The Terryville Tariff
A new problem in small town business is complicated by an old problem in romance
FOR ten minutes a cloud of dust had been rising among the ripening wheat fields that lay east of Terryville. It grew like a pint-sized cyclone. It swept into the Western Canada town with the clatter of a boiler rolling downhill, and disclosed as its cause a small automobile painted with large letters which spelled RUMBLE TYPE-WRITER. Other letters announced that the Rumble was the finest mechanism that ever put callouses on feminine fingers.
With a screeching of brakes, this movable billboard jerked to a stop in front of The Golden West Land Company. A dapper young man disentangled himself from wheel and levers, stepped out between L and Ê. and st<x>d shaking one leg and then the other in the manner of a cat emerging from water. He possessed wavy hair, English trousers. gcx>d features, and practically everything that a typewriter salesman needs in the way of gall. He entered the dingy office of the land company, discovered that the stenographer
was alone, and. beginning with a modest smirk, stretched his grin until his back teeth were displayed.
“Hello, Babe,” he warbled. “How’s the girl?”
The stenographer was not displeased by the familiarity of Jimmy Gregg’s greeting. She hoisted her hundred and fifty pounds of comely avoirdupois to a standing position inside the long pine counter and shifted her chewing gum from one apple-red cheek to the other.
“Okay. Jimmy. How's the perambulating sheik? Still peddling that tin can you call a typewriter?”
“Ha, ha.” laughed Jimmy. He tipped up a false section of the counter and zipjxxi the carriage on the lady’s writing machine back and forth. “Hitting on all six. I see. Bet you’re glad you heljxxl me talk the boss into buying a Rumble; heb, girlie?”
"Oh. it's better than pushing a pen.”
“Needs a little oil. though.” Jimmy rummaged through Babe’s personal belongings in a drawer, procured an oil
can, squirted the finger-easing fluid here and there and wiped if off with a rag. “Service, that’s us.” He returned to the outer side of the counter, placed both elbows on the pine and enquired : “Got a nice little prospect or two for the visiting boy friend, Babe? You know the commish—box of candy for every would-be buyer you put me next to.”
“No prospects this time, Jimmy. Tilings are pretty dead in Terryville.”
“Ought to be good when the wheat is cut.”
“Yes, if it can be sold.” Babe pulled Jimmy's necktie into a more fetching position. “Say. lay off business for a minute, can’t you? What’s going on in the world? Still got a girl in every town like a sailor has in every port?”
“Quit your kidding, Babe. Me, I'm a business man. not a what-you-may-call-it.”
“Yeah. I know. That’s how you do business. Kid the stenogs into telling their boss they could do better work on a Rumble. Come on, loosen up on the low’-down.”
“Honest, Babe, I don’t know—” Jimmy caught sight of a plump finger that had been turning slowly, electric sign fashion, in front of him. “Say! Is that a diamond ring or something out of a popcorn bag?” He grabbed the finger. “The real thing! What’s it mean. Babe?”
“Hee, hee,” giggled the plump charmer.
“Explain yourself, woman. Have you gone and got yourself engaged?”
“Who’s the poor—I mean, the lucky swain?”
“Just an old boy friend. You wouldn’t know the name. Grows grain and feeds hogs. You’re wishing me luck, ain’t you, Jimmy?”
“I’ll say. By jinks! Is love all it’s cracked up to be, Babe?”
Ecstatic eyes rolled heavenward.
“Jimmy, it’s just grand. Honest, the talkies don’t tell you the half of it.” The lady fetched a heavy sigh. “Why
don’t you get yourself a real sweetie and quit fooling around?"
Jimmy also accomplished a sigh. “Babe, I’ve got ideas in that direction. Right here in Terryville.” He lowered his voice. “Listen, kiddo. That English knock-out that was here last time I called —is she still in town?”
“What?” The robust fiancée was shocked. “You mean to say you’re falling —oh, not you, Jimmy!”
“But that girl—why, she ain’t your type at all. You said yourself she handed you the icy mitten when you tried to peddle your Rumble to her.”
“I know. Maybe that’s why—She’s still here, eh?”
