a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
Title: Collected Juvenilia Author: Robert E. Howard * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1304311h.html Language: English Date first posted: Jul 2013 Most recent update: Jul 2013 This eBook was produced by Roy Glashan. Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au
GO TO Project Gutenberg Australia HOME PAGE
“GET ME,” I told the foreman of the ranch where I was spending my vacation, “a tame and peaceful bronc, for I would fain fare forth among the hills to pursue the elusive bovine and, as thou knowest I have naught of riding skill, therefore I wish a quiet steed and if it be aged I care not.”
The foreman gazed at me thoughtfully.
“I have just the cayuse for you,” he said.
“Hi Alkali! Bring forth Whirlwind!”
“Nay, nay!” I said hastily, “for doubtless he is a veritable whirlwind and such I will not mount.”
“Not so,” quoth the foreman, “he is named thus in delicate sarcasm, for he is lazy as a tenderfoot and as gentle as a kitten.”
Alkali led the horse out, Utah Jack, the top hand, Two-Gun Ghallihan, and all the rest of the disreputable gang following. The steed was a shabby, sleepy, mild appearing buckskin of no great size. He dozed as he stood and slumbered as I saddled him.
The saddle was a high, double-rigged affair with a bulging fork and before I swung into it, the foreman tied a coiled lariat to it. Then, solemnly he buckled about my waist a belt from which swung a long, black holster in which reposed a single action Colt .44-40.
“For rattlers,” he explained, solemnly.
I mounted. My noble steed stood still, slumbering. I invited him to go forward. He remained stationary. I touched him tentatively with my spurs. He turned his head and gazed at me strangely. Indignant I jabbed him viciously with the spurs, at the same time using words.
That brought results! I thought at first that a cyclone had hit me but it was only the kittenish pranks of my gallant charger. He bucked. He pitched. He sun-fished. He swapped ends. He rose on his hind legs and danced. He rose on his front legs and capered. He placed his hind and fore feet together and spun around and around with such rapidity that I was dizzy. He leaped high in the air and came down stiff-legged with a force that jolted my very intellect. He seemed to be changing the whole landscape.
How did I stay on? There was a reason. Not my fault that I stayed on. I wanted off as bad as he wanted me off. I felt as if my bones were falling apart. I could scarcely hear the delighted yells of the cowpunchers. Yet I stayed. Even when my steed dashed at full speed under a tree limb which just cleared the saddle horn. I remained but the branch did not. I remained even when my frolicsome charger lay down and rolled on the ground in spite of my protesting screams. He arose and began to do some entirely new tricks when something snapped. It was the two girths breaking simultaneously. I described a parabola and landed on my head some twenty yards away with the heavy saddle on top of me. My erstwhile steed emitted a paean of victory, danced a scalp-dance on my prostrate frame and galloped away over the horizon.
“General Jackson fit the Injuns” remarked the foreman as he helped me up. “You’re the ridin’est critter I ever see. They ain’t another guy on the ranch that coulda stayed on Whirlwind that long.”
Shaking off his hand, I staggered up and drew the gun he had given me. “For rattlers!” I gasped and if he hadn’t fled and I hadn’t missed and the gun hadn’t been loaded with blanks anyway, I’d have massacred him.
But what I did not tell him was that my gun belt got hung over the saddle horn and the lasso came loose and tangled me up so I was tied to the saddle and couldn’t get off to save my life till the saddle came too.
HAWKSHAW, the great detective, was smoking a stogy reflectively when the Colonel burst into the room.
“Have you heard—” he began excitedly, but Hawkshaw raised his hand depreciatingly.
“My dear Colonel,” he said. “You excite yourself unduly: you were about to tell me that the Queen’s necklace, valued at fifteen million shillings, was stolen from her boudoir and that so far Scotland Yard has found no trace of the thief although they have ransacked London.”
“You are a wonder, Hawkshaw,” exclaimed the Colonel admirlingly. “How did you know that?”
“Deduction, my dear Colonel,” replied Hawkshaw, surreptitiously concealing the newspaper in which was a full account of the robbery.
“Have you been to the palace?” he asked.
“I have,” was the reply. “And I brought the only clew to be found. This cigar stub was found just beneath the palace window.”
Hawkshaw seized the stub and examined it carefully.
“Aha!” he exclaimed. “The man who stole the necklace was a very tall, lank, gangling person, with very large feet and cross-eyed. He wears a number 5 hat.”
“Wonderful!” exclaimed the Colonel, “and how may I ask do you deduce that? How do you even know that a person who smoked that cigar stole the necklace?”
“The stub is flattened on one side. That proves that its smoker had a large foot. He stepped on it and it would take a great deal of weight to even dent a cigar like that. I know that its smoker is the thief because it is a long stub and anyone who could stand one whiff of that cigar would smoke it entirely up. He would be that kind of man. He evidently dropped it in his haste to make his getaway.”
“But that hat? And his tallness and cross-eyes?”
“Any man that would smoke a cigar like that would wear about a number 5 hat. As for the tallness and cross-eyes I will explain later.”
Just then there came a tap at the door. The Colonel opened it and an old man entered. He wore large green glasses, was a great deal stooped and had white hair and a long white beard.
“You are the famous detective?” he addressed Hawkshaw. “I believe I have a clew to this theft. I passed along the opposite side of the street about the time the robbery was supposed to have taken place. A man jumped out of the palace window and walked rapidly up the street.”
“Umhum,” remarked Hawkshaw, “what kind of man was this?”
“He was about five feet tall and weighed perhaps three hundred lbs.,” was the reply.
“Umhum,” commented Hawkshaw, “would you mind listening to my theory?”
“I would be delighted,” answered the old man as he seated himself in the best chair.
“Well, then!” began Hawkshaw, rising and walking to the middle of the room so that he could gesture without knocking the table over. “At the time of robbery was committed a man was returning home from a fishing trip on the Thames. He carried a fishing pole on his shoulder and as he walked along he looked into the windows of houses he had passed while seemingly gazing straight ahead for he was very cross-eyed.” (Here the visitor started.) Hawkshaw went on, “The gentleman at last arrived in Windsor and passing the palace saw the necklace lying on the mahogany table. The window was open and though it was high off the ground he saw a way to get it. He was (and is) a very tall man and he had a long rod and line. Standing on tiptoes he made a cast through the window as if casting for trout. He hooked the necklace at the first throw and fled, dropping his cigar in his flight. He also stepped on the cigar. He eluded the police easily and thought to elude me by coming to me in disguise and seeking to divert suspicion in another direction.”
And with that Hawkshaw leaped upon the old man and gripped him by the beard and gave a terrific jerk. The old man gave a yell as he was jerked erect and yanked across the floor. Hawkshaw turned pale. He had made a mistake in identity? He placed a foot against the old gentleman’s face and grasping the beard firmly in both hands gave another jerk. Something gave way and Hawkshaw and his victim sprawled on the floor, Hawkshaw holding in his hands the false beard and wig. While the impostor was trying to rise, encumbered by his long coat the detective sprang nimbly up and with great dexterity kicked the huge green glasses from his face.
The “old man” was revealed as a tall, gangling man with huge feet and cross-eyes!
As he rose Hawkshaw advanced toward him with a pair of handcuffs.
“You are under arrest,” he said.
The man stepped back and drew a glittering butter knife from his pocket.
“I am a desperate man! Beware!” he said fiercely.
