Mike Flannery On Duty and Off by Ellis Parker Butler


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Page 1

ILLUSTRATIONS

"'Pho-e-nix!' Is it a man's name, I dunno?" (Frontispiece)

"''Tis well enough t' say kape it, but cats like
thim does not kape very well'"

"'I will tell you what it is,' said Mr. Gratz"

"Her pencil was delicately poised above the ruled page"




I

JUST LIKE A CAT


They were doing good work out back of the Westcote express office. The
Westcote Land and Improvement Company was ripping the whole top off
Seiler's Hill and dumping it into the swampy meadow, and Mike Flannery
liked to sit at the back door of the express office, when there was
nothing to do, and watch the endless string of waggons dump the soft
clay and sand there. Already the swamp was a vast landscape of small
hills and valleys of new, soft soil, and soon it would burst into
streets and dwellings. That would mean more work, but Flannery did not
care; the company had allowed him a helper already, and Flannery had
hopes that by the time the swamp was populated Timmy would be of some
use. He doubted it, but he had hopes.

The four-thirty-two train had just pulled in, and Timmy had gone across
to meet it with his hand-truck, and now he returned. He came lazily,
pulling the cart behind him with one hand. He didn't seem to care
whether he ever got back to the office. Flannery's quick blood rebelled.

"Is that all th' faster ye can go?" he shouted. "Make haste! Make haste!
'Tis an ixpriss company ye are workin' fer, an' not a cimitery. T' look
at ye wan w'u'd think ye was nawthin' but a funeral!"

"Sure I am," said Tommy. "'Tis as ye have said it, Flannery; I'm th'
funeral."

Flannery stuck out his under jaw, and his eyes blazed. For nothing at
all he would have let Timmy have a fist in the side of the head, but
what was the use? There are some folks you can't pound sense into, and
Timmy was one of them.

"What have ye got, then?" asked Flannery.

"Nawthin' but th' corpse," said Timmy impudently, and Flannery did do
it. He swung his big right hand at the lad, and would have taught him
something, but Timmy wasn't there. He had dodged. Flannery ground his
teeth, and bent over the hand-truck. The next moment he straightened up
and motioned to Timmy, who had stepped back from him, nearly half a
block back.

"Come back," he said peacefully. "Come on back. This wan time I'll do
nawthin' to ye. Come on back an' lift th' box into th' office. But th'
next time--"

Timmy came back, grinning. He took the box off the truck, carried it
into the office, and set it on the floor. It was not a large box, nor
heavy, just a small box with strips nailed across the top, and there was
an Angora cat in it. It was a fine, large Angora cat, but it was dead.

Flannery looked at the tag that was nailed on the side of the box. "Ye'd
betther git th' waggon, Timmy," he said slowly, "an' proceed with
th' funeral up t' Missus Warman's. This be no weather for perishable
goods t' be lyin' 'round th' office. Quick speed is th' motto av th'
Interurban Ixpriss Company whin th' weather is eighty-four in th' shade.
An', Timmy," he called as the boy moved toward the door, "make no
difficulty sh'u'd she insist on receiptin' fer th' goods as bein'
damaged. If nicissary take th' receipt fer 'Wan long-haired cat,
damaged.' But make haste. 'Tis in me mind that sh'u'd ye wait too long
Missus Warman will not be receivin' th' consignment at all. She's wan
av th' particular kind, Timmy."

In half an hour Timmy was back. He came into the office lugging the box,
and let it drop on the floor with a thud.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Wed 17th Jul 2019, 0:44