3 1822 01122 4193
3 1822 01122 4193
A DRAWING FROM LIFE
BY JOHN CECIL CLAY
A NOVEL WRITTEN FROM
THE OUIJA BOARD
WITH AN INTRODUCTION
THE COMING OF JAP HERRON
COPYRIGHT 1917 BY
PRINTED IN AMERICA
THE COMING OF
ON the afternoon of the second Thursday in March,
1915, I responded to an invitation to the regular meet
ing of a small psychical research society. There was
to be a lecture on cosmic relations, and the hostess
for the afternoon, whom I had met twice socially,
thought I might be interested, my name having ap
peared in connection with a recently detailed series of
psychic experiments. To all those present, with the
exception of the hostess, I was a total stranger. I
learned, with some surprise, that these men and women
had been meeting, with an occasional break of a few
months, for more than five years. The record of these
meetings filled several type-written volumes.
When word came that the lecturer was unavoidably
detained, the hostess requested Mrs. Lola V. Hays to
entertain the members and guests by a demonstration
of her ability to transmit spirit messages by means of
a planchette and a lettered board. The apparatus was
familiar to me ; but the outcome of that afternoon s
experience revealed a new use for the transmission
2 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
board. After several messages, more or less personal,
had been spelled out, the pointer of the planchette
traced the words:
"Samuel L. Clemens, lazy Sam." There was a long
pause, and then: "Well, why don t some of you say
I was born in Hannibal, and my pulses quickened.
I wanted to put a host of questions to the greatest
humorist and the greatest philosopher of modern times ;
but I was an outsider, unacquainted with the usages
of the club, and I remained silent while the planchette
"Say, folks, don t knock my memoirs too hard. They
were written when Mark Twain was dead to all sense
of decency. When brains are soft, the method should
Not one of those present had read Mark Twain s
memoirs, and the plaint fell upon barren soil. The
arrival of the lecturer prevented further confession
from the unseen communicant; but I was so deeply
impressed that I begged my hostess to permit me to
come again. For my benefit a meeting was arranged at
which there was no lecturer, and I was asked to sit for
the first time with Mrs. Hays.
In my former psychic investigation, it had been my
habit to pronounce the letters as the pointer of the
planchette indicated them, and Mrs. Hays urged me to
render the same service when I sat with her, because
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 3
she never permitted herself to look at the board, fear
ing that her own mind would interfere with the trans
mission. Scarcely had our finger-tips touched the
planchette when it darted to the letters which spelled
the words :
"I tried to write a romance once, and the little wife
laughed at it. I still think it is good stuff and I want
it written. The plot is simple. You d best skeletonize
the plot. Solly Jenks, Hiram Wall young men.
Time, before the Civil War."
Then the outline of a typical Mark Twain story
came in short, explosive sentences. It was entitled,
"Up the Furrow to Fortune." A brief account of its
coming seems vital to the more sustained work which
was destined to follow it. I was not present at the next
regular meeting of the society; but at its close I was
summoned to the telephone and informed that Mark
Twain had come again and had said that "the Han
nibal girl" was the one for whom he and Mrs. Hays
had been waiting. When they asked him what he
meant, the planchette made reply :
"Consult your record for 1911."
One of the early volumes of the society s record was
brought forth, and a curious fact that all the members
of the society had forgotten was unearthed. About a
year after his passing out, Mr. Clemens had told Mrs.
Hays that he had carried with him much valuable
literary material which he yearned to send back, and
4 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
that he would transmit stories through her, if she
could find just the right person to sit with her at
the transmission board. Although she experimented
with each member of the club, and with several of her
friends who were sympathetic though not avowed in
vestigators, he was not satisfied with any of them.
Then she gave up the attempt and dismissed it from
her mind. A twenty-minute test with me seemed to con
vince him that in me he had found the negative side of
the mysterious human mechanism for which he had
The work of transmitting that first story was at
tended with the greatest difficulty. No less than three
distinct styles of diction, accompanied by correspond
ingly distinct motion in the planchette under our fin
gers, were thrust into the record. At first we were at
a loss to understand these intrusions. That they were
intrusions there could be no doubt. In each case
there was a sharp deviation from the plot of the story,
as it had been given to us in the synopsis. After one
of these experiences, which resulted in the introduction
of a paragraph that was rather clever but not at all
pertinent, Mark regained control with the impatiently
"Every scribe here wants a pencil on earth."
Not until the middle of summer did we achieve that
sureness of touch which now enables us to recognize,
intuitively, the presence of the one scribe whose
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 5
thoughts we are eager to transmit. That the story
of Jap Herron and the two short stories which pre
ceded it are the actual post-mortem work of Samuel
L. Clemens, known to the world as Mark Twain, we
do not for one moment doubt. His individuality has
been revealed to us in ways which could leave no ques
tion in our minds. The little, intimate touches which
reveal personality are really of more importance than
the larger and more conspicuous fact that neither Mrs.
Hays nor I could have written the fiction that has come
across our transmission board. Our literary output is
well known, and not even the severest psychological
skeptic could assert that it bears any resemblance to
the literary style of "Jap Herron."
Mrs. Hays has found the best market for her short
stories with one of the large religious publishing houses,
and in the early days Mark Twain seemed to fear
that her subconscious mind might inadvertently color
or distort his thought, in process of transmission. We
had come to the end of our fourth session when he
added this :
"There will be minor errors that you will be able to
take care of. I don t object. Only don t try to cor
rect my grammar. I know what I want to say. And,
dear ladies, when I say d-a-m-n, please don t write
d-a-r-n. Don t try to smooth it out. This is not a
That Mark should fear the blue pencil, at our hands,
6 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
amused us greatly. The story bristles with profanity
and is roughly picturesque in its diction. It deals with
a section of the Ozark country with which neither of
us is familiar, and in the speech of the natives there
are words that we had never heard, that are included
in no dictionary but are, it transpires, perfectly fa
miliar to the primitive people in the southwestern part
of the state. When the revision of the story was al
most complete, Mark interrupted the dictation, one
afternoon, to remark:
"You are too tired. Forces must be strong for re
sults. Somebody handed you a lemon, back there. Cut
out that part about the apple at fly time. I am not
carping. You have done well. The interpretation is
excellent. I was afraid of femininity. Women have
their ideas, but this is not a woman s story. Good-
There was another meeting, at which the revision of
"Up the Furrow to Fortune" was completed, and then
we went to work on the second story, "A Daughter
of Mars." As in the case of the first one, it began with
a partial synopsis. Vallon Leithe, an enthusiastic
aeronaut, was resting after a long flight, when a
strange air-craft fell out of the sky, lodging in the
top of a great tree. The occupant of the marvelously
constructed flying machine proved to be a girl from the
planet Mars. Her name was Ulethe, and she had many
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 7
thrilling adventures on our earth. The synopsis ended
with the wholly unexpected words:
"Now, girls, it is not yet clear in my mind whether
we d better send Ulethe back to Mars, kill her, marry
her to Leithe, or have an expedition from Mars raise
the dickens. But we will let it develop itself."
The board, on which two short stories and a novel
have already been transmitted, is one of the ordinary
varieties, a polished surface over which the planchette
glides to indicate the letters of the alphabet and the
figures from 1 to 10. In the main our dictation came
without any apparent need for marks of punctuation.
Occasionally the words "quotation marks," or "Put
that in quotes" would be interjected. Once when my
intonation, as I pronounced the words for the amanuen
sis who was keeping our record, seemed to indicate a
direct statement, the planchette whirled under our
fingers and traced the crisp statement, "I meant that
for a question."
When I told my husband of these grippingly intimate
evidences of an unseen personality, it occurred to him
that a complete set of punctuation marks, carefully
applied in India ink, where the pointer of the planchette
could pick them out as they were required, would facili
tate the transmission of sustained narrative. To him
it seemed that the absence of these marks on the board
must be maddening, especially to Mark Twain, whose
thought could be hopelessly distorted by the omission
8 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
of so trivial a thing as a comma, and whose subtle
use of the colon was known to all the clan of printers.
Before our next meeting the board had been duly
adorned with ten of the most important marks, includ
ing the hyphen and the M-dash. The comma was at
the head of the right-hand column and the apostrophe
at the bottom. My husband, Mrs. Hays and I knew
exactly what all these markings meant, yet we had some
confusion because Mark insisted on using the comma
when he wished to indicate a possessive case. The sen
tence was this, as I understood it :
"I was not wont to disobey my father, scommand."
Instantly my husband, who had become interested
and had taken the place of our first amanuensis, per
ceived that I had made a mistake, when I pronounced
the combination, "f-a-t-h-e-r, comma, s-c-o-m-m-a-n-d."
"But," I defended myself, "the pointer went to the
comma. I can see now that it should have been the
apostrophe." As I spoke the pointer of the planchette
traced the words on the board:
"Edwin did a pretty piece of work, but that apos
trophe is too far down. I am in danger of falling off
the board every time I make a run for it."
The result was that another apostrophe was placed
in the middle of the board, directly under the letter S.
In connection with the M-dash we had a yet more start
ling evidence of an outside personality, one dependent
on us for his means of communication, but wholly in-
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 9
dependent of our thought and knowledge. Mark had
dictated the synopsis for the second story and had en
larged upon the first situation. Then, as has since be
come his fixed habit, he indicated that the serious work
for the evening was ended, and returned for an informal
chat. Mrs. Hays and I had discussed the plot at
some length, and after my husband had read aloud
the second evening s dictation we commented on some
of the obscure points, our fingers resting, the while,
lightly on the planchette. Suddenly it became agitated,
assumed a vigorous sweeping motion and traced very
rapidly these words :
"It is starting good; but will you two ladies stop
speculating? I am going to take care of this story.
Don t try to dictate. You art interrupting the thread
of the story. There is ample time for smoothing the
rough places. I am not caviling. I am well pleased."
After a pause, he continued : "There is the same class
of interruption those who could write stories, but are
not to write my ; At this, the planchette turned
to the M-dash and slid back and forth under it several
times. It then spelled the word "stories." We were
utterly at a loss, until he explained: "I was using
that black line for an underscore."
Again and again we have had the word "good" in an
adverbial construction, a usage that is not common to
either Mrs. Hays or me ; but Mark has told us that he
liked it, in familiar conversation. We have tried to
10 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
adhere with absolute fidelity to even the seeming errors
which came over the board.
The second installment of the story gave all of us
much trouble. Incidentally it served to develop several
bits of humorous conversation. When it was finished,
we received this comment:
"I think that is all we can do to-night. I intend to
enlarge upon this chapter before going further. The
forces are not strong enough to-night. We will re
write this part Monday night."
We naturally expected a rehandling of that install
ment, which for convenience he had designated a "chap
ter." To our surprise, the pointer of the planchette
gave this :
"I have changed my mind. We will proceed to New
York. I will probably want to handle chapter second
in a different way. It reads like a printed porous
plaster ; but that is no one s fault. Begin !"
The dictation went smoothly, and there were no in
terruptions from the unseen rivals who had so per
sistently contested Mark Twain s right to the exclu
sive use of our "pencil." Before the next meeting I
was urged to take a prominent part in another piece
of psychic work, and to persuade both my husband
and Mrs. Hays to join me. I said nothing to either
one of them about it, intending to discuss it with them
when the evening s work was over. As soon, however,
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 11
as we applied our finger tips to the planchette, this
astonishing communication came:
"I am afraid that my pencil-holders are going to get
wound up in other stuff that will make much confusion.
I heard Emily talking over the telephone and making
promises that are not good for our work."
When I had been questioned concerning the meaning
of this rebuke, and had explained its import, Mark
added: "If we are going to make good there must be
concentration, to that end. Get busy." We did! It
was a hot July night, and the planchette flew over
the board so swiftly that at times I could scarcely keep
pace with it as I pronounced the letters. With other
amanuenses I had been forced to pronounce the fin
ished words, and to repeat sentences in whole or in
part; but after my husband came into the work this
was not necessary. As much as a score of letters might
be run together, to be divided into words after the
dictation was ended. Sometimes, when I had failed
utterly to catch the thought, and would hesitate or
ask to have the thing repeated, my husband would say
to me: "Don t stop him. I know what it means."
Mrs. Hays avoided looking at the board lest her own
mind interfere with the transmission, and with less
efficient help, the entire responsibility had been on me.
When I came to realize that nothing was expected of
me beyond the mere pronouncing of the letters, the
three of us developed swiftly into a smoothly working
12 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
machine. Yet Mark was constantly worried for fear
that my heart would be alienated and that I would "go
chasing after strange gods," as he once put it.
When he had finished the fifth installment of the
story, with a climax that surprised and puzzled us, he
"I reckon we had better lay by for a few days till
I get this thing riffled out. It has slipped its tether.
I have had such things happen often. Don t get
We discussed the use of the word "riffle," and then
Mark became serious.
"I don t want to be disappointed in the Hannibal
girl. I have been trying for several years to get
through to the light. I don t want a false sentiment
for a crew of fanatics to wreck my chance. I don t
want to act nasty, but if you go into that other work
I am likely to ruin your reputation. You are likely
to explode into some of the mediocre piffle that is the
height and depth of such would-be communications with
the other world. There is nothing to hold to. So, my
dear girls, if you want a future, cut it out. I don t
want to command all your time, but right now it is
best to avoid all complications."
It is needless to say I declined the invitation. After
this, whenever anything went wrong, the rebuke or com
plaint was invariably addressed to me. When there
were humorous or pleasant things to be said, they were
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 13
dispensed equally to the three of us, whom Mark Twain
had come to designate as "my office force." Two bits
of personal communication came within the succeeding
week which seem to have a bearing on the whole mys
terious experience. That second installment was
undertaken and abandoned again and again. Finally
"I am going ahead with the main body of the story.
There will be another round with that second chapter,
but not until the theme is fully developed. The second
chapter sticks in my throat like the cockleburr that I
tried to swallow when I was five. It won t slip down
or come up."
We had worked patiently on the latter part of the
narrative and had accomplished a big evening s work,
when the dictation was interrupted by this remark:
"It is going good ; but I sure wish that I had Edwin s
We fairly gasped with astonishment; but we had
no time for comment, as the planchette continued its
"Smoke up, old man, for auld lang syne. In the
other world they don t know Walter Raleigh s weed,
and I have not found Walter yet to make complaint.
I forget about it till I get Edwin s smoke. But for
pity s sake, Ed, cut out that tobacco you were trying
out. It made me sick. I hoped it would get you, so
that you wouldn t try it again."
14 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
My husband, whom neither Mrs. Hays nor I would,
under any circumstances, address by the abbreviation
of his name, "Ed," asked Mark what tobacco he had in
mind. He replied:
"That packet you were substituting, or that some
one that had a grudge against you gave you."
A comparison of dates revealed the fact that on the
evening when that troublesome second installment was
transmitted, my husband had smoked some heavy im
ported tobacco that had been given to him by a friend
he had met that afternoon. The circumstance had
passed from the minds of all of us. Indeed, it had never
impressed us in the least, and it had not occurred to
any of us that our unseen visitor still retained the
sense of smell, or that he could distinguish between two
brands of tobacco. He had given evidence of both sight
and hearing, had told us frequently that he was tired,
at the end of a long evening s work, and had made other
incidental revelations of his environment and condition:
but his reference to the pipe was more significant than
any of them.
Early in August, when our second story was nearing
completion, the transmission began with this curious
bit, which none of us understood for a long time:
"Emily, I think that when we finish this story we will
do a pastoral of Missouri. There appear high lights
and shadows, purple and dark, and the misty pink of
dawnings that make world-weary ones have surcease."
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 15
Not until "Jap Herron" was more than half finished
did we realize that it was the Missouri pastoral. There
was one other veiled reference to that story which must
not be omitted. We had planned a trip to New York,
for some time in October or early November, although
we had never discussed it while at the board. One
evening Mark terminated his dictation abruptly, and
"Emily, I think well of your plan." I asked what
plan he referred to. "New York. I will go, too. I
will try to convince them that I am not done working.
I am rejuvenated and want to finish my work. When
I was in New York last I had a very beautiful dream.
I did not understand it then. It meant that my days
were numbered, and gave me the picture of an angel
bringing a book from heaven to earth, and on its cover
was blazoned this : MARK TWAIN S COMPLIMENTS. Ask
them what they think about that. I was so tired so
tired that I could not rest. A cool hand seemed to
soothe my weariness away and I slept, and, sleeping,
When I found that passage in the early part of our
record, I wondered if "Jap Herron" might be the book
sent to earth with Mark Twain s compliments. I asked
him about it, one evening when our regular dictation
had been finished. The reply was a slow journey of the
planchette to the word, "Yes," followed by the rapidly
spelled words, "But old Mark isn t done talking yet."
16 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
We assumed that he had something further to say to
us, and when I asked him what he wanted to talk about,
he gave this tantalizing reply:
"Curious? Wait and see." Then, after a pause, "I
shall have other work for my office force."
The explanation of this cryptic statement was not
given until we had completed the final revision of the
story. Before I reveal what he had in mind, I wish
to state that which is to me the most convincing proof
of the supernormal origin of the three stories that had
been traced, letter by letter, on our transmission board.
That they come through Mrs. Hays, there can be no
doubt whatever. My total lack of psychic power has
been abundantly demonstrated. Mrs. Hays has written
much light fiction; but it is necessary for her to write
a story at one sitting. If it does not come "all in one
piece" it is foredoomed to failure. I know nothing of
Mark Twain s habits ; but in all the work we have done
for him, the first draft has been rough and vigorous,
and sweeping changes have been made by him while the
work was undergoing revision. In the case of "Jap
Herron" some of the most important changes were
made without a rereading of the story, changes that
involved incidents which we had forgotten, and for
which I was compelled to search the original record.
When I had substituted these passages for the ones they
were to supplant, I made a typewritten copy of the
entire story and we read it aloud to Mark. Mrs. Hays
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 17
and I sat with our finger tips on the planchette so
that he could interrupt ; but he made only a few minor
corrections. The story had been virtually rewritten
twice, although a few of the chapters, as they now
stand, are exactly as they were transmitted, not so
much as a word having been changed. The only change
made in the fourteenth chapter came near the end,
where Mark had suggested a line of dashes or stars to
bridge the break between Jap s leaving his mother and
the announcement that his mother was dead. Forty-
eight words were dictated to show what Jap actually
did, in that painful interim, the three sentences being
rounded out by the words, "There, I think that sounds
Sometimes, in the course of the revision, we have
been interrupted by the jerkily traced words, "Try
this," or "We ll fix that better," or "I told Emily to
take out those repetitions." It has happened that he
used the same word four times in one paragraph, and
in copying I have substituted the obvious synonym.
Occasionally he did not approve of my correction and
would rebuke me sharply. In the main he has expressed
himself as well pleased with the labor I have spared
him. On the 10th of January, 1916, Mrs. Hays came
to my home for a last reading of the finished manu
script. When she read it through, I asked her to sit
at the board with me. There was something about
which I wanted to question Mark, and I did not wish
18 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
her mind to interfere in any way with the answer. Mrs.
Hays had had two curious psychic experiences in con
nection with our work. The first came to her when we
were still at work on "A Daughter of Mars." It was
in the form of a vivid dream in which Mark Twain said
to her, "Don t be discouraged, Lola. All that we have
done in the past is just forging the hammer for the
larger strokes we are going to make." The second
was similar; but the man who appeared to her was a
stocky, bald-headed man in a frock coat. When she
asked him who he was and what he wanted, he replied,
"Mark Twain sent me to call on you."
At this time, "Jap Herron" was being revised, and
she supposed that this man, with the striking person
ality, would be introduced somewhere. However, the
story was ended, and no such character had appeared.
I wanted to know whether or not the dream was sig
nificant. I said:
"Mark, did you ever send anybody to call on Lola?"
The planchette replied:
"Yes, I sent him. We will do another story. We
will wait until the smoke of this one clears away. I
want Emily to have a rest, and many other things will
be adjusted. I would like to have my old office force.
It is to be a bigger book than this one more impor
tant. The man I sent you was Brent Roberts."
We dropped our hands in amazement. Brent Rob
erts appears twice in the Jap Herron story. He is not
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 19
half so conspicuous as Holmes, the saloon-keeper, or
Hollins, the grocer. In truth, we had scarcely noticed
him. I asked:
"Mark, are you going to give a sequel to Map Her-
ron ?" He said:
"No. Brent Roberts had a story before he elected
to spend his last years in Bloomtown. Now, girls, don t
speculate. I am taking care of Brent Roberts."
He added that it was "up to Emily" to give his book
to the world, and that he intended to explore a little
of the Uncharted Country while he was waiting for
his office force to resume work. Once I asked him, while
he was transmitting "A Daughter of Mars," whether
he had ever visited that planet. He replied:
"No, this is pure fiction. I elected to return to
earth. I wanted to take the taste of those memoirs out
of my mouth."
One other passage from the early record may profit
ably precede the actual story of Jap s coming. We
were in the midst of the most critical revision. My
husband was commanded to read the story, paragraph
by paragraph. When there was no comment, the plan-
chette remained motionless under our fingers, but there
were few passages that escaped some change. Several
times the changed wording conflicted with something
farther along in the story, and it was necessary to go
back and make another correction. The revision sheets
covered a big table, and my husband found it very
20 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
exasperating to make the corrections. At length Mark
"Smoke up and cool off, old boy. Perhaps I should
apologize. The last secretary I had used to wear an
ice-soaked towel inside his head. The girls and old
Mark together make a riffle. Well, we will slow up.
In my ambition, I have been too eager. It is hard to
explain how great a thing is the power to project my
mentality through the clods of oblivion. I have so
long sought for an opening. Be patient, please. I am
not carping. I get Edwin s position. We will be easy
with the new saddle, so the nag won t run away. I
heard Edwin s suggestion, and it is a good one. We
will go straight through the story, beginning where
we left off to-night. That was what I intended to do,
but that second chapter nipped me."
When next we met we had no thought of any other
work than the revision of the story on which we had
been working at frequent intervals for about two
months. We never knew whether a session at the board
would begin with a bit of personal conversation or a
prolonged stretch of dictation. We held ourselves
passive, ready to fall in with the humor or whim of our
astonishingly human though still intangible guest.
The beginning of that evening s work it was the 6th
of September was almost too great an upheaval for
me. The planchette fairly raced as it spelled the
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 21
"This story will have legitimate chapters. Nosy
nopsis. Then ameisjapherron. Begin. Asevery well-
bred story has a hero, and as the reseems better ma
terial in jap than in any other party to this story, we
will dignify him."
I wanted to stop, but my husband insisted that I
make no break in the impatient dictation. He had
perceived that the first string of letters spelled the
words, "No synopsis. The name is Jap Herron," but I
could not see his copy, and to my mind the sentences
spelled chaos. A little farther along I ventured an
interruption, when we had transmitted the sentence,
"The folks in Happy Hollow continued to say Mag
nesia long after she left its fragrant depths." I had
just spelled out the name, Agnesia, and I was too
deeply engrossed with the labor of following the letters
to even attempt to understand the meaning. I turned
to my husband and said:
"It probably didn t intend to stop on that letter M,"
whereat the planchette rebuked my stupidity thus:
"Emily, they called her Magnesia."
After that, I contrived to get control of my nerves,
and the rest of the dictation was not so difficult. When
we had received the crisp final sentence, "And stay he
did," the planchette went right on with this informa
tion, "This is the first copy of the first chapter. There
will be 25 or more chapters. This is enough for this
time, as the office force is a little weak. But results
22 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
. . . very good. We will finish the other story and dip
into this at the next session. There will be better
speed in this, for there will be no revision until it is
finished. We will work hard and fast. Emily may meet
folks she knows in this tale, for she knows a town with
a river and a Happy Hollow. I did not intend to start
another story so soon, but other influences are so strong
that they may try to dominate the board. This will
not tire you so much. You must be determined not to
permit intruders. If they are recognized, you will not
be free of them again. I am pushed aside. Leave the
board when they appear. Good-bye."
The use of the name, Happy Hollow, forms a link
with Hannibal; but if any of the characters in "Jap
Herron" were drawn from life, they must have belonged
to Mark Twain s generation and not to mine. Mark
never seems to take into account the fact that he left
Hannibal before I was born, and that there have been
many changes in the old town. The character of Jacky
Herron may have been suggested by a disreputable
drunken fisherman whose experiences I have heard my
father relate; but there is one little touch in that first
chapter that must have come from Mark s own mind,
since the underlying fact was not known to any of us
until we read Walter Prichard Eaton s article on birds
nests, months later. When we transmitted that state
ment, "The father of the little Herrons was a king
fisher," none of us knew that the kingfisher s home nest
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 23
is a filthy hole, close to the river bank. The application
is too perfect to have been accidental.
Before another chapter of the story was transmitted,
I went to spend a morning with Mrs. Hays. At the
request of her son, we consented to allay his curiosity
by a visible demonstration of the workings of the mys
terious board, of which he had necessarily heard much.
He hoped to receive some definite communication from
his father, or the sister who had died in her girlhood;
but this is what he recorded:
"Emily, I gave those synopses not for a guide but to
prevent others from imposing their ideas and confusing
you. It might be said that it made it easier for you,
but that idea is wrong. It would be easier to write the
story direct. You have learned that this was wise,
because constant efforts have been made to break in
and alter the stories. For this reason I gave you the
synopses, so that you could not be deceived. Now I am
going to trust you. I intended to advise you that it
would be a more convincing psychic record, if you have
nothing on which a subconscious mind might be said
to be working. The synopsis was for your protection,
and has no value to the record. At first you had such a
conglomerate method of working that it was necessary.
You did not recognize the difficulties that were likely
to occur. You were apt to employ temporary help, so
Just what was meant by "temporary help" is not
24 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
apparent; but there was no opportunity to question
him further, for at that moment we were interrupted
by the arrival of another luncheon guest and the board
was put aside. We devoted two sessions to the revision
and finishing touches of the troublesome short story,
and then we plunged into the transmission of "Jap
Herron" in deadly earnest.
As far as possible, we sat twice a week, on Mondays
and Fridays. We usually worked uninterruptedly for
two hours, with no sound save that of my voice as I
pronounced the letters and punctuation marks over
which the pointer of the planchette paused in its swift
race across the board. My husband discovered early
in the work that if he permitted himself the luxury
of a smile he was in danger of distracting Mrs. Hays,
who always sat facing him, and thus of bringing about
confusion in the record. Under Mark s specific instruc
tion she has schooled herself to keep her mind as nearly
blank as is possible for a woman who is absolutely
conscious and normal, and the evidence that some
thing humorous was being transmitted through her
would be diverting, to say the least. As for my own
part in the work, I seldom realized the import of the
sentences I had spelled out, my whole attention being
concentrated on the rapidly gliding pointer. When my
husband read aloud the copy he had taken down it
almost invariably came to Mrs. Hays and me as some
thing entirely new.
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 25
The story of Jap Herron, as it stands completed,
does not follow the original order of the first fifteen
chapters. The early part of the tale was handled in a
manner so sketchy and rapid in its action that three
whole chapters and seven fragments of chapters were
dictated and inserted after the work was finished. In
the original copy the second chapter suffered little
change up to the point of George Thomas s advent,
with the suggestion that he might bring in some more
turnips. Following the disaster to Judge Bowers s
speech, Mark took a short cut to pave the way for the
next chapter. It ran thus :
"But bad luck cannot camp on your trail forever.
In the gladsome June-time, Ellis married Flossy Bow
ers, and her dowry of two thousand dollars and her
following of kin set the Herald on its feet."
These two sentences were expanded into the more
important half of the third chapter, almost five months
after they had been dictated, and this without a reread
ing of the story. At another time, when this curious
kind of revision was under way, Mark dictated the lat
ter part of the second chapter, wherein Ellis Hinton
tells Jap how he happened to be starving in Bloomtown.
When he had finished the dictation, with the words,
"My boy, that blue calico lady was Mrs. Kelly Jones,"
"Emily will know where to fit it in."
This fitting in was not extremely difficult, since there
26 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
was only one place in the story into which each of the
inserted chapters or fragments could be made to fit;
but the original copy had to be read several times
before these thin places became apparent, and I got
no help whatever from Mark. Once, when I implored
him to tell me where a certain brief but gripping para
graph belonged, he replied, "Emily, that is your
job. I don t want the Hannibal girl to fall down on it."
On that second Monday night in September, when
the "office force" settled itself to serious work, my
husband read to us the copy we had transmitted. The
chapter ended with what is now the closing paragraph
of the third chapter:
"The Herald put on a new dress, and the hell-box was
dumped full of the discarded, mutilated types that had
so long given strabismus to the patient readers of the
The diet of turnips and sorghum and the other
humorous touches of the narrative overwhelmed us with
laughter, whereat the planchette under our fingers
"Sounds like Mark, eh?"
I asked him if he was satisfied with the use of the word
"Herald" twice in that last sentence. He replied:
"You must excuse me. I am all in. I told you I would
leave minor points to your pencil. T-i-r-e-d. Good-
Our first acquaintance with Wat Harlow, as he ap-
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 27
peared in the fourth chapter, gave little promise of the
character into which he was destined to be developed.
To the three of us, who laughed over the episode of the
vermilion handbill, he appeared to be nothing more
than a third-rate country politician. In the original
transcription he received only an occasional passing
touch, until the death of Ellis brought him forth in a
new light. We did not know then what Ellis had meant
by "that reformed auctioneer," for the story of Wat s
connection with the upbuilding of Bloomtown, as it is
set forth in the sixth chapter, was not told until we
were well along with the work of revision.
One of the most interesting personal touches, to be
found only in our private record, was introduced at the
end of the fourth chapter. It had been a long stretch
of dictation, and when the planchette stopped I asked
if there was any more. The pointer gave only this,
"No 30." Having had no experience with printing
offices, I was mystified until my husband explained that
"30 on the hook" means the end of a given piece of
Mark once made use of the expression, "the story
contains a great deal of brevity that will have to be
untied later on." This untying process is nowhere
more aptly illustrated than in the fourth chapter of
our original copy, a brief chapter that contained the
condensed material of Wat Harlow s letter to Jap, the
birth of little J.W. and Isabel Granger s first kiss.
There was nothing about Bill s boyhood, no record of
Jap s home surroundings, none of the amusing details
of the printing office wherein Jap and Bill were learning
their trade. All these incidents, which seem so essen
tial to the story, were introduced when the first draft
of the story had been completed. The seventh chapter,
which has to do with the babyhood of little J.W., was
dictated after the revision had apparently been com
pleted. When I asked Mark why he inserted it, the
planchette made this curious reply:
"I was thinking that we d better soften the shock of
the boy s death."
For us, through whom the story was being trans
mitted, there was no softening of Ellis Hinton s death.
We knew from the foregoing chapter that the country
editor had gone to the mountains for his health, and
that Flossy had no hope ; but when we had recorded the
words : "Jap closed the press upon the inky type, and
gathered the great bunches of fragrant blossoms and
heaped them upon the press, to be forever silent," a
great wave of sadness swept over me, I knew not why.
The action of the planchette was so rapid that I
could not stop to think or question. It was as if the
man dictating the story had an unpleasant task before
him, which he wished to have done with as soon as
possible. When the final words, "At rest. FLOSSY,"
had been spelled out, and the planchette stopped
abruptly, Mrs. Hays cried :
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 29
"My God, what has happened!" and I looked up to
see that she was very white, and tears were slipping
down her cheeks.
