

"Uh. Shouldn't have done that. Hurt him?" 

"Didn't do him no good. He lit on the bank. Broke both wrists." 

Gus swore about this piece of ill fortune, and asked who they'd get 
to sell tickets. 

"That's what I want to talk to you about. I know a guy we could 
get cheap. He'd work for the love of it." 

"Now wait a minute! You know we're Sunday School." 

"That's right. We're Sunday School. But just thought I'd speak 
of the guy." 

"Who is he?" 

"Well now Gus, matter of fact he's my brother-in-law." 

"Brother-in-law. Uh." Gus spoke in a tone that suggested this 
changed things somewhat. "Nice fellow, I s'pose?" 

"A prince of a fellow, Gus. One of the nicest fellows you'll meet 
anywhere. He's got a smile like an angel. Everybody likes him. No 
rough stuff. A gillie gets shortchanged, this guy will smile and every- 
thing's dandy." 

"Smile means a lot," Gus said. "Keep smiling that's my motto. 
Uh where's he working now?" 

"Well now Gus, that's a long story. Walt his name's Walt Ambrose 
Walt ran into some hard luck a few years ago. He was on the Indio 
World Shows, and when they were playing Illinois there was some 
trouble. Upshot of it was, they put Walt in Johet. But he's out now, 
and looking for a connection. You'll never regret taking him on." 

"What kind of trouble?" 

"Nothing serious, Gus. Nothing to do with the treasury wagon. 
Think there was a roughhouse and some punk was killed. One of 
those things. But nothing to do with ticket-selling." 

"Where is he now?" 

"In Tamarack. He could join out there. You'd never regret taking 
on Walt. He can count change from a twenty-dollar bill so you'd 
swear it was right, and yet he'll hold back ten. Think you might be 
interested in Walt?" 

"Might." 



4 o 4 GUS THE GREAT 

"If you are, let me know soon. Walt's got a couple of other good 
offers, but of course he'd rather travel with us, account of him and me 
are brother-in-laws." 

Gus nodded thoughtfully. Evidently there was considerable good 
in Walt, if he were swayed by such a strong sense of kinship. 

*T11 think it over," Gus promised. "Let you know in a few minutes. 
Want to show Barbara around the farm just now." 

Lorenz leaned close to Barbara, his broad grin revealing his missing 
back teeth. Her tiny hand closed over his extended forefinger and she 
regarded him coquettishly through half-lowered lashes. 

Gus had the instincts of a builder, and many improvements had 
blessed the farm since he appropriated it. The Animal House had 
been completed recently, and inside, Barbara renewed her acquaintance 
with Molly. Full-grown and huge, the elephant murmured with de- 
light when she spied Gus. 

"Well, old girl!" he boomed "How's it go?" 

"Ah-h-h-h . . ." 

Gus reached up and scratched Molly's ears. Her hobble clanked as 
she swayed with affection. 

"This old girl and I are pals," Gus announced. "Old pardners, that's 
us. She knew me back when I didn't have a cent." 

Barbara regretted bidding good-by to Molly, and after they had left 
her and climbed the ridge Gus chuckled and told his daughter: 

"You're like me. You like elephants. Bet a man could take out a 
show with nothing but a bull and make money. The biggest that's 
what attracts the public. Your grandpa didn't understand that. Even 
Pawpacker doesn't, way he should. But I always say what did Han- 
nibal use when he crossed the Alps? Bulls! And by golly we'll cross 
the Alps some day ourselves. Tour Europe with the show." 

And although Barbara didn't comprehend all this she listened won- 
dermgly, riding along on Gus's arm like a princess on an elephant, 
and suddenly she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. 

"Love you, Daddy." 

"Well now,'* he bellowed, "guess that goes double. Yes, sir! Guess 
I love you more than I love Molly even." 

On the ridge he put her down, and they stood in the late sunshine. 
Off to the northwest the hamlet of Oxenford was a cluster of weath- 
ered houses, mainly deserted. Work had stopped at the mine, owing 
to the increasing quantities of slate. As he gazed at the high tipple he 
scowled. It seemed there should be some way to cash in on the mine. 
He couldn't figure how, but it was a problem that now and then en- 
gaged his attention. ,, 

His gaze swung along the valley to the tents in the pasture, to the 



GUS THE GREAT 405 

new Ring Stock barn, long and red-painted between the interurban 
tracks and the road. On the siding near the barn his railroad cars were 
strung, pumpkin-yellow and chocolate-brown. He had enjoyed giving 
the cars names, as if they were argosies. The car with his office and 
stateroom he had christened "Clayton Junction." 

