SOME PEOPLE get the breaks. They eat rich food off gold and silver dishes, and a limousine waits for them at the door. Some people don’t get the breaks. For them, nothing waits at the door but the wolf. That was Mr. Leander Seavey’s simple philosophy of life. It placed him in the second category and left him there. A man got the breaks or he didn’t. In either case, there was nothing he could do about it.
All his life Mr. Seavey had waited patiently for a break. During the process he had accumulated Mrs. Seavey and, in due course of time, three little Seaveys. He regarded all of them as inevitable incidents in the great scheme of things. None of them, from his point of view, could possibly have been interpreted as a break.
A different opinion, however, prevailed in Coulterville. (Population, Government census, 1,574; Chamber of Commerce estimate, 1,631). His fellow townsmen frequently told one another that it beat all how a no-account like Leander Seavey managed to get a wife like Rose. They usually added that that s the way it always was—the good-for-nothing men got the best wives.
There was much in what they said. While Leander waited for his break, Rose Seavey accomplished a succession of minor miracles. Their nuptial flight ended in a tumbledown shanty which Leander had pre-empted off on the edge of the slough behind town. In a few years Rose had somehow transformed the shanty into a watertight, clean little threeroom cottage, to which two more rooms were added as the little Seaveys made their successive appearances. As they grew up, she kept them tidy and reasonably good-mannered, and still found time to take in washing and raise chickens and help the Coulterville ladies through such emergencies as house-cleanings, weddings and funerals.
One thing Rose had determined: all the children should go through high school. At last the time came when she could regard that hurdle as practically surmounted. Sally, the oldest, was two years out of high school and settled in a good job as stenographer in the bank. Leander, Junior, worked summers for Jake Harmon in the tractor agency,
with the promise of a steady job in another year, after he graduated. And Peter, the youngest, though still only a sophomore, had already won second prize for his calf, Annie Laurie, at the county fair.
YXTTIILE ALL THIS was going on,
VV Leander became each year a little stragglier as to mustache, a little more dejected under the spumings of fortune.
He puttered in the garden; he fished; occasionally he caught frogs in the slough and sold them to other fishermen for bait; a good deal of the time he sat about quietly —as he explained, figuring on things.
Late one July afternoon he came up the path from the slough, carrying a fish pole and a gunny sack. Leander, Junior, removing tractor grime at a wash bench beside the kitchen door, looked up as his father approached.
“Have any luck?”
Leander shook his head. “Supper ready?” he asked, with a cautious glance toward the house.
“Well,. I’m glad I ain’t late. Your ma’s a leetle mite unreasonable about people bein’ on time to meals. I was a’ready to come home, an’ then I thought maybe the bass’d start bitin’ if I stayed out a while longer, an’ then I got to figurin’ about somethin’ an’ clean forgot what time it was gettin’ to be . . . Where is your ma?”
“Something’s the matter, I guess,” Junior explained. “Sally come home looking upset, and her and ma have been in the bedroom talking ever since.”
“Pshaw,” said Leander indulgently, “women are always upset about somethin’. You’ll see, it won’t amount to shucks.”
From somewhere inside the house Rose Seavey’s voice called peremptorily: “Leander, you come in
here. I’ve got something to say to you.”
Leander shouted hopefully: “Was it Junior you wanted?" The voice replied : “No, it ain’t Junior I want. You come right in here this minute, I-eander Seavey."
Leander looked at his son. “Well,” he said, “I guess it’s me that your ma wants.”
Slowly, even reluctantly, he proceeded into the house.
"DOSE’S VOICE guided him to the bedroom. Sally was sitting in the corner, her eyes red, her cheeks tearstained, still gulping back an occasional sob. At Leander’s entrance, Rose swung around to face him. Leander quailed. Wrath gleamed in her eyes and tightened her mouth. Her hands were planted on her ample hips; her chin was thrust belligerently forward.
“I’ve put up with a lot from you, Leander Seavey,” she began, “but I can tell you I’ve had just about enough—” “Now, honey,” Leander murmured placatingly.
“Don’t you try to get around me. Bert Ross wants to marry our Sally.”
Though bewildered, Leander tried to be adequate to the occasion.
"Banker Ross’s son ! Well, if that ain’t a break for Sally !” Sentiment bathed him in a humid glow. “Give your pappy a kiss, Sally.”
