Stubby had a route, and that was how he happened to get a dog. For the benefit of those who have never carried papers it should be thrown in that having a route means getting up just when there is really some fun in sleeping, lining up at the Leader office--maybe having a scrap with the fellow who says you took his place in the line--getting your papers all damp from the press and starting for the outskirts of the city. Then you double up the paper in the way that will cause all possible difficulty in undoubling and hurl it with what force you have against the front door. It is good to have a route, for you at least earn your salt, so your father can't say that any more. If he does, you know it isn't so.
When you have a route, you whistle. All the fellows whistle. They may not feel like it, but it is the custom--as could be sworn to by many sleepy citizens. And as time goes on you succeed in acquiring the easy manner of a brigand.
Stubby was little and everything about him seemed sawed off just a second too soon,--his nose, his fingers, and most of all, his hair. His head was a faithful replica of a chestnut burr. His hair did not lie down and take things easy. It stood up--and out!--gentle ladies couldn't possibly have let their hands sink into it--as we are told they do--for the hands just wouldn't sink. They'd have to float.
And alas, gentle ladies didn't particularly want their hands to sink into it. There was not that about Stubby's short person to cause the hands of gentle ladies to move instinctively to his head. Stubby bristled. That is, he appeared to bristle. Inwardly, Stubby yearned, though he would have swung into his very best brigand manner on the spot were you to suggest so offensive a thing. Just to look at Stubby you'd never in a thousand years guess what a funny feeling he had sometimes when he got to the top of the hill where his route began and could see a long way down the river and the town curled in on the other side. Sometimes when the morning sun was shining through a mist--making things awful queer--some of the mist got into Stubby's squinty little eyes. After the mist behaved that way he always whistled so rakishly and threw his papers with such abandonment that people turned over in their beds and muttered things about having that little heathen of a paper boy shot.
All along the route are dogs. Indeed, routes are distinguished by their dogs. Mean routes are those that have terraces and mean dogs; good routes--where the houses are close together and the dogs run out and wag their tails. Though Stubby's greater difficulty came through the wagging tails; he carried in a collie neighbourhood, and all collies seemed consumed with mighty ambitions to have routes. If you spoke to them--and how could you help speaking to a collie when he came bounding out to you that way?--you had an awful time chasing him back, and when he got lost--and it seemed collies spent most of their time getting lost--the woman would put her head out next morning and want to know if you had coaxed her dog away.
Some of the fellows had dogs that went with them on their routes. One day one of them asked Stubby why he didn't have a dog and he replied in surly fashion that he didn't have one 'cause he didn't want one. If he wanted one, he guessed he'd have one.
And there was no one within ear-shot old enough or wise enough--or tender enough?--to know from the meanness of Stubby's tone, and by his evil scowl, that his heart was just breaking to own a dog.
One day a new dog appeared along the route. He was yellow and looked like a cheap edition of a bull-dog. He was that kind of dog most accurately described by saying it is hard to describe him, the kind you say is just dog--and everybody knows.
He tried to follow Stubby; not in the trusting, bounding manner of the collies--not happily, but hopingly. Stubby, true to the ethics of his profession, chased him back where he had come from. That there might be nothing whatever on his conscience, he even threw a stone after him. Stubby was an expert in throwing things at dogs. He could seem to just miss them and yet never hit them.
The next day it happened again; but just as he had a clod poised for throwing, a window went up and a woman called: "For pity sake, little boy, don't chase him back here."
"Why--why, ain't he yours?" called Stubby.
"Mercy, no. We can't chase him away."
"Who's is he?" demanded Stubby.
"Why, he's nobody's! He just hangs around. I wish you'd coax him away."
Well, that was a new one! And then all in a heap it rushed over Stubby that this dog who was nobody's dog could, if he coaxed him away--and the woman wanted him coaxed away--be his dog.
And because that idea had such a strange effect on him he sang out, in off-hand fashion: "Oh, all right, I'll take him away and drown him for you!
"Oh, little boy," called the woman, "why, don't drown him!"
"Oh, all right, I'll shoot him then!" called obliging Stubby, whistling for the dog--while all morning long the woman grieved over having sent a helpless little dog away with that perfectly brutal paper boy!
Stubby's mother was washing. She looked up from her tubs on the back porch to say, "Wish you'd take that bucket--" then seeing what was slinking behind her son, straightway assumed the role of destiny with, "Git out o' here!"