What should he do about the ticket seller? He wished he didn't 
have to make the decision. But circumstances had a way of forcing 
decisions. Oh, the hell with it! Guess he'd tell Lorenz to try hiring 
another ticket seller. And if none were available, then let Walt Am- 
brose join the show. For a few days. See how it worked out. If the 
gillies complained they'd been shortchanged it wouldn't be his fault. 
Circus was a big organization. He couldn't control the actions of 
every employee. 

Barbara was plucking his coat, wanting to go down and see the tent. 
He picked her up, and her smile was heartbreaking. He had never 
known how a smile could twist you inside till he had begotten a 
daughter. He had never known what love was. By God, nobody 
would ever harm her! Always he would stand between her and the 
corruption of the world. Things would be different for Barbara. Her 
life would be high and shining. 

At the rehearsal next afternoon Gus lost his temper many times, 
for the performance was as poorly synchronized as a thousand-legged 
worm suffering locomotor ataxia. Nearly all the acts were inde- 
pendent units hired from booking agents, and each maintained its 
individuality instead of molding itself into the complete performance. 

The rehearsal began at 1 30 and it was still going strong at five. And 
the whole show should run only two hours! Gus paced up and down 
the hippodrome track, lacerating and discarding cigars, shedding coat 
and vest, rolling up his sleeves, shoving his hat farther back on his 
head. He roared and rampaged. By God, he'd whip the show into 
shape or burst a blood vessel Opening tomorrow in Tamarack, and 
look at the damned thing. Suppose Carlotta should attend the per- 
formance tomorrow! 

No longer was Gus equestrian director; he had grown beyond that; 
but from experience he knew just how an equestrian director should 
keep things moving. 

"Pace!" he bellowed at the new equestrian director. "Pace It! Pace 
it! Keep it moving! They don't come to a show for a nap!" 

In its expanded form, Burgoyne's Circus possessed two rings and 
a wooden stage, and the tent was much larger than in wagon show 
days. The audience at rehearsal included all the grind show freaks and 
geniuses; and the roustabouts and razorbacks were there, and the candy 
butchers. 



406 GUS THE GREAT 

Madam Thale did not watch the show from the blues. In a roped- 
oflF box near the band, she sat on a folding chair beside Flora and 
Barbara. Whether Flora shared her husband's perturbation it was im- 
possible to tell To the rehearsal she brought the matter-of-fact equa- 
nimity that only such emotional holocausts as Papa's passing and 
Carlotta's theft and Gus's chauffeuring could disturb. By motion o 
her jaws alone did she betray the dramatic influences of the circus: 
her gum-chewing kept time with the band. She did not gasp at the 
trapeze performers, or cheer the tumblers, or laugh when clowns 
wheeled in a buffoon automobile that kept smoking and exploding. 

Now and then she told Madam Thale: 

"I'll sure miss you, Madam. I'll miss your advice when you're gone 
with the show." 

"Ill miss you too. Flora." 

"You've been a good friend to me, Madam. Best friend I've ever 
had. I'll sure miss you." 

Sometimes Gus returned briefly to the box, where bottles of beer 
reposed in a tub of water and ice. Continuing to watch the perform-^ 
ance, he snapped off the cap and tilted the bottle, letting half its con- 
tents slide down his throat. Sweat runneled his cheeks and drenched 
his shirt. 

Toward the end of the afternoon the general manager entered the 
tent, and the corner of his mouth told Gus: 

"Couldn't locate any other ticket seller, so I phoned Walt Ambrose 
to join us tomorrow." 

Concentrating on a pony act, Gus merely nodded. And he yelled 
toward the ring: 

"Have to pace that faster. You're playing too long." 

And thus did Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome forsake all that Sun- 
day School nonsense. 

The rehearsal lasted till 5 30, and when it was over Gus ordered all 
performers into the tent. They were lugubrious, perching themselves 
on the blues. Gus stopped pacing, flung away his cigar, grinned 
broadly and boomed: 

"All right, kids. Let's not have any hard feelings* If I've lost my 
temper forget it. You're pretty good. All of you. Pretty good bunch 
of artists. Don't think the Ringlings have anything that can touch 
you." 

The bleachers were a withered flower garden revivified by honeyed 
rain. 

"We're making history, you and I. Yes, sir! Before this season is 
over you'll all be famous. I can tell. You've got the stuff." 

For five minutes he flattered them, collectively and individually. 
Living to please, they had" to please to live, and his words were salve 



GUS THE GREAT 407 

and cocktails. This was the A. H. Burgoyne they had liked so well 
when they arrived at the farm. 

He jollied them and he joshed them; he told the story of the color- 
blind Irishman in a red-light district. He had them hysterical. He 
had them in his two big paws. He was God for a little while, and 
he loved it. 