At that moment the Colonel recovered from his amazement enough to push the muzzle of a howitzer against the villain and he was soon handcuffed.
“Call the police, Colonel,” directed Hawkshaw, taking the necklace out of the fellow’s pocket.
“Curses!” hissed the villain, “tricked, foiled, baffled! Curses!”
“But, Hawkshaw,” asked the Colonel a few hours later, after they had collected the enormous reward that had been offered for the recovery of the necklace. “But Hawkshaw, how did you know that was the man?”
“My dear Colonel,” answered Hawkshaw as with a smile he lighted a stogy, “I smelt the fish on his hands.”
The book mentioned in the Introduction is Edith Maude Hull’s romance novel The Sheik (1919), filmed two years later under the same name and starring Latin sex symbol Rudolph Valentino.
THE OTHER DAY I ambles kinda aimless into a book-store. She’s a new range for me so when the clerk comes up and says “What can I do for you, me good man?” I says, “Lady, you can trot out the latest edition of ‘Relentless Rupert, the Red-handed Avenger of the Spanish Main.’ ”
She gives me the once-over kinda scornful. “We don’t keep no such low brow stuff,” says she. “Whyn’t you read somethin’ inspiring and romantic? Now here’s a very popular novel called ‘The Sheik.’ ”
“Indeed?” says I.
“One fifty,” says she.
I slips her the fish and a half and does a lam. The book has got a picture on the cover of a Oriental gent on a cayuse doin’ a lam across the prairie. I read a book once called “Huloo Himalaya, the Horrible Hindoo,” which was about a Oriental gent and I thought mebbe this was like it. But nothin’ doin’. This Sheik was a heavyweight champeen of Africa which is braver than most birds, because he kidnaps a Jane which all others run from instead of after. He’s a regular bear-cat, caveman stuff, sabe? And this dame falls in love with him for it. Of course they marry and live happy forever after.
“Well,” says I thoughtfully, crammin’ the book into the stove, “I’m out one and a half cartwheels and she’s a touchin’, inspirin’ romance but she ain’t authentic; she ain’t true to life. Not none. Now, me, I’ll write a book which is true to life. Th’ misguided public needs it. It’s me duty.” So here goes.
Scene: The Desert.
A THUNDER of horse-hoofs! A medley of yells. Oriental yells! Venus Herring was in full flight across the desert. She looked back. A tall handsome Arab on a magnificent mule was pursuing her! Frantically she kicked her burro in the ribs. She was spurred to greater efforts by the Arab’s barbaric war-whoop, “He-ya! Uneeda Takhoma Nabisco!”
She turned in her saddle and fired her elephant-gun. A miss! She fired the other barrel. Another miss! Horrors! She could hit a barn at three steps, flying. Why could she not hit that Arab?
As the Oriental drew up alongside, she swiped at him with the stock of her rifle but he was wearing a high silk “Stove-pipe” hat and the blow bounced harmlessly off.
The next moment he had walloped her across the head with the handle of his spear and dragged her off her burro. He slung her across his saddle and galloped away. She struggled and screeched.
“Sit still, you little idiot!” he shouted, banging her nose against the saddle horn.
Scene: The Sheik’s Tent.
“I AM the Sheik Ahmed!” announced the Arab, throwing Venus into a corner.
“Amid what?” she asked faintly.
“Don’t get fresh with me kiddo,” he warned [. . .] the Sheik Ahmed ben Ahmed ben Whoopitup.
“I love you!” he continued, dragging her around the tent by the hair. “You shall be mine!” slamming her down on the floor and masterfully kicking her in the face.
“Kiss me, my dear,” he ordered passionately massaging her features with a pair of brass knucks.
“Never, you vile scoundrel!” she exclaimed, throwing a table at him.
“Aha, you would, would you?” he cursed. “Evidently you don’t know who I am!” catching her by the neck and reaching for a horse-whip.
Scene: Inside And Outside The Sheik’s Tent.
VENUS HERRING yawned and reached for another bon-bon. How long had she been in the Sheik’s village? Three weeks! Ye gods and little fishes! And not a movie the whole time.
Outside, she could hear the Sheik’s wild desert-raiders engaged in some game. She could hear the click of the galloping dominoes and the voices of the men, “Come seven!” “Phoebe, Ah imploah’s yo’ to save de family jewels!” “Yo’s faded.” “Roll ’em, boy roll ’em.”
She rose and stepped to the tent door. The Sheik was playing marbles with the Frenchman, Gaston. (pronounced Gas-town.)
He scowled when he saw her.
“Beat it back into that tent,” he ordered. “The sun will ruin your complexion and I’m not going to ride fifty miles to get you another either soon.”
“Villain!” she exclaimed, retreating in time to dodge the saddle he hurled at her.
Scene: Outside And Inside The Sheik’s Tent.
VENUS looked out the tent door. The Sheik was striding up and down before the tent, speaking aloud:
“The bread Burns,” he soliloquised, “the potatoes are Browning, the sausage is a Longfellow; on the stove there is Bacon. What are these Wordsworth?”
He entered the tent. He was in high spirit. He had been playing keeps with Gaston and won seventeen taws. Then he had played tiddledywinks with the Sultan of Turkey and had beaten him forty-seven times, hand-running.
However, he scowled when he looked at Venus.
“I’s tired of you,” he announced. “I’m going to send you back to England.”
“Ahmed!” she cried “Why, you couldn’t do that?”
“Why not?” he queried coolly.
“Please don’t,” she begged.
“You annoy me,” he answered, hitting her with a chair.
She stepped to the door. “Gaston, come here!”
“Certainly, ma’mselle, but why?” was the reply.
“To act as referee,” she answered and turning she swung for the Sheik’s jaw. He warded and knocked her through the tent with a left-handed punch. She returned and drove the Sheik across the tent, hitting him with a right upper-cut, a left-hook and an over-hand swing.
Just then Gaston tapped the gong.
Venus leads with her right. The Sheik countered and let drive a swing which Venus ducked, and slammed him with a right-and-left. They clinched and Venus hammered the Sheik on the back of the neck until he fainted. He rose at the count of eight and fought on the defensive the rest of the round. The gong.
Venus swung with her left. The Sheik side-stepped, feinted and knocked Venus down with a left-uppercut. She got up at the count of seven and clinched. They broke away and exchanged blows until the gong.
The Sheik leads with his left. Venus side-stepped and hit the Sheik with a straight right, giving him a black eye. The Sheik lifted Venus off the floor with a hay-maker. As she came down she hit him with an over-hand swing, staggering him. Before he could recover she swung for his jaw and knocked him out for the count.
“Ah, ma’mselle,” exclaimed Gaston, “I take great pleasure in presenting you the championship belt of the Sahara Desert.”
“The pleasure is mostly mine,” she responded. “Now, beat it.”
The Sheik opened his eyes, saw Venus and climbed the tent-pole.
“Use discretion and be a nice girl,” he begged.
”Come down from there,” she commanded, knocking him from his perch with a table.
“And you won’t send me away?” she asked, wreathing her fingers in his hair and poising a rolling-pin.
“No, my dear,” he responded.
“My hero!” she exclaimed. “My Desert Lover!”
“BE MINE, MY LOVE!” pleaded young Reginald Adjernon Lancelot Montmorency to the beautiful Gwinivere de Readycash, the lovely and accomplished heiress, daughter of old Readycash, the multi- millionaire.