Rose snorted. “A kiss! You listen to me a minute, Leander. Bert wants to marry Sally, but his pa won’t let him. His pa says he won’t have his son marrying up with the daughter of the town good-for-nothing !”
Leander bristled. “Well, we’ll see about that. Callin’ people out o’ their right names. I don’t care if he is Banker Ross. I’ll step down an’ have a word with him.”
“You’ll do nothing of the kind,” Rose ordered. “Things are bad enough now without your making ’em worse.” “Bert wants to marry me anyway,” Sally volunteered between gulps, “but I said I wouldn’t, not till his pa’s willing.”
“That’s right,” said Leander stoutly. “That’s right. We don’t want to go sneakin’ inta anybody’s fam’ly, least of all Banker Ross’s. Y’ou just dry your eyes, honey, an’ stop cryin’. We’ll fix it up somehow.”
“You bet we’ll fix it up.” Rose’s voice rang ominously. “And I’ll tell you how we’ll fix it. Tomorrow morning, Leander Seavey, you’ll start out and find yourself a steady job!”
Leander recoiled. “Listen, Rose. Now listen,” he began, his voice shrill with horror.
“A steady job,” Rose repeated inexorably, “and you’ll keep it if I have to take you to work every day myself and stand over you to see that you don’t get fired for loafing. And then I guess Bert Ross’s father won’t be able to say that Sally’s the daughter of the town good-for-nothing!”
CUPPER THAT NIGHT was sombre in the Seavey house^ hold. Breakfast was hardly less sombre, even though Leander, by frantic pleading, won a four-day reprieve until the following Monday morning. If he was going to get himself a job, he argued, he’d have to do a lot of figuring about it first.
After breakfast he started wearily down the path to the slough. In one hand he carried his fish pole, in the other hand a gunny sack. He wouldn’t be back at noon, he said, but he didn’t want to take even a snack for lunch. He just didn’t have any stomach for food.
Rióse, inaccessible to pity, watched him grimly as he went away. “Remember,” she called after him. “Monday morning.”
Leander’s shoulders sagged. Remember! As if he could forget. The spectre of Monday morning leered at him, dimming the sunshine and draining all the zest from the day’s fishing. He moaned to himself as he untied his boat and rowed off down the lane of open water that twisted through the slough. The pleasant days of puttering, of fishing and frog-catching—they were all slipping away for ever. He didn’t even consider the possibility that he might not be able to find a steady job. No, he had an unhappy foreknowledge that when he went to look for a job, the job would be waiting. There’d be no escaping it. He’d be a slave—a slave to the time clock and the dinner pail.
Late that afternoon, still dejected, he came home. Leander, Junior, again at the wash bench, raised a sudsy face to greet him.
Leander shook his head. “Only some frawgs. Didn’t fish much. Couldn’t seem to get my heart into it. I just set, most o’ the day. Listen, Junior, what if I was to run a trap line next winter. Bet you I could get a lot o’ mushrat pelts out o’ that slough. Think that’d satisfy your ma?”
“No,” said Junior decisively, “that ain’t the sort of thing she’s got in mind.”
“Didn’t think it was m’self,” said Leander with resignation. He picked up the gunny sack. "Well, I guess I better put these frawgs in the pen.”
He moved slowly over to a low board enclosure covered with chicken wire. As he fussed with the wire and the gunny sack he continued, in a plaintive tone:
“Charley Hosmer asked me yestiddy to pick up some frawgs for him, so’s he could go fishin’ over to Pike Lake. I was so busy figurin’ about things, I clean forgot ’em till I was pretty near home. But there’s plenty of ’em out there. I
scooped me up these in no time at all. I reckon they’re the last frawgs I’ll be catchin’ for a long time to come.”
Leander paused, expecting some expression of sympathy. When none was forthcoming, he continued, with more animation:
“I got one ol’ bullfrawg here’s big enough to catch a whale with. Charley won’t want him. He’s too big for bait. Figured maybe I’d keep him for frawgs’ legs.”
Leander had the top of the pen open ; he was shaking the sack. “Here, you, get in there! Hi! Junior, one of ’em’s jumped loose—the big one. Help me catch him.”
JUNIOR SWABBED the suds out of his eyes and joined in J the chase. He and his father stalked the big bullfrog, which sat staring at them bleakly until they were almost within pouncing distance. Then it jumped.
“My land!” exclaimed Leander. “I never see such a frawg for jumpin’.”
“Me neither,” said Junior.
