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"Mr. Breelton, this is Amalgamated Press matter," he said solemnly; "and it 's axiomatic that the Amalgamated Press never jokes."
Even the distracted Breelton could not disregard the tone of authority.
"But you-it-it can't mean consul," he said almost with a whine. "Consulgeneral it must be."
Graves shook his head, but Breelton was insistent. "Must be at least consul-general," he urged. "Maybe that would pay better less expense, you know."
"It is consul."
Breelton's jaw dropped, but he struggled to regain self-control. "It 's-it's not what I--what my services deserve, gentlemen," he said. "Of course it lacks the diplomatic honors and robs me of the opportunity to enjoy circles where I'd have shone; but I-I 've got to have time to consider it. Consul to St. Petersburg! I don't know-it 's possible-I 've heard there is a big income with some of those places."
Again Graves cleared his throat. "It is n't St. Petersburg. It 's St. Peter's Bay."
Breelton sprang to his feet. "St. Peter's Bay!" he roared, and shook a fist in Graves's face. “And where in Hades is St. Peter's Bay?"
“Don't know; never heard of the place." The editor had dodged instinctively and escaped harm, but his tone was sharp. It indicated very slight concern in this geographical puzzler.
Then Shelby intervened. He had taken a big book from a ready reference-shelf, and now he read from one of its pages.
"St. Peter's Bay," he said, "is the seat of government of a British crown colony. It's tropical latitude tour degrees, twenty minutes north, to be exact. Rainfall, one hundred and thirty-one inches a year. Population, in 1000, 4350, of whom twenty-three were of Furopean blood. It it had a better harbor, it might do more bus x The climate renders it undesirable as a place et residence for women
children of Caucasian stock ; but, except for berberi and bubonic plague, it has been tal the treme s ametiers
Breelton Frored back into his chat, and covered `s tax with his ans. There
"Who-who's had the job?"
Shelby turned to another book. "It does n't appear to have been-erregularly filled. There was a chap from Utah who was appointed three years ago, but he did n't stay long. A native clerk seems to have had charge since then. The salary 's a thousand a year."
A convulsive tremor ran through the figure huddled in the chair. A groan, not to be repressed, broke from the man's lips. Graves leaned forward, and laid a hand upon his knee.
"This has been a distressing misunderstanding," he said kindly; "but fortunately it has been discovered in time to save you greater embarrassment. And you don't have to accept the place, you know."
Breelton raised a haggard face, and there was a new light in his eye.
"If it takes every dollar I 've got in the world, I'll get even with that pot-house political trickster Worth," he said viciously. "Send me off to a pestilential hole, would he, to have me die of bubonic and— and that other thing! There's gratitude for you! Don't you worry, though. I'll show him, and I 'll show him up for what he is."
It was Shelby's turn to extend the helping hand. "There's that statement of yours-you'll wish it canceled, of course?"
Breelton half rose, but sank back with a pathetic air of helplessness.
"Stop it, I beg you, Mr. Shelby! Don't let it get out. Great heavens! but if people see that, and read what I said about fitting tributes and-er-er-all the rest of it, they'll laugh me out of town. And those telegrams to the President and that infernal villain Worth! They must be called back! I'll give anything, I 'll do anything for the man who can save me that humiliation.”
“Why, that will be eas-" Graves began, but Shelby broke in unceremoniously upon his chiet's comforting assurances; for Shelby had an inspiration.
“Mr. Breelton, we 'll do our best for you.” said be. We can kill that statement without trouble so far as this paper is concerned, but as for the stuff given to be press association and those telegrams et yours to Watc-re, you must Understand that matter coce put on a wire
is like a stone started rolling down-hill. It's hard to catch up with it sometimes. You ought to have the help of somebody who 'll throw heart and soul into the task, but-well, I'll try to put a man on it who 'll do all that mortal can do."
"I'll be eternally in his debt, if he succeeds-and in yours."
"Wait here, if you please," Shelby said briskly. He hurried into the hall, and opened the first door on the right. The young man and the young woman sitting by the table seemed to be startled by the abruptness of his entrance.
"Beg pardon!" the managing editor said. "I've something for you to do, Hamilton. Take these papers" - here he drew three documents from his pocket"and in five minutes come into the editorial-room. Come on the jump! Rush in! Give these papers to Mr. Breelton; and, as you value your bodily safety and future happiness, don't tell him how you got them. Don't tell him anything. Just hold your tongue and look modest. That's all. Good-by!"
