They found Jim on deck, and buried up to his ears in work. He seemed to enjoy it to the limit, too, for it made him appear so responsible and tickled his vanity. He grinned at seeing his two young friends.
“I suppose now you’ve read my latest effusion, boys?” Jim remarked, with an assumption of extreme modesty, which, however, hardly suited his usual bold demeanor.
Jim had all a reporter’s “nerve,” and could coolly face a raging subscriber who had dropped in to ask to have his subscription closed because of a certain offensive article in the last issue—yes, and likely as not Jim could soothe the ruffled feathers of the enraged man, show him how he had really been paid a compliment, and finally bow him out of the office with another year’s subscription left in the shape of a dollar and a half in good money.
“We’ve fairly devoured it, Jim,” frankly admitted Thad. “Why, I can repeat it off-hand right now, I’ve read it so often. And Jim, I want to say that it’s as clever a piece of work as I ever got hold of. That terrible Texan stands out as clear as print. Everybody in Scranton will be rubbering all today, thinking they can see Marshal Hastings in each stranger in town. I congratulate you, Jim; you’re a peach at your trade, believe me.”
Of course that sort of “gush” just tickled Jim immensely. He tried not to show it, but his eyes were twinkling with gratified vanity. It was fine to hear other people complimenting him so warmly, even though they were but boys from Scranton High. Praise is acceptable even from the lowly; and Jim made queer motions with his lips as though he might be rolling the sweet morsel over his tongue.
“Glad you like it, fellows,” he said, in as unconcerned a voice as he could muster to the fore. “Course there was some hurry, because I’m rushed for time, and I could have done a heap better if I really tried to lay myself out. But I guess that ought to fill the bill, and give Brother Lu a little scare, eh, Thad, old scout?”
“I’m expecting he’ll shake himself out of his shoes, or rather Brother-in-law Andrew’s footwear,” exclaimed the eager Thad. “But say, Jim, how about your going out with us, and watching him skip!”
Jim looked serious.
“H’m! got an awful bunch of work to do, fellows, this morning, as well as hold the editorial desk down for Mr. Hanks; but perhaps the sooner we get that little job over with the better. Yes, I’ll call Philip, our boy here, who’s rubbing the ink off his face and hands, and we’ll all start out to finish Brother Lu’s career in Scranton.”
SOMETHING GOES WRONG
It was in this confident mood that they made their start. Philip had the copy of the Courier, which Jim had deftly folded so that the headlines of his startling article would be seen immediately any one picked the paper up. He was also instructed to simply say that the management of the weekly, wishing to give more citizens of Scranton an opportunity to get acquainted with the feast of good things served up every Saturday, was sending out a supply of sample copies, and that a subscription would be much appreciated. As Philip was a shrewd little fellow he “caught on” to the idea, and would without fail carry it through all right.