Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Ellis Parker Butler > Kilo > This page

Kilo, a novel by Ellis Parker Butler

Chapter 18. Another Trial

< Previous
Table of content
Next >
_ CHAPTER XVIII. Another Trial

When Eliph' stepped out of the butcher shop he saw T. J. Jones across the street, returning from his interview with Mrs. Smith, and the book agent hailed him and crossed the street. The editor wore a harassed look as Eliph' stepped up to him, and it deepened when Eliph' asked him if he had acceded to Mrs. Smith's request.

"Hewlitt," he said, "I couldn't do it. I wanted to, but I couldn't. The man was willing but the editor had to refuse. The press cannot sink the public welfare to favor individuals; once the freedom of the press is lost the nation relapses into sodden corruption. I told Mrs. Smith so. And besides, I have the whole article in type, too. I like Mrs. Smith, and I like Miss Sally, but the hissing cobra of corruption must be crunched beneath the heel of a free and independent press. The TIMES must do its duty, let the chips fall where they may."

"'The pen is mightier than the sword,' page 233, Apt Quotations for All Occasions," said Eliph', "this being one of three thousand quotations, arranged alphabetically according to subject, as 'Bird--in the hand, Bird--of a feather, Bird--killing two with one stone,' et cetery, including 'Leap--look before you,' and 'Sure--be sure you're right, then go ahead.' What do you mean to print?"

The editor told him all he had been able to gather regarding the matte of the fire-extinguishers, and as he talked Eliph' saw the butcher leave his shop and enter the drug store--he was after chemicals. He turned to the editor with fresh assurance.

"See page 88, 'Every Man his Own Lawyer,'" he said, "giving all that it is necessary for any man to know regarding the laws of his native land, including laws of business, how to draw up legal papers, what constitutes libel, et cetery. This one division alone being worth the whole cost of the book, showing among other things what a paper should print and what it should not. Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art is a marvelous work, including as it does the chapter on 'Fire--Its Traditions--How to Make a Fire Without Matches--Fire Fighting--Fire Extinguishers, How Made,' et cetery, containing directions by which man, woman or butcher can convert lung-testers into approved fire-extinguishers at a cost of only twenty-six cents. It is a good book. I just sold Mr. Skinner one."

He watched the editor's face as the meaning of his words dawned on it, and added:

"Miss Briggs has a copy, morocco binding, including among ten thousand and one subjects 'What Constitutes Libel.'"

"Then those fire-extinguishers will be all right, after all?" said the editor. "You want to look out how you trifle with the press. The press never forgives nor forgets."

"Those lung-testers, prepared according to Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, would put out the flames of the fiery furnace prepared for Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, mentioned in 'Bible Tales,' Condensed and Put into Words of One Syllable for Children,' page 569, Jarby's Encyclopedia," said Eliph' airily. "They would satisfy an investigation committee of imps, or other experts."

The editor thought for a minute and Eliph' looked at him and smiled, gently combing his whiskers with his fingers.

"That's all right," said the editor. "That lets Miss Sally out, and it may satisfy Skinner, but it don't do away with the bribery. Mayor Stitz was bribed and he admits it. He says he was, and he brags about it. Guthrie bribed him, and I've got enough left to give Stitz and Guthrie a good shot. I'll leave Skinner and Miss Briggs out, but I'll go for Stitz and Guthrie. I'll show them that in Kilo the press is alert, wide awake, and not to be trifled with. I'll teach them a lesson."

"So do!" said Eliph'. "And make Miss Sally mad. And make Mrs. Smith mad. And make Miss Susan mad. And me. So do, and have Tolle tell them that he did not want you to print it, and that he went up and fought you to get you not to print it. So do, and instead of having Miss Sally and Mrs. Smith and me your friends, have us run you down to Susan. Instead of having hit Toole by printing the thing sooner than he wanted, as you did, print more, and do him a favor. Make him a favorite of Miss Sally's. So do, if you want to. Or--have me go to Miss Susan and say you will not relent but that there is one chance--that she shall plead with you herself."

