The Gay Cockade eBook

Temple Bailey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 334 pages of information about The Gay Cockade.

The pebble that he threw had widening circles.  People began to ask themselves what, after all, they knew of O-liver.  From somewhere in the darkness went up the words of an evil chant: 

    What’s the matter with O-liver, O-liver,
    White-livered O-liver? 
    Ask Jane, Sandwich Jane,
    O-liver, white liver,
    Jane, Jane, Jane.

Jane felt her heart stand still.  Back of her she heard Tommy swearing:  “It’s all their damned wickedness!” She saw O-liver start from his chair and sink back, helpless against the insidiousness of this attack.

The speaker went on.  It would seem, he said, from what he could learn, that Tillotson’s honorable opponent was sailing under false colors.  He was a married man.  He had deserted his wife.  He sat among them as a saint, when he was really a sinner.

“A sinner, gentlemen.”  The speaker paused for the effect, then proceeded with his argument.  Of course they were all sinners, but they weren’t hypocrites.  Tillotson wasn’t a hypocrite.  He was a good fellow.  He didn’t want Tinkersfield to be a Sunday school.  He wanted it to be a town.  You know—­a town that every fellow would want to hit on Saturday night.

There were those in the crowd who began to feel that a weak spot had been found in O-liver’s armor.  Secrecy!  They didn’t like it.  There were signs of wavering among some who had squared their shoulders.  After all, they didn’t want to make a Sunday school of Tinkersfield.  They wondered, too, if there wasn’t some truth in the things that were being hinted by that low chant in the darkness: 

    Ask Jane, Sandwich Jane,
    O-liver, white liver,
    Jane, Jane, Jane.

O-liver was restless, his hands clenched at his sides.  Atwood and Henry were restless.  Tommy was restless.  They couldn’t let such insults go unnoticed.  Somebody had to fight for Jane!

Tillotson’s supporters kept the thing stirring.  If the meeting could end in a brawl the odds would be in favor of Tillotson.  The effect of O-liver’s uplift would be lost.  Even his friends couldn’t sway a fighting crowd back to him.

But they had forgotten to reckon with Jane!

She had seen in a sudden crystal flash the thing which might happen.  A fight would end it all for O-liver.  She had seen his efforts at self-control.  She knew his agony of soul.  She knew that at any moment he might knock somebody down—­Tillotson or Tillotson’s sponsor.  And it would all be in the morning papers.  There would be innuendo—­the hint of scandalous things.  And O-liver’s reputation would pay the price.  It was characteristic that she did not at the moment think of her own reputation.  It was O-liver who must be saved!

And so when Tillotson’s backer sat down Jane stood up.

“Please, listen!” she said; and the crowd turned toward her.  “Please, listen, and stop singing that silly song.  I never heard anything so silly as that song in my life!”

Project Gutenberg
The Gay Cockade from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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