Friday, November 2, 2018




The American Legion Magazine May 1945

SERGEANT MATT WILEY, his left chest blazing with ribbons, stepped off the train in Newtown to find his family affairs in a mess. He still limped slightly owing to an expression of Japanese esteem received over Leyte, and had looked forward eagerly to thirty days of rest and peace and quiet with his father and mother, but found nothing but illness and distress, worry and financial disaster.

"Oh, Mike," his mother said at the train, "I'm so glad you're home. So glad. But I don't know what you can do."

Mike grinned. "What," he asked, "have I got to do? Out where I come from we get our orders, ask no questions, and bring home the bacon."

"Your father is sick—more worry than physical illness. He's going to lose the mill and everything he's given his life to build up. Not his fault, Mike. Not lack of attention to business, nor mishandling of his affairs."

"What then?" Mike wanted to know.

"It's that Parker man who came in here two years ago and bought the old Woodenware Plant. He has war contracts. He has enlarged the mills, built houses for his employees and has grown until he runs the town and the bank and the people and everything in the county."

"But how does that hurt Dad?"

"Parker wants to put him out of business. He wants our timber. He wants complete control of all the timber within reach. He wants no other employer of labor here. He offered to buy your father out, but you know father. He wouldn't sell. There's a note for $12,000 at the bank, and it will be due in two weeks. Things have happened at the mill. Machinery has broken down. Unnecessary labor troubles. Trains of logs running off the track. All sorts of accidents.

"Strictly business," she said tersely, to his amazed whistle.

Then there's the contract. Another worry."

"What contract?"

"Your father made an agreement to deliver a huge order of veneer to the Worthington company. By a certain date. There was money in it, enough to save him and pull him through. But he hasn't been able to keep up his deliveries. They are threatening to cancel if he fails to make full delivery by March first. He never can do it, and that will be the end. Bankruptcy."

Mike rode home with his mother and sat for an hour at his father's bedside. His father was listless, hopeless, though pride did light his dull eyes for a moment when they rested upon the tall form and broad shoulders of his son. Mike patted his shoulder.

"Guess I better run down to the mill," he said, "and do a spot of reconnaissance."

"Too late, son," his father said, and closed his eyes. "Nothing to be done now."

"They tell us different in the Army," Mike said. "It looked as if we got a knockout punch at Pearl Harbor. But we've done pretty well since. Maybe we're licked, but if we can keep the enemy from finding it out we may be able to hit him a wallop where it will hurt and turn the tide."

Mike walked down to the mill and climbed the stairs to the office. He walked past the enclosure where the bookkeepers worked and into his father's room. A girl sat at a small desk across from his father's big one. She had a mop of brown hair and a large mouth and brown eyes, and at first you thought she was not a desirable dish. That was because you could not see all of her and because she was frowning.

"Who," asked Mike, "is the head man around here?"

"We're fresh out of head men," she said tartly. "Where are you feeling pain?"

"Somebody must be running the she said.

"What running it's getting," she answered, "I'm giving it. And I'm busy. What's your business besides being a hero? Come to the point and scram."

He walked over to his father's desk and sat down, then he grinned at her and when he grinned it did something to you.

"There's a head man now," he said. "Name of Mike Wiley. Turret gunner of a B-29. Home to enjoy a furlough. Start helping me enjoy it. What's your name on the payroll?"

"Esther Jenks," she snapped. "What makes you think you can cut up capers."

He grinned again. "Got to prove a point. Got to show the nation a soldier can drop into civilian life with a bang and work the combination. D-day has arrived. LaFayette, we are here. Let's commence."

"Modest!" said Miss Jenks.

"You're the intelligence department," he said. "Come through with information."

"You mean you're really going to tackle this mess?"

"On the surface, under the surface and in the air," he said.

She talked, succinctly, colloquially, intelligently. In half an hour he knew the facts, knew what he was up against, what resources the enemy had against him, and what he himself had to repel and make counter attack.

"Now maps," he said, and for another half hour they studied detailed maps of the county showing roads, farms, timber limits, logging roads, railroads.

"You can plan," she said, "till you choke. But what we need is a sackful of jack."

"Lady," he said, "you are now looking at the champion crap shooter of the Pacific area. I came home heavy. When I say 'come seven' it comes. To look at me you wouldn't believe I was a malefactor of great wealth with eighteen hundred and seventy-six of Uncle Sam's bucks bulging in my wallet."