He stepped back and looked at the hesitating Jones.

"Jones," he said, "the way you are acting, the way you hesitate, would tell anybody that you have not a copy of Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, in your office. No man who has read that book would lack wisdom, that work containing under one cover all the wisdom I the world, price five dollars, two dollars off to the press. Buy a copy and be sensible."

Jones looked far down the street toward his office as if the matter he had there standing in the galley was begging him not to desert it.

"Courtship--How to Make Love--How to Win the Affections--How to Hold them When Won," said Eliph'. "See Jarby's giving advice to those in love, those wishing to win the affections, et cetery. 'If the object of the affections can be placed in a position where she will be compelled to ask a favor, the granting of it, however slight, will advance the cause of the eager suitor."

"I don't care!" said T. J. Jones suddenly. "I'd lose Skinner's ad if I printed that article, and he pays cash."

"Mine too," said Eliph', "and I was just thinking of doubling it. Jarby's deserves----"

"That's all right," said the editor, with a sigh of relief. "You needn't have Miss Susan come begging me. Just tell her I gave up printing the article because you said she wouldn't like it."

"Don't throw away a chance," urged Eliph' putting a hand on the young man's arm. "Be wise. Do as Jarby's says. Be urged. I followed Jarby's advice."

"Why are you--are you, too?" asked T. J., beaming upon him.

Eliph' coughed behind his hand.

"Yes," he said, "Miss Briggs. I followed Jarby's advice--and won."

"Congratulations!" said the editor. "Have it your own way then. I'll be at Miss Sally's after supper, if Sue wants to coax."

They parted, and as Eliph' walked happily toward his boarding house he did not realize that he had not won, nor that his appeal had been rejected by Miss Sally, for he had regained his faith in Jarby's and if he had not yet won, he felt that he would, and that was the same thing.

After his supper Eliph' felt that the time had come to arrange things with Miss Sally. There was no longer any cause for delay. He had arranged the matter of the fire-extinguishers; he had settled the matter of the TIMES, and he felt that Skinner and the Colonel must have hurt by their actions their causes with Miss Sally. They had, indeed, far more than Eliph' guessed. He repaired to his room and brushed his whiskers carefully. Never had he appeared smarter than when he went out of the gateless opening in Doc Weaver's fence, and turned his face toward Miss Sally's home.

His way led him pas the mayor's little car, where Stitz was on his platform smoking and evening pipe. The mayor halted him with a motion of his pipe stem.

"Mister Hewlitt," he said, "you know too that joke, yes? About those lung-testers was not fire-extinguishers?"

"That's all right," said Eliph', seeking to pass on, "It is all fixed up now. They ARE fire-extinguishers."

"Such a fool business on Skinner," said the mayor with enjoyment. "And on Stitz, too. I thinks me I am the boss grafter, and I ain't!"

He chuckled.

"No-o!" he said cheerfully. "But next times I makes no more such fool mistakes; I make me a real boss grafter. I am now only a boss-fool, but boss grafter. So says Attorney Toole. Money is grafts, and houses and lots is grafts, and horses is grafts, and buggies, but," and he paused impressively, "apples isn't, and potatoes isn't, and peas isn't, and chickens isn't. Nothing to eat is grafts. If it is to eat it is not grafts. So says Attorney Toole. Things to eat is no more grafts as lung-tester is fire-extingables. So says Toole. So nobody won't prosecute me. I stick me to the mayor business yet a while. Klops on the head is nothings much; all big men gets them. So says Attorney Toole."

Skinner was locking his shop when Eliph' passed, and the stopped Eliph' too.

"Works fine," he said. "I tried a tomato canful on a bonfire in the back yard, and it put it out like a wink. That's a great book; I'm glad you spoke about it. I wish you'd told me about it sooner."

Miss Sally was not on the porch when Eliph' arrived, for she was still in the kitchen at the supper dishes, but Mrs. Smith and Susan were there, and they greeted him eagerly. The little man smiled as he walked up to them, and waved his hand in the air.