“Yes, poor thing. Still a public stenographer that’s too haughty to rustle around and get the biz. Still supporting that loafer brother, too. The girl’s crazy, if you ask me.”
“Well, didn’t she come all the way out from England just to look after him? Don’t she slave all she can to keep the dumb brute in booze? Catch me!” “That’s devotion, Babe. I like her for that.”
“You won’t like the punch on the jaw that brother will hand you if he catches you looking sidewise at angel sister.” “Oh, that’s all right. I roll with the punches, kiddo. Well, since you got no live ones for me, guess I better be rumbling along, Babe.”
“Going to call on Miss Tiverton?” “If I can work up enough courage, yes” “Ha, ha!” Babe laughed loudly. "You working up courage to call on anylxxly. Jimmy, you’ll be the death o’ me yet.” “Well, here gexs.” Jimmy stepped to the d(x>r. “Wish me luck, heh, Babe?” "Yes; you’ll need it.”
OUT on the wooden sidewalk again, Jimmy Gregg kxiked like a swain who could do with a bit of luck. His erstwhile assurance had deserted him. I íe walked slowly up the street, and as he arrived at a cubbyhole office primly lettered, “Miss Tiverton, Bublic Stenographer,” he peered inside and kept on walking.
He paused uncertainly. The lady was alone. No time like the present. He took a deep breath, turned and entered.
The girl who sat idly before an ancient English writing machine was certainly easy on the eyes. Her hair was glossy blond, her complexion was clear and peach-tinted, her blue eyes thrilled Jimmy clear down to the txs of his tan shoes.
“Howdy do, Miss Tiverton,” he said, straw hat in hand.
“How do you do.” Her voice was a rich contralto.
“I represent the Rumble typewriter, Miss Tiverton, ’»'our business is er -gíxxj, I hope?”
“Maybe it could be better, though.
Now if you’d just let me put in on trial a new machine that does the finest kind of work —
“I couldn’t think of buying a new typewriter, Mr.—” “Gregg is the name. Jimmy er I mean James Gregg, Miss Tiverton.”
“You see, it won’t cost you a cent. You could keep it a couple of months on trial, then, if you don’t want it, send it back. As a matter of fact, Miss Tiverton, some people go right on using trial machines month after month. Try ours; don’t want it. Try another make; not satisfactory. And so on. Salesmen don’t mind. I mean —er —some of them don’t.”
The stranger in a strange land stared.
“What a strange proposition. I never heard a salesman talk like that before.”
“No; I’m different from most, I guess.”
“Well, I can’t say that I appreciate the difference,
Mr. Gregg. Such a proceeding seems—why. almost dishonest. No, I’m afraid I couldn’t entertain it."
“I—I was just trying to help. Here in Canada we have— well, maybe what looks like different customs in regard to business. Honestly, Miss Tiverton, I wouldn't mind letting you use a Rumble on trial as long as you like. A snappy new machine, you know—”
‘‘No, thank you. The one I have is quite good enough for the amount of business I do."
‘‘Well, maybe I could help you with your business. Give you a few letters of my own to type or—or—” The unappreciative expression on the girl’s face caused Jimmy to bog right down.
“And you a faster typist than I? You demonstrated that, you know, when you showed me your machine last time you called. I don’t think you really require any letters typed, Mr. Gregg.”
“Well—er—well ” Jimmy clutched at the straw of an idea. “You wouldn’t happen to know any prospective buyers in town, would you? 1 often give boxes of— I mean a sort of commission to jxople who put me wise I mean, tell me about people who might be in the market.”
“No, I haven’t been informed of any prospective purchasers. There might lx just the barest possibility that Mr. Diefenderfer of the lumber*yard — but you’ll be calling there, doubtless. In any case, I wouldn’t care for any box of commission.”
“Eh? Oh —er—yes. Well —thanks for the tip. Good— good day. Miss Tiverton.”
“Good day, Mr. Gregg.”
Outside and farther up the sidewalk, Jimmy mopped his brow with a handkerchief. His heart was thumping like a stationary motor. Suddenly he grinned.