They stalked it again. Again it leaped far out of reach. They tried rushing it. With almost contemptuous ease the big old bullfrog eluded them.
“Tell you what,” panted Leander, “I’ll get the gunny sack an’ head him off, an’ you kind o’ steer him over toward me.”
After several ineffectual tries, this manoeuvre finally succeeded.
“Well,’ said Leander, “that was farther’n I ever see any frawg jump before.”
"Twelve, fourteen feet,” Junior estimated.
“Twenty,” said Leander.
Junior shook his head. “Not more’n fourteen.”
The dispute finally led to a measured trial. A tape line was procured, Peter was called to assist, and the frog was carried round to the front of the house where there was more open space.
The frog was placed on the ground. Leander prodded him. He jumped. Peter deftly secured him in the gunny sack. Junior held one end of the tape; Leander stretched it out—“Sixteen foot, three inches,” he announced. “But he can do better’n that. I know he can.”
They were preparing for a second trial when Rose’s voice, heavy with sarcasm, called to them from the front porch.
“Whenever you men are through playing with that frog, you might come eat your supper.”
“Guess we better go in,” said Leander. “Supper’s ready.” The meal, from Leander’s point of view, was considerably more cheerful than supper the preceding evening. In spite of Rose’s disapproving silence, in spite of Sally’s reproachful melancholy, he maintained a high degree of animation. He didn’t altogether forget the impending doom, but he willingly let this new interest crowd it into a back corner of his mind, while he held forth at length on the jumping prowess of the bullfrog.
“A frawg like that deserves t’ have a name,” he declared, as he loaded his plate for the third time with summer squash, boiled potatoes, salt pork and cream gravy. “I’m
a-goin’ to call him Jehosaphat, after the great jumpin’ Jehosaphat.”
Rose sniffed. But Leander, undiscouraged, launched into a fourth recital of how the old bullfrog had jumped free just as he was being put into the pen.
When Charley Hosmer stopped for his frogs that evening, Leander took him out and showed him Jehosaphat and told the whole story again. By this time he was certain that if conditions were just right Jehosaphat could leap at least twenty-five feet.
CHARLEY HOSMER must have spread the word around before he started out to Pike Lake, because next morning when Leander went to the Smoke Shoppe for a plug of tobacco, several of his acquaintances hailed him with, “Hear you got old jumpin’ Jehosaphat himself out to your place, Leander,” and, “You goin’ to train him for the Olympic Games, Leander?”
“Never you mind,” said Leander, “he can outjump any frawg you ever see. Come on out an’ watch him if you don’t b’lieve me.”
As serious students of natural phenomena, they could do no less. In their presence the old jumping bullfrog, refreshed by his night’s rest, leaped sixteen feet eight inches over a measured course. Mightily impressed, the sceptics hurried
back to town to broadcast the news that Leander Seavey had a bullfrog that could outjump any other bullfrog going. During the afternoon seventeen small boys, a barber, the owner of the poolroom, and three travelling salesmen came out to view the marvel.
“You’ve got something there, brother,” one of the salesmen told Leander. “You better take good care of that frog.”
“I’m a-goin’ to,” said Leander. He built Jehosaphat a new pen, with a puddle in one corner and a roof to keep out the sun; and to a group of frog fanciers who arrived about supper time he announced that the old jumping bullfrog was a little fatigued by his afternoon’s exertions. He needed rest. But for anybody that cared to see, there'd be an exhibition next morning.
That exhibition, however, was never held. Early in the day a boy brought out word that Dave Gorley wanted Leander to step in to see him on a matter of business. Dave Gorley was the proprietor of the hardware store and president of the Coulterville Chamber of Commerce. Leander stepped in.
Two hours later he came home. As soon as he was within shouting distance of the house he began bellowing, “Rose, Rose, come here quick.”
Rose dashed out, wiping her hands on her apron. “What’s the matter, Leander? What’s happened?” “You better get that ol’ valise o’ mine out o’ the woodshed,” he said importantly. “An’ see if I got plenty o’ clean shirts. I’m startin’ off t’morra on a little bus’ness trip.”
“Leander Seavey, have you gone crazy?”
Leander denied the charge heatedly. And Rose, after listening to a torrent of explanations, had to admit that
although some other people had undoubtedly gone crazy, her Leander was still sane.
