Then Keats says: “Now you come with me and we’ll show it to mamma!” But Shelley says: “Not me! I have to draw the line somewhere. I shall be far away from here to-night. I am not afraid of enemy soldiers, for I’ve been up against them too often. But there are worse things than death, so you’ll have to face mamma alone. You can tell her I did it, but I will not be there to hear you. So good-bye and God help you!” And Shelley retired to a position less exposed.
That was an awful day for the Plunkett home, because little Keats, being left to his own resources, tried to use his brain. First he gathered up the long shining curls and wrapped ’em in a newspaper. Then he went out and found Artie Bartell, who is a kind of a harmless halfwit that just walks the streets and will do anything whatever if told, being anxious to please. Keats gives Artie a dime to take the curls up to his dear mother and tell her that her little boy has been run over by a freight engine down to the station and these here curls was all that could be saved of him.
Then he hurries home the back way and watches, and pretty soon he sees some neighbours come rushing to the house when they hear his mother scream, so then he knows everything is all right. He waits a minute or two, then marches in with his hat off. His mother actually don’t know him at first, on account of his naked skull, but she soon sees it must be he, little Keats, and then has hysterics because she thinks the freight engine has clipped him this way. And of course there was more hysterics when she learned the terrible truth of his brother’s infamy. I guess Shelley had been wise all right to keep off the place at that time, soldier or no soldier. But that’s neither here nor there.
The point is that little Keats may now be saved to a life of usefulness and not be hanged for murder, thanks to his brother’s brave action. Of course Bugs himself is set in his ways, and will adorn only positions of a certain kind. He’s fine here, for instance, just at this time when I got to hire all kinds that need a firm hand—and Bugs has two.
Sure, it was him took the job of foreman here yesterday. We had quite a little talk about things when he come. He told me how he released his little brother from shame. He said he wouldn’t of done such a radical thing except that peace is now coming on and the world will no longer need such fighting devils as curls will make of a boy if let to stay long enough.
“Keats might have turned out even worse than I did,” he says, “but if there wasn’t going to be any way where he could do it legally, what was the use? He’d probably sometime have killed a boy that called him Goldilocks, and then the law might have made it unpleasant for him. I thought it was only fair to give him a chance to live peaceful. Of course in my own case mamma acted for the best without knowing it. We needed fighters, and I wouldn’t have been anything at all like a fighter if she hadn’t made me wear those curls till my whiskers began to show above the surface. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was a born coward, but those golden strands took all that out of me. I had to fight.