“Alas,” she sighed; “It cannot be. My father does not like you. Only today he mentioned you and made some remarks about you in a language I took to be Greek for I could not understand it. And there is the duke de Blooey from Montenegro. He is courting me and father likes him because he can play checkers.”
“I will call the scoundrel out,” whooped Reginald passionately; “he shall fight a duel with me!”
“No, no!” begged Gwinivere, clinging to her lover’s necktie; “you must not! I beg you!”
“Very well, my love!” replied Reggie, with great relief; “I knew you would say so or I would not have—I mean it is a good thing for the duke that I love you too much to disobey your command. I will not force himm into a duel.”
He was silent for a few minutes, then “But what are we to do?”
She chewed a cud of gum meditatively for several seconds. “Why not ask father for me?” she suggested.
“I will,” he exclaimed. “This very hour! I will be masterful with him! I shall say, ‘Sir, I am your new son-in-law. No arguments now!’ “
“But don’t harm him, Reggie!” she begged; “remember he is my father.”
“I will not touch him,” he promised magnanimously; “I will quell him with the power of my eye.”
He rushed from the room. As he strode toward old Readycash’s study, he rehearsed the speech he would make. “I will say, ‘Sir, I am going to marry your daughter. Be silent, sir! I have decided to do this and I will not be balked by a gouty old father-in-law. I want you to understand that from now on I am the master of this house. You may write out a check for ten thousand dollars for our honeymoon.’ If he refuses and talks impudently I may forget he is my future father-in-law and handle him roughly.”
He was now at the door of the study. He paused before it. Glancing around, he found several cushions on chairs and sofas. These he placed on the floor in front of the door. Then after several attempts, he put on a bold front and knocked timidly on the door. A deep, gruff voice from within said, “Come in!”
Reginald pushed open the door and entered cautiously. Old man Readycash glared furiously at him.
“Oh, it’s you, eh? What the —— do you want?”
“Why,” replied Reginald, “ I, er, you, er, that is, your girl, I mean my girl, what I meant to say is that I, er she, you, er, that is to say you.”
“No doubt,” old Readycash answered dryly, “have you anything else to tell me?”
“Sir,” said Reginald with dignity, “you have a daughter—a girl.”
“Remarkable,” exclaimed the old man.
“As I said, sir,” continued Reginald, ignoring the interruption, “ you have a daughter.”
“I have several,” was the reply; “also seven old maid sisters. I will introduce them to you, if you like.”
Reginald shuddered. “I ccccame ttto aaask yyou ffor your daughter’s, your daughter’s, your daughter’s.”
“My daughter’s what?” roared old man Readycash.
“Hand!” gasped Reginald.
Old Readycash rose. “Would you just as soon take my foot?” he asked.
Reggie fled. As he neared the door he was struck from behind by a force that lifted him from his feet and propelled him irresistibly through the door which was opened just then by a well-dressed gentleman with a monocle and mustache. Reggie lit on this gentleman and they rolled across the hall, until stopped by the wall.
“Sapristi!” exclaimed the duke de Blooey (for it was he), leaping to his feet. “Caramba! Le diable! Tamale! Asparagus tips! I will have your life for this!”
Just at that moment old Readycash charged out of his room. “You young villain!” he yelled at Reggie, “what do you mean by knocking down my guests?”
Reggie fled toward the stairs. At the top step he felt the same force that had sent him from the presence of Readycash. The young man soared gracefully into the air and floated down the stairs.
“What!” yelled old Readycash; “you still here? Get out of my house! And as for you,” turning to the girl, “you shall marry the duke this very day.”
“But father,” began Gwinivere.
“Shut up!” yelled old Readycash, brutally; “do you want me to whip you?”
The duke seized her by the wrist. “Aha, me proud beauty,” he exclaimed, diabolically; “I have you in my power at last!”
“Unhand me, villain!” she cried.
At that moment the door flew open and two men rushed in. One was a tall, thin man and the other a short stocky man.
They rushed upon the duke, knocked him down and handcuffed him.
“Aha,” exclaimed the tall man, “a duke now, are you, eh?”
“What does this mean, sir?” asked old Readycash.
“This man is a crook in disguise,” the tall man answered. “I have followed him half across the world. You see before you,” he continued, kicking off the duke’s mustache and monocle, “Booze Bill, the Bowery Bum! One of the slickest crooks on record.”
“Curses,” hissed the duke. “One thousand curses. Ay, one thousand five hundred curses!”
“As for you, sir,” the stranger continued, to old Readycash, “your daughter wants to marry this young man,” indicating Reggie, “and you give him your consent and your check for £10,000. Also a check for the same amount to me as a token of your gratitude in preventing you from marrying your daughter to a villain. If you do not I will send you to jail for 2,000 years. I used to drink my beer at Dinty Moore’s saloon when you were bartender there and you often shortchanged me.” Then to the short man, “Take the prisoner outside and call a cab, Colonel; I will follow presently.”
“But, who are you?” asked old Readycash, as he reached for his checkbook and Reggie and Gwinivere fell into each other’s arms, “who are you?”
“I?” answered the stranger with a smile; “I am Hawkshaw, the Detective.”
A BLAZING SUN blazed out of a blazing sky and blazed down blazingly on a blazing expanse of blazing, barren sand, in a blazing desert.
Naught was to be except sand dunes. And yet, aha! A long caravan of camels emerged from behind a sand dune and meandered along the ancient desert trail which was ancient before the memory of man. Aye, it was even said that the trail had been made before William Jennings Bryan began to run for president.
The Tuareg chieftain looked about him with a sneer on his handsome face. With contempt he gazed at the sand dunes. Somehow he felt superior to them. Presently the caravan stopped by an ancient city, half-hidden beneath the sands of the desert. It was almost ruins. A very ancient city; it had been deserted long before Congress began to discuss the immigration problem, even.
The Taureg dismounted from his camel and entered his tent. A slave girl offered him a chaw of Beech-nut from her own private plug. He kicked her with a harsh tone of voice.
Seating himself on an expensive divan from Bokhara, he reflected meditatively.
“ONE MILLION DOLLARS,” mused the Colonel.
“Exactly, my dear Colonel,” returned Hawkshaw, the great detective, wittily.
“But what details of the crime?”
“As follows,” Hawkshaw replied. “The night watchman of the Stacksuhkale bank, London, was knocked unconscious and a million dollars in American thrift-stamps as well as one million pounds of sterling and a box of fine cigars were taken.”
“The villain!” exclaimed the Colonel indignantly. “And cigars as expensive as they are.
“How are you going to go about finding the guilty person?” asked the Colonel.
“In the following manner,” answered Hawkshaw. “Let us first begin by deduction. Let us say, for example, that three persons have robbed the bank. You, I, or the Khedive of Egypt. Now it is impossible that you could commit the robbery because at the time the robbery was committed you were playing a foursome of tiddledy-winks with the duke of Buckingham.”
“That’s true but how did you know?” exclaimed the Colonel.
“My dear Colonel,” answered Hawkshaw, “I saw the crumbs on your opera hat. Now, as for myself, I could not have done the robbery because I was in a theatre in Drury Lane. I almost distinctly remember the play even. It was called ‘The Store-keeper of Venice’ and was written by a fellow named Shooksbeer or something, who is a native of Algeria.