It all boiled down to this: Leander was going to take Jehosaphat to California for the great frog-jumping contest held there annually in memory of the immortal jumping frog of Calaveras County. I zander was going to make the trip at the expense of the Coulterville Chamber of Commerce. It was all Dave Gorley’s idea. Dave had been looking up frog jumps. He’d found out that the contest had been won last year with a record jump of sixteen feet three inches. And here Coulterville had a frog that could better that by five inches easy.
So Dave had called the Chamber of Commerce boys together the night before. He’d put it up to them straight. Send Leander .Seavey and his frog to California to win that contest. The free advertising would be worth thousands. It would put Coulterville on the map. Leander could have the prize money. All the Chamber of Commerce wanted was to bask in the bright light of championship.
“Telegraphed my entry out there already, Dave has,” concluded Leander, “an’ Ixiught my ticket. My train goes t’morra mornin’ at 9:36.”
“What about that job you were going to get Monday?” Rose demanded, in a last attempt to assert herself.
“Listen,” said Leander, with a new note of command in his voice. “When I come back here with the champeen jumpin’ frawg o’ North America, ol’ man Ross’ll have a different tune to sing. You’ll see. You won’t have t’ worry about jobs for me no more.”
AT LEAST HALF of Coulterville came down to the station to see Leander ofi‘ on the 9:36. He was hot and uncomfortable in his best suit and a white collar and a spruce felt hat borrowed from Junior. But his sense of importance sustained him through these trials of the flesh. From the car steps he made a brief farewell address.
"I promise you, folks, me an’ my ol’ jumpin’ bullfrawg, Jehosaphat, we’ll do our level best for the honor o’ Coulterville.”
The crowd cheered, the train chuffed off, and Leander went into the car to arrange his im]>edimenta. His own travelling needs were simple; his old valise contained a supply of clean shirts, a razor, and an extra plug of tobacco. But Jehosaphat’s equipment was a different matter. He had a large box, covered with window screen and lined with slough grass. He had a two-gallon jug of slough water. He had an extra bundle of slough grass. He had a two-quart jar full of insect delicacies. He had a harness and a leash, so that he could be exercised when the train stopped.
Ixander hovered over him with the tender solicitude of a mother caring for her first baby. Daily and oftener he sent back post-card bulletins of the frog’s condition.
In Minneapolis Jehosaphat seemed to be feeling the heat, but fortunately a cool breeze blew up in time to revive him. In Omaha he ate only half his customary ration of (lies. In North Platte his appetite was back to normal.
Crossing the Continental Divide, he was affected by the altitude; he panted. At Ogden, Utah, while he was being exercised on the station platform, he had a narrow escape from a prowling tomcat. His nerves were temporarily shattered, but a dousing of slough water brought him round again. On the ferry from Oakland to San Francisco, he caught a touch of cold. 1 here was a distinct bronchial note in his croak. A touch of soda, however, and a reduction of his diet soon cleared up the trouble; and he reached the contest grounds in the very pink of condition.
From there, Associated Press dispatches to the Coulterville Clarion took up the story. Last year’s champion was on hand, raring to go. California had put up a dozen strong entries. Seventeen other American states were represented. Germany had sent over a single contestant, patriotically christened Der Fuehrer. France, not to be outdone, had sent two . . . And the last line of the dispatch read, “The dark horse of this year’s contest is a Canadian bullfrog, Jehosaphat, entered by Leander Seavey.”
Next day Jehosaphat had a more prominent place in the bulletin. The news was bad. Hearts sank in Coulterville. In the preliminary trials Jehosaphat had shown up badly. Romance had come into his life. He was so completely wrapped up in a trim little lady frog from Tulare that his heart wasn’t in his jumping. He did only a scant fifteen feet.
Fortunately, that was enough to qualify him for the first heats, but if he didn’t do better than that on the following day . . .
On the following day all was well. Perhaps Leander appealed to his sense of duty and honor. Perhaps his interest in the lady from Tulare was only a passing fancy. At any rate, Jehosaphat was himself again. He qualified for the finals with a magnificent leap of sixteen feet, five and onehalf inches.
On the morning of the finals, all Coulterville packed the square around the town hall. Loud-speakers, set in the second-story windows, blared the jump-by-jump account of the contest, broadcast from the arena over a national
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hook-up by that old sports lover, Tatham McFahy himself.
Some awe-inspiring jumps were made that morning. Last year’s champion bettered his former mark by a full inch and a half. Der Fuehrer leaped spectacularly, but it didn’t count; he jumped in the wrong direction. One by one the frogs made their bid for glory. In the crowd around the town hall, the air grew brittle with suspense.