"You fixed it?" cried Mrs. Smith. "It is all right now?"

"Fixed from A to Z," said Eliph', as he took a seat on the porch step. "All right from the allegorical frontispiece in three colors to the back page. Jarby's wins, and error don't. Miss Sally in?"

He heard the click of the dishes as Miss Sally laid them one by one on the kitchen table, so he knew well she was in.

"It might relieve her mind if I told her," he suggested, and Mrs. Smith smiled and said it might.

"Go right in," she said, and Eliph' did.

He went into the hall and coughed gently behind his hand, and Miss Sally looked up. She wiped her hands hastily on her blue gingham apron, and came into the hall.

"Jarby's fixed it," he said, and rapidly related what he had done, with illustrations in the way of quotations from the titles and sub-titles of Jarby's. "When you have a moment to spare," he added, "I would like to speak to you. I want to tell you something about Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art, a copy of which I see lying on your parlor table, forming an adornment to the home both useful and helpful."

"Well, I don't want no books," said Miss Sally, "I've got one copy, and that ought to be enough to adorn any home. And I've got to get these dishes washed sometime. I've let the fire go out, and the water will be cold. If there's anything important you want to say about that book, you can go out and wait till I get the dishes done."

"It's about how to get the best use out of it," said Eliph'. "I'll go out and wait. It's something everybody that has a copy ought to know."

He went out as she said, and found Susan alone on the porch. Mrs. Smith was at the gate, and he could see her white dress in the evening darkness. Susan sat with a knitted shawl about her shoulders, for the evening were already growing chill, so long had Eliph's courtship lengthened out. He could not have had a better opportunity to speak to Susan alone, and he warned her of the "piece" T. J. had threatened to publish in the morning, and of the disgrace and sorrow it would bring to Miss Sally. The girl listened eagerly and her indignation grew as he went on, so that he had to veer, and expatiate on the virtues of T. J. and the right of the modern press to meddle in private affairs when it wants to.

"And can't anything be done?" asked Susan. "Why don't somebody do something? I didn't think Thomas was like that."

"He isn't," admitted Eliph' heartily. "But he needs coaxing. If you were to coax him he might see how wrong he is. I shouldn't wonder if he would come up here to-night, looking for me, being interested in Jarby's Encyclopedia and anxious to get a copy at the reduced price of two dollars off, offered to the press only. If he does, try to move him."

"I will," said Susan. "And if he publishes that piece, I'll never speak to him again."

Eliph' was still sitting there when T. J. came, and when Susan proposed a walk down to the corner he knew that it would be all right with T. J. Jones. A light coming suddenly over his shoulder from the parlor behind him told him that Miss Sally was ready to receive him, and he took his hat and went into the house.

Miss Sally was sitting in the rocker with the cross-stitch cover, and Eliph' took a seat at the opposite side of the center-table and lifted the morocco bound copy of Jarby's from its place beside the shell box. The kerosene lamp glowed between them, and he drew closer to the table and laid the book gently on his knees. Miss Sally sat straight upright in her chair and looked at the little book agent.

"This book," he said, looking up at her with eyes in which kindness and business mingled, "although sold, in this handsome binding, for seven fifty, is worth, to one who understands it, its weight in gold. It holds a help for every hour and a hint for every minute of the day. It furnishes wisdom for a lifetime. I read it and study it; for every difficulty of my life it furnishes a solution. Corns? It tells how to cure them. Food? It tells how to cook it. Love? It tells how to make it. But," he said, laying his hand affectionately on the morocco cover, "to be understood it must be read. To read it well is to admire and cherish it, and yet, only this morning I was about to tear my copy of this priceless volume to pieces and scatter it to the four winds of heaven."

He paused to let this awful fact sink into Miss Sally's mind.