"All right, kids. Want you to eat and rest and act on the suggestions 
I've made. Want you back here ready to roll at eight o'clock on the dot. 
We're going through the show again, and by God if we don't keep it 
down to two hours I'll break your necks. We'll zip through the whole 
thing, and then see how fast we can get loaded. All right, beat it." 

Flora had not remained for his speech, and Gus lingered in the tent 
after everybody else had gone. The late sunshine had turned the 
canvas golden. The trapezes hung motionless. The red wooden tubs 
and the blue-painted bleachers, waiting for crowds and crowds, looked 
beautiful to him, as much the essence of the circus as names like Fore- 
paugh and James A. Bailey and P. T. Barnum. Someday a new name 
would be a household word in America. A. H. Burgoyne. Honest 
Gus. In the twilight Carlotta would tell her children that once she 
had known A. H. Burgoyne. Reluctantly he left the tent and crossed 
the pasture, his shadow before him, and for a second it seemed he was 
walking like a young god in the fires of the setting sun. And it seemed 
that Carlotta was out there in futurity waiting for him. Somehow, 
they would meet again. That was a hope that trouped ever with him 
during those years when he was young. 

That was a fat season for Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome, the 
first summer of the big money. Gus felt like a hog in a corn crib, like 
a janitor in a United States mint. It seemed he couldn't make a wrong 
move that summer: it was like poker when the cards were running 
right. His roll of bills grew bloated, and no matter how fast he spent 
the stuff there was always more. It was like walking in a sleet storm 
of five-dollar gold pieces. 

Once he left the show for a quick train ride to Winchester, where 
he bought more animals and equipment. 

"I'm glad you're doing well, Gus/* Ive Pawpacker said. 

"Doing well!" A rich chuckle flowed up Gus's throat. <r Wliy Ive, 
we're shoveling it in. We don't miss anywhere. Now don't you wish 
you'd joined up with me?" 

It was a sweaty afternoon, and they were sitting in the livery stable 
office. Ive was adding a column of neat figures, and he didn't reply. 
His silence brought a hearty laugh from Gus. 

"Ive, you old devil," he roared. "I can tell you wish you had Didn't 
I tell you we'd make a cool million?" 



408 GUS THE GREAT 

Ive smiled, and Gus laughed harder. 

The pencil finished its work. Burgoyne's Circus & Hippodrome 
owed Ivan Pawpacker $13,993.27. 

"There it is, Gus," Ive said, handing over the bill. 

'Gus didn't check the addition. Lips pursed, heavy eyes jovial, he 
gave the paper a cursory glance. Then he pawed out a thick check- 
book and a fat fountain pen. 

"Oh, hell," he said, as he started writing. "Let's make it an even 
fourteen thousand. I hate piddling with odd numbers. Besides, 
thirteen's unlucky." 

Ive heaved a mental sigh. And as always, he experienced both ad- 
miration and disapproval at Gus's largess. He observed him making 
out the check. Gus used a blunt-pointed pen, and the ink flowed freely. 
He wrote with broad strokes. Prosperity was puffing his hands, puff- 
ing his body. In today's heat his huge face was red and sweating be- 
neath his shoved-back straw hat. He ripped out the check and flipped 
it to Ive's desk as if it were a cigar coupon. 

"There you are, Ive. Easy come, easy go." He tipped back, stretched, 
thumped his meaty chest. "I'm doing some building this summer at 
winter quarters. That farm makes a nice layout." 

"Isn't there coal under it?" 

Gus nodded. He was about to say, "But it's no damned good. Too 
much slate." 

But such talk was defeatist. It was like mistrusting your poker luck 
when you were scooping in every pot. 

"Sure there's coal. That's why old Sam left the place to me and 
Flora. Some of the richest veins in this country run under that farm." 

"Are you working the mine?" 

"Matter of fact, I'm not. Too busy raking in the wampum. Way I 
figure it, that coal's been there a long time, and it's not likely to walk 
out on me." 

And Gus rumbled on about other things, but the fact that rich coal 
lay beneath the farm stuck in Ive's brain. 

If Walt Ambrose had remained in Joliet, Gus might have showed 
even fatter profits that summer. Between them, Walt and Lorenz 
made a very good thing out of the circus. Despising details as he did, 
Gus was content to let Lorenz keep the accounts, and this was like 
hiring a hungry wolf as a sheep herder. Gus enjoyed watching Walt 
work, and when the boss climbed into the red treasury wagon Walt 
was right on the job. He was a lean, round-shouldered man in a hard 
straw hat, and a never-ending stream of metallic words left the side 
of his mouth. His expression was as dead-cold as the tip of his half- 
srnoked cigar. 