“Then, consider the Khedive of Egypt, he could not have committed the robbery because he was on his sugar-moon, I mean his molasses-moon, with his 999999999999999999th wife, hunting social lions, lounge-lizards, zebras and other big game, in the wilds of Schenectady, New York. And, having eliminated myself, you and the Khedive, do you see what this points to?”
“No,” the Colonel answered.
“It indicates that the robbery was done by someone else!” said Hawkshaw, dramatically.
“Indeed!” exclaimed the Colonel in admiration. “Awhaw! Wonderful!”
“I shall now,” Hawkshaw continued, “go into the street and arrest everyone I meet. To each I shall put the auestion: ‘Did you rob the Stacksuhkale bank or did you not?’ and I shall be governed by their answers.”
“CURSES!” hissed Alexichsky Grooglegoofgiveimoffaswiftskykickovitchinskytherearovitchsky.
“Curses!” Alexichsky, etc., hissed again even more hissier than before. “This nation of England shall fall or my name is not A’sky Majlmp.” (Giving the correct pronunciation of the name Alexichsky, etc.)
The anarchist, with great stealth, then placed a bomb under a girls’ school.
“There,” he hissed, “that be a defeat to the accursed burgwassol!”*
[* burgwassol: bourgeoisie ]
After going several blocks he stopped with an enraged look in his coat pocket.
“Ten billion imprecations!” he hissed, “I forgot to light the fuse.”
He walked on through London.
Presently the anarchist came to a palatial mansion in the slums which was the clubhouse of all the anarchists in London.
He walked up to the door and rang the old fashioned doorknocker.
“Giff der pass-vord,” hissed a voice from within.
“The wages of sin are a mansion on Riverside Drive,” answered the anarchist. The door swung open and he entered. There were several members of the Anarchist Club in the club room, engaged in anarchist past times, such as swinging ginger-ale, playing marbles for keeps, growing whiskers and cussing the bourgeoisie.
Feeling in a reckless mood, Alexichsky spent a nickel for ginger-ale and offered to bet three cents either way on the next Olympic games. One of the club members, Heinie Von Shtoofe, then made a speech.
“Vass iss?” he began eloquently. “Vot iss der nation goming do evn der cost of hog-iron, I mean pig-iron iss gone up two cents on der vard, alretty yet? Und vot for iss so may Irisher loafers getting chobs ven vhite men like me can’t, yet? I haf meet a Irisher on der street und I say, ‘Get oudt of mine way, you no-good bumf!’ Und look at der black eye vot he giffs me. Dey say dot Irishers is such goot fighters, Bah! Dot makes me tired feel. Vhy, over to Gretchen’s vedding, dot drunken O’Hooligan come in und tried to raise it a rough-house und me und my cousin, Abie, und Ludvig und Hands und four or five others, vhy ve pretty threw dot Irishman right oudt of der house! I vont never go to Ireland.”
The anarchists applauded and then Alexichsky proposed a toast, “Down with everything! Long live Lendnine and Lopesky and hurrah for Russia!”
AS ALEXICHSKY the anarchist walked down Piccadilly Circus, he glanced about hoping to see a bank that he could rob.
As he came into another street, two men accosted him, one a tall, thin man, and the other a short, stocky man.
“Aha!” said Hawkshaw, for it was he, “Methinks yon unshaven Russian with the cannibalistic face has the guilty look of a first- class criminal.”
The detective stopped Alexichsky, “Wait a moment, my friend, pause while I gaze on your un-handsome visage and ask you a question or three or four.”
“What do you want?” asked Alexichsky, having swiftly selected a fiendish sneer from his extensive collection of mocking smiles, derisive leers, glares, dirty looks, unholy mirth, chuckles, diabolical stares, etc.
“Did you rob the Stacksuhkale bank?” asked Hawkshaw.
“No,” answered Alexichsky.
“Dern it,” said the Colonel, “Baffled again.”
“Hold on,” said Hawkshaw, “My Russian friend, you are under arrest.”
The Russian was seized by policemen and Scotland Yard detectives.
Brittania (sic)rules the waves,” said Mr. Hawkshaw, “another triumph for Scotland Yard.”
He addressed Alexichsky, “I knew you were telling a falsehood because when you denied robbing the bank, you raised an eyebrow and wiggled your toes. Also, I had suspicions of you when you asked the inspector of Scotland Yard if they found a set of burglar’s tools in the Stacksuhkale bank. You said they were yours and if they were found to deliver them to the Anarchist’s Clubhouse. I delivered them myself, disguised as a rear admiral of the Swiss army. Then when I saw the million dollar notes and thrift-stamps in your vest pocket, I took a chance and arrested you.”
“Curses,” cussed Alexichsky.
“The way you robbed the bank was in the following manner,” said Hawkshaw. “You came to the bank, disguised as a king of the South Sea islands. You climbed up the fire escape and down one of the marble pillars of the bank front. Then, having taken an impression of the keyhole with wax, you filed out a key to fit, from a cigar made in Dusseldorf, Germany. Then you entered and robbed the bank. Is that correct?”
“No, the watchman had left the door open and I went up the back steps and walked in,” answered the Russian.
The Eskimo floundered through the deep snow and kicked an iceberg out of his way. Reaching his igloo, he unharnessed his team of whales from his sled and entered the igloo.
Snow covered the land, yards deep. Here and there mighty icebergs reared up toward the sky.
For it was mid-summer in northern Alaska.
City streets. A crowd of students standing on a corner. It is raining.
Believe me, this is the last time I’ll ever come to this town.
Applesauce. That’s what you said last year. Wasn’t the game worth it?
Yeah, but lookit the rain and me with no slicker!
I’ll say. It’s rained tom cats and chicken’s teeth every time I’ve come to Snako. Say, how about takin’ a slicker offa some of these bozos?
(An old man passes, wearing a slicker.)
There’s your chance, Spike.
Nix, I respect age. Here comes somebody.
(A Jalor student passes. He is six feet three inches and weighs 217 pounds.)
I respect age, all right, but I respect size a lot more.
Say, you snake eaters, on your toes, there goes the gong.
Hold on, that’s a green light.
Aw, come on. That means go. (He starts across the street.)
Hey! What you trying to pull *!*!*!xx* (Censored)
There’s the right signal.
(They walk down the street.)
Anyhow, we showed more pep than the Jalor student body. Eh! Johnny?
What? Yeah—I—uh—gottasneeze! Ka-choo! (A girl screams and runs in a store, a traffic cop jumps eight feet and reaches for his hip, and the clerks all look out of the stores.)
Say, save them red-blooded, he-man sneezes for the wide open spaces of West Texas. These Easterners ain’t rugged like we are.
Spike, Tommy and Bertie turn off from the rest and enter a cafe.
Me eye, I ain’t ate nothin’ since supper yesterday, except a hamburger or two, a couple of ham sandwiches, three buns, an apricot tart, two ice-cream sodas, a chocolate malted milk, a couple of chocolate bars, and a sack of peanuts. Come on, I’m broke.
So are we.
This is a fine crowd.
Hey, we’ve just got time to catch the train.
Migosh! I’ve lost my ticket!
The train. Tommy is arguing with the conductor.
But I tell you, I had it. I came over with the crowd from our college to watch the team play Jalor Mares at the Hay Palace. I had my ticket and. . . .
Aw, tell it to the Marines. I know it already. Somebody picked your pocket or the naughty ticket got away from you and when last seen was headed east at a high rate of speed. Outside!