"Ellis is dead," my husband said, very simply. He
had foreseen the end, had grasped the infinite pathos
of that old Washington press, decked as a funeral
casket with the flowers that had been sent to usher in
the new regime.
When the evening s copy had been read, I asked
Mark if he wished to comment on it.
"Not to-night, Emily," the planchette spelled. "I
am all broken up. I didn t want Ellis to die. I tried
to figure a way to save him ; but I couldn t make it go."
When we met again, on the 2d of October, the dicta
tion began with these words :
"I want Edwin to go back to the beginning of the
last chapter. I left out a sentence that is necessary.
It explains why Ellis left by rail. You insert."
Then he dictated the passage relating to the new
railroad and the temporary station. When he had
finished he said, "Go on with the story," and the next
sentence began, "When Ellis went away it was to the
sound of jollity." The reference to Robert Louis
Stevenson was new to both of us, and we have not
sought to verify the incident. That Mark wanted it
included in his story was sufficient for us.
That next chapter contained another accumulation
of brevity which was afterward untied. The funeral,
30 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
the reading of Ellis Hinton s will, Judge Bowers s can
didacy, the nomination of Jap Herron as the ugliest
man in Bloomtown, Bill s first spree and the local
option fight, all these were sketched with the sharp
ness and sudden transition of pictures on a cinemato
graph screen. The following chapter was almost as
tightly packed with incident, and in the midst of it
there was a break, with an astonishing explanation.
Three evenings in succession we had had trouble with
the planchette. It had seemed to me that Mrs. Hays
was trying to pull it from beneath my fingers. Mean
while she had mentally accused me of digital heaviness.
She uses the finger tips of her left hand while I use
my right. As a rule our touch is so light that the
planchette glides automatically. On these three eve
nings we had left the board with cramped fingers, and
a general sense of dissatisfaction. Several sentences
that were plainly spurious were afterward stricken
from the record ; but we had forgotten about the other
scribes who wanted "a pencil on earth," until Mark
interrupted the story to say:
"I must ask you to be wary and sharp to dismiss
impostors. Right now there are more than twenty
hands trying to control your dictation. It is very
hard for me. I am disconsolate, and powerless to help
myself. If we do not watch every avenue, our work is
spoiled. There has been a constant struggle for my
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 31
rights. I only ask a little help, and you are all my
hope. If you fail me, I am undone."
This illuminating outburst served to clear the atmos
phere, and the three chapters were afterward expanded
into seven, much of the same diction being reproduced.
It was as if Mark, knowing the difficulties on his own
side of the shadow-line, had tried to get at least the
outline of his story down on paper, lest he lose his hold
entirely. After that evening we had almost no trouble
The story of Jones, of the Barton Standard, came
to us like a thunder clap from a cloudless sky, for the
part which old Pee-Dee Jones played in the develop
ment of Bloomtown and Barton was not related until
we had begun the work of revision. In the original
story of that near-fight, Mark gave us a significant
cross-light on the conditions under which he lives. The
marshal had appeared in the office at the crucial mo
ment, as if he had dropped through the roof or arisen
out of the floor. Several times in the earlier part of the
work the characters had thus appeared without obvious
means of locomotion, and I had called attention to the
inconsistency, with the result that Mark had dictated
a few words to show how or whence the new arrival
had come. When Wilfred Jones shouted to the mar
shal, "I demand protection," my husband, who was
reading the evening s copy aloud to us, said:
"How does the marshal happen to be there ? I don t
see any previous mention of him."
Instantly the planchette, which we always kept in
readiness under our finger tips, began to move. It dic
"You might say, e at that moment the town marshal,
wearing his star pinned to his blue flannel shirt, strolled
in. I have been away from the need of going up
stairs and down-stairs for so long that I forget about
"How do you get from one place to another, Mark?"
"Now, Emily, curiosity ! But you know we haven t
any Pullman cars or elevators here. When I want to
be at a place where I am free to go why, I am there."
He took occasion, when our difficulties seemed to be
at an end and his grip on his "pencil" was once more
firmly established, to make it very plain to me that I
alone was responsible for the annoyance we had had.
He put it thus :
"Things will be all right if you don t give way to
any more curiosity. In the beginning I told you that
it would not do. Emily wants to investigate too much.
It must be one or all. Edwin and I understand. It
was you that mixed the type. Lola must be passive.
If she tries to watch for intruders, she gets in my way.
So it is up to the Hannibal girl."
I do not know, even now, how I could have prevented
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 33
the trouble that well-nigh wrecked our work. It is true
I had taken part in another psychic demonstration, but
it was in a remote part of the city and it had nothing
to do with Mark Twain s "pencil." However, I took
no further chance with psychic investigation.
When Jap Herron was elected Mayor of Bloomtown,
and the girl he loved had walked right into his aston
ished arms, it seemed to us that the story must be
ended. We had forgotten that Jap ever had a family
of his own, a mother and two sisters, and when the
drunken hag reeled into the Herald office we were as
greatly horrified as Jap himself was. I had put my
husband s carefully kept copy into type-written form,
and it occurred to me to get the opinion of a master
critic on the story, not as evidence of the survival of
the human mind after physical death, but as pure
fiction. Acting upon the impulse, and without telling
either my husband or Mrs. Hays what I intended to do,
I took the copy to William Marion Reedy, 1 permitting
him to infer that I had created it, and asked him to
tell me whether, in his judgment, the story was worth
1 William Marion Reedy, Editor and Publisher of Reedy s Mir
ror, a weekly journal published in St. Louis, has long been in
terested in psychic phenomena, as a source of exotic and un
usual literature. He has also discovered and developed much
purely terrestrial literary talent, having brought out some of
the best poets and fiction writers of present-day America, As
a critic, he is a recognized master.
34 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
finishing. It was the beginning of the week, when the
issuing of the Mirror consumed all his time, and while
I was waiting for his verdict we received three more
chapters. In the first of these we had a new light on
Isabel Granger s character, and came for the first time
absolutely to love Bill Bowers. After that nothing that
Bill might do would shake our faith in his ability to
make good in the end. He might be weak and foolish,
but we understood why Jap believed in and loved him.
We were jubilant when Rosy Raymond was eliminated
from the game, for we feared, whenever we permitted
ourselves to speculate, that Bill would marry her, and
regret the step. We assumed that the son of the much-
married Judge Bowers had inherited a nature suffi
ciently mobile to recover from the shock of the silly
girl s perfidy.
While this unexpected development of the story was
being revealed to us, William Marion Reedy sent me,
in the envelope with the first ten chapters of "Jap Her-
ron," a criticism that fairly made me tingle with de
light. Had the work been my own, I could not have
been more pleased with his unstinted praise. I wanted
to go to him at once and confess the truth ; but he was
not in his office when I called.
Two of the succeeding chapters were taken down by
friends who had been let into the secret of our work and
had asked permission to sit with us. It was the time
of year when my husband could seldom spare an eve-
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 35
ning from his work, and Mark consented to break into
his beloved office-force arrangement, for the sake of
expediency. Three men and five women served us in
the capacity of amanuenses while the latter third of
the book was being transmitted. The first deviation
from our original arrangement came in connection with
the dictation of the seventeenth chapter, the chapter
that ends with the death of Flossy and her son. We
were three sympathetic women, and when the planchette
had traced the words, "It was a smile of heavenly
beauty, as the pure soul of Ellis Hinton s wife flew to
join her loved ones," we three burst simultaneously into
violent weeping. I have never experienced more genu
ine grief at the grave of a departed friend or relative
than I felt when this woman, who had come to be more
than human to me, was released from her envelope of
The following day Mrs. Hays and I were invited to
the home of a delightful little Scotch woman who asked
us to bring the planchette board. She knew nothing
of the story, and had no intimation of the personality
on the other side who was sending it across, through
our planchette; nevertheless she was willing to keep
copy for us. The chapter she wrote down is the eigh
teenth in the finished story, Jap s funeral sermon
and Isabel s song beside Flossy s coffin. Even now I
cannot think of that scene without a swelling of the
36 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
throat and a blinding rush of tears. It is needless
to say we wept when the dictation was ended.
When our hostess had read aloud the copy I asked
our invisible companion if he had anything more to say.
I avoided mentioning his name, for we did not wish his
identity disclosed. The planchette traced the curious
"You know that the air gets pretty damp for an
old boy after this."
I looked out of the window. It was a murky Novem
ber afternoon, and I asked, "Do you feel the dampness
of the material atmosphere?" Like a flash came the
"Emily, girl, you have been getting sob stuff."
Then I yearned to get my fingers in his shock of
white hair, for I knew Mark Twain was laughing at me.
But I had that which gave me consolation, for I had
brought with me Mr. Reedy s letter, analyzing and
commenting upon the story that Mark had created.
Incidentally Mrs. Reedy had asked Mrs. Hays and me
to come to her home the following day to luncheon. I
had told her that Mrs. Hays possessed a high degree
of psychic power, and I consented to bring our board
for a demonstration. I wanted to see Mr. Reedy alone
and explain to him that "Jap Herron" had come to
us over that insensate board, but opportunity was
denied me. As soon as luncheon was over we went
up to that beautiful yellow room in which the best of
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 37
Reedy s Mirror is created, and Mrs. Hays and I
placed the board on our knees. As soon as Mr. Reedy s
fountain pen was ready for action our planchette
"Well, I should doff my plaidie and don a kirtle, for
tis not the sands o Dee but the wearing o the green."
There was a wide sweep of the planchette, and then,
" Tis not the shine of steel that always reflects ; but
it is the claymore that cuts. Both are made of steel
and both will mirror sometimes the shillalah. Yet the
shillalah is better than the claymore, for the man that
is cut will run ; but if ye slug him with the blackthorn
he will have to listen. This is just a flicker of high
light. Bill jumped from bed as the rattle of the latch
announced the arrival of a visitor."
My heart thumped wildly for a moment, then sank.
I knew that the Bill referred to was Bill Bowers, and
not the editor whom hundreds delight to call "Bill
Reedy," and I knew, too, that it would be only a mo
ment until he must realize that the sentences he was
writing down from my dictation were part and parcel
of the story whose first ten chapters he had read and
praised. I dared not lift my eyes from the board, yet
I wanted to stop and explain that I had not intended
to deceive him- that I only wanted an unbiased opinion
of Mark Twain s story. In vain I tried to stop the
whirling planchette, my voice so husky that I could
scarcely pronounce the letters. It went right on, with
38 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
a situation that neither Mrs. Hays nor I had antici
pated. We had schooled ourselves not to speculate,
yet the previous afternoon we had left Jap in a fainting
condition and on the verge of a long illness. The chap
ter we transmitted that day was the story of a guber
natorial election in a small Missouri town.
Subsequently, when Mark gave us the intervening
chapter, Jap s visit to the cemetery and the humorous
incidents of the campaign, I asked him:
"Why didn t you give this chapter last Thursday?"
"I thought that election would amuse Reedy. Don t
worry, Emily. He understood you. He knows the
Hannibal girl is honest," was the comforting reply.
When the revision of the story was under way, and
several fragments had been dictated, the planchette
spelled the words, "I want to add something to the
Reedy chapter," and without further ado it proceeded :
"The Bloomtown Herald did itself proud that week."
That fragment was the easiest of them all to fit into
place. At its conclusion we were favored with a bit
of pleasantry that seems significant. My husband gave
us a lift whenever he could spare the time ; but on this
occasion a woman friend was sitting with us. She had
written about two thousand words of copy, when the
tenor of the dictation changed suddenly to the per
"Old Mark has been working like a badger, and is
pleased with the story. The girls and friend Ed are
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 39
going as well as Twain ever did when he wielded his
own pen. When Edwin lights up a fresh smoke and
smiles, I know that all is well. But when Lola frowns
and Edwin forgets to smoke, look out for leaks. The
story has sprung and therain was hesitthininspots."
The last of the sentence came so rapidly that none of
us had any idea what it meant, or that it meant any
thing at all. Before we had separated it into the
words, "the rain washes it thin in spots," I asked that
that last part be repeated. Instead we got the words :
"When a board is sprung, it lets in rain. It is Emily
who has to hold the drip pan for the temperamental
"Thank you for those few kind words, Mark," I
said. "But if you think enough of me to trust me
with this important work, why do you single me out
for all the scoldings, when Edwin and Lola sometimes
deserve at least a share in your displeasure?"
"Whist, Hannibal girl, we know our office force,"
was the humorous rejoinder.
The appearance of Agnesia was one of the keen sur
prises of the story, and before we realized what Jap s
little sister would mean to Bloomtown, Mark inter
rupted his dictation with the words, "Stop ! Girls, the
yarn is nearly all unwound. We will skip a bit that we
will tie in later. But now Bill sat doubled over the
case, the stick held listlessly in his hand. Nervously he
fingered the copy, not knowing what he was reading."
40 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
Without a break, we received the brief final chapter,
ending with the words, "Isabel wants to call him
Jasper William." The planchette added, "The End."
We transmitted no more that day, although we knew
that our story was far from completion.
The next time we met we had another surprise in
the coming of Jap s elder sister. When the twenty-fifth
chapter was finished, Mark said:
"Girls, I think the story is done."
"It s pretty short for a book," I protested. By way
of reply, he gave this:
"Did you ever know about my prize joke? One day
I went to church, heard a missionary sermon, was car
ried away to the extent of a hundred dollars. The
preacher kept talking. I reduced my ante to fifty
dollars. He talked on. I came down to twenty-five,
to ten, to five, and after he had said all that he had in
him, I stole a nickel from the basket. Reason for your
selves. Not how long but how strong. Yet I have a
sneaking wish to tell you something of the early days of
Ellis s work, especially about Granger and Blanke.
But to-day I have writer s cramp. So let s get together
soon and make the finish complete."
There were two more sessions, with the dictation of
a whole chapter and several fragments, at each meet
ing, and we met no more until I had put the whole
complex record into consecutive form. We had a final
review of the work, and a few minor changes in words.
THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON" 41
and phrases were made. Mark expressed himself as
well pleased, and as a little farewell he gave us this,
which has nothing to do with Jap Herron:
"There will be a great understanding some day. It
will come when the earth realizes that we must leave
it, to live, and when it can put itself in touch with the
heavens that surround it. I have met a number of
preachers over here who would like to undo many things
they promulgated while they had a whack at sinners.
"There are hardshell Baptists who have a happy
time meeting their members, to whom they preached hell
and brimstone. They have many things to explain.
There is one melancholy Presbyterian who frankly
stated the fact underscore fact that there were
infants in hell not an ell long. He has cleared out
quite a space in hell since he woke up. He doesn t rush
out to meet his congregation. It would create trouble
and be embarrassing if they looked around for the suf
fering infants. As I said before, there is everything
to learn, after the shackles of earth are thrown aside.
I would like to write a story about some of these
preachers, and the mistakes they made, when the doc
trines of brimstone and everlasting punishment were
ladled out as freely to the little maid who danced as to
the harlot. It showed a mind asleep to the undis
"Can you shed any light on that undiscovered coun
try?" I asked him.
42 THE COMING OF "JAP HERRON"
"Perhaps. But for the present there is enough of
the truth of life and death in Jap Herron to hold
And with that he told us good-bye.
EMILY GRANT HUTCHINGS.
As every well-bred story has a hero, and as there
seems better material in Jap than any other party to
this story, we will dignify him. Mary Herron feebly
asserted her rights in the children by naming them
respectively, Fanny Maud, Jasper James and Agnesia.
Jasper deteriorated. He became Jap, and Jap he re
mained, despite the fact that Fanny Maud developed
into Fannye Maude and Agnesia changed her cogno
men, without recourse to law, to Mabelle. The folks in
Happy Hollow continued to say "Magnesia" long after
she left its fragrant depths.
The father of the little Herrons was a kingfisher.
He spent his hours of toil on the river bank and his
hours of ease in Mike s place. One Friday, good luck
peered through the dingy windows of the little shanty
where the Herrons starved, froze or sweltered. It was
Friday, as I remarked before. Mary was washing,
against difficulties. It had rained for a week. The
clothes had to dry before Mary could cash her labor,
44 JAP HERRON
and it fretted Jacky Herron sorely. His credit had
lost caste with Mike, and Mike had the grip on the
town. He had the only thirst parlor in Happy Hol
low. So Jacky smashed the only remaining window,
broke the family cup, and set forth defiantly in the
rain. And in the fog and slashing rain he lost his
footing, and fell into the river. As it was Friday, Mary
had hopefully declared that luck would change and it
The town buried Jacky and moved his family into
decent lodgings, because the Town Fathers did not
want to contract typhoid in ministering to them.
Loosed of the incubus of a father, the little family
grew in grace. Jappie, as his baby sister called him,
was the problem. Agnesia was pretty, and the Mayor s
wife adopted her. Fanny Maud went west to live with
her aunt, and Jap remained with his mother until she,
after the manner of womankind, who never know when
they have had luck, married another bum and began
supporting him. Jap ran away.
He was twelve years old, red-headed, freckled and
lanky, when he trailed into Bloomtown. He loafed
along the main street until he reached the printing
office, and there he stopped. An aphorism of his late
lamented dad occurred to him.
"Ef I had a grain of gumption," said dad, during
an enforced session of his family s society, "I would
V went to work in my daddy s printin office, instid of
JAP HERRON 45
runnin away when I was ten year old. I might a had
money, aplenty, stid of bein cumbered and helt down
by you and these brats."
Jap straggled irregularly inside and heard the old
Washington hand press groan and grunt its weary way
through the weekly edition of the Herald. After the
last damp sheet had been detached from the press, and
the papers were being folded by the weary-eyed, inky
demon who had manipulated the handle, he slouched
"Say, Mister," he asked confidently, "do you do that
every day?" indicating the press, " cause I m goin* to
work for you."
The editor, pressman and janitor looked upon him
in surprise and pity.
"I appreciate your ambition," he said, more in
sorrow than anger, "but I have become so attuned
to starving alone that I don t think I could adjust
myself to the shock of breaking my fast on you."
Jap was unmoved.
"My dad onct thought he d be a editor, but he got
married," he said calmly.
"Sensible dad," commented the editor, with more
truth than he dreamed. "I suppose that he had three
meals a day, and a change of socks on Sunday."
"But Ma had to get em," argued Jap. "I want
to be a editor, and I am agoin to stay." And stay
"RUN out and get a box of sardines," ordered the
boss of the Washington press. "I ve got a nickel.
I can t let you starve. I lived three months on them
look at me !"
Jap surveyed him apprehensively.
"I d hate to be so thin," he complained, "and I don t
like sardines nor any fishes. My dad fed us them every
day. Allus wanted to taste doughnuts. Can I buy
Ellis Hinton laughed shortly, and spun the nickel
across the imposing stone. Jap caught it deftly. An
hour later he appeared for work, smiling cheerfully.
"Why the shiner?" queried Ellis, indicating a badly
swollen and rapidly discoloring eye.
"Kid called me red-top," said Jap bluntly.
"Love o gracious," Ellis exclaimed, "whu,t is the
"It s red," quoth Jap, "but it ain t his business. If I
am agoin to be a editor, nobody s goin to get familiar
This was Jap s philosophy, and in less than a week
he had mixed with every youth of fighting age in town.
JAP HERRON 47
The office took on metropolitan airs because of the
rush of indignant parents who thronged its portals.
Ellis pacified some of the mothers, outtalked part of
the fathers and thrashed the remainder. After he had
mussed the outer office with "Judge" Bowers, and tipped
the case over with the final effort that threw him,
Jap said, solemnly surveying the wreck:
"If I had a dad like you, I d V been the President
Ellis gazed ruefully into the mess of pi, and kicked
absently at the hell-box.
"I ll work all night," cried Jap eagerly. "I ll clean
"We ll have plenty of time," said Ellis gloomily.
"We have to hit the road, kid. Judge Bowers owns
the place. He has promised to set us out before
But luck came with Jap. It was Friday again, and
Bowers s wife presented him with twins, his mother-in-
law arrived, and his uncle inherited a farm. There
was only one way for the news to be disseminated, and
he came in with his truculent son and helped clean
up, so that the Herald could be issued on time. More
than that, he made the boys shake hands, and con
cluded to put Bill to work in the Herald office. After
he had puffed noisily out, Ellis looked whimsically
48 JAP HERRON
"Are you going to board yourself out of what I am
able to pay you?" he asked.
"Oh, I don t reckon Pappy cares about that," the
boy said cheerfully. "He just wants to keep me out
of mischief, and he said that lookin at you was enough
to sober a sot."
Months dragged by. Bill and Jap worked more or
less harmoniously. Once a day they fought ; but it was
fast becoming a mere function, kept up just for form.
Ellis was doing better. He had set up housekeeping,
since Jap came, in the back room of the little wooden
structure that faced the Public Square, and housewives
sent them real food once in a while.
Once Ellis feared that Jap was going to quit him for
the Golden Shore. It was on the occasion of Myrtilla
Botts s wedding, when she baked the cakes herself, for
practice, and her mother thoughtfully sent most of
them to the Editor, to insure a big puff for Myrtilla.
Ellis was afraid; but Jap, with the enthusiasm and in
experience of youth, took a chance. Bill was laid up
with mumps, or the danger would have been lessened.
As it was, it took all the doctors in town to keep Jap
alive until they could uncurl him and straighten out
his appendix, which appeared to be cased in wedding
cake. This experience gave Jap an added distaste for
the state of matrimony.
"My dad allus said to keep away from marryin 5 ,"
JAP HERRON 49
he moaned. "But how d I know you d ketch it from
the eatin s ?"
The subscription list grew apace. There was a
load of section ties, two bushel of turnips and six pump
kins paid in November. Bill and Jap went hunting
once a week, so the larder grew beyond sardines. Jap
acquired a hatred of turnips and pumpkins that was
in after years almost a mania. At Christmas, Kelly
Jones brought in a barrel of sorghum, "to sweeten
em," he guffawed. Jap had grown to manhood before
he wholly forgave that pleasantry. It was a hard
winter. Everybody said so, and when Jap gazed at
Ellis across the turnips and sorghum of those weary
months, he said he believed it.
"Shame on you," rebuked Ellis, gulping his turnips
with haste. "Think of the wretched people who would
be glad to get this food."
"Do you know any of their addresses?" asked Jap
abruptly. "Because I can t imagine anybody happy
on turnips and sorghum. I d be willin to trade my
wretched for theirn."
Kelly said that Jap would be fat as butter if he ate
plenty of molasses, and this helped at first ; but when
the grass came, he begged Ellis to cook it for a change.
When George Thomas came in, one blustery March
day, to say that if the turnips were all gone, he would
bring in some more, Ellis pied Judge Bowers s speech
on the duties of the Village Fathers to the alleys, when
50 JAP HERRON
he saw the malignant look that Jap cast upon the
Once a week Bill and Jap drew straws to determine
which one should fare forth in quest of funds, and for
the first time in his brief business career, Jap was glad
the depressing task had fallen to him. "Pi" was likely
to bring on an acute attack of mental indigestion, and
the boy had learned to dread Ellis Hinton s infrequent
but illuminating flame of wrath.
The catastrophe had been blotted out, the last
stickful of type had been set and Bill had gone home
to supper when Jap, leg-weary and discouraged, wan
dered into the office. Ellis looked up from the form
he was adjusting.
"How did you ever pick out this town?" the boy
complained, turning the result of his day s collection
on the table.
Ellis turned from the bit of pine he was whittling, a
makeshift depressingly familiar to the country editor.
He scanned the meager assortment of coins with
anxious eye. Jap s lower jaw dropped.
"I ll have to fire you if you haven t got enough to
pay for the paper."
"Got enough for that," said Jap mournfully, "but
not enough for meat."
"Didn t Loghman owe for his ad?" Ellis demanded.
"Did you ask him for it?"
JAP HERRON 51
"Says you owe him more n he s willin for you to
owe," Jap ventured.
"Meat s not healthy this damp weather," he sug
gested. "Cook something light."
"It ll be darned light," said Jap. "There s one
"No bread?" asked Ellis.
"Give that scrap to the cat," Jap returned. "Doc
Hall says she s done eat all the mice in town and if we
don t feed her she ll be eatin off n the subscribers."
"Confound Doc Hall," stormed Ellis. "You take
your orders from me. That bread, stewed with potato,
would have made a dandy dish." He shook the form
to settle it, and faced Jap.
"How did I come to pick this place?" he said slowly.
"Well, Jap, it was the dirtiest deal a boy ever got. I
had a little money after my father died. I wanted to
invest it in a newspaper, somewhere in the West, where
the world was honest and young. I had served my
apprenticeship in a dingy, narrow little New England
office, and I thought my lifework was cut out for me.
I had big dreams, Jap. I saw myself a power in my
town. With straw and mud I wanted to build a town
of brick and stone. Dreams, dreams, Jap, dreams.
Some day you may have them, too."
He let his lean form slowly down into a chair. Jap
52 JAP HERRON
braced himself against the table as the narrative con
"In Hartford I met Hallam, the man who started the
Bloomtown Herald. I heard his flattering version. I
inspected his subscription list and studied the columns
of his paper, full of ads. I bought. The subs were
deadheads, the ads gratuitous, for my undoing. It
was indeed straw and mud, and, lad, it has remained
straw and mud." He leaned his head on his hand for a
"That was the year after you were born, Jap. I was
only twenty-one. For a year I was hopeful; then I
dragged like a dead dog. You will be surprised when
I tell you what brought me to life again. I tell you
this, boy, so that you will never despise Opportunity,
though she may wear blue calico, as mine did.
"It was one dark, cold day. No human face had
come inside the office for a week. That was the period
of my life when I learned how human a cat can be. We
were starving, the cat and me, with the advantage in
favor of the cat. She could eat vermin. I sat by the
table, wondering the quickest way to get out of it. Yes,
Jap, the first and, God help me, the only time that life
was worthless. The door opened and a plump woman
dressed in blue calico, a sunbonnet pushed back from
her smiling face, entered."
To Jap, who listened with his heart in his throat, it
seemed that Ellis was quoting perhaps a page from the
JAP HERRON 53
memoirs he had written for the benefit of his townsmen.
His deep, melodious voice fell into the rhythmic cadence
of a reader, as he continued:
" Howdy, Mr. Editor, she chirped. I ve been
keenin for a long time to come in to see you. I think
you are aprintin the finest paper I ever seen. I
brought you a mess of sassage and a passel of bones
from the killin . It s so cold, they ll keep a spell. And
here s a dollar for next year s paper. I don t want to
miss a number. I am areadin it over and over. Seems
like you are agoin to make a real town out of Bloom-
town, and with a friendly pat on the arm, she was
Ellis brushed the long hair from his brow, the
strange modulation went out of his voice and the fire
returned to his brown eyes as he said:
"Jap, I got up from that table and fell on my knees,
and right there I determined that starvation nor cold
nor any other enemy should rout me. Jap, I am going
to make Bloomtown a real town yet. My boy, that
blue calico lady was Mrs. Kelly Jones."
ELLIS scowled and kicked his stool absently with his
"Will you explain where the colons and semicolons
have emigrated to?" he asked Bill, with suppressed
"We was short of quads, and I whittled em off."
Ellis glared at Bill s ingenuous face.
"And what, pray, did you whittle to take their
"Never had no call to use em," muttered Bill, chew
ing up the item he had just disposed of. "I can say
all that I can think with commas and periods."
"Abraham Lincoln used colons and semicolons," said
Ellis, shortly, "and I am setting his immortal speech.
What am I going to do about it, my intelligent co-
Bill coughed violently as the wad of paper slipped
down his throat.
"Try George Washington," he advised. "They
didn t have so much trimmin s to their talk them days."
Jap shoved a chair against the door sill and flung
the door ajar to cut off the blast of hot air that swept
JAP HERRON 55
"Gee-whiz !" he complained, "I m chokin on the dust.
However did they get Bloomtown hitched on to this
patch of dirt? There ain t a flower in a mile, ceptin
the half-dead sprigs the wimmin are acoaxin against
"When I came here," said Ellis, "the old settlers told
me that whenever I wanted information I should hunt
up Kelly Jones. There he goes now. Call him in."
But Kelly was coming anyway. He carried a mys
terious basket and his sun-burned face was full of sup
"Wife allowed that you and Jap must be putty nigh
starved," he chuckled, shifting the quid to his other
cheek. "I reckon she knowed that Jap done the cookin
Wednesdays and Thu sdays."
He lifted the clean white towel from the basket, dis
closing a pound of yellow butter, a glass of jelly, a loaf
of bread and two pies, fairly reeking aroma.
"Fu st blackberries," asserted Kelly. "I ain t had a
pie myself yet, and wife forbid me to take a bite o
"God bless the wife of our countryman, Kelly Jones.
May her shade never grow less," said Ellis fervently,
stowing the basket away. "If Jap and Bill stick all
the matter on the hooks before noon, they may have
pie. Otherwise the Editor of the Herald exercises his
prerogative and eats both pies."
"Kelly," asked Jap abruptly, "why did they call this
56 JAP HERRON
patch of dust Bloomtown ? Did they ever have even
peppergrass growin along its edges?"
Kelly settled himself comfortably in Ellis s chair and
draped his long legs over the exchanges. Filling his
mouth with Granger twist, he said:
" Twa n t because of the blooms. Fact is, it never
was bloom in the fu st place. Old man Blome owned
this track of land his name was Jerusalem Blome.
Folks used to say Jerusalem Blown. Purty nice story
there is about this town and Barton, why neither of
em has got a railroad, and why Barton is bigger in
money and sca cer in folks."
Ellis put his stickful of type on the case resignedly.
Bill and Jap deposited their weary frames on the door
step. The hot wind blew in their faces, laden with dust.
The smell of dried grass was odorous.
"Looks like it mout blow up a rain," said Kelly,
"Well, Kelly," declared Ellis, "you have tied the
wheels of this machine. Deliver the goods you prom
ised. We are not interested in rain."
"Humph!" ruminated Kelly, "it was this-a-^ay: Old
man Blome bought this track about the time that Luel-
len Barton moved to her plantation. It mout a been
sooner; I ain t sure. Barton leastways, what is Bar
ton now belonged to old Simpson Barton. When he
went south and married a rip-snortin widow, he
brought his wife and a passel o niggers to live at the
JAP HERRON 57
old home place. There hadn t never been no niggers
there, along of the fu st Mis Barton.
"When war broke out the niggers run away, along
of Jerusalem Blome, that got up a nigger regimint.
After the war there was talk of a railroad. It would
run right through the Blome farm and cross the Barton
place crossways. My daddy was overseer for Mis
Barton. Simp didn t have nothin to say about the
runnin of the place. I was a tyke, doin errands for
everybody, and I hcerd a lot o the railroad talk. Old
Blome was sellin his farm in town lots, gettin ready
for the boom for who would a thought that Mis
Barton would turn her back on such a proposition?
"You see, it was this-a-way: Mis Luellen was allus
speculatin in niggers, and a month before war broke,
she had bought a load of Guinea niggers the kind that
looks like they are awearin bustles, you know. Simp
kinder smelt war, but, Lordee, Luellen wouldn t be
dictated to ! And she went broke, flat as a flitter. All
that was left was the thousand acres of Barton land.
