It was not until the following summer that I learned the truth. An item in the evening paper caught my eye. It told of the wonderful boys’ club that was being erected in Blank Street, by an unknown philanthropist. The building was six stories in height, covering half a block, and was to contain a large gymnasium, a marble swimming pool, an auditorium, school-rooms, drill hall for the Boy Scout organization, clubrooms, billiard and pool tables, and sleeping quarters for a small army. The story was written in the form of an interview with the representative of the philanthropist, a Mr. John V. Gillespie, who was seeing personally to every detail of the planning and construction. The boys’ club had already been in existence for a year, occupying hired quarters, also under the supervision and control of the aforesaid Gillespie, who, it seemed, had the destinies of the young males of the district in which the building was situated, already in the hollow of his hand. The unknown philanthropist was Jerry, of course. I read between the lines, the marble pool which Una had envied us, the gymnasium, with “ropes to pull.” Jerry and Una had frequently discussed the further needs of the district and the prospective boys’ club, I knew, was one of her hobbies and his.
As may be imagined not many hours elapsed before I made a pilgrimage to the city and visited the wonderful new structure, already under roof, which was to house the heirs of Jerry’s munificence. It was of truly splendid proportions and already gave roughly the shape of its different rooms, which in point of dimensions left nothing to be desired. The operation would, I should think, make short work of a million dollars and, with its endowment, two million perhaps! Jerry was beginning well.
I inquired of the superintendent for Mr. Gillespie and was informed that that gentleman could probably be found at the temporary building in the adjoining street. Thither, therefore, I went, sure that after so great a lapse of time Jerry must pardon my interest and intrusion. I was not surprised to discover that Mr. John V. Gillespie was no less a person than Jerry himself, who was at the moment of my arrival busily engaged with a Scoutmaster, helping to teach the setting-up exercises. I slipped into the room unobtrusively, a place at the rear of the building—a dance hall it had once been, as I afterwards learned—and patched the youngsters going through their drill. Jerry walked around among them, with a word here, a touch on a shoulder there, while the boys struggled manfully for perfection. Jerry was so interested that he would not have seen me had I not risen as he passed my way and offered my hand.
“Roger! By George!”
He clapped his arms around me at once and gave me a bear hug.
“Good old Dry-as-dust!” he cried, “I was wondering how soon you’d find me out.”
“You’re not angry?”
“Bless your heart! I’ve been thinking of writing you about everything, but I wanted to wait until things were a little further along.”