“Box of commission—by jinks, she kinda smiled when she said that. I bet she’d be as live a one as any, once a guy learned the right approach.” He sighed. "But not me, I guess. No. I never could savvy that superior English type. Too much of a low-brow. If I could only spout Shakespeare or something ...”
IT WAS six o’clock now, and business men were closing their offices. Jimmy parked his car in the yard back of The Golden Grain Hotel and ate dinner; then, after sitting on the verandah for a while, he consulted the local telephone book. Hours meant little to him. On the road, he made sales whenever he could. He called a residence number.
"Mr. Diefenderfer? I hear you’re in the market for a typewriter. I’d lx delighted to come around to your house and show you the Rumble. No, not Bumble. Rumble. A typewriter. For your office, you know. Make out bills in duplicate, triplicate, quad . . . oh, yes; a great lalx>r saver. If you’ve got half an hour . . . Oh, your daughter . . . Yes, sure; I could show her how to type letters fine and dandy in one evening . . . Sure, eight Rumbles in use right here in Terryville . . . Yes, The Golden West Land Company; wouldn’t part with theirs for anything. Ask Ba I mean Miss Burdy, who uses it there . . . You bet I can come at once.”
Five minutes later Jimmy drove up to Terryville’s most imposing example of what could lx done with plain and fancy lumber and, setting his heavy sample on the verandah, rang the doorbell. The mistress of the mansion answered the bell herself a sharp-featured chatelaine whose red hands betrayed recent contact with dishwater.
“You!” she ejaculated. “No, we don’t want no typewriter.” And she was about to close the dt;r when a girl’s voice piped from within:
“Baw, don’t let maw bang the door. It’s that typewriter fellow.”
Thus encouraged, Jimmy put his foot inside the door jamb, and in a moment a heavy-set gentleman with a walrus mustache, followed by a slim girl of about sixteen, arrived.
“Now, maw,” said Mr. Diefenderfer, “I told him he could come.”
“Well, I’m agin it,” said the lady, but she admitted Jimmy and his sample. “Twenty years now we done business without throwing no money away on shiny contraptions,” she stated as Jimmy set his machine on the cloth-covered table, “and I don’t see no need for any such dxlabs now.” “Aw', gee, maw, we got to get up-to-date some time.” pleaded daughter. “You promised me, paw-, I could have a typewriter like all the girls have when I went to w-ork in the office. Just laugh at me, they do, for making out bills and things with an old-fashioned pen.”
“Huh,” stated Mrs. Diefenderfer. "Did somebody start deliverin’ lumber by airyplane, I suppose you’d lx wantin’ one of them contraptions, too.”
Jimmy donned his best business-getting grin.
“If you’ll permit me, Mrs. Diefenderfer. I’ll show you just w'hat the world’s finest typewriter will do.” He slipped two white sheets, with carbon paper betwreen them, into the
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machine. “Watch how fast a person can write.” And he typed words almost as rapidly as a small-town stenographer can j take them down in shorthand.
“My!” ejaculated daughter. “You could teach me to write as fast as all that?”
“If you practised enough, yes.”
“Huh!” jeered mother. “Her, that can’t even learn to wash dishes.”
“Looks businesslike, eh?” said Jimmy to the male member of the family. “Think of the good impression it’ll make on the lumber manufacturers to send them typed orders.”
“Dunno ’bout that,” said dad. “Lumber salesmen seem glad enough to get orders even when they have to write ’em with a stub pencil. But me, I’m nootral. Neither for nor against. Go on. Show us some more, young man.”
“I’ve hardly got started yet.” And Jimmy went into his routine demonstration “Visible writing—see? Back spacer, two-color ribbon, shift key for either hand, decimal tabulator, roller bearings, perfect alignment that can never go crooked, automatic reversible ribbon, shock absorber, ratchet escapement—” He rattled on, turning the machine this way and that as he demonstrated each of its many talking points. “A mechanical triumph, folks, that’s been brought to perfection during fifty years of constant experiment and trial; a machine that would be cheap at a thousand dollars if you had to pay that much; a marvel of invention that has revolutionized modern business methods—” He ended his demonstration by flipping a blank duplicate contract into it. typing swiftly, and pointing to the dotted line when he took it out. “Only twenty-five dollars down, Mr. Diefenderfer, and ten a month—”
“Wait, wait!” Mrs. Diefenderfer snatched up the contract and handed it back to Jimmy. “Not so fast, young man. What’s the price?”