"Railroad? No, siree! She heard about old man
Blome s activity, and she had it in for Blome. She
sat up and primped her lips when Pee-Dee Jones come in
behalf of the railroad. That s how the Barton Joneses
come to settle in this neck o the woods. Pee-Dee Jones
no kin o mine had a winnin way, and he purty
nigh got Mis Luellen s name on the paper, when he let
slip that he intended buildin a town on her land. Do
58 JAP HERRON
you think that I am agoin to have a lot of blue-bellied
Yankees in my very dooryard? she yelled. You are
mistaken. And so she stuck.
"Afterwards she learned that Fee-Dee Jones had fol-
lered Grant. Whew ! She nigh busted with rage. Mis
Luellen allus said that she could smell a Yankee a mile,
and as she didn t like the smell, she cropped the rail
road boom. It went five mile north of her place, and
missed Bloomtown twenty mile. That s why the two
towns are just livin along. The folks that bought lots
of old Blome tried to get another railroad to come their
way. That was when the Wabash looked like it was
headed for my farm; but I reckon that opportunities
like that don t come but onct in a lifetime.
"I wonder that Mis Luellen s spook don t howl
around Barton every night, for Jones bought the big
house after she died, and the fambly comes back there
to live whenever their luck goes wrong. Pee-Dee s boy,
Brons Jones, started a paper there, about the time that
Hallam started the Bloomtown Herald. He sold out
to a poor devil that s racin to see if he can starve
quicker n Ellis. Brons ain t been around these parts,
the last few years, but he owns a lot o Barton property
that he thinks 11 make good some day."
Kelly aimed a clear stream of tobacco juice at the
dingy brown cuspidor, and made as if to settle himself
for further narrative.
"Jap, Bill, get to work," commanded Ellis. "And,
JAP HERRON 59
Kelly, much as I appreciate you and your excellent
wife, I must dispense with your society. I need these
As the farmer departed, grinning cheerfully, Tom
Granger appeared at the door of the Herald office.
A conference of prominent citizens had been summoned
to meet, early that afternoon, in the Granger and Har-
low bank, a somewhat more pretentious building, sep
arated from the Herald office by a narrow alley; and
during a lull in the morning s business Tom was serving
himself in the capacity of errand boy. From his place
on the front steps, he could watch for the possible ad
vent of depositor or daylight robber, there being no
rear door to the bank.
"You ll be on hand, Ellis," he reminded. "Couldn t
have any kind of a meeting without the Herald, you
know. We won t keep you long."
But the session was more important than the banker
had anticipated. Judge Bowers had prepared a
lengthy discourse, and others had opinions that needed
ventilating. Once or twice, Ellis was irritated by
shrieks of laughter that emanated from the office across
the alley, usually in Bill s shrill treble. When the cause
of the merriment had reached an exceptional climax,
the Editor pounced upon his assistants, wearing the
scowl of a thunder god. Jap and Bill got up, shame
facedly, as he demanded:
60 JAP HERRON
"What do you think I am conducting this plant for?
A circus for horse-play?"
He kicked the cat loose from the box Jap had it
hitched to. The two boys looked ruefully at their over
"There goes the hell-box !" Bill screamed.
Ellis stared at him in transfixed wrath.
"Was that pi?" he demanded, looking down the hole
in the floor into which most of the contents of the box
Bill darted into the back room and sneaked swiftly
out through the alley door. The office saw him no more
that day. With such tools as were available, Jap set
to work to undo the mischief he had wrought. An
hour later, he replaced the plank in the floor. The
rescued type was piled in a dirty litter of refuse. Ellis
leaned over it, attracted by a gleam that shone as not
even new type could glitter.
"It s a ring," explained Jap, furtively. "I reckon
you won t be so mad now. I can soak it when we get
hungry. I soaked my ma s ring, lots of times."
"Why, you young reprobate !" exclaimed Ellis,
"that ring is not yours, or mine. We will advertise it."
He smiled in Jap s disappointed face. "It looked like
a beefsteak, didn t it, boy? Well, virtue is its own
reward, and maybe the owner will pay for the ad."
But she did not, and yet the kick given to the inof
fensive office cat had effects as far-reaching in the
JAP HERRON 61
result to Bloomtown as did the kick of the famous
Chicago cow, with this difference, that the effects were
not disastrous. The brief ad in the Herald brought
Flossy Bowers from her home in Barton to claim
a ring she had lost fifteen years before.
"The office used to belong to Pap s daddy," Bill ex
plained to Jap, as Ellis and Miss Bowers stood chatting
in the front door. "When Grandpap was lawyerin , he
had this for his office, and Aunt Flossy lost her ring,
scrubbin the floor. I have heard tell that he made the
wimmin folks curry the horses. They say he had a
big funeral. I wonder " Bill spoke wistfully, "I won
der if I have any kinfolks on the man-side that love
anybody but theirselves. Flossy didn t get to go off to
school till her daddy died. She s been teachin , up to
Barton, since my pappy married this last time, and my
stepmother don t like her, so she never comes home."
Jap and Bill noted that Ellis found frequent busi
ness in Barton, and despite the inhospitable atmosphere
of the substantial Bowers home, across the little park
from the Herald office, Flossy came oftener than usual
to her girlhood town. The autumn, the winter and the
spring sped by. Ellis Hinton was too happy to scold,
even when there was an excess of horse-play. In the
gladsome June-tide the young girls of Bloomtown
stripped their mothers gardens to weave garlands for
the little church, and Judge Bowers opened his heart
and his house for the wedding reception.
62 JAP HERRON
Flossy had a dower of two thousand dollars, besides
the cottage, a part of her father s patrimony, on one
of the side streets, a ten-minute walk from the office.
In her trunk were stowed away the yellow linens that
should have served her, had a certain college friend
proved faithful, and the wedding presents came near to
doing the rest. This strange turn of the wheel of for
tune landed Jap Herron in his first real home. Flossy
could cook, and thank the kind fates, she brought some
thing to cook with her. Flossy was a misnomer, for even
in her salad days, she had never been the least bit
"flossy," and when Ellis bestowed himself upon her she
had well turned thirty.
The Judge made Ellis a present of the office, thereby
relieving him of the haunting fear that he might, at
some time, demand the rent. The paper put on a new
dress, and the hell-box was dumped full of the dis
carded, mutilated types that had so long given strabis
mus to the patient readers of the Bloomtown Herald.
"TO-MORROW is Jap s birthday," announced Ellis,
one noontide early in July. "Jap, you are a joy-
spoiler. With the Fourth yet smoking in the air, we
must be upset by your birthday."
"Dad allus cussed that day," remarked Jap, wiping
the blackberry juice from his freckled face. "Gee, I
never guessed that there was such grub as this," regret
fully gazing at the generous blackberry cobbler re
gretfully, because his exhausted stomach refused to
give another stitch.
"Cussed it?" queried Ellis, who was beginning to
fat up a bit.
"He said that I was the first nail in the coffin of his
troubles," replied Jap cheerfully.
"How dreadfully inhuman," exclaimed Flossy, scrap
ing the scraps to the chickens. "Well, Jappie," she
bustled back to the dining-room where her little family
lingered, "we are going to begin making your birthdays
pleasant. What do you want most?"
She had her mind s eye on the discarded ties of gor
geous hue, bought while Ellis was courting, and still
64 JAP HERRON
"Ca-can I have just what I want?" stuttered Jap,
"Why, certainly, Jappie. That is, if we can afford
"Well well," floundered Jap, astounded at his own
temerity, "I allus wanted a pair of knee pants. Ma
thought that some time she could get em; but the
folks that she washed for allus kept giving her pants
of their menfolks. I had to wear em. Can I have
Flossy stared dazedly after Ellis, whose vision of
Jap in knee trousers was most unsettling. Before the
momentous request had been granted, he was already
half way down the alley. He was still convulsed with
laughter when he reached the side door of the Herald
office. But his mental picture paled into dull common
place, by comparison with the reality that was in store
Jap bought the cherished pants !
Bloomtown had seen the circus, the Methodist church
fire and Judge Lester s funeral, the greatest in the his
tory of the county; but none of these created the in
terest that Jap brought out when he traveled the length
of Spring street, rounded the corner at Blanke s drug
store and walked solemnly along Main street to the
Ellis was looking out of the window when he ap
peared, and despite his effort at composure, was writh-
JAP HERRON 66
ing on the floor in agony when Jap entered. Bill looked
up, as the vision crossed the threshold, and he involun
tarily swallowed four type he was holding in his lips
while he adjusted a pied stickful of "More Anon s"
communication from Pluffot. Jap was so interested
in himself that these things passed him by. He sat sol
emnly on his stool and looked vacantly into the e-box.
Poking absently among the dusty types, he said, with
"Bill, did you ever want anything right bad?"
Bill swallowed the last type with difficulty. It was
the last capital Z, and they were getting five dollars
for the announcement of Zachariah Zigler s daughter,
Zella Zena s graduation into matrimony, and Bill had
been picking enough Z s out of the "More Anon" to
spell it, when the pi happened. His mind feebly recog
nized the calamity. He stared at the apparition before
him, too stunned by the catastrophe to apprehend Jap s
appearance further. Jap pressed him for reply.
"Once," he admitted gloomily. "I wanted to eat
"Did you like em when you got them?" asked Jap
"Naw! Tasted nasty. Never could see why folks
keened after em."
"I allus wanted knee pants," he said plaintively.
"But seems like I wa n t made for that kind of luxury.
66 JAP HERRON
I ain t a bit happy, like I thought. Seems kind of
indecent to show your legs, when you never done it
And Jap donned his long trousers again, much to
the relief of Bloomtown. Ellis afterward declared that
the three-and-a-half feet of spindling legs that dangled
along under the buckled bands of those short trousers
were the most remarkable things he had ever seen. They
resembled nothing more than the legs of a spring lamb,
cavorting in knee pants, in the butcher s window.
When we have achieved our heart s desire, we often
taste the ashes of illusion.
Jap did not worry further about his appearance,
but, dressed in the neat jumpers that Flossy provided,
he seemed content. The memory of the episode was
beginning to lose some of its sting when Dame Fortune
gave a mighty turn to her wheel. He was in the alley
with Bill, playing marbles, when Wat Harlow came
"Where is Ellis?" he gasped. "There s hell afloat."
"Ellis and Flossy have gone to Birdtown to stay till
Monday," vouchsafed Bill. "It s goin to be big doin s
at an anniversary, Sunday."
"Good God!" cried Wat, "what can I do?"
Jap arose and dusted himself.
"Is it a dark secret?" he inquired. "Did Ellis owe
you a bill? Lordee, man, you can find plenty more in
your fix. Forget it."
JAP HERRON 67
Wat continued to tear up and down the narrow
"I m ruined," he groaned. "They ve got an infernal
lie out about me, and it s going to kill me out."
Jap was interested.
"Maybe I know what Ellis could do," he suggested.
"I am running for the Legislature again," Wat said,
pacing wildly over the marbles. "The Morgan crowd
have got it out that I sold myself to the crowd that are
trying to lobby a bill for a big appropriation for the
State University. The county is solid against it, and
they will vote me out of politics forever."
"What could Ellis do?" asked Jap, sympathetically.
"I thought that he could print the truth in handbills
that could be sent out. It is now Friday, and Tuesday
is election day. There will be no chance for help after
Monday. They would have to have time to get all over
the county." He sat down and wiped his forehead.
"What is your defense?" asked Jap judicially.
"They said that I was in the headquarters of the
University gang and I was," he said bitterly. "They
said I shook hands with Barks and I did. They said
that he walked with me down the steps, with his arm
around my shoulder and he did."
"Love of Mike !" exploded Bill, "what do you want
to talk about it for, then?"
"The University headquarters are in Bolton s furni
ture store," explained Wat. "My my baby died last
68 JAP HERRON
night, and I went there for her little coffin." He choked
and walked over to the gate. After a moment he turned
back. "Barks was there. When he found why I came,
he walked out with me. He put his arm around my
shoulder. He he was telling me that he buried his
youngest, a few weeks ago. And now, while I am tied
here, and the time is so short, Ellis is gone. And I ll
be ruined !"
He leaned heavily on the rickety gate. Bill wiped
his snub nose, openly, but Jap straightened up. The
fire of battle was in his eyes.
"Come inside," he cried valiantly. "Ellis is gone,
but the office is here. Come on, Bill. We have great
things to do."
All night long the two boys labored. After the story
was in type, they printed it on the Washington press.
It was Bill s suggestion that brought forth a can of
vermilion, to lend color to the heart story. Wat was
in and out all night, but there was no "in and out" for
the boys. At daybreak they flung the last handbill
upon the stack of bills and sank exhausted upon them.
Wat carried a mail pouch full of them to the stage
that started on its daily trip to Faber, at seven o clock,
and the pathetic story saved the day for Legislator
"Boys, I will never forget it," he declared.
Ellis saw one of the badly spelled, ink-smeared
agonies on Saturday evening, and took the next stage
JAP HERRON 69
for home, wrathful enough to thrash both boys. They
had adorned the bill with the cut that Ellis had had
made for Johnson, the tombstone cutter, a weeping
angel drooping its long wings over a stately head-stone.
A rooster and two prancing stallions at the bottom pre
saged victory for the vilified Wat.
It was midnight when Ellis slammed the door open.
The two boys were asleep in the midst of the litter of
torn, ink-gaumed and otherwise spoiled copies of that
hideous handbill. The last pull on the lever of the
press had let it fly back too quickly, and it had flapped
its handle loose and lay wrecked on the floor. The of
fice had the appearance of a battleground. The ink
was blood, and the press and scattered type, casualties.
He stirred the boys with an angry kick. Jap sat up
and peered through the ink over his eyes at his angry
"We fixed him solid," he declared jubilantly. "There
can t nothing beat Wat now. We opened the eyes
of the county."
"You surely did," groaned Ellis. "When the Press
Association add to their Hall of Fame, they will shroud
me in the folds of that dad-blamed bit of art !"
JAP came running into the office, early in January,
his freckled face aglow, his red hair standing wildly
"Golly Haggins !" he exploded, "I got a letter from
Wat. He s up at the Legislater and he writes he
writes this !" He fairly lunged the letter at Ellis.
Ellis read, scowling:
"My dear young Friend,
"I am at the Halls of Justice and I want to fill my
promise to reward you for the noble deed you done.
There is a chance for a bright boy as page, and I have
spoke for it for my noble boy. Come at once. Time
and tide won t wait, and there is thirty other boys
camped on the trail,
"Respectfully your Friend,
"Whoopee!" yelled Bill, jumping from his stool and
turning a handspring across the office.
"Reckon I d better ask Flossy to fix my things get
my clothes out?" asked Jap, beaming radiantly over
JAP HERRON 71
the big barrel stove. He started toward the door.
"Stop!" said Ellis, in a voice Jap had never
heard. "You are not going."
"Not going?" echoed both boys hollowly.
"No!" almost shouted Ellis, his brown eyes flashing.
"I might have expected this from that wooden-headed
son of a lost art. Do you think that you are going to
leave my office to lick the boots of that loafing gang
of pie-biters ? Not in a thousand years ! I am going
to put a tuck in that idea right now. And while I m
talking about it, you may as well know that Flossy is
getting ready to teach you how to read and write and
rithmetic, as Bill says. And as for you, Bill, Flossy
says that if your father hasn t enough pride to do the
right thing by you, she ll give you an education, along
with Jap. You begin your lessons to-morrow evening.
"Jap, write to that reformed auctioneer and thank
him for his favor. Tell him that you belong to the
ancient and honorable order of printers. When he
runs for governor, you will boom him. Till then,
nothing doing in the Halls of Justice. :
Jap sulked all day, but he wrote the letter whose
contents might have changed his career, and the fol
lowing evening he and Bill began the schooling that
Flossy had planned. It was a full winter for the boys,
the most important of their lives. Even when spring
came, with its yawns and its drowsy fever, they begged
72 JAP HERRON
that the lessons continue. Already the effect was be
ginning to show in the galley proof.
One morning in July, Jap had held down the office
alone. Flossy was not well, and Ellis spent as much
time with her as possible. Bill blustered in, a look of
disgust in his brown eyes.
"Ain t nothin doin in town, cept at Summers s," he
exploded, luxuriating in the kind of speech that was
tabooed in the presence of his elders. "Only ad I could
scare up was at Summers s, and Ellis don t want that."
Jap looked from the door, beyond the little village
park and the hotel, to where the dingy white face of
the saloon stared impudently upon the town.
"I never see one of them places without scringin ,"
he said slowly. "My pappy almost lived in one. When
we were cold, he was warm. When Ma and us children
were hungry, the saloon fed him, because because he
could be so amusing and entertaining when he was half
drunk. Ma said that my pappy s folks were quality,
but they didn t have any time for him.
"I used to creep around to the side winder to see
what kind of a drunk he had. If it was a mean one,
I d run home and sneak Aggie out and hide. He had
a spite agin us two, and when he had a mean drunk he
used to beat us. He was skeered to tetch Fanny Maud.
She had the wild-cattest temper you ever saw. He tried
to pull her out of bed by her hair one night, and she
jumped on him and scratched his face like a map. Ma
JAP HERRON 73
had to drag her off, and if he hadn t run, Fanny would
V got him again. After that he would brag what a
fine girl she was. One night Aggie and me hid in a
straw stack all night."
Bill looked sorrowfully upon his friend.
"I thought I was the most forsakenest boy in the
world," he said. "But my father never beat me, and
he never touches no kind of licker. He just don t b ke
me around. You know my mother died when I was
born, and somehow he seems to blame it on me. I don t
know how to figger it, for he married in a year, and
when that one died it didn t take him no time to start
lookin out again. He hardly ever speaks to me, cept
to cuss me or tell me what a nuisance I am. Allus
makes me feel like a cabbage worm."
"Cabbage worm?" queried Jap.
"Yes, they turn green when they eat, and I feel like
I am green, every bite I take. He looks at me so mean,
like he thought I hadn t any right to eat. That s why
I eat at Flossy s, every time she asks me. The only
nice thing my pappy ever done for me was to put me in
here with Ellis. Jap," he broke off suddenly, "I m durn
glad you licked me, that day. But your hair was red !"
Ellis had come quietly in at the rear door and had
listened, half consciously, to the sacred confession. His
face saddened for a moment. Then he squared his
shoulders and his dark eyes flashed.
74 JAP HERRON
"I am going to make men of those boys yet," he
promised himself. "Who knows "
He interrupted the spasm of painful speculation, the
dark foreboding that had for days hovered over him.
The heat of summer and his anxiety over Flossy were
beginning to tell on his nerves. He tiptoed softly out
of the back door, across the weed-grown yard and out
through the alley gate. A moment later he came in at
the front door, whistling blithely.
The summer was intensely hot. As the dog-days
waxed, Ellis grew ever more and more morose. His
sharp bursts of temper were made tolerable only by
the swift justice of the amend. Late in September he
came down to the office one morning, pale and shaken.
The boys had been sticking type for an hour when his
sudden entrance startled them.
"Flossy is very sick," he said with lips that quivered,
"and I will have to trust you boys."
Jap followed him to the door. His face was down
"Is it true, Ellis? Bill said that Flossy would
would " He gulped. He could not finish. Ellis
turned suddenly and sat down at the table and buried
his face in the pile of exchanges. His body shook with
the effort to suppress his emotion. Bill slipped down
from his stool and the two awkward, ungainly youths
looked at each other in embarrassed sorrow. Finally
Jap laid an inky hand on Ellis s shoulder.
JAP HERRON 75
"Tell her tell her," he stuttered, "that Bill and me
are are a prayin ."
Ellis gave a mighty sob and rushed away, bare
The two apprentices sat at their cases, the tears wet
ting the type in their sticks. The long day dragged
by. Neither of them remembered noon, but plodded
stolidly and silently through the clippings on their
It was growing dusk when a great commotion arose.
It seemed to come from the corner near Blanke s drug
store. It gathered force as it neared Granger s bank.
Now it had reached the mouth of the alley that sep
arated the bank from the Herald office. There was
cheering and laughter. Jap s face hardened. He slung
one leg to the floor. How dared any one cheer or
laugh, when Flossy lay dying?
In another instant Ellis burst into the room. His
dark locks were rumpled, his eyes wild and bright.
"Get out all the roosters and the stallions, too!"
he shouted. "Open a can of vermilion and, in long
pica, double-lead it : It is a boy ! :
Jap let the other leg fall and dragged himself around.
His mouth had fallen loose on its hinges. He sat down
on the floor and gaped foolishly at Ellis.
"She s feeling fine," babbled EUis, "and you and Bill
are coming in the morning to see the boy." He rushed
fT6 JAP HERRON
Jap looked at Bill, glued to the stool, holding in one
paralyzed hand the inverted stick.
"Gee!" said Jap.
In the morning they tiptoed into Flossy s room.
Very pale and weak was the energetic little woman who
had taken the moulding of their destinies into her
hands. She smiled gently and, as mothers have done
since time was, she tenderly drew back the covers from
a tiny black head and motioned for the two to look.
"Our boy," she said, smiling radiantly. "I am going
to name him Jasper William, and I want you to make
him very proud of the men he was named for."
The hot tears sprang to Jap s eyes and fell upon the
little red face. The wee mite, perhaps prompted by an
angel whisper from the land from whence he came,
threw aloft one wrinkled hand and touched him on the
cheek. Sobbing stormily, Jap hid his face in the covers
as he knelt beside the bed. Then he took the little
fingers in his.
"If God lets me live, Flossy, I will make him proud
He choked and dashed outside to join Bill, who was
snubbing audibly on the back steps. After a muffled
silence he said, his eyes growing suddenly bright:
"Bill, did you notice what Flossy said? She said
the men that he was named after. Bill, we ve got to
quit kiddin and begin to grow up."
TIME passed, after the easy-going manner of Bloom-
town. Jap was sixteen, long, ungainly and stooped
from bending over the case. Bill, a little older in
months, but possessed of immortal youth, was stocky
and rather good looking. Four years of daily inter
course had wrought a subtle change in their relations,
four years of the stern and the sweet that Ellis and
Flossy Hinton had brought, for the first time, into their
Bill was at the table, the exchanges pushed back in
a disorderly heap, as he surreptitiously figured a tough
problem in bookkeeping that Flossy had given him.
Jap, with furtive air, bolted the history lesson that
ought to have been learned the day before. Ellis, his
back to the one big window in the office, scowled over
the proofs he was rattling. From time to time he pep
pered the air with remarks that fell like bird shot on
the tough oblivion of his two assistants. At length for
bearance gave way under the strain, and he said, in cold
and measured tones:
"When you are unable to decipher the idea I am
trying to convey, I wish that you would take me into
78 JAP HERRON
Bill looked up, a grin on his round, shining face, a
grin that was fixed to immobility by the fierceness of
Ellis s glance.
"I note that you have injected much native humor
into perfectly legitimate prose," the stern voice con
tinued. He read:
" Jim Blanke has a splendid assortment of Sundays.
Now please explain. You are causing the good folks
of this town unnecessary worry. My copy reads, sun
"Jap done it," vouchsafed Bill.
"Who done this?" Ellis stressed the verbal blunder
witheringly, as he pointed his pencil at the next item.
"Ross Hawkins soled twenty-five yearling calves."
"It looked that way," argued Jap.
"A devil of a couple you are," declared Ellis wrath-
fully. "Can t either of you reason? Did you ever
hear of any one soling a yearling calf? Ross Hawkins
is an auctioneer, not a shoemaker."
The boys looked sheepishly at each other. Suddenly
Bill flung himself on his stomach and howled in glee.
"Lordee! What if that had V got in the paper!"
"There would be two fine, large, lazy boys out of a
job," Ellis said severely.
He threw aside the copy and lifted the type. Jap
JAP HERRON 79
followed the movement with anxious eye. Another ex
plosion hung, tense and imminent, in the air.
"Have you washed that type yet, Bill?" he asked,
eager to placate Ellis.
It was the custom for the boy nearest the door to
disappear when the time for washing a form was at
"It was your job," protested Bill. "You promised
to wash Wat Harlow s speech if I cleaned Kelly Jones s
Ellis sat down wearily.
"Oh, we re agoing to do it all, this evening," cried
Bill, defiantly. "You promised that we could clean
out that box of cuts. You promised a long time ago."
"Go to it," said Ellis, his voice relaxing, and the two
boys bolted into the back room. A little later he
joined them. Jap and Bill sat on the floor, blowing
the dust from a lot of dirty old woodcuts.
"I bought them with the job," he said, turning the
pile over with his foot. He sat down on the emptied
box and watched them as they examined the cuts.
"What is this?" asked Jap, peering at the largest
block in the lot.
"That is a cut of the town, as it was when I came
here," said Ellis, a shadow of reminiscence crossing his
face, as he took the block in his long fingers.
Bill drew himself to his knees and looked at the maze
80 JAP HERRON
of lines and depressions curiously. The picture was as
strange to him as it was to Jap. Ellis continued:
"There were three business houses here, besides the
blacksmith shop and the saloon. Here they are. Ezra
Bowers, Bill s grandfather, with the help of his three
sons, ran a general store where they sold everything
from castor oil to mowing machines. Phineas Blome
an unmistakable son of old Jerusalem sold clothing
and more castor oil and mowing machines. There
wasn t such a thing as a butcher shop in Bloomtown.
When the natives wanted fresh meat, they ordered it
brought out on the hack. In other parts of the world,
that institution is sometimes called a stage ; but here I
learned that its right name is hack. The southern
terminus of the Bloomtown, Barton and Faber hack-
line, that has done its best for thirty years to prevent
us from being entirely marooned, was over there at the
south side of Blome s Park, exactly as it is to-day.
The hotel didn t have a bit more paint, the first night
I slept in it, than it has now."
"Flossy said that weathered shingles were fashion
able," Bill grinned, taking up another cut. "Here s
the Public Square you call it Blome s Park, but I
never heard anybody else call it that," he added, his
voice lifting in a note of query. "That s the Square,
all right, and the Town Hall, with leven horses hitched
in front of it."
"Yes, when old man Blome laid out his farm in town
JAP HERRON 81
lots, he reserved his woods pasture for a city park.
You never heard of an orthodox town that didn t begin
with a Public Square, and that little rocky glade with
the wet-weather spring had the only trees within ten
miles of here. It wasn t fit for farming, so Blome
argued that nobody would buy it with a view to raising
garden track. But your foxy Uncle Blome didn t sac
rifice anything by his generosity to the town that was
about to be born. He reserved the lots facing the park
on three sides, and held them at an exorbitant figure
as much as five dollars a front foot, I should say.
"The lots at the north and east were to be sold for
high-class residences only. Those at the west were
reserved for business houses. Behold the embryo Main
street ! Overlooking the park at the south was Blome s
farm house, since metamorphosed into a tavern and
barns for the stage horses. The last of the Blomes
shook the dust of Bloomtown from his feet when Carter
bought his interest in the hack line. Bill s grandfather
had a farm adjoining Blome s land at the west; but
Ezra Bowers, merchant prince and attorney-at-law,"
he said whimsically, "had to have a residence in the
fashionable quarter, fronting the park. A little patch
of the old farm is quite good enough for Mr. and Mrs.
Ellis Hinton and their two sons, Jap and Jasper Wil
Jap caught Ellis s hand, a lump arising in his throat.
Bill relieved the momentary tension by turning over
82 JAP HERRON
another cut. A familiar face looked out at him from
the grime of years. Ellis glanced at it and smiled.
"It is a great thing, Jap, the birth of a town. Bloom-
town was really never born. The stork dropped her
when he was traveling for a friendly haven. For ten
years she lay, just as she fell, without visible signs of
life. About twenty families existed, somehow. They
had pigs, chickens and garden truck, and to all intents
they would go on existing till the last trump.
"One day I went out into the country to attend a
sale. Boys, I was never so well pleased with a day s
work as I was with that day s jaunt. I heard the most
masterly bit of eloquence that ever came from the lips
of an auctioneer. The man had the crowd hypnotized.
He even sold me an accordion, a thing I was born to
hate. The fact that it was wind-broken and rattly
never occurred to me until I woke up, after he had done.
Then I went to him and said:
" You an auctioneer ! You should be in the Halls
of Justice, telling the people how to interpret their
"The idea struck him. He came into town with me
and we talked the matter over. He was easily the best
known and most liked man in the county. It was then
that the political bug stung our good friend, Wat Har-
low. Wat moved his family to town and soon he had
a decent habitation. He stimulated a rain of paint
and a hail of shingle nails. He prodded the older in-
JAP HERRON 83
habitants to an era of wooden pavements and stone
crossings. Bill s grandfather objected, because he
said it cut down the sale of rubber hip-boots ; but Wat s
eloquence was the key to fit anything that tried to lock
the wheels of progress. He did more than that. He
brought Jim Blanke from Leesburg to start a decent
"After that he robbed Barton of Tom Granger, and
together they started the first bank of Bloomtown.
Granger s wife and baby, with Wat s wife, were the
civilization. Mrs. Granger was almost an invalid, even
then, but she gathered the women together and formed
an aid society. She begged and cajoled Bowers out of
enough money to build a little church on the lot that
Blome had donated. I joined the church, for the moral
example. I don t remember what denomination it was
supposed to be. We had services once a month; but
Mrs. Granger was the real power in the town. She
introduced boiled shirts and neckties. Tom bought
the big patch of ground, north of the park, and set out
those elm trees before his foundation was in. Then
Jim Blanke got Otto Kraus to come here and start a
private school. Otto played the little cabinet organ
in church, and taught all the children music, after
school hours. Thus was Bloomtown born. Wat Har-
low made the blood circulate in her moribund veins."
Jap looked into Ellis s face, his freckled cheeks glow
84 JAP HERRON
"That s not what Wat Harlow said," he declared
"What did he say?" asked Ellis sharply.
"Why why," gulped Jap, "he said that Bloomtown
was dead as a herring, and too no-account to be buried,
till Ellis Hinton came and jerked her out of the mud
and started her to breathe."
Ellis got up and dusted his trousers.
"As I said before, Wat was an eloquent auctioneer.
Talk is his trade, and he keeps in practice. Dilute his
enthusiasm one-half, Jap. And now, get to work, wash
As he left the office he encountered a group of tit
tering girls, in front of the bank. They scattered when
they perceived that Ellis and not Bill had come forth.
Bill was the lion of the town. Already the girls had
begun to come after papa s paper, on publishing day,
which upset the machinery of the office, never too de
One Thursday when the air was full of snow, the little
office registered its capacity crowd. Ellis was at home
with a heavy cold, and Jap and Bill were getting out
the paper. The ink congealed on the rollers and needed
constant warming to lubricate the items reposing on
the bosom of the Washington press. This warming
was Bill s job, and Jap was exasperated to fighting
pitch by the dilatory method of Bill s peregrinations
JAP HERRON 85
around the circle of rosy-faced girls, hanging admir
ingly on his efforts.
"Chase those girls out," he growled. "No use for
them to hang around. We won t get this paper out in
a week if they stick around after you."
"Old Crabby !" sniffed one of the girls. "You re just
mad because nobody wants to hang after you."
"Jap is particular," chaffed Bill, half apologetically.