Before he went back to Graves and Breelton, Shelby glanced into the apart ment where the telegraph-sounder clattered and where "Baldy" Sanderson, clear of conscience, thumped a type-writer and longed for the welcome "Thirty," which in an hour or two would mark the end of his trick. Shelby looked at him and grinned, without thought of chiding or reproof; for in the philosophy of a busy newspaper a miss is not merely as good as a mile; it is a mile, and a full mile, at that. Then he went on to the editorial
long breath; a great weight seemed to have been lifted from his shoulders. turned to Hamilton.
"You-Harry?" he said, and his manner betrayed the fact that until this instant he had given no heed to the identity of his benefactor. "You-well, it's funny it should have been you who did this for me! I-I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I won't forget. Sometimes, in his haste, a man 's led to say something he 's sorry for afterward. And-and suppose we let it rest there for the present."
"Yes, sir," the youth responded respectfully. He shot a glance at Shelby, and modestly retired from the center of the stage.
A little later Mr. Hamilton had the honor of conducting Miss Breelton to her carriage, walking beside her unchallenged. and approved. Her father, lagging behind them, chanced to overhear part of a brief exchange between Graves and Shelby, who had escorted him to the head of the stairs.
"Observe the young folks?" the managing editor said, with a chuckle. "And do you mark the paternal attitude? Acceptance of existing facts, is n't there?"
"Recognition, anyway," Graves answered. There was a carrying note in his voice, and Breelton caught the words. He wheeled on the stairs, and looked up at them. In a curious fashion the movement suggested that his spirits were rebounding from the depths of despond.
"That's it, Mr. Graves," he said almost eagerly. "You 're right, sir; you 're right. It is n't what I'd have chosen; but, after all, it 's recognition, sir-recognition."
Shelby pursed his lips and whistled softly as Breelton's back was again turned to them. Graves chuckled.
"My boy," said he, "it's a frightful drop from St. Petersburg to St. Peter's Bay; but every office-seeker has his parachute with him. And the old rule still holds: few of them die, and none of them declines."
Such mirrors no one buys,
But they may freely own them
SSENCES of old love I bring
To make the new love sweet. Oh, many an old and broken thing Makes love complete!
What memories that buried lay
What whispers on what summer eves,
Who rightly love, who gladly greet the time. What scattered, hopeless dreams arise
THE BLIND ASS OF THE 'DOBE MILL
BY ELLIS PARKER BUTLER
Author of "Pigs is Pigs," etc.
HE great white mules went by with the jingling of many bells and the merry cracking of whips, and the little gray ass of the 'dobe mill, treading his interminable round, pricked up his long ears and for a moment stepped the faster; but as his course around the clay mill led him around the circle to the left, he dropped back into his slowly patient pace.
"The white mules have turned down a road to the right," said the little gray ass to himself. "But what odds? Had we been taking the same road, I should soon have been left behind. Blessed be Mary! that such as I may even for a moment tread beside the great white mules."
The little gray ass was blind, and he was old, for in the clay mill there is no advantage in eyes that can see. For three years he had been walking the well-beaten path around the clay mill, led by a rope attached to a boom that always preceded him, and dragging the heavy boom that turned the mill. At one point of the track a huge olive-tree threw a shadow. Sometimes, when the days were hot, Pedro allowed the little blind ass to rest in the shade of the olive-tree.
"Blessed be the kind master!" the little blind ass said to himself then. "The road is long, but there are many olive-trees, and sooner or later he allows me to rest under one of them. Truly man is kind, for, blind as I am, how should I get my food had not my master taken pity on me? Every night he finds me a safe place in which to rest, every day he sees me well fed, and in return he asks nothing at all. For three good years now I have had naught to do but live well and travel from place to place, seeing the country.'
When his master spoke to him, the little blind ass would turn his long ears quickly
"See, now," said the little blind ass, "another would beat me with clubs; but my master has only a whip with which he urges me on when I stop, lest, perchance, some great cart laden with oil crash into me to my harm. He is a good man, and skilful, for never has he led me into harm's way. He picks the part of the road that is free from stones and ruts that would trip a poor blind ass."
Then he would tread on, led by the rope that was attached to the boom.
In three years the little blind ass had seen many pleasant things. Now and then a party of laughing youths and maidens. would pass along the road that lay beside. the clay mill, and the little gray ass would raise his long ears.
"Good, then!" he would say to himself. "We have come to a market-town, upon a market-day. It is a pretty sight."
Sometimes an old woman would pass, carrying a basket of garlic.
"One thing after another, but always a pleasant variation," the little blind ass would then say as he sniffed the odor. "We have come to the farm-land again.”
Thus round and round he walked, always in the same little beaten circle of path, and at night he rested always in the same stall in the same little 'dobe stable. At first Pedro had to lead him to the stall, but in time the little blind ass learned the path to the stall himself, and when the traces were cast loose and the halter untied, off he would go to his stall.
"Now, blessed be mankind," he would say, "for making easy the path of all blind asses! The world moves. In my seeing days the stables were of a thousand kinds, set in a thousand ways, fit to worry the
wisest, but now each is as like all the others as one oat is like another. Truly, man eases the way for blind asses. At the end of each day's travel there is a stable, and each stable like unto the others, and the path from the road to each stable alike, even to the post midway, against which a creature may rub his sides.'
For a week or more, at the first, the little blind ass had worried regarding one point-the end of the journey. For, like all the world, the little blind ass worshiped the god Terminus, as all thinking creatures do, offering him incense of worry in one form or another. Only historians and scientists-who are only the historians of matter and mixtures of matter-bother much about beginnings, but every wise man desires to know "how this thing is going to end." But as his journey stretched out day after day and year after year, and seemed likely to stretch out years and years more, the end seemed to matter less to the little blind ass.
"No doubt my master knows," he said to himself; "and if he knows, he has no cause to worry, so why should I? And if he does not know, why should I bother about it at all, who know so much less than he? Should he, at the end of the journey, decide to turn back, what more pleasant than to revisit the scenes I have passed? And should he decide to continue farther, what more pleasant than to see new scenes?"
So, like a wise little blind ass, he worried no more, and let the god Terminus look out for himself.
But a three-years' journey is not all down-hill. Often, every day, the workmen dumped more clay into the clay mill. Then, as the little blind ass felt the new weight, he tugged the harder at the traces.
"Here we have a pretty hill," he would say to himself, "and the good saints be thanked for hills; for what would a road be like that was all as level as a floor? At the tops of the hills are the cool breezes."
So he would tug away at the traces until the clay worked out at the bottom of the mill and the pull on the traces became easier.
"As I said," he would say to himself, "the breeze is much finer here on the hilltop, and now for down the other side!"
And sometimes he would break into a
little running step down that hill. Then Pedro would laugh and say: "Whoa! Don't run away from us, sweetheart!" That always pleased the little gray ass.
For three years the little gray ass plodded round the narrow circle of the clay mill, seeing the world on his travels, and at the end of three years his heart was younger than at the beginning; but as for Pedro, his master, it was another matter. At the beginning of the three years he was a boy, with no heart at all; but at the end he was a man. At the end of three years he had soft hairs on his upper lip, and when he set his hat jauntily on one side of his head, it was no longer from boyish joy, but because 'Rita was coming down the road that passed the clay mill.
That was a bad business, that about 'Rita. She was no sort of girl at all for an honest lad like Pedro. The yellowskinned loafers before the wine-shop, smoking their cigarettes, spoke to her boldly when she passed.
"Hello, 'Rita!" they said, and when she had passed by they shrugged their shoulders and grinned. Why, her mantilla alone cost-But what did the little blind ass know about mantillas ?
He only knew when 'Rita passed the clay mill. Her lips were redder than nature permits lips to be,-for the peace of mankind, I suppose, and her eyes sparkled, and she wore a rose in her black hair for coquetry; but none of these things were known to the little blind ass. two things he did know. When he heard her light step on the road and her soft voice as she spoke with Pedro, the little blind ass stood still.
"Ah," he would say to himself, "now we have got somewhere at last! Now we are arrived at the court, or at least at the estate of a great man; for the ladies are light of foot and soft of voice. A creature may rest here a while and flap the flies from his sides like an aristocrat."
Then his gray nostrils would twitch delightedly. Many maids passed the clay mill from one month to another; some bore garlic, and some bore wine in skins, and some bore gleanings of the wheat, and of each there was its own particular odor, and the little blind ass would cock his ears wisely.
"We are passing the garden, the vineyard, the fields of wheat," he would say