“Oh, yes. Hundred and twenty-five. Cheap. Never miss the payments. Save them in—”
“A hundred and twenty-five dollars! Young man, for half that money I can buy a new washing machine that'll save more labor in this family than any such doodinkus as this.”
"Aw, maw,” pleaded daughter. “I’ll help you with the wash—”
“You won’t. Don’t tell me no nonsense like that, young lady. A hundred times I’ve begged you. But, no. An office lady now, no less. Too good for housework.” She turned to Jimmy. “Young man, we don’t J want your thingamajig.”
JIMMY took a deep breath. A tough job, this. He began to regret his call at the I house. With only the old man and the girl to
work on at the office, he would have had easier sailing. But all was not lost.
“Pardon me, Mrs. Diefenderfer.” He turned the full battery of his personality upon the old lady. “You have personal correspondence, I take it? Letters to relatives and so on? A bother to write, aren’t they? Well, now. Think of how your daughter could rattle them off for you.”
“Yes, maw; I’d write your letters,” said daughter.
“Perhaps there’s one you’d like to write right now,” suggested Jimmy. “Let me write it for you, Mrs. Diefenderfer. A letter to a sister or a brother maybe? Just dictate; I’ll write fast as you talk.”
The lady rose, went elsewhere and returned with what appeared to be an unanswered letter;
“Yes; I’ll get a letter to my sister out of you anyway. Get ready.” She sat collecting her thoughts while Jimmy waited, nimble fingers poised above the keys. “Dear sister,” she enunciated slowly; “I take my pen in hand to let you know—”
“Pardon me,” said Jimmy with a smile. “Is that correct? You’re really not taking your pen in hand this time.”
The lady glared, and Jimmy felt like kicking himself. A mistake, that interruption. He wouldn’t make it again.
Mrs. Diefenderfer recommenced, force of habit strong upon her.
“Dear sister; I take my pen—” She
paused. “No!” she cried, pitching her unanswered letter on the table. “It’s no use. I can’t tell letters to no contraption. I always say I take pen in hand. I can’t say letters no other way. No; we don’t want your shiny folderol. Hundred and twentyfive good dollars indeed! Enough to buy food—”
“Aw, maw!” Daughter burst into tears.
“Well, now ...” from the old man.
Two hours later the battle still raged. Jimmy was battered but still in the ring, clinging to a shred of hope that even yet he could put the sale over. Daughter was weepily insisting that her whole future happiness depended upon possession of an up-to-date typewriter by means of which she could continue to hold up her head in the social scheme of Terryville. Father was still neutral, swayed first by Jimmy and daughter, then by the sledgehammer logic of his masterful spouse. A clock indicated the hour of ten.
Abruptly the old lady rose, stalked to the stairway and paused.
“I give up,” she rasped at her husband. “If you want to pitch good money away on a fool contraption for a fool daughter, do it. But I get a washin’ machine. Remember that!”
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Mr. Diefenderfer made no reply, and mother departed.
“Now, paw,” pleaded daughter in a sobby voice. “Please, paw, I want a typewriter. I'll work extra hard, honest I will.”
"All right; I’ll take it,” said the old man; and daughter collapsed on the couch with a glad cry.
"Thank you, sir. Here’s the contract.” Jimmy indicated the dotted line.
The lumber merchant drew back.
“Well now, young man, it may look Incubar to you, but I got a rule about contracts. I never sign one till I’ve slept on it. No, I’ll not sign anything tonight.” Jimmy gritted his teeth, but managed to maintain his courteous attitude.
“You said, sir, that you’d buy.”
“And so I will. My word’s my bond, and here’s ten dollars. Option, you can call it. Come around to my office in the morning and I’ll sign and pay the rest.”
