IN ALMOST ANY big town, around Autumn, you will annually run across that famous agricultural show known as a County Fair; and, as Branton Hills had a big park, which you know all about, right in front of Nancy’s and Frank’s small bungalow, it was a most natural spot for holding it. And so, as this happy pair’s third Autumn got around, stirring activity in that big park also got a-going; for railings for stockyards don’t grow all built; yards and yards of brown canvas don’t just blow into a park; nor do “hot dog” and popcorn stands jump up from nothing. And Nancy, rocking on that bungalow porch, could watch all this work going on. And rocking was about all that Nancy could, or, I should say, should do, just now.

What a sight it was! Trucks; small cars; wagons; a gang with a tractor plowing up hard spots; a gang picking up rocks, grading bumpy spots, and laying out ground plans. Masons building walls, and all kinds of goods arriving, by tons. But out of all that confusion and ado a canvas town will grow, strung from top to bottom with gaily flapping flags and hanging bunting, and that customary “mid-way” with its long rows of gaudy billboards, in front of which circus ballyhoo artists will continuously bawl and shout out claims about sword-swallowing, tattooing, hula-hula dancing, boa constrictor charming, or a Punch and Judy show.

At a County Fair two things stand out as most important: farm stock and that oval track around which swiftly trotting colts will thrill thousands; and, I’ll say, shrink a bank account or two! But, of all sights, I don’t know of any with such drawing ability for kids as just such a carnival lot. So, daily, as soon as school was out, throngs of happy, shouting, hopping, jumping boys and girls would dash for that big park; looking, pointing, and climbing up on auto tops, into lofty oaks, onto tall rocks, or a pal’s back; for if anything is difficult for a boy to obtain a sight of, nothing in climbing that an orang-outang can do, will balk him!

So Nancy sat calmly rocking, rocking, rocking, and, —but, pardon! I’ll go on with this story. All I know is that Frank, arriving from work at Radio Station KBH, wouldn’t so much as look at that big carnival lot, but would rush in, in a most loving, solicitous way which always brought a kiss and a blush from Nancy. Now if I don’t quit talking about this young pair you won’t know anything about that big show going up in front of that happy bungalow. Almost daily Lady Gadsby would drop in on Nancy, bringing all sorts of dainty foods; and His Honor, with Kathlyn, Julius and Bill, paid customary visits.

“But that fair !” you say. “How about that fair ?”

Ah! It was a fair, I’ll say! What mobs on that first day! And what a din!! Bands playing, ballyhoos shouting, popcorn a-popping, “hot dogs’ a-sizzling, ducks squawking, cows lowing, pigs grunting, an occasional baby squalling; and amidst it all, a choking cloud of dust, a hot Autumn wind, panting, fanning matrons, cussing husbands; all working toward that big oval track at which all had a flimsy possibility of winning a million or two (or a dollar or two!). Oh, you County Fairs! You bloom in your canvas glory, annually. You draw vast crowds; you show high quality farm stock, gigantic pumpkins, thousands of poultry, including our “Thanksgiving National Bird”. You fill coops with fancy squabs, fat rabbits, and day-old chicks. You show many forms of incubators, churns, farming apparatus, pumps, plows, lighting plants for small farms, windmills, “bug” poisons, and poultry foods. And you always add a big balloon, which you anchor, so that kids may soar aloft until a windlass pulls it down. You fill us with food that would kill a wild goat, but you still last! And may you always do so; for, within your flapping, bulging canvas walls, city man rubs against town man, rich and poor girls bump, snobs attain no right of way, and a proud, happy boy or girl shows a “First Class” satin ribbon which a lovingly brought-up calf or poultry brood has won.

Only a satin ribbon, but, displaying it to a group of admiring young pals brings to a child that natural thrill from accomplishing anything worthy of public acclaim. Such thrills will not crowd in as Maturity supplants Youth; and so I say, “a trio of our customary huzzas” for any child who can carry away a satin ribbon from a County Fair.

But what about our good Mayor during all this circus hullabaloo? Did important thoughts for still improving Branton Hills pass through his busy mind? Not just now; but fond, anxious thoughts did; for his mind was constantly on Nancy; tiny, darling Nancy, his baby girl. For, during that noisy carnival, folks saw (or thought so, you know), a big bird with long shanks and a monstrous bill, circling round and round that small bungalow’s roof, plainly looking for a spot to land on. Lady Gadsby and old Doctor Wilkins saw it, too, and told Nancy that that big hospital which our old Organization had built, was holding a room for instant occupancy; and, as that big bird daily swung down, down, down, almost grazing that small roof, Frank, poor chap, as shaky as at his church ritual, thirty months ago, staid away from Radio Station KBH, and stuck to that small bungalow as a fly sticks around a sugar bowl.

Finally, on a crisp Autumn night, that soaring bird shot straight down with such an assuring swoop, that old Doc Wilkins, indoors with Nancy, saw it and said, quickly:—

“On your way, Nancy girl!!” and that part of Branton Hills saw his car racing hospital-wards, with Lady Gadsby fondly patting Nancy’s tiny, cold hands, and saying just such loving things as a woman would, naturally, to a young girl on such a trip. But Gadsby and Frank? Ah! Poor, half-crazy things! No car would do at all! No, sir!! A car was far too slow! And so, across lots, down into many a man’s yard, and jumping high walls, shot two shadowy forms, arriving at that big hospital, badly blown, just as Lady Gadsby and old Doc Wilkins took Nancy’s arms, and got slowly to that big door with its waiting rolling chair.

Now this stork’s visit is nothing out of ordinary in World affairs. Millions and billions of visits has it, and its kind, flown—to king’s mansion or a black Zulu woman’s hut. But this flight was poor Frank’s initiation to that awful hour of blank panic, during which a young husband is boiling hot or icy cold in turn. God!! How still a hospital corridor is!! How doctors and assistants do float past without as much sound as falling snow! Oh ! How long Frank and His Honor sat, stood, or trod up and down, watching that room door!! What was going on? Was Nancy all right? Oh!! Why this prolonging of agonizing inactivity? Can’t anybody- say anything? Isn’t anybody around, at all? But hospital doctors and nursing staffs, though pitying a young chap, must pass him up for that tiny lady, who now was but a tool in God’s hands; in God’s magic laboratory. And so Ah! Doctor Wilkins is coming—and smiling!!

“A baby girl—and with a ripping good pair of lungs !” but has to jump quick to catch Frank, who has sunk in a swoon. And Mayor Gadsby’s collar is as limp as a dish-rag!

Ah! Man, man, man! and woman, woman, woman! Just you two! God’s only parts in His mighty plan for living actuality. Not only with Man and animals, but also down ,—way, way down amongst plants. Just two parts. Only two!! And Baby, you tiny bunch of wriggling, gurgling humanity by that slowly ticking clock is your turn in this mighty World, unavoidably arriving. Mama, Papa, and all of us will go on, for a bit, growing old and gray, but you, now so young and frail. will stand sturdily, and willingly, in our vacancy; and carry on God’s will!



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Books with no spinal columns.