But we know this fellow.
Tell it to Sweeny! (Throws Tommy off the train.)
Thanks for the buggy ride. May your children all have ingrown toenails. (Grabs the rods.)
Hey, come outa that. (He kicks him off.)
Say, lay offa me. I’ll have you know I’m a free-born American citizen with rights nobody can trample. Here’s one now!
(Tommy hits brakeman. Brakeman hits Tommy. Tommy hits the ground.)
The next night. Bertie seated in his room, before a warm fire. He appears very comfortable and satisfied. Enter Tommy. His clothes are muddy and wrinkled, and his toes are showing through his worn shoes. He wobbles on his feet and otherwise appears somewhat fatigued.
Come in an’ shut the door. Want to freeze me? Ain’t you got no consideration. Nobody’s seen you in that garb I hope. You look like a tramp.
Tommy gives a ferocious look.
If I wasn’t so tired I’d poke you in the beezer.
(He flops into a chair.)
How’d you get in?
All the way?
Naw. It was this way. I’d grab every train that came along, then when the conductor would come for my ticket, I’d tell him I’d lost it. They’d kick me off, but I’d be that much further down the line. I did that seven times and made four miles that way. But finally one of ’em stopped the train, ’stead of throwin’ me off while it was runnin’ like the rest had done.
That was kind of him.
Yeah, I’ll say so! They stopped in a yap town and had me pinched. They put me in the hoosegow and I’d be there yet only the cop was a Prohibition officer and was so drunk he did not lock the door. Then I walked about twelve miles till I caught a ride on a wagon.
That shows that there’s always people kind and ready to assist even a hobo. Why didn’t you ride on it?
Because the bird driving the wagon saw me and kicked me off. Then I walked and walked and walked, and then I walked some more. I got blisters on my feet till it felt like I was walking on watermelons.
Did it rain all the time?
Naw, sometimes it sleeted or snowed. The roads were so rotten that I waded three miles down a creek thinking it was a road. I didn’t find my mistake till a farmer came and beat me up for trespassing on private property. Once I got lost and walked seventeen miles in the opposite direction before I found out different. (He waxes eloquent) Gaze on me; a living example of the injustice of the American railroad corporations. I wore out my shoes and swiped these off a sleeping hobo; I lived on standpipe julep* and garbage. My clothes are worn out and I lost the ring for which I paid Woolworth a week’s salary. And they call this a free country!
[* standpipe julep: drainwater. ]
Bertie laughs. He laughs with much gusto.
Ha! Ha! Haw! Haw! He! He! Say, that’s the best joke I’ve heard of in a long time. Ha! Ha!
Why, just after the conductor threw you off. I found your ticket in my coat.
(A special train, a chair car, occupied by students. An upperclassman is attempting to sleep.)
Things have quieted down and I’ll get a chance for a nap.
Hey, wake up! All out for Hunkusville!
Aw, set on a tack. (He dozes.)
(A Freshman begins blowing a horn.)
Enough is too darned much!
(He chases all the Freshmen out. He dozes.)
(Upperclassman is snoring contentedly. Somebody drops the brasses of the brass drum.)
Who—what—hey, what time is it?
Fine. Everybody’s asleep now. Now for a good nap.
(He dozes. The train whistles for a station.)
A few minutes later. A flock of girls come through.
GIRLS (supposedly singing):
I gotta gal, her name is Lulu! I love Lulu, I love Lulu, darling!
(Upperclassman jumps seven feet out of seat)
Ye gods, what next!
Seventeenth verse, same as the first, I love Lulu—exit.
(Upperclassman sleeping. Girls return.)
GIRLS (still singing):
Seven hundredth verse, same as the first, I love Lulu, I love Lulu, darling!
(Upperclassman develops deep and enduring hatred for the name Lulu.)
Hey, what time is it?
How much longer before we pull in?
One two hours, suh.
Here’s a nice place to sit; you don’t mind do you?
(They sing: "Eight hundredth verse, same as the first—")
No, I don’t mind.
(Grinds teeth and bites hunks out of chair arm.)
(One hour later.)
Seven thousandth verse, same as the first, I gotta girl, her name is Lulu, I love Lulu—
Conductor, is there no chance at all for a train robbery, hold-ups, murders and all that you know?
No chance at all, sir.
The spelling errors are intentional.
Miss Zara Goldstein,
By the ghetto,
East Side New York yet.
Zara mein gold;
I having been by college now some weeks yet I thought I would write to find out if you still love me and when is tat loafer brother of yours going to pay me that fifty cents which he owes me yet?
I wouldnt tell you no lie Zara, college is expense something fierce, which all the time its gives donations to ataletics musical entertainments missionaries or vot have you? Ha, a feller come by me which says, “Dough you should give by the missionary fund which is educating the Chinese and the Zulus to wear hose-supporters and play golf and be Rotarians yets.” I says, “How much money would you be satisfied by?” He says, “Anyways a dollar yet.” Oy, Oy, such extravagance, a cheaper missionary they should have. What if the Zulus get educated it goes no money in my pocket yet. Better they could spend some money educating with civilizing these Irish already. You know Zara, it don’t pay none to tell a strange things, so when a big Irishman says to me, “And what moight your name be?” (You know, Zara, these couldnt talk English no more like nothing) I thinks, “None of your business that aint any.” So I says, “I come from the same part of Ireland vot you come from, yet.” And the big loafer pokes me on the nose.
But I am proud of my nationality Zara, I’m American citizen, even if I was born in Czecho-Slavakia, or was it Ukrania or Sweden? I don’t just remember. But confidentially Zara, colletch would be good business if it wasnt so expensive yet. The other day it went by a teacher about the plagues of Egypt yet, which she said, “all of the Egyptian went broke on account of the fles ruining the businesses yet, but there were no fles on the Israelites.” I says, “Nor there aint any now either, yet.”
I am taking Latin Zara so none of them Italians wontcheat me none. You know Zara, they are a lot of grafters yet. One time one of the sold me a gold watch chain for fifty it was all brass yet. The dirty crook. The fellers got right vot says, “Honesty is the stuff, yet.” It was a good thing the fifty cents I gave him was counterfeit yet. And speaking of fifty cents, does your brother think I am a bank yet?
I see my friend Moe Silverstein wrote a play which is appearing on Broadway. That Moe is my best friend. He could have my wife if I had one and I would nearly lend him money—maybe.
I think I will write plays because I am better business man than Moe didnt I always win all his money when we was kids and betting on the ghetto champions? But I had a system Zara. Like when Frankie Fleming and Benny Leonard had their bout, I bet a hundred dollars on each one so I couldnt have lost money yet. I always had good business head Zara if I lost a bet I never would pay it.
But here is a play I wrote.
The Revolution Yet
Scene 1: Buckingsausage Palace.
Enter Lord Northsky: “Your mejesty, these Americans are giving competition yet. It goes by them tea cheaper than we can sell it.”
King Georgestein: “Vot? Is dese a system? Raise the tariff.” (Lord Northsky calls some soldier and they raise it.)
Scene 2: America.
Patrick Henrystein: “Vot kind of a party is diss? Given me reduced prices or a high selling list. It’ll give a big sale with ‘Goods damages by fire, water and powder yet.’ ”
Scene 3: Yorktownsky.
General Cornskywallis: “We got to sell out or go broke. These Americans are overbuying and underselling us at a profit yet.”