GUS THE GREAT 409 

The ticket counter was higher than the eye level of customers, and a 
thin strip of wood had been tacked to it. When Walt wanted to hold 
back silver he would openly count it from his right hand to his left 
and then slap all that chicken feed down to the counter behind the 
strip. When he pushed the change toward the customer the strip 
detained part of it. Gus had to fight back a laugh. 

The customer grabbed the change and squirmed through the jam 
of people crushing toward the window. Now and then, of course, some 
suspicious tightwad would count the change for himself. When that 
happened, one of the roustabouts stationed by the wagon would shoul- 
der the fellow off into the mob. And when the sucker elbowed back 
to the window, five minutes later, Walt would be unable to recall him. 

"I'm sorry, brother," he'd grin, "but I can't remember you. Too 
many people. You shoulda squawked when I gave you the change." 

And if the customer turned out to be a troublemaker, the roustabouts 
asked him a few questions. They inquired what he was trying to get 
away with. They asked him what he was attempting to pull. How 
would he enjoy a fast one in the snoot, they asked. 

But Walt was at his best when some idealist expected correct change 
from a ten or twenty. Right under your eyes he could count the same 
bill twice or three times: he accomplished this miracle by folding the 
roll of change around his forefinger. 

When business was high the money rolled in so fast there was no 
time to sort it, so Walt shoved it into a bushel basket beneath the 
counter. Gus enjoyed picking up the basket and feasting his gaze on 
that green currency. Sometimes he plunged his hand deep into the 
basket, like a bear pawing wild honey. 

When the circus was at winter quarters Gus did not always wish to 
drive every day to the farm, so he established offices in town. These 
were nothing spectacular, but he furnished them comfortably, and gold 
leaf on the door announced that this was the city headquarters of Bur- 
goyne's Circus & Hippodrome, A. H. Burgoyne, Owner. The offices 
were located in the Oxenford Electric Building, a few floors below 
what had been Mr. Oxenford's quarters, and the windows of Gus's 
private sanctum looked directly on that part of the atmosphere through 
which the old fellow had whizzed. But Gus was not sensitive about 
this; never thought of it. 

Needing a secretary, he employed Beryl. Some of the applicants 
were pretty droopy specimens, but as soon as Beryl smiled to a chair 
and unbuttoned her coat Gus realized that here was a superior aman- 
uensis. And as far as that went, the girl actually could type. Not, per- 
haps, ninety-six words per minute, but speed wasn't everything. She 



410 GUS THE GREAT 

took shorthand too, if Gus spoke slowly. He was satisfied; and since 
he was paying her, whose business was it ? 

Not Ruby's, certainly, although that girl acted as if she owned him. 
He didn't tell her he had rented an office, but she learned about it 
somehow, the way the Rubys of this imperfect world always learn 
things like that, and first thing you knew she was dropping into the 
office at embarrassing times, wanting money and seeking information 
as to why he never called at her flat. 

Ruby and Beryl never hit it off very well. When Ruby swept in with 
her furs and plumes you would have thought the place a power plant, 
from the electricity in the air. Once when Gus had left word he didn't 
wish to be disturbed he was talking serious business with Honest 
Jack Dennison, arranging things for next season Ruby flipped across 
the outer office, anyway. Beryl sought to bar her, and trouble of a more 
or less physical variety ensued. Looking tousled, Ruby flung open the 
door. Gus and Honest Jack had settled the gambling part of their 
arrangements, and were discussing pickpocket privileges. Ruby wept 
and spoke in a shrill voice and even descended to profanity. 

Scenes like that can be embarrassing. Luckily, Honest Jack was 
broad-minded, but Gus's visitor might just as well have been the presi- 
dent of the Greater Tamarack Association or the secretary of the 
Commercial Club. Gus had recently been elected president, and the 
secretary often dropped in for counsel. 

"Gus," Honest Jack said, after Ruby departed, feathers soothed by a 
gold-back, "let me give you some advice* I'd get rid of that twist, Gus/' 

"You would, huh?" 

"Yes, I would, Gus. A woman who can't respect a closed door is a 
bad egg, Gus." 

"Something in that, all right." 

Honest Jack was a medium-sized man of sixty, with carefully 
brushed gray hair. He wore a salt-and-pepper suit, a snowy shirt, a 
blue four-in-hand with a quiet stickpin. His hands were small and 
beautifully manicured. He always kept his voice confidential, and he 
had the air of knowing many facts that would accompany him to his 
grave. 

