COULD GO on for hours about this starting out of Nancy and Frank, but many civic affairs await us; for Julius Gadsby, who has not got into this story up to now, had, from his constant poring through all kinds of books of information, built up a thorough insight into fossils; and you know that Kathlyn is way up in Biology; which brings in our awkward bugs again. Now bugs will burrow in soil, and always did, from Historys birth; building catacombs which at last vanish through a piling up of rocks, sand or soil on that spot. Now Julius continually ran across accounts of important finds of such fossils, and with Kathlyns aid was soon inaugurating popular clamor for a big Hall of Natural History.
This, Julius and Kathlyn thought, would turn out as popular, in a way, as living animals out at our Zoo. But an appropriation for a Hall of Natural History is a hard thing to jam through a City Council; for though its occupants call for no food, you cant maintain such a building without human custody; which, said Old Bill Simpkins. is but a tricky way of saying CASH! But our Council was by now so familiar with calls from that famous Organization, and, owing to its inborn faith in that grand body of hustling Youth, such a building was built; Julius and Kathlyn arranging all displays of fossil birds, plants, bugs, footprints, raindrop marks, worms, skulls, parts of jaws, and so on. And what a crowd was on hand for that first public day! Julius and Kathlyn took visitors through various rooms, giving much data upon what was shown; and many a Branton Hills inhabitant found out a lot of facts about our vast past; about organisms living so far back in oblivion as to balk Mans brain to grasp. Kathlyn stood amongst groups of botanical fossilizations, with Gadsby not far away, as this studious young woman told school pupils how our common plants of today through various transitions in form, show a kinship with what now lay, in miraculously good condition, in this big Hall; and Julius told staring groups how this or that fossil did actually link such animals as our cow or walrus of today with original forms totally apart, both in looks and habits. And it was comforting to Gadsby to find pupils asking how long ago this was, and noting that amazing look as Julius had to say that nobody knows.
Such a building is an addition to any city; for this big World is so old that human calculation cannot fathom it; and it will, in all probability, go on always. So it is improving a childs mind to visit such displays; for it will start a train of thoughts along a path not commonly sought if such institutions do not stand as attractions. Now, in any community a crank will bob up, who will, with loud acclaim and high-sounding words, avow that it is a scandalous drain on public funds to put up such a building just to show a lot of rocks, animals ribs and birds skulls. But such loud bombasts only show up an orators brain capacity (or lack of it), and actually bring studious folks to ask for just such data upon things which his ridiculing had run down. It is an old, old story, that if you want a citys population to go in strongly for anything, and you start a loud, bawling campaign against it, that public will turn to it for information as to its worth. So, just such a loud, bawling moron had to drift into our Hall on its inauguration day, and soon ran smack up against Kathlyn! That worthy girl, allowing him to blow off a bit, finally said: I know you. You run a stock farm. All right. You want to know all you can about matching and crossing your stock, dont you? I thought so. But God did all that, long, oh, so long ago; gradually producing such animals as you own today; and all you can do is to follow along, in your puny way, and try to avoid a poor quality of stock mixing with yours. This building contains thousands of Gods first works. It wont do you a bit of harm to look through our rooms. Nothing will jump out at you!
At that that barking critic shut up! And Gadsby slid outdoors, chuckling: Thats my girl talking!! Thats my Kathlyn!!
It is curious why anybody should pooh-pooh a study of fossils or various forms of rocks or lava. Such things grant us our only vision into Natural Historys big book; and it isnt a book in first-class condition. Far from it! Just a tiny scrap; a slip; or, possibly a big chunk is found, with nothing notifying us as to how it got to that particular point, nor how long ago. Man can only look at it, lift it, rap it, cut into it, and squint at it through a magnifying glass. And, think about it. Thats all; until a formal study brings accompanying thoughts from many minds; and, by such tactics, judging that in all probability such and such a rock or fossil footprint is about so old. Natural History holds you in its grasp through just this impossibility of finding actual facts; for it is thus causing you to think. Now, thinking is not only a voluntary function; it is an acquisition; an art. Plants do not think. Animals probably do, but in a primary way, such as an aid in knowing poisonous foods, and how to bring up an offspring with similar ability. But Man can, and should think, and think hard and constantly. It is ridiculous to rush blindly into an action without looking forward to lay out a plan. Such an unthinking custom is almost a panic, and panic is but a mild form of insanity.
So Kathlyn and Julius did a grand, good thing in having this Hall as an addition to Branton Hills institutions.
Now, in any city or town, or almost any small community, you will find a building, or possibly only a room, about which said city or town has nothing to say. It is that most important institution in which you put a stamp on your mail and drop it into a slot, knowing that it will find its way across city or country to that man or woman who is waiting for it.
But how many young folks know how this mail is put out so quickly. and with such guaranty against loss? Not many, I think, if you ask. So Gadsby, holding up Youth as a Nations most important function in its coming history, thought that any act which would instruct a child in any way, was worthy. So, on a Saturday morning His Honor took a group of Grammar School pupils to a balcony in back of that all-hiding partition, and a postal official, showing all mail handling acts individually, said: In this country, two things stand first in rank: your flag and your mail. You all know what honor you pay to your flag, but you should know, also, that your mail, just that ordinary postal cardis also important. But a postal card, or any form of mail, is not important, in that way, until you drop it through a slot in this building, and with a stamp on it, or into a mail box outdoors. Up to that instant it is but a common card, which anybody can pick up and carry off without committing a criminal act. But as soon as it is in back of this partition, or in a mail box, a magical transformation occurs; and anybody who now should willfully purloin it, or obstruct its trip in any way, will find prison doors awaiting him. What a frail thing ordinary mail is! A baby could rip it apart, but no adult is so foolish as to do it. That small stamp which you stick on it, is, you might say, a postal official, going right along with it, having it always in his sight.
A giggling girl was curious to know if that was why a mans photo is on it. Possibly, said our official, laughing. But wait a bit. Look downstairs. As your mail falls in through that slot, or is brought in by a mailman, it is put through an ink-daubing apparatusthats it, right down in front of youwhich totally ruins its stamp. How about your mans photo, now?
A good laugh rang around, and our official said: Now a man sorts it according to its inscription, puts it into a canvas bag and aboard a train, or possibly an aircraft. But that bag has mail going to points a long way apart, so a man in a mail car sorts it out, so that Chicago wont find mail in its bag which should go to California.
At this point our giggling girl said:
Ooooo! I had a Christmas card for Missouri go way down to Mississippi !
How did you mark it?
I put M-i-s-s for Missouri.
Try M-o, and I wish you luck.
As that laugh ran round, our official said: Now you know that you can buy a long,
narrow stamp which will hurry your mail along. So, as all mail in this building is put up in many a small bunch, all with such stamps attract a mailman, who will so wrap a bunch that that kind of a stamp will show up plainly. Upon its arrival at a distant point, a boy will grab it, and hurry it to its final goal. But that stamp will not hurry it as long as it is on that train.
Our giggling girl, swinging in again, said: What? With that stamp right on top ?
How can it? said our official. A train can only go just so fast, stamp or no stamp.
Our boys and girls got a big thrill from this visit in back of that partition, and told Gadsby so. On coming out of that building our party saw a big patrolman putting a small boy into a patrol wagon. That poor kid was but a bunch of rags, dirty, and in a fighting mood. Our boys got a big laugh out of it. Our girls, though, did not. Young Marian Hopkins who had that fairy wand, you know, at our airport inauguration, said:
Oh, that poor child! Will that cop put him in jail, Mayor Gadsby? At which His Honor instantly thought of a plan long in his mind. Branton Hills had a court room, a childs court, in fact, at which a kindly man looks out for just such young waifs - trying to find out why such tots commit unlawful acts. So Gadsby said
I dont know, Marian, but I want you young folks to go on a visit, tonight, to our night court, to find out about just such wild boys. How many want to go?
To his satisfaction, all did; and so, that night that court room had rows of young folks, all agog with curiosity which a first visit to a court stirs up in a child. Just by luck, our young vagrant in rags was brought in first, shaking with childish doubt as to what was going to occur. But that kindly man sitting back of that big mahogany railing had no thought of scaring a child, and said, calmly: Now, boy, what did you do that you ought not to do; and why did you do it?
As our boys sat nudging and winking, but with our girls growing sad from sympathy, our young culprit said
Aw! I grabs a bun, and dis big cop grabs my collar !
But why did you grab that bun? It wasnt yours, you know.
Gosh, man!! I was hungry!!
Hungry? Dont your folks look out for you?
Naw; I do my own looking. And thats what I was doing, too !
What had you for food all day?
Just that bun. And say!! I only got half of it! That big cop was so rough !
Did that cop, as you call him, hurt you
Hurt!! I should say not!! I put up a good stiff scrap! I paid him back, blow for blow! No big gas-bag of a cop is going to wallop this kid and not pay for it !
But, boy, dont your folks bring you up to know that it is wrong to rob anybody?
Naw! My Dad robs folks, and just got six months for it. So why shouldnt I? Its all right to do what your Dad will do, isnt it?
Not always, boy, and our girls in row two and our boys in row four sat sad and glum at this portrayal of youthful sin. Finally that big kindly man, thoughtfully rubbing his chin, said:-
Whom did your Dad rob?
I dunno. It was a Ford car. Nobody wasnt in it, so why not grab it? Thats what Dad said. You can pick up a bit of cash for a car, you know, boss. And say, if a car brung only six months, how long will I squat in jail for swiping this half bun? Aw! Go slow, boss! I aint no bad kid! Only just a hungry mutt. Gosh!! How I wish I had a glass of milk !
From row two a young, vigorous girlish form shot out, dashing for a doorway; and as that big kindly man was still rubbing his chin, Marian burst in again, rushing, sobbingly, to that sad bunch of rags, holding out a pint of milk and two hot biscuits. A quick snatch by two horribly dirty young hands, a limp flop on a mat at that big mahogany railing, and a truly hungry child was oblivious to all around him. And Ill say that our boys, in row four, had lumpy throats. But finally that big kindly man said: Though taking things unlawfully is wrong, conditions can occur in which so young a culprit is not at fault. This young chap has had no bringing up, but has run wild. A child will not know right from wrong if not taught; and, as it is a primary animal instinct to obtain food in any way, I will simply put this boy in a school which Branton Hills maintains for just such youths.
At this both row two and row four burst out in such a storm of hand-clapping that Gadsby found that this visit had shown his young folks, from actual contact with a child without training, how important child-raising is; and how proud a city is of such as act according to law.