Since they had assumed the responsibility for the right
uplift of Flossy s boy, there had been growing a new,
shy pride in themselves. "Better wait and come back
in the morning," he suggested.
The girls filed slowly out. As they passed the table,
where Jap was piling the papers to fold, Isabel
Granger, doubtless inspired by the demon of mischief,
leaned forward suddenly and kissed him full on the
mouth. Then she fled, shrieking with glee. Jap stood as
if stricken to stone. Bill looked at him in fright. There
was no color in his freckled face. His gray eyes were
staring, as if some wonderful vision had blasted his sight.
"Gee, Jap," said Bill uneasily, "are you sick?"
Jap aroused himself and turned toward the press.
"No," he said slowly, "but I don t like for folks to
be familiar like that. If I wanted to be a fool like
you " He stopped and stared a moment from the
"The next time she kisses me," he said shortly, "she
will mean it."
WHAT a wonderful thing is a baby ! Babies were not
new to either Bill or Jap. In Bill s memory lingered
the shrill duet of his twin half-sisters, a continuous
performance that had lasted more than a year. And
Jap had never fully corrected a lurch to the left side,
due to carrying his sister, Agnesia, when he was little
more than a baby himself. Yet the little visitor from
the Land of Yesterday was a never failing miracle to
them. His cry filled them with fear for his well-being,
and his laugh intoxicated them with its glee.
"Wait till he can talk," smiled Flossy. "Then you
will see how wise he is."
In her heart she was beginning to combat the fear
that he would never talk. Other children of his age
were already chattering like magpies.
"Ma said that I said papa when I was eight months
old," declared Jap. "But I don t know why I should
a said that."
Bill grinned fatuously as the baby pulled at his hair.
"Bill won t get his hair cut," said Jap. "He knows
that J. W. would hang after me, if it wasn t for his
JAP HERRON 87
The little fellow, who for obvious reasons could be
neither Jasper nor William, had learned to respond
with amiable toleration to the soothing abbreviation,
"J. W." Kicking his stubby legs gleefully, he tangled
his fingers more mercilessly in Bill s brown locks.
Flossy loosed the fingers gently, as she cooed :
"Naughty, naughty ! Mamma said baby mustn t."
Flinging his fingers aloft in protest, he gurgled:
Flossy s eyes shone with sudden joy. It was her
son s first attempt at articulate speech. The boys
lunged forward with one impulse.
"He said Jappie, " Jap cried, his chest swelling
with the importance of it. Bill glared.
"Why, Jap !" Pain and indignation were in his tone.
"He tried to say Bill. "
Flossy smiled on them both. It was a wonderful little
kingdom, of which she had assumed the place of abso
lute monarch, a monarch so gentle and so just that
her sway was never questioned.
"Ellis puts in half his time trying to teach baby to
say the two names all in one mouthful, so that you boys
won t fight about his first word," she vouchsafed. "It
would have to be either Jap or Bill, because you never
tell him anything but your names."
When they waved their caps in farewell, they were
still discussing the mooted question vehemently. Was
it "Jappie," or a combination of Jap and Bill? To
88 JAP HERRON
both of them the question was vital. Jap had the bet
ter of the argument, when Bill blurted:
"Anyhow, he s my cousin, and he ain t no relation of
yours." Then he remembered that significant remark
of Ellis s : "A little patch of the old farm is quite good
enough for Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Hinton and their two
sons, Jap and Jasper William," and he was silent the
rest of the way back to the office.
Little J. W. was three years old before he could
speak distinctly. The child was born with other af
flictions than the serious impediment to his speech, and
the four who hung with anguished love on his every
gesture were never free from a certain unnamed anxiety.
He loved Bill, but he worshipped Jap. Both were his
One rainy, dismal night in early fall, when Bill s step
mother lay seriously ill, Flossy left her baby to the care
of the small but usually capable maid who assisted her
with the work of the cottage, while she and Ellis went
to the home of Judge Bowers to relieve the trained
nurse who had come up from the city. At the supper
table, Ellis had remarked that Jap and Bill would be
working late that night, in order to get out a job that
had come in when all the resources of the office were
needed for the weekly edition of the Herald. He had
added that he would go over and help them, if his pres
ence could be spared from the sick-room.
The remark must have lodged in the baby s mind,
JAP HERRON 89
for he slipped out of bed, while the maid was employed
in the kitchen, and toddled through the cold rain almost
all the way to Main street. Jim Blanke found him ly
ing exhausted in the road, a little way from the drug
store, the rain beating pitilessly on his unconscious
head and his scantily clad body.
After a night of anxious care, the little fellow re
lapsed into a state of coma, and lay for hours, white
and still, save for the rasping of his breath. The of
fice was closed. Both boys, frantic with fear, stood
with Ellis as the child lay in his mother s arms, the
four dreading that each hoarse breath would be his
last. Flossy sat erect in the wide rocking chair, her
brave eyes watching every sigh that tore the little bosom.
Dr. Hall, whose dictum was life and death, was silent.
And this silence was the last straw for Jap. He crept
nearer. In fear, he turned from the face of the be
loved sufferer. Ellis caught the look in the boy s an
guished eyes, and a spasm crossed his tightly com
pressed lips. The physician rallied himself from the
torpor of despair that had laid hold on him.
"Try to arouse him," he commanded. "Try again."
The resources of his experience and his prescription
blank had long since been exhausted.
Flossy bent over her child and called softly:
"Baby, dearest, mamma loves you. Won t you
Ellis leaned forward. His face blanched. The rasp-
90 JAP HERRON
ing had ceased! Jap caught the look of horror, and
dragged himself up to look into the baby s face.
"He isn t dead! He s all right!" he shrieked, not
knowing that he spoke. "He s still breathing. I can
hear him." His hands grasped the cold body and
lifted it, unconscious of the thing he was doing.
"Oh, J. W.! Oh, J. W.!" he screamed, "don t go
away from us !"
He pressed the child to his breast convulsively, and
the miracle happened. The solemn black eyes opened
and a husky voice said, "Jappie."
After the excitement was over, and the exhausted
mother slept beside her sleeping child, Bill said humbly:
"He did say Jap first."
"But he tried to say Bill, too," Jap said loyally.
The next morning, when the office had resumed its
normal routine, a routine that was destined to be only
partially interrupted by the death of Bill s second step
mother, a few days later, Ellis called Jap into the little
back room where, in the dismal days before Flossy s
coming, they had performed all the functions of house
keeping. He closed the door, as he laid his hand on
Jap s shoulders.
"You saved J. W. s life," he said solemnly. "Doc
Hall said that you stopped him, on the threshold, when
you gave that dreadful cry."
The baby did not rally, and Ellis worried about this
incessantly. One day, some weeks after another mound
JAP HERRON 91
had been added to the group in Judge Bowers s family
lot, and Bill had gone with his father to appraise the
merits of a prospective housekeeper from Birdtown,
Ellis looked up from the proof he was correcting. Jap
noted the anxiety in his face, and the gray eyes, that
could so often render speech unnecessary, put the ques
tion. Ellis sighed.
"He s not getting along the way he ought to," he
mused. "Doc Hall prescribed a tonic for him a month
ago ; but it doesn t seem to take hold. He has no
constitution to begin with. His father, exhausted by
privation and ill-health, has handicapped him in the
"Jap," he said, as he arose and laid one arm con
fidingly around the boy s shoulder, "you must remem
ber that, in the years to come. I didn t give the baby
a fair chance. He may need all the help he can get
to carry him through. If you should live longer than
I, you must be his father and big brother, both."
Jap s gray eyes opened in astonishment. The idea
that there could ever be a time when Ellis would not
be there had never entered his mind. He looked into
the dark, thin face with its pallor and its unnaturally
bright eyes, and a joyous smile took the place of the
"Doc Hall said that you had grit enough to outlive
any disease that ever lurked in the brush of Bloom-
town," he declared eagerly.
92 JAP HERRON
"Doc Hall is an optimist," Ellis laughed hollowly.
"I m not so much concerned for myself as for the boy
and his mother. You know what J. W. means to her."
"Bill and I have already talked it over," Jap re
turned. "We re going to be big brothers to J. W.
We re going to take turns at taking him for long rides
on Judge Bowers s old horse, Jeremiah. Doc Hall said
that long, jolty rides would set him up, rosy and fat,
in a little while. Bill told me this morning that he
had J. W. weighed again, on Hollins s scales, and he has
gained three pounds."
Ellis Hinton s face cleared. There was a new elas
ticity in his step as he crossed the room and laid the
copy down on the case. Unconsciously he began to
whistle, as he clicked the type in the stick.
FLOSSY came into the office, leading the boy by the
hand, and called Ellis aside. Old Jeremiah had done
wonders for the little fellow; but on Flossy Hinton s
face there was a look that boded ill to some one.
"I sent for Brother William to meet me here," she
said crisply. "I want you to back up all that I say."
Before Ellis had breathed twice, she was out looking
up the street, and in less time than you could think
it out, she was back, towing the Judge, who puffed ex
plosively. Ellis and the three boys had retreated to the
"There is not a bit of use to argue, William," she
said, her lips in a hard, straight line. "Ellis has done
more than any one else in town could do. When I heard
that you had subscribed five thousand dollars to the
new church, I concluded that your charity was a little
far fetched. Now I want you to subscribe five thou
sand dollars to the institution that is making a man of
your son. I want five thousand dollars for the printing
office. It is too small, and the press is out of date. We
need all that goes into an up-to-date printing office."
Her brother looked upon her tolerantly.
94 JAP HERRON
"Keep it up, Floss. It never fazed you to ask favors,
and you ain t run down yet."
"It s a shame," she stormed. "Just look at this little
shed! Why, even a cross-road blacksmith shop is
He looked around appraisingly.
"I reckon it ll house all Ellis s business," he com
"Ellis," she flashed, "tell William about the rail
Ellis came from the inside office. He generally with
drew from the conferences between Flossy and her
"Wat Harlow told me that two of the big railroad
systems have entered into a joint arrangement to short
en their mileage, on through trains to the West. He s
got it all fixed for the new track to pass through
Bloomtown. It will give us all the benefit of two rail
"You see," said Flossy triumphantly, "the town
will boom. People will move in, and a first-class news
paper will be the greatest asset."
"I think that the town will take a big start," assured
Ellis. "The boys will have all they can do with job
work, and the office is small for our present needs."
"Pap, you should watch us carving letters when we
get short," interposed Bill. "Last week Jap had to
carve three A s for Allen s handbill. There are only
JAP HERRON 95
three of em in that case, and Allen wanted to use six.
His name is Pawhattan Abram Allen, and he wanted
the whole blamed thing spelled out in caps. I told Jap
it was lucky Allen s folks didn t name him Aaron, on
top of all the rest."
"That s good practice for you boys," the Judge
snorted. "I m mighty glad you learned something for
all the money I spent on you." He glanced at his sis
ter witheringly ; but Flossy had her eyes fixed on her
"I wish," Ellis stirred himself to say, "that the town
would boom enough to take all these frame shacks off
of Main street, so that the place wouldn t look like a
settlement of campers."
"A good fire would help," commented Bill boldly.
Judge Bowers looked over his glasses at his son.
"Well, when the railroad comes, and the rest of the
shacks are moved out, I will write you a check for five
thousand dollars," he snorted, turning his rotund form
out of the door.
Flossy picked up the boy and flounced out, in speech
less indignation. By argument and cajolery she had
succeeded in getting six months apiece for Bill and Jap
at the School of Journalism, and at twenty the boys
were far more expert than Ellis was when he began the
publication of the Herald. She had set her heart on
the new printing office, and her eyes were abrim with
tears as she stumbled home.
96 JAP HERRON
The week wore on until printing day. It was a day
of unimagined exasperations. Everything went wrong.
Ellis s usually smooth temper bent under the stormy
comments of the boys, and in the late afternoon he
developed a violent headache and went home. Things
continued to pile up until it was evident that the boys
would have to print the paper after dark.
It was ten o clock when they finished. Jap followed
Bill to the pavement, pausing to lock the door and slip
the key in his pocket. The town was asleep. Not a
soul was to be seen on Main street. Bill, who usually
took the short cut across the Public Square to his
father s house, turned with Jap and walked along Main
street to the farther end of the block. At Blanke s
drug store, he turned into Spring street. He was say
ing, in a tone of mixed penitence and anxiety :
"I wish we hadn t riled Ellis so, to-day. I don t
like those headaches he s having so often, and the way
his face gets red every afternoon. If he ever sneaked
out and took a drink But I know he never does."
"Oh, Ellis is all right, now that little J. W. is get
ting strong," Jap insisted.
They had gone some distance in the direction of
Flossy s cottage, when Bill looked across an expanse
of vacant lots to where a dim light burned in the loft
of Bolton s barn.
"They re running a poker game," said Bill wisely.
Almost before the words were gone, a wild shriek rent
JAP HERRON 97
the air. A flash of light from the barn loft, a scram
bling of feet, and a succession of dark objects cata
pulted the ooze of the barnyard, and it was all ablaze.
A stiff breeze was blowing from the southwest. Bill
ran to the mill to set the fire whistle, and Jap scrambled
through a window of the Methodist church and began
to fling the chimes abroad, so that he who slept might
know that there was a fire in town. There had been
no rain for weeks, and the frame structures were ripe
In less than half an hour the row of stores on Main
street, in the block below the Herald office, began to
smoke. From Hollins s grocery store a brand was car
ried by the wind and lodged among the dry shingles of
Summers s saloon. The excitement was augmented, a
few minutes later, by a series of pyrotechnic explosions.
Bucket brigades were formed, the firemen mostly in
Jap and Bill were in their glory. Jap was mounted
on top of the Town Hall, directing operations. Right
down the row rushed the flames, eating up the town.
As if in parting salutation, the fiery monster leaped
across a vacant lot, thick set with dried weeds, and
clutched with heat-red claws at the Herald office.
"This way, men!" yelled Jap. "You have to get
the press and enough type out to tell about the fire."
Ellis was staring hopelessly at the flame that was
licking at the rear of the office. The water was ex-
98 JAP HERRON
hausted from the town well, and there was no hope of
saving the plant. But youth is omniscient, and the
townsmen followed the wildly yelling apprentices and
hastened to demolish the office and drag away the
debris, some of it already blazing. From the salvage
rescued from Price s hardware store, and heaped in
a disorderly pile in the Public Square, Jap handed out
the latest thing in fire fighting apparatus. The flimsy
structure, that had been Ellis Hinton s stronghold for
almost twenty years, gave way to an assault with axes,
and the contents, pretty well scattered, were left stand
ing. It was nothing that Granger and Harlow s bank
went down with little left to show its location save
the fire-proof vault, and that only a shift in the wind
prevented the flames from crossing to the fashionable
residence section east of Main street.
In the morning the Herald force began business in
the ruins of its time-worn shelter, and set up gory ac
counts of the fire, on brown manila paper with ver
milion and black ink. A crowd assembled to watch
the exciting spectacle.
"What s the use of a railroad now?" bleated Judge
Bowers. "There ain t no town to run it through."
"Why ain t there?" asked Jap sharply.
"Why, all the folks are talking of pulling up stakes
and moving to Barton."
"Well, if that is the kind of backbone they have been
backing this town with," snapped the youth, his red
JAP HERRON 99
hair standing erect, "you help them move, and the
Herald will show them up for quitters and fill the
town with real men."
And being full of wrath, he proceeded to incorporate
this thought in the half column he was setting up. The
paper was eagerly snapped up by the crowd.
"Who wrote this?" fairly howled Tom Granger. "I
want to hold his grimy hand and help him shout for
a bigger and better town."
Ellis shoved Jap forward.
"Here is the fire-eater," he announced. Jap flushed
through the dirt on his face.
"It s true," he said, half shyly. "There s no good
in a quitter. The best thing is to smoke them out and
get live men to take their places."
"Bravely said," shouted Granger. "The bank will
rebuild with brick. Who else builds on Main street?"
Before the end of the following week the town was
humming with industry. Every hack brought its con
tingent of insurance adjusters, and merchants elbowed
contractors in the little telegraph office, in endeavors to
get supplies. On Thursday a curious crowd stood
watching Ellis and the boys run the blistered but still
faithful Washington press in the boiling sun.
"Goin to get winter after a while, Jap," shouted one
of the bystanders. "You ll have to wear ear muffs to
get out your paper."
100 JAP HERRON
Jap grinned and swung the lever around method
"What are you going to do, Ellis?" asked the hon
orable member from the "Halls of Justice," who had
hurried to his little home town in her hour of trouble.
"There ain t a vacant shack in town. It seems a
darned shame that you ll have to give up, after starv
ing with the town till it gets its toes set in gravel at
last. Now that the railroad is running this way like a
scared wolf, the town needs a paper worse than ever."
"Who said they was going to quit?" demanded Judge
Bowers pugnaciously. "They ain t! Ellis is goin to
have a two-story brick, with a printin press that runs
itself. This here town ain t no quitter." He glared
fiercely at Harlow.
Jap lingered with Ellis until the last of the day s
work was finished. As he started for home he came
upon an animated group, in the shade of the half-
burned drug store. Behind a pile of wreckage, Bill was
holding court. Jap stopped short. Bill was telling a
lurid tale of superhuman strength and dare-devil
bravery, of which Jap Herron was the hero, a tale that
grew with every telling. A wave of embarrassment
swept over Jap. As he turned hastily away, he felt a
soft clutch on his arm. He looked back. Two spar
kling black eyes were looking up into his.
"I think that you are the bravest boy in the world,"
JAP HERRON 101
whispered Isabel Granger, "and and I am glad I
kissed you that time."
Jap stared at her, stunned by a new emotion. In
another moment she was gone, flying across the street
in the direction of her home.
"Anybody but Jap would a took her up on that,"
insinuated Bill, who had heard Isabel s last words.
Jap turned a murderous look upon him. The crowd
of girls tittered as they dispersed. When supper was
over Jap returned to the spot, and long after dark he
sat upon the pile of wreckage, thinking long, long
THE scraping of saw, the clang of hammer and the
smell of fresh paint classed Bloomtown as "Boomtown."
The railroad had already peered into the northern en
virons of the town, cutting diagonally across Main
street, some half-dozen blocks from the plot of ground
that had been rechristened Court House Square. A
substantial municipal building took the place of the
dingy old Town Hall, and the barns of the now almost
defunct Bloomtown, Barton and Faber hack line had
been cleared away to make room for a decent hotel. In
the angle between the railroad tracks and Main street
a small temporary station sheltered travelers. The
half-moribund village had burst its swaddling bands
and begun to expand. Everybody was wearing grins
as a radiant garment.
As the summer traveled toward July, the headaches
that had been so frequent the past winter merged into
a feeling of utter exhaustion, and Ellis came down to
the office but few days of each week. Flossy stopped
Jap at the gate one noon hour.
"Ellis has something to tell you, Jappie, and I want
you to be very composed. Don t let yourself go." Her
JAP HERRON 103
voice was full of pleading. She turned quickly as
Ellis appeared in the doorway. He walked out to meet
"Let us sit out under the trellis while Flossy finishes
fixing dinner," he said, leading the way. "Jap, your
birthday comes to-morrow, and I am going to ask you
to accept a sacred trust that is a burden. You are
twenty-one and, as they say, your own man. I want
to ask you to be my man. Jap, I am going away, how
far God only knows. The doctor says that my lungs
are all wrong, and life in the mountains may save me.
My boy for you have been my boy since you walked
through my door, nine years ago I want you to take
charge of the office, and shoulder the support of Flossy
and the little one if if He caught the horror-
stricken boy s hand. "Jap, I will never come back. I
know it. I have talked with my soul and it is well.
Will you do it, Jap?"
Jap pressed Ellis s feverish hand between his strong
young palms. He could not speak. His eyes were dry
and his lips twitched.
"There," cautioned Ellis, "no heavy face before
Flossy. God bless her! she thinks that I will be well
before the new office is done, and is making more splen
did plans for the big opening! She is Jap, you
dunce, grin about something!"
Flossy and the boy came dancing down the sun-
104 JAP HERRON
flecked path and Jap swung the slender little fellow to
his shoulder and began a mock race from Ellis.
As soon as dinner was over, a dinner that stuck in his
throat for hours, he told Flossy that two men were
rushing Bill to desperation for their handbills. He
hurried out by way of the alley. Flossy ran after him.
"You forgot your hat, Jap," she cried breathlessly.
He took the hat and started off silently.
"Wait a minute, Jap." Her voice was insistent.
"You didn t put on a grave face with Ellis, did you?
Oh, Jap" the cry was from her heart "he will never
live to see the new office ! He will never know of the
realization of his dreams, the big town, the trains whirl
ing through, and he looking down from his lofty win
dow with a smile of superior joy. Oh, Jap, how often
have we heard him tell about it ! He doesn t know.
He is full of hope. Only just before you came he was
joking about the Star Spangled Banner he was going
to wind around his brow when he dedicated the Herald
office. Jap, be true to his faith, for he will never open
the door of that office. He will never help to get out
the first paper."
She strangled and turned away. Then in brisk tones
"Now, Jap, hurry along. Here comes Ellis to scold."
And in the marvelous manner that is God-given to lov
ing women, she forced a smile to her lips as she gave
JAP HERRON 105
the youth a playful shove and ran to meet her hus
A few days later they left. The town took a holi
day, and with laughter and merrymaking it celebrated
Ellis Hinton s first vacation. A water tank was in
process of construction, at the upper end of a half-
mile stretch of double track, and at the lower end of
the siding, close to Main street, the imposing brick
railroad station stood in potential grandeur, its bricks
still separated by straw and its ample foundation giving
promise of stability as it reposed in sacks of cement and
piles of crushed stone. Something of this was incor
porated in Ellis s farewell speech as he addressed his
townspeople. When the train began to move his black
head was still visible, as he returned quip for joke.
And Flossy was flitting from her lifelong friends as if
no trouble clouded her brow.
Little J. W. was the feature of the going, and under
the pretense of caring for his wants, their sleeper com
partment had been piled with fruit and flowers by lov
ing friends who had gone on to the nearest town to
meet the train, so that the surprise should be the more
complete. Then, to the sound of the village band, Ellis
left what he had always called "my town." Jap did
not go to the station, and when Bill found the door of
their improvised office locked, he turned silently away.
His heart was full, too.
The Widow Raymond had offered them a room for
106 JAP HERRON
a printing office. The press occupied the room. Jap
and Bill set the type in the woodshed and carried the
galleys in. During the nine years of their association
Bill had been the unsteady member of the team, con
suming more effort in devising ways and means of es
caping work than the work would have cost, and toiling
with feverish penitence when he realized that he had
wrought a hardship to Jap or Ellis. But now, inspired
by the dimpled face of Rosy Raymond, he worked as
he had never worked in his life. Odd things began to
happen. Bill insisted on doing all the proof-reading, a
task he had hitherto detested. A bit of verse occa
sionally crept into the columns of the Herald. Jap
did not detect this verse for several weeks. When he
did, he descended upon Bill.
"Where in Heck did you filch that doggerel?"
"Who said it was doggerel?" demanded Bill.
"Lord love you," cried Jap, "what could any sane
being call it? What did you get for publishing it
"You re a fool!" snapped Bill. "You think that
you re a criterion. I will have you know that lots of
folks have complimented it."
Jap took up the offending sheet.
" Thine eyes are blue, thine lips are red, thine locks
are gold, " he groaned. He looked at Bill. Just then
the door opened and Rosy stepped into the room. A
great light shone on Jap s understanding. Her eyes
JAP HERRON 107
were blue, her lips certainly red, and a fervid imagination
could call her hair gold. He sighed pathetically.
"Bill, don t you think you could write it out and
relieve the pressure on your heart, without endanger
ing our prestige?"
Bill kicked at the mongrel dog that had its habitat
under the press, and marched out indignantly.
"I ll be glad if I get him out of here single," mused
Jap. "He has these spells as regular as the seasons
change. Heretofore his prospects have never entitled
him to consideration. This time it may be different."
Bill had been systematically chased from every front
gate in town, behind which rosy-cheeked girls abode ; but
the disquieting conviction swooped down upon Jap that
Barkis, in the shape of the Widow Raymond, might be
more than "willin " to hitch Bill to her sixteen-year-old
daughter. And if Bill had not contracted a new va
riety of measles at the most opportune time, Jap s fore
bodings might have been realized. Bill had the "catch
ing" habit. No contagion in town ever escaped him,
and this time he was so ill that he had to go to the coun
try to recuperate.
The new stores opened, one by one, with much cele
bration. Owing to several unaccountable financial com
plications, the last of all the important buildings on
Main street to be finished was the Herald office. A cyl
inder press, second-handed, to be sure, but none the
less an object of admiration, was installed, and fonts of
108 JAP HERRON
clean, new type stood ready for work. There was a
great, sunny front office on the main floor, and the
ample space behind it had been divided into composing
room, press room and private office. On the second
floor was a small job press, and here, at Jap s sugges
tion, the old Washington press was stored. The rooms
were decorated with flags, and bunting was strung
across the front of the office. Judge Bowers had per
sonally attended to this.
"You re going to have a dandy paper," Tom Gran
ger beamed, as he accompanied Jap on the final tour of
inspection. "We ll all have to stop business to watch
this cylinder press spill out the news."
Wat Harlow had run down from the Capital to con
gratulate the staff. At his suggestion the merchants
had ordered flowers from the city, and great vases of
roses and carnations, and decorative pieces in symbolic
design, stood around in fragrant profusion. Every
room of the office was filled with them.
The forms were ready for the printing of that first
paper, and only awaited the conclusion of Wat s speech,
to be placed upon the press, so that Bloomtown should
receive the salutatory Herald. Jap turned to the as
semblage, waiting in eager curiosity to see the cylinder
"The paper will be printed on Ellis s press," he said
briefly. "I don t want to be ungrateful for your kind-
JAP HERRON 109
ness, but will you leave Bill and me alone to get out our
They filed out slowly, awed by the grief in the voice
of Ellis s boy.
With the old types, on the old Washington hand
press, they printed the first Herald of the new regime.
With the exception of the greeting on the front page,
every word was reprinted from the predictions written
by Ellis in the years agone, and the greeting, in long
pica on the first page, was his telegram to them and his
townsmen received that morning.
When the last paper was printed by the two sad-
faced boys on their day of jubilee, and the pile had
been folded and carried downstairs, Jap closed the
press upon the inky type, and gathered the great
bunches of fragrant blossoms and heaped them upon
the press, to be forever silent. With a groan of an
guish, he threw himself against them. Bill slipped his
arm through Jap s, and together they celebrated the
day that was Ellis s. And in the night the telegram
"At rest. FLOSSY."
WHEN Ellis went away it was to the sound of jollity.
He came back to a town shrouded in mourning. Every
store was closed, and symbols of grief adorned most of
them. Wat Harlow, with a delicacy Ellis would scarce
ly have expected of him, had ordered purple ribbon and
white flowers to tie with the crape. Silent and grief-
stricken, the town stood waiting the arrival of the
train. When it came, the coffin was lifted by loving
hands and carried the ten long blocks to the church.
No cold hearse rattled his precious body, but, even as
the body of Robert Louis Stevenson was held by human
touch until the last office was done, so was Ellis Hinton,
the country printer, carried to his last repose by the
hands of his friends.
Not until Jap looked for a long, anguished moment
upon the flower-massed grave did he realize that he was
alone, that he was drifting, that he had no anchor.
Something of this he expressed to Flossy, between dry
sobs, when they had left Ellis alone in the secluded little
cemetery. Her eyes burned with a strange, maternal
light as she comforted the boy whose grief was of the
fibre of her own.
JAP HERRON 111
"Ellis knew that you would feel that way," she said
gently, "and because of that, he made a will that is to
be read to-night. Wat Harlow has it. Until it is read,
I want you not to trouble."
That evening, with all the important men of the
town assembled in the big front room of the Herald
office, Wat Karlow read brokenly the last "reading no
tice" of Bloomtown s sleeping hero. It was written in
the familiar scrawl that everybody knew, with scarcely
a waver in its lines to tell that a dying hand had
"I am going a long journey, but not so far that I
cannot vision your growth. It was the labor of love to
plan for this time. In the gracious wisdom of God it
was not intended that I should enjoy it with you; but
as Moses looked into his promised land, so through the
eyes of the Herald I have seen mine. And God, in His
wonderful way, has sent you another optimist to do the
royal work of upbuilding a town.
"My town, my people, I leave to you the greatest
gift I have to offer. I give you my boy, Jap. He is
worthy. Hold up his hands, in memory of
As Harlow folded the paper, with hands that trem
bled, he was not conscious of the fact that hot tears
were streaming down his cheeks. There was an instant
112 JAP HERRON
of tense silence. Then Tom Granger walked over to
the boy who lay, face downward across the table, arms
outspread in abandon of grief. He took one limp hand
in his, and a voiceless message went from heart to heart.
Jap aroused himself. One by one the men of Bloom-
town filed by. No word was spoken, but each man
pledged himself to Ellis Hinton as he took the hand of
Ellis s boy in a firm clasp. When the others had gone,
Wat Harlow remained.
For a moment he stood silent beside the table. Then
with a cry of utter heartbreak, he sank to his knees and
permitted the bereaved boy to give vent to his long-
repressed agony in a saving flood of tears. When they
left the office together, there had been welded a friend
ship that was stronger than years of any other un
derstanding could have given.
Flossy went back to the cottage, and, like the brave
helpmeet of such a man as Ellis Hinton must have been,
did not sadden the days with her grief. Sometimes, in
the little arbor, with J. W. playing at her feet, she
sang softly over her sewing:
"Beautiful isle of Somewhere,
Isle of the true, where we live anew,
Beautiful isle of Somewhere."
It was her advice that caused the boys to fit up a
bedroom and living-room on the second floor of the
office. It was her idea that separated Bill from the
JAP HERRON 113
unsteady air of his home. The Judge, heeding the
scriptural injunction implied in the immortal words of
Moses, "It is not good that man should be alone," had
taken unto himself a fourth wife, and Bill had so many
rows with his latest stepmother that there was no op
position to the change. Tom Granger observed that it
had been so many matrimonial moons since Bill had a
mother that he did not know whether he had any real
kinfolks at all. It was certain that he knew little of
the real meaning of the word "home." Flossy boarded
them, and her cottage was their haven of refuge during
many a long evening. It was sad comfort, and yet it
was the surest comfort, to have her live over again
those last days in the mountains, when Ellis s thoughts
bridged space and visualized the rebuilding of Bloom-
Perhaps Flossy sensed the fact that these evenings
were bone and sinew to Jap s manhood. The boy, never
careless, was changing to a man of purpose, such as
would be the product of Ellis Hinton s training. The
stray, born of the union of purposeless, useless Jacky
Herron, and Mary, peevish and fretful, changeable and
inconstant, had been born again into the likeness of
the man who had been almost a demigod to him.
The town was growing, as Ellis had prophesied, and
was creeping in three directions across the prairie. It
incorporated and began to settle into regular lines.
Spring street showed but few gaps in the line of cot-
114 JAP HERRON
tages that ran almost all the way from the rear of
Blanke s drug store to Flossy s home, and another line
of modest cottages looked at them from the other side
of the street. A new and fashionable residence place
was laid out, in the extreme south end of town, as far
from the grime and soot of the railroad as possible ;
but the substantial old families still clung to their an
cestral halls in the vicinity of Court House Square.