"Now," he said, "about this business of the dips. If you prefer a flat 
sum, that's satisfactory with me, Gus. I think " 

Honest Jack had got his start in Western mining camps, but for 
years now he had operated the Eagle Cigar Store down near the Union 
Station, and on the rolls of the Commercial Club he was listed as a 
tobacconist. Outside the store, a battered old wooden Indian menaced 
pedestrians with uplifted tomahawk, and as far as that went it was 
possible to purchase cigars in the front room. But it was the back room 
from which Honest Jack derived a snug income. It was a large blue- 



GUS THE GREAT ir 

aired chamber with subdued lights and a long bar, and the walls were 
decorated with oil paintings of such classical subjects as Venus in her 
bath. The air was fragrant with excellent tobacco and liquors and the 
perfume of the lighter ladies of the town. As you entered you heard 
the click of roulette balls and the voices of dealers at the crap tables 
announcing that eight had just been achieved in the hard way. 

A leather-bound door separated the front room from the back. This 
was kept locked, not in a spirit of inhospitality but because of conven- 
tion. Actually, you were very welcome there, as you discovered if you 
thumbed a button on the door-jamb. 

Only when a raid was due did they leave the door unlocked. News- 
paper readers could count on those raids twice a year; they were as 
regular as the autumnal and vernal equinoxes. This did not mean that 
Honest Jack and the police were at odds. On the contrary, everybody 
agreed that the raids were a fine, healthy thing. They satisfied the 
church element and gave the police commissioner something at which 
to point with pride. Honest Jack wouldn't have had it any other way. 
He and the police talked it over, deciding upon a raiding hour con- 
venient for both, and Honest Jack gave his dealers the afternoon off 
and told customers the place was closed for the day. Equipment was 
hidden and then the police arrived, often accompanied by some self- 
appointed vice crusader. Once a year they found the place empty and 
once a year they found a half-dozen men playing cards. With gong 
clanging the patrol wagon carried these criminals off to jail. They 
were out on bond in an hour and a few days later Honest Jack paid 
all fines. Editorials and ministers commended the vigilant police, and 
the whole business could be forgotten for six months. 

Several afternoons a week Gus dropped in there for poker. You 
were always meeting interesting people at that round, baize-covered 
table. Often you found Pud Myra there, for although he headed the 
detective bureau of the police department he liked a game of stud as 
well as anybody. Between him and Gus existed the warm friendship 
possible between two men succeeding in noncompeting fields. When 
Gus was a police reporter Pud had been a sparrow cop, and now each 
was forging ahead. Gus always predicted Pud would be chief some 

day. 

"Gus," Pud said one afternoon, "I've got a favor to ask." 

"Favor? Sure. Have a cigar*" 

"I'm on the committee for our police benefit ball, and we're looking 
for entertainment. Do you have a circus act 'you could lend us?" 

"Uh-^on't see why not. Where'll the ball be?" 

"Civic auditorium." 

"Uh. With that good concrete floor looks to me like a bull turn 
would be all right." 



412 GUS THE GREAT 

"A what?" 

"Elephant act. Might bring Molly in." 

Pud thought that would be splendid, although he said the guests 
might wonder about the punch, if they started seeing elephants. Gus 
laughed and looked at his hand and the game went on. 

But presently he wasn't paying much attention to his cards, for some 
idea kept tiptoeing to the threshold of consciousness and darting back. 
He'd make a grab for it, but it would escape. Then it didn't escape, 
and he rumbled: 

"Uh Pud. Mind sitting this hand out? Matter I'd like to discuss 
with you." 

The two men shouldered through mauve haze to a far corner. Both 
looked dim and huge, heads inclined confidentially. Gus did most of 
the talking. Pud listened, smoke dribbling from his lips, and once he 
chuckled and poked Gus in the ribs. 

"Sure," he was heard to say. "Glad to. Glad to take care of it for 
you. Know how those things go. Glad to." 

Two mornings later the doorbell rang in Ruby's flat, and four men 
in plain clothes entered, flashing badges. They informed Ruby they 
might well toss her into the can, for she had sinned against the laws 
of the commonwealth, but inasmuch as they were weary of testifying 
on immorality charges and hearing judges pronounce sentences, they 
would let her off easy. They were giving her till midnight to leave 
town and keep going. 

"Farther you go, better we'll like it," one man said. "Like the nigger 
says you go so far it'll cost four dollars to send a post card." 

The men laughed. 

Not Ruby. Ruby was scared sick. She tried to find Gus at his office, 
but Beryl said he was out of town. She even tried to find him at his 
home, but both he and Flora were absent. So that evening Ruby 
boarded a train. During the following months Gus received letters 
from her, postmarked Louisville and Cincinnati and Baltimore. She 
wanted money. After a time the letters stopped coming and he never 
heard of her again. 