At last !
AND HERE COMES Jehosaphat, the dark horse from Manitoba. There’s a frog for you, folks. Leg muscles like iron. A couple of days ago it looked like Jehosaphat might drop out of the running on account of a little affair of the heart. But he snapped out of it. He’s on his toes now, ready to show the world what a Manitoban frog can do. Best trained frog in the contest. He won’t budge an inch until his handler, Mr. Leander Seavey, of Coulterville, Manitoba, gives him the word. ‘Jump!’ says Mr. Seavey, and then, boy, how he jumps. He knows his frogs, Mr. Seavey does. . . Here they come now. Mr. Seavey’s carrying Jehosaphat up to the starting line . . . The judges are ready. Jehosaphat’s down on the line—he’s stretching those mighty legs —he’s crouching—JUMP ! ! !”
A sliver of silence—breathless, tense.
The voice continued, tinged with awe: “What a jump! Oh boy, oh boy, what a jump! The judges haven’t finished measuring it yet, but I’ll miss my guess if that jump hasn’t made history.”
Another pause. Then: “Friends of the radio audience, Jehosaphat, that old jumping bullfrog from Coulterville, has won the contest with a new world’s record leap of seventeen feet, one and one-quarter inches !” From the crowd in the town-hall square rose a mighty cheer. It broke off suddenly as the announcer continued :
“. . . Wait just a minute and I’ll try to get Jehosaphat and Mr. Seavey up to the microphone . . . There you are . . . Hold him up, please, Mr. Seavey, so he can say a word to the folks back home.”
Clear and unmistakable came Jehosaphat’s deep chest tones: “Woink, woink.” “And now, Mr. Seavey, how about a word from you?”
Equally unmistakable, though shrill from excitement, Leander’s voice leaped through space to the town-hall square :
“I just want to say, folks, that we cert’nly are pleased an’ proud, me an’ Jehosaphat, that we managed t’ win this jumpin’ contest. An’ when there’s any longer-jumpin’ frawgs than Jehosaphat, they’ll come from the same place he come from, good ol’ Coulterville, Manitoba.”
Another cheer, mighty and prolonged, welled up from the crowd. Dave Gorley slapped Banker Ross on the back. “I guess Coulterville’s on the map now,” he said. Banker Ross, who had just spied his son Bert openly kissing Sally Seavey, replied, “Humph!”
Rose Seavey, partly from excitement, partly from pride, wept on Junior’s shoulder.
LEANDER came back to Coulterville a J new man. His pockets were fat with prize money; his spirit was buoyed up by that self-confidence which is bom of achievement. He stepped off the train into a whirl of reception committee, brass band, handshaking, and back-slapping. With only the briefest respite for face-washing, he was whirled off to a banquet tendered him and Jehosaphat by the Chamber of Commerce. He sat at Dave Goriey’s right hand, with Jehosaphat in a box in front of him, and the rest of the Seaveys massed admiringly across the table. He made a speech ... It wasn’t until well after ten o’clock that he and his family were all finally deposited at the door of their cottage.
After making sure that Jehosaphat was safely housed for the night, Leander sank
down in his favorite chair. He loosened his collar. He took off his shoes and wiggled his toes voluptuously.
“Know what Dave Gorley toi’ me?” he remarked complacently. “Dave tol’ me the Chamber’s goin’ to put up new signs on ever’ road into Coulterville—‘Home o’ Jehosaphat, World’s Champeen Jumpin’ Frawg.’ What do you think o’ that?”
The family all murmured appreciatively, if sleepily. All of them, that is, except Sally. Sally glowered.
Leander regarded her reproachfully. “What’s the matter ’ith you, Sally? You been lookin’ mournful all evenin’. I seen you lookin’ mournful, right while I was makin’ my speech at the banquet. You an’ your young man have a spat?”
Sally shook her head.
“Well, then, why’n’t you perk up? Bring him out here t’morra. I’ll have Jehosaphat jump for him.”
“Jehosaphat!” Sally shouted. “You and your old Jehosaphat ! I wish Jehosaphat was at the bottom of the slough with a stone around his neck. I do!” Sally stamped her foot. She burst into sobs and darted into the bedroom.
