IT IS AN ODD kink of humanity which cannot find any valuation in spots of natural glory. But such kinks do run riot in Man’s mind, occasionally, and Branton Hills ran up against such, on a Council night ; for a bill was brought up by Old Bill Simpkins for disposal of City Park to a land company, for building lots ! At first word of such a thought, Gadsby was totally dumb, from an actual impossibility of thinking that any man, bringing tip such a bill, wasn’t plumb crazy!

“What! Our main Park; including our Zoo?”

“Just that,” said Simpkins. “Just a big patch of land, and a foolish batch of animals that do nobody any good. You can’t hitch a lion up to a city- dump cart, you know ; nor a hippopotamus to a patrol wagon. What good is that bunch of hair and horns, anyway? And that park! Wait!! Just grass, grass, grass! Branton Hills pay’s for planting that grass, pays for sprinkling it, pays for cutting it—arid throws it away! So I say, put it into building lots, and draw good, solid cash from it.”

An Italian Councilman, Tony Bandamita was actually boiling during this outburst; and, in a flash, as Simpkins quit, was up, shouting:—

“I gotta four bambinos. My bambinos playa in thatta park: run, jumpa and rolla. Grow bigga an strong. My woman say no coulda do thatta if playa all day on bricka walks. I say no buncha land sharks buya thatta Park!! How many you guys go to it, anyway? Huh? Notta many! But go!! Walk around; sniffa its blossoms; look at grand busha; sit on softa grass! You do thatta, an’ I know you not stick no building on it! !”

So, at Mayor Gadsby’s instigation, Council did not ballot on Simpkins’ bill; and said it would go, as Tony thought only right, and “look atta gooda busha.”

In a day or two this pompous body of solons was strolling about that big park. No man with half a mind could fail to thrill at its vistas of shrubs, ponds, lawns, arbors, fancy fowl, small pavilions and curving shady pathways. As Gadsby was “takinga his owna Iooka,” Old Bill Simpkins, coming a-snorting and a-fussing along, sang out, gruffly:-

“All right; this is it! This is that grand patch of grass that pays Branton Hills no tax!”

But Gadsby was thinking—and thinking hard, too. Finally saying:—

“Bill, supposing that any day you should walk along that big Pathway known in Sunday School as ‘Our Straight But Narrow Way.’ You would find coming towards you, all sorts of folks: a king, roaring past in his big chariot, a capitalist with his bands full of bonds, an old, old lady, on a crutch. Such passings would bring to you various thoughts. But, supposing it was a possibility that you saw Bill Simpkins coming your way. Aha! What an opportunity to watch that grouchy old—”

“That what?”

“I’ll say it again: that grouchy old crab. How you would gawk at him, that most important of all folks, to you. How you would look at his clothing, his hat, his boots! That individual would pass an inquiry such as you had not thought it a possibility to put a man up against. Bill, I think that if you should pass Councilman Simpkins on that Big Pathway, you would say: ‘What a grouchy old crittur that was!”

Old Bill stood calmly during this oration, and, looking around that big park, said:—

“John, you know how to talk, all right, all right. I’ll admit that things you say do do a lot of good around this town. But if I should run across this guy you talk about, on that vaporous highway, or ‘boardwalk’, as I should call it, — I’d say, right out good and loud: “Hi! You!! Hurry back to Branton Hills and put up a block of buildings in that silly park!” and Gadsby, walking away, saw that an inborn grouch is as hard to dig out as a wisdom tooth.

Now this Council’s visit on this particular day, was a sly plan of Gadsby’s, for His Honor is, you know, Youth’s Champion, and having known many an occasion on which Youth has won out against Council opposition. So, our big City officials, strolling around that park, soon saw a smooth lawn upon which sat, stood, or ran, almost a thousand small tots of from four to six. In dainty, flimsy outfits, many carrying fairy wands, it was a sight so charming as to thaw out a brass idol! Amidst this happy party stood a tall shaft, or mast, having hanging from its top a thick bunch of long ribbons, of pink, lilac, gray, and similar dainty colors; and around it stood thirty tots— thirty tiny fists all agog to grasp thirty gay ribbons. Old Bill took a look, and said, growlingly, to His Honor:—

“What’s all this stuff, anyway?”

“Bill, and Branton Hills’ Council,” said Gadsby, “today is May Day—that day so symbolic of budding blossoms, mating birds and sunny sky. You all know, or ought to, of that charming custom of childhood of toddling round and round a tall mast, in and out, in and out,—thus winding gay ribbons about it in a spiral. That is but a small part of what this Park can do for Branton Hills. But it is an important part; for happy childhood grows up into happy adults, and happy adults” —looking right at Councilman Simpkins— “can form a happy City Council.”

Now a kid is always a kid; and a kid knows just how any sport should go. So, just by luck, a tot who was to hold a gay ribbon didn’t show up; and that big ring stood waiting, for that round-and-round march just couldn’t start with a ribbon hanging down! But a kid’s mind is mighty quick and sharp; and a small tot of four had that kind of mind, saying:—

“Oh! That last ribbon! Isn’t anybody going to hold it?”

Now historians shouldn’t laugh. Historians should only put down what occurs. But I, your historian of Branton Hills, not only had to laugh, but to roar; for this tot, worrying about that hanging ribbon, saw our big pompous Council group looking on. Now a Council is nothing to a tot of four; just a man or two, standing around. So, trotting up and grasping Old Bill’s hand, this tot said:

“You’ll hold it, won’t you?”

“What!!” and Simpkins was all colors on throat and brow as Branton Hills’ Council stood, grinning. But that baby chin was straining up, and a pair of baby arms was pulling, oh, so hard; and, in a sort of coma, big, pompous, grouchy Councilman Simpkins took that hanging ribbon! A band struck up a quick march, and round and round trod that happy, singing ring, with Old Bill looming up as big as a mountain amongst its foothills! Laugh? I thought His Honor would burst!

As that ribbon spiral got wound, Simpkins, coming back, said, with a growl:-

“I was afraid I would tramp on a kid or two in that silly stunt.”

“It wasn’t silly, Bill,” said Gadsby. “It was grand!” And Tony Bandamita sang out:—

“Gooda work, Councilmanna! My four bambinos walka right in fronta you, and twista ribbons !”

Simpkins, though, would only snort, and pass on.



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Books with no spinal columns.