For several years after marriage Carlotta and Harold were very 
poor. Even at a large, rich university a young man who expects a 
teaching fellowship to support him must live frugally. Carlotta and 
Harold soon discovered that a teaching fellowship is an erudite name 
for an academic sweatshop. At Chicago, Harold worked a sixteen- 
hour day, and sometimes an eighteen- or twenty-hour one. 

They lived in a tiny flat on the South Side, a cell in the monstrous 
honeycomb of Chicago. Harold was both student and teacher. Part of 



GUS THE GREAT 413 

the day he sat under learned men, filling his notebooks and his brains; 
and part o the day he occupied the instructor's desk in section meet- 
ings. 

Hundreds of undergraduates were enrolled and occasionally even 
mildly interested in such courses as Philosophy A and Logic i. Twice 
a week these droves of tyro Anstotles listened to lectures by associate 
professors and awesome full professors. But in a large class like that, 
how can one be sure that each and every student is retaining the wis- 
dom flowing from the podium? One cannot: that's one's answer. 
Hence, one breaks up the course into sections. Students whose sur- 
names begin with letters from "A" to "E" are channeled into a section. 
Those from "F" to "J" into another section. This goes on right through 
the alphabet, to Xenophen, if there is a Xenophen, and Yohomakawa 
and Zchovitch. Each section contains about thirty earnest one trusts 
young men and women, and the sections meet with such pedagogic 
chore boys as Mr. Henderson. Mr. Henderson devotes part of the sec- 
tion meeting to general discussion, clearing up such matters as the 
difference between an idealist in philosophy and an idealist in life. 
Then he gives a quiz. 

But one must not fancy that his labors are thereby at an end. They 
are just beginning. After collecting the papers he must correct them, 
grade them, record the grades and leave the grades in one's box. On 
the basis of these grades one determines, at semester's end, whether Mr. 
Zchovitch is to receive an "A," a "B," or possibly an unfortunate "F." 

It is gratifying to have these details attended to by persons like Mr. 
Henderson. However, one will readily comprehend that if one were 
to hire this work done on a full-time basis the budget of one's depart- 
ment would suffer. So the trick is to offer teaching fellowships whereby 
persons like Mr. Henderson receive free tuition and a modest hon- 
orarium. It is advisable for the recipient of a fellowship to have saved 
a certain sum to aid him in discharging his pecuniary obligations. 

Chicago was hot and sticky when Carlotta and Harold arrived by 
day coach. And flat-hunting was a disheartening business, because the 
only places you could possibly live were operated by landlords who had 
no understanding o die finances of graduate students. So finally you 
moved into a place where you could not possibly live. 

Not for years could Carlotta look back and find her honeymoon 
tinged with romance- In those early weeks the marriage was saved 
only by her will power and by the astonishing fact that Harold was a 
skillful and understanding lover. (He had read Ovid.) During the 
long days when her groom was meeting sections and worming through 
tomes in the library she was bitterly homesick. And Gus-sick, too. 
Tears dripped off her chin as she dried breakfast dishes. She hated 
Chicago with a black, unreasoning hate. It frightened her. Those end- 



4 i4 GUS THE GREAT 

less ash-colored streets! Those swarthy inhabitants jabbering and jab- 
bering! Those hooting whistles of traffic officers in the Loop! The 
growl and roar of the place, trying to pull you into some polyglot 
nightmare ! 

Not only did she think of Gus. She thought of Jim Wheeler too, a 
lawyer in one of those massive Loop blocks. If she had married Jim she 
wouldn't be living in a flat where people and parrots and phonographs 
were always screeching. Why had she married Harold! Oh, why! 
Marrying on the rebound was about the most senseless yielding to 
pride and emotion that she could imagine. 

But after September, Chicago weather turns very nice. When asked 
about the weather in July or February, even the Chicago Chamber of 
Commerce has to change the subject. But in October and early No- 
vember you really have something. You have yellow sun on an in- 
tensely blue lake, and the air is as crisp and sweet-smelling as washed 
clothes on a line. In October Carlotta stopped abhorring Chicago and 
began tolerating it. Presently she was embracing it. 

There were Sunday afternoons on the lake front with Harold. There 
were Saturdays when they lunched in the Loop and visited the Art 
Institute or bought cheap seats for excellent plays. There were hours 
browsing in bookshops. And that winter there were concerts. 

Harold made friends among the graduate students, and pretty soon 
you were invited to the flats of other young couples. Living on a shoe- 
string seemed like fun, when you laughed about it with other graduate 
wives. It seemed like adventure. You were young, and you caught the 
feeling of struggling joyously toward a lofty goal. Pretty soon you 
weren't thinking so much about Gus. 

