Gadsby was walking back from a visit down in Branton Hills’ manufacturing district on a Saturday night. A busy day’s traffic had had its noisy run; and with not many folks in sight, His Honor got along without having to stop to grasp a hand, or talk; for a Mayor out of City Hall is a shining mark for any politician. And so, coming to Broadway, a booming bass drum and sounds of singing, told of a small Salvation Army unit carrying on amidst Broadway’s night shopping crowds. Gadsby, walking toward that group, saw a young girl, back towards him, just finishing a long, soulful oration, saying :—-

” ... and I can say this to you, for I know what I am talking about; for I was brought up in a pool of liquor!!”

As that army group was starting to march on, with this girl turning towards Gadsby, His Honor had to gasp, astonishingly:—

“Why! Mary Antor!!”

“Oh! If it isn’t Mayor Gadsby! I don’t run across you much, now-a-days. How is Lady Gadsby holding up during this awful war?”

All such family gossip passing quickly, Gadsby said:-

“But this Salvation Army work, Mary? How long —”

Mary and His Honor had to walk along, as that big drum was now pounding a block away. During that walk Gadsby found out all about that vast void in Mary’s bungalow following that fatal auto crash; and all about “two old maid aunts” as Mary said, who had all that pantry’s liquor thrown down a drain and got cut, also, a day or two following; all about living now at Old Lady Flanagan’s.

” ...for I just couldn’t stay in that bungalow, with nobody around, you know.” And all about loving companionship in that grand old lady’s arms; and of Mary’s finding that Flanagan, who got such a wallop from Antor’s killing, wasn’t drinking so much, now which put it into Mary’s mind that many a man would, with kindly coaching, turn from it.

“And I think that my nightly talks against liquor, hit; and hit hard, too; for almost nightly a poor down-and-out will follow along with our band, promising to cut it out and go straight. Oh, why didn’t I try to stop Norman’ s drinking?”

“Probably,” said Gadsby, “you did, in your girlish way; but you know boys don’t think that small girls know anything. I’d put up any amount that Norman, in that far-away camp, is thinking of you, constantly.”

“Oh-h-h-h! If I could only know that I” and a look of almost sanctity, and a big, long-drawn sigh told what a turmoil was going on in this young girl’s mind. “But I’m going on, and on and on with this night talking until Norman is back again. Possibly a plan will turn up toward both of us living down our past, — and our sorrow.” And Gadsby, slowly plodding along towards his dimly lit mansion, thought of a slight transposition of that scriptural quotation: “And your sins, you adults, shall fall upon your offspring, unto your third and fourth—”

“Oh, if a man would only think of his offspring having to carry on, long past his last day! And of how hard it is for a boy or girl to stand up and proudly (?) claim that so-and-so ‘was my Dad,’ if all Branton Hills knows of that Dad’s inglorious past. Poor kids!” for you know that Gadsby said, in this story’s start, that “a man should so carry on his daily affairs as to bring no word of admonition from anybody;” for a man’s doings should put a stain upon no soul but his own.

But, aha!! As His Honor got to his parlor, his sad mind found a happy, smiling Lady awaiting him; crying joyously:—

“Look! Look, John! Word from William! From Bill, in Paris !”

Bill’s first communication said:—

“Darling Folks: Julius and I just got into this town from a month of hard marching, ditch-digging and fighting. I am all right, and so is Julius. Ran across Frank, who is on duty at our Commissary. Lucky guy! Lots of food always around! Paul is growing fat. Looks mighty good. Oh, how all of us do miss you and good old Branton Hills! I can’t find a solitary suit in this town that I would put on to go to a dog fight! Such fashion!” and so on; just a natural outpouring from a boy, away on his first trip from his Dad’s kindly roof.

“Ha, ha!” said Gadsby, laughing jovially; “That’s our Bill, all right! Always thinking of dolling up!” and Lady Gadsby, rising quickly, said:—

“Oh, I must call up Nancy, Kathlyn and Sarah!” and, in a trio of small bungalows, joy, wild joy, found its way into girlish minds!

As Gadsby sat, going through this good word again and again, a mirthful chuckling had Lady Gadsby asking:—

“What’s so funny about it ?”

“Nothing; only if I didn’t know that Frank is such a grand, good lad, I’d think Bill was hiding a bit from us; for that ‘on duty at Commissary’ might amount only to potato paring!”



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Books with no spinal columns.