Of course Zara, our ancestors didnt come over until all the Indian and Englishers and varmints was chased out but that dont matter. This country is as much ours as anybody, I guess, and if these natives don’t like it, we can always go back to Europe.
Now Zara, I vill close, send me your love and lots of kisses and that fifty cents which your loafer of a brother owes me yet.
Some acting clubs might have it over the Thessalian Artists for fancy stuff, but when it comes to straight acting, no fakes not hitting in the clinches, we took the celluloid frying pan. Hipurbilee Jones was our manager and the old fellow was as slick as any in the country. We put on a few performances at Millford and then started on a tour of theatrical engagements. It was high class stuff, no second rate vaudeville; we played Shakespeare, Marlowe, Goethe, and some of the moderns. Also we put on some original plays designed by our leading lady, Miss Arimenta Gepps. Two of these, “Was it Love?” and “The Crimson Red Scarlet,” always went over big and we used one of them for our last night’s performance.
Things didn’t always run so smooth though, and just now I’m thinking about a performance we gave in a bush league town in Nevada. “One Night Only” it was billed, and it was a good thing for us. We were playing “The Woman of the Mask” an original play of four acts, written by Ephraim Jube, our poetical “heavy.” It was a hot sketch, full of mystic doings, secret loves and sudden murders, all about kings and lords, with countesses and princesses mixed in with reckless profusion.
The town “Opery House” as the yokels called it, was filled to the guards. Everything was going fine except that some windows were out and the wind kept whistling through and blowing the false whiskers off Alonzo Chub who was the King of Keramusa in the play. But altogether the play was a success with the exception of a scene in the second act when Chub’s crown accidentally fell off and landing on the leading lady’s toe, caused her to make some remarks that weren’t a part of the dialogue.
As the fourth act commenced, old Hipurbilee Jones came bustling up behind the scenes, saying that we’d have to make a night run, as the town had only one train a week and that left just twelve minutes after our performance was concluded. He’d had all the luggage loaded on except what we were using and as soon as the curtain fell, we were to hurry up to change our costumes and beat it for the station. We never liked to stay in a town any longer after a show than we had to, owing to the short-changing proclivities of Hank Jepson the ticket seller, and also to habits of Somolia States, the property man, who had a way of collecting pocket books when the owners weren’t looking. So we told Belle Jimsonwee, our star dancer, to quit taking so many encores between acts, and Hipurbilee went off saying he’d have the critters put on the train. The company had a small menagerie which was used sometimes in light comedies, including a rattlesnake, a couple of pink mice, some guinea pigs and Aurelious, the scentless skunk.
Came the dawn of a new act; the fourth to be exact. Now in this act a little light comedy was to be instilled by the king’s jester soaking the villain with a stuffed shillelagh. Naturally, the aforesaid shillaily had been misplaced, and as time approached, we were forced to find some substitute. The jester wanted to use a section of curtain pole, but Ephraim waxed oratorical on the subject and as usual, Somolia States rose to heights of ingeniousness and procured a three foot length of bologna sausage. It was to be concealed behind a screen and at the moment of use, the jester would reach back, seize it and massage Ephraim Jube’s poetic cranium with it. Meanwhile the rest of us were scurrying hither and yon, mostly yon behind the scenes, packing used costumes and so on. The moment came, the audience leaned forward expectantly, scenting amusement the jester made a grab for the bologna and swung for Ephraim’s jaw—a cat had wandered in and was nibbling at the sausage and when the jester brought it forth, she was clinging to the other end. As the bologna described the arc intended, she lost her hold and with the screech of a lost soul, went sailing through the air, completing her flight in the mayor’s face, who sat on the front row. A pitched battle ensued, from which the cat fled, routed but victorious and the mayor got up and used language and made some wise cracks about law suits. However, we stopped the play long enough for the leading lady to apologize in her most bewitching manner and the old coot smirked and bowed and sat down again, whereupon we went on with the play. But Alonzo Chub made it a point of honor never to let a play go without pulling some bonehead. This time he was helping Somolia do up a stage carpet behind the scenes, and he backed out onto the stage into an impassioned love scene. Unknowing, he stood there like a yap, with his back to the audience, engrossed in his task, and totally unaware that he was out on the stage. Somolia started to roast him, when a budding genius in the audience put a hornet* in a nigger-shooter† and let ’er go. The hornet buzzed through the air a lot faster than he’d ever flown, he hit Alonzo’s pants and hit end-on. Alonzo let out a squeal, climbed halfway up the screens, made a few impassioned gestures and left via the window. His shouts of “Fire!” came floating back for seven blocks. The audience rose as one man and applauded generously, and about that time a masked figure came running out on the stage. “Holy cat!” said Algernon Repples, the hero, “What does she mean? This ain’t the time for unmasking?” For the great scene that revealed the masked lady came just before the curtain fell.
[* hornet: a small wad of paper; † nigger-shooter: a slingshot.]
“You gotta, now.” say Somolia, so Algernon, rushes forward, jerks off the mask and reveals the bibulous and hilarious countenance of Augustus Buff, scene shifter, who was lit like a power-plant. Just at that moment a feminine yowl from behind the screen announced that Miss Arimenta Gepps had discovered that she had been euchred out of an act, and was letting her artistic temperament go on the rampage.
Somolia likewise gives a yell and Algernon swings on Augustus who takes a nose dive into the orchestra, completely ruining two fiddles and a mouth organ.
And amidst the confusion a small demure critter saunters in the door and starts promenading up the aisles.
Somolia allows that it’s Aurelious, the violet scented skunk and goes burning the breeze down the aisle to chase him out. But a few feet away, he stops with a most curious expression on his face. Then he ’bout-faces and heads the other way. For it wasn’t Aurelious, no, it wasn’t.
The town people had bragged that the opera house could be emptied in three minutes but this time the record was broken by two minutes and thirty seconds.
And any one who’d been on the streets, might have been edified by the sight of a company of high-class actors breaking Nurmi’s* best records three jumps ahead of a ravening mob that wanted to lynch us, or such absurdity.
[*The Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi (1897-1973) who was the world's best middle and long distance runner at the time of writing. ]
The train pulled out just as we climbed aboard and I doubt if any of us ever go back there. In fact, I think it very improbably. Very.
“YES” said the ancient Grad, manufacturing a cigarette of T.N.T. and igniting it with a stick of dynamite. “There’s no doubt but the present day college student has it over the boys and girls of my day for advantages. But I doubt if they take advantage of them as they should.
“Now I don’t believe there ever was a peppier flock of students than we were at Killem Kollege. Talk about class spirit! It was rather rough going for the freshmen the first few terms. But we never made them go to the expense of buying green caps, no, we simply scalped them, so they could be properly classified. I remember one freshman thought to fool us—but we sand papered his head each week.
“Fact, it took a tough freshman to complete a term in Killem Kollege, and had it not been for the loyalty and support of the surrounding country and the alumni association, I don’t know but what the school might have had to shut down for lack of students. But new ones constantly came in to replace those who had spoken insolently to upperclassmen.
“Speaking personally, I had little difficulty in my freshman year at college, having spent my last seven vacations in the revolutionary armies of Central America and Mexico, and having attended a prep school personally conducted by John L. Sullivan I had been champion tiger trainer in my class, and held medals for sharp-shooting and for outdoing elephants in feats of strength, so I was prepared to enter Killem Kollege with the best. However, a rather hectic time was had of it.”