"Yes," he continued, "I was about to turn away from the best friend I have in the world and declare to one and all that Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art was a fraud! When I left your home yesterday, I was full of anger. I was mad at Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art. I had trusted to its words and directions, as set forth in, Courtship--How to Make Love--How to Win the Affections--How to Hold Them When Won, and you sent me away. I went away a different man than I had come, and resolved to go away from Kilo, and never to sell another copy of this book. I resolved to take the sale of 'Hicks' Facts for the Million,' a book, although greater in cost, containing by actual count sixteen thousand less words than this.

"I went to my room at Doc Weaver's," he continued, "and seized my copy of this work from where it lay on my bureau. I called it names. I told it it was a cheat and a liar. Yes, Miss Sally, I let my angry passions rise against this poor, innocent book. I believed it had advised me falsely. I had trusted to its words and had done as it said to do, and you had sent me away, not in anger, but in sorrow, but just as much away. I picked up the book and opened it, grasping it in two hands to tear it asunder."

He opened the book and showed her how he had grasped it.

"I pulled it to tear it in two," he said, raising the book and pulling it in the direction of asunder, "but it would not rip. It was bound too well, the copies bound in cloth at five dollars, one dollar down and one dollar a month until paid, being bound as firmly as the more expensive copies at seven fifty. I pulled harder and the book came level with my nose. I saw it had opened at 'Courtship--How to Make Love,' and I said, 'While I am getting my breath to give this book another pull, why not read the lie that is written here once more? It will give me strength to rend it asunder.' So I read it."

He looked at Miss Sally and saw that she was showing no signs of being bored.

"I held the book like this," he said, showing how he held it, "and read. All that it said to do I had done and my anger grew stronger. But I turned the page! I saw the words I had not seen before; words that told me I had tried to tear my best friend to pieces. I sand into a chair trembling like a leaf. I felt like a man jerked back from the edges of Niagara Falls, a full description and picture of that wonder of nature being given in this book among other natural masterpieces. I weakly lifted the book back again and read those golden words."

"What was it?" asked Miss Sally, leaning forward.

"'Courtship--How to Make Love--How to Win the Affections--How to Hold Them When Won.'" said Eliph', turning to the proper page. "And the words I read were these: 'The lover should not be utterly cast down if he be refused upon first appealing for the dear one's hand. A first refusal often means little or nothing. A lady frequently uses this means to test the reality of the passion the lover has professed, and in such a case a refusal is often a most hopeful sign. Unless the refusal has been accompanied by very evident signs of dislike, the lover should try again. If at the third trial the fair one still denies his suit, he had better seek elsewhere for happiness, but until the third test he should not be discouraged. The first refusal may be but the proof of a finer mind than common in the lady.'"

Eliph' removed his spectacles and laid them carefully in the pages of the book which he closed and placed gently on the center-table.

"Having read that," he said, "I saw that I had done this work a wrong. I had read it hastily and had missed the most important words. I felt the joy of life returning to me. I remembered that you were a lady of finer mind than common, and I understood why you had refused me. I resolved to stay in Kilo and justify Jarby's Encyclopedia of Knowledge and Compendium of Literature, Science and Art by giving it another trial. And now," he said, placing his hand on the book where it lay on the table and leaning forward to gaze more closely into Miss Sally's face, while she faced him with a quickened pulse, and a blush, "now, I want to ask you again, WILL you put your name down for a copy of this work----" He stopped appalled at what he had said, and stared at Miss Sally for one moment foolishly, while over her face spread not a frown of anger or contempt, but a pleasant smile of friendly amusement.

"Not the book," he said, "but me."

Miss Sally looked at the eager eyes that were not only serious, but sincere and kind.

"Well, Mister Hewlitt," she said, "I guess I'll have to marry someone some time so I might as well marry you as anybody. But I don't think pa will ever give consent to havin' a book agent in the family. He hates book agents worse than I used to."

"You don't any more," said Eliph', putting his hand very far across the table.

"Well, no, I don't," said Miss Sally graciously, "not all of 'em." _

Read next: Chapter 19. Pap Briggs' Hen Food

Read previous: Chapter 17. According To Jarby's

Table of content of Kilo


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book