One day in early spring Bill burst into the office, his
reporter s pad flapping wildly. His brown eyes danced.
"Big doings !" he shouted. "Pap s going to run for
mayor, and he wants the Herald to voice the cry of the
town for his services."
"Who said so?" queried Jap, sticking away at the
last legislative report.
"Nobody but him as far as I can find out," Bill
returned, grinning knowingly. "It seems that they had
a mess of turnip greens, from cellar sprouts, and they
gave him cramps. He was dozing under paregoric when
the idea hit him. It grew like the turnip sprouts, fast
but pale. He wants us to water the sprouts and give
em air, so that they ll get color in them."
"How much did he send in for the color?" asked Jap,
climbing down interestedly.
The Associate Editor flashed a two-dollar bill.
"I told Pap that if any opposition sprouted, he d
have to raise the ante," he remarked. "He squealed
loud enough when I squeezed him for this, but I con-
JAP HERRON 115
vinced him that we had about done away with charity
practice. Told him the Herald was out of the amateur
class, and after this election the ante d be five bones."
"Well," conceded Jap, "as he is Flossy s brother,
we ll have to spread it on thick for the low price of
introduction. Look up that woodcut of Sames, the
Chautauqua lecturer. If you ll chisel off the beard, we
can use it for the Judge. I think that we will kill that
story you cribbed from the St. Louis Republic, about
the President s morning canter with his family physi
cian, and run the Judge along the first column. By the
way, Bill, it would be a good idea to trace his career
from joyous boyhood to the dignity of the judicial
office. What judge was he? Since I have known him,
he has never worked at the bench.
Bill grinned wickedly.
"He was judge of live stock at the county fair!"
"Fallen is Caesar !" Jap exploded. "What can we
say about him?"
"Nothin for certain, as Kelly Jones says," Bill la
"I never tried fiction," Jap averred, "but for the
honor of the first aspirant to the office of Mayor of
Bloomtown, and the greater glory of our Associate
Editor, I am going to plunge."
And plunge he did. When the town read the eulo-
gium that Jap spread upon the front page of the Her
ald it gasped as from a sudden cold plunge, sat up,
116 JAP HERRON
rubbed its eyes, and concluded that it had somehow
failed to understand or appreciate its foremost son.
Hollins, the leading grocer, and Bolton, the furniture
dealer, had felt the itch for office ; and Marquis, the at
torney, had stood in his doorway for a week awaiting
the delegation that would press upon him the nomina
tion ; but all these aspirants faded like poppies in the
wake of the reaper. Nobody could be found to buck a
sure thing, such as Judge Bowers, backed by the power
of the press.
The week after election, the Herald sported fifty
small flags through its columns, and quoted Wat Har-
low s speech in which he declared that Judge William
Hiram Bowers was "the noblest Roman of them all."
For which Bill accounted to Jap by the astute observa
tion that Rome was a long way off. The Judge hardly
caught Wat s meaning, and came into the office to
"I am afeard that folks 11 think we have Catholic
blood in the family," he complained, shaking the paper
"Mystery is the blood of progress, Pap," assured
Bill gravely. "If you will notice, the men that get
there always have a skeleton rattling a limb now and
"Mis Bowers don t like it," he objected. "I had to
quit the Methodists and be immersed in the Baptists
afore she d have me, and now she s fairly tearin up
JAP HERRON 117
the wind over this talk about me bein a Roman. You
gotta correct it !"
"We have given you a hundred dollars worth of ad
vertising for a measly two-dollar bill," declared Jap
emphatically. "The columns of the Herald are free to
news. Advertising at our regular rates. Bill will give
"Dollar an inch for display," crisped Bill; "ten
cents a line for readers." He seated himself, pencil in
hand, as he added, "payable in advance."
"Make a flat rate of ten dollars, as it is the Judge,"
advised Jap judicially.
The Mayor-elect decided to let it alone ; but Jap
mentioned the fact, in the next issue of the Herald,
that Judge Bowers had alleged that he was born in
New England, of Puritan stock, and had no Italian
sympathies which lucid statement abundantly satis
fied Judge and Mrs. Bowers, but set the town to won
dering what the Judge was hiding in the dim annals of
"I WORKED a bunch of passes out of the agent for
that Indian medicine show," announced Bill, washing
his hands. "Want to take her, Jap?" and he jerked his
head in the direction of the front door, where Isabel
Granger was passing.
"No ; I m going out to Flossy s a while. I want to
talk some things over with her."
There was no further discussion, for at that moment
Rosy Raymond floated by, and Bill started out in eager
pursuit. Ever since the election, Jap had been ob
sessed by a disquieting foreboding. One of Mayor Bow-
ers s first official acts was to authorize the opening of a
second saloon on Main street, and he was rapidly push
ing the work of erecting two new business houses which,
rumor declared, were to house other thirst palaces.
Hitherto the natives and the surrounding territory
had been amply supplied by Holmes ; but Bloomtown
was growing beyond the reach of one saloon.
Holmes had come across with a double-sized license,
under promise of the Mayor that he should continue to
have a monopoly of the trade. And when the good
people of the various churches waited upon Judge Bow-
JAP HERRON 119
ers to protest against what they were disposed to call
the "introduction of Satan into their town," he called
their attention to the need for municipal revenue. If
one saloon was a help, two saloons would double that
help. The town had already begun to show signs of
genuine progress. It had to build a calaboose to take
care of the saloon s patrons, and the regular fines for
plain drunks almost paid the cost of the court that
Once Jap thought he detected a sinister reason for
Bill s flushed cheeks and unsteady gait as he passed
hastily through the office on his way to the sleeping
room above. The next morning Bill declared that he
had been a fool, and had paid for his folly with a severe
headache, and Jap, with the delicacy that was Jap s,
let the subject drop. It was becoming fashionable for
the young fellows of the town to assume a tough swag
ger. Those who had formerly resorted to barn lofts
and musty cellars paraded their sophistication on Main
street, and Bill would rather be dead than out of style.
Jap wanted to talk it over with Flossy, but he had
never found the key to open such poignant confidence.
What right had he to burden Flossy with fresh anx
iety? In his loneliness, he yearned for Ellis as he had
never yearned before.
He was sitting on the little front porch, tossing J.
W. on the tough old trotting horse afforded by his two
ill-padded knees, and vaguely wondering how he could
120 JAP HERRON
introduce the subject of Bloomtown s swift decay, with
out wounding Judge Bowers s sister and Bill s aunt,
when they heard a great tumult in the vicinity of the
medicine show. After a while Bill came up the walk
"What was the racket about?" Jap asked incuri
"They wanted to nominate the ugliest man in town,
and there was a fight," she said.
"Shut up!" growled Bill. "Haven t you got any
"Sam Waldron nominated Jap," she sputtered, be
A hot flush swept over Jap. Always keenly sensi
tive, he had never armored himself against the playful
brutalities of his friends. The shame of being made a
subject of ridicule cut deeply.
"Rosy is a fool!" snapped Bill.
"What was the fuss about?" asked Flossy, prompted
by a conviction that further revelation would be good
"Why, Isabel Granger slapped his face, and Bill
jumped in and punched him in the ribs, and the crowd
wanted to take him down to the pond and duck him."
Flossy s hand, sought Jap s, and she laughed softly.
"That was worth while, boy. How Ellis would have
written it up!"
JAP HERRON 121
Jap smiled, but the sting was still there. When it
was evident that Bill and Rosy expected to spend the
evening, he arose with a tired, "Well, I ll be going,"
and walked around the cottage to the alley gate. He
was afraid of meeting some one on Spring street, and
he made excuse to his own consciousness that the alley
had always been the rational highway between the cot
tage and the office. He put his hand in his pocket for
his key, as he emerged on Main street.
As he approached the door, he saw that some one
was sitting on the steps. She sprang up and laid
trembling hands on his arm.
"Oh, Jap, you won t mind ! You won t let it hurt
you? Everybody knows that you are the best-looking
man in town. At least I think so !"
Before he could grasp her arm, the girl was gone.
That night Jap lay awake long hours, thinking, think
ing. With the morning, reason returned. He had as
sumed responsibility for Flossy and the boy. He must
not think again.
And indeed the next few days gave him little time for
thought. Wat Harlow slipped into the office late one
afternoon. He wore a furtive look and an appearance
of guilt. There was about him a suggestion of gum
shoes. Something must be amiss.
"I want to see you alone, Jap," he confessed.
Jap led the way to the little private office. Harlow
122 JAP HERRON
was pulling nervously at the stubby mustache that hid
his short upper lip.
"In trouble, Wat?" asked Jap anxiously.
"No not exactly. You see, it s this way " He
coughed apologetically. "The wife had a dream, a
funny dream, the other night. She s had curious dreams
ever since we took that long trip, to New York and all
over, last year, and there may be nothing to it,
but " He lit a fresh cigar, and went at it again.
"She says that she saw me going into the Capitol at
Washington just as if I belonged there. And she got
a notion Jap, you know how notionate women
are. She thinks well, she thinks that I might be called
to run for the House of Representatives."
"Oh, I see," said Jap, illuminated. "It would sound
good for the Herald to mention that you are in line?"
"Not rough-like, Jap ! Just a little tickle in the ribs,
to see what they d say."
"Oh, I ll fix that," declared Jap, laughing. And the
Herald flung the hat in the ring for "Harlow, the one
Jap smiled sadly as he read his copy over. He had
a habit of wondering what Ellis would have said. He
wondered, too, what attitude the editor of the Barton
Standard would take. The Standard had recently
changed hands, and since Bloomtown had pulled a
saloon, a sunbonnet factory and two business houses
out of Barton, a rapid-fire editorial war had been in
JAP HERRON 123
progress. By some curious dispensation of Provi
dence, Jones of the Standard and Herron of the Herald
had never met. Jap was not hunting trouble, but the
same spirit that prompted him to thrash his tormen
tors, the day of his advent in Ellis Hinton s town,
caused him to wield a fire-tipped pen against the Stand
That opposition to Wat s candidacy would develop,
before the nomination, was to be expected; but oppo
sition on the part of the Barton Standard would be a
purely personal matter, the Standard having its own
party fights to foster. But that was all Jap feared.
It was even worse than he could have imagined, for
Jones dug up a bloody ghost to walk at every political
meeting. Not only were all Wat Harlow s sins of
omission and commission paraded in the Standard, but
he was proclaimed as the implacable foe of higher edu
cation. In vain did his home paper print his record, of
beneficent bills introduced, of committee work on be
half of the district schools, and his great speech set
ting forth the need of a new normal school building.
Jones had one trump card left in his hand, and the day
before the convention he played it. It was a handbill,
yellow with age and ragged around the edges, but still
showing a badly spelled, abominably punctuated story
in vermilion ink, with a weeping angel at the top and a
rooster and two prancing stallions at the bottom. It
proved Wat Harlow the undying foe of the State Uni
Despite all the Herald s valiant work, that night
mare was Harlow s undoing. The nomination went to a
rising politician at the opposite side of the congres
sional district. A great change had come over the
sentiment of the state, since the day when the Univer
sity had been the favorite tool of the political grafters.
Every village had its band of rooters for the Alma
Mater, and when the nominating convention came to a
close it was apparent that Wat Harlow was hardly an
Defeat was galling enough; but the Standard s ex
pressions of glee were unbearable. Jap s red hair
stood on end, "like quills upon the fretful porcupine,"
as he stood at his case and threw the type into the
stick, hot from the wrath in his soul. The paper was
printed, as usual, on Thursday; but Friday brought a
change in the even tenor of Bloomtown s way. Jones,
of the Standard, was a passenger on the eastbound
train that left Barton a little after noon. His destina
tion was Bloomtown.
"I am looking for a cross-eyed, slit-eared pup by
the name of Herron," was the greeting he flung into
the Herald s sanctum. The door to the composing
room was open. Jap looked up wearily.
"Would you mind sitting down and keeping quiet
till I finish setting up this address to the bag of wind
JAP HERRON 125
that edits the Barton Standard?" he said impersonally.
Jones, of the Standard, sat down and gaped at the
long, lank figure on the stool. A moment he went limp
and terrified; then he rallied his courage.
"Do you unwind all at once?" he asked, as Jap dis
entangled his legs from the stool. "I take back what
I said about a pup. You re a full-grown dog, all right.
I wasn t looking for a brick-top, either. No wonder
you have a weakness for vermilion."
"Better come outside of town," Jap interrupted.
"I ve been intending to go over to Barton to have a
look at you, but it s better thus. I have been stealing
space from my readers long enough. They pay for
more important things than my private opinion of you.
I made up my mind to stop the argument by giving you
a hell of a licking, and I ve only waited because I didn t
care to risk my reputation in a neighboring town. Here
it will be different. In the midst of my friends, I hope
to fix you so that you ll never try to throw filth on
any one again."
Jones arose hastily.
"I want no row," he said uneasily. "I just want an
"You have the right idea," cried Jap. "You are go
ing to get lots of understanding before you leave Bloom-
At that moment the town marshal strolled in, wear
ing his star pinned on his blue flannel shirt.
126 JAP HERRON
"I demand protection," Jones shouted. "This man
has threatened me."
"What s the row, Jap?" asked the monitor of peace
"This is Mr. Wilfred Jones, of the Barton Standard"
was all that Jap said. But the effect was electrical.
The man of peace was transformed into an engine of
"Going to beat him up?" he yelled. "Go to it, and
I m here, if you need help."
Jap took off his coat, deliberately. He unclasped his
cuffs and was in the act of unbuttoning his collar, when
the local freight whistled for the crossing below town.
With a mighty leap the man from Barton cleared the
space between his chair and the door. The strolling
populace of Main street was scattered like leaves be
fore a sudden gust of wind. There was an abortive
cry of "Stop, thief!" and a bewildered pursuit by sev
eral tipsy bums who had been loafing in front of Bing-
ham s saloon, but the appearance of the marshal, wear
ing a broad grin of satisfaction, dispelled apprehen
"phat was Jones, travelin light," he explained.
The next issue of the Standard failed to mention the
editorial visit to Bloomtown ; but the scurrilous articles
ceased and there was quiet again.
"Did Ellis ever have a fight that kind of a fight
with anybody?" Jap asked Flossy, when Bill had fin-
JAP HERRON 127
isheid his second-hand recital of the show that "he
wouldn t have missed for his farm in Texas." In Bill s
heart there arose a mighty resentment against Rosy
Raymond, who had enticed him from the office just be
fore Jones arrived.
"Ellis did a good deal of fighting before he got me to
fight his battles for him," she said, a whimsical smile
in her gentle eyes. "You ought to know, Jap. I never
would have had Ellis if he hadn t whipped Brother
"But that wasn t a matter of personal grudge," Jap
argued. It had seemed to him that somehow he had
degraded himself when he went down to Jones s ethical
level. "I wanted to use my fists because Jones ridi
culed me. When Ellis licked the Judge, it wasn t a
personal matter. He did it for me."
"And you did this for for the honor of Bloom-
town," cried Bill, with enthusiasm.
"SOMETHING S broke loose," announced Bill, slam
ming the door violently. "Pap s bought an automobile."
Which illuminative remark indicated that Judge Bow-
ers s mind had expanded to let in a fresh vagary.
Jap looked up inquiringly.
"I reckon it s all on account of Billy Wamkiss," Bill
"Billy who? There never was no such animal," and
Jap scowled at the stick in his hand. Conditions in
Bloomtown were, as Jim Blanke expressed it, all to the
bad. While the political fight was at white heat the
Mayor had contrived to have his own way. He was
going to "make the town" which Ellis Hinton had failed
to make. There would be revenue enough to provide
metropolitan improvements, and already there was a
metropolitan, perhaps even a Monte Carlo-tan, air to
the recently awakened village, as every train disgorged
its Saturday evening crowd of gamblers from the city
where the lid had gone on with ruthless completeness.
Mrs. Granger had arisen from a sick-bed to call to
gether the women of all the churches to make protest
at the licensing of another pool-room, with bar and
JAP HERRON 129
poker attachment, not two blocks from her home, a
stroke that had met its counter stroke when the saloon
element threatened to boycott Granger s bank and open
a rival financial institution in one of the store-rooms of
the recently erected hotel that faced the Court House
Square, half a block away. Another crowd, the men
with store-rooms and cottages to rent, promised to
carry all their banking business to Barton, if Granger
didn t "sit on his wife good and proper."
"Never was no such animal?" Bill repeated. "Wake
up, Jap. Don t you know who Billy Wamkiss is?"
"Never heard of the guy," Jap insisted.
"He s that greasy, wall-eyed temperance lecturer
that s been stringing the town for a week."
"Humph !" Jap snorted. "Time for you to wake up,
Bill. You brought in the ad yourself, and you wrote
the account of the first lecture. The columns of the
Herald will bear me out that the reverend gentleman s
name is Silas Parsons."
"Yes, that s his reverend name," Bill snorted. "When
he s the advance agent of a rotgut whiskey house over
in Kentucky that supplies fancy packages to all the
dry territory around here, he s plain Billy Wamkiss."
"Oh, that s his game !" Jap sat up, his gray eyes
wide with astonishment. "How did you get next to
"Your good friend, Wilfred Jones, put me wise. He
didn t mean to, but he let it slip out when he wasn t
130 JAP HERRON
watching. I ran into him over in Barton this morning
and he was roasting Bloomtown as usual. Said we were
a bunch of Rubes, to fall for a raw proposition like
Billy Wamkiss, dressed up as a temperance lecturer.
And then he went on to say that my daddy would get
richer n he already is, from his rake-off on the moisture
that ll be injected into the town after she goes dry. He
said he met Wamkiss in Chicago three years ago, and
he s been doing a rattling business all over the country
deliver lectures on the evils of the Demon Rum that d
bring tears to the eyes of a potato ; dry up the terri
tory, with the help of the churches ; and then fill up the
town with drug stores. That s his program, and it s
going to work here, thanks to my amiable and honor
Jap was silent. He had no words with which to ex
press his emotions. Bill went out on the street, his
reporter s pad under his arm. In half an hour he re
"It s worse I mean more incriminating than I
thought, Jap," he said, as he drew his partner into the
private office and shut the door.
"Did you attend that meeting at the Baptist
Church?" Jap asked anxiously.
"Yes, and I had to dig out before it was over. I
wanted to explode, and blow up the whole bunch of
idiots and crooks. Pap and Wamkiss, alias Parsons,
have formed some kind of a Templar lodge, and my
JAP HERRON 131
daddy s got himself elected secretary. They re going
to dry up Bloomtown. Fancy it! They did a lot of
crooked work over at the Court House, so as to make
it look as if all the licenses would expire at the same
time. Holmes is the only one that s likely to squeal,
because he s paid his second fee, and the others have
only a few months to run. They ll make it up to
Holmes, I reckon, rather n have him give the snap
away. Of course, Jap, I haven t got the goods for any
of this. I just put two and two together while I was
listening to the speeches, especially my father s speech."
"Bill" Jap laid his hand on Bill s arm "you made
the mistake of your career when you picked that owl
for a daddy. He has made more trouble than three
towns could stand up against. First, he throws the
place wide open and takes all the stray saloons and
gambling dens to his bosom; and just when we have a
reputation for being the toughest town on the road and
doing a land-office business in sin, he is he is fool
enough to try to pull off a stunt like this. What be
comes of his plea for municipal revenue when he turns
saloons into drug stores ?"
"Well, the lid s going on," Bill returned. "The
preachers and the ladies are strong for it, and the
right honorable Mayor announced that he was the
Poo Bah that was going to put up the shutters."
"Better order a granite," Jap muttered, as he re
turned to the composing room.
132 JAP HERRON
And his prediction was well founded, for the town
had become so used to its "morning s morning" that it
fairly ravened for the blood of Mayor Bowers. The
Herald office became a forum for indignant orators,
while the Mayor strutted proudly up and down Main
street, with the black-coated Parsons, feeling that the
eyes of the world were glued on him.
"Parsons ! Bah !" spluttered Kelly .Tones, who had
driven four miles with his empty jug. "Ef the town
has got any git-up, it ll ride him and that old jackass
of a mayor on a rail."
"Judge Bowers is the honored father of our Asso
ciate Editor," informed Jap gravely.
As Bill looked up he thumped the galley he was car
rying against the case and pied the whole column.
After he had said what he thought about the catastro
phe, Kelly grinned appreciatively.
"Them s my sentiments, Bill. Ef you love your
pappy, you d better let him go, along of Parsons, cause
there s goin to be doin s around Bloomtown that ll
hurt his pride. Parsons ! They say out our way that
his right name s Wamkiss."
The turgid tide of popular sentiment caused Mayor
Bowers some uneasiness ; but before anything could
happen five new drug stores were opened for business
and things moved placidly along again. Barton began
to refer to "our neighbor, Bumtown," and it was re-
JAP HERRON 133
ported that two blind tigers prowled in the environs of
the railroad station.
"Bill," said Jap one morning, "this won t do. We ll
have to raise hell in this town. This is Ellis s town, and
we re not going to let a dod-blinged mugwump like
your asinine daddy ruin it. Bill, if you have got any
speech to make, get ready. If you can t stand for my
program, name your price, for the Herald is going to
everlastingly lambaste William Bowers, Senior."
"Pull the throttle and run er wild," Bill retorted,
as he ducked down behind the press and dragged forth
a box from the corner. "I m going to get out that last
lot of cuts that Ellis made," he continued. "Kelly
Jones knows sense. If I remember right, Ellis had
twenty-five cuts of jacks for the stock bill. We will
stick every blamed one of em in next week s issue, and
label em Mayor Bowers. He has killed the town with
his ideas. What can we do with him but hang him?"
When the Herald appeared the following Thursday
afternoon, the town quit business to read the war cry
of Ellis s boy. It was a flaming sword, hurled at the
Board of Aldermen. Bowers, foaming with wrath,
stormed into the office.
"You take all that back," he yelled, "or I ll put you
out of this here building. I ve told you times enough
this office belongs to me. I never turned it over to
Jap stuck type, deadly calm on the surface of his
134 JAP HERRON
being. Bill shifted uneasily, his hands clinched, his
ruddy face glowing.
"You hear me?" bawled the irate Mayor.
Jap turned to consult his copy. Before the act
could be imagined Bowers had struck him over the head
with the revolver he dragged from his pocket. Jap fell,
crumpling to the floor, the blood spurting across the
type. For an instant there was horrified silence. Then,
with a howl like that of a wild beast, Bill threw himself
upon his father. But for the intervention of Tom
Granger, who had followed the Mayor because he
scented trouble, there would have been a quick finish
to the pompous career of Bill Bowers s progenitor, for
Bill had wrested the pistol from his father s hand and
was pressing it against the temple of the worst scared
coward Bloomtown had ever seen. There was a sharp
tussle between the broad-shouldered banker and the
frenzied youth. Several men rushed in from the street.
"Let me go !" shouted Bill, "for if he s killed Jap he s
got to die."
They were carrying Jap out of the composing room,
limp and bleeding.
"Let him alone, Bill," Tom counselled wisely. "Let
your father alone, for if Jap is dead, we ll lynch him."
Jap was pretty weak when they brought the Mayor s
resignation up from the calaboose for him to read. A
representative delegation stood around his bed.
"Let the Judge out, for Bill s sake," Jap said.
JAP HERRON 135
"We d better keep him locked up for his own sake,"
declared Tom Granger. "For in Bill s present frame
of mind he s likely to make an orphan of himself."
Flossy came in from the little sitting-room and
leaned over the bed.
"I am going to see Brother William," she said quietly.
"I am going to take Brent Roberts with me. William
will give you boys a quitclaim bill to this property, for
this dastardly deed."
She was an impersonation of righteous wrath as she
swept into the jail, followed by Bloomtown s leading
attorney. Judge Bowers had said more than once that
Flossy had a willing tongue, but its full willingness was
never conceived until she descended upon him that event
An arrangement, made by Ellis just before his de
parture, gave the contents of the office to the boys, on
regular payments to Flossy. The ground on which the
new building stood had been deeded to Ellis and Flossy
on their wedding day; but the building, presumed to
be a gift to Ellis, had been reclaimed by Bowers ; it
was held, however, as Bill s share in the firm. As yet
no occasion had arisen that demanded the settling of
the question of ownership. Whenever the Judge had
an attack of bile he came into the office to remind Bill
and Jap that the building was still his.
For one heated hour Flossy detailed the past, pres
ent and future of her cowering brother. When she left
136 JAP HERRON
him he was a wiser, and probably a sadder, man, for
she had deprived him of his weapon.
There was a big bonfire on the circus grounds, and
a celebration in Court House Square that night. The
next day there was a great vacuum in the City Hall, for
the Board of Aldermen resigned unanimously. A spe
cial election was called, and before Jap was strong
enough to sit at his case he had been elected Mayor of
He looked sadly from the window of his bedroom,
after the joyous crowd of serenaders that had come to
congratulate him. Bill had followed in their wake, to
escort Rosy home. It was late. The clock in the Pres
byterian church spire chimed twelve, as he stood alone.
He took his hat from the rack and went cautiously
downstairs. On the pavement he paused a moment to
steady himself. His head still reeled after any un
wonted exertion. Then he walked slowly up Main
street, across the railroad tracks, and out to the quiet
village whose inhabitants slept neath marble and sod.
Standing beside the grave of his first friend, he said:
"Ellis, make the town proud of your boy. Help me
to be your right hand. If I can only fulfill your plan,
I am willing that no other ambition be fulfilled."
A lonely night bird called softly. The willow
branches waved in the breeze. Thick darkness hung
over the City of the Dead. Suddenly the moon peered
JAP HERRON 137
through the clouds, flooding the night with beauty, and
Jap read from the stone the last message of Ellis :
"I go, but not as one unsatisfied. In God s plan, my
work will live."
"Now that you ve got it, Jap," asked Tom Granger,
"what are you going to do with it?" Jap looked
silently from the door.
"He put in about eight hours of thinking about that
himself," Bill averred. "News is that ten saloons are
loaded on freight cars, waiting word from Jap."
"You ll have to strike a happy medium," suggested
Tom. "I know that you are the boy to deliver the
"Ellis wasn t against saloons," commented Bill, "so
Jap won t have that to chew over. Ellis wasn t either
for or against em."
"No," Tom said seriously, "Ellis was dead set against
hypocrisy. He hated a liar and a grafter worse than
a murderer. He knew that the way to make people
want a thing was to tell em they couldn t have it."
Jap s face was grave. A panorama of wretched pic
tures moved slowly before his wandering gaze, pictures
that began and ended in Mike s place, in the half-for
gotten village of Happy Hollow. He aroused himself
with a start.
"I m going to put it up to the new Board to allow
JAP HERRON 139
as many saloons as want to, to come in," he said shortly.
Tom Granger let go a shrill whistle.
"At the license asked," continued Jap calmly. "The
license will be three thousand dollars a year, and strict
enforcement of all laws. At the first break, the lid will
"Jumping cats !" howled Tom. "Where will you get
the saloon that ll pay that?"
Jap smiled wearily. "I am not hunting a saloon for
Bloomtown," he said, and turned toward the door in
time to bump into Isabel Granger, her arms full of bun
dles. She blushed and dimpled prettily.
"I am looking for my papa," she cried, pinching
Tom s cheek with her one free hand. "I want you to
carry these packages for me."
"Run along, pet. I m busy."
"You look it," she reproved. "I simply can t carry
all these things. My arm is almost broken now, and
the dressmaker has to have them."
"Jap will tote them for you," chuckled Tom, watch
ing the blood rush over Jap s sensitive face. To his
surprise, Jap took the bundles and walked out with
Isabel. He looked after them approvingly.
"Now there goes the likeliest boy in the state," he
declared. "It s plumb funny the way he s got of get
ting right next to your marrow bones. I wish I had a
boy like him."
140 JAP HERRON
"No great matter," drawled Bill, with tantalizing in-
Tom looked up at him quizzically, as he picked ab
sently at the pile of exchanges. Something in the
young man s tone piqued him.
"If Jap wasn t so all-fired conscientious," Bill
blurted, "you d have a son, in quick order."
"Lord!" exploded Tom. "Dunderhead that I am!"
He slapped his thigh, and a great, joyous laugh set his
shoulders to heaving. "Bill, you re a genius for spy
ing out mysteries. How did you get on to it?"
"Mysteries !" shouted Bill. "Why, everybody in
Bloomtown, including Isabel, knows that Jap is fairly
sapheaded about her."
"Well, what s hampering him?" inquired Tom.
"Why don t he confide in me?"
"Confide your hat !" remarked Bill crisply. "Isabel
will die of old age before Jap asks her. You see, he
is such a durn fool that he thinks he isn t good enough
for her. When the Lord made Jap Herron He made
a man, I tell you !"
"Who said He didn t?" stormed Tom. "I can t know
what is in the boy s mind, can I? What do you want
me to do, kidnap him and get his consent? Bill, you re
a fool. You needn t tell me that Jap Herron is such
"All I know is that he won t ask Isabel," Bill said
gloomily. "I d like to get married myself, but as long
JAP HERRON 141
as Jap stays single, I stick too." And thinking of
Rosy s blue eyes, he sighed heavily.
"It beats me, the way young folks do. It was dif
ferent when I went courting," Tom muttered, turning
At the door he met Kelly Jones, who had come in to
inquire what Jap intended to do about the "licker"
business. He was too busy with his fall plowing to be
running over to Barton for his jug of good cheer, and
he didn t like the brand he could get at Bingham s
drug store, on Doc Connor s prescription. While he
was still holding forth, Jap came in, with half-a-dozen
constituents, all busy with the same problem. Bill took
up his notebook and wandered out. At Blanke s drug
store he met Isabel. She motioned for him to come back
in the store.
"What do you want to know, Iz?" he asked with the
familiarity born of long years of propinquity. "Reck
on you want to ask what everybody else wants to know
when is Jap going to get a saloon?"
"You are too smart, Bill Bowers," she retorted, with
annoyance. She had had a subject of more personal
nature on the tip of her tongue. "I think that Jap
will be able to answer his own questions without any
help from you."
"It is to be hoped that he will make a better stagger
at answering than he does at asking," remarked Bill
"Now, Bill Bowers, just what do you mean?" she
demanded, her black eyes flashing angrily.
"What s the use?" said Bill, in disgust. "Rosy says
that she s going to Kansas this fall, and I just will have
to let her go because I can t ask her to stay."
"Pity about you," she snapped. "Thought you said
Jap couldn t ask."
"I did," assented Bill, "for if he had gumption
enough to get married, or even go courting, I might
get by. But as long as he sticks alone I m going to
Isabel s face flamed. She stooped to pick up a bit
"What do you want to tell me about it for?" she
complained. "My goodness, I m not to blame."
"You are," stormed Bill. "Jap knows that he is not
your equal, and he never will marry."
"Who said that Jap Herron was not more than the
equal of any man on earth?" she blazed. "If Jap will
ask me, I ll marry him to-morrow."
She whirled away in her wrath, and ran into the arms
of Jap Herron, standing half paralyzed with the won
der of it. Bill, who had been watching the unconscious
Jap approaching for several minutes, discreetly with
"Gee !" he said, "but they ought not to be kissing in
such a public place."
There were a dozen customers in the store, but
JAP HERRON 143
neither Jap nor Isabel knew it. And it is to the credit
of Bloomtown that they all looked the other way, as
they hurriedly transacted their business and departed.
Blanke declared afterward that he filled fifteen pre
scriptions with epsom salts in his abstraction, and ac
cidentally cured Doc Horton s best paying patient.
Moss, the paper hanger, went out with his rolls of
paper, and hung the border on the walls, instead of
the siding. The mistakes reported were legion ; but
the town was all courting Isabel with Jap, at heart.
Bill rambled into the bank and suggested that Tom
go over to Blanke s and lead Jap and Isabel out, as
Blanke might want to close the store. Half an hour
later Tom came from the drug store, with an arm
locked with each of the glowing pair. Straight across
Main street they marched, and down the shady walk
that flanked the little park until they were opposite
the front gate of the Granger home. Then they went
in to break the news to Isabel s invalid mother.
Flossy heard about it, almost before Jap had awak
ened to his own joy, and he never knew of the hour she
spent in passionate grief. In some vague way it
seemed to tear open the old wound. Without knowing
why, she resented the fact that Isabel s brunette beauty
had won Jap. She told herself that it was not a fitting
match for him. Flossy, in her maternal soul, had
looked to heights undreamed of by the retiring boy.
She had planned a future for him that would be sadly
144 JAP HERRON
hampered by marriage with a village belle. But only
smiles met him when he brought Isabel to her, his plain
features glorified by joy in her possession.
Somehow the story of Jap Herron, the youthful
Mayor of Bloomtown, his advent in its environs, and
the story of his romance with the banker s daughter,
crept into the country press, was carried over into the
city papers and flung broadcast, so that friend and foe
might seek him out. One dreary fall day, when the
rain was beating sullenly down on the sodden leaves, a
haggard, dirty woman straggled into the office.
"I m lookin for Jasper Herron," she mumbled.
"They told me I d find him in here."
Jap looked at her in horror. His heart sank.
"I am his poor old mother, that he run away from
and left to starve," she said viciously.
And Jap, just on the threshold of his greatest happi
ness, was turned aside by this grizzly, drunken phantom
from the past.
LITTLE J- W. crawled out from under Bill s case,
his brown eyes wide with surprise at this vagrant who
called Jap "son."
"Run like sin," counselled Bill, in a whisper, "and
bring your mother. She will know what to do."
While the boy went to do his bidding, Bill slipped
out of the rear door of the office and was waiting in
front of the bank when Flossy came hurrying along.
"Oh, Bill, what has Jap said?" she asked breath
lessly. From J. W. s lisping description he always
lisped when he was excited she had come to fear the
"Nothing," said Bill bluntly. "He s sitting at his
case, sticking type as if he was hired by the minute."
"And she that awful woman?"
"Gee !" Bill spat the word. "You don t know any
thing yet. Wait till you lamp her over."
"That bad, Bill?"
"Worse," muttered Bill. And when Flossy came
inside and looked into the little inner office where the
woman sprawled, half asleep and muttering incoher
ently, the fumes of liquor and the presence of filth all
146 JAP HERRON
too evident, her stomach rebelled and she retreated
swiftly. Softly she slipped into the composing room
through the wide-open door. Timidly she approached
Jap and touched his arm. He looked at her with eyes
"Oh, Jap, what can I do?"
"You cannot do anything," his voice flat and emo
tionless. "No one can. Could you take her in? No!
She is impossible, and yet she is my mother. Per
haps if I had stayed with her it would have been dif
ferent, so I must make up for it."
Flossy looked into his set face in affright.
"I am going away with her." Jap s tones were
calm. "You can see, Flossy, that it is the only way.
I cannot be Mayor of Ellis s town with such a disgrace
to shame me. I must give up Isabel and and the
Flossy clung to his arm.
"Listen to me, Jap Herron," she cried shrilly. "You
shall not do it ! You shall not let this horrible old
woman drag you down in the dirt."
Jap smiled sadly.
"What could I do, Flossy? She must be cared for.
She has been all over town. Everybody has seen her.
They know the truth, that my mother is what she is."
Suddenly he threw himself forward on the case and
began to sob, such hard, racking sobs as might tear his
very breast. Flossy threw her arms around him and
JAP HERRON 147
cried aloud. Bill stood in the little private office, look
ing down upon the snoring woman with a murderous
glare. He turned as Tom Granger came noiselessly
from the outer office and stood beside him. Grief was
in Granger s face.
"I heard what Jap said just now," he whispered,
"and he is right. It would be impossible for him to
stay with her in the town. She has ruined Jap."
"You re a gol-dinged fool," shouted Bill, dragging
him across the big office and out of the front door.
"Pretty sort of friend you are, anyway. I ll fight you,
or a half-dozen like you, if you murmur a word like that
He whirled as his father ambled up the street, his
round face wearing a grin.
"What is that greasy smirk for?" demanded Bill.
"If you have any business in the Herald office, spit it
"I knowed it would come out sooner or later," splut
tered Bowers, shifting his position to avoid a pool in
the pavement, left by the recent rain. "With half an
eye, anybody could see the mongrel streak in "
He stopped as his son advanced swiftly toward him.
"What kind of a streak ?" he threatened. "I dare you
to say that again, and hitch anybody s name to it."
"Why, William," expostulated his father, "you
shorely ain t goin to have Jap and his mammy hitched
up to the Herald? Barton 11 ride Bloomtown proper."
148 JAP HERRON
"It will give Jones a whack at the Herald" sug
gested Granger mildly.
"And it will be his last whack !" foamed Bill. "For
I ll finish him and his filthy paper before I go to the
pen for burning down the Herald office. The day that
Jap Herron leaves the Herald, there will be the hell-
firedest bonfire that Bloomtown ever saw!" His eyes
were blazing. "Get away from here," he cried fiercely,
"you you milksop friends !"
He stopped as Isabel, her eyes swollen from crying,
crossed the street. She had come across the corner of
the park, and her face was white and drawn. Bill
stepped up into the doorway and awaited her.
"I want to speak to Jap," she said, as he barred
"What do you want with him?" Bill demanded trucu
lently. "Because he is packing all the load now that
he can stand, and you ain t going to add another chip
to it. Give me your old engagement ring, and I ll pitch
it in the hell-box. I reckon that s what you came for."
She pushed him aside, her eyes blazing with wrath.
"Get out of my way, Bill Bowers. You never did
have any sense. Let me by !"
She flung herself past him and ran into the compos
ing room. At sight of Flossy, she paused. Flossy
raised her head from Jap s shoulder and looked defi
antly at the girl, but only for a second. She knew, in
that glance. Softly she crept out as Isabel, with a
JAP HERRON 149
heart-shaking cry, ran to Jap and threw herself against
"Take me in your arms, Jap," she cried stormily,
"for I love you."
Jap stared up, dully, for an instant. Then, for
getting all but love, he opened his arms and clasped her
to his heart. Bill rushed outside after Flossy.
"I never knew that she was the real goods," he said
remorsefully, wiping his eyes.
"Get a wagon from the grocer," Flossy said, decisive
again. "I am going to take her home with me."
"Meaning that?" Bill flipped his thumb toward
Jap s mother.
"Send her up to the house, and I will have a doctor,
and some one to bathe her and clean her up. Maybe
after she is clean and sober, she won t be so dreadful."
When Jap came out of his stupor enough to try
to put Isabel away, he discovered what Flossy had
done. With Isabel clinging to him, he walked with
downcast head through the streets that lay between the
Herald office and Flossy s cottage.
His mother was in bed, clean and yet disgusting in
her drunken sleep. He forgot Isabel, silent by his side,
as he stood looking down upon the blotched and sunken
face, thinking what thoughts God only knew. He
seemed years older as he walked out again, after the
doctor had told him that nothing could be determined
until she had slept the liquor off. Slowly and silently
150 JAP HERRON
he and Isabel walked past the row of neat cottages
until they reached Main street. On the corner Jap
"You must go home, Isabel," he said brokenly.
"Sweetheart, I understand, and I know that you are
the bravest girl in the world. But you must leave me
"I will not," she declared. "I want you to take me
right down to the office and send for a license. I am
going to marry you, and show this town what I think
"But I cannot let you," Jap said simply. "I know
you don t."
"Then," said Isabel defiantly, "I will go back to
Flossy s and take care of your mother until you are
ready to talk sense."
Jap looked at her helplessly. They were in front of
Blanke s drug store. Jim Blanke stepped outside and
grasped Jap s hand. Isabel looked proudly up at him,
her arm drawn tightly through Jap s. As they passed
down the street, citizens sprang up, apparently from
nowhere, and clasped Jap s hand in a fraternal grip.
Isabel peered into his silent face. The tears were
streaming unheeded down his cheeks. Her father
frowned as they appeared at the door of the bank.
"Papa," she called resolutely, "you coming with
He stood gnawing at his lips, his face overcast. An
JAP HERRON 151
instant he battled with his pride and his love for the
boy. Then, with his old heartiness, he clapped Jap on
"Straighten your shoulders, lad. We re all your
friends !" And the storm cloud lightened.
All that night Jap paced the floor of the office, while
Bill, too sympathetic for sleep, tossed in the room above
and swore at fate. It was noon the next day when little
J. W. came in to say that Mrs. Herron was awake and
wanted to see her son.
She was half sitting among the pillows when Jap en
tered. Flossy had drawn the muslin curtains, to soften
the garish light as it fell on her seamed and shame-
scarred face. She peered up at him from blood-shot,
"You look like your pappy s folks, Jasper," she
croaked. "And they tell me you air a fine, likely boy,
and follerin in the trade of your gran pap. I wisht
that I had a known where you was, long ago. I have
had a hard life, Jasper. Your step-pa beat me, and
that s more n your pappy ever done. He died of the
trimmins, three year ago, and I have been wanderin
every since, huntin my childurn. But Aggie s a big-
bug now, and she drove me off. And Fanny s goin
to a fine music school, and sent me word that she d
have me put in a sanitary if I bothered her. She saw
a piece about you in the paper, and sent it to me. So
I tramped thirty mile to come."
152 JAP HERRON
Her face was pathetic in its misery. She sank back
in the pillows and closed her eyes. Jap leaned down
and drew the covers tenderly over her arms. She
opened her eyes, at the touch, and looked up at him
"Thanky, Jasper," she mumbled. "You be-ant
He patted her cheek softly, and the sunken eyes
lighted with a smile of weary contentment. Then the
lids fluttered, like the last effort of a spent candle, and
she slept. Like one in the maze of a vague, uncertain
dream, Jap went back to the office. Unconsciously he
took the familiar way, through the alley. Automatic
ally he climbed to his stool and began setting up the
editorial that had been interrupted by his mother s com
ing the previous day.
At sunset Bill touched his shoulder softly. Jap
raised his head from his hands.
"Your your mother never woke up after you left
her, Jap," he said huskily.
BILL, looked up as a long, lank form glided surrep
titiously into the office.
"Been a long time since you drifted our way," he
commented, as the form resolved itself into the six-foot
length of Kelly Jones.
"Might nigh three month," averred Kelly grimly.
"I ve been tradin over at Barton. Couldn t stand
for Jap s damfoolishness. Had to buy my licker there,
and just traded there. It s twelve mile from my farm
to Barton, and four mile to Bloomtown. Spring s
comin on, and work to do. I hate to take that trip
every time the wife needs a spool o thread. Did you
get my letter, sayin to stop the paper?"
"Stopped it, didn t we?" queried Bill crisply, scat
tering the type from the financial report of Bloomtown
into the case.
"Yes," assented Kelly, "you did. What d you do
"Not forcing the Herald on anybody," announced
Bill glibly. "Got past that. We used to hold em
up and feed the Herald to them, but we don t have to
do it now."
154 JAP HERRON
"I hear tell that Jap made Tim Simpson night mar
shal. Why, he run a blind tiger beyond the water
tank," exclaimed Kelly. "I reckon Jap didn t know
"Just because he did know it, he made Tim night
marshal," declared Bill, flinging the last type into
the box and descending from the stool. "Just you
stroll down the tracks in either direction, and see if
you can find a whisker or a tawny hair from the tip
of any tiger s tail lying loose along the way. Jap
knows several things, Kelly, my boy, and he is fighting
fire with fire. Tim Simpson understands the opera
tions of the kind of menagerie that usually flourishes
in a dry town, and Jap put him on his honor. He s
so conscientious that he goes over to Barton to get
full. He won t drink it here. He s got pride in making
Bloomtown the whitest town in the state. But explain
the return of the prodigal. How come your feet in our
"Well," said Kelly shamefacedly, "the wife said that
I was a durn fool. I stopped the Herald and sub
scribed for the Standard and a pretty standard it is !
While Jap Herron was cleanin up, it was slingin muck
at him. The wife read it, and one day she goes up to
Barton and starts an argument with Jones. I reckon
she had the last word. If she didn t, it was the fu st
time. She come home so rip-snortin mad that she
threatened to lick me if I didn t tackle Jones. Well,
JAP HERRON 155
to keep peace in the family, I run in to see him the
next time I went to Barton. Well, Jones put it up to
me, if Jap was doin much for Bloomtown in havin
unlicensed drug stores, instid of regular saloons."
"Sure sign that you don t know the news," said
Bill, unfolding a copy of the Herald. "Since last Sat
urday night there has been only one drug store in
Bloomtown. That s Blanke s, and Jim Blanke wouldn t
sell liquor on anybody s prescription but Doc Hall s,
and Doc Hall would let you die of snake-bite, if noth
ing but whiskey would cure you. Any other drug
stores that may open up in this town 11 have to pattern
after Blanke s or out they go."
Kelly took the paper up and scanned its columns.
"Well, I do declare ! I see that might nigh all the
doctors have packed up and are threatenin to leave
town. Well, there wa n t enough doctorin to keep
twenty of em in cash nohow."
"You ought to have heard Jap s speech when they
were putting a plea for local option," said Bill. "My
pap has carried a sore ear against Jap s reign ever
since he was elected to fill out that unexpired term,
and he stirred up a lot of bellyaches among the guz
zlers. It was a sickening mess, because the whole town
knows that my daddy can t stand even the smell of
liquor. It wouldn t be so bad so hypocritical, if he
really liked it and was used to it. As I was telling you,
156 JAP HERRON
he and the old booze gang had been burning the mid
night dip to plan a crimp for Mayor Herron, when
that local option idea struck him. Well, Jap got up
and made a speech, calling their attention to the bonds
we voted, and the sound financial condition back of
those bonds ; the granitoid pavement on Main street,
the electric light plant that s going up, and the water
works, and sewers that are under way all managed
since the town went dry. Then he nominated Tom
Granger for mayor, and what do you reckon they did?"
"Seem as how he ain t mayor," said Kelly, with a
twinkle, "I allow they done nothinV
"Why," said Bill, his brown eyes kindling, "they
arose as one man and yelled, We want Jap Herron !
and that settled it."
The farmer stood in the middle of the office, his arms
gesticulating and his head bobbing with animation, as
Jap hurried in. He gazed at the back of Kelly s fa
miliar slicker incredulously.
"What!" he hailed joyously, "our old friend of the
sorghum barrel! Where have you been hibernating?
Surely a cure for sore eyes," and Jap seized his shoul
der and whirled him around so that he could grasp his
"Chipmunking in Barton," prompted Bill. "This
sadly misguided farmer has been lost but now is found."
"The Missus sent a package to Mis Flossy. You
and Bill 11 eat it, I reckon," and he produced a parcel
JAP HERRON 157
from his pocket. "She said if Ellis was here, he d
appreciate it. It s sausage that she made herself. And
and she sent a dollar for the paper. She wants the
"And what about Kelly?" Jap asked, a wave of mem
ory sweeping over him.
"Just you write it down that Kelly Jones is a yaller
pup," said Kelly morosely.
"Never!" declared Jap heartily. "Misled, perhaps,
but with a heart of gold."
Kelly groped for his handkerchief.
"I ve got on the water wagon, Jap," he sniffled. "I
reckon I kin get along without the stuff. Sary hid
my jug, and I done thout it for a week, and I felt fine.
I am goin to make a stagger at it, if I do fall down."
Jap pushed him into a chair.
"Why, you old rascal," he cried, "you have backbone
enough to do anything you will to do. Move into town
and help us turn the wheels."
Kelly wiped his nose on the tail of his slicker as he
started for the door.
"Don t happen to need any lasses, do you?" he
Jap flung an empty ink bottle after him. When
quiet had returned to the office, he said, as he hung
his hat on the nail:
"Isabel wants to learn to stick type."
"Funny," said Bill shortly, "so does Rosy, and they
158 JAP HERRON
hate each other like Pap hates beer. Pretty mix-up
we ll have on our hands."
"That s all nonsense, Bill. Rosy can t help liking
Bill scanned the copy on his hook, his eyes narrow
"Appears like she can," he muttered.
"Now, Bill, this won t do," argued Jap earnestly.
"We can t afford to have dissension in such a vital
matter. You must talk to Rosy."
"You can have the job," waived Bill, picking up a
type. "Isabel said that Rosy was shallow and only
skin-deep, and Rosy heard about it. Isabel Granger
is not so much
He stopped abruptly as Jap s hand went up in
"Look here, Bill, are we going to let the chatter of
women come between us ? There is something deeper
holding us together than the friendship of a day. Give
me your hand, Bill, and tell me that it is Ellis s work
and not these trifles that you care for. We have a work
to do, you and I."
Bill threw the stick upon the case and grasped Jap s
outstretched hand. Tears glistened in his eyes.
"Better than all the loves in the world, I love you,
Jap," he stormed. Jerking his hat from the nail, he
strode out to walk off the emotionalism he decried.
That afternoon he strove manfully to show Isabel
JAP HERRON 159
how to put type in the stick upside down, and to save
her feelings he stealthily corrected her faulty work,
suppressing a grin at Jap s pride in her first attempt.
Bill shook his head sadly as they strolled out together,
Jap s eyes drinking in the girl s slender beauty.
"Petticoat government 11 get old Jap tripped up,"
ne complained to the office cat. "And then where ll
I be? When Jap marries I ll play second fiddle. Come
seven, come leven!" and he snapped his fingers in the
THE sun was streaming through the east windows.
Jap looked anxiously up and down the street. Bill had
not been home all night. This was a state of affairs
alarming to Jap. He walked back to the table and
turned the exchanges over restlessly.
"I wonder if the boy could have persuaded that but
terfly to elope with him, as he threatened he would,
when her mother cut up so rough," he worried.
Tim Simpson came in and peered around furtively.
"Bill is drunk as a lord," he announced in a stage
whisper. "I ve got him in the back room of the cala
boose, to sober up without the news leakin ."
"Bill drunk?" he faltered. "Who got him into it?
Is he asleep, Tim?"
"Lord, no ! If he was, I would a left him out
when he come to, and said no word to you about it.
But I m plum scared about him. He s chargin up and
down like a Barnum lion. I reckon as how you d better
mosey down there and try to ca m him."
As Jap walked rapidly down the alley beside the
night marshal, he asked:
JAP HERRON 161
"Did you try to talk to him?"
"Yes," said Simpson ruefully. "He kicked me out
and was chasin after me when I slammed the door on
him. He s blind crazy loaded. I fu st seen him after
number nine pulled in, so I think he come on her. He
was mutterin and shakin his fist when he hove in sight.
I got him and steered him into the jug without much
trouble, and it was only a hour ago that he started
this ragin and ravin ."
As they entered the jail, sounds of tramping feet
and mutterings reached their ears. Bill s swollen,
blotched face and reddened eyes appeared behind the
"Let me out of here!" he shouted. "You ll get a
broken head for this, you old mule." He shook the
"Bill," said Jap slowly, "do you want to come with
me, or do you want me to stay here with you till you ve
had a bath and a good sleep?"
Bill laughed discordantly.
"A sleep ! A sleep !" he cried. "Yes, a long, long
sleep. As soon as you take me out of this hell-hole, I ll
take a sleep that ll last."
Jap opened the door and stepped inside.
"Don t come any nearer," warned Bill. "I m too
filthy, Jap. But let me stay as I am till it s over."
He sat down on the cot and stared crazily into the
162 JAP HERRON
corridor. Jap sat down beside him and drew his arm
around his shoulder, with the tenderness of a woman.
"Tell me about it, Bill, boy," he counselled gently.
"Tim, you may leave us."
Bill sat a long time, staring sullenly at the floor.
"Well, this is a hell of a display for me to bring to
Bloomtown," he declared at last. "I should have ended
it in Jones s town. If I hadn t been so dumb with rot-
gut that I didn t know what I was doing, I would be
furnishing some excitement for the Bartonites this
morning. The finest place in the world to die in it
isn t fit to live in."
Jap shook him briskly.
"Straighten up, Bill, and tell me what kind of a
mess you have been in."
Bill laughed wildly. After a moment he dragged a
letter from his pocket. Jap read:
"When you read this, I will be the wife of Wilfred
Jones, the Editor of the Barton Standard. Maybe you
will be pleased? I prefer to marry a real editor, not
the half of Jap Herron."
The letter was signed, "Rosalie," but the affectation
carried none of the elements of a disguise. To Jap it
was the crowning insult. Crushing the silly note in his
hand, he threw it from him. Standing up, he drew Bill
to his feet.
"We are going home," he said curtly. "When you
JAP HERRON 163
are sober I will tell you how disappointed I am in my
The news that Bill had been jilted spread over
Bloomtown like fire in a stubble-field, and deep resent
ment greeted the announcement that Jones of the
Standard had scored another notch against the Her
Bill, sullen and defiant, had battled it out in the
room above the office. All the vagaries of a sick mind
were his. Murder, suicide, mysterious disappearance,
chased each other across the field of his vision, and
ever the specter of suicide returned to grin at him.
For a day and a night Jap sat beside his bed, talking,
soothing, comforting. Finally he made this compact:
"To show you that I love you better than myself,
Bill, I am going to promise that I will not marry until
you are cured of this blow. Not a word, Bill! Hap
piness would turn to ashes if I accepted it at your cost.
How far I am to blame in your trouble, I can only
guess. I am not going to preach philosophy. I am
only going to plead my love for you."
He took the revolver from the drawer and laid it on
the table beside Bill.
"If you are the boy I think you are, you will be stick
ing type when I come back from Flossy s. If you are a
coward, I will not grieve to find you have taken the soul
that God gave you and flung it at His feet."
Not trusting himself to look back, he hurried down
164 JAP HERRON
the stairs. His heart was heavy with dread as he locked
the office and walked blindly to the cottage where all
his problems had been carried. He could not talk to
Flossy, but, sitting beside her on the little front porch,
he fought the mad impulse to run back to the office.
He strained his ears for the sound that he was praying
not to hear.
Two hours he sat there, fighting with his fears, the
longest hours of his life. Flossy sat as silent. No one
knew Jap as Flossy did. Smoothing his tumbled hair
and stroking his tightly clenched hands were her only
expressions. Futile indeed would words be now. The
tragedy that hovered over them both must work itself
A whistle shrilled from the road. Jap sprang up
with a strangled cry, as Wat Harlow came through
the gate. His face was stern.
"Bill allowed that this is where I d find you, chat
ting your valuable time away," he chaffed. Then the
mask of his countenance broke into a grin.
"Is Bill in the office?" Jap s lips were so stiff he could
"Sure he is," said Harlow cheerfully. "He wants
you to ramble down there."
"There s a hen on, Jap," he confided, after they had
taken leave of Flossy. "We ll try to hatch something
this time. I m going to get in the game again. You
JAP HERRON 165
know the old saying: You musn t keep a good dog
"Well?" queried Jap, his thoughts springing space
and picturing what Bill might be doing. Wat was
discreetly silent until they had passed through town
and were inside the office. Bill, pale and haggard,
looked up from his desk. He extended the paper he was
writing on. Jap took it without a word.
"WAT HARLOW FOR GOVERNOR !"
"How s that for a head?" he demanded. "If we re
going into this thing, we might as well go with both
He looked into Jap s face. Their eyes met. With
one voice they cried:
" W T hen Harlow runs for governor, " Jap quoted
tremulously, " you will boom him. Till then, nothing
doing in the Halls of Justice. Bill, Ellis was a prophet.
He even knew that he wouldn t be in the game. Wat,
we ll put you across this time."
"Yes, and it ll be a nasty fight," Wat returned, as
Bill leaned over and picked nervously at the ears of
the office cat. "We ve got Bronson Jones to buck up
against, in all political probability. He s almost sure
of the nomination."
"Just who is Bronson Jones?" Jap asked. "Seems
to me I ought to place him. He s been in the papers
166 JAP HERRON
down in the southwestern part of the state a good
"Pie s the smooth proposition that came back here a
couple of years ago and bought back his old newspaper
for his son and has managed up to the present time to
keep his own name discreetly out of that same paper,"
vouchsafed Harlow. "He won t let it leak out till the
psychological moment. He s the daddy of the split-
hoofed imp of Satan that runs the Barton Standard!"
JAP threw his pencil impatiently on the desk.
"I can t get my thoughts running clear this
morning," he said abruptly. "Every time I try to
write, the pale face of little J. W. comes between me
and the page."
"They re back from the city," Bill said uneasily.
"I saw them coming from the train. I fully meant to
tell you, Jap."
"I hope the specialist has quieted Flossy s fears."
Jap ran his fingers through his loose red locks. "The
boy is growing too fast. Why, look at the way he has
shot up in the last year. Ellis told me that he ran up
like a bean pole, the way I did, and just as thin. J. W.
is exactly like him."
"And Ellis died at forty "
"Don t, Bill," Jap choked. "I can t bear it." He
walked to the door and gazed out into the hazy silver
"This weather is like wine," he declared. "It will
set the boy up, fine as a fiddle. You must remember,
Bill, that Ellis impoverished his system by the life of
hardship he was forced to endure while the town was
168 JAP HERRON
growing. The things he used to tell were humorous
enough, the droll way he had of telling them. But they
break our hearts when we think of them now, and know
that it was that privation that killed him. It was bad
enough here when I was a youngster, and that was lux
ury to what he had had. J. W. has not had such a
handicap. Of course he was a delicate baby, but he
certainly outgrew all that."
Bill was discreetly silent. He knew that Jap was
only arguing with his fears. In the early summer, J.
W. had been acutely ill, and as the heat progressed, he
languished with headache and fever. In the end, Dr.
Hall had counselled taking him to a noted specialist in
"Better take a run up to Flossy s," Bill suggested.
"You ll be better satisfied."
Jap took a copy of the Herald from the table and
went out. All the way along Spring street he strove
with his anxiety. Flossy met him on the porch. One
glance was enough for Jap. He sat down, helpless, on
the lower step.
"J. W. is tired out and asleep," said Flossy softly.
"Come with me, Jap, down to the arbor. You remem
ber the day that Ellis told you the truth about him
Jap followed her beneath the grape trellis, stumbling
clumsily. When they reached the arbor, with its bench
and rustic table, she faced him, slender to attenuation.
JAP HERRON 169
"Jap," she said brokenly, "J. W. has tuberculosis in
the worst form. His entire body is filled with it. He
contracted it while we were with Ellis and we never
knew, never suspected Her voice broke. "Not
even a miracle can prolong his life longer than spring.
The doctors insisted on examining me, too. They say
I have it, in incipiency, and my only chance of escape
is to leave my boy to the care of others. Under the
right conditions they say I have a fighting chance."
"You are sure that you have every advice?" Jap s
voice was so hoarse that she looked up at him in alarm.
"Yes, Jap, but I knew it before. Months ago, even
before he was so sick in the summer, I had a dream,
and this was my dream: Ellis, with that beautiful
smile that every one loved, was waiting out there at
the gate, and I was hurrying to get the boy ready to
go with him. I knew, when I awoke, that he was ready
to wait our boy s coming. Oh, Jap, do you think that
smile was for me, too?"
The look of agony in Jap s sensitive face was more
than she could bear. She clutched his arm.
"Oh, Jap, pray help me to pray that he was wait
ing for me, too. The time has been so long. I want to
be with my boy to the last. You understand, Jap. I
don t believe that words are needed."
He put his arms around her. He could not speak,
but his head bent above hers and the hot tears dropped
upon her brown hair, now streaked with gray.
170 JAP HERRON
"I have done the work he wanted me to do," she
sobbed. "He wanted me to be a mother until you
were on the plane he had planned. Like the butterfly
whose day is done, Jap, I would go. I am so tired, and
boy, I have never ceased to long for Ellis. The world
could not supply another soul like his."
"Flossy," Jap said in smothered tones, "I know. I
have walked the floor for hours, missing him until I
was almost frantic. But, little Mother, what is left to
me if you go? Without you, I am drifting again."
"I would fear that, if I had never seen into the deeps
of Isabel s nature. And to think that I once decried
but I didn t understand, Jap. When your mother
came, there was a revelation. I don t fear for your
future now. And when I knew this, I suddenly felt
tired and old. I pray not to survive my boy."
The following morning brought the first fall rain.
And then, for endless weeks, the leaden sky drooped
over the world. Dreary depression and the penetrating
chill of approaching winter filled the air. Only the un
wonted pressure of work kept the boys from brooding
over the inevitable that would come with the spring
time. To relieve Flossy of all unnecessary burdens,
Jap and Bill went to the hotel for their meals, but
every evening one or the other went to sit with her.
At length there came a time, late in November, when
JAP HERRON 171
the office work was more than both of them could handle,
and for several days the visits were interrupted.
"Flossy is sick," announced Bill, hanging his drip
ping raincoat behind the door. "I saw Pap just now,
and he told me. He and his wife were there all night.
He says that J. W. has been so bad off for a week, has
had such bad spells at night, that Flossy has hardly
slept, and yesterday she broke down and sent for Pap.
He took Doc Hall along, and they are afraid she has
Jap threw his paper aside.
"Why didn t we know that J. W. was worse?" he
demanded. "I sent some one to inquire every morn
ing while we had the big rush on, and Flossy said that
they were all right. I thought that she was going to
take him to the mountains."
"I guess that she didn t know how sick he was," com
mented Bill. "Pap was to haul the trunks to-morrow,
as Flossy told us. She wanted to start on Sunday so
that you and I could go as far as Cliffton with her.
She knew we were working overtime to get things
Jap put on his raincoat, for it was pouring a deluge.
"I will not be back if Flossy needs me," he said.
For three days and nights he hovered over the two
sick-beds, while the wind soughed mournfully around
the cottage, and the rain dripped, dripped, dripped,
like tears against the wall outside. Neighbors and
172 JAP HERRON
friends volunteered their services. Bill and Isabel came
as often as was possible; but when all the others had
gone, Jap kept his solemn vigil alone. On the after
noon of the fourth day, there was a sudden turn for
the worse. Dr. Hall was hastily summoned. And then,
all at once, without any seeming warning, it happened.
The last gasping breath faded from the body of El-
lis s child, and as Jap leaned over to close the wide,
staring eyes, he could hear the rasping breaths that
rent Flossy s bosom, as she lay unconscious in the next
"With God s help we may pull her through," whis
pered Isabel, twining her arms around his neck. He
turned stony eyes of grief upon her.
"If God helps, He will let her go with J. W. to meet
Ellis," he said in a voice strained to breaking.
He drew the girl from the chamber of death, and
sat down beside Flossy s bed. He caught one flutter
ing, fever-burned hand in his, and the restless mutter
ing ceased. Then the eyes opened. They seemed to be
looking not at Jap but above him.
"Ellis !" she cried, and slept.
"When she awakes, she will be better or " Dr.
Hall broke off, and went over to the window. "It s the
crisis," he finished huskily.
Flossy, in her quiet, optimistic bravery, had made
her place in the hearts of her townspeople. Isabel knelt
beside her, watching Jap s face, with its unnatural
JAP HERRON 173
calm, fearfully. She dared not speak. Bill stood awk
wardly at the foot of the bed, his cap twirling uncer
tainly in his hand. His eyes shifted uneasily from
the thin, white face on the pillow to the frozen features
of Jap. A clock ticked loudly.
The thick gloom broke. A tiny linnet that Jap had
given Flossy fluttered to the swing in its cage and
burst, all at once, into song, and a vagrant sunbeam
darted through the western clouds. Flossy opened her
"Jap," she gasped painfully, "is this the thing called
Death, this uplift of joy?"
The doctor raised her in his arms and gave her a few
sips of medicine. She was easier. She motioned Jap
to bend closer.
"Is he gone?" she asked clearly. "Is my boy with
Jap kissed her forehead gently.
"He is with Ellis," he whispered.
"Then I thank You, great Giver of all Good," she
cried happily, "for I can go now." She summoned
Bill with her eyes.
"I want you to make the boy very proud of the men
he was named for, " she smiled. It was a smile of heav
enly beauty, as the pure soul of Ellis Hinton s wife
flew to join her loved ones.
BILL and Isabel led Jap from the room as the doc
tor drew the sheet over Flossy s face. Together the
three left the cottage. In dazed silence they walked
past the row of modest homes until the business street
was reached. Across Main street they went, in stony
silence, the girl clinging to an arm of each of her es
corts. In front of the elm-shaded residence of Tom
Granger, now stark and bare in its late autumn un
dress, they paused. Isabel, unheedful of the passing
crowd, threw her arms around Jap s neck and kissed
him passionately. A moment he held her in his arms,
his tearless eyes burning. And in her awakened wom
an s heart, she knew that he was looking through her,
beholding the trio of adored ones whose influence had
made his heart a fitting habitation for her own. And in
that consciousness Isabel Granger experienced no
twinge of jealousy.
Silently she walked up the brick-paved path to the
stately old house, as Jap and Bill turned back toward
Main street. When they reached the office, they locked
the door behind them. With the mechanical action of
automata, they climbed to their stools and threw the
belated issue of the Herald into type.
JAP HERRON 175
"Bill, can you do it?" Jap asked at length.
"I ll do my best," Bill said huskily. And his tears
wet the type as he set up a brief obituary notice.
The morning of the funeral broke clear and sunny,
as fall days come. The air was clear and sounds echoed
for long distances. It was a joyous new day, and yet
a threnody swept through its music. Something of this
Jap and Bill felt as they hurried to the house of Death.
Judge Bowers met them at the door. His face was
red and overcast. He shifted uneasily.
"I sent for you, because we have to fix things de
cently for Flossy."
"Decently?" echoed Bill.
"Why, yes. Ma and me got the caskets and all that.
Everything s tended to, but the service. You know
Flossy was a free-thinker, and never belonged to no
"Well, what of it?" Bill said shortly.
"We have got to get somebody to preach a sermon,"
asserted the Judge, his flaccid face showing real con
cern. "I don t see how we are going to manage it. It
looks queer to ask anybody to preach over a non-pro
"Why do it then?" Bill s tone was enigmatic, as he
followed Jap into the little parlor where the effects of
the Judge s work were apparent.
Side by side stood the caskets, each one holding a
jewel more precious than any diadem. Jap sat down
176 JAP HERRON
between them, dumb to the greetings of the friends who
came for a last look at the two set faces, and there he
sat until the afternoon. The room was half filled with
people when the Judge aroused him by a sharp grip on
"Come on, Jap," he whispered huskily, "they have
come for them."
"Who?" asked Jap, tonelessly.
"The hearses," said the Judge, his flabby cheeks
Jap walked outside and climbed into the carriage
with Bill, and together they went to the church where
Ellis had met his townsmen for the last time. It was
the handsome new church whose claim on her brother s
generosity had called forth from Flossy such righteous
resentment. Mechanically the two young men fol
lowed the usher to the pew that had been set apart for
them. Vaguely Jap smiled at Isabel as she passed him,
clinging to the arm of her father. As in a dream, he
followed her slender form as she took her accustomed
place at the organ. Clutching the arm of the seat, he
sat there, deaf, dumb and blind, until the wailing notes
of the organ appraised him that the service was be
He turned his head as a heavy, rolling sound reached
him, and looked upon the most heart-shaking sight in
the history of the town: two coffins traveling up the
aisles to meet at the altar. Sick and faint, he turned
JAP HERRON 177
his head away. Bill s arm crept around him, while
Bill sobbed aloud.
Frozen to silence, Jap stared at the boxes contain
ing all that linked him to his past. Stony-eyed, he
gazed at the masses of flowers, casually admiring the
gorgeous chrysanthemums and the pink glory of the
carnations. He even read, with calm curiosity, the
card of sympathy hanging from one of the floral offer
ings on Flossy s casket. Then he sank into blunt in
difference until he was aroused by Bill s start.
He looked up dully. The minister was praying and
his prayer was for forgiveness for Flossy.
"She was a wanderer from grace," the ominous voice
droned, "but Thou who didst forgive the thief on the
cross wilt grant her mercy."
Bill clasped his hands fiercely over Jap s arm. His
breath hissed through his set teeth. Jap sat upright,
his gray eyes searching the face of the man of God,
as he drawled through a flock of platitudes, promising
in the end that on the last great day Flossy and her
son would be called by the trump to arise, purified and
Wiping his forehead complacently, he sat down.
Jap Herron arose to his feet and walked to the coffin
of the only mother he had ever known. Facing the
assembly, he said in low, clear tones :
"Friends of mine, friends of Flossy and her boy, and
friends of Ellis Hinton, you have listened to this rain-
178 JAP HERRON
ister. Now you must listen to me. I knew Flossy.
Some of you knew her, but none as I did. She had no
religion, he says. Flossy Hinton s life was a religion.
What is religion? Love, faith and works. Dare any
of you claim that she had not all of these? If such
soul as hers needs help to carry it through the ram
parts of heaven, then God help all of you.
"She will not sleep until a trumpet calls her ! No !
Alive and vital and everlasting, her soul is with us now.
Did Ellis Hinton sleep ? He has never been away. He
has dwelt right here, in the hearts of all who loved him.
Friends, dry your eyes if you grieve for the sins of
Raising his hand above the casket, as if in benedic
tion, and looking into the face beneath the glass, he said
"A saint she lived among us. In heaven she could be
The descending sun shot a ray of white light across
the church, as it sank below the opaque designs in the
gorgeous memorial window that flanked the choir. A
moment later it would be crimson, then purple, then
amber; but for an instant it filtered through pure, un-
tinted glass. Creeping stealthily, the white ray reached
the space in front of the altar and rested a moment
on the still face within the casket. To Jap it seemed
that the lips that had always smiled for him relaxed
into a smile of transcendent beauty. Entranced he
JAP HERRON 179
looked, forgetting all else. Then the strength of his
young manhood crumbled. The hinges of his knees
gave way, and he sank to the floor.
Bill sprang to his side and carried him to a seat.
Isabel, half distracted, started from her place at the
organ. As she passed, the white face in the coffin met
her eyes. She stopped. A tide of feeling swept her
back, back from Jap, whose limp form called her. The
song that Flossy had loved came singing to her lips.
Inspired in that moment, she stood beside the coffin and
sang, as never before, the words that had comforted
Flossy in her years of loneliness :
"Somewhere the stars are shining,
Somewhere the song birds dwell.
Cease then thy sad repining!
God lives, and all is well."
Her face was glorified. She sang to that silent one,
and to the world that had been hers. In a dream she
sang on, as the mother and her boy were taken from
her sight, sang on while the people silently departed.
"Somewhere, somewhere," she sang,
"Beautiful isle of Somewhere,
Isle of the true, where we live anew,
Beautiful isle of Somewhere."
Her voice broke as uncontrollable sobs rent her
slender body, and she sank against the shoulder of her
180 JAP HERRON
father and followed Bill from the church. Half-a-dozen
kindly hands were carrying Jap outside.
The long line of carriages had already started on
its way to the little plot of ground where two fern-lined
graves awaited the loved ones of Ellis Hinton. The
horses of the remaining carriage pawed the ground
restlessly in the sharp November air.
"Better take him to his room in a hurry," Dr. Hall
commanded. "The boy has been through too much.
I was afraid of this."
"You can t take him to that dreary office," Isabel
pleaded. "Papa, tell Dr. Hall what to do."
And, as always, she had her way. In the sunny
south room above the library, with the shadows of the
stark elms doing grotesque dances on the window panes,
with Isabel and her mother hovering in tender solicitude
over him, Jap Herron tossed for weeks in the delirium
of fever, calling always for Flossy.
"Ms. BOWERS wants to talk to you," Isabel said,
smoothing Jap s limp hair from his haggard face. "He
has been here every day for a week, and Mamma
wouldn t hear to his bothering you, especially as you
had concluded that you must talk to Bill about the
"Let him come," said Jap wearily.
The Judge tramped heavily into the bedroom.
"I want to talk to you about Flossy s affairs," he de
clared, dropping into a chair and blowing his nose.
Jap s face flushed, then paled. He lifted one thin
hand to his eyes and leaned back in the pillows.
"I sent for Bill to meet me here and have Brent Rob
erts read Flossy s will."
"Why?" Jap s voice rasped with paio.
"You have been sick nigh a month," said the Judge,
"and there s a power o things that oughter be seen
to, and Brent refused to read Flossy s will till you could
hear it. I want to settle the bills."
Isabel slipped her arm around Jap s shoulder and
glared at the Judge.
"You ought to be ashamed," she cried. "Jap is not
strong enough to be bothered with business."
182 JAP HERRON
Jap put her aside gently and sat up.
"The Judge is right, sweetheart," he said. "I will
not be tired with doing anything for for her."
He covered his face with his hands. Bill entered
softly. His brows lowered at sight of his father.
"What did you want with me and Roberts ?" he quer
"It is all right, Bill," Jap said brokenly. "It will
hurt whenever it comes, so let s get it done."
After the will was read Jap lay silent, the tears slip
ping down his cheeks, for Flossy s will gave all that
she possessed to her son, Jap Herron. It was made
the day after she knew that her own child was doomed
to an early death.
They filed slowly from the room, even the Judge awed
by the face of the boy.
The New Year had turned the corner when Jap was
moved to the office. Little by little he grew back into
harness. They did not talk of Flossy in those early
days. It was not possible. One chill spring day, when
the grass was greening, and the first blossoms were
opening among the hyacinths on Ellis s grave, Jap
walked with Bill to the cemetery. He bent above the
dried wreaths with their faded ribbons, sodden and
dinged by the winter s snows.
"Throw them away, Bill," he choked. "They are
the tawdry tokens of mourning. I am trying to forget
that mourning." .
JAP HERRON 183
Bill gathered the dry bundles and carried them
away. Coming back, he stood looking mournfully upon
the muddy sod. Jap raised his eyes suddenly, and they
gazed for a long minute into each other s hearts. Bill
threw his hands over his eyes and cried aloud.
"Don t, Bill!" Jap s hand clutched him tightly.
"For God s sake, help me to be a man!"
And forgetting the sodden grass, they knelt beside
the grave and sobbed together in an abandon of grief.
Boys they were, despite their years, and Flossy had
been more to them than the mother whom youth is
prone to take for granted. When the tempest of sor
row and desolation had spent itself they arose.
"It is done," said Jap, looking up into the sky where
the stars were beginning to twinkle palely. "It had to
be done. Now I can realize that they laid Flossy be
neath the earth. But, please God, I can forget it.
Now I know that she has left the beautiful shell behind.
But, Bill," he touched the mound with his fingers,
"Flossy has never been here, never for an instant."
"She is in heaven," said Bill reverently.
Jap laid his arm around Bill s shoulders.
"You don t believe that, Bill. You know better.
Flossy is right with us, as Ellis has always been. Just
as he has inspired us to develop his paper and his
town, so she will stay with us, to create good and op
timism and faith in ourselves. Bill, when those two
wonderful people came into our lives, they came to stay.
184 JAP HERRON
Do you think Ellis and Flossy would get any joy out
of strumming on a harp and taking their own selfish
ease? No, Bill, that s all a mistake. They re working
right with us, and it s up to you and me to so wholly
reflect them that we will be to this town what they
have been to us. In any crisis in our lives, let us not
forget that Ellis and Flossy Hinton are not dead. We
may have need to remember it, Bill."
The next morning he climbed on his stool and took
the stick in his hand. Bill stopped at the door of
the composing room, something in Jap s attitude ar
"What are you going to do, Jap?"
"Get busy," declared Jap. "We have given out
enough plate. The Herald is going back on the job."
Bill felt a lump rise in his throat as he paused to
finger the copy on his hook.
"We have to get the drums beating," said Jap. "We
have to elect Wat Harlow governor, and, believe the
Barton Standard, we have some rough road to travel."
And the battle was on ! Alone, the Bloomtown Her
ald tackled the job of making a governor. Watson
Harlow had been a familiar figure in state politics for
more than twenty years, but as gubernatorial timber
no one had ever regarded him seriously. His opponent,
on the other hand, was a fresh figure in the state, with
all the novelty of the unknown quantity about him.
It was an off year for the dominant party, both locally
JAP HERRON 185
and nationally, and the fight promised to be a compli
Week by week the battle raged between the types.
Little by little the country press began to get in the
fight. Not content with the picturesque drumming
of his own machine, Jap interested the city press in
the history of Wat Harlow, the "Lone Pine, of Integ
rity Absolute." This descriptive title was proclaimed
in and out of season during the months of battle,
both before and after the nomination of Harlow and
Jones. Jap invented a stinger for Bronson Jones. In
his past history, it was alleged, he had much that were
better concealed than revealed. Not the least of his
offenses was that he had assisted his father, a certain
P. D. Jones, in stealing red-hot cook-stoves from the
ruins of the Chicago fire. Jap so declared, and he
offered to prove that Jones had sold these same stoves
to their former owners, when they became cold. In one
instance, the victim was a widow who had lost every
thing, even her former mate, in the fire. And Jones
carried the title, "The Widow s Friend," for years.
All this was fun for the city dailies, and cartoons of
the "Lone Pine" being fed to the "Cook-Stove" alter
nated with those of the pine falling upon the "Widow s
Friend" as he was about to sell a stove to the above-
The color came back to Jap s cheeks, and the battle
light flamed in his gray eyes. His one relaxation was
186 JAP HERRON
the tranquil hour with Isabel. Harlow, like an uneasy
ghost, haunted the Herald office when he was not out
storming the hustings. The Barton Standard contin
ued to pry into Wat s past, while the Herald continued
to lift the lid from the chest of Bronson s secret gar
ments. Unfortunately, the Standard had played its
big trump card in the congressional campaign. The
vermilion handbill was once more dragged to light, but
it worked like a boomerang, for several of Wat s own
party workers had been caught red-handed in the act
of attempting to operate a shameless graft game, in the
name of the university. And Jap utilized the story to
show that Wat was a man above party, a man in whose
mind integrity was indeed absolute.
Argument grew red hot, every place but Bloomtown.
There, there was no one to argue with. Bloomtown was
one man for Harlow. Jones undertook to deliver one
speech there, and that bright hour nearly became his
last. After the good-natured raillery of the opening
address, Jones plunged into the vitriolic explosion he
had delivered at the various places he had spoken. For
exactly ten minutes it lasted. By that time, Kelly
Jones had reached Hollins s grocery store and gath
ered enough eggs to start a protest against the defama
tion of Wat Harlow s character. And the protest
was proclaimed unanimous !
It was stated that there were no eggs on Bloomtown s
breakfast table next morning, and no Sunday cakes.
JAP HERRON 187
"But," said the Herald, "if Bronson Jones wants any
more hen-fruit, the housewives of Bloomtown will cheer
fully sacrifice themselves in his behalf."
And so the months sped away until the grass had
mossed the graves in the cemetery with lush beauty,
and the three mounds were merged into one by the
riotous growth of sweet alyssum, Flossy s best loved
blossom. The summer waned. The autumn hasted, and
chill winds whispered around the Lone Pine as the
last sortie was made. Then Bloomtown pressed her
hands to her throbbing breast and got ready for
BILL jumped from bed as the rattle of the latch
announced the arrival of a visitor. Without waiting
for the formality of more than a bathrobe, Rosy Ray
mond s last birthday gift to him, he bolted down the
stairs and across the office. He flung the door open
and disclosed the hazy features of Kelly Jones, peering
at him through the November fog.
"What, ho ! Kelly, what brings you to our door in
Kelly shook the rain from his slicker and came in
"Wife called me at three o clock," he announced.
"Had my breakfast and rid like hell to git to town
early. I want to cast the fu st vote for Wat for gov
"You could have ridden more leisurely, and saved us
a couple of hours sleep," he complained. "There are
at least a thousand voters of Bloomtown with that same
laudable intention. Tom Granger has been missing
since seven o clock last night. It is believed that he is
locked in the booth so that his vote will skin the rest."
JAP HERRON 189
Kelly looked ruefully back into the rain.
"I reckon that I will come in and set a while, that
bein the report."
"Any man found voting for Jones is to be lynched at
sunset," declared Bill, pushing a chair forward.
"Reckon this ll be a big day for the Democrats,"
commented Kelly, stretching his feet across the table
comfortably. " Tain t nothin to keep em home, so
they ll kill time, votin . That s why I allus cussed my
daddy for raisin me a Democrat. Bein as I am one,
I ve got to stick by and see the durn fools shuckin
corn while the Republicans are haulin their grand-dad
dies in town to vote the Republicans in."
Bill retired to don a few garments and Jap tumbled
from bed, for this was a big day in Bloomtown. Be
fore six o clock the roads were lined with vehicles, as
for an Independence holiday. The county was coming
in to help the town vote for her favorite son.
About noon Harlow came creeping up the alley and
slipped in at the back door. He wore a slicker that he
had borrowed from some constituent who was short.
It hung sorrowfully about his knees. Bill remembered
that in spike-tail coat and white necktie Wat Harlow
looked enough like a governor to pass for one, but just
now he resembled nothing so much as a draggled
rooster. The stove in the little private office hissed
and sputtered as he shook the rain from the coat.
"I thought that the only place that victory would
190 JAP HERRON
be complete would be the Herald office," he said, relax
ing into a chair. "And if we are beat, I could meet it
better here." He took a paper in his shaking hands and
tried to read.
The rain poured in torrents, but Bloomtown cast her
record vote and not one scurrilous vote against him
dropped into the ballot box. At sunset a wild yell pro
claimed that Bloomtown had done her duty. It was
now up to the rest of the state whether Wat Harlow,
proclaimed from border to border as an honest man,
would be its next governor. On his record as opposed
to State University graft, he had once been elected to
the legislature when the running was close. On that
same record, as opposed to higher education, he was
defeated for United States Congressman, and on that
same record he was running for governor of his state.
The Herald office lighted up. All the big men of
Bloomtown smoked the air blue, waiting for the re
turns. First good, then crushingly bad, they varied.
By the tone of the operator s yell, the waiters guessed
each bulletin. If he came silent, they all coughed and
waited for some one to take the fatal slip of paper.
The dawn was graying when they dispersed, with the
issue still in doubt. It was late afternoon before they
knew that Harlow was elected. Bill grinned joyously,
for the first time since Rosy Raymond carried her heart
to Barton and left it there.
JAP HERRON 191
"How many roosters have we?" he asked impishly, as
he walked over to the telephone.
"Why ?" queried Jap.
"I am going to phone Jones that we want to borrow
all that he don t need," said Bill, taking the receiver
from the hook.
"We done it !" yelled Kelly Jones, slapping his slouch
hat against the door. "And I m goin over to Barton
and git on the hell-firedest drunk that that jay town
ever seen. Whoopee !" And off he set at a run to
catch the local freight.
About half of Bloomtown seemed inspired with the
same spirit, and the freight pulled out amid wild yells
of joy. Several of the most agile among the jubilant
ones draped the box cars with strips of faded, soggy
bunting, and Harlow s picture adorned the cow-catcher.
The yelling, that had been discontinued for economic
reasons, was resumed in raucous chorus as the train
rolled into Barton to celebrate Harlow s victory in
Jones s town.
The Bloomtown Herald did itself proud that week.
A mammoth picture of the Lone Pine stood forth on
the front page. Around it fluttered one hundred flags.
Every page sported roosters and flags in each available
space, between local readers and editorial paragraphs.
It was a thing of beauty and a joy forever at least to
Wat Harlow. One other cut found place at the bottom
of the editorial page. Bill did not forget to boomerang
192 JAP HERRON
Wilfred Jones by reprinting the weeping angel. For a
week there were bonfires every night, and a number of
Bloomtown s citizens sought to lighten Barton s woes
by buying fire-water there. Wat swelled until he looked
more like a corpulent oak than a lone pine.
"My house is yours," he cried, alternately wringing
Jap and Bill by their weary hands. He had come
across once more from his headquarters in the Court
House to make sure his appreciation was understood.
Jap smiled wanly as the village band followed him
with its intermittent serenade.
Bloomtown had long since outgrown the village class ;
but not a drum nor a horn had encroached upon the
old traditions of that band. Mike Hawkins was far
too conservative to permit innovation, and as there was
no provision for retiring the bandmaster on half pay,
the problem of dividing nothing in half having as yet
been unsolved, Mike continued to hold the job. All
day the band had been vibrating between the Court
House and the Herald office, having delivered ten sere
nades at each side of Main street, for it was understood
that the Herald shared the victory with Harlow. As
the Governor-elect retreated to the other side of the
street, the band at his heels, Bill groaned aloud.
"I wish that that bunch of musicians had had more
confidence that Wat was going to get it," he sighed,
"so that they could have learned one tune good."
Kelly Jones was capering down the street. Kelly
JAP HERRON 193
had absorbed enough of Barton booze to make him be
lieve he owned the half of Bloomtown that did not be
long to Wat Harlow. Pie had been having what Bill
described as "one large, full time." As he came in
sight, Bill s brow darkened.
"I ve been afraid that Kelly would burst and catch
fire," he said morosely, "and now, by jolly, I wish he
would. It s funny how much your good friends will get
in your way when they pair off with John Barleycorn.
Kelly is certainly one ding-buster when he is lit up."
Jap leaned from the door to watch the procession
that had formed for the purpose of escorting Wat Har
low to the station.
"Kelly s time is wrinkling," he laughed. "Here
comes Mrs. Kelly Jones, with worriment on her brow."
Bill ran his inky fingers through his hair. Some
thing was troubling him.
"Jap," he said as he walked toward the door of the
composing room, "that skunk of a Jones "
"Oh, no." Bill wheeled, and his face was deadly ear
nest. "Kelly s not a skunk, even when he has soaked
up all the rotgut in Barton. But I had Kelly Jones
in the back of my head, just the same, when I men
tioned the honorable Editor of the Barton Standard.
It s getting under my skin, Jap, the way he has of
tempting these Bloomtown fools over to his filthy vil
lage to get the booze we won t let em have at home,
194 JAP HERRON
and then holding them up to ridicule when they make
asses of themselves."
"It s one of the angles of this problem that I haven t
figured out yet," Jap said earnestly. "Do you think
it would do any good to go gunning for Jones?"
"I ve thought of that possibility several times," and
Bill s tone was not entirely humorous.
Jap shoved his stool to the case. As he climbed upon
it, he sighed uneasily. It had been sixteen months since
Wilfred Jones turned the neat trick that left Bill dis
consolate, and still the venom lingered in the bereft
boy s heart. To Jap, with his standard of womanhood
established by Flossy and Isabel, the thing was mon
strous, inconceivable. And yet it was a fact to be
"We ll have to get busy, Bill," he said. "We ve got
enough job work on the hooks to keep us up till mid
night for a week. We haven t done a thing the last
month but elect Wat Harlow."
"I hope to grab he won t run for another office till I
have six sons to help me," Bill snorted.
Jap heaved a sudden sigh of relief.
"Looking out again, Bill?" he asked, jerking his
thumb in the direction of the vacant photograph frame
above Bill s case.
IT was the day after Thanksgiving. Bill was twirl
ing the chambers of his revolver around. His face was
grim. Jap halted in the door of their bedroom.
"Going gunning for Jones?" he asked lightly.
Bill turned, and the black look on his face startled
"I am," he said deliberately, "and I will come back to
jail or in my coffin."
Jap caught the revolver from his hand.
"Bill," he said sharply, "wake up!"
Bill threw a letter to him, and continued his hasty
toilet. Jap read:
"Come to me. I am almost crazy. Wilfred accused
me of giving you information against his father that
beat him in the election, and he struck me in the mouth.
He said he only married me to spite you, and he hates
me. I will meet you at the section house, where the
train slows up for the switch, at six o clock. I want
you to take me away, I don t care where. I don t love
anybody but you, and I can t live with Wilfred another
196 JAP HERRON
night. I don t care whether anybody ever speaks to me
again, if you will take me and love me.
"Your distracted ROSALIE."
Jap stared at the note as if it had been a snake-
tressed Medusa that turned him to stone. He stood
rigid and paralyzed as Bill said, deadly calm:
"I am going to Barton, and I am going to shoot
"And after that?" Jap s voice was toneless.
"After that !" Bill broke out fiercely. "After that,
Jap drew Bill around to face him. Rivers of fire
seemed suddenly to course through his body, and an
unprecedented rage burned up within him.
"You are not going to Barton, and you are not go
ing to meet that foolish light-o -love at the section
house," he said sternly.
"Who will stop me? Not you, Jap, for even if an
angel from heaven tried to bar my way, I would brush
it aside. I wanted to kill him when he stole her away
Jap shook him angrily.
"No one stole her, Bill. Have you forgotten the in
solent, flippant letter she wrote you?"
Bill shook Jap s hand from his shoulder.
"It s no use, Jap. I am going to kill him !"
JAP HERRON 197
Jap set his teeth and his gray eyes blazed as he
gripped Bill s arms and shoved him into a chair.
"I will have you locked up, you foolish hot-head,"
he exclaimed, "and give Wilfred Jones a few hours to
consider his attitude toward his wife. She is his wife,
Bill, and all your heroics won t gloss that fact from
sight. Do you want to hang, because you were a
damned fool? I can consider a romantic close to your
career, but not as an intruder in another man s home
no matter how great your feeling of injustice. Rosy
was not a child when she married Wilfred Jones."
"But he struck her," gulped Bill.
"I have known times," declared Jap vehemently,
"when, if I had been of the fibre of Wilfred Jones, I
would have felt satisfaction in thrashing Rosy Ray
mond. Not having been Jones, I had to content myself
with kicking the furniture around. I don t want to rile
you, Bill, but I rather think there are two sides to this
story, and I want to hear both sides. If it is proven
that Jones has mistreated Rosy brutally, I will hold
him while you give him the licking he deserves. More
than that, I will help Rosy to get a divorce. Isn t that
fair enough, Bill? What is revenge upon a dead body,
especially if you expiate that revenge on the gallows?
Tell me, who profits? For the woman, disgrace. For
you Humph ! the only one who comes out of it
honorably is the dead man, Jones."
Bill glowered at him.
198 JAP HERRON
"You had no mother, Bill, because she died when she
gave you to the world. I had no mother, because Provi
dence gave me where I was a burden. But God gave
both of us a mother. Bill, before you go any farther
with this adventure misadventure I want you to
kneel with me before Flossy s picture and ask for her
approval and her blessing. Because, Bill, brother, she
knows. And what do you suppose will be her counsel?
What would Flossy want you to do?"
He took the photograph from the table and held it
out to Bill. The brown eyes remained downcast. The
hands opened and closed spasmodically. Jap lowered
the picture so that Bill s eyes could not choose but
meet the loved face. A great, gulping sob shook him,
and he dashed into the other room and slammed the
door. Jap s tense features relaxed into a smile. He
knew that Flossy had won.
"Will you let me go to Barton instead of you?" he
asked through the closed door. There was no reply,
and he turned the knob. Bill was staring stolidly
from the window. "I won t carry healing oil if the
case doesn t call for it," he insisted. "You will believe
"It s your job," Bill said, in smothered, tear-
"I can just make the 5:20," said Jap, as he caught
up his hat and overcoat from the foot of the bed where
JAP HERRON 199
he had flung them. Then he hurried to the station,
with Rosy s foolish letter in his pocket.
Without looking to right or left he boarded the train
that would have carried Bill to his love tryst. Already
the evening shadows were beginning to settle, and it
was almost dark when the local train ran into the sid
ing to permit the east-bound special to pass. He stood
on the steps of the rear coach as the wheels crunched
with the stopping of the train. Then he dropped
quietly to the ground. The special, that was wont to
throw dust in the eyes of both Bloomtown and Barton,
came thundering by, and the friendly local took up its
Jap hurried over to the cloaked figure that crouched
in the shadow of the little section house. Rosy crept
out quickly, but retreated with a cry of alarm when
she saw that Jap, and not Bill, was coming to meet her.
He caught her by the arm and drew her into the light
of an electric bulb that glowed above the section boss s
door. Scanning her silly face for a moment, he said
"So you lied to Bill! There is no mark of a blow
on your face."
"He he did push me," she sobbed. "And I don t love
him, anyway. It was your fault that I ran away with
"My fault?" echoed Jap.
"Yes," she said, and her tone rasped with cruel spite.
200 JAP HERRON
"What girl wants to have her sweetheart only half
hers? Jap Herron only had to twist his thumb, and
Bill would run like a foolish girl. I wanted a whole man
"Seems that you got one," commented Jap, "and
don t appreciate him. Now, Rosy, if you think you
are going to ruin three lives by starting this kind of
a play, I am going to undeceive you. I am going to
take you home and look into this affair."
"I won t go !" she screamed. "He would kill me."
"What did you do?" demanded Jap, holding her
"I wrote him a note that I had run away with Bill,"
she confessed sullenly.
For the first time Jap became conscious of the suit
case at her feet. His grip on her arm tightened until
she cried with pain.
"You idiotic little fool," he ground between his teeth.
"Where is your husband?"
"He went to the city this morning. He said he d
come home on the local if he got through his business
in time. Otherwise he wouldn t come till the midnight
train. I thought Bill could get a rig and drive to
Faber. I thought he could take me away somehow be
fore Wilfred got the news."
"News ? Great God !" cried Jap. "And such as you
could win the golden heart of Bill Bowers ! Come with
me. If your husband takes the late train, there is still
JAP HERRON 201
time to destroy that note. , If he is already at
"He d go to the office first, anyway," Rosy cried.
"But I don t want to go home."
"You re going home, no matter what the conse
quences," Jap told her. "And if you ever attempt to
communicate with Bill again, I will have you put in
an asylum. You are not capable of going through life
He walked her rapidly up the railroad track and
through the streets that lay between the business part
of Barton and her own pretty home. On the corner
opposite the house he stopped, while she ran across the
street in terror and rushed up the steps. She had told
him that if all was yet well, she would appear at the
window. As he stood there, his eyes glued on the great
square of glass, some one touched him on the arm. He
turned. It was Wilfred Jones.
"Well, Daddy-long-legs," he said brusquely. "You
think you turned a pretty trick. Well, it was a fair
fight, and I m all over it."
Jap shook his hand mechanically, his eyes seeking
the window from which Rosy was peering.
"Tell Bill that bygones must be bygones," Jones con
tinued, "for we want to get the two papers together
on the main issue. The old man will come in on the sen-
atorship on the strength of his race for governor. And
I want to tell you a secret that makes me very happy
202 JAP HERRON
and will make Bill feel different. The doctor has
just told me that these queer spells and moods that
Rosalie has been having lately mean Jap, do you
understand? I will be a father before summer!"
Jap wrung Jones s hand, a whirl of fancies going
through his head. As he sought for suitable words of
congratulation, a boy ran up.
"I been chasin all over town ahuntin for you, Mr.
Herron," he said breathlessly. "I got a telegram for
Trembling with dread, Jap tore it open and read :
"Come home at once. Your sister Agnesia is
THE streets were deserted as Jap came from the sta
tion. In his state of mind, he did not reflect on the od
dity of this circumstance. But had he reflected, the
condition of traffic congestion at *the corner near
Blanke s drug store and the further congestion in
front of the bank would have enlightened him. All the
business men of Bloomtown, who had rushed to the Her
ald office with important advertisements or news items,
were reluctantly giving place to those who had discov
ered a sudden want of letter-heads.
The telegraph office at Bloomtown was no secret re
pository, and in less than ten minutes after Bill had
telegraphed Jap to hurry home the whole street knew
that the beautiful vision that arrived on the 5 :20 was
Jap Herron s sister, Agnesia. And forthwith traffic
filed that way.
The vision arose as Jap entered the front door, and
waited until he came into the private office. It was
apparent that Bill had played host, to the limit of his
meager resources. Agnesia s hat and fur-trimmed
coat lay on the table of exchanges.
"Well, Jappie," she laughed in silvery tones, "how
long you are !"
204 JAP HERRON
He took her little ringed hands in his and looked at
her silently. Agnesia was the beauty of the family.
Her golden curls fluffed bewitchingly about her face
and her wide blue eyes smiled affectionately.
"You are grown, too, Aggie. I have been thinking
of you as a very little
"Mercy !" she broke in. "Please, Jappie, don t drag
that awful name to light. When I went to the new
home, they mercifully killed Agnesia. I have been Ma-
belle Hastings so long that I had almost forgotten Ag
gie Herron. I gave that hideous name to your friend,"
she flung a gold-flashed smile at Bill, "because you had
no sister Mabelle in the old days. Our folks made a
bad selection of names for their progeny. And why
Jasper? Why didn t they put the James first? It
sounds so much more human."
"Not a bit of it!" declared Bill. "What is there
about James? This town had to have its Jap Herron.
No substitute would have made good."
She slipped a glance through her long lashes at Bill.
"I called him Jappie, " she confided. "I was a
lisping baby and couldn t say Jasper. Dear old
Jappie, how he slaved for me ! And I was a tyrant,
demanding service every minute of the day."
Jap s face clouded. "Aggie is a bigbug now," came
surging into his memory, as a wizened face obtruded
itself between the laughing eyes of his sister and his
JAP HERRON 205
own. The girl noted the swift change. She took his
hand, her voice quivering with appeal.
"I know what you are thinking about," she said.
"But I could not help it, Jappie. We don t have to
keep up the pretense before Mr. Bowers. He knows
the worst, I take it. Jappie, you may not remember,
but when Mrs. Hastings adopted me, my mother had
reported that she would either turn me out or give me
to the county. Afterward my foster-mother took me
away from Happy Hollow when she saw that our
mother was bringing disgrace on all of us. She sacri
ficed her home and moved far enough away so that no
smirch could come to me. You don t know, brother,
and I would never want you to know the dreadful things
she did. I had not heard from her since she married
that drunken brute, until she came to the house one hot
day. When she found no one at home, she laid down
on the porch and went to sleep, drunk and unspeakably
filthy. She was there when we returned with a party
of friends. Can you imagine it, Jappie?"
Jap nodded his head slowly.
"Mrs. Hastings had her taken out of town, and told
her if she came there again she would have her put in
an asylum for drunkards. After that she threatened
to descend upon Fanny Maud. Fanny could not af
ford to have her career spoiled. Perhaps we were cruel.
I read the scorching letter you wrote to Fanny after
her after mother s death. But Fanny was not angry
206 JAP HERRON
with you, and and she was willing to have me come
to you now. Next spring she will graduate in vocal
music from the highest university in the country, and
then she goes to Paris to study under the artists there.
Jappie, she has made a large part of it, herself, teach
ing and singing in the church choir, and studying
whenever she had enough money ahead. At last Uncle
Francis died and left her a snug little sum, and she went
to New York, where they say her voice is a wonder. We
should be proud of her. She wants you to come with me
in June to hear her sing when she graduates."
Jap stared at the floor. She laid her hand coaxingly
on his shoulder.
"Of course Jap will go !" Bill s brown eyes were glow
ing. Jap looked across at him in astonishment and
wonder. His brain reeled. The day had been too full.
"And you?" the girl queried, smiling into those danc
ing brown eyes.
"We can t both go at once," he blurted. "The paper
has to come out on time."
She arose and wandered through the rooms that oc
cupied the lower floor of the building, stepping from a
hasty and uncomprehending glance at the press room
and the composing room to dwell with critical eye on
the big, bare office.
"You need a little fixing up," she commented. "You
should have a nice rug and shades, and a roll-top des,k
and swivel chair."
JAP HERRON 207
"So we should," lamented Bill, looking around with
an air of disapproval. "But not having anybody to
tell us He stopped short, embarrassed.
"I guess that I will have to keep house for Jappie,
and boss the office too. That is, if you want me, Jap-
pie," she appealed. "Mrs. Hastings died last March,
and I have been with Fanny ever since. My foster-
mother left me well provided for. I won t be a burden,
Jappie," she cried. "We have all made good. We
must rejoice together."
Bill was half way across the office in his excitement.
"You can take Flossy s house," he burst out. "It s
ready any time, because Pap had it completely over-
hauled after the tenants moved out. It s the only
ready-furnished house in Bloomtown and " His
voice lowered and there was a note of wistfulness in it.
"Jap, Flossy would be so happy !"
Jap surveyed his erstwhile desperate friend with a
gleam of merriment. As yet, Bill did not know but
that his sacrificing partner was a fugitive from the law.
He had not even remembered to ask about the well-being
of Wilfred Jones and his wife.
"Perhaps Aggie Mabelle," he hastily corrected, "is
just joking. She would hardly like to bury herself in
this little town after New York. There would be so
little to compensate."
"Oh, I don t fear that I will regret New York," said
Mabelle, letting her blue eyes dwell on Bill s ingenuous
208 JAP HERRON
countenance for a throbbing moment. "Really, Jappie,
there s nothing to regret."
Bill s heart turned over twice. His face was ap
pealing. He met Jap s dancing eyes defiantly.
"Well," said Jap, "you might get the keys and show
the cottage to Ag Mabelle, and see how much enthu
siasm it provokes. Perhaps it would make a better
first impression by electric light. Here, put an extra
bulb in your pocket, if one happens to be missing," and
he drew out the table drawer, where many things lay
Bill was helping Mabelle on with her coat, his well-
set body charged with electricity that was strangely
illuminating to Jap. As the two left the office, a few
minutes later, a teasing voice called after them:
"Remember, Bill, that you took on a pile of orders
this evening, and we were loaded to the guards with
job work already."
JAP looked up as a shadow fell across the door of
the composing room.
"Well," he queried quizzically, "what about it?"
"Well," Bill repeated, drawing the girl into the
room after him, "Mabelle thinks that the cottage needs
a bathroom and about a wagon load of plumbing, be
sides paint and paper. Otherwise, it s all right."
Mabelle slipped past him and approached the case.
Standing on tiptoe beside the high stool, she laid a
hand coaxingly on the strong, angular shoulder.
"Now, Jappie, boy, iron out that worry-frown. I
am going to do the fixing up myself. It shan t cost you
"No!" Jap exploded.
"Now, dear boy, forget your pride. I have lots and
lots of money, and this is to be my home."
"The firm is not insolvent," suggested Bill.
"It isn t a matter for the firm," Jap said gravely.
"The cottage belongs to me, and we can t allow our
finances to get mixed. I m willing to have you put in
all the repairs that I can afford."
His mind reverted to Flossy, happy and clean with
out a bathroom.
210 JAP HERRON
"Let me take a mortgage on the property for what
ever the work costs," Mabelle pleaded, her lips pucker
Jap descended from the stool and caught her in his
arms. Somehow she had, all at once, become his baby
sister again. The episode of the straw stack loomed
before him. She had puckered her lips just like that
when she fled to him for protection. With little co
quettish touches, she slipped one arm around his neck,
while she smoothed his red locks gently. Bill, looking
on, was overcome by an unaccountable restlessness.
"What a pity Isabel isn t home !" he blurted. And
Bill never knew why he had recourse to Isabel at that
moment. The observation bore the desired fruit. Ma-
belle freed herself from her brother s embrace, with the
"Isabel not at home! Oh, Jappie, I have just been
waiting for you to tell me about her. Ever since we
read in the paper and the one little reference to her
in your letter to Fanny-
She stopped, her blue eyes filling with tears.
"They went away just after the election was over,"
Bill explained. "Iz wouldn t leave Jap while the thing
was in doubt, not even for her mother."
"I don t think that s quite square," Jap interposed.
"Mrs. Granger didn t want to go at all, and only con
sented when Dr. Hall told her how ill Isabel was. The
rest of us knew that Mrs. Granger couldn t live through
JAP HERRON 211
another winter here; but he had to make Isabel s poor
health the pretext when he sent them to Florida for
the cold weather."
"Is she is she seriously sick?" Mabelle asked tremu
lously. "The mother, I mean."
"It s a desperate hope, a kind of last resort," Bill
vouchsafed. "I heard Doc Hall talking to Tom Gran
ger in the bank, the morning before they left. He said
ht didn t want to scare him, but he wanted to prepare
him for the worst, I thought."
"I m sure if Isabel were at home, she d insist on your
coming right to her," Jap said slowly. "Bill and I
have been bunking together up there," he jerked his
thumb in the direction of the ceiling. "We have a
bedroom and a little combination living-room, dressing-
room and library. The library s Bill s part. We take
our meals at the hotel, down in the next block. The
hotel isn t bad for a town of this size."
"Oh, I ve already met the hotel," Mabelle laughed.
"Bill Mr. Bowers took me there to dinner this eve
ning while we were waiting for you to come home."
"Aw, chuck that Mr. Bowers, " Bill interrupted.
"I m plain Bill to everybody in this town, and I guess
Jap s sister can call me that."
"The hotel, as I was saying," Jap resumed, "will
have to take care of you for the present till you can
get a bathroom attachment for the cottage. It ll prob
ably be lonely for you, just at first."
"I ll see to it that Mabelle meets all the best people in
town," Bill offered.
The temporary housing problem settled, they re
turned to the discussion of repairs necessary and re
pairs superfluous. After two hours of parley, Jap
consented to let his energetic sister work her will on
Flossy s cottage. It was after midnight when the girl
had been established in her room at the hotel, and Jap
and Bill tumbled into bed. The shank of that night
had wrought miracles for unsuspecting Bloomtown.
A vision of blue eyes, red lips and golden tresses kept
floating through Bill s dreams, a vision that bore not
the least resemblance to Rosy Raymond. Meanwhile
Jap stalked through one dream controversy after an
other with plumbers, painters and the other defilers of
Flossy s home.
By noon on Monday Mabelle had Bloomtown by the
ears, and by the end of the week it was all up with Bill.
Jap had to hire a boy to help get out the Herald. It
consumed all of Bill s time threatening and cajoling
merchants into the prompt delivery of supplies, and
seeing to it that the workmen were on the job when
Mabelle arrived at the cottage in the morning. Bloom-
town carpenters, paper hangers and plumbers usually
took their own sweet time. They had a great awaken
ing when Mabelle employed them. With Bill to pour
oil on the troubled waters, strikes were narrowly
JAP HERRON 213
One morning, soon after the radiant one arrived,
Kelly Jones wandered into the office, where a lively
dispute with the boss plumber was under way. In ten
minutes, Kelly had fallen a victim to the little tyrant.
" Tain t no use talkin about her gittin along with
out a cellar," he confided to Jap. "I ll dig it myself, and
that ll save all this row about how the pipes is got to
run. I ain t got nothin much to do, now the corn s all
in. And it s lucky we ain t had a hard freeze. The
ground s fine for diggin ," and the following morning he
was on the job.
For two months Bloomtown was demoralized. A cel
lar made possible a furnace, and the elimination of
stoves called for a fireplace in the living-room, a fire
place framed in by soft blue and yellow tiles. One
by one Mabelle added her receipted bills to the packet
of documents that would go into the making of that
mortgage on Jap s property. One by one the house
wives of Bloomtown demanded of their paralyzed hus
bands bathrooms, cellars, furnaces, tiled fireplaces.
At last the agony was over. A load of furniture
had arrived from the city, and Bill, as usual, left his
stickful of type and hastened to superintend the trans
fer of it from the freight depot to the cottage. The
evening shadows were lengthening in the office when
he returned. Jap had gone up-stairs to get out a
rush order on the job press, and there was a little com
motion on the stairway just before Bill presented him-
214 JAP HERRON
self, his brown eyes full of trouble. Jap looked at him,
and his heart sank. Had it come to this? Mabelle, in
spite of her scanty years, was older than Bill. She
must have known. The whole town knew.
"For goodness sake, Bill, don t pi this galley," he
shouted, bending over the imposing stone. "Look where
you re going. I wish that Mabelle would wake to the
fact that you have a half-hearted interest in this office.
She thinks you have nothing to do but keep tagging
on her errands."
The office cat rubbed her sleek side against Bill s leg.
"Get out and let me alone!" he screamed, jumping
with nervous irritation.
"Don t do that, Bill," Jap said firmly. "What s the
matter with you, anyway? You are as pernickety as a
setting hen, as Kelly said yesterday. When even Kelly
begins to notice your aberrations it s time for you to
get a wake-up. Are you sick? Have things gone
Bill walked over to the window and ran his thumb
down the pane of glass absently.
"Jap, have you that mortgage handy all that busi
ness that Mabelle gave you?"
Jap went to the safe and took out the packet of
"Why?" he asked, as he glanced through the long
list of items. "Has my sister thought of anything else
JAP HERRON 215
she absolutely needs? In another week, I ll owe her
more than the cottage is worth."
Bill took the documents gingerly. His mobile face
"I I want to take up the deeds," he stammered.
Jap whirled to face him.
"You see," stuttered Bill, "I that is, we Mabelle
and I, we "
Jap sprang forward, lithe as a panther, and caught
Bill by the arm. Drawing him to the light, he looked
full in the embarrassed face.
"Where is she?" he shouted. "Where is that sister
of mine? Where is she hiding?"
The girl came from the dark hall, her eyes defiant,
her head set with charming insolence on one side. Jap
struggled with his self-possession an instant. Then a
great, gurgling laugh shook his shoulders as he gath
ered the pair into his long arms.
"Golly Haggins !" the expletive of his boyhood leaped
to his lips, "I m glad the agony is over. Now perhaps
we will be able to get the Herald to our subscribers
"TOM GRANGER got a telegram," announced Bill,
coming into the office one morning early in April. "He
wants to see you at once, Jap."
Jap s face blanched. He looked dumbly at Bill.
"No, it s not her," Bill hastened to say. "It s her
Jap stumbled awkwardly up the walk to the Gran
ger home. The letters from Isabel had been far from
reassuring, and only the previous day Dr. Hall had
sounded a warning that the care of the invalid was too
much for the girl, taxed as she was in both mind and
body. Into Jap s consciousness there crept the thought
that she had never fully recovered from those terrible
weeks when she hovered over him.
Tom Granger met him at the door. His eyes were
red with weeping. He drew Jap into the parlor and
gave him two telegrams.
"This came at midnight," he said brokenly. Jap
"Mother sinking. Come. ISABEL."
"And this just arrived," Granger choked, as the fatal
words met Jap s eye:
JAP HERRON 217
"Mother dying. Come. Bring Jap. ISABEL."
"The train leaves in half an hour. I don t have to
ask you anything, my boy."
Jap turned and hastened away. He did not weaken
Granger s feeble strength with words of sympathy.
It was the afternoon of the second day when the two
stood with Isabel at the foot of the bed. Alice Granger
lifted her heavy lids, and a gleam of recognition shone
in her eyes. Swiftly those two, the husband and the
child, drew near, eager for any word that might pass
the stiffening lips. Jap stood looking sorrowfully down,
on her as they knelt at her side.
"Jap," she whispered, "you, too," and her feeble
fingers drew him.
With a choked sob he knelt beside Isabel. The
mother fumbled with the covers until her hand, icy
cold, touched his. Instantly his firm, strong hand
closed over it. She smiled and murmured:
They leaned over her in a panic of fear.
"Isabel s hand," she breathed, and placed the two
hands together. "Tom, there is time," she whispered;
"I want She sank helpless.
"I know what you would say," cried Granger, the
tears streaming down his face. "You want him to be
our son before before you say good-bye."
A flash of joy illumined her thin face. She sighed
818 JAP HERRON
A minister was hastily summoned, and a half hour
later Isabel sobbed her grief in the arms of her husband,
as they stood awaiting the coming of the Death Angel.
"It made such a difference in her feeling toward you,
your illness at our house," Tom said, looking down
upon her closed eyes and fluttering lips. "She never
understood you, and in her quiet way she was always
reserving judgment, when I used to talk so much about
you. A mother finds it hard to think any man is the
right one for her only child, and she was so dependent
on Isabel. She hadn t any doubts, after she saw you
in that dreadful fever, with all your soul laid bare to
us. She knew Isabel would be safe, and after that she
A grim hand caught at Jap s throat, as Tom sank
on his knees and buried his face in the pillow to smother
his sobs. Into his memory there came the words of
Flossy : "When your mother came, there was a reve
lation. I don t fear for your future now. And when I
knew this, Jap, I suddenly felt tired and old."
Flossy had clung to life until he had found the woman
who could take her place. Then, all at once, she let
go. And now Alice Granger, an invalid for twenty-
three years, had relaxed her feeble hold on life when
she knew that her child was in safe and gentle hands.
Must Death forever draw its grim fingers between him
and his happiness? He looked at his bride, fragile as
a spring flower, and a great fear rushed over him.
JAP HERRON 219
Dumb, he stood there, stroking Isabel s hair with fu
At last the glazing eyes opened, and Alice Granger
"Tom, not alone."
"Not alone?" he cried in anguish. "Always alone
without you, Alice."
She only smiled and then she fell asleep.
It was a strange wedding journey. Between the
half-crazed father and the exhausted wife, Jap was
taxed to the uttermost. Isabel, for once helpless, lay
white and silent in the compartment, too weak to do
more than cling to her one tower of strength, while
Tom Granger rent Jap s sympathetic heart with his
unreasoning grief. At length nature demanded her
own ; from sheer exhaustion they slept. Jap left them
alone and stood out on the platform between the
"Is my life always to hold grief?" he queried of his
soul. A throb of fear tore at his consciousness. Isa
bel s death-white face arose before him.
"No !" he cried fiercely, "there is a God. He will
not take all from me."
He went back into the car and, kneeling beside his
sleeping wife, prayed rnadly to his God for mercy.
The grasses were green along the tracks, and the
blue violets lifted their rain-washed faces as the fa->
220 JAP HERRON
miliar stations loomed in sight near the journey s end.
At the last station below Bloomtown, Bill and Dr. Hall
entered the sleeper.
"We have everything arranged," Dr. Hall said to
Jap, while Bill fought with his tears. "Isabel Gran
ger has gone through too much to stand the harrowing
experience of a funeral. The carriages are waiting, and
it has all been attended to at the cemetery. We ll just
have a short service out there, and I want you to keep
her in the carriage with you. Bill and I did things with
a high hand, but it had to be so. I wouldn t risk hav
ing the girl look into her mother s grave. She couldn t
The platform was crowded with friends, and Tom
Granger was responding to sympathetic greetings with
tears he did not try to hold. Jap half carried Isabel
to the nearest carriage, and Dr. Hall took his place
with them. Bill had hurried to meet Mabelle, who tact
fully drew Tom Granger into the second carriage, in
which the minister sat waiting. In a dream the well
known landmarks of Bloomtown passed before Jap s
eyes. There was the quick jolt that marked the cross
ing of the railroad tracks, and then the cool green of
the cemetery came into view.
While the brief service was read, Jap held Isabel
tight to his aching breast. His eyes wandered away
beyond the yellow mound of earth, and in the hazy dis
tance he saw his City of Hope. The young grass smiled
JAP HERRON 221
above the mounds that held the empty shells of those
he had loved, the first in all the world who had loved him.
On Flossy s straight white shaft he read "I Hope."
That was all.
After the slow cortege had moved its way back to
town, Mabelle left the carriage and approached her
brother. Bill, with his face frankly tear-stained, was
beside her. The coachman had descended from his box,
and was opening the door.
"Let me take her let me take your sweetheart to
our cottage," she pleaded. Leaning past him, she took
one of Isabel s black-gloved hands. "Dear, I am Jap-
pie s sister. I want to have you with me until you
Tom Granger sat up and leaned out of the carriage,
so that all could hear him.
"Jap is coming home with us," he said. "He is my
son. He was married to Isabel just before her mother
And it was thus that after well-nigh three years of
waiting Bloomtown celebrated the long-expected hap
piness of her best loved son.
ISABEL had a long, lingering illness. It was plainly
impossible for Jap and Mabelle to go to New York to
see Fanny Maud make her debut. Mabelle had been a
ministering angel, so faithful in her care of the invalid
that an unreasoning jealousy blotted the grin of con
tentment from Bill s face as he uncomplainingly took
the brunt of work at the office. Jap was too abstracted
to notice the Associate Editor s woe. One day, when
rosy June was just bursting its buds, he glanced hur
riedly through the columns of the Herald, still damp
from the press. He started, and looked keenly at Bill.
Second column, first page, under a double head that
reduced the day s political sensation to minor impor
tance, he read:
"OUR NEIGHBOR REJOICES; TWINS COME TO THE
EDITOR OF THE BARTON STANDARD."
"Whew !" he whistled. Bill looked up. The red flew
to his cheeks.
"Both boys," he commented, folding papers rapidly.
"Be in line for pages, when old Brons lands in the Halls
Jap hurried home to tell the news. Isabel, still pale
JAP HERRON 223
and weak, was lying in the hammock on the screened
porch. She laughed, her old merry laugh, when Jap
told her of Rosy Raymond s achievement. Mabelle
tossed her yellow curls.
"Well, I don t think she was worrying Bill," she
"There is no heavier blow to romance than twins,"
"Maybe she will call them Jap and Bill," crisped
Mabelle, and stopped short when her brother walked
abruptly to the other end of the porch.
"I hope that it won t fluster you to know that Bill
and I are going to be married before Fanny Maud
leaves for Europe," she flung at him. "I want that
haughty sister of mine to know that I am marrying a
Jap came swiftly back.
"Have you taken Bill into your confidence, Sis?" he
asked, patting Isabel s shoulder gently, as he smiled
his whimsical smile at Mabelle.
"You re naughty to tease her so," his wife chided.
"Bill and I are going to New York on our wedding
trip, just as soon as Isabel can spare me. I want
Fanny Maud to see " She stopped, then took the
bit in her teeth. "Jappie, you never knew why I ran
away from New York last Thanksgiving. Of course I
told Bill all about it long ago. Fanny and I certainly
don t agree when it comes to men. I can t imagine she
224 JAP HERRON
will approve of Bill, after the one she picked for me."
Further confidence was cut short by the appearance
of Bill, turning the corner. She arose and ran to meet
"Poor Bill," Jap laughed, as the two came arm in
arm up the shady lawn.
Before her designs upon Bill could be executed, a
strange thing happened. Fanny Maud and a company
of musicians made a summer concert tour. It was
only a little run from the city, and such an aggregation
of artists as Bloomtown s wildest dreams had never
visioned descended upon the town. The hotel was taxed
to its uttermost capacity, with six song birds, an
orchestra, three lap dogs, and an Impresario whose
manner implied that he had designs other than profes
sional on the leading soprano. Her stay was short,
and left an impression of perfume, fluffy ruffles, French
and haste. Her manager consented to have her sing
for Jap and Isabel.
Bloomtown stood out in the road, listening, agape.
Perhaps Kelly Jones had been to Barton that summer
night, for he declared that cats were climbing out of
Tom Granger s chimneys, screeching for help, and a
man kept scaring them worse by howling at them.
When Fanny Maud reached the famous high note she
was justly proud of, Kelly clapped his hands to his
stomach and yelled for mercy.
"That s clawsick music," abjured Bill, who was sit-
JAP HERRON 225
ting on the lawn with Mabelle. Kelly looked at them
"I was skeered that she had busted her throat, and
all the sound was comin out to onct," he complained.
The last night of the brief but exciting visit Bill
and Mabelle were quietly married. Quietly yes and
no. Mike Hawkins rallied the band and all the tinware
in town to celebrate. Mabelle was indignant at first,
but soon began to enjoy the fun, and created the hap
piest impression on the older generation of Bloomtown
by insisting on marching arm in arm with Kelly Jones
at the head of the procession. After Bill had given his
solemn oath never to repeat the offense the "chivaree"
broke up, with wild yells of congratulation.
They took up residence in Mabelle s cottage. By
consensus of opinion it was Mabelle s cottage. The
town in fact so thoroughly recognized Mabelle, in the
possessive case, that Jap cautioned Bill against the
contingency of being referred to as "Mabelle s hus
band." Bill was proud of his wife, and when fortune
brought him lucre, from the long-forgotten bit of Texas
land that suddenly showed oil, he began to improve the
whole street by putting out trees.
As Jap feelingly declared, Mabelle had even im
proved the dirt under the doorstep of the cottage, and
Bill was fairly pushed out on the street for improving
to do. Under her fostering care, Bill had learned to
make violent demands on the Town Board. And they,
226 JAP HERRON
the aldermen of Bloomtown, bent on pursuing the even
tenor of their way at any hazard, had to adjust them
selves to a new ebullition from Bill every Tuesday
night. But Bill and Mabelle were not doomed to see
their enthusiasm go up in vapor. It bore, instead, the
most substantial fruit. The barren, treeless town was
beginning to grow shade for the aldermen to rest under
in their old age.
Kelly Jones said that if Jap had brought Mabelle
with him, instead of waiting fourteen years to import
her, the town would be larger than St. Louis. As it
was, Bloomtown might yet run that city a swift race.
Mabelle set the fashions ; told the School Board how
to run the schools ; the preachers how to make their
churches popular ; the mothers how to train their chil
dren. And the Town Fathers all carried their hats
in their hands when she breezed down the street. Jap
and Isabel watched and smiled, serene in the happiness
that was theirs.
"How wonderful it is, Jap, dear," said Isabel, stand
ing in the sunset glow, on that Easter Sunday, after
the year had flown. The last red gleam touched the tip
of the monument to Ellis Hinton, that had been erected
by Bloomtown and dedicated that morning. Together
they had gone to the cemetery, when the crowd would
not be there, Isabel s arms full of garlands for the
low green tents of their loved ones.
JAP HERRON 227
"It seemed that Flossy must be smiling at you as
you stood there, saying the marvelous things that must
have come to you direct from the lips of your spirit
father. Ellis Hinton spoke through you when you
told the story of our town."
Jap drew her tenderly to the fostering shadow of the
monument and pressed her to his heart. Her face was
glorified as she looked up into his.
"Oh, Jap, what if Ellis had never lived!"
Jap drew her close. Many hours had he wrought
with his fear, but now the roses had come again to her
cheeks and the light to her eyes. He looked over the
City of Peace, and his own eyes were full with joy.
"But, thank God, Ellis did live." And arm in arm
they walked back to Ellis Hinton s real town.
As they crossed the railroad tracks, Kelly Jones
came ambling down from the station, where a large con
tingent from the vicinity of the steel highway between
Barton and Bloomtown waited for the evening "Accom
"Gimmeny !" he exclaimed, clapping Jap on the
shoulder, "I sure was proud of Ellis s boy to-day.
Ellis says to me, the day he went away, says he, Watch
my boy, Kelly. He is goin to put the electricity in
Bloomtown s backbone, and, by jolly, you done it!
I reckon you felt proud," he went on, turning to Isabel,
"when Wat Harlow called Jap the man that made
Bloomtown a real town, and the crowd yelled, Yes.
228 JAP HERRON
Well, ma am, for a minute I shook and grunted. And
then the wife said, Wait a bit, so I waited. And when
Jap got up and told the folks that, not Jap Herron but
a greater man than he ever hoped to be, had cradled
and nussed Bloomtown and learnt her to walk, I might
nigh split my guzzle yellin for joy. Did you hear
me yellin , Hurrah for Ellis s boy ! And did you hear
the crowd say it after me?"
As Isabel took his hardened hand in hers, her eyes
"Jap is Ellis," she said gently, "to you and to his
town. I know it, and I am
BILL sat doubled over the case, the stick held list
lessly in his hand. Nervously he fingered the copy, not
knowing what he was reading. From time to time he
slid down from the stool and lounged across the big
office to the street door. Vacantly he returned the
greetings of his townsmen, as he gazed past them,
across the corner of the little park that lay, brown
and gold, in the glory of Indian Summer, across the
intervening street where Tom Granger s sedate old
house looked out on the leaf-strewn lawn. He could
see Tom Granger, pacing up and down the walk. He
could see Jap, sitting under the great elm, his face hid
den in his hands.
"Poor old Jap," Bill muttered, brushing aside a
tear, as he returned once more to his case, "life has
slammed him so many tough licks that he is always
cringing, afraid of another lick."
The morning wore on. Bill gave up the effort at
type-setting and tried to apply himself to the ex
changes, so that he could the better watch the front
of that house. He was near the door, trying to read,
when, all at once, Tom stopped pacing. Jap sprang
230 JAP HERRON
up and bounded across the lawn and into the front
door. A white-capped nurse ran through the wide hall,
and in a little while Mabelle put her head out of an
upper window and peered over at the office. Bill pushed
his chair back and tramped heavily to the pavement.
Then he tramped back again.
"Certainly there are enough of them to let somebody
come here with news," he growled. "They don t seem
to know that there are telephones or that I would
Half an hour dragged. Then, all alone, his face shin
ing with holy joy, Jap hurried to the office. For a
moment neither could speak. Hand in hand, heart beat
ing with heart, they stood looking into each other s
eyes. Then Jap said huskily:
"Do you remember what Ellis said, that day when
his greatest joy came?"
Bill flung his arms around Jap and hugged him
" Get out all the roosters ! " he cried, tears gushing
from his brown eyes.
"And," said Jap slowly, "Isabel wants to call him
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