He displayed a cork foot and wig, remarking, “Relics of my freshman days.
“Back in those days,” he continued, “there was intense rivalry between colleges. Ah, it would have done your soul good to have seen the preparation for a coming football game: the yell meetings, the cheerings, the rifle practice, the sharpening of swords and greasing of pistols.
“And then the game. And the parade of triumph after the carnage! How we would march about the streets, displaying the tokens of victory on spears—the scalps of the opposing team.
“I especially recall the game with Slaughterem University. They sent a special boat loaded with students. With our usual courtesy, we met them at the wharfs and such as survived the reception committee were disposed of by the main student body at the football field. It was a hotly contested battle, that football game. And I must commend the school spirit of the girls’ pep squad, who rushed out on the field between halves and slaughtered the wounded of the opposing team, with meat axes.
“The score was, I think, Killem Kollege forty slain, seventy wounded, Slaughterem University, a hundred slain, thirty wounded. They outplayed the Killem team the first half, maintaining a long range barrage, but the second half the Killem team made a flank attack and getting into close range brought into play their light field-pieces which they used so effectively that the enemy was completely routed.
“Lynchum and Burnum always gave us something of a battle, one year their students took possession of one half of the field in full force, and kept up a hot rifle first on Killem team from the bleachers, until a bomb thrown by our yell leader effectually silenced them. Thereupon we won the game.
“Yes, there was a great deal of rivalry. I recall, one day in a class of philosophy, the professor glanced out the window and exclaimed: ‘Gentlemen, barricade the doors and man the windows; the botany class of Kannibal Kollege are upon us. Girls will kindly stand by to load rifles, and let us dispose of these visitors with as much expedience as possible, so we may continue our study of the tenets of the Golden Rule.’
“At another time we were returning from a successful raid on a neighboring college, when the senior class of Slaughterem University made a sudden night march and the next morning were shown barricaded in the administration building, holding the college president for ransom.
“Upon our refusal to pay the ransom, they hung him from the cupola, affording great amusement to all of us. However, we merely blew the building up, instead of storming it, levying funds from the surrounding villages to rebuild it.
“Killem Kollege always had a large attendance, but the exact total shifted continuously, owning to the intense class spirit, the hot rivalry between fraternities, and the number of debating clubs. The attendance of the freshman class was dependant entirely almost, on the price of ammunition.”
He took up an advertizing card, yellow with age, and read: “Tonight the Bandits and Buccaneers debating clubs will hold their weekly debate, the subject to be debated upon, ‘Resolved that cordite powder is more effective than British powder.’
“The rules of the debate are as follows: debaters will stand back to back, march twelve steps in opposite directions, turn and fire at the word. There will be seven judges and in the event of a dispute, they may fight it out between themselves. The survivors of the debate will debate again next week, the subject being, ‘Whether the bayonet is more effective than the sabre in hand to hand combat.’
“That was a great debating team,” said he. “I believes that was the night we burned the freshman president at the stake.”
He was silent a while, then shrugged his shoulders, “I suppose I’m too old fashioned, for the college today. Still I don’t feel just exactly as if I’d been according the proper treatment by the members of the faculty. The president and I had had words in regard as to the disposal of some college funds—buying a cannon for the boys’ dormitory, I think, and I went to the college for the first time in several years. In a way, it was like old times. Several fresh scalps adorned the campus posts. From the girls’ dormitory came the shrieks of a new girl who was being skinned by some upperclass girls. Two members of rival fraternities were exchanging shots from behind trees across the campus; and as I entered the college boundaries, members of the faculty, mistaking me for the dean of a neighboring college, opened fire on me from the windows of the fine arts building.
“After reloading, I made my way to the administration building. But I must say that I was not met with the cordiality a man has a right to expect from a college from which he graduated, and to the treatment of which he has always contributed.
“I am not referring to the various attempts made upon me as I walked up the steps of the college, nor to the fact that I was forced to dispose of the janitor before I could enter. I simply considered that such trifles but reflected the sound loyal principles upon which the college had been founded. No, I did not especially object to those little attentions, nor to the fact that I was forced to demolish three machine guns nests before reaching the wing of the building occupied by the president. But when the president himself suddenly leaped upon me from a secluded corner and swung for me with a broad axe, hacking down a door when he missed, I considered it no less than a breach of etiquette. I think the position of president is still vacant. Doubtless I am hasty in forming my conclusions, but until I have been formally apologized to by the college, I shall refrain from taking any part in its activities.”
AS I am coming up the steps of the fraternity house, I meet Tarantula Soons, a soph with an ingrown disposition and a goggle eye.
“You’re lookin’ for Spike, I take it?” said he, and upon me admittin’ the fact, he gives me a curious look and remarks that Spike is in his room.
I go up, and all the way up the stairs, I hear somebody chanting a love song in a voice that is incitement to justifiable homicide. Strange as it seems, this atrocity is emanating from Spike’s room, and as I enter, I see Spike himself, seated on a divan, and singing somethin’ about lovers’ moons and soft, red lips. His eyes are turned soulfully toward the ceiling and he is putting great feeling in the outrageous bellow which he imagines is the height on melody. To say I am surprized is putting it mildly and as Spike turns and says “Steve, ain’t love wonderful?” you could have knocked me over with a pile-driver. Besides standing six feet and seven inches and scaling upwards of 270 pounds, Spike has a map that makes Firpo look like and ad for the fashionable man, and is neitherto about as sentimental as a rhinoceros.
“Yeh? And who is he?” I ask sarcastically, but he only sighs amorously and quotes poetry. At that I fizz over.
“So that’s why you ain’t to the gym training!” I yawp. “You big chunka nothin’, the tournament for the intercollegiate boxin’ title comes off tomorrow and here you are, you overgrown walrus, sentimentaliin’ around like a three year old yearlin’ calf.”
“G’wan,” says he, tossin’ a haymakin’ right to my jaw in an absentminded manner, “I can put over any them palukas without no trainin’.”
“Yes,” I sneers, climbin’ to my wobbling’ feet, “and when you stack up against Monk Gallranan you won’t need any trainin’. That’s a cinch.”
“Boxin’,” says the infatuated boob, “is degradin’. I bet she thinks so. I don’t know whether I’ll even enter the tourneyment or not.”
“Hey!” I yells. “After all the work I’ve done getting’ you in shape. You figurin’ on throwin’ the college down?”
“Aw, go take a run around the block,” says Spike, drawing back his lip in an ugly manner.
“G’wan, you boneheaded elephant!” says I, drivin’ my left to the wrist in his solar plexus and the battle was on. Anyway, at the conclusion, I yelled up to him from the foot of the stairs “where the college will be too small for you.”
His sole answer was to slam the door so hard that he shook the house but the next day when I was lookin’ for a substitute for the heavyweight entries, the big yam appears, with a smug and self satisfied look on his map.
“I’ve decided to fight, Steve,” he says grandly. “She will have a ringside seat and women adore physical strength and power allied to manly beauty.”
“All right,” says I, “get into your ring togs. Your bout is the main event of the day and will come last.”
This managing a college boxing a show is no cinch. If things go wrong, the manager gets the blame and if things don’t, the fighters get the hand. I remember once I even substituted for a welterweight entry who didn’t show up. Just to give the fans a run for their money, I lowered my guard the third round and invited my antagonist to hit me—he did— they were four hours bringing me to and the fact that it was discovered he had a horseshoe concealed inn his glove didn’t increase my regard for the game. They’ve got the horseshoe in the museum now, but it isn’t much to look at as a horseshoe, being bent all out of shape where it came in contact with my jaw.