"It might as well," she said, "be a dime. I'm talking about important cash."

"Did you ever hear," he said, "that a dozen men, dropped on the right spot, can muss up the communications of a Division?"

She stood up and stretched. He changed his ideas about her. Maybe she was a bit eccentric as to features, but when it came to figure she could compete for the pin-up championship.

He whistled.

She lifted one brow and lowered the other.

"Strictly business," she said tersely.

Mike continued to pore over the maps with special reference to his father's timber holdings and the more extensive properties that had been acquired by Parker. He studied them, not as a businessman, but as a soldier memorizing the terrain upon which a battle was to be fought. He was thinking, not in terms of timber but in terms of strategy.

"You say Parker has bought that Maddox town of timber?" he asked, pointing to the map.

"A month ago."

With earnest finger he traced the road from the Maddox timber to Parker's mills. "He'll have to bring it out this way, down to the valley. Crossing the river here. That's an old covered bridge, as I remember. No other possible way of getting out his logs."

"You know the country—I don't," said Miss Jenks."

"Let's go see, if the business can scramble along without you for a couple of hours."

They drove out of town to the westward and into the hills. The road followed the river, becoming rougher and rougher as it mounted. Ten miles out of town the little-used thoroughfare descended again to the river and then crossed a narrow, rocky gorge on a dilapidated wooden bridge.

"What you might call a bottleneck," said the sergeant.

"So what?" asked Miss Jenks.

"So," said Mike, "I'm going to call on this man Parker."

"He'll toss you out," she said.

"I hope so. You establish an advanced dressing station with bandages and splints and plasma to pick up the pieces, if it gets that bad."

They drove back toward town and up to the huge Parker mills. Mike left Miss Jenks in the car and entered the office, where he asked for Mr. Parker, giving his name. Presently the clerk returned with word that Mr. Parker would see him and he entered a room to see a large man with reddish hair touched with white sitting behind a desk. Parker looked up at Mike under heavy brows.

"Well?" he asked arrogantly.

"I'm Mike Wiley."

"What of it?" Parker asked.

"Just got home for a furlough." Mike said. "I find you're bearing down on Dad. So I thought I'd come in and talk it over."

"Nothing to discuss," Parker said shortly. "If your father can't manage his business affairs that's too bad—for him."

Mike was very mild. "You're a competitor. You have a right to compete. But, Mr. Parker, there's such a thing as fair competition and unfair competition. All I'm asking of you, sir, is to fight fair."

"If your father doesn't like the way I fight it's his privilege to fight back the same way," Parker said. "I protect myself. Let him do the same."

"I don't believe," Mike said slowly, "that Dad can fight your way. I think he would rather be licked and go into bankruptcy than to win on a foul. He's been here a good many years, Mr. Parker, and he's been fair and aboveboard. He has a reputation among his neighbors, and with his employees."

Mike grinned. "I don't believe he would know how to fight your way, and I'm rather proud of it."

Parker's lip twisted. "Why did you come here? What do you want?" he asked.

"I came," Mike said, "to suggest that you stick to fair business methods. If you can win out that way nobody will have a kick. Just play according to the rules."

Parker leaned forward. "Sergeant," he said, "your father's business is a nuisance to me. I don't want it here in the valley. I'm going to put him out of business."

"And no holds barred?" asked Mike.

"You get the general idea," Parker said.

"This is your final answer?"

"Positive and final," Parker said.

Mike got to his feet. His face was discouraged. He sighed as if he realized himself beaten, and turned to the door. Parker smiled sardonically and shrugged his big shoulders.

For a week Mike scarcely went near the mill. He seemed to spend most of his time visiting about among old friends of his father's, and a great many of those friends chanced to be in and about the old, white-painted courthouse on the hill.

When he did call at the office Miss Jenks received him with increasing unfriendliness. "I never," she said, "could like a quitter."

"They may have their good points," Mike said.

She flared out at him. "Here you come back to town and find your family in a jam. Come back wearing a uniform and a lot of pretty colored ribbons. And what do you do to live up to them? You go around town swapping stories with a lot of old mossbacks. Do you know that note at the bank is due in a week? Do you know we'll have to shut up shop."

She flashed her eyes at him. "If you're a sample of the Air Corps, then God help America."

Another five days passed. On the morning of the sixth day Mike came again to the office.