"All right.” Jimmy jammed the ten-spot into his trousers pocket, donned his hat and tucked his sample under his arm. “Good night, sir. Good night, Miss Diefenderfer. See you tomorrow.”
Seated in his car outside, he lighted a cigarette before turning on the ignition.
"What a night! Need a spot of lunch after that session. All in the game though. A guy don’t get much for nothing in this world.” He grinned as he thought of something. “By jinks, it was Miss Tiverton put me wise to this.”
HE DROVE to a lunchroom which sported the single word, GIBBIE’S, entered and ordered coffee and cake and ice cream.
A coterie of street-comer statesmen were engaged in settling the affairs of the nation therein, and Jimmy listened to their profundities with growing irritation. According to these apostles of gloom, the ripening grain on all sides of town was only Dame Nature’s way of thumbing her nose at Canadian humanity. If the stuff didn’t get killed by hail, it wouldn’t fetch anything anyhow. Just hog feed, it was, and who wanted hogs? Jimmy sloshed down the last of his coffee, turned on his stool and, during a pause, put in his verbal oar.
“Gentlemen, if you’ll allow me to say so, you’re all wet. Business is good right now for guys that’ll get out and dig for it. And once the wheat is harvested—zowie ! It’ll boom like cannon crackers on the twentyfourth of May.”
“Yeah?” A discouraged looking individual whose hands were calloused from constant handling of a poolroom cue took up Jimmy’s challenge. “How come you to think that way, salesman? Been pickin’ up any orders hereabouts?”
“I’ll say. Brand new typewriter for The Diefenderfer Lumber Company. What d’you think that means? That there’s going to be some lumber sold or what?”
There were conflicting opinions.
“Gettin’ tired o’ writin’ dunning letters by hand, old Diefle is, I guess.”
“Naw; Diefie wouldn’t go spendin’ money ’less he expects to do plenty business.” “Well, I dunno. I hear’n tell that daughter o’ his’n has been yelpin’ around for one o’ them playthings. This guy ketched her with his good clothes mebbe.”
“It was Mr. Diefenderfer who purchased the machine,” Jimmy stated with dignity. “I hardly think he would be influenced by clothes.”
Some one said ;
“Well, if there’s going to be business in Terryville, I’m for it. But what Canada needs, just the same, is a higher tariff. Tariff, gentlemen—that’s what spells prosperity nowadays. Keep your money to home, where it belongs.”
A newcomer haw-hawed.
“Things ought to be fine for Terryville, then. You all hear’n tell about the new Terryville tariff, ain’t you?”
“Naw; what’s that?” some one asked. “Passed by the town council tonight. I just come from there. Ain’t no flies on the council when it comes to up-to-date measures, you bet your boots.”
Somebody whispered to this individual, and the newcomer looked at Jimmy.
“You been sellin’ things in Terryville, stranger?”
“Sure. What of it?”
“Aw, nothin’, I guess.” But the man winked at a companion, and the latter eased himself down from his stool and slid out the door.
Presently Jimmy became aware of the fact that winks were being passed from eye to eye, and whispers from lip to ear, while every one seemed to be stealing sly glances at him and the conversation lapsed to noncommittal generalities. He was wondering about this when the screen door creaked open and flapped shut and an undoubted limb of the law, bulky as a barn door and with the prognathous jaw of a heavyweight ex-champion, entered. Thumbs jerked surreptitiously indicated Jimmy to this person, and the man approached the still dapper but slightly puzzled salesman.
YOU been sellin’ things in Terryville, I hear.”
“Yes; what about it?”
“Sellin’ direct from out-of-town to user?” “Sure. Why not?”
“You sold something tonight?”
“At ten minutes after ten, if you’ve got to know everything.” Jimmy was getting nettled.
“I see. Well, it was nine o’clock sharp the by-law was signed, so I guess you’re in for it, mister.”
Jimmy demanded: “What by-law? What are you talking about?”
The constable scowled. “The Terryville tariff, that’s what. An’ don’t you get sassy about it either, young feller me lad, or I’ll throw you in the jug.”
“Yeah? Well, you’ll do a little explaining first, flatfoot. Don’t think you can bulldoze me. I’ve done nothing wrong. Go on, now. Limber up your big jaw.”