Stubby snapped his fingers behind his back as much as to say, "Wait a minute."
"A woman gave him to me," he said to his mother.
"Gave him to you?" she scoffed. "I sh' think she would!"
Then something happened that had not happened many times in Stubby's short lifetime. He acknowledged his feelings.
"I'd like to keep him. I'd like to have a dog."
His mother shook her hands and the flying suds seemed expressing her scorn. "Huh! That ugly good-for-nothing thing?"
The dog had edged in between Stubby's feet and crouched there. "He could go with me on my route," said Stubby. "He'd kind of be company for me."
And when he had said that he knew all at once just how lonesome he had been sometimes on his route, how he had wanted something to "kind of be company" for him.
His face twitched as he stooped down to pat the dog. Mrs. Lynch looked at her son--youngest of her five. Not the hardness of her heart but the hardness of her life had made her unpractised in moments of tenderness. Something in the way Stubby was patting the dog suggested to her that Stubby was a "queer one." He was kind of little to be carrying papers all by himself.
Stubby looked up. "He could eat what's thrown away."
That was an error in diplomacy. The woman's face hardened. "Mighty little'll be thrown away this winter," she muttered.
But just then Mrs. Johnson appeared on the other side of the fence and began hanging up her clothes and with that Mrs. Lynch saw her way to justify herself in indulging her son. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Lynch had "had words." "You just let him stay around, Stubby," she called, and you would have supposed from her tone it was Stubby who was on the other side of the fence, "maybe he'll keep the neighbour's chickens out! Them that ain't got chickens o' their own don't want to be bothered with the neighbours'!"
That was how it happened that he stayed; and no one but Stubby knew--and possibly Stubby didn't either--how it happened that he was named Hero. It would seem that Hero should be a noble St. Bernard, or a particularly mean-looking bulldog, not a stocky, shapeless, squint-eyed yellow dog with one ear bitten half off and one leg built on an entirely different plan from its fellow legs. Possibly Stubby's own spiritual experiences had suggested to him that you weren't necessarily the way you looked.
The chickens were pretty well kept out, though no one ever saw Hero doing any of it. Perhaps Hero had been too long associated with chasing to desire any part in it--even with roles reversed. If Stubby could help it, no one really saw Stubby doing the chasing either; he became skilled in chasing when he did not appear to be chasing; then he would get Hero to barking and turn to his mother with, "Guess you don't see so many chickens round nowadays."
The fellows in the line jeered at Hero at first, but they soon tired of it when Stubby said he didn't want the cur but his mother made him stay around to keep the chickens out. He was a fine chicken dog, Stubby grudgingly admitted. He couldn't keep him from following, said Stubby, so he just let him come. Sometimes when they were waiting in line Stubby made ferocious threats at Hero. He was going to break his back and wring his head off and do other heartless things which for some reason he never started in right then and there to accomplish.
It was different when they were alone--and they were alone a good deal. Stubby's route wasn't nearly so long after he had Hero to go with him. When winter came and five o'clock was dark and cold for starting out it was pretty good to have Hero trotting at his heels. And Hero always wanted to go; it was never so rainy nor so cold that that yellow dog seemed to think he would rather stay home by the fire. Then Hero was always waiting for him when he came home from school. Stubby would sing out, "Hello, cur!" and the tone was such that Hero did not grasp that he was being insulted. Sometimes when there was nobody about, Stubby picked Hero up in his arms and squeezed him--Stubby had not had a large experience with squeezing. At those times Hero would lick Stubby's face and whimper a little love whimper and such were the workings of Stubby's heart and mind that that made him of quite as much account as if he really had chased the chickens. Stubby, who had seen the way dogs can look at you out of their eyes, was not one to say of a dog, "What good is he?"
But it seemed there were such people. There were even people who thought you oughtn't to have a dog to love and to love you if you weren't one of those rich people who could pay two dollars and a half a year for the luxury.
Stubby first heard of those people one night in June. The father of the Lynch family was sitting in the back yard reading the paper when Hero and Stubby came running in from the alley. It was one of those moments when Hero, forgetting the bleakness of his youth, abandoned himself to the joy of living. He was tearing round and round Stubby, barking, when Stubby's father called out: "Here!--shut up there, you cur. You better lie low. You're going to be shot the first of August."
Stubby, and as regards the joy of living Hero had done as much for Stubby as Stubby for Hero, came to a halt. The fun and frolic just died right out of him and he stood there staring at his father, who had turned the page and was settling himself to a new horror. At last Stubby spoke. "Why's he going to be shot on the first of August?" he asked in a tight little voice.
His father looked up. "Why's he going to be shot? You got any two dollars and a half to pay for him?"
He laughed as though that were a joke. Well, it was something of a joke. Stubby got ten cents a week out of his paper money. The rest he "turned in."
Then he went back to his paper. There was another long pause before Stubby asked, in that tight queer little voice: "What'd I have to pay two dollars and a half for? Nobody owns him."
His parent stirred scornfully. "Suppose you never heard of a dog tax, did you? S'pose they don't learn you nothing like that at school?"
Yes, Stubby did know that dogs had to have checks, but he hadn't thought anything about that in connection with Hero. He ventured another question. "You have to have 'em for all dogs, even if you just picked 'em up on the street and took care of 'em when nobody else would?"
"You bet you do," his parent assured him genially. "You pay your dog tax or the policeman comes on the first of August and shoots your dog."
With that he dismissed it for good, burying himself in his paper. For a minute the boy stood there in silence. Then he walked slowly round the house and sat down where his father couldn't see him. Hero followed--it was a way Hero had. The dog sat down beside the boy and after a couple of minutes the boy's arm stole furtively around him and they sat there very still for a long time.
As nobody but Hero paid much attention to him, nobody save Hero noticed how quiet and queer Stubby was for the next three days. Hero must have noticed it, for he was quiet and queer too. He followed wherever Stubby would let him, and every time he got a chance he would nestle up to him and look into his face--that way even cur dogs have of doing when they fear something is wrong.
At the end of three days Stubby, his little freckled face set and grim, took his stand in front of his father and came right out with: "I want to keep one week's paper money to pay Hero's tax."
His father's chair had been tilted back against a tree. Now it came down with a thud. "Oh, you do, do you?"
"I can earn the other fifty cents at little jobs."
"You can, can you? Now ain't you smart!"
The tone brought the blood to Stubby's face. "I think I got a right to," he said, his voice low.
The man's face, which had been taunting, grew ugly. "Look a-here, young man, none o' your lip!"
The tears rushed to Stubby's eyes but he stumbled on: "I guess Hero's got a right to some of my paper money when he goes with me every day on my route."
At that his father stared for a minute and then burst into a loud laugh. Blinded with tears, the boy turned to the house.
After she had gone to bed that night Stubby's mother heard a sound from the alcove at the head of the stairs where her youngest child slept. As the sound kept on she got out of her bed and went to Stubby's cot.
"Look here," she said, awkwardly but not unkindly, "this won't do. We're poor folks, Freddie" (it was only once in a while she called him that), "all we can do to live these times--we can't pay no dog tax."
As Stubby did not speak she added: "I know you've taken to the dog, but just the same you ain't to feel hard to your pa. He can't help it--and neither can I. Things is as they is--and nobody can help it."
As, despite this bit of philosophy Stubby was still gulping back sobs, she added what she thought a master stroke in consolation. "Now you just go right to sleep, and if they come to take this dog away maybe you can pick up another one in the fall."
The sobs suddenly stopped and Stubby stared at her. And what he said after a long stare was: "I guess there ain't no use in you and me talking about it."
"That's right," said she, relieved; "now you go right off to sleep." And she left him, never dreaming why Stubby had seen there was no use talking about it.
Nor did he talk about it; but a change came over Stubby's funny little person in the next few days. The change was particularly concerned with his jaw, though there was something different, too, in the light in his eyes as he looked straight ahead, and something different in his voice when he said: "Come on, Hero."
He got so he could walk into a store and demand, in a hard little voice: "Want a boy to do anything for you?" and when they said, "Got more boys than we know what to do with, sonny," Stubby would say, "All right," and stalk sturdily out again. Sometimes they laughed and said: "What could you do?" and then Stubby would stalk out, but possibly a little less sturdily.
Vacation came the next week, and still he had found nothing. His father, however, had been more successful. He found a place where they wanted a boy to work in a yard a couple of hours in the morning. For that Stubby was to get a dollar and a half a week. But that was to be turned in for his "keep." There were lots of mouths to feed--as Stubby's mother was always calling to her neighbour across the alley.
But the yard gave Stubby an idea, and he earned some dimes and one quarter in the next week. Most folks thought he was too little--one kind lady told him he ought to be playing, not working--but there were people who would let him take a big shears and cut grass around flower beds, and things like that. This he had to do afternoons, when he was supposed to be off playing, and when he came home his mother sometimes said some folks had it easy--playing around all day.
It was now the first week in July and Stubby had a dollar and twenty cents. It was getting to the point where he would wake in the night and find himself sitting up in bed, hands clenched. He dreamed dreams about how folks would let him live if he had ninety-nine cents but how he only had ninety-seven and a half, so they were going to shoot him.
Then one day he found Mr. Stuart. He was passing the house after having asked three people if they wanted a boy, and they didn't, and seemed so surprised at the idea of their wanting him that Stubby's throat was all tight, when Mr. Stuart sang out: "Say, boy, want a little job?"
It seemed at first it must be a joke--or a dream--anybody asking him if he wanted one, but the man was beckoning to him, so he pulled himself together and ran up the steps.
"Now here's a little package"--he took something out of the mail box. "It doesn't belong here. It's to go to three-hundred-two Pleasant street. You take it for a dime?"
As he was going down the steps the man called: "Say, boy, how'd you like a steady job?"
For the first minute it seemed pretty mean--making fun of a fellow that way!
"This will be here every day. Suppose you come each day, about this time, and take it over there--not mentioning it to anybody."
Stubby felt weak. "Why, all right," he managed to say.
"I'll give you fifty cents a week. That fair?"
"Yes, sir," said Stubby, doing some quick calculation.
"Then here goes for the first week"--and he handed him the other forty cents.
It was funny how fast the world could change! Stubby wanted to run--he hadn't been doing much running of late. He wanted to go home and get Hero to go with him to Pleasant street, but didn't. No, sir, when you had a job you had to 'tend to things!
Well, a person could do things, if he had to, thought Stubby. No use saying you couldn't, you could, if you had to. He was back in tune with life. He whistled; he turned up his collar in the old rakish way; he threw a stick at a cat. Back home he jumped over the fence instead of going in the gate--lately he had actually been using the gate. And he cried, "Get out of my sight, you cur!" in tones which, as Hero understood things, meant anything but getting out of his sight.
He was a little boy again. He slept at night as little boys sleep. He played with Hero along the route--taught him some new tricks. His jaw relaxed from its grown-upishness.
It was funny about those Stuarts. Sometimes he saw Mr. Stuart, but never anybody else; the place seemed shut up. But each day the little package was there, and every day he took it to Pleasant street and left it at the door there--that place seemed shut up, too.
When it was well into the second week Stubby ventured to say something about the next fifty cents.
The man fumbled in his pockets. Something in his face was familiar to experienced Stubby. It suggested a having to have two dollars and a half by August first and only having a dollar and a quarter state of mind.
"I haven't got the change. Pay you at the end of next week for the whole business. That all right?"
Stubby considered. "I've got to have it before the first of August," he said.
At that the man laughed--funny kind of laugh, it was, and muttered something. But he told Stubby he would have it before the first.
It bothered Stubby. He wished the man had given it to him then. He would rather get it each week and keep it himself. A little of the grown-up look stole back.
After that he didn't see Mr. Stuart, and one day, a week or so later, the package was not in the box and a man who wore the kind of clothes Stubby's father wore came around the house and asked him what he was doing.
Stubby was wary. "Oh, I've got a little job I do for Mr. Stuart."
The man laughed. "I had a little job I did for Mr. Stuart, too. You paid in advance?"
Stubby pricked up his ears.
"'Cause if you ain't, I'd advise you to look out for a little job some'eres else."
Then it came out. Mr. Stuart was broke; more than that, he was "off his nut." Lots of people were doing little jobs for him--there was no sense in any of them, and now he had suddenly been called out of town!
There was a trembly feeling through Stubby's insides, but outwardly he was bristling just like his hair bristled as he demanded: "Where am I to get what's coming to me?"
"'Fraid you won't get it, sonny. We're all in the same boat." He looked Stubby up and down and then added: "Kind of little for that boat."
"I got to have it!" cried Stubby. "I tell you, I got to!"
The man shook his head. "That cuts no ice. Hard luck, sonny, but we've got to take our medicine in this world. 'Taint no medicine for kids, though," he muttered.
Stubby's face just then was too much for him. He put his hand in his pocket and drew out a dime, saying: "There now. You run along and get you a soda and forget your troubles. It ain't always like this. You'll have better luck next time."
But Stubby did not get the soda. He put the dime in his pocket and turned toward home. Something was the matter with his legs--they acted funny about carrying him. He tried to whistle, but something was the matter with his lips, too.
Counting this dime, he now had a dollar and eighty cents, and it was the twenty-eighth day of July. "Thirty days has September--April, June and November--" he was saying to himself. Then July was one of the long ones. Well, that was a good thing! Been a great deal worse if July was a short one. Again he tried to whistle, and that time did manage to pipe out a few shrill little notes.
When Hero came running up the hill to meet him he slapped him on the back and cried, "Hello, Hero!" in tones fairly swaggering with bravado.
That night he engaged his father in conversation--the phrase is well adapted to the way Stubby went about it. "How is it about--'bout things like taxes"--Stubby crossed his knees and swung one foot to show his indifference--"if you have almost enough--do they sometimes let you off?"--the detachment was a shade less perfect on that last.
His father laughed scoffingly. "Well, I guess not!"
"I thought maybe," said Stubby, "if a person had tried awful hard--and had most enough--"
Something inside him was all shaky, so he didn't go on. His father said that trying didn't have anything to do with it.
It was hard for Stubby not to sob out that he thought trying ought to have something to do with it, but he only made a hissing noise between his teeth that took the place of the whistle that wouldn't come.
"Kind of seems," he resumed, "if a person would have had enough if they hadn't been beat out of it, maybe--if he done the best he could--"
His father snorted derisively and informed him that doing the best you could made no difference to the government; hard luck stories didn't go when it came to the laws of the land.
Thereupon Stubby took a little walk out to the alley and spent a considerable time in contemplation of the neighbour's chicken-yard. When he came back he walked right up to his father and standing there, feet planted, shoulders squared, wanted to know, in a desperate little voice: "If some one else was to give--say a dollar and eighty cents for Hero, could I take the other seventy out of my paper money?"
The man turned upon him roughly. "Uh-huh! That's it, is it? That's why you're getting so smart all of a sudden about government! Look a-here. Just l'me tell you something. You're lucky if you git enough to eat this winter. Do you know there's talk of the factory shuttin' down? Dog tax! Why you're lucky if you git shoes."
Stubby had turned away and was standing with his back to his father, hands in his pockets.
"And l'me tell you some'en else, young man. If you got any dollar and eighty cents, you give it to your mother!"
As Stubby was turning the corner of the house he called after him: "How'd you like to have me get you an automobile?"
He went doggedly from house to house the next afternoon, but nobody had any jobs. When Hero came running out to him that night he patted him, but didn't speak.
That evening as they were sitting in the back yard--Stubby and Hero a little apart from the others--his father was discoursing with his brother about anarchists. They were getting commoner, his father thought. There were a good many of them at the shop. They didn't call themselves that, but that was what they were.
"Well, what is an anarchist, anyhow?" Stubby's mother wanted to know.
"Why, an anarchist," her lord informed her, "is one that's against the government. He don't believe in the law and order. The real bad anarchists shoot them that tries to enforce the laws of the land. Guess if you'd read the papers these days you'd know."
Stubby's brain had been going round and round and these words caught in it as it whirled. The government--the laws of the land--why, it was the government and the laws of the land that were going to shoot Hero! It was the government--the laws of the land--that didn't care how hard you had tried--didn't care whether you had been cheated--didn't care how you felt--didn't care about anything except getting the money! His brain got hotter. Well, he didn't believe in the government, either. He was one of those people--those anarchists--that were against the laws of the land.
He'd done the very best he could and now the government was going to take Hero away from him just because he couldn't get--couldn't get--that other seventy cents.
Stubby's mother didn't hear her son crying that night. That was because Stubby was successful in holding the pillow over his head.
The next morning he looked in one of the papers he was carrying to see what it said about anarchists. Sure enough, some place way off somewhere, the anarchists had shot somebody that was trying to enforce the laws of the land. The laws of the land--that didn't care.
That afternoon as Stubby tramped around looking for jobs he saw a good many boys playing with dogs. None of them seemed to be worrying about whether their dogs had checks. To Stubby's hot little brain and sore little heart came the thought that they didn't love their dogs any more than he loved Hero, either. But the government didn't care whether he loved Hero or not! Pooh!--what was that to the government? All it cared about was getting the money. He stood for a long time watching a boy giving his dog a bath. The dog was trying to get away and the boy and another boy were having lots of fun about it. All of a sudden Stubby turned and ran away--ran down an alley, ran through a number of alleys, just kept on running, blinded by the tears.
And that night, in the middle of the night, that something in his head going round and round, getting hotter and hotter, he decided that the only thing for him to do was to shoot the policeman who came to take Hero away on the morning of August first--that would be day after to-morrow.
All night long policemen with revolvers stood around his bed. When his mother called him at half-past four he was shaking so he could scarcely get into his clothes.
On his way home from his route Stubby had to pass a police-station. He went on the other side of the street and stood there looking across. One of the policemen was playing with a dog!
Suddenly he wanted to rush over and throw himself down at that policeman's feet--sob out the story--ask him to please, please wait till he could get that other seventy cents.
But just then the policeman got up and went in the station, and Stubby was afraid to go in the police-station.
That policeman complicated things for Stubby. Before that it had been quite simple. The policeman would come to enforce the law of the land; but he did not believe in the law of the land, so he would just kill the policeman. But it seemed a policeman wasn't just a person who enforced the laws of the land. He was also a person who played with a dog.
After a whole day of walking around thinking about it--his eyes burning, his heart pounding--he decided that the thing to do was to warn the policeman by writing a letter. He did not know whether real anarchists warned them or not, but Stubby couldn't get reconciled to the idea of killing a person without telling him you were going to do it. It seemed that even a policeman should be told--especially a policeman who played with a dog.
The following letter was pencilled by a shaking hand, late that afternoon. It was written upon a barrel in the Lynch wood-shed, on a piece of wrapping paper, a bristly little head bending over it:
To the Policeman who comes to take my dog 'cause I ain't got the two fifty--'cause I tried but could only get one eighty--'cause a man was off his nut and didn't pay me what I earned--
This is to tell you I am an anarchist and do not believe in the government or the law and the order and will shoot you when you come. I wouldn't a been an anarchist if I could a got the money and I tried to get it but I couldn't get it--not enough. I don't think the government had ought to take things you like like I like Hero so I am against the government.
Thought I would tell you first.
I don't see how I can shoot you 'cause where would I get the revolver. So I will have to do it with the butcher knife. Folks are sometimes killed that way 'cause my father read it in the paper.
If you wanted to take the one eighty and leave Hero till I can get the seventy I will not do anything to you and would be very much obliged.
1113 Willow street.
The letter was properly addressed and sealed--not for nothing had Stubby's teacher given those instructions in the art of letter writing. The stamp he paid for out of the dime the man gave him to get a soda with--and forget his troubles.
Now Bill O'Brien was on the desk at the police-station and Miss Murphy of the Herald stood in with Bill. That was how it came about that the next morning a fat policeman, an eager-looking girl and a young fellow with a kodak descended into the hollow to 1113 Willow street.
A little boy peeped around the corner of the house--such a wild-looking little boy--hair all standing up and eyes glittering. A yellow dog ran out and barked. The boy darted out and grabbed the dog in his arms and in that moment the girl called to the man with the black box: "Right now! Quick! Get him!"
They were getting ready to shoot Hero! That box was the way the police did it! He must--oh, he must--must ... Boy and dog sank to the ground--but just the same the boy was shielding the dog!
When Stubby had pulled himself together the policeman was holding Hero. He said that Hero was certainly a fine dog--he had a dog a good deal like him at home. And Miss Murphy--she was choking back sobs herself--knew how he could earn the seventy cents that afternoon.
In such wise do a good anarchist and a good story go down under the same blow. Some of those sobs Miss Murphy choked back got into what she wrote about Stubby and his yellow dog and the next day citizens with no sense of the dramatic sent money enough to check Hero through life.
At first Stubby's father said he had a good mind to lick him. But something in the quality of Miss Murphy's journalism left a hazy feeling of there being something remarkable about his son. He confided to his good wife that it wouldn't surprise him much if Stubby was some day President. Somebody had to be President, said he, and he had noticed it was generally those who in their youthful days did things that made lively reading in the newspapers.