"Want to go calling with me?" he asked.

"I don't want to be seen with you," she said furiously.

"We'll go by back streets so nobody will notice you," he said. "Roll up that map of the county. We're going to need it."

He leaned over her desk. "I'm the boss, you know. Orders."

She snatched the map from the wall and followed him with sullen face. In silence they drove to Parker's office, where Parker sent out word he was too busy to see them. Mike spoke firmly to the clerk.

"Go in," he said, "and tell that big lug that I want to see him now. Tell him to open the door and let me in or I'll go in and bring the door with me."

The clerk scurried away and returned, followed by Parker, whose broad face was distorted with rage. "Come in here making threats, eh?" he bellowed. "Well, uniform or no uniform, here's where you go out on your ear."

Mike held up his hand, palm out. "Mister," he said, "personally I wish you'd try it. I'd love it. But business before pleasure. And I mean business."

Parker hesitated. He outweighed the Sergeant by forty pounds but there was something in the young man's eye that he did not relish.

Mike took advantage of Parker's hesitancy and brushed past him into the private office. Parker and Miss Jenks followed.

"All right, Wiley," Parker said. "Say what you have to say and get out."

Mike took the map from Miss Jenks and spread it on the desk. "You own the Maddox timber," he said. "It's no good if you can't get it out. It loses value if the cost of getting it out becomes too high. Well, Mr. Parker, it's going to cost more than you can afford to log that town and haul the timber to the mill."

"What will make the cost prohibitive?" demanded Parker.

Mike pointed to the map. "That timber lies on the south side of the valley there. There's just one possible road. See. It runs along here, down to the river, across the old Maddox bridge and so to town."

"What of it?"

"This of it," Mike said. "You're going to pay me a nice piece of change for every log that crosses the bridge."

"That's what you think," sneered Parker. "That," said Mike, "is what I know. I own the bridge."

"It's a county road and a county bridge. You can't own it."

"It has been condemned," Mike said. "The county has no money to spend for new bridges, especially where there is practically no public travel. So I went to the Supervisors and made them a proposition. I agreed to build a new bridge—which won't be so expensive that I can't finance it. And in return the Supervisors gave me a toll-bridge franchise. All legal, signed, sealed and delivered."

Parker stood silent, staring at the map. Mike continued.

"The franchise authorized me to charge five cents apiece for passenger cars, but, and here's the catch, it lets me charge other vehicles by weight. At the rate of a dollar ton."

He paused. "How many hundred thousand tons of logs will you have to haul across that bridge in the next few years? Figure it out."

"I don't believe it!" Parker shouted.

"Here," said Mike, "is a certified copy of the franchise."

Parker snatched it, read it and dropped into his chair suddenly deflated.

"But this—this is crooked. This is outrageous. This will cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's—it's dirty business."

Mike smiled. "No holds barred, is what you told me. It's legal. Try to beat it. Go ahead. Bust Dad. Take his mill. Take his timber. We'll have a better income from this than from running a woodenware factory."

Parker was whipped. He bit his lip. "What," he asked slowly, "what's your proposition?"

"First," said Mike, "you pay the $12,000 note at the bank. Second, you lay off Dad. You stop sabotage at the mill and in the woods. You quit stirring up labor trouble. You stop meddling with production. That's all I'm asking. Just that you play fair."

Miss Jenks interrupted. "But suppose he promises? How can you hold him to it?"

"I make a contract with him, permitting him to use the bridge for a dollar a month. The contract to be terminated at will at the end of any thirty days. If he behaves the contract continues. If he hits below the belt I clamp down on the first of the next month. How about it, Parker?"

The man knew when he was beaten. He spread his hands in a gesture of complete surrender.

"Right," said Mike. "I'll take along the check to pay off the bank. Here's my agreement with you to sign. And we call it a day."

Parker made out the check, signed the agreement and sat scowling at Mike. Miss Jenks was staring at him, but there was no scowl to disfigure her face.

"Thank you, Mr. Parker," Mike said. "And good morning."

Miss Jenks did not speak until they were in the car.

"I eat my words," she said. "I eat them hide and tail."

"Not enough," Mike told her.

"What more?" she asked.

"In two weeks I go back to duty," he said. "No guess when I'll be back to Newtown. But when I do, I want to come back to something special. I'll be back. If you want to square yourself with me you've got to do something special?"

"Such as?"

"Such," he said, "as being here when I come, practically at the altar with a marriage license in one hand and a written promise to love, honor and obey in the other."

"Obey?" she demanded.

"Obey," he said firmly.

"Have it your way, Sergeant." she said. "We certainly got to have discipline in our Army."

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Or, How Little "Bud" Kelland Grew Up to Create Some of the Strongest Women in Literature
(Portland, Michigan - 1880-1990)

I do not know the year in which my father was brought to America, in a sailing vessel requiring six weeks for the voyage, but it was before the Civil War. The family settled in Michigan, which was then important in the textile industry, and for some years my father followed that trade — I believe until he met and married my mother, who, being a determined and ambitious woman, transplanted him to Portland, in Michigan, where she was the proprietor of a millinery shop, and made him a clerk in a general store.
Mother was one of the village's most up-and-coming businesswomen. It was her pride. To be a businesswoman was to her the most desirable thing in the world next to being a Christian, and particularly a Christian of the Congregational variety. I am not altogether sure that on week days business did not win over religion by a nose. She owned one of the two millinery shops, and had a workroom where she took girls as apprentices and taught them to trim hats. It was one of the local sights to see mother go to the store in the morning. She scudded. I can see her slenderness now, and her black hair and her eager black eyes as she went down the street, bent a little forward, as if she were trying to get ahead of herself in her eagerness to reach her place of business. The rear of her store, next door to the Weber Bank, overhung Grand River and was adjacent to the upper bridge.
My mother, as I remember her then, was a handsome young woman with jet-black hair and quick black eyes. She was the only person in Portland who was ever in a hurry. She never walked, she ran. I do not think I ever knew a more ambitious person or one so bent upon improving the state of her family morally and financially. She worked fiercely and was successful in her business of making and selling bonnets to the women of the vicinity. It was she who compelled the buying of a home; it was she who was constantly planning and prodding and rushing about in a fever of impatience to make things happen.
Because she was in her store six days a week and until midnight on Saturdays, this did not mean that she had no time to give to me, her only son. She also was a great reader, but while father and I read for the sheer joy of it, mother's intention was to improve the mind. She was the only one of us who read poetry, her preferences, quite naturally, were the epigrammatic bards rather than those who sought merely to express beauty. Her favorite poem was Pope's Essay on Man, which she quoted very frequently. She knew a great many quotations, most of which were in the nature of maxims, and she had a great detestation for Mr. H. Rider Haggard, whom father and I adored. Mr. Haggard savored of the dime novel, and she promptly burned certain of his books that came into the house.
Father's religion was all in mother's name. Mother's religion was narrow, with sharp corners and no concessions. Father's consisted in trying to sing the hymns louder than the man in the next pew and of saying, " Yes, mamma. Yes, mamma," whenever moral issues arose. Mother was vindictive against sin; father was willing to let sin alone as long as it let him alone. Grandma had a sort of secret hankering after the more enjoyable sins. With mother, everything that was not definitely a virtue was a vice, and she even looked dubiously at some of the virtues. With her, everything was black or white, and no funny business about it. She very definitely believed that God used a great deal of His time thinking about her and that He did her favors in appreciation of her rectitude. I doubt if father ever had any particular ideas about the identity of God except that He existed vaguely and was in favor of good and was against evil.
Father had roved the country until he landed some job in Lansing and married mother. She was then a clerk in a Lansing millinery shop, and ambitious beyond belief. For some reason never disclosed to me, they moved to Portland, where mother opened her millinery shop and father left the ranks of labor to become a clerk. But Mother was not content that he should remain a clerk, a position which satisfied him very well indeed. She transmuted him into a shoe merchant, exposing his stock in half of her millinery store. The venture was distinctly a failure. Next she made a fancy-goods merchant of him and he did pretty well because, I think, fancy goods were akin to millinery and mother could keep her active eye on the business. Father was not ambitious as the word generally is understood. He was not a man to strike out for himself, but rather one who could work faithfully and enthusiastically for an employer. He would have been happy all his life to have worked for a decent wage, in moderate comfort and without reaching out for wider fields of greater fortune. He was a good man, a kind man, an honest and industrious man, and one of the sweetest and gentlest human beings I ever have known.
I could not have been more than six or seven when my mother tried a species of moral experiment upon me. The outcome filled me with a rather ghastly humiliation for days afterward, but it added to my store of knowledge about pretending. Another boy, by the name of Verity, came over to spend the evening. Just before bedtime mother came in with a plate on which were two pieces of maple sugar. One was a gigantic piece, the other quite an ordinary-sized morsel. Mother left the plate and went out, leaving me with the problem. Young Verity and I stared at the pieces and maneuvered, each trying to force the other into making the first selection. But the size of that enormous chunk of maple sugar was too much for me. I knew that Verity was my guest, I had been lectured about generosity, I was fully aware of the right and wrong of the situation, but I failed to measure up to it. I took the big piece.
Mother was ashamed of me. She told me so. I was ashamed of myself. It was a major catastrophe, and I was very uneasy about its possible consequences on my eventual salvation. I thought about it for days. Grandmother told me privately she didn't blame me a mite, which was a comfort. It would have been more of a comfort, however, if I had not known that morally grandmother was much less competent than mother, and occupied a much lower ethical plane.
Mother had rather a trying time with our morals — not that any of us were in the least evil, but she was determined we should not be. My father didn't bother much about wickedness if it did not bother him. But mother was always on its trail in battle array.
My mother, who was a strict Presbyterian, disapproved of my Grandmother Budington heartily, but nevertheless depended upon her to run our household, because mother was a business woman who ran very successfully the town's millinery store.
Grandmother Budington was a pagan. Grandma had a very simple belief in God, and, I think, an idea that He was a very nice person, much maligned as to His austerity and severity.  if the world were made up exclusively of such pagans as she, there would be an eternity of peace and comfort and kindly friendship.
Pagan and Presbyterian had one thing in common, which was Pagan and Presbyterian had one thing in common, which was the love of beer, and they would send me down to the park casino with a large tin pail which I would have filled at the bar and bring back to them in their hiding place.

My Grandmother Budington brought me up because mother was so occupied with her business that she had little time for domestic affairs. So it was I learned more from her than from all the schools I ever attended. Her life's span extended from the days when the Indians were still important to the venturesome settlers to the 1890's when Port­land, Mich., had become a settled and prosperous community.
She lived upstairs in two rooms, one of which was bedroom, the other a sort of parlor and museum. On the walls hung an oleograph of Beatrice Cenci, and two others of little girls, one of whom was Wide Awake and the other Fast Asleep. Also the chief art treasure was a hand-painted picture of the Jackson, Michigan, Fire Company fighting a blaze. All of the brave firemen wore helmets with tall red fronts, except one man in long white whiskers, and he wore a helmet with a tall white panel in front. This was Grandpa Budington. In a corner was a whatnot and on this was a bottle of water from the River Jordan and a bit of polished wood from the Mount of Olives, and numerous daguerreotypes of former husbands and surviving children; in hard black cases with brass hooks to keep them shut. And there was a conch shell that you could put to your ear and hear the ocean roaring. These rooms were Grandma Budington's refuge, and no one dared to enter them without her express permission.
Grandma Budington was, in my opinion, the most beautiful old lady who ever lived. In her twinkling white hair there was not one strand that was not purest silver.  
Grandmother had come to Michigan from Albany, N.Y. in a covered wagon when she was a little girl. She had been a true pioneer. She was distinctly the pioneer type, strong, fearless, with a ready sense of humor and a homely philosophy. Grandma had tremendous self-respect and pride in her appearance and her antecedents.
I was the apple of her eye and it would safe to say that she devoted herself entirely to me and my concerns as I was growing up.
My grandmother Budington was tolerant; to say the least. Grandmother had been married a number of times and knew a great deal about life and liked it. Some people were good, some people were bad, and that was that. You took them as they came and made the best of them.
She worshiped her last husband, who seems to have been a gentle old fellow with a noble white beard who preferred hunting and fishing to hard labor. He was the fourth that I know of.
But reverence for his memory did not prevent her from considering seriously the acquiring of a fifth in the person of a Mr. Hitchcock who owned the local planing mill. He also had whiskers and was gentle. But my mother and my aunts put a stop to any such indecency as that. Grandma was unable to perceive either indecency or inexpediency in acquiring a planing mill and a husband, but she shrugged her ample shoulders and let it pass. She was then about fifty, a beautiful woman, happy and in perfect health, but the times decreed that a woman of that age was old and must be content to retire from life, wear caps, knit and think about the past.
Grandma had a tremendous love of life and interest in living. She worshiped me.
She, too, was a great reader, though she read very painfully, moving her lips and spelling out each word as she went along. She owned one book which she read and reread all the years I knew her. As soon as she finished it, she would start it again. It was a paper-backed novel entitled Her Dark Marriage Morn. She wrote only with great difficulty, chewing her tongue as she formed the letters.
Her great preoccupation was knitting. For hours she would sit, her fingers fairly bristling with steel needles which continued to click even after she closed her eyes in an afternoon nap. I was twelve years old before I wore a stocking that did not come from her hands.
Twenty-four hours a day she had a pot of tea steeping on the woodstove, and to the great scandal of my mother, she smoked cigars for a time because some dubious medical man had told her tobacco was good for "stomach trouble."
In Portland we did not make calls, except on rare occasions; we went visiting. Grandma was a confirmed visitor and receiver of visits. She would put on her black basque with the strips of jet trimming, equip herself with needles and yarn, and fare forth with me in tow to spend the day with some old lady, preferably a widow who was a good cook. The start was made in midmorning, and the visit lasted until it was time to go home and get supper. The old ladies knitted and rocked.
Invariably, if it was vacation time, she took me visiting with her, and the first of many calamities which have littered my life occurred when we went to visit a friend of hers who was not in such affluent circumstances as ourselves. One mark of this affluence was the inevitable appearance of pie on the table for dinner and supper.
On this dreadful day I finished my meal, wiped my mouth, pushed back my chair and said, "I'm ready for my pie."
There was no pie, and I remember my bitter humiliation. It seemed to me I had done a cruel thing for which there could be no forgiveness. I had, in effect, twitted our hostess with her poverty, because there could be but one reason for not having pie on the table, and that was that one could not afford it. This was my introduction to acute embarrassment. I have since encountered it all too many times.
When grandma was not knitting she was piecing quilts in one of the time-honored patterns, and then up would go the quilting frames in the dining room, and in would come certain old-lady neighbors to quilt and drink tea and gossip while I pretended the space under the quilt was a cave or a tent or the den of some ferocious beast.
She also sewed rags for rag carpets, and I have wound these into balls — so many yards of brightly colored fabrics that it seems to me they would reach around the world.
But her main business was having the best time she could contrive in our simple surroundings, and I find some happiness in believing that she succeeded.
One Christmas when I was about six or seven, I was given a book called Stories of the Bible. It was, in fact, a complete Bible, chapter by chapter, put into language that a child might understand. It became one of my favorite books, not because of its religious significance, but because it was such good reading, with so many excellent stories and heroes in it. I read it over and over until my knowledge of the Scriptures was, and continues to be, considerable. I used to read this aloud to grandmother, who liked it as much as I did.
There was a boy who lived a block or so away, a much smaller boy than I, but a very belligerent young person. His main avocation was being, as we expressed it, "after" me. When you were after another boy you made for him every time you saw him and chased him home. I went about in fear of young Cappy Allen, a state of affairs of which he was well aware, and every time I would poke my nose out of my yard he would chase me back into it. One day I was fleeing for the front gate when I saw grandmother standing there blocking the way.
Grandmother Budington in pungent sentences, the gist of which was that I would never amount to anything if I went around letting myself be "put on." "You turn right around and lick that boy," she said, "or I'm goin' to take the hide off'n you."
Between facing grandma in such a mood and being demolished by Cappy, there was only one choice. I turned in a panic and rushed at my pursuer. To my astonishment, I found myself presently sitting astride his chest in victory, but not knowing exactly what to do about it. I looked up at grandmother, who said nonchalantly, "Let him up." And then to Cappy, "He could 'a' licked you any time he wanted to."
That was a notable lesson. I perceived vaguely, as Cappy went off in tears, that he had been mostly sound and fury. He had been pretending to be a ferocious little boy, but was neither ferocious nor efficient. He was an exploded myth. It occurred to me that I could pretend the same way and save myself a great deal of trouble and build an enviable reputation as a dangerous citizen. The point seemed to be that the boy who pretended first was the one who chased the other home.
It remains distinct in my mind that I was still afraid of other boys and very much afraid to fight, but that I assumed a pretty cocky air, went around bragging how I had licked Cappy, and that my father was teaching me how to fight, and that my uncle had been a Mississippi River steamboat man who could thrash any given number of men with one hand. It was my first practical experiment with pretending, and the results were most satisfactory.