There was laughter and some of the listeners edged forward. “That’s talkin’ turkey,” one of them encouraged.
The constable hedged.
“I see you don’t know about the Terryville tariff, mister, so I’ll tell you. At nine o’clock tonight they was a by-law passed makin’ it illegal for any out-of-town person or company to sell anything direct to the user in Terryville. You gotta have an agent in town, see? You sell through him or you don’t sell. If you vi’late the law you git fined a hundred dollars. Now, accordin’ to what you yourself say, you vi’lated the law already, so—”
The speaker broke off to listen to advice. “Watch out, constable; don’t overstep the law.”
“You gotta give people a chance. He didn’t know nothin’ about it.”
And to Jimmy:
“You’re all right, feller. It’s a dumb law
Jimmy quickly divined the implications of the new municipal measure. He had heard of similar small-town tricks. Somewhat to the surprise of one and all, he grinned.
“Think you got me, eh, constable?”
“Well, you gotta have a talk with the judge tomorrow. Mebbe he’ll let you off on account you not knowin’ the law. I won’t run you in if you’ll promise not to leave town.”
“What if I refuse to promise?”
“In that case, I guess—”
“And what if I tell you. furthermore, to go take a jump in the lake if you can find one. you flatfooted chump?”
“Why, you sassy—” A large hand
clamped on Jimmy’s coat collar, but the dapper salesman merely grinned in the constable’s beefy face.
“Better let go, old boy. False arrest is serious business. Where’s your evidence that I made a sale tonight?”
The limb of the law let go.
“Didn’t you yourself say you sold a typewriter direct to user at ten-ten tonight?” Jimmy smoothed his rumpled collar and winked at the highly interested assemblage.
“I w’as just speaking in general terms. A sale isn’t made until a contract to buy is
signed. And there hasn't been any signed. Get that? Mr. Diefenderfer put me off till tomorrow. Paid me ten dollars, but that was only an option. Look here.” Jimmy exhibited the Diefenderfer contract unsigned. “Now chuck me in the coop and see what happens.”
The constable wilted under a gale of laughter.
“Huh! Smart Aleck from the city. Jest let me ketch you breakin’ that by-law’ though.” And he went out, to a chorus of guffaws mingled with a few jeers.
“Dumb apes, that council,” said some one. “I can’t even order a new binder part direct from the maker if that fool law’ stands.” Jimmy rose.
“Well, good night, gentlemen. Thanks for half an hour of good clean fun. And if any of you want to buy the best typew’riter on earth —Rumble is the make and Jimmy Gregg is the salesman.”
He w’alked out and sat smoking in his car for a while, pondering his course of action, then, highly satisfied, went to the hotel and to bed.
■DIVE minutes after Miss Tiverton opened ■L her office next morning Jimmy was in it.
“Good morning. Don’t get alarmed. I’m not trying to sell you anything today. Want to talk about something more important— business for you, and maybe lots of it.”
“I don’t understand, Mr. Gregg.”
The girl’s contralto voice caused Jimmy to wilt again. It touched some inner chord in his nature and caused it to vibrate in a courage-sapping wray. He braced and continued :
“You’ve heard of the Terryville tariff, haven’t you? The new by-law that the council passed last night?”
“Well, it means I got to have an agent for the Rumble typewriter in this town. I practically sold Mr. Diefenderfer. that you put me wise to, last night, but now I can’t close the deal myself. So how about you? You’re the logical person to act as my agent.”
Miss Tiverton’s blue eyes widened.
“I? Y’our agent? Oh, surely there’s some one else w’ho could act more competently in such a position.”
“I don’t want any one else. I want you. Ten per cent commission I’ll pay on the Diefenderfer sale and every other one that’s made through you. Let you use a sample machine, free of charge, too. Also I’ll do the rustling around. All you have to do is get the signature after I arrange each deal.” “Well!” Her lovely eyes lighted up with a smile, and Jimmy’s heart missed a beat.
“It’s a go, isn’t it?” Jimmy took it for granted that it was. “All right. What say you hustle up to the lumber yard and grab off the old lad’s John Henry before he can change his mind?”