“Well,” declared Leander angrily, “I never! To talk that way about Jehosaphat, after all he’s done for us. I’ve got a mind to—”
“Please, Leander, don’t get excited,” Rose pleaded. “We wasn’t going to tell you till tomorrow. But Bert Ross’s pa—”
“What about Bert Ross’s pa? That’s all settled, ain’t it? He can’t talk me down no more, can he, now’t I own the world’s champeen jumpin’ frawg?”
“He—he don’t think much of jumping frogs,” Rose began nervously.
Young Peter volunteered a fuller explanation.
“He told Bert it was bad enough before, when you was just plain no-account—don’t you get mad at me, pa, I’m just telling you what Mr. Ross said. ’N’en he told Bert it’d be a lot worse now—a no-account man spending all his time being a nurse to a no-account frog.”
Leander sprang to his feet. “No-account!” he cried in a strangled voice. “Jehosaphat a no-account frawg! Why, that frawg’s got a great future ahead of him. No-account! Wait’ll I see ol’ man Ross. I’ll no-account him. I’ll tell him a thing ’r two. He ought t’ be proud t’ have his son marry inta my fam’ly.”
Leander swung suddenly round on Peter and Junior.
“You clear off t’ bed, both o’ you. I got to talk this over ’ith your ma. I’m a’goin’t’ figure out a thing ’r two for tomorra.”
FAR INTO THE NIGHT Leander’s stockinged feet thudded back and forth across the floor. Far into the night Rose heard the things he was going to say to Banker Ross. It became increasingly clear to her that Leander’s only plan of action—-if you could call it a plan—was to smother Banker Ross with righteous indignation. Twice she tried to suggest that this would only make matters worse, and each time her suggestion stimulated such a torrent of verbiage that she finally gave up, and thereafter listened silently. Finally Leander talked himself out; but even after he was in bed and asleep he still kept muttering, “No-account!”
He appeared at breakfast dressed in his best clothes, grim, and silent.
“I’ll step along ’ith you,” he told Sally, when they had finished eating. “01’ man Ross gets down t’ the bank early, don’t he?” Sally nodded, and they went out of the house together. In the yard, Leander paused to gather up Jehosaphat and put him in a large cardboard box.
“Pa, you’re not going to take Jehosaphat along!” cried Sally, dismayed.
“Course I’m a-goin’ t’ take Jehosaphat along,” said Leander grimly. “Banker Ross
ain’t ever seen my frawg. He’s a-goin’ t’ see him this mornin’, an’ like him.”
They walked to the bank in silence, Sally watching her father apprehensively from the comers of her eyes Bert was already at the bank when they got there.
“Your pa here?” Leander asked him.
Bert nodded toward the door of the managerial office. He looked enquiringly at Sally. She shook her head, shrugged her shoulders helplessly.
“You an’ Sally come along in here ’ith me,” directed Leander, heading for the office.
He opened the door. He marched in. He placed the cardboard box carefully on the desk and removed the lid. He glared at Bank Manager Ross, who, though startled, was rapidly inflating himself to his customary dignity.
“I come in to say a word t’ you,” Leander began accusingly. “You been a-slanderin’ my fraw'g, an’ you been a-slanderin’ me.”
“See here, Seavey,” said the bank manager, “you'll gain nothing by these tactics. You know my views. I’ve nothing to discuss with you.”
“Well, I’ve got a few things to discuss ’ith you. Look a’ that frawg. No-account, is he? Why, he’s a world’s champeen. Got wrote up in all the papers. Had his pitcher took for all the news-reels. Got Coulterville thousands o’ dollars worth o’ free advertisin’. Done a dang sight more for the town ’n you ever done! I own that frawg, I do. An’ you think your son’s too good t’ marry 'ith my daughter.”
“I’ve nothing against your daughter.” Banker Ross felt that he could have expressed himself better if Bert and Sally hadn’t been in the room. “My objection is to you, Seavey. Chaperoning a jumping frog is not, in my opinion, a career with much of a future.”
“Future ! Why, I been tol’ that one o’ the big movin’ pitcher companies is figurin’ on offerin’ Jehosaphat an’ me a contract. Future !”
“Hands up!” barked a voice from the doorway.
ASTRANGER was in their midst — a stranger who wore a dark handkerchief across the lower part of his face, and who held in his hand an automatic which seemed to be pointing simultaneously at all four people in the room.
“What—what’s the meaning of this?” gasped Banker Ross.
“You think hard,” said the stranger, “and maybe you’ll be able to guess.”
“This is an outrage,” sputtered the bank manager.
“Of course it is, and it’ll be more of an outrage if you don’t get your hands up in the air. Reach, all of you, reach high.”