Chicago. Englewood and Jackson Park and Wabash Avenue and 
Dearborn Street. In later years those names were synonymous with 
youth. You remembered that electric feeling of Michigan Avenue, the 
feeling that you were clipping briskly along one of the streets of the 
world in one of the cities of the world. You remembered the cavernous 
sleeping power of the financial district at night, brass gates barring the 
entrances to banks and the sight of a watchman in shining marble 
vistas. You remembered the city fighting a blizzard, yowling and 
scooping right back at stinging snow. You remembered spring nights 
when those specks of light far out on the lake were ore boats from 
Duluth. 

And at some time during that first year you began loving your hus- 
band. Love didn't roar into your life this time . . . and out of it. It 
came quietly, like the changing of a season, stealing in so softly that 
you couldn't name the hour when it arrived. You began feeling sorry 
for him when you saw him late at work by his study lamp, he looked 
so industrious and so thin and tired. Sometimes he removed his glasses 



GUS THE GREAT 415 

and closed his eyes and with thumb and forefinger pinched his nose 
where the glasses had clamped it. 

He was good, that was one thing. He tried to be like the Greeks. 
Not the fruit-stand Greeks but the Greeks in the Golden Isles when 
the world was at its morning. He thought the Greeks were good be- 
cause they were wise, and he doubted that the great Greeks ever lost 
their tempers, so he didn't. And the Greeks were patient, so he was 
patient. 

Maybe you changed, too. At first you didn't know why he was so 
enthusiastic about the Greeks, but pretty soon you caught some of his 
bright vision of that sun-flooded, rocky land where olives grew, where 
you might hear Pan fluting in the hush of daybreak and Zeus rumbling 
above the clouds of a summer storm, where the bluer-than-blue Aegean 
creamed and swished among the shore rocks. You caught his vision of 
Socrates as a tremendous shining intellect, Socrates in flowing robes 
with the young godlike men listening while he went hoboing through 
the sunny land of the mind. 

And maybe he changed. Became well more human. Maybe he 
grew to realize that all the golden hours of life were not ensnared in 
the books. Maybe you taught him to splash around in life as it was 
now. To laugh at vaudeville slapstick as well as at Shakespearean 
slapstick. To savor the taste of sherry. To fill his lungs with the 
smoky, power-charged air of Chicago. 

Yes, that was it; you both changed, each growing toward the other. 
You were in the same boat, in marriage together. It was both of you 
against the world. Chicago could roar and rumble outside, but it 
couldn't get at you in your little flat, because you were marriage. You 
had something that a lot of people didn't have. And so perhaps you 
were not so poor, after all. 

When you returned after two years in Chicago and Harold became 
assistant professor, Tamarack seemed pretty small. But then almost 
any city would have seemed a frog to Chicago's crocodile. Omaha, 
Kansas City, Minneapolis any of those Mississippi Valley cities in 
Tamarack's population bracket would have seemed tame. 

You lived in a house now and went into debt for furniture and you 
were busy with the baby. You worked hard and liked it, and the hours 
and weeks and months elapsed, and it was Thanksgiving before you 
knew it with all the Wednesday evening excitement of singeing pin- 
feathers off the turkey. Such a big turkey! You were having the folks 
over for Thanksgiving dinner and you were scared silly you couldn't 
cook that enormous bird to taste like anything. So in the kitchen on 
Wednesday evening^ you and Harold pondered the problem and he 
thumbed through your cook books and read aloud the various advices 



4*6 GUS THE GREAT 

about rendering a turkey fit for human consumption. You both 
laughed a good deal. 

Harold was looking better since he became assistant professor at the 
University of Tamarack. You cooked him appetizing meals and his 
face was filling out. His skin didn't look so gray. He loved his work: 
if ever there were a born teacher it was he. He was a Master of Arts 
now and well on his way toward becoming a Doctor of Philosophy. 
Dr. Harold Henderson, assistant professor of philosophy. And the 
head of the department had promised that year after next they would 
promote him to an associate professorship. In the academic world 
those ranks meant a lot. To the public any man on a college faculty 
was a professor. Ha! Little did the public know, little did they know! 
It was like feudal society. A mere instructor was nothing. Less than 
the dust. An assistant professor was a young man to be watched. An 
associate that was getting somewhere. And when you became a full 
professor well! That was nearly as good as a dean. They couldn't 
fire you if you were a full professor, unless, of course, you started im- 
pregnating co-eds with something more than learning. But no worries 
about Harold on that score. Thank God he wasn't in music or dra- 
matic art! 

