Parlor entertainers make a famous sneeze by delegating to each of a group some vowel in the word “h—sh!” It shall be “hash” for this one, “hish” for that one, “hush” for still another, and so on. Then the professor counts three, at which all yell together, and the consolidated sound is a sneeze.
In a chorus the leader may tell you one singer is worth all the rest. So, if Corkey were in this parlor, and should render one unforeseen, unpremeditated sneeze, you would not know the parlorful had sneezed along with him. Corkey’s sneeze is unapproachable, unrivaled, hated, feared, admired, reverenced. The devout say “God bless you!” with deep unction. The adventurous declare that such a sneeze would buckle the cabin-floor of a steamer like a wave in the trough of the sea.
When Corkey sneezes, sailors are moved to treat to the drinks. They mark it as an event. A sailor will treat you because it is Christmas, or because Corkey has sneezed.
Greatness consists in doing one thing better or worse than any one else can do it. Thus it is rare a man is so really great as Corkey.
BAD NEWS ALL AROUND
With thousands of gamblers in good luck, and thousands of sailors in port, why should not the saloons of the dock regions resound also with politics—a politics of ultra-marine color—Corkey recooking and warming the cold statesmanship of his newspaper, breaking the counter with his fist, paying gorgeously for both drinks and glasses, smiling when the sailors expel outside politicians and at last rocking the building with his sneeze.
It is thus settled that Corkey shall go to Congress from Lockwin’s district. Because this is a sailor’s matter it is difficult to handle it from the adversary’s side. The political boss first hears of it through the information of a rival marine reporter on a democratic sheet.
This is on Wednesday. The primaries are to be held on Friday. The boss has never dealt with a similar mishap. He learns that ten wagons have been engaged by the president of the sailors’ society. He observes that the season is favorable to Corkey’s plans.
What, then, does Corkey want?
What is he after? He surely doesn’t expect to go to Washington!
“That’s what I expect. You just screw your nut straight that time, sure.”
What does he want to go to Congress for?
“Well, my father got there. I guess my grandfather was in, too. My great-grandfather wasn’t no bad player. But I don’t care nothing for dead men. I’m going to Congress to start the labor party. I’m going to have Eight Hours and more fog-horns on the Manitous and the Foxes. I’m going to have a Syrena on the break-water.”
The siren-horn is just now the wonder of the lake region.
“I tell you she’ll be a bird.”