They all reached high.
“What are you going to do?”
“Well,” said the stranger, “we’re all going to take a little walk out to the vault. I’m going to walk beside Fatty here—” he waved his gun toward Banker Ross—“and if any of you so much as wiggles an eyelash, it’ll be lilies for Fatty. He’s going to be nice and open up the vault and hand out the cash. Then you’ll all step inside and have a nice cosy time together with the door closed, while I go places.”
The stranger paused. His voice hardened. “Y'ou got that all clear? Don’t make any mistake. It wouldn’t be healthy for Fatty. Are you ready to start? When I give the word, you jump !”
Jehosaphat, bored by the hubbub of voices, was settling himself for a quiet nap. But the familiar command, “Jump!” galvanized him into action.
Out of his box he soared, straight and true into the stranger’s face.
Instinctively the latter recoiled, raised a hand to brush away this clammy projectile.
“You leave my frawg be!” shrilled Leander, and catapulted himself upon the stranger.
In the same instant, Bert leaped for the hand holding the gun.
One second later the three of them were on the floor. Leander sat on the stranger’s I chest, methodically pounding his head with
Banker Ross’s personal cuspidor. Bert had twisted the gun loose and thrown it into the comer. Banker Ross did his bit by kicking the stranger’s shins; and Sally, with a paperweight in her hand, danced on the fringes of the mêlée shouting, “Move over, pa, so I can hit him.”
By the time the citizenry rushed in, the bandit was completely quelled. As he was handcuffed and led away, he felt only gratitude at the prospect of the peace and security of the jail.
Banker Ross dropped puffing into his chair. Bert and Sally were shamelessly in each other's arms, and the air was murmurous with honeyed phrases. After mutual assurances that they were really safe again, they progressed to the exclamatory conclusion that, fathers or no fathers, they’d be married right away.
Banker Ross smiled somewhat sourly. Even a bank manager has to accept the inevitable sometimes, and it’s always good policy to accept it gracefully.
“Seavey,” he said, mopping his face, “you certainly got us out of a tight comer, you and your frog. You’ve got good stuff in you, Seavey. There'll be a Bankers’ Association reward for that bandit. If you’d take the money and set yourself up in a respectable business, I might be willing to withdraw my objections—” He broke off to peer around the room. “Where is the man?” he asked.
“Pa,” cried Sally rapturously, “did you hear that? Mr. Ross is willing for Bert and me to get married !”
From underneath the desk a muffled voice said, “Uh, huh.” A moment later Leander crawled out, carrying Jehosaphat tenderly in his cupped hands. “Jehosaphat’s hurt,” he said bleakly. “I’m afraid he’s strained a tendon.”
JEHOSAPHAT was hurt. The veterinary J did all he could; Leander consecrated his days and nights to tender ministrations; but at last the horrid truth had to be faced. Jehosaphat’s general health was satisfactory. His croak was unimpaired. But he could never jump again.
Under this blow, Leander waited. The spring went out of his walk; his shoulders sagged. Even the newspaper publicity— “BULLFROG BAFFLES BANDIT”—left him cold. When a well-meaning friend suggested that out in the slough he could doubtless find another jumping frog, Leander shook his head.
“No, sir,” he said wdth gloomy finality, “there ain't any more frawgs like Jehosaphat.”
On the day of Sally’s wedding he bore up as long as he could under the hollow mockery of the festivities. Then, in the midst of supper, he stole away. He got Jehosaphat and set him gently in a bed of moss in the stem of the rowboat, and the two of them drifted off down the slough.
He offered Jehosaphat a crumb of the wedding cake. The big old bullfrog, with a melancholy woink, turned his head away.
“You ain’t got any relish for it, have you?” said Leander sadly. “Well, I ain’t m’self.”
He sighed. The reward money had passed somehow into Rose’s keeping. He could already see looming up ahead of him in a few weeks the spectre of the steady job. He looked at Jehosaphat and shook his head.
“Well, Jehosaphat,” he said, “we just didn’t get the breaks.”
+ ♦ +
FOUR ATOMIC fragments have now been discovered, the electron, proton, positron and neutron. There may soon be another if a prediction made by Dr. R. M. Langer, physicist of the California Institute of Technology, works out. He believes there must be a fifth particle, electrically neutral like the neutron, but much lighter in weight. If found, its name will probably be named “neutrino,” or little neutron.—Literary Digest.