But to get back to the tournament. The college Spike and I represented had indifferent fortune in the first bouts; our featherweight entry won the decision on points and our flyweight tied with a fellow from St. Janice’s. As usual, heavyweights being scarce, Spike and Monk Gallranan from Burke’s University were the only entries. This gorilla is nearly as tall and heavy as Spike, and didn’t make the football team on account of his habit of breaking the arms and legs of the team in practice scrimmage. He is even more prehistoric looking than Spike, so you can imagine what those two cavemen looked like when they squared off together. Spike was jubilant, however, at the chance of distinguishing himself in an athletic way, he having always been too lazy to come out for football and the like. And this girl was there in a seat on the front row. The bout didn’t last long so I don’t know a better way than to give it round by round. What those two saps didn’t know about the finer points of boxin’ would fill several encyclopedias, but I’d had a second rate for giving Spike some secret instructions on infightin’, and I expected him to win by close range work, infightin’ bein’ a lost art to the average amateur.
Spike missed a left for the head and Monk sent a left to the body. Spike put a right to the face and got three left jabs to the nose in return. They traded rights to the body, and Monk staggered Spike with a sizzlin’ left to the wind. Monk missed with a right and they clinched. Spike nailed Monk with a straight right to the jaw at the break. Monk whipped a left to the head and a right to the body and Spike rocked him back on his heels with a straight left to the face.
Monk missed a right but slammed a left to the jaw. They clinched and Spike roughed in close. Monk staggered Spike on the break with a right to the jaw. Monk drove Spike across the ring with lefts and rights to head and body. Spike covered up, then kicked through with a right uppercut to the jaw that nearly tore Monk’s head off. Monk clinched and Spike punished him with short straight rights to the body. Just at the gong Spike staggered Monk with a left hook to the jaw.
Monk blocked Spike’s left lead and uppercut him three times to the jaw. Spike swung wild and Monk staggered him with a straight right to the jaw. Another straight right started him bleeding at the lips. Spike came out of it with a fierce rally and drove Monk to the ropes with a series of short left hooks to the wind and head. Monk launched an attack of his own and battered Spike to the middle of the ring where they stood toe to toe, trading smashes to head and body. Monk started a fierce rush and a straight left for the jaw. Spike ducked, let the punch slide over his shoulder, and crossed his right to Monk’s jaw, and Monk hit the mat. Just as the referee reached “Nine” the gong sounded.
Monk’s seconds worked over him but he was still groggy as he came out for the fourth round. I shouted for Spike to finish him quick, but be careful.
Spike stepped up, warily; they sparred for a second, then Spike stepped in and sank his left to the wrist in Monk’s solar plexus, following up with a right to the button that would have knocked down a house. Monk hit the mat and lay still.
Then Spike, the boob, turns his back on his fallen foeman and walks over to the ropes smilin’ and bowin’. He opens his mouth to say somethin’ to his girl-and Monk, who has risen meanwhile, beating the count, lifts his right from the floor and places it squarely beneath Spike’s sagging jaw. The referee could have counted a million.
But afterwards Spike says to me, sitting on the ring floor, still in his ring togs, he says, “Steve, girls is a lotta hokum. I’m offa ’em,” he says.
Says I, “Then if you’ve found that out, it’s worth the soakin’ you got,” I says.
SOME DAYS AGO, passing the Yellow Jacket Nest, I was astonished to note various celebrities, viz: Harvey Stanford, Geeo, and other constellations equally scintillant in the college sky, risking their lives, limbs, manners and morals in a dare-devil game which has begun to find favor in the eyes of the students, and which is known as pitchin’ horseshoes. To the uninitiated, I might say that this game consists in securing a metal article of clothing which at one time adorned the pedal extremity of an equine quadruped, first; next, the deluded victim of this vice, firmly clutching said implement, brandishes it in a most reckless manner and having whirled it above his head a few times, shuts his eyes and hurls it in the general direction of a small peg or stake set in the grass for that purpose. Having exhausted all the horseshoes in the neighbourhood in that manner, the gamesters recollect them from the stake, from the trees and the ankles of passersby, and continue in the same manner. The science of the game consists in making rash statements, disallowing your antagonist’s claims, and arguing at the top of your voice.
Naturally, afterwards, as I took my siesta, I dreamed, and was wafted into the future several years. Just what part of the world was the scene, I do not know, but I found myself stealing stealthily along a deserted street, somewhere, glancing askancely anon and ever, there and here. Then from a dusky side street, a man emerged and approached me. As he drew near I was astonished to recognize a former schoolmate, Travis Curtis by name. There was a sly and furtive look upon his somewhat haggard countenance and I observed to my surprise that he had grown older in the twenty years that had elapsed since he had fled to Europe with the Republican campaign funds. Approaching me, he fixed me with a shifty eye and hissed the magic word, cautiously, “Limeade!”
I started, naturally, for the 98th Amendment had made it illegal to even think about such depraved beverages. However, my friend had turned and was gliding down another street, evidently expecting me to follow, so I did so, and after traversing a number of dingy side streets, he stopped at a disreputable looking tenement house. There he whistled a jazz tune outlawed by the 74th Amendment, and the door swung slowly back. A face I recognized as belonging to Lloyd Nixon peered out warily: “Give me the pass word!” he hissed.
“Dancing Lessons” came the blood curdling and entirely illegal reply. (See Amendment No. 29) The door keeper stepped back and we entered. We passed through a shadowy hallway, and then to my amazement entered such a place as I had never dreamed existed in the modern world. Carefully curtained so no light would betray its being, a great hallway flaunted the vice of a bygone age before my scandalized vision. Upon one side a cold drink fountain ran the full length of the house, and there leering youths served smuggled coco cola, lemon phosphate and cream sodas to the debauched mob that swarmed about it like lost souls. Turning from this sodden and shameful scene, I saw various couples engaged in games long ago forbidden. Ah, it was a harrowing sight. Just as if the world had been transported back to those days of vice and sin some twenty years ago before the Prevention of Everything League made the world safe for Democracy by abolishing golf, soft drinks and hair nets.
Here and there I saw acquaintances of mine: Honk Irving was drinking a lemon milkshake in a most abandoned manner; Driscoll Smith was eating candy; and as I looked a bar-tender set a rare bottle of hair tonic upon the bar and Carl Macon with a hideous leer, seized it and applied it to his beard, laughing fiendishly. There in a corner sat Harvey Stanford and Vic Urban engaged in a game of—I shudder to repeat it—Checkers! Vice was free, brazen and unchecked, and I thought of how some of them had appeared twenty years ago, proud, strong handsome young men, just launching their ships upon the seas of Destiny—and now, depraved slaves of chocolates, sodas and tiddlywinks, followers of secret sins and forbidden vices! Just then somebody sprang upon the bar, and shouted something, whereupon the inhabitants of that Unknown Temple of iniquity rushed to the center of the house with yowls and yells of depraved delight—the crowning Vice was about to be perpetrated—a horseshoe tournament was taking place. That was too much. Swiftly I fled through the window, wondering if my immortal soul had become contaminated. Then I awoke, firmly resolved to vote a wet ballot next year.
This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia