“D.K.T. couldn’t have done better. May I show it to him?”
In the office of the Ashland (N.J.) Bee the solemn young man was known as Mr. Sloan. At Miss Lance’s he was Sam. The mentioned D.K.T. conducted the celebrated “Bee-Stings” column on the editorial page of Mr. Sloan’s journal, his levity being offset by the sobriety of Mr. Sloan, who was assistant city-editor.
On two evenings a week Mr. Sloan fled the cares of the Fourth Estate and became Sam in the soul-refreshing presence of Miss Angelina. He was by no means her only male admirer. In the Sixth Grade at the Hilldale Public School she had thirty others; among these Willie Downey, whose name appeared on every page of the composition Mr. Sloan had read.
With a host of other sixth-graders throughout the city Willie had striven that day for a prize of ten dollars in gold offered by the public-spirited A. Lincoln Wilbram, of Wilbram, Prescott & Co., for the best schoolboy essay on Moral Principles.
“Moral principles, gentlemen; that is what we need in Ashland. How many men do you know who stand up for their convictions—or have any to stand up for?”
If the head of a department store is a bit thunderous at times, think what a Jovian position he occupies. In his cloud-girt, mahogany-panelled throne-room on the eighth floor he rules over a thousand mortals, down to the little Jacob Downeys in the basement, who, if they do not quite weep with delight when he gives them a smile, tremble, at least, at his frown. When a large body of popular opinion accords him greatness, were he not undemocratic to affect humility and speak small?
“I speak of common men,” said Mr. Wilbram (this was at a Chamber of Commerce banquet); “of men whose living depends upon the pleasure of their superiors. How few there are with fearless eye!”
He scarcely heard the laughter from a group of building contractors at a side table, who had not seen a servile eye among their workmen in many moons; for a worthy project had popped into his mind at that instant. How was the moral backbone of our yeomanry to be stiffened save through education? Why not a prize contest to stimulate the interest of the rising generation in this obsolete subject?
In many an Ashland home where bicycles, roller-skates, wireless outfits, and other such extravagances were strongly desired, the question had since been asked: “Pa, what are Moral Principles?” While some of the resulting essays indicated a haziness in paternal minds, not so the production that Mr. Sloan read in Miss Lance’s parlour.
“But I couldn’t let you print it,” said Miss Angelina. “I wouldn’t have Willie shamed for anything. He may be weak in grammar, but he is captain of every athletic team in the school. He has told me in confidence that he means to spend the prize money for a genuine horse-hide catching-mitt.”
“If I cross out his name, or give him a nom de plume?”