“Why—very well. I’ll do it.”
“Great! I’ll keep shop.”
But when she returned Jimmy was again in a stew. The hardest part of his selfimposed task still confronted him. He handed Miss Tiverton her commission of twelve dollars and a half, received her politely impersonal thanks, and took a deep breath.
“Now, what do you say we celebrate our —er—partnership in the way that’s customary in Canada—lunch together at noon?” Silence. Jimmy held his breath.
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Gregg. But I couldn’t do that. I always go home at noon and help my brother get lunch. He’ll be expecting me.”
“Bring brother along.”
“I’m sure he wouldn’t go.”
“Let’s try him anyhow. We’ll drive around to your home at noon and ask him.” “Well. We might try. But it’ll do no good.”
“The trying part is a date, anyhow. Be seeing you.” And Jimmy walked out, onethird happy and two-thirds full of gloomy foreboding.
On the sidewalk he mused: “Tough
brother, eh? The kind that, according to Babe, will swing on my jaw if I even look at
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his sister. The guy that doesn’t work. Well ! What to do?"
It took Jimmy all of five minutes to j decide what to do; then he went to work.
' AT NOON he entered the office which to him was the heart of Terryville, after a morning of hustling which, even for him, was unusually strenuous.
“The carriage awaits without, Miss Tiverton,” he stated with a bow and a wave of his hand toward his perambulating billboard at the curb.
The good kxiking girl sighed.
"A promise is a promise, I suppose. But you’re going to be disappointed, Mr. Gregg; perhaps even shocked. Bill—that’s my
brother—wasn’t in a gixxJ humor this morning.”
They arrived presently at the Tiverton residence at the edge of town—a shack that, while tidily kept, caused Jimmy to catch his breath because of what it implied in the way of hard but proud living.
A rough looking fellow at least ten years older than his sister emerged and glared at the flamboyant conveyance.
Jimmy slid out of his seat, opened the door on the side nearest the shack, and extended his hand to his passenger.
“‘Thank you,” said Miss Tiverton. “Bill,” she said to her brother, “this is Mr. Gregg.”
“An’ wot,” said Bill with no cordiality whatsoever, “might this ’ere Mr. Gregg be wantin’?”
Jimmy wasn’t shocked. He did not appear even to be disappointed. He acted as though j Bill had clapped him on the back and shaken his hand.
“I should like to know, Mr. Tiverton,” he ; stated, “if you would care to accept a job j that I got for you.”
I ATE that afternoon Jimmy Gregg breezed J into the offices of The Golden West Land Company.
“Hi. Babe,” he sang out. “Still happy?” “All of that.” admitted the buxom stenographer. “And you? You look pretty chipper yourself.”
“L;x)k as if you had some glad tidings to spill. Don’t tell me Miss Beautiful has fallen for your manly charms already.”
“Far from it, Babe. But I’ve made a start. Took her and Brother Bill to lunch tcxiay.” Babe gasped.
“You talked that fellow into acting human?”
Instantly gravity replaced Jimmy’s exuberance.
“Babe, you got the wrong dope on Bill Tiverton. Bill’s a prince. Say, do you know that guy spent four years at the front? Got gassed and Lord knows what else. Fact. Came out here to Canada to make a fresh start. And what did he get? The reception that a gallant ex-soldier of the Empire deserves? No. He got a freeze out. Couldn’t get a job or anything else. Is it any wonder he went sour and hit the booze? Well, I repaired the damage a little bit. I got Bill a job at one of the grain elevators. Just a laboring job to begin with, but there’ll be a chance for him to work into something better. It took some gosh-awful gab slinging, Babe, but I did it.
“Now listen, Babe. Here’s why I called. I want you to spread the news around Terryville that Bill’s okay. Every one knows that his sister is. Get what I mean?”
“Gee, Jimmy. I sure will.”
“Okay, kiddo. Well, I got to beat it. Have to peddle the old tin can, as you call it, extra fast from now on.” He stepped to the door. “See you in church, Babe.” Outside, Jimmy climbed into his car and raised a cloud of dust toward the next town.