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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 353 pages of information about O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920.

“Come on, Jumbo.  How ’bout marrying us a couple?”

“Yea!”

Jumbo despite his protestations was seized by four brawny clowns, stripped of his apron and escorted to a raised dais at the head of the ball.  There his collar was removed and replaced back side forward to give him a sanctimonious effect.  He stood there grinning from ear to ear, evidently not a little pleased, while the parade separated into two lines leaving an aisle for the bride and groom.

“Lawdy, man,” chuckled Jumbo, “Ah got ole Bible ‘n’ ev’ythin’, sho nuff.”

He produced a battered Bible from a mysterious interior

“Yea.  Old Jumbo’s got a Bible!”

“Razor, too, I’ll bet!”

“Marry ’em off, Jumbo!”

Together the snake charmer and the camel ascended the cheering aisle and stopped in front of Jumbo, who adopted a grave pontifical air.

“Where’s your license, camel?”

“Make it legal, camel.”

A man near by prodded Perry.

“Give him a piece of paper, camel.  Anything’ll do.”

Perry fumbled confusedly in his pocket, found a folded paper and pushed it out through the camel’s mouth.  Holding it upside down Jumbo pretended to scan it earnestly.

“Dis yeah’s a special camel’s license,” he said.  “Get you ring ready, camel.”

Inside the camel Perry turned round and addressed his latter half.

“Gimme a ring, for Pete’s sake!”

“I ain’t got none,” protested a weary voice.

“You have.  I saw it.”

“I ain’t goin’ to take it offen my hand.”

“If you don’t I’ll kill you.”

There was a gasp and Perry felt a huge affair of rhinestone and brass inserted into his hand.

Again he was nudged from the outside.

“Speak up!”

“I do!” cried Perry quickly.

He heard Betty’s responses given in a laughing debonair tone, and the sound of them even in this burlesque thrilled him.

If it was only real! he thought.  If it only was!

Then he had pushed the rhinestone through a tear in the camel’s coat and was slipping it on her finger, muttering ancient and historic words after Jumbo.  He didn’t want any one to know about this ever.  His one idea was to slip away without having to disclose his identity, for Mr. Tate had so far kept his secret well.  A dignified young man, Perry—­and this might injure his infant law practice.

“Kiss her, camel!”

“Embrace the bride!”

“Unmask, camel, and kiss her!”

Instinctively his heart beat high as Betty turned to him laughingly and began playfully to stroke the cardboard muzzle.  He felt his self-control giving away, he longed to seize her in his arms and declare his identity and kiss those scarlet lips that smiled teasingly at him from only a foot away—­when suddenly the laughter and applause round them died away and a curious hush fell over the hall.  Perry and Betty looked up in surprise.  Jumbo had given vent to a huge “Hello!” in such a startled and amazed voice that all eyes were bent on him.

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