Yes, that first year on the Tamarack faculty slipped fleetly past, and 
when the time came to return to summer school in Chicago you 
dreaded going. You liked your house, even if it was only rented and 
none of the closet doors fitted correctly into their frames. Harold said 
you'd start buying a house, after he took his doctorate. 

A better flat, this time, but Chicago summer nights weren't anything 
to write a travel folder about, especially with the wind off the stock- 
yards. But Harold didn't mind the smell. He said it was the smell, 
in a slightly different form, of the deep soil of the richest river valley 
in the world. Great civilizations often emerged from great river val- 
leys, he said. The Euphrates. The Nile. And now it was the Missis- 
sippi's turn. He said he would try to work that idea into his History 
of American Philosophy. One evening he elaborated the idea, and he 
made it sound epic and stirring. In your mind you saw the great lazy 
Mississippi on a living map, beginning its journey among the pine 
smells of Minnesota, and as it flowed it grew broad, as the waters of 
the Rocky Mountains came pouring into it from the yellow Missouri, 
as the Ohio joined it with waters that had fallen on the Appalachians. 
And you saw the measureless empire of Middle America where farm 
boys were studying by lamplight to become the judges of tomorrow, 
the engineers, the philosophers, the painters, the poets. Nevertheless, 
the stockyards still smelled like stockyards- 
Ellis Higby Bartholomew, professor of philosophy at the University 



GUS THE GREAT 417 

of Tamarack, was a plump, rosy little man who had never done any 
harm to anybody, except maybe flunking football men. Even that 
didn't happen much any more, because in advising the squad about 
what courses to take the coach steered the boys clear of philosophy. 
Oriental Art and History of Architecture those were the courses to 
take. You'd have to be virtually a Juke or a Kallikak not to come 
through those courses with a gentleman's "C." 

By 1911 Dr. Bartholomew was one of the grand old men of the 
Tamarack faculty. He had come to the school away back in the 1870' s, 
when it was a small college in a small city. Old Mam was a new 
building when he arrived with the ink still damp on his Yale Ph.D. 
He had lived to see Tamarack become a good-sized city and the college 
a good-sized university. 

Dr. Bartholomew kept his promise in the matter of an associate 
professorship, and when Mr. Henderson became Dr. Henderson he 
became also an associate. And Dr. Bartholomew gave Dr. Henderson 
a great deal of sound advice about the book he was slowly writing, 
The History of American Philosophy. 

One April morning in 1911, a month after Dr. Henderson became 
the father of a third child, a daughter, Dr. Bartholomew didn't feel so 
well at breakfast. He felt dizzy and he suffered a headache. He didn't 
meet his classes that morning, because of losing consciousness, and that 
afternoon he went wherever good philosophers go. 

"Dr. Bartholomew passed away from a stroke," Harold informed his 
journal that evening. "This is a terrible blow. I do not know how I 
shall carry on without him. Only yesterday we discussed the chapter 
in my book concerning the transcendentalists, and he seemed in excel- 
lent health," 

The Tamarac\ Beacon splashed the news all over page one. The 
editors were neither philosophers nor sons of philosophers, but they had 
the journalist's intuitiveness that senses the significance of events with- 
out necessarily comprehending that significance. Dr. Bartholomew had 
been a hawser linking the nineteenth century with the twentieth. He 
had heard Lincoln speak and he had seen an airplane fly. In his boy- 
hood men had been scalped on the prairies by Indians, as well as on 
the stock market by traders. He had lived in Emerson's day and in 
Billy Sunday's. Of course, many men older than Dr. Bartholomew 
were still alive, but they were dropping away, one by one, and it began 
appearing inevitable that someday nobody would be walking the 
American earth who had walked it when Lincoln wore a shawl and 
Grant chewed cigars. America had entered the twilight of the celluloid 
collar. 

In the newspaper business it's feast or famine, and that day there 
was more news than you knew what to do with. Not only had Dr. 



4 i8 GUS THE GREAT 

Bartholomew died; the police had raided the Eagle Cigar Store and 
bagged seven men playing cards for money. 

Because of these events, a news-feature yarn with pictures was 
crowded off page one, back to page nine. It concerned Burgoyne's 
Circus & Hippodrome, opening its fifth season that day in Tamarack. 
Few persons regretted Dr. Bartholomew's death more than A. H. Bur- 
goyne. 

The old one about an ill wind held good in Harold's case, and that 
June the trustees of the University of Tamarack endorsed his appoint- 
ment as full professor and head of philosophy. (This was the same 
week that a shakeup occurred in the police department and LeRoy 
(Pud) Myra became chief.) Although Harold was only thirty-three, 
he brought great dignity and erudition to the post. That summer he 
labored tirelessly, outlining the new courses he would teach and even 
getting in a few licks on The History of American Philosophy.